Russian faithful flock to get 'sacred texts' on mobiles

Hundreds of faithful Orthodox Christians in Russia have signed up to a new service to receive "sacred texts" - short messages from the Bible sent to their mobile phones.

Nearly 3,000 subscribers have signed up for the service that sends excerpts from the Bible and other religious works, said Father Iosaph Sorokin of Voskresenie (Resurrection), the Moscow-based Orthodox youth group that launched the service last month.

"This is an opportunity to remind people of eternal values," he told AFP on Sunday, as new requests for subscriptions arrived on his mobile phone.

The project, dubbed the "Kind Word", offers the text messages for free and can be signed up to by sending a message to the group.

"We would like the subscription to grow, especially in Siberia and the Far East," said Sorokin, adding that uplifting text messages could help residents of Russia's remote regions in their daily lives.

Other religious groups have also co-opted modern technologies to reach out to the faithful with, for example, Roman Catholic mobile phone users in Europe able to subscribe to receive messages of daily guidance from the Pope.

The Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed a renaissance since the 1991 collapse of the officially atheist Soviet Union, with the Kremlin vigorously promoting ties between the Church and state.

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