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Idol Chatter

Christian church groups and all types of faith-based organizations and communities that have jumped on the Twitter and Facebook bandwagons as an albeit abbreviated online forum for everything from evangelization to basic connection have been in the news a lot this past year. But now, apparently, these same groups that stage everything from Passion plays (including one that got a little randy) to worship services via Twitter and Facebook are struggling with online etiquette.
In “Lead Us to Tweet, and Forgive the Trespassers,” New York Times reporter Paul Vitello explains:
“If total control is what you want, social media will frustrate you,” [Rev. Bill Reichart] said, reprising his advice to the clergy. “But the trade-off is the ability to hear and learn, reach out in new directions.” Many clerics, desperate to connect with young people, have been like radio dispatchers using the wrong bandwidth, he said. “The young don’t do e-mail anymore,” he said. “They do Facebook.”…Lisa Colton, president of Darim Online, a consultancy that works with Jewish congregations, said some rabbis worry that a Facebook page might attract anti-Semitic graffiti. The anxieties are different for every group. Some Muslim clerics have told followers to avoid making statements on social networking sites that antiterrorist investigators might misinterpret as suspicious…At Trinity Church, an Episcopal congregation with an adventurous approach geared to the culture of Wall Street, where it is located, the Passion play experiment was considered a success despite the interloping characters. “If someone chooses to interact with us mischievously, that’s fine,” said the Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee, the church vicar. “The opposite of engagement is not mischief, but apathy.”
And some worshipers would say that the Reverend has exactly the right idea:
“I’m a sporadic worshiper,” said Anne Libby, a management consultant in Manhattan who often follows the services on Twitter between occasional visits to Trinity. The connection, however slender, has drawn her closer to the church community, she said. She has never tweeted back during a service. She does not always follow every word. But she has noticed that her favorite Bible quotation fits nicely within the 140-character Twitter limit: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” she said.”

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