.- 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.
âChristian ideas and other religious content face a clear and present danger of censorship on web-based communication platforms,â said the National Religious Broadcastersâ report âTrue Liberty in a New Media Age.â
If Christian content is âcensoredâ by new media platforms like the iTunes App Store, Facebook, Google, or internet service providers, âthe Good News of the Gospel could become one more casualty of institutionalized religious discrimination,â the broadcaster organizationâs president Frank Wright said in the reportâs 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 âall but inevitable.â
Except for the microblogging service Twitter, all the new media platforms and services examined have policies âclearly inconsistent with the free speech values of the U.S. Constitution,â the report said.
New media companies are responsive to âmarket forcesâ and the demands by âpressure groups calling for censorshipâ of otherwise lawful viewpoints.
As examples of âanti-Christian censorship,â the report cited the Apple iTunes App Storeâs 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 companyâs advertising guidelines explicitly bar the phrase âabortion is murderâ on the grounds it is âgruesome language.â
The report also cited Facebook and other outlets for a policy that bars ads for âpolitically religious agendas.â
Meanwhile, Facebook has partnered with gay rights advocates to halt âanti-homosexualâ content and it is participating in gay-awareness programs. This suggests that Christian content critical of homosexuality, âgay marriageâ or other practices will be at risk of censorship.
Apple, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon all prohibit âhate speech,â which the National Religious Broadcasters report called a âdangerously undefined and political correct termâ that is often applied to âstifleâ Christian communicators.
âThe 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,â the report said.
The report suggested that companies should follow a âfree speech paradigmâ 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 âviewpoint censorship.â
âWhen 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,â National Religious Broadcastersâ senior vice president Craig Parshall said on Sept. 13.
âNow, 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.â