Emerging Tech

Vatican-approved discussion: Should the Church enter Second Life?


Following shortly after the debut of the official Vatican Web site (which even has its own TLD: *.va) comes a Church-approved magazine story urging participation in cyberspace, in particular Second Life.

Reuters reports the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica published an article by a Catholic academic, Antonia Spadero, who believes Second Life and other cyber-reams may be areas for growth among the faithful and is worthy of mission work.

"Is there (cyber) space for God?" Spadero asks, and notes other religions have a presence there, describing how one Muslim from Sweden uses his avatar for prayer. Spadero also notes the, ahem, not-for-children aspects of Second Life, warns Catholics of potential offensive conduct they will find in Second Life, yet says "It's not possible to close our eyes to this phenomenon or rush to judge it. Instead it needs to be understood ... the best way to understand it is to enter it."

However, workplaces often have rules limiting religious expression at work, just as they may formally limit personal Internet use. Does your company have a formal policy regarding religion and the Web?

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37 comments
BearyAnn
BearyAnn

I believe responding to church blogs and workplace policy are 2 separate issues. Too often people feel their company has placed a computer in front of them and given them an email address - both to be used for business purposes - feel this is an open invitation to surf the net and keep up with friends, dates, etc. It is not. If you wish to do those things they should be done from your personal system and on your own time, not company time. You are paid for your work efforts, not personal blogging. Participate, but on your own time, not the companies.

computerd}}
computerd}}

Hypocrite alert. You sound like my boss, his meaning of life is all work and no play except when I catch him surfin the net, checking his email, and blogging.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

So who'd be left at these things? Would the place be full of deaf, dumb and blind librarians or accountants or something? Sh!t, I'm gonna reserve my spot NOW!!! edit for title.

jgaskell
jgaskell

The church should get out of First Life, let alone Second Life. How much longer will these silly old superstitions remain with us?

Scaramoosh
Scaramoosh

Should the worship of a non-existent god be permitted in a non-existent place? Mmmmm! Does it really matter? No!

plk1935
plk1935

"...after the debut of the official Vatican Web site (which even has its own TLD: *.va)....." Hey folks the Vatican website has been there for years. Its "debut" is ancient.

the_webninja
the_webninja

I'm not Sure,... I mean what did the Religious People of the REAL World actually do for us? Spread ideas of Hatred and Contempt among the people, strive for total domination of the world, engage in Holy Wars and oppression of the people, try to manipulate the Laws of our Governments, and let us not forget the Bombings of Abortion Clinics and the Mafia Style Terrorism by Religious people, as well as the basic infringement of our FREEDOMS. ALL BASED ON BOOKS OF LIES! In the Real world Religious people only strive for Total Control of YOU, Your Money, Your Land, and your Family. Now they want to stick their Fingers in the Virtual Reality Pie as well? I wonder can we Blow up Churches in the Second Life? :)

Montgomery Gator
Montgomery Gator

You have the right to your opinion, of course, but why do you show such hatred towards people of faith? You accuse them of hatred, but at the same time demonstrate hatred yourself against them. People of faith can also claim violence against them throughout history, from the persecution of Christians in ancient Rome, through the persecution of all faiths under Stalinist USSR and other totalitarian Communist regimes in order to promote the state religion of Athiesm, to the current persecutions going on in Sudan in Darfur and in some other Islamic countries against Christians. The tone of your post appears that you have a desire to control people of faith and impose atheistic views on them.

Ken Dally
Ken Dally

Why is it that theists confuse atheism with religion. Atheism basically just means you won't believe anything without supporting evidence. Theism uses supernatural fairytales to gain social/political/economic control and control peoples behaviour through fear and an imagined reward system. The persucution of Christians in Roman times was one religion subjugating another for social/political/economic control as is the case in the Islamic countries you mentioned. Stalinist countries kept real education low amognst the masses which is against the fundamentals of an atheist mindset. I find it revealing that the countries with the least state sponsored and enforced religion and the highest secular education levels have the most freedoms. The decline in Freedoms in the USA can aprtly be traced to the time during the cold war when "Under God" was added to the oath of allegience, in stark contrast to the desires of the writers of the Constitions wishes to keep State and religion seperate. And far from atheists imposing rational though on "People of faith" its the various religions that ram God down peoples throats and get exempted from taxation and other concessions for something which they have nver been able to provide believable evidence.

faradhi
faradhi

Churches are exempt from taxation because they are non profit entities just like every other secular non-profit entity that is also exempt from taxation. I would agree that Atheism is not a religion. It is in fact a lack of one. Finally, to say that adding the word God to the pledge of allegiance started the decline in freedoms in the USA is disingenuous at best. Declining freedoms can always be attributed to an increase in FEAR. Not fear of divine retribution but fear of worldly dangers. In this case, fear of "those Communists". After the cold war, fear of "those Muslims" took over the fear of "those Communists". Just because the beginning of the decline in freedoms correlates to the time that Under God was added does not mean the phrase caused the lack of freedoms. The first rule taught in Statistics 101 is Correlation does not necessarily mean Causation. In fact, this is a case where the Under God was actually another symptom of the fear that was sweeping the nation. One of the reasons the under God phrase was added was because the Soviet Union outlawed religion. Additionally, I would say your inference that the Under God was partly to cause the decline in freedoms might suggest a belief in that statement where you have no real proof. HMMM

computerd}}
computerd}}

The internet is the newest way of push another religion (cult). The weak and feeble minded have to pray because that's all who will listen and there are so many people out there to take your money and of course all of you "people of faith" give them your money just so you can pray to a non existant god. The hatred came first from religion. BURN THE WITCH!!

mbrello
mbrello

I don't believe the Church should enter Second Life. If it starts in one mmorpg, what's to keep it from entering into others? While I have not played Second Life, it is my understanding that the game is supposed to emulate real life. If the Church were to stop with Second Life, I'd say okay MAYBE it's plausible. However, this article already mentions that a Catholic academic believes "other cyber-realms may be areas for growth among the faithful and is worthy of mission work." While there are those that are not (e.g., Rainbow Six), many mmorpg's are fantasy-based (e.g., EverQuest, Lord of the Rings, and Vanguard - to name a few) - the Catholic church does not exist in any of the fantasy realms of which I've read in any books or seen in any films. One of the main reasons many of my friends, and myself and my husband included, participate in these role-playing games, is to "escape" real-life for a little while. For many, it's a way to relax after a long day at work. My vote is that the Church should concentrate on "real life" and leave gaming alone. EDITED: There is a policy in effect in our workplace regarding Internet usage and it strictly limits personal use. As for religion, there is not a written policy. The general "unspoken" rule is that everyone is free to their beliefs and that is respected. However, we all come to work every day to perform a duty for the company, and that must be the first priority. However, I must agree with several others who have posted replies to this thread: I fail to see how mmorpg's and church relate to the workplace.

crnugent
crnugent

I'm not getting the connect between the question "Should the Church enter Second Life?" and "Does your company have a formal policy regarding religion and the Web?" Seems to me to be two different threads. To give my opinion of the former, I say yes. Second Life is open to all life-styles and there is no reason to exclude and religion. Second life is an alternative reality that doesn't boast "no political crap" "no religion" or even "no morals". It is in effect the same people in a different reality as the real world. Oh yeah, and no real consequences! I like the joke "get a Third Life", but I'd ammmend it: "Get a First Life." Still, it's a very interesting situation and I agree with the comments of Church commitment, however, I would like to add that ALL Catholics should be well versed in the precepts of their faith and practice them wherever they go, even virtually. To answer the second thread I offer this from my workplace's web site: "There is no *** policy, regulation or *** rule specifically addressing religious expression or material in the workplace. However, supervisors and employees may want to be guided by the Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace. These guidelines strive to balance freedom of religion and speech, separation of church and government, and management discretion. For specific concerns, please contact the Employee Relations Office at *****

ballistabob
ballistabob

It is inevitable, where ever you have people gathering there will be discussion. Where ever there is discussion eventually someone will bring up one of the three main topics that cause arguments; Religion, Politics, or Sports.

Llama2000
Llama2000

Isn't the whole point of having a Second Life to get away from these political crap? Now even terrorists are using it to spread their bs. All this First Life crap makes me feel like staying away from Second Life even more. Maybe people should get a Third Life.

doublenix
doublenix

Two words: Hell no. There is absolutely no reason for religion to get involved with anything like Second Life. In fact, it would be a factor to cause people to walk away from things like Second Life. I do not want someone else's religion pushed upon me when I am trying to have fun. We get that enough from other sources. "...Second Life and other cyber-reams may be areas for growth among the faithful and is worthy of mission work." Ugh. That just nauseates me.

learush
learush

It's my understanding that you guide where you go in SecondLife. If you can turn around and fly away, no one can push anything on you. "...it would be a factor to cause people to walk away from things like Second Life." Try searching for Wicca on Second Life - you'll find that there are a bevy of groups there *precisely* for religion.

doublenix
doublenix

I don't mind if a religious organization goes on there, sticks to their own little community and doesn't interfere with anyone else. However, saying that you're going to do 'mission work' in virtual worlds is a big difference. That means you could be flying around, minding your own business, and someone flies up to you talking about the joys of being Catholic and telling you how you should become one. People go to virtual worlds to get away from the real one. When I'm trying to relax, I don't want to be accosted about something I have no interest in. What's the next step? The Catholic Church making guilds in World of Warcraft? I don't need some level 42 Paladin telling me to join his religion. :P

faradhi
faradhi

Many times people do not feel comfortable exploring different religious beliefs. This may be because of family, religious, political, or other social pressures. A virtual world may provide an individual a relatively anonymous venue to explore other religions safely. Further, I think the door is already open. Like it was stated in another post in this thread, search for Wicca in Second life. That is a religion. Why shouldn't any other religion do the same? Finally, I understand you desire to not be proselytized to when you are trying to have fun. I am not familiar with the ins and outs of second life, so I have to ask, is there not an ignore? Can't you "walk" away? I am not condoning the behavior. I hate that knock on the door that I get every quarter or so when the Mormon church in the neighborhood has their kids start their missionary work.

doublenix
doublenix

So what 'mission work' would the Catholic Church, or any religious organization, have to do in a virtual world? There is no one 'in need' or less fortunate in a virtual world. Unless helping out begging 'noobs' is worth of the church's attention, the only other business to be had regarding mission work would be preaching to others. There are some religion organizations/denominations/etc that do tend to be more intrusive in their tactics, I'll agree with that. However, this is another concern. If the Catholics Church gets involved in activities like this, it opens the doors for other groups to get involved as well. I for one do not want to be approached by *anyone* about religion in a virtual world, unless it is an 'in-game' type organization.

faradhi
faradhi

Mission work in the catholic church is far different than other Christian Religions. I have never heard of any group in the Catholic Church going door to door or preaching on the street, etc. Usually, mission work in the Catholic Church revolves around helping the less fortunate and sharing religious beliefs only when asked. We are certainly no where near as intrusive as the Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses, or Southern Baptists.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Tiny little Rome controls the planet.

faradhi
faradhi

It is entirely appropriate for a company to specify what an employee can or cannot do on a company computer or on company time. That is, of course, as long as the employer applies the policy equally. If you want to proselytize on Second Life, do it on your own time. Aside from that the company has no authority. That said, in my opinion and as a Catholic, I think it is a good idea for God to be present in all aspects of human life virtual or otherwise. I am not one to proselytize but it might be a place where one could explore other religions in relative anonymity. Especially when they practice a religion that is resistant or sometimes hostile to other religious ideas. There will be a huge burden on the church, Catholic or otherwise, that chooses to engage Second life or some other virtual world. There must always be a presence 24/7 in the location(s) chosen to protect from those who would give false information about church beliefs. Further, the church must maintain the presence as long as the virtual world exists. They cannot do it half a$$ed. Additionally, In the case of the Catholic church the individual should be well versed in the Catechism and the biblical basis of the Catholic church. Of course the same should be said for other religions minus the Catechism. -edited to add the subject because TR's new "Feature" that does not allow us to put a subject in at the time of posting.

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

Sorry, but I thought that God was the virtual one!

learush
learush

Has your company formalized how employees may worship on line?

roarkh
roarkh

I'm not sure what the connection is between the the church being active in SecondLife and my company's workplace policies regarding worship. My company has no specific policy regarding online worship as far as I know but it is of course improper to use company equipment during working hours to access SecondLife for non work purposes no matter what reason I may have for going to SecondLife. In terms of whether it is appropriate for the church to get involved in SecondLife or not I say absolutely. While most people think of SecondLife as a game I would dispute that, SecondLife is a virtual environment where all the content is created by the users. As long as a user wants to create something on his own land in SecondLife and no laws are being violated then of course that should be allowed, that is what SecondLife is all about. It is also what free speech and freedom of expression is all about, anyone that has stated the church has no place in SecondLife in this thread is clearly against the principals of free speech and free expression, I can tell you that personally I am much more offended by that then by the chance that someone may want to talk to me about a religion I don't believe in or don't want to hear about.

mbrello
mbrello

I am not against the principles of free speech and expression. In fact, as an American, I value those rights. Moreover, I myself am a Christian - born and raised Southern Baptist - so I have no qualms with religion either. Regarding Second Life (hereinafter "SL") specifically, I would agree that it is probably appropriate for the Church to be involved since SL is supposed to mimic real life. However, my general belief is that the Church should concentrate on real life and let online gaming be what it was intended to be: fantasy-based entertainment.

JFTierney.KJMC.CIS
JFTierney.KJMC.CIS

We do not have a policy regarding online worship. We do however prohibit the use of institution equipment, systems, and email for non-work related purposes. We restrict access to sites such as Second Life, shopping, webmail, and such for reasons of lost productivity, bandwith, information and network security. An argument was made for lunch hour activity, but it was found that individuals tended to extend their lunch period well beyond the alotted time.

Redcell
Redcell

It seems that most of the posters missed that part of the question. Second life is a game and access to it probably should be blocked in the workplace. Religion however is a very broad term for activities these days and may or may not need to be blocked or filtered in the workplace. I think it still comes down to work ethics. Employees either have them or they don't. A slacker is a slacker is a slacker whether they waste time online or in the smoke area or in the breakroom.

Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

Doing anything online that isn't business related is not acceptable while one is at labor. During breaks or lunch, some leeway is permitted, but not much. I don't know if sites that cater to online worship would be permitted by our filters. Our company does not discourage Bible study and allows groups to use available conference rooms for that purpose.

TechinMN
TechinMN

I fail to see how the article and this question relate. However, I guess you could say they _have_ formalized how employees worship online insofar as they are prohibited from engaging in non-work-related activities like this on line. That's not political, that's just common sense: why should a company have to pay you to worship on their time? It shouldn't, end of story. That said, I have to agree with other posters that there should be no reason for the church NOT to be out there. Since the goal of Second Life is to mimic life, then having religions present is totally in line with said goal and appropriate. (Along with politics, crime, sports, porn, etc...) In the end, though, what's the big deal? If it becomes an issue, folks should focus on their First (aka 'Real') Life rather than get their knickers in a bunch over something that is as fake and contrived as the last video game they were playing.

m.verhoef
m.verhoef

nice bowl of spaghetti during our lunch breaks ;-) Personally, I feel neither religion nor second life has anything to do with work.

barbara.webb
barbara.webb

I'm not sure why you would care that companies may block the religious content when Second Life is certainly not something that should be an activity completed while at work. Second life is a virtual world where you can live out as yourself or as an alter being. Either way, it should include the choice of church so that it could reflect the interests of everyone. My second life would be best with God involved I'm sure.

JohnBoehlke
JohnBoehlke

That is the very first thing that came to my mind when I read this item. It seems you are the fisswt and maybe the only one to raise the question. Good Job

Redcell
Redcell

It seems that most of the posters missed that part of the question. Second life is a game and access to it probably should be blocked in the workplace. Religion however is a very broad term for activities these days and may or may not need to be blocked or filtered in the workplace. I think it still comes down to work ethics. Employees either have them or they don't. A slacker is a slacker is a slacker whether they waste time online or in the smoke area or in the breakroom.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

Second Life is rife with all kinds of social activity, be it legitimate, illegitimate, moral or imoral. Companies are establishing commerical beacheads. I thought the whole concept of a "virtual universe" was supposed to be inclusiveness? So why shouldn't religion be there too?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Several posts here raise the possibility that religious activity in Second Life may cause a decline in the number of participants. Sounds like a good thing to me...