At any time over the past 500 years, there has been at least one active "hot"
religious debate. Most conflicts in the distant past have been settled.
These include the shape of the earth, path of the earth around the sun, interest
on loans, childhood vaccinations, etc. But we are blessed (or cursed) with a
large number of currently active religious debates. Most of these tend to
involve human sexuality in some way. The most serious current conflicts appear
to be on abortion and sexual orientation: namely abortion
access and equal rights for gays, lesbians and
bisexuals, including the right to marry.
Generally speaking, religious conservative (including Fundamentalist and
other Evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, Sikhs, conservative Jews and
Muslims, etc.) tend to take one side in these debates. Liberals of all religious
traditions tend to take the opposite position, in support of those individuals
most concerned by the debates (women, homosexuals and bisexuals in the above
The true situation is often more complex than simply two well-defined groups
fighting each other. Not everyone who is pro-life is totally opposed to abortion
in some cases. Others might oppose homosexual behavior in principle, but fight
for equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Language is often used as a weapon in these debates:
It is often difficult to find truly neutral terms to describe beliefs and
events. Often, the words used will automatically bias the article. Referring
to homosexual behavior as a lifestyle or a preference implies
that a person can choose their sexual orientation. Referring to homosexual
behavior as an orientation implies that it is not changeable and not
chosen. Yet, these are the only commonly used words.
Often, terms such as "homosexuality" will be used in confusing
ways - sometimes referring to behavior and other times to feelings of
Other terms, such as "pregnancy" have different meanings to the
groups in involved. Some conservative Christian groups define "Sexual
orientation" as including exhibitionism, sadism, masochism,
pedophilia, necrophilia, etc.
The result is confusion and a loss in objectivity and balance.
Pastor P.J. Peters in his article "Intollerance [sic] of,
discrimination against and the death penalty for homosexuals is prescribed
in the Bible" at: http://www.identity.org/files/homo.html
He wrote "Homosexuals are willing to...promote their life
style...[and] are willing to prescribe the death penalty to those who
He uses the term "life style" to imply that homosexual
orientation is a chosen, changeable factor.
He takes the inflammatory rhetoric of Larry Kramer, founder of ACT UP
and applies it to a whole movement.
anti-Homosexuality Web Site" (now believed to be defunct) at
refers to two frequently cited passages in Leviticus.
He quotes the original Hebrew text which says that certain
behavior is to'ebah. This, he translates as "an abhorrence
or a disgusting thing." But to'ebah
is a religious term, usually reserved for criticizing idolatry.
If the writer(s) of Leviticus wished to refer to a moral violation, a sin,
he/they would have used the Hebrew word zimah. To'ebah
could better be translated "foreign religious cult practice."
The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (circa 3rd century
BCE) translated "to'ebah" into Greek as bdelygma, which
meant ritual impurity. The author overlooks the facts that the Mosaic code
calls eating a cheeseburger,
charging interest on a loan, shaving a beard, sowing seeds in the corner of a field
The Westboro Baptist
Church of Topeka, Kansas has perhaps the best known gay/lesbian hate
site on the Internet, at: http://www.godhatesfags.com/
It has the catchy name "God Hates Fags." Their
Fag Facts section contains some amazing assertions; most
are believed to be wildly inaccurate. Some examples:
that "homosexuals account for half the murders in large
cities." (It is not clear whether gays and lesbians are
victims or perpetrators of the homicides).
homosexuals account for only 1 to 2% of the population of the U.S.
homosexuals are responsible for 50% of the suicides
the media age at death of gay men is 42; that of lesbians is 45.
homosexuals are 19 times as likely to die in a traffic accident than
the average person
part of the gay agenda is to turn people away from Christianity
Terminology concerning abortion is a semantic minefield! It is very
difficult to write about Abortion without using words that are
unacceptable to some people. Typical difficulties are listed below:
Many articles describing the developing embryo or fetus use terms like
"products of conception" and "terminating pregnancy"
to obscure the fact that we are dealing with a form of life that could
develop into a newborn baby. Others use terms like child, baby, infant,
murder, etc. to imply that the embryo or fetus is already a full human
being. Perhaps the safest, least biased terms are embryo, fetus, killing,
and terminating the life of....
There is a general misconception in the media and elsewhere that there are
two sides to the abortion access question: pro-life and pro-choice.
Actually, there are many sides. Some pro-lifers would not allow
any abortion under any circumstances; most would allow it to save the life
of the mother; some would also permit an abortion if the conception was
caused during incest or rape. Some pro-choicers feel that a woman should be
able to have an abortion at any time before birth; others would prefer a
cutoff date, beyond which abortion access would be restricted -- e.g. 26
weeks when the fetus' brain has developed to the point where it has
self-awareness. So, calling a person pro-life or pro-choice only gives a
vague idea of their exact position.
A general consensus exists among all sides to the abortion access
question. When life, in the form of a sperm and ovum, becomes a human
then almost everyone agrees that an abortion should only be performed in
very critical situations. However, there is little agreement about when
this transition happens: at conception, at birth, or some time in
The pro-life movement defines the start of pregnancy differently from the
pro-life and medical communities. Pro-lifers generally define
pregnancy as starting when the sperm fertilizes the ovum. Others define pregnancy
as starting about 14 days later, when the fertilized ovum attaches itself to
the wall of the uterus. This difference is critical. An intra-uterine device
(IUD) and emergency
contraception (the so-called "morning after pill") can
sometimes work by preventing the fertilized ovum from imbedding itself in
the wall of the uterus. These are regarded as a contraceptive techniques by
physicians and the pro-choice movement because, as they see it, they prevent
a pregnancy from starting. They are sometimes regarded as abortifacients by
pro-lifers because, as they see it, pregnancy may have started many days
previously. Care should be taken when writing about contraception, birth
control, abortifacients, and the start of pregnancy.
Some derogatory terms have been used to refer to the pro-life and
pro-choice movements. These include: anti-choice, pro-abortion,
We strongly advise against their use. We recommend that the terms that are
used by the groups themselves should be used in writing about abortion
This is another term that is so poorly defined that we recommend that it never be used. Occult is derived from the Latin word occultus
which means "hidden".
Some meanings of the term Occult are:
Any activity which
is esoteric (employs knowledge that is not known to the general
public, but which is only revealed gradually to a selected few in
depends upon those talents which lie beyond the five senses, and
engages with the supernatural, and
does not form part of a traditional religious ritual.
In modern days, much published material is available on topics ranging from ceremonial
to tarot cards, to Neopagan religions, etc. There are few formerly occult activities that
are still secret. Without secrecy, they do not meet the first requirement
listed above. Just about the only occultic that are left are some secretive
faith groups, and some spiritual organizations like the Masonic order.
Occult blood is a medical term which refers to blood which cannot
be seen, except perhaps under a microscope. It has no connection to
Many Conservative Christians define
the Occult as including an enormous range of practices and beliefs. We have seen
references to the following as parts of the Occult:
Religions & Spiritual Movements
Ceremonial Magick (the use of rituals, spells, chants to change
the material world)
Fire walking (bare-foot . on a bed of glowing coals)
Heavy metal rock music
Holistic Health Practices (healing by acupuncture, flower
Membership in the Masonic Lodge (or similar men's fraternal
A range of modern educational methods
Novels by specific authors (e.g. Carlos Casteneda)
Some conservative Christians view "The Occult" as a
profoundly evil international organization that is controlled by Satanists. The
various parts of the Occult act to lure unsuspecting people into Satanism.
They see all parts of the Occult as being condemned by God.
Others view it as
an arbitrary grouping of unrelated activities, religions and pastimes. Again,
this term has so many meanings that we recommend it not be used. We suggest
that you refer directly to the activity by name, such as Astrology,
Tea Cup Reading, Tarot Cards, Wicca, Masonic Order, etc.