The Archbishop of Canterbury is said to be ‘disappointed’ at the refusal by several cinema chains to show an advertisement that features the Lord’s Prayer. For some reason the Right Reverend Justin Welby thinks rules are made to be broken as long as it’s him and his church doing so.

Digital Cinema Media has a very clear rule. It will not run political or religious material in its ads. That’s it. The rule applies to everybody.

Just as surely as night follows day, the media have been having a field day, with The Mail well to the fore. They’ve been fulminating about the iniquity of banning this ad while running ads for alcohol, for example. But that’s not the point. The beer ads do not break DCM’s rules. The Lord’s Prayer ad does.

Religious freedom is all very well when it applies to everybody. If it does then fine. But, and there’s a big but, of course, what would The Mail say about an ad featuring passages from the Qur’an right now? The Torah? Readings from the teachings of Buddha? Some Hindu scriptures? The Book of Mormon? A humanist tract? Some of Aleister Crowley’s satanic ramblings?

I’ll tell you what I think the rag would say. They’d be violently against it.

The scandalsheets are also banging on about the fact that the ad was approved by the British Board of Film Classification to be suitable for all audiences. That’s as maybe. But it broke DCM’s very clear guidelines. Would it have offended people? Probably not many. It wouldn’t have offended me, but it would have annoyed me, because the chance of getting an ad onscreen with my own beliefs in it are precisely zero. Atheism doesn’t sell.

Justin Welby was simply trying to pull rank, and right now should have a few more important things on his mind. Oh, and before anybody kindly points out that Richard Dawkins supports the ad being shown, staunch antireligionist as he is, I’d say the same thing to him. He’s trying to pull rank and break the rules.

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