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Texas Church’s ‘Victory’ Over Big Tech

by | Fri, Mar 1 2024

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A church in Fort Worth, Texas has successfully challenged Big Tech after popular US streaming platform Hulu refused to run an advertisement promoting the time and place of its new night services.

The Disney-owned company initially said it would not run the 22-second ad because it was “religious indoctrination.” Pastor Wes Hamilton of the Hulen Street Church twice applied to advertise on the streaming service’s website, but was rejected both times. CBN News reports the website made no reference to “religious indoctrination” restrictions.

Pastor Hamilton was initially attracted by Hulu’s local advertising capabilities. His ad read:

Does your work schedule or busy family calendar not allow you to attend Church on a Sunday morning? If so, I want to invite you to Thursday nights at Hulen Street Church beginning on February 1st. We created Thursday nights at Hulen Street because we know that even though Sunday may not be an option for you, that doesn’t mean your faith isn’t important to you.

Pastor Hamilton called in some help from Christian legal advocates First Liberty Institute whose lawyers were also mystified over how those words constituted “religious indoctrination.” Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys said: “Treating a simple advertisement about church service times as indoctrination is absurd. Hulu’s rejection of this simple, 22-second ad demonstrates exactly why clear, fair standards are needed throughout Big Tech. If a church cannot even advertise where and when it will meet, what else is Big Tech willing to censor?”

The lawyers wrote to the company requesting that it change its religious advertising policy. And to their welcome surprise, Hulu promptly agreed to run the ad. First Liberty said: “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 organisations, being transparent about its advertising policy, and applying it fairly.”