But, ultimately, he said, Facebook isn't a substitute for face-time, especially in the Jewish faith, which has such a strong tradition of gathering in person. "There's so much virtual life out there already; people are looking for something real," he said.
As for InformationAgePrayer.com, the new Web site that automates prayer, he said, "I think that prayer is about heightening our awareness about the world around us and continuing to reinforce our relationship with God. And I don't think that having a computer recite our prayers for us accomplishes either of those goals."
James Clement van Pelt, program coordinator for Yale Divinity School's Initiative in Religion, Science and Technology, said churches that embrace the technology have found considerable success. But he and connected members of the clergy believe that even as technology changes the way people express their faith, virtual churches will never replace brick-and-mortar ones.
"People are always looking for guidance," van Pelt said. "When people have questions, they look for sources of guidance. I think that's not going to change."