Lord's Prayer ad banned from Norfolk cinemas
Cinemas across Norfolk will not be allowed to show a 60-second advert of The Lord’s Prayer produced by The Church of England this Christmas in a controversial move.
The Church of England has said it is "bewildered" by the refusal of the country's leading cinemas Odeon and Vue, which have cinemas in Norwich, and Cineworld to show a 60 second advert of The Lord's Prayer, adding that the "plain silly" decision could have a "chilling effect" on free speech.
The advert follows the launch of a new website, JustPray.uk, to promote the renewal of prayer in a digital age. The site creates a place for prayer with advice on what prayer is and how to pray. The site also provides a "live prayer" feed of prayers being prayed across the globe via Twitter, Instagram and Vine.
The Church produced the advert promoting the new website to be shown in cinemas from December 18 as part of the ad reel before Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The 60-second advert features Christians from all walks of life praying one line of the Lord's prayer and includes weight lifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support centre, school children, a mourner at a graveside, a festival goer and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The country's three largest cinema chains Odeon, Cineworld and Vue - which control 80% of cinema screens around the country - have refused to show the advert because they believe it "carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences".
Despite the film receiving clearance from both the Cinema Advertising Authority and British Board of Film Classification, the cinemas are still refusing to show the advert.
Archbishop Justin 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. 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.
"This advert is about as "offensive" as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day. As a church we are a Jesus movement and this is the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples. I think people need to watch the film and come to their own conclusions as to whether it is offensive or upsetting. Let the public judge for themselves rather than be censored or dictated to."
Bishop of Sheffield, Stephen Croft, preaching at Peterhouse, Cambridge, yesterday, said: “There are only 63 words in the Lord’s Prayer. It takes less than a minute to say them. Yet these words shape our identity, give purpose to our lives, check our greed, remind us of our imperfections, offer a way of reconciliation, build resilience in our spirits and call us to live to the glory of our creator. No wonder they have been banned in the boardrooms of consumer culture.”
Watch the short video, below, yourself and make up your own mind: