YouTube has penalized Christian media network, theDove, by deleting its channel and removing all of its content, estimated at 15,600 videos. TheDove is one of several ministries around the world navigating penalties due to political and religious statements, particularly ones that pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic and the LGBTQ community.
“We are dealing with two fairly significant law firms, one in Washington D.C. and one in California, to see if there’s any recourse we may have to retrieve our 15,000 videos,” said Perry Atkinson, theDove’s president and CEO. “We are looking into three other platforms as to whether or not we can re-establish a way to distribute our videos.”
Christian Media Network Banned from YouTube
YouTube’s decision was part of its “three-strikes system.” If users violate the social media giant’s community guidelines, YouTube issues the channel a strike. A first strike results in YouTube imposing one week of serious limitations, including not allowing the channel to upload content. If a second strike occurs within 90 days, YouTube restricts the channel from uploading content for two weeks. Each strike has 90 days to expire. After the third strike, the channel is removed completely.
Atkinson said that YouTube flagged videos from the Christian media network that pertained to COVID-19, the Equality Act, and the recent presidential election. It was after the riots at the U.S. Capitol that theDove received its first strike. The second strike was in February, and the third was on March 22. In a statement on its website, theDove said:
On March 22, 2021 the Dove was permanently banned from YouTube – our first amendment rights attacked. TheDove has over 40 years of providing hope and giving a Biblical perspective to current events. Over 15,000 interviews and segments have been posted to YouTube and the Dove has experienced millions of views. In today’s cancel culture YouTube has deleted every video.
LoveWorld is another media network that has been penalized for statements it has promoted about COVID-19. LoveWorld USA is a network launched by televangelists Benny Hinn and Chris Oyakhilome. LoveWorld also has a branch in the United Kingdom, and U.K. Communications regulator Ofcom has fined LoveWorld UK £125,000. Ofcom levied the fine on the grounds that the network was spreading misinformation about COVID-19, including that the pandemic is the result of a conspiracy planned by the “deep state.”
In this video of a Global Day of Prayer event the network held on Dec. 2, 2020, Oyakhilome said the virus is a “scam” and a “scheme to deceive.” He then introduced a clip in which a woman identified as Claire Edwards, a “United Nations editor and trainer in intercultural writing,” said that COVID-19 “was a long pre-planned in documents and simulation exercises emanating from the eugenicist Bill Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation.” Edwards also said the “sinister vaccine conspiracy” was intended to “enslave humanity.”
In a statement, Ofcom said that LoveWorld UK “risked serious harm” and “had the potential to undermine confidence in public health measures put in place to tackle COVID-19 – at a time when cases, hospital admissions and deaths were rising in the UK, and when people were looking for reliable information given advances in the vaccination programme.”
This week brings a legal victory in the U.K., however, for Samaritan’s Purse CEO and president Franklin Graham in regards to an evangelistic crusade he held in Blackpool, England, in September 2018. After British LGBTQ leaders complained about past comments Graham made about LGTBQ community, Blackpool Transit pulled bus advertisements promoting Graham’s event. Today, Judge Claire Evans ruled that pulling the bus advertisements had violated “freedom of expression.”
“The Defendants had a wholesale disregard for the right to freedom of expression possessed by the Claimant,” said Evans. “It gave a preference to the rights and opinions of one part of the community without having any regard for the rights of the Claimant or those who shared its religious beliefs.”
Graham responded to the decision, saying, “We thank God for this ruling because it is a win for every Christian in the UK.”
Other recent legal battles involving church leaders include a pastor who wants to hold a vigil outside the U.S. Capitol on Good Friday. Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, is suing vice president Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Capitol Police Board, and the Sergeant of Arms for the Senate on the grounds that his First Amendment rights have been violated.
According to court documents, Mahoney wanted to “hold a vigil for the express purpose of beseeching God’s healing from the divisiveness and anxiety lingering over our nation since the tragic events of January 6, 2021.” The reverend says he has held many events at the Capitol’s Lower Western Terrace, but that the fences currently barricading the area have “effectively created a no- speech zone.” Mahoney’s case was heard in federal court today at 3:30 p.m. ET.