In the run-up to Christmas, the Church of England hoped to place a 60-second advert – a presentation of the Lord’s Prayer – in cinemas around the UK.
But Digital Cinema Media – the advertising agency responsible for advertising in 80% of the cinemas across the country – has decided that it won’t be showing the advert after all. It has a policy, it says, of ‘not accepting political or religious advertising’. It added that ‘some adverts could cause offence to those of different faiths or of no faith.’
The Church of England itself has said that it is ‘disappointed and bewildered’ by the decision.
Keith Porteous Wood, of the British Humanist Association, quite reasonably says that the cinema chain, if it took this advert, might be even more at risk of being sued if it didn’t then take an advert from another religion, or perhaps even a cult.
Of course, the incident raises the question once again about the place of religion in our society, and especially Christianity, as our historic religion, and even more especially the Church of England, as the established church. Is it reasonable to suppose that love, faith, and obedience to the one true and living God, the Creator of everything, and the one to whom we must all one day give an account, can be excluded from the public square and turned into a matter of merely private devotion? I don’t think so.
For Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, the Lord’s Prayer can be uttered by those of other faiths and no faith, ‘a fundamental recognition of human being, human need, and the realities of human experience.’
But, as several Christian commentators have pointed out, the Lord’s Prayer really is offensive, because it challenges everything that is held dear by the modern secular consumerism.
As Andrew Wilson puts it:-
‘May your kingdom come’. One day, all the kingdoms of the earth will become the kingdom of God and his Messiah. In the meantime, as we wait for you to gather up all your enemies and turn them into your footstool, we cry to you: let your reign be shown here as well. Dethrone the powers. Overturn empires. Destroy everything that opposes you. Rule everywhere.
‘Let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’. May the very content shown on this cinema screen, and the civilisation it represents, be subjected to your will, so that only things which honour you are done. Just like currently happens in heaven.
‘Give us today our daily bread’. We are dependent on you – not the markets, the government, our security services or our own ingenuity and talent – for every good gift. Please keep providing them all, because if you don’t, we’re in big trouble.
‘And forgive us our sins’. We have all sinned against you, offended you, transgressed your law and trespassed against our fellow humans, and we are in desperate need of forgiveness. None of us are righteous. Please, in your mercy, wipe out our sins.
‘As we forgive those who sin against us’. Including abusers, manipulators, jihadists, and the rest, since we deserve judgment just as they do.
‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’. There is evil in the world, and it’s both out there (deliver us from evil) and in here (lead us not into temptation). Save us, O Lord! We can’t do it without you. Rescue us from everything which opposes you, and help us not to contribute to the problem in our own twisted fallenness.
‘For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory’. Nobody else’s. No other God but you. No king but God. No Lord except Christ. Your glory shall not belong to another. Amen.
Watch the advert here.