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January 20, 2006

Separation of Church and State

You can only imagine what business categories some of our users have suggested we add.

There have been a lot of requests to add a separate “Pets” or “Animals” business category. And I'm seeing several requests for "Eye Doctors," too. (wink wink) And those make perfect sense.

In , where I live, the most prevalent business type, if you drive down Speedway Boulevard, appears to be the tattoo parlor. Needless to say, it didn't surprise me when users suggested we add a category for these businesses. I guess you'd want to know if the guy etching a design into your backside really knew what he was doing.

Believe it or not, a user once suggested we add a category for "Bordellos." I'm guessing he lives in Las Vegas. Well, at least he was polite about naming the category.

And then there are the category suggestions that really open up a can of worms.

A long, long time ago I learned about the I'm sure you did, too. Having handled corporate ad placement and having written for industry publications -- in some of my other lives -- I am always reminded how these two concepts shouldn't mesh.

Today a customer suggested that we add a business category for "churches" and I immediately thought, “Should we mix business with religion? A church is not a business…or is it?”

And if we did add a category, maybe something more generic would be appropriate. Let's say a category for "Religion and Spirituality," under which we would list churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, gift shops, religious supply houses, and related stuff.

So now I'm starting to wonder about the fit for Zipingo. For one, we do have churches listed in the directory but they aren't linked to a top level category. You can't find "churches" through the Browse by Category feature, which is a problem if you're looking for one and don't have a name. Maybe that's all these users want find a church.

Still, every "business" in the directory can be rated, which means a few religious institutions have received “customer” kudos as well as complaints. Out of curiosity, I browsed these reviews. Some aren't really "business" reviews. A few comments read like the user is rating the religion or the religious doctrine, which I personally find a bit strange. But that's just me.

And what about the Payment Range? Aren't most of the fees paid really in the form of donations? Well, maybe not. I guess the fee paid to the pre-school or Sunday school for classes isn't a donation. Yeah, you're getting a service in return.

Which got me to thinking. When you're rating your local place of worship, what in the world are you going to write that has any meaning? The comments could get really crazy.

Here's where my imagination ran wild.

"The pews are set too close together. The kids behind me kept kicking the back of the bench so I couldn't concentrate on the sermon."

"He put his hand on my injured leg and yelled: Heal! Heal! Unfortunately, my leg is still broken."

“The Hamentashen at the Purim Festival were all prune-filled. Eww. I wish they had flavors for people under 65.”

"I prayed to God to help me win the lottery and I'm still waiting. That's the last time I put money in the collection plate."

"Everyone was fasting. I just had to get out of there and find the nearest McDonald's."

or perhaps...

“The Hamentashen at the Purim Festival were all prune-filled. And they gave me gas, too."

Go on. Your imagination is probably better (or worse) than mine.

~ ZipingoKim


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To me I think rating Churches would be very helpful. I especially would want to know if there were any "God" or "Jesus" sightings? Or the quite popular "Mary" showing up on a stain on a wall or a oil spill in the church parking lot, at least that is where I did my oil changes! What?! So knowing what church might have the most of these sightings locally would be helpful!


Churches are great business customers for books, music and musical instruments, vestments, Sunday School supplies, candles and other materials used in worship. They also use services such as janitorial, grounds & building maintenance, heating & cooling, etc.
From a personal standpoint, a great part of my income is re-invested in support of the church to which I belong. My interest in listing, other than for business purposes, is whether the church is a permanent, established part of the community, is easily located, has servces scheduled conveniently, has a nursery/Sunday School...but mostly whether the congregation genuinely welcomes visitors/potential new members.
I also agree with a previous comment that "churches" shouldn't exclude temples, synagogues, mosques, etc.


in reviewing a place of worship we should review quality of service and people not the particulars of the faith. Faith isn't business but the business of Faith should be reviewable. I'd sure like to know what people thought of a church before I ever went there to find out myself. If a lot of comments show up consistently then it should be a red flag. People are going to globally gripe about anything....why should Religion be any different. We should have the ability to check wether a review was helpful or not...aka iTunes.

J.D. Amer

Interesting post. I had a similar problem (95% of suggestions were strip clubs) which made me remove the suggest a category feature from my site, but I'll probably bring it back soon.

Best of luck to Zipingo, you've got a great service.


Interesting dilemma.

At the end of the day, we use Zipingo because we want to find a place to fulfil our needs. So if I'm looking to get a haircut, I want to know if the shop is clean, if they treat customers fairly, if the price is fair, and if there's enough parking to easily get in and out.

Why is that any different from a place of worship (POW)? I want to know if the people there are friendly. I want to know if the services are held at a school gym or a traditional worship building. I want to know if there's enough parking.

Of course, people are fanatical about their POW's, so you'll get plenty of people raving impartially about the quality of their POW ... but I rave impartially about the sandwich shop down the street. I gush about my dentist because I actually *enjoy* going there. No difference ... to me at least.

terry g

Ive read a few of yourchurch reviews too and I think their way out of line. you should delete them because they areb't helpful cause you can't shop for salvation. you either believe in the truth or you dont. i think intuti would not want to be a site where people can review belifs in GOD.

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