1st Edition

Religion and Cyberspace

ISBN 9780415357630
Published June 21, 2005 by Routledge
224 Pages

USD $50.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction: Waves of Research

Morten T. Højsgaard and Margit Warburg

Part One: Coming to Terms with Religion and Cyberspace

2. The Mediation of Religious Experience in Cyberspace

Lorne L. Dawson

3. Utopian and Dystopian Possibilities of Networked Religion in the New Millennium

Stephen D. O’Leary

4. Cyber-religion: On the Cutting Edge between the Virtual and the Real

Morten T. Højsgaard

Part Two: Religious Authority and Conflict in the Age of the Internet

5. Crossing the Boundary: New Challenges to Religious Authority and Control as a Consequence of Access to the Internet

Eileen Barker

6. Seeking for Truth: Plausibility Alignment on a Baha'i Email List

David Piff and Margit Warburg

7. A Symbolic Universe: Information Terrorism and New Religions in Cyberspace

Massimo Introvigne

Part Three: Constructing Religious Identities and Communities Online

8. Constructing Religious Identity on the Internet

Mia Lövheim and Alf G. Linderman

9. Online Buddhist Club: An Alternative Religious Organization in the Information Age

Mun-Cho Kim

10. Virtual as Contextual: A Net News Theology

Debbie Herring

11. Christian Web Usage: Motives and Desires

Michael J. Laney

12. Digital Waco: Branch Davidian Virtual Communities after the Waco Tragedy

Mark MacWilliams

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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).