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19 December 2011

2011: The year in tweets

2011: The year in tweets

What a year 2011 was. Uprisings, riots and demonstrations; the death of the world's most wanted; earthquakes, tsunamis and one right royal knees-up were among the topics everyone was talking about. One of the things that characterised the year was the rise of social media. Whatever was happening, people were tweeting about it. So here we take a look back to see how some well-known Christians responded to the year's big stories in fewer than 140 characters.

Disaster in Japan

When the earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan in March, killing thousands and leaving many homeless, much of the twitter activity called for people to pray. Jerome Taylor of The Independent wrote: "Interesting that #prayforjapan is out-trending #japan and #quake."

Rob Bell controversy

During the same month, US writer and church leader Rob Bell caused huge debate over his stance on heaven and hell when his book, Love Wins, was released. Some thought his views would be his undoing, including theologian John Piper who tweeted: "Farewell Rob Bell."

When Bell decided to leave the church he had founded in September to embark on a Love Wins tour there was another flurry of twitter activity, mainly humorous goodbyes, but others made more pointed comments:

Rick Warren tweeted: "Speaking tours feed the ego=All applause&no responsibility. It's an unreal world. A church gives accountability& validity."

The Royal Wedding

On 29 April, the world tuned in - and tweeted about - the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William. ABC indicated that there were 6,389 tweets per minute about the wedding. Christian tweets concentrated on the Bishop of London's address to two billion people. Oh, and the cartwheeling verger…

Tweeted 24/7's Pete Greig: "Good on the Bishop of London: 2 billion people incl millions of Muslims just heard John 3:16." Times religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill revealed: "He was just reflecting the exuberance of the day. All the guests had departed." @wabbey comment to me on cartwheeling verger #RW11

Osama bin Laden's death

When news of Osama bin Laden's death broke on 2 May, twitter erupted with 4,000 tweets a second. Many of the Christian tweets were debating whether it was right to rejoice in his death or not.

Saddleback's Rick Warren was tweeting again, saying: "'I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from wicked ways so they may live.' Ezek33:11."

US writer and author Rachel Held Evans tweeted: "Trying to keep in mind that how I respond to the death of my enemies says as much about me as it does about my enemies."

The end of the World

No, Harold Camping wasn't at it again. But instead July saw the closure of popular tabloid The News of the World following revelations about the extent to which it had been involved in phone-hacking to get stories. Andrew Graystone, director of the Church and Media Network, tweeted a link to a confessional article on the Leveson Inquiry which began in the autumn to look in detail at the inner workings of journalism following the scandal. He wrote: "The Leveson Inquiry is uncovering the culture of the journalistic media at its worst. Some members of the public haven't thought much about how journalism works, and they are understandably shocked by the excesses."

Amy Winehouse's death

Christians joined others in mourning the death of a huge musical talent on 23 July - and some turned their attention to others who lose their battle with addictions.

The Alliance's Krish Kandiah wrote: "I am probably joining millions today who have just put on Back to Black to celebrate Amy's genius. RIP Ms Winehouse."

John Stott's death

As the evangelical Christian world mourned the death of one if its greats on 27 July, many took to twitter to comment. The Alliance expressed its sadness with the words: "Farewell to evangelical leader John Stott - an inspiration to us all." Meanwhile long-time friend Billy Graham wrote of Rev Scott's death: "The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen".

The riots

As the country was shaken to its core by rioters and looters in August, the Church was among the first group to look at how to start rebuilding communities as #prayforlondon started trending. The Church of England newspaper tweeted: "Archbishop of Canterbury: Britain faces waves of anarchy unless hopeless are rescued."

Steve Jobs' death

The brilliance of Steve Jobs was celebrated via twitter following his death on 5 October, and many chose to tweet some of his sayings.

Krish Kandiah tweeted: "'Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me … ' Steve Jobs."

Rick Warren added: "Steve Jobs, the Thomas Edison of my generation. Miss him already."

St Paul's protest/Occupy London

There was a definite split in opinion over this protest. The Alliance's Dave Landrum spoke about the St Paul's protest on Channel 4. St Paul's itself has had a difficult time trying to deal with the occupancy on its doorstep. Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser even tweeted about his decision to leave: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St. Paul's Cathedral."

Colonel Gaddafi's death

While many remained quiet, or simply tweeted the facts, Dr Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, used Gaddafi's death to post a reminder that none of us know when our time is up. He wrote: "Even dictators know not their time. Ponder the coming judgment of God over all humanity in light of the death of Muammar Qadhafi."

Check out Twitter's own Year in Review for interesting statistics on Twitter activity in 2011.