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While most of the for-profit dot-coms aimed squarely at the evangelical Christian market have faltered or failed, an online service that is about as polytheistic as they come appears to be flourishing. The service receives about 1 million unique visitors each month, and approximately 7-8 million page views per month, according to statistics from the research firm PC Data Online. (MediaMetrix, another online statistics firm, says the site only receives about 418,000 unique visitors a month—fewer than Gospelcom.net, Crosswalk.com, or even Christianbook.com.)

Beliefnet, which burst upon the scene last January, has landed celebrity writers such as Michael Jackson, Colin Powell, and retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong while signing up over 1,000 houses of worship for its Web-hosting service.

With its tagline, "We all believe in something"—as nonthreatening a brand id as can be found in the marketing world—the service also embarked on its first product-marketing venture, a CD of sacred tunes from around the world. Magazines, books, and other items are due to follow, says cofounder Steve Waldman, a former U.S. News & World Report editor.

"We seem to be doing well," Waldman told CT in an interview. "We're watching all these other companies dropping like flies. We had our second round of financing in May, and we've gotten some big traffic-driving partnerships."

The largest of these partnerships—for which financial terms have not been disclosed—are with America Online and About.com, a portal for "comprehensive information" Web sites. On AOL, which bills itself as the world's leading Internet service provider, "co-branded" Beliefnet sites "will offer … tens of millions of users … information, community applications, resources, and ...

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February 19, 2001

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