Missionary work in Internet era calls for new management style

By Mi Guanghong Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-20 22:23:01

In recent years, Chinese people's desire for religion has been rising, which is related to the rapid development of the market economy and swift social transformation.

The changes in economy and life have greatly influenced people's mindsets, ethical values and lifestyles.

More and more people who seek free minds and live in confusion start to seek psychological comfort from religion.

Missionary work is currently in a stage of transformation. Electronically-transmitted religion has come into being thanks to modern telecommunication, especially with the Internet as the platform, the mass media and electronic religious video products. An electronically-linked missionary era is coming.

Due to the openness, interactivity and arbitrariness of the Internet, electronic religious activities have broken through the limitations of traditional religious activities that were previously carried out in monasteries and churches. They are spreading faster with a wider range and more profound influence.

With the emergence of virtual churches and Internet religious groups, a large Internet religious world has been formed.

The Internet has made the world of religious belief a particular sect. The tangible religion, which used to center on churches, has transformed into an intangible religion that focuses on the internal meanings of the mind. Internet religion has broken away from the ceremonies and practices of traditional religions, becoming cultural consumer goods for the public, or even spiritual fast food.

The Internet has also created some problems while allowing religions to spread faster.

For example, some outside forces may make use of electronic churches to spread distorted facts and anti-China messages.

Ordinary believers, once they cannot tell the boundary between politics and religion, tend to be deceived by these forces. Some domestic forces also set up illegal websites to incite anti-government sentiment among believers.

Under such circumstances, establishing a monitoring system for religious websites has become an urgent task. The government should cooperate with online media and give the public adequate information. The government should crack down on illegal religious websites and maintain social stability.

Meanwhile, the management of religious affairs should be made more open to the public.

Authorities should study the psychology of believers under the new media environment and find out how they tend to receive information.

They should also prevent the negative impact of electronic missionary work and promote its positive impact, allowing electronic religion to develop in an orderly and stable manner and ensuring the healthy development of public opinion on the Internet.

The author is a scholar of religious studies based in Beijing. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: Viewpoint, View Points, Social Management

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