An emoji for forgiveness? It’s on the way…

 An emoji for forgiveness? It’s on the way…Photo: Forgivemoji
Hundreds of people voted for their #forgivemoji favorite when the campaign was launched and exciting design suggestions very submitted.

A coalition of peace-building organizations in Finland has launched a campaign to crowdsource an emoji that symbolizes forgiveness. The idea was created by the Evangelical Lutheran church of Finland, which is also one of the founding organisations of the #forgivemoji campaign.

After the winning idea is selected, the #forgivemoji team will urge managers of the emoji list at the Unicode Consortium to add the idea to the collection, which is used by millions of smart phone users across the world. Of the 2,823 emojis collected by the Unicode Consortium, not a single one connotes forgiveness.

WCC Communication interviewed Tuomo Pesonen, director of communication at the Evangelical Lutheran church of Finland, for the latest news on the campaign, which is open to anyone across the world.

What difference do you think a “forgiveness” emoji will make in our daily collective lives?

Mr Pesonen: This is exactly the point! We need an easy, compact way to express our feelings in situations where we are not able to find the right words. Emojis or smileys do not work properly in the context of serious crimes such as genocides or war crimes. But in our daily lives, we face often situations when such a small genuine gesture could have a great, refreshing impact. To apologize and to forgive are cornerstones for all kinds of peace with each other.

Do you think the emoji has a good chance of getting accepted by the Unicode Consortium?

Mr Pesonen: Since there is not a clear emoji for such a meaningful matter as forgiveness, I do think there should be good chance. I believe that those in charge of making the final decision will realize how great a tool a forgiveness emoji is, not only in mobile dialogue between two individuals but also in social media with larger audiences. This simple, easy emoji could challenge the depressing atmosphere of hate talk.


World Council of Churches Communication, October 23, 2019