My attention was drawn by eChurch blog to a rather worrying report, on the threat of anti-Christian censorship on new media platforms. The report on Internet censorship is by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and the American Center for Law and Justice and is entitled: An Examination of the Threat of Anti-Christian Censorship and Other Viewpoint Discrimination on New Media Platforms. The report is a sober, and rather worrying document.
The report is US-based, but a major example happened in the UK. I excerpt some key findings:
Apple has twice removed applications that contained Christian content from its iTunes App Store. In both instances, Apple admitted that these apps were denied access because it considered the orthodox Christian viewpoints expressed in those applications to be “offensive.” One app had expressed the traditional, heterosexual view of marriage as set forth in the Bible; the other had stated the view that homosexuality is inappropriate conduct that can be changed through a Christ-centered spiritual transformation. Of the 425,000 apps available on Apple’s iPhone, the only ones censored by Apple for expressing otherwise lawful viewpoints have been apps with Christian content.
The search engine giant Google has committed past practices of anti-religious censorship. For content reasons, it refused to accept a pro-life advertisement from a Christian organization, an issue that prompted litigation in England. Google is also alleged to have blocked a website in America that had conservative Christian content. It had blacklisted certain religious terminology on its China-based Internet service, and in the United States it bowed to questionable copyright infringement threats from one religious sect, which had complained when a blog site criticizing it had quoted from the sect’s materials. Google blocked that blog site on alleged copyright violation grounds, disregarding the obvious “fair use” provisions of copyright law. Such a practice could block the ability of Christian “apologetics” ministries to quote from primary source materials when using Google platforms to educate the public on the teachings of certain religious groups. Also, in March of 2011, Google established new guidelines for its “Google for Non-Profits,” a special web tool program, but specifically excluded churches and other faith groups, including organizations that take into consideration religion or sexual orientation in hiring practices.
Facebook has partnered with gay rights advocates to halt content on its social networking site deemed to be “anti-homosexual,” and it is participating in gay-awareness programs, all of which suggest that Christian content critical of homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or similar practices will be at risk of censorship.
The underlying attitude of those in power in our days is mildly but profoundly hostile to Christianity. It has been made socially acceptable to say almost anything about Christians, however negative or unfair; and socially unacceptable and risky to object to it. The general urge towards censorship in our days will impact Christians badly, therefore.