Religion Moderator
Since Feb 2, 2004

view home page, enter name:
I am the current Religion Moderator and have general responsibility for the Religion Forum on Free Republic. However, all moderators have authority on the RF as well and a few others may log in with my handle. So the person handling your abuse reports may or may not be me, but usually it will be.

How to know you are on the Religion Forum:

Look at the top of your internet browser window. If the current address (URL) begins with http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/ then you are on the Religion Forum.

How to hide the Religion Forum posts:

If you do not wish to see RF posts, do NOT use the "everything" option on the Free Republic browse option list. Instead, browse by "News/Activism." When you log back in, the browse will reset to "everything" - so be sure to set it back to "News/Activism."

Guidelines concerning Language on the Religion Forum:

Any Religion Forum post which contains potty language - or references to potty language - will be pulled as soon as I see it. If you are new to the Religion Forum and wonder where your post went, it may well be that you used a word like "crap" or "BS". If you need to see the post again to reword it, let me know by Freepmail and I'll send it to you.

What qualifies as a "religion" on the Religion Forum.

Neither atheism nor scientism will be considered a religion. Among other things, that means atheists and those who believe in scientism will not be allowed to use Religion Forum tags such as "caucus" or "ecumenical" to prevent antagonism or rebuttal.

Freepers who are atheist or believe in scientism and post on the Religion Forum will be protected from ad hominem attacks just like any other Freeper.

Guidelines concerning Hatred on the Religion Forum:

Certain sources have been determined to monger hatred of persons and are forbidden. Sources that link to those sources are also forbidden. These include Jack Chick, Jesus-is-Lord.com, Jesus-is-Savior.com, BibleBelievers.com, Vdare, KKK, Aryan Nations, National Alliance, Christian Identity, the false Jesuit Oath, the false Oath of the Knights of Columbus, fatimamovement.com, anti-Semitic sources, The Masonic Plan For The Destruction Of The Catholic Church.

Also do not compare another Freeper to a Nazi or a Westboro member or an Islamic Fundamentalist. That's flame baiting and a personal attack and may affect your posting privileges.

It is within the bounds of “open” Religion Forum town square style debate for a Freeper to express his hatred of a belief. But such posts are never allowed on RF threads labeled “prayer” “devotional” “caucus” or “ecumenical.”

It is never within the bounds on the Religion Forum for a Freeper to express his hatred of people who hold a particular belief when any Freeper is part of the belief group.

For example:

It is ok to express hatred towards MormonISM on “open” Religion Forum threads. It is never ok to express hatred towards Mormons because some Freepers are Mormon.

It is ok to express hatred towards CatholicISM on “open” Religion Forum threads. It is never ok to express hatred towards Catholics because some Freepers are Catholic.

It is ok to express hatred towards ProtestantISM on “open” Religion Forum threads. It is never ok to express hatred towards Protestants because some Freepers are Protestant.

It is ok to express hatred towards SatanISM and Satanists both because no Freeper is Satanist.

Ad Hominems

The main guideline to posting on the Religion Forum: ”Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.”

Whereas posters may argue vigorously for and against beliefs on “open” Religion Forum threads it is never tolerable to use ad hominems in religious debate because they invariably lead to flame wars when the subject is one’s deeply held religious beliefs.

For something to be "making it personal" it must be speaking to another Freeper, personally.

"Protestants are heretics" is not making it personal. "You are a heretic" is making it personal. "Catholics worship Mary" is not making it personal. "You worship Mary" is making it personal. "Mormons worship many gods" is not making it personal. "You worship many gods" is making it personal.

However, when a poster paints with a brush that accuses an entire religion of criminal behavior - his post will be pulled as flame bait. For example, posts that say "Protestants kill babies" or "Catholics molest children" or "Mormons kill non-Mormons" will be pulled. However, if the post is specific about a non-Freeper, I will not pull it. For example "Rev. Doe says abortion and infanticide are not sin" or "Father Doe was convicted for molesting those kids" or "Mormons killed non-Mormons at Mountain Meadows" would not be pulled.

Statements formed as questions are rarely "making it personal."

"Are you a heretic" is not making it personal. "You are a heretic" is making it personal.

Forms of "making it personal" include mind reading, attributing motive, accusing another Freeper of telling a lie (because it attributes motive, the intent to deceive) - making the thread "about" individual Freeper(s), following a Freeper from thread to thread and badgering a Freeper over-and-again with the same question.

The words "prevarication" "dishonesty" "slander" "deceit" "calumny" and "subterfuge" are synonymous with "lie" because they entail intent.

Words such as "false" "error" "wrong" "inaccurate" "misstatement" do not attribute motive and are not "making it personal."

Other words push the envelope of motive but are not synonymous with "lie" for purposes of modding the RF. However, they can be "making it personal" if applied to another Freeper, personally, in such a way the discussion becomes "about" the individual Freeper instead of the issues. Those words include "misrepresentation" "detraction" "disinformation" "distortion" "hyperbole" and "doublespeak."

Another example, calling a group of Freepers "anti-Mormon" attributes motive to them as a group which is not technically "making it personal" - but saying that another Freeper, personally, is anti-Mormon instead of anti-MormonISM is an ad hominem. It is "making it personal."

Another example, a poster may say on an “open” RF thread that a particular belief, diety, religious authority, etc. is "Satanic." But he must not say "You are Satanic." That would be "making it personal." The Bible is always a legitimate source on the Religion Forum, so a poster might quote the Bible where Jesus called Peter "Satan." If a post serves no debate purpose (flame bait or 'making it personal' by devious means) - it would be pulled.

When in doubt, avoid the use of the pronoun "you" and Freeper's names - or put yourself in the other guy's shoes.

Linking to Previous Posts on the Religion Forum:

The objective, on the Religion Forum, of not bringing forward disputes from prior threads is to discourage flame wars spreading, in particular the needling or badgering of other posters by bringing up their past remarks, again and again.

However, if you were to say “I recall your saying something else on an earlier thread” and the poster challenged you “Oh yeah, where?” then you would be obligated to link to the previous thread and I would not pull it.

If you want to argue the previous claim, then go back to the earlier thread, ping all the interested parties and say something like “Here you say the sky is green. Why?” The respondent will be obligated then to explain the green comment in context with that particular thread and parties involved in it.

If however you are seeking to “impeach the witness” by showing he waffles back and forth THAT is “making it personal” and I will pull it to avoid a flame war.

And if you are trying to embarrass another Freeper by recalling his inconvenient comments from prior threads, THAT is also "making it personal" and I will pull it to avoid a flame war.

A poster may quote himself from a prior thread. And he may link to articles he has previously posted. That is not "making it personal" - he is merely reasserting his own views. He may link to articles posted by others or other posters' remarks which are not part of any dispute, e.g. "You hit the nail on the head when you said..."

If however he is linking to an article posted by someone else - and that article was a "caucus" of which he was not a member - then I might pull the post anyway if I think it would have the affect of defeating the caucus label. Besides, he can always quote the source article directly without seemingly trying to work around the caucus protection.

Things the Religion Moderator cannot or will not do:

I cannot edit reply posts, I can only remove them.

I will not decree what is or is not truth. The poster who claims "Catholics worship Mary" may believe with his whole heart that is the absolute truth whereas another poster with his whole heart may believe that very statement is an abominable lie. Both sides should argue those beliefs on "open" Religion Forum threads but never resort to ad hominems.

I cannot and would not “settle” matters of dogma, doctrine, tradition or meanings of words.

Whereas I diligently try to read all of your posts, I am not here 24/7 and cannot remember all of the slights and parties involved on every single sidebar much less when posters carry grudges between threads. So if you are wondering why I singled one guy out and not the other involved in a dispute, often it is because I either did not see a previous post or did not remember it as part of the sidebar.

If the other guy in the dispute was given a warning, consider yourself warned as well.

Miscellaneous:

The demeanor of the poster says more about his own confession than the post says about yours. When he is being rude or mean it drives people away from his confession and towards yours. That is of course if you can resist the urge to meet fire with fire, in which case neither confession is appealing to the lurkers. The poster who “turns the other cheek” wins every single time.

If the other guy is throwing spitwads at you on an “open” thread it probably means he has run out of ammunition. Take it as a backhanded compliment. You won, walk away.

Spiritual maturity is not a prerequisite for posting on the Religion Forum. If the other guy is being childish, be patient with him.

Abusive spammers contribute nothing other than their spam and they don’t last long on Free Republic.

When posting in a foreign language, unless the statement is very common, e.g. adios, always include the English translation of it.

When quoting a source, e.g. a website, article or book – be sure to include sufficient source information for the moderators to enforce copyright restrictions.

When another Freeper asks you not to link to his hosting service, e.g. to use a public domain image hosted there, cooperate with his request. In such cases, you may wish to put a copy of the image on your own hosting service.

Helpful Links:

Rules of Engagement for Catholics on the Internet

Toward a Theological Ethic for Internet Discourse

16 Ways to be a better and holier blog commenter

Types of Religion Forum threads and guidelines pertaining to each:

Religion Forum threads labeled “Prayer:”

Prayer threads are closed to debate of any kind.

Religion Forum threads labeled “Devotional:”

Devotional threads are closed to debate of any kind.

Religion Forum threads labeled “Caucus”

Caucus threads are closed to any poster who is not currently and actively a member of the caucus group.

For instance, if it says “Catholic Caucus” and you are not currently, actively Catholic, then do not post to the thread.

However, if the poster of the caucus invites you, I will not boot you from the thread.

The “caucus” article and posts must not compare beliefs or speak in behalf of a belief outside the caucus.

There is little to no tolerance for non-members of a caucus coming onto the caucus thread to challenge whether or not it should be a caucus. Gross disruption usually follows.

If you question whether the article is appropriate for a caucus designation, send me a Freepmail. I'll get to it as soon as I can.

Religion Forum threads labeled “Ecumenical”

Ecumenical threads are closed to antagonism.

To antagonize is to incur or to provoke hostility in others.

Unlike the “caucus” threads, the article and reply posts of an “ecumenical” thread may discuss more than one belief, but antagonism is not tolerable.

More leeway is granted to what is acceptable in the text of the article than to the reply posts. For example, the term “gross error” in an article will not prevent an ecumenical discussion, but a poster should not use that term in his reply because it is antagonistic. As another example, the article might be a passage from the Bible which would be antagonistic to Jews. The passage should be considered historical information and a legitimate subject for an ecumenical discussion. The reply posts however must not be antagonistic.

Contrasting of beliefs or even criticisms can be made without provoking hostilities. But when in doubt, only post what you are “for” and not what you are “against.” Or ask questions.

Ecumenical threads will be moderated on a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” basis. When hostility has broken out on an “ecumenical” thread, I’ll be looking for the source.

Therefore “anti” posters must not try to finesse the guidelines by asking loaded questions, using inflammatory taglines, gratuitous quote mining or trying to slip in an “anti” or “ex” article under the color of the “ecumenical” tag.

Unlabeled Religion Forum threads:

All other Religion Forum threads are “Open” by default.

Open threads are in a town square format.

Antagonism though not encouraged, should be expected

Posters may argue for or against beliefs, deities, religious authorities, etc. They may tear down other’s beliefs. They may ridicule. “Open” RF debate is often contentious.

It requires thick skin. A poster must be able to make his points while standing his ground, suffering adverse remarks about his beliefs - or letting them roll off his back.

Members of religions which are as much culture as belief sometimes take religious debate personally. If you keep getting your feelings hurt because other posters ridicule or disapprove or hate what you hold dear, then you are too thin-skinned to be involved in “open” RF debate. You should IGNORE “open” RF threads altogether and instead post to RF threads labeled “prayer” “devotional” “caucus” or “ecumenical.”

Caucus Designations, Generally

Caucus labels exist only for the purpose of avoiding unwanted disruptions on Religion Forum threads. The terms used in a caucus label are not necessarily precise with reference to Canon Law, theology or even dictionaries – but are intended to communicate briefly who should or should not post on a thread.

A reply post may be removed from a caucus thread if the moderator recognizes the poster as a non-member.

If you believe a poster is not a member of the caucus, or if you believe the article or reply posts are mentioning the beliefs of non-members of the caucus then let me know by Freepmail and I will follow-up as soon as possible.

Do not disturb the caucus.

Catholic Caucus Designations

The “Catholic Caucus” designation excludes Sedevacantists, Orthodox, SSPX and Inactive Catholics.

Any of the excluded groups may be included on a particular thread by extending the label, e.g. “Catholic/Orthodox Caucus” or “Cath/SV/SSPX Caucus”

Additionally, the label “All Catholic Caucus” may be used to include any Freeper who self identifies as a Catholic regardless of his attitude about the Pope, Papal Infallibility, Vatican II or Schisms or Sects.

The SSPX will be included by default in a Catholic Caucus when (and if) Bishop Fellay accepts the olive branch offered.