Leave it to the Catholic Church to totally muck up its first foray into the wonderful world of iPhone applications.
In a desperate attempt to look cool and “with it,” the Church circumvented its usual backward, bureaucratic ways to launch an iPhone application that provides Catholics with best practices for confessing one’s sins. (Note: For the unenlightened, one must first confess one’s sins and be absolved by a priest before receiving Holy Communion).
The App not only contains a section for one to log previous sins (a neat feature, BTW), but also provides questions one should ask before entering the ‘confessional’ (a dark, scary little room inside a church where one kneels, recites one’s sins and is then given a list of prayers to recite to cleanse the soul).
Among the iPhone App questions are:
1.) Do I not give God time every day in prayer?
2.) Do I not seek to love Him with my whole heart?
3.) Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult? (Note to Repman reader Peter Engel: only you can answer that question.)
For reasons known only to them, the Church then felt compelled to add one other question to its App; a question that was sure to enrage a key constituent audience: gays and lesbians. To wit: ‘Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?’ Needless to say, the response from gays and lesbians was immediate and understandably negative (insert link of story from Burlington, VT.).
Here’s my question about the iPhone App question: As it was preparing to launch the App in an effort to appear cutting-edge, what genius decided to add the ‘homosexual activity’ question? It immediately undermines the App’s 21st century, forward-looking credibility while unnecessarily alienating a key audience (and, I won’t comment on the obvious hypocrisy of the question in question).
The Catholic Church iPhone App provides a textbook example of how not to engage in social media. An organization must first listen to what’s being said in the blogosphere. Then, it should carefully engage in conversations when, and where, they’re happening on the web to see if their content is being accepted and passed along to others. Only then should an organization begin creating a platform such as an App.
The Church was either in a rush to bring its App to market or purposely decided to offend gays and lesbians with its pointed question. Either way, the Church is once again the big loser. In fact, they remind me of a religious version of the famous mob book authored by Jimmy Breslin and entitled, “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”