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Social media promises equality and diversity – except for Christians

This weeks column on Christian Today 

Social media promises equality and diversity – except for Christians

A great deal is said about ‘cancel culture’, with the fear being that everyone is in danger of getting ‘cancelled’ if they say anything that offends anyone. But this fear is misplaced, because the situation is far worse. At least if everyone were in danger of getting cancelled it would have the appearance of fairness, but the reality is that the social media giants do not operate on a basis of equality and diversity. In the words of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “some pigs are more equal than others.”

This was vividly brought home to me this past week when Scottish finance minister, Kate Forbes, was interviewed on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast by Nick Robinson. During the course of this, she made the good confession: “To be straight, I believe in the person of Jesus Christ. I believe that he died for me, he saved me and that my calling is to serve and to love him and to serve and love my neighbours with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. So that for me is essential to my being.”

This resulted in a number of comments and articles – including from the Scottish political commentator, Stephen Daisley, in The Spectator.

During the course of that interview, Forbes described some of the abuse and hatred that she gets on social media – she is a woman, and more than that, a Christian woman, which seems to give the Hounds of Hell free licence.

When I posted a link to Daisley’s article, it attracted both praise and damnation. Some Christians were delighted at her confession, others, struggling to reconcile their politics with her faith, damned with faint praise or outright condemnation. Some secularists were appalled that someone in such a high position could be so open about her faith, others were more tolerant. So far, so Twitter. But then came the abuse. One example was so bad that I reported it.

Within seconds I received a response, presumably from the algorithm:

We’re writing to let you know that after reviewing the available information, we didn’t find a violation of our rules in the content you reported.
We appreciate that you let us know what happened, and encourage you to reach out again in the future if you see any potential violations.

I did not appreciate that response and so appealed. A day later I got exactly the same response, presumably this time from a human.

The tweet I reported was one of several in similar vein: “so this damnable woman is a bigoted anti-gay pile of slime. And a Wee Free piece of trash too. How the hell can she be an elected Public Official. Yet even mair PROOF POSITIVE of the double standards of the SNP. Get rid of her. PDQ [pretty damn quick].”

This was followed up by, “oh do go away you nauseating piece of garbage.”

For those who are not au fait with Scottish churches, ‘Wee Free’ is a derogatory way to refer to the church Forbes belongs to, the Free Church of Scotland.

Twitter’s rules for hate conduct state: “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

To abuse someone on the basis of their religion is against Twitter’s rules. Unless apparently you are a Christian. Stop for a moment and consider if similar remarks were made about Forbes’ government colleague, Humza Yousaf’s religion. That would have been immediately flagged as Islamophobic and removed. I am not calling for such abuse to be legitimised. I am calling for consistency, equality and diversity.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have allowed the most hateful videos against the Jews, but they ban people who state that a man cannot become a woman!

The problem here is the problem of offence. What is offence and who determines it? The social media giants have combined their power with identity politics and the philosophy of postmodern ‘progressive’ American academia, to impose their values and views upon the rest of the world. They will cancel those who do not share their views, whilst at the same time permitting and even encouraging views which are offensive to many people.

The Christian Church is faced with the dilemma that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive to many people. To some, we may be the perfume of life, but to others we are the stench of death (2 Corinthians 2:16). Sometimes when we speak up for Christian values our society sings its praises, other times it abuses us. But we have no choice. The Cross of Christ must be proclaimed, even when it is offensive.

In terms of modern means of communication, perhaps we need to learn our lessons and get ready. A time will come when human beings will not put up with sound teaching (2 Timothy 4:3). Now is that time. We must be prepared to pay the price – but we must also be prepared to get round the bans and barriers put in our way. It’s getting closer to the time for the Christian Underground to be ready. Nothing can stop the Word of God from being proclaimed! The Gospel cannot be cancelled!

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  1. David, it’s funny you should be communicating this way. I would suggest not just social media form the wok but also within Christianity can be opposed to the gospel of the Lord Jesus. I have to thank you for the laugh I got when I read “oh do go away you nauseating piece of garbage.” “The Lord laughs… for he knows their day is coming” (Ps 37:13) and he who laughs last, laughs loudest :).

    So for sure this can appear as a roaring lion who ultimately has no teeth.

    What I got this morning (no names, no pack drill) is ” Adam, if we as Christians deliberately say something that people will find offensive, isn’t there a risk that we alienate them from Christianity?” Well, to that I would say first we are to be at peace with all people whenever possible. That being said assuming the offence taken by anyone is the offence of the Gospel and that alienates them from Christianity then one of two things are happening. Either they are unwelcoming and not listening to the gospel or the Christianity they have encountered is apostate and unrepentant.

    I don’t think the worse thing that can happen to you, me, Kate Forbes or anyone else is to be cancelled. I think the worse thing that could happen is for any of us to be unfaithful to Christ to the extent that God ceases to discipline and instead says in effect “OK have it your way” and we have a comfortable and easy time of it among the “woke”.

  2. Social media are squalid, horrible places. I stay away from them and suggest you do too.

  3. Christianity is evidently seen as a threat to the secular utopia that is somehow going to be created by eliminating the public dissemination of all thoughts and ideas which hurt (some) people’s feelings.

    Wrapping people up in cotton wool so that they never have to hear or experience anything which challenges them on an emotional level couldn’t possibly be a contributing factor to the continual outbreaks of violence from middle-class Western youth in the last couple of years…..

  4. I am not sure that social media ever promised equality and diversity. And if it did, surely nobody believed it.
    Surely you and Stephen Daisley, when you referenced Ms Forbes’ Christianity, must have expected the type of reaction you got from some quarters. I am also sure that you never for a minute expected Twitter to do anything about it. While in no way excusing the comments, I have seen much worse directed at SNP women from members of their own party. Most of them weigh up the cost and make their own decision to remain as members.
    Is the reaction not what would be expected from those who recognise that their beliefs are threatened by Christianity. We all have a tendency to attack that which we fear. The fear of God in particular.
    Much more of a worry is the Scottish establishments apparent willingness to tolerate Christians and Christian denominations. Then again, why would they fear the Church of Scotland and the Free Church, when, for example, they were quite happy to go along with them in making church attendance illegal in Scotland.
    We all know the Devil is alive and well on social media, but he does his best work when he succeeds in disguising his presence.

  5. ‘The anvil which has worn out many hammers’ will always attract vicious criticism. The spread and survival of our faith, in the face of this unwarranted threat from all quarters, is a form of apologetic?

  6. Blessed are you when men hate you,
    And when they exclude you,
    And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
    For the Son of Man’s sake.
    Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
    For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
    For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.
    Luke 6:22-23

  7. Amen! Thanks you, David, for your clear statement & warning which several of your Brethren have been giving for some time. But who’s listening, even among many true Christians, there seems to be a stupor, brought on by ignoring the little leaven that leavens the whole lump.
    May our Lord Jesus bless & keep you, along with all who seek to follow Jesus & love honor & obey Him.

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