Church anger as prayer ad banned in cinemas

No show: The Church of England says the decision is ‘plain silly’. © Church of England

A Church of England advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer will not be seen in most cinemas after an agency refused to show it. Should religions be able to advertise?

What’s happening

A month before Christmas, the Church of England made an advert showing people reciting the Lord’s Prayer. They hoped the ad would be shown before screenings of the new Star Wars film, which is due out on 17 December. But instead, it is at the centre of a row over advertising and free speech.

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Digital Cinema Media, the company which handles advertising for the Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas, refused to show it. They have a policy of ‘not accepting political or religious advertising’ and said ‘some adverts could cause offence to those of different faiths or no faith’.

The Church of England called the ban ‘disappointing’ and said ‘we’d really like people to make their own mind up.’ The Prime Minister David Cameron and even the atheist Stephen Fry agreed.

The Church of England has played a huge part in British culture. Though the largest Christian body in England it is losing popularity: last year only one in 75 people went to weekly Anglican services. Maybe it needs to advertise.

Some say…

Banning this advertisement is against freedom of speech. Religions need to spread their word, and what better way to do this than by advertising? If people are offended, that is their problem — nobody is forcing them to believe the prayer’s words.

Others think…

It is not the place of the church to advertise. Religion is a purely private matter, but this advert treats prayer as a product to be consumed, like food or, indeed, films. In fact it is much more serious than that. The church already has a privileged position in society; it should accept this decision.

You Decide

  1. Would you mind seeing an advert from the church at the cinema?

Activities

  1. Try to learn the Lord’s Prayer off by heart.

Some People Say...

“Religion doesn’t matter anymore”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Reciting
Saying aloud something that you have learned.
Atheist
Someone who does not believe in God or gods.
Anglican
The Anglican Communion is the world group of churches founded and led by the Church of England.
Freedom of speech
People’s right to say what they want to express their opinions on any subject.
Privileged
having special rights. The Church of England is the English established church with the Queen as its head and its bishops in the House of Lords.

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