My initial reaction to questions asking about the belief of a particular religion is that the question is seeking to understand the beliefs of that religion, possibly to include an analysis of what the questioner believes is a contradiction in the beliefs of that religion.
Though I contribute regularly on SE-Biblical Hermeneutics, I'm relatively inexperienced on this site. Recent evidence suggests I may have misunderstood the purpose of this site.
For example, there are frequent questions about beliefs espoused by the Catholic church. I have doctrinal disagreements with Catholicism, but I do not use these questions as a platform for those disagreements. Where I know what a writer/speaker accepted by Catholics has said, I share my thoughts (e.g. here); where I do not, I prefer to leave answering to those who do.
There have been quite a few questions recently about the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses and several about the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In both cases, non-adherents to these views have used the questions (and their votes, though this is less surprising) to disparage these religions. Why?
A handful of examples from posts that have been active recently:
- Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses cite William Barclay as to the identity of the speaker in Revelation 22:13 knowing he believed it is Jesus?
- According to Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarians and all who deny that Jesus is the Almighty God, how can He be in you and live in you?
- The Mormon Church teaches that Jesus Christ created under the direction of Heavenly Father and He did not create the world “out of nothing.”
- Since there is only one God who is not formed then how can the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Jesus is a created god?
- Is the Book of Mormon in English as authentic as in the original, or is Joseph Smith's translation imperfect?
These all strike me as very legitimate questions. Yet the comments on these pages--and sometimes the answers themselves--are being used as a vehicle for criticizing these beliefs.
Two specifics that I find surprising:
On the first question noted above, the most upvoted answer (by 4x right now) assumes the adherents simply don't fact-check their beliefs and so they believe out of ignorance.
On the last question noted above, the most up-voted answer (by 7x right now) is an answer that does not attempt to engage with the beliefs of the adherents. It responds on the basis of textual criticism, which is not used by Latter-day Saints to adjudge the authenticity or authority of the Book of Mormon.
(to be sure, I think textual criticism is very interesting, but isn't this a topic for SE-Biblical Hermeneutics?)
If I have misunderstood the purpose of this site, I welcome the chance to learn a bit more. If I have not misunderstood the purpose of this site...then why do we keep doing this?