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    Internet Allows People to Seek Faith Beyond Religious Institutions - Expert

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    A recent study shows that constant internet use is likely to make people less religious and less religiously exclusive. Radio Sputnik asked Heidi Campbell, of Texas A&M University’s Religious Studies program, for comment on this curious trend.

    Campbell, an associate professor at the Department of Communication and affiliate faculty in the Religious Studies Interdisciplinary Program at the university, emphasized that what the study refers to is actually a trend that started sometime after World War II. While before the war, Americans were pretty much confined to their local communities and tied to their local churches, by mid-century, the whole nation had started seeking new spirituality in other religions, a trend of which New Agers are a prime example.

    The internet and quick availability of information only amplified that trend, allowing people to find information about other religions with increasing ease.

    In fact, Campbell points out, the ever-present hyperlinks on the internet keep readers moving from page to page and, as a consequence, makes it all the more likely that they will encounter multiple points of view.

    The evolution of the internet and the widespread prevalence of social networks has made social interaction between users from various communities another major factor on the quest for spirituality.

    Of course, this also caused the churches themselves to turn to the internet in an effort to bring people through their doors — and European churches seem to be more media-savvy, Campbell says.

    Another point is that the internet makes the influence of the family and local society less important. People who use the internet constantly are not limited by the judgement of their local community or family. Without fear of being shunned, internet users find it easier to say they have no religious affiliation if they want to.

    Meanwhile, Campbell noted that it would be unfair to say that the United States, known to be a very religious country, has become less religious in recent years. Instead, it has become more religiously diverse. People still seek faith, and the internet is instrumental in that.

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    faith, information, religion, Internet, United States
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