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Should Facebook be the ‘new church’ and ultimate hate speech judge?


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

FACEBOOK THE “NEW CHURCH”?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, World Magazine ran an article recently on Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. It says he believes his social platform will join one billion people in meaningful communities, according to an interview he gave with CNN Tech recently. In fact, he went so far as to say that Facebook very well might be the “new church”.

He also talks about how, in this virtual community, he believes that social media and free speech form an awkward symbolic relationship. He told CNN, “Free speech should be able to get as close to offensive as long as it’s not hate speech or over the line.”

Unfortunately, when people at the top of the communication chain get to define hate speech and determine what constitutes a hate group, virtual or real, Christians tend to get pegged as offenders.

DR. REEDER: Historically, free speech, of course, is one of those six affirmations of freedom in the first Bill of Rights and it’s been given a latitude that, basically, any speech is to be acceptable in the sense of, if you’re free to give it, it may be distasteful, it may be inappropriate, it may be hurtful, or it may be all of those things.

However, the fact is that some of our greatest ideas, when they were first uttered, were hurtful to a segment of people but they needed to be put out there in order to have appropriate discussions in terms of what is valid and what is true. You have to have a free debate of ideas in a free society.

WHO DETERMINES WHAT IS HATE SPEECH?

Once you’ve determined that hate speech is no longer free speech, well, who determines what is hate speech? Up until now, the limitations have been the law — any speech that violates the law or is promoting the violation of the law is speech that you are then accountable for and that can be punished. However, free speech that’s simply hurtful, or coarse, or inappropriate or any of that, we have determined that society can bring pressure to bear that you don’t talk like that, but we do not curb free speech because the free exchange of ideas in a free society is so important.

What he is proposing is that there would be this marvelous “new church” — and the reason he calls this a new church is because his particular perspective on the church is that the church is a place where people develop community and relationship — and community and relationship requires speech but we can’t have hateful speech in this new community. Well, who’s going to determine what is hateful? Well, the head of this new church and whoever that is with Facebook will be the ones that determine whether it’s appropriate or not.

WHAT IS CHURCH?

By the way, whenever we see an inadequate view of the church in the world, we need to realize two things. First, man, in his sinfulness, will never get the church right until God’s saving grace gets into his heart and his life and he sees what the actual mission and the purpose of the church is to be.

Secondly, whenever we see such a shallow view of the church, we need to realize that’s there because of the way we do church and the way people see us doing church and that’s why they have a shallow view of church.

It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg sees the church as a philanthropic, communal society. Now, does the church do good, philanthropic things? Yes. Is one of the great marks of the church our love for the Lord and our love for one another in that we develop community? Well, there’s a reason that the church is called the “family of God”. There’s a community relationship and, more than that, a family relationship that takes place within the church.

However, that’s not what the church is. The church is actually the people of God — a people who were not a people who have become the people of God because of the saving work of Jesus Christ in our heart and in our life. And He has drawn us to Himself and He has drawn us together in and for the purpose of knowing Him, loving Him and serving Him.

Now, in that, we develop our relationships that are productive, that are encouraging, that are honoring to the Lord and honoring to each other but that is built on the dynamic of the church’s mission, which is to declare the glory of God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

ZUCKERBERG JOINS THE LINE OF LATEST “CHURCH REPLACERS”

Therefore, his view of what the church actually is — that something such as a digital platform could actually be the church — it is a declaration that we’re not doing church very well for people to get that idea about the church, itself. Individuals have started organizations that have grown up in our society, become quite the fad and quite the attraction, and it’s not long before they have become “the new church” and “The church is dead, therefore, let’s put aside the church as this banal and antiquated organization that has no place in contemporary society. In fact, we have replaced it with this organization.” And, of course, Mr. Zuckerberg proposes Facebook is the latest in a long list of organizations that will replace the church and bury the church into its grave of antiquity.

It’s really interesting how everyone keeps burying the church for millennia now and, interestingly, there’s Jesus and He stands there with the church alive, and glorious and growing throughout the world while these organizations actually are the organizations that end up getting buried and become irrelevant in society over a period of time as their newness and their faddishness fades away but the church continues.

Therefore, we hear the words of our Savior: “I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it,” so, if the church can withstand the assaults of the adversary, Satan — if that is true — believe me, Jesus and the church will be able to sustain its existence gloriously and dynamically, even in the face of Facebook.

DANGERS OF SOCIAL COMMUNITY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, if you look at these communities that come up on social media, one of the common denominators a lack of accountability. We see people saying things and doing things and posting pictures on social media that they would never consider doing in person. Obviously, that is a danger, but is that sort of man’s default mode — that he wants to have this platform in which he can communicate without accountability?

DR. REEDER: Yeah, we want the transparency of others with no commitment of intimacy of ourselves. For instance, the whole industry of pornography: I want the benefits of intimacy, but I do not want to take the steps of relational transparency so people become objects for one’s gratification.

Well, that’s true on a digital platform as well. When you get into a relationship and a group of people start talking, there is a dynamic that begins to take place of the weightiness of various individuals in the conversation and that’s not true on a digital platform. On a digital platform, there is no dynamic of the personhood that is present; there is only the manipulation of words and there is a leveling of individuals that is not based upon equality, but it is based upon banality.

USE MEDIA TOOLS, BUT REALIZE LIMITS

Of course, I do not think that the digital world should be avoided. The reformers used pamphleteering, the reformers used the new printing press, and then came the radio, and then comes television and then comes all of these things. All of these means of communication should be seized and used, but they need to be used within the parameters of their actual effectiveness in life and we need to be able to make those evaluations.

As one writer said years ago, “Christianity is a religion that has a ‘cold message.’” In other words, it requires thoughtfulness. Most media mechanisms require a “hot message” like sloganeering and bumper stickers. Christian theology just doesn’t fit on bumper stickers. It requires communication that is consistently thoughtful and reflective.

Preaching of the word will never be replaced by tweeting. The church will always be the place where we assemble face-to-face with each other — we will see each other, talk with each other, communicate with each other. That’s why the Scripture says we are the ‘ecclesia’, the assembled ones, the called together ones. “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves as is the habit of some.”

COMING UP TOMORROW: DOES THE CHURCH NEED TO GET MORE “THICK”?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, your closing comments today are a good segway into what I want to talk about tomorrow, an article by John Stonestreet out of Breakpoint. “Are our churches truly leaving a mark on people?” He goes to a comment by New York Times columnist David Brooks talking about the thickness, saying, “What’s the difference between a job and a vocation? It is a thick institution,” Brooks writes. And John Stonestreet goes on to say, “Perhaps we need more thickness in the church.”

DR. REEDER: That’s an interesting comment. We’ve said it using other metaphors, but I believe the comment by this well-known columnist, David Brooks, deserves some treatment and I believe they’re actually onto something.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

34 mins ago

Congratulations to all of Alabama’s Congressional delegation on their re-elections

[WRITER’S NOTE: Before I get started, let me just short-circuit 90 percent of the response to what I am about to say is going to get: No, fivethirtyeight.com was not totally wrong about the presidential election. They said Hillary Clinton was going to win the popular vote, and she did.

If you are an elected Congressman from Alabama, you are good to go in November, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The least likely winner is Congresswoman Martha Roby, who is still expected to brutalize her opponent.

This should surprise absolutely no one. Alabama is still a red state. The only blue district in the state is a gerrymandered mess that includes Birmingham and Montgomery, so Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) didn’t even draw an opponent.

The bigger story from fivethirtyeight.com is that their analysis shows two things:

1. Republicans are projected to lose, but it’s not impossible (this is better than the chance they gave Trump)

2. There are far more Solid D (188) seats than Solid R (146) seats, that means more seats for Republicans to defend, and that means less money for each one.

This could be a tough year for Republicans, but all is not lost yet.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show  from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

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2 hours ago

See where Alabama schools rank in Princeton Review’s list of best colleges

The Princeton Review has released their trademark list of the “Best 384 Colleges” for 2019 and three Alabama schools made the cut.

To compile their latest edition, which is the 27th annual, the Princeton Review interviewed 138,000 students and examined the relevant data on the nation’s colleges.

See which Alabama institutions are on the list, and why, below:

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(Note that the following sub-rankings are only done for top 20 schools in each category)

Auburn University

Best Athletic Facilities – #2
Future Rotarians and DAR – #14
Happiest Students – #19
Students Pack the Stadiums – #5
Their Students Love These Colleges – #18
Town-Gown Relations are Great – #7

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 75

Read more about Auburn’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama

Best Athletic Facilities – #1
Best College Dorms – #13
Best-Run Colleges – #11
Lots of Greek Life – #5
Most Active Student Governments – #8

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 77

Read more about UA’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

UAB’s post-graduate programs really push it over the top as a premier high-education institution.

The Princeton Review highlighted UAB by saying, “At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, professors and administrators ‘care about you.'” They also boast a relatively low student-to-faculty ratio.

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 67

Read more about UAB’s inclusion here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

WATCH: ‘Billboard King’ Alexander Shunnarah sheds tear at the sight of unused billboards

Alabama personal injury attorney Alexander Shunnarah on Friday released a new video poking fun at his unparalleled billboard empire across the state and the southeastern United States.

In the video, the sight of unused and neglected billboards causes the “Billboard King” to shed a tear.

“Not on my watch!” Shunnarah says.

WATCH:

 

NOT ON MY WATCH! #BillboardKing

A post shared by Alexander Shunnarah (@alexander_shunnarah) on

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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3 hours ago

Mobile Mayor Stimpson’s do-or-die ultimatum jeopardizes city funding for University of South Alabama stadium

Mobile’s University of South Alabama first opened its doors in 1963, but it didn’t play a varsity football game until 2009.

In the span of the nine years since, the urgency for South Alabama Jaguar football has gone from decades to days – a message conveyed by Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. On Wednesday, Stimpson issued an ultimatum to the Mobile City Council: Vote of South Alabama stadium funding or the deal was off.

“At that point, [the University of] South Alabama withdraws their offer to put $2.5 million into Ladd[-Peebles Stadium],” Stimpson said on Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5, reiterating a point he made a day earlier in a press conference. “And neither [USA President] Dr. [Tony] Waldrop nor Sandy Stimpson will sign the letter of intent if it comes up in the future.”

As one might expect, that tack didn’t sit well with members of the council, who saw Stimpson’s gesture as burning a bridge.

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“The mayor burned a bridge,” Mobile Councilman John Williams said Thursday on WNSP 105.5 according to Alabama Media Group’s Mark Heim. “And he did so at the lead of the South Alabama leadership. I think everyone misstepped on this one. This was not a time to kick us in the pants. They simply threw fuel on the fire.”

It’s a curious situation. The proposal first made it to the city council’s agenda on June 22 according to Stimpson. That’s about a two-month window for elected members of the council to consider not just funding for a stadium but to make a decision that could change the entire landscape of the city of Mobile.

If Ladd-Peebles Stadium ceases to be the primary venue for big events in Mobile, which it appears that will be the case whether the city gives to the University of South Alabama, then there is less of a focus on Mobile east of Interstate 65.

Perhaps the biggest question is if the University of South Alabama will be a responsible arbiter of the venue. If it is 2015 and we’re talking about Donald Trump coming to Alabama, does the University of South Alabama allow Trump to have a rally there?

Given how left-of-center academia is and the possibility of a revolt from the faculty if the institution granted permission (the University of South Alabama is no exception to the diehard liberal politics residing on college campuses), why should the public not be wary of this deal?

If Mobile reduces Ladd-Peebles Stadium to a facility geared for just high school football games, suddenly the City of Mobile has ceded a monopoly on big venues to the University of South Alabama. In addition to that, the taxpayers are subsidizing this monopoly.

This isn’t just about South Alabama football. To say opposition to this proposal means you are against the success of USA’s football program is a demagogic talking point.

The rush to do this is suspicious. If it were supposed to be easy to get $10 million from a municipal government, there would be some other questions about the fiscal responsibility of Mobile’s city government.

There are also questions about the surrounding infrastructure and if the roads can handle traffic for these events. The City of Mobile hasn’t exactly pulled it off with Ladd-Peebles. According to Stimpson, a request to widen nearby Cody Road, one of the major thoroughfares near the proposed site of the USA stadium, had not been requested to be on the list of the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s long-range plan for significant infrastructure improvements until “four or five months ago.”

These obstacles can be overcome, but it takes some foresight. Asking these questions and others like it warrant more time if the council so desires it.

Threats from Mayor Stimpson and the University of South Alabama only stand to jeopardize cooperation between city government and the University of South Alabama on this project and future projects as well.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

5 hours ago

Rep. Martha Roby comments on infrastructure priorities, new interstate proposal

A grassroots push to build a new interstate stretching from West Texas to East Georgia has gained significant media attention over the last few weeks, and now Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is talking about it.

Roby recently discussed with the Dothan Eagle her vision for broad infrastructure investments, saying those investments could include the new interstate, known as I-14, or a resurgence of the I-10 Connector.

“I want nothing more than the people I represent in Alabama’s Second District to see their federal tax dollars at work for them,” Roby told the Eagle’s Jeremy Wise. “Where there are opportunities for infrastructure improvements, whether it would be a new proposed interstate or any other (idea), I will advocate and fight every time for the district. If there are opportunities there, I will seek those opportunities out.”

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Roby stopped short of explicitly endorsing the new interstate project, suggesting rather that she will wait to hear back what level of support it has among her constituents.

“It’s my job that to make sure the southeast corner of our state has the appropriate infrastructure in place,” Roby also told the Eagle. “Having reliable roads, bridges, ports, and railways are vital for our ability to grow our economy in Alabama. That certainly applies to the more rural parts of our district in order to recruit the interest of job creators.”

A group called the Youth Infrastructure Coalition is leading the campaign to see the new interstate built.

According to Tony Harris, government relations manager for ALDOT, the proposal isn’t seriously being considered.

“There has been no discussion about a proposed Interstate 14 involving state transportation officials in Alabama and the advocates for this idea,” Harris recently told AL.com. “In today’s funding climate, this proposal isn’t likely to get serious consideration.”