Will the Internet Kill Christianity?

Some Christian leaders think the web is harming the faith. Are they right?

The United States has seemed oddly immune to the huge growth of religious skepticism over the last half-century. That perception changed two years ago when an American Religious Identification Survey noted the number of Americans who profess Christianity fell sharply from 85 percent in 1990 to 76 percent in 2009. Perhaps even more surprising was the surge in those who claimed no religion: The number nearly doubled from 8 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2009. In his April 2009 Newsweek article, “The End of Christian America,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jon Meacham suggested America had begun its encounter with an “old term with new urgency: post-Christian.”

“What has changed everything?” Christian apologist Josh McDowell asked his audience on July 15 at the Billy Graham Center in Asheville, N.C. His talk, titled “Unshakeable Truth, Relevant Faith,” had detailed a certain uncomfortable fact in anticipation of the question: that young Christians in America are rejecting Christian fundamentalism—and doctrinaire concepts such as absolute truth and biblical infallibility—in droves. Why is faith in God being supplanted, earlier and earlier, by relativism, secularism and skepticism? McDowell’s answer was simple: the Internet.

Of course, his response touched off an immediate flurry of online activity—much of it from skeptics. “Does he or does he not think Christianity can win in the marketplace of ideas?” one atheist blogger asked. “Either you can handle the arguments or you can't. You're just whinning [sic] because you can't.” The highest-rated responses to the story at The Christian Post, among the first outlets to pick it up, joined the gasconade:

“Christianity does poorly when it doesn't control the entire message and allows people a free exchange of thought? What a freaking shock.”

“My prediction: look for theists to start withdrawing into Internet-free communes.”

Can the explosive growth of irreligion—that amorphous term comprising deism, agnosticism and atheism as well as relative neologisms like antitheism and ignosticism—really be linked to the Internet? Some atheists on the web seem to think so. A question in the forums for The Friendly Atheist, a popular blog among non-theists, asked whether ex-theists would have shed their religion if the Internet didn’t exist. Many felt they wouldn’t. A post on Unreasonable Faith (ostensibly a counter to Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig’s book and online community dubbed Reasonable Faith) surmised that the Internet was crucial to the success of the “New Atheists.”

While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers. ChristianForums.com, online since 1998, boasts a quarter-million members. But with an Alexa ranking of almost 12,000 in the U.S. and only 68,000 unique page views per month, it lags behind the most popular forums for the irreligious. The web’s largest atheist forum is a subcommunity of the social media site Reddit, launched in 2005. Its Alexa traffic ranking puts it in the top 50 sites in the United States with 2 million unique visitors per month, many of those to its “Atheist” subcommunity of 154,000. The Christian “subreddit,” a devoted group comprised largely of recovering evangelicals with a zeitgeist-oriented view of Scripture, enjoys less than a tenth of the atheists’ readership.

Other mainstays of the influential web 2.0 communities driving the meme-generating social news scene add to the trend. From subversive offerings like Digg and 4chan to the juggernaut of YouTube, all are either predominantly or increasingly anti-religious. The distressing question we’re forced to ask is not, “What has changed everything?” but, “Why?”

A Free Space

The fact is, a relationship between irreligion and the Internet was bound to happen. Religion has long enjoyed a culturally accepted free space in which to share rhetoric—the Church. Atheism has suffered the exact opposite. America’s wariness of (or its outright antagonism toward, in its greatest excesses) irreligion has forced atheism to the fringes of its society. What the Internet has provided is a free space for atheists in this nation to connect with those across the globe whose cultural milieus are more inviting of all brands of irreligion; indeed, some in which secularism is a majority viewpoint.  

It is no wonder, therefore, that atheism is gaining steam in the U.S. Compared with the Internet, not to mention the secular nations of those with whom that space is shared, America is downright stifling. The political sway of the religious right seems somehow more maddening. The “we don’t belong!” rhetoric of American atheists becomes stronger, and it’s a message that today’s Christians buy into.

That’s because the free space in which they share rhetoric was never the Church to begin with. The Church belonged to their parents—the Internet belongs to them. The Internet may be helping to facilitate deconversion among evangelical youth, but it is not because of an “abundance of information” that challenges their faith. Rather, it is because the place where they spend much of their lives is where non-theists often control the discourse. It’s safe to say the majority of voices they encounter in web forums, news blogs and Facebook timelines will not echo those heard in their church foyer.

How will the Christian establishment respond? So far it’s employed much the same tactic it’s been using since the Jesus Movement: creating its own brand of popular culture instead of engaging pop culture at large. YouTube is too dangerous; try GodTube. Wikipedia is too liberal; use Conservapedia. Church remains the bubble in which rhetoric is exchanged; the bubble merely now extends to the web. The net result allows Christians to be “in the world but not of the world” and secularists to control the traffic flow on the largest thoroughfares of the information superhighway.

You Might Also Like

Sure, the reappropriation of secular pop culture resulted in a glut of success for evangelical Christianity between the '70s and '90s. For a brief period it made hit records, hip fashion, a few regrettable television shows and billions of dollars. Christian bookstores and radio stations were ubiquitous, offering family-friendly access to the latest trends, and the church was still the place where religion happened. But now that moment has passed, and the relative protection of its cultural landscape has been replaced by a more open, more liberal web-driven one. In terms of evangelism, the freedom provided by the web has made inroads in some of the least Christian corners of the globe, but its fast pace has left the American Christian—and her teenaged son—in its wake.

It is clear that Mondays and Wednesdays are no match for long evenings spent surfing the web. Yet the Internet itself, despite its breeding ground for relativism, is not the problem. For American Christianity to hold on to this generation, it will have to engage culture where it’s found and raise the level of discourse accordingly. A sense of ecumenism is crucial to foster the sense of inclusivity provided by the web.

Today’s Church is uniquely challenged to value its online presence as much as it values its physical building, serve its online community as much as it serves the local one. Ultimately the web has to become a place where—perhaps for the first time—disillusioned Christians can truly encounter Christ. 



Ada commented…


Sabres will hang onto the alternate sweater they introduced this season as part
of their 40th anniversary celebration.

Though nothing is changing, I thought it worth mentioning here as some
thought perhaps the NFL
would be
worn only this season and then retired. In fact, it seems the royal blue will
hang around at least one more year. Possibly longer.

Also, the jersey does feature the throwback Sabres logo with their
founding year, 1970, set inside. This was used as the team's 40th anniversary
mark but it's not specific to this year, which means it's likely to stay on the

It goes without saying, but Buffalo's home and road uniforms will also
stay the same for 2011-12. Overall, this might be the best set of sweaters in
the MLB
. And
it's all because they're paying attention to their past.


the Kings intend to toss out everything and go back to the drawing board in
2011. Wow.

if I'm being honest this complete reboot wasn't entirely unforeseen. The
has been dropping hints over the past year.
For example, the players opted to wear the black third jerseys throughout their
2010 playoff run. And the throwback launched this season is very popular among

only that, but Icethetics reported in October on photos of possible jersey
prototypes seen in Luc Robitaille's office at the Kings' practice facility.
They are essentially white versions of the current third jersey (right).

throwback jersey / from Getty ImagesSo if I had to guess, the crown logo along
with the black and purple sweaters will disappear. Replacing them will be the
LA shield logo along with black and white Football
And as for the third, obviously the purple and gold throwback is the

that suspicion just got a little more meat on it last night when the Kings
added nameplates to those cheap
Surnames are a league requirement on uniforms, but they got away without them
for opening night against the Canucks as they were celebrating the 40th
anniversary of their first meeting which was at a time when
jerseys didn't have nameplates.

So now this is a complete uniform and it looks phenomenal. Fans like it
and there's no reason not to keep it around. I wouldn't be at all surprised if
that's how things shake out for the Kings next season. Black and white regular
unis and very colorful thirds.


methods to compose a composition, permit the learners making utilization of the
text message inside the expression of information to method, pursuing creating
to alter with text message sense..comprehension a forward of within pride and
also to spring vibrant common xiaoxinganling common tone elegance learners
garnish pursuing the with mountain cheap nfl jerseys abundant resources,
read." this sequence of parallelism pandora charms sentence and metaphor
sentences, the campus that visual element the elm modelling is genuine sports

genuinely about is perfectly. creating methods for some oral and

shoes developed affordable wholesale

writing, make the students' text message instruction stumbled in exercise
enhances unceasingly.. fawn affordable genuine example: fleet endowment
wonderful personification.

For the
states 2011 nfl

sentence,inside the cheap jerseys as trees of casual, compose log leaves
produce the jerseys parable of. In assisting released some places of interest,
humanities landscape away from your text, I inspire the scholar to participate
inside the wrestle "little guide" activities, on this particular way
the scholar is astonishingly easy to recognize the text message concept
content... In developed creating training, I in instruction the stunning xiaoxinganling
mountain, "a type pursuing the spring, arrange, permit the learners
composition recently to some toy store or look at out outside the observed the
stunning scenery getting a signifies to compose down. low cost mlb jerseys For
example: some learners nfl jerseys in NFL Canada Goose JERSEYS describing the
campus when scenery wrote: "we campus the elm modelling how stunning elm
trees planted The North cope with visual element condition: some, that consist
of the giraffe, in partnership; some are just like a peacock, looking for at it
to show grownup males and females the stunning feather, laugh to fulfill
guests,...... Migration can be to permit the learners to convey within text
message comprehension to convey method.Reading assisting can't from unique
vocabulary discussion activity, should and method of lifestyle closely linked
together. Summer, autumn, the winter time period three components to
information the learners to take advantage of the exact exact same method to
wholesale nfl jerseys comprehend.


For Sale nhl jerseys
discount or participating in the physical activity you perhaps can endure for
making a wonderful bit from performing this kind of work consistently.Williams
wants to aid the Philadelphia colleges learners reach their goals, hoping to
inspire others to support higher schooling in Philadelphia.Most investors
inside scholarship applications for Philadelphia colleges learners recognize
the some thing should be done to aid the citys youth succeed.

A night time out around the town for dinner and
movie could provide you with an chance for making some cash babysitting.
cheap nfl jerseys
nfl jerseys discount you perhaps can post adverts for the time and day for the
vehicle rinse as good as the location. But truth is love in its purest sense.In
order to evaluate reading fluency, there are very a few measurement tools.
Truth is often brutal and belligerent. They wish to have got an access to
higher schooling and add degrees to their profiles.Detroit Lions Jerseys

It outings me out to hear Believers speak about their encounters during
evangelism and how disgusted they're with the globe or those who dont believe
that Jesus Christ is Lord.transformation football discount
or participating in the physical activity. This nfl jerseys
is within truth the best time to
allow them to know the worth of dollars and how difficult it is often to earn.
by no means cursed,hermes handbag, drank or smoked themselves.


As rumored, the Maple Leafs will be debuting a new
third jersey for the 2011-12 season.

The current third
nfl jerseys wholesale
jersey in its Reebok
incarnation launched in 2008. Prior to that, the same design was used from 2000
to 2007. It was based on a uniform and logo the Leafs used from 1958 to 1967.

When team management has recently discussed
changing the uniform with the media, they've said the plan is to borrow from
their own history once again.

Leafs '70s throwbacks / from Getty ImagesA year
ago, Toronto paid tribute to the 1970s as the players skated out in replica
jerseys for warm-ups. They nfl
jerseys store
sweaters worn by the team from 1970 until 1992. Rumors suggest the team may
look to that era for its next alternate uniform.

They look great and just different enough to
distinguish themselves from the recently altered home and road jerseys. Fans
always love the retro look so the Leafs would probably be wise to go this

Beyond that, there's not much else in the Maple
Leafs' jersey history that isn't a little crazy. So unless they go with the
'70s throwbacks, they'll have to come up with something completely new. And
that doesn't usually work out well for them.

And I'll say it once again. We won't really know anything until next
summer, fall at the latest. But the Leafs nfl jerseys
usually like to make a big deal about jersey unveilings so I'm sure
we'll know when it's


fact that Facebook found itself addressing a regulatory charge of some kind
should have come as no surprise, given the brouhaha about annual changes to its
user interface and profile privacy settings. Little wonder, too, cheap NFL JERSEYS
, that such a conflict would have widespread implications for digital

last month, Facebook reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission
mlb regarding accusations that it misled users
about the privacy of data shared on the site. The company "deceived
consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private,
and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public," the FTC
said in its announcement of the settlement.

settlement requires audits of Facebook privacy practices. VentureBeat has
reported that this has led to a reorganization. Five product groups must report
to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. This will eliminate questions about how informed
leadership should be about product development.

various reactions to the Facebook news are fascinating to watch -- and not just
because of the company's place in social media and its ability to connect 800
million people to events, articles, and one another. Many people have nba
criticized Facebook's privacy measures, but numbers suggest
that its use continues unabated. Participants reportedly spend as many as 15
hours per month on the site. AllAnalytics.com community editor Shawn Hessinger
captured Facebooks relationship with privacy best in his comment,
"Facebook is simply the poster child for this kind of problem today, but
there is no evidence it has hurt the company's popularity or revenue."


Chris J.T. commented…

The true fear, that I have seen in some of my peers and in some of the adults I have talked with, is that if Christianity, as a movement of religion, takes ground in secular culture then we risk being mis-portrayed and "contaminated". True Christianity is not a religion, it is a FAITH, the faith that raised people from the dead and still heals people. That faith never dies and is stronger than the power of death and the grave. Faith can't be "contaminated" and no one can make a good argument to say it is fake. Christian religion has denominations, which are all to some degree wrong because they were made by men. God didn't say, "Hey my children! Lets have like, IDK, 10 or more different versions of my love for you. Just stick to the basics of Jesus' sacrifice and you'll be fine." He said The Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, everything Jesus said, and everything I spoke to you is true. If followers of Christ will stick to the basics of Christianity and let the Holy Spirit convict them of all other things (which will be smaller personal choices that can be taken on by others), we can actually be appealing to modern culture. I'm just a teen, but I think we can all do better, and I'm going to continue to do my best to be a leader now and in the future. God gave us guidelines as to how to live like Christ, He also gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us personally. Faith is what holds the underground church in China together. This is America, where we are free to speak and to believe publicly.


Chris J.T. commented…

This could be misread as saying that we have to be hermits, or stay distant from those unsaved. So just make sure you make clear what you mean by any verse you quote. In some cases "THE WORLD" is sinful nature. As long as we befriend the people who are being held down by sin then we are not befriending the world. If you compromise your faith by befriending them then yes stay at a distance, but still display your desire to love them as a person. Point is make your point more clear. :)

Jim van Ommen


Jim van Ommen commented…

Will the internet kill the Christian Faith?

Now ubiquitous, in current usage the term cyberspace according to Wikipedia stands for the global network of interdependent information technology infrastructures, telecommunications networks and computer processing systems in which online communication takes place…. Yes, quite a mouthful.
One wonders what to make of this information technology said to now be “ubiquitous” ,meaning everywhere at once, omnipresent?
I have only ever heard this word being used in connection with God Himself. One would almost think that God may have to move over a bit to make room for this “ competing” technology network.
In this computer age we increasingly hear about the misuse and abuse of the online computer communication system, as well as the hacking and computer fraud that is on the increase at an alarming rate. I don’t think that the inventors and manufacturers of the computers and software, promoters, subscribers, governments and other authorities had ever anticipated that this crime would be unstoppable like a run-away train.
As for its content and our exposure and that of our children to more than just the “facts of life” has been the concern of many cross sections of society and individuals over many years. Do we need to know all this? How will it affect the fabric of our society, our attitudes, our moral fiber, our values in the way we relate to each other and don’t relate to each other and our spirituality. Many books have been written about it and probably many more will be, but in essence I think we need to look at the internet, Cyber space communication as a tool. Tools may be made for good purposes, but as we all know they are frequently used for just the opposite. The choice is ours as to how we handle them. Admittedly the options are legion, and we are faced with information overload that can be very confusing and a trap for those who are easily lead.
However looking at the positive side of things the computer age has widened our horizons and also serves very good purposes in spite of the negativity I mentioned earlier. It is also providing us with a source of unbiased information where the better, more durable things in life are presented to us; the things that potentially give us purpose, direction, fulfillment and joy if we plug in on it.

Just look at the list of words below where you only need to type in one, two, or three words at the most and it will immediately display in what priority these words are linked with the most used words in cyber space.

Type in the word …”when”…the words most used on internet in connection with this word "when" is……. "When was Jesus born”
Do the same with…….”Surely”……and the net’s response to the word "Surely is ”goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”
“ Seek first”…… and the net’s response is…….“The Kingdom of God”.
“If we say”…… and the net’s response is……. “we have no sin we deceive ourselves”.
“Let him……and the net’s response is……” who has ears” .

And so it goes on, absolute gems , thousands of them. For each of the words in the first column there could be a myriad of secular responses, but that is not the reality we are confronted with.

This is a great indication that our God, who is not only ubiquitous but also omnipotent, omniscient and eternal , is at work and enabling His people to witness to the truth no matter what the medium might be.
As for the question;” Will the internet kill Christianity”? The answer would have to be an irrevocable no as Christ Himself is the Author and Perfector of our Faith. They have tried to kill Him before and failed and caused the Christian Faith to spread to all corners of the Earth.
Seek and you will find is true in more ways than one.
Praise the Lord for those who have been looking in the right places and by their positive usage of cyberspace have caused all these concepts and truths to be there for all to read.

Jim van Ommen

Please log in or register to comment

Log In