Wednesday, February 16, 2011

United Pentecostal Church International Doctrine: Computers & the Internet

Hello everyone!  About a week and a half ago I did a review of one of Antioch's church services (see:  "Antioch Pentecostal Church:  Arnold, Maryland Congregation").  Antioch is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church International and this afternoon I took some time to look at their position statements on some issues (which they call their doctrine).  The condensed version can be found at  I would like to go down the list of topics the UPCI have included and inject my point of view.  However, I am only going to do one or two  positions a day, so I will have post topics for the next week and a half or so.  When I state the position paper that I am responding to in the post:  go to the aforementioned website; click on the topic that I will give in the title verbatim; lastly, click on Full Article.  These posts will be kept brief so I can still focus on my studies while still publishing posts with some substance.  I hope you enjoy this mini series!

Computers & the Internet

Overall, this position paper gives generally good advice on how to maintain a safe, Internet friendly environment for children to be apart of.  Sadly, I believe that the advice given in this article is aimed towards Pentecostal adults as well.  The author uses fear mongering to sway the readers from accessing "lewd, pornographic, [and] dangerous" webpages that are ill-defined.  I am curious what webpages the author would classify as lewd or dangerous (and I am not going to speculate), but, leaving that aside, I do not see anything inherently immoral or wrong about adults viewing adult pornography.  Could somebody please tell me what is so wrong about viewing sexually explicit material (yes, even hardcore pornography)?  Also, saying, "Many people have been unwittingly snared into corruption by participating in [chat rooms and e-mails]" is just as idiotic as me saying, "Many people have been unwittingly snared into becoming pedophiles by participating in the Christian religion."  Perhaps this is a horrible analogy because of the frequency the clergy practices pederasty, but the point is that just because it has happens once doesn't mean that many e-mail/chat room users will be "snared into corruption".  The author is trying to scare the reader from something that just isn't there. 

The position paper goes on to list five guidelines to "monitor the access and use of the Internet."  I will address each of the five below:
  1. Placement of the computer
For young children I would say that the author gives good advice.  Parents, at some level, should casually monitor the websites their children are browsing.  However, when the child is older, what constitutes the "wrong use" of the computer?  I was fairly lucky in the breath of websites I was allowed to view, but I feel I was restricted too much in the amount of time I was allowed to be online.  The Internet is one of the best tools for young people to learn.  Books definitely have their place in the development of children seeking knowledge, but, in contrast, the Internet allows the child to skip around the Internet to learn about whatever topic they wish.  My knowledge of counter-apologetics and religious studies comes from this type of learning.

    2.   Blocking software

Again, good advice for families with children, but bad for adolescents.

    3.   Shared passwords

Good advice

    4.    Log of visited sites

Evaluations of the websites for children view once they are maturing is a bit excessive.  I would want my child to feel like he/she is entitled to view whatever interests them, albeit pornography, Christianity, Nazism, civil rights movements, homeopathy, etc.  I learn this way and find it to be beneficial.  I don't want to make excuses and have parent to child "talks" on topics I am not comfortable in having yet.  I may have a conversation with my child about what he/she may find on the Internet, however I would let them make their own decisions on what they want to view.  In addition, it is none of my business what my child views.  Of course I would always be there to talk to them about whatever they would like, but I won't try to sway them towards anything; even atheism.  The beauty about being a skeptic and holding rational beliefs, you aren't afraid of someone doing too much research on the subject.  There is a reason why churches encourage their own versions of science classes and restrict children from the information found on the Internet.

    5.   Time-Consuming

Moderately good advice, however I think that my amount of "too much time spent on the Internet" and their amount are radically different.

The last paragraph is a bunch of nonsense.  Stop being afraid of "your people" to go out and learn about other points of view.  What are you scared of if your church is already the correct path?  Shouldn't it be obvious even if your children and you learn about other views?  I am worried that there might be kids out there that won't be able to learn about evolution, skepticism, science, critical thinking, and atheism for the sole reason that their family is keeping them insulated from these things.  Whether or not they accept them is a different matter, but they should at least be able to learn about them.

Thanks for reading!  E-mail me at or leave a comment below if you have any questions or you disagree!  Also, inform me on whether or not you enjoyed this type of post!  Have a great day!

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