Martin Luther declared not guilty of Big Mac attack on civilized eating habits

Published January 1, 2001

Rome’s Lutheran pastor has rallied to the defence of Martin Luther, whose theology was blamed by a Roman Catholic theologian for America’s fast food culture.

The claim by Massimo Salani, a Catholic theologian who teaches patristics at a theological seminary in Pisa, and religious studies in a catering school, to the effect that the “Protestant cultural model” was responsible for the fast food culture, attracted world-wide attention.

One Italian newspaper proclaimed “the excommunication of the hamburger”, while the Guardian newspaper in London put it more simply: “Catholics order Big Mac to go.”

Mr. Salani made his comments in an interview with the newspaper Avvenire following the recent publication of his book, A tavola con le religioni (At table with the religions). Food, Mr. Salani told the newspaper, is a “gift of God to humanity” that should be eaten in tranquillity because it contains “something sacred”.

“The fashion of fast food completely ignores the sacred nature of food,” he continued. “People who go to McDonald’s are looking for a quick meal. They gobble down food to satisfy their hunger so that they can move on to something else.”

Asked by the newspaper whether this was a result of the “Protestant cultural model,” Salani replied: “I know American society well enough to respond in the affirmative. The individual relationship between man and God established by Luther is also reflected in the way one eats. The communitarian aspect of sharing is missing. Fast food is certainly not a Catholic model.”

“I find it very difficult to imagine Martin Luther sitting down all alone at a small metal table eating a Big Mac,” he added.


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