NCC says free access to the internet is a justice issue and an evangelical issue

Washington, September 15, 2014 – The National Council of Churches, one of 14 religious groups that called on the Federal Communication Commission Monday to assure free and open access to the internet, said “net neutrality” is essential for NCC member communions and partners to “freely convey their faith messages to their parishioners and the public.”

“For us, this is as much an evangelical issue as a justice issue,” said Jim Winkler, NCC president and general secretary.

“The internet must be equally available to all religious groups and advocates of justice to proclaim their faith, promote their programs, and teach their messages,” Winkler said.

Smaller internet service providers (ISPs), have become concerned that web giants including Comcast and Verizon have the means of curtailing access to the internet for smaller providers.

The message from religious groups to the FCC Monday said, “Communication is an essential element of religious freedom and freedom of conscience: we fear the day might come when people of faith and conscience, and the institutions representing them, would have no recourse if we were prevented from sharing a forceful message or a call to activism using the Internet.”

The United Church of Christ Office of Communication. Inc. (OC, Inc.), has spearheaded the drive to convince the FCC to provide free entree to the Internet for all service providers.

“Historically, OC, Inc. has provided dynamic leadership among religious groups to advocate an equitable access to emerging technologies for all groups, large and small,” said Winkler.

“The National Council of Churches has enjoyed a close working relationship with OC, Inc. over many decades, and we are grateful for their leadership on this important issue,” Winkler said.

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Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 646-853-4212 (cell), [email protected]