Letter to Facebook Oversight Board Regarding Stedfast “Baptist Church”

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Members of the Oversight Board:

I write you today not to change Facebook’s polices but to enforce policies that already exist. I dispute the way Facebook applies these policies.

Stedfast Baptist Church is a cult that prides itself on advocating for the murder of members of the LGBTQ community, children, and many others who they consider having “sinned” [1].

This organization has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center [2] as a hate group. Their hateful rhetoric has also been covered by many members of the media including Newsweek (who brought attention to the fact that they want to stone children) [3], LGBTQ Nation (who brought attention to their celebration of murder) [4], and NBC News (who brought attention to their gay slurs, hate speech, and dangerous rhetoric) [5]. These are just a few of the many press organizations that have covered this cult.

They have a proven history of:

1) Advocating for murder and harm of others. This is directly supported by their website and comments they have made to the members of the media [1], [3]. This violates Facebook’s community standards, Part I Section 1 which says “we remove language that incites or facilitates serious violence” [6] Part I Section 2 says “Tier 1 focuses on entities that engage in serious offline harms — including organizing or advocating for violence against civilians, repeatedly dehumanizing or advocating for harm against people based on protected characteristics, or engaging in systematic criminal operations. Tier 1 entities include terrorist, hate, and criminal organizations. We remove praise, substantive support, and representation of Tier 1 entities as well as their leaders, founders, or prominent members.” Members of the LGBT community, children, hate speech with violence are protected by law.

2) They have a consistent pattern of behavior making remarks that are considered to be hate speech [4], [5]. Referring to to the LGBTQ community as scum and fags [4], [5]. Section I Part 9 states “We remove content that’s meant to degrade or shame, including, for example, claims about someone’s sexual activity. We recognize that bullying and harassment can have more of an emotional impact on minors, which is why our policies provide heightened protection for users between the ages of 13 and 18.” So here [3] you have a clear and creditable threat to children, here [4] [5] here you have degrading comments to members of the LGBTQ community.

3) They have a hypocritical history of engaging with prostitutes [7].

Things to consider:

1) When a child who is struggling with gender identity takes their own life because of the inactions of Facebook, they may be able to use Section 230 to weasel out of legal liability, but that death will still be on their hands.

2) When an individual shoots up or bombs Facebook HQ because they are retaliating against a company that has long supported the pain inflicted on them, that will be on their shoulders.

3) When politicians start creating laws that run Facebook’s business into the ground because they failed to act, that will again lie at their doorstep.

Facebook is clearly not enforcing their polices and is more concerned with politics than keeping people safe from violence and hate speech. In many states, including Texas where this “church” is located, this rhetoric is against the law.

There can be no excuse for bullying, harassment, threats of violence, and hateful rhetoric especially when they pose a direct and credible threat to the public. Facebook has taken actions against this page multiple times in an attempt to want them of their behavior and still they choose not to follow the rules.

They have been forced to move locations and platforms due to their hateful rhetoric and Facebook plays a clear role in supporting this organization because each time that they move they use the platform to help their audience know how to engage with them.

They continue to live stream their hatful, threatful, and violent rhetoric on the platform. They actively have pictures where they depict violence. These include burning the LGBTQ flag, bombing the world, and literally burning a man.

This kind of behavior cannot be allowed to continue on the platform. It poses a direct threat of physical and mental abuse directed at many diverse groups of individuals who are protected by law.

The only path forward is for this board to order Facebook to remove their page and all of their content. In addition, remove their leadership team from the platform.

Facebook has given them numerous opportunities to comply with standards and they choose not to. Now is the time to act.

Very Respectfully,

Michael Moates, M.A., QMHP-T, RBT

Behavior Therapist and Mental Health Professional

References:

[1] Fundamentals of Our Faith — https://stedfastbaptistkjv.org/doctrine/

[2] Southern Poverty Law Center Twitter Account — https://twitter.com/splcenter/status/1083846074970718208?lang=fi

[3] Newsweek, Texas Pastor Encourages Stoning Deaths of Rebellious Kids and ‘Lazy Gamers,’ YouTube Removes Videos — https://www.newsweek.com/pastor-stedfast-baptist-fort-worth-stoning-jonathan-shelley-rebellion-death-1300803

[4] LGBTQ Nation, Christian preacher celebrates fatal accident at Florida Pride “f*g” parade https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2021/06/christian-preacher-celebrates-fatal-accident-florida-pride-fg-parade/

[5] NBC News, LGBT Activists Protest Church ‘Hate Speech’ — https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/lgbt-activists-protest-church-hate-speech/185140/

[6] Facebook Terms of Service, Community Standards — https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/violence_criminal_behavior

[7] NBC News, Anti-gay pastor resigns after allegedly ‘being with prostitutes’ — https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/anti-gay-pastor-resigns-after-allegedly-being-prostitutes-n955926

[8] Violent Pictures — https://www.facebook.com/StedfastBaptist/photos/3412979108829677/

https://www.facebook.com/StedfastBaptist/photos/3385759124885009/

https://www.facebook.com/StedfastBaptist/photos/3380816035379318/