Beliefnet.com, a leading Web site for faith, inspiration, and spirituality, is testing a social networking site.
Beliefnet announced Monday that it had launched a beta service for social networking that will bring together religious devotees, spiritual leaders, and faith-based groups. Beliefnet Community plans to offer resources for study, inspiration, entertainment, and interaction.
The effort targets the estimated 82 million Americans who regularly perform spiritual and religious activities online, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. It offers a safe gathering place on the World Wide Web where individuals and groups can enhance real-world connections and experiences. Beliefnet Community urges members of book clubs, support groups, Bible study, and fan clubs to join by creating their own Web sites, calendars, discussion forums, and content feed.
"Social networks aren't just about dating or bands anymore, they've evolved into powerful and very real communities," Steven Waldman, editor-in-chief and CEO of Beliefnet.com, said in a statement.
He said the online community wants to provide a "spiritual home," where beliefs and values can be safely explored and shared by people of all faiths."
Small World Labs of Austin, Texas, a social networking software company, developed Beliefnet Community's technology. The site has partnered with authors, organizations, and publishers to allow users to customize profile pages and journal entries with writings and radio segments for reflection, inspiration, guidance on family issues, and spiritual insights. That site encourages people of all faiths, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and others.
Beliefnet Community offers several designs for user pages, as well as video and photo sharing, search functions, invitation tools, award-winning content from Beliefnet.com, donation tools, privacy controls, and a "faith filter" that allows people to mingle with others who share their specific faith.