The Canadian branch of Chosen People Ministries (CPM) has used a menorah, the multi-branched candlestick used in Jewish worship, in its logo for more than a decade. But a Toronto federal court will soon decide whether such use violates trademark law.
Chosen People Ministries teaches that Jesus is the Messiah, and the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) is challenging the ministry's right to use a menorah, calling it "deceptive" because the group is Christian, not Jewish.
"You can't be Jewish and be a Christian, because they are two separate religious identities," says Manuel Prutcschi, the CJC's national director of community relations. "This group is trying to lead people away from our faith by expropriating symbols of items that our community has used in worship since ancient times."
Prutcschi says CPM's view implies that "to be complete as a Jewish person you need to accept Jesus."
CPM, founded in 1894 by Hungarian Leopold Cohn, is establishing evangelistic efforts worldwide in 11 areas with high concentrations of Jews.
It works in the United States, Canada, Germany, Israel, and Ukraine. According to the latest government census, nearly half of Canada's 356,000 Jews live in Toronto.
CPM counters that its logo "is not inherently misleading" because the Christian faith grew out of Judaism. "We are Christian Jews who believe in planting churches," says Lawrence Rich, CPM's director in Canada.
"Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we are supposed to have the right to express our beliefs."
In late April the federal court in Toronto held an initial hearing on the case. But its ruling may not come for months.
"This case is about whether a religious group can self-define, or whether it must fit into another organization or group's ...1