Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Birmingham Council bans atheist websites

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Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

I'm a bit late with this one as I was away on Monday and Tuesday, but I see Birmingham City Council have caused a bit of a fuss by blocking employees from accessing websites relating to atheism.

Apparently the idea was to stop employees wasting time on websites unrelated to local bureaucracy, but council chiefs seem to have taken the opportunity to filter out a few "undesirable" topics – as well as atheism they've blocked sites promoting witchcraft, the paranormal, sexual deviancy and criminal activity.

For bloggers like myself this poses two problems – firstly I have to hope a sizeable chunk of my readers don't work for Birmingham Council, and secondly while I don't mind being lumped in with witches, devil worshippers and ghost hunters, I'm not too sure about sexual deviants.

The council hasn't stopped workers looking at sites relating to the major world religions, and the National Secular Society has threatened legal action. As the BBC explained, "under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their religion or belief, which includes atheism."

For my own part I thought I'd put up a poll, as it's a while since we've had one. If you worked for Birmingham council, how would you deal with the blocking of atheist websites?
  • Support legal action - this is outright discrimination
  • Write a letter to local and national newspapers
  • Resign immediately
  • Do some work
  • Become a Christian - that way I can continue to while away the day on the internet without my favourite sites getting blocked
  • Join with the witches, Satanists and sexual deviants to form a bizarre and terrifying new cult
  • Set a topless picture of Christopher Hitchens as my desktop background
  • Personally I support this action. Atheism in the workplace must be crushed
Vote at the top right of this page

3 comments:

Mike said...

While I very much doubt this was a deliberate act on the part of the Council, they should be called to account for treating atheism in this way.

I'm sure they would say employees should not be using the internet for personal use, BUT this should apply equally to all religions and beliefs if so.

I work for a council and don't spend time surfing the net though I do have to do some on-line research. I often hit something it says is blocked - e.g. when looking into legislation about equality and sexuality. Sometimes its hard to figure out why its blocked.

One thing is certain though - council employees are generally held far more to account for personal use of computers than employees in many other sectors and as much as people like to criticise public workers sometimes a pretty high standard is maintained in Local Government.

The Heresiarch said...

Don't worry. I put this site through the Blue Coat filter system and it came up as "news/media". See my article.

Anonymous said...

I work for Birmingham council (found this site looking for some council information) and can see this site fine, seems a bit unfounded to me.