The BBC reports today that British cinemas have declined to show an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer, and that the Church of England (well, its director of communications, actually) is “bewildered and disappointed”, speaking of the decision as “plain silly” and likely to have a “chilling effect upon free speech”.
Now, I’m a lifelong Christian and an advocate of prayer but I wonder whether I’m alone in feeling neither disappointment nor bewilderment? There has never been a moment in my life when I’ve thought of prayer as advertising material. A form of address to God, yes. Forms of celebration, contemplation, intercession, lamentation, meditation, reflection and thanksgiving, yes. But didn’t Jesus of Nazareth have something to say about standing on street corners as though parading one’s piety?
Better a cinema “advert” that celebrated people of every race and nation, and of all creeds and none, living together in peace and harmony. This week of all weeks there’d be nothing disappointing, or bewildering, or plain silly, or chilling about that.