God trumps money online, a study released Sunday found, as more adult Americans use the Internet for religious purposes than for gambling, banking or trading stocks.
One out of four adult American Internet users, roughly 28 million, have sought out religious or spiritual information online, according to a study released Sunday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
Each day, more than 3 million U.S. adults find religious information online, up from 2 million last year.
But U.S. churches and synagogues are unlikely to empty out any time soon, said report author Elena Larsen, as Web surfers tend to use the Internet for solitary activities like research rather than joining chat rooms or other communal activities.
"Almost all of them already belong to some sort of congregation," Larsen said. "They're not replacing things people do in groups."
Those engaged in religious activities online are more likely to search for educational or reference material (69 percent) or research other faiths (50 percent) than offer spiritual advice through e-mail (35 percent) or seek it out (21 percent), the study found.
Those most active online are also most active offline in their congregations, Larsen said.
Internet religion seekers are more likely to belong to an organization like a church or synagogue and attend services weekly than the population as a whole, and are more likely to describe their religious faith as "very strong," the report said. Eighty-six percent said they prayed or meditated every day.
The Internet is not likely to change the views of the 14 percent of U.S. population with no religious affiliation, Larsen said.
"It's supplementing, it's augmenting" users' religious lives, she said.