Lord’s Prayer ad banned from UK cinema chains by Digital Cinema Media for fear of causing offence
A pre-Christmas advert promoting prayer has been banned from Britain’s biggest cinema chains for fear of causing offence, to the bewilderment of the Church of England.
The 56-second advertisement features believers from various walks of life — including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, a weightlifter, a farmer, a couple getting married, refugees and a gospel choir — saying the Lord’s Prayer.
See advert here on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlUXh4mx4gI
The Church of England is the state church in England and the ad was cleared by the British Board of Film Classification and the Cinema Advertising Authority.
However, the Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency — which handles adverts for Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas — has refused to show it.
The church hoped the advert would be played before screenings of blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens from December 18.
“I find it extraordinary that cinemas rule that it is inappropriate for an advert on prayer to be shown in the week before Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Welby, the leader of the world’s Anglicans and the spiritual head of the church, told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
“Billions of people across the world pray this prayer on a daily basis.
“I think they would be astonished and deeply saddened by this decision, especially in the light of the terrorist attack in Paris where many people have found comfort and solace in prayer.
“This advert is about as ‘offensive’ as a carol service on Christmas Day.”
DCM said it had a policy of “not accepting political or religious advertising content for use in its cinemas”.
“Some advertisements — unintentionally or otherwise — could cause offence to those of differing political persuasions, as well as to those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith,” it said.
“In this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally.”
Richard Dawkins backs church ad
The Church’s communications director, Reverend Arun Arora, said the “bewildering” decision raised questions about freedom of speech in Britain.
“I think that’s an astonishing decision and one that we were really bewildered by,” he said.
“In one way, the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly, but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech.”
He said people should be allowed to “make up their own minds as to whether they are upset or offended by it”.
The Church also received unexpected support from prominent atheist and biologist Richard Dawkins, who told The Guardian he “strongly objected to suppressing ads on the grounds that they might ‘offend’ people”.
“If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended,” he said.
(taken from the ABC’s website at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-23/uk-cinema-chains-ban-lord’s-prayer-ad/6963108 )