Group Challenges Indianapolis Schools’ Internet Filtering Policy

From Howard Friedman:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation last week (press release) wrote to the Indianapolis (IN) school system (full text of letter) complaining that the Indianapolis Public Schools Internet Filtering Policy violates the First Amendment as well as regulations under the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act. Among the nearly 30 categories of website that are blocked on school computers are “Alternative Spirituality/ Belief Sites.” These are described as:

Sites that promote and provide information on religions such as Wicca, Witchcraft or Satanism. Occult practices, atheistic views, vodoo rituals or any form of mysticism are represented here. Includes sites that … [instruct in the use of] spells, incantations, curses and magic powers.

FFRF contends that this policy amounts to viewpoint discrimination and a violation of the Establishment Clause because it allows access to sites offering information about Christianity and other mainstream religions, but not about atheism.

I rarely agree with FFRF, but I think they are right here. To allow access to sites that promote some religions but not atheism is an unconstitutional promotion of religion. And to link “any other form of mysticism” with Wicca, etc., would also exclude Jewish and Christian mysticism. The state has no business being in the religion business. It has no business defining it or saying what is or is not appropriate.

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