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Very hot topics involving extensive conflict

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Past and present religious and ethical conflicts:
Some settled; some starting; some concluding;
Some low key; others very active.

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About this web site:

We are unlike probably 99.9% of the religious websites on the Internet. We do not promote:

bullet A single religion.
bullet A single point of view on "hot" religious topics.
bullet 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 will find material on this web site that agrees with your beliefs. You will also find other opinions 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.

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Background about 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 35,000 Christian denominations in the world rather than one.

  • 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 -- typically 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, etc.

  • Universal sufferage: whether women should be allowed to vote.

  • 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 opposed to allowing women to attain positions of power and authority.

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 in about two decades (from 1980 to 2000).
    • Same-sex marriage may well be settled -- at least from a legal standpoint -- in less than two decades (from 2004 to perhaps 2020).

  • 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 gender, sexual orientation, and/or sexual identity.

Since about 75% 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 any group or individual who sincerely, devoutly, thoughtfully considers themselves to be Christian. 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 the Christian Scientists to progressive Christianity.

Important stuff:

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.
  • Worldviews:

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Religious change:

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 holy book(s) 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.

  • 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:

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Past Conflicts, Now 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.

bulletHuman slavery: Slavery has been almost completely eliminated. However near-slavery is still a serious problem in some areas of the world.

bullet Other conflicts which have been largely resolved

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.

bullet Transgender persons -- Equal rights and protections for those who experience gender dysphoria. Their gender identity conflicts with their physical sex. This topic has surfaced into public view as a result of a federal bill in the U.S. to end discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

bullet 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.

Currently active religious conflicts:

bullet The current big four moral/ethical concerns:
bullet

Equal rights for homosexuals and bisexuals including same-sex marriage and homosexual references in the Bible

bullet Abortion access including methods of reducing the abortion rate

bulletCapital punishment
 
bullet Climate change, global warming, and the environment
 
bulletMental and physical therapies and treatments:
bulletPsychological and other hoaxes
bulletCAM: "Complementary and alternative medicine"
bulletFacilitated communication for people with Autism and other communication disorders
bullet Faith healing via prayer vs. medical treatment
bulletThe HPV vaccine and cervical cancer
bullet Recovered Memory therapy (RMT)
bulletTheophostic Counseling
bullet Therapeutic Touch: valid healing method or hoax?
bullet Ending discrimination in hospital visitation
 
bullet Educational topics:
bulletIn the U.S.:
bulletReligion in the public schools
bulletSchool library book censorship
bulletCondoms in the schools, sex-ed, and pre-marital sex
bulletPosting the ten Commandments in public schools

bulletIn Canada:
bulletResidential schools for Native students in Canada
bulletAnti-bullying "wear pink" day
bulletFaith-based, government financed schools
 
bulletMarriage topics:
bulletAbout 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.....
 
bulletOther items (in alphabetic order):
bullet Asexuality: a fourth sexual orientation?
bulletChristian urban legends: really neat stories with a Christian theme that never happened
bulletClergy sexual abuse of children and youth
bulletCloning of humans; Therapeutic cloning 
bulletCondoms in the schools, sex-ed, and pre-marital sex
bulletConscience clauses: Discriminating against people motivated by religious belief
bulletCorporal punishment of children (Spanking)
bullet

Cremation vs. burial:

bulletEmbryo and stem cell research
bulletEuthanasia and assisted suicide
bulletMedical management of pain
bulletEvolution vs. Creation Science
bulletFantasy role playing games Dungeons & Dragons, etc.
bullet Female Genital Mutilation (a.k.a. Female Circumcision)
bulletFemale ordination
bulletFreedoms: erosion of freedoms and human rights in the U.S.
bullet

Gay/lesbian marriage (We prefer the term "same-sex marriage" as being more inclusive)

bulletGovernment vs. religion in the US
bulletHalloween: Facts and misinformation
bulletThe Harry Potter books (children's imaginative fiction)
bullet Hate crime legslation
bullet Hate groups in the U.S.
bullet Homosexual marriages (We prefer the term "same-sex marriage" as being more inclusive)
bulletInter-faith marriages
bullet Intersexuality  and Intersexual Genital Mutilation
bulletJesus' body: where is it now? In heaven or a Jerusalem tomb
bulletLicense plates with anti-abortion or pro-Christian messages
bulletMasturbation
bulletNudism, Naturism, Public Breast-feeding, Toplessness
bulletThe "Occult"
bullet Polygamous marriages
bulletPriests' sexual abuse of children and youth
bulletRecovered Memory therapy
bulletReligion in the public schools
bulletResidential schools for Native students in Canada
bulletRitual abuse
bullet Same-sex marriage
bulletSatanic ritual abuse
bulletSex related topics
bulletSeparation of church and state; Recent court decisions
bulletSpanking (corporal punishment of children)
bulletStem cell research
bulletSuicide
bulletThe Ten Commandments; should they be posted in public schools, etc.?
bulletTransgenderism, transsexualism and gender identity
bulletTruth and falsehood: absolute or relative?
bullet"Spare the Rod:" an essay describing partnership and dominator cultural models by Riane Eisler
bulletVouchers for religious schools