'First We Pray, Then We Organize' The Unlikely Coalition for Net Neutrality

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[Commentary] On Tuesday, July 28th, a diverse group of faith leaders and advocates posted the same video on the Twitter and Facebook feeds of more than one million people. Backers of the video came from a wide range of civil rights causes -- racial justice, LGBTQ equality, economic justice, religious pluralism and more. What's the unlikely hashtag that unites them? #NetNeutrality. The new video from Faithful Internet shows how the open Internet has become the lifeblood of today's social movements -- #BlackLivesMatter, #99Percent, #LoveWins and more. It celebrates the 2015 Open Internet Order for codifying #netneutrality -- the principle that has kept the Internet free from undue corporate control. The Open Internet Order protects the Internet as the prophetic platform of the 21st century -- a place where we communicate, create and organize freely. Specifically, it bans carriers like Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down websites, or charging sites extra fees to reach people faster. That means Americans have an equal chance of being heard online. As a Sikh American, I have come to understand acutely that marginalized communities like my own cannot fight for equality and dignity without reaching audiences online. I'm not alone.

The call to action is urgent. As we speak, big carriers like Comcast and Verizon are lobbying Congress hard to override rules that protect net neutrality. This month, Congress is considering an appropriations bill that would undo the Open Internet Order. And this week, carriers are filing briefs in a lawsuit to kill the Order entirely. A delegation will deliver the video and a list of supporters to the Congressional Black Caucus tomorrow, urging lawmakers who care about social justice to vote their conscience. Because Internet freedom is what makes other movements possible. If you want a world where #BlackLivesMatter, if you proclaim #Not1More or #LoveWins, if you want dignity for #Sikhs and #Muslims and the #99Percent, then #NetNeutrality is your cause too.

[Valarie Kaur is an interfaith leader, lawyer, and filmmaker]


'First We Pray, Then We Organize' The Unlikely Coalition for Net Neutrality