Even though I admire how much they have grown and I laud their innovative open development platform from a technology standpoint, I have avoided becoming a Facebook user for some time. It just seems so trendy.
However, I recently succumbed when a good friend, who now lives quite far away, invited me to join a Facebook group for former residents of BYU’s Foreign Language Student Resident program. The next thing I knew I was getting Facebook friend requests from all kinds of people I hadn’t heard from in years, many of whom I had met in the FLSR.
As I was setting up my Facebook profile, I noticed that one of the profile options is for “Religious Views.” As I started typing in my religious affiliation, Facebook began to suggest matching religious groups. The suggested match was “Christian – Latter-day Saints.” So I selected the suggested affiliation and saved my profile without thinking too much about it.
However, with all of the recent media attention, in relation to the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney, to the question of whether or not Latter-day Saints qualify as Christians, it occurred to me that the ongoing debate between Latter-day Saints and other Christian groups on the subject may ultimately be decided not by sophisticated theological arguments, but by Facebook.
Facebook has nearly 40 million users world-wide, many of whom are young adults and teens, and it continues to grow. It is being tauted as a potential challenger to Google’s dominance of the web information market. Could it be that in the not-very-distant future Latter-day Saints will be accepted as Christians by a majority of people simply because that is how Facebook classifies them?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if, down the road, the complicated debate, over which gallons upon gallons of real and digital ink has been wasted, is settled by a decision by a couple of PHP programmers and a product designer at Facebook who decided to categorize (in my view correctly) Mormons as a subclass of Christians in the “religious views” database table?
Will we eventually see petitions to Facebook to change the designation by other Christians desperate to exclude us?