Church United pastor James Domen has filed a lawsuit against video-sharing website Vimeo after it shut down his account for uploading videos supporting conversion therapy. The lawsuit said that Vimeo deleted his account for posting five videos about "religion and sexual orientation" but alleged that the video sharing company did it to silence the pastor, who himself was a "former homosexual."
"Church United's account was deleted in an effort to censor James Domen from speaking about his preferred sexual orientation and his religious beliefs," the lawsuit said, as per the New York Post. Domen admitted that he spent "three years" as a gay man before deciding to be heterosexual.
"Because of his desire to pursue his faith in Christianity, he began to identify as a former homosexual," the court documents read. "Through Church United, he shares his experience with other pastors and helps pastors counsel others that are on their own journey toward a heterosexual identity through a biblical perspective and a Christian worldview."
Domen's organization hasd posted up to 89 videos until November 2018, when they received an email notifying them that their content violated Vimeo's policy, which prohibits videos "that promote Sexual Orientation Change Efforts," the video sharing website said. On December 6, 2018, Church United's Vimeo account was taken down.
The court papers sayt the organization was not provided with an explanation that distinguishes their "videos relating to sexual orientation, testimonials, events relating to sexual orientation" and "thousands of similar videos related to LGBTQ and sexual orientation." This led them to the conclusion that Church United was merely being restricted and censored by Vimeo.
The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in California and was moved to a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday. Domen is seeking $75,000 and additional damages and says Vimeo violated his free speech rights.
"We're hopeful the court will see the injustice, the discrimination done to me as a former homosexual," Domen told Intercessors for America (IFA). He added that his case is just another of the many examples of how Big Tech is using Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 1996, which protects social media platforms from free speech requirements that more traditional media outlets such as newspapers and broadcast news abide by.
Pastor Ché Ahn, a senior pastor at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, backed up Domen on his journey to seek justice. In 2021, Ahn filed a lawsuit against California for closing down his congregation due to COVID restrictions, but won and was awarded $1.35 million in a settlement.
"This unconstitutional discrimination betrays political and ideological biases, targeting Pastor Domen based on his expression of faith, religious views, and sexual orientation," Ahn remarked. "It is imperative that we join forces to push back against the cancel culture that is trying to silence law-abiding citizens, who espouse a different worldview than what the mainstream culture endorses."