Vimeo voids Christian videos

Religious Liberty | The sharing site is one of multiple web platforms to censor Biblical messages
by Bonnie Pritchett
Posted 3/31/17, 01:28 pm

Vimeo, a leading online film production and sharing outlet, pulled the entire 850-count video catalog of Pure Passion ministry this month after determining the video content “demeaned” homosexuals. David Foster, founder and executive director of Pure Passion, disputes the allegation and said Vimeo simply did not like his ministry’s message that Jesus saves and heals all sexual brokenness.

Foster’s encounter with the web-based platform is nothing new, according to a spokesman for National Religious Broadcasters. It is part of a disturbing trend of censorship of conservative and Christian messages online by new media, or sharing sites that bypass traditional channels to reach an intended audience, the NRB and other observers say. With no laws forcing new media to host all content, online ministries like Foster’s are at the mercy of secular progressive gatekeepers.

Since 2009, Vimeo has hosted Pure Passion’s videos featuring testimonies of redemption and healing from sexual brokenness related to, among other issues, sexual abuse, sex trafficking and homosexuality. In December, Foster received an email notification from Vimeo warning him that some of the ministry’s videos violated the platform’s content standards.

In March, Foster asked for a list of the videos in question. An email response listed only four videos. But those were enough to indict all Pure Passion content.

“Your statement equating homosexuality to ‘sexual brokenness’ betrays the underlying stance of your organization,” the email stated. “To put it plainly, we don’t believe that homosexuality requires a cure and we don’t allow videos on our platform that espouse this point of view. We also consider this basic viewpoint to display a demeaning attitude toward a specific group, which is something that we do not allow.”

Vimeo Communications Manager Caitlin Hughes would not answer questions about the removal and only offered a link to the website’s page entitled, “How does Vimeo define hateful, harassing, defamatory, and discriminatory content?”

According to the site, Vimeo forbids content promoting “sexual orientation change efforts” and “coded or veiled” language attacking ethnic or religious minorities.

“Cuz that’s not what Vimeo’s about,” the site concluded.

Foster said his own brokenness led to him to live a double life. Just out of college he became a successful actor and male prostitute. But it wasn’t reparative therapy that changed his life, he said, and Pure Passion does not promote the practice. He said the ministry looks at “the wounds, traumas and neglects of life” to determine why people fall into “sinful, painkilling behaviors.” The healing, he said, comes through faith in Christ.

Vimeo’s objection to some of the ministry’s content was an excuse to expunge the entire message of Pure Passion from the platform, Foster said. Citing the sexual and violent content among the millions of videos hosted by the website, Foster accused Vimeo management of taking selective offense.

On its “Frequently Asked Questions” page Vimeo states: “Of course, Vimeo respects creative expression above all else. That’s why we allow depictions of nudity and sexuality that serve a clear creative, artistic, aesthetic, or narrative purpose.”

NRB founded the John Milton Project to track incidents of viewpoint discrimination and censorship on new media platforms. The six-year project highlights increasing censorship of Christian and conservative speech. Aaron Mercer, vice president of government relations for the National Religious Broadcasters, told me much of the information they have comes from people like Foster who are willing to go public with their battles against the new media Goliaths like Vimeo with its 25 million members and 170 million viewers worldwide.

The John Milton Project list of censorship offenders includes Facebook, Google, Twitter, GoFundMe, and Apple. Mercer said many instances of censorship go unreported.

Author and radio show host Dennis Prager has been fighting a battle against Google-owned YouTube—a fight the video-streaming platform refuses to acknowledge. Prager co-founded PragerU, an online site featuring five-minute tutorials on a host of topics that push back against liberal social and political narratives.

In October, YouTube without warning changed the rating status of 21 videos to “restricted,” limiting access to them due to filter settings on some computers. Prager cried foul, but despite media attention and a 100,000-plus-signature petition, the restricted status has not changed.

“YouTube has not responded to us or even made any public comment as to their restriction of conservative content,” Jared Sichel, communications director for PragerU, told me. “We did notice, though, that YouTube swiftly apologized to the LGBT community when it was revealed that YouTube was restricting some LGBT videos.”

Because new media outlets are privately owned, those who find themselves ousted from a platform have little to no legal recourse. Foster asked Christian legal organizations to champion his cause in court but was turned down because his case does not involve government censorship.

“If these corporations want to contest ideas expressed in a lawful manner, then why not address them using their accounts on their platforms? What message does it send to crush opposing viewpoints?” Mercer said. “Let good ideas rise to the top through respectful dialogue.” 

Bonnie Pritchett

Bonnie reports on First Amendment freedoms for WORLD Digital.

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  • Rich277
    Posted: Fri, 03/31/2017 06:16 pm

    What is ironic here, is that the Vimeos of the world are the New Puritans; that is, if you are using the word, "Puritan," in its most worldly and stereotypical sense:  censorious, self-righteous, and hypocritical.

  • Meg I
    Posted: Fri, 03/31/2017 06:54 pm

    Right in the middle of this past Presidential election, my daughter told me to watch a Vimeo with then Governor Mike Pence's clear Christian testimony.  I watched it.  Powerful.  Then less than 24 hours later when I tried to find it, it was gone - permanently.

  • Kurt
    Posted: Sun, 04/02/2017 06:33 pm

    Truth is now considered "fake news".

  • RMF
    Posted: Sat, 04/01/2017 07:13 am

    Businesses like Vimeo and YouTube regularly feature salacious and explicit videos and materials right next to or embedded into, materials for children. They will feature ads, explicit/suggestive videos and clips, in materials that are being watched by young people. These  ads and materials cannot be filtered out even through the application of parental controls and filters. Some companies have begun to to take notice and have been pulling their advertising products from these businesses because of this.

    "Oddly," messages of hope and healing through Christ, real life stories, are removed.  

  • Elizabeth
    Posted: Sat, 04/01/2017 11:29 am

    Clearly, a solution to this is a Christian owned video hosting service, which may or may not be out there.  Don't know.  It could be a hosting site for all, Christian or not, who wish to have their videos on a platform which would not be allowing sexually explicit, vulgar, racy, violent material.  

    Increasingly, those outside the mainstream will have to find alternative venues.  Personally, I keep trying to find a conservative or at least unbiased, non-tabloid, classy source of daily news and have yet to find it.  Of course, World is that to a point- updating the site daily.  But, it is not a comprehensive news source such as NPR, BBC, or New York Times.  Sadly, those three are the best I can find, and that is not saying much.

  •  SpaceRat's picture
    SpaceRat
    Posted: Sun, 04/02/2017 12:47 pm

    Have you looked at http://www.srnnews.com/ 

  • Kurt
    Posted: Sun, 04/02/2017 06:37 pm

    World Net Daily - www.wnd.com

    American Thinker - www.americanthinker.com

    The Washington Free Beacon - http://freebeacon.com

    Washington Times - www.washingtontimes.com

    and then there's the big daddy, Fox News

  • Elizabeth
    Posted: Sun, 04/02/2017 08:42 pm

    Thanks, I will look at that srn news, have not seen it.  

    I used to subscribe to Washington Times, but cancelled because it is so tabloid.  Or, it was then.  Fox News is as tabloid as all get out, imo.  

    Will look at American Thinker, haven't seen  and Worldnet Daily which I haven't lately seen.  Thank you!  I like World because it isn't like all the rest, trashy ads and entertainment news.  A minimum  amount of reviews of some things in the mainstream.  I just wish it could be a daily.

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 04/03/2017 12:35 pm

    WORLD is more than a biweekly magazine. We post news and commentary six days a week here at WNG.ORG and offer a daily news and features podcast, The World and Everything in It, Monday through Friday.

  • Kurt
    Posted: Sun, 04/02/2017 06:32 pm

    Time to create Christian alternatives to such sites.

  • VSKluth's picture
    VSKluth
    Posted: Sun, 04/02/2017 10:03 pm

    I used to host Bible studies on Vimeo, as they were cost-effective at $68/year.  Now that I know about Vimeo, I intend to use Sermon.net, which hosts 2GB upload per week for free, and next level of storage starting at $5/month.

  • socialworker
    Posted: Mon, 04/03/2017 02:09 pm

    Having a Christian site just further divides our soceity.  The site could maybe accept everything but shield people from objectionable stuf when they are trying to view something specific.

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