The Christian Institute, a U.K.-based Christian group affiliated with the Church of England, is crying foul with a lawsuit against Google after the popular internet search engine rejected their pro-life advertisements.
The group, which had purchased an "AdWords" advertisement that would bring up information on abortion laws and a link to their homepage every time a user searched for "abortion," is claiming that Google rejected their advertisements in an act of deliberate discrimination against their views.
According to Google, the company has a policy of rejecting "inappropriate" advertisements that mix religion and abortion.
"At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of web sites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content'," Google explained in an email to The Christian Institute.
The Christian Institute, however, claims that Google's denial of its advertisement is a violation of the British Equality Act 2006, which guards against the discrimination of groups based on their religious views.
Moreover, the group claims, Google maintains a double standard – while advertisements from religious groups are denied, pornographic websites and abortion ads from secular organizations attacking religion are acceptable.
"To describe abortion and religion-related content as 'unacceptable content', while at the same time advertising pornography, is ridiculous," said Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, in a statement on its website.
"Google promotes itself as a company committed to the ideals of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. It is against this standard that Google's anti-religious policy is so unjust," he added.
"For many people, Google is the doorway to the internet. It is an influential gatekeeper to the marketplace of debate. If there is to be a free exchange of ideas then Google cannot give special free speech rights to secular groups whilst censoring religious views," he said.
Former Tory Minister Ann Widdecombe also commented.
"It does seem to me to be the most appalling and blatant case of religious discrimination and also to be a very silly attempt to stifle due debate," she said, according to the London Daily Mail.
The Christian Institute had planned on promoting its pro-life advertisements in anticipation of the British Parliament vote next month on the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill – the first bill on abortion to reach the House of Commons in nearly 18 years.
The legislation, if passed, would allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for medical research by providing changes to the regulation and licensing of the use of embryos in research and therapy.