Social Media and Religion

I was watching a religion-based video titled “Why I hate religion but love Jesus” by Jefferson Bethke, a Christian but there was also one with the same title by a Muslim spoken word artiste. The two went on to give their beliefs and reasons why religion has over time lost meaning, with people more concerned about denominations other than the love of Christ.

At one time in the 4 minute clip Jefferson quips, “Religion might preach grace, but another thing is practiced. They tend to ridicule God’s people, like they did to John the Baptist; They can’t fix their problems, and so they just mask it; Not realizing religion is like spraying perfume on a casket.”

He goes on to assert that the problem with religion is that it never gets to the core. To him, it’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores. He goes on and on for a whole four minutes challenging the concept of religion all along invoking some mind based arguments in my head. It gets very uncomfortable when he challenges Christians on whether they would let Jesus in, were he to visit their church. Give him a five for challenging the common line of thought, and our general view of the concept of religion and life.

For me,  the most important thing I gather from the clip that has had 30 Million views (that’s quite a lot for a spoken word piece) is that we should always be prepared to be challenged intellectually even about the things we are too sensitive about. That’s exactly what social media does in our lives.  Based on the fact that it is a conglomerate of billions of people from diverse cultures, religions, beliefs and intellectual abilities, social media provides a unique avenue to advocate for beneficial aspects of various beliefs while condemning those that are detrimental to societal growth and development.

For a long time, terrorists have used their Islamic belief as an excuse for the atrocities they have committed world over. Through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites, Muslims have come out to defend their religion from misuse by some few mentally compromised individuals. In doing this, they have managed to convince some people that Islam is a religion of peace and not violence.

In our local context for example, social media has given Kenyans a platform to call out rogue religious leaders which has led to their investigation and subsequent shaming.

As of August 2015, Statista.com estimated the total number of people on social media sites as 1. 79 Billion.  What other platform has such an audience?

Social media has revolutionized the way people interact and religion has not been left behind.  Prayer and Bible apps,  religious quotes and sayings apps have been developed, online streaming of church services is taking root,  the use of private Facebook, Twitter,  Instagram accounts to express religious beliefs is also happening just to mention but a few of the ways social media has and continues to be utilized to address religious issues.

For me the most significant of all is the aspect of bringing everything down to just a click away.  The Joel Osteen’s ministry for example has brought the church into people’s hand held devices like mobile phones thus making obsolete the demand that one has to physically attend church service to know more about the God and the Bible.

If properly utilized, social media has such vast capabilities from Vlogging, blogging to owning a simple private account where one can express their beliefs freely without censorship.

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