McGoran, Jenna (2010)
Facebook is a fascinating social networking site that has penetrated the INTERNET, reaching people across the globe and boasting some 200 million active users- only five years after launch!1 Facebook can be a wonderful social networking tool which has been a tremendous aid to this writer personally. It certainly offers a unique expression of personally, culture, and faith. Perhaps one of the more significant and unique features of facebook is the ability for users to display their faith, or in the case of facebook- their religion.
Religion is clearly a hot-button issue, and the issue of religion on facebook has even recently caught the attention of the Washington Post! Here in Fort Smith, within the south, religion is definitely an issue worth addressing, and an issue that this writer would suggest presents a serious problem, the problem of religion vs. faith.
Who do you put your faith in? Do a survey of your friends on facebook, specifically within the Fort Smith area. Click on profile, then info, and scroll down to read their religious views. If you click directly on their religion, facebook will bring up a list of users with the same listed religion. Likely you will confirm what Best Places has shown on their web-site, which is that there are way more people in Fort Smith who claim to be religious, than those who would hold their faith exclusively in any one individual, let alone in God or the person of Jesus Christ.2 By the way, you are probably already aware of this, but this area, this region (the south), is often commonly referred to as what? The Bible Belt! That's right, you would expect to see biblical faith represented In Fort Smith on facebook! Instead, a cursory search through facebook will likely reveal more Southern Baptists, Assembly of God, Free Will Baptists, or any other denomination, or any other name, other than Jesus Christ (or Christian)!
By the way, if you think this problem is exclusive to facebook, it is not. Facebook is merely an electronic extension (and a small subculture) of the religious culture of Fort Smith or any other area! You would be amazed at how many students and adults this writer encounters as a minister and educator that when asked about their faith, are more likely to respond with 'I am a Baptist' or 'I am any other denomination', than 'I follow Christ'!
So, why is this a problem? Well, the problem lies in the heart of Christians and the character of their witness. That is the primary problem with Faith and Facebook and anywhere else that follows suit! Because while faith is a belief, trust, and hope in something not yet seen or realized completely in present reality, such as eternity and salvation, religion is a (mankind created) organized system of belief, usually employing rituals and rites (works) and placing trust and hope in those, and not in God. Definitely not in the person of Jesus Christ.
Take a moment, look at your facebook page, and your life in general. Where do you place your faith? Do you share your faith on facebook? Do you share your faith anywhere else for that matter? If it is a matter of your eternal salvation to you, does it not matter how you represent (or dangerously misrepresent) the truth? If you do place your faith in Christ, have you placed another name before Jesus Chirst, or qualified that faith with some denominational name? I would love to hear the status of your faith, and why you claim it the way you do.
1 Zuckerberg, Mark. "The Facebook Blog." Facebook, available from http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=72353897130. Accessed 29 Jan 2010. More Details
2 "Best Places Fort Smith." Best Places, available from http://www.bestplaces.net/city/Fort_Smith-Arkansas.aspx#. Accessed 29 Jan 2010. More Details