Google Allegedly Censors Church App for Violating Coronavirus Guidelines

April 17th, 2020 12:35 PM

An Idaho evangelical church might have had its app pulled from the Google Playstore for having references about the coronavirus within the app.

Christ Church, a church in Moscow, Idaho, alleged that its app was suspended on Good Friday, April 10.

The church’s Twitter account made a speculation: “We presume they're talking about Pastor @douglaswils' short lessons on responding faithfully to the COVID-19 crisis. Or maybe Pastor @TJSumpter's sermon calling God's people to humble repentance.” An image provided by the church in its tweet showed an apparent notification from Google’s Playstore, which said: “We don’t allow apps that lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic event.”

The notification continued, “Your app has been suspended and removed due to this policy issue.” When the church appealed the suspension, it claimed that “Google Play suspended *all* apps that referred to COVID-19.”

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Ben Zornes, an executive minister at Christ Church, said, “So, essentially, merely referencing COVID-19 is putting us out of compliance with their 'Sensitive Events' policy. We are now evaluating the best way forward as we believe this is censorship, and wrong-headed. We are not purporting to present any medical advice or information on the virus, we are simply presenting what we believe Scripture teaches in regards to how to face such crises in faith and love to our neighbor.”

Deputy Breaking News Editor Jon Brown at the Examiner questioned whether or not the ban was related to a sermon by Christ Church’s Pastor Douglas Wilson toward the end of March. The sermon said that all calamities, including the coronavirus pandemic, were “a threat delivered to us personally by the hand of God” to get humans to repent of their sins.

Google stated that it had re-filed for an appeal.