What Happened to Parler is a Wakeup Call For Churches Hosting Services Online
On Sunday night, the lights went out on Parler. Parler could not find servers for their website after AMAZON decided to no longer host them and the message was clear – you do not have a choice.
About one year ago, I was in China and started to hear rumors about a disease that was spreading in Wuhan. A Chinese doctor had been treating patients with a disease that he had never seen before and when he alerted others in the medical community, he was arrested and forced to sign a confession for “distributing false information.”
Since then, that disease has spread around the world and changed all of our lives. To be safe, most of us have moved online for almost everything. For many of us, all of our banking, grocery shopping, education, social interaction, etc – has all been moved online.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes is that many of us have also moved our fellowship with other believers online as well. To help keep community members safe and adhere to local laws, church has been moved online, but many believers have quickly found that portions of their messages are not allowed online.
Christ Church in Moscow found that their online video services were banned after the pastor shared how Christians should respond during coronavirus. The church videos were suspended for the exact same reason as China arrested doctors in Wuhan – “for spreading false information.”
Christian leaders like Franklin Graham, Kirk Cameron, and Bethel Music’s Sean Feucht have all been banned or censored for “spreading false information.”
In November, Pastor Greg Locke, a guest on the Back to Jerusalem podcast, was banned on Facebook after simply offering to pay transportation expenses for unemployed church members who wanted to attend church service during Covid-19 lockdown. His posts were tagged by Facebook for spreading false information. It seems that social media companies have learned a lot from China.
By moving church services online, social media giants can monitor what is being said and ensure that it is in-line with what they will allow. In the beginning, the feeling was relatively free and open, but slowly there are an increasing number of examples of Christian pastors being censored.
This is how it works:
If your church meets in person they are a danger for society, but if they meet online they are doing a good thing.
So, believers meet online.
Once your church is online, it is important that they share only what is allowable according to the guidelines of online companies. If your church shares things that are not allowable, then they are “spreading false information” and are guilty like the Chinese doctor in Wuhan and will be censored.
If you do not abide by the online rules – your church can no longer meet.
See how that works?
Censorship is arguably important to ensure that false teachings are not spread, but censored by who? Do these companies have theologians on staff to help them make these decisions to decide what is orthodox Christian teaching? Do they have a collection of respected pastors, or a round table of Christian leaders helping make the decisions about what is considered to be biblical or not? The answer is a strong “no” on both counts. These companies (Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, etc) represent world leaders who are attempting to dictate to Christians what is acceptable in their messages and what is not. They are defining the “biblical” guidelines and those guidelines are easily enforced on those who primarily meet online.
Christians can leave and look for an online alternative, but what are the alternatives?
And this is why what is happening with Parler is so important. The social media lords are working hard to ensure that the alternatives to their services are fewer and fewer. Taking down Parler ensures that there is one less alternative for Christians to turn to, in order to share the messages they are convicted to share.
This is one of the reasons why BTJ started DingDash. DingDash provides an alternative for believers to share with one another without the fear of being shut down. At the moment, DingDash only offers a Twitter type of service, where users can write thoughts of up to 1,000 characters and share photos and information. However, in 2021, DingDash plans to launch a live streaming feature that will allow pastors and teachers to share their sermons online without the fear of being monitored or censored.
Learn more by clicking here.