Welcome to ‘Christian Facebook’! Please, no sexy gay swearing

July 14, 2015 Originally published on SFGate

The real question, really, is what took them so long?

It’s 10 years into Facebook’s rein of immoral terror, and only now is a timorous, Christians-only social network popping up in (heavily evangelical) Brazil, called Faceglória, already claiming to have amassed 100,000 subscribers in a single month, in large part because Christians in developing nations are still a very gullible bunch, much to the church’s relief.

Facebook for Christians! A terrific idea. Surely everyone’s welcome, yes? Surely the site’s mission statement freely declares, “Open to all in Christ’s love, because everyone knows Jesus was fond of lepers and prostitutes and all sorts of rebellious, anti-establishment hooligans, and they all likely took lots of hallucinogens and meditated every day, and were very much against institutionalized dogma, myopic spiritual thinking, flagrant censorship of exactly the kind Faceglória is eager to provide.”

Or, you know, maybe not.

Indeed, it appears this latest attempt at “Facebook for Christians” is all about – let’s see if I have this right – “gay atheists who swear during rough sex.”

Not much of an exaggeration, I’m afraid. Like any organized religion (or Republican party) worth its inherent moral panic, Faceglória defines itself less by what it celebrates than by what it bans.

Which is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: No sex, no gays, no swearing, no raunch, no taking the lord’s name in vain, no violence, no semi-naked anything, no intellectual curiosity or complex questions about the meaning of a spiritual life, no use of upwards of 600 banned words (!) the site’s creators deem too dangerous and let’s just assume three of them are “ecstatic anal play.”

Note: NOT wearing a bikini

Note: NOT wearing a bikini

Sound familiar? Indeed, it’s a version of extremist, fossilized Christianity most progressive believers here in the first world probably wish would vanish from the discussion.

It’s that heavily sanitized, dumbed-down moral universe favored by spastic Mike Huckabee-types, a place where censors work ‘round the clock to scrub away pictures of bikinis and Buddha, not to mention treacherous mentions of goddesses, orgasms, leather things that go snap in the night.

Is it easy to mock Faceglória? It is, indeed, very easy to mock Faceglória.

But let’s be fair. Because there’s no question that Facebook itself, much like Instagram or any other successful social platform – and pretty much all anonymous commenting forums, like the one below this very post – are strewn with low-vibrating garbage, snarling meanness, trolling, racism, dick pics, drunken selfies, sexism and hate of a thousand flavors. It’s easy to see why a friendly Christian site offering freedom from the Internet’s nasty, abusive underbelly would be so appealing.

But it’s also sort of impossible. Because as soon as you step beyond the most flagrantly offensive, illegal content and start deciding what other words, thoughts, images, ideas your audience should and should not be allowed to see, you’re basically designing a cult – and in Faceglória’s case, a sadly homophobic one, at that. This is the Internet, Faceglória people. You’re trying to contain the uncontainable, and in so doing, throwing the baby Jesus out with the bathwater. (#LoveWins, Brazil – haven’t you heard?)

Will Faceglória and its ilk survive, even thrive, for long? Who knows? Fundamentalism is still big business in developing nations, where higher education is lacking and hence the church can still rely on its classic, fear-based rulebook to induce dread and lure in new adherents.

But everywhere else? It’s becoming far more pertinent to wonder whether such exclusionary beliefs, such narrow-minded religious thinking is long for this messy, gayly married, women-empowered world. It’s far easier to see cute experiments like Faceglória (and Huckabee, and the Catholic church, et al) as strange anomalies, quaint throwbacks destined for niche success at best, as the rest of the developed world lurches ahead, imperfect and open-throated, rainbow-colored sins and all. Jesus would be proud.

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Mark Morford

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