By John Martin
The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed dismay at a decision by leading U.K. cinemas not to show the Church of England’s one-minute “Just Pray” advertisement. The Church had hoped to place the ad ahead of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens by J.J. Abrams, but it was deemed divisive by the cinemas’ decision-makers.
“I find it extraordinary that cinemas rule that it is inappropriate for an advert on prayer to be shown in the week before Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Justin Welby said. “Billions of people across the world pray this prayer on a daily basis.” The Church of England is urging people to use social media to ensure that people see the ad.
Celebrity atheist Richard 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.”