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In Theory: Would an end to net neutrality stifle religious speech online?

On Dec. 14, the FCC voted 3-2 to eliminate rules put in place during the Obama administration that prohibited internet service providers from favoring websites or limiting access to others in favor of a concept known as net neutrality.

Despite considerable public outcry, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the two other Republican commissioners voted to eliminate the regulations, a move many say could fundamentally change the way Americans use the web.

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An article published on the World Religion News website says the end to net neutrality will harm freedom of expression, specifically religious speech. "Religious groups are worried certain types of speech could be censored by companies," the article states.

In addition, the cost of doing business would lead to more unfairness, as "Religious doctrines with large bank accounts get more publicity and power in the public space." The article names a diverse list of religious organizations that have come out against the FCC vote.

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Q. Does the elimination of net neutrality threaten religious speech? Should Congress cement into law the right to equal access on the World Wide Web?

Yes, the elimination of net neutrality threatens religious speech. In particular I believe that Google is already using its corporate clout to stand against conservatives on issues of faith and morality, and the elimination of the regulations will only strengthen them to promote their biased agenda even further by eliminating access to websites that contradict it. No doubt other internet service providers will follow suit, especially if there's a buck to be made.

Yes, Congress should enforce the right to equal access on the World Wide Web. It's become too essential to modern communication and commerce to let any company restrict or hinder access to it. Jesus Christ gave a clear mandate to the church: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20). People become disciples of Christ when they hear and accept the message of gospel, which is clear and simple: "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This message flies in the face of worldly, humanistic philosophies and it convicts those who promote them. But it remains the only message by which people can be reconciled to God. The right to proclaim this message must be protected in every free society – and every society that wishes to guard its freedom against the control of powerful businesses with their own agendas to push.

Pastor Jon Barta

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Burbank

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Speech and access to information and opinion platforms by all of us will take a hit without net neutrality, shorthand for everyone pays the same and we all get equal access. Religious or not, we are in the same leaky boat in this case.

The trouble with relying on Congress to help us here is that the majority party is not on the side of everybody. The GOP in general thinks that the almighty market should be allowed to prevail. The big businesses that own online access should be able to charge what they will, to deliver whatever product or level of service they think they can get away with, and the market will sort it out.

That has worked out so well over the centuries to assure us of safe, pure food and air and water free of pollution. Not.

Here's my thought for politicians and other corporate shills fundamentally opposed to the idea of regulatory efforts to protect consumers by an agency set up for that mission. Go ahead and advocate to let business do whatever they want, unconstrained by protective regulation. That is your free speech right. Just don't cynically get yourself in charge of said regulatory body so that you can work to weaken or eliminate it.

Californians may have some hope that our state legislature will pass pro-consumer laws governing access to the World Wide Web via companies operating under California law.

Roberta Medford

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Atheist

Montrose

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