Faiths find home on Internet
Religious groups tap Web to share message
BY DAVID CRUMM
When Thai monks opened a monastery in Warren, their followers were able to find information about them on the Internet long before they could find a simple telephone listing for the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center.
Halfway around the world at the Vatican, computer technicians are experimenting with broadcasting live video of Pope John Paul II over the Web so the pontiff's one billion followers can join him in prayer. Their next broadcast is scheduled for Sunday at 6 a.m.
In stadiums across the United States this summer, the Promise Keepers Christian men's movement relied heavily on a Web site to help recruit the hundreds of volunteers needed to stage their evangelical rallies.
The Internet is rapidly becoming a vital link for many religious organizations. Especially for groups with far-flung membership, the Web is becoming a virtual community of faith.
"In the last six months, some religious groups have really taken the medium by storm," said Quentin Schultze, professor of communication at Calvin College and a coordinator of one of the most popular Christian Web sites in the world at gospelcom.net.
"For groups that don't necessarily have a large number of people living in one community, they are able to find similarly minded folks across the country or around the world and organize a religious cyber experience," Schultze said.
That's exactly what the Thai monks are doing at the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center, a converted house on Ryan Road.
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