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Notes on “Virtual Religion in the 21st Century”

Several months ago, I received a copy of several articles that explore the intersection of religion and the internet. I want to record some of my notes on the articles and at the same time share them with you.

“Believe It or Not: Virtual Religion in the 21st Century” [PDF Link] by Susan E. George was published in 2005 in the International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction. In this article, George “explores the development of virtual religion and its impact on humanity” (63) through three main movements:

  • “First we consider the nature of religion and note that a social and communal expression is vital” (63).
  • “Second, we explore ways that technology is facilitating religious expression, noting it is both supporting conventional practice and enabling new” (63).
  • “Third, we move to consider technology in context, noting how it is ideally the application of science for the benefit of humanity, although many people have identified negatives of technology including its power to rob humanity of the essence of what it is to be human” (63).

These movements give an overview of the landscape of the internet and religion. I found particularly helpful the references to a ruling from the US Catholic bishops on The Sacraments via Electronic Communication. I will leave more discussion about the sacraments online to a future blog post. George leaves the reader with the question, “How can technology play a positive role in humanity” (70)?

How would you respond to this question?

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner