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When I ask a question, I say I'm a Catholic and I want to know what Catholics say about X. That's for a good reason, although I respect every Church (Okay, maybe not every Church, but anyway).

Take this question for example, Catholics believe that Jesus died on a traditional cross, while Jehovah's Witnesses believe that he died on a upright stake. Catholics believe in saints, Protestants don't, some of them don't believe in indulgence.

I know that the main idea idea of this site is to provide objective answers. But this is religion and there's nothing objective in religion. I could come up with an answer and show you references from my bible, and you could show me opposite references from your bible.

It's not a game, we're not on Stackoverflow, I like Python, you like Ruby, we get upvotes for our arguments, an accepted answer, and everyone is happy with their reputation, it's not about the rep here, it's something far more dangerous.

It's the internet, therefore I think it's safe to say that many of our users (especially those new to Stackexchange) are teens/youth seeking to better understand their bible/church/doctrine.

You see for example, if I had no clue that Jehovah's Witnesses are so different from Catholics, I'd be confused as hell reading the answers posted on this site, I might become an atheist easily, confusion or failure to understand your religion leads to atheism.

Did Jesus die on the cross or on the tree? is a good example. Besides when it comes to religion, an upvoted answer might not be the answer you're looking for.

Therefore, I'm asking, shouldn't the asker be required to state in his question what Church he belong to, or what Church he wants to know about? That way, the answers can be oriented towards a specific point of view?

  • I think that only makes sense. How will you know if you're being led astray by Satan if you can't ask others if they're Muslims? – Evan Carroll Jan 11 '14 at 7:49
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This has been somewhat discussed before in the various questions on the Meta site. If you search Meta for the phrase "identifiable perspective", you'll come up with a list of meta posts discussing what you're proposing.

I certainly agree with where you're coming from, and I'd like to address several points in your question individually below. The fact that you're asking this means that you recognize the issue, and are looking for ways to address it, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to point you to discussions we've already had and the ideas we've already thought of.

In short, you're talking about an issue that we've had a hard time naming properly. Every name we give it generates a bunch of feedback from people that don't "get" what we're trying to say. It's gone my the name "Nonconstructive questions", "God Only Knows" questions, "Subjective", "Controversial", "Truth" or "Opinion" questions.

In each case, the point of the issue is this: There is disagreement between various groups, and there's no way within the bounds of this site to determine who's "right".

Examples:

  • Is Drinking a sin?
  • Is Baptism necessary for salvation?

I'm going to stop there, but even with those two, you can easily see various people with different perspectives arguing endlessly about the answer, and why their answer is "right". Maybe for the first example, but definitely for that second example, the consequences of who's right has eternal import.

To put it bluntly, the current site guidelines pretty much ban such types of questions across the board. There are a few of us that spend an awful lot of time just trying to explain the ban. I've lost time of the number of Meta posts I've made on the subject, much less commenting on new user's questions, trying to explain the guidelines, trying to help them learn how to write their questions in a manner that is objectively answerable, etc. And I'm not the only one. There are several users here that spend a lot of time dealing with the issue.

There are also several users on the site who vehemently disagree with the ban on "Truth" questions.

I think that this point of yours hits the crux of the issue perfectly, yet misses an important point:

It's not a game, we're not on Stackoverflow, I like Python, you like Ruby, we get upvotes for our arguments, an accepted answer, and everyone is happy with their reputation, it's not about the rep here, it's something far more dangerous.

I, like you, see something potentially dangerous in providing the wrong answer.

However, (this may seem like a side note, but it'll be important later) The "I like Python, you like Ruby" issue is taboo at StackOverflow. Try going over there and asking which is better. Your question will be voted down, closed, and then deleted faster than you could come back here and type "Hey, you were right!" in a comment.

Next point:

You see for example, if I had no clue that Jehovah's Witnesses are so different from Catholics, I'd be confused as hell reading the answers posted on this site, I might become an atheist easily, confusion or failure to understand your religion leads to atheism.

Absolutely spot-on about the problem of several conflicting answers, none of them objectively provable as "correct". It could be that none of them are correct, or that one of them is and the others are all leading people astray. Or, as you say, it could be leading people to not even bother with Christianity at all. I argued as much in the second portion of my answer here.

The problem with what you're proposing is that it only partially addresses the problem, and raises the bar too high for your average non-Christian trying to find out about Christianity. There are plenty of people that don't even realize that there is division within Christianity. They mistakenly think that "Christianity" teaches X, Y, and Z, when in truth, there is probably six takes on X, twelve on Y, and four on Z.

How is someone like that supposed to know to ask for a Catholic answer? Even if we try to steer them to specify a denomination, suppose they don't know enough to frame it. A non-Christian who has no idea what the differences are between Baptist, Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventists, or the snake-handlers in the Ozarks would probably just say "oh, I don't know, pick one".

So if they do, and they get an answer, and they walk away thinking that the answer they got is "Truth" with a capital T? And we let them, because in their ignorance, they didn't know that group X (you know the ones that think the world will end next week just after Jesus comes in a comet to save the faithful if you'll just drink this kool-0aid to prepare yourself...) is heretical and spreading false doctrine? Of course we can't say that group X is a bunch of heretics because of this site's definition of "who is a Christian".

To me that's also potentially dangerous because we're letting someone walk off thinking they've learned Truth, and we haven't done anything at all to warn them that this is just the opinion of the denomination they chose.

I don't think I've ever said this out loud before, but if we can't tell the seeker what the Truth is, shouldn't we at least be making sure that we tell them that there are several views on a subject, and that they will need to evaluate those views for themselves, to determine what makes the most sense?

This is getting much longer than anticipated.

So, the last point in your question that I want to hit is this, because I think it hits at the solution to the dilemma.

I know that the main idea idea of this site is to provide objective answers. But this is religion and there's nothing objective in religion. I could come up with an answer and show you references from my bible, and you could show me opposite references from your bible.

That was addressed waaaay back in site history with the meta post Dealing with questions about “The Bible”

But here's the rub. It is possible to write constructive, non-subjective questions. It's just hard to do, and even harder to explain.

There are literally dozens of posts on this site intended to explain the Truth guideline and how to write questions that are objectively answerable. Here are some of my favorites:

Actually, I am pretty sure that first link contains links to every other one listed, with a superb introduction to the concept discussed at the links.

So what can you do? Easy. help us out. You haven't got enough reputation to hit the review queues, but you can familiarize yourself with that first post at a minimum, and follow the links. You'll be able to fully understand the site guidelines and how to keep questions constructive and objective. And hopefully, you'll be able to help explain them to others.

Almost everyone gets the purpose of this site wrong at first. I sure did. And believe me, there are users that really do want someone to help them learn to use the site constructively. We have one user who participated for a few weeks and didn't understand why his questions kept getting closed. When he finally started to figure out why, he posted this on Meta: Why not have new members go through a general introduction page?

He was asking straight-out, why didn't anyone help me, and what can we do to help other newcomers.

If you really want to help, (and your post suggests that you do) the best thing you can do is learn the ropes and figure out how to comment constructively to help people get it. Be sure you're writing your questions to the guidelines, so that you can lead by example. Flag posts where you could use some help, and just be actively trying to help others "get it" and flagging down the types of questions already banned. (Truth, Pastoral Advice, general philosophical questions, etc.)

And above all, don't answer Truth/Opinion/Controversial questions, either as an answer, or in comments. Doing so is counter-productive. Put simply, if you're allowed to inject your opinions and lead people to your view, so are the people you disagree with.

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Many questions would be considered too broad unless they are asking about a specific denominational position. When a new user asks a question like that the mods will usually ask them to edit it to ask about a specific denomination. So I don't think there's anything to worry about. Usually there's no need to include the author's own denomination if they're asking about another, though sometimes it helps the question make sense, perhaps because it indicates that the asker has a misunderstanding that can be corrected. But again, requests can be made if that is the case.

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To confront this issue I often ask questions along the lines of "which Christian sect believes in X" or "Are there any Christian sects that agree or disagree with X"? It's critical recognize the 30k sects/denominations that exist and encourage people to specify their perspective in their answer. It really helps clarify things otherwise we make the mistake of assuming a shared perspective where real differences exist.

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    Those questions are a sort of list question which sometimes aren't considered to be good questions. – curiousdannii Jan 13 '14 at 3:34
  • Why should people learn about the diversity of thought within a specific religion? It seems absurd to discourage this line of questioning. – rpeg Jan 13 '14 at 17:49

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