Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Controversy Hits Hammond, IN

Recently a large church in our area expelled some students from their school. Their crime, the content on their personal sites. Apparently some of the students said bad things about the church and school; while others simply linked to their favorite musician’s webpage. The church found out about the pages and printed them off. The pastor of the church spent significant time during his sermon talking about the pages and then held a meeting with the parents and the students after church to discuss the issue.

One thing you must understand is this church is very conservative. They don't believe music should have a back beat. The ladies can only wear skirts. The men can not have long hair and they can not grow facial hair. They only read the KJV; all other translations by their estimation are blasphemous. So you can see why this would be a problem in a church this extremely conservative.

However, in my mind the issue still remains; how much should churches and schools get involved in regulating personal web pages? Should a student be expelled for what he or she puts on these pages? Can they face punishment for the type of sites they link to? Should the church take a firm stand against these sites? How much of it is a free speech issue? All these questions have been plaguing me as I think about this controversy, but the biggest question of all in my mind is where are the parents in all of this? Why does so much of the web activity for students go unregulated?

The answers at this point are unclear; the solution seems to be far off in the distance. And scripture... Is it silent on these issues or can we find some principles to help parents make the right choices about


Lisa said...

Hey--I clicked "next blog" and ended up here. Sounds like you've got a good thing going; keep it up. If you're ever looking for a cool way to reach the female students in your area, look up the B.A.B.E. Seminar ( It's an all-day seminar I speak for sometimes, and it's fantastic!

Woody said...

I would say that if a student of a church were posting negative things about the church on his/her website it should be addressed. That is a threat to the unity of the body and ultimately is gossip anyway.
Secondly if they are linking to sites with questionable content then it becomes a church discipline situation. If student were openly engaged in sin then we would excerise (or should) exercise discipline, the net is no different. The purpose is to safe-guard the person. So if a student is linking to content that he or she shouldn't be then the church should call them out.
I will agree with you on asking the question as to where the parents are. Parents are not taking rearing their children in Biblical ways like they should. They leave that to the church and that is not biblical (see Deut 31-32 on that).

JTapp said...

All of our speech, whether online or offline, should be edifying to the body. A pastor, or someone, should exercise spiritual discipline... talk to the kids and their families first before making it a public issue in a sermon. Otherwise everyone is just more polarized.

If you put a death threat up, or libeled someone through your blog they could take legal action. The church has the right to exercise some discipline, as woody said.

However, thinking of it from a kids point of view: Let's say several of the kids listen to some offensive music, but only one puts up a myspace link to it. The other kids are just as "guilty" in their hearts, but only one kid gets expelled. Is the true spiritual issue addressed by the church in question, and are the kids' hearts dealt with? Doesn't sound like it to me. Sounds like the church just decided to censor without dealing with the heart issue.

Gotch said...

Justin, I think you are right. The issue is a heart issue. These kids will probably listen to this type of music and talk about their school the same way with or without a myspace page. Churches and Parents have to be committed to raising godly students that are actually in love with Jesus, not ones that act like they love him on the outside.