Belief

Introducing ChristianChirp, the Evangelical Right's Alternative to Twitter

ChristianChirp.com, which promises to be a "family friendly" site, was founded by a man who claims to have been banned from Twitter for defending Rush Limbaugh.

Attention ye Christians! Are you sick of all the smut and sin on that cesspool Twitter? Well, feast your eyes on this: a new Christian alternative to your favorite social networking website!

In October, life survivor and snake oil salesman, James L. Paris, launched ChristianChirp.com, a website that promises to be the "family friendly" version of Twitter. Paris claims he was banned from Twitter for posting a pro-Rush Limbaugh article in which he argues that the NFL rejected Limbaugh’s bid to become a partner in the St. Louis Rams Franchise, not because Limbaugh is a divisive, racist demagogue, but because the NFL is an immoral organization!

Paris is outraged -- outraged!! -- that the NFL chose to ignore the work of a man who "for more than twenty years [has] spoken out against a woman's right to murder her unborn baby" and who had the courage to harp on the meaningless connection between Reverend Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and President Obama.  In the article, Paris salutes Limbaugh, writing, "You sir, dare to  tell people that they have the right to think for themselves, challenge their government, and live up to a moral standard."

There is no way to confirm Paris's assertion that he was banned from Twitter for posting the Limbaugh article. Numerous attempts to speak to Twitter representatives met no response. (Personally, I have been blocked from Twitter a few times because sometimes hyperlinks are incorrectly flagged as spam. Suspension from Twitter can last up to a week -- as it did in Paris's case -- but his account was restored after eight days.)

So maybe all of this would have passed without further incident. But no sooner had Paris signed onto his newly restored Twitter account than Satan reared his ugly head: 

"Within the first day, I received a solicitation from a gay romance site," says Paris. Unable to withstand that combination of hot, dirty manlove and a weeklong Twitter banishment, Paris decided to make the "best of the situation." Thus, Christian Chirp was born unto the world.

Paris, it should be said, is a man who prides himself on overcoming adversity. According to his personal biography (available at his official website), at the age of six, he lost his left eye when he fell into a plate glass window in his family's Chicago home. "With just one eye, and with no complaints, he went forward making the best of the situation."

But the freak accidents didn’t end there. At the age of nine, he nearly lost the other eye at a hockey game. Rather than assume a vengeful God was trying to blind him, Paris pressed forth and became a  zealot Christian who believes the Lord restored his eyesight -- probably so he could spot Satan’s filth and purify it with the light of his righteous justice.

Tragic accidents, abject failures, and personal betrayals peppe Paris's biography. A failed musician, Paris became a licensed stockbroker in the morally dubious securities industry and at the age of 23, became vice-president of one of the largest privately held securities firms in the nation. He wrote a book in 1992 called Financial Boot Camp for Christians (a book so successful, you can purchase one of the 58 used copies for sale on Amazon starting at the low, low price of $0.01). He also founded a website that promises to MAKE YOU MONEY FAST! (I wasn't aware the free market could differentiate between Christian money and my heathen dollars.)

Where so many insider trading crooks and shady used car salesmen failed, Paris succeeded. From 1992 to 2002, he appeared as a guest on hundreds of television and radio talk shows, authored more than 20 books (only six are for sale on Amazon,) formed his own investment adviser, publishing company, and hosted his own national radio shows.

By his mid-thirties, Paris tells us on his webpage, he was a multi-millionaire. (And you thought Christians were supposed to be meek and humble!)

Paris's latest venture, Christian Chirp, is basically a terrible rip-off of Twitter. Aside from the aesthetically offensive layout, the site is a virtual ghost town. After creating my account under the name "Mary Sue" (Pleasure ta meet ya’ll!) I continually refreshed the website for the better part of a day, and there were maybe 20 posts
from users of which the highlights were:

Listening to Fox News with Sean Hannity

Listening to news about our nation. Pray for our nation as it is in real turmoil. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Ps 33.12.

And a message from Paris himself:

Watching American Greed on CNBC. Great show on some unique insider trading schemes.

Seriously. Those were the best ones.

The website is also extremely vulnerable to hacker attacks. On November 6, the site crashed due to a "massive attack on the site," but would be "up and running again by Friday morning." (I read this message at 2:13PM on Friday).

Users occasionally discuss Chuck Norris, Socialism, Susan Boyle (still,) homosexuality ("Jesus loves the sinner, but hates the sin!"), bible passages, and current events, but a vast majority engage in pointless blather -- not unlike the original Twitter. Many ask Chirpers to pray for their sick loved ones. One mother asked users to pray for her eight children, all in various stages of possible swine flu infection. Sometimes, a crazy person posts a spirited rant: "I will be praying this weekend for Israel and against abortion. God have mercy on us for the blood of the unborn that covers our land!"

Ironically, when the issue of the House healthcare bill arose, the focus of discussion was on abortion and birth control, ("Do you know whats [sic] in the 2000 page health care bill? How about 50 million for Planned Parenthood to set up clinics in schools?") instead of reform that could actually help cancer patients (unlike the pointless ritualistic act of repeating "Hail Mary" a thousand times).

It makes sense that Chirpers don't concern themselves with earthly matters like healthcare legislation. One user, upon returning from a Chirp break, posts, "did I miss anything good? Like the Rapture? LOL!" When you're just killing time until Jesus plucks you from the planet and lifts you to Heaven, while all the non-believers burn on Earth, there's no reason to waste time thinking about how to reform healthcare.

An insightful Chirper clarifies that "Jesus never told us to insure the sick.he told us to HEAL the sick :)," and also reminds her fellow Chirpers, "we are falling down on our job, church!" Apparently, this means we don't need healthcare reform. Everyone just needs to pray harder.

In the wake of the Fort Hood Massacre, users linked to stories with headlines that screamed, "Muslims: America's chickens have come home to roost," and referenced the ABC story that claims the Fort Hood shooter went to same mosque as two of the Sept. 11 terrorists. There probably would have been more hysterical conjecture had the site not crashed, or been hacked, around the time of the shootings ... again.

As I created my account, I popped over to the Terms and Conditions to see What Jesus Would Do if he ran a micro-blogging website. "First off, this is a dictatorship," the ToC guidelines read. Oh, okay. Sounds Christ-like already. Go on.

Because we publicly bill ourselves as a Christian site, we will not tolerate submissions of content that are examples of sensationalistic disrespect to the Christian faith, or to any bona fide religion, for that matter.

Not sure what qualifies as a "bona fide religion" here -- does Islam count? -- but here we reach the crux of the problem. Christians who are given to isolation and paranoid zealotry now have yet another way to shield themselves from dissent or outside influence.

Christians already have their own dating websites (www.christianmingle.com), Facebook and/or Myspace alternatives (http://www.faithlight.com/), radio (http://www.christianradio.com/), television (http://www.tbn.org/), movies (http://www.christianmovies.com/), and news (http://www.christiannewswire.com/). They have even built entire communities (http://www.christiancommunities.com/), presumably on the hope of never, ever having to interact with a non-believer. Christian Chirp is a natural extension of their quest for homogeneity. In fact, with so many Christian alternatives on the web, one could live one's whole life as a Christian without hearing about the more terrible things the church has done and supported -- genocide, war, slavery, persecution of women and homosexuals, and the suppression of science, to name a few -- or without grappling with the glaring hypocrisies and contradictions in the Bible.

Secularists may respond to this Christian retreat into an online ghetto nonchalantly, but in fact, it is extremely dangerous. In the absence of opposing ideas, one’s intellect cannot expand. Let's remember, evangelical Christians still hold positions of great power in America, including high-ranking government and military positions. If their intellect dies -- or is increasingly shaped by websites and web communities that only serve to reinforce a narrow, religious point of view -- we all suffer.