I just finished up The Making of a Philosopher: My Journey Through Twentieth-Century Philosophy (HarperCollins, 2002), by Colin McGinn, an English philosopher now at Rutgers. It is sort of a pain-free introduction to analytic philosophy, packaged as a readable memoir. I found his short discussion of propositions versus "propositional attitudes" such as belief, hope, or doubt, rather helpful (p. 127-42). Seeing the difference and distinguishing between the two when writing (especially online) helps avoid a lot of misunderstanding and conflict, I think.
Much of our thinking passes before us as attitudes: we react to what we hear or read in terms of belief and desire or doubt and disgust. Faith is a propositional attitude, which in the Mormon context means accepting or believing some propositions about the Church. Yet when we speak we often suppress our attitudes and express beliefs as facts. The following tend to pass as synonymous on Sunday: The Church is true, I know the Church is true, I believe the Church is true. I think it's worth noting the differences and using them to communicate better, especially online.
Propositions. Churches aren't true, only propositions about churches (or anything else) can be true. When someone says "the Church is true," what exactly is it they are asserting as true or as a fact? Thinking in terms of propositions helps us clarify what we are really saying or asserting. Given there are differences in belief (liberal Mormons appear to accept a different set of beliefs than mainstream Mormons, for instance) it is worth exercising some care in stating carefully exactly what one is trying to say.
The recurring question "Are Mormons Christian?" is another example. An endless stream of Christian commentators asserts "Mormons are not Christians" without first spelling out clearly what exactly a Christian is: "A Christian must believe X, Y, and Z, and reject S and T." Of course, different commentators and denominations will fill in those elements differently. The resulting diversity of definitions and beliefs will lead to a conclusion something like "Not all Christians are Christian," which kind of takes the sting out of the charge that Mormons aren't Christian. If done pleasantly, however, the exercise of delineating denominational differences (the X, Y, and Zs above) can lead to a sense of fellowship rather than finger-pointing and name-calling. How Wide the Divide should not be such a novelty.
Facts. Another benefit to clarifying propositions is that it points to facts that speak to the question. "A Christian believes that Paul wrote Romans" leads to a different conversation than "A Christian believes Christ was physically resurrected." Some propositions point to a variety of facts that make the proposition, at least in theory, provable or refutable. There are facts one can bring to bear on the question of authorship of Romans or other texts, which go some way toward "proving" or at least giving strong support one way or the other to the authorship question.
Other propositions are simply not subject to proof, either because of an absence of facts or because they are too general to be evaluated. "Mormons are not Christians" is too general until one defines what a Christian is or does or believes. "Christ was physically resurrected" suffers from an absence of facts--one can cite Bible verses recording other people's convictions and have energetic discussions, but facts are in short supply. In theory, there could be evidence which would speak directly to the question, say if there had been a security camera in the tomb. [There are accounts by Biblical writers of post-resurrection appearances, of course, which are sufficient for some but not others.]
How To Say Things. Here's the payoff: You want to be able to state your beliefs and views without needlessly antagonizing those who disagree with you. That sounds easy, doesn't it? IMHO, we all too often fall short, and sometimes people even intentionally antagonize those who disagree with them! Can't help those folks, but negligence is curable: Reserve bold statements for provable propositions supported by sufficient facts: "Paul wrote Romans." Even then, adding "propositional attitude" language can soften the statement while still making it perfectly clear what you accept as fact and why: "I am persuaded that Paul wrote Romans" leads to a much friendlier exchange with someone who disagrees with you than the bold statement. Bold statements are invitations to bold rejections, the beginning of an argument. Attitude statements are invitations to questions or comments, the beginning of a discussion. Personally, I prefer discussions.
These are simply my own sketchy reflections (starting from McGinn's short discussion) on how to talk about controversial questions such as religion in a friendly and productive manner. There are two or three very bright Bloggernackers who have mastered these or similar techniques, based on my reading of their posts and comments--how refreshing! Hopefully these thoughts will help those interested (and certainly myself) to acquire that commendable style of discussion.