Can I get an ‘Amen’ to that?

Not it if it involves the Lord’s Prayer in a cinema, apparently. Now, it is perfectly legal (despite what some indignant anti-religious letter writers seem to believe) for a religion or political party to advertise in the UK. Of course, just as with any other form of advertising, such adverts need to abide by the law and, in the case of a cinema, fit the age classification of the film being shown (and, with religious adverts, they are, somewhat bizarrely, restricted to not discussing actual doctrine or belief). But, if the advert meets those criteria, there are no grounds for banning it. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Of course, all reasonable people – even Richard Dawkins – have rejected this attack on the freedom of expression. But, that hasn’t stopped a vocal minority from working hard to establish a link between being irreligious and being a moron. Hence letters about religion being ‘foisted’ on cinema viewers (in the same way that Coca Cola is, presumably) and being ‘exhorted to pray'(but being exhorted to buy clothing made by children in third-world sweatshops would be okay?), because non-believers, apparently, lack a mind or will of their own. Then, there is the complaint that you can’t mute the advert in a cinema -um, that applies to all adverts in a cinema (do they enjoy listening to them all?), and what is it about the Lord’s Prayer (about the most inoffensive expression of any belief, religious or secular) that they find offensive?

But, even more stupidly, I saw one letter arguing that if the Church of England was allowed to advertise in the cinema, then that would mean that other religions would be (which, uh, they are) including Jihadists. Yes, let me run that by you again. Someone, apparently seriously, was suggesting that if you allowed people to hear the Lord’s Prayer in a cinema, that would set a legal precedent that would force cinemas to recruit for ‘Islamic State’. Not only would advertising for Jihadis be illegal, there is no logical step here. You might as well argue that allowing the army to advertise for recruitment would mean you would have to allow a recruitment for Jihadis or that a call to join the police sets a precedent for the Mafia to advertise for mobsters. Or, indeed, that an advert for beer makes it legal to advertise banned substances.

Banning a religious advert from cinema might be a blow to free speech, but it’s probably given the Church of England more free publicity through the resulting press coverage than it lost, and the idiocy shown by the opponents of the advert has only boosted its credibility. Which, given the usual state of the C of E, is quite amazing. For them to seem reasonable and credible is no mean feat!

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  1. […] fair given that Christianity had been banned from advertising in cinemas. Now, as I covered in an earlier post, I disagreed with that ban, but there was absolutely no injustice here: Christians (and atheists) […]



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