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Hot topics involving change and extensive conflict:
Past and present religious and ethical 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 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, and 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 20 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.
Slavery vs. abolition: whether some people should be able to own and consider other people as property.
Status of women: whether women should be allowed to own property, to enter professions, 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 Senate.
Universal sufferage: whether women should be allowed to vote in elections.
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.
Debate over the existence of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) was largely resolved over about 15 years (from 1980 to 1995).
Same-sex marriage was settled -- at least from a legal standpoint -- in about two decades. Massachusetts was the first (from 2004 to 2015).
When conflicts are eventually resolved, it 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.
Since 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 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."
We strongly recommend that you read the following topics:
Different worldviews: One's basic, foundational understanding of deity, humanity, and the rest of the uiniverse. This is the root cause of most conflicts.
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
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.
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.
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.