Facebook temporarily suspended the account of Catholic priest Fr. John Higgins in response to a post he made about the history of Islam.
Here’s the offending post:
“There are peaceful and good Muslim people,” his post reads in part. “And then there are the Islamists who are defended by the ignorant who refuse to learn history.”
He made his comment on a post on the Facebook page of his Congresswoman Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-D). On May 23rd, his post was deleted and he was suspended from posting on Facebook for a week.
“I wrote Facebook several times,” Fr. Higgins told ChurchPOP, “explaining that this post was just history. Of course there was no response.”
Fr. Higgins serves as the pastor of St. Raymond Parish in Downey, California and as the chaplain of his local fire department.
Greg Stone, a friend of Fr. Higgins who does work for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on conflict resolution, wrote a lengthy Facebook post about the suspension, calling for Facebook to honor its pledge to not censor different viewpoints. The post was widely copied and re-posted around Facebook.
“It is horribly ironic that the very week Islamists murder scores of innocents,” Stone’s post read in part, “—young girls at a pop concert in Manchester, Coptic Christians in Egypt, and Catholics in the Philippines—Facebook suspends the privileges of a respected clergy member for posting an academic synopsis regarding Islamic history. FB spikes the very information the community needs to understand current events.” You can read the full text of Stone’s post here.
On May 30th, his week-long suspension over, Fr. Higgins posted again on Facebook: “I’m back. That was a week? LOL”.
Last year, Facebook was accused of having systematically censored viewpoints considered to be conservative. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied the charges and met personally with conservative leaders to reassure them that Facebook will remain open to differing viewpoints.