Religion and Cyberspace

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Psychology Press, 2005 - Computers - 207 pages
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In the twenty-first century, religious life is increasingly moving from churches, mosques and temples onto the Internet. Today, anyone can go online and seek a new form of religious expression without ever encountering a physical place of worship, or an ordained teacher or priest. The digital age offers virtual worship, cyber-prayers and talk-boards for all of the major world faiths, as well as for pagan organisations and new religious movements. It also abounds with misinformation, religious bigotry and information terrorism. Scholars of religion need to understand the emerging forum that the web offers to religion, and the kinds of religious and social interaction that it enables.

Religion and Cyberspace explores how religious individuals and groups are responding to the opportunities and challenges that cyberspace brings. It asks how religious experience is generated and enacted online, and how faith is shaped by factors such as limitless choice, lack of religious authority, and the conflict between recognised and non-recognised forms of worship. Combining case studies with the latest theory, its twelve chapters examine topics including the history of online worship, virtuality versus reality in cyberspace, religious conflict in digital contexts, and the construction of religious identity online. Focusing on key themes in this groundbreaking area, it is an ideal introduction to the fascinating questions that religion on the Internet presents.
 

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Contents

The mediation of religious experience in cyberspace
15
Utopian and dystopian possibilities of networked religion
38
on the cutting edge between the virtual
50
Figures
52
Part II
65
information terrorism and new religions
102
Constructing religious identities and communities
119
an alternative religious
138
Tables
142
motives and desires
166
religious Web survey
173
Branch Davidian virtual communities
180
Index
199
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About the author (2005)

Morten T. Højsgaard is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History of Religions at the University of Copenhagen, and is editor of the journal Den digtale kirke (The Digital Church). Margit Warburg is Associate Professor of Sociology of Religion at the University of Copenhagen. Her books include Baha'i (2004) and New Religions and New Religiosity (1998, co-edited with Eileen Barker).

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