Good heavens! What is the world coming to when I find myself agreeing with something Richard Dawkins has said!
When I was a little girl growing up in Leeds, one of the things I remember from my early school days is the morning assembly. I used to love the start to the day and the hymns we used to sings. My favourite hymns were ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “When a Knight Won his Spurs” which always conjured up images of a gallant, brave, handsome man fighting for justice, good over evil, in the cause of God.
“No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead”.
Sadly I fear there are bigger and more dangerous dragons that need slaying in the world we are currently inhabiting. But that as they say is a discussion for another day.
The other everlasting memory I have from being a five year old is the Lord’s Prayer. Which, 45 years later I can still recite by the way. And I am saddened that something so beautiful, so meaningful in our troubled times, that can only bring comfort, has been banned in cinemas. And of course the rumblings have started about “not wanting to offend people of other faiths”, “what about our freedom of speech” and “aren’t we a Christian country?”
Let’s put the record straight. The Archbishop of Canterbury and Christians are offended that the Prayer has been banned. As a Muslim I am offended it has been banned. Who exactly is it supposed to offend or upset by being aired anyway? The 25% of the UK population who said they did not have a religion in the 2011 census? What about the 75% who do have a religion and do believe in God?
There is a danger that this could turn into yet another headline grabbing report for certain newspapers about Muslims and Islam being the underlying reason this decision has been made. Because apparently, as has happened previously with Christmas, we get offended by Christian prayers. The advert is designed to encourage people to pray. The people in the clip show the rich diversity of the country we live in. It shows ordinary people living their lives and showing the part God plays in who they are and everything they do. It is no different to any other advert that we see before the film starts, the ones encouraging us to use a certain phone provider or drink a brand of cola. This one is saying everyone can pray. Anywhere, anytime, God is there for us. Lord knows as a nation we need all the prayers we can get.
So, just to put the record straight, here’s a Muslim reciting the Lord’s Prayer, from memory and completely unoffended by any of it.