Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Christian Response to SOPA

Thou shalt not steal... some might think that's basically all their faith might say about SOPA/ PIPA and support the new anti-piracy legislation.  From my own perspective though, it's not so simple.  I support the initial spirit behind anti-piracy legislation, but as I understand it, SOPA/ PIPA is currently written in a way that would hamper online innovation and freedom while in fact really not doing much to actually stop the pirating of copyrighted content online.  In doing so, SOPA/ PIPA would strike at heart of our evolving definition of community, and therefore our evolving definition of the church in the twenty-first century.  Jesus taught in Matthew 20:18, "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."  What we've seen over the last decade or so has been a revolution in what it means to be gathered, a revolution largely enabled by sites like Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia and Twitter that are at risk of being shut down by SOPA/ PIPA.

I've often thought about how important it is for the church to get connected online, but up until the controversy over SOPA/ PIPA in the last few days, I never thought about it in the other direction... how the church must give thanks for the gift of internet freedom that allows us to gather in conversation.  Not only must we give thanks for how the internet can strengthen our existing physical faith communities and create virtual new ones, we must further give thanks for what internet freedom has contributed the cause of social justice.  As I wrote about a month or so ago, social media sites allowed millennials and other peaceful protestors this past year to enter into conversation and work to reform or rebuild many of the world's most oppressive governments and other social systems, whether in Egypt, Russia or Wall Street.  The overwhelming condemnation of Rick Perry's hateful "Strong" ad and today's response to SOPA/ PIPA further shows the political power of online viral organizing.

For those of you who wish to become better educated on SOPA/ PIPA and what it does to curb freedom online, I've found the following video most helpful:

Having realized and unlocked the power of online community and viral organizing against systems of oppression over the last few years, we should all do everything we can to protect the internet as one of our central tools in evolving what the church is and does in the twenty-first century.  For more information about what you can do, click here.

God's peace,

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