Facebook won’t be bowing to a conservative Christian evangelist and internet personality’s plea for a cross reaction emoji anytime soon.
Earlier this month, the social network rolled out a rainbow flag reaction emoji, allowing users to honor the LGBTQ community when responding to friends’ photos, statuses and other posts. When the emoji was unveiled June 9, Facebook officials said they created the reaction in an effort to “celebrate love and diversity” while reaffirming the company’s stance as “a platform that supports all communities.” For many queer people specifically, the icon felt like a special nod to the rainbow flag’s creator, Gilbert Baker, who died in March.
Still, the move incensed some conservative Christians. On June 24, Facebook user Hikmat Hanna posted an image asking the social network to create a cross reaction emoji. The next day, Hanna’s post caught the eye of Arizona-based evangelist Joshua Feuerstein, who shared the image with his more than two million Facebook followers.
As of Friday afternoon, Feuerstein’s post had racked up more than 19,000 likes, and had been shared more than 9,000 times. “You can’t cheat nature. God cannot create people of the same sex to ever fall in love with one another,” one person commented. “He can’t.” Added another: “People took a symbol like the rainbow which means beauty and a non-destructive action and turned it into a destructive sinful symbol.”
Others, however, took a defensive stance. “Perhaps as Christians, we should be more worried about our own sins and learning the word of our lord before passing judgment onto others or worrying about what reactions Facebook has available,” one user wrote. “Just a thought.”
Either way, a Facebook spokesperson squashed Feuerstein’s request, telling HuffPost in an email Thursday, “This reaction is not actually available on Facebook, and is not something we’re working on.”
Feuerstein’s conservative views are well-established. In 2015, he unsuccessfully tried to order a cake that read, “We do not support gay marriage,” from a Florida bakery. Later that year, he made headlines when he recorded a video blasting Starbucks for using minimalist red cups without any direct reference to Christmas during the holiday season.
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