Church Calls for Social Networking Accountability

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Gina Meeks

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While many people believe social networking websites are a
positive step in reconnecting and staying in touch with friends, a
church in Crestwood,
Ky., is demanding its clergy to sign a “MySpace,
Facebook and Website Disclosure Agreement
.”

The
Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is
requiring its clergy members to “agree to allow the Kentucky Annual
Conference to examine any and all MySpace, Facebook or other blog and
website accounts.”

The
agreement asks for a MySpace screen name and web address, as well as
a Facebook user name. It also asks that the clergy member agree to
add “the Kentucky Annual Conference as a friend on these sites.”

“I
understand that any information of a questionable nature on these
sites that are written and/or posted by me, could affect my status as
a Candidate/Resident in the Ordination process with the Kentucky
Annual Conference,” the agreement says.

This
disclosure agreement is not the first time a church has attempted to
guard or altogether stop its staff from using social networking
sites.


In
November, pastor Cedric Miller of Living Word Christian Fellowship
Church in Neptune, N.J., told his married church leaders to cancel
their Facebook accounts

or
they would need to resign.
Just days after his declaration, Miller offered to step down after
reports surfaced of his own 10-year-old affair.

According
to Miller, he issued the mandate because 20 couples at his church
have experienced problems because of misuse of the social media site.
He said he had been counseling couples that have had problems because
one spouse reconnected with an old love interest through Facebook.

Although the measure was less extreme, Texas pastors Kerry and Chris Shook arranged a National
Facebook Fast
in August 2010,
an event meant to encourage people to refocus on face-to-face
relationships.

Many
argue that affairs and other such sinister behaviors have existed
since long before Facebook and MySpace. What do you think? Should
pastors and church clergy be required to follow certain guidelines or to
delete their social networking accounts?


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