In a dramatic move viewed by many observers as a step towards hastening the Lord’s work in the last days, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called their first Facebook member. Area man Aaron Fizz, of the Provo 279th ward, was asked by his bishop to accept the calling of a Facebook member, and will commence his new duties as soon as he can be sustained in sacrament meeting and set apart by his local leaders.
In his bishop’s charge to him, Brother Fizz was exhorted to be willing to bear other members’ over-the-top political statements, to friend with those who friend, to like those who stand in need of liking, and to play Mafia Wars at all times and in all places that he may be in, even until death or his wife says it’s time to come to bed.
The Church Newsroom explained, “Brother Fizz already hangs out at the Bloggernacle more than at church. He can now magnify his calling and reap eternal reward as he peruses Mormon Facebook groups and provides witty and insightful comments on blog postings. We view it as a win-win situation.”
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve officially announced this summer that missionaries will use Facebook, blogs, emails and text messages to spread the church’s message. “It is only natural”, says Perry, “that this program would be expanded to the members as well. As President McKay would have said, ‘Every member a Facebook member.’”
According to religion professor and non-Mormon scholar Jan Shipps, the rolling out of the Facebook member program was probably inevitable, given the Church’s recent push to call Facebook missionaries. “Religion ultimately does not rest on brick-and-mortar churches, but on internet experiences.”
Like a stone cut by Al Gore’s hands out of the mountain, virtual membership is expected to skyrocket. The Church expects that any lost tithing revenues from members not attending local congregations will be more than made up for by proceeds from Facebook ads for “The Work and the Glory”, “Tennis Shoes among the Nephites”, reprints of “To Young Men Only”, and other popular Deseret Book titles.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg lauded the Church’s new Facebook efforts, saying that it would make the Church more open and connected. “The LDS Church, like Facebook, is here to build something for the long-term. Anything else is a distraction.”
According to the Newsroom, the Church’s page announcing the new Facebook member program has already garnered over 15 million likes, although critics counter that this number may be inflated.
As for Brother Fizz, he is hoping that the blessings from his service and the skills developed as a Facebook member will land him a paying job reading Bloggernacle posts, archiving the funniest comments, and creating hilarious Mormon Facebook memes.