'The Greatest Threat to Free Speech Comes From LGBTQ Activists Who Rule Facebook, Google, Amazon'

On Saturday, Robert A. J. Gagnon, a prominent Christian scholar on the topic of Bible sexuality, spoke out about being blocked on Facebook for a second time. Both times, he posted about how LGBT activism pushes sexual perversion, as defined by the Bible. Both times, he was blocked on Facebook for "hate speech." He spoke with PJ Media about the overarching issue: redefining "hate" to silence conservative views on sexuality.

"The greatest threat to our free speech and free exercise of religion comes from zealous advocates of the 'LGBTQ' agenda who appear to rule FB, Google, and Amazon," Gagnon told PJ Media Saturday.

Gagnon, who holds a Ph.D. in Pauline theology and sexuality from Princeton Theological Seminary, has published "The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics." As his church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has moved toward the LGBT side, Gagnon split with Pittsburgh Theological Seminary — where he was an associate professor of New Testament for 23 years — last September.

Gagnon was put in "Facebook jail" on Friday evening in what he described as "my second 24-hour 'hate speech' block." While Facebook said it would block him for 24 hours, the block lasted about 15. This followed a previous block on June 14 that lasted 23 hours before being rescinded.

The scholar argued that his post was "certainly not 'hateful,' but even so, Facebook has not yet given him an apology or even a notice of restoration.

He connected this kind of social media slant with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left organization that brands mainstream conservative Christian groups "hate groups." Groups like the Family Research Council (FRC), the Ruth Institute, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and Liberty Counsel (LC) have attracted the SPLC's ire for their stances against LGBT pride.

Various companies — like Google, Facebook, and Amazon — use the SPLC "hate group" list to marginalize these groups online. D. James Kennedy Ministries, which the SPLC labeled an "anti-LGBT hate group," was denied access to Amazon's charity arm, Amazon Smile, and is suing both Amazon and the SPLC. The SPLC's "hate map" led to a terrorist attack against FRC in Washington, D.C. in 2012.

"On the SPLC (slandering people like crazy) connection, it's a chicken-or-egg matter," Gagnon told PJ Media. Facebook "administrators probably didn't need much coaxing to be biased but the use of the SPLC certainly didn't help and probably reinforced and made more 'official' FB's hostility to religious and political conservatives."

Tragically, large companies like Apple, MGM, and others have bankrolled the SPLC, and liberal activists have championed the organization. Now-disgraced former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) compared ADF — an organization that has won 8 Supreme Court cases in 7 years — to the Cambodian dictator Pol Pot in a congressional hearing, citing the SPLC. Just this past week, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) called on Amazon to ban all products from SPLC-identified "hate groups," which includes a great deal of Christian literature.

As for Gagnon's "hate speech" posts, they involve a philosophical disagreement with LGBT pride. The most recent involved Gagnon's response to the upcoming Revoice Conference, a meeting in St. Louis, Mo. focused on "supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality."

Both pro-LGBT and traditional Christians have concerns about the conference, and Gagnon presented his concerns in a systematic and fair fashion.

"While I am glad for the fact that persons at the Revoice Conference ... want to refrain from engaging in same-sex intercourse and thereby uphold this part of the orthodox witness, I have seven consequential concerns about their views," the scholar wrote.

Gagnon suggested that the conference might fall short of advocating a full "renewal of the mind" — that by encouraging LGBT identity but not same-sex intercourse, the conference falls short of biblical teaching and keeps the door open to temptation. He suggested attendees should ask, "What is the false narrative that gives these impulses particular strength?"

The scholar also criticized the terminology of "sexual minorities," "gay," and "transgender," arguing that these words are "normally associated with self-affirmation rather than sin." Powerfully, he warned, "the fact that evangelical proponents of the 'sexual minority' language are unwilling to use it of those with a pedophilic or polyamorist orientation should tell us all something."

Gagnon rebuked the "victim mentality" of the conference, its support for "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" laws that often lead to the "persecution of Christians," and the conference's firm rejection of any possibility that sexual orientation can change. He also faulted the conference for excluding ex-gay voices like those of Rosaria Butterfield, and for pushing "a formulation of spiritual friendship that looks an awful lot like marriage minus the sex."

He concluded by warning that young Christians are turning to an "LGBTQ-lite" movement "as a way of running for cover against charges that they hate 'gays' and 'transgenders.'" Despite all this critique, Gagnon insisted that Revoice attendees are still "brothers and sisters in the Lord," but that their movement may put them at "higher risk" of losing the true Christian witness. He urged people to pray for them.

Christians may disagree with Gagnon's concerns, but they come from a heartfelt concern for the purity of the Christian faith, and are much more nuanced than the "hate speech" label would suggest. Gagnon is a scholar, presenting in-depth analysis, not a "troll" seeking to gin up hatred online.

The first Facebook post for which this scholar found himself blocked proved much shorter and less in the weeds.

Gagnon responded to a perverse video from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) — Canada's taxpayer-funded version of PBS — in which Jessi Cruikshank speaks with two girls and two boys, between the ages of five and eight. Cruikshank preaches to the children about "gay pride," explicitly encouraging them to celebrate "sexual diversity."

Cruikshank discussed "gay marriage," the concept of "two moms" and "two dads," and mentioned a list of "gay celebrities" or "gay icons." The LGBT activist told the children that "Jodie Foster ... made me question my sexuality when I was a child because I liked her so much. And she was nude in a film 'Nell.'"

To this, one of the girls responded with an awkward "wow," as if to say "I didn't need to hear that."

Gagnon posted the video with his commentary, which is short enough to provide in full:

This clip is about celebrating sexual perversity, not ‘sexual diversity.’ Brought to you by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian equivalent to our PBS, paid for by tax dollars. No indoctrination or recruitment going on here (or on PBS), right? Any resemblance to Orwell’s Big Brother (or Kim Jong-un) is purely coincidental? It is a measure of how corrupt things have become that this woman is not vilified throughout Canada and legislators are not threatening to remove funding from the CBC. By the end the woman is talking to little children about Jody Foster helping her to question her own sexuality as a child and about Foster’s nudity in a film.

The Christian scholar may be overly blunt, but he is not wrong. Again, this video was produced with Canadian tax dollars, despite the fact that many Canadians would doubtless prefer not to finance such a video.

Gagnon's views may offend many, but they are not "hate speech." It does seem revealing, however, that the SPLC has defined "hate" to include opposition to LGBT pride. If same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria is considered a matter of unalterable identity, then refusing to celebrate either could be construed as hateful, or so the hidden argument goes.

Rather than opening these debatable points up for reasoned argument, the SPLC uses "hate" labeling to silence opposition, and Facebook, Amazon, and Google seem all too willing — if not eager — to comply.

Facebook did not respond to PJ Media's request for comment in time for publication.