Why we're hitting pause on Facebook ads in July

By nature, change is hard. Systemic change, even harder. We Lutherans know this. After all, our church was born of a radical act as Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the doors of the church in Wittenberg more than 500 years ago. That bold move set off a chain of events that forever changed the church, and the world, as we know it.

Last month, we shared that as an organization, we condemn racism in all its forms, and are recommitting ourselves to modeling our ideal that everyone deserves dignity, respect and fairness. For far too long, the climate on Facebook has worked against that ideal. Alongside a host of businesses and organizations, we have witnessed Facebook:

  • Allow the promotion of gross misinformation, including some that could be construed as voter suppression
  • Fail to enforce its own policies consistently regarding hate speech
  • Offer inadequate support to those who are mistreated on their platform

As an organization called to keep working until your love reaches every neighbor, we felt the need to take action and to implore Facebook to do more to curb hate speech and misinformation, so that it can truly be a place where people come together.

That’s why Lutheran World Relief has decided to pause advertising on Facebook and its associated platforms during the month of July, in solidarity with the #StopHateForProfit campaign.

As an organization, we have stood with – and continue to stand with -- some of the world’s most marginalized people, from Dalits in India and Nepal to our work with partner organization IMA World Health to assist survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Africa to assisting refugees in Latin America and around the world.

Our goal in participating in this action is to effect change. We recognize and respect the God-given dignity of every person and will work to ensure that far-reaching platforms like Facebook honor that dignity and do not perpetuate systems of oppression and bias. Further, we are called to be good stewards of God’s gifts. While Facebook advertising puts our mission in front of many faces every single day, we cannot, in good conscience, do so at the expense of our most marginalized brothers and sisters.

At Lutheran World Relief, we believe in the power of love. We have witnessed how love can transform people and places and transcend even the greatest adversity. In spaces like Facebook, where so many people come together under the auspices of shared interests and common good, we are passionate about fostering an environment where love wins over hate. This is in line with the core mission of what we have done as an organization for the past 75 years, and it’s what we will continue to do – until your love reaches every neighbor.

Lutheran World Relief works in concert with Corus International, a family of faith-based organizations delivering holistic, lasting solutions to the interconnected challenges of poverty, health care access and climate change.