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Cyber-church forced to close e-pulpit, UK
May 19, 2004 • Wednesday May 19, 2004

The world’s first cyber church has had to close its pulpit to ordinary worshippers after people logged in and used swear words on the site.

The Church of Fools said it had tightened security, including withdrawing the “preach button“ and putting in more wardens to stop people using abusive language.

Church of Fools?

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. {19} For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; {20} and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
- 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 NIV

One person logged in as “Satan” before entering the pulpit and started to blaspheme.

The three-dimensional establishment, complete with a stained glass window, gothic arches, pews, and a crypt was launched last week at the Christian Resources Exhibition
in Surrey in the UK.

Members of the congregation – represented by cartoon “avatars“ or 3D cartoons – are able to cross themselves, bless and hallelujah as well as walk and kneel in the church.

`Wardens` struggled to oversee 60,000 visits to the church during the first two days of opening. It has attracted an average of between 5000 and 10,000 visits a day since then.

A “smite“ button is used to eliminate troublemakers but the UK-based wardens have encountered particular difficulties at night when they are asleep and people have logged on from the US and Australia.

Stephen Goddard, spokesman for the church, said the abuse was “disappointing“ but was a sign the establishment was reaching thousands of people who had no normal contact with the church.

He compared the difficulties with the problems faced by John Wesley, the 18th century founder of Methodism.

“When Wesley started off all those years ago preaching to the unconverted, he was shouted at, spat at and abused and people brayed like donkeys to put him off preaching,“ he said.

“When you go out into a different culture first you are going to suffer abuse. We are not worried about it and it does not offend us.

“We have to do what we can to prevent it.“

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