Facebook – Popular clergy Facebook group, Mighty Men of Valor, dropped the Ban Hammer on nearly one third of its membership after an article shared on the page generated more than 3,000 comments.
“21 Hilarious Puns About Religion That Will Make You LOL” by Jarry Lee was posted to the closed group that discusses theological, societal, and practical ministry issues Thursday. Comments on the post ranged from the chocolate ice cream emoji to an 8,000 word academic article complete with endnotes and hyperlinked articles that is being submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed theological journal. Debate on the appropriateness of the article in a serious discussion group was the initial point of contention, but within hours, disagreements arose on subjects as wide ranging as the Eternal Functional Subordination debate to the use of didgeridoos in evening worship services.
“I just thought is was a funny article,” said Gary McKinney, long time member of the group and pastor of New Life Church, Richmond. “I had no idea it would cause such a problem.” Mr. McKinney posted the article originally and was one of the first members of the group to be banned: “It’s a shame, really. It was fun talking with those guys for the most part.” When asked if he would attempt to rejoin the group he stated, “The private message the admins sent me said it was permanent and that I’d have better luck getting out of a board meeting early than getting back in the group.”
Mark Johnson, an admin of the group, released a statement after personally removing more than one hundred members: “It saddens me to report that due to an increasing lack of charity in the Might Men of Valor many members have been permanently banned. It is important as we move forward to recognize that disagreements are tolerated, but meanness is not. During the recent Buzzfeed debacle, many members were harassed electronically and challenged on their positions. We want this to be a safe place for clergy to discuss ideas and differences, but not a place where the charge of heresy is leveled over the color of the carpet. If you participated in the social media free-for-all and are still a member, consider yourself lucky.”
Several members who were removed have started new Facebook groups like Survivors of the Mighty Men and Celebrating Differences. These groups promise to maintain the spirit of the original intent of the MMoV group without caving to worldly pressures to be nice to one another.