Church of England Threatens Legal Action Over 'Star Wars' Ban

Three U.K. leading cinema chains have refused to show a short film by the church featuring the Lord's Prayer before showings of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in December.

AceShowbiz - The Church of England is threatening to sue over the rejection of a short film featuring the Lord's Prayer before showings of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in December. Three U.K. leading cinema chains refused to show the 60-second film over fears that the clip could offend non-Christians.

The short film showed the Lord's Prayer being recited by some people, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, police officers, weight lifters and school children. It was cleared by British film classification and advertising agencies but turned down by Digital Cinema Media (DCM), which handles British film advertising for major cinema chains like Odeon, Cineworld and Vue.

DCM said in a statement that the company had a policy of not accepting political or religious advertising content in its cinemas. According to DCM, "some advertisements - unintentionally or otherwise - could cause offence to those of differing political persuasions, as well as to those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith," and that "in this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally."

The Most Reverend Justin Welby responded to DCM's decision, saying it was "extraordinary." "This advert is about as offensive as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day," he said. "Let the public judge for themselves rather than be censored or dictated to."

The Rev. Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Church of England, added, "We find that really astonishing, disappointing and rather bewildering. The prospect of many families attending the release of the new Star Wars film had seemed a good opportunity to launch the advert and a new website to promote prayer ahead of Christmas. The Lord's Prayer is prayed by billions of people across the globe every day, and in this country has been part of everyday life for centuries."

"In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech," he added, "There is still time for the cinemas to change their mind and we would certainly welcome that. In the meantime people should visit the site, see the film themselves and make up their own minds as to whether they are upset or offended by it."

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