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Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Putting your faith on Facebook — Is it heavenly or pure hell?

Most college-age young people turn to Facebook to share elements of their lives — including their faith. The question then becomes: how much to tell?

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New studies show that the more people share about their faith, the more they face both costs and benefits, according to an article by David Briggs on the Huffington Post.

"Those with similar religious beliefs will have more positive impressions of those who disclose a great deal about their faith," Briggs writes. "Others may be more likely to hold negative stereotypes of individuals who talk about God's plan for their lives and list Casting Crowns, Switchfoot and Mercy Me among their favorite musical groups."

The studies also indicate that "spiritual dialogue" on Facebook is "dominated by those already committed to their faith."

That may be "sobering news," Briggs writes, to evangelizers hoping to tap social media to enhance religious connections to students or find converts among younger generations.

In fact, blogger Hemant Mehta argues in The Washington Post that wide use of the Internet leads inevitably toward atheism.

"It wasn't long ago when statements made in a pulpit were simply assumed to be true," Mehta writes. "Now, a child with an iPhone in the pew can find ample evidence contradicting whatever the men of God are saying."

And it's not just the "abundance of information" that is unsettling churchgoers, writes Mehta, who blogs at The Friendly Atheist. It's online interactions with groups of articulate, persuasive atheists.

Atheists love the Internet, he says. "We can tell Christians the emperor's not wearing any clothes."

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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