The importance of faith/belief statements:
We feel that every denomination, para-church organization, religious group, and religious web site should consider creating a statement of belief or faith and displaying it prominently. This is particularly important among Christian groups who may use the term “Christian” to refer to only theRoman Catholic Church, or only to Evangelical Protestantism, or to the full range of Christian denominations and beliefs, or to some other subset of the religion. Quite often, when we visit a Christian web site for the first time, we have to search around among its articles to find out exactly what Christian belief system they follow and promote on their web site.
That said, the following is our attempt at a statement of belief. Please be sure to read the footnotes at the bottom of the essay because they include some important qualifications and exceptions.
OCRT Statement of Belief:
We are a multi-faith group. As of late-2012, we consist of one Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Wiccanand Zen Buddhist. Thus, the OCRT staff lack agreement on almost all theological matters, such asbelief in a supreme being, the nature of God, interpretation of the Bible and other holy texts, whether life after death exists, what form the afterlife may take, etc.
We believe in:
|Personal worth: The inherent worth of every person. People are worthy of respect, support, and caring simply because they are human. Unfortunately, our group has not reached a consensus on when human life, in the form of an ovum and spermatozoon, becomes a human person with civil rights including the right to live. On this matter, our group’s lack of agreement on when personhood begins mirrors that of society at large.|
|Lack of discrimination: Working towards a culture that is relatively free of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, physical disability, language, age, body shape, etc.|
|Dignity: The dignity of the human person. We oppose the use of torture and cruel or unusual punishment including the death penalty.
|Democracy: The importance of democratic processes within religious, political, and other structures in which the will of the people is implemented, subject to the limits imposed by the constitution.|
|Religion-state matters: The separation of religion and the state. (This is generally referred to as “separation of church and state.” But we prefer the more inclusive term). The government should avoid promoting one faith group within a religion over another, or promote one religion over another, promote religion over secular beliefs, or promote secular beliefs over religion. 1
|Personal freedom: The freedoms of religious beliefs, speech, association, and expression at the individual, congregational and denominational level. 1
|Freedom of speech: The freedom to compare the beliefs of faith groups with each other, and with the findings of science. It also includes the freedom to criticize faith and other groups when they harm others.|
|Relative truth: The principle that many moral, ethical, and religious beliefs vary greatly from one culture, religion, and time to another, and are thus relative. We do acknowledge that they are often considered absolute by various religions and secular belief systems. 2
|Impact of religion: The generally positive influence that most religions have had on their followers and on society. 3|
|A problem with the use of prayer: It is our belief that prayer is an unreliable method to assess the will of God. We were initially divided on this matter, but a pilot study appears to indicate that prayer for this purpose is unreliable.|
|Evil in religion: In the importance of individual believers detecting evil influences and policies that currently exist within their chosen faith group, and strongly advocating for their correction. If significant improvement or elimination of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. is impossible, we feel that they should consider withholding financial support and/or leaving the group. 4|
|Education: The principle that people are not truly educated unless they have studied the world’s major religions and ethical systems. They need to learn of both the good and evil impacts that each has had on society throughout history. They need to be taught skills at analysis and “baloney detection.” 5|
About accuracy in our essays:
We will attempt to overcome our biases on each topic that we describe, by explaining each point of view carefully, respectfully and objectively. To this end, we have many of our essays reviewed by persons familiar with the issues who represent all sides of each topic. We encourage readers to Emailus about any errors or lack of balance that they find. We do not regard any essay as fixed or complete.
We believe that our web site is unique among religious web sites in that it contains an errata pagewhere we record errors that have been detected and corrected from among our 7,200 essays and menus (as of 2014-JUL).
We abandoned use of the traditional AD/BC notation for identifying years. After a long debate, we made the decision to use the religiously neutral CE/BCE notation which we feel is less offensive to non-Christians. The British Broadcasting Corporation adopted the same format during 2011-SEP. It seems that they also received a great number of complaints.