Concordia Publishing House has reported that Google explicitly stated to their organization that Jesus and the Bible are banned references in regards to advertisements.
Google cannot legally remove websites and or content deemed by the organization to be offensive on platforms they do not own; however, being that Google controls a vast majority of online searching operations, Google can control how often such content is seen by the public.
In a press release, Concordia Publishing House stated that; “Google informed CPH that the type of ad in question would not be allowed based on Google’s policy of religious belief in personalized content. As a Google AdWords Support representative explained, the disapproval resulted from the fact that the items in the ad and on the CPH website refer to Jesus and/or the Bible.”
Google informed Concordia Publishing House that it could remove the references to Jesus Christ and the Bible for reconsideration.
“Clearly, CPH does not agree with Google’s decision in this matter. If we are willing to remove references to our faith in our ads or website, then we will be allowed to use remarketing ads with Google. Simply stated, we are not willing to sacrifice our beliefs to comply with Google’s requirements,” Kintz also said.
The Concordia press release can be seen below;
Concordia Publishing House was informed on Monday that all CPH remarketing ads were “disabled due to a violation of Google’s policy for advertising based on interests and location.”
Remarketing ads reach out to individuals who have made a decision to visit a CPH webpage. Google defines this as showing “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 reconnect with them by showing relevant ads across their different devices.”
Upon receiving notification that the remarketing ads were disapproved, CPH staff contacted Google. In this conversation, CPH staff members were informed that remarketing ads based on religious beliefs were not allowed. After reviewing cph.org, cph.org/blog, and splashcanyon.cph.org, the Google representative indicated that content provided by CPH was beyond the scope of becoming compliant with Google.
CPH staff requested that a manager review the decision. This request was denied. The Google representative proceeded to inform CPH staff of changes that could be made to splashcanyon.org to bring it into compliance. These changes included removing specific faith-based content.
Following this conversation, CPH contacted Google again for additional clarification. This call resulted in Google agreeing to conduct a manual review of the CPH AdWords audiences that have been disabled. CPH was informed that this review could take several hours to complete.
Following this manual review, Google informed CPH that the type of ad in question would not be allowed based on Google’s policy of religious belief in personalized content. As a Google AdWords Support representative explained, the disapproval resulted from the fact that the items in the ad and on the CPH website refer to Jesus and/or the Bible. CPH was also informed that we could 1) remove all items that refer to Jesus or the Bible and proceed to use the remarketing ads or 2) use a different type of Google ad product. A follow-up email from AdWords Support reiterated the need to change or remove content. In part, the email said the following:
“Troubleshooter: Religious belief in personalized advertising
1. Read the policy above to learn what we don’t allow. Ensure that your ads, site, or app comply with Personalized advertising policies. Note that even if ads are not targeted using sensitive categories, some types of ad content are still prohibited.
2. Remove that content from your site or app. If your site or app has content that we don’t allow, remove all content that doesn’t comply with this policy or rename with matching synonym. You’ll then need to request a review before moving on to the next step of checking your audience lists.
3. Remove that content from your ad.
If your ad violates this policy, edit it to make it comply.”
CPH President and CEO Dr. Bruce G. Kintz stated, “Clearly, CPH does not agree with Google’s decision in this matter. If we are willing to remove references to our faith in our ads or website, then we will be allowed to use remarketing ads with Google. Simply stated, we are not willing to sacrifice our beliefs to comply with Google’s requirements. It’s no secret that society is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. This increasing hostility makes our mission of proclaiming that faith through the books, Bibles, and curriculum that we produce all the more important. We will continue to proclaim the faith because we know without a doubt that the Word of the Lord endures forever.”
It continues to be CPH’s mission to share God’s Word with all Christians who are seeking faithful resources to support their faith. CPH will not be deterred by Google’s actions in this instance but will seek all available avenues to connect people to Christ.