Censorship isn’t always government led. Sometimes it comes from society and businesses. It’s happening today on the Internet from large companies and it affects you Christian authors and publishers.
I recently returned from attending the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) annual convention. It was the organization’s 75th convention. The organization began in 1944 with 150 Evangelical Christian broadcasters and church leaders forming in response to a set of regulations that banned the purchase of radio airtime for religious broadcasting. Due to the regulations, Evangelical Christian broadcasters were taken off of national radio networks and only allowed access to small independent stations with limited audiences. The ban was finally overturned in 1949. NRB has long been known for their stance on freedom of speech.
We are in a new era, yet we face the same challenge today. Giant Internet companies are demonetizing, blocking, shutting down and censoring accounts held by outspoken Christian conservatives. A few examples over the past few years include:
- In 2015, GoFundMe shut down a fundraising account for the owners of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Oregon who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The owners were facing a hefty legal fine and the GoFundMe account was set up to help them pay this fine. After shutting the account, GoFundMe added “discriminatory” campaigns to the list of causes that cannot use their service.
- In August 2017, YouTube demonetized hundreds of videos produced by Dr. Michael Brown host of Line of Fire radio show. Dr. Brown is an author, professor, proponent of Messianic Judaism and is a leader in the Charismatic Movement.
- In March 2017, Vimeo removed 850 videos by Pure Passion TV and closed its account. The company reported that they disagreed with the views expressed in four videos on sexuality posted by Pure Passion TV.
- In October 2014, Twitter blocked users from linking to a petition supporting the Houston pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by the city because the pastors supported a referendum against a gender-neutral restrooms ordinance.
Christian authors and publishers, this issue affects you. I have spoken with outspoken Christian indie authors whose Facebook accounts have disappeared. A member of CSPA had his Amazon ads denied because they contained religious content (see Amazon: Christian Authors Beware). We, as Christian authors and publishers, must take this issue seriously and get behind those who are actively protecting our freedom of speech in the digital realm.
The National Religious Broadcasters has launched an initiative to do just this very thing. The Internet Freedom Watch aims to bring greater attention to the threats against free speech and to challenge Silicon Valley to uniformly practice its professed commitment to free speech.
You can support NRB’s efforts by doing the following:
- If you have been a victim of online censorship for your Christian or conservative views, share your story on the Internet Freedom Watch website.
- Follow Internet Freedom Watch on Twitter or Facebook.
- Make others aware of NRB and their initiative to help maintain freedom of speech for all, but especially for those in the media.
Only working together can we raise awareness of this issue, fight back, and maintain freedom of speech. Let’s not let others silence our voices speaking God’s truth.
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