Cyberanthropology: "Second Life is their only chance to participate in religious rituals"
You can light virtual candles for Shabbat, teleport to a Buddhist temple or consult the oracle for some divine guidance. In Second Life, an online virtual universe with 3.7 million users, religious diversity and participation have skyrocketed. For some people, Second Life is their only chance to participate in religious rituals according to the Washington Post.
Anthropologist Tom Boellstorff is going to publish a book on "cybersociality" in Second Life called "Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human." The avatar of the anthropologist (Tom Bukowski) has an office there, "Ethnographia," where you can visit him. These emerging virtual worlds pose fundamental challenges to anthropological theory, he writes on his website. "We are witnessing the birth of a significant new modality of human interaction."
He expected -- but hasn't found any evidence -- that Second Life would foster relationships among far-flung members of minority faiths. But the game does seem to be sparking community among followers of more mainstream faiths like among Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Washington Post also writes about Yunus Yakoub Islam who is writing his dissertation on religion in Second Life and runs Second Faith, an educational resource about religion in Second Life. Islam believes he's the only Muslim in his village in England and uses Second Life to interact with more than 200 members of the game's Islamic Society.