1 in 4 Adult Surfers Looks for Religious Information Online

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 24, 2001 (Zenit.org).- More adult Americans use the Internet for religious purposes than for gambling, banking or trading stocks, a new study says.

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One out of four adult American Internet users, about 28 million, have sought out religious or spiritual information online, according to a study released Sunday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and reported by Reuters.

Each day, more than 3 million U.S. adults find religious information online, up from 2 million last year.

Elena Larsen, author of the report, said Web surfers tend to use the Internet for solitary activities like research rather than joining chat rooms or other communal activities.

Those engaged in religious activities online are more likely to search for educational or reference material (69%) or research other faiths (50%) than offer spiritual advice through e-mail (35%) or seek it out (21%), the study found.

Those most active online are also most active offline in their congregations, Larsen said. Internet religion seekers are more likely to belong to an organization like a church or synagogue and attend services weekly than the population as a whole, the report said. And 86% said they prayed or meditated every day.

The Internet is not likely to change the views of the 14% of U.S. population with no religious affiliation, Larsen said. «It´s supplementing, it´s augmenting» users´ religious lives, she contended.

While Americans flocked to churches and synagogues after the Sept. 11 attacks, many also turned to their computers. One out of four U.S. Internet users sought out information on Islam online after the attacks, the report said, and 41% said they sent or received e-mail prayer requests; 7% contributed to charities online.

The study was based on a survey of 500 Internet users who said they get religious information online during July and August, combined with other telephone surveys taken before and after. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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