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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended December 15, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 16Dec00

By Kent Larsen

Fears Over Commercialization Of Religon Led Church To Make Mstar Non-profit

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The proliferation of websites on religion has led to a similar proliferation of sites seeking to make a buck from those looking for spirituality on-line. And this commercialization led the LDS Church to change the development of Mstar, the company that manages its internet presence.

Set up in 1999 following the purchase of LDS book publisher Bookcraft and its sibling Infobases, Mstar was originally launched as a for profit business. But Church officials soon worried that a for profit business would commercialize the spiritual material they sought to provide. "[The commercialization of religion] is always a huge concern for us," said Franklin Lewis, Mstar's president.

Just a few months later, the Church changed Mstar from a for-profit business to a not-for-profit business, and since then it has tried to separate the company's for-profit activities from its spiritual activities. The for-profit activities include activities purchased from Infobases, such as the LDSWorld website. That website offers LDS-related materials for sale, and includes web versions of material sold elsewhere.

But Mstar also builds and maintains the LDS Church's main website, The material on that site includes Conference talks, the text of the Church magazines and background information about the Church, all for free. In one case, the company even brought some of the previously commercial material from the LDSWorld site and made it part of the website, eliminating the advertising on that material.

These articles also look at how other religions are struggling with the same issue of how to put spiritual material on the Internet without over-commercializing it. And the LDS Church is only one of many churches that have made major commitments to the Internet.

And many Internet users are looking for exactly that. The research company Barna Research Group estimates that 25 million people currently use the Internet to get religious information and expression, and a study by the Pew Internet &American Life Project indicates that 22% regularly get spiritual information from the Internet.


Religious E-Tailers Spread Faith On The Web
Techweb (VARBusiness) 14Dec00 I3
By Rich Cirillo: VARBusiness

Putting Faith In the Web
VARBusiness News 11Dec00 I1
By Rich Cirillo: VARBusiness
If you think TV evangelism commercializes religion, wait until you log on

Latter Day Saints--Living the Gospel Online
I1 VARBusiness News 7Dec00
By Rich Cirillo: VARBusiness
LavaStorm helps create complex site


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