"Christians and the Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 1, No. 10:  March 10, 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.

To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
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How can parents take advantage of all the rich and wholesome
resources available on the Internet and at the same time keep
pornography and other objectionable material from coming into
the home?  Are there ways to make the Internet "safe" for the
The answer to the last question is "Yes," and there are many
possible ways to work on accomplishing this goal!  One is
to make use of special software, such as Cyber Patrol, to
filter out unwanted material.  Another is to sign up with an
Internet Service Provider (ISP) that will filter out content
that is offensive in nature.  You can do either or both or
something else entirely.
The choice is yours as to what approach to take.  CATI's goal
is to provide information (and links to more information) to
help you make an informed decision.  In this issue and the
next we hope to look at some Internet Service Providers that
filter the content that enters the home from the Internet.
Although not the best solution for everyone, using such an ISP
may work better than parental control software for families
that include a computer-savvy teenage son or a Dad who wants
to protect himself as well as his family from involvement in
improper Internet activity.
If you want a list of ISPs that filter content, perhaps the
best place to start is Focus on the Family's CitizenLink
Research Paper "Family-Based Filtered Internet Service
Providers," which was released on February 25, 2000 (just
this past month!):
(Unfortunately, I discovered that helpful list only after I
had tracked down thirty-some such ISPs on my own the hard way
Incidentally, Focus on the Family has released half a dozen
CitizenLink Research Papers related to the Internet.  Here's
where you find them:
And here (in reverse chronological order) are the four Papers
released within the past four or five months:
Family-Based Filtered Internet Service Providers (Feb 25, 
Resources for Online Sexual Addiction (Feb 11, 2000) 
An Overview of Online Pornography (Nov 8, 1999) 
Making the Internet Family-Friendly (Nov 8, 1999) 
In addition to the Internet, CitizenLink Research Papers are
also available in the following areas:  Abortion, BioEthics,
Education, Euthanasia, Gambling, Homosexuality, Internet,
Liberty, Marriage, and Sex Education:
You can also find the current issue of Focus on the Family's
Citizen Magazine at this address:
Getting back to the topic ("ISPs that filter content"), let's
take a brief look at particular ISPs (including quotes from
their home site plus some comments from me).  I have had no
personal experience with any of these ISPs, and inclusion of
an ISP on my list does not necessarily constitute endorsement
of that Internet Service Provider.  Nevertheless, it is hoped
that the following information will be helpful.
Before you sign up with any ISP, you should be sure to check
it out thoroughly and ask lots of questions, making sure that
it will meet your needs and is exactly what you want.  (For
example, be sure that it offers a local access number that
you can use to connect to the Internet and that you will not
have to use a phone number that will cost you extra!)
Here's one ISP I found that Focus on the Family apparently
"1LORD.NET is a Filtered Internet Service Provider (ISP) that
believes that Jesus is the Lord over every part of a Christian
life, even the Internet....  We strive to live Romans 16:19
with this filtered service....  As an act of faith we donate
10% of every Dial Up and ISDN account to a Nonprofit Christian
Ministry of your choice because we believe that God multiplies
our giving and blesses those (you) that give."
"We are a national filtered internet provider offering
competitive pricing and all locations support 56K Flex V.90,
64K ISDN, 128K ISDN, and dual analog multilink technology.
Included services are E-Mail, FTP Web space with FrontPage
support and Family Friendly Filtered Access by N2H2."
Here's where you'll find information about N2H2 filtering
A+ Internet Filtering for Christians
    powered by Hedgebuilders.com
  http://www.hedge.org/ or
A+ Internet Filtering from Hedgebuilders is not an ISP, but
works with your current ISP (or at least with most ISPs,
including even Netzero.com and FreeAccess and, to a limited
extent, with AOL).
"HEDGEBUILDERS is a proxy based system. All filtering takes
place on our servers, not on your computer. Every time you
type in an Internet address, or click on a link to an Internet
address, or type in a word to search for, the address or word
you requested is routed past our servers where it is checked
against our block list. If your request is not on our list,
you proceed as normal to the site you requested. If your
request is on our list, you get a message stating that the
site you requested has been blocked along with an explanation.
Since we have lightning-speed computers and a super fast
connection to the Internet, the whole process of checking
your request takes less than a second once it reaches the
Here's where you'll find "Questions and Answers" on how
Hedgebuilders filtering works:
Note:  "... we make one "free LIFETIME hook-up" to our service
available to any pastor, minister, missionary, school, or
church, who wants it and will use it."
Note also:  "Our regular service fee for homes is $5 per month
with a $10 setup fee. For homeschoolers we have discounted the
rate to only $2 a month and we have reduced the setup fee to
(See below for a special offer for those who use ACFI.Net as
their ISP.)
ACFI.Net Internet Cooperative
"The Co-op is its members and we are unique on the Internet.
We are families and businesses that use the Internet because
of its incredible reach and resources, but want to take a
stand against the dark side of the web, while building the
Christian community online. As the largest non-profit
co-operative on the Internet, we have power - not only to buy
services and products at lower prices, but to influence the
laws and infrastructure of the web to make it a better place."
If I understand the situation correctly, ACFI.Net does not
automatically include family filtering, but it is available
if requested.  It is "a simple 5-minute process" to set up,
and "it is available for $2.00 a month to The-Word.Net /
ACFI.Net members for your first computer and only $1.00 a
month for each additional computer."  The filtering that is
provided is A+ Internet Filtering for Christians powered by
Hedgebuilders.com (described earlier in this article).
Agape Information Systems
Agape is "Christian-owned and operated...with over 1800
local numbers."  "Currently we have dialup access in all of
the continental (48) states, with access in every area code
available included in our dialup package."  
"Agape Information Systems was born four years ago by Paul
Anderson in his house. He, his wife and children had come home
from work one day to find that some workers that had been in
the house had accessed some pornography on their home computer
and left it on the screen for the children to see. At the
time, Paul went looking for a service or filter that would
block objectionable material and none was to be found. So,
being a Unix engineer, and having been on the Internet for a
number of years he decided to develop a filter to combat this
"Our filter was one of the first developed and is one of the
most robust around. We can block in over 22 categories and our
equipment could support up to 1,000,000 users concurrently
without any upgrade. There is no other filtered ISP that can
make this claim."
American Family Online
American Family Online is related to the American Family
Association, headed by Dr. Donald Wildmon:
The AFA is a "Christian organization promoting the Biblical
ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on
TV and other media."  If you are interested in learning more
about the American Family Association, you may want to take
a look at the AFA Journal:
Some background on Dr. Wildmon:  He founded the National
Federation for Decency in 1977, and is the author of a number
of books (now out of print), including The Case Against
Pornography, Don Wildmon:  The Man the Networks Love to
Hate, and The Home Invaders.
Angels Online
Angels Online is "A nonprofit Christian Internet service
provider," which makes use of "free server-based filtering
from Crosswalk.  It's free and it works whether you're
browsing the web with Netscape Communicator or Internet
Here's where you can find more information about Crosswalk's
approach to Internet filtering:
Note these comments from Crosswalk (a Christian Web site):
"Server-based filtering ... is generally only offered by
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or online access networks.
CrossingGuard is a server-based filtering option that does not
require users to select a specific ISP or access provider,
making it possible to choose the most economical ISP available
while still getting the safety and security of filtering."
Comments on other ISPs will have to wait until a later time,
but for now you can make use of Focus in the Family's list if
you would like to explore the subject further:
In addition, here are a few ISPs that filter Internet content
that do NOT appear (at this time) on Focus on the Family's
ChristianISP.net (Church USA Internet Ministries)
iSelect Internet
(to be continued, D.V., in the next issue of CATI)
Interested in sending an online greeting card to a friend on
the Internet?  Anita Hamilton had an interesting article on
"Online Greetings" in the March 22, 1999 issue of newsstand
edition of TIME Magazine.  But you don't have to go to the
library to check it out:  you'll find the TIME Digital version
of the same article online here:
Here's what she has to say about Blue Mountain Arts, which is
"a free site with more than 1,000 animated greetings for every
"There are dozens of free greeting-card sites online (...type
"electronic greeting cards" in the search box at yahoo.com for
lists), but Blue Mountain is by far the most popular. While
some sites can be a hassle..., Blue Mountain is refreshingly
simple.... Also, the site's quirky graphics and discreet ads
give it a homey feel."
It's simple to use the site: 
"...simply click on a holiday or occasion, pick a card you
like, fill in the names and e-mail addresses of yourself and
the recipient, and add a personal note. A preview option
allows you to see how your card will look and sound (and
check for typo's!). Then you're ready to send it."
Here's the address:
Blue Mountain Arts
I used Blue Mountain Arts myself last month to send my wife
not one, not two, but three Valentine's Day cards!  (How's
that for being a thoughtful husband?!  Just don't ask me if
I remembered to send her a card last year....)
If you don't find what you want at Blue Mountain Arts, here
here are a few other places to try:
1001 Postcards
123 Greetings
C.J.'s Specialties (Free Christian Greeting E-Cards)
Catspaw's Greetings (Christian cards and links to other sites)
Electronic Postcards from Around the World
ImprovingWorld's Free Electronic Greeting Cards  (make your
    own, using your own pictures or music)
Multimedia Greeting Cards
Rivercard's Postcards
Shimmer's Links to Christian Email Cards
Yahoo! Greetings
It's nice when friends remember friends with a card, and
that's true for many types of situations.  When someone is
having a birthday, recovering from an illness, celebrating
the birth of a child, going through difficult struggles,
graduating from school, or grieving over the loss of a
member of the family or close friend, sending a card is one
way to "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who
mourn" (Romans 12:15). 
Whenever you choose a greeting card, you may have to "shop
around" in order to find the card that is perfect for the
occasion, but by using the Internet you can do your shopping
from the comfort of your home, and the card is free!  (The
only drawback is that you can only send electronic greeting
cards to friends and family who are also on the Internet.)
In the 20th century perhaps no one person was as influential
in challenging Christians to develop a Christian view of the
world and to think through the application of the Christian
faith to all areas of life as the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer.
If you are not familiar with Dr. Schaeffer, the following two
sites (though limited in content) may be helpful:
The Shelter:  A Francis A. Schaeffer Site
Dr. Schaeffer was especially influential on college students
(and on educated people in general) through his activity at
L'Abri ("The Shelter") in Switzerland and his authorship of
such books as the following:
The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, He Is There And He
    Is Not Silent
How Should We Then Live?:  The Rise and Decline of Western
    Thought and Culture  
Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (co-authored with Dr. C.
    Everett Koop, before Dr. Koop became U.S. Surgeon General)
One of the many areas in which his influence can be seen is the
area of journalism.  Let's briefly explore that influence on
three examples of Christians involved in journalism today:
Charles  ("Chuck") Colson, Marvin Olasky, and Cal Thomas.
Let's start with Charles Colson.  The obvious influence of Dr.
Schaeffer upon Colson is evident from the title of Colson's
latest (and best?) book:
Charles Colson, How Now Shall We Live?
Like Francis Schaeffer's influential book How Should We Then
Live?, Colson's book How Now Shall we Live? is very much
concerned with the importance of having a Christian view of
the world and with understanding all of the implications of
having such a view.  
The book is co-authored by Nancy Pearcey, whose "expertise in
worldview analysis began when she studied under Francis
Schaeffer at L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland in the early
Here's the book's dedication, written by Charles Colson:
"We dedicate this book to the memory of Francis A. Schaeffer,
whose ministry at L'Abri was instrumental in Nancy's
conversion and whose works have had a profound influence on
my own understanding of Christianity as a total worldview."
I recently read Colson's book cover-to-cover and found it an
impressive achievement, even though it is not a perfect book.
(For example, I think it fails to be sufficiently critical of
Roman Catholic theology, and I was less than fully satisfied
with how he handled the matter of man's free determination in
the chapter "Does Suffering Make Sense?," a treatment that was
not as "Reformed" as I would have liked it to be.)  But my
purpose here is not to get you to read the book, but to tell
you how you can read Charles Colson on the Internet.
Charles Colson was Richard Nixon's "hatchet man" and went to
prison for his part in Watergate.  Colson became a Christian
(partly through reading C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, if I
remember correctly, although it's been a while since I read
Colson's autobiographical account in his book Born Again),
and that conversion has stood the test of time.  Colson's
life and thinking have been transformed by the gospel of Jesus
Christ, and it shows in his journalism (i.e., his commentary
dealing with political and social issues of the day).
Colson has a regular radio program called "BreakPoint" which
is broadcast on Christian radio.  Here's the Web site for
Note the top of the screen.  At that site you can listen to
today's broadcast, read the transcript, or subscribe so as
to receive daily transcripts by email (no charge!).
Colson also writes sometimes for the magazine Christianity
Today.  If you explore the Christianity Site a bit, you
should be able to find columns by Charles Colson.  For
example, try this page and search for "Colson":
You can do the same for past issues:
Perhaps the easiest thing to do, however, if you like Charles
Colson, is to subscribe to the BreakPoint transcripts.
Let's move from Dr. Francis Schaeffer to Dr. Marvin Olasky,
who is "a professor of journalism..., the author of nine books
of history and cultural analysis, and the editor of World, a
weekly Christian news magazine," according to the cover of a
recent book:
Marvin Olasky, Renewing American Compassion:  How Compassion
    for the Needy Can Turn Ordinary Citizens into Heroes
The book was a follow-up to an earlier book, which was widely
read in Washington, D.C.:
Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion
On page 180 in that book Dr. Olasky makes reference to Dr.
Schaeffer's warning "that Christians should avoid giving more
power to the 'monolithic monster of a bloated state' and
instead emphasize the 'compassionate use of accumulated
wealth,' which is one of the main points of Olasky's own
book (although, admittedly, Olasky does not acknowledge the
same indebtedness to Schaeffer's influence as do Charles
Colson and Cal Thomas).
But you don't have to go to the bookstore to read some good
books by Dr. Olasky (you don't even have to order them from
Amazon.com):  you can access two of his books on journalism
Marvin Olasky, Telling the Truth:  How to Revitalize Christian
Marvin Olasky, Prodigal Press:  The Anti-Christian Bias of
    American News Media
Note:  you'll find on the Internet the entire text of the two
books (except for some chapter notes for Prodigal Press)!
Incidentally, you'll find World Magazine online (including
articles by Dr. Olasky) at this address:
World Magazine
Let's now move on to Cal Thomas, who was the featured speaker
at my son's graduation this past spring at Covenant College,
an excellent Christian college.  Cal Thomas is a committed
Christian journalist whose political column appears regularly
in many newspapers and some weekly news magazines.
You'll find Cal Thomas's Web site at this address:
Unfortunately, the site does not seem to be updated on a
regular basis.  For example, you'll find a "Books" section
The page mentions four books by Cal Thomas and says, "they
are all out of print now....  Watch here for other new books
coming soon!"  
Well, it's not the right place to watch, because in April 1999
(eleven months ago?!) Zondervan Publishing House published Cal
Thomas's book Blinded by Might:  Can the Religious Right Save
America?  (I sent a note to the email address at the site to
suggest that the site needed to be updated, but I haven't yet
gotten back a response to my email.)
You can, however, find helpful information about that book by
Cal Thomas at Amazon.com:
Cal Thomas, Blinded by Might:  Can the Religious Right Save
How does the book answer the question raised in the title?  It
may surprise some people that the answer is essentially "No"!
The co-author of the book is Ed Dobson, "who helped draft the
Moral Majority platform and served as personal assistant to
Jerry Falwell," and Cal Thomas himself was "a ... spokesperson
for the Moral Majority," so the book represents the revised
thinking of two "insiders."
But I'm not here to persuade you to read the book which is
already a bit dated (it would have been more helpful to see a
discussion, for example, of the Christian Coalition), but to
point you to up-to-date commentary by Cal Thomas.
Where can his current and recent columns be found?  Perhaps in
a somewhat unlikely place, the Jewish World Review:
Here's where you'll find his most recent column:
And here's where you'll find the previous 75 or so columns:
For a sample, check out his February 22, 2000 column titled
"The religious right emerges from a coma":
On his Web site, Cal Thomas acknowledges one of the greatest
influence upon his life to be "the late philosopher-theologian
Dr. Francis Schaeffer."  (You'll find that comment on his
site at http://www.calthomas.com/qa.htm .)
You may or may not always agree with Charles Colson, Marvin
Olasky, or Cal Thomas, but I think you will find what they
have to say stimulating reading, and you have to admire the
attempt (to whatever degree you regard it as successful) to
approach journalism from the perspective of a Christian view
of the world in which we live.  Enjoy!
This is the tenth issue of a free newsletter devoted to
"Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," 
but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the 
"Internet").  If you are not yet a subscriber and would like 
to become one, send an appropriate note to cati@traver.org.
Privacy policy:  The information in the "Christians And The 
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Past issues:  you'll find archives of past issues of CATI
available online at http://traver.org/cati/ .  ("It's not a
pretty site," but hopefully it may be a useful one.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.

To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent.  (To be
removed from the emailing list, also write to cati@traver.org,
but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)