An advert by the Church of England featuring the Lord’s Prayer has been banned in three leading cinema chains in the UK for fear it will offend people.
The 60-second advert which was cleared by the Cinema Advertising Authority and the British Board of Film Classification and was due to be shown before Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Three major cinema chains Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, which control 80 per cent of screens in the UK, have refused to show the advert because they believe it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”.
Arun Arora, director of communications for the Church of England, said in a press release: “The prospect of a multigenerational cultural event offered by the release of Star Wars: the Force Awakens on 18 December – a week before Christmas Day – was too good an opportunity to miss and we are bewildered by the decision of the cinemas.
“In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech. There is still time for the cinemas to change their mind and we would certainly welcome that.”
Digital Cinema Media, which handles most cinema advertising in the UK, told Arora it has “a policy not to run advertising connected to personal beliefs, specifically those related to politics or religion. Our members have found that showing such advertisements carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.”
The ad has been removed from UK cinemas.