As part of an effort to reduce noise in Ghana’s capital, Accra, the environment minister has suggested that the Muslim call to prayer, normally broadcast over loudspeakers across the city, should instead be sent out on WhatsApp. The notion has proved immensely unpopular – not least because it equates the call to prayer with noise pollution. But it also highlights religion’s growing, if sometimes uneasy, reliance on tech.
Contactless collection Catholic and Protestant churches in the UK have begun using contactless card readers for donations and other payments, hoping to make life easier for parishioners who may not be carrying cash. A contactless collection plate is being trialled by the Church of England, but it is being held up because it is feared the technology might slow things down.
The confession app Confession (version 2.1) walks sinners through the business of confession, pings you push notifications when it’s time for your next shriving and includes a handy sin checklist in case you have forgotten what you’ve done wrong. What it doesn’t do is offer absolution. You still need a priest for that.
Televangelist tech American TV preachers tend to be at home in the digital realm, particularly those espousing “prosperity theology”, which holds that God rewards the pious with material wealth. It works for them, anyway. Controversial televangelist Joel Osteen’s free app offers daily devotional messages and sermons. And Creflo Dollar’s latest app boasts a “give” feature that makes handing your money over to Creflo A Dollar Ministries as easy as gambling.
Webcast rites Funerals broadcast online are at least a decade old. Many UK crematoria now offer it as part of the package, and rabbis and vicars routinely officiate at live-streamed services. It is not quite the same as being there, but in many cases it’s probably preferable.
Halal apps There are several apps that help Muslims find halal restaurants and stores in the immediate area . There is even one – Scan Halal – that allows you to scan the barcode of any food in a supermarket to instantly determine whether it contains non-halal ingredients. Online reviews for this idea are decidedly mixed.