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In this question, certain sacred aspects of the LDS faith are openly discussed, and linked to: Did Mormons have a "blood oath" ceremony before April 1990?

In the LDS faith, it is highly offensive for those topics to be discussed outside the temple, let alone for videos of the ceremonies to be watched. I know that there are many other faiths that have similar sacred/secret ordinances that they would not like displayed in public.

Does this stack allow such topics to be discussed against the will of the faith being discussed? Should we flag these types of questions? Or edit them down to make them as acceptable as possible?

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This is a tough question, but it only has one answer: If the question is about Christian beliefs and practices then it is on topic and will not be closed. Or, at least, it can't be closed because some may find the question or prospective answers offensive.

Finding questions and answers offensive is not a problem unique to you or even the LDS. There's answers on this site that argue the Pope is the Antichrist. Other answers that claim white Europeans are the true Israel by blood and are deserving to rule over everyone else. Not to mention the numerous "gotcha" or "refute this" questions really only asked in hopes to shine a negative light on a particular Christian group.

I'm afraid we can't make an exception for the sacred LDS ceremonies. If members or former members divulge the information, then that is between them and God.

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All such questions are acceptable here. To ban them would be censorship. But when a topic is sensitive it should be asked about with care.

No one is under compulsion to answer any question here, but likewise, no one is under compulsion not to answer. If someone who has the knowledge desires to answer such questions, perhaps because they have left those denominations, or they don't feel bound by the secrecy others hold to, then they are free to answer as they wish.

Of course such questions do need to meet the site guidelines. If they're off-topic for some reason (truth question, pastoral advice) or they're unclear, too broad, or too opinion based, they should still be closed. But they would be closed for those reasons, and not because their topics are taboo.

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    One topic that separates SE from Reddit is that SE censors and Reddit (usually) does not. SE is a cultivated environment, not a roaming ground for free speech. – BlackThorn Jul 13 '17 at 1:13
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    @curiousdannii I understand the point you are making, however some of the questions we close are closed for some pretty disappointing reasons, and my opinion is that we are (as a community) too quick to close in a lot of cases. To take a stand that a certain class of question shall not be closed, since that would be censorship, comes off as absurd, though I think you meant this with the best of intentions. I do understand the point about those who have left a faith community, and the hazards of how certain religions deal with those who have left the faith community. (LRH...) – KorvinStarmast Jul 13 '17 at 1:55
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    @KorvinStarmast I'm not saying they can't be closed! I'm saying they can't be closed because of their subject matter. If they're off-topic in another way, or they're unclear, too broad, or too opinion based, then they should still be closed of course. And they should still be asked with care and sensitivity. – curiousdannii Jul 13 '17 at 2:03
  • @curiousdannii OK, it didn't come off that way, so I thank you for clarifying your response. – KorvinStarmast Jul 13 '17 at 2:06
  • @Korvin I think the only censorship happening on this site (defined as stifling intentionally the voice of a particular person, idea, or topic) is if the question is not about Christianity, which the site defines as any group of any size that self-identifies as Christian. I'd say that's a very generous censorship policy, considering its religion. – 3961 Jul 13 '17 at 4:59
  • Frankly, censorship has become a loaded word. I wouldn't use it, even when it exactly applies, like right now. – 3961 Jul 13 '17 at 5:03
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Yes, this site allows these types of questions to be asked and answered.

If it is a fact that certain groups that self-identify as Christians do (or don't) have secret practices and rituals that they'd rather not talk about with outsiders, asking and answering questions about those secret practices and rituals is still a factual question about a Christian group, and therefore can be asked and answered here.

C.SE simply can't go down the road of allowing groups to object to questions about them when those questions have a reasonable factual basis. If it did, then any self-identifying Christian group could come along and say, "This question about our church offends us. You must delete it." And the site would not be able to do its job.

Having said that, C.SE and its users / mods can and does close questions and answers along the lines of, "Isn't so-called Christian group X terrible and non-Christian because it has secret practice Y?!?" It is not the job of this site to say whether a particular belief or practice is good or bad, true or false.

  • The slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope How many other groups are requesting this sort of accommodation? The fact of the matter is that there are individuals that may be offended on certain topics, but as for LDS temple ceremonies, you will find that the opposition for it being discussed here is unanimous from within the LDS church. And why shouldn't we allow each group some leeway in controlling the discussion about them? – BlackThorn Jul 13 '17 at 15:37
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    @TBear As Wikipedia explains, only some uses of slippery slope arguments are fallacies, when they deny the possibility of middle grounds and give no reasoning for the likelihood of outcomes. I don't see the relevance of slippery slope arguments for Lee's post though. He's just saying that setting a precedent would set a precedent. – curiousdannii Jul 13 '17 at 15:43
  • @curiousdannii then you didn't read his answer very objectively. If we allow A, then B might happen And then the site would not be able to do its job. I'm only asking for A, Lee thinks that B and C will happen. Slippery slope. – BlackThorn Jul 13 '17 at 15:45
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    @TBear For most regulars, A itself would prevent the site doing its job ;) – curiousdannii Jul 13 '17 at 15:46
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    This isn't a slippery slope issue. Every church has skeletons in its closet, and various other stuff it would rather people didn't talk about. But facts are facts. And if it's factual about a Christian group or church, it can be asked about here. This is a secular site. Protecting churches' secrets is not something we do here. – Lee Woofenden Jul 13 '17 at 17:37
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I'm the LDS church member with the accepted answer to the question TBear referrenced. In a comment to an answer here TBear said, "...but as for LDS temple ceremonies, you will find that the opposition for it being discussed here is unanimous from within the LDS church."

No, it isn't.

The LDS Temple Endowment is an excellent example of a sensitive issue that will inevitably arise on C.SE. To help with the conversation, it is worth identifying two concepts. (1) There are specific aspects of the ceremony that Endowment participants covenant to keep secret. Though questions may arise on this site about those aspects, I will never discuss them because I have accepted the covenant not to do so. These aspects are secret and that offends the sensibilities of many people not of the LDS faith. How I deal with that is, as fredsbend said, between me and God. (2) The entirety of the ceremony is sacred. Discussing those portions that are not secret should be done by LDS members sparingly, carefully, and respectfully. Regrettably, there are plenty of swine in the world, and our most sacred ceremony has (for quite a long time now) become public knowledge, meaning people who won't respect it have access to it.

How should we, both members of the LDS church and all participants on C.SE, behave when anyone asks about either secret or sacred aspects of any Christian faith? I would hope we would all act respectfully, remembering that the people most qualified to answer can easily be hurt or offended by calloused discussion of what they hold most dear.

C.SE participants will find that average LDS member reaction to public discussion of our temple ceremonies is understandable. 3 Nephi 14:16 teaches:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

We have experienced that last part, people turning against us and rending us because of our most sacred beliefs, over and over for nearly 200 years. We are (hopefully) understandably sensitive and often overreact to questions and discussions about our ceremonies. After all, the vast majority of such questions are meant to be derisive, mocking, and insulting.

But, does that mean we shouldn't have the courage to speak? D&C 45:32 teaches:

But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.

But those men lifting up their voices? They're the people I'm expected to reach out to. People who I hope would benefit both from the Gospel of Jesus Christ as I believe in it and my good example. Acts 4:29...

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word....

My conclusion is no, C.SE should NOT prohibit any question save that it is not about Christianity. I agree with KorvinStarmast that C.SE is too quick to close conversations as it is. (Much, much quicker than on any of the other half-dozen SE sites I visit.) Therefore, if anyone wishes to ask about our ceremonies and feels they cannot do so with respect or are unwilling to accept what answer we can give with respect, then that, too, is between them and their God. Matthew 7:12...

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

NOTE #1: There is a quote from Gorden B. Hinckley that I cannot find at the moment that instructs or is interpreted to mean that all members have taken an oath of secrecy about the entire Temple Endowment. I respect Bro. Hinckley, but there is no such covenant in any of the ceremonies and without inviting common consent (D&C 26:2) he didn't have the authority to incur the obligation. I mention this just in case an LDS member who thinks these things should never be discussed --- despite their obvious availability via the Internet and the fact that a great many people are talking without the benefit of truth, knowledge, or wisdom --- brings up the quote.

NOTE #2: I've commented on one meta discussion about the rules C.SE follows to close discussions. C.SE moderators have trouble dealing with the fact that many questioners are looking for comparative answers using a forum designed to have only one correct answer. Rather than live with the fact that there may be no single correct answer, the moderator's solution has been to either close the question or require one person to answer on behalf of all Christian sects. I'd like to recommend the moderators let the discussions develop a bit and see where they go before so hastily asserting what can be described as a form of discrimination.

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    Your commentary on how to handle LDS specific issues is good, thank you for that. I would +1 for that, but then you get side tracked and start throwing in general issues of questions scope. Not only is that a different topic that should that be in a different meta post, but you seem to be ignoring the fact that we already tried what you suggest and we already saw where it took us and we decided that was a bad idea (-1). The signal to noise ratio that makes this site good in the first place only holds up if you nip certain things in the bud—discussion and debate being the primary offenders. – Caleb Jul 13 '17 at 20:11
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From SE Be Nice page:

Bigotry of any kind. Language likely to offend or alienate individuals or groups based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. will not be tolerated. At all. (Those are just a few examples; when in doubt, just don't.)

https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice

Also, from the Judaism stack:

Please respect that in the Jewish tradition certain questions, especially certain questions relating to sexuality, are discussed only in private. Such questions will be closed or deleted at the discretion of the moderators or community.

https://judaism.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

Obviously this stack is full of very deeply seated and passionate beliefs and opinions, so to avoid all issues of contention is impossible. However, there is precedent throughout the SE community to show that some topics are taboo, especially if they may be considered distasteful or offensive. In the case of hidden practices in Christianity, such as LDS temple ceremonies, it is very easy to find answers on Google and hundreds of blogs, youtube videos, etc., so it is far from necessary to answer such questions here. Many communities actively censor questions that can be easily answered with a Google search. I will add that sharing or researching such private matters is in poor taste, whether or not you belong to that religion.

As the base rule for SE is to be nice, and avoid offending or alienating groups based on religion, I think the Christianity Stack ought to take a higher road and work to accommodate the wishes of all religions, especially when theirs is the topic of conversation.

TL;DR Edit when you can to accomodate the wishes and practices of the religion being discussed, and flag when the topic cannot be reasonably answered without being offensive.

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    Precedent already shows that these questions are allowed here. – curiousdannii Jul 13 '17 at 1:17
  • @curiousdannii That doesn't mean that it is right or that it should continue. Meta is where we discuss topics like this, and whether we should break precedents. – BlackThorn Jul 13 '17 at 1:19
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    That's fair. But personally I don't think you've made a strong case. – curiousdannii Jul 13 '17 at 1:19
  • That's also fair. We already could have guessed your opinion of this though, based on your question: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/27960/… – BlackThorn Jul 13 '17 at 1:21
  • however, downvotes are for problematic answers, not for ones you disagree with. – BlackThorn Jul 13 '17 at 1:22
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    Not on Meta sites – curiousdannii Jul 13 '17 at 1:23
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    Ha, I always wondered why some meta posts had so many downvotes – BlackThorn Jul 13 '17 at 1:24
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    @TBear I am sympathetic to your concern. I will be interested to see how the rest of the community responds, if they do. You may be interested to know that a very respected member of our community, Mason Wheeler, offered an answer that I hope you will find unoffensive... as I recall, he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.(For my money, as an outsider, he represents the faith very well). – KorvinStarmast Jul 13 '17 at 1:47

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