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by Ash Greyson
Beliefnet Managing Editor

Move over Lady Gaga! Sorry, Justin Bieber! Nice try, Harry Potter! According to Allfacebook.com, a website that tracks Facebook traffic and interactions, six of the top 20 most engaging Facebook pages are related to faith.

The new Harry Potter film just set the all-time record for weekend ticket sales, but in the week of its release, the film was still outpaced on Facebook by the pages “Jesus Daily” and “The Bible.”

How could that be? Dr. Aaron Tabor, who posts Facebook’s Jesus Daily says, “People turn to God when they have problems in life, not Harry Potter’s fictional wand.”

Pastor Mark Brown from Australia – who started posting daily Scripture readings on Facebook, calling his site simply “The Bible,” says, “Faith is personal, so it is a good fit with Facebook, plus with the state of the economy people I believe are reaching out to God for help.”

A surprise presence on Facebook is the prominent Evangelical leader Joyce Meyer – whose page just recently made it into the top 20. She says the explanation is simple:

“So many people are looking for answers and encouragement, and really just want to hear from God. Faith-based social media, like Facebook, give them a way to connect with people who are looking for the same thing.

“In this non-threatening, interactive environment, they are encouraged and grow in their relationship with God. It’s amazing how powerful a Scripture or brief, positive word can be in the middle of a busy day or during a hard time.”

Another faith page with surprising popularity on Facebook is the Spanish-language “Dios Es Beuno!” which means simply “God Is Good!” Owner Hermes Carvajal explains its appeal simply:

“Human beings like to build tabernacles of comfort around them.” He says he started the Facebook page as an outreach — with no idea of how popular it would become.

But it’s not just Christian-oriented pages that are doing well. Islam claims two of the top six spots. “I’m a Muslim & I’m Proud” has seen explosive growth of late and is on pace to overtake “IloveAllaah,” the other Islamic page on the list.

A spokesperson for “Im a Muslim & Im Proud,” explains, “Religion plays an important role in everyone’s life. Facebook pages are good to spread religious views.”

Although Facebook has been known to arbitrarily take down pages that receive complaints, the owner of “Im a Muslim & Im Proud” says “so far the content/material we posted was never censored by Facebook.”

“The hardest part,” he said, “is to manage the comment sections. Sometime non-Muslims give a lot of anti-Islamic comments and abuse Muslims religious views.”

Censorship has been an issue for Australian Pastor Brown of “The Bible.” He also hosts the page “Jesus Christ.”

He is the most seasoned of the bunch, but even he has been shocked by the response.

“I recall when the page was a couple of thousand members posting something like, ‘I have a bold vision to see this page with 1 million fans. What a statement that would make to the world! I invite you to share this page with your friends.’” recalls Brown.

“I was hopeful, but I remember thinking it was a wild vision! I worked the page very hard for a long time. For me, it was like caring for a baby. It needed constant attention. So although its size, how active it is and the speed at which it is growing blows me away, it was no accident.

“I worked hard at it — and most importantly, God is good!

Asked why he thinks six of the top 20 Facebook pages are faith-based, Brown observes:

“Facebook is a social network and the key word is ‘social’. It works best when people are personally involved, have a personal stake in the page or the theme/brand of the page. Faith is personal, so it is a good fit with Facebook, which we see it the success of the faith-based pages.

“Plus with the state of the economy, people — I believe — are reaching out to God for help. And God will provide!”

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