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There exist online communities on secular websites, to discuss religion-related topics such as the bible, that largely consist of Christians and their contributions. Some of those Christians use the platform afforded to them to make truth claims that of course conflict with Jewish belief, and in some cases these websites and their communities may be de facto advancing the Christian message despite the secular nature of the company running the site.

If this is judged to be the case would it be asur for a Jew to participate in any way, as:

  • being an active or semi-active user on the site is a gift even if their views are opposed, because it could promote the site (eg by making it rank higher in Google).

  • People up to no good may come and learn from what is said, so inadvertently their religion may be promoted by the Jewish participation.

There are related, narrower, questions here and here, neither of which has any answers from Jewish members of the community (possibly because the questions are localized). I'm very much hoping to attract answers to the broader question here to understand the Jewish perspective or spectrum thereof.

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Did you know that a specific question about BH participation has also been asked?… – Isaac Moses Sep 23 '13 at 2:19
@Isaac thanks, it's my ignorance that means I need you to spell out those differences! I knew about the prior BH question but I'm told the character of BH has radically changed (hence the "de facto advancing the Christian message" in the question). Also it has no answers from people identifying as Jewish and I can't tell if it has any downvotes. Monica's edit is fine, I hope you think it helps? – Jack Douglas Sep 23 '13 at 6:50
JackDouglas, yes, I think @MonicaCellio's edit makes the question more likely to get the question you're interested in answered. – Isaac Moses Sep 24 '13 at 5:00
Factors that might be relevant for an answer include: (a) teaching torah to gentiles at all (presumably ok, e.g. Mi Yodeya); (b) teaching torah specifically to Christians who may use it to promote their religion; (c) they could get the info anyway elsewhere; (d) but participation makes their job easier; (e) baseline assumptions of the venue (e.g. Mi Yodeya vs a Christian site); (f) internet (effectively permanent) vs in-person discussion (transient); (g) exposure to Christian evangelism for participants; (h) marit ayin. – Monica Cellio Oct 1 '13 at 13:17

1 Answer 1

I asked at Aish's ask-the-rabbi service and listed the following possible factors (based on this comment):

Some considerations that occurred to me:

  1. Teaching torah in front of gentiles at all (presumably ok because of sites like [Aish HaTorah], which can be read by anybody), or teaching torah in known-Christian-majority settings.

  2. There are universities that teach biblical studies and have both Jews and Christians on the faculty. Do whatever factors they rely on to do this apply elsewhere too, or is that special?

  3. Concerns about whether Christians will use the torah we contribute for anti-torah purposes.

  4. They could get the same information elsewhere, but the Jew's participation makes it easier for them.

  5. Contributing quality content to their site may improve its search-engine placement, so in a way promotes a site with a lot of Christian content.

  6. Venue considerations: the Internet is effectively forever, versus an in-person study group that is more transient.

  7. The Jew risks exposure to idolatrous ideas. Does that mean the answer depends on the Jew in question?

The Aish rabbi who answered my query said that these reasons are relevant, but we "should not get involved (even just reading from their website)1 with other religions at all" mainly because of the idolatrous information we would be exposed to. The response cited Rambam Laws of Idol-worship 2:2 and Igrot Moshe (R' Feinstein), Y.D. III 43.

He did not directly address whether this is halacha or just a good practice. (I asked for halacha.)

1 I did not provide a link to the specific web site, so he's speaking generally here.

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