Last week, Texas passed the Heartbeat Bill, which prohibits abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Of course, social media and the news quickly became flooded with a number of opinions: some celebratory, others condemnatory. Just scrolling through the Instagram stories of my friends on my personal Instagram account was enough to let me know how divisive this bill had already become, if I wasn't already aware.
Which begs the question: Should Catholic organizations share or talk about current events that speak on societal, moral, or political issues?
First off, I'm never going to recommend that you don't talk about your faith and beliefs because of fear about how it will affect your ministry. Absolutely defend what you believe in and don't shirk from the truth! However, what I do want to do is evaluate where these issues fit into your marketing strategy, if at all, when it comes to divisive issues.
So, does talking about these issues make sense for your organization? Here's some ways to decide:
Do you feel equipped to provide commentary?
What I would highly, highly, highly recommend against is simply sharing an article on your social media platforms with little to no context. We want to provide commentary because oftentimes, these are confusing issues. If your organization can be looked to as an authority on how to discern the morality at play within the issue - by all means, go ahead and share. Churches with strong priests who are willing to take on tough topics would most likely fall into this category, as well as "teaching" organizations: educational institutions, professional organizations, news platforms, and the like.
Another way to phrase this question: If someone showed up in the DMs wanting clarity on this issue, would I feel equipped to accurately defend the Church's teachings in a Christ-like manner? If the answer is no, then it's probably wise to sit out of the conversation or point to organizations that can do so.
Does it fit your purpose/mission?
I'm not saying this from a political or moral standpoint, but purely from a marketing standpoint: If it doesn't relate to your niche, then it probably doesn't make sense to share. Not because you don't feel strongly about it, but because it's not your lane. Want to share on your personal social media? Go for it. But unless it relates back to your mission, all you're going to do is enter a conversation that isn't related to you and confuse your audience about your mission. It's like the Super Bowl: unless your ministry has some connection to it, you probably aren't sharing the play by play of scores on your ministry account.
But doesn't every moral issue relate to my Catholic niche?
Yes and no. If part of your public mission is to share the truth about Catholic teachings, then yes, most if not all moral issues would fall into this category. But if your public mission is to get people to pray the rosary and decorate their homes with Catholic art, then Catholic moral teaching isn't your primary public mission.
What do I mean by public mission? I think almost all of us have the goal to get as many people to heaven as possible. But how we do that differs: some of us make Catholic products that remind one of the true, good, and beautiful; others write or speak about issues that stir the heart towards God; and still others run ministries or groups that offer encouragement and fellowship. So unless the one of the ways you specifically do that is by illuminating Church teaching, then this doesn't fit your niche.
Some Catholic niches that would probably fit the public mission for talking about this particular bill might include pro-life and healthcare organizations, among others.
Will sharing this information assist my target audience?
Let's say your target audience is Catholic retreat center leaders. Most likely, 90% of them are going to have already seen the information you're about to share and agree with you on it - essentially, you'll be preaching to the choir. But, let's say your target audience is millennials who struggle to accept Church teaching. This information will be highly valuable for them, provided you fall into area #1 of being able to communicate it well.
Chances are, if you're reading this blog post, you already knew about the Heartbeat Bill. However, I can put my unique spin on the information by sharing how to communicate the information: that's my specialty and how it can assist you. Just adding it to my newsletter that the bill passed wouldn't really assist you, because most people in my target audience would already be aware of it, and I'd simply be adding to the information overload.
Do I typically share other personal information?
Does your ministry involve sharing other aspects of your life? For example, a blogger or influencer might regularly share other beliefs they hold as well as products they use, stores they support, and even pictures of their family life. If that's you, then sharing your opinion on a cultural issue would fit well with your brand and mission - people wouldn't think it felt out of place.
However, if your social media account is representing a larger organization that does not typically share personal information about its leaders, then you may want to refrain from entering the conversation as it will seem out of place for your brand to be infusing these personal observations.
Discernment is Key
At the end of the day, what I don't want to happen is for you to feel like you have to comment or show your support on every Catholic issue in a public way. That is an exhausting amount of responsibility, especially when you're trying to run your ministry and if you feel ill-equipped to speak on every issue.
The most important element, as always, is discernment. Bring God into your marketing strategy. Pray that He will prompt you and fill you with the Holy Spirit's understanding when you are called upon to speak out and wisdom to know when to refrain.