Jesus is appearing all over America with a giant, shining orange slice as his halo and a billboard banner that proclaims, "Jesus Was a Vegetarian—Follow Him."

The vegetarian advertisements have run as part of a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to win Christians to a "nonviolent" diet.

Other recent efforts include newspaper and magazine advertisements, a Web site that disputes the authenticity of Jesus multiplying fish to feed the 5,000, and a Veggie-Jesus mascot who distributed leaflets during Pope John Paul II's Saint Louis visit and during the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta earlier this year.

"The goal is to get Christians thinking about how their diet and faith relate," says PETA's Vegetarian Campaign coordinator Bruce Friedich.

Pat Robertson and Robert H. Schuller already have been endorsing George Malkmus's "Hallelujah Diet," a vegetarian plan based on Genesis 1:29: "I give you all plants bearing seed everywhere on earth and every tree bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food."

But it is unlikely that Jesus never ate meat, according to Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge. "PETA is trying to justify its personal point of view with an inappropriate connection to Jesus," says Burge, explaining that it would have been impossible for Jesus to participate in Passover celebrations without eating lamb.

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