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Is Social Media Changing Religion?

A recent story in USA Today described the increasing use of social media for religious purposes among small and large churches alike. Pastors are saying that social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes podcasts, and others help them connect and network with people—one of their main purposes—and the worrisome idea that social media will compete with corporate worship is slowly disappearing. But not everyone blesses the idea of social media usage: recently a New Jersey pastor publicly asked his leadership team not to use Facebook, declaring it dangerous to marriage, and even Pope Benedict XVI counseled Catholics against substituting virtual relationships for personal, face-to-face contacts. Nick Bogardus, spokesperson for megachurch Mars Hill in Seattle, said social media “opens an opportunity to build a real relationship,” and Rabbi Jeremy Barras of Temple Beth-El in Florida says people respond better and faster to him when he posts them a note on Facebook than when he calls or e-mails them.

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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including churchleaders.com and SermonCentral.com.