About this web site: Ontario Consultants on
Religious Tolerance (OCRT):
Part 5 of 5 parts:
Our motivations and concerns. What
people often ask us. Potential conflicts
This topic is a continuation from Part 4
Our prime motivation is a concern for the victims of religiously motivated
hatred and oppression, whether it is:
- directed from persons of one faith group to another (e.g. by a
Christian Fundamentalist group against the Mormons).
- directed from persons of one faith group against a secular group
(e.g. by a religious group against gays, lesbians and bisexuals).
- directed from persons in a secular group against a faith group (e.g.
by freethinkers against all organized religions).
In many of the current hot spots in the world
(the Middle East, India, Kosovo, the
Philippines, Sudan, etc.) there has been a history of religious friction extending over many
years or centuries. Given the right environment, these
hatreds have sometimes exploded into terrorism and vicious civil war. We see serious
levels of religious hatred and bigotry throughout North America. We feel that it
has the potential to intensify until some serious form of conflict occurs. There
are number of factors which might lead to an escalation of religiously based
hatred in the near future:
- An increase in the number and influence of politically active,
religiously motivated groups whose goals are to limit personal rights
and freedoms, and to tear down the "wall of separation" between church
- An increase in religious diversity generally, including a growing number of small emerging religious groups which
do not follow traditional Christian beliefs.
- A gradual reduction (almost 1 percentage point per year) in the percentage of Americans who identify
themselves as Christians.
- The rise in numbers of NOTAS (persons who are NOT Affiliated with a faith group. They are growing at
almost 1 percentage point per year.
- The rapid change in public beliefs regarding women's equality, equal
rights for gays and lesbians, equal rights for transgender persons and transsexuals, abortion
access, physician assisted suicide etc., is causing stress
among some people.
When we originally prepared the above list in 1996, we also included
two additional factors:
- Continued widespread belief in the hoax of ritual abuse
committed by Satanists and other small
religious groups. Belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) faded rapidly during the mid 1990's because over
two decades of searching by law enforcement had failed to uncover any
- The approach of the end of the millennium and the rising fever and
expectations among a minority of the population concerning the
anticipated end of the
world. The new millennium has arrived, and those who expected the world
as we know it to end have somehow adjusted to the new reality.
However, two new threats have emerged in the early years of the 21st
- The possibility of increasing and widespread conflict between Christians
and Muslims around the world. This could have a profound negative effect on
inter-faith relations in the U.S. and Canada.
- A polarization of religious beliefs in North America, with the U.S. South being
predominately conservative Christian, while the U.S. North and Canada being more
liberal and secular, and the West being more experimental and radical. Such
a three-way division in religious beliefs is ominously similar to that found
in Bosnia and Lebanon before their religiously-motivated conflicts.
- Are you gay? No. We are all adults in heterosexual
- Do you have a hidden agenda? Not really. Our agenda is
quite public: to promote the concept of "liberty and justice for all."
And by "all" we mean persons of all races, genders,
sexual orientations, sexual identifications, national origins, religions, ability status, ages,
sizes, etc. This is a simple concept, but one that has only partly been
achieved in the U.S. and Canada. It took many decades to end slavery.
Racial segregation is still active, particularly in some churches. The most visible segregation is seen on Sunday mornings in Christian churches. Equal
rights for women is still a work in progress, particularly in the field
of religion, where women are still refused ordination by some denominations. The drive to attain equal rights for persons of all sexual
orientations and gender identities, has
made considerable progress in the U.S. and Canada, but has a long way to go.
- Do you believe it to be your duty to write these essays? What drives you?
We see massive evil in the world that is created by what some call the "the
demon of the absolute." Most people have well defined religious
and moral beliefs, and realize that conflicting views exist.
- Some believe that their religious beliefs are absolutely true,
that other's beliefs are in error, and, sometimes, that the latter should have
no right to hold those beliefs.
- Some people react to this multi-faith, multi-cultural
environment by valuing diversity.
- The vast majority of people are between these two extremes.
We feel an obligation to promote a culture in which everyone values
fundamental human rights for themselves and others. This includes the right
to think and act differently from the majority and the right to change one's religious affiliation and beliefs.
We want to publicize the good and the evil practices of all faith groups,
so that people might feel motivated to maximize the former and actively work to reduce the
latter within their own faith tradition.
- Your essays show a definite aversion to and hatred of conservative Christian
beliefs. We receive this type of complaint frequently. Unfortunately,
the complaints are almost never specific. As a result, we are unable
to make any corrections to our Web site.
In our writing, we
try to explain both conservative and liberal Christian beliefs
accurately and concisely. We do compare and contrast these beliefs,
but we are not intolerant of either side. However, we do criticize
situations in which religious beliefs result in practices that harm
others. In short:
- We value diversity of belief;
- We respect different faith groups' beliefs;
- We do not criticize religious beliefs;
- We do criticize practices that hurt people, even if those
actions are motivated by religious beliefs.
For example, in the 1960s many religious groups believed in racial
segregation; in the 1970's, many believed that persons of different
races should not marry; in the 1980's many believed that women should
not have the same rights as men; in the 1990's and now into the 21st
century, many believed that
heterosexuals should be given special privileges, and that gays, lesbians, transgender individuals, and transsexuals should receive fewer rights. We do not criticize any of these beliefs.
We feel that everyone should be free to express their beliefs freely. However, we
do criticize religious or other groups who take action to
promote racial segregation, to prevent inter-racial marriage, to limit
women's rights or to limit people's equal rights on the basis of sexual
orientation or gender identity.
- Your site seems to be western-oriented. It should contain more material from Eastern
cultures. Four of the OCRT staff have lived in North America for all
of their lives; the fifth was born in England and has been in Canada
since childhood. We lack sufficient understanding of Eastern cultures
to be able to write with accuracy and balance on such topics. We
attempt to serve a North American audience, which is almost entirely
either Christian or secular. Eastern religions form a very small small
portion of the North American population.
- We are linked to the world's biggest virtual bookstore, Amazon.com.
Some of our essays contain hyperlinks to Amazon, so that you can order
related books from your computer. Amazon gives us a small referral fee on each
item that you order. We do not consider the amount of
the fee when preparing our book lists. Sorry, but you will have to trust us
on this one.
- We once accepted an invitation by the International Coalition on Religious Freedom to
attend a conference on religious freedom in Washington DC in 1998-APR. Over
100 attendees were present from about 50 countries. The sponsors paid for
our plane fare, hotel accommodation and food. The sponsoring organization was
largely funded by the Unification
Church. We do not feel that this has affected our objectivity towards that
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