AFTAH in the News: from WorldNetDaily: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=346825
FAITH UNDER FIRE
PayPal blacklists Christian writer
Online activist told friends must find another way to support his ministry
Posted: September 21, 2011
8:41 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2011 WND
"Relax," says a PayPal website. "Pay friends & family in seconds with PayPal." After all, it's the "easy way to send money in seconds." No checks, no ATMs, no envelopes and stamps, just click the button on your computer.
That is, of course, unless you and your friends teach the biblical perspective that homosexuality is not acceptable for Christians and is a sin.
Then you get a note from the money-transfer giant that you are being investigated. Another note follows shortly later that your account is being closed and PayPal will hold the money for 180 days, and then return it to you. But you don't have any access to it any longer.
Those are the circumstances that have developed with Christian activist Julio Severo, who posts writings online on his international Last Days Watchman blog, teaching Christian values and alerting readers to anti-Christian influences worldwide.
In his case, PayPal, on the heels of an online campaign by homosexuals demanding that Christians such as Severo be denied the use of the PayPal system, sent an email announcing an "investigation."
Then PayPal executives dispatched an email explaining that because of "legal and regulatory constraints," the company is "unable to process donation payments for non-registered charities and non-profit organizations; political party/organizations; religious institutions; personal/organizational fundraisers, etc. …"
"This is not a decision we make lightly, and we deeply regret any inconvenience or frustration this matter may cause you," wrote "Sugar" from the PayPal Compliance Department.
"Your remaining account balance will be held in your PayPal account for 180 days from the date your account was limited. After 180 days, you will be notified via e-mail with information on how to receive your remaining funds."
The message included a link to the company's user agreement that explained transactions couldn't involve any violation of the law, sales of narcotics or "items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance," obscenity, ponzi schemes, fraud, illegal tobacco or gambling.
It said charity donations need "pre-approval."
But it said nothing, however, about stopping friends from sending money to friends.
"PayPal says that it does not allow the use of its service for activities that promote hatred, violence or racial intolerance, but its action against my account was spurred by a hate campaign by gay activists wanting to shut down my account," Severo told WND. "I am very worried, because PayPal caved in to gay militants and their hate campaign to have me excluded from PayPal."
He explained, "I use PayPal to pay essential services to me and my family. And we are in a very limited situation, because we are away from Brazil because of gay and government persecution. Our resources are limited. And now under pressure of my persecutors, PayPal is making sure that my ways to receive donations may be even more limited and hard.
"Millions of individuals use PayPal to receive money. Why cannot I receive too?"
He said he is a pro-family leader who is a Christian.
"I am not a charity. I am only a Christian individual with a wife and four little children," he said. "I wonder if PayPal will shut down the accounts of the homosexual militants who launched the hate campaign."
PayPal refused to respond to email and telephone message requests from WND for comment on the closure of Severo's account. A PayPal employee who instructed WND that he be identified only as "spokesman" told WND earlier that the company will crack down on anyone it decides has "incited hatred, violence or intolerance because of a person's sexual orientation."
The spokesman, who insisted the company recognizes free-speech rights the rights of free speech, said he wouldn't comment on "any specific accounts."
But others weren't hesitant to express their opinion. Don Hank, who runs the Laigle's Forum website, said, "This is war. … PayPal is now official the enemy of traditional Christianity."
"Look folks," he continued, "this business of being registered … is bogus. Registered? With whom? Julio is not in the U.S. and may not need to register in the country in which he is located."
"Julio really needs your help now. If you want to donate, let me know and I can work out details of how to send him donations. (Moneygram and Western Union are probably good options, until they decide to join the Anti-Christ too!."
He said there are Christians to say, "Pray but do nothing to help."
"That's not me. Can't do it. Won't do it. Believe it is contrary to the Word of God. It's like that parable: if a son asks his father to give him a fish, will he give him a stone? … My method is: Pray as hard as you can, fight as hard as you can, give as much as you can," he said.
It took only minutes after Severo's confirmation of the PayPal action that his supporters were circulating one of many discussions on alternative payment processes to PayPal.
And an attorney from Europe said it was an outrageous display of discrimination based on beliefs.
In a terse memo to PayPal, Austrian lawyer Inge Boening told the company, "I am deeply shocked by the thoughtless and over-hasty decision to bow to heterophobic hate groups, which is utterly insensitive to, and therefore has to be considered a continuation of, the history of persecution of religious people in general and, together with Jews, Christians in particular.
"In such a situation of vicious mobbing conducted by hate groups against religious people your guiding light should have been a clear and unmistakable stance against persecution," Boening wrote.
"This could have been PayPal's great chance to show the world that, as a global provider of payments in a diverse world, you maintain neutrality as regards content of the expressions of free speech exercised by whoever be your customers, setting a precedent that political action should focus on fact-based debate rather than bullying and attempts to destroy one's political opponent economically.
"However, by kow-towing before the lobby against free speech, you have missed this opportunity to emphasize neutrality. From now on you must be considered primarily an instrument of suppression of freedom rather than merely a payment services provider."
Boening wrote that her course is clear; if confirmation that PayPal has reversed itself does not arrive, she will cancel her account "and will encourage others to do the same."
When WND reported just days ago on the "investigation" that resulted from an online campaign of "hate" against a list of Christian organizations, it was noted that Peter LaBarbera's "Americans for Truth" also got a notice of investigation from PayPal. His ministry, like Severo's, is unabashedly Christian, and both deal directly with the biblical perspective of homosexuality.
At the time, a campaign by the AllOut.org website was actively stirring up intolerance toward the Christians and was demanding that PayPal stop allowing them access to its services.
The online campaign criticized "anti-LGBT extremists" who are using PayPal to raise money for "their dangerous cause."
It put bull's-eyes on Severo and LaBarbera as well as Abiding Truth Ministries, New Generation Ministries, Noua Dreapta of Romania, Truth in Action Ministries, Dove World Outreach, Faith Word Baptist Church, Family Research Institute and American Society for the Defense of Tradition[al Family.
At least one of those organizations, Truth in Action, said the AllOut campaign was seriously flawed from the beginning, because it never has had any business relationship with PayPal.
AllOut alleges those groups promote "hate."
But Severo contended at the time that the opposite is true.
"I want you to know that we Christians love homosexuals, but we disagree with their immoral lifestyles," he told PayPal.
Severo said AllOut also is working on Facebook, Twitter and through emails to pressure PayPal to censor his religious beliefs.
LaBarbera told WND his organization has not received subsequent notifications from PayPal yet. But he said he was well aware of the "hate-Christians" campaign that was being assembled online to apply pressure to PayPal.
The issue seems to contradict some of PayPal's own policy statements, which encourage people to offer donations for benevolent ventures:
"Use PayPal on microplace to empower people to start a business and work their way out of poverty. Your investment will make a difference in the lives of the world's working poor. It's the smart way to do good in the world. And with PayPal, you can also make a gift to your favorite non-profit organization by donating money using your PayPal account."
The company also says PayPal "is the faster way to send money to friends and family. And if you use just your bank or PayPal balance, it's free."
Further, PayPal claims it "isn't just for shopping."
"Use PayPal to send money via e-mail (or even cell phone) to almost anyone in 190 markets and 24 currencies – all you need is their email address. It's perfect for splitting the check, paying the babysitter, or sending money as a gift."
The company even offers various tools to "readily create fundraising marketplaces that tap into the wisdom of the crowd to identify worthy projects. … PayPal handles the money flow behind the scenes."
A PayPal user who contacted the company about its denial of service to Severo was rebuffed.
"Niamh" at PayPal wrote, "Thank you for contacting PayPal regarding PayPal preventing a customer for (sic) using our service. I have reviewed your account and email and can confirm that due to Data Protection I am unable to comment on a third party account."
LifeSiteNews.com already has created an online petition in support of the Christian websites and ministries that says, "I protest the attack by homosexual organizations on Christian activists Julio Severo, Americans for Truth About Homosexualty (AFTAH), and Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP). I encourage PayPal to affirm the right of pro-family organizations to use its service and to reject attacks on the Christian faith and other religions that uphold sexual morality and defend family values."
According to LaBarbera, the issue is that homosexual activists no longer are content to merely live their lifestyle; they now are demanding that people with biblical perspectives with which they disagree be shut down.
"They want dominance even if it means smearing pro-family people as 'haters' and destroying our cherished religious freedoms," he said.
WND reported earlier when Severo confirmed his website had been under surveillance by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, even though the government declined to respond to questions about the situation.
WND also reported when a similar series of attacks were generated against online ministries and groups that discuss the danger of Islam.
PayPal reportedly cut off several accounts because of concerns about their message of truth about Islam, then restored them a short time later.
Popular activist, author and blogger Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, who has also been involved in founding the Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, reported getting intimidating letters from PayPal that claimed the websites "promote hate" and "racial intolerance."
According to Geller, PayPal sent her letters explaining the websites had violated the company's policy, which bans use of PayPal for items that "promote hate, violence, racial intolerance or the financial exploitation of a crime."
To comply, Geller reports, she was required to remove PayPal as a payment option from her websites, as well as all references to the company, its logo and shopping-cart features.
She later reported an executive with the company called and explained the decision was in error and that financial services to the websites could resume.
WND also reported when the Charitable Give Back Group, formerly known as the Christian Values Network, reported activists were working online to gather signatures and scare customers away because of the Christian message.