Long life

The Lord’s Prayer is no more offensive than Jeremy Clarkson or deodorant

12 December 2015

9:00 AM

12 December 2015

9:00 AM

There was a time not so very long ago when the most common complaint about Christmas was that it had become too commercial and that its Christian significance was being forgotten. Since then the decline in religious belief in Britain has grown so much that the secularity of Christmas is taken for granted. It is effectively a pagan festival now. According to the Church of England, only about one million people, or around two per cent of the population, still attend church on Sundays (though about twice that number do so on Christmas Day). The Church is in a bad way, and it is only natural that it should seek, as it has always done, to recruit new members by proselytism: hence its decision, in the run-up to Christmas, to use modern media for the purpose and screen a 60-second commercial in cinemas featuring the Lord’s Prayer.

I haven’t seen the commercial, but it sounds jumpy and irritating in the way that most cinema advertisements are. It reportedly shows the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reciting the first line of the Lord’s Prayer, with the other lines being said in succession by different groups of people including schoolchildren, refugees, policemen and weightlifters (why weightlifters?).

It may well be irritating, but certainly no more so than all the other advertisements for such things as motor cars, watches, drinks, deodorants, or Jeremy Clarkson advertising his new paymaster, Amazon. But it has been banned by Britain’s biggest cinema chains on the grounds that it would offend cinema audiences. Digital Cinema Media (DCM), the company that handles most of Britain’s cinema advertising and is owned by Odeon and Cineworld, announced very late in the day, well after it had been approved by the appropriate authorities, that the C of E’s commercial should not be shown because it had a policy of not screening religious commercials on the grounds that advertisements reflecting personal beliefs risked ‘upsetting or offending audiences’.


I don’t know where this policy springs from or how it came about, but it seems perfectly reasonable of the C of E that it is now complaining to the Equality and Human Rights Commission that DCM’s decision is discriminatory and an attack on religious freedom. Who could the commercial offend? Some people may be offended by it, just as some people might easily be offended by ads for deodorants or by ones starring Jeremy Clarkson. But this was not a commercial on behalf of Islamic State. It was a commercial on behalf of England’s established church of which the Queen is the Supreme Governor. And, as Justin Welby said, it was ‘about as “offensive” as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day’.

As for the content of the ad, it consisted purely of the words of the Lord’s Prayer, which, in its calls for forgiveness, resistance to temptation, and deliverance from evil, hardly invites much controversy among normal people. And to advocate the efficacy of prayer, however many people may not believe in it, is a desirable antidote to all the violence and brutality we are living through at the moment.

The C of E also deserves more respect than this. It may be a much-diminished institution, but it still has an important cultural role in our national life. People without faith still turn to it for baptisms, weddings and funerals. They are still comforted by its music and its rituals and inspired by its architectural heritage. It crowns our monarchs and commemorates our war dead. Life would be much poorer without it. Yet here are cinema chains stamping on its little effort to remind us of its existence and to recruit supporters. This is shameful.

Well, Christmas is upon us. I am more than a little wobbly in my own Christian beliefs, but I plan to go to church on Christmas Day, mainly to show my contempt for Odeon and Cineworld, but also to show my affection and support for the institution in which I was brought up and which I continue to admire, for all its defects, idiocies and misguided pursuit of ‘relevance’. But there is still time for the cinema chains to achieve redemption by changing their minds. The commercial was due to be screened before the new Star Wars blockbuster, which opens a week before Christmas.

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Show comments
  • JDale

    I know facts get in the way of a good uninformed rant, but maybe you’d like to check with the C of E press office (because I’m sure they wouldn’t lie – I think they have a commandment about that) whether they were informed by the advertising agency in August that their policy was not to screen political or religious advertising, and whether the C of E then proceeded to make the ad anyway and then announce their “shock” over the “last minute _ban_” on the same day in November that they were launching their new prayer website (which would have totally unnoticed otherwise).

    • Todd Unctious

      The Church of England is a shameful ,cowardly abnegation of responsibility.

      • johnb1945

        I don’t see how Christianity can be deemed a failure when it has produced the free, prosperous, secular west.

        • Ridcully

          Have to agree with the first sentence of his post though.

        • LG

          No, a free prosperous West arose despite the church, not because of it. The free West arose as a result of the Enlightenment, which itself was the rejection of your stone age/medieval piffle.

          • johnb1945

            Unmitigated nonsense.

            Jesus preached an explicitly secular model of religion.
            Architects of separation of powers were pretty much all Christians, no atheists present. Start with John Locke and move forward.
            Prototype religiously free country was the USA, and the US constitution was authored and signed by Christians, informed by their Christian faith.
            Even Medieval Europe had official, if not de facto, separation of powers. Kings, courts and clergy operated independently of each other.

            Can you point me at an officially atheist country with a separation of powers? Communist Russia? Where the polity and the judiciary were completely intertwined? Or China? Or N. Korea?

            Don’t knock things you do not understand. Separation of powers, secularism, is uniquely Christian in the modern world.

            You, sir, are evidence of why we need a proper, balanced appraisal of religion, specifically Christianity, in our education system.

          • LG

            “no atheists present” – is that because the church had already hanged them? People like Thomas Aitkenhead? You may wish to consider that David Hume was lucky to live some years later and escaped the curse of the church so that the enlightenment could flourish.

            And if you want an officially secular country, you might like to consider France. They achieved full separation of powers by getting rid of the priests, thankfully!

          • johnb1945

            So the French mass execution of clergy was OK because it was carried out by peace loving Jacobin/ left wing atheists? The clergy, of course, representing only a fraction of the people executed by them.

            Are you claiming David Hume was an atheist? You might be wrong.

            Do you really think the quasi religious French Laicite is a good model of secularism? Even the French acknowledge it curtails freedom of speech.

          • LG

            The revolutionaries were throwing off a hated oppressor. Since the clergy were sure of going straight to paradise, what’s the big deal?

            David Hume was a famous atheist. He had a brain.You asked me for an example, I provided it. France is an exemplar of successful western values.

          • johnb1945

            I thought Atheism guaranteed a peaceful Utopia full of rationalism and devoid of mass murder?

            I know getting you to admit the atheist, rationalist core of communism or eugenics is typically difficult, so I credit you for admitting otherwise.

            Jacobinism was a bit like a modern day Islamism, though.

            Islamists also think they are throwing off a hated oppressor in the name of an egalitarian Utopia.

            I don’t think France’s model of secularism or statehood could be deemed any more successful than that of the US, or our own, or Denmark’s. In some way the oppressive secularism works badly.

            Banlieus full of marginalised Muslims would suggest a failing somewhere.

          • LG

            Atheism doesn’t promise anything.

            The rest of your post is therefore derivatively wrong. The fact that some, or even all, secularist states are good, bad or indifferent, has nothing to do with whether god exists or not.

          • johnb1945

            Weasel words.

            In which case, theism doesn’t promise anything either.

            The reality is new atheists promise all kinds of (unverifiable) benefits for society if we simply become atheists.

            Otherwise, why get so upset about theism? (to the point of writing huge ranting tracts).

            Obviously $million book deals could come into it!

          • LG

            Theism promises god. That’s the difference. Atheism promises nothing. It is not necessary to promise any benefits for society to be an atheist.

            Atheism says “I don’t believe in a god (or gods) for which there is absolutely no evidence.” Therefore, the burden of proof rests with the theists to provide some evidential basis for their belief.

            You keep mentioning Dawkins, as if he speaks for all atheists. The logic of atheism does not depend on whatever Dawkins says, any more than the logic of a suicide bomber frames theism.

            You complain about atheists (such as Dawkins) setting out in print why he is an atheist and his rational explanation for such a stance. He no doubt rants because, like me, he is frustrated that some people still believe in stone age myths, for which there is no evidence and there has been no requirement since Darwin explained evolution and natural selection.

          • johnb1945

            Dude,

            I’m going to finish this increasingly tiresome debate with a couple of points.

            Theism does not “promise God”. It is belief in God. Just as atheism is belief in no God.

            Finally, there is no “burden of proof” which applies any more to statements of God’s existence than to his non-existence. Both are, at this moment, absolutely unverifiable and both (faith) positions have evidence for and against.

            Finally your belief in “rationalism” and “logic” is ill thought out.

            Logic is not the root to truth, or the sole route to truths…. might be a better way to put it.

            There is no logic in the world which can tell me, or you, what is absolutely morally right or absolutely morally wrong.

            There is no logical way to predict that business idea I have is absolutely going to make me a mint or absolutely going to make me a bankrupt. Just ask all those security dealers in the credit crunch.

            And so on and so on.

            So I will finish with the most important point of all, which is that in a country with freedom of religion, speech and expression there is no justifiable reason to exclude expressions of religion from the public sphere.

            Thanks.

          • LG

            Ok, thanks John, I don’t imagine a philosophical argument with someone who doesn’t believe in logic or rational thought is going to get anywhere. I will leave you with this. The west is built on those ideals, not the irrational or religious.

          • johnb1945

            And most people would consider Hume to have been sceptical, anti-clerical and unorthodox, but not an outright atheist.

            I don’t think he ever said “I do not believe in God”.

          • LG

            Before Darwin it would have been rational to believe in a creator. There was nothing to explain life and its diversity. After darwin, god isn’t necessary. Hume, being an arch rationalist was clearly sceptical and probably agnostic, but lacked the information to be fully atheistic. And he would have been a brave man to admit it anyway, given the stultifying power of the Scottish Kirk.

          • johnb1945

            Your point about Hume is nothing more than idle conjecture. I’ve debated many an atheist who insists that, for example, Hitler was a good Roman Catholic on the basis of what came out of his mouth (rather than what he did) and this is hardly different.

            And you make an interesting point about Darwinism. Darwinism is just a theory and much of it is verifiable, but much of it seems a little strange.

            Rapid speciation events being one.

            Other little things too, like the fact we cannot evolve to live forever – our genes eventually kill us if diseases or starvation do not.

            Suggests something “bigger” going on. Certainly bigger than the individual gene vector.

          • LG

            I make no claims for Hume – or Hitler, or anyone else.

            The fact that you find Darwin a little strange, or you don’t understand it, can’t be held against him. It’s the same logic used in the stone age to come up with religion – “I don’t understand X, therefore there must be a god”. Hardly convincing.

            I am intrigued though. Your view is that the theory of evolution is invalid because we don’t live forever? You don’t think that, if we lived forever, there would be no evolution? It is possibly the single most idiotic comment you’ve made so far.

          • johnb1945

            Lord give me strength….

            I was hoping to finish this.

            You most definitely either claimed or strongly implied that Hume was an atheist. You even went so far as to claim the only reason he did not profess his atheism was because of the “stultifying kirk”. We’re talking about unverifiable claims, and that is one you definitely could not advertise your future atheist utopia.

            Second, no, evolution could not occur if we did not die, or at least not as we understand it.

            That’s the point.

            Apparently inert, unconscious random aggregations of chemicals called genes enslave us to evolution so much that they cause us to die, which is good for them, or rather, evolution, but bad for us. And in however many billion years we have been unable to evolve out of this unfortunate conundrum.

            This is suggestive of, at the very least, something greater than going on than mere natural selection.

            That is my entire point. It should cause you to question evolution’s apparent randomness.

            It does not, of course, but it should. It’s a big problem for evolutionary biologists, one they cannot really answer.

          • LG

            I indicated that Hume was at best agnostic. I couldn’t care if he was a pope. His views are not resolutive of our conversation.

            You seem to think that its evolution’s job to preserve us as individuals. It isn’t. Since it is not driven by a god, it just preserves a gene set and replicates it, if that gene set is successful, it proliferates.

            Mutation is random, selection is not. Cumulative selection results in our current state.

    • Roger Sponge

      You can see the email correspondence here between Digital Cinema and the C of E’s Director of Communications

      http://archbishopcranmer.com/cinema-lords-prayer-ban-was-a-retroactive-policy-to-chuck-the-church-of-england/

    • MC73

      “they were informed by the advertising agency in August that their policy was not to screen political or religious advertising”

      See my point above about the gay marriage cake. Based on that case, the agency cannot legally refuse political or religious advertising.

  • freddiethegreat

    You’ve missed the point that has been around for many years: “offensive” is just an excuse. The real reason is plain, simply hatred of God and truth.

    • Todd Unctious

      More denial than hatred. An unwillingness to believe Dark age hocus pocus.

      • johnb1945

        And an acceptance of modernist utilitarian hocus pocus instead.

    • Old Nick

      Odium veritas parit

      • whatever name

        “Odium veritas parit”

        Hatred is half of “truth”?

        • Old Nick

          Truth gives birth to hatred (parit as in “primiparous”). It is a line from the playwright Terence and was used by Early Christians to explain why they got persecuted.

    • red2black

      More indifference than hatred? People would rather do other things.
      I’m surprised people still go to ‘the pictures’ any more; never mind Church.

  • mumble

    Well, quite. I don’t go to church, but it is to the CoE that I do not go.

    • Todd Unctious

      Feeble useless anachronism.

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    The Lord’s Prayer is not more offensive than Jeremy Clarkson or deodorant

    Fair enough, but for two points.

    1. I’m not sure I want to be dosed or overdosed with any of those three when I’ve put up good money to sit peaceably in the dark of a cinema.

    2, I remember the Bishop of Edmonton at the memorial service of a fine parish priest. He had visited the dying priest, and they had prayed together. The Bishop had used the “traditional” version of the Lord’s Prayer: the other had used the “reformed” version. The Bishop lamented that two old men could not speak in unison.

    • johnb1945

      Should adverts be banned full stop, then? Most of them are annoying, for films and products which do not interest me or you.

      Probably not. I accept that the cinema has a right to make money from airing them and the advertisers have a right to sell me their products in a public space. It may be temporarily annoying but it serves a greater good and I have a right not to buy.

      Why should a religion be subject to different rules than other advertisers?

      • LG

        Adverts aren’t allowed to make unproven, false claims – so that kind of rules out all religious advertising, which by definition is complete fairy story nonsense.

        • johnb1945

          Usual smug, shallow atheistic nonsense.
          What claim is it making?
          Adverts don’t always make verifiable claims. What verifiable claim does an advert for a film make?
          Should Dawkins’ atheist bus advert have been banned for making unverifiable claims?
          Plenty of people can attest to the benefits of Christian faith.

          And so on.

          As you were

          • LG

            Religions don’t make verifiable claims. That’s why they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise.

          • johnb1945

            They’re not making a claim.

            Nowhere do they say that joining the CoE will cure you of any ills or cause you to win the lottery.

            Interestingly, Dawkins bus adverts of a few years back did make a completely unverifiable claim, that there is “probably no God”. Presumably you think this should be permissible in your atheist free speech utopia?

            And plenty of adverts don’t make claims. They appeal straightforwardly to some desire you may have.

          • LG

            It was ‘verifiable’ that was the key word. Religions make lots of claims, none of them verifiable.

          • johnb1945

            ??

            “There is no God” is not verifiable.

            Sticking “”Probably”in front of it does not mitigate the claim in anyway or make it more verifiable. It’s a statement of belief.

            We generally don’t ban statements of belief, unless the belief can be deemed likely to incite violence e.g.belief in a racist conspiracy theory.

            It’s covered by concepts such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, things you appear not to believe in.

            And finally, what unverifiable claim was the CoE advert making?

            Answer?

            None.

          • LG

            I think the onus of proof is on those who assert something exists, rather than those who assert something probably doesn’t. Freedom of speech and belief is fine, but maybe just not where there might be impressionable kids. Some of them might be subject to delusion.

          • johnb1945

            Really?

            And on what basis have you decided that rather arbitrary rule of logic? I think, maybe, on the basis that it suits you and your beliefs which you’d like everyone else to adopt.

            If you are an atheist you are making a claim.

            You are claiming that the origins of the universe are random, unintelligent and un-designed.

            This is a position for which there is (at least!) no more evidence than the counter claim that it arose through intent and design.

            You just want to use the public space to impose your opinions on people, when it should be a place that all opinions can be heard.

          • LG

            No, if you assert something exists, the onus of proof is on you. It’s not an arbitrary rule of logic, it’s an immutable rule of logic.

          • johnb1945

            nonsense.

            You are claiming two opposite universal origins. The burden of proof lies equally on each.

  • GoJebus

    The good old C of E eh?. Sitting there in the House of Lords, unelected and spouting nonsense in the name of Santa, making this country a laughing stock among secular democracies around the world, stifling national debate and taking unto itself the role of crowner and mourner-in-chief. This bishop-ridden country will be unable to stand as a moral bulwark against religious interference and intolerance until the Church is disestablished. Some hope with the old Etonian god-botherers running the country and spouting this drivel.

    • Richard Baranov

      What an unpleasant individual you must be! A stream of obnoxiousness & negativity with not one constructive thing to say. Still, it takes effort to be constructive, evidently something you are not much interested in. And, I bet you know next to nothing about Christianity other than the usual misconceptions.

      • GoJebus

        The Christian god, like all other gods before it (Inti, Zeus, Geb,
        Tezcatlipoca etc., etc, ad nauseum) + Santa, + the Troll that lives
        under the bridge, is a figment of man’s imagination.

        About a month ago, a work colleague of mine’s son died of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Where was your loving god during the years of worry, pain and amputation, which culminated in the death of his innocent and beautiful child?

        Wake up and grow up Richard

        • johnb1945

          God is supposed to work in ways which are not self evident and time scales which are eternal.

          It is not supposed to be the case that you say a bedtime prayer and the result arrives on your doorstep the following morning.

          If you want to perceive God, (and maybe you do not), then you have to be more open minded and think more obliquely.

          • GoJebus

            Wow, John, at long last, someone who appears to have rock-solid evidence for God (I’ll assume for now that it’s that loving Christian God again, rather than Quetzlcoatl). Could you please tell me how you know so much about the great tyrant, and where I can peer review the evidence that backs up your statements. Please don’t say from the Bible or you will gravely disappoint me.

          • johnb1945

            Do you have clear, incontrovertible evidence that your own belief in random and unintelligent universal origins is true?

            I didn’t think so.

            Evidence is only as good as your ability to evaluate it – your perceptiveness, which can be and often is flawed.

            If you wish to find evidence of God, you need to change your perception.

            You demand, consciously or not, that God should think and do as you do, when you should be asking for an insight into God as God is. God has promised that all those who earnestly ask for such an insight shall receive one.

            It takes work, however.

            I’ve spent years thinking about it, arriving at a position of belief from one of atheism. It has been a journey, and not an easy one.

            I can’t do the hard work for you, you have to make a personal decision to open your mind, but if you really want it then the ways in which a loving, personally knowable God is active in the world, in all of our lives and in the universe can become clearer to you.

            You can start by being humble and accepting that you don’t have all of the answers. That means being less inclined to decry the beliefs of others which are foundational to our society as mere “nonsense”.

          • GoJebus

            More nonsense. You’ve been ‘got at’.

          • johnb1945

            How do you know it’s nonsense if you do not try it?
            I’ve told you what you’ve got to do.
            Open your mind, accept that it will probably take some time, be humble, and ask to receive.

            Things do start to make sense, I promise you, but if you are not even prepared to try then it won’t work.

          • GoJebus

            Why should I try it when you’ve done it but you are still unable to bring me the Burgess Shale. It’s all in your bonce from what I can see, just like it was in the bonce of every mountebank that ever lived. Evidence Johnny boy, evidence is all that counts.

          • johnb1945

            And the reason I’m encouraging you to do it is because, ultimately, it is about personal perception.
            I could write a book titled “why I believe in God”.
            I don’t, sadly, have the time, and even if I did you might still read it and say “I disbelieve”.
            It’s not that difficult for you to perceive these things yourself, however, and you can understand it for yourself if you try. I did, from a position of atheism, and it added to my life. It was a worthwhile thing to do.

            What I cannot do is give you the single, clinching piece of evidence that God exists and loves you. The letter penned in his ethereal hand, the direct answer to every prayer, the recording of his booming voice. God made very clear he would not present himself to us in that way. Sorry!

            It just takes a bit of time, a bit of thought, a bit of humility and a bit of openness.

            It’s up to you whether you wish to do it – free will and all that.

          • GoJebus

            “God made very clear he would not present himself to us in that way. Sorry!”

            You have been disappointing me up to now John, but if you are right in what you say above, then you are about to shock all of science. Could you please now tell the world when that was exactly and how the great Awondo transmitted that particular message. I await the news with bated breath.

          • johnb1945

            Talking to relentless cynic who offers no explanation for his opinions, choosing instead to assert then deride those who disagree is pretty bleak but I will have a go. If we’re critiquing the God of the bible (I assume) then we judge god by what the bible says about him. And that’s not that he’s a scientific experiment. Unless you want to invent some personal interpretation of what God should be,in which case your logic is likely to be circular.

            As a Christian we believe that good will triumph over evil. Man creates evil through sin and while God will not intervene directly against our free will, god will intervene indirectly to ensure good triumphs in the long run.

            Does this belief accord with human history?

            I believe that good has triumphed over evil. Always.

            Is this likely?

            No. I don’t think so.

            Here’s an example. Only one – history is full of them if you care to look, but I choose it because it is recent.

            With a few minor changes in policy, a slight moderation of ambition we could still be dealing with Nazism.
            Had the Nazis established a sustainable, if more limited Reich we’d quite possibly also still have European communism. Not only could they havd idolated, beseiged and impoverished us, it is possible they would both be nuclear powers. It is possible they would use their weapons.

            History is full of such examples, where a minor change could have led us down a significantly different and destructive path.

            The fact we’ve never ever been down one is evidence of God. The consistency with which good triumphs over evil regardless of odds.

            You decry life’s cruelty without realising how much worse things could be, how much worse men have tried to make it and wallow in self indulgent cynicism.

            I don’t know if you’re feeling depressed at the moment or if there’s something else wrong with you but is a little humility too much to ask?

          • GoJebus

            OK John, thanks for taking the trouble to lay all that out. If you believe in what the Bible teaches then good on you. For me it is a man-made, barbaric, medieval, frozen in time text, sadistic, murderous and filled with horror. Of course all that sits there next to a more liberal set of writings, but what a ghastly thing it is in the round.

            It is a shameful indictment of the human capacity to seek fairies, indoctrinate, control and threaten that the thing (alongside the Koran, Torah, Granth Sahib, Book of Mormon, and all other man-made religious fiction) does not languish in dusty museums as a reminder of a primitive past, rather than as a book that people still believe contains the words, deeds and rules of the great Shango.

          • johnb1945

            You’re looking for a burgess shale and I’ve told you that this kind of direct evidence does not exist.
            And nobody has ever claimed it does.
            You think only things which do have a burgess shale are worth believing, and I think that is misguided. Questions of morality cannot be answered with a burgess shale clinching piece of evidence, yet they are clearly important.

            For example.

            You can ask yourself certain questions – such as why we do not still live in the stone age, the role of black swan events in our progress, why we won the battle of Britain, why the US was colonised by us and not, say, the Ottomans or Chinese, or even, why has society progressed and not been wiped out by diseases, each other or a massive asteroid?

            To start with, you have to think “why” is a valid question.

            Most scientists don’t, and that is why science and rationalism is ill equipped to guide us to non-literal truths.

          • Marvin

            Not self evident, eternal, perceive, think obliquely, does all this end up in fantasy and dogma ?

          • johnb1945

            The only fantastical dogmatists in the public sphere at this moment are militant atheists and Islamists, who are, in fact, 2 sides of the same coin.

        • Richard Baranov

          Excuse me, I don’t know what you think but you certainly have the wrong end of the stick. I do not believe in God. So your comments are entirely inappropriate.

          • GoJebus

            “And, I bet you know next to nothing about Christianity other than the
            usual misconceptions. The Christian God is Love. You might want to think
            on that for a moment and what it implies about what you are trashing,
            although I doubt you will”

            If it walks like a duck…

          • Richard Baranov

            I already pointed out that the Christian god is love. You clearly have not been paying attention to what I actually write. Obviously far more interested in propagating your own bee in bonnet rather than actually pay attention to what people say.
            As for Christianity, I have been studying theology for over 40 years, I think I have some inkling, therefore, of what Christianity teaches. You, quite obviously, do not.

          • GoJebus

            I detect more than a little sparkiness in you too Dickie.

            According to the Bible (and the list of references is enormously long), the Christian god is actually a schizophrenic, mass murdering lunatic, with the main bulk of his murdering yet to come. You seem to have wasted those 40 years old son.

          • Richard Baranov

            Sorry but this is to notify you that I will not bother with your stupid remarks. It is to boring trying to argue with an ignorant bigot who clearly knows nothing of the subject at hand but is more interested in pouring out their personal bile and stupidity in public.

          • GoJebus

            OK thanks Richard. But as a Parthian shot:

            During our exchange I asked you to awaken from your reverie. I also said that you were a little ‘sparky’ and accused you of having wasted 40 years of your life studying theology. I may also have incorrectly labelled you as a Christian.

            On the other side of the weighing scales you, Richard Baravov, have:

            Critiqued me and my comments as being variously unpleasant, obnoxious, negative and inappropriate
            Accused me of not being interested in being constructive
            Accused me of knowing nothing about Christianity
            Accused me of trashing Christianity
            Accused me of being emotive
            Accused me of not paying attention
            Accused me of having a poor argument
            Accused me of propagating a bee in my bonnet
            Accused me of not paying attention, again
            Accused me of knowing nothing about Christianity, again
            Called me a bigot, and ignorant
            Called my remarks stupid
            Called me an ignorant bigot, again
            Accused me of pouring out personal bile
            Accused me of pouring out stupidity in public

            Well I don’t know about you Rich., but I’m detecting a certain deficit of love and constructiveness in your messages. Could it be that you are raining down the heavy artillery because deep down you know I’m right?

            Happy Christmas to you and your family.

          • Richard Baranov

            No, I know that you are completely wrong. You talk from the standpoint of ignorance, I from knowledge. There is far more wisdom in Christianity than in your silly rants which simply betray vast ignorance of the subject at hand.

          • GoJebus

            I am inclined to agree with your second sentence, in that small amounts of gold can always be panned from among tonnes of spoil, and as neither of us believes in the great Mbombo, we can also agree that the whole thing is a man-made philosophy, rather than an instruction manual from the big M., and can therefore be discarded.

            We are almost getting along Dickie!

          • Richard Baranov

            No, I don’t agree. Simply because I’m a non-theist does not mean that I have an axe to grind about religion. Your attitude is irrational because it dismisses whole swathes of reality that make us what we are. I would argue that religion is not man made at all, rather it is an instinctive response to try and make sense to the world we find ourselves in and comes from a very deep part of the human experience. It is primarily about becoming more than petty human beings who think that everything that happens is about them (http://www.donmarquis.org/warty.htm ) . How this is explained, how this is achieved is a matter of ones culture, linguistic milieu and myriads of other things. To dismiss religion is to dismiss humanity and only those who don’t study it can make the sort of preposterous cartoon characterization that you make.

          • GoJebus

            Thanks for the weird toad story Rich.

            I also like the way you put cartoon into the same sentence as religion. How apt.

            Reasons greetings!

          • Richard Baranov

            The poem is one of my favourites It makes my fundamental point however. Solipsism has become the order of the day.

          • GoJebus

            I’ll stick to Shelley. The eradication of medieval superstition and witchpokery should be the order of the day.

          • Richard Baranov

            I was under the impression that was done long ago.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Nasty.If you want to rail against something that is unelected and spouts nonsense, please turn your venom towards the bureaucrats of Brussels, who have more influence on your life than the bishops do. If you want to be really brave, try throwing a few pot shots at Islam ….

      • GoJebus

        Not as nasty as the Bible (or the Koran) Mrs P.

        I’m no supporter of the EU, but at least most of what they believe is rooted in Planet Earth and not La La land.

  • Marvin

    Tell that to the Sharia Britain that we will be living under in the very near future. The barbarians are at the gates.

  • MC73

    Surely the legal position is entirely clear? If a cake shop owner in Northern Ireland is not allowed to turn down a pro-gay marriage cake then a cinema cannot turn down an advert for a religion (that does not breach the law) even if the cinema business considers it ‘offensive’.

    Whether or not people support gay marriage or Christianity is neither here nor there.

    Of course, in a better and brighter world, business owners would be able to serve whichever customers they liked and people could in turn judge whether to patronise their business on that, or any other, basis…

    • LG

      Do companies/religious organisations have human rights in the same way that individuals do? That might be the legal difference.

  • Migru Ghee

    I have shown my contempt for Odeon, Cineworld, i-max and so on many years ago, simply by becoming a member of my local 1920s cinema which, to be fair, is far more trendy than the modern streamlined equivalent.

  • Augustus

    Yes, life would be much poorer without it –

    “And though for Church
    we may not seem to care,
    It’s deeply part of us.
    Thank God it’s there.”
    – Sir John Betjeman

    • trobrianders

      It isn’t just “there”. It has infected what was already there.

  • Mary Ann

    When will Alexander get it into his head that I don’t go to the cinema to listen to the Lord’s prayer, if I wanted to do that I would go to church. Also, it was Christians who hi-jacked pagan celebrations for the solstice and Saturnalia, it’s time they claimed it back, Why don’t Christians try to work out when Jesus was actually born and celebrate his birthday then, I suspect they are afraid to do so because few people would take any notice,

    • whatever name

      Exactly, if we wanted to go to church then we would but we don’t. They cant take no for an answer.

      Christians like to cry about Christmas, they forget that they burnt down all the sacred oaks of the pagans who invented Christmas. They totally wiped out all pagan literature but some survived on remote Iceland, otherwise we would know absolutely nothing about Germanic paganism, like they totally wiped out all record of Celtic paganism. Christianity was just like Islamic State. All I can say is, don’t cry to me!

      • Starryeyed girl

        Ancient Pagan religions are disliked by Christianity because many promoted human sacrifice. Also did they murder all the European pagans?

        • whatever name

          “many promoted human sacrifice”

          Can you provide any statistical proof that Germanic “pagans” killed more of their own people than the Christians did during the Dark Ages? Like “h*retics”, “p*gans”, “w*tches”, “j*ws”, “f*gs” etc. (“offence” filter) No I didn’t think so.

          Your Holy Mass is a rip off of human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism. Most of us moved on long ago.

          • Starryeyed girl

            Actually yeah even if millions died over the causes you stated then that will still be less than the constant enshrined murder over around 8000 years. That’s discounting the fact that those religions would have had a period of instability too.
            The Pagan population converted to Christianity, mostly so the ex pagans rid themselves of the reminders of their old faith. Also Pagans didn’t invent Christmas. You put in ‘offense’ filters but you’re the one getting het up over an advert with a harmless prayer in it.

    • Germainecousin

      Don’t worry girl, just keep visiting the mosque.

    • Dougie

      What’s your point? I don’t go to the cinema to watch the Kiaora ad, nor even the “Coming Shortly”, but it’s just one of those things you put up with. If the CofE wants to pay for an ad with the Lord’s Prayer in it, I’ll just put up with that too. There are far too many people going round these days looking for an excuse to be offended. Get over it!

    • Starryeyed girl

      Christmas is Christmas. So what if it was put on the date of an old festival for logistical means. The cinema felt it was ok to show an ad that promoted Hinduism (which is fair enough) but not an ad about Christianity. I saw a stall with people advertising Islam today while shopping it’s not what I go out to see but so what, it doesn’t hurt me. The ad doesn’t hurt you and keeps the price of your ticket down, I don’t see why you would have a problem with it.

    • The only way our Lord Jesus Christ wanted to be remembered is by partaking of the “Lord’s Supper”. Of the bread he said, “This is my body, do this in remembrance of me,” and of the Cup (fruit of the vine) he said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, do this in remembrance of me.” Not by celebrating Xmas or Easter but by celebrating his sacrifice for humanity on the Cross is how he wanted us to remember him. That was his way; the rest are human ways. We don’t follow human ways but His way, on each First Day of the week.

    • SPW

      I don’t expect the un-regenerate to celebrate the birth of their judge. I expect them to run around feeding the flesh – which is what they do. For Christians however, we know it is not the exact time of Christ’s birth, but it is a chance to take time to dwell upon and remember and revisit and wonder again at the fact of the Incarnation and all that it implies. Wrestle it away as much as you like – Christianity will only shine the brighter and the intolerant will hate it even more.

  • trobrianders

    It hasn’t been banned on the grounds that it would offend cinema audiences. It has been banned because it would open up a legal minefield on the banning of ads for more extreme “religions” that would inevitably follow. And a good thing too.

    • SPW

      I think you are right here – that’s how I read the situation and I’m surprised by the spleen-venting banter that people revel in here.

  • whatever name

    Religions go to prove that humans are a fundamentally dishonest species. That, and self-righteous. God I despair of people.

  • Jez Field
    • whatever name

      True, it might as well be called the Our Fuehrer prayer, it is a prayer for theocratic genocide, an Islamic State wet dream.

      “Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

      [10] And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ…

      [3] And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

      [7] And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
      [8] And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
      [9] And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
      [10] And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
      [11] And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

      • Sarka

        If ISIL left it to God and his angels to liquidate their enemies and bring about the end of the world by magical means, I think we would have little grounds to worry about them.
        The trouble is ISIL’s DIY approach to Apocalypse.

      • How naive and ignorant. This is symbolic language. And the kingdom of heaven is spiritual (in the heavenly realms), which is another dimension/realm. It has to do with the spirits (minds/hearts), not the physical. The spirit sheds the physical (mortal/flesh) at death anyway. Figure that out.

        • whatever name

          “How naive and ignorant. Apocalypse is not the least bit material or real. No one gets killed. No one ever got killed by the Bible. You are so thick and naïve. Fool!”

          LOL @ you too. You certainly know how to flatter people.

          Your God is holy. Yes so you keep telling us. Apocalypse just goes to prove it.

          • SPW

            God is not human. He is vast and has promised to deal with man’s rebellion and intolerance of Him. In His mercy He has provided a costly route to flee from the wrath to come; namely the substitutionary death of His Son, who endured this apocalypse on the cross on your behalf so that you might not have to. He offers to swap His perfect life for yours. Up to you though – He will not force your hand. What will be your excuse if you count this escape route as worthless or a lie?

      • SPW

        Thank you for quoting large portions of scripture and for warning of the reality to come.

  • Freddythreepwood

    I find popcorn and noisy drinks offensive. And is it not time we did away with the term ‘blockbuster’? The block was busted long ago.

  • Zalacain

    Christmas was a pagan ritual long before Christians took it over. As to banning the Lord’s Prayer, as an atheist, I don’t understand the grounds for banning it. After all I find a huge number of things offensive and in turn I take great pleasure in exercising my right to offend others.

  • edithgrove

    they should bring back the national anthem, with everyone on their feet

  • pobinr

    The Lord’s prayer offends me
    Alluha Ackbar

    • kevinlynch1005

      Your ignorance and stupidity offend me. Still, I’ll put up with both (so long as you let me laugh at your stupid worship of a paedophile warmonger – deal?). I note, inter alia, that you are also too stupid even to write ‘Allahu akbar’ properly.

  • The Lord’s prayer is lovely, everyone should know it off by heart.

  • Shorne

    Perhaps cinemas could be persuaded to broadcast this in the interests of equality because it’s in Syriac

    Avvon d-bish-maiya, nith-qaddash shim-mukh.
    Tih-teh mal-chootukh. Nih-weh çiw-yanukh:
    ei-chana d’bish-maiya: ap b’ar-ah.
    Haw lan lakh-ma d’soonqa-nan yoo-mana.
    O’shwooq lan kho-bein:
    ei-chana d’ap kh’nan shwiq-qan l’khaya-ween.
    Oo’la te-ellan l’niss-yoona:
    il-la paç-çan min beesha.
    Mid-til de-di-lukh hai mal-choota
    oo khai-la oo tush-bookh-ta
    l’alam al-mein. Aa-meen.

  • Callipygian

    Last we heard from Mr Chancellor, Christmas isn’t really your holiday if you aren’t Christian. Well, stick it up your Christmas jumper:

    ‘The first absolutely certain record [that] places it upon 25 December is the calendar of Philocalus, produced in 354 and apparently at Rome. From there it seems to have spread to Constantinople, Antioch, and Bethlehem by the end of the century, although it is not recorded at Jerusalem for almost two hundred more years and was never recognized by the Armenian Church. The reason for the choice of this date, and the success of it, was stated with admirable candour by a Christian writer, the Scriptor Syrus, in the late fourth century:

    It was a custom of the pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the Nativity should be solemnized on that day.

    Ronald Hutton, The Stations Of The Sun: A History Of The Ritual Year Of Britain

    • Old Nick

      This opening paragraph of Professor Hutton’s otherwise most impressive volume is outside his field of expertise (which is mediaeval English folk custom) and the facts in it (including the curious Scriptor Syrus) are actually borrowed from Fraser’s Golden Bough. What Fraser (and Hutton) think was a 4th century character they call the Scriptor Syrus was a high mediaeval Syriac scholiast writing (IIRC) commentary on the 9th century Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch Dionysius of Tell Mahre (one of those Syriac-speaking villages near Raqqa/Callinicum, now controlled by You Know Who). He also ignores the fact that what was celebrated in the East was Epiphany.
      It is true that Christmas is first certainly mentioned in the Chronicle of 354 (which probably drew its material from an earlier 4th century document). It is possible though that Hippolytus of Rome mentions it in the mid-3rd century. However, there is no obvious ancient Roman festival for it to be continuous with – Saturnalia was the previous week and the Festival of the Sun (also first certainly mentioned in the Chronicle of 354) is likely to be no older than the 270s. Early Christians were always keen to mark anniversaries (e.g. of martyrs’ deaths) and to disregard the Lord’s advice not to try and calculate the Times and Seasons by which the history of the world (they believed) is mathematically regulated. It was commonly thought that perfect people lived mathematically perfect lives – e.g. Moses died on his birthday. The solar year anniversary of the Crucifixion or Resurrection was often taken to be March 25th, so it was reasoned that the Annunciation was also on a March 25th – which gives you Christmas nine months later. This reasoning does not fit either modern or mediaeval assumptions about continuity with a pagan past, but it is more characteristic of Late Antique/ Early Christian ways of thinking. It is also analogous to the way that Greek-speaking (and so Armenian and Syriac speaking) Christians generated the date for Epiphany. If you do not believe me try Professor MacGowan of Melbourne: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/

      • Callipygian

        Not just medieval, not just English, and not just folk custom. He deals with ancient peoples of the British Isles, and that includes their religions, rituals, and burial sites. He is not correct, perhaps, about every last detail (who ever is?), given the sweep of his researches, but I find him scholarly, reliable, and respectful. Hutton, unlike others, never lets himself be taken off with the fairies.

        • Old Nick

          Oh I agree about his scholarship in general – especially (where I am less competent) what he has to say about the high mediaeval origins of many English folk customs. But he is not an historian of Late Antiquity and in this paragraph he has relied on old scholarship (viz. Sir James Frawer) which happens to be ill-informed, in fact actually wrong for interesting reasons, because early anthropologists like Fraser wanted to think that there was a sort of perennial rhythm to religious rites that had nothing to do with the specifics of belief. This sort of belief in the perennial character of calendar customs is actually what Hutton casts significant doubt upon in his work on mediaeval England. His scepticism should have extended to the alleged pagan origins of Christian festivals such as Christmas, Epiphany, saints’ days and Easter (rather obviously rooted in Jewish practice !).

          • Callipygian

            All right, fair enough. I know that people make errors, for one reason or another (I raise my hand here). And when supposed experts do so, it can really cast doubt on their whole project. I was just given a book in which the author claims that Sir Thomas More opposed Henry VIII’s marriage ‘as Archbishop of Canterbury’.

          • Old Nick

            I like your screen-name !

          • Callipygian

            Titter. Thank you very much (I feel like Elvis).

          • Old Nick

            I cannot lie.

          • Callipygian

            That is very admirable, though it could be inconvenient at certain times. : )

  • Whitegold

    Respect it coming from the pope not these heretical clowns.

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