Proper Use of Information Communication Technologies
We affirm that the right to communicate and to access information is a basic human right, essential to human dignity and to a just and democratic society.
Our understanding of communication is grounded in Scripture. God is a communicating God.
Christians believe that the creation of the world is rooted in the spoken Word of God.
God made all persons in the divine image. God created the world and all living things for relationship.
The Bible is the inspired Word of God about communication and a God who created the world and all living things for relationship.
The biblical account of the tower of Babel presents a classic example of the integral relationship between communication and being human.
This theme repeats itself in the story of Pentecost, the birthplace of the church. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and in communion with God and one another, the people of God spoke and heard the divine message of God in their own languages. We acknowledge that every right brings with it responsibilities. The whole community-owners, managers and consumers-is responsible for the functioning of communication in society.
Christians have an obligation to advocate that mass media and communication technologies are operated to serve the public good rather than merely commercial interests.
Most peoples of the world have no access to even the most rudimentary communication technologies-telephones, radio--much less the digital, satellite, and other technologies that are rapidly expanding in the developing world.
These technologies allow their owners to manage information and resources at increasingly remote distances from the local cultures and economies affected. The instantaneous nature of global data transmission means that economic powers often have access to information before others do. The global-technological nature of the economy gives tremendous fiscal power to these same developed world and transnational interests.
This system works to advance the cause of the global market and promote commercial values aimed only at profit, often neglecting the aspects of communication and culture that promote the common good. Media companies, as producers and carriers of information, have a far-reaching effect on value formation.
Issues of justice in local and national development cannot be addressed without a consciousness of the role of communication, nor can any people do so without the tools with which to make their views known.
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) offer enormous benefits. They enable global contact and, when made available for human uses and to address human needs, can significantly enhance life, development, and global consciousness.
Such uses will not become widespread unless concrete enabling steps are taken. Therefore the church's voice is crucial.
The church continues its mission and ministry amid this enormous revolution in communication.
The church quickly embraced the first communication revolution, the invention of the printing press, and used the printed word to disseminate the written word and to teach literacy to millions who were otherwise considered unfit to learn, empowering them to fully engage in the world.
The education of his neighbors was a matter close to John Wesley's heart, and his efforts gave many the education necessary to read and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and to interpret the events of their world in the light of the gospel.
The Church carries a responsibility for helping its members achieve media literacy, not only to read and understand the gospel but also to discern from the flood of information an understanding of the events of our world today. Citizens cannot get responsible political information without media literacy. The current media revolution challenges all people to resist becoming mere consumers of messages that are created and controlled by a relatively small number of super-powerful transnational media corporations.
Media technologies have great potential to bind the world together, when not beholden entirely to transnational commercial interests.
Therefore, The United Methodist Church commits to:
A. Change of the Church
- Encourage leaders to preach and teach about the impact of media on the quality of life and values of individuals and society and to suggest ways congregations and individuals can both work with the positive forces and resist the negative.
- Use the available ICTs of local churches and other UMC entities to provide training in communication technologies to persons in their communities, particularly children, youth, and the poor, so that they might become active creators of story and culture rather than simply passive consumers.
- Assist members of United Methodist churches, our clergy, seminarians, and those who serve in the Church to become literate and committed to using ICTs for ministry and advocacy. As part of becoming aware of the power of the media, we particularly suggest the study of the Principles of Christian Communication developed by the World Association of Christian Communication.
- Encourage United Methodist institutions of higher education, particularly communication and theology faculties, to address societal communication issues.
- Reevaluate the church's work at every level of the United Methodist connection, including allocation of resources,
decisions about programs, ministries, and missions, in light of the vital need to affirm the dignity of all persons by ensuring them equal opportunity to be heard, to have voice in the shaping of the church and of the world, and to communicate their story.
B. Change of Society
- Devote serious attention to the economic, political, and cultural forces that constrain the press and other communication media, challenging the use of communication as a force that supports the powerful, victimizes the powerless, and marginalizes minority opinion.
- Use ICTs for acts of love that liberate.
- We will work to preserve the right to communication for oppressed and persecuted communities, to oppose efforts to deny citizens the right of information, and to develop communication technologies that can be used to protect children from exploitation and psychological harm.
- Advocate for uses of media and communication technologies that promote peace, understanding, cooperation and multiculturalism and oppose those uses of media that encourage violence, factionalism, militarism, and ethnic strife.
- Advocate for technologies that allow consumers to exclude unwanted commercial messages.
- Encourage the production and broadcast of independently owned media, particularly those of developing nations, which encompass artistic and entertainment programming as well as news and information.
C. Change of the World
- Develop methods to educate persons about the importance of communication as a basic right for all persons and advocate for public policies that promote fair and equitable access to ICTs through educational, advocacy, and communications ministries.
- Identify and eliminate the hindrances to communication technologies with a view toward assisting those without those technologies to acquire, access, and use them. In this context the Church supports the development of open source software (General Public License systems). Its availability in the public domain helps overcome some of the digital divide between the developed and developing countries.
- Work through annual conferences and the general boards and agencies with regional, national, and international bodies to provide support for such activities as:
- scholarships and training of persons, especially women, in developing countries in communication policy issues and communication management in order that they may be fully prepared to participate in planning for the communications policy, programs, and infrastructure in their respective nations;
- participation in communication efforts that offer alternatives to the mass media.
- Integrate sustained work for both domestic and global communications justice into current peace and justice advocacy agendas.
- Work through shareholder groups to persuade companies to respect nations' attempts to protect their cultural sovereignty.
Global communications justice, in the end, is about communication that is just and participatory, equitable and sustainable.
Resolution #362, 2004 Book of Resolutions
From The Book of Resolutions of The United MethodistChurch - 2008. Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission