Religious groups using technology to reach out
Technology has become a routine part of everyday life, and while religion has a lot to do with preserving traditions, more and more religious groups are turning to the Internet to communicate.
In 2009 the Vatican launched a YouTube channel, saying "Wise use of communication technology enables communities to be formed in ways that promotes the search for the true."
The move put Pope Benedict online, and was a big change from traditional religious practice, usually done in person, face to face.
Jerry Burns, pastor of Kitchener Baptist Church, recently launched a new, interactive Web site, complete with a blog and downloadable sermons.
He says "It's to promote the message of the church…Maybe a member that misses a service can download that sermon, listen to that sermon throughout the week."
Burns believes that rather than shying away from technology, religion should embrace it.
"The Internet is a tool, like a shovel digging a hole, and we need to use that resource as best we can," he says.
Experts at the University of Waterloo are looking at what kind of impact technology and the online world are having on religion.
Lorne Dawson is a sociologist of religion at the University of Waterloo. He says that so far, it hasn't been as significant as first predicted.
"Initially there was a lot of speculation it would be revolutionary, that it would change things, and there were sort of utopian scenarios laid out."
There were also concerns that technology would mark the end of traditional religion, but he says it has mostly just made information more readily available.
Dawson says "You can go in and have a conversation with your rabbi and be prepared, have some pointed questions."
And Burns says that in times of crisis, it's not the Internet people will turn to, "They come to a church, they come to our pastor, they come to myself and they say, ‘Can you pray with me?'"
Coming up in part two: Some traditionalists may always prefer to practice in person, but for young people who view technology as part of their tradition, it may be a different story.