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Religious Tolerance logo

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
of interest.

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This topic is a continuation from Part 4

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Our Motivations and Concerns

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 and state.

  • 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 such abuse.

  • 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 century:

  • 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.

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What people often ask us:

  • Are you gay? No. We are all adults in heterosexual relationships.

  • 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.

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Potential Conflicts of Interest:

  1. 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.
     
  2. 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 church.

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Copyright © 1996 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-MAR-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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