Pastor says Facebook blocked his pro-life post for going against Community Standards

A smartphone user shows the Facebook application on his phoneREUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Facebook has been accused of blocking the pro-life post of a pastor who criticised New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over his newly passed late-term abortion bill.

Tim Mercaldo, the senior pastor of Gateway Church in Staten Island, New York, says he tried to post an open letter to his personal Facebook page expressing his grief and shock over the Reproductive Health Act, which lifts restrictions on abortions in the third trimester. 

In the letter, Pastor Mercaldo expressed his opinion that there is no right to abortion and pleaded with Mr Cuomo to reconsider the bill signed last week. 

'The termination of a fetus' life is not, nor can ever, be the "right" of a mother, or any person(s) for that matter,' he wrote.

He added: 'I have been a proud New Yorker all my life. This decision has left me not only grieved but ashamed. Please affirm and protect all human life, whether in the womb or near the tomb.'

After attempting several times to post the letter to his Facebook page, the pastor says he received messages from the social media giant allegedly saying that the content went against its Community Standards. 

He said on his Facebook page that his attempts to have the post reviewed by Facebook also went unanswered. 

'Here we go again... will not let this rest...I will continue to post the letter to the NY Gov. FB keeps flagging me with no response their review. Waiting...' he wrote. 

In another post, he defended the content of his letter, saying: 'There is nothing in the way my letter was written that a reasonable person would consider "hate speech" or even "offensive".'

He was defended by conservative radio host Todd Starnes, who said: 'Thank goodness there are pastors in New York who are not ashamed of standing up for the unborn and who are bold enough to speak truth to power.'

Cuomo angered pro-lifers when he signed the bill last week allowing abortion up to birth in certain circumstances and ordered major landmarks in New York City, including the One World Observatory, to be lit up pink in celebration. 

The new regulations led to calls for Cuomo, a Catholic, to be excommunicated.  The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, dismissed the calls, saying that it would be 'counterproductive'. 

Facebook has repeatedly been accused of blocking pro-life posts.  Last month, it was accused of rejecting posts promoting new pro-life movie Roe vs. Wade starring Jon Voigt. 

Facebook reportedly said the post was turned down because it contravened its new rules on 'issues of national importance'.

Last year, the makers of pro-life movie Gosnell, about the imprisoned late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, also said their attempts to advertise on the social media platform had been unsuccessful. 

In December, Facebook apologised to evangelist Franklin Graham after banning him from the site for 24 hours because of a 2016 post about bathroom access for transgender people. 

Graham accepted the apology but accused Facebook of censorship. 

'They're making the rules and changing the rules. Truth is truth. God made the rules and His Word is truth. Actually, Facebook is censoring free speech. The free exchange of ideas is part of our country's DNA,' he said.