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Ship of Fools, dubbed "the magazine of Christian unrest", was first launched in 1977 as a printed publication but sank in 1983, leaving a gap never filled in publishing circles. The growth of the Internet, particularly with its international dimension, makes feasible a minority webzine of this kind.
"We're here for people who prefer disorganized religion to the organized kind," says ship-of-fools.com editor Simon Jenkins. "From a position of commitment, we try to look objectively at religious trends in an accessible rather than cynical way. We commend as well as debunk. But we are not a campaign, we're a conversation."
Regular attention-grabbing features Mystery Worshipper, Gadgets for God, The Fruitcake Zone and Signs and Blunders are supplemented by weightier features on current affairs. Another weekly favourite feature is the Caption Competition, which allows readers to join in lampooning religious oddities.
Alongside these is a thriving online community, including the famed Heaven, Hell and Purgatory bulletin boards where shipmates debate everything from "Religion and Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "The status of Mormonism" to "Hitchcock and Catholic Guilt".
Ship of Fools' co-editor is Stephen Goddard, who met Jenkins at theological college in London more than 25 years ago. "It's disappointing that there is still the need for shipoffools.com," says Goddard. "We had hoped a new generation would come along and show us how it's done. We are bored by the dull conservatism of most Christian periodicals. Our supporters and contributors are very much like us, people who don't fit comfortably in the average pew."
Fully and fiercely independent, shipoffools.com is currently recording over 2.5 million page impressions each month.