If you haven't heard, BBC News reports that the Birmingham city council (in the U.K., not Alabama), began using a web filter to block mysticism/occult on corporate computers. However, since the organization (organisation in the U.K.) permits usage of Christian, Muslim, and other religious sites, the Wiccan community has responded with legal action. You can check out the full story on BBC News.
A similar debate has been debated in the U.S. at one of my favorite cafe's, Panera Bread. The Wiccan community has (in some segments) shown outrage that all witchcraft-related sites are blocked on their free wifi servers nationwide. In fact, I worked on some material about Wicca for a book while typing at Panera and discovered the filter is really tight on anything related to mysticism and the occult, including Wicca.
What is a Christian approach to this postmodern cyber-scenario? Should Wiccans be allowed to surf their sites at work or in public wifi spots like Panera Bread?
Two thoughts: First, work is different from free wifi at a restaurant (though many, like me, have often worked from Panera Bread). A company offering free services has no obligation to allow "anything and everything" for free. Free wifi providers can give what they want because they are paying for it.
But what about at work? Should we all be able to surf whatever religious sites we want? This is a more complex issue. If we believe in religious freedom, the rules necessarily apply to all. If Christians, Muslims, and Jews can view sites about their faith, so should Wiccans.
The other options are to exclude all sites (something Christians would not prefer, though it's not necessarily illegal to block internet surfing that is outside of work responsibilities; think Facebook) or, second, to exclude sites based on reasons other than religion. What reasons? Sexual content, language, relevance to one's prescribed work duties, and other reasons could all apply.
None of these decisions is easy or without controversy, but these are the very issues we discuss in Generation Hex. Order your copy today and be informed about Wicca, the movement the New York Times calls America's fastest-growing religion.
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