U.K. Theaters Deny “Just Pray” Ad In Front of ‘Star Wars’ Screenings

22 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Banning the Lord’s Prayer from cinemas is nonsense on stilts.

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – A pre-Christmas advert featuring solely the Lord’s Prayer has been banned from Britain’s biggest cinema chains for fear of causing offence, to the bewilderment Sunday of the Church of England. The 56-second advertisement features believers from various walks of life, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, a weightlifter, a farmer, a couple getting married, refugees, and a gospel choir, saying the main Christian prayer. It was cleared by British film classification and advertising agencies but turned down by Digital Cinema Media, which handles advertisements for major film chains in Britain. But when this film is released in the runup to Christmas, the executives at the UK’s leading cinemas have decided in their wisdom that an advertisement featuring the Lord’s Prayer is to be banned from their screens. Prayer permeates every aspect of our culture from pop songs and requiems to daily assemblies and national commemorations,” the church spokesman said. “For millions of people in the United Kingdom, prayer is a constant part of their lives whether as part thanksgiving and praise, or as a companion through their darkest hours,” he added.

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. “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. “The prospect of a multi-generational cultural event offered by the release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on December 18 – a week before Christmas Day – was too good an opportunity to miss and we are bewildered by the decision,” 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.” 1. Specifically, the policy states: “advertising which wholly or partly advertises any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief (including any absence of belief) or any part of any religion, faith or such equivalent systems of belief.” Simon Soffe, head of communications for Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, referred The Hollywood Reporter to DCM policy and declined to comment further. But the Odeon, Cineworld and Vue chains – which control 80% of screens around the country – believe it’s apparently more likely to offend than an R18.

And here it is worth distinguishing between two very different forms of secularism – that which seeks the separation of church and state at an institutional level (bishops out of the House of Lords, for example), which I agree with; and the attempt to eradicate religious discourse from the public realm, which is anti-free expression and important to resist. For others, it might just offer a welcome reminder that, when it comes to places of worship, there are – even at this time of year – still alternatives to the great cathedrals of Westfield shopping centre.

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