Home/Rod Dreher/Big Tech Vs. Christians

Big Tech Vs. Christians

Jonathan Cahn, a popular pastor, whose 'Prophetic Message To Joe Biden' was apparently shadowbanned by Google (Screenshot)

The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn can’t figure out why Facebook won’t let it livestream the mass from a church there.

José San Juan has worked in technology for 30 years, and he says he’s never seen anything like this: Sacred Heart-St. Stephens Mass, live streamed daily to hundreds, was ripped off from the web on January 22. The parish still remains blocked from broadcasting by Facebook.

Why? Their pastor, Monsignor Guy Massie, isn’t so sure.

“It was needless to say a little bit annoying and my question was, what did we do wrong to get ourselves into this situation,” he asked.

The livestream began as a simple and seamless solution to the pandemic. DeSales Media, the communication and technology arm of the diocese of Brooklyn that operates NET-TV, came in to install several new cameras that allowed people to hear the Word of God in just a click.

“They allowed us through DeSales’ program to stream simultaneously through Facebook Live, YouTube and our website,” José said.

But all that effort was gone in an instant when big tech blocked every single one of the parish’s accounts from live streaming.

“It’s taken away from our parishioners who have found this connection with religion, with God and they’ve already had so much taken away from them in the past year,” José explained.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Cahn, a very popular New Jersey pastor, had one of his messages apparently shadowbanned this week by YouTube. On Monday, Cahn posted a video of himself giving what he labeled “Prophetic Message To Joe Biden.” Here is a link to the video. If you don’t have time to watch it, here is the transcript:

Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, in the first ever presidential Inauguration, the nation’s first president addressed a jubilant multitude and a nation united in shared values and a common hope in the nation’s future.  In the first ever presidential address, George Washington, gave the newborn nation a prophetic warning.  He said: ‘The propitious smiles of heaven cannot be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right that heaven itself has ordained.’  In other words, if America followed the ways of God, the eternal rules of order and right, the blessings of God would remain upon it.  But if America should ever depart from the ways of God, then His blessings would be removed from the land.

And now, January 20, 2021, another presidential inauguration takes place and the nation’s capital city, named after its first president, has become a military zone.  For the first time in American history, a presidential inauguration is devoid of people.  Instead of a jubilant crowd, 25,000 American troops stand guard over a National Mall in which flags stand in for the missing crowds, and barbed wire surrounds the halls of American government.

There is no war.  There is no overt threat from beyond its border.  Rather, the threat comes from within.  Division infects the land – as does a plague that has kept its inhabitants masked and locked in their houses as the nation’s functioning has been in large part paralyzed.  For months, the nation’s cities have seen protests and riots, and doors and windows shuttered, and buildings set on fire.  And the nation’s most revered edifice of government, the Capitol Building was taken over by an angry mob with the nation’s leaders fleeing for safety.

As the prophetic warning given on day of the nation’s first presidential inauguration, ‘the smiles of heaven’ are being removed from the land.

And so the question must be asked, have we then disregarded the eternal rules of order and right that heaven itself has ordained.”

As did ancient Israel so America, at the height of its prosperity, has turned away from God.  We have driven him out of our public squares, the schools of our children, our culture, and our lives.  And as did ancient Israel, in place of his absence, we have let in other gods and served them.  We have rejected his ways and embraced the ways of immorality.  We have called evil good and good evil.  And as did ancient Israel, we have lifted up the most innocent among us, our babies, and shed their blood.  Israel sacrificed thousands.  We have sacrificed tens of millions, unborn children who are not here this day of inauguration, because we took their lives.  And their silent screams ascent to heaven and their blood is on our hands.  We have passed down rulings from Washington, D.C. that war against the eternal laws of heaven on human life, human nature, gender, and marriage.  We have indoctrinated our children against the ways of God.  We have done as we were warned not to do and then we wonder why the blessings of heaven are being removed from our land.

When judgment came to ancient Israel, it manifested in the form of an enemy attack a strike on the land, a wake-up call.  It came to America on September 11, 2001 – and it came to the very place where George Washington stood and prayed on the day of America’s first presidential inauguration.   The biblical template of national judgment then ordains a period of years in which the nation is given the chance to return to God, or else head to judgment.  In the case of Jerusalem, that period, from that first enemy strike to the year when the greater shakings began – was 19 years.   From the strike on American soil in 2001 to the 19th year, brings us to the year 2020, the year when the great shakings began.  The danger that this window of time is drawing to an end, is now upon us.  We stand in a most critical moment.

Mr. President, you have called for unity and peace.   But how can a nation have unity and peace when it wars against the very foundation on which it stands?  How can a nation have unity and peace when it has turned against the God who brought it into existence?  And it has turned.  The nation that once led its school children in prayer and taught them of His Word now declares such prayers and teachings as forbidden and instead instructs its children against the ways of God.  How can that nation have unity and peace?  How can we have unity and peace in America if we have no unity and peace with God.  We are a house divided against itself.  And a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Mr. President, how can you place your left hand on the Bible, the Word of God, and with your right hand, sign laws into existence that war against the Word of God.   How can you place one hand on the Word that ordains human life as sacred and in the image of God from conception, and then with the other, sign laws into existence that will promulgate the killing of that human life?   How can you invoke the name of God in your oath and lay your hand upon His word and then implement laws that will suppress the going forth of His word, that will censor His word, and those who advance it?

You plan to enact laws that will disregard the distinction between male and female.  Did not the warning of our first president involve that very thing – if we disregard the eternal rules of order that heaven itself has ordained… You plan to enact laws that will specifically neutralize the protection of religious freedom.  You plan to strike down the Hyde Amendment, so that more children will be murdered and those Americans who recognize abortion as murder, will be forced to support the act of murder with their taxes.  And you plan to empower the act of killing unborn children not only within the borders of America but throughout the world to the end that yet more rivers of blood will flow.

How does one do such things and name oneself as a believer in God and a follower of Jesus?  How does one sign the sign of the cross and then sign decrees that rage against what God has so clearly set forth in His Word concerning life and death, holiness and sin, righteousness and immorality, good and evil?  To you, Mr. President, and all who have joined you in this agenda, from the Vice President to the leaders of the Senate and the House, and all who sit in halls of power and have embraced this agenda, heed this warning:  this day will pass, the applause will fade, this administration will inevitably be over, this world will pass away, but you will stand before God and give account.  For it is written, that we will each stand before God and give account.  And on that day all the power you once wielded will be gone, all of the world’s approval and praises will have faded away, and all the fame and glory you received will amount to nothing.  In the day when the book of history is closed and the Book of Life is opened, none of that will matter.  It will be you and Him.  And you will be required to give account: Did you follow the will and word of God?  Or did you not?   If you pursue these things, then you did not, and the blood of children will be on your hands.  And then will come eternal life or eternal judgment.   The voice of God calls out to you to turn and follow Him with all your heart who gave all His heart and life that you might be saved.

As for America, the problem is not social or economic or cultural or political.  The problem is spiritual.  And so must be the answer.  America has turned away from God.   And its only hope is that it return.  Choose true greatness and lead in that return.  Or continue its departure from God to destruction and judgment.

And for those of you who love this nation and are burdened and fearful for its future, America’s only hope is revival.  Without it, the nation is lost.  And revival only comes through repentance and return.  It’s time to pray as never before that that return and revival would come.  But it’s time to not only pray for revival but to choose revival, to choose to live in revival now.  And for that we must each commit to return to God, to put away from our lives that which must be put away and take up that which must be taken up, and to walk in His ways and live in His Spirit as we have never done before.  For the eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the earth for the one whose heart is completely His – to show Himself mighty on their behalf.  Let us be that people, and revival will come.

And if the darkness must come, whether by persecution, or disorder and disintegration, or apostasy, do not fear.  For God is still on the throne.  And the darkness cannot overcome the light but only magnify it.  And if the darkness should grow darker, then it’s time for the lights of God to shine even brighter.  For it is no longer the time for the candle in the day.  It is now time for the candle in the night.  We are now the candle in the night that shines against the darkness and lights up the world with its radiance.

We pray that the civilization that was established and consecrated to be a city on a hill, America, would once again shine with the light that once illumined it.  But whether or not it does, it is time that each of us shine with the light of His glory.   It is time to live unhindered, uncompromised, unbound, bold and all out, on fire, and mighty in the power of the Living God.  For thus says the Lord, “Arise and Shine for your Light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  Deep darkness shall cover the earth, but the glory of God shall rise upon you.”  In the name above every name that is named, the name of Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the King above all kings, the Lord of all, the Hope of the ages, and the answer to every life, the Star of Jacob, the Prince of Life, the Glory of Israel, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the name that will remain when all is passed away, Yeshua, Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Amen.

Maybe that is not your rhetorical cup of tea, but it is well within mainstream Christian thought. I certainly agree with it, and I’m pretty far away from Cahn, a Messianic Jew, on the US Christian spectrum. Cahn posted it on Monday, and it went viral. Even though YouTube gave it a label saying “Joe Biden is the President of the United States” — which Cahn’s clip in no way challenges — by the end of the day, it had been seen half a million times. By the next day, it broke a million. As of this writing, it has 1.3 million views.

That’s when strange things began happening. I’m told by someone who attends Cahn’s church that when they Googled the video that afternoon, it no longer appeared. It still existed, but you couldn’t find it through Google. But by then, others had posted the video to their sites, and they got around the apparent ban. Though Cahn’s message remained on YouTube, as far as Google was concerned, it did not exist.

My source tells me that the pastor’s video was also delisted on YouTube search. Other videos from the church appeared, but not the “Prophetic Message To Joe Biden.” (For what it’s worth, it appeared just now on YouTube search at the top of the results, but I could only find it on Google posted by other accounts.)

What Cahn’s team experienced was what is called “shadow banning.” In this case, it leaves a video in place, but blocks standard access to it via search engine. In the case of a shadow ban, you have to know exactly how to find the video you want to see; search engines that have shadow banned you will not take people to the clip.

It’s comparable to Christians holding a service in a church building and thinking all was fine. The authorities had not harmed the church in any noticeable way. The problem was the church was largely empty. They had no idea that the authorities had blocked off all roads leading to the church, had removed all street signs needed to find the church, and had eliminated the church on all maps and directions. The believers thought all was normal, but they didn’t realize that they had been cancelled.

I was told by my source that searching for the Cahn prophetic message via other search engines was fine. It delivered the result. Google and YouTube did not (though again, I just tested both here on Friday afternoon; Google still doesn’t take you to Cahn’s website, but YouTube does). The problem is that Google controls the search engine market. As of last summer, 86.6 percent of all searches take place through Google. If Google decides to shadow ban something, it is very hard to find it. Cahn was lucky that his message was seen so many times, and reposted elsewhere, before the shadow ban kicked in.

How many Christians, conservatives, and others that Google’s West Coast team find to be deplorable are also being shadow-banned? And how many don’t even know what’s happening to them? What does this suggest about the future of free speech for those whom the Big Tech overlords don’t like?

Second, even though Cahn’s message has nothing at all to do with Donald Trump, or challenging the election results, YouTube slapped a warning on it. It is just a vigorous spiritual exhortation, completely within the bounds of Christian preaching. But Big Tech unfairly categorizes his message to Biden as being somehow an emanation of the election-contesting Christian cohort.

Are we all going to be shadow-banned and/or mislabeled by Big Tech, smeared as insurrectionists or insurrection-adjacent because we are YouTubing While Christian, or similar? How will we know if we are being denied fair access to the online public square by Google? Many of you might think that Sen. Josh Hawley has blown up his career by his association with January 6, but I’m telling you, on Capitol Hill, Hawley is Big Tech’s worst nightmare, and we are going to need him to stand firm and keep fighting for our free speech.

Meanwhile, here are two chuckleheads of much less renown and popularity than Jonathan Cahn, emanating their fourth General Eclectic video podcast from the penumbra of their own genius. Enjoy, and hope Kale and I don’t get shadow-banned:

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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