Let us pray

Ridiculous, bizarre, unfair, misguided, outrageous – these describe the reaction of the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London and celebrities such as Stephen Fry to the decision by DCM (Digital Cinema Media) to ban an advertisement featuring the Lord’s Prayer in case it offends non-Christians.

Judging by the public responses to the article in The Telegraph most people agree that it was a wrong decision, and no-one was going to be offended.  Crucially, the Government’s equalities watchdog also voiced alarm at the ban, signalling it undermined ‘essential British Values’.

The Church of England advertisement encouraging people to pray, by featuring the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christians reciting the Lord’s Prayer as they go about their daily life, was at first welcomed by DCM, but they later changed their decision to air it.  It transpires that a DCM policy document bars commercials that advertise any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief, or any part of such religion or faith.  The Church of England, however, are considering legal action against DCM arguing that the decision could amount to religious discrimination. 

It seems that the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) are on the church’s side.  They are quoted as saying that freedom to hold a religion and freedom to express ideas are essential British Values.  There is no right not to be offended in the UK; what is offensive is very subjective and lies in the eye of the beholder.

Having second thoughts about airing an overtly Christian-themed advertisement today shows just how far our nation has strayed from her Judaeo-Christian roots.  Compare this week’s reaction with the call to a public day of prayer during the darkest days of the Second World War.  People knelt on the streets beseeching God to be merciful to us.

Sadly, whilst public opinion has been sympathetic this time, it may not always be so.  Already, in recent years, we’ve seen the removal of Christ from Christmas in many towns and cities in the UK, for fear of offending those of other faiths.  Many of our youngsters do not know the Christmas story, or the Easter story, for that matter.  Hitherto Christian festivals have been secularised, or their pagan origins have been resurrected.

It’s likely that in years to come an overtly Christian advertisement will definitely be banned, with full approval by the majority of the public and all the governing authorities.  Public opinion can be manipulated, and surely will.  Not so long ago, a tyrant in Germany with a hatred for Jews and Christians came to power.  He initially appeased the Church , allowing Christians the freedom to attend churches and follow their religion, so long as it didn’t affect the way they lived or the values they held. 

Whilst appearing to be benevolent, in fact he was determined that the State would be scrubbed clean of all Christian convictions and values.  Within a very short time, the church capitulated to Hitler’s demands and the handful of pastors who resisted him were arrested, imprisoned or killed.

So while we may be glad that public opinion is for freedom of expression today, the situation may not last, and we should be prepared for the day when any public expression of Christianity is a criminal offence.  It won’t happen here in the same way that it did in Germany, but there are many ways to attempt to silence the voice of the Church, so we need to be alert. 


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