Tweet the Message? Religious Authority and Social Media Innovation

in Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Open Access

Religious believers have historically adapted Scripture into brief texts for wider dissemination through relatively inexpensive publications. The emergence of Twitter and other microblogging tools today afford clerics a platform for real time information sharing with its interface for short written texts, which includes providing links to graphics and sound recordings that can be forwarded and responded to by others. This paper discusses emergent practices in tweet authorship which embed and are inspired by sacred Scripture, in order to deepen understanding of the changing nature of sacred texts and of the constitution of religious authority as pastors engage microblogging and social media networks. Drawing upon a Twitter feed by a prominent Christian megachurch leader with global influence, this paper identifies multiple ways in which tweets have been encoded to quote, remix and interpret Scripture, and to serve as choice aphorisms that reflect or are inspired by Scripture. Implications for the changing nature of sacred digital texts and the reconstruction of religious authority are also discussed.

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