Picture on Left Found at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Website Image Credit: Daniel Marsula/Post-Gazette

All topics are open for discussion on Social Media. However, one that stands beyond “just discussion” is Faith. It stands beyond because Faith moves people.  They move to congregate, to pray together and serve others together (this manifest itself differently in different religions, but that is another discussion).  I often advocate for anyone to use Social Media to communicate, organizing and mobilize.  But can it help or hinder the growth of a Faith?

Those who subscribe to a church enjoy the opportunity to be with others that share their faith, to reinforce their faith and spread their faith.   Often this occurs on Mass on Sunday or during prayer meetings and bible study.  They congregate at a specific church, mosque and synagogue.  With Social Media,  this location exists online.   Through video chat rooms and blogs, people can receive weekly prayers from their Pastor and church elders.  They can print and/or replay these prayers and carry them through the week. Children that leave to college can still log-in to stay connected with their faith.  Personal crisis can be answered through inbox messaging. A great example of a faith-based group having an online presence is Ask a Catholic Nun on Facebook.

However, the intimacy that comes with sharing ones faith (and crisis of faith) can be lost without face to face interaction that Social Media fails to offer (except with video chat applications like oovoo.com). Another issue pointed out by Professor Stephen O’Leary of the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California in a conversation hosted by pbs.org, is that “In many cases, members of the congregation are acting as media producers and are functioning independently of their own local church. So the authorities from the church—pastor up the line to the denominational heads—no longer have the kind of control that they once did.” So one can assume that the message that a church leader expresses can be undermined and/or misrepresented by their followers.

What do you think?