Richard Dawkins backs CofE over banned Lord’s Prayer ad

Atheist scientist Richard Dawkins has strongly objected to three UK cinema chains refusing to screen an advertisement featuring the Lord’s Prayer.

The ad, produced by, shows the Lord’s Prayer being recited by members of the public ranging from bodybuilders to children, and also features the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The minute-long ad received clearance from the British Board of Film Classification and the Cinema Advertising Authority.

But Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency, which handles British film advertising for Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, which run almost 300 of the 750 cinemas in the UK, rejected the advert because they said it would “offend” audiences.

The Church of England planned to run the advert before the new Star Wars film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens in cinemas across the UK on December 17.

Asked about the DCM decision, Professor Dawkins told the Guardian: “My immediate response was to tweet that it was a violation of freedom of speech”.

“But I deleted it when respondents convinced me that it was a matter of commercial judgment on the part of the cinemas, not so much a free speech issue.

“I still strongly object to suppressing the ads on the grounds that they might ‘offend’ people.

“If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby, branded the DCM decision “offensive”.

Rev Arun Arora, the Church of England’s director of communications, told the Telegraph: “If they want to be consistent on not carrying any ads that have any connection with religious belief, I’d like them to cancel all ads linked to Christmas as a Christian festival”.

“If they’d like to apply it consistently, ban every ad that mentions Christmas.”

The Church of England is reportedly considering legal action.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the DCM decision is “ridiculous”.

DCM said it had adopted a policy not to run advertising connected to political or religious beliefs following a negative reaction to political advertising it had screened before the Scottish Independence Referendum.


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