“While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke.” Matthew 9:32–33
The term cancel culture gets banded about daily, but perhaps the movement to silence opposing points of view is of a more demonic nature.
The Supreme Court has ruled that incitement, defamation, fraud, obscenity, child pornography, fighting words, and threats are banned speech. “The Brandenburg test was the Supreme Court’s last major statement on what government may do about inflammatory speech that seeks to incite others to lawless action. The Brandenburg test remains the standard used for evaluating attempts by the government to punish inflammatory speech, and it has not been seriously challenged since it was laid down in 1969.” – Wikipedia
Recently, however, private companies have begun to forbid speech of a certain nature (God, Jesus, certain Bible verses) that falls outside the Brandenburg test. One of the leading monitors and censors of this is Amazon. In a recent push the company began censoring ads and books that promote the transforming power of Jesus Christ. In fact “transforming” “transformation” and “conversion” appear to be words flagged in Amazon’s algorithm. Below is a screenshot from Amazon’s ad team.
The offending language in this ad is the claim that God can help those struggling with addiction and find healing–which is one of the reasons Christ came.
“Find healing and hope regardless of your addiction. Allow God to invade those dark thoughts that condemn you. Begin your faith journey today.“
Amazon cites the ad because it targets “customers based on certain personal characteristics.”
By this standard we might expect that ads for expectant mothers to be banned. Dealing with cancer? Sorry, no ads for cancer books. Feeling a little large around the waste? No ads for dieting books.
Except on Amazon you will find ads for dieting books, and cancer books, and pregnancy books. Clearly “customers based on certain personal characteristics” is not the real culprit. If not, what is?
I suggest the offending phrase is “Allow God.” I say this because I have faced the Amazon ad censors before. When I ran Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Amazon randomly banned ads for Conversations With Jesus, a 365 day teen devotional. The approval or disapproval seemed to depend on who at Amazon read the ad that day. Amazon blocked other ads with the words “God” “Jesus” or which promoted the transforming power of Christ.
My point is not to bash Amazon. I have friends, believers in Christ, who work for Amazon. If not for Amazon, LPC would never have grown like it has. Amazon is a business. For authors and publishers, Amazon is like Rome. It makes the rules, enforces the rules, and banishes or destroys those who violate its rules.
But the day is coming, and I think soon, when Amazon will ban the Bible and all Christian content. Others claim Amazon earns too much money from Bible sales to ban it from their site. Except Amazon has already banned the Bible.
If you go to: amazon.cn and search for Bibles you will see a long list of Bibles from which to choose. This might lead you to think you can buy a Bible in China from Amazon. You cannot. Those inside China see a “no results” response to their search for the Bible. Amazon does not need the revenue from Bible and Christian book sales. Amazon needs happy customers and based on current cultural trends, most Amazon shoppers would gladly applaud Amazon for pulling Christian content from its U.S. site.
Christian authors need an alternative to Amazon, and I do not mean another store site. We need a site like Bookbub for Christian books, videos, audio, and all forms of Christian entertainment and educational material. Bookbub does not sell books; it provides information about a book and points visitors to online booksellers. This is my vision: that someone build a site like Bookbub for Christian authors.
Christian authors are represented on Bookbub but we are one small segment of their platform. Some have suggested Christian authors simply point to Christianbooks.com. Christianbooks.com carries a nice selection of titles, but their policy (according to my last correspondence with Spring Arbor distributors) is that Christianbooks.com only carries Christian content. If a Christian author writes a general market novel that does not offer a salvation message, the title is rejected. I applaud the work of Christianbooks.com, but its exclusivity would leave too many Christian authors without a way to make their books found.
Thus the need for a site where authors can feature all works that honor and respect God and Christ, offer online chats with readers, stream live video events, feature video trailers and promotions, and publicize events. Imagine if Goodreads married Bookbub and their offspring produced a site similar in appearance to Amazon but without the commerce aspect. That is my vision.
In March 70 AD God’s people thought the protection and peace they enjoyed would continue to last. The destruction that followed was one half of a prophetic warning from Christ. The rest of his warning remains for some date in the future. “There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” Matthew 24:21
For those who have their ears to the ground, we hear the distant thud-thud-thud of Romans soldiers approaching. Let us prepare while there is still time.
By the way the book Amazon refused to advertise is: Faith House: A Journey of Faith In Addiction Recovery. Nice book, nice author, and a believer trusting God for provision and sales.