Religious Pilgrimage to Second Life
You’re not safe from the Good News it seems, as Jesuit Missionaries make their way onto Second Life to save more souls. Writing in Rome-based journal La Civilta Cattolica, Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit academic, cites the popular MMO as a valuable resource for spreading the word of God.
Religion has become a growing presence on Second Life, with much religious diversity and participation taking off after membership became free in June.
The first virtual synagogue, Synagogue-Temple Beit Israel, already boasts a congregation of 200+ members. Those currently using Second Life to attend religious rites sing praises of its ability to conquer geographical boundaries. Even if you’re the only Muslim in the village, you’ll be able to keep your faith alive along with others in Second Life.
The opportunities for inter-religious discussion can be a great thing to come out of the diversity appearing in Second Life. However, much like in real life, religion in the virtual world is prone to intolerance. Religious harassment has ranged from naked avatars sitting on the Koran to a swastika painted on the synagogue.
But it was only a matter of time before the evangelical outreach-types exploited it as potential mission territory. I’m not sure if they expect to receive something other than the usual door-slammed-in-the-face treatment online; that people are somehow more open and willing to new ideas in a virtual world.
We need to look at what people really want to get out of their Second Life experience, and whether religious Enlightenment is on their list.