Religion and Spirituality
True to its mission, the Internet brings together spiritual seekers around the world, whether they are part of organized religions or on more individual quests. Even if you're not sure of your goal, join those who seek enlightenment through the Web: Explore spiritual topics, read up on current events, history, and statistics of world religions, and meet people and groups who share your beliefs.
In addition to the religions that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, newer ones are continuously developing and growing in popularity. It can be hard to keep track of what each religion stands for and who its members are. You might even be uncertain about the traditions and tenets of your own religion. Or maybe you're unsure which religion encapsulates your personal beliefs. Getting acquainted with a broad range of spiritual traditions is both fun and educational.
- The depth of the information you get depends on the Web site you visit. Some sites provide only a brief explanation of a religion, while others allow you to delve deeper by selecting categories.
- There are Web sites that make religious texts and articles available free of charge. You can also use these sites to search for particular passages in religious works.
To learn about various religions ...
lets you choose from an alphabetized list of world religions and provides a full description of a religion or a belief system including good reading material and links to useful sites. (Just ignore the ads at the top of the screen.) The site also provides unbiased facts on controversial religious topic and the "Big Religion Chart" that compares a number of belief systems.
's religion page lets you select a featured religion and then find out all the details you need to know including ethics, customs, holy days, important texts, and people.
's "Belief-O-Matic" quiz is worth a whirl whether you have been a member of the same church since baptism or were raised without any religion. Answer a series of questions about your personal beliefs and get your top 26 best matches. Beliefnet lets you click on each of the religions to get profiles. So, if you turn out to be 16% Baha'ist, you can learn exactly what that means.
For further firsthand reading on world religions ...
offers full texts of religious scholars, divided by topic. Not only does the site have an incredible breadth of resources, but it is intuitively organized and easy to navigate. You can read Kierkegaard or the Bible, or learn what scholars have to say about cloning or Frodo's faith in "Lord of the Rings."
lets you search through the Bible by book and chapter. You can choose multiple translations of the Bible and even have access to the Bible in other languages.
The University of Southern California
provides a Compendium of Muslim Texts. Search the Koran in any of three different translations. The site contains information about the foundations of Islam in addition to criticism and articles. The large amount of content makes the site slightly overwhelming, but worth exploring.
In a world where religion has become such a complex and sensitive topic, knowing the hard facts about religion, and religious data and statistics, can help you when the time comes to weigh in on important debates. Of course, religion is an expansive and, at times, overwhelming topic. It's hard to know where to begin, but fortunately there are resources that can help you find the basics or research things in depth, depending on your needs.
- Make sure that you're aware of who is running the site. Information might be presented with a certain angle depending on who the sponsor is.
- If you're going to cite any religious statistics from a site, don't assume it's current just because it's on the Internet. You still need to check the year that information was collected, which should be at the top of any data chart or in small print at the bottom of your screen.
offers comprehensive statistics about the followers of 4,200 world religions. The site's stated purpose is to answer questions like "How many Lutherans live in Wisconsin?" but it also contains other fun statistics such as how many famous people are adherents of a particular religion.
The Association of Religious Data Archives
lets you review national profiles of almost every country, check out denominational family trees, and get demographic statistics. Some of the surveys are a little old (from 2000 or 2005) but you can get a good general idea.
provides this interactive world map, which graphs the geographical growth of major world religions. Each religion is assigned a color and the map marks its development chronologically. It's absolutely worth a browse, even if it's just to watch the pretty colors spread across the screen.
The University of Virginia
's religious movements Web site provides comprehensive profiles of more than 200 religious movements. The site provides information about the 2003 University-run project, relevant articles and essays, and of course the profiles.
There are many of ways to be a more spiritually active person. You might want to attend religious services, take classes, or become involved with religious volunteering. Whether you're not involved at all and are trying to get started, or you're looking for ways to enhance your current routine, the Internet is a great way to discover what's out there.
- Once you've visited a site that has information about a church or volunteer organization, you might want to make a phone call to get more information before you simply show up at services for the first time.
- Some online religious groups want membership fees, donations, or payment for educational material. If a site requires payment to join, make sure that the organization is reputable and that the product is something you can't find for free somewhere else.
has a tool
that will locate a church in your area. Select your zip code and domination and discover your options. Or, get information about any other religion by selecting from the list of links at the bottom of the page. You'll be redirected to a site that offers similar services for other places of worship.
The Council of Religious Volunteer Agencies
is a coalition of North-American, faith-based service agencies. From the homepage you can link to the Web sites of all member organizations, each of which places people in local and national volunteer programs. Most of the member organizations are organized by denomination.
The Pluralism Project
at Harvard University tracks and explores the relationship of the many religions co-existing in the U.S. On the site, under "Resources" you can search by state or religious groups and get several links to places of worship, articles, and materials. You can also check out the project's current research on the site.
The Interfaith Calendar
will ensure that you know when all the religious holidays fall for a number of different faiths. Choose the year and see the dates of all the religious holidays or search by specific religion.
Even if you are not religious yourself, staying current on matters of religion and spirituality is a good idea. The world's best newspapers are available on the Web and cover important religious, spiritual, and related international events on a daily basis. There are also Web sites that are designated sources of religious and spiritual news. In addition to providing basic news, these sites may offer more in-depth explanation and a richer understanding of religious nuance.
- Many religious news sites attempt to give equal and complete coverage to all groups and denominations, but some are directed at a specific readership. Content and tone will vary from site to site depending on who the target audience is.
- Most sites that require paid subscriptions are designed for journalists or other professionals. The content will certainly be in depth, but the average reader can get the news she needs for free.
has a section that will keep you up to date on all religion- and ethics-related issues. Then, for more personal narratives and opinions, check out the Religion and Ethics message board. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbreligion/
hosts the Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, which highlights three feature stories from the PBS television show and one "Web exclusive." Additionally, PBS provides a religious news section with weekly headlines and a daily religious news update
WorldWide Religious News
is a nonprofit Web site designed to provide up-to-date religious news for the international academic and legal community. However, since coverage is in depth and completely free, it's a useful site for anyone serious about staying current on religious matters.
The Pew Forum
's religious news section collects religion-related news from the world's major newspapers and posts them on the site daily. In addition to the daily headlines you can search for articles by subject or check out the "Religion and Politics '08" section to compare politicians based on religious issues.
Worldwide Faith News
posts news articles and other relevant documents from the official news offices of national and world faith groups. It hosts a database of more than 18,000 documents and allows you to search for a specific topic or read the last 30 days of news. You can also subscribe and have news emailed to you.
is New York University's daily review of the relationship between religion and the media. In addition to the review/blog, they have research resources for journalists and a discussion page for "non-believers writing about belief."
is a comprehensive source for all religion news and is committed to providing unbiased photo and journalistic coverage of all religions. The site offers news feeds, myriad columns to read, photo researching, and even a calendar of religious events. Most of the services are available only through paid subscription, but you can read daily press releases for free.
By tracking and responding to events in their respective spiritual communities, religious bloggers offer an original perspective on how religion interacts with day-to-day activities and how belief, tradition, and politics collide. You can search for a particular topic or find a blogger whose voice speaks to you. Even if a blogger does not share your personal beliefs, seeing the world through another person's spiritual lens can be an enlightening experience.
- Most blogs will have a list of recommended blogs called a "blog roll" located in the left or right sidebar. If you're enjoying a blog, check out some of the other blogs the author is reading.
- Often bloggers will have an "About Me" page that can help you better understand their perspective, but some bloggers choose to remain anonymous to allow themselves the freedom to make controversial comments without facing backlash from members of their communities who have differing opinions.
is an apolitical blog that reports exclusively "Jesus related" news. Daily posts alert readers to anything that is happening in the world of Christianity. The site also has links to book recommendations, news, and polls.
The Evangelical Outpost
is a blog that reflects on culture, politics, and religion from an Evangelical Christian worldview. Author Joe Carter might criticize Al Gore, give advice on how to find a preacher, or wax romantic with guidance for a great Valentine's Day. He has a knack for weaving a humorous tone into an unwavering commitment to the Evangelical perspective.
Whispers In The Loggia
meticulously tracks the day-to-day events of the Catholic church. The 23-year-old author, Rocco Palmo, has cultivated an array of insider sources and his blog has 8,000 readers a day, some of whom are Church officials. Palmo says he has reason to believe that the Pope himself reads the blog, but even if he doesn't, the blog is a detailed source for lay people curious about the Vatican.
The Velveteen Rabbi
is a blog written by a young, female rabbinical student who also holds an MFA in creative writing. She writes about her own experience with her studies and ritualistic Judaism, as well as exploring the relationship between writing and prayer.
is written by an Orthodox Jew and mother in New York. She writes about her own life and experiences and stays current with religious and political matters. A sample of postings might include a link to a New York Times article about a holiday party in Brooklyn, reflections on a Muslim student who refused to attend graduation for religious reasons, and reflections on Hillary Clinton. Orthomom is well-read and her blog is well written and good read for anyone even mildly interested in Judaism.
The Lamb's War
is the blog of a young Quaker man living in Indiana. His writing is honest, clear, and emotive as he reflects on the struggles and joys of his relationship with the Church and provides wisdom valuable to people of all ages.
references and responds to official news releases from the Church of Scientology. If you are looking to read a quick blurb about the goings-on of the church, this site is a good one to visit. If you want to read more, the author provides links to the full articles.
lists many of the available Jewish blogs. You can search through the ample topic list, which includes Books, Orthodoxy, Technology, Gay Judaism, and more. You can read all the blogs that interest you and easily register your own blog if you want to be on the site.
provides a guide to the best Quaker blogs. There is a "blogroll" on the left of the screen where you can select blogs by topic such as "Simplicity" or "Sexuality" or "Activism." The site does not reference every Quaker blog, but it lists more than a few.
Meeting a life partner is no easy task, especially when you're looking for someone to share your spiritual life in addition to your secular interests. If church doesn't seem like a romantic hot spot and bars don't attract the right types, you might think you're out of luck. But before you settle down for another Saturday night with a pint of ice cream and a movie rental, think about joining one of the online religious dating services. You might be surprised to learn that online dating is safe, easy, and contrary to stereotype, a method that many normal, socially adept people are opting to try.
- Before you pay to join a service, you can usually check out member profiles and read testimonials for free. Search around and see if anyone looks interesting before joining.
- Most services make it possible for you to exchange messages with potential dates anonymously, so you don't have to give out any personal information until you're absolutely ready.
- Internet dating is becoming increasingly common. Reuters recently featured this article on Muslim women who are using the Internet as a way to meet men.
is a dating Web site not designed exclusively for any religion, but it gets reviewed quite often by Christians looking for like-minded partners (the founder is an evangelical Christian). Members fill out an in-depth personality profile, so your matches end up being people who share your values.
is a Web site designated only for "marriage-minded" Christian singles. If you are a serious Christian looking to settle down, this is the place for you.
is a dating service for Catholic singles that enables members to meet each other and also to learn more about the Catholic faith. Get to know other members online, or check out the site's events calendar with real-life group activities for members.
is a popular dating site for Jews of all sects, and even for non-Jews interested in meeting Jews. Many married couples have met on Jdate, but the site is also for casual dating and friendship.
is a site where single Muslims with marriage in mind can meet via e-mail and, eventually, in person. The service is international and matches are often made from across the world.
is a Muslim dating site where you can meet friends, penpals and chat buddies in addition to Muslims interested in marriage. It's a good site if you're looking for a less serious relationship, and membership is completely free.
is a Wiccan site and this is the link to their "personals" service. When you sign up you get an e-mail with 10 possible dates in your area.
's "Guide to Religious Dating" page is a good place to visit if none of the above sites suit your taste. You can select your group and see a full list of dating Web sites that you can choose from.
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