Grant Woodward: God save us from a politically correct version of Christmas

A scene from the Church of England advert showing the Lord's Prayer being recited by members of the public, which has been banned from Britain's biggest cinema chains.
A scene from the Church of England advert showing the Lord's Prayer being recited by members of the public, which has been banned from Britain's biggest cinema chains.
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Ban on Church’s cinema advert shows how out of touch we are with true meaning of Christmas.

THE last time I checked with the vicar at the church down our road, we still lived in a Christian country.

I have to keep asking him because there’s precious little evidence of it about these days.

We live in a world where celebrities are the new deities.

An alien beaming down from the planet Zarg would report back that we all worshipped at the altar of a faith called Kardashian.

Meanwhile, more people will blub along to that soppy John Lewis Christmas ad than will be in church on Christmas morning.

As for Christmas itself, the true meaning of it is once again getting lost amid the blizzard of consumerism that infests every festive season.

So you might think it would do us good to be reminded as we run around fretting about what presents to buy (and whether we can actually afford them) that Christianity is at the heart of all the tinsel and the toys.

The Church of England, bless them, certainly thought so.

Long criticised for failing to twig that things have moved on a bit since the Reformation, they’ve finally done something innovative.

Looking to draw people’s attention to their Just Pray campaign, they decided to make an advert to be shown in cinemas before the new Star Wars film.

Now I’m not a regular churchgoer by any stretch of the imagination, but the end result is actually quite moving.

A whole host of people from different walks of life ranging from a grieving man to a police officer, farmer and a couple getting married, recite a line each from the Lord’s Prayer.

So far, so good. Unfortunately for the C of E, the company that runs advertising in most of the cinemas in the UK promptly decided to ban the advert on the grounds that some cinema goers might be offended by it.

The firm, Digital Cinema Media, said that it’s their policy not to show adverts from religious groups because “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”.

Have you ever heard anything quite so ludicrous?

What next? Banning church bells because some people might take umbrage to being reminded they’re living in a Christian country?

What’s especially dangerous about this politically correct idiocy is that it gets people’s backs up and creates resentment where there’s absolutely no need for it.

I’d bet my last Rolo that if you took a straw poll of Brits from every faith under the sun, you’d be hard pushed to find a single one who thinks the Church of England advert is offensive.

Unless they’re off their rockers, they’d accept the fact they live in a Christian country and think it bizarre that we’d even worry about them having their noses put out of joint by something so innocuous.

But by speaking for them, the company has straight away stirred up a hornet’s nest.

For Pete’s sake, even the Equality and Human Rights Commission opposes it, saying that the freedom to hold a religion and express ideas were “essential British values”. Which was nice of them.

In banning the advert, Digital Cinema Media said that it had to treat all religions equally.

But in Britain, not all religions are equal. Christianity is the dominant faith and the C of E is our established church, even if most of us only set foot in it for hatches, matches and dispatches.

The Church of England says it’s “bewildered” by the decision and has asked DCM to change its mind. If not, there’s talk of legal action.

Until then, we’re forced to put up with the usual bombardment of Christmas adverts that began in October and will continue right through to Christmas Eve.

But when someone actually makes an advert related to the true meaning of Christmas – you know, Jesus and all that – it’s banned.

That’s not just wrong, it’s downright frightening.

Dominic’s bill exposes NHS

THAT often trotted out claim that the NHS is the “envy of the world” is starting to look about as believable as Simon Cowell’s wrinkle-free boat race.

Our junior doctors are going on strike over pay and weekend working and this week the ridiculous and cruel nature of the so-called “postcode lottery” was hammered home.

Leeds man Dominic Horsley was told he was too young to have prostate cancer. But when he was finally given a scan several months down the line, doctors found an advanced tumour that had spread to his leg and pelvis.

He was told he needed chemotherapy – but would have to pay £1,400 for the privilege or go to Huddersfield or Manchester.

This was because the NHS in Leeds doesn’t fund the particular treatment he needs, but the other two do.

Except Dominic can’t go to Manchester or Huddersfield because he’s been told he had to be minutes away from the hospital in case the chemo sees him take a turn for the worse.

What a nasty and thoroughly unjust system it is that leaves someone having to fork out a considerable wodge of cash just to prolong their life while someone living a few miles away gets it for free.

The only bright spot is that one kind soul on the YEP website has offered to foot the bill for Dominic’s treatment from their own pocket. It’s good that our readers can see the value in a human life, even if those faceless pen pushers who run the NHS can’t.

I’m not falling for Osborne’s magic trick

GEORGE Osborne has perfected his own little trick that he reserves for days like when he’s delivering the autumn statement and spending review.

The Chancellor lets it be known beforehand that things are very, very bad indeed. That he’s going to have to cut things like tax credits. That there’s no chance he can let up on slashing the budgets of everything from the police to social care.

Then, on the day itself, it’s as if a magic wand is waved and suddenly it’s not quite as bad as we feared it was going to be.

So, out of the blue, Osborne stands up and announces that he’s not going to knife tax credits after all. That the police’s budget won’t be hit by more cuts. That free school meals for younger pupils won’t be axed as many were expecting.

All this makes Mr Osborne look wonderfully magnanimous, but we all know he’ll cut the money back from cut elsewhere. Who’s he trying to kid?