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Counter-cult Movement

One CCM group's criticism of this web site

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Sponsored link.

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About the Apologetics Index:

The Apologetics Index supplies resources on religious movements, cults, sects, world religions and related issues. It is a massive site, with over 25,000 pages. 1

Their A-Z index of religions, organizations, movements and individuals states:

"The site provides information that helps equip Christians to logically present and defend the Christian faith, and that aids non-Christians in their comparison of various religious claims. Issues addressed range from spiritual and cultic abuse to contemporary theological and/or sociological concerns." 2

In many ways, the Religious Tolerance web site and the Apologetics Index are direct opposites:
bulletOn this web site, we generally explain all views as objectively as we can and let the reader make up their own mind.
bulletWhen the Apologetics Index explains a topic, they generally accept only what they regard as the historical conservative Protestant view as true. They attempt to disprove all other beliefs.

We wrote this essay because Apologetics Index criticized this web site, and we want to give an alternate opinion.

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How they describe our web site:

The Apologetics Index color codes each entry. This website is given a yellow marker, indicating "Pluralistic." There are certainly worse markers they could have given us. Orange, for example, refers to "Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox" material.  2

The description of our web site, located between Oneness Pentecostalism and Ontology is generally accurate. 2 Ours is indeed a large site with 3,815 pages as of the end of 2007-JUN. They describe us as a multi-faith group that is concerned about threats to religious freedom, and about religious hatred, misinformation, and discrimination. They mention that we attempt to "disseminate accurate religious information," "expose religious fraud, hatred and misinformation," and "disseminate information on 'hot' religious topics."

One important factor that they missed is that we attempt to explain all religious beliefs, 'hot' topics, etc. from all points of view. For example, we explain beliefs about:
bulletAbortion access from various pro-life and pro-choice viewpoints.
bulletOrigins of the universe and evolution from a new earth creationist, old earth creationist, theistic evolutionary and naturalistic evolutionary point of view,
bulletHomosexuality from a conservative Christian, liberal Christian, homosexual, bisexual, and mental health professional point of view.

This is one of our most important policies. The vast majority of religious web sites present only a single viewpoint: that of the webmaster or sponsoring agency. We challenge our visitors to consider a range of belief systems.

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Their criticisms of our web site:

These are confined to the last paragraph in their listing:

They state:
bullet"Unfortunately, while you'll find an extensive collection of documented, cross-referenced information, many articles are not as balanced as advertised. The site promotes pluralism ..." 3

We feel that "Pluralism" is a poor term to use, because in a religious sense, the word has two quite different meanings. It is often not clear to which an author, theologian, or clergyperson is referring:

  1. The belief that all religions and secular world views are legitimate and valid. Each is "true" when viewed from within its own culture.
  2. The fact that religious diversity exists.

We definitely do not believe that all views are legitimate and valid. There have been a handful of destructive faith groups whose beliefs have led to the deaths of their members. We frequently criticize faith groups when they harm people, limit their personal freedoms, or restrict their spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical growth. We criticize faith groups that have have taken actions based on their sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, theocratic, and/or racist teachings.

On the other hand, we do acknowledge that the second definition is an established fact for North America. The U.S. is generally regarded as the most religiously diverse country in the world. Southern Ontario Canada, where our main office is located, has been referred to as the most religiously diverse region of any country in the world.

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Sponsored link:

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The Apologetics Index continues by stating that this web site:

bullet"... has a decidedly dim view of the anti-cult and counter-cult movements. It prefers to believe cult-apologists, and promotes many of their arguments. ..." 3

We have certainly criticized illegal activities by a minority in the anti-cult movement, like assault, kidnapping, involuntary confinement. We have contrasted many of the assertions of these movements with studies by academic researchers of new religious movements and with the conclusions of mental health professionals.

They conclude with:

bullet"In public and private messages, staff and supporters of the Scientology-backed CAN, refer people to the site rather than their own." 3

The new Cult Awareness Network (CAN), which advocates religious tolerance, was made possible as the result of the purchase of the former CAN's assets by a Scientologist. This occurred after the old CAN was unable to pay a fine for their involvement in an abduction. According to the new CAN's "who we are" essay, their:

"... Board has consisted of from 5-9 people since the beginning of the organization. The Chairman of the Board is a Baptist minister named George Robertson. The Secretary of the Corporation was originally Mark Lurie a member of the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness. It is now Stan Koehler a Buddhist. The Treasurer of the Corporation is Nancy O. Meara, a Scientologist. Other Board members include a woman with a degree in psychology and man who is Jewish."

On the other hand, an episode of 60 Minutes claimed that Scientologists do have a major influence in the new CAN. We don't have the resources to determine where the truth lies.

The new CAN may well refer individuals who are seeking objective explanations of different religions to our web site. However, their "helpful list of Factual Religious Sites" does not include a link to this site.

Lots of authors and other groups do link to us:

bulletThe Amazon.com web site lists 79 books with citations to essays on our web site; we suspect that this is a small fraction of the total.
bulletTrustGage.com claims that there are about 116,000 links from other web sites to this one, and that we have a traffic rating of 6,462 out of about 100 million web sites on the Internet. That is, our traffic level places this site in the top 0.006% of all websites
bulletGoogle gives our home page a page ranking of seven out of ten -- a difficult rank to attain.

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References used:

  1. "Apologetics research resources on religious cults and sects," at: http://www.apologeticsindex.org
  2. "Apologetics Index - O," Apologetics Index, near the bottom of the page at: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/
  3. "Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance," Apologetics Index, at: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/

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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JUN-30
Latest update: 2007-JUN-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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