The Church's Domain
The Church's Domain

On the frontier of Internet exploration, the .church is prime virtual real estate.

Earlier this month, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) released a list of applications for nearly 2,000 possible new "after-the-dot" endings to website URLs. From .aaa to .zulu, the list runs a gamut of possible endings. The mix includes .sex, .shop, .pizza, brand names like .nissan and .northwesternmutual, and several faith-based words, including .bible, .catholic, .church, .cbn, .christmas, .faith, .mormon, .halal, .islam, .yoga, and .kosher. Of those, only .church and .yoga had more than one applicant.

Spokesmen for the two applicants for .church—LifeChurch.tv, an Oklahoma-based church, and Donuts Inc., a for-profit domain name registry that coordinates domain name use—both said they would make the domain broadly available to faith-based organizations. In contrast, representatives for the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they intend to closely monitor .catholic, .mormon, and .lds to protect their reputations. Only groups recognized under canonical law will be able to use .catholic, said Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The LDS church also plans to restrict its domains to official Mormon entities.

"We intend to be inclusive," said Mason Cole, vice president of communications and industry relations for Donuts Inc., which applied for 307 top-level domains, including .poker, .website, .health, and .media. "We're not going to have a by-invitation-only section of the Internet."

Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv, said applying for the .church domain fit with the church's ...

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