I know this phrase in FAQ:

"For the purposes of this site, any group that identifies themselves as Christian are to be considered part of that set. This is critical!"

While I have a huge problem understanding why this rule should be in this site in the first place, here I want to sound out a more technical question that I have concerning how this rule is being applied on this site:

I have myself, as well as, as I have noted, many other users on this site, expressed such thoughts like "I don't consider to be Christians. Why then such comments still have not been deleted? Some of them have been around for quite a long time and it seems unlikely that moderators haven't seen them yet. Aren't such comments are a direct violation of the rules of this site?

2 Answers 2


You brought up two separate issues:

  • Moderators are not expected to read and filter 100% of the content on the site. That is up to to the community. I personally spend hours and hours every week (sometimes day) reading the site, and I do not even see every question and answer, much less comment. Keeping up with all the comment threads would be impossible. This is the job of the community. This is what flags are for: to bring things that require special action to a moderators attention. If you see a piece of content that doesn't belong on the site, flag it and one or more of the moderators will check it out.

  • Expressing a personal belief or the belief of some specific Christian tradition that some other belief is not true Christianity is not against the rules on this site. However, it must be done respectfully and in a way that constructively adds to the understanding of whatever perspective is being explained. It must not just be personal name calling. For extreme examples to illustrate the difference, a comment on an answer saying, "you are a heretic" would be something a moderator should delete while, if a question came up that called for such a response, an answer explaining how "most mainline Protestants have deemed Arianism to be heresy because it denies the divinity of Christ" is perfectly acceptable. The rule about the site-definition of Christianity has more to do with the scope of possible questions that would be considered on-topic than it does what individuals are allowed to express. All established groups processing the name Christianity are allowed to ask and answer relevant questions here even though they might not be considered Christian by some other group, but nobody is required to hold the site-definition personally. In other words group X may consider Y non-Christian, but that doesn't make questions about Y groups belief off-topic for the site. X is allowed to hold their views, but they can only express them respectful and when the views of X are part of the scope of the current question.

In practice, things are not always as black and white as the two examples a I gave above. Both moderators and the community need to exercise discretion and it isn't always easy to decide. If you see something that you think is problematic and can't deal with it yourself such as VTC/VTD'ing, downvoting or commenting, flag it for a moderator to review. If you don't agree with the resulting moderator action and still think it's a problem, you can bring the specific case up on meta.


There is already a precedent of closing questions and deleting answers which violate this rule. I see no reason why comments should be treated any different.

Ultimately, the goal of this rule is to avoid alienating groups of users from the site. If you start allowing comments on for example a question about Christian atheists to break this rule, then it won't be long until people do the same with LDS questions, etc., making those users less likely to participate, until only the most popular denomination remains.

If this site is to succeed, people need to learn to respect views that don't align perfectly with their own and stop calling names.

  • I don't think the comment thread on the question you reference here is an instance of this issue at all. It was attempting to clarify exactly what position a "Christian Atheist" holds and why they use the name at all, which was completely relevant to the question asked. It wasn't an attempt to censor or exclude them from the site scope. Even though they were having trouble understanding each-other, nobody was name calling. (However the thread was way too chatty and should have been conducted in chat and has been cleaned up.)
    – Caleb
    Jan 16, 2012 at 14:19

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