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Google Won't Give Churches Same Break It Gives Other Non-Profits

Ken Shepherd's picture

The company whose unofficial motto is "Don't Be Evil," apparently has a new commandment: Thou shalt not give discounts to churches.

Tech giant Google has an entire suite of software, Google Apps,that it offers for businesses and non-profits. It used to be that Google offered the software, including GMail, for free or at a discount for non-profits, including churches.

But back in March, the company changed the policy such that the non-profit discount would not apply to  "any organization that considers religion or sexual orientation in hiring decisions" or that proselytizes, Christianity Today reporter Matt Branaugh noted on Wednesday (emphases mine):

Brian Young had big plans for his church's IT strategy. But his vision suffered a serious setback this summer after Google Inc. altered its nonprofit program to prohibit all churches and religious organizations from participating.

For years, the search and software giant individually offered some of its products—including its office software and popular Gmail—for free or discounted use to qualifying nonprofits. Eligibility requirements varied by product, but churches and faith-based groups were welcome to use some.

All of that changed in mid-March when the company launched "Google for Nonprofits." The new initiative united a robust set of Google's tools into one program, but it also came with new guidelines that excluded numerous entities, including schools, political thinktanks, churches, proselytizing groups, and any organization that considers religion or sexual orientation in hiring decisions.

The shift caught church leaders like Young by surprise. As the IT director for Living Hope Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Young spent two months researching Google for Nonprofits before applying on July 12. A rejection e-mail arrived the next day.

Young had originally planned to unify 50 paid staff members and 270 volunteers with customized Gmail and office software; distribute video of Sunday services through a premium YouTube channel; beam live feeds of faraway missionaries using Google Video; and map locations of service projects and missionaries with Google Earth. He expected the 3,000-member church would also use Google AdWords (up to $10,000 worth) included in the program.

"There were so many things for nonprofits that were going to benefit us," said Young. "We just wanted to use them."

Disappointed by the rejection, Living Hope scaled back its plans and paid $2,500 ($50 per user) to use Google's office software and Gmail for one year. Young is happy with the products, but also unhappy that he'll have fewer capabilities—and fewer remaining budget dollars to aid his church's social ministries.

Tim Postuma, council chairman of a 418-member church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, expects the same scenario to play out for other churches. "That $50 per user is going to be a problem, especially for smaller churches with limited resources," he said. Overall, he supports Google but said the company is "missing the mark here."


Google won't disclose how many religious-affiliated organizations already participate. Nick Nicholaou, founder of MBS Inc., a provider of IT and accounting services to churches for 25 years, said, "It probably doesn't number in the thousands. It probably numbers in the hundreds." The reason: Many churches haven't adopted an IT strategy, leaving it up to individual staff members to choose a service such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft's Hotmail.

While church leaders may be startled by Google's changes, corporations often exclude faith-based groups from their philanthropic programs or restrict who can qualify, said Lloyd Mayer, a professor at Notre Dame Law School. He said Google is "trying to avoid anything that would reflect negatively on them" by avoiding potentially polarizing causes that might alienate customers.

Such exclusions are generally legal, even if ill-advised, said Stuart Lark, an attorney specializing in nonprofits and religious organizations with Holme, Roberts & Owen in Colorado Springs. But he noted that similar exclusions from public facilities or benefits may be unlawful religious discrimination.


#1 Google along with the rest of

Google along with the rest of the losers ( literally ) in the Obama regime can google this......finger pointing down.

#2 ~Precisely what is that supposed to mean?

I don't happen to have a microscope handy; perhaps you could be more specific.

Obama's WTF 2012 campaign slogan: "A dog in every pot"

#3 Apple doesn't give to Charities, why should Google?

The sign of the times. Corporations are allowed to do whatever they want. Speak with your wallet. Don't support Google or any other corporation you deem unworthy of your hard earned dollars.


"Isn't it pretty to think that way?"-EH

#4 Don't support 50 time retreads like syrius.

They are unworthing of your hard earned time.

#5 ~He's always had a hate-on for corporations

He can't resist letting it slip even when he's trying to fly under the radar.

Obama's WTF 2012 campaign slogan: "A dog in every pot"

#6 No hate here.

Just commenting on the thread. If you don't like the practices of a corporation, don't support it. That's it.

Thanks for the attention to you both. My own fan club.


"Isn't it pretty to think that way?"-EH

#7 izznotta trollix. Honext. Juz pozzin' funniz poztz mizzer.

Yeah, it ain't the trollin'. It is the word bullies that are the problem with every troll evah. They troll and follow trolls around and post words on public websites. So it is on you word bullies. You are mean to the trolls and that ain't right.

So you better listen you damn word bullies. The trolls WILL turn it around and make it all about you and your words that hurt and how YOU are the problem not them. You is hater. Not trollies. You are stalkers and you follow trollies around and reply to their posts. STOP IT. Trollies have a RIGHT to troll. So you stop replying to trolls because in trollietown that is called STALKING.

#8 As for supporting corporations...

I love my iPhone4 and love filling up my SUV with wholesome American Gasoline! Vrooom!


"Isn't it pretty to think that way?"-EH

#9 American Gasoline


Seek Truth, Defend Liberty

#10 I bet Mosques get the discount

Google hates Christians.

#11 I use to be a christian. I

I use to be a christian. I am now a muslim because I hate the type of extremist gutter gays now in control of the gay community and the media/entertainment industry. When we muslims have a majority, there will be hell to pay by the gays! Rest assured they will be dealt with in the proper muslim way.

Allah Akbar!

#12 buddyc

Are you serious?

Proud member of the 53%!

#13 Google Had Better Be Fair About This

Google needs to be carefully watched to make certain that the same restrictions are fairly applied to any and all Muslim/Islamic affiliated organizations. There should be no wiggle room available to Google on this. If such turns out not to be the case, then Google should be sued by every religious organization that is affected by this blatant discrimination. Christians should be way beyond turning the other cheek in instances such as this . . . after all, we certainly ran out of cheeks a LONG time ago!

#14 Any room for another search engine to fill the void

Google is clearly the leader. I have been trying to use Yahoo, but the search engine is just not as good. I do use Yahoo for my email though.

It woudl be nice to see Google's leftist bias marginalize them enough to allow other services an opportunity to capitalize.

I'd like to thank Hollywood for renewing my interest in reading.

#15 I know it's Microsoft,

but I like using as my search engine. Don't like anything Yahoo, especially their "news" pages.

"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong." Abraham Lincoln

#16 It makes perfect sense

I mean, just imagine what someone might think if they overheard you saying to your friend, "I googled Bob last night." Or worse, "I googled Anthony Weiner."

What about Elmhurst College? They ask about sexual orientation to new students.

Exit question: Will Google offer free Gman service to pedophiles to help them overcome the stigma of pedophilia?

#17 Who needs Google software? If you want FREE office

software (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more) than OpenOffice, software that resides on your computer rather than online, fits the bill. The more you support Google, the more you support Liberals and Democrats.

#18 The age of economic

The age of economic gangsterism is upon us.
I terminated time warner years ago.
I cancelled Showtime.
I have eliminated all the google stuff I can find on my computers.
I took a summer trip to Michigan and Wisconsin this year instead of Washington and Oregon.

Google is owned and controlled by the gutter gays. The radical, take no prisoners, extreme, end of the gay spectrum.

I would hope everyone who opposes this type of gangsterism will stop using google products.

#19 Free Enterprise not so free

I'd choose something else to use then, sorry Brian that your budget got hit hard but Google (and Facebook, etc.) are not altruistic in the least. Best that your congregation keep it's communications and documents safe from the unbounded googlesphere.

#20 In 1920s - 30s Germany, some Jews could see where things were..

...heading, and took it upon themselves to flee the country.

Most didn't, however, and the vast majority that remained not only offered no real resistance as things deteriorated, but didn't really get it until they got off the cattle trains, walked through the doors beneath the signs that said "SHOWER ROOM," and heard said door slamming shut behind them.

I just hope that when our time comes, we do a much better job of resisting.

And far sooner in the process, too.

We are living in a time, right here in America itself, where incidents of open hostility, bigotry, and discrimination against Christians is on the increase - not just on the part of private industry, but on the part of government at all levels.

How many blog posts have we seen here at NB just over the last several days that clearly demonstrate the hostility of those on the left toward Christians in general?

How many more pronouncements from Big Sis - a government official, that white Christian males pose the largest terrorist threat to America do we have to hear before we start paying attention?


Vote for the American in November

#21 Those terrible Christians

Look at how those religious Christians support their communities, running food banks, hospitals, and other such outrageous activities. Look at awful Christians like the Duggar family who go to different areas of the country and the world to perform service for others. Why would any corporation like google want to help them?

Proud member of the 53%!

#22 I don't know whether to

I don't know whether to believe the author or call the church "IT" guy a moron. I set up new Google Apps accounts, on an almost weekly basis. Google Apps "Standard" is free. What's the problem?

#23 Looks like you are

.......trying to sneak in some" free" advertising in your post.

#24 Google should ban itself

Google should ban itself then.
It is proselytizing banning anyone who does not believe as they do.

#25 Religious Organizations have to pay

Are the islamic mosques and the imams included in this SNAFU, or are the muslims and their buildings considered as non-profit groups? Inquiring minds wish to know since BO and google are tied at the hip.

#26 Liberal Fascism

This is a very clear example of liberal fascism in action. Google is denying to some non-profits what it offers to other "acceptable" non-profits because of policy disagreements. While that is certainly Google's right or prerogative, they need to be ready to suffer the consequences of their choices of action.

On a personal note, the more I find out about Google, the more concern I have with them.


If you want to know what liberal secular progressives are really doing, just listen to what they are accusing others of.

Recommended reading: Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg

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