I asked two questions, haven't had a reason to ask any recently as I've been busy with babies and stuff. But here they are:

According to the Catholic Church is the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act an unjust law?

Does the Roman Catholic church consider HIPAA to be an unjust law?

I think it's a little crazy that one was closed and the other one wasn't they're both about the Catholic principle of Subsidiarity that Pope Leo XIII and GK Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc wrote about and everyone should know about.

Does anyone think there should be a Catholicism site? Do other Catholics get a little turned off that most of the questions asked here on Catholicism are not very deep? I tried to start a Chesterton/Belloc/Distributism site a while ago but didn't get any traction from inside the Stackexchange world (although spamming the Chesterton societies was pretty fruitful).

I think Catholicism.SE is way bigger than Christianity.SE, so I just want to know, who's coming with me!?

  • 1
    If Catholics get their own Catholicism.SE site, then that will create the false impression that Catholics are not Christians, which would give evangelical Christians the misleading upper hand so they will presumably try to proselytize Catholics to the "right faith" -- Evangelical Protestantism.
    – Double U
    Feb 19, 2014 at 6:53
  • 1
    Keep Christian sects together under Christianity.SE. I am afraid that further division is misleading and dangerously sectarian. To keep a nice, peaceful, and friendly Christian atmosphere, I think it's best to keep everything under one roof. Christians can just kill each other, if they are able to do so.
    – Double U
    Feb 19, 2014 at 6:57
  • 2
    Don't forget the bounty system. Some folks might make the time to write an answer if you sweeten the pot a bit.
    – wax eagle
    Feb 19, 2014 at 11:12

2 Answers 2


We've missed your face around here Peter!

First things first

I rounded out the re-open votes on the question that had gotten closed and cleaned up the disaster in comments on both of them. Excuse me for a second while I yell over your shoulder because some people can't seem to remember that comments are for asking for clarification or otherwise seeing post improved, not...


This is a persistent problem that even people who seem to understand our question and answer scope keep forgetting. Especially on questions, if you comment is about the subject of the post rather that about the post itself, please keep it to yourself. This is not a discussion forum. Either questions get whipped into shape so they can be answered or they don't, but the comment space is not for mini-think-tank sessions on theology or politics.

Now for a post-mortem

I think you have incorrectly diagnosed the problem both of your questions faced. The issue is not that they were about Catholicism. This issue is that neither of them were clearly about doctrine or church positions or any of the stuff that is relevant to this site (or would be relevant to a dedicated Catholic stack). Both of them came off as what, for lack of a better term, we've been in the habit of calling truth questions.

Now one of your questions got edited to clarify this the same day it was asked and since got upvoted and survived. The other one did not get the same fixes and continued downhill until it got closed. And rightly so it my estimation. It has since gotten some of the same fixes and was close to being re-opened and I touched it up a bit more for you.

Shouldn't it have been obvious from the tag what these questions were?

Maybe in an ideal world yes, but this is not that world. People are people, and have some unfortunate tendencies. Also, words matter. No matter what the context is whether you are on SE or chatting with your friends or in a council of Bishops, if you use "truth" language people are going to fight for their understanding of what is true. If you ask "Is X unjust?" it doesn't matter if you tagged it right or if you were on a Stack dedicated to just your home-bodies, people's first instinct before they even read far enough to see the tag is going to be to spout out their "yes" or "no" answer according to their belief. It won't even matter if they are Catholic, the tendency is going to be to queue up an answer based on what they already believe before they even read the question.

If you don't use words to frame your question in a way that alleviates these tendencies, any question you ask is going to pick a fight.

Lastly there is one more subtle issue with your questions. They boarder on the exploratory/developmental question problem I raised here. While I am sure you would love an official answer from your Catholic teaching (and there may be one in the cases of those two questions) the way you worded them did not really call for that, it called for people to reason through what they know of right and wrong and offer what they thought should be the churches position. If you ask about issues that are clearly unresolved or actively debated even inside specific doctrinal circles, what you are really asking is for that debate to be hashed out and come to a conclusion in the context of your question. That isn't what we are here for and I'm pretty sure if a Catholicism Stack were to get off the ground it would be even less welcome there. The Politics site was leaning a bit more toward that format the last time I looked, but I'm not sure where they are at on that.

The solution

I don't have panacea that will solve all our problems, but I do have something to say about this:

Do other Catholics get a little turned off that most of the questions asked here on Catholicism are not very deep?

This is not just a problem with Catholic questions. It's a rampant issue with the Protestant ones too. The solution is not to segregate everything into it's own echo chamber. There are plenty of places to discuss issues with like minded folks, but that is an inherently bad recipe for canonical answers. The solution is to ask better questions and give better answers and do the right housekeeping so our signal to noise ration goes up. This means those who are experts and can give more meaningful content should not leave it to the amateurs but speak up. It also means those same folks should be more active in down-voting rubbish content, closing unclear questions and generally doing house cleaning. Unfortunately there is so much junk it is easy to get bogged down in cleaning it up. Stay out of comment wars, note issues with posts but don't stick around to debate in comments when folks disagree. That time would be better spend producing good content rather that fixing the bad.

  • Ok, thanks for the reopen, I was really hoping to have a good answer to those questions today since I've got to teach the class tonight. Catholic Social Doctrine is pretty much nonexistent as a topic so I can see why people would think it is off topic. The problem with the edits is, I don't expect official church doctrine, that would be easy to get in the Catechism. I want Chesterton or Belloc or E.F. Schumacher to drop by and answer my question.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Feb 19, 2014 at 11:31
  • @Peter Don't expect good answers quickly. Unlike SO or similar my experience is that almost everything that comes right away is rubbish and really good answers don't show up for a couple weeks and in many cases even longer. In fact i think we have a chronic problem in that many of our real experts aren't motivated to answer until they see a few bad answers taking up space; meanwhile the script-kiddies of theology love gaming the system and don't hesitate to drop their [lack of] knowledge on anything that catches their eye.
    – Caleb
    Feb 19, 2014 at 11:50
  • I would add that, if a person is not an expert himself, then he/she may gain knowledge and insight by searching for the most appropriate academic journals. Sometimes, a well-established professor may have written on a topic already, so the information would be ripe for the picking. Even in colleges and universities, students learn by reading from the experts in academic journals. :D
    – Double U
    Feb 20, 2014 at 1:24

I don't know what to tell you other than people just don't want political stuff on this site, despite scoping. Specifically, they don't want anything that is "hot button", political topics. The community recently squashed a series of questions revolving around guns and patriotism, which I fought against, and the ensuing meta posts led to the conclusion that "Christian culture" was off-topic, yet a few questions on exactly that, some even with the "culture" tag, have passed through this unjust gauntlet unscathed.

I think it is stupid and wrong that there is the obvious double standard for some topics and community members prone to casting close votes because of topic instead of breach of site guidelines should reevaluate their motivations when voting on questions such as these. Avoiding topics that are "hot button" only serves an attitude of weak pacifism that can only be justified with a double standard. So what if people argue ravenously about the topic?! If it is scoped appropriately, as Peter's question clearly is, then there is no question that the post is on-topic, worthwhile, and makes the internet a better place.

The question currently has three reopen votes, so it might get reopened. I cast the first one and seemingly, I'm the only one willing to voice objection to the community's actions, other than yourself, of course.

I don't think it really has much to do with the question being about Catholicism. You seem stuck in a trance that a Catholicism site would yield better reception and answers to your questions. I actually doubt that entirely. As I pointed out above, the close actions are because of the human nature to avoid conflict. Last I checked, Catholics are human too.

Unfortunately for you, I think you are probably our most knowledgeable Catholic user. Alypius rivaled you for a while, but he's been gone for almost a year. When your the resident expert, it's not exactly fair to expect those beneath your level to understand the scope of your questions.

If I were you, I would promote this site more, ensuring wouldbe Catholic participants that the site can and gladly will cover all their Catholic scoped questions.

  • Thanks, I'll definitely promote it if the wife lets me go to the Chesterton Conference down in mundeline Il, thus summer.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Feb 19, 2014 at 11:56
  • @Peter I was going to ask you about that. You really should go. Have you done the steps to get SE to reimburse you? There's no doubt in my mind that it would be good for the site if you promote it there.
    – user3961
    Feb 19, 2014 at 15:25

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