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Religion Finds Home On IPhones, Social Networks
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Religion Finds Home On IPhones, Social Networks
Religion Finds Home On IPhones, Social Networks
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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Maybe you've been inspired by the holidays to reconnect with your faith. Well, technology is making that easier. You could call it religion 2.0.

Jessica Alpert has our story.

Mr. RICK WARREN (Minister, Saddleback Church): Well, hello, everybody.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. WARREN: Wow, it's good to see you. If you'll take out your Bibles and your message notes in front of you�

JESSICA ALPERT: It's another Sunday morning at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Southern California. It's not just the printed page congregants are holding. Some have the entire Bible on their iPhone. In fact, there are over two dozen available Bible apps. Beyond scripture, people are using these gadgets for devotional purposes. Dave and Jackie Brown had been praying the rosary in their daughter Isabella's hospital room. But her cancer treatment made her sensitive to light.

Mr. DAVE BROWN: And so we looked at on these iPhones in our hand and we said, gee, wouldn't it be great if we could, you know, put the rosary right on here so we wouldn't have a light on during the night when we're, you know, sitting there in Isabella's hospital room?

ALPERT: So the Browns created the iRosary, combining onscreen beads with a prayer book.

Mr. BOBBY GRUENEWALD (Pastor, LifeChurch.tv): We believe that technology can bring people closer together and closer to God.

ALPERT: That's Bobby Gruenewald, a pastor at LifeChurch.tv. LifeChurch brings worship services to approximately 60,000 computer screens each week. Gruenewald tries to allay fears of social and religious isolation by pointing to telephones and VCRs.

Mr. GRUENEWALD: When they were invented, people made these bold predictions that people are no longer going to need to meet with each other. But we have enough history now to look back and say that humans are actually pretty capable of integrating technology into their lives.

ALPERT: Religious Jews have long experimented with ways to maintain their observance despite the advent of technology. Chabad Lubavitch's askmoses.com allows visitors to chat with a Jewish scholar 24X6, that's every day except on the Sabbath. Rabbi Simcha Backman says the Web site is a form of outreach.

Rabbi SIMCHA BACKMAN (Director, askmoses.com): We don't claim to replace human connection or human interaction. Our claim is that we're another level that can actually help a person reach a goal that otherwise may be impossible without this.

ALPERT: Technology is producing a new form of religious interaction. Whether it's an application that sounds the Muslim call to prayer or a podcast of your favorite preacher, observance and community is quite literally at your fingertips.

For NPR News, I'm Jessica Alpert.

NORRIS: And Jessica has put more information about religious apps and Web sites on our All Tech Considered blog, that's npr.org/alltech.

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