Source: The New York Times
Things went smoothly for the first hour of the Twitter experiment at Trinity Church in Manhattan on Good Friday in April.
While hundreds of worshipers watched the traditional dramatization of the Crucifixion from pews in the church, one of New York’s oldest, thousands more around the world followed along on smartphones and computers as a staff member tweeted short bursts of dialogue and setting (“Darkness and earthquake,” “Crucify him!”).
The trouble began in the second hour.
Twitter’s interactivity — its essence — made it easy for an anonymous text-messager to insert an unscripted character into the Passion play: a Roman guard who breezily claimed, “I’ve got dibs on his robe.” When another texter introduced a rogue Mary Magdalene, the intrusion only confirmed the obvious: Twitter’s trademark limit of 140 characters per message is no bar against crudity.
Religious groups from Episcopalians to Orthodox Jews have signed up for Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks with the same gusto that celebrities and politicians have, and for some of the same reasons — to gain a global platform and to appeal to young people.
Still, many clerics admit to an uneasiness about the merger of worship and electronic chatter.
In online debates and private discussions, leaders of all faiths have been weighing pros and cons and diagramming the boundaries of acceptable interactions: Should the congregation have a Facebook page, or should it be the imam’s or priest’s? Should there be limited access? Censoring? Is it appropriate for a clergy member to “friend” a minor?