Facebook censorship

Group Offering Help to People with Same-Sex Attraction Says It’s Facing “Blatant Discrimination” From Facebook

By Josh Shepherd

A Christian organization that helps people with unwanted same-sex attraction “overcome sinful relational and sexual issues” says it is facing “blatant discrimination” from Facebook.

The group, called Restored Hope Network (RHN), has had several of its Facebook posts flagged as “hate speech” and “voter suppression,” according to Anne Paulk, RHN executive director.

One of the posts flagged by Facebook had a picture of Dr. Linda Seiler, who formerly identified as transgender, and the following quote:

Regular science shows you’re not hardwired, born this way. Why is our culture not following that? Well, it’s because our culture is entrapped in a stronghold, in a lie, that is being fed by the enemy . . .

Paulk says Facebook is discriminating against RHN because it equates any ministry that believes God can transform sexuality with so-called “conversion therapy.”

On July 10, Facebook and Instagram announced they would ban any content that promotes conversion therapy, including testimonials praising or supporting the practice. According to a CNN report, conversion therapy is “a pseudo-scientific process that professes to change a person’s sexuality” and “is widely discredited and condemned as harmful by major medical associations.”

Yet Paulk says conversion therapy is “a nonexistent psychological treatment . . . created by those who oppose any change from homosexuality or transgenderism.” She said the term is often associated with using force, abuse or aversive therapy, which RHN and its member ministries would never use. Paulk said labeling ministry as “conversion therapy” is simply a means for tech companies to censor content they don’t like.

“They’re discriminating against us on the basis of sexual orientation and gender,” Paulk said. “We don’t go along with their position. Rather, we believe Christ actually can redeem one’s sexual orientation and he can make a difference in people’s lives.” 

Restored Hope Network’s flagged Facebook post:
Banned Restored Hope Network Facebook Post

Caving to Pressure from Media Matters?

According to Paulk and Robert George, a conservative Catholic author and Princeton University professor, Facebook and Instagram are also bowing to pressure from Media Matters for America.

Media Matters is a left-leaning nonprofit funded at least in part by billionaire George Soros.

On July 16, Media Matters published an article, specifically urging Facebook and Instagram to remove Restored Hope Network’s page, as well as pages for two other conservative groups—Voice of the Voiceless and International Federation for Therapeutic and Counseling Choice. Media Matters alleged that these groups engage in conversion therapy, including “shock and aversion treatments,” which lead to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

On July 27, Facebook removed several posts by RHN and International Federation for Therapeutic and Counseling Choice.

In a Facebook post Monday, Robert George criticized Facebook’s decision to censor speech. “If Media Matters or others on the left disagree with people like Anne, let them meet her points and arguments with criticism and counterarguments—and let them answer her criticisms of them,” he wrote. “In other words: Free speech for everybody.”

Similarly, Paulk challenged the organizations condemning RHN to produce evidence for their accusations.

“If they had a specific accusation claiming any of them had harmed someone, we would immediately set up a committee to investigate whether somebody had done something wrong and take action,” Paulk said.

However, she said nothing like this has ever happened. “These have always been general accusations, which cannot be investigated. So I find that to be troubling and disingenuous on the part of the accusers.” 

Silencing Viewpoints, Influencing Beliefs

According to Media Research Center (MRC), which has been tracking the lack of media objectivity for decades, what Facebook did to Restored Hope Network is not unique—or okay.

“This type of censorship has become an almost daily occurrence,” said Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture for MRC. “If Big Tech can make our moral decisions, what’s to stop companies like Facebook from deciding the Bible is wrong about marriage or homosexuality? The answer is nothing would stop them which is insanely, dangerously wrong.”

Just last week, Facebook and Instagram removed content from the pages of another Christian group that addresses homosexuality in its posts: Core Issues Trust.

Anne Paulk of Restored Hope
Restored Hope Network Executive Director Anne Paulk

In addition, the Christian ministry’s accounts on Paypal and Mailchimp have been suspended. And Barclay’s Bank reportedly has informed founder Michael Davidson (whom Paulk says is a personal friend) that their bank account will be closed. 

“This means that there now is a belief system that you have to go along with to remain on their site,” Paulk said. “When your platform actually impedes the expression of the breadth of human opinion and experience by shutting down certain voices, that is an attempt to influence beliefs.” 

On Wednesday, issues of censorship are expected to come up when the CEOs of Silicon Valley companies including Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google testify in a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. 

In the meantime, Restored Hope Network is urging people to fight Facebook’s censorship and cancel culture. The group has set up a “Call to Action” page with contact information for the tech giant.

“Make no mistake,” Paulk says on the page. “This silencing won’t end with us. It will spread beyond Restored Hope network to other Christians, ministry leaders, pastors, and churches.”

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their son.

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9 thoughts on “Group Offering Help to People with Same-Sex Attraction Says It’s Facing “Blatant Discrimination” From Facebook”

  1. This is just disgraceful beyond measure. It’s true that Facebook is a privately held company and as such can make some rules about how it wants to operate. Just as a business cannot refuse service based on any number of factors, EVEN MORE SO should a public forum that purposefully promotes public discourse not restrict opinion. It’s sheer hypocrisy to be tightening the screws on people who simply disagree with you when you’re claiming to further public discourse. It’s also an ethical, if not legal, travesty of what it means to live in America where the First Amendment is supposed to protect your right to free speech – even kooky speech. If Facebook and other liberal entities want to behave like this, then their sites should clearly inform potential users “ONLY LIBERAL IDEAS AND AGENDAS WELCOME.”

    Christians need to speak out and take action or we’re going to find ourselves unable to do so. Anti-Biblical Leftist Liberalism is encroaching on the thinking of far too many even within the church, at frightening speed.

    1. You are correct. Facebook is a privately held company and can run its business as it sees fit. (Same way that that a bakery can choose to deny service to a same-sex couple, but somehow I think you were cheering about that). For the government to intervene and demand otherwise is a HUGE overstep, and actually goes against the “limited government” conservatives claim to stand for.
      Facebook can choose to edit, delete, block, or deny posts that they find to be a violation of what they stand for – especially when it comes to an organization that promotes something as controversial as offering “healing from” homosexuality, regardless of religious affiliation.
      That is NOT a violation of free speech. That phrase is thrown around so casually with ignorance to how free speech protects us from THE GOVERNMENT persecuting, imprisoning, fining, harrassing, or threatening us for expressing our views. Facebook is not the government (again, it is privately held). So the first amendment does NOT protect us from Facebook (or any other business) denying us service over conflicting religious beliefs or values. (Again, see the bakery allowed to deny service to a same sex couple.)
      I have wonderful discourse with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. We hold views all across the spectrum, from Libertarian to progressive. And it is OUR responsibility to behave respectfully (I wish others felt the same). So no person or service is stopping anyone from doing that. And I have been grateful when trolls who jump in to bully, threaten, and harrass us are blocked by Facebook or Twitter.
      No one is a victim here. This is what happens when privately held businesses exercise their right to run their business (and platforms) as they see fit. Same for when Julie edits or deletes posts on this site she deems harmful – it’s her right. No one should deny her that. Same for Facebook. Same for any Christian-based platform or conservative leaning platform.

        1. Facebook is public in the sense that it is “publicly-traded.” Facebook is private in the sense that it is non-government: It is part of the “private sector.” Read legal arguments on the definitions or private vs public sector, and the government rulings on the authority of the government, especially rulings from the 80’s.
          This definition also holds in consulting, where consulting the public sector means for the government (e.g., for agencies or public universities, where Booz Allen Hamilton is fairly dominant), and consulting for the private sector means “commercial” (e.g., where McKinsey, Bain, BCG, etc tend to be dominant).
          So much ignorance around this driving false arguments.

  2. Its not just true of Christian view points but also of Conservative Political opinions and the science of Intelligent Design, which is largely Christian but not entirely. I believe the best answer is for someone to create a new site for people with open minds to discuss issues in an intelligent civil manner. Problem is of course others would invade and/or the “Internet” police would have it shut down, as in some countries, due to its “subversive” nature. That was the true goal of “Net Neutrality”.

  3. Restored Hope Network does not offer help. It offers unbiblical, unchristian, unprofessional, and unscientific promises of orientation and gender-identity change.

    There is no Biblical basis for conversion therapy or its false constituent beliefs that homosexuality is caused by bad parenting or abuse. There is no Biblical nor scientific evidence that conversion therapy works.

    There is, however, substantial evidence in science that conversion therapy consistently worsens sexual addiction and depression, leading to suicide and faithlessness. And there is substantial condemnation of conversion therapy’s parent-bashing and fraud in the Bible.

    1. Do you have any evidence for your claim that Restored Hope Network engages in “conversion therapy”? From what I know of RHN, the organization does what every Bible-believing church does–it calls people to repentance and teaches that God can give us victory over any sin, including sexual sin. That’s the straight-up gospel, not “conversion therapy.” I have several friends who have found freedom from same-sex desires and are now walking in freedom from that sin, so I don’t find it hard to believe that others have. As for the cause of homosexuality, I have never heard RHN teach that parenting is the cause. There are likely numerous factors that lead to same-sex attraction, not least of which is our own fallen human nature. It seems that you are doing exactly what Media Matters is doing–making vague accusations without specific, verifiable facts.

  4. People are born homosexual. They don’t have a choice. They don’t need to be converted; they are fine as they are and as God made them. Love is love. Leave them alone. The government and Facebook are right on this one.

  5. There are multiple viewpoints on all of this. What is undeniable is that there are individuals such as my adult child who are unable to take hormones to transition. For my child the hormones made her pain much worse since she has RA. I’ve read that others have had uncontrollable BP when they transitioned. And don’t get me started on how many women getting IVF have died on the same drugs used as hormone blockers for children.

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