Social networking seems to have found religion or visa versa.
A site called CircleBuilder.com wants to be a MySpace and FaceBook “where people of all faiths can come together to nurture their personal relationships and put their faith into practice.”
The idea of an on-line social networking service for religion seems odd to me. Churches, mosques, synagogues are one of, if not THE orginal social network. That person-to-person community and connection is such an essential part of what these places are that having an on-line simulacrum seems … I don’t know exactly … but at least jarring.
It is a deeply non-denominational site – which in a way I also find jarring.
CircleBuilder is an online networking and management platform enabling faith-based organizations to increase their membership, improve fundraising, organize events and more efficiently serve their community. Through our simple to use web-based interface we create numerous “touch points”—personalized emails, shared calendars, blogs, text messages, online donations and storefronts, streaming media and newsletters—by which members can communicate with their organizations and with each other.
Nothing wrong with any of this, it’s just that I’m a uncomfortable with the euphemisms they use: people of faith & faith-based organization. While it is inclusive it is also so inclusive as to be meaningless: Cubs fans are a people of faith and support a faith-based organization, after all. Isn’t our current administration’s foreign policy faith-based, in the worst possible meaning of the phrase. (And isn’t the CircleBuilder logo just a wee bit Christian looking? Maybe what makes me uncomfortable about these euphemisms is that so far I have only heard them from Christians so they’re like code words to use in situations where that pesky separation of church-and-state issue might come up.)
I come from Rhode Island, a state founded by Roger Williams because he thought people should have the freedom to worship or not worship in whatever way they please without government interference. I have always been very proud of the fact that my little home state was started for this reason. (And it doesn’t hurt that Williams actually purchased the land for his first settlement from the Native Americans who were living in the area!) So I am a big believer in the ecumenical.
That said, I think a person belongs to a church or a synagogue or a mosque or wood grove or temple to Apollo or whatever and not to just some generic “faith.” Heck, my religious beliefs are so idiosyncratic that once you get past prayer and the belief in a deity I’m generally at variance with some tenet or another of pretty much every organized system of worship. But just the same, I’d rather be called someone who believes in God than a “person of faith.”
Wonder what the folks over at my favorite church marketing blog think about all this?
UPDATE: Just found a VentureBeat article from earlier this week on the general theme of churches and social networking … click here … the author doesn’t mention CircleBuilder, but I don’t have a lot of those things he has … what are they called? … oh yeah, facts.