Recently, a Church of England ad featuring the Lord’s Prayer and set to run before screenings of Star Wars in the UK hit a dead-end. Even though the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave it the tamest rating an ad can get, cinema chains that control 80% of the theaters in Britain rejected the commercial, deeming it more offensive than an R18. Just so you know, the BBFC defines R18 as “a special and legally-restricted classification primarily for explicit works of consenting sex or strong fetish material involving adults.” Right.

Sadly, we’re not surprised in the least by the commercial’s rejection; it’s what we’ve come to expect from the spineless secularism of our day. Many of you may know that Fixed Point faced a similar situation when our Super Bowl ad, which featured a relatively innocuous reference to John 3:16, was rejected for fear of upsetting and offending audiences. But the commercial garnered loads of media attention, went viral, and aired in every major market as a news story anyway. Mission accomplished.

But back to the Lord’s Prayer ad. The Church of England is stunned and called the decision “chilling.” They elaborate:

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. Prayer permeates every aspect of our culture, from pop songs and requiems to daily assemblies and national commemorations. For millions of people in the United Kingdom, prayer is a constant part of their lives, whether as part thanksgiving and praise, or as a companion through their darkest hours.

Their argument: a vast number of moviegoers are praying people, and a business wants to curtail its marketing to this large segment of its customers, right? Not today. Today, minorities are the target audience, at least in the sense that the offense of a few outweighs the consent of the many. We’ve seen it before: one griping individual can cause such businesses to tremble and grovel. As Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian, “Of course, we can guess what those execs were really saying to each other. If we allow Christianity, we are going to have to allow others, even – heaven forfend – Islam. You can feel their panic, their bureaucratic cowardice.” Cowardice is indeed the word. No one can be allowed to pronounce their belief for fear that that belief offends another. Even Richard Dawkins calls it nonsense – albeit backhandedly: “If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended.” The West, it seems, has become too afraid of thoughtful disagreement. Please, please just keep your mouth shut so we can all live comfortably. That’s the motivating factor: comfort.

Here’s what we like about this: we’re seeing the Church of England and others vocalize a genuine shock, surprise, and disgust. Recent years have seen Christians growing so accustomed to such public rejections that we’re becoming subdued, complacent, and ready to accept defeat. But even though we can expect to face further rejection (as Jesus himself predicted in John 15:18), it doesn’t mean we give up trying. It only means we have to constantly retool and find new and creative ways to get the Gospel message before the world.

Image Credit: Chris Barber