Quick thoughts on this banned prayer ad

So unless you’ve been hidden under a rock or in a country where the internet really is censored, you’ve probably heard of the decision by Digital Cinema Media (DCM) refusing permission for the Lords Prayer advert to be screened in cinemas.

Claims of pandering to political correctness and rampant secularism to claims of violating freedom of speech and the crowd favourite, persecution have been plenty in Christian media. Now admittedly the way DCM have handled this has not helped. Claiming the ban is because “it could cause offense” is just petrol on the fire for those who already feel marginalized because they think they’re banned from saying Merry Christmas.

But the simple fact is, it’s nothing of the kind. First off, they’re not banned from making the video in the first place. Secondly, they’re not banned from distributing the video freely on the internet which has a far bigger audience than all the cinemas in the world combined. Third, no one is now calling for them to be arrested or worse. Fourth, DCM reserve the right to decline any advert on the grounds of if they feel the video is pushing  political or religious agenda. Fifth, Christians are free to complain about the decision and indeed appeal it.

So there’s no freedom of speech issues, no persecution. An authority governing aspects of cinema has made a decision regarding a piece of marketing material and deemed it inappropriate. If Muslims or atheists tried to make a similar video I’d expect the decision to be the same. But the biggest thing for me is that it’s a video advertising prayer and as soon as I saw that, the below popped into my mind:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. – Matthew 6:5-6

We don’t need to advertise prayer in an entertainment venue, I think everyone knows that Christians and people of many other faiths pray. There’s a lot of confusion over why people pray but the website seems geared towards helping people pray. I don’t know for sure but my experience is that if atheists are interested in prayer, they’re going to go to a Christian they know and if Christians are struggling to pray, they’re going to go to Christians they know. Now the site does offer some advice on what prayer is (how good the advice is is another matter) but if someone is having questions about prayer, chances are they’ll know someone who they can speak to and besides, the above passage is probably the best advice. But sadly it has once again shown Christians completely backward priorities. With many homeless this winter, refugees seeking asylum plus numerous other issues afflicting millions (which Churches do a great job with by the way), we’re up in arms over the fact an ad won’t be shown in a cinema.

So whilst I get the reason behind the campaign, I think it’s very misguided to try and put it in cinemas even though it is actually very good and the DCM could have handled it much better. It’s certainly isn’t a restriction on freedom of speech and because I’m free to do so, I’ve pasted the video below.

Lords Prayer Ad

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International Mens Day is not just a men only cause

So yesterday was International Mens Day though you can be forgiven for not knowing that. For International Womens Day, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were awash with articles about women from history who have been forgotten, statistics on domestic abuse and why the patriarchy system is killing women. Women and men were both posting about it, standing side by side for this day.

So when it came to International Mens Day, I was wary about what some Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s) would post but it got off to a good start as many men were posting about mens health issues; in particular the astronomically high suicide rates among young men (it’s the most common cause of death for men under 45). Then Rebecca Collins from The Great Initiative wrote in her blog

So, happy International Men’s Day everyone. Go and tell a man you love that he is valued, that his feelings matter, that he doesn’t have to live with fear of being himself. It could very well save a life.

It was pleasing to read a woman endorse International Mens Day and see the issues that men face; issues that are caused by the same patriarchy system that kill women, which teach men that expressing feelings is a sign of weakness and weakness is bad. We’re fighting the same enemy. If I was hoping for more of the same though, it became obvious as the day went on that it wasn’t going to come. Indeed, many statements by feminists were along the lines of:

  • Why do we need an International Mens Day? Isn’t every day that?
  • It’s nothing more than a celebration of patriarchy
  • Just another example of patriarchy

I kind of get it. Patriarchy is killing women and men are the weapons and a day dedicated to men can be seen as celebrating that. But this was a chance for men who are fighting patriarchy and encouraging men to change to be recognized, and for the damage patriarchy is doing to men to be recognized and to let men know that they’re not alone and there is another way. But the comments and general silence of many feminists sent out some very powerful messages;

  • Men are nothing more than the patriarchy system
  • There are no men worthy of celebrating
  • There is nothing about being a man that’s good
  • Mens health issues don’t concern them
  • Men dying at the hands of patriarchy does not concern them

These are incredibly damaging, both in the way it demeans men and in the way it seems some feminists are spreading the very messages they’re seeking to change. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about how feminists are silent when it comes to mens issues so it’s really hard not to be cynical right now. I still maintain the belief that the only way to defeat patriarchy and make the world better for all is for men and women to be working together, but events such as yesterday just reinforce that there are those on both sides who don’t want to work together and I’m tempted to just wash my hands of it all and go “fine, have it your way”. I have had to remind myself why I got involved in fighting this in the first place.

It should be pointed out though that not every feminist was silent. As well as Rebecca Collins, this tweet popped up

It’s sad that it needed to be pointed out that men are actual and real, not a system because isn’t this what many feminists accuse men of doing to women?  The lack of interest in International Mens Day from many shows precisely why it’s needed along with International Womens Day. This isn’t an either/or situation. It’s possible to be committed to defeating patriarchy and see the effects it has on both men and women, to raise awareness of both and celebrate both. After all, isn’t this supposed to be the aim of feminism in defeating patriarchy?