Christians have launched at least two petitions protesting against the name of Canadian-based ice cream chain Sweet Jesus, calling for a boycott of the company until it changes its name.

The Toronto-based company, which has almost 20 locations in Canada, was founded in 2015 and has recently expanded into the US.

One petition, signed by more than 1,500 people on Change.org, said that Christians were "deeply offended" by the name, describing it as "mockery". It called for people to boycott the chain and for "not just Christians, but anyone who is against religious discrimination" to take a stand against the brand until the name is changed.

Petitions have also complained about the chain's use of elements in its branding, including an upside cross.

"The message is clear," said a petition on the CitizenGO Canada website which has attracted more than 10,000 signatures, "'Sweet Jesus' is all about trashing Christianity and mocking the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is deeply offensive and an outright attack on the Christian community of Canada!"

The Toronto Star reported on Monday that owners Andrew Richmond and Amin Todai said it was not their intent to be "exploitative or flagrantly provocative" and that they "sincerely do not wish to give offence or show disrespect in any way toward anyone’s personal beliefs".

They reportedly said the name "was created from the popular phrase that people use as an expression of joy, surprise or disbelief".