Monday, August 18, 2008

Religion Online - Godtube and Beliefnet - by Sarah Turnbull

In order to keep up with the rapidly changing world religion has also had to make some changes and adapt to the world around it. In today’s world when someone wants information relating to any topic, not just religion, very few people want to go to the local library and spend hours looking through books. With the convenience of the Internet people can search for information on any topic the human mind can think of and google will most likely point you in the right direction. People are less likely to go to the local church, mosque or temple to seek out someone who can take the time to answer questions and explain the details of that particular belief. Especially not when with a keyword and a search engine you can find it for yourself in a matter of seconds. Convenience is important in the world today and the religious community has realised this establishing a strong presence on the Internet and the World Wide Web (Helland 2004). Once a person has chosen a religion, or if they already ascribe to one (or multiple), there are well-developed online sites and communities that allow people to attend services, request and give prayer, or network with others that embrace the same belief system. To examine the world of online religion further I will be reviewing and

Our mission is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness. Whether you're exploring your own faith or other spiritual traditions, we provide you inspiring devotional tools, access to the best spiritual teachers and clergy in the world, thought-provoking commentary, and a supportive community. Beliefnet is the largest spiritual web site. We are not affiliated with any spiritual organization or movement. Our only agenda is to help you meet your spiritual needs. Beliefnet is part of the Fox Entertainment Group, which is a division of News Corporation.

This is the mission statement from claiming that the site is unbiased in regards to the religions and spiritual traditions that feature on this website. However, when it comes to the features on relationships, family, comfort and support and entertainment there are Christian undertones with dominant features on prayer, Bible versus and Christian music and film ( The site is one example of religions and belief systems adapting to the development of new technologies in a changing world at the risk of being left behind and losing contact with religious communities at large (Helland 2004). Information is available within seconds on almost any mainstream - and not so mainstream - religion, belief system or spiritual tradition you can think of. If a person is unsure as to what belief would suit their lifestyle there are quizzes available to find out which faith suits your belief system best. There are features on current events and politics from a spiritual perspective and even tips on how to lose weight or how to harmonize your home and the spiritual aspects of gardening. Overall is a good place to find information on a wide range of religions and spiritual beliefs. However, the site does have American cultural undertones and in my opinion is geared more toward the Christian faith.

Godtube on the other hand is a distinctively Christian-based site (Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, etc). The videos range from music videos to inspirational stories, to Canada’s own “Preacher Idol” and skits from Christian comedians ( This is the Christian answer to Youtube of course, only this version does not allow for “non-Christian” content. Display of anything not overtly Christian-based can expect harsh criticism. One member had a music video from Disney’s High School Musical and received comments such as:

We all need to break free of the devil! - Why is this on Godtube it's NOT Christian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Yeah. what does this have to do with God this shouldnt be on here! It shud all be christian vids and music not secular vids and music. - Why is this even on here man, talk about backsliding. - THIS IS GODTUBE!!!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU WANT TO UPLOAD HSM THEN GO TO YOUTUBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When trying to sign up for a membership to Godtube in order to gain more access to the features offered by the site I experienced trouble because my email contains the word “sassy”. Everything is carefully screened to fit the mould of what are deemed to be Christian ideals. Although some of the content is overtly fanatical and very right-wing Christian, there are some beautiful encouraging videos such as “My Redeemer Lives - Team Hoyt” ( allows for people ascribing to the Christian belief system, a place to share their thoughts and beliefs in an environment that encourages Christian spiritual growth. This site is an example of how religions have taken the steps necessary so they will not be left behind in the era of the Internet.

Casey (2001) poses the question “[i]s cyberspace becoming a new – or the new – sacred space?”. Although the world’s religions have embraced the new online community that has rapidly developed throughout the 1980s and 1990s the physical connection with other worshipers, followers and leaders remains an important factor of spiritual life for many people. What the Internet does allow for is more interpretation and freedom to practice religion and spirituality outside the traditional confines of organised religion.


Beliefnet –

Casey, C.A. 2001. ‘Online Religion and Finding Faith on the Web: An Examination of’. Proceedings of the Media Ecology Association v. 2 pp. 32-40

Godtube –

Helland, C. 2004. ‘Popular Religion and the World Wide Web: A Match Made in (Cyber) Heaven’. In Religion Online, eds. Dawson & Cowan. New York: Routledge

Sarah Turnbull - 41383706

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