Should Atheists Offer Services to a Conservative Christian Group

Reader Brielle is facing a dilemma:

I run the Abusive Hosts Blocking List — its a spam fighting service that provides lists of questionable/dangerous/spammy IP addresses.

Today, we had a contact from a Christian group, specifically a faith-based ad network that targets Christian families and values. They wanted to use the AHBL data on their end for something. We don’t usually charge for the data as we don’t care to really make a profit off of it.

This Christian group is responsible from what I see for anti-evolution ads and other ads which I so thoughtfully want to scream/yell/destroy due to their nature.

The AHBL and its parent group, the SOSDG, are LGBT and atheist/buddhist/wiccan owned/operated all the way through.

I’d appreciate any suggestions on how I should deal with this. It seems counter productive to assist a faith based group that pretty much trashes the lifestyle/beliefs of all the major players involved, even if it’s such a small thing.

I don’t want to come across as an intolerant asshole, but I do want to make it known that I don’t approve of their company’s choices and that they are putting us in an awkard space by asking us to assist.

When you answer, keep in mind what you’d want a Christian company to do in a similar situation.

  • Gordon

    I’d say, like innoculations, their immunity helps us all…

    I’d provide the information but inform them of how close to spam their ads are.

  • Stoi

    I would definitely provide them with what they asked.

    From what I understand the SOSDG is a group which presumably values openness (given the ‘open source’ in the name and the lack of charge for services) which seems to me to trump any other concern. Not giving the assistance would go against that core philosophy. The SOSDG website says that you provide these services to the FOSS community, individuals and non-profit organizations and you should honor that. It doesn’t say or imply that you are an organization that provides assistance only to non-religious organizations, the very idea of which would be against everything that FOSS stands for. In future you should change your organizations name and be explicit that you only supply your services where no conflict of interest arises.

    That a christian ‘family values’ organization has chosen you says nothing necessarily about their views towards LGBT individuals that can be taken as hostile, if anything it shows the opposite since they are willing to rely on SOSDG, and this is complicated by the fact that the service you provide not only has positive effects on them but potentially positive effects on many other internet participants by flow-on. But even if they are hostile, and discounting the idea that the philosophy of openness is worth upholding for the organization above all else, I would still help them out and assist them. You need to lead by example and I would argue that assisting ‘enemies’ when they need help is one of the most ethical actions one can take. They may be christian but by helping them out you would be christ-like, which may show them a thing or two at the least about the people they vilify.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    It tickles me to think of that group using something for “nefarious” purposes. (My word, not Brielle’s.)

    If there exists a written policy for denying such requests, then you might be forced into following that policy for better or for worse, especially if you are some kind of legally recognized organization (For the record, I am not a lawyer, but such people talk to me all day at work (I suspect for the purpose of making me paranoid.).).

    I’d be very suspicious of such an arrangement, too. Can you create a situation where you keep the data, and they turn to you for development and maintenance support? You could draw up a contract that gives you very favorable terms for bailing out if you don’t like the situation.

    Good luck. I admire your technical proficiency and your mission.

  • dersk

    Maybe the best tack would be to give them permission but write up a few paragraphs about how you feel about it, and how you went through the ethical choice. But, I think, since being atheists / gays / liberals / hippies / however you want to label yourself isn’t exactly in the mission statement, I think you have an ethical obligation to support them.

    Oh, and there’s a grammar error in you about us page – you use “it’s” instead of “its” for the possessive.

  • Iztok

    I would ask them if they can provide a case study story for your product offering in return. When you run all the thing they approve, at the end you have “about” paragraphs, one about them and one about your group. This will get interesting :)

  • Aj

    Evolution unifies biology, it explains life after origin, from the first cell to every species on the planet. It’s one thing to be ignorant, it’s another to be willfully ignorant, and it’s something else to be actively seeking to persuade others to be willfully ignorant. Not only that but creationists tend to use arguments that not only attack the theory of evolution specifically but the scientific method in general. This has implications for virtually everything, it matters what is true.

    By Christian “values” I guess this means forbidding certain sexual relations resulting in suffering and the advocation of ignorance to contraception based on Biblical “revelation” and tradition. Do I really have to talk about the social cost of this? It’s perverse how they react to problems they created, like a homosexual in a heterosexual marriage, or teenage girls with unplanned pregnancies.

    These people are bad people, it’s right to be intolerant of them. There’s plenty of groups that society has no problem shunning, and rightfully so, like racist groups, practicing irrational hatred based on either pseudoscience or completely arbitrary superficial differences. Yet if you wrap something in religion, you can get away with any bullshit you want. These Christians are also basing their actions on pseudoscience or completely arbitrary reverence to a religion that most of the time is inherited from their parents. These are not minor differences or slight wrongs.

    I wouldn’t expect a privately owned company run by Catholics to help me run adverts for advice on contraception or abortion. I’d like them to help me, but that’s because they’re wrong and often stupid/disingenuous. Cooperation for the greater good has limits, nearly everybody has limits, but these limits have been socially conditioned to let religion get away with far more than secular wrongs.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Oh definitely provide the information and include some details about the company. Full disclosure.

  • Todd

    I’m curious about what they intend to do with the data. Not being familiar with how internet advertising works, what advantage would this group gain from a list of nefarious IP addresses?

  • Tim

    I would say find out exactly what they want to do with the data. If, given that they are an ad network, they want to reverse engineer the method you use to determine ‘abusive hosts’ so that they can get around it, then don’t provide the data. If they are going to use it to ‘vet’ the people who are purchasing ads from them, then definitely provide the data.

    Put a clause in your contract stating that they have to put a link in the bottom of their e-mails to the AHBL and SOSDG. Particularly so that recipients can report the mail as spam, if necessary.

  • Michael Friedrich

    I must agree with Aj…… These are bad people and do not deserve your help. They more than likely will use any information you tender them for negative purposes. They hAVE A WAY OF USING WHATEVER INFORMATION THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON TO ONLY FURTHER THEIR OWN AGENDA, AND NOT TO SPREAD ANY TRUTH! I’d tell them to go f–k themselves…… but in as nice a way as you think they deserve. They have no intent on informing their “flock” as to the truth, for, telling the truth would only result in them cutting their own religious legs out from underneath them. They’re not going to do that! Dis-asscoiate yourself from them, and don’t fall for their chicanery!

  • Peregrine

    A couple of thoughts; First of all, if you provide information free of charge, it doesn’t make sense to release it to some parties, but not to others, regardless of their mission statement. Furthermore, you don’t really have control over what those parties do with that information.

    If you were charging for the service, then it would be a different story. You could decline to do business with a party that you have philosophical differences with.

    If they’re just using the data as a blacklist filter to block spam, that’s pretty innocuous. As an IT guy, I’d gladly do that for almost anyone without a second thought. I can’t think of many other uses for that kind of data, except for some kind of vigilantly DOS attack, which I highly doubt is on their docket, and they’re biting off more than they can chew if it is.

    Frankly, I’d be more concerned with what they plan on doing with the data as an ad service, than as a Christian group. If they’re open and honest about their intentions, and it isn’t in conflict with the interests of your service, then I see no reason to decline them access. If you give it away free for all your other clients, then you ought to give it to them for free too. Best case scenario, you demonstrate your willingness to help fight a common enemy (spammers), which hopefully they will keep in mind in the future.

  • Dan

    Hemant said it best in the last line of the post. As an atheist (or even a Buddhist or Wiccan), yours is a small minority voice amongst the majority who believe in Yahweh (at least in North America and Europe). Somewhere along the line, from your web hosting or telecom companies to the government officials involved, there are at least a few religious people who are allowing your voice (and mine!) to be heard because they value the free exchange of ideas – even ideas they disagree with. To refuse to honor that ideal yourself seems hypocritical to me, as long as the ads to not actually incite violence (which would be illegal anyway).

    And by the way, please don’t lump atheism in with Buddhism and Wicca as if rejecting the Jewish god unites us into one big liberal hippie family. Atheism is not a political ideology, but a rejection of gods – even new age nature goddesses that give us magic spells to use.

  • Eduardo Padoan

    Just ask them to do an honest use of the data. Them, and any other one else who ask, obviously.

  • happycynic

    Depends on whether their internet posting thingers would qualify THEM to be on your spammers list. If it would, then your organization has every right to refuse to give them the spammer list; if not, then I’d think it best to be fair and treat them like you would anyone else.

  • Kaylya

    Perhaps you should take a look at this recent post detailing a similar situation from the other angle

    Your organization exists to fight spam and such, not people advertising things you disagree with.

  • DreamDevil

    First, get rid of the Buddhists and Wiccas, then we’ll talk.

  • Peregrine

    @DreamDevil

    Ahem! ;)

  • Nick Awesomeson

    say while you don’t agree with what they do, you’ll help them out as fellow humans or whatever your two groups are.

  • Taisen

    Dan said:
    And by the way, please don’t lump atheism in with Buddhism and Wicca as if rejecting the Jewish god unites us into one big liberal hippie family. Atheism is not a political ideology, but a rejection of gods – even new age nature goddesses that give us magic spells to use.

    And similarly, don’t lump Buddhists in with Wiccans, if you’re going to play that game. Buddhism is not a political ideology but a rejection of gods – even new age nature goddesses that give us magic spells to use. (Well, the modern, Western, humanistic Batcherloresque sort of Buddhism practiced by many, in any case.)

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Give them full disclosure. Then if they still want to do business, cool. You said you never charged… now might be a good time to start. Christian money is just as good as LGBT/atheist/buddhist/wiccan money in my book.

  • James H

    I would be aghast at, for example, a charity hospital run by a Catholic diocese turning away Muslim patients. While your services are not of such life and death matters, the principle nevertheless applies.

  • http://friendlyhumanist.blogspot.com Tim Mills

    I think the comment about leading by example is the most apt. Do you want, as ABHL, to become about religious activism? If not, then don’t let your personal feelings on religion – however well-founded – decide your response.

    If you really want to make a statement, let them know your ethical concerns. I think it would be dangerous to use that as a bargaining chip, but by helping them while letting them know who is helping them, you might soften someone’s attitude a little. Surely that’s a more productive course than taking on the role of the intolerant enemy: nobody’s mind is going to be changed that way.

  • http://AgnosticOracle.livejournal.com AgnosticOracle

    Fighting spam is a shared goal, so no reason you can’t work together on that single issue. However, to be snarky I’d suggest you tell the christian group your company is an LGBT and atheist/buddhist/wiccan owned/operated all the way through first, then ask them if they still want it?

  • John

    dersk:

    Oh, and there’s a grammar error in you about us page…

    McKean’s law strikes again! ;)

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    Contra Peregrine, I think your hands may be tied and you may be legally required to offer your services to this group even if you dislike some of the things it does. You also need to consider how large your business is (how many employees does it have), where it gets its money, and to whom it markets its services.

    This may all seem like so much nonsense. “I can refuse to do business with whom I please,” right? Well, not so much. You don’t want to run afoul of any kind of anti-discrimination, civil rights, or human rights laws, and refusing to do business with someone on the basis of their religion is exactly the sort of conduct those laws are aimed at.

    Besides, discrimination is just plain wrong, regardless of the law. That principle applies to atheists, Buddhists, wiccans, and secular types just as it applies to Christians. If the shoe were on the other foot, you’d be upset, and rightfully so, when the Christians discriminated against you.

    Before you tell anyone that you are doing something that they will think is discriminating against them on the basis of their religion, talk to a lawyer. What your organization does is already very likely to piss people off and I see that you and people associated with you have had run-ins with the law before. You may dread the expense, but don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Play it smart and get advice before proceeding. Good luck.

  • TXatheist

    NO, not tolerating bigotry that smears gays is not being intolerant. The KKK has the right to speak but if they asked if they could use your front yard to burn a cross if they promised to clean up afterwards would you let them? I hope you would say no to that also. Saying I”m sorry I don’t support hate toward gays is not being “the” ass.

  • http://aurorawalkingvacation.blogspot.com Paul

    The SOSDG may be “LGBT and atheist/buddhist/wiccan owned/operated all the way through,” but is it a LGBT and atheist/buddhist/wiccan organisation? The difference is subtle, but important.

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com justin

    Ex-evangelical here. This is what I’d do if I were you.

    Provide the best, friendliest, most helpful service you possibly can. Let these people truly fall in love with your business and staff. Let them see how great you are as a professional and as a person.

    Then at some point much later, let them find out you’re gay. Or Wiccan. Or whatever, depending on the staff member involved.

    The way I became tolerant (and eventually came to reject the evils of religion entirely) was not to have my intolerance flung back at me. That’s just stupid. Instead, it was as I got to know people who weren’t the same as I was.

    My having a personal relationship with non-believers and other people not like me was what revealed my allegedly personal relationship with Jesus for the lie it was.

  • http://jonathan-keith.com Jon

    Hemant, this is one of your better posts. I think you can decide what is more important to you – providing your services regardless of belief (being tolerant, so to speak), or standing up for what you believe in and denying services because you disagree with an organization’s beliefs.

    It’s kind of a ‘Good Samaritan’ sort of situation.

  • http://fiercefamily.com/blog Tim

    The (private) company I work for often finds itself making similar choices. We do consulting for non-profits and as a whole, the company has always leaned pretty far left and secular. We have certainly turned down clients because we did not agree with their politics. Nothing I ran, regardless of mission, would provide help or resources to a group fomenting hate in any form.

    I agree with an earlier poster. Let them know that you are a bunch of godless queers and they’ll probably not want to do business with you anyway. If that fails, just say no.

  • Peregrine

    @Transplanted Lawyer

    Not being a lawyer, I had to wiki what you meant by “contra” and I’m still not sure I understand. I may have misspoke in the 2nd paragraph, in which case, you’re right, but I wasn’t considering that scenario very much anyway since the service is an open source product. But as for the rest, we’re more or less giving them the same advice, with your only amendment being to seek the advice of a lawyer.

    Unless I’m misunderstanding “contra”, of course.

    Then again, I’ve only had one coffee today, so I could be misreading the whole thing.

  • http://nullprogram.com Chris Wellons

    Stoi hit the nail on the head way up there. You have Open Source in the name, which means your organization already made this decision when it was formed. Two points of the Open Source Definition are,

    “5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups – The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

    6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor – The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.”

    As Bruce Perens put it, “Your software must be equally useful in an abortion clinic or an anti-abortion clinic.” It would be disingenuous for you to discriminate against a group while using the name Open Source.

    AgnosticOracle also gave you a reason beyond the name: helping this group fight spam makes the Internet better for everyone. Part of the reason spam is sent is that it probably works some of the time. Less spam making it to inboxes, the less incentive there is for spam. Gullible people buy the stuff spam advertises. And who’s more gullible than a group of fundie Christians? :-)

  • http://anti-mattr.blogspot.com mathyoo

    I agree with Justin, but with the caveat that you find out what their intentions with the data are. Chances are, they’re getting hammered with spam and want to use it for legitimate purposes, but it would be good to get a statement from them. You might also want to give them guidelines for how IP addresses end up on that list, to ensure that their own behavior doesn’t cross that line.

    As for refusing to give the data, that seems to be a bit of a grey area. Most laws apply to public places like restaurants. A private group providing something free of charge, though, would probably be legally clear to refuse anyone they chose access to that information unless they were publicly funded. As the owner of a small graphic and web design firm, I would think that I would have the right to refuse to work for anyone I chose. I wouldn’t work for a political cause or candidate I didn’t agree with, and I wouldn’t design/develop a porn website or a site for anyone with a business I found repulsive. I probably would turn down designing a site for a church as well.

  • JulietEcho

    I think Kaylya’s onto something with her comparison. I think they should go ahead and provide the data, continuing their policy of “openness” and let the chips fall where they may.

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    @ Peregrine, I took your post to suggest that they should stand on their personal principle and not do business with this new customer. My advice was “contra” to that understanding — I think they need to consider anti-discrimination laws (and ethics).

    If there was any misunderstanding that is my fault and not yours.

  • False Prophet

    I think if your goal is to be accepted as professionals, then you should act like professionals. I buy the bulk of the music CDs and DVDs for a public library system, and I work hard to keep my personal biases out of my job. A professional defense attorney has to defend child molesters, a professional police officer has to protect people who hate them, a professional family planning physician will perform an abortion to the protester who was outside their clinic last week.

    As a professional librarian I have to keep in mind the diverse needs of the population I serve. They say a good public library collection contains something to offend everyone, and ours certainly does–myself included. I purchased Ben Stein’s execrable Expelled without hesitation, much as I buy Christian pop music, bible documentaries, and the like, alongside fare such as Religulous, The God Who Wasn’t There, and Ricky Gervais’ stand-up material.

    I get pissed off when Christian pharmacists refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, and when Muslim cab drivers refuse to carry alcohol or dogs. I got really upset when Heather Reisman, who owns around 85% of all bookstores in Canada, called a press conference to announce she was pulling all copies of Mein Kampf from her shelves. As a merchant she has every right to sell what she wants but by making it a press event, Ms. Reisman basically told 25 million adult Canadians that she should dictate what they read, when she has not been elected or hired to fill any political office. I consider all the above examples of extremely unprofessional behaviour and I constantly check myself to make sure I am not guilty of the same.

    It looks pretty simple to find out your organization’s stance on GLBTQ issues (right at the top of the SOSDG page)–so either it’s not an issue to these would-be clients, or they’re too lazy to do the most basic research on an organization before entering into an arrangement with them, in which case, caveat emptor.

    If it was me, I’d make sure you make it clear exactly what services you’re providing and what the boundaries are (as other posters have noted), and if they break contract, sue their asses off. Alternatively, if litigation isn’t feasible (because you can’t afford it or you’re not in it for the money in the first place), you can always use word of mouth so the whole web knows these people can’t uphold a business arrangement–there must be IT equivalents to Angie’s List.

  • Peregrine

    @Transplanted Lawyer

    Thanks. Makes much more sense now. An understandable error, but we cleared it up.

  • Aj

    I hate relativists, get some morals. If you own a printers, you have a right to refuse to print slogans that are offensive to you. Helping a non-profit spread lies and hate is not the same as helping someone who is sick. There’s a difference between public and private organizations, your responsibilities to tax payers, freedom of speech, and legal representation are different. I’d help an old man carry heavy packages but if I found out they contained racist placards and t-shirts then I’d put the packages down and walk away. You have a moral responsibility to not help others do wrong. If you do help them under no pressure then you’re indicating you have no problem with what they’re doing.

  • Jessica

    False Prophet – I try not to support overtly Christian businesses. There is a local restaurant in town that is very popular with great food but I don’t eat there because the play Christian music and have Bible verses lying around. I don’t shop at Hobby Lobby because their statement of purpose includes.

    Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.
    Providing a return on the owners’ investment, sharing the Lord’s blessings with our employees, and investing in our community.
    We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future.
    It’s not a big deal; I just go to Michaels instead. I feel that there is enough presence of Christianity in our community (in the Midwest) that makes me feel uncomfortable. They have the right to pull the books off their shelves and I have the right not to shop there.

  • ChrisZ

    I think it would be right not to help them spread beliefs you don’t agree with directly, but I don’t think you should refuse them services that aren’t directly related to something you don’t want to do. Electric companies should still provide electricity to them and businesses should sell them computers, even if they use those computers and that electricity for something they don’t like. Companies should not be obligated to design advertisements that hold a message they disagree with.

    I don’t know exactly which category your situation falls in, but I would consider how directly you’re actually helping them spread ideas you can’t stand.

    You also should probably consider the law and whether denying them services would count as discrimination. I would avoid something that might be illegal.

  • http://writenewmedia.com Neal Jansons

    Refuse. You always have the right to refuse service for whatever reason you choose, and I don’t think there is any moral injunction upon you to share your stuff with anyone who asks.

    If someone wearing a “John 3:16 – TURN OR BURN” shirt asked me to move my car because I was blocking them, I would do so with all possible respect, because that is common courtesy. If the same guy asked me for some of my lunch, I would decline, though I might be motivated to share my lunch with someone who shared my views. There is nothing wrong with not liking some people or their associations and not wanting to share your stuff with them.

    And no, I don’t think the Golden Rule applies, nor do I really care because the Golden Rule is a crutch for those who don’t want to study real ethics and doesn’t answer most ethical questions in a useful way. Just another mandated ethic for those who want rules instead of morals.

    What it comes down to is you owe society at large basic courtesy and fulfillment of the social contract. You don’t have to share your stuff if you don’t want to.

    And yes, you should tell them why they are being refused. And tell them this formerly homeless atheist who got turned away from their soup-kitchens says hi.

  • anothermike

    They’re trying to set you up, hoping you deny them, so they can cry “victim” or accuse you of discriminatory behavior. Don’t go for it.

  • Eskomo

    Does your organization do a background check on each customer that requests your service? If not, and you just recognized this one as offensive to you, that just seems to be cherry-picking the request to deny it. If your organization has a policy of who to supply the service to, that would be different.

  • Neal O

    @Aj

    Interesting, you really made me think! You say

    but if I found out they contained racist placards and t-shirts then I’d put the packages down and walk away.

    Put the packages down? Why not drop them or smash them up completely? Isn’t everything relative?

    The jury is out for me on this one. I want to be the nice, cooperative, friendly, civilised morally irreproachable guy and say yes give the list. On the other hand I want to fight the creationists arguments at every opportunity!

  • Aj

    Neal O,

    Put the packages down? Why not drop them or smash them up completely? Isn’t everything relative?

    Aren’t the first three words of my comment “I hate relativists”? Surely you can infer from that my answer. Racists still have property rights, they don’t have the right to be helped carrying things.

  • http://brielle.sosdg.org Brielle

    Hello all, time to respond to specific things and to clarify some things. My description left alot to be desired, but I’ve not entirely been on my game the past few days (yay stress).

    We aren’t a company, but rather a group of people with similar interests and goals (volunteers) with me overseeing the bulk of the work.

    @Dan:
    I listed LGBT and atheist/buddhist/wiccan because its the makeup of our admin team. The admins pretty much pay/donate/provide everything that gets used by users, and retain ownership over their own projects. Didn’t mean to make the terms seem like they are related. :)

    @False Prophet:

    I doubt they did their homework on who was behind the work they wanted to use. I still find myself trying to explain to people that we _aren’t_ a business, we do this on our free time, and they jump up and down and cry about how we don’t fix their problem now, completely ignoring the fact we have real life work that comes first.

    Our motto has always been, you get what you pay for. There are a few companies that have priority support agreements for AHBL support, but those are with individual admins and usually relate to maintaining mirror servers and assisting with abuse incident response, rather then the data itself.

    @dersk:
    I’ll fix the it’s on the about page as soon as I can. :)

    @Eskomo:
    In re of AHBL data – Some data is freely available, others is not. The query features, we have no control over considering it works with DNS, and can be done without ever needing us to set stuff up. In this case, said group wants access to the bit that is not freely available – and we do limit access based on need, what they want it for, and if we can trust them not to further share the info outside what they are intending to use it for. Last thing we wanted was for a spammer to get ahold of open proxy lists they could use to go balistic.

    TBH, I probably wouldn’t have even known it was a christian targeted group had it not been for the glaring logo in their e-mail that proudly stated their audience.

    You’all have given me alot ot think about, alot of good points, alot of good views, which I appreciate.

  • The Other Tom

    So, let’s start by making one thing very clear: you’re saying that you want to discriminate against this xtian group on the basis of their religion. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but we have to be clear about that to discuss it further.

    The next question is, can you legally do that? If your group, SOSDG, is a legal business – it has actual customers, takes money for services or products, etc – and AHBL is an actual legal part of it, you probably can’t, because it is generally unlawful for a business to discriminate on the basis of religion, even in the provision of a free service. In that case, my recommendation is to make a written policy on the circumstances in which you release the data, which may include that the recipient has to either specify what they want to do with it (and that their reasons must consist of one of several acceptable sets of reasons) or that they have to sign an agreement to use the data for specified purposes that are acceptable to you. (Preventing spam.) Then, require all future recipients, including this group, to abide by the new policy, without discrimination.

    IF, on the other hand, SOSDG is just a collection of private individuals who are not incorporated and do not receive payment from customers collectively, or if AHBL is not supported by SOSDG in any way and isn’t really owned by SOSDG and really just consists of some people who just happen to know each other from SOSDG and are operating AHBL for fun on their own personal time and not taking any money for it, you could argue that it then becomes a matter of the individuals’ freedom of association, and it may simply be the case that the xtian group isn’t going to get the data because none of the individuals choose to associate with the xtians.

    AJ is wrong: if you “own a printers”, you do NOT have an absolute right to refuse to print signs that are offensive to you. The printing business would be providing a “public accommodation”, and would be subject to relevant anti-discrimination laws. There was a specific case in the last few years in which a printer was successfully sued because they had refused to print signs for a gay group, and I support this decision.

  • Sandra

    First, I didn’t read through all the responses and apologize if I am duplicating anything someone has said previously.

    Today, we had a contact from a Christian group, specifically a faith-based ad network that targets Christian families and values. They wanted to use the AHBL data on their end for something.

    It would seem logical that the group you work with would want to know exactly what that “something” is… because it would be counterproductive to allow them access to a program/service enabling them so their IT people could discover a way to remove their organization from the filters…or some similar use.

    If you determine that what they are doing is within your TOS then it would obviously be a different matter. Perhaps your company might want to think about being a bit more specific as to the target audience.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    @The Other Tom,

    I’m not sure it’s as clear cut as AHBL “want[ing] to discriminate against this xtian group on the basis of their religion.”

    My reading of the original query indicated that the group was determining whether or not to provide services to a group that spread lies and misinformation and justified that behavior with their religion. It sounds to me like the difference between kicking a random “out” Pastafarian out of your bookstore and kicking a guy who yells rude things to children then tells you that he does so because the FSM told him to do so.

    Your other three paragraphs are spot on, I think.

  • Peregrine

    @Brielle

    Based on this:

    In this case, said group wants access to the bit that is not freely available – and we do limit access based on need, what they want it for, and if we can trust them not to further share the info outside what they are intending to use it for. Last thing we wanted was for a spammer to get ahold of open proxy lists they could use to go balistic.

    You have access to something through another service provider, and you are responsible for ensuring that anyone you provide that information to does not use it for unintended purposes, thus violating your terms of service with your provider.

    You need to be sure you know what they intend to do with the data.

    Again, I’m more concerned with the fact that they’re an ad service, than that they are a Christian service. They may be taking advantage of your generosity to access information that they would otherwise have to pay for, which may be in violation of the terms of service of your providers.

    Are they looking for open proxy lists so that they can get around spam filters that have rejected their ads in the past? Or are they just setting up a spam filter on their own servers so that the nice little old lady who works their reception desk stops getting viagra offers?

    Make sure you know what they are using the data for, make every reasonable effort to ensure that they are being open and honest with you, and make sure they are not planning on using the data in a way that would violate your terms of service, or that of your providers. Which should be part of your operating procedures anyway, regardless of who your client is.

    Also, ensure that they have sufficient security on their end so that they don’t inadvertently loose control over the data they provide.

    Aside from that, I see no reason to deny them service. Once you’ve verified that they’re not planning on violating your terms of service, or that of your service providers, treat them like any other customer.

  • Neal O

    @Aj

    Point taken.

  • Aj

    The Other Tom,

    AJ is wrong: if you “own a printers”, you do NOT have an absolute right to refuse to print signs that are offensive to you. The printing business would be providing a “public accommodation”, and would be subject to relevant anti-discrimination laws. There was a specific case in the last few years in which a printer was successfully sued because they had refused to print signs for a gay group, and I support this decision.

    If that’s the case the law is wrong, and so are you. I guess it’s a predictable irony that churches are fucking exempt. I guess that would be a time to get passive aggressive against these tyrants. “What? What? I could have swore you said to write ‘Christ hates vag’”.

    For public accommodations apparently under UK law a printer can’t specifically discriminate against homosexuality, but they can discriminate against sex before marriage. Apparently it’s not OK to discriminate against the gays, but those who like sex without marriage can be discriminated against, fascists. These anti-discrimination laws tend to have discrimation built into them, it’s as if politicians don’t even read most legislation.

    For public accommodations under US law people can’t be discriminated on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disabilities. Of course anything and everything can be claimed to be religiously motivated. The printer could say they don’t have a problem with the religion, they’re discriminating against bigoted fuckfits. And by fuckwit, I don’t mean disabled. It really depends how you define “religion”. Can you discriminate against non-religious customers?

  • flawedprefect

    Yeah. Do it. You provide a service. If they have a beef with you down the road, its their call, not yours. You did the human thing and exchanged a service for money – end of story.

  • http://nullprogram.com Chris

    Why was my post deleted? :-(

  • ChameleonDave

    First, get rid of the Buddhists and Wiccas, then we’ll talk.

    Indeed!

  • Amy G

    The way I see it, this is similar to the bus driver who refused to drive the bus with the atheist ad. Business and personal lives need to be separated. Offer them the service just like you would to any other company. If you do feel a need to approach them about their awful ads, do so as a private individual instead of as the owner of your company.

  • Staceyjw

    Let the ANTI-SCIENCE people figure for themselves.

    If we could deny services that are based on SCIENCE to those who try to weaken/kill it, maybe they would change their tune(or be rendered invisible)

    Right now, those who fight evolution can do whatever they want to destroy it, while still relying on the fruits of the theory. They don’t even see why this is wrong.

    It is private industry, you can do what you want- they would.

  • pete

    For Moral and Ethical reasons I WOULD NOT assist these people with there little problem!!! It has to do with intent. If you know there intent of there site, and it conflicts with your better judgment, ideals, and personal beliefs, then that to me is a conflict. I would tell them that based on the principle of the matter, that help is not available…

  • http://nojesusnopeas.blogspot.com James Sweet

    This is a sticky question indeed and I don’t have an answer but, I have to take issue with Hemant’s advice:

    When you answer, keep in mind what you’d want a Christian company to do in a similar situation.

    Why? Right and wrong are not purely relative. The fact is that tolerance based on sexual orientation is right, and a belief in Young Earth Creationism is wrong. We don’t need to apologize for this. There is a big difference between refusing to do business with someone because they are gay vs. refusing to do business with someone because they are ignorant hatemongers…!

    I think there is room for a nuanced position here, where you provide the information anyway for reasons of professionalism. I’m not sure either way. But the reflexive hypothetical (“How would you like it if they did that to you?”) is irrelevant. Motivations do not exist in a vacuum.

  • heironymous

    I was thinking about this during the day today. And it completely depends on what the data will be used for.

    If they’re trying to find ways of getting around anti-spam software, giving them the date defeats the purpose of your company and it should _not_ be given.

    If, on the other hand, it’s to prevent them from being spammed, you should help them.

  • postsimian

    Forget it. Deny them. Cut their lousy asses off at the pass. Tell them they’ll have to let their own data evolve over time.

  • http://jonathan-keith.com Jon

    @ NealO

    On the other hand I want to fight the creationists arguments at every opportunity

    How could you possibly argue against creationists arguments? They make much more sense than an Atheists perspective.

  • http://jonathan-keith.com Jon

    These anti-discrimination laws tend to have discrimation built into them, it’s as if politicians don’t even read most legislation.

    @AJ – This is what most people do not understand. They think its possible to have a third, ‘neutral’ position. But in many cases, passing an ‘anti-discimination’ law to keep one group from being discriminated again is causing discrimination for another group of people.

    So, people end up having to take sides. If the government takes one side, Christians are upset about it. If they take another side, Atheists are upset about it. Atheists try to sneak around the issue by saying that there is a third and ‘neutral’ position. But their version of neutral just favors Atheists. Christians are at least forthright about the fact that they think their position is correct.

  • Kahomono

    It would seem logical that the group you work with would want to know exactly what that “something” is… because it would be counterproductive to allow them access to a program/service enabling them so their IT people could discover a way to remove their organization from the filters…or some similar use.

    It doesn’t matter what they say they’ll use it for, if they have it they can do anything they want to with it. A group that exists to promote lies will happily lie about their purposes for data like this, and the fact is, they CAN use it to reverse-engineer methods to stay off the list, which is the likeliest use they’d have for it!

    If the group asking for it was not some oh-so-sweetly named Xian group but the “rUmAn1aN hAxxOrZ kLAn” who here would be telling the OP to release the data?

    Open Source is not a suicide pact. And BTW it only covers the software you license and release, not services.


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