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What is the scope of the religious Stack Exchange sites?

Are those sites, like any other page, open to everyone, and you can ask any type of questions about the religion, as long as they respect the Stack Exchange policy and are on topic? Or the question must assume, that, at least to some extent, the particular religion is true?

The example would be to ask about the originality of the scriptures, for example how we can trace the Evangelies to their alleged authors? This particular question would be on topic on History, but it's just an example.

Or is any site free to define their own rules?

What inspired me for the question were particularly the religious salutations on Islam, which give an impression, that people neither being Muslim or being interested in becoming one, but simply wanting to learn more about Islam, aren't welcome to ask.

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    I read a lot in your title. One of my interpretations is: not all religions are true. That might come across as off-putting if not rude to some people. Is that your intent or just my inability to accept an innocent meaning behind your title? – rene May 29 at 20:41
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    @rene I would say that not all religions are true is a factually correct statement. I highly doubt that every single religion can co-exist. For example, Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive, so at least one of them has to be false. – Ekadh Singh May 29 at 21:02
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    I carefully tried to not make a joke to prevent this from going South, yet here we are. Next time I'll just do the punch line and call it a day ... – rene May 29 at 21:11
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    "Evangelies" sounds like a direct translation from some Germanic language. Isn't it "Gospels" (not a rhetorical question)? – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q May 30 at 9:05
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    Terms like 'true', 'false' seem out-of-place on a faith site. – Martin James May 31 at 9:40
  • @P.Mort.-forgotClayShirky_q Or, more originally, from the Greek (Εὐαγγέλιον). – Adrian Mole May 31 at 19:05
  • @MartinJames "Terms like 'true', 'false' seem out-of-place on a faith site." Probably depends on the used definition of true/false. Sometimes you don't know if something is true or false but you can still believe it to be. For me this question here translates to if faith is required to participate on these stack exchanges and I guess that it's not, but it's also not forbidden. In that way it's really unrelated (kind of). These exchanges are scholastic (learning) places and not really spiritual in that sense. – Trilarion Jun 2 at 11:45
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Depends where you're going with it.

Christianity.SE has this definitive Meta (emphasis original)

Here is the my main point. Don't let the URL or title fool you. This is a secular site. This is not a church sanctioned or sponsored ministry site. It is a secular QnA site sponsored as a for-profit venture by a secular company.

If you have a genuine skeptical question you'd like to ask you're not alone. I don't know about the other religious sites, but I would assume the same to be true. Ask an honest question, get an honest answer. You can be an atheist and answer a question about religious doctrines.

The catch there is that the answers would presumably defend the religion or at least not be skeptical of it. It would be silly to ask "Does evolution disprove Christianity?" and get the answer back "Yes" on a site about Christianity. There might be better Stacks out there to ask things about disproving a religious claim.

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  • They are secular because they've decided to. But my question is, are they allowed to decide otherwise? – Danubian Sailor May 29 at 21:11
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    @DanubianSailor They're all secular sites. But they're not a place to put people on the defensive and attack their beliefs. It's necessary, network-wide to treat others with respect, whether you agree with them or not. – Catija May 29 at 22:39
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    It's worth remembering that religion is not generally a single belief. Christianity encompasses all types of Christian beliefs, from Catholic to Protestant to evangelical.... and Judaism covers highly orthodox and more reform followers. – Catija May 29 at 22:42
  • Just for the example here, there might be interesting questions that might be ontopic on the religion stacks. Something like: How does religion X explains the scientific findings of evolution (name some)? I guess somehow they all have to interpret reality as we see it. Asking for these interpretations one could probably learn something about the religions. – Trilarion Jun 4 at 8:29
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I would say, rather than "belief" - it's a matter of using the site in 'good faith'. If you're honest about learning about a religion, whether or not you subscribe to its beliefs - Stack Exchange can be a great resource.

On the other hand, if your main reason there is to question the religion, or to try to promote another religion, or even atheism - you might find yourself somewhat unwelcome.

In a sense - it's a matter of respecting the spaces of others, which would be just as true for Christianity, or Judaism, as it would be for Meta, or Stack Overflow, more than professing a faith to be 'allowed' into a site.

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  • I wonder how that unwelcomeness would look like? Downvotes? Unfriendly comments? We don't really have a rule against being super-critical of the topic of an exchange, or do we? In principle people could try that. In the end, what you probably describe is that the communities of the exchanges are formed by people with a certain homogeneity of interests and views. – Trilarion Jun 2 at 11:55
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    A mix of most of those... It's worth respecting the local denizens 😅 – Journeyman Geek Jun 2 at 11:56
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    Sure, but some people have difficulties dealing with compromises, falling back to simple categories like I'm allowed to post that or I'm not allowed to post that. In the end, we are global here - the whole world can take part. It's a surprise really that everything works so nicely in general. – Trilarion Jun 2 at 12:06
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    +1 for stating that intent (or good faith, as it were) matters, even though it isn't always externally verifiable. Good faith questions can certainly go poorly (on any site)... but most of the time, it's surely enough. – zcoop98 Jun 2 at 14:23
  • @Trilarion Some people have trouble grokking simple categories too . And being baffled when people are unhappy – Journeyman Geek Jun 2 at 14:52
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Are those sites, like any other page, open to everyone, and you can ask any type of questions about the religion, as long as they respect the Stack Exchange policy and are on topic? Or the question must assume, that, at least to some extent, the particular religion is true?

I think that's a false dichotomy.

On Mi Yodeya, A.K.A. Juadism.SE, for example - you don't have to believe any of the basic theology of Judaism nor the validity of any particular norm or custom within it, to be a casual participant. Case in point: Myself, an atheist (albeit of Jewish background).

But I would say that when this is the case, you have to be even more careful and respectful in asking and answering than the general custom on SE sites. And I would not feel to right to ask "any kind of question", e.g. ones which would be picking some sort of bone with Judaism or with the Mi Yodeya community.

I should also say that this state of affairs is not necessarily the same for different religions' SE sites. They may each have different etiquette in this respect.

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AFAIK there is no special policies / resources for "religious sites". All of them have a proposal on Area 51 under the Culture category, so I think that it's fair to think that they followed the standard process and rules to propose new sites and that they are secular sites created by a community.

Basically each community is free to set the scope of their site but they should respect the code of conduct and any other SE rules.

Regarding salutations, while some sites might have a community culture of removing all the salutations other might be tolerant. The best is that new users spend some time to learn the community practices by reading posts that are interesting for them and from search results related to the question they want to ask before posting a question.


Links to "religious sites" proposals:

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    Salutations usually are removed because they distract from the content. It's understandable that people would use them, but unless the question is about salutations, they do not add much information. One thing that shouldn't happen is that contributions are negatively received if they do not contain a salutation. – Trilarion Jun 2 at 11:50
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Are those sites, like any other page, open to everyone, and you can ask any type of questions about the religion, as long as they respect the Stack Exchange policy and are on topic?

As close to an official statement as possible is this comment

They're all secular sites. But they're not a place to put people on the defensive and attack their beliefs. It's necessary, network-wide to treat others with respect, whether you agree with them or not.

The answer would be then that they are open to everyone, but you cannot ask any type of question. There are certain limits additional to topicality. The specific boundaries would depend on how critical something is seen.

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  • Just as a comment: I think that this makes sense. – Trilarion Jun 2 at 12:24

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