Religious Cultures

Parallel with the link between cyberspace and gender relations, cyberspace is either democratizing or reinforcing traditional lines of religious authority depending on how it is used. Virtual communities, for example, offer a liberative “sacred space and time” in the context of religious repression. In Malaysia, the DiscipleSFX, a virtual community led by a woman, offers a “counter-discourse and praxis” by embracing all regardless of creed, and by exposing the systematic discrimination of other religions and races in the country (Bong). Cheong notes though that while the web has fostered the emergence of new online religious authorities (including women), established leaders or institutions as the Church may also maintain unilateral power by disenabling interactive features lessening the possibility of comments and feedbacks. In opposition to the early 1990s theory that stressed the radical distinction between the virtual and the real, both Bong and Cheong recognize how online and offline time-spaces are mutually constitutive.

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