Google has refused to enroll a self-avowed Christian organization known as Christian Exodus the ability to participate in a Google-run advertising program known as "Adsense". According to the News Report from WorldNetDaily:
Despite accepting advertisements for such groups as homosexual singles sites, Google is coming under scrutiny again for allegedly banning commercials for a Christian organization.
ChristianExodus.org, the group looking to have like-minded people move to one state to help restore godly values to government, says it's been rejected from placing ads on Google AdSense.
I think that we need to be real careful here for a couple of reasons. First, I am not certain that this group is necessarily being discriminated against. Second, I have concerns about this group being identified as a Christian organization.
On the first point, I am certain that Google has some smart attorneys working for it. These attorneys are certainly aware of the laws relating to non-discrimination against religious viewpoints in a public forum, and are aware of the myriad of court cases that help fill out the boundaries of what is permissible basis for rejecting a particular website for its advertisements. So, the first question is: on what basis did Google reject the ad? According to the WorldNetDaily report:
An e-mail from the Mountain View, Calif.-based company cited "sensitive content" as the reason for the rejection, though it was not specific in what specifically was considered sensitive.
"After reviewing your application, our program specialists have found that it does not comply with our policies," the Google AdSense Team wrote. "We have reviewed your site and found that many of the ads that would appear on your site would not be relevant to your site's content. As the ads would not provide a valuable experience for your site's users or our advertisers, we feel that your site isn't a good fit for the AdSense program at this time."
Let's break this down: Adsense is a program where, probably for a fee, Google will provide ads for a webmaster's site that are specifically directed to that website's target audience. For example, if the website is a website for cat lovers, the ads would probably be directed with ads for catfood, vets, cat toys, and Garfield comic books. If the website is a Christian site, the ads provided by the Adsense program would be for such things as Christian music, Christian postcards, Christian counselling, etc. Google, in its explanation, seems to suggest that they would not have a sufficient number of ads relevant to the Christian Exodus site's content which would make the program inefficient for both Christian Exodus and the advertisers who are paying Google to have their ads placed on "relevant sites", i.e., sites likely to result in their ads being clicked.
Personally, I have reviewed Google's policies and online standard terms and conditions for some restriction on the placement of ads on the basis of relevancy or "sensitive content." The policies do have restrictions on content of the website (which includes such things as "excessive profanity", "violence, racial intolerance, or advocate against any individual, group, or organization", "illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia" and "pornography, adult, or mature content" which are all prohibited), but nowhere does it mention that the website must have a general requirement that the website needs "relevant" or "non-sensitive" content to participate in the program. So, although I understand the concern that Google has that it will not be able to provide a significant return to the advertisers (who are certainly paying to be part of this service) for ads placed on the Christian Exodus website, I wonder about their failure to include that as a restriction in the Google policies.
But the bigger question is "why don't they feel they can find relevant ads for the Christian Exodus website?" After all, it seems as if there are hundreds if not thousands of Christian businesses, websites, etc., that would all be good fits for virtually any Christian site. This brings us to the second question, is "Christian Exodus" a "Christian" organization.
According to the Christian Exodus website, Christian Exodus is an organization of Christians seeking to move people to South Carolina to take over the state by means of the ballot box.
ChristianExodus.org is moving thousands of Christians to South Carolina to reestablish constitutionally limited government founded upon Christian principles. This includes the return to South Carolina of all "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States." 1 It is evident that the U.S. Constitution has been abandoned under our current federal system, and the efforts of Christian activism to restore our Godly republic have proven futile over the past three decades. The time has come for Christian Constitutionalists to protect our American principles in a State like South Carolina by interposing the State's sovereign authority retained under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Note, this is not an effort to take over the state by force, but rather by the ballot box. Thus, there is nothing illegal about this effort (at least, not that I can see from their webite) -- calling on people of a like mind to move to a particular area to change the political climate of an area through the ballot box is not illegal in any way that I have ever seen.
Is this really a Christian site or is it a separatist site? Keep in mind, Christians can be separatists, but is separatism Christian?
Let me be clear: I am not questioning whether the people involved in Christian Exodus are Christian. Their Statement of Faith appears to be very orthodox, and I do not doubt in the slightest their devotion to God as revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ. But the question isn't whether they are Christian, the question is whether their efforts in following this effort to overtake the government of South Carolina to establish a community of Christians which will more closely reflect their view of Christian government is a Christian endeavor. Using more Biblical language, does the Bible call on people to separate themselves from society or does Christianity call on us to be part of the society and be a witness to that society?
I think that this is a very difficult question to answer, and I don't expect to be able to answer it fully in a short blog. All I can do is make a couple of comments, and see what our readers have to opine (if anything). I certainly agree with their overall view that a government based on some of the principals they advocate would be preferable to the present state of the law. But is the answer to separate ourselves from the rest of the states, gather in one state, and leave Christian viewpoints underrepresented in other states? Is the answer to gather as a special community? Won't this type of separatism result, ultimately, in an effort to secede from the Union when the federal government imposes the will of the people of the other 50 states on the now-"Christianized" South Carolina?
I personally think that the efforts of Christian Exodus are misdirected and mistaken. I think their hearts are in the right place, but the problems associated with their proposed solution does not seem to me to make the project viable. But simply because I think that the project is a bad idea, or simply because Google thinks that the goal of Christian Exodus is a bad idea, does not mean that they should not proceed to allow their Adsense program to run on the Christian Exodus webstie absent a more transparent violation of their policies. I am sure Google can find some ads that would fit on their website, if pressed, and its denial of the benefits of the Adsense program to the Christian Exodus website sure appears to be more of an objection to the content to the Christian Exodus site than to the actual lack of relevant advertisers.