Facebook may be failing to keep up with terrorists who use the social media platform to incite, enlist, and organize would-be killers, but it’s Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to Catholic priests who share politically incorrect thoughts about Islam.
Late last month Facebook temporarily suspended the account of Fr. John Higgins, the pastor St. Raymond Parish in Downey, Calif., in response to a post he had written about the history of Islam.
“There are peaceful and good Muslim people,” he wrote. “And then there are the Islamists who are defended by the ignorant who refuse to learn history.”
Via Church Pop:
He made his comment on a post on the Facebook page of his Congresswoman Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-D). On May 23rd, his post was deleted and he was suspended from posting on Facebook for a week.
“I wrote Facebook several times,” Fr. Higgins told ChurchPOP, “explaining that this post was just history. Of course there was no response.”
Fr. Higgins serves as the pastor of St. Raymond Parish in Downey, California and as the chaplain of his local fire department.
Here is the offending post:
Greg Stone, a friend of Fr. Higgins who does work for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, called on Facebook to honor its pledge not to censor different points of view in a widely shared Facebook post about the suspension.
“It is horribly ironic that the very week Islamists murder scores of innocents,” Stone’s post read in part, “—young girls at a pop concert in Manchester, Coptic Christians in Egypt, and Catholics in the Philippines—Facebook suspends the privileges of a respected clergy member for posting an academic synopsis regarding Islamic history. FB spikes the very information the community needs to understand current events.”
That content has been removed as well.
Fr. Higgins returned from his suspension on May 30, posting, “I’m back. That was a week? LOL.”
One of his Facebook friends commented: “We missed you, Padre! I got suspended for three days for telling the truth about abortion. I guess telling the truth about Islam is a much worse offense.”
He seems to have a sense of humor about the whole thing.
Facebook came under fire last year when it was accused of systematically censoring topics to avoid exposing users to a conservative point of view.
Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied the charges, he met personally with conservative leaders to reassure them that Facebook is open to all viewpoints.
Update Saturday 1:56 EST: PJM reached out to Fr. Higgins for a comment and asked whether he was very surprised that he was suspended. “A little,” he responded. “I’ve been reported and suspended before. I take it in stride. People accused Pope Benedict of being a Nazi. Many Christians have and still do face far worse things.”