Having apparently resolved all the challenges and troubles facing the mainline church denominations, the National Council of Churches (NCC), the standard-bearer of modern ecumenism in the United States, has set its sights on a new issue—a matter of injustice that tears at the very fabric of our nation. An issue that, even in these times of economic distress and international conflict, deserves the full attention of the federal government.
Of course, I’m talking about Internet inequality.
The NCC has joined a coalition of religious groups in launching a campaign to promote “media justice” and high-speed internet service for all. The coalition, “So We Might See,” has kicked off its inaugural campaign with the help of “Betty Broadband,” an animated character who is unable to get broadband service for her new computer. A video featuring Betty proclaims that “Broadband communication is a fundamental right.”
"People of faith have been at the forefront of significant legal battles to advocate and safeguard media-related policies that affect children, women and people of color," proclaims Wesley Pattillo, NCC program director for justice, advocacy and communication. "The formation of this media-focused religious coalition is an important next step in concretizing our shared commitment to media justice." Unclear from the press release is exactly how this affects children, women, and people of color disproportionately.
The coalition (which includes a group called Mennonite Media—who knew?) urges the Federal Communications Commission to release a comprehensive “broadband plan” by the end of the year.
Here’s hoping the federal government responds promptly to this national tragedy. Until the day when we can all waste countless hours on Facebook, I say, “No broadband, no peace!”