The Internet version, like the original, should be available to all
Ongoing debates on net neutrality open the war between the open source, free access advocates, and the private forces or commercial interests present within the web. It was simply a matter of time when one battle spilled over into the net's biblical realm known as '.bible' domain. A few Bible scholars have accused American Bible Society (ABS) for arbitrarily restricting the usage of this top level domain. The company secured its contract to manage it as an administrator in 2013.
ABS have no similar competition for the .bible domain. It has partnered with several other Christian organizations to be the entity responsible for registering the .bible websites. This task, the company said, is the continuation of its 200-year mission to promote the Bible among the masses.
ABS registered itself as a nonprofit. It takes a different approach when it comes to its role. The .bible venture is representative of the 21st century extension of the continuing advocacy of the Bible and biblical resources. Geof Morin, the senior vice president of ABS for ministry mobilization, said they use the domain to facilitate a trusted online space creation. This would be for those who want to engage with all things biblical. He added that the American Bible Society fully supports the free flow of ideas and information, but the ABS wants the website content located on .bible to harbor a healthy respect when it comes to the Holy Book.
ABS has put together several conditions linked to respect towards Christian religious views and the Bible. The list includes its stated mission to promote Bible community with its causes, perspectives, interests, admirers, positions and supporters.
After a meeting with critics in January where they have expressed concern that the policy restricted the use of non-Christians and secular scholars of '.bible' domain, the guidelines were expanded by ABS to make sure the domain would be available to those wanting to engage with the Christian Scriptures in constructive ways.
The list of critics included John Kutsko, the executive director of Society of Biblical Literature. The latter is the biggest and the oldest learned society engaged in the Bible's critical investigation. The Society has approximately 8,500 members, with a major chunk of them being scholars. Marc Zvi Brettler, a professor of Jewish studies at Duke University said, “The Bible has never belonged to one group alone. Its internet namesake shouldn’t either.”