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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Dalai Lama and Rick Warren: Top Tweeters Among Religious Leaders

December 26, 2010

December 19, 2010

DAVID GIBSON

Religion Reporter, AOL online

Megachurch pastor and global evangelist Rick Warren may not seem to have
much in common with the Dalai Lama, exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
But they are the only religious figures to makeForbes' list of the top
20 "most influential Twitter celebrities." (Though Brazilian writer
Paulo Coelho, ranked No. 2, could also be considered something of a
spiritual guru.)

The Dalai Lama actually came in fifth, and Warren just made it at No.
20. But he shouldn't feel bad as the Buddhist leader also beat Barack
Obama (No. 11), and all three lost out to the top celeb, the
Canadian-born teen pop idol Justin Bieber.

Moreover, Warren, pastor of the influential Saddleback Church in Orange
County, California, has been Tweeting only for a little over a year but
he has more than 200,000 followers, and each Tweet reaches some 1
million people.

"When Twitter first appeared in July of 2007, my staff told me that I
should sign up, but I said no way," Warren said in a statement from his
publicist. "The idea of telling people the minutia of my life seemed so
narcissistic. But while conducting a funeral with Pastor John Piper" --
another well-know evangelical -- "he told me he used Twitter to teach.
So I decided to add it as one of the mentoring tools I use with my
network of young church leaders. I guess other people wanted to listen
in, too."

In fact, Warren has overcome any shyness about Twitter, and regularly
Tweets not only about his love for Jesus but about his love of food
("I've collected 370 different hot sauces traveling the globe. The
hotter the better. I don't just believe in hell. ... I eat it"). He also
likes to pass along the usual piffle that is broadcast on Twitter, such
as his question on Friday: "If superman is so smart,why does he wear his
underpants on top of his pants?"

Several months ago Warren alarmed his followers when he sent out an
urgent Tweet asking for prayers because he'd been blinded by the sap of
a bush while clearing brush at his Southern California home. (Warren
made a full recovery.)

The Dalai Lama, on the other hand, tends to stick to nuggets of
spiritual wisdom that one might expect of such a revered Buddhist
leader. "Within all beings there is a seed of perfection; but compassion
is required to activate that seed inherent in our hearts and minds," he
tweeted on Saturday. (The Dalai Lama had apparently not yet acknowledged
the Forbes ranking.)

Warren said he only learned about the Forbes ranking when a follower
tweeted him with the news. According to the profile of Warren from
Klout, the marketing research firm that conducted the survey for Forbes,
Warren "has built a very large and expanding network quickly through
quality, trustworthy content, and he is regularly engaged by other
influential people who often act on or amplify his messages."

To calculate the list, Klout crunched celebrity Tweets to measure the
"impact of your opinions, links and recommendations across your social
graph" -- whatever that means. According to Forbes, the Klout score is
compiled using an algorithm that takes into account 35 factors,
including a celebrity's number of retweets and followers.

Megan Berry, marketing manager at Klout, told Forbes that just because a
celebrity has "klout" doesn't mean he or she will automatically convince
their followers to adopt their brand. You have to be sure that "one's
brand actually aligns with said celebrity" -- a cautionary note for
religious leaders like Warren and the Dalai Lama.

But Warren, like many other religious leaders, says social networking
tools like Twitter and Facebook are too important to ignore if you want
to spread the word. "For 30 years we've always tried to use every means
available to help as many as possible, and share the transforming
message of the Gospel," Warren said.

Or, as the Jesuit priest and popular author, Father James Martin, has
put it, "If it wasn't beneath Jesus to talk about the birds of the air,
then it's not beneath us to tweet."
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