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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: Is the Internet killing organized religion?

Jesus using a laptop

The number of people around the world who claim allegiance to an organized religion is dropping. Valerie Tarico at AlterNet has an idea why:

Religions have spent eons honing defenses that keep outside information away from insiders. The innermost ring wall is a set of certainties and associated emotions like anxiety and disgust and righteous indignation that block curiosity. The outer wall is a set of behaviors aimed at insulating believers from contradictory evidence and from heretics who are potential transmitters of dangerous ideas. These behaviors range from memorizing sacred texts to wearing distinctive undergarments to killing infidels. Such defenses worked beautifully during humanity’s infancy. But they weren’t really designed for the current information age.

Tech-savvy mega-churches may have Twitter missionaries, and Calvinist cuties may make viral videos about how Jesus worship isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship, but that doesn’t change the facts: the free flow of information is really, really bad for the product they are selling.

Tarico identifies six kinds of Web content that, she believes, are aiding in the decline of orthodox religion:

1. Radically cool science videos and articles.

2. Curated collections of ridiculous beliefs.

3. The kinky, exploitative, oppressive, opportunistic and violent sides of religion.

4. Supportive communities for people coming out of religion.

5. Lifestyles of the fine and faithless.

6. Interspiritual okayness.

Click over to AlterNet for more on how these kinds of content could be contributing to a decline in religiosity. Then come back here and discuss:

Is the Internet killing organized religion?

Note that I’m not asking if the Internet will kill all spirituality, just the way we see spirituality co-opted and corralled by the major and minor organized religions. Can institutions from the Catholic Church to Scientology survive in an environment where open exchanges of information are encouraged and fun to engage in?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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