Richard Dawkins, the vociferous critic of religion, says anyone thin-skinned enough to be offended by a church advert deserves to be offended.
The controversial atheist writer has become an unexpected backer of showing the 60-second advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer in cinemas ahead of Christmas after three major cinema chains refused to screen it before Star Wars: the Force Awakens, due for release on 18 December.
The advert he was defending is to promote a new Church of England website, JustPray.uk, which encourages people to pray. The film shows Christians, beginning with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, saying one line of the Lord’s Prayer. The following lines are said by a diverse range of people including weightlifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support centre, schoolchildren, a mourner at a graveside and a festivalgoer.
“I still strongly object to suppressing the ads on the grounds that they might ‘offend’ people. If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended,” said Dawkins, who has described himself as “a cultural Anglican”.