In an exclusive interview with the Conservative Firing Line on Tuesday, Pastor Rich Penkoski said Facebook yanked his fairly large page, “Warriors for Christ,” after claims the page violated the site’s community standards. Worse yet, Penkoski said the social media giant essentially ignored death threats made against him — threats which, at one point, forced him to move his family.
Here’s a video highlighting some of those threats:
In an email published by Pamela Geller, Nellchy Kentley, an administrator for the page which had over 225,000 followers, said:
On 29th December 2017, Facebook shut down our page because of our biblical stance on marriage. Facebook has been after our page for many years and often censored our posts simply because they contained truth articles on statistics, Bible verses and memes that exposed the hypocrisy of the left.
We have a 24 hour prayer sms hotline to pray for anyone seeking prayer and also a crisis outreach hotline to assist people in need of emergency crisis support and financial assistance, food or clothing.
We received several messages a day, many of which were from people in serious distress and even some with suicidal tendencies and we were able to chat with them to help talk them out of it and pray with them.
This ministry has been such a blessing for countless people, and Facebook has heartlessly shut us down.
As for the threats, Kentley wrote: “We received death threats, hate mail, and were flooded with pride emojis all over our page with porn and derogatory pictures and links to porn sites. Pastor Rich even received feces in the mail and it got to the point he and his family (his wife and six kids) were forced to move house as a result of all the threats.”
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Moreover, Penkoski said, LGBT activists engaged in what can only be described as online stalking. This, he said, started after “Pride Month.”
After the threats, Kentley said, they started an alternate social media site for Christians: SocialCross. The site now has over 12,000 followers.
At the time Facebook unpublished his page, Penkoski said, they were counseling a young woman contemplating suicide. Naturally, when the page was unpublished, they lost contact with the woman. At this time, it is unknown if the woman they were speaking to is still alive, prompting Penkoski to state that Facebook could be complicit if she followed through on her threat to commit suicide.
But there’s more.
After the page was unpublished, he received an email which read:
So I was just notified by Facebook that WFC was shut down, I want to say that I am sorry it has come to this, but the hateful posts that you keep posting are full of hate, whether you agree or not, they are hateful. I did collect 80,XXX signatures to stop the hatefulness, and sent them to Facebook about a month ago. I tried to reason with you, but you would not even listen. Your hate towards Muslims, Christians, Catholics, and the LGBT community, will not be tolerated. Again I’m sorry you were removed, but you are full of hate, and giving Christans a bad name.
God bless, and have a good day
Penkoski further said he was slapped for posting the following:
But wait — it gets even better. He told us that Facebook slapped him for no apparent reason even as we were speaking. Immediately after our interview, Penkoski reached out to us saying that he personally received a 30-day ban over a picture of a warrior angel in armor:
Penkoski said the ministry has set up a change.org petition, which reads in part:
Warriors for Christ is a controversial entity who regularly stands in opposition to the lgbt agenda, however Warriors for Christ has never threatened nor called anyone a derogatory name or anything of the sort.
The lgbt community has been actively trying to shut down the ministry page for well over 6 months. You may remember the lgbt sent fecal matter to the Pastor’s home. They keyed his car, they threatened to put a bullet in his head, they sent gay x rated material to his home with 6 children.
We are telling facebook to stop banning and censoring Christian Conservatives because of activists who wish to silence opposition.
As of this writing, the petition has over 1,400 signatures.
Here’s a video Penkoski made of his latest run-in with Facebook:
More of his videos can be seen here.
Penkoski tells me that he’s not knuckling under, and intends to fight Facebook’s actions. For starters, he’s set up a backup page, which is still up as of this writing. That page can be seen here. He’s also not intimidated by the threats leveled at him by LGBT activists.
“These people don’t intimidate me,” he said, but promised to take whatever legal measures are necessary to protect his family. “I don’t want to shoot anybody, but I will if I have to.”
Penkoski also said he intends to pursue legal action, but as Adina Kutnicki and I wrote in “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad,” that won’t be an easy option, given Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which a federal judge said lets sites like Facebook censor even constitutionally-protected speech.
We reached out to multiple contacts at Facebook, including Katie Harbath, who, Bloomberg said, is “a former Republican digital strategist who worked on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign” and now runs “…a little-known Facebook global government and politics team that’s neutral in that it works with nearly anyone seeking or securing power.”
According to Bloomberg:
“We’re proud to work with the thousands of elected officials around the world who use Facebook as a way to communicate directly with their constituents, interact with voters, and hear about the issues important in their community,” Harbath said in an emailed statement.
She said the company is investing in artificial intelligence and other ways to better police hate speech and threats. “We take our responsibility to prevent abuse of our platform extremely seriously,” Harbath said. “We know there are ways we can do better, and are constantly working to improve.”
Power and social media converge by design at Facebook. The company has long worked to crush its smaller rival, Twitter, in a race to be the platform of choice for the world’s so-called influencers, whether politicians, cricket stars or Kardashians. Their posts will, in theory, draw followers to Facebook more frequently, resulting in higher traffic for advertisers and better data about what attracts users.
As of this writing, Facebook has not responded to our inquiry.
“We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in September, Bloomberg said.
According to that report:
“We asked Facebook to explain its decisions on a sample of 49 items, sent in by people who maintained that content reviewers had erred, mostly by leaving hate speech up, or in a few instances by deleting legitimate expression,” Propublica’s report said.
“In 22 cases, Facebook said its reviewers had made a mistake. In 19, it defended the rulings. In six cases, Facebook said the content did violate its rules but its reviewers had not actually judged it one way or the other because users had not flagged it correctly, or the author had deleted it. In the other two cases, it said it didn’t have enough information to respond.”
Inconsistencies are common, ProPublica said, having “found in an analysis of more than 900 posts submitted to us as part of a crowd-sourced investigation into how the world’s largest social network implements its hate-speech rules.”
“Its content reviewers often make different calls on items with similar content, and don’t always abide by the company’s complex guidelines. Even when they do follow the rules, racist or sexist language may survive scrutiny because it is not sufficiently derogatory or violent to meet Facebook’s definition of hate speech.”
While that statement is really no comfort at all to Penkoski, and many others who have experienced the wrath of Facebook’s moderators, the story does have a happy ending.
A couple hours after reaching out to the social media giant, the page was brought back up and can be seen here. We still have not heard from the company, but Penkoski said it shows that “standing firm and speaking out does work.” Unfortunately, Penkoski says the 30-day ban is still in place.
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