The BBC reports The Church of England is "disappointed and bewildered" by the refusal of leading UK cinema chains to show a very quiet ad of people saying the Lord's Prayer. The Church called the decision "plain silly" and warned it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.
It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened across Great Britain before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film. It features a cast of people reciting snippets of the Our Father, including refugees, singers, weightlifters at a gym, a sheep farmer, and the church's leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. The archbishop complained "This advert is about as 'offensive' as a carol service on Christmas Day."
British theatres show offensive movies routinely, like the French lesbian porn film Blue is the Warmest Colour in 2013. But a prayer? That's offensive?
“The prospect of many families attending the release of the new Star Wars film had seemed a good opportunity to launch the advert and a new website justpray.uk to promote prayer ahead of Christmas,” said church spokesman Rev. Arun Arora. "The Lord's Prayer is prayed by billions of people across the globe every day, and in this country has been part of everyday life for centuries."
The advert was passed uncut by the British Board of Film Classification and given a "U" certificate, as well as receiving clearance from the Cinema Advertising Authority.
However, the Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency, which handles British film advertising for the major cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, refused to show the advert because it believed it would risk upsetting or offending audiences.
In a statement, DCM said it had a policy of not accepting political or religious advertising content in its cinemas.
It 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."
DCM said both sides of the fight over Scottish independence objected to ads for the other side.
One of those who took part in the church ad is Ian McDowall, a former bouncer and a weightlifter who founded a Christian charity, Tough Talk, after finding his faith.
"I don't think people know a lot about Christianity these days anyway, and the opportunity to share the Lord's Prayer in a cinema environment would make people think - and realise that Christians come in all shapes and sizes."