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NRB Sees Iceberg in Apple Case

Parshall says silence on the issue could be ‘disastrous’ to Christian broadcasters

A national organization of Christian broadcasters says, “It is now time for Apple to decide definitively whether or not it believes in the principle of free speech.”

Craig L. Parshall, VP and general counsel for the National Religious Broadcasters, commented in a newsletter about Apple’s decision to exclude an app from the iTunes App Store because of content that gay advocacy groups found hateful.

The app came from Exodus International, which Parshall described as “a well-established Christian ministry that offers ‘freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.’” He said the Apple decision move parallels a similar move earlier in which the company removed an app promoting a Christian view of marriage.

NRB has been speaking up about what it perceives to be threats to religious free speech. “It is incumbent on the rest of us to understand exactly why Apple’s decision is so wrong, and why our silence on this issue could be disastrous,” Parshall wrote this week.

He said the fact that Apple and communications platforms like Facebook, Google and Comcast are private commercial entities should not alone “allow them the license to discriminate against certain content simply because it contains a Christian viewpoint.”

Unlike broadcasters and some other media, Parshall said, these companies “are not in the business of providing, themselves, editorial content, viewpoints, opinions, news or information. Instead, they simply provide a technological platform (for a fee) that enables American citizens to exercise their free speech rights.” He said those companies also use the “universal, public communications resource of the Internet” to provide their services.

Parshall raised the analogy of the sinking of the Titanic despite earlier iceberg warnings. “Let us hope that someday in the future Christian communicators don’t find themselves wondering how we could have neglected so clear a warning sign that our free speech rights were about to be sunk.”