Google ads has refused to do business with a Christian publishing house “because of the faith we express on our website,” said Concordia Publishing House CEO Bruce Kintz in a Facebook post today.
“Google ads will no longer accept anything related to the cph.org domain. They stated the reason is because of the faith we express on our website,” Kintz wrote. “[A CPH associate] was told, as an example, that things like our bible (sic) challenge on our [Vacation Bible School] webpage would clearly need to come down before they could consider us for ads.”
The world keeps squeezing…. pic.twitter.com/yzMMljoRVx
— Mark Surburg (@MarkSurburg) April 23, 2018
Vacation Bible School is an extremely popular event many churches offer as a sort of Bible-themed summer day camp. CPH’s 2018 VBS theme is “Splash Canyon,” with the slogan “Discover God’s promise on life’s wild ride.” The program’s “Bible challenge” that was apparently objectionable to Google includes positive selections like “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope . . . for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23” and “God promises: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.’ Isaiah 43:2.”
CPH is the publishing arm of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which has between 1.5 and 2 million American members. It is one of the conservative Lutheran denominations, as opposed to the more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which ordains women, supports abortion, and rejects defining marriage as a one-man, one-woman institution. The LCMS does none of these things.
The Federalist is seeking clarification on the specifics of this interaction and will update our readers as warranted.
“Incredibly sobering and disappointing,” Kintz wrote. “It is an uphill battle but our mission and customers are worth it. It is why we are here.”
UPDATE: Google says this incident is a result of their policies against using sensitive profile information such as religion for advertising purposes. Here’s their statement:
We welcome advertising from religious institutions, including Christian organizations. To protect user privacy, we have policies that restrict how advertisers may use data to show ads to users, this includes someone’s religious affiliation. Learn more: https://t.co/qeXz7nvv9r -SC
— Google AdWords (@adwords) April 23, 2018