The Church of England is threatening legal action over the rejection of a one-minute film featuring the Lord's Prayer that it wanted to run before showings of the new Star Wars film that opens shortly before Christmas.

Church officials say the decision not to air the short film amounts to religious discrimination against the Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Sunday it is "extraordinary" that cinemas won't show the film in the week before Christmas.

The advertisement shows the Lord's Prayer being recited by members of the public.

It was cleared by British film classification and advertising agencies but turned down by Digital Cinema Media, which handles advertisements for major film chains in Britain.

Church officials said they were told the advertisement could potentially cause offense.