Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Christians who sued Google

Not quite as bold as 'The man who sued God', but it is manifestly a David and Goliath battle which is to be admired, for the outcome has considerable implications for Christians in the areas of equality and freedom of expression.

The Christian Institute simply wanted to pay Google so that when the word ‘abortion’ was typed into the search engine, a link to a web page on its views popped up on the right hand side of the screen. It is a perfectly legal transaction, concerned simply with matters of trade in services.

But it transpires that Google does not allow adverts for websites which contain ‘abortion and religious-related content’, and so it has blocked this pro-life advertisement for the Institute's website - - because it is a ‘religious’ site. Apparently 'religion is not "factual" on abortion'.

Setting aside that Google now presumes to judge on epistemological matters (are all its links filtered and censored for 'factual' accuracy?), it is curious indeed that it is only when abortion is presented via a religious site that the material is banned: Google permits abortion-related advertisements from the secularists, atheists, irreligious, non-religious and the mentally depraved (if some of these terms are not mutually inclusive). Needless to say, the perspectives of these are overwhelmingly ‘pro-choice’, and all must be considered by Google to be 'factual'.

But Google does not permit Christians to advertise their pro-life beliefs.

Lawyers for the Institute say this is unlawful discrimination. The charity will argue that Google accepts adverts for abortion clinics, secular pro-abortion sites and secularist sites which attack religion. It wants damages, costs and permission to display the advert.

It is a bizarrely censorious decision by Google, not least because it is also happy to allow adverts for adultery and pornography of all legal types and varieties (it filters paedophilia and bestiality, but as there is not globally-agreed age of consent and as more and more people choose to marry their pets, even these are probably only a temporary prohibition). It even permits the promotion of 'magic and pagan items', witchcraft and voodoo, but one must presume that all this New-Age cultic nonsense is undeniably and irrefutably 'factual'.

Yet Google has banned the Institute's advertisement for ‘inappropriate content’.

It is heartening to see Christians invoking the very legislation which is presently being used against them to alarming effect. The Equality Act 2006 prohibits religious discrimination in the provision of a good, facilities or services. Google may not therefore treat Christians differently from the way they treat secularists, atheists, etc., etc.

Google's website states: ‘Google was founded with a clear vision in mind: To organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.’ It is the number one search engine in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Australia, with over 80 million unique users per month.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute: said: "Google promotes itself as a company committed to the ideals of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. It is against this standard that Google's anti-religious policy is so unjust. For many people, Google is the doorway to the internet. It is an influential gatekeeper to the marketplace of debate. If there is to be a free exchange of ideas then Google cannot give special free speech rights to secular groups whilst censoring religious views. To describe abortion and religion-related content as 'unacceptable content', while at the same time advertising pornography, is ridiculous."

Quite so.

In this era of pluralism, equality, and mutual tolerance, it is unacceptable that the only views which are not tolerated are those which are founded upon an expression of faith. It seems that even on the World Wide Web, some ideas are more equal than others: those that promote secularism, atheism, and godless amorality trump those which dare to put a Christian case against the sanctity-of-life issues such as abortion or euthanasia.

Ann Widdecombe MP, a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, supports the group in its plight. She said: “It does seem to me to be the most appalling and blatant case of religious discrimination.”

The Christian Institute had hoped to advertise its online articles on pro-life issues ahead of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill arriving in the House of Commons next month.


Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Good post Cranners.

But it's not really a question of discrimination, pluralism, equality and tolerance, to present it as such validates the liberal "tolerance" nostrum which makes a virtue out of not thinking (for discrimination, deciding what is good as opposed to bad is inherant to human existence, to not dis-criminate is to not think) a better question would be this: why do they hate Christianity? And most specifically, why do they hate pro-lifers?

Why do they promote paganism, adultery, abortion and collude with communist china????

When will this liberal nightmare end? Liberalism is horror without end.

10 April 2008 at 14:43  
Blogger Tommy 3 Lions said...

tis no suprise.

10 April 2008 at 16:10  
Blogger Dave said...

Liberals tolerate everything except intolerance. I thought everyone knew that

10 April 2008 at 16:10  
Anonymous sucking shit through a straw daily said...

Google is no-longer my home page, and I refuse to use it ever again until this changes.

10 April 2008 at 16:32  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

Well daily - there's always Copernic for searches. However, blogger/blogspot is also a Google owned company. As is YouTube. You can't get away from Google these days.

10 April 2008 at 17:10  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace

i am thinking of defining ex commuication for the internet age .

how can a company that boasts its vast universality of communication , suddenly start being perscriptive about decency it appears to be both a herisey and an admission that pandoras has been open for a longer time than we have been lead to believe

10 April 2008 at 18:21  
Anonymous Alex Fear said...

A quick blast of keywords in google produces some interesting adverts:

Religion - Buy religion at and Scientology

God Another Scientology ad

Deity Deity at low cost! from rutlands.

Guess they have no problem taking payment for religious keywords from secular organisations.

10 April 2008 at 21:02  
Anonymous wrinkled weasel said...

Google is anti Christian full stop. At Christmas, it had the bland limp wristed "Happy Holiday"

And yet

It feels it must turn it's screen black to draw attention to global warning.

In fact, its faux claim to be neutral about these things is bollocks.

Sorry, your Grace. I didn't mean to say "bollocks". It just slipped out.

10 April 2008 at 21:35  
Anonymous a one off from the late mary tudor said...

Off topic I know but Your Grace seems to have left the 60th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre pass unremarked. A little quote...

Eldad Sheib, of Lehi

"Had it not been for Deir Yasin, half a million Arabs would be living in the state of Israel [in 1948]. The state of Israel would not have existed. We must not disregard this, with full awareness of the responsibility involved. All wars are cruel. There is no way out of that. This country will either be Eretz Israel with an absolute Jewish majority and a small Arab minority, or Eretz Ishmael, and Jewish emigration will begin again if we do not expel the Arabs one way or another".


10 April 2008 at 23:38  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
jeff randles article in telegraph , are jonathan sacks comments true??

11 April 2008 at 01:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can we do to show our support? can you put an email address to them or where we can email google to let them know we are against their discrimination?

11 April 2008 at 09:10  
Blogger Cranmer said...

His Grace has already provided a link to the Institute's website.

As for contacting Google, err, google it.

11 April 2008 at 10:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a contact form for Google AdWords.

11 April 2008 at 14:43  
Anonymous old bead jiggler said...

David Cameron is very friendly with the Google people I am quite sure he'll do the right thing and not the popular thing on this matter.

11 April 2008 at 18:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People around here overlook one thing, namely, Google has no obligation whatsoever to carry advertising that it does not like. It is, after all, their company.

If the christians, or any other cult, don't like it, tough. Go and setup your own search engine...

12 April 2008 at 00:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Google is private property not a public service if you don't own it you don't get a say.

12 April 2008 at 11:46  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Why are anonymice so utterly dense?

The law has changed in the UK. Irrespective of whether or not a company is privately owned, it may not discriminate against people on the grounds of their religion, in this case against Christians, any more than a Christian-owned private company may discriminate against homosexuals. It is in the provision of services (and Google offers a service) which is covered in the Equality Act 2006. legislation.

12 April 2008 at 12:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The law has changed in the UK. Irrespective of whether or not a company is privately owned..."

That ultimately depends on where the company is based and from which part of the network originates the sales contract...

13 April 2008 at 22:27  
Blogger Ben Stevenson said...

I am disappointed as I generally like Google products and use several of them (including AdWords).

Google recently invited Christian author Tim Keller to speak at their offices as part of his tour promoting his book The Reason For God.

The Equality Act 2006 is available online here

"(1) It is unlawful for a person (“A”) concerned with the provision to the public or a section of the public of goods, facilities or services to discriminate against a person (“B”) who seeks to obtain or use those goods, facilities or services—
(a) by refusing to provide B with goods, facilities or services,
(b) by refusing to provide B with goods, facilities or services of a quality which is the same as or similar to the quality of goods, facilities or services that A normally provides to—
(i) the public, or
(ii) a section of the public to which B belongs..."

13 April 2008 at 23:23  

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