Hot topics involving change and extensive conflict:
Past & present religious/ethical/moral
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 ethican 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 20 to 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.
- Among religions,
- 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. It was only in 1929 that Women were considered full persons in Canada who could be appointed to the federal Senate.
Universal sufferage: whether women should be allowed to vote in government elections. In the U.S., the vote was granted to women by the 19th Amendment to the federal Constitution which was ratified on 1920-AUG-18 after almost a century of protest. Women in Quebec, Canada were only allowed to vote two decades later, 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 accellerating:
- 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 of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) was largely resolved over about 15 years (between 1980 and 1995).
Interracial marriages were legalized by a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967.
The debate over same-sex marriage in North America took about 25 years -- a full generation:
It started with the filing of an unsuccessful lawsuit in Hawaii during 1991.
During 2003, gay marriages became available in Ontario Canada.
During 2004, Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to reach marriage equality.
During 2005, gay marriages became available across Canada.
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.
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.
Currently, most of the recent conflicts between in North America over the past century are related anindividuals'
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. 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 counselling and prayer.
A person's gender identity is determined by internal brain structures whch 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 gender 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 inclusive 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 understand them to be."
Thus, on this website, Christian denominations include a great range of faith groups, from the Southern Baptists to Mormons, from the Roman Catholic Church to Jehovah's Witnesses, from Christian Scientists to progressive Christian denominations. In contrast, many denominations teach that their faith group is Christian but that many others are not.
We strongly recommend that you read the following topics:
Changes in religious beliefs are very different from changes in scientific
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 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.
The following section and essay discuss change:
Past conflicts, now largely settled:
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.
One topic which has recently become fully engaged:
Transgender persons: This involves equal rights and protections for those who experience gender
dysphoria. Their gender identity conflicts with the biological gender that they were assigned at birth. This topic
became prominent as a result of a federal bill in the U.S. to end discrimination on the basis of both sexual
orientation and gender identity.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on 2015-JUN-26 that gay marriages were to be available across the country (with the exception of American Samoa), the attention of many religious and social conservatives rapidly switched from opposing same-sex marriage to opposing equal rights for transgender persons and transsexuals. As expected, debate on this topic accellerated rapidly, even though only about 0.6% of adults are transgender.
One topic that may receive accellerated 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.