When Cathie Frazzini and Leo Brunnick met, fell in love, married and blended their careers and families — two young children each — the hardest part of "yours, mine and ours" was religion.
Leo grew up Irish Catholic in Boston. Cathie was a nice Lutheran girl from Buena Park in Southern California who also had explored nondenominational evangelical Christianity.
"You can't randomly choose how to raise your children," Leo said.
So last year, the Denver couple, both 20-year Web technology veterans, began searching online in an effort to examine the common ground and the distinctions of their religious traditions.
However, Leo said, they were unable to find credible, comprehensive, easily accessible information on religion and spirituality.
The Brunnicks, who marked their first wedding anniversary April 30, got busy blending again. They merged their interests in comparative-religion studies and Web skills to create the angel-investor funded Patheos.com, which launched Wednesday.
It is a resource that references 100 religious affiliations the Brunnicks hope will be useful to seekers, experts, skeptics and faithful alike.
Almost 82 million Americans report using the Web for faith-related reasons, according to the Pew Internet Project. The Brunnicks' marketing research, a survey they commissioned from Opinion Research Corp., found 79 percent of Americans agree religion plays an important role in U.S. society; and, 76 percent said it was important in their own lives.
The Brunnicks spent months courting theologians, from Harvard Divinity School to the Denver Seminary, to contribute to their site. The result, they say, is an online library of accurate, balanced and peer-reviewed information; side-by-side comparisons of religious traditions; directory of worship houses and other religion-related activities; a forum for discussion and debate called the Public Square; and a series of portals to online faith communities and more forums.
Public Square topics range from same-sex marriage to the meaning of existence. "The Public Square offers something new — an online site for smart, serious and respectful conversations on topical, often controversial issues of religion, spirituality and ethics," said Diane Winston, a Patheos contributor and Knight Chair in media and religion at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.
The Brunnicks say they are trying not to promote or give any faith tradition a home-team advantage.
"We like to say we're the ESPN of religion, of spirituality," Leo said. "People have a hard time believing this, but we don't have an agenda."
Nor will they divulge how they resolved their own family's religious leanings. "We have to be a little coy about that," Cathie said.
Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or firstname.lastname@example.org