The reasons worship services should be offline are all too human. Every week, in the front lobby, the secretary of the church I attended in kindergarten updated the archive of sermon recordings. This was in the early 1990s, so the archive was a spice rack of cassette tapes, with maybe two or three copies for each sermon, in case multiple homebound church members wanted to listen simultaneously. That sort of care for those who can’t make it to church on Sunday—whether occasionally or long-term, due to old age, chronic illness, or disability—is uncontroversial. Most churches have long since moved past…

Early reactions from evangelical, mainline, Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish leaders. Facebook already asks for your thoughts. Now it wants your prayers. The social media giant has rolled out a new prayer request feature, a tool embraced by some religious leaders as a cutting-edge way to engage the faithful online. Others are eyeing it warily as they weigh its usefulness against the privacy and security concerns they have with Facebook. In Facebook Groups employing the feature, members can use it to rally prayer power for upcoming job interviews, illnesses, and other personal challenges big and small. After they create a post,…

Church leaders are navigating new digital waters, with some hilarious results. Megan Castellan has been livestreaming morning prayer from home every day through the coronavirus pandemic for her parishioners at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca, New York. But Thursday’s prayer (March 26) was an “epic disaster,” Castellan told her followers on Twitter. Both the rector’s dog and cat decided to participate in the Facebook Live video, hovering over her shoulders on the couch. Offscreen, her husband, forgetting Castellan was on camera, made a loud phone call, then motioned to her that he was going to go get tested for…

Michael Bloomberg found loopholes around Facebook’s political ad bans to promote his presidential campaign on social media. In response, Facebook has redefined its political ad policy. But what’s the difference between an ad and “branded content”?