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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why doesn't Catholicism Exist for Google?

This morning, while setting up a Google Group site for a local Catholic group, I discovered something very disturbing. When creating a Google Group you can assign your group under categories like subject matter, location, language, etc. Being a Catholic group, naturally I sought to categorize the group under "Catholic." But to my surprise, "Catholic" as a category doesn't exist. 

This led me to take a closer look at Google's Group Categories

The Topics List is ordered by the highest number within that category. These are the top level categories:

Computers (74419) 
Society (66522) 
Arts and Entertainment (63193) 
Recreation (62455) 
Schools and Universities (59878) 
Business and Finance (44309) 
People (41828) 
Science and Technology (31586) 
Other (27126) 
Health (24793) 
Home (14196) 
News (12636) 
Adult (1) 

Notice that "Religion" is not a top level category, but "Society" is.  "Society" strikes me as an odd top level category because it is so general and abstract. Wouldn't most of these top level categories qualify under the heading of "Society?" 

But "Society" is the second largest category of interest, so it MUST be an important top level category to organize groups under. Right?

So lets take a look at it.

Society - Religion and Spirituality (17784) 
Society - Education (6681) 
Society - Culture (6552) 
People (5933) 
Society - Politics (5798) 
Society - Activism (5437) 
Society - Celebrities (4627) 
Schools and Universities (4422) 
Arts and Entertainment (3838) 
Society - Issues (3736) 
Science and Technology (3082) 
News (2753) 
Recreation (2495) 
Business and Finance (2058) 
Health (2021) 
Society - Languages (1815) 
Society - Government (1775) 
Other (1708) 
Society - Law (1697) 
Computers (1617) 
Society - History (1443) 
Home (1187) 

The largest group Category topic under "Society" is "Religion and Spirituality"? Oh, now that is telling! Why wouldn't it be a top level category?

Lets have a look at the sub-sub level under Society-Religion and Spirituality (see here for complete list).

Society - Religion and Spirituality - Christianity (5466) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Islam (1685) 
People (1283) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Spirituality (1242) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Religious Education (782) 
Arts and Entertainment (559) 
Health (551) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Youth (507) 
Science and Technology (483) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Buddhism (480) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Philosophy of Religion (475) 
Recreation (464) 
Schools and Universities (429) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Paganism (355) 
Other (350) 
Society - Culture (339) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Meditation (325) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Hinduism (320) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Judaism (313) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - New Age (292) 
Society - Religion and Spirituality - Esoteric and Occult (290) 

Of course, "Christianity" is the largest category, but there isn't any further sub-categories for Catholicism, or Eastern Orthodox, or Evangelicalism, or Baptists, etc. to distinguish between the many and varied forms of Christianity. 

However, "New Age," "Esoteric and Occult," "Paganism," "Reincarnation," "Shaminism," "Gnosticism," "Pantheism," and "Satanism" each have their own categories despite the low number of groups in each. 

If you search for "Catholic" under google groups you get over 1,000 groups that would be categorized under this subject ("Baptist" has over 800).

This highlights a growing trend some websites where the very subject of Religion is relegated to the level of private hobby and not a subject on the level of Politics or Science. It simply is abscent. 

Have a look at YouTube's Channel Categories: 

Religion doesn't exist, yet if you search for "Autos & Vehicles" - a top category - you get 24,800 videos. If you search for "Religion" on YouTube, you get 179,000 videos; and for "Catholic" you get 60,600 videos. Yet "Religion" is not a top level category, infact, it is not a category at all on YouTube. 

I've noticed this on other websites, particularly news sites. 

The new-atheist narrative is that Religion is at best a quirky hobby and so should be categorized as such, nice for those who dig it but not a serious matter of public interest. 

This trend of removing Religion as a high level category of public interest seems to reflect this line of thinking. 

Has anyone else noticed this kind of thing?