Who in their right mind would place spyware on church software? Symantec should have considered this question after its Norton Antivirus product (wrongly) identified a file that's integral to the Church of England's Visual Liturgy software as spyware, because once users deleted the (supposed Sniperspy) file, it rendered Visual Liturgy useless. Check out the news story: "Symantec labels church software as spyware."
According to David Green, the outgoing new media manager for Church House Publishing (the publishing arm of the Church of England), "Up to 4,500 churches with approximately half-a-million churchgoers have been badly affected by this... Usually, it takes a lot to get a clergyman upset, but we have had a fair few on the phone. There's been no talk of smiting yet, but we'll wait and see."
Exactly how important is this software? "Visual Liturgy contains all of the authorized liturgy for the Church of England. Vicars use the software to choose services, plan Bible readings, and create booklets."
This story actually makes me a little sad, because religion used to be based on peoples' reliance on faith - not software. Before the computer came along, vicars, bishops, priests, and ministers would spend their time "thinking" about their services and readings. Now, software does most of the thinking for them. Sure, it's great that software can help save them time and make their jobs easier, but it would be nice to know that they still can perform their work (and happily, at that) if software is taken out of the equation.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.