Anonymous, 22 Mar 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

Virtually Religious. New Religious Movements and the World Wide Web

Virtually Religious. New Religious Movements and the World Wide Web

The purpose of this essay is to explore how certain aspects of religious life have come to exist on the Internet – how they have both impacted and been impacted by the virtual reality of cyberspace. We begin with simple observation that just as it is in the real world, religion is one of the most prominent and popular aspects of virtual reality. Religion on the Internet ranges from the tens of thousands of modest websites set up by local churches, synagogues, mosques and temples, to sophisticated research sites such as American Religion Data Archive, and from online religious rituals conducted in Internet chatrooms to elaborate commercial enterprises such as Beliefnet.com, a nondenominational religious information provider whose quarterly advertising billings are in the tens of millions. The information dissemination across the World Wide Web is often of questionable reliability, and we find no evidence to suggest that the nature of religious information is qualitatively different from other subject categories. One of the important themes we will develop in this essay is the distinction between the Internet as a social structure used to communicate about religion, and the Internet as a locus for the development of new religions.

article
24 p.
eng