Indianapolis schools ban only selected religions, as well as atheist and LGBT sites, from students' Internet.


Indianapolis public schools, in a clear breach of church-state separation, are banning students from viewing the websites of only certain religions, as well as atheist and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) sites.

According to a Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) press release, Indianapolis public schools are illegally discriminating against certain religious views, banning students from seeing sites containing what they term as "mysticism", which apparently includes atheism. Here are some key quotes from a pdf copy provided by FFRF of the offending (and offensive) guidel... "Blocked" categories include:

"Sites that promote and provide information on religions such as Wicca, Witchcraft or Satanism. Occult Practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or other forms of mysticism, [...] the use of spells, incantations, curses, and magic powers. This category includes sites which discuss or deal with paranormal or unexplained events."

Notably absent is reference to Abrahamic religions (Judeo-Christian, Muslim), of course. Not content with just banning information on non-mainstream religious views, Indianapolis public schools have also deemed LGBT sites as off-limits as well.

The people setting up these guidelines don't realize just how ironic they are, however. The policy also details what types of sites are to be blocked, and their site arguably fails their own test. Under Violence/Hate/Racism (p. 3 of the pdf provided by FFRF), it says that included in sites that should be blocked are

"sites that advocate, depict hostility or aggression toward, or denigrate an individual or group on the basis of race, religion, gender, nationality, ethnic origin, or other involuntary characteristics."

Wouldn't a site advocating (and implementing) the banning only resources related to certain religions be "hostility or aggression" or "denigrating" towards those religions?!? Never fear, though. Perhaps they realized this contradiction, since the section on exceptions to the blocked sites includes ones "that are sponsored by schools, educational facilities". So they are allowed to denigrate other religious viewpoints through their policy as much as they want.

The ban of LGBT sites also says that sites can't "cater to one's one's sexual orientation or gender identity including, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender sites". Since it's not limited to those for, it would logicially including heterosexuality as well. Any sites promoting heterosexual marriage would have to be banned according to the word here. So this document would end up banning a whole lot more than they bargained for.

In fact, I just realized that the site actually does address the Abrahamic religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, and Islam. Looking again at the requirements for sites that are blocked, it says:

"This category includes sites which discuss or deal with paranormal or unexplained events."

Wouldn't Moses' parting of the Red Sea in the Torah be considered an "unexplain event"? Jesus' resurrection in the Bible? God turning the skin of Native Americans dark in the Book of Mormon? An angel appearing to Muhammad in the Koran? These all sound pretty unexplained to me. Maybe they have unwittingly banned students from viewing any religious content.

In spite of these possible loopholes and logical extensions of their hate-filled bans, I am still against the closing of students' minds on religion, atheism, and sexual orientation and identity. Schools should not promote a religion or sexual orientation, but they also shouldn't single out sites as worthy of being banned just because they mention viewpoints or orientations that aren't in the mainstream.

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Comment by Shawn on April 20, 2014 at 3:12am

OH NO WE CAN'T HAVE FREE THINKERS IN OUR CLASSROOM! . what a bunch of bronze age fools. I'm glad my English teacher challenged my religious views every time i brought up the subject. did you notice how i said every time i brought it up? he hated the subject i can honestly see why now. i would challenge his beliefs but they were unbreakable because he would back it up with real hard facts.

Comment by Ficking Chucken on October 2, 2013 at 12:21pm

One can be sure that there will be a lawsuit concerning this...and there should be. This is just another sign of "Theocracy's Last Stand". 

Comment by Michael Penn on April 5, 2013 at 8:24am

Oh, no. Religious events from our Bible are not considered paranormal or unexplained. This is all "gospel" and the gullible knows very well that it means "truth." (EXAMPLE: Jim, are you telling me the truth? Yep, that's the gospel.) My question is how will we ever have educated students if we limit and control what they are able to learn?

Comment by Metallover1995. on October 13, 2012 at 5:20pm

we must start a revolution!!!

Comment by Jim Hoerst on July 12, 2011 at 2:49pm
The religious have to control the flow of information because they can't handle the truth.
Comment by amanda alexander on June 18, 2011 at 11:52am
Is it actually being actively protested? And the regular government websites do the same things, but they also ban a lot of abrahamic religous sites as well... I can still access some it's only certain sites that are blocked...but schools tend to be a little more strict i would think.
Comment by IAmTheBlog on December 22, 2010 at 9:19am

Thanks everyone for your comments. Sorry not to reply sooner, it's been a rough few months for me and a lot to catch up on.


@Nathaniel Theising Glad to hear that this was being fought by CFI. Did you get any confirmation that is has been lifted in Indianapolis? (Or does anyone else know for sure?) That would be a big victory if that was the case.


@mcajq That's crazy that they block non-theist websites at your work. If they blocked Christian/religious websites too then it would be somewhat fair I suppose, but my guess is that it's similar to the Indiana ban and targeting non-mainstream beliefs on religion.


@Explonential I don't think it should be up to a school board to decide though which sites are crazy enough to be banned. The ban includes (or included, if it's over) atheist websites, too. Although I've been called crazy at times, not all atheists are. :-)

Comment by Explonential on December 21, 2010 at 6:38am

Hey good on them! Ban a few supernatural sites and the glare of student's gaze will be focused squarely on the craziness of the few that are left...

Comment by mcajq on November 20, 2010 at 9:52am
This does not surprise me in the least. I unfortunately live here. They also block non-theist websites in my workplace.
Comment by Rich Lane on July 15, 2010 at 8:42am
Skepticmom: "I don't know why it never ceases to amaze me that educators can be so ill informed and bigoted. "

Don't blame the educators. These types of edicts are usually handed down by school boards, and in some districts educators who work in the district aren't even allowed by charter to serve on the board.



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