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  • Council ban on atheist websites

    by Leon
    30th July, 2008 at 12:35 am    

    This is incredible:

    A city council has blocked its staff from looking at websites about atheism. Lawyers at the National Secular Society said the move by Birmingham City Council was “discriminatory” and they would consider legal action. The rules also ban sites that promote witchcraft, the paranormal, sexual deviancy and criminal activity.

    The city council declined to comment on the possible legal action, but said the new system helped make it easier for managers to monitor staff web access.

    The authority’s Bluecoat Software computer system allows staff to look at websites relating to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions but blocks sites to do with “witchcraft or Satanism” and “occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism”.

    So us atheists are no better than sexual deviants and Satanists according to Birmingham City Council?!

                  Post to

    Filed in: Civil liberties,Religion

    22 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Silent Hunter — on 30th July, 2008 at 1:36 am  

      What do you expect from a Labour run Council, especially one which actively promotes ‘ethnic faiths’ and practices such as ‘honour killings’ and religions which call for the execution of minority groups.

      I hope that the Birmingham City Councillors who thought up this little wheeze get their sorry backsides sued into the stratosphere for their pains.

    2. Sunny — on 30th July, 2008 at 3:19 am  

      I think its Conservative controlled.

    3. steve — on 30th July, 2008 at 9:45 am  

      Take them to court…especially the satanists, they would win.

    4. Letters From A Tory — on 30th July, 2008 at 9:51 am  

      This is absolutely appalling. Discrimination laws are there to protect people, yet we have this bunch of lunatics trying to wipe certain beliefs out of existence. Even in the absence of discrimination laws, employers should not be interfering with their staff’s working hours like this.

    5. Dave S — on 30th July, 2008 at 10:02 am  

      Birmingham has a slight Tory majority, see:

      After the local elections on 1 May 2008, there remains no overall control, with the 120 seats being divided between the Conservative (49 councillors), Labour, (36), Liberal Democrat (32) parties and Respect (3).

    6. douglas clark — on 30th July, 2008 at 10:31 am  


      Councils employ folk to do work. Not to surf the internet at taxpayers expense, except when it is work related. Though the discrimination here is obviously wrong, it is not clear that the answer is to widen access, it is rather to narrow it even further.

    7. Golam Murtaza — on 30th July, 2008 at 10:56 am  

      So, Birmingham City Council ‘actively promotes’ honour killings, does it? I’d be interested to see your evidence for that accusation, ‘Silent Hunter’.

    8. bananabrain — on 30th July, 2008 at 3:40 pm  

      i’d be interested to know how they’re going to ban mysticism without banning the rest of religion. what a load of arbitrary crap and, moreover, how dare they imply that any of these things (from atheism to witchcraft) are incompatible with being a council worker?? neo-pagans are entitled to chaplains in prison and in the armed services - this is 1000% discriminatory. and how, precisely, do they define what constitutes an “atheist” site?? this is soooo not their job to get involved in.



    9. Sid — on 30th July, 2008 at 3:49 pm  

      So us atheists are no better than sexual deviants and Satanists according to Birmingham City Council?!

      t’was ever thus.

    10. Avi Cohen — on 30th July, 2008 at 4:11 pm  

      BananaPoliceman - “this is 1000% discriminatory. and how, precisely, do they define what constitutes an “atheist” site?? this is soooo not their job to get involved in.”

      I see but its ok for you to question people’s Jewishness? It is ok for you to ask for ip addresses.

      Practise what you preach mate!

    11. persephone — on 30th July, 2008 at 4:24 pm  

      not clear from the link if it is the Council that has stated / decided which sites are blocked. Sometimes the way the s/w is programmed to block the undesired sites it also blocks other harmless sites. To tailor such s/w then costs alot of money

    12. sonia — on 30th July, 2008 at 4:42 pm  

      Ridiculous, (does that mean they will have to block PP as we discuss atheism quite a lot!) but this is part of the wider control issue of employers thinking they can restrict employees access to information on the internet and basically having that authoritarian hold over them.

      Its time we stopped being ‘employees’ which appears to be still synonymous with ‘slaves’.

    13. Leon — on 30th July, 2008 at 11:06 pm  

      Though the discrimination here is obviously wrong, it is not clear that the answer is to widen access

      I’m not arguing it should be widened just that it shouldn’t be bigoted like it appears to be.

    14. douglas clark — on 30th July, 2008 at 11:25 pm  


      I agree with you that it appears bigoted.

    15. Shuggy — on 31st July, 2008 at 12:39 am  

      Hmph! That’s nothing. Googled ‘The Rise of Hitler’ in school. The first link I clicked on was blocked by ‘Websense’. Category? ‘Racism/Hate’. I’m a fucking history teacher, for chrissake!

    16. Mangles — on 31st July, 2008 at 12:56 am  

      ‘So us atheists are no better than sexual deviants and Satanists according to Birmingham City Council?!’

      Need you ask ? lol

    17. Dave — on 31st July, 2008 at 5:41 am  

      Speaking relative to fairness, forbidding access to spiritual websites requires equal treatment across the board. There’s also the matter of the council member’s reason for being such if not to carry on the business of city council and not engage in surfing unrelated to such. The question might also be posed - is the surfer devoting equal or more time to this activity off the job or is it only at work? Considering 1/3 of the person’s day is employment, should he or she not be giving a day’s work for a day’s wages - possibly a better “witness” to an employer than robbing him by surfing and other extra-curricular activities? Oh yes, I’m a Christian. Dave.

    18. Ravi Naik — on 31st July, 2008 at 9:51 am  

      So us atheists are no better than sexual deviants and Satanists according to Birmingham City Council?!

      What makes you - as atheists - better than “sexual deviants” and “Satanists”? The real question is what makes believers better than atheists. It is outrageous that such censorship still exists.

    19. douglas clark — on 31st July, 2008 at 10:21 am  


      Naw. The whole bloody lot of them should be getting on with their jobs and not surfing the internet. If someone needs to access sites, like Shuggy up thread, then they should be given access, I’ve no problem with that. But otherwise, it’s just cheating on your employer, whether it’s religious, atheist or Satanist sites. It would support an arguement that Local Government is a tad over resourced, would it not?

    20. Golam Murtaza — on 31st July, 2008 at 10:22 am  

      I’d still like to see the evidence that clearly shows Birmingham City Council ‘actively promotes’ honour killings. Guess I’ll be waiting a while for that…

    21. bananabrain — on 1st August, 2008 at 11:44 am  


      i’m not interested in getting your ip address - i was asking the moderators to confirm something. i simply wanted to know why it was that suddenly a bunch of people who wrote like you, punctuated like you and shared your opinions popped up to support you. since i asked the question, i note none of them have returned. i draw my own conclusions - there is no need for me to “police” anything.

      the number of jews i have met - and i know a *lot* of people - that thought and wrote like you i could count on the fingers of one hand, although they are commonplace in extreme groups like “jews for justice for palestinians” and notably absent in groups like “alif-aleph”. on the other hand, your opinions are entirely consistent with those of the sort of person that pretends to be jewish online because they think that that way they will be allowed to make criticism of jews and israel that they wouldn’t be allowed to if they weren’t jewish. which, of course, is only another version of the unjustified complaint that “jews get special treatment”, heard most often from the sort of groups that think they ought to get special treatment. either way, the criticism should be judged on its own merits, not the origins of the poster. i should say that i am not 100% sure that this is what is going on here, but i’m clearly not the only one who thinks so. the whole thing smacks of the assumption that jews are going to scream “anti-semitism!” and attempt to restrict debate and that gets right up my nose, as as far as i am aware, i do neither.

      all you’re doing right now, though, is hijacking the thread, so stop it. i am not your employer, nor is it my business how you spend your time. this “policeman” thing is almost as boring and irrelevant as the “poster girl” thing and i think you’re taking our “relationship” a little too seriously here. it’s only a blog, for feck’s sake.



    22. Gibs — on 3rd August, 2008 at 4:51 pm  

      #20. I agree that saying that said council “actively promotes honour killings” is taking it a tad too far.

      However, i bet there are dozens of(mostly Asian) councillors up and down the land who will try and deny that honour killings are a serious problem (just as there are people who claim that the holocaust never happened).

      Unfortunately however, whilst “holocaust deniers” are generally regarded as being “nuts”, comments by “honour killing deniers” are often not challenged/ridiculed aggressively enough.

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