Christmas Starts With Christ ad campaign banned from cinemas

"Christmas Starts With Christ" is the churches' message for the season. Except that in the nation's cinemas, it doesn't.

Those in charge of screening ads have decided not to approve the Christmas Starts With Christ short video because it constitutes "religious advertising". It follows an earlier decision not to approve a Church of England video featuring  the Lord's Prayer which was to run before the new Star Wars movie.

A still from the churches' Christmas advertising video

The organisers, Church Ads  said: "Not content with banning the Lord's Prayer, the cinema industry now looks set to ban the nativity."  

The videoChristmas Starts with a Baby's Giggle,  which has had more than 250,000 viewings online, shows a young couple with their baby in a modern living room. By means of a reverse time-lapse and accompanied by a cover of The Power of Love, the living room is transformed into a stable and the carry cot into a manger. It concludes with the message: "Christmas starts with the power of love: share the story."  

Church Ads found out it had not been approved after it tried to book screens to show the video.

Digital Cinema Media, which previousy refused the Lord's Prayer ad, said: "We have unanimously decided at our weekly committee meeting not to approve the advertisement." This was because of its policy not to run "political or religious advertising" in cinemas.

Francis Goodwin, chair of Church Ads, said: "Our aim is to gently remind people of why and what we celebrate at Christmas and to do so in a contemporary and creative way."

He said there was "nothing offensive or intimidating" about the ad which had been approved by the industry's regulatory bodies.

"We were hoping to run it in cinemas the week before Christmas, but DCM has been extremely slow to respond. We would now like to run it for a week afterwards when we know that many people will be thinking, 'What was that all about, then?' We ask people to view the film if they have not seen it and to pray that we may yet be able to take it onto the big screen."

Rev Arun Arora, communications director for the Church of England, said: "Many families will be looking forward to going to the cinema during the Christmas holidays. It is astonishing that DCM refuses to show a short film focused on the holy family. This is not so much no room at the inn but a refusal by the inn keepers to take in any family who are religious."