Facebook limits freedom of religion (and more importantly, freedom of profile)

As you’ve probably noticed, Facebook is in the midst of rolling out Timeline.

But you may not have noticed that in the process, Facebook did something silly (and I’m not talking about rolling out Timeline lol): it declared itself arbiter of what constitutes a religion.

In the previous iteration of Facebook, I didn’t fill out a lot of personal information, and what little I did was not. so. serious. For instance, I entered ‘Orange Catholic Bible’ in the little box next to Religion. Granted, this is not an actual religion. But Facebook never gave me a problem; it was my profile, and I could make it say whatever I wanted.

So I was mildly surprised when I made the switch to Timeline and discovered that Facebook had taken upon itself to tweak my self-identification:

Writing ‘Orange Catholic Bible’ is silly. I know it’s silly. Those who know I’m a pedant – and thus long yearned to switch to ‘Orange Catholicism’ – know it’s silly. Those who know my favorite color know it’s silly. And those who happen to know what it actually is know it’s really silly.

But it’s not for Facebook to decide what qualifies as an Official State Religion and is thus eligible for inclusion on my profile. If I say I’m an Orange Catholic, goddammit, I’m an Orange Catholic. Not an ‘Other’.

This is Facebook, not a ‘Demographic Information’ questionnaire.


And before someone tries to rationalize anything – never a good idea – the reason Facebook messed with the designation is not because too few people wrote ‘Orange Catholic Bible’ and it fell below some threshold. As evidence, I present the following experiment:

That’s right. Orthodox jodendom – boasting precisely zero adherents – earned Facebook’s imprimatur, but not Orange Catholic Bible (minimum number of adherents: 1).

For the curious among you:

And of course*:

*Lost? Ctrl+F


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