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Streaming service Hulu has done an abrupt about face after initially refusing to air a Texas church’s worship ad, labeling the ad “religious indoctrination.” Hulen Street Church in Fort Worth submitted an ad for its worship services to be played during Hulu’s local advertisements. However, according to the church, the ad was rejected twice for violating Hulu’s policies, citing the ad was “religious indoctrination due to asking viewers to attend Thursday services.” The church sought legal counsel from First Liberty Institute, which sent a demand letter to Hulu, asking it to clarify its policies. The letter described the church’s desire to promote its new Thursday night services to those in the community who could not make Sunday services. The letter stated Hulu’s rejection was not based on any available policies that the church could find. “Although Hulu posts advertising policies online, its policies do not mention the words ‘Religious Indoctrination,’ nor do they prohibit it.  Despite being accepted as an approved advertiser on the platform, Hulen Street Church first learned Hulu even had such a policy when Hulu invoked it to reject the Church’s Thursday night service ad.” The letter accused Hulu of making up the rule as a form of censorship. “It strains credulity to claim that an advertisement by a church inviting viewers to consider attending a church service could possibly constitute, ‘Religious Indoctrination.’”

Within two days of receiving the letter, Liberty Institute released a statement that Hulu would air the ad. First Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys celebrated the move. “We are grateful to Hulu for its quick response to our demand letter and for accepting Hulen Street Church’s ad. In the future, Hulu — and others in Big Tech — could avoid these kinds of conflicts by adopting advertising policies that do not discriminate against religious organizations, being transparent about its advertising policy, and applying it fairly,” he said in a statement. In a statement to Fox News Digital, Hulen Street Church head pastor Wes Hamilton said he was thankful for the change. “We never believed this was anything more than the misinterpretation of a policy during the rollout of a new service, and we appreciate Hulu moving so quickly to reevaluate and approve our ad. We look forward to using Hulu to invite our neighbors to Hulen Street Church in the future.” The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments about states’ abilities to limit social media content moderation. Both Florida and Texas passed laws preventing social media companies from banning content of political candidates or from demonetizing certain viewpoints. Justice Amy Coney Barrett stated the case showed the need for the Supreme Court to catch up with technology, saying, “It’s clear that the Supreme Court needs to update its First Amendment jurisprudence to take into account this vast technological change. The Supreme Court often lags behind society in dealing with these kinds of things, and now it’s time to deal with it.”

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