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Culture

Searching Online for That (Religious) Special Someone

Nowhere in Europe are religious matchmaking Web sites flourishing as much as in Germany, where people are increasingly turning to the Internet for romance. Most, but not all, of the sites are aimed at Christians.

Screen shot of an online dating service

For many, good looks isn't the only criterion is searching for a partner

In August this year, more than 2 million people clicked onto SingleChrist.de in search of a partner.

"For most people the Web is as much a part of life as shopping," said Friedhelm Hensen, Jr., who launched SingleChrist.de in 2007.

Hensen's service, "The Singles Site by Christians for Christians," reaches far more people than a regional newspaper's lonely hearts column ever does, say media experts.

Hensen said he's delighted when he receives a wedding announcement from a couple who have met through SingleChrist.de.

It happens on average about once a month, but he reckons the figure is probably higher because not all couples get around to informing him when they have found their "partner for life."

Surfing for love

A happy couple that met on the Internet

For some couples, there have been wedding bells

Another online matchmaking outlet, Christian Soulmates, provides an easy way for its members to meet other quality singles on the net.

"We ask every user to fill out a questionnaire that will assist other users in getting to know you," it states.

"Once members create their profiles, our matching technology can provide them with instantaneous matches based on their pre-selected dating criteria," said an official.

"It's true Internet romances can and do happen," states Christian Soulmates, which adds a cautionary note from the Bible (Romans 8:25): "But, if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

Plenty to choose from

Competition is fierce in the lonely hearts business.

Sites like agape24.de, christpart.de, cpdienst.de, feuerflamme de, christ-such-christ.de and GermanFriendFinder.com are all in the business of helping lonely people find partners with whom they can share their faith -- and love.

Profiles created by members often contain details about a person's church congregation, his or her best loved song or favorite Bible passage, as well as info on their home, age and hobbies etc.

A Catholic site declares: "Catholic matchmaking is very much alive. We are living at a time when people are too busy even to find time to mingle with each other. For this reason Catholic online matchmaking has grown to great heights!"

Non-Christians also searching

Four Muslim women take part in a fashion show

Muslims have also started dating sites

Not only Christians cruise the Internet for love. Increasing numbers of Germany's more than 200,000 Jews now make use of the Web when seeking partners.

Jewish-singles.de and Jewish-dating.de are two online sites offering help for people looking for lasting love. Germany's first Islamic marriage institute was created in 2005 by Munich-based Samer Fahed, who is of German-Palestinian descent. He claims his online site has attracted thousands of clients, including in some cases, recent women converts to Islam.

The institute specializes in matching people belonging to the country's near 3.5 million-strong Muslim community. The muslimlife.eu site helps "match" those who are genuinely interested in starting a family, he said. Occasionally their profiles reveal whether they read the Koran on a regular basis, or have ever made a pilgrimage to Mecca.

But when non-Muslim men eager to marry Muslim women show interest, they are politely told Muslim women aren't permitted to marry non-Muslim men unless they convert to Islam, Fahed said.

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