Is the Internet Bad for Religion?
Is surfing the web causing people to drop out of church? Kimberly Winston of Religion News Network compared a few opinions on the subject. Raw data from the General Social Survey, the Pew Research Center, and the CIRP Freshman Survey indicate that greater amounts of education and Internet usage could be factors in fewer people attending church, or even in claiming a specific religious affiliation. Allen Downey from Olin College of Engineering has written a paper on this subject, but remains cautious that “correlation does not equal causation.” According to Stephen O’Leary, these findings display, “the influence of the religious marketplace” – or the great exposure that the Internet gives to ideas (both religious and nonreligious) previously unavailable to the average person. “[W]hat it really does,” O’Leary insists, “is magnify to a dramatic level the degree of choices one has.” This includes great (and almost instant) awareness of abuses within the church, such as the many cases of child abuse in the Catholic Church and others, which “alienated a whole generation.”
Publication date: April 11, 2014