Anglicans delight in prayers on the Internet

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Anglicans around the world have been criticising drafts of a series of early morning prayers for BBC Radio 4 which have been circulated over the Internet.

Roger Steer, a writer living in Crediton, Devon, who broadcasts regularly on Prayer for the Day on Radio 4 at 6.25am, has circulated drafts of three prayers around an Anglican mailing list on the Internet, and had responses from Mexico, Australia, Canada, and the US.

However, only one reader, a Yorkshire mathematician, suggested changes: Sallie Basham pointed out two doubles entendres in his second prayer about the 17th century poet and priest, George Herbert. These were excised before the prayers were submitted to the BBC, which will broadcast them in mid- August.

The Anglican mailing list has about 800 members around the world, most of whom delight in the exercise of their opinions. It is only a small part of the religious scene in cyberspace, which is very active: at the last count the word "God" appeared more than 1.4 million times on the World Wide Web. Almost every religious grouping from worshippers of Tibetan deities to Benedictine monks has its own special interest mailing list to exchange comments with fellow believers.

The international Anglican list is one of the most active. Up to 100 messages a day greet the members when they read their e-mail, and these can cover every topic under the sun. As well as perennial favourites such as homosexuality, the priesthood, and the authority of the Bible, the list members have in the last couple of weeks discussed Latin grammar, English football, and recipes for anointing oil, as used by the Russian Orthodox patriarchate in Moscow.