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Challenges created by online religious networks

TitleChallenges created by online religious networks
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsCampbell, H
JournalJournal of Media and Religion
Keywordscommunity, internet, religion

This article considers the challenges that online religious communities raise for religious culture. A survey of cultural changes in media, community, and religion uncovers similar structural shifts, from hierarchical structures to more open, dynamic relationship patterns in society. Examining this shift helps explain why cyber-religion and online religious communities have become emergent phenomenon. Emphasis is placed on the argument that the Internet has thrived because it has surfaced in a cultural landscape that promotes fluid yet controlled relationships over tightly bound hierarchies. Religious online communities are expressions of these changes and challenge traditional religious definitions of community. Especially problematic is the image of community as a network of relations. This article also addresses common concerns and fears of religious critics related to online communities through an analysis of current literature on these issues, along with a synthesis of research studies relating to the social use and consequences of the Internet.