Belief Beat

A New Jersey pastor, the Rev. Cedric A. Miller, has announced that married leaders at Living World Christian Fellowship Church must quit Facebook, due to a surge in adultery among church members who have rekindled old flames or struck up new flirtations through the social networking site. He also recommends that all married people stop using Facebook.

The Associated PressPhiladelphia Inquirer, and Religion Dispatches have more on this story.  

Frankly, after chuckling a bit over the variations of “thou shall not Facebook” prompted by Miller’s sermon, I decided that I’m more surprised that it’s taken this long for a religious leader to go this route. (Perhaps Miller is only the first to make national news.) Off the top of my head, I’ve heard of several relationships that have struggled or succumbed to Facebook-related conflicts. The drama usually stems from someone reconnecting with an ex, but there are also issues with getting tagged in an inappropriate photo, unexpected relationship status edits, privacy boundaries, etc. (Insert your own “poking” pun here.)

The AP wasn’t able to get a comment from Facebook officials, so we’re left to wonder: What does Mark Zuckerberg think? (I doubt that he has a religious point of view here — by all accounts, he’s a secular Jew at best — but he’s a pretty adamant advocate for the free, public flow of information. Then again, he’s not married.) But quitting seems drastic — especially given Facebook’s popularity and networking usefulness (acknowledged recently by a gathering of Catholic bishops). What about sharing a Facebook account? (I do that now, more or less, because my husband can’t be bothered to get his own.) Then again, according to the AP story, Miller had already suggested that spouses share their Facebook passwords, yet problems persisted…

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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