New Web Site Aims to Change the Way Americans Talk about Religion and Spirituality
First-of-its-kind site Patheos.com launches today to provide an open forum to explore, experience and engage in religious and spiritual beliefs and discussion
DENVER - May 5, 2009 - A new Web site designed to meet the growing online demand for credible, engaging information on religion and spirituality will launch today. Patheos.com (www.Patheos.com) aims to be the premier online destination for engaging in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality, and to explore and experience the world's beliefs. According to the Pew Internet Project, nearly 82 million Americans use the Web for faith-related reasons, pointing to the need for a credible and comprehensive online religious and spiritual destination.
Husband-and-wife entrepreneurs, parents and 20-year Web technology veterans, Leo and Cathie Brunnick were inspired to develop Patheos in 2008 when they married and were unable to find a credible, comprehensive online resource to provide guidance when blending two families from different religious backgrounds.
Patheos contributors include well-known and respected religious leaders, expert theologians and academics from some of the top North American colleges and universities, including such respected scholars as:
· Diane Winston, Knight Chair in media and religion at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California
· Jonathan A. C. Brown, assistant professor of Islamic studies within the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Washington
· Anthea Butler, visiting assistant professor of women's studies and African American religious history at the Harvard Divinity School
Survey: Nearly 40 Percent of Americans Want a Source for Information on Religion
A recent Opinion Research Corporation survey commissioned by Patheos found that religion continues to be an important topic in the lives of Americans, with nearly 80 percent (79%) of respondents agreeing religion plays an important role in U.S. society, and 76 percent responding that religion plays an important role in their own lives. Many Americans also seem to be comfortable talking about religion, particularly when compared with other sensitive topics like sex, politics and money. For example, 34 percent of Americans avoid discussing sex with co-workers, friends and family, while only 18 percent avoid religious topics. Not only are Americans talking about religion, but nearly 40 percent (38%) of those surveyed would find it helpful to have a resource where they could learn about different religions, religious events and religious views on hot topics.
"With the launch of Patheos, we hope to provide access to a resource unlike any other on the Web, dedicated to providing religious and spiritual information and most importantly, constructive and meaningful dialogue," said Leo Brunnick, Patheos co-founder and CEO. "We've seen too much disrespectful, unconstructive dialogue about a topic that's important to many Americans. It's time to change the way we talk about religion, and Patheos can be the catalyst to help create this positive change."
The Public Square: Changing the Way Americans Talk about Religion and Spirituality
A unique Patheos feature is the Public Square, designed as an online forum for discussion and debate on religious and spiritual issues, where visitors can consider topics from multiple perspectives. Each week a new topic or issue is raised in the Public Square with responses provided by recognized scholars and/or religious and spiritual leaders representing the perspectives of a wide range of religious traditions. The goal of the Public Square is to provide visitors with informed, constructive and respectful points of view surrounding today's most compelling issues as they relate to religion and spirituality. Sample Public Square topics include religion on the Web, same-sex marriage and 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, Knight Chair in media and religion at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. "The religious content isn't dumbed down or sensationalized, rather it's given center stage in our national and global debates about politics, culture and society."
In addition to the Public Square, Patheos visitors will find a unique variety of resources and applications, including:
· An expansive library of easy-to-read foundational information on world religions unmatched in terms of depth and breadth by any other resource currently available on the Weband produced by the world's leading theological experts. All library content is peer-reviewed to ensure the highest level of credibility, objectivity and accuracy.
· A variety of interactive lenses that allow visitors to compare, contrast and experience different religions and belief systems. For example, through the side-by-side lens, site visitors can compare two different religions to learn how they are similar and different on aspects like key tenets, number of followers, founding date, and more.
· A series of faith-based portals, or Gateways, which serve as online communities for intra-faith religious and spiritual interaction. Each Gateway has a variety of discussion groups, blogs and forums that allow visitors to interact with one another, gain new perspectives and participate in a lively, informative dialogue around a variety of issues important to each belief system.
· A comprehensive online directory that serves as a resource for those looking to gather at or visit places of worship. The directory includes more than 350,000 listings of churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship, as well as popular spiritual destinations and religious retreats. The directory also includes a ranking capability and visitor feedback.
Patheos is open to all visitors and does not support, endorse or promote any one religion, but strives to engage those of all beliefs and elevate the level of dialogue in the U.S. around important spiritual and religious topics.
5/5/2009 4:00:00 AM