The current paranoid climate about Christianity is continuing:
Phones4U has been criticised by the ad watchdog for “mocking and belittling” Christianity in a national press campaign that featured a winking Jesus and the headline “miraculous deals”.
The ad featured an illustration of Jesus Christ grinning broadly and winking with an image of the Sacred Heart on his chest, alongside the headline, “Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones”. It was created by Adam & Eve. Media was planned by the7stars.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ad after 98 people objected and claimed it was offensive to the Christian faith because of the imagery used, the use of the word “miraculous” and because it was published during the Easter period.
Phones4U defended itself by saying the intention of the ad, which ran in the Metro, was to portray a light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity.
The phone company issued an apology to all those who complained and withdrew the ads.
The ASA acknowledged that the ads were designed to be light-hearted and humorous, but ruled the ad was “mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs”.
The watchdog said the ad was disrespectful to the Christian faith and likely to cause serious offence and as a result has banned the phone company from running the campaign again.
So 98 people had enough time to burn to be offended and do something about it? The ad is gently humorous, it doesn’t even resort to mockery. It’s abundantly clear it doesn’t ‘belittle’ Christian beliefs, but even if it did – who cares? Since when should Christianity or any of its icons have legal immunity from being lampooned? This is crap of the highest order, and a display of unbelievable cowardice by the ASA. We have laws to prevent incitement of religious hatred, which is correct – we don’t and should not have any laws to protect anyone from being offended.
(via British Humanist Association)
Blasphemy laws by the back door? You decide. From the British Humanist Association:
Three posters planned for display at railway stations as part of The Census Campaign have been refused by companies owning the advertising space, who viewed them as too likely to cause offence.
Two reasons were given by owners of the space: they were concerned that the use of the phrase ‘for God’s sake’ would cause widespread and serious offence and they also did not wish to take adverts relating to religion.
The BHA has reacted with astonishment that an everyday phrase should be deemed too contentious for public display.
‘It is a little tongue-in-cheek,’ BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘but in the same way that saying “bless you” has no religious implication for many, “for God’s sake” is used to express urgency and not to invoke a deity. This censorship of a legitimate advert is frustrating and ridiculous: the blasphemy laws in England have been abolished but we are seeing the same principle being enforced nonetheless.’
The BHA also pointed out that the adverts were only tangentially related to religion, being mostlyconcerned with public policy and directed towards people who are not religious.
Mr Copson continued, ‘The Census Campaign is not intended to dissuade those who hold strong religious beliefs from holding them. We are asking people to be honest and if they are not religious, to say so. Ticking “No religion” means that their voices will be heard and we will have a more truthful picture of what people really believe today.’
We are continuing down the highly dangerous path of outlawing offence and avoiding even the possibility of offence, and from the looks of it out of sheer cowardice. Is this a side effect of outlawing incitement to religious hatred, or the recent upswing in Christian militancy? ‘For God’s sake’ isn’t a religious statement, any more than ‘Good God’ or ‘Oh my God’ (OMG – religious? Please!) – self-censorship only emboldens the zealous religious lobby and contributes to this problem. The companies which denied the ads should be ashamed of themselves. The BHA point out:
- Those who profess no religion have risen from 31% to 51% between 1983 and 2009.
- In 1983 66% identified as Christian, in 2008 the number was 43%.
- In 2008 37% of the UK population are sceptical, 35% have definite or doubtful.
- In 2009 only 17% of the British population attend religious services at least monthly, and only 11% attend at least weekly.
- Those self-described as members of the Church of England consist of 20% of the population in 2009 (40% in 1983). In 2008, it was found that 49% of this group never attend services; only 8% of people who identify with the CofE attend church weekly.
- 62% of people in Britain never attend a religious service.
The religious lobby needs to be seen as the minority which it is.