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Christian Broadband: Censorship, a Sensible Precaution or a Cop Out? December 17, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Life Issues, Technology.
Tags: , , ,

YESTERDAY EVENING I received an email from Christian Broadband, trying to persuade me to sign up to their protected internet service. At one level it seems like a good idea: there’s so much filth and other crud out here (I nearly said, “out there”…) — why not let someone else do the hard work of filtering it out? And let’s not pretend it isn’t a problem: millions of people, Christians included, find themselves ensnared by internet pornography. Christianity magazine ran a couple of features on the subject back in February this year and at LST that issue sold out in record time: as I said at the time, porn sells.

But is a service like Christian Broadband really the way to deal with the problem? To me the approach feels far too much like the thought police: allowing someone else to decide what I or anyone else on my network may or may not read or see, which sites we may or may not visit. Worse: that person is not even a legitimate authority but simply someone who claims to know best.

Here’s the Christian Broadband approach:

Do you know what your children are looking at whilst they are doing their homework?

Do you know what your husband is watching while he is checking his e-mail?

Or your wife when she is chatting with friends?

That, I find deeply disturbing. Fair enough, children need protecting: no child should have completely unfiltered content available to them — that’s why newsagents put the porn mags on the top shelves. Responsible parents should be using some sort of filtering technology.

But those next two questions seem to strike at the very heart of human relationships. No, I don’t know what my wife is browsing right now; and she doesn’t know what I’m working on right now. But we trust one another: that’s our starting point, that’s what our relationship is built upon. Mutual respect, mutual trust.

Yes, there may be some people whose relationships have broken down, who need the reassurance that a protected network can bring: but what’s left if we make fear and suspicion our starting point? I applaud the initiative: I am appalled at the implications.

I acknowledge that the vulnerable need protection, that some things should be censored, even banned. But for that, I want the legitimate authorities, the law of the land and international law, to be proactive. I don’t want my internet access restricted by someone whose only claim to legitimacy is a set of ‘Christian’ values that I may or may not agree with.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; but when I grew up, I put childish ways behind me: I became responsible for my own thoughts and actions.

Christian Broadband: a sensible precaution for kids, I guess; but for adults capable of thinking for themselves? Looks like a cop out to me.


1. Ali Mepham - December 17, 2009

Now here’s a thing. I agree with you and yet I don’t too!

On one level I am pleased that someone is actually offering a filtered ISP service. On another I almost wholly concur with your comments.

I have wondered for a number of years why ISPs do not offered a filtered service as an opt in – a different set of DNS servers that allow only filtered content. But then who would be the ones who arbitrarily decide what content I may see? In whose hands would by filtered world be? Hands I trust?

I currently use OpenDNS to filter my own home/work network. This works very well and I become the judge of what maybe viewed from networked devices in my home. There is a danger in this, if I wish to circumvent it, in order toi view nefarious content, I can. But also a power.

One of the options OpenDNS give is a blanket filter on religious content. For obvious reasons I do not enable this feature. But if this setting were in someone else’s hands they could easily prevent folk on my network hearing the gospel, or the particular ‘brand’ of faith that they were unhappy with.

My biggest fear with ‘Christian’ niche comapanies is that they ghetto-ise the gospel and the body of Christ. Let’s use the services everyone else uses, but do so in godly ways that shine the light of Christ!

Phil Groom - December 23, 2009

Thanks Ali – sorry for not replying sooner! Helpful reflections: appreciated. Have never tried OpenDNS myself, though did take a look at it a while ago.

Interesting idea, filtering out all religious content: wonder how they (whoever ‘they’ may be) decide what’s religious … would Dawkins get filtered out because he bangs on about God so much, for instance?

2. Anne Sillars - January 13, 2010

Hi Phil, great to see your post this is a topic very close to my heart, I saw a friend’s marriage breakdown due to an addiction to internet pornography. As a result & as my husband and I run an ISP we have included proper filtering as standard for the last 4 years (www.sointernet.com) and launched the campaign http://www.innocenceandintegrity.com.
Can I ask you a different question? If you believed that your other half was an alcoholic would you still keep alcohol in the house? It’s not because you want to control them, but simply that you want to keep them safe in an area of weakness yes? Internet pornography is a similar addiction, the stories we’ve heard over the years have proved that and just as you wouldn’t leave a fire unattended but would put a guard in front of it, to my mind it’s exactly the same. It’s not about watching every move, but about blocking that which you agree together as a family you don’t want access to.
Please let’s at least raise awareness that this is a very real problem and that there are very simple things that individuals can put in place, the sad conversations are “if only I’d known about your service a year ago it would’ve saved my marriage” sadly people find out too late

3. Nat - May 4, 2010

I’m not sure who you think is ‘Coping Out’? Christian Broadband?

And if so why?

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