Religion

Pastor warns of Facebook dangers, orders staff offline

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PHILADELPHIA — Add another temptation for the faithful to resist: Facebook.

The world's biggest social network can lead married people astray, says the head of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune, N.J.

So, in his Sunday sermon, the Rev. Cedric A. Miller will announce that married church leaders have to log out for good or get kicked out.

This thinking runs counter to churches that are embracing social media to reach their flocks.

Although Pope Benedict XVI has warned that virtual friendships are poor substitutes for real ones, just this week the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Baltimore, was urged to use new media to reach the young.

"If the church is not on their mobile device, it doesn't exist," said Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, La.

The Dalai Lama tweets. His latest: "True compassion brings with it the dispelling of internal tensions, a state of calmness and serenity."

Miller's counseling work, however, has taught him that it's not good to get too chummy with old friends.

It leads to infidelity and other problems.

"There's a reason why your past is the past, and hopefully you have grown in the Lord, matured to not link up with a past that for many people is a Christ-less past," he told the Asbury Park Press.

Miller's wife, Kim, is also a pastor in the church, which has grown to more than 1,000 members since the couple started it in 1987.

Cedric Miller, who is declining further interviews, also said he was giving up his Facebook page — and no sign of one could be found Thursday evening.

He's not alone, though, judging from articles and blogs online that decry not just sexual temptations, but wasted time.

Muslims have mixed feelings, worrying about modesty and likenesses of Muhammad, even as Facebook is the social medium of choice is many Muslim countries, according to a Huffington Post piece earlier this year.

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