Cinemas have been accused of having double standards by the Church of England for showing a short film about Hinduism after refusing to show adverts featuring the Lord's Prayer.
A short film depicting Hindu deities protecting a young boy as superheroes called Sanjay's Super Team is being shown in Odeon, Cineworld and Vue before every showing of The Good Dinosaur.
The Church of England say the cinemas' policies are incoherent, as the Lord's Prayer advert was removed for being overtly religious, but the same has not been done for Sanjay's Super Team. The seven-minute film is overtly pro-religion, and in particular, pro-Hindu.
That they are showing the film "demonstrates the incoherence of their on-the-hoof policy making", according to Rev Arun Arora, the Church of England's director of communications.
Arora's issue is not that the Hindu film is being shown, having grown up "watching Hindi films and brought up on Bollywood", but that there is inconsistency in policy application.
"Every film and advertisement conveys a message," he continued. "And this one seems to convey an obviously pro-religion, in this case pro-Hinduism, one. There is an unfortunate combination of double standards and hypocrisy on display in this decision making process which needs addressing urgently."
"As Rowan Williams wrote recently: 'Advertising our Christian history is not intruding dangerous propaganda into a neutral and benign space. It is competing with existing propaganda, existing philosophies and ideologies.'
"All we ask is the opportunity to be heard. We remain hopeful that the cinemas will demonstrate the necessary strength of leadership, change their minds and show the justpray.uk film."
The Church of England's advert was to be shown in cinemas before Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Initially Digital Cinema Media were so keen they offered them a 55 per cent discount. However, this decision was later reversed on the grounds that adverts promoting "any religion, faith or equivalent systems of belief" were not allowed.
In the case of Sanjay's Super Team, the cinema chains say that the short film and the feature – The Good Dinosaur – were made in the same studio and therefore will be shown as two films together, rather than one as an advert.
"It is a film, not an advertisement, so is not covered by our advertising policies", a spokesperson for Odeon added.