Confession is just a keypad away

Confession websites overall have too few visitors for the minimum counts monitored by Internet tracking firms, but Lassally says her sites generate more than 100,000 unique visitors a month.

"As a group, it is growing, but it's growing from a very small number," says Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at New York measurement firm Hitwise.

He says among almost 20 confession sites reviewed, there has been a 139% growth in online traffic in a year's time.

A trailblazer in these sites premiered in 2000 as It gets about 200 confessions daily. The 4,500-confession backlog is because the statements are vetted before posting, says creator Greg Fox of Orlando. He says every confession is reviewed for content with light editing for typos. Sexually graphic statements or gratuitous foul language are not posted.

Most of the sites encourage reader comments, but does not.

Troy Gramling, pastor of the non-denominational Flamingo Road Church in Cooper City, Fla., launched the website to coincide with a teaching series on confession over Easter weekend.

Since then, the evangelical church site has generated more than 12,000 confessions and has logged almost 200,000 page views.

Most of the confessions are about sex.

"Sex is a big deal in the sense it's everywhere," he says. "It's only natural that if you have a confession site, that's what a lot of people are in bondage to — a lot of sexual experiences."

While Gramling's site is affiliated with his church, traditional confession among Roman Catholics (known as "reconciliation") seems to be declining.

A poll of 1,260 U.S. Catholics last spring by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., found just 2% receive the sacrament once a month or more; 14% receive it once a year; and 42% do not receive it at all.

There's an overall greater tolerance in society, which on the downside also has translated into a diminishing sense of sin, says David Roozen of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.

"It's easy for them to convince themselves that what they did is not that bad," he says.

READERS: Where do you confess and why? Online? To a priest? To family and friends? Share your experiences.

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