One of the oldest institutions that we have used as a place of social gathering and interaction has been the church. While church membership has fallen slightly in recent years, the Internet has been a revival for religious organizations. Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville SC downloaded 80,000 Internet sermons last year from their site (Hills, 2003). Many of these surfers would probably have never set foot inside a church. According to The Barna Group, by 2010 as many as 50 million Americans will rely on the Internet as their sole religious contact (as cited in Hills, 2003). Though the Internet has the power to move more people toward religion, it is clearly moving them away from the church and away from the social setting that was important for conversation and local news in previous decades.
Just as the Internet can deliver religion to the people, it also has the capacity to deliver people to politics. Political contributions, debate, and interaction have soared in recent years. The Internet has made vast quantities of information instantly available for anyone who cares to search for it and has the potential to create a new form of electronic democracy. Yet, with all this information available, it is still incumbent upon the user to seek it out, read it, and digest it. Polat (2005) suggests that we are suffering from information overload and says we "[...] may become dependent on others to evaluate the available information" (p. 438).