Anonymous, 27 Jun 2019
Research on Middle East, Islam and digital media
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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

New Religions in Cyberspace: The Promise and the Period of a New Public Space

New Religions in Cyberspace: The Promise and the Period of a New Public Space

The mass suicide of thirty-six members of Heaven’s Gate, on 26 March 1997, thrust the presence of new religions on the Internet into public eye. Overnight a question of “cults in cyberspace” became a social problem as the group’s extensive use of the Internet became known. In this essay I will briefly survey some of the issues at hand, discussing five supposed advantages of religious life on the Internet and then five criticisms of the same. My account of even the advantages, however, is ambivalent at best. The lure of cyberspace remains strong and is unlikely that the cultural, social, and psychological consequences of the Internet for religion can be avoided or reversed. The move of religion into netted world is a component part of the larger processes that are changing the social face of religion before our eyes. So it is important that we begin to think more clearly about the possible consequences of this technology for religion, even though we are still only at the dawn of the Internet age and fumbling over ourselves to understand it.

article
22 p.
eng