Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#158 Censoring the comments

posted by Stephanie Drury

addyourcomment.jpgWhen you leave a comment at a Christian’s blog there is a good chance it’ll say “your comment will be visible after approval.” It will not say “if your comment doesn’t express overt agreement with the post or offer some sort of praise for the blogger, there is a slim chance your comment will see the light of day,” but that’s sometimes what they mean. Some bloggers let their comments post immediately but if the comment isn’t particularly flattering or asks a pointed question, it stands a good chance of being deleted once the blogger (or his minions, if he’s high on the food chain) sees it.

Within Christian culture they tend to only publish the comments that praise the blogger’s godly character or say what a blessing he/she is to others. Pastors of mega- or multi-campus churches are a prime example. If their blog even allows commenting, try leaving them a neutral or inquisitive comment and see if it makes it past customs.

Here is a pop quiz. Which of the following is an actual, published blog comment and which is a comment that has been denied publication at a pastor’s-or-random-Christian’s blog? Pick A or B:

A. “You have been an inspiration to thousands and a blessing unto this world.”
B. “I am curious as to why you don’t make your salary public and why you drive such an expensive car.”

A.”You are our gift from God. Thank you for answering His call.”
B.”I’ve tried to set up a meeting with you but they keep telling me you don’t meet with people personally.”

A.”I want to thank you for imparting your wisdom to myself as well as others. Your godliness is an inspiration.”
B.”You said you are accountable to a team of people, and I am curious who that team is accountable to.”

A.”In the eyes of God, few people upon this earth have ever spread the gospel with such conviction and sincerity.”
B.”I’m wondering if you’re going to address the congregation about the domestic violence report that came from your household.”

If you guessed the published comments were A’s and the denied comments were B’s, you get an A+.

Many Christian congregations aren’t encouraged to approach the pastor if something he says or does seems sketchy or unbiblical. Within American Christian culture it’s common for the pastor to be seen as infallible or an untouchable celebrity rather than a friend and companion in seeking God. This mentality comes in handy for deflecting any concerns about the pastor’s actions or teaching. Surrounded only by positive feedback the pastoral staff’s ego metastasizes and Jesus diminishes. You can certainly do this, but don’t call it Christianity.

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Rocky Presley

posted June 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm

HA! I thought this exact same thing today as I read one of those blogs (who shall remain nameless, but it rhymes with Yed Oung)that you posted on the Facebook! On that note, I just want you to know that you have been an inspiration to thousands and a blessing unto this world.

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posted June 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Ha! Great post. And if they don’t censor comments, they will throw a screaming temper tantrum if you post something they don’t agree with.

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Listner Mike

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Obviously the comments that are denied are not spirit inspired…

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posted June 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm

“Preaching to the choir”

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joelle Colville-Hanson

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Wow –you are painting an AWFUL lot of people with a large brush. I know a lot of Christians who blog who will publish comments that disagree. I will. The only reason I even moderate is because I was getting spammed. I will only not publish things that are really really vulgar or personally insulting or SPAM Test me out – go to my blog and disagree.

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Tom Coward

posted June 1, 2010 at 6:40 pm

This is a point that endlessly annoys me. Most atheist or science-oriented blogs allow nearly unlimited comments, and rarely ban posters except for extremely annoying behaviour. Most Christian sites either don’t allow comments at all, or moderate them to the point that anything even remotely challenging to their views gets through. This applies equally to YouTube posting by Christians.
One big exception is (surprizingly) Eric Hovind’s blog on blogspot. He appears to allow almost all comments, which is quite interesting because most of the commenters disagree with almost everything he says. It is a refreshingly different blog to read!

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posted June 1, 2010 at 7:06 pm

With the ubiquity of spammers, the “comment awaiting approval” is a good thing in principle. But you’re absolutely right Steph, I suspect it’s often used to filter out dissent and those not toeing the party line. So many forums/blogs are little fiefdoms — conformist cults of personality.

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stephanie drury

posted June 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I totally agree that sometimes they just filter comments to catch the spam which is why I didn’t say all bloggers do it, just some of them. It’s interesting that the comments I left at the blogs (that I put in the little pop quiz) didn’t get published but those same blogs only had praising comments at them that got through just fine. Very slippery.

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posted June 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Maybe a similar thing: Somewhat well know Christian “leaders” or “thinkers” who post the kinds of posts seemingly designed to get people riled up and commenting – and then the blogger never responds to any of the comments. So they allow comments, but then they act as though don’t give a damn; like they’re just having fun, but annoyingly so.

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Bill (cycleguy)

posted June 2, 2010 at 4:50 am

The above spam is one reason for “approval” on blogs. That being said I also have that. But unless it is totally inflammatory or striking out at someone else, I will allow it but will comment myself. (I will then write a personal email to that person telling them why I have refused their comment) I have tried to be an open book on my blog for the reasons you have here. I too get upset at those who post but do not respond back. It is like they want their say but not listen. Or they have a team of people entering and writing their blogs and have no intention of responding. I finally just quit reading them.

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Bill (cycleguy)

posted June 2, 2010 at 5:18 am

Steph: Sorry I forgot to mention something. Recently I commented on a nationally known preacher’s blog. When i went back to check to see if anyone had commented on my comment or his blog I found some stuff in chinese. Curious I clicked and lo and behold it was porn! I choked, closed it down and assumed that all the other 9 or 10 listings were the same (It was in chinese so must assume that). I sent an email to the webmaster who finally (after several days) removed it. Several days later!! But that blog now has a spam protector that must be used (sort of like captcha) before posting.

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posted June 2, 2010 at 9:07 am

I just commented on your last post (with the involvement of an f-bomb), and recieved this message:
“Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner”.
The irony is overwhelming.

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posted June 2, 2010 at 9:47 am

Trey, that has happened to me in the past with the involvement of certain expletives.
This is, I believe, a beliefnet filter, and not Stephy’s; I’m not sure she even receives notification from the site. I emailed her at the support address to inquire about the moderation and she was horrified, and proceeded to contact the powers that be to get my comments published.
Just email her and she’ll take care of it.

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posted June 2, 2010 at 9:50 am

Meant to type Trev, not Trey. Sorry.
Also I know Stephy can defend herself without my help. But it has happened to me too, and I think it has something to do with beliefnet’s affiliation with FOX.

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stephanie drury

posted June 2, 2010 at 10:48 am

Haha, yeah Beliefnet has a setting on the comments so you can’t type f-bombs and a few other words but I’m not sure which ones. I like the f-bomb which you know if you listened to the podcast. The irony is overwhelming though that that comment didn’t get through. And especially that I never got a notification that it was benig held for my approval. I wonder what other words it will censor? Snatch?Rimming? I’ma click ‘post’ and see if these get through.

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stephanie drury

posted June 2, 2010 at 10:49 am

They made it. You could cut the irony with a proverbial knife!

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allen campbell

posted June 2, 2010 at 11:55 am

You rock Steph! Keep it up. Or should I say, your ministry has blessed me in ways that are indescribable as I seek the true road of blessedness in the heavenly places, on high, with the peace that passeth all understanding, and God’s still working on me and at least I have a hot wife.
uhh, amen

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stephanie drury

posted June 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

FWIW, Beliefnet doesn’t censor comments – here is what they said when I told them some comments were being held without my knowing:
“I think that message ‘Comment will be held until approved by blog owner’ only happens when a certain word in the comment has been flagged by our system for a reason.
I’m going to fwd this email to our blogs person. He’ll have to investigate what word was flagged and why (we only flag words and phrases associated with spammers on our site–we don’t censor (we aren’t like those people you describe in your recent blog post :) ). If we noticed a ton of spam comments on our site that said “buy our special lotion” we might block the phrase “special lotion,” for example.
Also, he did check to make sure you would receive an email if a comment was being held for your approval and it was the correct email address. So obviously something is wrong w/ the delivery. I’ll talk to him and get back to you.
We only remove comments if they violate the Terms and Conditions of the site–and I’m pretty sure cursing isn’t considered a violation. Usually a comment is flagged if we think it’s spam or the commenter includes their own (or someone else’s) personal information, etc:
Ie: Beliefnet may delete any Content that in the sole judgment of Beliefnet violates this Agreement or which may be offensive, illegal or violate the rights, harm, or threaten the safety of any person. Beliefnet assumes no responsibility for monitoring the Site Services for inappropriate Content or conduct. If at any time Beliefnet chooses, in its sole discretion, to monitor the Site Services, Beliefnet nonetheless assumes no responsibility for the Content, no obligation to modify or
remove any inappropriate Content, and no responsibility for the conduct of the User submitting any such Content.”

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Ed F London

posted June 2, 2010 at 4:06 pm

and to add to: it isn’t just those that are obviously Christian. I commented on one of Facebook’s anti-Disney pages and got the “your submission will be moderated” reply. And never did get my comment posted. As God wills it….

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posted June 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

this is so true and ironic because this is a religion that claims its sole purpose is to spread the truth, no matter what, so why do they try to hide it all the time???

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posted June 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Tied to the “verse as Facebook status” – my sister posted “Pro 13:4 The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”. I had replied “The soul, not the pocket.”, and she deleted it. Heh.

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posted June 16, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I moderate comments so I don’t have to worry about spam posters with potentially harmful links. I know some older, less net-savvy folks (like the two I call Mom and Dad) read my blog and might not be as careful about clicking links they could think are OK because they’re in comments on one of my posts.
I think you’re reaching on this one.

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stephanie drury

posted June 16, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Hi Brett,
I guess I’m not sure how you think I’m reaching on this one, as the examples I listed above are all comments I tried to leave on blogs that weren’t approved or replied to, but complimentary comments on those same blogs were approved. And the examples I listed are just a very few of many.

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posted June 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm

It seems like a reach to me because the post begins by describing the practice of moderating comments as one practiced by Christians in general and seemingly done to highlight agreeable views and silence dissenting ones. There are many other reasons people moderate or delete comments from their blogs. And there are many bloggers other than Christians who do so.
I don’t doubt that the comment censoring you outlined happened as you said. But is it unique to Christians? I can’t think of *anyone* who’d leave up the B comment in the fourth pair or approve it if they were moderating. If the allegations are true, it’d be unlikely anyone would admit that in a blog comment forum. And if they’re untrue, it’s none of the commenter’s darn business. Personally, I drive a 14-year-old Toyota pickup, but I’d yank the B comment of the first pair too, unless the person commenting came to me first and asked me directly.
If I was the kind of arrogant jerk who didn’t meet with people or listen to criticism in person, then of course I’d be the kind of jerk who’d ignore or delete comments I didn’t like. Sure, too many of my pastoral colleagues have delusions of infallibility. And yes, comment censoring is one practice that’s a symptom and maybe a little bit of the cause of those delusions, which in words of one syllable is the sin of pride. As people who claim the transforming power of God’s grace, it’d be nice if we could be a little more different from the rest of the world in this as well as a bunch of other areas. But we’re not. We’re redeemed sinners, but sinners all the same.
And I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones.

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stephanie drury

posted June 17, 2010 at 12:38 am

It’s true that a pastor who commits domestic violence probably won’t cop to it in his blog comments. They didn’t get to have such big churches by not being able to smooth these types of things (hidden salaries, domestic violence) over to the congregation’s satisfaction. The pastors I respect value their families over their ministries and make their salary public because they have nothing to hide.
Yup, there are other reasons for moderating comments in the post, hence “usually” and “sometimes.”

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posted July 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Because Christians follow the Hebrew bible, Jews have an obligation to direct them in the right path – not by inducement or force but by example only [‘Be a light unto the nations’]. Here, Christians should have a plan B in its radar. There should be adequate space for the possibility the Jews may be right and the NT wrong – this would allow an exit strategy.
This is not a hypotetical scenario: the Hebrew bible has never been wrong, it is the singular greatest document humanity possesses, and Moses remains the most revered human – by period of time [3000 + years], impact [all laws accepted in the world’s institutions come from the Hebrew bible – no laws come from the Gospels and Quran], and by concencus [14 M Jews, 1.5 B Mulsims, 2B Christians rever Moses].
The waiting for revelation should be aimed at Moses – only he can tell us if the Gospels and/or Quran align with God’s word: Christians would not accept Mohammed nor would Muslims accept Jesus – if anything in their scriptures was contridicted. It apears when Christians and Muslims await their own preferred messengers – they are also saying they are worried by the appearence of a Jewish Messiah. If truth was the pursuit – only a Hebrew Messiah can suffice.
Here, belief has no impact – belief has nothing to do with Christianity – this is a generic, inherent trait in all life – and also the easiest to exploit. Further, belief based on eternal salvation by signing on the dotted line – constitutes the very antithesis of belief. Mostly, Christians have grossly mis-interpreted the Hebrew bible, fullfiling away whatever does not align with the Gospels – when this should be the reverse of the case.
Caring for Christians means telling them that their Gospels is only a bridge to usher them on the right path: evetually, all Creation will confront the creator – the reason even Moses was asked to stand down when the greatest revelation occured at Sinai – because the closest distance between two dots is when there is nothing in between. Here, all Christians, all Muslims, all humanity must demand a direct, open revelation before all humanity – the only acceptable sequal to Sinai I. Be not afraid – maybe it will be in your favor – maybe not – but it will be real?

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posted October 24, 2010 at 5:02 am

lol what

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posted June 18, 2011 at 11:04 am

I am curious. This curiosity led me here.
I have noticed over the last few months/year, that Christian Beliefnet has adopted the ‘Culture Wars” motto. The blogs seem to be moving towards decrying some aspect of culture that seems to be in direct contrast to their ‘beliefs’. But the really disconcerting aspect is that most of the blogs have ‘Comments’ disabled.
So, no debate nor offering of a different opinion seems to be allowed. This seems to be a new direction for Christian Beliefnet. I was always interested in reading and commenting on the blogs but that seems to be a thing of the past. Now it seems to just be; ‘Indoctrinate’ without allowing questions. The Jewish beliefnet is still into debate and I imagine other Beliefnet sites allow it.
Does anyone know if there has been decided shift in the Christian Beliefnet’s appraoch?? New CEO?? I was doing a web search to see if anyone knows what is happening, and that is why I followed this link.

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posted June 18, 2011 at 2:51 pm

you know what, I don’t know why they won’t turn the comments off of this blog because I don’t blog here anymore but I’m back on my own domain now. :)
Very good questions you’re asking…

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