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Rupert Murdoch's global media omnibeast has bought itself a religious tentacle, according to reports.

News Corp will announce today it has paid an undisclosed sum for Beliefnet.com, a faith portal whose mission "is to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness".

The site was founded in 1999, during the dotcom boom, and soldiered through the crash. MediaBistro.com, which broke news of the News Corp deal, reports that founder and editor-in-chief Steve Waldman will do nicely out of the deal.

Beliefnet boasts 3.1 million visitors per month and 7.6 million registered users.

Murdoch himself is a known God-botherer. In a rare personal interview in 1993 with Nicholas Coleridge for the book Paper Tigers, he said: "They say I'm a born-again Christian and a Catholic convert and so on. I'm certainly a practicing Christian, I go to church quite a bit but not every Sunday and I tend to go to Catholic church."

The news may disappoint Silicon Valley followers of the web 2.0 cult, who in recent weeks have been preaching unsubstantiated prophecies that said Murdoch would convert suit-friendly social network LinkedIn to his growing internet flock. They convinced themselves it would be a perfect fit with stockbroking rag the Wall Street Journal, which News Corp bought earlier this year.

Reuters tore down that false idol yesterday. ®

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