THE BLOG

I Don't Want to Hear the Lord's Prayer in the Cinema

23/11/2015 12:06 GMT | Updated 22/11/2016 10:12 GMT

The Church of England is threatening to take legal action against the company who place adverts in UK cinemas because they have declined to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.

Having no belief in any god or gods or afterlife or any other supernatural phenomena - I am very happy that I won't have to sit through it when I choose to go to the cinema. As a child, like many others over many years, I was required to recite this particular prayer every day at school. Anyone who says that this was a matter of choice is being disingenuous - I don't ever recall being asked how I felt about it or having been given an option.

In any case my sympathy is not with this very rich and influential organisation - the Church of England. They have 26 Bishops in the House of Lords as a matter of right - they get to express their views far more easily than almost everyone else in the Country - not only that they get to vote on law and other Government matters and they are not elected by anyone.

The Bishops make regular broadcasts on the BBC's Thought for The Day program - a broadcast to the whole nation. They get wheeled out every time the question about assisted dying is discussed - as if only their thoughts matter on that topic - a ridiculous assumption by the media in the 21st Century.

The Church of England has only recently (and reluctantly) agreed to promote women. It disapproves of gay relationships as a policy finding they fall short of an 'ideal'! An 'ideal' which, as far as I can see has been concocted by ordinary men claiming the authority of a supernatural being.

This is an organisation that is apparently capable of covering up scandals involving members of the organisation as appears to be the case with the former Bishop Peter Ball - recently convicted of abusing young men from the 1970s through to the 1990s.

They are the State Church - we all get to have an opinion on what they get up to because they still have an influence on our lives whether we like it or not.

This case does not involve some small group of powerless individuals who would otherwise not have a chance to voice an opinion or express their own culture and beliefs.

However, after all that - things shouldn't be banned just because they annoy people like me. After all we have various political parties advertising their products at certain times in the political cycle - and I certainly don't want to hear what UKIP has to say about everything being the fault of foreign people - but they should be allowed to boast about their political philosophy because that's part of being a democracy.

In the final analysis though - it seems to me this is more a commercial decision by a profit making organisation. This is not a government ban on free speech in public spaces or on the media. I could imagine a commercial company saying no to religious materials being included on - say - the side of tins of beans or extracts from the Bible being embossed on the dash boards of new cars or on fridges.

Many people of many different religions like to pray - and they should be free to do that as a right - even if it seems to alter nothing at all. But I think the Church of England should be careful not to paint itself as some sort of victim in this matter - they are a powerful State Church and we don't get to vote them in or out.