The Correlation between Internet use and Religion


Sam Wilson

In the past 20 years, the amount of people who directly associate with a religion has been steadily decreasing. New studies from Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion have linked an increased internet use to less religious affiliation. The head of the study, Paul K. McClure said “In my own life, I’ve noticed the drastic impact that technology from the past 20 years has had on our social lives, so I started wondering, how might the internet influence religious beliefs, practices, and institutions?” Well, It turns out that it does, but not totally. 1,714 US adults were surveyed, and increased internet use led to reduced likelihood of religious affiliation, but not decreased amount of activities. Effectively, if someone was already religious then they did not practice less because of internet use.

Another interesting result of the study was that subjects who used the internet more were less likely to be ‘religious exclusivists. Meaning they were open to different religious views. This study does correlate with the rise in atheists and agnostics in the modern world, but a lot of the people who weren’t ‘religious’ said they believe in god or they are ‘spiritual’. When asked why people might be less affiliated with a church due to internet use, McClure said  “Today, perhaps in part because many of us spend so much time online, we’re more likely to understand our religious participation as free agents who can tinker with a plurality of religious ideas — even different, conflicting religions — before we decide how we want to live,”