How to discuss religion

How to discuss religious issues appropriately
What is on-topic?
What is off-topic?


The Great Conversation group welcomes peoples from all sorts of differing philosophical and religious perspectives. We welcome people of all faiths. I myself, the moderator, am atheistic in perspective, but I respect people of faith.

The works included in our reading list of course sometimes pertain to religious ideas, and the concept of God(s), and of faith. As the moderator, I want to encourage us to discuss all the issues and matters that arise in these works, including religious ideas. For that reason, I want to try to suggest guidelines for the appropriate way and the inappropriate way for us to discuss God(s), religion, faith and the Bible or Koran in this group. Because, from time to time, these controversial topics are in fact appropriate for a discussion group such as this.

First, and most basically, I asked that we all stay on-topic and avoid any proselytizing. So, please, no quoting scripture "at" others, and please avoid "urging" others to consider one's religion. Please avoid trying to convince others that Christ or Muhammad or Buddha or Moses is the One True [fill in the blank]. Please.

However, it is impossible to entirely avoid the subject of God or Gods in a discussion group such as this without ignoring one of the big issues of many of the authors of the great books. To completely ignore these issues would be like ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room.

So, depending on how such discussion is handled, and if it is handled with respect and discretion, it is acceptable in this Great Conversation group to discuss the historic proofs of the existence of God of the great philosophers, or how the concept of God(s) or faith in Gods affected the great writers. It is also okay to discuss the writings of the Bible as historical primary source documents, or/and to discuss the Bible as a literary work.

This kind of discussion can be very tricky, and I kindly ask that each of us exercise discretion in these sorts of discussions. We just have to keep discussion of these issues to a philosophical or historical level. I ask that we all respect one another's differing beliefs and recognize that there have been brilliant individuals who have come from Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, as well as brilliant individuals who have been agnostic or atheistic.

Ultimately, if there is a post that I feels crosses the line into proselytizing or a post that is otherwise inappropriate, then I reserve the right to exercise my responsibility as moderator.

Thank you for your understanding.