Is the Pandemic Sparking an Online Religious Revival?
February 4, 2022
One of the very first things the Internet accomplished was allowing people to bypass traditional gatekeepers. For religious Americans, the rise of the Internet meant unfettered and unfiltered access to information about their own faith. A 2001 Pew Research Center report found that one of the most common online activities for “Religious Surfers” (religious people who spent time online) was simply gathering information about their own religious tradition or denomination.
But for some churches, the Internet quickly became a source of headaches. Church leaders could no longer control their own narratives and history, including the uncomfortable parts. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this newly-acquired information led to difficult questions. Many asked why Black men were excluded from the priesthood until the late 1970s, while others questioned Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy.