Californian Christians Demand the Right to Spread Hate and Disinformation

By Rosa Rubicondior | 22 May 2023
Rosa Rubicondior Blog

(Photo: Gilbert Mercier / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Religious broadcasters seek to reverse California law aimed at quelling online hate speech

In a tacit acknowledgement that religions promulgate hate and division, and spread disinformation, The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), an association of Christian media outlets, is joining a coalition opposing a Californian law that would require social media operators such as Facebook and Twitter to publish their policies for removing hate speech from their platforms.

In effect, NRB’s president and chief executive officer, Troy Miller, is campaigning for the right of Christians to retain the special privileges of spreading hate and misinformation with impunity when he declared in a statement:

In an environment where much religious viewpoint expression is considered ‘controversial’ speech, NRB is acting to stop the weaponization of new laws against Christian communicators.

The new law requires social media companies to provide repots, to the Attorney General starting no later than 1 Jan 2024:

… including, but not limited to, the current version of the terms of service for each social media platform owned or operated by the company, specified categories of content and what policies the social media company has for that platform to address that content, and data related to violations of the terms of service for each platform.

The law also requires the Attorney General to make those reports available to the public in a searchable repository on its official internet website.

In other words, the public will be able to find out which individuals or groups have had material removed because it contains hate speech, disinformation, or extremism. It’s important to note that the law doesn’t define hate speech or specifically forbid hate, disinformation or extremism posing as religious opinion, but simply requires social media platforms to have and enforce ‘community standards’ and provide information on what measures they have and how and when they enforce them.

Compounding the impression that they are campaigning for the right of Christians to spread hate, disinformation, and extremist opinion, the NRB complained that compliance would force the members to “become agents of the state for First Amendment suppression by having their speech repressed”. The NRB also claims that hundreds of its members use social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, to connect with their audiences. NRB members, which includes Salem Media Group which owns and, also operate social media platforms and have a vested interest in doing nothing to curtail the hate being promulgated by their members.

Once again, we see religions, and in this case, Christianity, campaigning for the privilege to be antisocial on the ground of freedom of speech. In other words, the right to victimise minorities of their choice, just as they oppose extensions of civil liberties to minority groups on the grounds that they should be able to use religion as an excuse to deny human rights to others.

Rosa Rubicondior (a pseudonym) is a retired data analyst, biologist, blogger, author and atheist.

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