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A . The Nature of Religious Principles

Religious principles are the middle class of beliefs, located somewhere between dogma and rules for life. The religious principles defined herein are to some extent derived from the dogma asserted above, but are never intended to merely restate or duplicate a fundamental expression of dogma.1 The primary distinction is that the Agnostic Church has made a moral choice to tolerate as members of the church any individuals who might disbelieve the religious principals stated herein (or the lower level rules of life, stated later in this document), and to not tolerate as members those individuals who might disbelieve the dogma stated earlier in this document. Also, because dogma is more fundamental to the belief system than are religious principles (which individuals are allowed to disbelieve, in whole or in part), religious principles are more easily subject to revision than are basic dogmatic beliefs. However, principles are more difficult to revise, or alternatively stated, are less susceptible to easy revision, than are rules for life. The basis for any revision of a principle should be to create a greater harmony with one or more of the dogmatic beliefs, when a conflict between a principle and a dogma is detected by some experience of an individual, or even of the society as a whole, or else to provide a greater emphasis for some important common thought which applies to two or more of the rules for life, and which then expresses a fundamental underlying thought deserving of more emphasis in the creation and/or revision of other rules for life. Principles may also be used to provide limits to the rules for life, specifying areas (or spheres of activity) in which the rules are prohibited from acting. For all of the above reasons, a three level hierarchy was established for the guidance of the faithful, consisting of the Dogma at the highest level, the Principles at the middle level, and the Rules at the lowest level, with the construction and usage at each level to be specifically limited by the construction and usage of the guidance specified by the levels existing above the level in question.

1 For example, since there is a dogma on the subject of equality, there need not be any principle of equality. However, no principle stated herein should be in conflict with the dogma of equality. In fact, all principles must be in harmony with all dogma, and any principle not in harmony with any dogma for any reason whatsoever will require the revision of one or the other in order to create the required harmony.

Copyright 1994-1999 by the Agnostic Church

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