The leader of all Anglicans on the island of Ireland has said that cinema firms often carry adverts which “demean Christmas”.
The Most Reverend Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh, was speaking after it was revealed this week that a trio of cinema chains will decline to show a pre-Christmas advert – paid for by the Anglican church – featuring the Lord’s Prayer.
The News Letter reported the story on Monday, along with a wave of condemnation of the move from Northern Irish church figures.
The Church of England had commissioned the advert as part of its JustPray.uk campaign, and a spokesman said that the banning of it would apply across all branches of Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas – including any in Northern Ireland.
Archbishop Clarke is to speak tonight (Thursday) in Cookstown at the last of four public engagements – billed as a “diocesan roadshow”.
The subject of prayer had been decided on before the roadshow got underway, and it was co-incidence that it happened to co-incide with the scandal surrounding the Lord’s Prayer.
In a statement on Wednesday prior to the last roadshow event, Dr Clarke said “he is not sure if it [the cinema] is an appropriate place for an advertisement of this kind”. But he added that cinemas are “happy to show other advertisements that are certainly ‘plugging a particular line’, socially, politically and culturally...
“There are plenty of other advertisements, in the cinema and on TV, which wilfully demean Christmas and hence the religious sensibilities of believing Christians.”
Sounding a cautionary note about the commonplace use of the prayer, he also said Christians need to be careful about “using it without due care and attention simply because of our familiarity with it”.