Past & present religious/ethical/moral
conflicts: Some settled; some starting;
some dissipating; Some low key;
others very active:
How this web site handles religious conflicts:
We are unlike probably 99.9% of the religious websites on the Internet. We do not promote:
A single religion, or
A single denomination, tradition, sect, or faith group within a religion, or
A single point of view on "hot" religious topics, or
A single point of view on controversial social problems.
Instead, we try to explain all viewpoints fairly, accurately, completely, and with balance.
As a result, you are certain to find material in this section and throughout the rest of this web site that agrees with your beliefs. You will also find other discussions that contradict your beliefs. Please don't E-mail us because you find information here that you don't agree with. That is to be expected. If it doesn't happen, then we are not doing our job properly.
An introduction to religious and ethical conflicts:
For centuries, there have been active major conflicts of a religious, theological and/or ethical nature in North America and in the rest of the world. We refer to these as "very hot topics" -- debates that have generated enormous conflict and division within cultures. Many continue to do so today.
These have occurred:
Within various faith groups, where they often lead to denominational schisms. That is why there are about 40 thousand Christian denominations, sects, and faith groups in the world rather than one.
Within a single religion, among various faith groups, often between theologically conservative and progressive denominations within the same religion.
Between various faith groups and secularists, and
Between various faith groups and other groups in society. In the U.S., during the 21st century, much of the religious conflict has been between religious conservatives and sexual minorities like the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community (LGBT).
Examples of past conflicts were:
Slavery vs. abolition: whether some people should be able to own and consider other people as property. In the U.S. the Civil War was fought over this conflict.
Status of women: whether women should be allowed to own property, to enter professions, to be considered on a par with men, etc. Women were granted the vote first in New Zealand during 1893. It was only in 2020-AUG that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote. It was only in 1929 that Women were considered full persons in Canada who could be appointed to the federal Senate. Women in Quebec, Canada were only allowed to vote in elections after 1940-APR-25.
Whether women should be allowed to be ordained as clergy. This topic is still being debated today as the two largest faith groups in the U.S. -- the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention -- remain profoundly sexist in their opposition to allowing women to attain positions of power and authority. Other Christian denominations are gradually accepting women. We are only aware of two religious groups in which the majority of clergy/leaders are women. That is the Unitarian Universalist Association and some Neo-pagan faiths, like Wicca.
After studying past conflicts that have been partly or completely resolved we have noted that:
Resolution of these conflicts seem to be accelerating:
Slavery took centuries -- and in the case of the United States, a major war -- to abolish.
Allowing women to vote required almost a century of protests.
Debate over the existence and nature of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) was largely resolved over about 15 years (between 1980 and 1995).
A decade later, during 2015-JUN, the conflict was settled in the U.S. -- at least from a legal standpoint -- with a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriages across the country with the exception of the Territory of American Samoa. Most people who live there are considered residents, not American citizens. Thus rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court are not necessarily recognized there.
When conflicts are eventually resolved, they always seems to be in favor of greater equality and greater human rights for more people.
In most cases, when a group that is discriminated against is able to organize and fight to attain equality, they eventually win.
At least in recent decades, faith groups that oppose equality and human rights are experiencing a major loss in active membership, particularly among youths and young adults.
As of early months of the year 2020, most of the recent conflicts between in North America over the past century are related to an individuals'
Scientific research has shown that all three are caused by genetic factors before birth. For example:
A person's biological gender is determined by the presence (male) or absence (female) of a "Y" chromosome in the individual's DNA. That is determined at conception, circa 9 months before birth by the structure of a single spermatozoon that fertilizes an ovum at conception.
A person's sexual orientation is fixed and determined by epigenetics. This a layer on top of their DNA that turns various genes on and off. It is developed long before birth and does not change through life. In contrast, many religious conservatives still believe that one's sexual orientation is a choice typically made during teenage years that can be changed through counseling and prayer.
A person's gender identity is determined by internal brain structures which can come in male of female types with different sizes and neuron density. In contrast, many religious conservatives believe that gender identity is caused by mental confusion and can be changed through counseling.
Since the vast majority of our web site's visitors come from the U.S. or Canada, and because about 70% of Americans and Canadians identify themselves as Christians, this section will mainly deal with the conflicts between some Christian sources and other elements in North American society.
Please be aware that we follow a very broad definition of the term "Christian." On this website, a Christian is defined as:
"... any individual or group who devoutly, thoughtfully, seriously, and prayerfully regards themselves to be Christian. That is, they honestly believe that they follow Yeshua of Nazareth's (a.k.a. Jesus Christ's) teachings as they interpret them to be."
Random religious thoughts...: These are observations by the webmaster: Important stuff that you will probably never hear in your church, mosque, synagogue, circle, etc.
Basic questions that often underly many conflictsOne can often find fundamental questions that underly active conflicts, but which are often neglected. Yet it is often in these ignored questions that the possibility for consensus and resolution lies.
Changes in religious beliefs are very different from changes in scientific beliefs.
In the larger world religions, religious beliefs are largely based upon the writings in a holy book -- the Hebrew Scriptures for Jews, the Holy Bible for Christians, the Qur'an for Muslims, etc. The actual text of these books is more or less fixed. Thus, religious beliefs evolve only as the interpretation of the texts change. This is often a very slow process.
What the books say is fixed; how they are interpreted is evolving.
Because of the close interaction between religion and culture, change happens at a very slow rate -- often over generations. For example, in the U.S. the level of acceptance of inter-racial marriage increased over the latter part of the 20th century by only about 1 percentage point a year; acceptance of same-sex marriage since 1988 has been increasing somewhat faster -- about 1.7 percentage points a year. Such basic changes are generational in nature because people normally develop their ethical and moral beliefs as older teens and young adults and maintain them largely unchanged for the rest of their life.
In science, all beliefs are open to falsification. Scientists know that their beliefs only approximate reality. Their beliefs are grounded in observations. They expect and aggressively search out reality through observation and study. Change can happen quickly.
Ever since the time of the scientist Galileo, there have been continual battles in the West between the dominant religion (Christianity) and persons who propose conflicting social, medical, scientific and other ideas.
Human slavery: Slavery has been almost completely eliminated in much of the world. However near-slavery is still a serious problem in some areas of the world.
A topic that public opinion has intensely focused on:
During mid-2020, demonstrations -- some violent -- were seen across the U.S. and in some other countries. The trigger ocurred in Baltimore, MD when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, leaned his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a black man. Within less than ten minutes, George was dead. Chauvin was part of a four-officer team which also included J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao face. None of the latter intervened to save Floyd's life. All four have been fired and face murder/manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd.
One result of the killing and the demonstrations was a very rapid change in public opinion in the U.S. concerning whether "Black Lives Matter."
One topic that may receive accelerated attention in the future:
Polygamy (a.k.a. plural marriage): Marriage is an amazingly flexible institution. It has taken many forms in various cultures and eras. It has not always been restricted to a union of two spouses. The current record holder for man with the largest collection of wives appears to be Solomon in the Bible. He is reported as having 700 wives and 300 concubines. A concubine is a type of junior wife.