6 Religion Online technology is the ability to compile and use much more information on mem- bers, enhancing the religion’s effectiveness in providing more individualized service to members of its community. Consider the capability that augmented reality (AR) could provide to a spiritual leader. A simple pair of smart glasses could link to a system providing facial recognition so that a leader can see a name superimposed on each follower and perhaps other relevant information as well. Indeed, the same facial recognition technology could also automatic- ally track attendance at services and prayers. And once such information is compiled, an opportunity is created for its analysis and thus greater insight into the members of the religious community. Digital Technology and Religious Education Like other areas of education, religious education is being transformed by digital technology. Most religious practices have an educational component to help members of that faith become more familiar with its beliefs and the interpretations and messages related to them. Organized religious commun- ities also offer schools for educating their children. The Roman Catholic Church has a long tradition of elementary, middle, and high schools that teach religion alongside science, math, and language. Many Muslim com- munities have madrasas that provide a similar educational experience. From Brigham Young University to Yeshiva University to Union Theological Semi- nary and across other faith traditions, formal education in a religion-based context is offered through the highest degrees. Online offerings at Liberty University financially supplement the classroom experience (MacGillis, 2018). As these schools adopt technology to teach nonreligious subjects, they may also be expected to use them to enhance religious education. The same access to library resources that extends the information available to a student in a science class can be used to extend access to religious texts, sermons, and other messages. Religious education also happens in informal settings. For example, theo- logical seminaries belonging to the Southern Baptist Church have long offered short online courses by correspondence intended for staff at small, rural churches that may not have access to professional training. Today, the denomination’s seminaries offer these types of courses as a part of an online seminary extension program. Peering into the Future Organized religions represent some of the oldest social institutions on the planet. The youngest religions discussed in this book (Scientology and some other new religious movements) are only decades old, while the oldest reli- gion has roots going back five thousand years.
Previous Page Next Page