Selling God on the Net: Beliefnet's Affinity Group

Paul Harvey

Ever wondered about the philosophy and business model of the spirituality catch-all website And who exactly owned it anyway?

Yeah, neither did I. Whatever, dude.

But actually, the story is quite fascinating, as it turns out, and Mark Oppenheimer explains it in today's NY Times religion column. You won't be surprised to hear that Rupert Murdoch makes an appearance, if only (this time) to sell; apparently keeping Fox News fair and balanced (paleo-, neo-, and tea-party-o conservatism are all represented in all their glorious diversity!) and covering the deficits wracked up by the expensive purchase of the Wall Street Journal (which I actually do read and enjoy, thanks to their selling subscriptions for a relative pittance of frequent flyer miles), is taking his time. Anyway, a brief taste of this very interesting article:

Rupert Murdoch sells topless Page 3 girls to England, and he sells “fair and balanced” television commentary to America. But until last week, his most eccentric product was

On June 25, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation sold the pioneering religion Web site to the owners of Affinity4, a company run by evangelical Christians and, according to its Web site, is dedicated to “the sanctity of the family.” It is another owner and another incarnation for Beliefnet, an online magazine that has survived since 1999 by nurturing every aspect of our conflicted spirituality. It has united angels and yoga, monotheism and meditation. Beliefnet has become America.

Today, the story continues, 15 million subscribers receive one or more of Beliefnet's 23 newletters. I probably ought to subscribe to this one: "Weight Loss With Norris" (would that be Chuck, or J. Frank? Hell, what's the difference?). Hey, whatever works.

Beliefnet's current director plans to continue "leading folks in every one of the multifaith categories." Sounds like it's time for me to re-read my good ol' classic text R. Laurence Moore, Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture. If that's not a good way to spend a 4th of July, what is?


Matt Sutton said…
Paul--it has to be J. Frank. But when exercising, make sure the gun in his desk ain't loaded.
Paul Harvey said…
Sutton: Chuck and J. Frank, mano-e-mano. What a duel that would be!

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