.- Major internet media platforms and service providers have policies that hinder Christian evangelization and censor speech on controversial issues of the day like abortion and marriage, a new report says.
“Christian ideas and other religious content face a clear and present danger of censorship on web-based communication platforms,” said the National Religious Broadcasters’ report “True Liberty in a New Media Age.”
If Christian content is “censored” by new media platforms like the iTunes App Store, Facebook, Google, or internet service providers, “the Good News of the Gospel could become one more casualty of institutionalized religious discrimination,” the broadcaster organization’s president Frank Wright said in the report’s foreword.
The National Religious Broadcasters was founded in 1944 to oppose government regulations and policy decisions by major broadcast networks which impeded the ability of evangelical ministers to buy radio airtime.
Some new media companies have banned Christian content, while others have public positions that make censorship “all but inevitable.”
Except for the microblogging service Twitter, all the new media platforms and services examined have policies “clearly inconsistent with the free speech values of the U.S. Constitution,” the report said.
New media companies are responsive to “market forces” and the demands by “pressure groups calling for censorship” of otherwise lawful viewpoints.
As examples of “anti-Christian censorship,” the report cited the Apple iTunes App Store’s removal of the Manhattan Declaration app that defended traditional marriage. The store also removed an app from Exodus International that said that homosexuality is inappropriate conduct which can be changed through a spiritual transformation.
Internet search engine giant Google refused to accept a pro-life advertisement from a Christian organization in England and its China-based internet service has blacklisted some religious terminology. The company’s advertising guidelines explicitly bar the phrase “abortion is murder” on the grounds it is “gruesome language.”
The report also cited Facebook and other outlets for a policy that bars ads for “politically religious agendas.”
Meanwhile, Facebook has partnered with gay rights advocates to halt “anti-homosexual” content and it is participating in gay-awareness programs. This suggests that Christian content critical of homosexuality, “gay marriage” or other practices will be at risk of censorship.
Apple, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon all prohibit “hate speech,” which the National Religious Broadcasters report called a “dangerously undefined and political correct term” that is often applied to “stifle” Christian communicators.
“The ongoing technological convergence of these various new media platforms suggests that these free speech-inhibiting practices and unconscionable policies will be further entrenched unless corrective action is taken immediately,” the report said.
The report suggested that companies should follow a “free speech paradigm” guided by the basic First Amendment rules, even where those do not strictly apply to private businesses. It also suggested federal legislation or regulation to forbid “viewpoint censorship.”
“When we started our John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech, I sensed a gathering storm building, with 'new media' companies like Apple, Facebook and Google considering the option of censoring Christian content off their sites,” National Religious Broadcasters’ senior vice president Craig Parshall said on Sept. 13.
“Now, a little more than a year later, after finishing our extensive study, I am convinced that religious free speech rights will face a First Amendment hurricane if action is not taken immediately.”