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Jesus taught:

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:

On Christianity Stack Exchange, however...

In the last 24 hours, the following statements have been made with respect to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or their beliefs:

“This is simply a distraction”

“how can we have a coherent conversation when you introduce things that Smith said”

“ I know I'm getting "preachy" but it's necessary. Like I said before, I've been dealing with Lds for over 58 years. I know how you think”

“Obviously you do not know what "circular reasoning" is in logic”

“Please do not waste your time and mine”

“Smith's randomly evolving theologies”

Spiritual experiences were described as “emotional confirmations” and the theology was described as “delusional fantasies”

The full statement: “no one has any actual reasons to regard Mormonism as anything more than the delusional fantasies of ONE man.”

“no other organization calling themselves Christian considers Mormon theology to be most certainly not Christian [sic]”

“I'm not going to attempt a complete list of the ways LDS doctorine [sic] differs from Christian doctrine”

“so-called Christians”

“Does any of the LDS extra-biblical holy books assert anything that is in direct, clear contradiction to what the Bible asserts? Oh, boy, do they ever!”

And several more that I didn't capture before they were (appropriately) deleted. Most of the statements listed above are still on the site, as are multiple recent questions (e.g. this one) written so broadly to call for any and all criticism of Latter-day Saints. The atypical enthusiasm with which these questions and their answers have been upvoted make it clear that this is what the community wants.

I appreciate this comment by a non-LDS member of the site, after observing some of the above:

I might be mistaken, but I was under the impression that this stackexchange was for analytical, somewhat-academic, at-least-attempting-to-be-unbiased conversations about Christianity.

Latter-day Saints are outnumbered on this site (by my recent estimate) just shy of 100 to 1. There are currently highly-voted answers on questions about Latter-day Saints citing claims that have been thoroughly rejected by subject-matter experts, but are presented--on an ostensibly academic site--in full absence of this evidence. It will not be possible to provide useful, community-vetted, accurate research, if the community upvotes what it wants to hear without regard for academic integrity. There is no possibility of even-handed discussion if this is the way the site dogpiles a minority view.

Jesus also taught:

Ye shall know them by their fruits

Questions:

  1. Are these the fruits of Christianity Stack Exchange?
  2. If we, as a community, lack the self-discipline to discuss "why does A disagree with B" questions, is it time for new rules with respect to those questions?
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    Harassment moves around quite a bit within the site (usually newbies, but not always). Some individuals just like to argue and that is simply non-sense. I see numerous denominations taking the plows from various individuals. Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Later-day Saints seem to get it the most. It is truly quite frustrating to see and not at all Christ-like in my opinion. Give me time to ponder an answer after due reflexion. Pax.
    – Ken Graham Mod
    Jul 9 at 6:38
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    One thing , I would like to mention here is the fact that some oppose to different books being included into their canons as if their own denomination is absolute. Catholics responses should be allowed to answer posts with their canonical books, and likewise the Mormon Church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses!
    – Ken Graham Mod
    Jul 9 at 15:33
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    Just a little note on form. When comments are directed either to an individual or a community (in general) in a rude or abusive manner, please do not engage in a conversation, but rather flag the comment(s) if necessary. As for my point of view, as a moderator, I would like other moderators to see the queue before acting on it. IMO this makes it clear to all as to what is going on.
    – Ken Graham Mod
    Jul 10 at 6:35
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    @KenGraham thank you for the coaching, I can see how that would be helpful Jul 10 at 7:26
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    I've looked at one question about the LDS and the clear distaste for the denomination/religion is super transparent. I wouldn't feel at all welcome on the site if I were LDS.
    – Peilonrayz
    Jul 17 at 13:35
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The definition of Christian to be used on this site is as follows.

Therefore the definition of "Christian" for the purpose of this site is:

A person, group, or other entity that identifies itself as Christian.

What is the definition of “Christian”?

Christianity - Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Christianity.

Please bear in mind that this is not a Christian site.

This is a secular site. This is not a church sanctioned or sponsored ministry site. It is a secular Q&A site sponsored as a for-profit venture by a secular company. - Brothers, we are not Christians‼

Christianity Stack Exchange is for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. You may ask questions about any area of Christianity. Your own beliefs do not not preclude you from asking questions, but all questions must be directly related to Christianity.

I am going to let a former moderator have a few words here as he puts it in a way I generally agree with.

I would just like to suggest a few extra considerations. These are MY views and reflect how I intend to behave here. I will listen to feedback and try to adjust to the community, so please anybody chime in if you think there are things that can be improved.

  1. Christianity.SE is not here to either dictate or define the views of it's users. My answers will always reflect my views. In so far as my views line up with some major corpus of professing Christians I don't think it's too difficult to mingle. However, this site should not mandate that I hold a certain position or even censor my stating said view so long as long as it is identified as my view.

For example, I do not consider either the LDS of JW faiths to be Christian (In return I understand that they do not consider me to be Christian). I used the word faith instead of tradition on purpose. My answers will reflect this view. That does not mean I will not welcome LDS and JWs on to this site. I just tried to help a user edit an LDS question so that it might be on-topic, it would be nice if it could get a real LDS member to answer. I would never advocate a ban or safe zone to isolate US from THEM. I think questions ABOUT and and answers FROM them are on topic and welcome. I will up-vote them per the normal guidelines as long as they are clearly identified. If I see JW views in an answer that does not identify that faith's unique view is being represented, that will get a down-vote an objection comment from me.

While I expect to see a huge diversity of viewpoints here, I do not want to see the views of my particular tradition mis-represented. Which brings us to the next point...

  1. The history of Christianity is full of boundary-setting. It's what we do. From the Old Testament where the chosen people were to set themselves apart from the other nations to today's Church with more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. I think that if this site is going to survive it must do so by recognizing, respecting, and allowing these boundaries, not ignoring or glossing them over.

"Is X Christian?" questions may be off-topic because "Christian" as defined here is not in itself a meaningful boundary and the site cannot mandate a definition for that term. However in answering questions and identifying their views, users should be free use define their own boundaries and refer to other traditions and their views using whatever guidelines their own traditions provide. Again, I think this only works when POVs are honestly identified. It has to be done respectfully, but it shouldn't be taboo. - Christianity.SE vs. Survivor

This being stated, as for this site we are all seemingly professed Christians, even though individual Churches along with their respected doctrine may negate that other denominations are to be considered as being Christian. For this site we are all to be considered as such and to to be treated with Christian Charity!

Comments to posts should generally be made in a way to improve a post.

When comments are directed either to an individual or a community (in general) in a rude or abusive manner, please do not engage in a conversation, but rather flag the comment(s) if necessary. As for my point of view, as a moderator, I would like other moderators to see the queue before acting on it. In my opinion this makes it clear to all as to what is going on.

Being rude has no place on site!

Do not make statements about individuals: Such as calling their belief system silly.

Do not demean someone’s intellectual abilities either:

  • Such as saying that one does not truly know what “X” is all about.
  • Obviously you do not know what "circular reasoning" is in logic!

Please try to avoid phrases that can be misconstrued in a negative light or even taken too lightheartedly.

Never make a comment to personally attack and target an individual or their faith. How many times I have seen statements like: Catholics are going to Hell!

To state that JW’s or LDS are not Christians has no business here. The site definition of Christianity has to be respectfully upheld on the Christianity SE site.

Please remember that this is a question & answer site that relies a priori on facts not opinions.

All posts asking for the site to pass judgement on some person or group (as opposed to describing a belief system, examining an idea, explaining history, and so on) are off-topic and will be closed/deleted.

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  • I'm going to repeat something I've said elsewhere: if saying that JWs/LDS "are not Christian according to most other faiths identifying as Christian" is verboten, then you are censoring facts, and this SE ought to be purged. Ultimately, unless God Himself is answering questions, many statements on this site will be opinions. We can, however, distinguish between personal opinions and opinions held by large and/or specific groups, i.e. "the majority of Americans believe X" or "the official position of the RCC is X".
    – Matthew
    Jul 11 at 12:49
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    @Matthew The official teachings of X denomination as doctrine is considered factual evidence here. But the site’s definition of what constitutes a Christian is to be maintained here. I repeat, this is a secular site.
    – Ken Graham Mod
    Jul 12 at 21:38
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    @Matthew I think of this site as a "Christian" Studies site, where each group that self-identify as "Christian" is on topic. The attitude is that we want to learn what each group say about themselves, not to pass judgment on which group is right and wrong. Of course each group can expect cross-examination probing questions coming their way, which if expressed with the spirit of research and courtesy is fair game and will make the site valuable. Jul 13 at 1:57
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I agree that answers should stick to the question at hand and would have happy to delete and or redact any answers that veer off course, but if a Baptist asks a question about apparent contradictions between the synoptic gospels and John with respect to the Eucharist, do I raise heck about them being anti-Catholic?

Well, maybe, and it's just a matter of degree. Please flag bad, angry, spiteful, insensitive and hurtful content. Please ignore content with a neutral tone that you disagree with but is plausible given the context and please downvote content that you find wrong. Those are the rules of stackexchange and they seem to work well enough.

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    Since I deleted the relevant answer, I'll mention it here instead: the assertion that "Mormons aren't Christian" is not "my opinion". It is an opinion that I happen to hold, but it is, more importantly, the official doctrinal position of many, if not all (non-LDS), Christian denominations. If we're going to start censoring facts because some folks might be offended, we have a real problem. Calling it "my opinion" is exceedingly disingenuous.
    – Matthew
    Jul 9 at 19:47
  • (1/2) Thanks for the feedback. The scenario you describe seems an apt description of this question, a question with which I take no issue. The question I cited is not like the scenario you described. It is almost infinitely open-ended, and has produced multiple answers which attribute statements/ideas to people and books that never said them. Given the nebulous nature of the question and the quality of answers it has produced, I suggest it should be closed, and questions about Jul 9 at 21:48
  • (2/2) contradictions - including those proposed in answers - can be asked specifically. I'm unsure how to take the raising heck comment. I cited a dozen examples of bad, angry, spiteful, insensitive and hurtful content, and more have come since I posted. Is calling out harassment...raising heck? I might be reading too much into those 2 words. I hope so. They seemed an odd way to respond to a concern about harassment. Jul 9 at 21:54
  • @HoldToTheRod it would be a lot easier to deal with situations like these if you only flagged things, now, it could be that you did flag things and only another mod is dealing with them. But it's pretty hard to figure out what's going when you just post a bunch of quotes without linking them.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Jul 9 at 23:17
  • Because I'm genuinely curious, I was thinking of asking if any (non-LDS) Christian denominations do consider the CoLDS to be a Christian theology. But it seems this has already been asked. (In the process, I did some digging into official statements on the matter. Lutherans were generally explicit but polite, while the UMC and RCC are merely suggestive. The GOAoA, on the other hand, is not only explicit, but not very charitable.) But if anyone knows one, I'd love to hear!
    – Matthew
    Jul 10 at 0:21
  • @PeterTurner I flagged the first few and had a conversation with another mod yesterday. It was the pattern, more than any single post, that elevated my concern. Jul 10 at 3:18
  • @PeterTurner I am sorry if my approach has made life more difficult for the mods. I have tried to incrementally employ the various tools available to me, which ultimately resulted in this post on Meta. My primary concern is the one in the subject line of the question. But of secondary concern, I would like to know how better to handle patterns of behavior which appear out of step with the site's guidelines. I did not intend to be rude to you in my earlier comment, though I see how it may have come across that way - I was unsure if raising heck was intended as dismissive of my concerns. Jul 10 at 3:44
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    @hold raising heck on meta is OK, I'm as apt to do it as anyone else! It's totally up to you what way you want to take things and we appreciate it when anyone does. What is hard is when you quote without linking. Then I have to search for comments and half of them are deleted already
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Jul 10 at 19:28
  • @PeterTurner got it, thank you. Yes, I appreciate that quite a few of the statements I cited have now been deleted. Jul 10 at 20:11
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IMO:

What has happened recently went about as well as I expected. It started with this question about apologetics against the Book of Mormon. To me this is off topic to me because it is asking about arguments against a single denomination instead of a belief shared by multiple (yes there are LDS offshoots but I haven't seen many questions about them, there isn't even a rlds tag for example). I'd feel the same way if someone asked what are the apologetic arguments against the catholic pope or similar questions against core denomination beliefs held by a single denomination. This site should be about learning about denominations, understanding their beliefs, or their scriptural interpretation not tearing down a denominations core tenets.

With that said because of the popularity of the question, feedback in chat, and nothing said really being anything different than I thought I didn't vote to close it. From past experience I know trying to convince someone with your evidence or showing counter arguments isn't going anywhere quick, it does bring out firmly entrenched beliefs that become heated. In part because one side would have to admit they were wrong and we don't like being wrong. If wrong then the need for change which is hard, and neither side with strong beliefs will be able to do this easily. Those who agree become more sure they're right, and those against more angry that they might be wrong, dismiss it as opinion, or they'll look other places for answers.

Once the above mentioned question came a flood of others came. However all other questions seem on topic no matter the comments.

There are many denominations, if we all agreed there would be one. We should remember what we share as Christians while talking. Keep an open mind about other perspectives, remember this is a secular site, signs/evidence don't lead to conversion, we are unique individuals, we believe in different denominations that hold different beliefs, and both sides have bias because of this.

Yes we should be kind but at the same time explaining one's knowledge from one's experiences is difficult when the other person doesn't have the same experiences. Disagreements over deeply personal beliefs seems to lead to anger and resentment. All I can say is try to keep a level head and not fan the flames by pointing fingers.

Also this site isn't a great place for discussion, despite the comment and chat area. Users have limited space so will attempt to get to the heart of the matter quickly, which often comes out as blunt, unkind, unfair representation of people/beliefs, or unfavorable perspectives.

tldr;

  1. Christianity SE is a secular site, and isn't a denomination. There will be some apples that go bad, but there is also plenty of good. (I still think this site has plenty to offer those willing to look for answers or help others find answers to questions)
  2. Maybe, but more rules won't necessarily make people better. So yes maybe a rule could be added/clarified so single denominations doesn't get dog piled by all the rest (however the LDS do hold some unique beliefs). But maybe no because this is a Q&A site, people should have agency and respect, and there are other rules to keep things from getting too far out of hand usually.
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As well as contributing to SE-C and SE-BH I have contributed to SE-English Language & Usage for a number of years and also, more recently, to SE-Skeptics.

On all four sites I see animated discussion, enthusiasm for strongly held beliefs, sturdy defence of intelligently thought out views and vibrant opposition to weak arguments.

And on all four sites I see competent Moderation which stands ready to fairly mediate, and to discipline (to the point of a lifetime ban) if need be.

I did not, myself, witness any behaviour during the recent discussion highlighted by this question, which differed in any way from the day to day exchanges occurring throughout the Stack Exchange platform.

(Though I did edit a brief sentence, and it was accepted by the author, which I felt verged on over-enthusiastic assumption, rather than competent and restrained logic.)

I, myself, stand - on some aspects - in a minority which, on occasion, dwindles down to one. But it does me no harm, for if I cannot stand alone and defend (in every detail and across the whole spectrum of my thinking) what I believe, then I should not dare to state it in the first place.

And herein is the value of the community aspect of Stack Exchange. For every single individual stands on their own two feet, and must support, substantiate and defend with cogent eloquence, that which they bring to the community.

Long may it continue to be so.

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  • Thanks Nigel. My concern is for personal attacks and mob-mentality disparagement. I do enjoy a good debate, as long as it remains civil. BTW I did appreciate the edit you refer to in your post. Jul 10 at 5:04
  • To be sure, though, are you of the view that the statements quoted in my post are okay and appropriate? Jul 10 at 5:24
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    @HoldToTheRod That is not for me to say. As a user with the appropriate reputation, I merely have the right to vote (an anonymous ballot) as to my own preference.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 10 at 5:40
  • I am asking on Meta because I'd like the community's input as to whether these types of statements are appropriate. Jul 10 at 6:10

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