File this one under “soon to cross the pond.” In the UK, an advertisement from the Church of England featuring The Lord’s Prayer was rejected from movie theaters on the grounds that it would be considered “offensive.” The ad was set to premier with the new Star Wars movie.
The rationale behind the ban?
“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,” said Digital Cinema Media, the company responsible, said in a statement. “In this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally.”
Offensive. Because, as you may or may not be aware, without advertisements before movies, most people are blissfully unaware of the existence of other religions. This ad would come as quite a shock to them. “Who is this Lord character,” they might ask. “And why are people talking about forgiving others and eating bread?” Imagine the distress.
CNN reports that the Church of England is considering legal action, as religious speech is protected and is in a different class than political speech. We’ll see what happens, but I think it is safe to say that unless the decision is voluntarily reversed, the ad won’t be shown.
The ad is promoting prayer, something that literally billions of humans rely on or turn to in times of hardship or grief. People like those in Paris, as the head of the Anglican church reminded the Daily Mail on Sunday in their reporting on the advertisement. To think that such a thing could be considered offensive is … well, offensive. And dumb. And dangerous.
And it could happen here. Don’t kid yourself. Religious speech is well under assault already in the United States. Just ask the Houston mayor.