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  • Suggestion: Ban Religious Debates

    As many of you know, I'm a fan of religious debates. I think that there is merit to exploring it candidly, and I am typically not offended by slights, real or imagined, directed at my faith or any other faith. I'm probably not alone in this, but I also doubt that I represent a majority opinion on the matter. Most religious debates occur between a subset of forum posters. Others may find that this detracts from their posting experience.

    The forum's stated purpose is to ease expats in their transition to living in Indonesia and to provide insights as to how to thrive in Indonesia. Religious debates don't factor into that. They may be enjoyed by some expats, they may give some additional flavor (and I would argue additional traffic and participation), but they don't ever advance that purpose.

    With that in mind and with the moderation direction of the forum, I suggest that religious debates be banned. Other controversial topics, like the epic JIS thread, at least have some solid connection to parents and teachers. Religion-oriented threads, while no more likely to devolve into a flame war, have an added mark against them by upsetting Indonesian sensitivities on the matter. It is quite telling that Indonesian voices are less likely to be heard in such threads.

    I am making this a thread so that others can voice their opinion and perhaps a consensus can be reached. Such a suggestion has more merit if we have many voices putting in their sentiment. I'm not asking for the forum to ban discussions of religion pertinent to expat needs, like finding a church, just the debate aspect of it. Plenty of other forums often ban debate of controversial topics in order to maintain a level of forum decorum.

    Life will go on whether or not the forum has such debates. They aren't vital to its existence. If threads discussing such matters are becoming problematic, we should analyze their value versus their detriment.
    Last edited by DanInAceh; 30-11-14, 05:28.

  • #2
    Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
    It is quite telling that Indonesian voices are less likely to be heard in such threads.
    Just a note:
    I've noticed that you sometimes assume who is Indonesian and who is not. In a few occurrence in the past I've noticed that you were wrong in your assumption on the matter. It is not because someone may "sound" foreigner, "think" foreigner to you that he/she is indeed a foreigner and not Indonesian.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by atlantis View Post
      Just a note:
      I've noticed that you sometimes assume who is Indonesian and who is not. In a few occurrence in the past I've noticed that you were wrong in your assumption on the matter. It is not because someone may "sound" foreigner, "think" foreigner to you that he/she is indeed a foreigner and not Indonesian.
      Sure enough.

      However, the main participants in religion debate threads are foreigners. It's pretty much always the same group of people. We do it for our own interests, which is fine, but we could do that anywhere on the Internet. There are better places to engage in such debates. If they exist here on the forum, it's so that the forum might be a little more loose and casual. However, we may have reached a point where such discussions have limited,if any, value. My concern is that people feel that such conversations detract from the forum's stated purpose.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
        Sure enough.

        However, the main participants in religion debate threads are foreigners.
        Is it surprising (or even relevant to try to make a point) in a forum called "expat forum" where more than 75% of the active users (amounting for more than 90% of the posts in all channels) are foreigners?
        But again, be aware that it is only an assumption from you. Some of the users who are "main participants in religion debate" have never disclosed any information concerning their citizenship. Only YOU is assuming they are WNA.
        Last edited by atlantis; 30-11-14, 09:21.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
          However, we may have reached a point where such discussions have limited,if any, value.
          Is that due to the nature of the topic or the fact that a tiny number of users are unable to control their emotions and feelings toward religion? If it is the former I agree that religion topic should be censored. If it is the latter, we will deal with it.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by atlantis View Post
            Is it surprising (or even relevant to try to make a point) in a forum called "expat forum" where more than 75% of the active users (amounting for more than 90% of the posts in all channels) are foreigners?
            It is relevant in that it demonstrates a degree of cultural differences in regard to discussion of religion. Would you deny that religion occupies a heightened role in Indonesian society than in our home countries? If we are stepping on toes, perhaps inadvertently, we should acknowledge that with sensitivity rather than just "they're the minority so why's it matter?"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by atlantis View Post
              Is that due to the nature of the topic or the fact that a tiny number of users are unable to control their emotions and feelings toward religion? If it is the former I agree that religion topic should be censored. If it is the latter, we will deal with it.
              I would argue it's the former. How often do we have reasoned discussions about that topic? Pretty rarely, perhaps never. The same group discusses it because they have a taste for it. Similarly, you have some experience and wisdom in regard to the Indonesian legal system. This is highly useful to the forum, and I'm sure the people you've helped with this is in the 100's. Nobody in the history of this forum has been aided by arguments over religion. We do it because we enjoy sparring with one another, but perhaps that is not enough of a reason to keep it around.

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              • #8
                Religion is a factor in politics, human rights, gender rights, police recruitment, the justice system etc etc. How, for example, do you suggest we discuss gender equality in Indonesia without touching on religion? I think it's just not feasible.

                [COLOR=#333333]However, we may have reached a point where such discussions have limited,if any, value.[/COLOR]
                I can think of a number of thread that are non-religious which would qualify but I guess that's a subjective analysis.
                "[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Helvetica Neue]I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.[/FONT][/COLOR]"
                George Bernard Shaw

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by lantern View Post
                  Religion is a factor in politics, human rights, gender rights, police recruitment, the justice system etc etc. How, for example, do you suggest we discuss gender equality in Indonesia without touching on religion? I think it's just not feasible.
                  I concur, but those links aren't necessarily agreed upon by the moderation team. There appears to be a disconnect between what you or I think is tangential and what they believe to be tangential. If we appear to be pushing at the boundaries of relevance in these discussions, we should know the boundaries a bit better.

                  Originally posted by lantern View Post
                  I can think of a number of thread that are non-religious which would qualify but I guess that's a subjective analysis.
                  Indeed.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
                    It is relevant in that it demonstrates a degree of cultural differences in regard to discussion of religion. Would you deny that religion occupies a heightened role in Indonesian society than in our home countries? If we are stepping on toes, perhaps inadvertently, we should acknowledge that with sensitivity rather than just "they're the minority so why's it matter?"
                    It is irrelevant because:
                    1. You assume who is and is not foreigner and "real figures" do not corroborate the fact that Indonesian are less likely [COLOR=#333333]to be heard in such threads. They DO participate and it is proportional to their number in our forum. You have demonstrate nothing Dan, apart the fact that you are assuming who is and is not Indonesian and that therefore your conclusion is biased.
                    2. Again it is an "expat forum". It doesn't mean that Indonesian should be overlooked. If you would have read all my posts since 2008 you would have definitively noticed in more than one occurrence that I have encouraged and praised the participation of Indonesian.
                    However, the fact that we are an "expat forum" means that the fact that r[/COLOR]eligion occupies a heightened role in Indonesian society than in our home countries is not a determining factor when it comes to choose what is acceptable or not in this forum. The role religion has in expat societies, the freedom of speech we have when we debate about them and/or criticize them, would be more what would be considered the norm to determine if there is an abuse or not.

                    If we would solely consider the role religion has in Indonesian society we would prohibit any user to claim he/she is an atheist or to formulate a critical and elaborated opinion toward religion or the existence of God. It would be illegal under Indonesian Law. We are not ready for that. At least I am not. The ultimate decision is obviously in the hand of wm but I doubt that any change concerning the place or the way religion is discussed may occur.
                    Last edited by atlantis; 30-11-14, 09:25.

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                    • #11
                      My personal opinion is that discussions about religion should be allowed when they're smart, insightful, and geared toward gaining a deeper understanding of Indonesian culture, because it's not possible to discuss culture without touching on history and faith. However, if it turns into another "my god is better than your god, my book is better than your book, neener neener" then the thread should be closed.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nimbus View Post
                        My personal opinion is that discussions about religion should be allowed when they're smart, insightful, and geared toward gaining a deeper understanding of Indonesian culture, because it's not possible to discuss culture without touching on history and faith. However, if it turns into another "my god is better than your god, my book is better than your book, neener neener" then the thread should be closed.
                        Ditto.
                        Again it is not the nature of the topic but the attitude of a tiny group of users on both side which is to be corrected.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nimbus View Post
                          My personal opinion is that discussions about religion should be allowed when they're smart, insightful, and geared toward gaining a deeper understanding of Indonesian culture, because it's not possible to discuss culture without touching on history and faith. However, if it turns into another "my god is better than your god, my book is better than your book, neener neener" then the thread should be closed.
                          Oh, by the way, you are another of these "WNA" who are allegedly predominantly populating the "religion threads". I wonder how many of your almost 6000 posts are to be found in the threads which are related to various degree to religion.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Nimbus View Post
                            My personal opinion is that discussions about religion should be allowed when they're smart, insightful, and geared toward gaining a deeper understanding of Indonesian culture, because it's not possible to discuss culture without touching on history and faith. However, if it turns into another "my god is better than your god, my book is better than your book, neener neener" then the thread should be closed.
                            I agree with this in principle, although as a guideline for posters - and moderation - these would be extremely subjective terms (what is or is not "smart" or "insightful"? I'm sure we all - each - think we know).

                            Still, the mods have to do their job, that's the bottom line. I'm not in favor of Dan's idea, but I respect that he is presenting it sincerely and in good faith (<---- not a religious reference).

                            I don't think Dan, or any active member of this forum, is obsessed with talking about religion or bringing a religious aspect into every topic (as I have sometimes heard the complaint raised), with the possible exception of one or two anti-religion posters (but that's my subjective opinion, naturally).

                            I believe this forum should be one in which speech is, as it is under most governments or authorities, "free, but within limits", and in this case the limits are established under the PG.

                            I don't have a problem with having threads on the forum about "squirting", although I am not particularly interested in that topic or dscussion.

                            I don't have a problem about threads or discussions about where to find a good bacon sandwich, although I don't eat bacon (because of my religion, among other reasons) and am not interested in that discussion.

                            I don't have a problem with threads about buying or selling stocks, although I'm not personally interested in buying or selling stocks (or socks).

                            What I do not approve, and I have said it here before more than once, is the attitude of some posters here that they should have the right of "religion-free zones" in which religion or religious aspects of more general topics may not be mentioned, and I believe that if "religious debates" were banned, the expectation of these "religion-free discussion zones" would only grow.
                            Last edited by Mister Bule; 30-11-14, 08:06.
                            [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Warden: "What we got here ... is failure to communicate."

                            The Dude: "Oh yeah? Well that's just, like, your opinion, man."[/FONT]

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mister Bule View Post
                              I'm not in favor of Dan's idea, but I respect that he is presenting it sincerely and in good faith (<---- not a religious reference).
                              I lol'd.

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