I'm a software developer, and I'm making an application that is, basically, a religious-inspired social media platform. It's free, not freemium, no consumables, nothing to pay for and users have access to all content.

The way I want to monetize my product is to allow sponsors to pay me to host ads on the platform, where the ads are, of course, still on-par with the theme of religion. I am passionate about this project and I want it to become a source of income for me.

My significant other posed the question, "Is it immoral to use religion to turn a profit?" And since, I have been wrestling with this question. I know religious figures get paid (somehow) for their services, so why shouldn't I? I don't know who to ask, so here I am.

  • Hi bms117, welcome to philosophy SE. Interesting question. I'm curious, why do you think it might be immoral? What ethical rule would it violate, or what harm would it cause? – Adam Sharpe Jun 13 '19 at 17:43
  • I made an edit which you may to rollback or continue editing. Welcome! – Frank Hubeny Jun 13 '19 at 17:56
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    The usual distinction made is between profit and compensation. If you are merely using revenue to support yourself/family, so that you can continue to provide the service, that would be just like a church accepting donations. "Turning profit", in the biblical sense, in the “you cannot serve both God and mammon" sense, is quite something else. It is using money to make more money for the sake of more money. What you describe does not seem to be that. There is some vagueness in this distinction, but, in good conscience, one should be able to feel the difference when crossing over. – Conifold Jun 13 '19 at 18:06
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    There might be an issue with this particular way of getting revenue, highlighted in the well-known episode of Jesus expelling the merchants from the Temple. But I do not think that a social media platform can be analogized to the Temple. Rather to the square in front of it, where social events are hosted for the faithful, and vendors sell their goods. – Conifold Jun 13 '19 at 18:13
  • @Conifold, that's a great analogy in the second half of your comment there. I'm not demanding money and the application wouldn't be shut-down if I don't make enough money from it. Just like you said, it's like the application is the space where users come to connect, then the vendors are the sponsors showing their goods in the form of advertisements -- I'm just hosting the space! Thanks for this. – bms117 Jun 13 '19 at 20:25

From a Judeo-Christian perspective, it does not appear to be immoral to use religion to turn a profit.

The Christian text from [Timothy 5:18] says:

For Scripture says, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."

This Jewish text from [Leviticus 19:13] does not object to a worker receiving wages:

You must not defraud your neighbor or rob him. You must not withhold until morning the wages due a hired hand.

However, there may be circumstances where these do not hold. There may also be other ethical positions where taking payment for one's labor is inappropriate under certain circumstances.

BibleHub. Retrieved on June 13, 2019 from BibleHub at https://biblehub.com/1_timothy/5-18.htm

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  • Thank you for using some scripture in your answer, I really appreciate that. I'll be taking those into consideration when making my final decision to monetize or not. – bms117 Jun 13 '19 at 20:21

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