I’m unhappy with beliefnet.com. As you may know, beliefnet is a website seeking to promote spirituality — or make money off of it. Their catchline is “Inspiration. Spirituality. Faith.” Below is beliefnet‘s mission statement:
Our mission is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.
There are several blogs hosted on beliefnet’s website, and they vary a great deal as to their subject matter, intended purpose, and religious affiliation. My favorite two blogs on their site (the only two I read, or probably would ever read) are Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed and Jason Boyett’s O Me of Little Faith. I have at one time subscribed to both of these Christian blogs, and enjoy reading the authors’ thoughts on faith and Christianity. But I’ve got a beef.
My disapproval of, and irritation with, beliefnet does not lie in that they house information, articles, and blogs with subjects ranging from Christianity to horoscopes and astrology to self-help to Hinduism and Islam. While I’m not at all a fan, my grievances are also not related to the fact that beliefnet houses pages for celebrity quotes, a blog called “Idol Chatter,” and a quiz that tells you what archangel you are. And if you answer just 20 quick questions, the “Belief-O-Matic,” offers what religion you should practice, in case you’re not already practicing one. As ridiculous as some of this is, these are not my problems with the website.
I have two bones to pick with beliefnet:
1. One of my favorite bloggers, Jason Boyett, just moved over to beliefnet — a move which I don’t like, but is Boyett’s prerogative. He wants to build his readership and increase his presence on the web. I read blogs through a feed reader for three reasons — 1) it consolidates, and puts in one easy-to-reach location, all the blogs I want to read, 2) it saves me a lot of time because, rather than visiting each individual blog to see if there are new posts, my feed reader automatically loads them as they’re published, and 3) because of the way my internet works in Tanzania, not having to download each of those sites, with all of their pictures and advertisements, saves me a great deal of money.
Beliefnet will not allow Jason Boyett’s blog posts to enter my feed reader in their entirety. I can only read the first 3 or 4 lines. They want me to click over and read the rest at their site — so I can see their various ads. Several of us asked Jason whether he could do anything about the partial feeds. Below is his response:
Hey, everyone. Thanks so much for stopping by. To those of you who are less-than-thrilled about the RSS partial feed situation, I share your less-than-thrilledness. I’ve voiced my displeasure about this issue to the team at Beliefnet, but it’s out of my control. They prefer that you read the post here at the site so your eyeballs will see the lovely ads.
I know. A big change and not one I’m happy with. But at this point I’m not sure there’s much I can do about it other than apologize and beg you to click on through.
If you can’t, I understand, and I get it. Thanks for reading up to this point.
Now, beliefnet has every right to do this. But I don’t like it, and I won’t do it. I’m also frustrated that they allow Scot McKnight’s feed to show entire posts — while asking me to read Jason’s O Me of Little Faith on their website. Why the double standard? As much as I have enjoyed it, I’m not reading Jason’s blog anymore. I have a feed reader for a reason.
2. I know beliefnet is a site trying to make money, and that they are a multi-faith site. So I expect there to be some ads in which I may have absolutely no interest. But a few of these advertisements, the assumptions on which they’re based, and the photos which they include, seem to be contrary to most (if not all) faiths represented at beliefnet.
Right now, the advertisements on O Me of Little Faith show a couple of overweight women in underwear and two other sexy, attractive women in skimpy bikinis (I will not post the pictures on my site for you to see — I was somewhat hesitant to even call attention to them). The promoted company offers “2 Tips to a Flat, Sexy Stomach” and promises you can lose 47 pounds of stomach fat in 1 month by following one simple rule. The photos are said to be “before” and “after.”*
This from a company whose mission is to help you find “a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.” Can we be honest, beliefnet, and explain that our mission is to make money off the millions searching for spiritual direction and answers? And that we don’t mind also taking cash from women unhappy with their physical appearance — even though most any spiritual path would suggest this is not where we find true beauty or real happiness?
Down with beliefnet.
* I noticed Scot McKnight’s blog doesn’t contain pictures of scantily clad women. I didn’t look to see if women were baring their bodies on the Muslim pages and blogs. But I think Mr. Boyett got a bum deal, and I hope beliefnet will one day change their policy (which is only in place for some) so that I can read his blog again.