More evidence in today’s WSJ against our “friends” at Big Tech — personally, we now seek to avoid Amazon, even at the cost of paying more to use other providers; we are actively looking for a secure, non-google or non-big-tech email server; we have basically left FB, etc. It’s becoming more and more clear that these forces are not neutral — in fact the worldview and operating philosophy behind these organizations seems more overtly anti-Christian than ever before. God bless you all,
Big Tech Censors Religion, Too
There’s no rest for the faithful when it comes to the woke orthodoxy.
By Josh Holdenried March 28, 2021
It’s not only politics. So far this year, religious groups and figures have been silenced by tech companies at a rate of about one a week, according to a new report from the Napa Legal Institute.
Consider LifeSiteNews, a popular religious news website. In February its YouTube channel was permanently banned by Google, which deleted all its videos. Google claimed its action was a response to Covid-19 misinformation but wouldn’t tell LSN which video had offended its standards. The tech giant had flagged LSN for a video of an American Catholic bishop criticizing vaccines developed with fetal cells. The website’s editor in chief said “our best guess is that the channel was taken down for our frank and factual discussion of the controversy around abortion-tainted medicines and vaccines.”
In January, Bishop Kevin Doran, an Irish Catholic, tweeted: “There is dignity in dying. As a priest, I am privileged to witness it often. Assisted suicide, where it is practiced, is not an expression of freedom or dignity.” Twitter removed this message and banned Bishop Doran from posting further. While the company reversed its decision after public opposition, others haven’t been so lucky.
The previous month, Twitter blocked a post from the Daily Citizen, which is run by Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian nonprofit, and suspended its account. The reason: a tweet that respectfully challenged the underlying premise of transgenderism. Twitter made a similar move against Catholic World Report, though the company later said it had acted in error. Ryan T. Anderson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center saw Amazon ban his book criticizing transgenderism, “When Harry Became Sally.” Amazon shows no signs of changing course.
Books from specific publishers are often targeted, such as Catholic TAN Books. One of its authors is Paul Kengor, who wrote an anticommunist tract called “The Devil and Karl Marx. ” TAN Books can’t advertise his work on Facebook, or that of Carrie Gress, who wrote a book on “rescuing the culture from toxic femininity.” Facebook has also banned ads for Kimberly Cook’s book, “Motherhood Redeemed.” The offending ad called it “a book that challenges feminism in the modern world.”
When posts are removed, ads are blocked, and accounts are banned, public pushback and media criticism often lead tech companies to rethink their actions. Last October, after the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List was targeted by one of Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers for “misleading claims” about Joe Biden’s policy on late-term abortions, the group went on a media blitz, securing both a reversal and an apology.
It seems likely that religious groups and individuals will face mounting threats from tech companies. Their views on marriage, sexuality, life and other moral issues are unpopular among the Silicon Valley set. Religious groups should refuse to silence themselves, change their views, or otherwise back down. Censorship is a symptom of a national collapse in civic culture. Curing the deeper disease will take all the courage and conviction we can muster.
Mr. Holdenried is vice president and executive director of Napa Legal Institute, which educates and protects faith-based nonprofits.
So I have been reading a new book by John Piper: Providence (Crossway, 2021). It may be Piper’s masterpiece. It’s a monster at over 700 pp. and is available right now at only $20 from Westminster Books (in a special introductory offer from Crossway through the end of March) — Get. The. Book!
Piper looks at providence from before creation, at creation, in Ancient Israel (multiple historical parts), in the new covenant era, and then from many theological perspectives. It has been a joy to read . . . and to be reminded of the goodness and mercy of God in all aspects of life. It has been a balm to my soul . . . and I am only 110 pp into it!
I could say more, but just buy the book. It is big, yes, but each chapter is accessible, bite-sized, and rich.
Over Spring break, I also began (again!) The Lord of the Rings, and am about to complete Book I (they are making for the Ford of Bruinen) — such a joy to read, remember, and smile. Then there has been some reading in Wilfred McClay’s majestic history of America: Land Of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. Another book that I highly recommended.
Finally, I stay up until 2:30 am one night finishing my first read through Honor Among Thieves, the first part of the “HeartStone Trilogy” written by the inimitable Jameson E. Beates. Haven’t heard of it? Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not “out there” yet — but I was privileged to be an early reader. Wow! It was so good I’ll say that backward . . . W.O.W.! I can just say this: when it comes out to the public, you will want to read it. Set in the fantasy genre, the story is in the tradition of Tolkien and Lewis with overt shades of the triadic virtues of classicism woven through out. I found myself engrossed by this writing in ways I have not been in a long time. My first words to Jameson the next day were, “Okay buddy, you better get the next volume written! You can’t leave me hanging like this!” You won’t want to miss Honor Among Thieves when it comes out to the public!
As Solomon said, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Eccl. 12:12b). With that in mind, it’s encouraging to read some enjoyable stuff. Someone else said, “So many books, . . . so little time.” So use your time wisely!
Finding lots of intriguing stuff these days. These two (one from Colson Center, one from WSJ columnist) are both worth reading today. Blessings to you all,
Colson Center: Rescuing the Victims of the Sexual Revolution: Katy Faust’s Them Before Us
John Stonestreet, 03/8/21
Imagine a young man with every advantage. He’s well-educated, goes to church, lives in a nice neighborhood, able to secure strong employment . . . but he grew up without ever having known his father. Even as he moves into adulthood, his desire to know his father, his sense of loss for what he missed, is somewhere between insistent and consuming.
There used to be a time when fatherlessness was considered a tragedy. Now, raising a child without a father or, in some cases, without a mother is a perfectly acceptable intentional choice. The only thing that matters are the adults making the decision who have desires to meet. The adults are put first; the children, all too often, come in a distant second.
This sweeping social change didn’t happen overnight, or by accident. It’s the logical outcome of the three fundamental lies of the sexual revolution. These lies are now so widely embedded in modern society that we don’t give them a second thought. But it wasn’t always this way.
The first lie of the sexual revolution (and I owe my friend Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse for the wording here) is that sex, marriage, and babies are separable. That these created realities were part of a biological, social and religious package deal, went unquestioned until quite recently. Technological innovations, such as the pill, IVF, and surrogacy, legal innovations such as no-fault divorce, and cultural innovations such as ubiquitous pornography and “hook-up” apps, have all made it increasingly easy to imagine that sex is not inherently connected to childbearing, and that childbearing is not necessarily best placed in the context of marriage.
The second lie of the sexual revolution (thanks again to Dr. Morse for this wording) is that men and women are interchangeable. What we mean by this has evolved to a much more fundamental level. Interchangeability in rights was a good thing. Interchangeability in roles was, at times, good and, at other times, blurred biological distinctions. Today, of course, we talk as if men and women are interchangeable in reality, as if men can bear children and “not all women menstruate,” and as if love can make a second mom into a dad. None of this is true.
The third lie of the sexual revolution is that human dignity derives from autonomy, that our ability to sexually self-determine, not only in our behavior but our identity, is the essence of human dignity. In that equation, those unable to sexually self-determine, or who stand in the way of someone’s “true self” (typically defined by happiness) are excluded from the category of dignity.
These three lies of the sexual revolution were largely justified by a myth, one repeated over and over in different ways, to assuage our collective consciences as we fundamentally violate the created and social order. That myth was “the kids will be fine.”
But, of course, they aren’t fine. Not even close. In her new book, Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement, Katy Faust documents all the ways the kids aren’t fine, and all the ways their well-being is sacrificed on the altar of adult happiness. This is essential reading, not only so we can take our place in Christian history among those who stood for and defending children from hyper-sexualization, abandonment, abuse, and social experimentation, but also because too many Christians embrace cultural norms about reproductive technologies, sexuality, and marriage. In doing so, the Church is complicit in putting children at risk.
In Them Before Us, Faust begins in a crucially different place than the sexual revolution: the rights of the child, not the happiness of adult. That’s what “them before us” means. Simply put, adults must do those hard things that honor the fundamental right of children to be known and loved by both mother and father.
The results of the sexual revolution are in: Children are the victims of our bad ideas. In response, Christians are called to be agents of restoration in whatever time and place they find themselves. For us, now, that means advocating for children’s rights. As Faust writes, “Our culture and our laws must incentivize and encourage adults to conform their behavior to the needs of their children if we are to have any hope of a healthy and thriving society.”
Meghan and Harry: Aristocratic Victims for Our Times
Our elites parade their grievances before us, demanding sympathy and remorse from the masses.
By Gerard Baker, March 8, 2021
When some future historian, or perhaps some honest parodist of our modern mores, seeks an event that captures the inversion at the core of our continuing cultural revolution, he should examine closely the television spectacle that aired on CBS Sunday evening.
There they were, assembled dreamily in the verdant grounds of a California mansion, poster victims of our irredeemably unjust system: the sixth in line to the throne of the United Kingdom, his wife, a so-so actress who nonetheless enjoyed considerable fortune before she married into the highest levels of the English aristocracy, alongside one of the most successful television celebrities on the planet, bemoaning the injustices that have befallen them in a systemically cruel society.
You’d struggle to find a better metaphor for one of the dominant narratives of our age: our elites parading their grievances and preoccupations for the masses, demanding sympathy, issuing a call for the ordinary people to do better to acknowledge their own sinfulness.
Economic inequality is greater than it has been in decades, and widening still further after a great recession and a global pandemic. The poorest neighborhoods in this country, many of them dominated by ethnic minorities, are beset by levels of violent crime and disorder not seen in a generation. Educational opportunities for those most blighted are drowning in a sea of neglect, ideological rectitude and acquiescence to the demands of teachers unions. All the while, we are forced to listen as chief executives, tenured academics, Hollywood celebrities and now a prince and his wife lecture us about what are supposed to be the real systemic flaws in our society: the terrible legacy of American history; sexism, racism and “transphobia”; the endless stream of microaggressions caused by an errant word, a contentious writer or the illustrations in the Dr. Seuss books.
None of this is to deny that our three figures, up there on their little Californian Calvary on Sunday, have, like all of us, had to bear their crosses.
Oprah Winfrey was there as the facilitator. She is a woman of exceptional talent and character who overcame crushing hardship in early life to achieve deserved success. When she speaks—or in this case facilitates a discussion—about hardship, we are well-advised to listen.
The duke of Sussex—the name provides a clue—had no such misfortune of birth, though he did suffer the unspeakable grief of losing his mother at a young age in violent and public circumstances, an event that surely left the deepest of psychic scars.
Even the duchess, the squeakiest of the wheels, commands some sympathy. The costs of marrying a royal are sometimes overlooked. Whatever their virtues, the Windsors will never be known for an openness of manner or spirit. They seem to have combined in their personalities in fact the relaxed informality of their German heritage and the sunny warmth of their adopted English homeland, so, we can assume Meghan’s distinctly New World style probably went over like supermarket kibble in the corgis’ breakfast bowl. And while claims about a yearning for privacy can be taken with a pinch of salt coming from an actress with a penchant for self-publicity that was notable even by the standards of her profession, it’s also true that the British press can be aggressively intrusive in ways anyone would find painful.
But the personal struggles, real as they are, aren’t the subject matter of the lesson we are enjoined to learn from them. The ex-royal couple have enough wit to understand that their own hardships don’t occasion many tears outside their lachrymose celebrity friends.
Instead they frame themselves as victims of much larger societal evils.
Harry and Meghan have seized the moment to sign on fully to the woke creed, ascribing their trials to that original sin of racism, not just from the royal family itself, but from the British press, feeding the ugly prejudices of the masses. They conveniently forget that the arrival of Meghan was greeted by the same press—and the same masses—with joyous acclaim, that she was portrayed as somewhere between Grace Kelly and Diana Ross.
But that’s the beauty of the new dispensation: You can always blame systemic injustice. Meghan may be pointing the finger at unnamed royals for her victim status, but we know that’s just a proxy for the wider evil that, improbable as it seems, makes her the victim. Even as you sit there in your alabaster palaces, your Silicon Valley boardrooms or your elegantly appointed dressing rooms, you can point to the real cause of society’s inequity: the Trump- and Brexit-voting hordes with their unenlightened views on immigration, crime, the climate, Western history.
And it’s one of the ironies of our leading social-justice revolutionaries, fighting to overturn the social order. When you have on your side the people who control most of the nation’s corporations, newsrooms, universities, celebrities, the federal government—along with a duke and a duchess—can you really be that oppressed?
So . . . I’m not a conspiracy theorist . . . really. But the last 12 months sure could make someone believe some loopy things. But I don’t think this is loopy — I think it is serious and a strong take on what’s been happening. It’s bad news, but important reading:
Now for some good news. Take a look at this video — I know . . . it’s like 30 minutes, but it may encourage your soul. It’s worth it. See what you think:
In this week’s “Briefing” from Al Mohler earlier this week, he dove into the news that Bethany Christian Services has “pivoted” in their position — now serving “all people” including LGBT community people. See here (it’s long, but part I gets you there):
But of course, they are not really serving all people, right? They draw a line at deviants, perverts, those who indulge in child sacrifice and child sexual abuse. So they don’t serve all people. They have just moved the line of whom they will serve to avoid governmental restriction. Notice too that the statement from Bethany does not mention “marriage” only “parents” and that good Christians can reasonably disagree on numerous doctrinal issues. True, but while we might disagree on issues like the form of baptism, meaning in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, or the return of Christ, that is one thing; however, when the disagreement gets to the fundamental mission of an organization (serving children in adoption and foster care), then concepts like “marriage” and “parents” are not areas we can disagree on, right?
The Scriptures could not be more clear about God’s creation order and the way of family and life. And this will be the battlefield for the next generation: What will we be willing to sacrifice in order to avoid government restriction and cultural cancelation? Are we willing to discard fundamental Christian truth and creation order? Then remove the idea of “Christian” from your mission. By like the YMCA and remove the M, and the C and just become “The Y.”
And next time you hear that an organization decided to “pivot” on an issue of cultural importance, think “capitulation” not pivot. Ask what did they just give up in order to gain the love of the world? When The New York Times lauds your “pivot” . . . you had better ask what I did wrong. Remember, Jesus said, “When the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15). If the world, the culture, love your position, your cultural progress to a new stance, you are almost certainly losing Christ to gain status.