Saturday, May 03, 2008

When "secular" means "materialist"

Zachary Gappa, director of the Center for Research for a Just Society, observes that the Google search engine folk seem to have bought into a definition of “secular” that does not mean “no one perspective rules” but “religious perspectives are excluded.” For example,

The Christian Institute sought to purchase an advertisement from Google, "so that whenever the word 'abortion' was typed into the popular search engine, its link would appear on the side of the screen." Google refused this request, stating, "At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of web sites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content'".

If Google had simply declined to allow advertisements involving the controversial topic of abortion, their decision would be completely understandable and fully within their rights as a private company. By removing a controversial topic from their advertisements they would not be discriminating against one religious view in favor of another. But this is not what they did.

Instead, Google accepted "adverts for abortion clinics, secular pro-abortion sites and secularist sites which attack religion," while refusing to accept The Christian Institute's "religious" ad. They did not shun the topic of abortion—just the "religious" view on abortion. In other words, they have discriminated against those whose view on abortion is influenced by their belief in God in favor of those whose view on abortion is influenced by their belief that God does not exist.

The organization has filed suit, but they are one of many straws in the wind right now, and not the largest.


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