An advert by the Church of England that features the Lord’s Prayer will not be shown in three major UK cinema chain due to fears it might cause offence.
The 60-second advert was set to be screened prior to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will be released on December 18.
The advert to promote a new Church of England website aimed at encouraging people to pray had been approved by the British Board of Film Classification and the Cinema Advertising Authority
However, 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.”
In a statement, 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 said the advert is “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, Prime Minister David Cameron has called the decision “ridiculous”.
In a blog for this website, Catholic Herald contributing editor Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith said “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,” he added.
He admitted, however, to not being surprised by the decision made by DCM.
“I regret their decision, but it has to be admitted that for many people, religion is a huge turn off, and thus anything that is overtly religious would tend to get the thumbs down,” Fr Lucie-Smith wrote.