Acting Quickly to Build a Community: The Religion Project

Screenshot from Religion Project site

Screenshot from the Religion Project Tumblr site

The Religion Project used Facebook and Tumblr to help build religious understanding within our social media community.  I told our Facebook fans to ask any question they wanted about any religion, and then answered them through a combination of user-submitted answers and expert answers.  All the answers are archived at voareligionquestions.tumblr.com.

The idea actually came from one of our more active fans, who had been uncomfortable with some of the comments on a recent post about Muslim comedians, and wrote:

VOA shared a link about comedian Muslims I found out that some of you hate us so please I would like to know from you why do you think you dont like Arabs especially Muslims ?

I realized that a lot of our fans live in countries where they’ve never met anyone of another religion, and that the thing to do would be to help them understand what other religions are all about and to meet some people from those other religions.

The original posts soliciting questions are here and here.  Almost all the questions were absolutely genuine, and we didn’t have a single incident that required me to step in to remove a comment or scold a commenter.

I was able to get some really great people to contribute answers, including Bishop Chane (the Episcopal Diocese of DC) and Dr. Syeed from the Islamic Society of North America.

But actually, the absolute greatest thing that happened was a discussion between fans on the major misconceptions about Islam.  Our Muslim fans jumped in to help teach non-Muslims about what they believe, and you can actually see the learning happen in the thread (which has well over 100 comments).

I did a fairly extensive analysis of the project in terms of what worked and what didn’t, if you’re interested in hearing more.

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