Finding Religion on the Web

Mark Tauber ’90 has made the move from page to screen, leaving the publishing industry in the Bay area for Silicon Alley and the dot.com world in New York City. He became vice president for Web services at beliefnet.com in 1999 after doing public relations for Oxford University Press and HarperCollins for six years.

A Westmont graduate who majored in both religious studies and philosophy, Mark earned an M.Div. from Princeton Seminary in 1994. Just a few weeks before beginning a Ph.D. program in theology at the University of Chicago, he decided to take a break from academia.

“I had always been interested in public relations, so I decided to give it a try,” he explains. He moved to New York City to market Bibles and religious titles for Oxford University Press. After two years, Harper San Francisco recruited him to do similar public relations work. A division of HarperCollins, the company is the largest mainstream publisher of books on religion and spirituality. Their authors range from Billy Graham to retired Bishop John Shelby Spong to Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg.

“I had an opportunity to work closely with a number of writers, including Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, and that was a great experience,” he notes.

Then he met one of the founders of beliefnet.com and was intrigued with his plans for a Web site offering resources to all the major faiths. Mark accepted a job with the new company and helped bring the site online last January. Since its debut, beliefnet.com has become a leading religion and spirituality portal on the Web.

“I like the fact that Christians share this site with other believers,” he says. “Because they believe they know the truth, Christians don’t need to fear appearing side by side with other religions. Christians have often been marginalized in the mainstream media, but we make sure no one gets slighted at beliefnet. Our approach is providing a wide range of faith-related information, not telling people what to believe.”

According to Mark, the Christian content on the site is particularly strong and includes regular columns by evangelicals such as Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and writer Frederica Mathewes-Green.

Mark is excited about the service beliefnet.com offers to churches and other faith-related organizations. He has helped develop a technological platform that allows such groups to easily create and maintain their own Web sites for a nominal price. In addition to developing message boards and posting calendar information for their members, churches and others can receive up-to-date columns of their choice and other desired information from beliefnet.com. The site also provides free e-mail.

“I learned to seek truth at Westmont, where I read widely and developed critical thinking skills,” he says. “I believe in my work because I know it helps people who are seeking truth and wrestling with their faith. It’s exciting to see churches and other organizations reach out to new members through the Web and engage in on-line dialogues about their beliefs.”

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