COMMENTS FROM VISITORS TO THIS WEB SITE
We receive many interesting, unsolicited E-mails from visitors to our web site.
In the past, we had only published short passages excerpted from their E-mails,
without our comments. We have decided to publish the full text of some of the
more interesting incoming E-mails, with our responses.
Almost all of the essays on our web site attempt to describe
all points of view on a given topic.
This section is an exception.
Only one of our staff members, working alone, replies to each visitor's questions. Thus, the responses consist of one staff person's viewpoint. They
may not reflect those of the rest of our group.
Topics covered in this essay:
Why this web site is failing economically:
Incoming comment: I am sorry your website is failing, but as the Bible
says: [Acts 5:34-39 quoted from the New International Version)] "...For
if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from
God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves
fighting against God." So I wonder if your material is from God or man?
Our response: I would suggest that our web site is largely "from man."
Our essays explain all sides to each topic. On biblically related topics, this
often means that we explain very liberal beliefs, very conservative beliefs,
Roman Catholic beliefs, and perhaps the beliefs of some of the 1st
century Christian movements. These usually differ significantly from each other.
Only one of these can be "from God." Perhaps none are. The others are
certain to be "from man." So, as a minimum, perhaps 75% of our web site's
contents will be "from man."
I think that a case can be made that large portions of the Bible are "from
man" as well. Its authors wrote in neutral or positive terms about human
slavery, of genocides against the Canaanites, of the murder of an entire family
for the sins of the father, of the execution of non-virgin brides, of the
execution of gays, of the execution of a man for collecting wood on a Saturday
so that his family would not freeze, of the torture of prisoners, of male
supremacy, of the raping and forced marriages of female prisoners of war..... I
could go on with many other stories in the Bible. I cannot imagine that these
stories represent the will of God. So I assume that these stories too came "from
You guys need to get organized about Wicca:
Incoming comment: I have been looking at your website and there is a lot
of false information. In some places it says that Wicca is fifty years old;
others say it is the oldest religion in time. You guys really need to get
organized and get with the picture because being so dismembered is really
getting to some sensitive Witches.
Our response: I agree with you that the age and roots of Wicca is a
sensitive topic. But I think that we are organized on this subject.
The search engine www.google.com reports
that about 280,000 web sites contain the word "Wicca." Of these, there
are probably about 200,000 web sites managed by Wiccans. If you sample a bunch of them, you
will find that some webmasters say that Wicca is a new religion; Others say that
it is an old religion which goes back to about 800 BCE. Now, our task at
to reflect reality. So we explain that these two beliefs exist and explain why
they exist. If you go to our Wiccan menu, it suggests that you read the
introduction essay first. It says:
Depending upon how you look at Wicca, it is either one of the newest or one of
the oldest religions in the world:
Wicca is a recently created, Neopagan religion. The various branches of Wicca
can be traced back to Gardnerian Witchcraft which was founded in the UK during
the late 1940s.
Wicca is based on the symbols, seasonal days of celebration, beliefs and deities
of ancient Celtic society. Added to this material were Masonic and ceremonial
magickal components from recent centuries. In this respect, it is a religion
whose roots go back almost three millennia to the formation of Celtic society
circa 800 BCE.
Sorry, but that is reality. There is no absolute answer to the question of the
age of Wicca. Our job at
ReligiousTolerance.org is to reflect reality. So, we explain both beliefs,
and don't take sides. Perhaps Wiccans will reach a near-consensus on this matter
in the future. Currently we receive slightly irate E-mails from Wiccans who have
Your essay on Jesus sinlessness is petty
Incoming comment: I just read your detailed description explaining why
Jesus Christ was actually a sinner....I have never encountered anything so
petty and small-minded in my life. ...It's hilarious that you feel the need to
focus your time and energy on something so ridiculous as this....Yes, you have indeed taken
pettiness to the point of absolute absurdity....you should definitely consider
a career in comedy. P.S. Speak of what you know, not of what you don't.
Our response: We are pleased that you found so much joy reading one of
our essays. However, you make a number of accusations: that our essay is
petty; we are fools; our writings contain lies; we are writing in ignorance.
About pettiness: This topic may seem like a
ridiculous one to you. But it is a matter of considerable division within
Christianity. Polls by Barna Research showed that
43% of American adults believe that Jesus sinned
during his ministry; 28% of born-again American adults agree. Most
conservative Christians believe that he was sinless. Their main support for
this belief is that the Bible states this in a number of places. However,
liberal Christians typically believe that he did commit sins. Four examples
are that he was disrespectful to his mother on a number of occasions, hurled
a racist insult at a non-Jew, committed aggravated assault in the Temple,
and conspired to steal an animal. The matter is not silly to everyone. It is
of serious concern to those Christians who believe that Jesus could only
forgive sin if he had led a sinless life. Many of them believe that if Jesus
had sinned, then his death on the cross could not have created a route to
salvation for the entire human population through
the atonement. Using
www.google.com with the search string
jesus sinless locates about 83,000 web sites
which deal with this topic. It is not a trivial matter.
About our lack of intelligence; about our essay
containing lies; about our ignorance: I think that you misunderstand the
nature of our web site. We try to explain all sides to each question. With
one minor exception related to one popular belief in the criteria of
salvation, I don't believe that we have ever
created an original theological thought anywhere in our 2,946 essays. We are
not theologians; we are religious reporters. Our purpose is to report the
full range of beliefs held by others. This is important because most
religious web sites promote only a single belief system -- the one held by
the webmaster. If the level of religious knowledge is to be raised in North
America, people are going to have to be exposed to the full range of
religious beliefs. In this essay, some of our site visitors will believe
that Jesus was sinless; others will believe that he sinned; others don't
care. Still others will think like you do: that the question is silly; it is
a 21st century variation on the Middle Ages debate on how many angels can
dance on the head of a pin. Many visitors will hold strong opinions on the
matter. They will consider their personal belief to be true and look upon
the other beliefs that we explain as lies, or as meaningless verbal refuse
written by persons of low intelligence, or as meaningless text written by
uninformed people. Ours is a lose-lose situation. We get
complaints from both religious conservatives and
liberals because we list beliefs that the other side believes. We are
chronic victims of the "shoot the messenger while you attack the message"
syndrome. It is only a small leap from the position that a belief not shared
by the reader is stupid, a lie, and ignorant, to the position that we,
as authors, are stupid, liars and ignorant.
If you have a specific concern about an item in this or any
other of our essays, please write back and describe it. We will have a look.
Your religion is dumb:
Incoming comment: your religion is the dumbest thing ive ever
heard..... how can you be ignorant enough to follow it.... it was made up by
someone w/ a 7th grade education, and also the next president was a
criminal.... the ppl that follow this religion are loosers who have no life
and follow this religion to make an excuse for y they dont go to parties on
the weekends. thank you for your time and cooperation
Our response: Thanks for your note. You seem to misunderstand the nature
of our site. We do not promote a religion; we we promote religious tolerance.
We have many dozens of essays on various religions and denominations, from
Asatru to Zoroastrianism. You apparently read one of them that you disagree
I haven't the foggiest idea to which religion you are referring. But I assure
you that people who follow that religion are quite sincere. In all
probability, they believe that their religion is true -- perhaps the only true
If there is a third World War, it will be probably caused by religious
intolerance. Most of the conflicts in the last decade have been largely based
on religious hatred. Consider Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia,
Cyprus, Nigeria, Sudan, Middle East, Iraq/Iran, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka,
Philippines, etc. We feel that it is a good idea to tolerate other people's
religions even though we think that their beliefs are wrong. As a minimum, we
should respect their right to hold their beliefs, no matter how ridiculous
they seem to us. The other options simply spill too much blood.
This essay continues below
Your web site is offensive:
Incoming comment: I am deeply offended by your site. I am tolerant of
other religions, but I sincerely believe buddhists and wickens go to hell. You
are saying that all religions lead to heaven. This offends me because I feel you
are giving people the wrong impression about Christianity. Christianity
proclaims itself to be exclusive. You cannot believe in Hinduism (for example)
and still be a Christian. John 14:6 "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the
truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. "
Our response: Many, perhaps most, of our visitors find large portions of
our web site offensive. As the main author, I also find thousands of passages
distasteful. Let me explain why: Suppose you are a very conservative Christian.
You will see lots of information here, written from a liberal Christian
perspective. This will probably offend you deeply. It may well be blasphemous in
your eyes. But, suppose you are a very liberal Christian -- perhaps a United
Church member who agrees with much of what the Jesus Seminar writes. You will
see information written from a conservative Christian perspective. This will
probably offend you deeply. It may well be blasphemous in your eyes. So, no
matter what your religious beliefs, we can almost guarantee that you will find a
lot of material on our web site that will disturb you. However, we ask you to
consider our mandate which is to explain all viewpoints on all religious and
moral topics. If we were to leave out points of view that some people find
offensive, then we would not have much to write about.
Concerning your reference to "buddhists and wickens:" It is normal
practice to capitalize both the names of religions and the name by which their
followers are called. This is a sign of respect. I think that you are referring
to Buddhists and "Wiccans."
The latter follow the religion of "Wicca."
Yours is a common belief among conservative Christians. Many believe that
Buddhists, Wiccans, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Taoists, etc will all
go to Hell for a thought crime: namely that they
follow the wrong religion and believe in the wrong (or no) God. In fact, many
Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians feel that the majority of
Christians, whether they be unsaved Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's
Witnesses, United Church, etc., will end up in Hell." There are certainly a lot
of passages in the Bible that you can quote to support this belief. However,
there are other Christians who find the idea of Hell blasphemous. They cannot
harmonize the ideas of Hell and a loving God. They reject the idea that God
would throw people into Hell for all eternity to be tortured because of their
But we commend you for being tolerant of people of other religions, even though
you disagree with their beliefs. If the rest of the people in the world were
like you then we would not be having the many religiously-based conflicts, mass
murders and genocides in recent years.
I think that you are in error when you accuse us of stating that all religions
lead to heaven. When we talk about most Christian
groups, we discuss Christian beliefs about places like
Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
When we talk about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, the Mormons, we talk about the three levels of Heaven, and Hell.
When we talk about Wicca, we discuss the Summerland.
When we discuss Hinduism and
Buddhism, we discuss
transmigration of souls (one possibility of reincarnation). I don't recall any
essay on our web site that says that all religions lead to heaven. If you find
one please E-mail its file name (e.g. heav_hel.htm). We will drop everything and
There are certainly passages in the Bible that express the exclusive position
about salvation. However, there are many mainline and liberal Christians who
reject that position and interpret those passages differently. They largely
ignore the "I AM" statements in John and concentrate rather on the justice
passages throughout the Bible and the inclusive passages in the Synoptic Gospels
(Mark, Matthew and Luke) which in which Jesus is recorded as talking about
salvation in terms of deeds, of good works.
Your web site is confusing:
Incoming comment: Your language is somewhat confusing, since at times,
you appear to respect all religions although all cannot be true...in any
argument, both persons can be wrong, but both cannot be right.
Our response: I think that you may be confusing two very different items:
Religious truth: This is a belief: whether
or not we regard a given religion as being true or, at least, as
containing some truth.
Religious tolerance: This is a behavior:
how we treat people who think differently from ourselves.
Beliefs are not necessarily tied to behavior. If we happen
to have been born into Christian denomination "X," we will probably grow up
to believe that the denomination "X" possesses the truth. You may well feel
that other faith groups, such as Liberal denominations, Roman Catholicism,
Pentecostal denominations, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science etc. are,
to a degree, at least somewhat in error. You may think that non-Christian
religions are way off base. But you can always choose how to behave towards
believers of other faith groups:
Suppose you are a Protestant. You are interviewing a
person for a job in your business. She wears a Roman Catholic crucifix.
You can choose to ignore the crucifix, view her simply as a person
seeking employment, and evaluate her potential to fill the job opening.
Or you can choose to reject the applicant because she is not of your
Suppose that you are a Christian in a town where a
Muslim group is trying to have their cemetery plan approved by the
zoning board so that they have a sacred space to bury their dead. You
can choose to turn out to the public meeting and support their
application even though they are not of your religion. Alternatively, you
can decide to oppose their application because they are not of your
Suppose that you are a Jew and you hear that a local
public school principal has told a Wiccan student that she cannot wear a
pentacle on school grounds. You can chose to call the
principal or write a letter to the local newspaper, criticize their
action, and emphasize the importance of religious freedom for all. Or,
you can decide to contact the principal or write a letter supporting his
Tolerance does not involve accepting that other beliefs are true or even partly
true. Conservative Protestantism, liberal Protestantism, Roman Catholicism
and many other variations on Christianity all teach very different beliefs. If you
Include the other religions followed in the U.S. and Canada, you have over a
thousand belief systems. Only one can be "true." Perhaps none are. But one's
belief about the accuracy of other people's beliefs does not necessarily have
with how you choose to behave towards them.
Considering non-believers to be less than deserving of full human rights is the
first step defining them as sub-human. This is a giant step towards the gas
ovens of Auschwitz.
Your web site is stupid and false:
Incoming comment: Your whole website is a forum for
idiots and liars, to promote stupidity and falsehood! (The original Email,
which came from a doctor, is paraphrased here with the obscenities and the
third commandment violation removed.)
Our response: I totally agree with you.
There is an enormous amount of information on our site which is pure
garbage, misinformation, disinformation, etc. But it is junk that a
substantial percentage of North Americans honestly believe to be true.
I think that you misunderstand the nature of our web site. Unlike about 99%
of the religious web sites on the Internet, we do not promote one point of
On topics related to Bible passages, we explain at least
the conservative and liberal Christian position. Sometimes, we toss in
the beliefs of the early Christian church from the first two centuries
CE. It is amazing how often these three positions differ from each
On topics related to abortion, we explain all sides,
pro-life and pro-choice.
On topics related to homosexuality, we explain the
beliefs of religious conservatives; we also explain the beliefs of human
sexuality researchers, therapists, gay, lesbians and religious liberals.
We are not promoting our own beliefs here. We are acting as
reporters, explaining the diversity of other peoples' beliefs. In North
America, there is an enormous range of beliefs about hundreds of topics
ranging from abortion access to equal rights for homosexuals, to the
inerrancy of the Bible, to the
death penalty. Each of these conflicting viewpoints is held by sincere,
intelligent, thoughtful people, most of whom have a strong religious faith.
Please consider the possibility that people who hold different beliefs from
you are also sincere, intelligent, devout, logical thinkers.
If you are a religious conservative, then you may find that our descriptions
of liberal viewpoints are: "...a forum for idiots and liars, to promote
stupidity and falsehood!"
If you are a religious liberal, then you may find that our descriptions of
conservative viewpoints are: "...a forum for idiots and liars, to promote
stupidity and falsehood!"
The problem is not our web site. It is the diversity of beliefs in North
American societies. So if our web site reflects reality, everyone will find
large portions of it to be junk. I know that we do.
You are not honest:
Incoming comment: After reading your website, it is
obviously a Seventh Day Adventist website. Why not be up front and honest and
STATE that you ARE a Seventh Day Adventist website? The pretense that it is an
independent and unbiased website does you more harm than good. It takes a
gullible person to buy into your pretense.
Our response: I love your letter!
We have been accused of being Satanists,
Muslims, Jews. And now you
"accuse" us of being Seventh Day Adventists.
In reality, we are a multi-faith group consisting of an Agnostic, Atheist,
Christian, Wiccan and Zen
Buddhist. The Christian is a United Church member.
Our entire site is very open about what it is and what its goals are. See purpose.htm
Our responses copyright © 2003 to 2005 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2005-DEC-27
Compiler: various OCRT staff persons