The title of this article is not sensational. It is not click bait. It’s the truth. Shocking truth. Yes, Instagram has branded live worship videos on the streets as in violation of community guidelines, calling the content “harmful.” Let the indignation be felt and heard.
Sean Feucht is a worship leader and songwriter who recently ran for political office in California. He is also a conservative Christian.
On June 23, he tweeted, “This is what we got in America!
“Instagram Now Classes My WORSHIP Videos As” Harmful or Fake Information “
“Religious freedom? Freedom of expression? Big Tech censorship? “
The tweet included a screenshot from Instagram, explaining that the company removed its video post because it violated community standards. (Oh, those awesome community standards again!)
Specifically, Instagram said, “Story deleted for harmful or false information.”
What does that mean? What can that mean?
Feucht’s tweet caught the attention of Missouri Senator Josh Hawley who tweeted, “Cancellation culture meets #BigTech. Now @instagram is censoring a Christian cult leader who wants to post praise and worship videos from places where there has been recent unrest. And that does not meet “community standards”? I can’t wait to hear the explanation on this.
As of this writing (Thursday evening, Eastern Time, June 25), we are still awaiting an explanation.
A few years ago, I repeatedly challenged Facebook for censoring some of my posts for allegedly violating community standards, exposing the hypocrisy of their decisions.
For example, my factual and honest post dealing with LGBT issues would be deemed hateful, while the most blasphemous, incredibly profane anti-Christian Facebook pages were allowed to operate without restriction. Seriously?
Fortunately, in most cases, with the help of an internal contact, Facebook has restored my posts (or restored my status). But other colleagues of mine did not fare as well, with their pages permanently shut down for alleged violation of dreaded (and oh so ambiguous) community standards.
It seems that “hate” meant one thing to one group and something completely different to the other. (For a recent video briefing, see here.)
When it comes to YouTube and Google, the battle continues, with big channels like Prager U still facing discrimination and unequal treatment. (Where are all the social justice warriors calling for equality? Somehow they don’t seem to be raising their voices for Prager U.)
In my own experience, after suddenly having over 1,000 videos from my channel unsuitable for advertising (!), YouTube has actually been right with me, sometimes even surprising me with what it approves of. monetization. At the same time, we know that the other shoe can fall off at any time and suddenly, we could be banned.
It’s a big mistake to trust Big Tech.
What happened with Instagram, however, seems even more bizarre and extreme. What the hell were the all-powerful censors thinking?
There are countless videos on Instagram showing disturbing clips from the recent protests and riots, all up to community standards. (At this time, more on Twitter, I’m watching a video of the Seattle “CHOP” call, with specific reference to the guillotines. I imagine similar videos can be found on Instagram.)
But when a video is posted showing christian worship in the midst of these protests, he was withdrawn for alleged “damaging or false information”.
Since there is nothing “wrong” about the video, it should be considered “harmful” – hence the title of this article.
Is this really what Instagram meant? Could they claim that worshiping the Lord on the streets of our divided cities is harmful?
If so, I would encourage every worship leader and worship team to take to the streets of their own communities, post similar videos and share them as widely as possible, starting with Instagram. (Hey, it’s a good thing to do anyway, and that’s exactly what America needs.)
If Instagram made a mistake, I hope they admit it and say, “We totally missed it! There is no excuse. Otherwise, it means war – as in spiritual warfare.
So no hate. No carnal aggression. No carnal anger. And, of course, of course, of course, no violence.
But a lot of prayer. Lots of worship. Lots of preaching. And a lot of people standing and heard. If not now, then when?
Ironically, as if to fully understand, as I was writing this article, I spotted another tweet from Senator Hawley a few hours ago. He wrote: “Now @Twitter is actively censoring Bible verses? Seriously? Why?”
Hawley retweeted another tweet from Sean Feucht, declaring, “Not only are big tech blocking worship videos, but now they’re blocking PEACE Bible verses!
“RT if you think social media needs more peace, more worship, and less censorship of Jesus’ followers. “
Feucht included a screenshot of Beni Johnson’s tweets, then using the username @ prayfor5, which currently does not appear on Twitter. His tweets, posting Bible verses, were blocked, with the note: “This Tweet may include sensitive content.
Thus, worship is considered “harmful” and scripture verses on peace are considered “sensitive content”. Truly?
Let us, then, flood Big Tech with Word and worship. And let us point out and challenge any unjust infractions concerning the practice of our faith.
It is beyond time.
(For my 10 point winning strategy for believers leading up to this volatile election, see my new book Evangelicals at a Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test?)
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationwide Line of Fire radio show. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.