Last week's New Technologies and Interdisciplinary Research on Religion was a fascinating collection of work in this area. Historians, data visualizationists, linguists, sociologists, economists, etc. presented on a wide range of topics which really worked well together. You can find our presentation here.
So after the last week of alcohol and drug related postings I guess you can say that we've found religion! Hallelujah! And returning to our earlier analysis of the cyberscapes of religion, the following three maps take a more fine grained look at representations of Christianity on the internet.
The first map displays references to four types of Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Protestant) at a global scale. Vivid patterns are visible on this map. References to "Catholic" dominate in many places. Of course, those who are making placemarks may be more likely to refer to a specific Protestant denomination (e.g., Methodist, Baptist, etc.) which would serve to overstate the level of Catholicism.
However, there are clear clusters of the three other types of Christianity. Most interesting is the fact that references to "Pentecostal" are more visible than references to "Catholic" in most parts of Brazil (and large parts of South America) despite the fact that almost three-quarters of Brazilians identify as being Catholics. Part of the issue is likely down to the fact that we thus far have confined our searches to English-language terms and are therefore missing out on all the references to Catholicism in Spanish. However, it is intriguing that Pentecostalism is so visible in Brazil (perhaps because it is rapidly growing in popularity in the region).
Taking a closer look at Europe, there is a fascinating split between Orthodox Eastern Europe, Protestant Germany, and Catholic everywhere else. In places such as the UK that contain more Protestants than Catholics it is likely that people aren't using the actual term "Protestant" as a signifier of their religion.
Too combat this issue of Protestantism being an overly general term that few people associated with, we also looked at a broader range of terms related to Christian denominations in the US and discovered patterns that are incredibly clear. Catholics are most visible in much of the Northeast and Canada, with Lutherans taking the Midwest, Baptists the Southeast, and Mormons unsurprisingly taking much of the mountain states. Methodists, interestingly, seem to primarily be most visible in a thin red line between the Southern Baptists and everyone else. The obvious (and farcical question) is against whom are they forming a defensive barrier?
Our readers might also be interested in the fact that there are parts of the country in which the Amish are most visible in religious cyberspaces: a somewhat surprising finding given the fact that they are not supposed to be using contemporary technology - let alone be annotating Google placemarks.