Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Media: Censorship: Anti-Religious Censorship by New Media Companies

e-News for Faith-Based Organizations (Nov2,2k11)

A report by Stanley Carlson-Thies appears in the IRFA newsletter for Nov2,2k11

— items reposted here by Lawt, juridics columnist for refWrite frontpage.


The third of five briefings for Capitol Hill staff on institutional religious freedom issues was hosted by IRFA and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on October 19.  The title:  "Protecting Conscience and Faith-Based Institutions in Health Care."

The expert panelists were Jonathan Imbody, VP for Government Relations for the Christian Medical Association; Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops; Susan Post, Executive Director of Esperanza Health Center, Philadelphia; and Mark Rienzi, constitutional law professor at the Catholic University of America.  Alan Hurst from the Becket Fund moderated the panel.

Video of the briefing is available here.  The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities is videotaping each briefing.  Videos are posted to a special channel onVimeo.comhere .

The fourth briefing, Safeguarding Faith-Based Services Against Charges of Discrimination, will be held at noon on Friday, Nov. 4, in the Capitol Visitors Center, HVC-201.  Panelists are Marc Stern, American Jewish Committee; Dan Avila, US Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Eric Scalise, American Association of Christian Counselors.

The final briefing, Dec. 9th, is on protecting the religious mission of faith-based education. 

NRB Study Exposes Anti-Religious Censorship
by New Media Companies

Apple, alas, is a notorious anti-religious censor, having ejected from the iTunes App Store two Christian apps--one on the Manhattan Declaration, one from Exodus International.  Apple also stopped participating in the Christian Values Network (now CGBG), an online service through which shoppers can direct a portion of their purchase amounts to charities they choose, because the service allows shoppers to donate to allegedly "discriminatory" Christian organizations.

But this is just the tip of the high-tech censorship iceberg, according to a new study by the John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech, a project of the National Religious Broadcasters.  In its report, "True Liberty in a New Media Age:  An Examination of the Threat of Anti-Christian Censorship and Other Viewpoint Discrimination on New Media Platforms," NRB names other instances of censorship and, more important, points out the right asserted by companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Verizon, and Comcast to decide for themselves what views are objectionable and will be banned.  Such companies play a vastly important "gatekeeper" role in our communications and, thus, though they are private entities, need to assume some responsibility for the free flow of information, including information that they might not agree with.

This is a careful and sobering study, looking to Supreme Court standards concerning free speech to develop best practice recommendations for social media companies.  The Twitterati will be glad to learn that Twitter stands out as a company committed to protecting speech.

Find the report here.

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