Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2015 Volume 11 :: Article 13
2015 Volume 11, Article 13
Faith Memes: An Analysis of Authority as Reflected in the Social Media of Churches in New Delhi

Author: Benson Rajan (MICA)

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ABSTRACT

Growing access to digital technology in India has led to increased reliance on the interface between religion and social media. The Internet provides traditional religious authorities with tools with which they can reinforce their official practices and beliefs. However, the Internet is also capable of generating multiple meanings from religious and nonreligious content. The multiplicity of meanings can establish a segregated, polarized, and nonhierarchical space. In this article, I seek to understand the use of faith memes on the churches’ Facebook pages. I focus on issues such as authority and the lack of participation that are involved in the use of faith memes as expressions of religious faith. I also analyze the online responses to the faith memes as projected through online tools such as “comment” and “like.” The analysis reflects a form of participatory social action on Facebook that may relate to the traditional hierarchical structure of Sacred Heart Cathedral Church (a Catholic church) and Abundant Life Church East Delhi (a Protestant church) as reflected in their Facebook pages. I employ visual rhetorical analysis of the two churches’ Facebook pages to comprehend social media’s interface with religion. I chose the sample of a Catholic church page and a Protestant church page in an attempt to provide a balanced analysis of the two largest Christian communities in India.

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