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I have seen several questions on this site mostly by new users which seem to be begging for help in which religion they should choose. While I do not think it is something we should voice an opinion about, I do believe that it would be nice if we could help to direct them to a place to find answers.

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Generally, we call these "Pastoral Advice" questions and should be directing them to find a local Pastor to speak with.

I'm personally in a quandry on this because I sure as heck don't want to send them to the wrong sort of pastor, or give them the impression that "any old church will do". This is one of those situations where the guidelines of the site really get in the way of doing what I think is best for the seeker, but on the other hand, if I'm allowed to guide them to resources I'd approve of, what's to say that someone who I'd consider a heretic can't do the same? It's the reason that the following is my standard comment for "Pastoral Advice" questions:

Hi and welcome to our community, just a bit about us, we're a fairly academic question and answer site run by a secular company. We're not somewhere you should be coming for spiritual advice. We have numerous individual members who are Christians (most of us are), but because of the venue and the nature of this site, we don't answer questions like this. Mostly because we don't trust ourselves. With questions like yours we want you to go talk to someone in real life. Your pastor or priest, a trusted friend, or someone in your church that you trust. I can tell you that we'll pray for you.

It's not that we don't want to help, but on the contrary, we don't feel that it's in anyone's best interest to try to do so on this site. For more info, please see this post: Pastoral Advice Questions

It just kills me not to be able to add in: "Be sure to seek out a Church that preaches the Word and nothing but. I chose my Church because the pastor told me that if he ever preached anything not in the Bible, to believe the Bible, not him. I've seen too many "religions" where they say "trust me, you're not smart enough to understand the Bible on your own".

But if I'm allowed to do that, then what's to stop someone from offering their advice to become, say, a Christian Atheist (Yeah, they really do exist), or some fringe cult that teaches that Jesus is coming on a comet in 2017? Or perhaps something more subtle, but also what I'd call "in error"?

Unless we want to open it up to a free-for-all, we need to stick to the guidelines and limit ourselves to offering a suggestion to seek someone out locally, tell them to pray for guidance, and then pray for them ourselves.

We can, however, invite them to participate and browse the site. If they want to learn what various groups teach, the Christianity.SE site is a fairly good resource for having the teachings explained without the "We're right, they're heretics" that you get at normal discussion forums. That can be a good starting place for someone who just doesn't know who to go to.

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  • I agree whole heartedly with what you say, and it is probably best to refer them to their local pastor, but what about places where there is no local pastor, such as Islamic countries? perhaps refer them to read posts on the site, and not turn them off by putting their questions on hold or down voting. I know this is a complicated issue, but I will pray about it and surely God will help us to find the answer. – BYE Nov 27 '13 at 15:29

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