The Church of England has hit out a "plain silly" decision by three leading cinema chains to refuse to screen an advert showing the Lord's Prayer on the grounds that it could cause offence to non-Christians.
The 'Just Pray' advert, which shows people from all walks of life reciting the prayer, was due to be shown to audiences before the new Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
It has been rejected by the country's three largest cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, who said it could upset people who follow different religions or have no faith at all.
A spokesman for the church said they were "bewildered" by the decision and warned that it could have a "chilling effect" on free speech.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said it was “extraordinary” to reject the advert for prayer in the run-up to Christmas in comments to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The Just Pray clip had received clearance from the Cinema Advertising Authority and British Board of Film Classification.
A spokesman for the Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency, which handles British film advertising for all three of the cinema chains involved, said in a statement quoted by the BBC that it did not accept any political or religious advertising.
"Some advertisements - unintentionally or otherwise - could cause offence to those of differing political persuasions, as well as to those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith," it said.
"In this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally".