LONDON (Christian Examiner) – The Church of England calls itself "bewildered" to learn Digital Cinema Media has banned its advertisement launching a website dedicated to prayer because of a policy against religious or political ads.
"We are bewildered by the decision of the cinemas. 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," Reverend Arun Arora, director of communications for the Church of England, stated, according to a Reuters story reported in Religion News.
The one-minute-long advertisement, which shows individuals including a police officer, a weight lifter, children, bereaved, clergy, and other ordinary people speaking or singing a line of the Lord's Prayer, was created to promote the Church of England's website about prayer, JustPray.uk.
"In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly," said Arora, "but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech."
A 'CHILLING' DECISION
The Church of England planned to air the ad during the opening weekend of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which is expected to have high numbers of viewers and will be released shortly before Christmas.
Digital Cinema Media (DCM) banned the ad because it violates the cinema company's policy against airing advertisements that might cause offense on religious or political grounds.
Of DCM's ban on the ad, Bishop Steven Croft said he disagreed with the choice and hoped it would be reversed. "But from the point of view of global corporations and consumer culture," he added, "from the perspective of the gods and spirits of the age, there are very good reasons indeed to ban the Lord's Prayer from cinemas and from culture and from public life."
"This is a prayer said by billions of people every day in every language on the planet," Croft wrote on his blog, which was adapted into an article for the Washington Post.
"In every single moment in time, someone is praying these words. They are the first words of prayer we learn as children and the last words we say at the moment of death," Croft said.
About its policy, DCM said "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," the BBC reported. DCM maintained it is treating the Church of England's ad equally.
Regarding the offensiveness of the ad, Arora encouraged people to visit JustPray.uk, watch the ad, and make up their own minds "as to whether they are upset or offended by it," the BBC quoted.
The website also features individuals who participated in the ad explaining what they believe prayer is and why faith is important to them.
The powerful prayer is a threat to the secular point of view, Croft implies: "There are real reasons why the Lord's Prayer has been banned by the demigods of consumer culture, in the boardrooms of the cinema chains."
Croft believes the prayer is a foundational testament to the relationship between God and humanity. "The Lord's Prayer is powerful for a reason. These words shape lives and families and communities and whole societies."