Religious Meme is Increasing


“There are more and more religious memes in circulation. In these digital photos and videos humor is tried to spread a message or question. “Social media is a sanctuary where young people can be critical of their faith.”

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The pain can be read from his face when actor Ben Stiller is lying on the ground, with his arms and legs spread, as if he is being celebrated. Film service Netflix pulls on one arm, while the social media Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram pull on the other arm and both legs. He clearly experiences it reluctantly, but also seems to accept that struggling does not make sense.

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“If you try to read the Bible,” it says above the image, in this case, a “meme” (say: miem). A joke in one image, a funny combination of a picture with a short text. You can find them on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. Often there is a message in it and a meme expresses a recognizable feeling.

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For all subgroups in the world, such as religious ones, there is a forum, blog or Facebook page on the internet. And they also have their own memes. Their religion comes together with internet culture. Younger Christians, Jews, and Muslims, in particular, have conversations and discussions about their faith in digital space, according to the ‘rules’ of social media. That is special because the rules and habits for a discussion on the internet differ considerably from the rules within religions. A lot of image and humor is used online, and that is less common within the faith.

“Institutions such as the church itself can use this information both online and offline to show ‘how it works’. They can address issues that are important to young people, and correct misconceptions that live among them, “says Campbell. Take the aforementioned Bible memo: How do Bible stories remain interesting and manageable for a young generation that is interested but easily distracted? “Instead of turning away from the internet, the church must ask itself how it can shape the internet culture to contribute to the discussions.

A meme is of course not just an image with a short text. He almost always refers to something else. For example a film, actor or other memes. To fully understand the joke, it is not only knowledge of a subculture that is important, but also knowledge of pop culture and meme mores is required. So quite complicated.

The text is probably less understandable. Muslims know that an abaya is an overcoat for women that covers the entire body. The joke lies in the fact that the garment stands for ‘modesty’, while makeup implies excess, Campbell explains in one of her studies.

A meme can also be playful without promoting religious values. The abaya meme can be interpreted in different ways. Does the meme maker condemn the wearing of make-up or the abaya? Or are the sharpeners here who criticize women wearing headscarves and abayas when they wear make-up ridiculed? “Everything depends on the eye of the beholder, the observer determines the meaning,” says Klaver. “What one finds funny is offensive to the other.”