Digital Public Square

Ethics and Religion in a Technological Society

Ethics for a Digital Age

Championing free speech and religious freedom in an increasingly polarized society

The digital age promised deep connections, rich communication, and more access to information than we could ever imagine. But while technology has brought incredible benefits and conveniences into our lives, it also has led to countless unintended consequences and deep ethical challenges that push us to consider how to live out our faith in a technological society.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is launching a new research project called the “Digital Public Square.” This project will provide resources to help you navigate this digital age and think through complex and crucial ethical challenges with biblical wisdom and insight.

The “Digital Public Square” will include leaders from across society who will answer questions like: What is the proper role of government in digital governance? How do I disciple others if they are being primarily shaped by technology? How do we champion free speech and religious freedom in an increasingly polarized society?

The ERLC will produce numerous resources for the church, business community, and government leaders on how to navigate the challenges of the digital public square in a way that upholds free expression and religious freedom, as well as contributes to a more civil and constructive public discourse across ideological and religious viewpoints. The project will focus on issues of Christian ethics — including the public nature of faith, religious freedom, hate speech/violence, seuxality/gender issues, pornography, objectionable content, misinformation, digital authoritarianism, and issues of discipleship in the digital age.

Frequently Asked Questions

Led by Jason Thacker, chair of research in technology ethics and director of the ERLC Research Institute, as well as members of the ERLC research and policy teams, this project will include top thinkers and leaders from across disciplines and sectors of society. Researchers will work alongside policy makers, technologists, ethicists, pastors/church leaders, philosophers, lawyers, government leaders, and more to produce a body of research into the pressing issues of technology ethics focused on digital governance, free expression, religious freedom, and content moderation.

The Digital Public Square project is funded in two ways. First, through the generous and sacrificial giving of Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in order to address the key question of Christian ethics in our society. Second, after work on this project was well underway, a research grant was also generously provided by Facebook Technologies, LLC to enhance these efforts. This research grant was provided on an unrestricted basis, meaning the grant monies will be used at sole discretion of the ERLC leadership team and board of trustees without any direct or indirect oversight by Facebook in research efforts nor any influence on project outcomes or resources produced. The grant is primarily used to underwrite the costs of various communication elements, resourcing, convening, and research material. All materials produced in this research project will be copyrighted to the ERLC and/or the individuals contributing.

Various resources will be produced over the year-long research period, including a state of digital governance report, an evangelical statement of principles on content moderation and digital governance, a church resource kit, and two published resources for trade and academic audiences. Other assets will include podcast interviews, short- and long-form articles, and video resources across ERLC channels.

The best way to stay up to date on the project and resources is by signing up below for the WeeklyTech Newsletter, which is a weekly resource highlighting ERLC resources on issues in the digital public square and the latest technology news. This newsletter will also be the primary means of communication for project updates, announcements, and various events. If you would like to contribute to the project or research efforts, please email [email protected]