However, God works in mysterious ways, and the media furore meant that many more people probably ended up seeing the short film than would have viewed it in the cinema.
The ban was seen by many as an example of how even the mildest forms of Christianity are being squeezed out of the public square. After all, who could possibly be offended by a quaint, old-fashioned prayer that primary school children recite every day? Even arch-atheist Richard Dawkins was agog at the decision.
But there were plenty in support. ‘I don’t want to be evangelised when I go to the cinema’, wrote one person. Maybe not. But like it or not, we are being unwittingly evangelised towards a certain worldview with every fizzy drink, beauty product and flashy car commercial that is forced on us before the film begins.
Whether or not DCM were correct to ban the ad, some Christian commentators have pointed out that there might be an element of truth to the notion that the Lord’s Prayer is offensive. Lines such as ‘give us this day our daily bread’ are indeed an affront to modern consumer culture. Steven Croft, the Bishop of Sheffield, wrote: ‘The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to live with just enough. This is the most dangerous reason why it cannot be shown with the adverts at the cinema’.
Perhaps the media circus that accompanied the story was partly because we wanted to distract ourselves from other horrors that had recently been on our TV screens. The last months of 2015 reminded us of so much that is wrong with the world: the attacks in Paris, continued terrorism and conflict in the Middle East and Africa, the bombing of Syria and more.
I believe that God is offended, not by cinema chains that refuse to screen an advert, but by a world so out of line with his desires. When Jesus taught his followers the second line of the Lord’s Prayer: ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’, he can only have meant that God’s will is not yet being done on the earth, and his kingdom is yet to be established.
So whether you plan to visit the cinema or not, pray the prayer today and join in with Jesus’ radical, subversive – maybe even offensive – mission to bring that kingdom to earth.