A cinema ban on an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer has attracted further criticism, but the video’s online audience might now be larger than any it would have reached at cinemas.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said David Cameron thought the ban was “ridiculous”.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said it was “concerned” at the move, while The Times warned of “self-censorship”.
Prayer is for everyone
Boris Johnson also hit out at the decision, while Stephen Fry described it as “bizarre, unfair and misguided”.
The 56-second advert depicts schoolchildren, a farmer and a policeman speaking lines from the Lord’s Prayer, and ends with the message “Prayer is for everyone”.
bizarre, unfair and misguidedStephen Fry
Although the advert was cleared by two film watchdogs, Digital Cinema Media eventually blocked it. The organisation says it has a policy of not accepting “Political or Religious Advertising”.
The ‘Just Pray’ advert was originally due to appear before the new Star Wars film, which will be released next month.
Between YouTube and Facebook, the video has been viewed over 700,000 times since it was uploaded over the weekend.
“Already, it seems the audience far outweighs what the Church of England would have got if it had been shown in cinemas”, PR consultant Peter Davies said, commenting that people often arrive at cinemas late in order to miss the adverts.
Commenting on the decision, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “Freedom to hold a religion and freedom to express ideas are essential British values.
“We are concerned by any blanket ban on adverts by all religious groups”, adding: “There is nothing in law that prevents Christian organisations promoting their faith through adverts.”
In an editorial, The Daily Telegraph said banning the advert was a way of ‘keeping Christ out of Christmas’.
The Times said many would question the decision, and: “Society must be alert to self-censorship imposed because of fears of upsetting multi-cultural or specifically Muslim sensitivities.”