Beliefnet's teen advice columnist, Pastor Paul, chatted about religion and spirituality issues affecting teens on Feb. 1, 2001, on Yahoo.bnet_ellen: Hello and welcome to today's chat with Beliefnet's Pastor Paul! Pastor Paul is a chaplain at Columbia University and has worked with teens from Seattle to Sao Paulo.bnet_pastor_paul: Hey all!bnet_ellen: Pastor Paul can you tell us a little about yourself?bnet_pastor_paul: Well, I had my own record company before deciding to go to seminary. I have worked with street youth to suburban youth and in New York to Sau Paulo and in Seattle. I am a chaplain at Columbia and now produce music at Beliefnet. I interviewed Moby this year, and we are interviewing Bono soon.bnet_ellen: Very let's get to some questions.Broadcast_Laura asks: Do you think bush's presidency will create more awareness of spirituality and teens -- especially in schools?bnet_pastor_paul: Well, it might. I think the debate is going to be a good one. I am concerned that everybody's religious views are respected, and I hope that the Bush administration helps.zooey_franny asks: what are your thoughts on inter-religious dating?bnet_pastor_paul: Dating is tough and you need to respect each other, and in an inter-religious relationship you can't take a lot for granted.
So, I don't have a problem with it but be sure to hear each other out and TALK ABOUT IT.girl_in_blue123 asks: Is it against Christian belief to have an online boyfriend...even if he's not really close to God right now?bnet_pastor_paul: I think it is ok to have relationships online, but it is not the same thing as real time. I think also that people change, and if you show him that you are a good person and a person of faith, he may start to think again about his closeness to God. The best way to tell faith is to show faith.khenpo_doe_khyentse_rinpoche asks: What do you think of Buddhism?bnet_pastor_paul: I am not Buddhist, but I have the utmost respect for Buddhists. I have learned a lot about my faith from the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. They are great spiritual teachers who speak of compassion, love, service to other people, and that is what I believe in too.bnet_ellen: Check out this piece on Kunga Yeshe, a teenage Buddhist nun.angelic_jew asks: I am an Orthodox Jew. My girlfriend has been telling me about Jesus. How do I tell my mom and dad I want to learn more about Jesus? bnet_pastor_paul: Yikes! That can be very tricky. I am assuming you are in your parents' home, so I guarantee you they are not going to like it. But, if you are interested in Jesus (and not just because you're interested in your girlfriend), then you can ask them what they know about Jesus and that way enter into the conversation. But unless you are serious about this, you may wish to wait until you feel you must tell them to maintain your integrity.littleprincess_6_16_81 asks: Is beliefnet a site for all religions or just for Christianity?

bnet_pastor_paul: It is the largest religion and spirituality site of any kind, I think, and it includes excellent coverage of, like, 25 religions and all kinds of spiritualities. It is a very cool site, if I do say so myself.

prep_and_proud215 asks: Hey Paul! I have a major problem -- please help! See, right now I'm being confirmed UCC...and I'm gay. I want to be confirmed Catholic, but I know Catholics aren't too crazy about gays, and I don't agree with some things like the Pope. So, then I decided Lutheran was pretty close to Catholicism. Now I want to become Lutheran, except I don't know how to tell my parents. Please help me! bnet_pastor_paul: Huge question. Well, you can be gay and be Catholic for one thing, a lot of people are. But if you are really into Lutheranism because you like the Lutheran tradition, and you feel at home there, then I can't imagine your parents are going to have a big problem with it. Just go to church at their church when they want you to go with them and invite them to the Lutheran church that you are interested in. But feel free to explore Catholicism -- there is a Gay Catholic Group called Dignity that you might want to check out.roller_skate_skinny asks: Some of my friends are practicing wiccas and they are ostracized by people, even their teachers as being devil worshippers, how can they get the respect they deserve?bnet_pastor_paul: It is tough and it shouldn't be their job, but they may have to mount an awareness campaign at their school. There is a lot of misconception out there, and they may want to try and organize meetings with the leaders of the school and do an awareness event with students. But a warning: They will have to expose themselves to potential prejudice by doing this kind of outreach, but it might be worth it.
bnet_ellen: Also, have them print out this Paganism primer for teachers -- it answers any questions teachers may have about Wicca and Paganism.roller_skate_skinny asks: What denomination are you a pastor for, pastor paul?bnet_pastor_paul: I was ordained American Baptist after attending Union Seminary in New York City. I am now serving as the UCC/Presbyterian Chaplain at Columbia University.zooey_franny asks: What do you think about prayer groups meeting on school campuses?bnet_pastor_paul: Well, it's tough. I am a pretty firm believer in the separation of church and state. But, I think if equal opportunity is made for all peoples of all faiths, it is ok. I have kind of an adverse reaction to kids who really show off their faith in front of others, like "meet me at the pole," so I guess I am kind of mixed about it.JasonMilner asks: What do you suggest for the teens that are watching the world and see no reason for faith?