Displaying items by tag: internet
The Church of England has urged the Government to ensure age verification systems are put in place to protect under-18s from online pornography. The widespread availability of porn to children means they are growing up in a culture where violent, degrading and harmful sexual activity is being normalised. In 2017, porn checks were approved by Parliament under the Digital Economy Act but plans to implement them were abandoned in 2019 when the Government claimed they would be covered by future legislation. The abandoned Online Safety Bill stated, ‘pornographic websites could face large fines and risk being blocked if they do not have age verification systems in place to prevent children from accessing content.’ But now the Government announced, ‘further parliamentary consideration of the Bill is delayed until after the summer recess.’
By 2018 there were 5 billion mobile phone users and over 4 billion using the internet. Desert nomads can watch videos pre-loaded onto their mobile phones. This revolution in communications is increasing the spread of the gospel. Networking tools are being used in astonishing ways. Isolated Muslims who have heard of Jesus or dreamt of a man in dazzling white speaking to them have started to seek Christ via social networking. A project to do this drew over a thousand responses in just one southeast Asian country. When the idea was repeated in the Middle East, the response overwhelmed the available resources. One observer reports that thanks to messaging apps, untold numbers of groups are emerging daily who encourage one another in the Word even in places where the gospel cannot legally go. Pray for creativity and wisdom to make the most of every mission opportunity that presents itself.
CARE has urged ministers to curb internet pornography, to prevent more cases of sexual violence. During proceedings at the Old Bailey this week, it emerged that rapist and murderer Wayne Couzens viewed ‘brutal pornography’ before committing his crimes. A former colleague noted his attraction to ‘brutal sexual pornography’. The Government’s own research in February found that the majority of frontline workers spontaneously mentioned pornography as an influential factor for harmful sexual behaviour towards women and girls. CARE campaigned successfully for legislation to curb porn sites and restrict access by children. However, these measures were scrapped by the Government in 2019. CARE said that the Couzens case is an example of where porn obsession can lead. If we want to avoid more such cases, the Government must stop men accessing sites which glorify rape and violence.
Ioannis Dekas, a father of four sons, became concerned after he found one of his boys had accessed pornography. He said this was a wake-up call for him and his wife, making them confront the potential danger to their son and the impact on them all as a family. Mr Dekas wants the government to put in place the age verification requirements set out in part three of the Digital Economy Act - a law that was passed in 2017 but not acted on. Mr Dekas is seeking a High Court hearing to consider whether the government should tighten youngsters' access to pornography. He wants the government to implement proof of age in order to gain access. New research suggests the majority of 16- and 17-year-olds in the UK have recently seen porn. The government is currently preparing a new Online Harms Bill, which is expected to be put before Parliament later this year.
One For Israel (OFI), the world’s only Hebrew Bible college, is challenging the rabbis, in a way they cannot limit,v by posting a series of videos backing Yeshua’s messianic claims on the internet. OFI’s president said, ‘We have seen how ready many hearts are to receive Him, once they hear in a relevant and understandable way. This awakening has largely been brought about by Covid. People forced to stay home are bored and are confronted with a dangerous disease that makes them think about eternity. Revival has started among the Jews in Israel. This is only the tip of the iceberg.’ OFI are also hosting discipleship videos for those still too shy to join a local congregation as Messianic Jews.
Technology is a powerful tool for light and life in this pandemic. A surge in Google searches around the theme of hope and faith plus a phenomenal increase of people searching Christian websites means that more are hearing the Gospel. Global Media Outreach registered a 170% increase in clicks on search engine advertisements about finding hope. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Campus Crusade (Cru) created special internet tools for ministry in the pandemic. Cru’s student page is expected to receive 20 million more visitors than last year, and BGEA’s outreach had 191,000+ online visitors and 11,000 decisions to accept Jesus as Saviour. See also Intercessor Focus: praying for the local church.
Global action is required to tackle the web's ‘downward plunge to a dysfunctional future’, said its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee in an interview marking thirty years since its conception. He said people realised how data can be manipulated after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but data breaches, hacking and misinformation could be tackled. He acknowledged that many people doubted the web could be a force for good. While he had his own anxieties about the future, he felt users were beginning to understand the risks. He thinks the principles of an open web need to be safeguarded in three specific areas of ‘dysfunction’ that harm the web today: malicious activity of hacking and harassment; problematic system design such as business models that reward clickbait; and unintended consequences, such as aggressive or polarised discussions. He said these things could be dealt with through new laws and systems limiting bad behaviour online. See also UK article 3, ‘Saving the internet from itself’.
An audit by the Gambling Commission issued on 21 November has shown the quadrupling of child problem gamblers to more than 50,000 in two years. It also found 70,000 youngsters were at risk, and 450,000 children bet regularly - the equivalent of one in seven children aged 11 to 16. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, branded the figures as a ‘generational scandal’, and warned that the UK needs to take the dangers of gambling seriously. The audit also showed that children were being inundated with gambling adverts, with two-thirds saying they had ‘seen it on TV’, and nearly a million young people had been exposed to gambling through ‘loot boxes’ in video games or on smartphone apps. See also our recent article on FOBTs: https://www.prayer-alert.net/praise-reports-pa-site/item/11186-uk-government-backs-down-over-gambling-machines
So far, more than 60,000 people worldwide have watched a one-hour Instagram live video that begins daily at midnight for people to praise God, tagged as the #HallelujahChallenge. Nigerian gospel artist Nathaniel Bassey began hosting the session on 1 June to just over a thousand people, urging Christians to join him in worship for a month. Helped by the promotion of numerous popular Nigerian artists, Bassey (who describes himself on his Twitter page as an ‘authentic Jesus lover’) tweeted, ‘It is a revival and a revolution. JESUS is in charge!’ It is thought to be the most widely-circulated praise and worship movement on social media. Bassey said, ‘The Challenge is a mandate from God, and I am just a vessel. Beyond all the miracles and testimonies, God is doing something eternal - something that will outlive generations.’
Harvest America 2017 was an evangelistic event broadcast live on the Internet with updates posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This event, similar to a Billy Graham crusade, used the latest media platforms to give a very straightforward presentation of the gospel. At 5 pm on 11 June Pastor Greg Laurie delivered a gospel message via live satellite from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. Artists joining him for the free one-day event included ‘The Voice’ sensation Brennley Brown, ‘American Idol’ winner Jordin Sparks and CCM artists NEEDTOBREATHE, MercyMe, Trip Lee and Phil Wickham. There were 38,000 in the stadium, and 2,904 made decisions for Christ. Also, people across the country invited friends into their homes to watch it and then prayed with them. Last year it live-streamed to over 7,200 locations and drew 357,000 participants, with 25,000 people coming to faith.