Organ donation is an important health topic in Australia and there are currently 1,400 people waiting for a lifesaving transplant. A provocative new ad is encouraging Australians to register as donors, although its use of Jesus dying on the cross is causing controversy.
The new two-minute ad, made by filmmaker Richard Bullock to promote the upcoming documentary Dying to Live, features Jesus Christ on the cross. In the clip, two Roman guards approach Jesus on the crucifix where they begin to ask him whether he wants to donate his organs when he dies.
“Have you thought about maybe becoming an organ donor?” one of the guards asks Jesus.
Jesus asks whether it’s the right time to ask such a question, before the other guard explains that no one really wants to talk about death and that Jesus’ organs could save the lives of up to seven people.
The guards then asks Jesus if he’s gone online to sign the organ donor registry.
“Isn’t it on my licence?” the confused Jesus replies.
While organ donation could be registered on driver’s licences in the past, South Australia is the only state where this still occurs. The only way to add your details to the national list is to join the national Donor Register online.
In the ad, Jesus can be seen using a smartphone to register his details online before he dies. The guards also explains to him that his family have to be on board and give their permission, with the Virgin Mary and Joseph making a surprise appearance and describing their son’s decision to donate his organs as “awesome”.
The clip ends with the guards taking a selfie with Jesus, before telling him that he “nailed it”.
According to Dying to Live, 80 per cent of Australians say they will donate their organs, but just 34 per cent are on the registry. Furthermore, 50 per cent of families will say no if they don’t know their loved one wants to donate their organs.
While the clip has been used as a way to get people talking, some have asked whether the use of Jesus is going too far.
“What would have been the response if you used the prophet Muhammad instead?” one person on YouTube wrote.
While it is against Islam faith to depict the prophet Muhammad, the same rule doesn’t apply for Christianity.
“I wanted to deliberately provoke a conversation in homes around the subject,” Bullock said on the Dying to Live website. “This is really difficult as nobody wants to bring up issues around death and organ donation over the dinner table.”
He also explained that using Jesus in the clip was done on purpose to educate people about organ donation.
“I thought it would be amusing and relevant to find that the nicest and kindest man who ever lived – Jesus, wasn’t aware that his organ donor status was no longer on his license,” he said. “Once I started writing I realised that the complexity of the Australian Organ donation could be explained. In the end Jesus donating his organs is exactly what I think Jesus WOULD do.”