UK priest in trouble for four-letter word Facebook posts

25 May 2012

The Reverend Canon Dr Paul Shackerley, vicar of Doncaster, is accused of swearing, mocking religious events and complaining about having to go to church on Sundays, all on his Facebook page.

Sometime around 7pm one fateful Saturday night in March, Dr Shackerley took to his Facebook page to let the world know what he was thinking. “I think I will put my feet up. I’ve done f**k all today other than jazz lesson and visit a friend. I hear the fizz of tonic in my gin beckoning.”

Though a handful of Dr Shackerley’s Facebook friends gave the comments a thumbs up, not all of his parishioners were impressed with his choice of words and an anonymous letter of complaint was sent to senior clergy, including the Bishop of Doncaster.

Now, as senior Anglican clerics investigate the complaint, every comment Dr Shackerley has ever posted is being picked apart for anything untoward, with some calling for him to be sacked for his indiscretions, the Telegraph reports.

Think before you post

Of course, it doesn’t help that Dr Shackerley’s status updates and comments include heretical tidbits like, “Sin is such fun!” and, to further add to his publicised woes, comments where he made plans to have a drink in Peterborough and drive home that night to be there ahead of Sunday morning mass have also been unearthed.

Clearly, some people don’t want the representatives of their faith to be members of Facebook groups called ‘I want to get back with my ex…!”…LOL jk…I’d rather SH*T in my hands and clap!’, with the letter of complaint deeming Dr Shackerley’s comments “abhorrent” and “distasteful”. However, others have said they’re happy to see a priest that is in touch with the common man.

The real moral of this story is to watch what you post on social networking sites, especially if your page is public. Ironically, Dr Shackerley himself wrote about the dangers of inappropriate language on social networks in a parish newsletter in April.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.