The three minute film has been produced by the Bible Society. It opens with black and white archive footage from the 1914-18 war. Later in the advert, a range of people recite verses from the Book of Revelation.
Rachel Rounds from the Bible Society is disappointed the advert will not be seen in cinemas: “We wanted to say that the Bible did give hope and it still gives hope today.”
She says the Bible was central to British forces. “When they were given their boots and their helmets, a Bible was given to them as part of their kit.”
“We know for a fact that after battles and particularly the first day of the Somme, men were found dead with the Bible in their hands. It was literally the last thing they looked at before they died.”
The cinema chain says it has a policy never to accept advertising from religious groups. The ban also applies to political bodies.
Responding to the decision by Empire Cinemas Chief Executive of Humanists UK Andrew Copson said:
“It seems a bit silly for the Bible Society to say that their religious short film isn’t “religious” because it’s about Christianity. Cinema chains in the UK have blanket policies against religious and political advertising for good reason: people go to the cinema to be entertained, not preached to. These policies are being enforced fairly and judiciously by the cinema chains involved, and they apply to humanist adverts just as they do to religious ones.”
Rachel Rounds rejected any suggestion that the film could cause offence to atheists, agnostics or people from other religious groups. “I’ve shown that film to probably 20 non-Christians…and not one of them has been offended by it. In fact, quite the opposite. Even people who have no interest in the Bible say ‘that’s a really lovely film and it makes me feel emotional in a good way’.”
The Bible Society have accepted the film company’s decision, but Rachel Rounds says she’s disappointed Empire hasn’t entered into a dialogue to explain their decision. “I’m not after a row with Empire, but what is it about our film that they thought would upset or offend people?”
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