Church of England applauded for social media charter

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The Church of England's new social media charter calling for "fair and factual" engagement on the likes of Twitter and Facebook has been welcomed by Christians. 

The charter lists a number of rules for Christians in their online witness, with the first on the list being "truth", followed by kindness.

"We are all different and that makes the world an interesting place - and at times a challenging one," it says. 

"Think the best of people, whether they share our views or are speaking against them and aim to be constructive in the way we engage."

The charter says Christians should be welcoming in the language they use. 

"It's easy for Christians to speak in another language using words that those outside the Church might not relate to," it states.

Other recommendations include being "respectful" and also aware of copyright rules when it comes to posting material owned by others to social media. 

"Do not post or share content that is sexually explicit, inflammatory, hateful, abusive, threatening or otherwise disrespectful," Christians are told. 

Archbishop Justin Welby said: "Social media has transformed the way we live our lives. As Christians we are called to engage in a way which is shaped by the example of Jesus.

"As we respond to the call on each of us to be witnesses to Jesus Christ, I encourage all of us to consider how we live our lives as witnesses online.

"Each time we interact online we have the opportunity either to add to currents of cynicism and abuse or to choose instead to share light and grace.

"My prayer is that through these guidelines and charter we can encourage regular and not-so-regular churchgoers, sceptics and those who are surprised to find themselves interested, to be open to think and experience more of the Christian faith."

Ruth Gledhill, Online Editor at The Tablet and former religion correspondent for The Times, is among those to have signed up. 

She called it a "fantastic and much-needed initiative".

"Please everyone sign up and follow through. Together we can make change and help bring about a kinder world. Thank you Church of England," she tweeted. 

Loretta Minghella, First Church Estates Commissioner, said a lot of "thought and care" had gone into the charter and that it would be "really helpful" for Christians.