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Very hot topics involving extensive conflict

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

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There are now at least five major moral/ethical concerns (in alphabetic order):

  1. Abortion access including methods of reducing the abortion rate

  2. Capital punishment

  3. Climate change, global warming, and the environment

  4. Racism

  5. Sexual minorities:

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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.

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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 conflicts that are essentially settled or rapidly on their way to being settled are:

  • 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 2020).

  • When a conflict is 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 two topics:

  • 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.

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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 authors actually wrote in the holy books in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Arabic, etc. is largely fixed, although there are often disagreements about the exact wording of some passages as new ancient translations are discovered. How the meanings of passages are interpreted is evolving and often controversial.

    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.

bullet Human 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 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.

Currently active religious conflicts:

bullet Mental and physical therapies and treatments:
bullet

Abortion access: who should be able to decide whether to have an abortion: the government, the doctor, the woman?

bullet Psychological and other hoaxes
bullet CAM: "Complementary and alternative medicine"
bullet Facilitated communication for people with Autism and other communication disorders
bullet Faith healing via prayer vs. medical treatment
bullet The HPV vaccine and cervical cancer
bullet Recovered Memory therapy (RMT)
bullet Theophostic Counseling
bullet Therapeutic Touch: valid healing method or hoax?
bullet Ending discrimination in hospital visitation
 
bulletEducational topics:
bullet In the U.S.:
bullet Religion in the public schools
bullet School library book censorship
bullet Condoms in the schools, sex-ed, and pre-marital sex
bullet Posting the ten Commandments in public schools

bullet In Canada:
bullet Residential schools for Native students in Canada
bullet Anti-bullying "wear pink" day
bullet Faith-based, government financed schools
 
bullet Marriage topics:
bullet 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.....
 
bullet Other items (in alphabetic order):

bullet

Capital punishment

bullet Christian urban legends: really neat stories with a Christian theme that never happened
bullet Clergy sexual abuse of children and youth

bullet

Climate change, global warming, and the environment

bullet Cloning of humans; Therapeutic cloning 
bullet Condoms in the schools, sex-ed, and pre-marital sex
bullet Conscience clauses: Discriminating against people motivated by religious belief
bullet Corporal punishment of children (Spanking)
bullet

Cremation vs. burial:

bullet Embryo and stem cell research
bullet Euthanasia and assisted suicide
bullet Medical management of pain
bullet Evolution vs. Creation Science
bullet Fantasy role playing games Dungeons & Dragons, etc.
bullet Female Genital Mutilation (a.k.a. Female Circumcision)
bullet Female ordination
bullet Freedoms: erosion of freedoms and human rights in the U.S.
bullet

Gay/lesbian marriage (We prefer the term "same-sex marriage" because it is more inclusive)

bullet Government vs. religion in the US
bulletGun Control in the US (Being written)
bullet Gun Control in Canada
bullet Halloween: Facts and misinformation
bullet The Harry Potter books (children's imaginative fiction)
bulletHate crime legslation
bulletHate groups in the U.S.
bullet Homosexual marriages (We prefer the term "same-sex marriage" as being more inclusive)
bullet Inter-faith marriages
bulletIntersexuality  and Intersexual Genital Mutilation
bullet Jesus' body: where is it now? In heaven or a Jerusalem tomb
bullet License plates with anti-abortion or pro-Christian messages
bullet Masturbation
bullet Nudism, Naturism, Public Breast-feeding, Toplessness
bullet The "Occult"
bulletPolygamous marriages
bullet Priests' sexual abuse of children and youth

bullet

Racism

bullet Recovered Memory therapy
bullet Religion in the public schools
bullet Residential schools for Native students in Canada
bullet Ritual abuse
bullet Same-sex marriage
bullet Satanic ritual abuse
bullet Sex related topics
bullet Separation of church and state; Recent court decisions
bullet Spanking (corporal punishment of children)
bullet Stem cell research
bullet Suicide
bullet The Ten Commandments; should they be posted in public schools, etc.?
bulletTransgender individuals, transsexuals and gender identity
bullet Truth and falsehood: absolute or relative?
bullet "Spare the Rod:" an essay describing partnership and dominator cultural models by Riane Eisler
bullet Vouchers for religious schools
bullet War costs in Iraq and Afghanistan
bulletWitchcraft and Wicca
bullet Women in the clergy: priests, pastors, ministers, rabbis

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Additional "Hot" Topics can be seen elsewhere on this Web site at the following menus:

bullet Overlap and conflicts between science and religion
bullet Religious hatred and other not-so-spiritual matters
bullet "Cults" - (a.k.a. New Religious Movements)
bullet Morality
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