Today, as you browse the internet, you may see a handful of websites shut down or install new pop-up banners in protest of something called SOPA.
SOPA, some of you may recall from 9th grade language class, is Spanish for soup. But as you might guess, the internet is up in arms about something more than a bowl of Tortilla Soup. SOPA, in this case, stands for Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill also goes by it’s more official name from the House of Representatives, H.R. 3261.
While many of us may skip over legislation in the news, since it rarely has a direct connection to our lives, this piece could be unintentionally damaging to the way churches conduct their ministries. As a result, while Clark doesn’t officially support or oppose legislation, we are strongly suggesting you familiarize yourself with this bill. [Click here for a link to H.R. 3261].
Granted, this is unfamiliar territory to many. The church in America is better known for it’s opposition of Gay Marriage and Pro Choice laws than an interest in technology legislation. This is understandable, perhaps, because assaults on the family are easier for the church to identify, while the specialized terminology surrounding tech law doesn’t necessarily trigger our red flags. But, in actuality, this law would have wide ranging effect on the church, possibly allowing for a new level of censorship that could restrict the way Christian values and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are currently transmitted in our culture.
As Clark travels around the Untied States serving the local church and leading them in technology shaping decisions, we notice that many leaders struggle to understand or are completely unaware of how Net Neutrality or SOPA could impact their congregation and church ministry at large. As shapers and influencers of how the church uses technology, we feel compelled to help fill in these gaps and educate leaders by offering a quick overview of this legislation.
The following explanation, then, isn’t legal jargon. I’m not a lawyer. It’s just a practical summary offered by a well-informed friend who notices a car driving in your blind spot that could potentially cause some damage down the road.
To understand SOPA, it is first helpful to understand Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality holds that there should be NO restrictions on internet access, meaning that neither the government or internet service providers should be able to restrict how or what consumers access online. This is the principle that guides internet usage in America today.