When Religion Meets New Media. Heidi A. Campbell. New York, NY: Routledge, 2010. 232 pp.
Computers had scarcely been networked before users began to use them for religious reasons. In 1983, religious discussions so dominated the miscellaneous discussion group section of Usenet that net.religion was set up as a forum for exchanges on religious and ethical subjects. Net.religion begat net.religion.jewish and then net.religion.christian. Ecunet, H-Judaic, and BuddhaNet followed. A variety of cyberchurches and cybertemples emerged soon thereafter. Many believers encountered networked computers and saw that they were good.
Of course, religious communities do not always embrace new communication technologies. As late as 1957, the president of evangelical Houghton College proclaimed, “Christians do not attend the movies.” An evangelical minister thirty years later decried television as unwholesome and addictive in his remarkably entitled booklet, “What Jesus Taught About Television.” Some Amish still limit their access to telephones by sharing community telephones located in shanties at the intersection of several farms.