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Censorship is the systematic use of group power to broadly control freedom of speech and expression, largely in regard to secretive matters. Sanitization (cleaning or decontamination) and whitewashing (from whitewash) are almost interchangeable terms that refer to particular acts or campaigns of censorship or omission which seek to "clean up" the portrayal of particular issues and facts which are already known, but which may conflict with a presented point of view.

In a modern sense, censorship consists of any attempt to suppress information, points of view, or method of expression such as art, or profanity. Censorship is commonly used by social groups, organized religions, corporations and governments. There are also groups which specifically oppose censorship.

Censorship is regarded as a typical feature of dictatorships and other authoritarian political systems. Democratic organizations usually have far less institutionalized censorship, and instead promote the importance of freedom of speech.

Censorship by organized religion

Censorship by organized religion is a form of censorship where freedom of expression is controlled or limited using religious authority or on the basis of the teachings of the organized religion. This form of censorship has a long history and is practised in many societies and by many religions. Examples include the censorship of the Heliocentric theory proposed by Galileo by the Vatican and of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses by the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Religious censorship is usually performed on the grounds of blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege, impiety - the censored work was obscene or violated religious taboo. Defending against these charges is often difficult as many religions permit only the religious authorities (clergy) to interpret doctrine and the interpretation is usually dogmatic.

Censorship by Ordo Templi Orientis, Inc.