And the Lord said, “Let there be free wifi.”
On May 13, a group of evangelical Protestant churches in east Germany announced plans to provide free internet in 3,000 churches and religious buildings throughout the region. “Godspot,” as the service is being called, is offered by Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Oberlausitz (EKBO), a regional wing of the country’s main Protestant church, and is already up and running in over 220 churches. Ecumenical by design, Godspot is available to all who wander in or come near its places of worship—including the country’s large population of atheists and agnostics.
The service was launched in advance of the 500th anniversary of theologian Martin Luther’s infamous protest of corrupt practices by the Catholic clergy, which ultimately led to the Protestant Reformation. The event will be commemorated across Germany next year. The wifi service is also a strategic move to draw young people back into Germany’s glorious, but mostly underutilized, churches and cathedrals.
EKBO’s IT manager Fabian Blatner says Godspot aligns with the church’s mission to foster community.
“People are no less spiritual than before,” Blatner believes, “but the places of communication have shifted. Much takes place in digital social networks and communities. With Godspot we want to build a Protestant Church [that serves as] a safe and familiar abode in the digital world.” EKBO says Godspot’s connections will be secure and it will not be collecting any information about users or bombarding them with ads. Well, except for a landing page featuring “topics of faith and life.”
Godspots, which are indicated by purple banners and posters outside churches, are also a blessing to many tourists who find it challenging to access free wifi public hotspots in German cities. As Motherboard reports, Germans have been extra cautious about opening their networks because of a soon-to-be-abolished law called Störerhaftung, that holds businesses accountable for any data piracy or illegal activity that takes place while users are connected to their hotspots.