The Church of England created a new advertisement to run in U.K. theaters before showings of the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" film next month, but the commercial has been banned from most cinemas (video below).
U.K. movie houses have pulled the commercial because they fear it may be deemed offensive to viewers, CNN reports.
"I am shocked by this wrong decision," Arun Arora, a spokesperson for the Church of England, told CNN.
The ad shows the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and people of various races reciting the Lord's Prayer.
In a statement, Digital Cinema Media (DCM), the company that supplies advertising to Britain's big movie houses and that rejected the Church of England's ad, said that some advertisements are banned because -- unintentionally or otherwise -- they "could cause offense to those of differing political persuasions, as well as those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith."
DCM added that "in this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally."
Arora, however, said that they told DCM from the beginning that they were religious and asked if that would be a problem.
"They said, 'No that's fine,'" Arora said. "They were very happy and welcoming and even offered us a 50 percent discount on the price of advertising slots."
The commercial had been approved by the Cinema Advertising Association and British Board of Film Classification.
"I find it extraordinary that cinemas rule that it is inappropriate for an advert on prayer to be shown in the week before Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ," Welby told the Daily Mail on Nov. 15.
"Billions of people across the world pray this prayer on a daily basis," Welby added. "I think they would be astonished and deeply saddened by this decision, especially in the light of the terrorist attack in Paris where many people have found comfort and solace in prayer.
" ... This advert is about as 'offensive' as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day."
The Daily Mail claims to have seen emails in which executives of leading movie chains in the U.K. were originally supportive of the ad but then soured in September. DCM’s finance director Paul Maloney reportedly told Arora on Sept. 16 via email: "Having fully looked into the matter, I am afraid we will be unable to take forward the proposed Church of England campaign … DCM has a policy not to run advertising connected to personal beliefs."
"Our members have found that showing such advertisements carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences," Maloney added. "We at DCM had first-hand experience of this risk when we and our members received considerable negative feedback from audiences following our decision to allow both Yes and No campaigners to run adverts in the lead up to the Scottish independence referendum."