Apparently not satisfied by alienating all of Judaism with its recent high-profile, roving exhibit comparing Holocaust victims to farm animals, the lunatics at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have moved on to other challenges. Next stop: offend as many Christians as possible.

Religious leaders in Pensacola, Florida immediately objected last week when PETA erected a billboard during Holy Week claiming that the way to “follow” Jesus Christ is to “go vegetarian.” One local rabbi told the Associated Press that the historical Jesus was actually a meat-eater. “There’s no evidence that Jesus was [a vegetarian],” he told The Pensacola News Journal. “This is totally out of left field.

Similar reactions came from Christian leaders in Savannah, Georgia, who were subjected to the same tasteless billboard. Jesus “celebrated Passover his entire life,” one Baptist minister told The Savannah Morning News. “To do that, you have to eat lamb.”

Of course, even the harshest rebuke is good news for PETA, which operates on the theory that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” They weren’t so lucky in North Carolina, where an outdoor advertising company refused to sell space for PETA’s other Christianity-themed sign. This one featured a 12-foot-tall photograph of a pig, along with the words: “He Died For Your Sins. Go Vegetarian.” We’re not making this up.

North Carolina advertising executives were not impressed. One told The News & Observer: “It’s not a true statement, so why would we choose as a company to put it out there?” Another told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “In my mind only one person died for our sins. And it’s not a pig.

At the center of this latest propaganda campaign is Bruce Friedrich, the PETA campaign director who told a 2001 animal-rights convention that “blowing stuff up and smashing windows” is “a great way to bring about animal liberation.” These are not exactly Christian values. Still, PETA has given Friedrich his own “Christian Mercy” website, hailing him as “the most influential animal welfare advocate the Christian community has produced” in generations.

Is this sacrilege? Blasphemy? You be the judge. All publicity stunts aside, we’d like to offer the following Bible passages to counteract the next PETA-phile who tries to claim that Jesus of Nazareth was a meat-shunning tofu-head, and that Christianity is a vegetarian religion:

Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’s sake; for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains.” [1 Corinthians 10:25-26]

One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.” [Romans 14:2]

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving.” [1 Timothy 4:1-4]

Straight from the New Testament. Read ’em and weep, Bruce.