Resident unable to research Native American religion due to software
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/12/2013 -- A small library in southern Missouri has been ordered by a federal judge to discontinue its blocking of access to websites that are related to minority religions. The judge noted the action as a violation of patrons First Amendment rights.
The U.S. District Judge E Richard Webber Issued the ruling last week in St. Louis in a case that involved the Salem Public Library.
“Even libraries that are required by federal law to install filtering software to block certain sexually explicit content should never use software to prevent patrons from learning about different cultures,” Tony Rothert, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, said in a statement Wednesday.
The library director Glenda Wofford did not issue a statement and declined to comment. There has been no response from the attorney of the library as well.
The ACLU sued on behalf of the Salem resident Anaka Hunter early last year. The community of Salem is largely Christian and is comprised of nearly 5,000 in the Missouri Ozarks.
Hunter was attempting to research death and death rituals in minority religions in an attempt to become more in touch with her Native American roots, according to the ACLU.
The library had been filtering sites that were of minority religions that the software parameters deemed to involve witchcraft or nonstandard religious practices. Hunter was unable to access sites regarding Native American religions as well, as they would be considered paganistic by the software.
Hunter complained and the library unblocked some, but not all, the information sites, according to the ACLU. “Public libraries should be maximizing the spread of information, not blocking access to viewpoints or religious ideas not shared by the majority,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.
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