Published: August 13, 2021
Recently, Facebook has launched a prayer tool that members can use to rally for prayers for job interviews, diseases, or any other challenges. However, it immediately earned varied reactions from different religious groups.
Some leaders of these groups quickly embraced this new feature from the social media giant, saying that it’s a cutting-edge way for connecting people of faith online. However, some are still weighing its value against their concerns about the platform’s privacy and security.
One of the first enthusiasts of this new Facebook prayer tool is the Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas. He believes that it is a tremendous tool that helps spread the words of God and connect believers, especially during the pandemic. In addition, a Muslim chaplain at The Claremont Colleges in California, Adeel Zeb, thinks religious communities should support this initiative.
However, some doubts also arise concerning Facebook’s data policy since the company collects users’ information to personalize advertisements. That being said, the company states that advertisers cannot use prayer posts in targeting ads.
A pastor of St. Ambrose Catholic Parish, The Rev. Bob Stec, thinks that the prayer tool affirms people’s need for an authentic prayer community but worries about the privacy of sharing personal information and people’s traumas on social media.
On the other hand, the minister to women at Second Baptist Conway, Jacki King, argues that the feature can benefit people struggling with finances, mental health, and other problems. She believes that these people currently isolated because of the pandemic are more likely to join in online faith conversations than walk into a church.
While there are varied reactions to the new Facebook prayer tool, most of those surveyed said they would go to Facebook for prayers because it is where the people are.