Religion in Social Media
With this month’s stats showing that Facebook now has 1.11 billion users and Twitter 500 million, it’s easy to see why an increasingly wide range of religious organisations are turning to social media to make new contacts and build their public profiles.
Obviously this one isn’t serious. Source.
Although it’s too early to say whether these networks have changed the way in which people practice religion, faith related pages and posts are now undeniably a key feature of the majority of social media sites. Here’s a quick look at how the most popular sites are becoming involved in religious activity.
Over 43 million Facebook users are fans of at least one page that is categorised as religious, and 31% of users in the U.S list a religion in their profile. At this very basic level it’s possible to see that members of religious groups are using Facebook and are incorporating their religious beliefs into their online activity. It goes further than that though. The ‘Jesus Daily’ Facebook page, created by a North Carolina diet doctor, has over 18 million likes and frequently posts religious imagery and quotations.
Hundreds of thousands of users like these posts and at times it has had more comments than the official Justin Bieber page. Enough said.
Several religious pages have become prolific on Twitter recently, including Huffington Post Religion (@HuffPostRelig), Twitter Religion (@twitterreligion) and Pope Francis (@Pintifex). The first two of these offer news and comments relating to a variety of faiths in a reasonably light and impartial tone. They have 110,000 and 313,000 followers respectively and are obviously branches of larger user accounts. Pope Francis has almost 2.5 million followers, which may not seem many when considering that Catholicism has 1.2 billion members worldwide, but is impressive upon seeing that he only follows 8 other users. And they’re all multi-lingual versions of himself. In total, the 9 versions of Pope Francis have over 6 million followers, which is the same as Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and Tom Hanks. And he’s only been the Pope for 2 months.
It isn’t YouTube precisely that is the topic of discussion here, although there are of course many religious YouTube channels. It is in fact religious versions of YouTube that have come to our attention, in particular GodTube and JewTube.
Although perhaps oddly named, both of these sites have become religious media hotspots by taking videos about X Factor, cute animals and pretty much anything else and posting them alongside religious messages. GodTube also features ‘devotionals’ and ‘newsletters’ pages, on which users can post stories about their everyday lives that are religiously significant in some way. Whilst this may seem clever, JewTube has in fact been the subject of a lawsuit due to its apparent over-similarity to YouTube. The only real problem is the logo, which is almost an exact copy of YouTube’s unrecognisable trademark, except that it’s blue. Anyone mistaking the site for the original would be set straight within seconds, as JewTube as far fewer videos, ads and tabs. In short, it looks nothing like it.
Of course religious bloggers have emerged worldwide since social media became a daily essential, but a rather specific and unexpected blogging network has recently appeared, and it’s definitely worth a look. The bloggers in question are Mormons, who you’d probably imagine to look a bit like this:
You’d be forgiven for this, especially as the teachings of this particular group state that women must cover their shoulders and legs, and modesty and chastity are prized in the community. It might be somewhat surprising then to learn that this is a fashion blogging network: a Mormon fashion blogging network. One of the main sites, dubbed ‘Clothed Much’, lists links to 66 Mormon fashion blogs and states that it is ‘a modest fashion and style blog’. This is actually very informative, letting the general public know that Mormons can actually look like this:
The majority of the blogs don’t even mention Mormons at all on their main pages, but when you click on the ‘about’ tabs many will direct you to http://mormon.org/. The Mormon religion is central to these blogs and has inspired such genius slogans as ‘Modest is Hottest’, showing how seamlessly religion and social media can be combined.
Posted by Rosie Tallant on 9th May, 2013