News Corp. Seeks Buyer for Ailing Religion Blog Beliefnet

Rupert Murdoch no longer believes – in Beliefnet's ability to bring enough revenue, that is. Murdoch, News Corporation's chief executive, is letting go of the religion blog after three years of ownership.

Beliefnet's readership has spiraled in recent years, dropping from 2.8 million regular visitors in October 2007 to about 2.4 million in April 2010l. News Corp. said its decision to put the multi-faith blog up for sale is due to the site “no longer fitting with its strategy,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Movie review site Rotten Tomatoes and picture sharing site Photobucket,  previous News Corp. holdings, were sold to merge with more specialized websites.

Calling itself “the largest spiritual web site,” Beliefnet aims to help visitors find “a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness” by providing content about religios ranging from Buddhism and Islam to Christianity and secular philosophies.

But for a site boasting a spiritual mission, Beliefnet carries some controversial baggage. Several contributers have made controversial statements about religion and conservative politics on both Beliefnet and other religious blogs. After Rush Limbaugh spoke at the 2009 CPAC, Beliefnet blogger Rod Dreher compared “Limbaugh orthodoxy” to Leninism, claiming that anyone who challenges Limbaugh is, “ipso facto, the Enemy.” Dreher also made the network headlines after attacking Sen. John McCain for picking Sarah Palin as his vice president candidate.

Writing on “A New Kind of Christianity.” in the Huffington Post, another Beliefnet blogger, Brian McLaren, admonished readers to not let a “conservative bias” keep them from questioning the importance of Jesus' role in Christianity or “Why has homosexuality become such a divisive issue?”

Even Beliefnet's former editor-in-chief and co-founder Steven Waldman made his own controversial statements against Judeo-Christian values, challenging conservatives in a March 11, 2009 HuffPo article to “back gay marriage while gay marriage advocates push efforts to reduce the divorce rate.” Waldman is also remembered for his accusation in 2008 that McCain was trying to make Barack Obama look like the Antichrist.

In October of 2009, Waldman transferred from his post at Beliefnet to a job with the FCC under the Obama administration. Waldman became senior advisor to the FCC's new chairman, Julius Genachowski. According to MRC's NewsBusters website, Waldman's bio page on Beliefnet neglects to list his previous work during the Clinton administration as senior advisor to the CEO of the bureaucracy that runs AmeriCorps.

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