Widespread backing for cinema ad campaign
CHRISTIAN leaders across the UK have lent their support to the Church of England over the ban imposed by Digital Cinema Media (DCM) over a one-minute advertisement promoting Christian prayer in cinemas across the UK the week before Christmas.
The ad was released as part of the Church of England’s launch of www.justpray.uk, a “new website to promote the renewal of prayer in a digital age,” and was due to be screened in Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas ahead of showings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens before Christmas.
However, DCM, which handles cinema advertising for the cinemas— representing 80 per cent of UK movie screens — last week told the Church of England that it would not show the Lord’s Prayer film because it had introduced a new policy in the wake of the Scottish Referendum of not screening political or religious advertising in its cinemas on the grounds that these ads risked upsetting or offending audiences.
The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr Ian McNie, told the Belfast City Council he applauded the “Church of England on its initiative to promote the Lord’s Prayer in this way, a prayer that was given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
“This prayer is used daily by billions of people throughout our world as a prayer thanking God for who he is, and the seeking of personal guidance and forgiveness for our lives in a fractured and turbulent world.”
He added: “Undoubtedly many Christians will be dismayed by this decision, although not surprised. However, it is my prayer that this negative initial response from the advertising company will be turned into a positive appreciation and understanding of the importance of prayer. This decision takes on a more poignant meaning, especially at this time of year as we approach Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who encouraged us to pray in this way.”
The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told the BBC Radio Scotland’s “Good Morning Scotland” programme that he had watched the film and was “personally moved by it.”
The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, noted the film showed “a very diverse group of people. They connect their everyday life and work to the Lord’s Prayer. This is not an attempt to package or to ‘sell’ religion. Rather it seeks to help people to make connections between life and faith.”
He observed that Europe and the UK were “living through a time of great sensitivity about faith issues. The terrible events in Paris last week demonstrate that religiously motivated violence is one of the great challenges of our age. “
Bishop Chillingworth stated it was “not in the best interests of our society that we should cultivate excessive sensitivity about what can be expressed. We all need to be able to look at and appreciate the integrity of one another’s faith.
“Most of all we need to be able to distinguish good religion from bad and not make the mistake of assuming that all religion must be seen as potentially offensive.”