THE BISHOP of Leeds has strongly criticised a decision by leading Cinema chains to ban an advert showing Christians reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
The minute-long advert received clearance from the British Board of Film Classification and the Cinema Advertising Authority, but the Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency, which handles adverts for Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas, has refused to show it because it could cause offence.
The CoE has threatened legal action and said it is the victim of religious discrimination.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said the decision was extraordinary while the Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, described it as an irrational reflex which regarded religion as a problem.
The advert, produced by JustPray.uk, shows the Lord’s Prayer being recited by a members of the public ranging from bodybuilders to children, and includes the Street Angels in Leeds. However the DCM has declined to show it because of a policy on adverts which could potentially cause offence.
The Bishop of Leeds, said: “Why do the cinema people think prayer is so dangerous? And who exactly is going to be offended by a one-minute advert that consists of a pile of people saying a phrase of the Lord’s Prayer in sequence? No propaganda. No coercion. No pressure. Just an encouraging invitation. What is the problem? Well, the problem is basically the illiteracy of a liberal culture that thinks itself to be intellectually mature and culturally sound.”
Stephen Slack, the Church’s chief legal adviser, said the banning of the advert could give rise to legal proceedings under the Equality Act.
The DCM were unavailable for comment.