Religious influencers and forums: the digital faces of belief.
The changing religious landscape can be seen in the digital space, where more and more people are leaving traditional churches, but at the same time Christian influencers and forums are becoming increasingly popular. This exciting trend was recently highlighted in an online article by heise.de by two CERES researchers: Dr. Anna Neumaier and Lina Rodenhausen, who examine metaphors of religion in Christian online forums.
Influencers: Aesthetics and new authorities
The aesthetics of Christian influencers on platforms such as Instagram show similarities, regardless of their theological orientation. Anna Neumaier emphasizes that personalization and privatization play a decisive role in social media. The success of this business model lies in the fact that it appeals to people in the 20 to 40 age group who are no longer active in local churches due to time constraints. Influencers provide inspiration, identification and a personalized approach to religiosity, while adapting to the viewing habits and trend expectations of younger generations.
The forums: self-sorting into conservative and progressive groups
In contrast, forums such as Reddit offer a platform for exchange within groups. Lina Rodenhausen examines Christian subreddits and emphasizes the clear self-sorting of users into conservative and progressive directions. These forums deal with overarching topics such as sexual ethics and abortion, with users often agreeing or strongly disagreeing. Conversion stories play a significant role, both among influencers and in online forums, and create credibility within the respective communities.
Challenges and future prospects
The interview also emphasizes the challenges of digital communication for religious institutions. Anna Neumaier emphasizes that churches have not yet found a perfect form of digital communication and face greater challenges than commercial enterprises. The conclusion of this research indicates that many well-known trends in religious studies, such as secularization and individualization, are also reflected on the Internet. The future will show what consequences this development will have for users and the religious landscape as a whole.
You can read the entire interview at https://www.heise.de/hintergrund/Missing-Link-Forschung-zum-Thema-Religion-und-digitale-Medien.