How to Defend Your Faith in the Social Media War Zone


Jesus-Baptism cropped

This Sunday’s gospel from the twelfth chapter of Luke is like a mirror reflecting the current state of our society: Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division (Luke 12:51). We are rapidly becoming a distinctly divided country, and this division is based almost solely on a moral platform, especially as the evolving social media like Facebook and Twitter becomes a mouthpiece for personal viewpoints. And this makes life as an internet-savvy Catholic intense, historic and heroic all at once.

Have you ever been pounced upon by friends or followers for posting a pro-life comment? Did you incur the wrath of others by mentioning the presidential candidate you supported? You quite possibly could have taken a severe virtual beating for that one.

The first Luminous mystery of the holy Rosary, the Baptism of the Lord, is also a great illustration of the audacity it takes to be a faithful Christian in today’s society. Getting baptized at that point in time was a completely radical statement. You were clearly setting yourself apart in declaring your faith in God and it was contrary to what many people around that time stood for. How similar that is to being a Christian in today’s society and taking a stand for Christian beliefs in front of others who may not agree with you?

There have been many periods in history where people were living in this kind of situation. World War II and the Cristero Wars come immediately to mind because they were wars against faith in God. And although these types of wars are still happening even today in other countries—take Egypt for example where Christians are being savagely persecuted for their faith—here on the American front, the weaponry used to wage this war against Christianity is vastly different, yet can be just as powerful, thanks to social media. Every day, there are millions of tiny moral battles courageously fought on social media sites; pro-life vs. pro-choice, defense of marriage vs. gay marriage, atheism vs. belief in God, etc. So much so that now, more than ever, you must know who you are and what you stand for if you dare step in the social media arena, lest you get stoned to death by the venomous tweets and Facebook rebuttals hurled at you because you made a comment or disagreed with someone else’s point of view.

Seven years ago, there was no Twitter. No tweets, no hash tags, no “Twitter Revolutions.” In 2007, tech writer Bruce Sterling suggested in the New York Times that using Twitter for “literate communication” would be about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite the Iliad.” But today, Twitter is one of the top ten most visited sites on the internet, generating over 340 million tweets daily, according to Wikipedia. And social media has definitely not been ignored by the Catholic Church. I think this is great, because the Church is using new media as a tool for evangelization. Our beloved Pope Francis sends regular tweets to the masses (@pontifex) and ABC News reports more than twenty Roman Catholic cardinals have active Twitter accounts, nine of whom were cardinal electors for the 2013 Papal conclave.

But the downside is the anti-religion, anti-God crowd has proclaimed all-out war on morality and Christianity. They’re out to get you, simply by turning these internet tools into ambushes resembling virtual war zones. The interesting thing is despite the efforts of millions of people who give their all to attack believers in social media, their actions are fulfilling Luke’s gospel message.

In the end, this gospel message is Christ’s way of, yet again, commanding us to pick a side to stand on, instead of cowering over by the wall in neutrality.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16). Don’t be passive and say nothing, stand up for your belief in God and in moral behavior. Don’t be afraid of people who tweet stinging lexicons and hurl text grenades at you. As a Christian stepping onto the social media stage, put on the whole armor of God and be prepared to stand strong in your faith the same way Christ did as he stepped into the river Jordan to be baptized.

Feel free to email me at asklisa@catholicmatch.com and follow me on Twitter at @lisaduffy.

 






8 Comments

  1. Don-986783 August 19, 2013 Reply

    It’s good to hear that you are defending your Catholic beliefs in the twitter-sphere, I have been involved in conversations in which the other person has specifically made ill references about the Catholic Church and it practices past and present. I do not defend myself by countering with criticisms on other religions, but by stating it is my belief not theirs.
    On the point of comparing the violence in Egypt against Christians and attacks against Christianity on blogs and twitter for me is a bit of a stretch. Granted the attackers in both cases are communicating and stirring up fears and hate via social media.
    The difference for Christians in the United States is that majority of people are Christian, in Egypt it is 91% Muslim hence the violence against Christianity. We as a human race do many things both good and evil in the name of God.

  2. Obianuju-794337 August 19, 2013 Reply

    Nice write-up. However, some practical dos and don’ts would make us better equipped to defend our faith. Thank you.

  3. Theresa-989320 August 19, 2013 Reply

    I love your post! Just last Sunday our Pastor was saying that we (people in general) can no longer be lukewarm; instead we must stand up and proclaim our faith! I am so fortunate to have so many friends who promulgate the faith and defend the Church on so many levels. It’s a three step process: Love, learn, teach! If we don’t love Christ, why would we want to learn more and know how to defend her?

    Perhaps a list of “do’s” and “don’t” is in order.
    Friends and I do:
    =Teach CCE
    =Get involved in Church activities,
    =Facebook Invite Catholic Events
    =Create a private facebook group with each other to uplift and nurture faith habits in our own daily lives,
    = (Most importantly) practice what we preach (sacraments and all)
    = Always learn more about Christ and His holy Church! (If the class is boring find another class or start one that is more interesting)

    Reading the bible, meditating with the rosary, reading encyclicals, watching EWTN, Youtubing Fr. Robert Barron, taking Mission Trips, going to Prolife events. These are a good start…and there’s a whole lot more!

    Friends and I “don’t”:
    =Make jokes and insult priests, religious, or the Church (we follow the laws of subsidiarity and pray, pray, pray if there is problem),
    =Allow a comment attacking the Church, the family or the unborn to go unaddressed
    =Attack those who disagree with our position (our objective is their conversion – which is more than just getting along)
    =Place ourselves in temptation of a sin that we feel particularly prone toward.

    Yes! We have a Faith that is accessible and can be proudly shared!
    Thank you for writing this Lisa!

  4. Ron-26907 August 20, 2013 Reply

    Good writeup!

    We must be as vigilante as the opposition! However, we must be civil!

  5. Bradley-266389 August 21, 2013 Reply

    Things that have helped me: try and tell the difference between people who are seeking honest discussion, vs. those who are looking for a fight. The latter will wear you out. Also, you will never go wrong if you “keep calm and stick to the CCC”, to coin a meme. You can deeply touch those who are interested in honest discussion…. just stay away from those who would just wear you down. Also, be sure of yourself, and love you neighbor as yourself…emphasis on “love yourself”. If someone “defriends” you just because of something you posted…they were never much of a friend to begin with.

  6. Robert-3483 August 22, 2013 Reply

    You join Catholic Memes and have fun doing so at the same time.

  7. Mariabelen-1003322 August 24, 2013 Reply

    Faith is a big issue today, at least in my country, and even with us parishioners, for we have different viewpoints, especially about the novus ordo and tridentine mass. For me, the Fatima messages are true and important for our life as a Catholic. I believe that the tridentine mass, which is the mass we heard from childhood, cannot be wrong. But, I also believe that the novus ordo mass still is licit and valid, although I prefer the other. As long as my faith in the Holy Trinity is in my heart along with my love and reverence for Mother mary, I know I cannot go wrong.

  8. Marie-939654 September 1, 2013 Reply

    I stared at this article for a long time before deciding to add a comment. I go back to the days before social media, and it has its own issues, but I have a certain fondness for that verse from the Gospel. If you read the whole thing it actually refers to divisions in families cause by a choice of God. It’s something I am personally familiar with, although it did not cause “division” per se, I know my own parents, who were and still are very good Catholics, did not understand the choices I made. A good friend of mine had it a lot worse, her parents completely freaked out when she announced that she wanted to enter the convent. That was 35 years ago. They eventually accepted it and today her elderly father is actually proud of his “daughter the nun”. I hear that vocations to the convent are up these days, and most parents don’t threaten to disown their daughters for considering it. This is a good thing. In my day there was a different set of issues, but the appropriate reaction is somehow the same. The respondents who said “be educated” were very right. The rest we have to leave up to the Holy Spirit. I was the first one in my family to go to college, and it was a rude awakening at a state college after 12 years of catholic school. I ran into everything from protestants who told me I was going to hell to atheist philosophers who could make any area of study sound like an attack on religion. What bothered me the most, was not the attacks, but feeling as if I was totally unprepared for them. I honestly didn’t know what was true, and what was compromised. I can understand why someone might have a gripe about the church from some past fiasco, because they did happen, but I honestly didn’t know how they might be perceived by those outside the Church, so as to be sensitive to another’s experience and open a dialog. There was also the case that someone might just want to pick a fight. Some things remain the same! I had a literature professor the first year who considered any religious sensibility a personal flaw. He somehow “honed-in” on me and another girl in the the class who was a good Baptist. I don’t know what tipped him off to me because I deliberately didn’t challenge him. I was completely unequipped to for it and it was outside the domain of the class, so I kept silent in the face of every odd remark. A part of our final exam was oral, so he took his last shot at me. He actually found a way to relate it to my final project and asked why I bothered listening to the pope, because wasn’t he some “old guy out there”. It must have been a moment of great inspiration. I honestly didn’t know what to say, but the answer just came to me. With great respect I told him that if you honestly considered yourself part of the church, “he wasn’t some old guy out there, he was one of you”. He accepted the answer, which I was told, almost never happened. (I got an A for the course) About a month later, that summer, I met the pope, Paul VI. I was in Rome for a youth conference and we all went to the Vatican for the weekly audience. It was in the auditorium that now bears his name. He came in on that “chair” which the leaders of my group told us was for his arthritis, not that he was some kind of “royalty”. At the start of the audience an aide stood beside him on he stage and announced the names of all the groups in that day’s audience. He nodded and greeted each one as they were announced. When the aide got to us, he reached over a grabbed his arm to stop him. He went on extemporaneously for the next 15-20 minutes on how we, the youth, were the hope of the church. There were 600 of us, and we were hard to miss, but I did feel like he was “one of us” then. I took the chance to step inside the head of someone who didn’t understand, to build a bridge, and got back a greater gift of understanding myself. I have had many experiences since then where “building the bridge” where there is a division, is the next step to take. I still have a copy of a talk he gave to the youth of the world in 1975 where he advised us not to embrace any philosophy which draws its energy from placing one group of people at odds with another. “We are all brothers” he said. At the time he probably referred to the class struggle of communism, but it could also apply to the political polarity of today.

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