For twenty years Religion Online was moderated by William F. Fore. It came about when Fore taught at the United Theological College in Bangalore, India, during 1997. He discovered that books were almost impossible for students and professors to obtain. For example, a single copy printed in the USA cost about one-third of a professor's monthly salary. When Fore checked out religious resources on the Internet, he found that most sites only refer people to other sites. There were very few sites providing actual texts, and even fewer with scholarly material written by recognized scholars. So Religion Online was born on August 25, 1997.
In 2011 Dr. Fore gave Religion Online to the Claremont School of Theology. However, the school soon discovered it could not take responsibility, and at Dr. Fore’s request the site was returned to him. After a hiatus of several months Religion Online was lodged with a new web developer and its reliability became almost 100 per cent. Scholars continue to use the site at about 300,000 each month. As Dr. Fore approached 90 years of age, he is began looking for an organization or individual to take over the site.
In early 2017 Dr. Fore decided to hand over ownership of the site to a friend and colleague of many years, the Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera. A well known figure among leaders in the United Methodist Church, Dr. Castuera is a graduate of the School of Theology in Claremont, California.. He served as pastor of the Hollywood United Methodist Church for eleven years and was the first Mexican-American District Superintendent in the denomination. An accomplished preacher and author, he edited a collection of sermons related to the infamous Rodney King riots entitled, Dreams on Fire: Embers of Hope, which became one of the top ten religious books of 1992. Dr. Castuera currently serves as the Director of the Latin America Project of the Center for Process Studies at the Claremont School of Theology.
Religion Online is designed to assist teachers, scholars and general "seekers" who are interested in exploring religious issues. The aim is to develop an extensive library of resources, representing many different points of view, but all written from the perspective of sound scholarship. While the initial orientation has been to seek material written primarily from a Christian perspective, the ultimate aim is to broaden the scope to include material on all the world's major religions.
At present there are nearly 6.000 chapters, monographs, speeches and articles on line. Each year more than 1.7 million visitors download more than 7 million documents from this site, including requests from more than 400 colleges, universities and schools of theology in the United States, and another 200 throughout the world.
Religion Online was made possible by the voluntary services of its editors. From 1997 to 2017 William Fore was Senior Editor and maintained the web site. Support for the Internet Service Provider and other operational costs was provided for many years by a grant from the Claremont School of Theology. Otherwise, no money changes hands, either for services or for the use of documents. Since the site began, ten people have worked as volunteer editors, including three husband and wife teams:
Rev. Harry and Grace Adams
Rev. Ted and Winnie Brock
Rev. William E. Chapman
Rev. Dick and Sue Kendall
Rev. Herbert F. Lowe
Mr. Paul Mobley
Rev. John C. Purdy
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