Religion more popular than auctions, banking, and other activities online Churches and religious folk use the Web. Shocking, isn't it? That people that believe in such backward concepts as an omniscient, omnipresent God, a Virgin Birth, and the resurrection of Jesus would use computers? You'd think so from the way some media have been reporting a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. It shouldn't come as a surprise that churches—like everything else in America—are creating Web sites and using e-mail to make their presence known and to communicate with members. But there are still some interesting findings: 21 percent of Web users have looked for spiritual or religious information online, which is more than the 18 percent that have banked online or the 15 percent who've bought, sold, or bid in an online auction. But the latter two have received a lot more press than e-religion. One interesting note is how project director Lee Rainie explained the simplicity of church sites to various media—duplicating as few words as possible and tailoring each to the tone of the publication. To the Associated Press, he's short, sweet and to the point: "It's pretty simple stuff. It's not real fancy, but it helps them stay connected with each other and extend their good works into the world." To the San Francisco Chronicle, whose Silicon Valley readership is going to be snootier than most, he sticks his nose a little higher in the air: "These are pretty elementary sites for the most part. They're not fancy and full of graphics, but in their simple way, they seem to matter to these faith institutions." And to the populist USA Today, he speaks the language of the people: "These aren't whiz-bang, Star Wars-type extravaganzas. ...

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