In a statement released on Facebook, Concordia Publishing House (CPH), operated by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) denomination, stated that Google had rejected one of its ads because CPH’s website had Biblical content and referred to Jesus.
Formed in 1847, LCMS has two million members and is evangelical in doctrine as is its publishing arm.
In an article on The Federalist, Bruce Kintz, the CEO of Concordia said that they were wanting to advertise their Vacation Bible School but were rejected by Good AdWords that places ads on participating websites.
Kintz said Google rejected their ad “because of the faith we express on our website.” When Concordia asked for specifics, Google referred to the organization’s Vacation Bible School page stating the “Bible Challenge would clearly need to come down before they could consider us for ads.”
The Bible Challenge page referenced several Biblical passages such as:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2 NIV)
23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)
According to Christian Post, Concordia wanted to use Google’s ad program called “remarketing” that allows companies to target visitors to their website.
Google describes the program as “ads to people who’ve visited your website or used your mobile app. When people leave your website without buying anything, for example, remarketing helps you to reconnect with them by showing relevant ads across their different devices.”
It appears Google uses “cookies” that are left in people’s browser’s history when they visit a website to track them and place the “remarketing” ads on other websites they visit.
Google told CP that it accepts advertising from religious groups but does not allow groups to target people because of their religious beliefs. It also restricts “remarketing” ads that specifically target such things as a person’s political affiliation or race.
According to CBN, Concordia was told if it wanted to use “remarketing” ads, it would need to “remove all items that refer to Jesus or the Bible” on its website. Google would allow the publisher to use other forms of Google ads.
Over the past several months, there has been a chorus of complaints by groups alleging that Google and its subsidiaries such as YouTube are restricting and censoring Conservative voices.