Skip to comments.Salvation: Just click and confess
Posted on 04/30/2007 6:55:31 AM PDT by NYer
A woman kept her secret for nearly two decades.
Finally ready to confess, she turned not to a minister, but to her computer.
''I am sorry God for not keeping that baby,'' her anonymous confession reads. ``I had an abortion and had kept that secret for over 18 years. I feel so ashamed. Please forgive me!''
The confession appears at ivescrewedup.com, a website launched by the Flamingo Road Church in Cooper City. It's one of a growing number of such sites across the country -- some secular and others church-sponsored -- that offer a place to spill out ugly secrets or just make peccadilloes public.
''I think it helps people understand . . . that we're not here to point out people's screw-ups, that we're here to help them,'' said lead Pastor Troy Gramling, whose nondenominational church launched the site on Easter weekend. ``The church is made of skin and flesh and people that have made mistakes.''
The 6,500-member church created the site as part of a 10-week series on the ways people mess up -- in marriage, parenting, finances and more. The goal of the series is to help congregants learn from their mistakes.
1,000 HITS A DAY
So far, more people are reading the confessions than posting them. The site gets about 1,000 hits a day, with about 200 online admissions.
Lust, pornography and a litany of sexual transgressions top the sinners' hit parade. Theft, lying and alcohol abuse also make frequent appearances.
One person confesses: ''I have done enough drugs to make Keith Richards envious!!!!!'' Another admits wishing death on her enemies.
The posts are poignant and heartbreaking and occasionally frightening, like the accounts of teenagers ravaged by eating disorders and others who have contemplated suicide.
A 23-year-old man who posted on the site told a reporter in a telephone interview that he was struck by how many people wanted to spill their ``dirty little secret.''
''I think there's a feeling that you're not the only one that's out there that has messed up before and there's other people,'' said the man, who declined to reveal anything about himself or his confession.
The Miami Herald contacted the church, seeking confessors, but found none willing to be identified in print.
The 23-year-old who gave the interview said he is a Protestant who doesn't belong to the church but was turned on to the website by a friend who is a member. ''It was very cathartic,'' he said.
The anonymity of the site is key to its appeal. He said he hadn't turned to anyone in his church about the confession he posted and wasn't sure whether he would feel comfortable.
''When you don't know someone, you can't trust them; it takes time,'' he said.
Online confessionals are a natural outgrowth of Internet chat rooms ''where people have this habit of telling secrets to strangers,'' as well as blogs and MySpace pages, said Janet Sternberg, associate chairwoman of the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York.
''Online was made for this stuff,'' Sternberg said. ``It's the perfect environment for people telling secrets anonymously.''
LifeChurch.tv, an evangelical church that broadcasts services to 11 locations, including one in Palm Beach County, started the site mysecret.tv nearly a year ago.
More than 6,000 people have posted confessions and millions more have logged on to read the stories, said Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv.
The church has received some criticism, Gruenewald said, from people who think that ``we're trying to encourage people to confess to a computer instead of God. We just believe it is a catalyst to have people open up to family and friends and God. I think sometimes it can be misunderstood.''
A recent redesign gave readers the option to post prayers or responses to the confessions.
The Catholic Church is among those who reject the idea of confessing online.
Confession is ''the opportunity to confess sins to someone ordained as a priest who is a representative of Christ,'' said Mary Ross Agosta, a spokeswoman for the Miami Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
The websites, with their voyeuristic appeal, may fulfill people's need to feel better about their own behavior or moral values.
'What makes it so popular is not so much the people confessing but people going to read all these things, saying, `My life's not so bad,' '' said Greg Fox, who runs the site dailyconfession.com.
``It's kind of the car wreck you're driving by. You can't help but watch. It's kind of the car wreck of life.''
Fox started the site in 2000 while he was working as a writer, producer and director for The Walt Disney Co. The launch was ''my therapy,'' he said.
''Everything was pixie dust and fun and nice and nothing bad ever happens,'' he said. The site, which averages about 1.3 million hits a day, was ''my way of getting back in touch with reality,'' he said.
People have written on the site about contemplating suicide and abusive relationships, and Fox said he has tried to give those people the resources to get help. Others have threatened the president, prompting Fox to call the U.S. Secret Service.
He reviews all of the posts before they make it to cyberspace and has a backlog of about 4,000 confessions. Fox said the confessions are completely anonymous and that he has no way of tracing them.
'What I hear is it's a lot easier to tell the `truth' in complete anonymity. You can get feedback and find out you're not so weird. You're not the only one who feels that way or has this phobia.''
Interesting idea ping
These kind of things never happen to me, but the other day ....
Jesus, the Divine Physician, knows our wants, needs and desires far better than we know them ourselves. He truly knows what is in our hearts. It is our innate need to unburden ourselves of the guilt of sin that He had in mind when he granted the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins in God’s Name in John 20:23. This way of forgiveness is normative, and it’s such a shame that millions of self-professed Christians, out of ignorance or willfullness, disavow God’s healing Sacrament of forgiveness for such a poor substitute as this and other similarly ineffective means. They seek certainty but find only vague comfort shifting for themselves like this, even when true reconciliation with God can be found - absolutely free! - at any Catholic Church.
It isn't pride in the Church, or pride in MY Catholicism, I actually hurt that there are people out there who are suffering because they have no recourse to the Sacraments. This guy didn't even know what he was missing like the Pharisees he wasn't even looking or acknowledging his sin and he was missing out on God's Mercy. God gave an opportunity to plant a seed though.
I have always heard that a person can go and speak to a priest in the Confessional even if they are not Catholic.:) Obviously, they cannot receive the Sacrament. All I know is that even if I were not Catholic, I would still go to Confession.
Hmm, I never thought of telling him that, I was thinking in terms of Sacrament. I’ll tell him.
Can you believe I came up with this idea about 5 years ago and never followed through with it. Please don`t tell me this website is making a million a year.
Check this out.. Iraq vet maybe? It`s about the 23rd one down, by someone from miami florida, 23 years old:
“I have killed four people. One of them was a 17 year old boy. He died for his religion, his beliefs and his country. I killed him only because he shot at me first. The worst was when I buried my K-Bar all the way to the hilt in this guy\’s throat. I looked into his eyes and as the adrenaline went away, I found myself whispering, \”I\’m sorry\” as the life escaped from his eyes.”
Oh yeah, here is the link.......
(hit “enter” a few times till you get to the confessions)
That's how it begins. If properly nurtured, that seed will sprout. No matter how many millions he makes off his 'click and confess' idea, nothing will ever truly absolve him of his sins except to embrace the Catholic faith.
I wonder what would happen if someone confessed online to a serious crime such as robbery. I assume that no expectation of confidentiality is warranted. If someone reported the post to law enforcement would the site’s owners would then have to reveal the name and contact information for the poster? If the site does not notify law enforcement of certain posts such as confessions to child molestation, can the owners be held liable in anyway?
Pretty sure the guy is full of it. Maybe someone with military experience can say if what he says has a ring of truth. I don’t think it does and I call “ liar, liar, pants on fire”.
And I am going to display my ignorance of matters military but I have to wonder why would you get close enough to someone who has been shooting at you so that you can stab them? Wouldn’t you shoot back first? Only using a knife once the other person was disarmed and the site secured? And where the heck was everyone else while this was going on?
I would appreciate some of you with military experience letting me know if the scenario is likely.
You make an excellent point. I doubt, however, that there is any accountability by this individual.
No thank you. LOL! I have to laugh at the title of that as it pertains to my screename!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What happened to confession Changing mores reflective of use