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Christians Need to 'Be Wise' in How We Use Social Media Because People 'Are Watching'

Photo Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash
Photo Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash

Dr. Michael Brown walked out of his church one Sunday in late January to find he had been temporarily locked out of his Twitter account — a consequence that followed a tweet in which he acknowledged the biological birth sex of a prominent transgender political figure.

President Joe Biden had just days prior named Dr. Rachel Levine, the now-former secretary of health in Pennsylvania, to serve as his assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Levine is a transgender woman, meaning a biological male who identifies as female.

Brown’s offending tweet was actually an informal experiment, and it wielded exactly the result he anticipated. On Jan. 20, the columnist and radio host posted: “Will I get punished by Twitter for saying that, in God’s sight, ‘Rachel’ Levine … is a man?” On Sunday, Jan. 24, he got his answer, as he explained in an editorial.

***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

Speaking recently with Faithwire, Brown explained that, after contacting Twitter, staffers for the platform told him he could regain access to his account if he deleted the offending tweet. Brown said he agreed to do so, but not before writing — and publishing — an op-ed explaining the entire situation within the 12-hour period, ensuring the saga would be documented and publicly available to anyone interested in the censorship story.

Brown said the issue really boils down to “double standards.”

“Our issue is censoring things on one side and not on another side,” Brown explained. “It’s one thing if a platform said, ‘Hey, these are our guidelines: they’re very narrow, they’re very clear. If you want to be a part of this, then you do this.’ It’s another thing when they truly are unfair toward Christians and conservatives.”

“This is not some paranoia thing,” he added.

Brown said he has been watching the censorship of conservative and Christian voices ramp up for nearly two decades, really since the beginning days at Facebook, where he said he has often faced backlash for promoting the biblical definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

He recalled sending a Facebook employee countless pages filled with “hostile, ugly, Christian-bashing, Jesus-bashing” content “with graphic pictures and everything.” He said he was often told those pages didn’t violate the platform’s “community guidelines.”

“The censorship,” Brown said, “overwhelmingly goes in one direction.”

In addition to Brown’s Twitter account, two handles linked to the right-leaning LifeSiteNews were reportedly locked for referring to Levine as “a father of two who divorced his wife in 2013.” Similarly, as Faithwire reported in early February, Twitter suspended access to an account associated with the conservative group Focus on the Family for a tweet referring to Levine as “a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”

The greatest concern, according to Brown, is these asymmetrically applied social media policies could eventually be codified into restrictive laws impeding freedom of speech and religious liberty.

To that end, Biden signed an executive order in mid-January mandating all educational institutions receiving federal funding to permit transgender women — biological males — to join female sports teams, use ladies’ locker rooms and restrooms, and have eligibility for women’s scholarships. Then, in early February, the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union used its Twitter account to spread the untrue claim that “trans girls are girls” who wield no “unfair advantage in sports.”

“No, we’re not being thrown to the lions; no, our heads are not being chopped off,” Brown said. “We don’t want to over-blow this, but we want to be realistic. There is a frontal assault on our freedoms and it will ultimately come back to: can we publicly hold to what the Bible says and teaches, or will we be punished for it?”

As it becomes more and more common for Christians to be “unfairly caricatured,” Brown said, it’s important for believers to separate themselves from the fringe and radical groups to which the left often unfairly links them.

Brown encouraged Christians to “keep putting truth out there” while also being intentional about publicly distancing themselves from the radical rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as well as from those who believe in baseless QAnon conspiracy theories.

The evangelical author said it’s critical for Christians to “pierce that bubble with truth,” referring to the false narratives promoted by much of the mainstream media.

“Let’s use the platforms that we have to separate ourselves by not posting idiotic things,” he said. “Listen, to be totally candid, even though it’s an exaggerated and caricatured report from the left, we play into it a lot. We’ll often just repeat stories without real foundations — without our own fact-checking — we will demonize the left to the point that they’re all walking anti-christs and devils. We exaggerate things, and it’s the end of the world is gonna happen.”

Brown went on to say Christians have a responsibility to “be sober” and “wise” in our interactions on social media and “not give those who oppose us any fodder … for their lying and misleading fires.” If we do that, he said, there will be “plenty of people who see us as reasonable.”

During a recent Politico interview, Brown emphatically criticized those in the Christian prophetic movement who remain committed to the unfounded belief that former President Donald Trump actually won the November election, as many claimed to have prophesied before Election Day last year.

“This has opened the door to outright delusion,” he told the outlet. “As a full-blooded charismatic, I’ll say we’ve earned the world’s mockery for our foolishness.”

While he understands the motivations of those who have made the decision to leave Twitter and Facebook over concerns about the escalating censorship of certain voices, particularly after Trump was banned from the site, Brown likened access to those platforms to missionaries working to share the Gospel in closed countries, stating that, so long as it’s tenable for him to remain on prominent social media platforms, he will do so with the chief goal of sharing the truth according to Scripture.

Brown said he does not “cross a line intentionally,” referring to the guidelines set forward by Twitter and Facebook. He does, however, call out the “unfair application” of the rules.

***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by our parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

“I will challenge hypocrisy and unfairness, and that’s what we have to do,” Brown said. “Let’s shine the light until someone tries to snuff it out, and, when they do, we keep shining it somewhere else.”

“People are there — they’re watching,” he continued. “Let’s ask ourselves, ‘OK, if the whole world was watching every tweet or every post — if a hundred million people were gonna hear what I had to say — what would I say? … If I was the only Christian people knew, what would they think of my faith? What would they think of my Savior?’ Sometimes, we can be just as angry and mean-spirited as those we differ with. Let’s be different. Let’s set a different tone. Let’s genuinely be light in dark places. Let’s care about others. Let’s express concern and compassion. Let’s speak the truth with love. If we do that, people will realize, ‘Hey, you’re being lied about. You’re not that person I thought you were. The more we get caricatured, the more that the truth of who we are will stand in stark contrast with that, so let your light shine.”

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