Course Description:

This three-week mini-course co-sponsored by Hartford Seminary

and Beliefnet will explore the diverse nature and forms of religion as it exists on the Internet. Through readings, guided tours of the religious landscape in cyberspace, guest chats and lively, moderated discussions, participants will experience the many diverse ways religions, religious practices and religious persons inhabit the Web. We will explore the ways religions make use of the Internet, as well as how persons of faith practice their beliefs online.


Scott Thumma

will serve as the Internet tour guide and moderator of this mini course. Scott is Faculty Associate in Web and Distance Education at Hartford Seminary and a sociologist of religion. He is the administrator of the Seminary's websites and director of its distance education program. Scott has written and lectured about religion on the Internet and will soon begin a research project on how congregations use the web. Several well-known religion and the web researchers, practitioners, and purveyors will be guests throughout the course. The course will be hosted as a private Beliefnet Dialogue Group.


$40.00 with a limit of 100 participants. To register and pay for this course (which will take place on Beliefnet's site), please contact Hartford Seminary's David Barrett dbarrett@hartsem.edu

(860)509-9519 or Murat Kazanci murat@hartsem.edu


What to expect in this noncredit course:

We want this course to be enjoyable education! Every other day we will post short online readings and ask folks to do web-based activities such as visiting religious sites, experimenting with online spiritual disciplines, and watching clips of worship services. We will discuss the content, experiences and implications of these activities and readings. Since this is a noncredit course, we can't force anyone to "complete the assignments" but the more you put into the course the more you, and the rest of us, will get out of the discussion.

The procedure for enrolling:

Register by phone by contacting the Hartford Seminary staff (David Barrett dbarrett@hartsem.edu

860-509-9519 or Murat Kazanci murat@hartsem.edu

860-509-9555) to register and pay for the course using either a credit card or check. Following this, you will be given the URL for a discussion forum signup page where you will register on the Beliefnet site. When you reach this page, you will be required to create a free account with Beliefnet if you do not already have a member name on the site. Then you will be able to sign into the group. The group will use the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct

as its guidelines for behavior.

Course Outline

1) Introductions and favorite sites

2) Religions online

    3) Mainstreams - Denominations, world religions, congregations, etc.

    4) Other Streams - Alternative religions, cults, sects, neopagan, gay, or Interfaith sites

    5) New Springs - Support groups, meta sites, parachurch organizations, eclectic quasi-religiosity

Online Religion

    6) Doing religion - Practices, rituals, experiences,

    7) Being religious - Religious talk, online communities, chats, MUD's, discussions

    8) Being Irreligious - Parody, Satire and Seriousness

The Implications

    9) Theological

   10) Sociological/philosophical

   11) Spiritual

12) Conclusions

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