Hot topics involving change and extensive conflict:
Past and present religious and ethical conflicts:
Some settled; some starting; some concluding;
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.
- 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 ahs been between religious conservatives and sexual minorities like the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual community (LGBT).
Examples of past conflicts were:
- 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.
Currently, most of the conflicts in North America are sexually related, in that they involve individual's gender, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity.
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."
Thus, 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 Christianity.
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 conflicts One 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.
- 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.
Future topics which have not yet been fully engaged:
At any time over the past few centuries, there have been "hot" topics
that are just emerging into public debate. Now is no exception.
-- Equal rights and protections for those who experience gender
dysphoria. These are individuals whose gender identity conflicts with the 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 that gay marriages were to be available across Canada, the attention of many religious and social conservatives rapidly switched from opposing same-sex marriage to opposing equal rights for transgender persons and transsexuals. Debate on this topic is expected to accellerate rapidly in the near future, even though only about 0.6% of adults are transgender.|
||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. |
||The current big four moral/ethical concerns:
and physical therapies and treatments:
|In the U.S.:
|About marriage: Changes in
marriage, marriage in the Bible, marriage amendment to the U.S.
Constitution, covenant marriages, same-sex marriages, inter-faith
marriages, handfasting, polygamy.....|
|Other items (in alphabetic order):|
||Asexuality: a fourth sexual orientation?|
|Christian urban legends: really neat stories with a
Christian theme that never happened|
|Clergy sexual abuse of children and youth
|Cloning of humans; Therapeutic
|Condoms in the schools, sex-ed, and pre-marital sex
|Conscience clauses: Discriminating against
people motivated by religious belief|
|Corporal punishment of children (Spanking)
Cremation vs. burial:
|Embryo and stem cell research|
|Euthanasia and assisted suicide
||Evolution vs. Creation Science|
|Fantasy role playing games
Dungeons & Dragons, etc.|
||Female Genital Mutilation (a.k.a. Female Circumcision) |
|Freedoms: erosion of freedoms and human
rights in the U.S.|
Gay/lesbian marriage (We prefer the term "same-sex marriage" as being more inclusive)
|Government vs. religion in the US|
|Halloween: Facts and misinformation|
|The Harry Potter books
(children's imaginative fiction)|
||Hate crime legslation|
||Hate groups in the U.S.|
||Homosexual marriages (We prefer the term "same-sex marriage" as being more inclusive)|
||Individual vs. group effort: The power of "WE:" Part 1 Part 2 Part 3|
||Intersexuality and Intersexual Genital Mutilation|
|Jesus' body: where is it now? In heaven or a
|License plates with anti-abortion
or pro-Christian messages|
|Nudism, Naturism, Public Breast-feeding, Toplessness
|The "Occult" |
|Priests' sexual abuse of children and youth|
|Recovered Memory therapy|
|Religion in the public schools |
|Residential schools for Native students in
||Same-sex marriage |
|Satanic ritual abuse|
|Sex related topics|
|Separation of church and state; Recent court decisions|
||Spanking (corporal punishment) of children|
|Stem cell research|
|The Ten Commandments; should
they be posted in public schools, etc.?|
|Transgenderism, transsexualism and gender
|Truth and falsehood: absolute or relative?|
|"Spare the Rod:" an essay describing partnership
and dominator cultural models by Riane Eisler|
|Vouchers for religious schools|
|War costs in Iraq and Afghanistan |
||Witchcraft and Wicca|
||Women in the clergy: female priests, pastors, ministers, rabbis
Additional "Hot" Topics can be seen elsewhere on this Web site at the