About this web site: Ontario Consultants on
Religious Tolerance (OCRT):
Part 2 of 5 parts:
Our core beliefs and biases.
Our rules of engagement.
Our core beliefs and biases:
Every person and group has a group of basic beliefs. They can lead to bias and lack
of objectivity. These are some of ours:
||We believe in freedom of speech, within limits. We do not believe
that a person has the right to falsely yell "fire" in a crowded
theatre. We do not believe that a Baptist minister in TX has the
right to publicly agitate that the government round up and exterminate
religious minorities in his state with napalm. However, short of these types of extremes, we
feel that people should not be prevented from freely saying what they
believe. We have great respect for freedom of speech. We feel that
promoters of hatred, whether based on race, religion, gender, sexual
orientation or other grounds, will be largely discredited and rejected if all
are allowed-- and given the opportunity -- to speak freely.
||We are firm supporters of the principle of separation
of church and state. Lack of religious freedom, government oppression, and
even mass crimes against humanity and genocide are much more common in countries which lack such separation.
||We believe in freedom of religion, which includes the rights of
freedom of belief, speech, expression, assembly, proselytizing, and advocacy. We feel that people also should have the right to
freely change their religion. However, we recognize that there are
limits that must be placed on such freedoms. For example, we do not
feel that parents should be allowed to withhold medical treatment from seriously ill children if
conventional medical treatment has a good chance of curing them. We support human rights legislation that requires retail outlets in business to provide goods and services to the public should be required to serve all customers, regardless of their skin color, race, religion, gender, national origin, degree of ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. Such companies are generally called "public accommodations."
||We believe that some absolute religious truths exist. For example,
the statement "There is only one God," is either
absolutely right or wrong -- at least it is if the term
"God" is carefully predefined. However, there may be no way for us to know the
correct answer to some religious questions.
||We believe that moral absolutes exist, at least within a given world
view. Many people have a set of moral beliefs that are based on their
own basic, foundational assumptions about deity, humanity and the rest of
the universe. They often assert that these beliefs are absolutely true
-- and they are, to them. However, the absolute beliefs of a typical
religious conservative will often differ from the absolute beliefs of an average religious liberal, within the same religion.
And the beliefs of a secular Humanist may differ from both.
||We firmly believe in the concept of "liberty and justice for
some." We believe that convicted murderers and other
violent criminals should have their freedoms restricted. We do not believe
that children should have the same full range of freedoms as do adults.
But we feel that adults at least should enjoy the maximum amount of freedom
without impinging seriously on the freedom of others. We are
particularly distressed at discrimination which victimizes people
because of their genetic makeup -- e.g. reducing their rights because
of their race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, etc.
||We believe that a person is not truly educated unless they have
studied religion and its effect on society. Students need to learn
about all religions. They need to understand the
religious beliefs that inspired Gandhi,
Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, and other humanitarians. They also need to learn how religious
beliefs have contributed to mass
murders and genocides in North America during the European invasion, Nazi Germany during World War II, in Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo,
Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Sudan and countless other countries over the past few decades.
||We enjoy living in a religiously diverse culture in which the rights
of people to hold diverse religious beliefs and to engage in
different cultural practices are valued.
||We believe that most religions have a generally positive influence on their
followers and on society. Of all of the faith groups that we have
studied, only a handful of destructive cults
have had an overall negative effect. We do not believe that all religions and spiritual paths are the same,
or that all are equally good, or that all are equally valid.
We will attempt to describe each point of view carefully, respectfully and
objectively in the essays on this web site. To this end, we have many of our essays reviewed by
persons familiar with the issues who represent all sides of each topic. We
encourage readers to Email
us about any errors that they find. We do not regard any essay as fixed.
- Promotion of religious belief: Unlike almost all other
religious WWW sites, we do not advocate any one religion. We are a group whose
members follow five different theological beliefs (Agnosticism, Atheism,
Christianity, Wicca, and Zen Buddhism). It would be difficult for us to promote any one belief
system, even if we wanted to.
- Criticism and Opposition: We do not criticize any person or
any organized religion for their theological beliefs. However
we do censure individuals and groups for any actions which
harm people, limit their personal freedoms, or restrict their spiritual, mental,
emotional, or physical growth. Thus, we are opposed to racist, sexist, homophobic
and transphobic activities by individuals and groups.
In short, we are tolerant of the great diversity of
religious ideas. However, we are generally intolerant of such practices
as discrimination and hatred based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. Our
specific policies are outlined in detail elsewhere on
Judging from our Email, this is a difficult concept for some readers to
understand: how can we be tolerant and non-critical, even as we are being
intolerant and critical. Perhaps an example from one Christian denomination will
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- a.k.a. the Mormons -- once taught that blacks had been "less
valiant' in their preexistent support of Jesus in a great battle against Lucifer."
They were cursed by God with the "Mark of Ham"
-- interpreted by the church to be black skin.
This was the belief of the church; it was, by definition, a racist belief. We
do not condemn it. It was simply a piece of doctrine from the past which we attempt to
One of the denomination's leaders described blacks as:
uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild and seemingly without the blessings
of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind."
Again, this is an old statement that demonstrates racist beliefs from one leader. Again,
we simply report the opinion; we do not criticize it. It is simply a matter of
the historical record.
However, the church went further. It applied this concept in practice. The
denomination prohibited blacks from being ordained as its
ministers in the same way that they still exclude women from ordination. They also made male members with as few as a single distant black ancestors
ineligible for ordination. This is a serious restriction; unlike other
denominations, all male members of this denomination are expected to be
ordained into the priesthood. Their racist belief had become a racist practice.
We are critical of racist actions. We condemn all actions which negate the
concept of equal "liberty and justice for all."
Fortunately, Mormons believe that their leadership received a revelation from God in 1978.
They terminated both the racist
belief and action in the Mormon church.
- Respecting privacy: We respect the privacy of various
religious organizations. Many faith groups including The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, the Church of Scientology, and
some groups within Ceremonial Magick, Wicca, etc. attempt to keep some information about their
beliefs and rituals secret from the public. These groups release knowledge
gradually to their members, as they advance in training. Although some of this
information has been published (often by violating copyright) we do not
contribute to its dissemination.
How you may have arrived here
Copyright 1996 to 2016, by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-MAR-12
Author: B.A. Robinson