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Course : Mormonism and the Internet
Posted by : UtahValleyUniversity
Date posted :
Session 10: Panel Discussion Speakers: Jana Riess, Kristine Haglund, David Charles, Gideon Burton, and David Scott The internet has transformed the way we access information and express ourselves. Without the constraints that have shackled traditional media in the past, it allows information to flow more freely and more rapidly than ever before. This has not been lost among religious institutions which are increasingly adding the web to their communication strategies. In fact, in 2007, M. Russell Ballard of the LDS Church's Council of the Twelve challenged Church members to "join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration." Church members have taken up that challenge with vigor, flooding the internet with positive messages about their religion. Likewise, the institutional Church has strategically worked to positively shape its online image. The Washington Post recently called attention to the Church's online media strategy calling it "savvy and aggressive." Clearly the internet offers benefits to the Church in proselytizing and public relations. But it also presents challenges. For an institution that values single-purpose messaging, the chaotic nature of the internet defies correlation. Furthermore, the balkanized nature of the blogosphere challenges traditional ideals of religious community, permitting numerous Mormon discourse communities. And the internet allows detractors of Mormonism the same access as it does proponents. In this conference, we will reflect on evolving concepts of Mormon identity and community in the digital age.