Google Censoring Christian Ads
Google said no to the conservative Lutheran publisher because … it’s religious. Concordia Publishing House CEO Bruce Kintz says Google will no longer accept ads for its Remarketing AdWords program because “the items in the ad and on the CPH website refer to Jesus and/or the Bible.”
According to a Concordia press release, Google told CPH its ads were “disabled due to a violation of Google’s policy for advertising based on interests and location.” When CPH objected, the company told them it did not allow remarketing ads based on Christian beliefs. CPH could either remove the offending words or apply for a different type of ad. When asked, the Google rep refused to send the decision to reject the ads up for review.
Remarketing ads are targeted at users who have visited a website. Google describes them as showing “ads to people who’ve visited your website or used your mobile app. When people leave your website without buying anything, for example, remarketing helps you reconnect with them by showing relevant ads across their different devices.”
CPH’s websites include cph.org, cph.org/blog, and splashcanyon.cph.org. The content is fairly low-key. The home page contains books and other Christian items for sale. The blog has posts like “When You Are Seeking to Call a New Pastor” and “Planting Seeds.” The Splash Canyon page sells Vacation Bible School materials. There are Bible lessons and promo materials. It is pretty sparse. A Google rep told CPH staff what content to remove. One was a bible challenge.
Christian Advertising is ‘Legally or Culturally Sensitive’
Google told The Christian Post that it “welcomes advertising from religiously-affiliated institutions, including Christian organizations.” However, it also protects user privacy. The company restricts “how advertisers may use data to show and personalize ads to users.” Google bans “advertisers from using sensitive data such as race, religious affiliation, political affiliation or sexual orientation to show ads to users.”
This includes “religious belief in personal advertising.” It is seen as “legally or culturally sensitive.” “Places of worship, religious guidance, religious education or universities, religious products” are all prohibited.
Google explains in its policies why it restricts certain topics in remarketing ads:
We want ads to provide a positive experience and to be informed by users’ interests rather than by who they’re perceived to be as a person, so we don’t allow personalized advertising based on a user’s fundamental or intrinsic self-identity or their belief systems. Such identities and beliefs can include inherently private classifications of one’s self; classifications susceptible to stigmas, discrimination, or harassment; membership within groups that are susceptible to stigmas, discrimination, or prejudices; and personally held belief systems.
The result? Google lumps in Christian topics with nudity, adult content, alcohol, gambling and crime. Political content is another banned topic. It is hard to see how visiting the tame website of CPH could upset people who see an ad for it later. Banning all Christian content is very broad.
CPH Will Not Change
CPH President and CEO Dr. Bruce G. Kintz said CPH will not change its content to comply. The publisher disagrees, of course. CPH will not
sacrifice our beliefs to comply with Google’s requirements. It’s no secret that society is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. This increasing hostility makes our mission of proclaiming that faith through the books, Bibles, and curriculum that we produce all the more important. We will continue to proclaim the faith because we know without a doubt that the Word of the Lord endures forever.
The big tech and social media giants have come under fire lately for banning Christian content. Facebook is censoring ads that mention the Passion of Christ. The content is “violent,” it says. There are more and more reports like this. No doubt more censorship is on the way.