With the declining number of Christians practicing their faith, church leaders are getting creative in reaching out to more people. A bishop in Australia uses online humor to share the Good News.
Richard Umbers, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, creates memes to evangelize in his Twitter feed. “You need the contemporary expression of Christian faith,” he said in an interview with the Catholic News Agency.
Memes, @BishopUmbers said, can spread powerful messages with just pictures and a caption, much like political cartoons. In the six years that he has been active in his social media, he noticed that the public prefers constructive conversations rather than a “flame war.”
The bishop calls on Christians to be confident with their faith. He hopes that those who are staunch supporters of the Christian doctrine online could also make a stand in the real world. He believes that social media can be a great tool for the church to communicate effectively with the citizens in Sydney.
Australia faces issues which are dividing public opinion such as abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
Miscommunication is common in the online world and the bishop encourages everyone to practice honesty and consideration, especially those who join online discussions on sensitive issues.
An example of a meme gone bad was a religious meme used by a Japanese restaurant in Sydney.
Mamasan, a three-storey bar and restaurant in Surry Hills, was lambasted online for posting an Easter meme which many saw as offensive, The Daily Mail reports.
The establishment received vicious threats after one of its employees published an image of Jesus Christ with an obscene hand gesture and the caption, ‘We’re closed tonight, it’s Jesus’s fault.’ It was posted on the Japanese restaurant’s Facebook page to announce that Mamasan was closed for the Easter holiday.
The meme didn’t go well with many Christians. Some threatened the staff members and warned destroying the restaurant itself. One Facebook user was quick to tell the irony of the situation. She said good Christians must be forgiving and shouldn’t resort to hate and violence for some wrongdoing.
Bishop Umbers calls for people to be mindful before posting one’s opinion in any social media platform, warning that this will avoid miscommunication and instead, promote a nurturing community online.