In the name of MySpace, YouTube and the holy Internet, amen.
A number of religious Web sites are aping the names and styles of some of the Web’s most popular sites. Chief among them are GodTube.com, a video-sharing site for Christians, and MyChurch.org, a social networking realm.
The explosion of niche social networking sites that divvy up your personality into various identities has extended into religion with MyChurch.org. The site describes itself: “This is NOT `MySpace for Christians,’ this is MyChurch for EVERYONE.”
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All are invited to MyChurch, including nonbelievers who can pick from the 4,306 churches that have pages on the site. You first form a Facebook-style profile that can be linked to friends and different churches.
Users can share sermons saved as podcasts, blog about their faith and learn about church activities. If you pay an optional fee of $12, you get perks like more space for multimedia.
The site, owned by a company called JCMedia, is essentially devoted to various denominations of Christianity. It is, after all, MyChurch, not MySynagogue or MyMosque. But more on that later.
GodTube’s mission is to “utilize Web-based technology to connect Christians for the purpose of encouraging and advancing the Gospel worldwide.” Its “Broadcast Him” slogan is a clear riff on YouTube’s “Broadcast Yourself.”
The site was formed by 38-year-old Chris Wyatt, a Dallas seminary student and former TV producer. He earlier tried a Christian version of Netflix, and after starting GodTube in January, has found more than 50,000 unique visitors a day.
Many of the videos are playful. Its most popular video is titled “Baby Got Book,” which is perhaps the most disturbing remix of Sir Mix-A-Lot ever. One line goes: “I like big Bibles and I cannot lie.”
Videos that don’t jibe with the GodTube community are “vigilantly” monitored, the site explains, keeping the rhetoric safe and Christian.
These sites have arguably made the biggest online religious imprint using the forms of YouTube and MySpace, but they aren’t alone. MuslimSpace.com, created by Mohamed el-Fatatry of Finland is a similar community for Muslims. IslamTube.com also mirrors YouTube, though it requires becoming a member to view videos.
Other faiths, too, can be expected to soon embrace Web 2.0 forms. And it’s rather refreshing to see something online that isn’t all about “you.”