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article imageInternet Brings Some Moderate Tone to Big Three of Faith

By Carol Forsloff     Apr 22, 2009 in World
Religion has entered the digital world in major ways. Not only are there mega churches in Christianity, but now the Islamic and Jewish groups use the Internet widely. Some of these teach and convert, with moderate views.
Whether you are an everyday housewife or a businessman on the road, you can have your religious group available 24/7. All you need is a computer and a modem, and the preacher is at your digital door.
In fact there are even digital guidebooks to help congregations organize, deliver and monitor material. No soul will be left out of the fisherman net of the web, used to disseminate information in a very big way.
Religious preaching and teaching, in fact, can go right to your iPod. Things are that up to date. USA Today reports preachers have found young people can be reached and respond through technology. An ipod can be used to download a sermon that someone can listen to at any time of day or any place. This report describes Rev. Bruce Walker with his congregation of fewer than 100 people in Greenville S.C. who is able to reach people all over the world through his sermons given via podcast.
Detailed courses teaching Judaism can be found on the Internet. These too provide information about religion, but seem to be more scholarly than an outreach to preach.
But it isn't just Christians taking to television and the Internet to preach their views. Muslim clerics are doing it as well, especially many moderates. Ahmad al-Shugairi broadcasts his show out of Jidda, Saudia Arabia and maintains an active website using technology to establish relationships with young Arabs to teach them Islam. He is a divorced man, with children who makes pleas for the treatment of women as equals and speaks out against sectarianism. Indeed he has become so popular that when he recently spoke before a live audience, he joked as he left, “Elvis has left the building” recognizing the value of the media in reaching the multitudes. It is said that he is reaching a young audience hungry for religious identity but wanting to get away from traditional political and religious attitudes. Apparently his preaching for religious moderation is becoming popular in some quarters, as observed by the New York Times section on Middle Eastern Affairs.
One young man said of Shugairi, “Ahmad made us look back at religion. He helped us see Islam is not about living in caves and being isolated from the world. Islam is international. It is modern. It is tolerant.” He became connected through following Shugairi through the religious broadcaster's website. Followers do see Shugairi as a modern model for moderation and an "Elvis" in popularity, according to descriptions found about Shugairi's teaching and interaction with youth.
Apparently the Internet has elements of good that can bring moderation in some areas to young people around the world, perhaps in ways traditional methods have not and some believe these will bring the moderate voices hoped for in matters of faith. Religious moderation through the teaching of Islam and Christianity with modern technology could assist in toning down extreme voices separating people and allow discourse that could help people live together in peace. It is indeed is the hope of many, most especially those using the Internet to find faith and interaction with others who share similar beliefs.
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