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Give us this day our daily reel: faith meets social media

Dating app for faithful, Bible influencers and tiktoker priests: from popular to pop, faith tries to get closer to young people by exploiting their media


Bringing God’s message to remote places in the world was the Erasmus of centuries past. With some small differences: malaria risk and possible kidnappings on the one hand, memorable hangovers in Valencia and questionable rents on the other. Today is the time of agile evangelization, in smartworking, where social networks are a fundamental part of what could be called a real religious rebranding operation.

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Un post condiviso da FRG Ministry (@frgministry)

Geological eras have passed since the time of the missionaries in Africa and the sisters in the East; far also the memory of the omnipresent (literally) Radio Maria, of the sisters at the talent shows, of the popes on Twitter. In a world that travels fast, one of the oldest and slowest institutions has begun to confront the social galaxy. To do that are not only young priests like Don Alberto Ravagnani (youtuber Montemagno style), but especially very young lay tiktoker. White flies? If you consider that in Lisbon, during World Youth Day 2023, the first Catholic Influencers Festival was held, shouting "go around the world" (reference Mark 16:15), probably the issue is taken very seriously.


la ragazza perfetta non esist- AH NO🤪

♬ suono originale - 𝑵𝒊𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒂 ✞

But who are these digital missionaries? Not only Catholics, but also Protestants and Anglicans; many are Americans, North and South, but there are also Italians. Among these we can mention Benedetta Palella, content creator from over 30 thousand followers who recites the rosary live, three times a week. Or Nicola Camporiondo, an audience of 90 thousand souls, who shares his life as a practicing believer, with a good dose of Christian memes. Another phenomenon that is catching on, shared on social media, is Bible journaling: imported from the United States, it is a spiritual exercise that consists in reading sacred texts, accompanied by notes, underlinings, drawings and reflections.

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Un post condiviso da Janell (@gatheringhoney)

Social and spirituality also come together in the search for a partner. In fact, there are many dating apps for Christians like SALT: how do they differ from the canonical Tinder, Bumble and Meetic? After a welcoming biblical quote, each time different, the user can start to customize their profile. After the canonical profile photo, you can add a short vowel, to make your voice known. Immediately below, no catchy and enigmatic words to impress, but a short answer to the question "what is faith for you?". Extravagant hobbies and bragging skills as a chef and art critic will not impress; the badges that are really worth are those of the section "how do you best connect with God?". Among the answers: Catholic Mass, Bible reading, Latin Mass, retreats, sermons, volunteering, evangelization... Success rate of the app? Browsing the section "Stories of SALT", it would seem that the step from the first meeting at the altar is very short: the wedding is not insured, but almost.

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Un post condiviso da SALT (@be_salt)

When believing it seemed to be out of fashion, if not something to keep hidden, social networks try to reverse the trend. However, the tendency seems to be that of a faith neither lived at the community level, nor mediated by a church as an institution. What prevails is a direct relationship with spirituality, lived individually on the American Protestant model (Bible journaling): even if battered and in the process of being overcome, soft power USA also influences religion.

Alone in spirit but looking for a community to belong to, preferably online that is less challenging. Who knows that in the Metaverse the next schism will be consumed: on the one hand the metapriests, on the other the Orthodox of the Mass in presence. Or that the sermons, to avoid too much subjectivity by the soldiers of Christ, will be written by ChatGPT. Never as in this case can be said: only Divine Providence knows.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios