Ann Reiner, a college intern, recently wrote an article addressing the need to protect free speech rights and sharing about the recent action taken by the National Religious Broadcaster. She reported:
“Media giants such as Facebook, Google and Apple should voluntarily abide by the First Amendment’s free speech requirement and fulfill their role as ‘gatekeepers to new web-based communications platforms,’ according to a new proposal from the National Religious Broadcasters.”
NRB presented its proposal Wednesday (Sept. 12), underscoring its concern that new media companies have stifled religious free speech. NRB offered the recommendation in a new document, “Free Speech Charter for the Internet,” made public at a Washington, D.C., news conference.
“We are calling on the better angels of their nature to come up out of the shadows to dialogue with us and others about solving this problem because it will increase, I believe, not decrease,” said Craig Parshall, NRB senior vice president and general counsel, as well as director of the association’s John Milton Project. (1)
Are you seeing censorship in social media? It’s there. As Christians we need to be aware of this subtle agenda that denies our rights to speak our beliefs.
Remember last year in August 2012 when Facebook removed a page created by Mike Huckabee advocating a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. The event was created by Huckabee in support of Chick-Fil-A owner Dan Cathy, who publicly took a stand stating his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Huckabee’s Facebook page was removed for 12 hours but restored after significant public outcry.
Then just this year in July, Todd Starnes shared his story of being banned from the social media site. Starnes, a Fox News Radio host, was blocked after posting a “message on his fan page supporting the National Rifle Association, Paula Deen and Jesus. He was also prevented from posting a daily Bible verse on the page.” (2)
He issued a statement on Facebook saying, “I’m about as politically incorrect as you can get. I’m wearing an NRA ball cap, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich, reading a Paula Deen cookbook and sipping a 20-ounce sweet tea while sitting in my Cracker Barrel rocking chair with the Gather Vocal Band singing ‘Jesus Saves’ on the stereo and a Gideon’s Bible in my pocket. Yes sir, I’m politically incorrect and happy as a june bug.”
The post generated hundreds of comments and went viral. But Facebook said what Starnes wrote violated their policies. (3)
And what about iTunes and YouTube? Anne Reiner reported the following incidences in her article that calls for change:
— Of its 425,000 apps, iTunes barred from its store the Manhattan Declaration, a Christian statement created in part by the late Chuck Colson that promotes traditional marriage and the sanctity of life. It took the same action against Exodus International, a Christian support system for individuals and families affected by homosexual issues.
— YouTube removed the video of a rabbi giving a documentation of the Old Testament view of traditional marriage and a series of documentaries of pro-lifer Lila Rose’s undercover work at Planned Parenthood clinics that showed employees supporting unethical or illegal practices.
I’m sure there are many more incidents of censorship. Have you seen some? Or experienced some? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might even remember this year, when Kirk Cameron posted a Facebook message about his newest [Christian] movie Unstoppable: A Film of Hope. It was blocked, and he responded on July 18th with:
Calling all friends of Faith, Family, and Freedom! Facebook has officially “blocked” me and you (and everyone else) from posting any link to my new movie at UnstoppableTheMovieDOTcom, labeling the content as “abusive”, “unsafe”, and “spammy”! I can’t even write the real link here, or Facebook would block this post too!! Try to post it yourself and see! We have been officially shut down by Facebook and unable to get any response from them. This is my most personal film about faith, hope, and love, and about why God allows bad things to happen to good people. What is “abusive” or “unsafe” about that?! Please help us encourage Facebook to unblock our website soon by sharing this post with your friends so more people can see this transparent, faith-building project.(4)
A public outcry resulted, and he posted this followup.
Victory!! Friends, you did it! People tried to stop “Unstoppable” on Facebook, and because millions of us joined together as one voice, Facebook has apologized and and welcomed us back! You all just demonstrated to the press (they are all calling me to talk about your amazing response!) that the communities of faith, hope, and love are, well… unstoppable.
Now can you all talk to YouTube?? They have blocked and labeled the Unstoppable trailer as “spam”, “scam”, and “deceptive”! We did it once, we can do it again. Please share this post with all your friends and encourage YouTube to unblock my UnstoppableTheMovie trailer. (5)
Once again, Christians spoke up. We can make a difference. This was posted that same day:
You did it again!! Because of your firm, loving, and clear voice, not only did Facebook welcome us back, YouTube also removed its block on our Unstoppable movie trailer. We are back online with full access. Thank you!! Fox News, Huffington Post, Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Drudge, and others have heard about your accomplishment and my phone is ringing off the hook to talk with me about how powerful the faith community is to accomplish good things when we put our hearts and minds together. They are listening!! (6)
National Religious Broadcaster’s president and chief executive officer, Frank Wright, made a most disconcerting statement regarding what we see taking place. He said,
“Successful platforms of communications are now becoming an engine of constraining speech.”(7)
Carefully consider those words, along with this often quoted statement:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Be aware and speak boldly.
It does make a difference.