Social Media’s Threat to Religious Freedom

August 13, 2021

In an article published yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, Salvatore Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, and Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, discussed YouTube’s recent threat to religious freedom. The social media platform came under fire for removing renowned Pesbyterian minister and public intellectual Carl Trueman from the site during a livestream discussion on the Immanuel Baptist Church YouTube channel. He was talking about a Christian view of sex. The livestream was initially taken down due to a copyright violation. However, once that issue was rectified, the stream was once again removed due to an ambiguous “content violation” that YouTube has yet to explain. 

Archbishop Cordileone and Jim Daly point out that this is just one example of the grave threat posed by social media platforms to freedom of speech, especially when it comes to religious freedom in the United States: 

Was this an intervention by a human being or an algorithm on automatic pilot? Neither Mr. Trueman nor Immanuel Baptist has been told. Equally unclear is the specific nature of the alleged content violation. Nothing in Mr. Trueman’s talks encouraged hatred, vulgarity or violence. On the contrary, he offered a thoughtful analysis of American cultural attitudes toward sex through the lens of classic Christian thought, citing sources from Freud to the philosophers Rousseau and Charles Taylor.

Noting the changing nature of the public square in America, they write, “On public sidewalks, the First Amendment still theoretically protects free speech. In the new public square of the internet, power displaces liberty and conscience.”

Cordileone and Daly continue:

The American experiment was founded on, and has always thrived on, the freedom of religious believers to speak, teach, preach, practice, serve and work in peace—not only in private, but in the public square—for the truth about God and humanity that ennobles their lives and all lives. 

This YouTube incident, and others like it, should concern all who want religious freedom to be protected in law and respected in culture.

Read the full article:Social Media’s Threat to Religious Freedom.”