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For first time visitors: An
introduction to this web site.

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Overview:

Before making use of anything on this web site, please read copyright and legal notices in a separate essay.

The following is probably more than you ever wanted to know about us and our web site. However, we want to explain our "agenda" in promoting religious tolerance and to help you understand how this web site was written.

It is important for us to be open with our beliefs and positions on various matters. You need this information in order to judge the credibility of our writing.

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Our thoughts about religion:

Religion is a unique force in society. It motivates individuals to do both good and evil. Historically, it has promoted:

Religion motivates some to dedicate their lives to help the poor and needy. (e.g. Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa.) It drives others to exterminate as many "heretics" as they can. Over the past two decades we have seen religiously-motivated  mass murders and genocides in Bosnia, East Timor, Indonesia, India, Kosovo, the Middle East, Myanmar, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tibet, the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington DC, etc.

Religion has the capability to generate unselfish love in some people, and vicious, raw hatred in others. The goal of every caring person should be to somehow change religions so that they maximize the former and minimize the latter. This is not a simple task, because most faith groups are extremely resistant to change. We feel that the key is religious tolerance.

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About our group...

We are a multi-faith agency of five volunteers in the U.S. and Canada who follow five different religious beliefs (Agnosticism, Atheism, ChristianityWicca, and Zen Buddhism). Our group is affiliated with another multi-faith group Beliefnet, but not with with any other religious organization. We rely almost exclusively on the revenue from banner ads, our readers' donations, and sales of CD-ROMs of our web site, to enable us to continue our work.

Our office is located in Canada; our web site server is located in Texas; our technical support is from California. Our staff live in either the U.S. or Canada.

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Definition of religious tolerance:

Some folks, particularly religious conservatives define "religious tolerance" as the belief that all religions are equally true, valid, and equally beneficial to the culture. We define the term differently: to be tolerant is to follow the Ethic of Reciprocity, a.k.a. the Golden Rule. That involves working towards a culture in which every person should be able to:

  • Follow their own religious beliefs, as long as they do not harm others;
  • Enjoy freedom of religious belief, speech and assembly, without discrimination or oppression.
  • Change their religion if they wish, and
  • Make non-harassing, non-manipulative and non-coercive attempts to convert others.
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Our goal:

We try to write accurate, balanced, clear, objective and inclusive articles about religion, morality and ethics. We often tackle tough religious questions. We don't promote a specific religious viewpoint; we don't attack anyone's theological beliefs. We don't value religious beliefs over secularism or vice-versa. However, we do criticize actions that harm people, even if those actions are religiously motivated. We do compare beliefs of various religions with each other and with the findings of scientists. We are dedicated to "liberty and justice for all" (with the exception of those engaging in acts which can be shown to be criminal and hurtful). More information on our purposes, beliefs, rules of engagement etc. is available.

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About our beliefs:

We are most definitely not fence-sitters on matters of belief. Each of us has our own, strongly held, and different beliefs about many topics, including:

However, we do have some beliefs in common:

  • We view almost all religions as having an overall positive effect on society.
  • We view most or all religions as having a dark side. They have taken actions which have harmed individuals in the past. Similar actions continue today, and will probably exist into the foreseeable future.
  • We share a desire that our American and Canadian cultures continue to work towards achieving true "liberty and justice for all." 
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About groups that discriminate:

There are movements in the U.S. and Canada that oppose our beliefs. Some individuals, organizations and governments believe that some people are so inferior because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability level, age, etc. that they should be granted fewer rights, privileges, opportunities, and life choices. Often, these movements are religiously motivated.

We differentiate between the beliefs and actions of these counter movements:

  • We support their right to hold religious beliefs supporting discrimination and oppression  based on race, gender, sexual orientation and other classifications. We do not criticize such beliefs; we simply report them. We promote their right to freely communicate their principles to others. In other words, we support the freedom of persons and groups to engage in hate speech.

  • We oppose their right for individuals, groups and governments to take discriminatory actions against women and minorities. We feel free to criticize such actions.

We feel that the world would be a much better place if religious tolerance were generally observed. However, mere tolerance is not adequate as a final goal. We would like to see a world in which people are interested in, and value, religions other than their own  -- where religious diversity is regarded as a positive factor and where everyone has a basic knowledge of at least the main religious belief systems.

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About our web site:

  • Interaction: We invite you to respond and contribute to this web site, by:
    • Sending us Emails via the "contact us" image at the bottom of each essay. We promise to try to read every Email. Unfortunately time often does not permit us to reply.
    • Signing on to our Twitter account: Twitter icon
    • Reading our facebook page and perhaps joining the group: Facebook icon
    • Posting messages to our unmoderated forum.
    • Writing an essay and submitting it to us for possible publishing in our visitor essays section. Again, use the "contact us" button.

  • Differences: Our site is different from essentially all other religious web sites:
    • We are reporters of the full range of religious beliefs; our essays are not limited to the beliefs of the webmaster, as in almost all other religious web sites.
    • We do not promote any particular denomination or religion. 
    • We respect the right of all to hold diverse religious beliefs.
    • We criticize actions by individuals, groups and governments which oppose the principle of "liberty and justice for all."
    • We promote neither the pro-choice or pro-life stances on any issue. However, we explain both.
    • We try to give a balanced explanation of all points of view, as accurately, clearly, concisely, and objectively as we can.

  • Catchment area: Our web site is written primarily for the U.S. and Canadian public. We hope that others from around the world will also find our site of interest.

  • Completeness: We first established our web site in 1995, and have been writing material ever since. There were 5609 essays online as of mid-2013. We estimate that we need thousands more essays to fully cover all topics. You may well find topics on this web site which should be covered, but which are not.

  • Complaints: We receive many dozens of complaints each year from visitors who don't like what they see on our web site. Many are not happy that we compare and contrast:
    • One religion with another, or
    • The conservative and liberal wings of the same religion, or
    • A religious belief system with a secular and/or scientific viewpoint.

    Some of our visitors are quite disturbed at seeing their particular world view compared and contrasted with a different one. A few write us very angry letters. We even receive the occasional death threat. We don't see a solution to this problem. It is inherent in the type of work that we do. Still, we get about 3 or 4 positive Emails for each negative one.

  • Why we have so much information on Christianity Some readers are surprised at our wealth of essays on Christianity in comparison to many fewer essays each on Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, etc.  This is because about 75% of Americans and Canadians identify themselves as Christian. About 20% -- and rapidly growing -- are NOTAS, those NOT Affiliated with any religion. The next largest religions are Islam and Judaism with about 1% apiece. When the remaining organized religions are lumped together, they total only about 2%. There are about 20 Christians for every single follower of a non-Christian organized religion. This motivates us to cover Christianity in much greater depth. Visitors who want more detailed information on another religions can use the hyperlinks in our essays to transfer to web sites that concentrate only in that one religion.

    Some conservative Christians might have difficulty understanding the above information because they often define the term "Christian" very restrictively to mean only a born-again person -- one who has repented of their sins and trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. About 35% of Americans are born-again. This web site uses a more inclusive definition -- the one used by pollsters and census offices. We accept as Christian any person or any group who sincerely identifies themselves to be Christian.

  • Why we have so much information on Wicca and a few other religions: We deal with these faith traditions in great detail because of the high level of religious intolerance, disinformation, assault, and even lynching experienced by Neopagans and others who go public with their religion. This is largely the legacy of centuries of misinformation, starting during the "burning times" when the Catholic and Protestant churches mounted campaigns of mass killings of non-Christians.
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An exception to our rules of balance, and objectivity:

  • Author's comments: Occasionally, we are moved to editorialize on some topics. Sometimes, we just have to let off steam. But we usually highlight the passage with the header "Author's comments" or "Webmaster's comments" in bold. These sections are biased in favor of the author's belief system. You may or may not wish to read these comments. They are not held to the same standard of balance and objectivity as the rest of our essays.

  • Our essay on conclusions: We received many complaints charging us with "fence-sitting." -- being without the courage to state our beliefs. Other complaining Emails said that we had a lot of data on our site, but not enough conclusions. So, we wrote an essay on some of the conclusions that we have reached as a result of our religious and spiritual Internet journey since the startup of our web site in 1995. Again, this essay does not exhibit the same standard of balance and objectivity as the rest of our essays. There are a few other essays of this general type, but they are clearly marked.
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Structure of our web site...

Many of our visitors find that the most convenient method of finding information about a specific topic is to use our site search function. We also have a vertical column of navigation bars on the left side of each page that will take you to many main menus.

We have a privacy statement governing our site.

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Can you help?

If you can help out with mini-donation of a few dollars or more per month, we would deeply appreciate it. We make it very easy for you to contribute, either on a one-shot basis or on a monthly basis, via PayPal or your credit card.

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Amazon.com Online Bookstore:

Some of our pages have hyperlinks to Amazon.com that you can use to order books online. If you buy books, CDs etc. from Amazon.com, please consider going to Amazon via the link below. It costs the same to you and we typically get a 6% or 7% commission.

In Association with Amazon.com

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Site navigation:  Home page  >  here

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Copyright © 1997 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2013-JUL-09
Author: B.A. Robinson
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