The Apologetics Index supplies resources on religious movements,
cults, sects, world religions and related issues. It is a massive site, with
over 25,000 pages. 1
Their A-Z index of religions, organizations,
movements and individuals states:
"The site provides information that helps equip
Christians to logically present and defend the Christian faith, and that
aids non-Christians in their comparison of various religious claims. Issues
addressed range from spiritual and cultic abuse to contemporary theological
and/or sociological concerns." 2
In many ways, the Religious Tolerance web site and
the Apologetics Index are direct opposites:
On this web site, we generally explain all
views as objectively as we can and let the reader make up their own mind.
When the Apologetics Index explains a topic,
they generally accept only what they regard as the historical conservative
Protestant view as true. They attempt to disprove all other beliefs.
We wrote this essay because Apologetics Index criticized this web site,
and we want to give an alternate opinion.
How they describe our web site:
The Apologetics Index color codes each entry. This website is given a yellow
marker, indicating "Pluralistic." There are certainly worse markers they could
have given us. Orange, for example, refers to "Aberrational,
Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox" material.2
The description of our web site, located between Oneness Pentecostalism
and Ontology is generally accurate. 2
Ours is indeed a large
site with 3,815 pages as of the end of 2007-JUN. They describe
us as a
multi-faith group that is concerned about threats to religious freedom,
and about religious hatred, misinformation, and discrimination. They mention
that we attempt to "disseminate accurate religious information," "expose
religious fraud, hatred and misinformation," and "disseminate information
on 'hot' religious topics."
One important factor that they missed is that we attempt to explain all religious beliefs,
'hot' topics, etc. from all points of view. For example, we explain
Origins of the universe and evolution from a new earth creationist, old
earth creationist, theistic evolutionary and naturalistic evolutionary point
Homosexuality from a conservative Christian, liberal Christian,
homosexual, bisexual, and mental health professional point of view.
This is one of our most important
policies. The vast majority of religious web sites present only a single
viewpoint: that of the webmaster or sponsoring agency. We challenge our visitors
to consider a range of belief systems.
of our web site:
These are confined to the last paragraph in their listing:
"Unfortunately, while you'll find an extensive collection of documented,
cross-referenced information, many articles are not as balanced as advertised.
The site promotes pluralism ..." 3
We feel that "Pluralism" is a poor
term to use, because in a religious sense, the word
has two quite different meanings. It is often not clear to which an author,
theologian, or clergyperson is
The belief that all religions and secular world views are
legitimate and valid. Each is "true" when viewed
from within its own culture.
The fact that religious diversity exists.
We definitely do not believe that all views are legitimate and
valid. There have been a handful of destructive faith groups whose
beliefs have led to the deaths of their members. We
frequently criticize faith groups when they harm people, limit their
personal freedoms, or restrict their spiritual, mental, emotional,
or physical growth. We criticize faith groups that have have taken
actions based on their sexist, xenophobic,
homophobic, theocratic, and/or racist teachings.
On the other hand, we do acknowledge that the second definition
is an established fact for North America. The U.S. is generally regarded as the
most religiously diverse country in the world. Southern Ontario Canada, where
our main office is located, has been referred to as the most
religiously diverse region of any country in the world.
The Apologetics Index continues by stating that this web site:
"... has a decidedly dim view of the anti-cult and
counter-cult movements. It prefers to believe cult-apologists, and promotes many
of their arguments. ..." 3
We have certainly criticized illegal activities by a minority in the
anti-cult movement, like assault, kidnapping, involuntary confinement.
We have contrasted many of the assertions of these movements with studies by
academic researchers of new religious movements and with the conclusions of
mental health professionals.
They conclude with:
"In public and private messages, staff and supporters of the
Scientology-backed CAN, refer people to the site rather than their own."
The new Cult Awareness Network (CAN), which advocates religious
tolerance, was made possible as the result of the purchase of the former
CAN's assets by a Scientologist. This occurred after the old CAN was unable to pay a fine for
their involvement in an abduction. According to the new CAN's "who we
are" essay, their:
"... Board has consisted of from 5-9 people since the beginning
of the organization. The Chairman of the Board is a Baptist minister
named George Robertson. The Secretary of the Corporation was
originally Mark Lurie a member of the Movement for Spiritual Inner
Awareness. It is now Stan Koehler a Buddhist. The Treasurer of the
Corporation is Nancy O. Meara, a Scientologist. Other Board members
include a woman with a degree in psychology and man who is Jewish."
On the other hand, an episode of 60 Minutes claimed that
Scientologists do have a major influence in the new CAN. We don't have
the resources to determine where the truth lies.
The new CAN may well refer individuals who are seeking objective explanations
of different religions to our web site. However, their "helpful list of
Factual Religious Sites" does not include a link to this site.
Lots of authors and other groups do link to us:
The Amazon.com web site lists 79 books with citations to essays
on our web site; we suspect that this is a small fraction of the
TrustGage.com claims that there are about 116,000 links from
other web sites to this one, and that we have a traffic rating of
6,462 out of about 100 million web sites on the Internet. That is, our traffic
level places this site in the top 0.006% of all websites
gives our home page a page ranking of seven out of ten -- a difficult
rank to attain.