Picture: Dmytro Tokar/iStock
Picture: Dmytro Tokar/iStock

In order to better connect with young people, Christian churches in Germany are introducing free wifi - or 'Godspots'.

500 years after Martin Luther revolutionised Christianity, Protestants in Germany are planning to resist declining attendance by providing free wifi to the congregation, Motherboard reports.

Unlike other nations such as the UK, Germany has very few places that citizens can access wifi. According to a study by the Association of the Internet Industry, we have 28 times more hot spots than Germany.

In particular, the effort will focus on the areas that used to make up East Germany. The former communist controlled zone was purged of much of its religious iconography during 1945-1989, and has remained atheistic ever since. This includes parts of the capital city, Berlin.

Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty

In 2017 a pilot scheme consisting of 220 churches in the area will introduce free wifi, provided by der Evangelischen Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz (EKBO).

If successful this will be rolled out to 3,000 churches across the country. The network will be called 'Godspot', avoiding the problems that 'God 1', 'God Public' or 'God Private' might have caused.

EKBO's IT manager Fabian Blatner has explained the decision to push ahead with 'Godspot':

People are no less spiritual than before. But the places of communication have shifted and much takes place in digital social networks and communities. With Godspot we want to build a Protestant Church that is a safe and familiar abode in the digital world.

In part the reason why the Church is able to capitalise on patchy wifi is because of a German law which holds the operator responsible for any illegal activity carried out on the wifi network.

This raises some questions about whether or not 'Godspot' will employ a filter. The bible contains a lot of NSFW content (rape, slavery, pillaging and smiting to think of a few Old Testament tropes). However the new Telemedia Act will relax operator liability, removing the EKBO's selling point.

The pairing of technology with religious life is not a complete leap of faith - in 2015 The Verge reported on a surge in Christian apps.

Scripture app 'YouVersion' has been downloaded over 200 million times, and apps aren't just limited to e-book versions of the Bible. Christians can receive daily texts from Jesus from an app made by Catloaf Software LLC.

These innovations and technological incentives could help to reverse the declining attendance figures at churches, or pull in new congregations who are more tech savvy and seek a more interactive sermon.

Alternatively it could represent another white elephant campaign to reach out to the youth, like when a Berlin church held a Star Wars themed service to coincide with the franchise's latest release.

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