Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) and associated clinics in Bremerton, Wash., will no longer block minority religious webpages. Their Internet filtering policy, which is managed by the Enterprise Services Operations Center (ESOC) for the Bureau of Medicine (BUMED), formerly disallowed the webpages of non-monotheistic religions.
A concerned individual was distressed to learn that the webpage for the Church of Satan was “blocked for reasons of Cult and Occult,” along with other non-mainstream religions such as Scientology, Wicca and various pagan religions. He described the discriminatory practice as “an outrage,” noting that monotheistic websites — including the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group that routinely pickets military funerals — were readily available.
FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover wrote the NHB on May 1, explaining that, “NHB’s viewpoint discrimination and preference for Christianity over non-monotheistic religions and nonreligion in its filtering policy is illegal.”
Furthermore, his letter emphasized that the complainant knew service members who are “deeply involved” with the religions blocked by the policy.
On July 15, Lieutenant Commander David Peck reported that BUMED’s “internet filtering policy has been changed” and that he was able to access the websites such as www.wicca.org and www.churchofsatan.com.