Is the cinema a place for ads that are religious in nature?
Digital Cinema Media, a company that handles ads seen in theatres before film showings, banned an ad produced by the Church of England.
They put in a ban only after the Church of England tried to get the video ad in cinemas, according to an Archbishop of The Church of England. The ad had been approved by the British Board of Film Classification and the Cinema Advertising Authority.
The offensive ad is a video showing the common folk – police, bodybuilders, children – reciting The Lord’s Prayer.
It was supposed to be shown before showings of potential blockbuster Star Wars.
The DCM statement: “Religious advertising means: advertising which wholly or partially 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.”
Archbishop Welby said “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.” The churchman described the sadness and confusion of faith-filled people all over the world at the decision. “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.”
The archbishop added, “This advert is about as ‘offensive’ as a carol service on Christmas Day.”
The atheists of the UK also responded to the ban. The president of the National Secular Society, Terry Sanderson said, “The Church of England is arrogant to imagine it has an automatic right to foist its opinions upon a captive audience who have paid good money for a completely different experience. The Church does not hesitate to ban things that it deems inappropriate from its own church halls – things like yoga. The cinema chains are simply exercising the same right.”
The House of Commons is urging that the decision by media agency DCM (Digital Cinema Media) be “reconsidered and overturned”.
Christians do have to consider if they would be offended if the Muslim Call to Prayer started the movie or a Buddhist monk prayed in a one minute ad or if a Pastafarian introduced the Church of the Spaghetti Monster.
If the ad included prayers by Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, would that have made a difference? It’s hard to know how atheists could be included.
Is this the place for the prayer. What do you think?
Here’s the prayer: