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10 years ago  ::  Sep 23, 2008 - 10:23PM #1
Posts: 325
Dear Church & State forum participants:

First of all, allow me to tell you how glad I am to see this forum active. There have been times in the past when things were a lot quieter - too quiet, in fact. Activity is much better than that sort of quietude.

However, as I am sure we are all aware, this can be a particularly contentious forum, due to the general nature of the issues we discuss here. The questions of whether, to what extent, and/or how religion and government should interact or intersect can lead to some very heated exchanges. With that in mind, allow me to set forth a few reminders of what does, and does not, belong in this forum:

1. The Beliefnet Rules of Conduct (yes, that's a link) apply as surely to this forum as to anyplace else on Beliefnet. Please be familiar with them and adhere to them when you are engaging in discussions on this forum.

2. This forum is intended for examining and discussing a variety of issues that impact or are impacted by the actions and possible interactions of government and religion in (at least primarily, if not entirely) the United States of America. There's nothing wrong with mentioning other nations and how they deal with similar issues, provided that any such mention is made in reference to an already ongoing discussion of something that is happening in the U.S. and is actually germane to the topic of the thread in which it is introduced.

3. This forum is NOT intended as a repository for threads regarding homosexuality or any other "one-note-Charlie" type of topic. When the front page here begins to show a theme of having many threads devoted to what is essentially the same topic, those threads will be either merged, moved to a more appropriate place, or closed so as to stimulate discussion of multiple issues rather than risk our becoming a single-issue community. Variety is the spice of life, and no one wants to hear the same old thing day in and day out. If we want to encourage lively discussion with multiple participants, we have to actually have something of interest to offer.

4. Note that homosexuality is certainly germane to discussions of things like civil rights, and since civil rights are certainly a Church and State issue, there is no prohibition upon bringing it up, if this is done in the context of a larger discussion. But just coming in here and making it a standalone topic, or using a tenuous connection to a Church and State issue as a pretext to engage in repetitive gay-bashing (or bashing any group solely on the basis of gender, race, religious belief or any other characteristic defining a group) will not lead to any useful discussion, and may lead to the merging, movement, or closure of threads - and occasionally, to the deletion of posts. Relevance is key here, as is civility. I sincerely hope that at some point new people coming to this forum and reading this message will wonder why a host even found it necessary to spell this out, but as of the writing of this post, this has been a serious issue in recent weeks.

5. We are, ostensibly at least, all adults here, and we ought to be able to engage in discussion and debate in mature and civilized tones. Furthermore, we ought to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. More on that here (yes, that's another link; please feel free to click it).

6. Finally, please be aware that this particular forum is not intended as a partisan stronghold for either Liberals or Conservatives, Republicans or Democrats, Christians or non-Christians. Not only is your Host team here (that's Davelaw40 and myself) committed to honesty and fairness in both moderation and discussion, but we ourselves represent more than one point of view that, if taken together, pretty much cover most of the spectrum with regard to the various topics likely to be discussed here. A look at our public profiles would tell you that much. The effect this is intended to have upon the tone of this forum, I will leave as an exercise for the reader.


Beliefnet Community Co-Host,
Church & State Issues
Shared pain is lessened, shared joy increased. Thus do we refute entropy. - Mike Callahan, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
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