AN ADVERTISEMENT by the Church of England that features the Lord’s Prayer will not be shown in three major cinema chains because of fears it might “cause offence”.
The 60-second advert was due to be shown before screenings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will be released on December 18. The advert, to promote a new Church of England website, justpray.uk, encouraging people to pray, had been approved by the British Board of Film Classification and the Cinema Advertising Authority.
The Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency, which handles advertising for the major British cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, refused to show the advert because it said it did not want to risk “upsetting, or offending, audiences”.
DCM said that “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”, and that “in this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said the advert was “about as offensive as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day” and that he found the decision “extraordinary”. “Let the public judge for themselves rather than be censored or dictated to,” he added.
According to reports, David Cameron has called the decision “ridiculous”. In a blog, Catholic Herald contributing editor Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith wrote: “The reaction to this ban has been uniformly negative. “It seems to be a case of political correctness gone mad, as well as a threat to our free speech. The cinema chains in question look pretty foolish.”