The recent USA Today article Confession is just a keypad away and the Colorado Spring Gazette article Online confessional foster healing, proponents claim both spill the beans about online confession sites. Most venues offer a text box for your sins and a button to click to commit them to your site. In looking at two websites named, Daily Confession and Absolution Online, there are no security features to assure you that no one is snooping on your private affairs.
To contrast online confessions with the classic Christian view of confession, the question of privacy is the killer difference. The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer (1979) says this on the subject of confessions, “The secrecy of a confession is morally absolute for the confessor, and must under no circumstances be broken.” As moral absolute, any website should be offering privacy measures such as SSL.
Not having secure connections would be like going to the confession box in church and simply not closing the door, assuming that no one will be interested enough to eavesdrop or to overhear while passing by. The site Daily Confession is actually up front about their policy and will post the contents of confession on the site for other visitors to see.
The same page in the prayer book also reads, “Confessions may be heard anytime and anywhere.” It would seem that the Internet offers a good platform for Christian confession. For the Book of Common Prayer, the first form of confession is dialog only–there are no rubrics for laying on of hands or other physical contact, so the ethereal realm of bits might work well. However, privacy is a must. Secure chat and email would surely be a great help over simple web forms.