AbstractBeginning in the early 1970â€™s with the invention of the microprocessor, mass use of information technologies worldwide coincided with the appearance of a nodally-linked network of digital interconnectivity, or â€˜network societyâ€™ (Castells, 1996). The network societyâ€™s exponential growth correlates with a rise in use of digital networking media by various sects and denominations of the Christian religion. Today, growing numbers of Christian organizations integrate digital media into both their approach to worship and the dissemination of the Holy Scriptures. This paper argues that the use of digital media by these organizations is indicative of the creation of a â€œreligious network societyâ€ exhibiting identical structural paradigms to Castellsâ€™ (1996) network society. By virtue of the media deployed within it, the â€˜religious network societyâ€™ fosters a mass culture of digital participation characterized by a rapid fragmentation of religious messaging and an over-sharing of personal religious beliefs. However, the religious network society also erodes Christianityâ€™s hierarchical structures of authority (Turner, 2007). It is argued that these structures are being replaced with a banal form of religion emphasizing spirituality and individual self-expression at the expense of tradition (Campbell, 2012; Hjarvard, 2013). Moreover, purpose alterations to Christianityâ€™s authority structures and approach to worship are indicative of a much larger shift in the religion, in which rising digital media use may in fact imply a decline in Christianityâ€™s societal influence.
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