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The Church of England wanted to show an advert featuring the prayer before the new Star Wars film in UK cinemas this Christmas. The 60-second promo for its justpray.uk campaign sees people from all walks of life reciting parts of the prayer.
But the ad has been banned from many cinemas by the Digital Cinema Media agency, which looks after cinema advertising for major chains Odeon, Cineworld and Vue.
The DCM doesn’t accept political or religious advertising, saying “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… in this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally”.
A spokesperson for the Church of England has branded the decision “silly” but also “chilling” in terms of its supposed impact on free speech.
“In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly,” said the Rev Arun Arora, “but the fact that they have insisted upon it, makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech.”