Kiwi skateboarding brand Eshe declares ‘Religion is garbage’

A New Zealand skateboarding brand has declared ‘Religion is garbage’ with a series of deliberately controversial posters hitting the streets of central Auckland.

The posters for Eshe Skateboarding, created in the style of the famous cartoon series Garbage Pail kids, subvert religious figures from Christianity, Hinduism and Scientology.

One image shows Hollywood actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise dressed as Ali G, with the slogan ‘Scientolo G’.

They are the second in the series of the brand’s anti-religion campaign that launched in 2010. The first featured an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad with a bomb strapped to his body and the slogan ‘Tick-tock Muhammad’.

A spokesman for Eshe told Mumbrella: “Skateboarding used to be edgy back in the 90s. Everything today seems very tame, boring and to be honest, the way the religion wants a special exemption from criticism and free speech being held hostage by fanatics, pisses us off. We decided it would be fun to use satire to make a point, rather than yet another boring as hell logo design.”

On whether the campaign was deliberately provocative, he said: “Absolutely. The freedom to be offensive is important.”

The first phase of the campaign featured a subversive image on the leader of Hillsong, a powerful pentecostal church led by New Zealander Brian Houston.

The first phase of the campaign resulted in a number of complaints to New Zealand’s Advertising Standards Authority – but they were not upheld.

The new poster executions have been printed on limited edition skateboards.


  1. TM
    28 Sep 12
    4:02 pm

  2. I love bashing religion, so I love this

  3. James
    28 Sep 12
    4:41 pm

  4. I notice they’re not mocking Islam here…

  5. mumbrella
    28 Sep 12
    5:05 pm

  6. They are, James. We chose not to post the image.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  7. Not the first James
    28 Sep 12
    5:38 pm

  8. Tim, why not?

  9. fleshpeddler
    28 Sep 12
    7:56 pm

  10. if they’re mocking Islam I hope everybody in the building where their agency is located has been given due notice to clear out and head for the hills

  11. Anon
    29 Sep 12
    2:30 am

  12. Why?

  13. Jeff
    29 Sep 12
    11:35 am

  14. Why would you not post the Islam one?

    As for this idea, Blind skateboards did it better about 15 years ago.

  15. nic
    29 Sep 12
    1:46 pm

  16. Tic, tic, tic….

  17. Mike
    29 Sep 12
    2:21 pm

  18. Love it. It’s a shame we’re so PC these days in Australia.

    I wonder though if there is a copyright infringement; it’s a new take on the Garbage Gang collector cards from the 90s.

  19. Dave
    29 Sep 12
    2:50 pm

  20. Great call Tim.

    Also causing offense for the sake of it is all well and good, but you don’t have to look like shit doing it.

  21. mumbrella
    29 Sep 12
    4:35 pm

  22. Hi Jeff and Not The First James,

    Is that a serious question? I’m happy to answer it if you honestly don’t know the answer.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  23. Reader
    29 Sep 12
    5:58 pm

  24. One could argue that Scientology is not a religion, it is a cult. Germany and France treats it as such, even L. Ron Hubbard said it wasn’t a religion.

  25. Jeff
    29 Sep 12
    7:10 pm

  26. Yes, it’s a honest question Tim, why would you post the others but not the Islam one?

    I’m not a mind reader, seems to be selective prejudice. It’s ok to offend any religion except Islam.

  27. Elbogrease
    30 Sep 12
    8:29 am

  28. Self censorship facepalm!

  29. Seriously
    30 Sep 12
    10:34 am

  30. This self-censorship is pretty concerning. Every other religion or belief system can be open to criticism and ridicule, but not Islam. Is this a glimpse into the future of journalism?

  31. steve
    30 Sep 12
    9:05 pm

  32. I thought the same

    It’s obviously topical but so what

    Why should you make one rule for some religions and another for others ?

  33. The Worst of Perth
    30 Sep 12
    10:42 pm

  34. The reason for the censorship isn’t obvious. You are going to have to spell it out.

  35. Groucho
    1 Oct 12
    12:31 am

  36. Good to see that with just a few riots Muslims have silenced any criticism of them. They should run courses for Christians, Jews, Buddhists and all the other religions who get criticised just to make sure there is no favouritism. I mean we can’t have the fourth estate ruled by fear can we?

  37. Dr Dimeto
    1 Oct 12
    8:09 am

  38. All of the complaints about the self censorship regarding the muslim poster… Agreed but be aware that they also chose not to show the one with the Pope being referred to as a pedophile.

    Personally I love all of these.

  39. Dave
    1 Oct 12
    8:26 am

  40. Jeff,

    My guess is, Tim realises history has shown most religions have accepted that the likeness of their leader may get mocked, and while some members of the Muslim faith have as well, clearly others are still a wee bit touchy on the subject, and perhaps Tim chose protecting his business and staff over one more outbreak of bullshit.


  41. Elbogrease
    1 Oct 12
    9:17 am

  42. Still waiting for your explanation Tim.

  43. Jeff
    1 Oct 12
    1:38 pm

  44. Still not sure why they’d do a campaign done by another skate brand 15 years ago


  45. Mike
    1 Oct 12
    1:44 pm

  46. Still not sure why it’s ok to poke fun at some religions and not others

  47. mumbrella
    1 Oct 12
    3:52 pm

  48. Sorry for the slow response, Elbogrease, Worst of Perth, Seriously, Jeff, James et al. It’s a question I wanted to have the time to answer properly.

    Bluntly, if you publish images of The Prophet, offensive or otherwise, as night follows day, it is likely that you will be attacked.

    As you may be aware, a belief within Islam is that it is offensive to show images of Mohammed regardless of context.

    I spent some time working in the Middle East, enough to become aware that those who follow Islam are almost without exception, peaceful people whose belief in the Quran inspires them to lead positive, charitable lives.

    However, likes any religion, there are a small number who do not. In 2006, I happened to be in Beirut for an advertising awards event at the time that anger was growing over a series of Danish cartoons. An ad agency I popped into the next day shared the same office building as the Danish embassy.

    Fortunately I missed by a few hours the demonstrators torching that building, which you can read about here:

    But it was a close enough call to focus the mind.

    Is it self-censorship? Yes? Does it suck? Yes.

    But I honestly believe that to publish that ad would put me, and more importantly, my staff in danger. And while some principles are worth fighting for, a crass, attention-seeking Kiwi skateboarding brand is not.

    I suspect they may not know how much danger they are potentially in.

    In my view, their cartoons have little merit. I weighed up not running the story at all, as I worried we were playing into their hands just by publishing this crap. And of course it’s unfair to publish something that’s offensive to one religion and not that which is offensive to another.

    But I think I’ve chosen the least shit alternative.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  49. Elbogrease
    1 Oct 12
    3:57 pm

  50. Thanks for your reply Tim. Shouldn’t have run the story at all as you say.

  51. Jeff
    1 Oct 12
    4:14 pm

  52. Very good response and thanks for the honesty, personally I’d just have gone with none.


  53. Peter Chanel
    1 Oct 12
    4:17 pm

  54. What you’re saying is that you are prepared to show some restraint, respect and politeness because you believe there may be a violent reaction if you don’t. But if you believe there is no risk of any physical retaliation, then you think it is fine to subject people and their faiths to mockery and ridicule. This reveals more about you than it does about Islam.

  55. Martin
    1 Oct 12
    4:21 pm

  56. Well said Tim.

  57. mumbrella
    1 Oct 12
    4:37 pm

  58. Hi Peter,

    I don’t actually think it’s fine to subject anyone of faith to mockery and ridicule, particularly when it’s lazy and stupid, as this work appears to me. But I do struggle with the question of whether we should not cover it as a news story when others do so.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  59. Dabug
    1 Oct 12
    4:45 pm

  60. These cards are great. Now, if we could just amend section 116 of the constitution and curtail the $30 billion in tax write offs that religions enjoy.

  61. Isaac
    1 Oct 12
    4:57 pm

  62. The inclusion of Gandhi shows a lack of thought that went into this campaign. He was a Hindu, but hardly a representative figure of that particular religion.

    Also, where is the Dalai Lama one?

  63. Peter Chanel
    1 Oct 12
    5:09 pm

  64. This is where the media is at these days: Everyone else is crass, tasteless and offensive, so I have to be as well.

  65. LW
    1 Oct 12
    6:24 pm

  66. Peter Chanel, covering this as a news story simply shows how one brand has chosen to market themselves. Any ‘vilification’ comes from people’s response to that. Given that the content is on a marketing-related website, and not a religious one, it should be pretty clear to most readers what the context is.

  67. Alison_F
    2 Oct 12
    11:54 am

  68. @Jeff… your link to the original had me laughing out loud… unfortunately, these versions do seem a tad ‘done before’…
    Thanks for posting Tim, it’s all news at the end of the day…

  69. JG
    2 Oct 12
    12:15 pm

  70. Stick with atheism or agnosticism. When was the last time you heard of ‘agnostic tension’ or ‘athesitic wars’?

  71. Justan Aussie
    2 Oct 12
    12:33 pm

  72. Tim, just checked out the Eshe Skateboarding site an there are no skateboards showing derogatory attacks on Islam, just all other religions. Waste of time running the story at all about a bunch of gutless morons.

  73. mumbrella
    2 Oct 12
    1:40 pm

  74. Hi Justan Aussie,

    It was there. They may, sensibly, have removed it.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  75. MattP
    2 Oct 12
    1:58 pm

  76. @Dabug, the $30b tax write off you claim religions “enjoy” is only a small part of the billions of dollars all religions spend on supporting the community, families, destitute and otherwise vulnerable who would otherwise be exposed. Taxing these selfless institutions would only leave less money available to help the poor.

    But the facts aren’t anywhere are much fun as any opportunity for you to add your throw away, off topic, anti-religion line, is it?

    And this skate board company is demonstrating what desperate lengths people are prepared to go to if your product has no redeeming features.

  77. Not the other James
    2 Oct 12
    3:29 pm

  78. Props for the response Tim, perhaps my response was a bit of a knee jerk reaction, but given recent events I can’t say I really blame you. It’s one thing to put yourself out there, but it’s not entirely fair to subject staff to the same thing, unbeknownst to them.

    You do a great job on the blog anyway, and I don’t doubt there was a lot of two and throwing on how to tackle this topic. I find it interesting that when I looked on the skateboard company’s website, I couldn’t find any pics of the controversial design. I guess that says a lot about them if they’re not even willing to run the pics.

  79. Blue
    2 Oct 12
    6:06 pm

  80. Don’t worry kids, if you thought your religion was missed out, here’s one that Eshe did that didn’t make the original article…
    I assume that’s the one that was (shamefully) missed out that we’re all talking about?

  81. Agno
    8 Oct 12
    3:08 pm

  82. Tim, are you sure Brainwashing Brian doesn’t refer to Brian Tamaki instead of Brian Houston? The image looks a lot like Tamaki, a far more sinister religious leader.

  83. Bob
    9 Oct 12
    10:31 am

  84. Actually, I’d say that the refusal to mock Islam (due to fear of violent retaliation) will actually cause more damage to their religion overall. After all, what does it say about your faith when the general populace assumes the standard reaction to criticism is violence?

    So while on the surface people may think Islam is benefiting from this self-censorship, the reality is that the whole religion is being damaged by the perception (and often reality) of being associated with bloodshed and violence.

    Just compare the reactions of people (even athiests) when, say, proposing a new church for an area, in contrast with a new mosque.

  85. Sad but true
    9 Oct 12
    11:51 am

  86. @Bob (comment 42)

    Spot on Bob! Without a doubt if a proposed mosque was being planned, based on the worldwide violence from Muslim’s recently, there would be a higher chance of uproar in allowing it to be built v a church, a Sikh temple, or a cathedral etc

    It is truly sad, however it is different worlds and ways of life and it has always been the big cultural difference, which doesn’t look like changing anytime soon? (Islam v the world…)

    Has anyone got an informed take on what the future holds?

  87. Maude
    11 Oct 12
    11:05 am

  88. I checked the website and there no image for Islam? Was it removed?

  89. Maude
    11 Oct 12
    11:22 am

  90. PS

    I worked in Afghanistan with NGO’s for 3 years, and it made me even more determined to challenge thinking at home here in Oz

  91. Waaah
    26 Oct 12
    12:39 pm

  92. Well said Tim! Damn good response.

  93. Waaah
    26 Oct 12
    12:43 pm

  94. @Agno it’s definitely Tamaki. Destiny “church” sells gold rings to members in NZ… Hence the gold ring with a “D” on it. The whole thing was a stupid move by Eshe. Not even remotely clever.