Monday, August 26, 2013

Internet Memes and User-Generated Religion

For your case study paper each of you will be exploring an example of religious internet memes and how/what they communicate about religion. Internet memes are concepts or ideas that carry a cultural meaning taking the form of videos, images or texts that  are adapted to a particular message and spreads swiftly via the internet. A variety of religious memes can be found online and they can be designed to communicate  a range of playful, sarcastic or even sacrilegious messages. They can be focused around a particular religious figure such as Jesus or the Pope, or even be used to express religious identity or make theological  critiques, housed in  online religious meme collections such as Anglican Memes or Buddhist Memes. What other kinds of religious memes have you come across on the internet and what seem to be the intention of their messages?


  1. Howdy... There are so many out there, it's hard to pick from. But I would like to share this website:
    where you can make your own church sign!
    Also, some good-old Satanism memes:
    Enjoy! Ruth

  2. One of my favorite religious memes is Buddy Christ. Derived from the movie Dogma, it is an image of Jesus wearing traditionally Catholic "beard, robe and thorns" garb while grinning and giving a thumbs up sign. The meme has taken on various intended meanings. Initially, the meme was used to deliver backhanded compliments and outright sarcasm about Jesus and Christianity. Later, it was used to send ironic messages from Christians who wanted to poke fun at their orthodox roots. It would be interesting to examine how the meme transformed, as it was originally offensive to Christians who later co-opted it for their own reflexive humor. Here's a link with some interesting data about the meme and an example:

  3. Christian Memes ( ) and are two very different places I’ve encountered religious memes.
    Christian Memes is a group on Facebook that posts various types of Christian-related memes, including all kinds of content from Bible verses to today’s Christian leaders. I believe the intention of the messages is mostly to make people laugh at themselves. Although, there are a few examples that point to the conflict between theology, pop culture, and modern life that are intended to make people think about what they say they believe and why., however, is made up mostly of pop culture memes which are often racist and/or misogynistic. The rare, religious-related meme on this site usually carries a note of derision towards religion in general. For example, this meme ( shows two women sitting side by side. One is white and reading what appears to be a Bible. The other is darker-skinned, wearing a hijab and appears to be reading the Quran. They are both pointing to something in the books and laughing. The meme reads, “Look. Both are full of bullshit.” While the picture was originally intended to show two women of different faiths coming together by learning about each other’s religions, the meme turns the meaning on its head to imply that people can connect with each other by realizing that all religions are meaningless.

  4. Thought this was interesting :)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. The phenomenon of memes is not new to me. However, as a very secular person with almost no religious background, religious memes were never the lion share of my online consumption, and the first time I invested myself in looking for/at them was actually for this assignment. Finding memes that are both religious enough, but at the same time contain a religious massage that I will be able to analyze, was challenging.
    I picked an Israeli-Jewish Facebook page named "Twitting Orthodoxies" (they use the word "dossim" which used to be a derogatory term for Orthodoxies, that has been “taken back” by the Orthodox group as a sort of empowerment). This page is a religious "spin off" of another well-known Israeli FB page named "Twitting Statuses", which gathers the “best of” Israeli Facebook posts, including large amount of memes.
    "Twitting Orthodoxies" does the same but with an emphasis on Jewish religious practices, community and culture with an intention to both reinforce Jewish identity and to amuse.
    For example: A"Coca-Cola" parody, which was created during the "name campaign" ( The meme creator used a well-known; very cheap soft drink, that is usually associated with orthodox Jewish groups. The names on the bottles are distinctly religious Jewish names. For example: "Asael" which means made by god, and "Yedidyah" which means a friend of god and so on...
    Another one is the Snow White meme, in which one of the dwarfs is asking "what happened to her?" and the other one answers: "she ate an apple and did not bless her food"

  7. There's a Facebook group called "Muslim Memes" which is liked by over 78,000 people. It's a collection of "The best Muslim memes on the Internet." These memes appear to be geared toward Muslims and generated by Muslims or whose sympathetic to the religion of Islam. None of the memes I've taken a look at are sacrilegious or provide a scathing commentary. One meme shows Buzz Lightyear with text that reads "I've crash landed in a mosque the day after Ramadan. And no muslims to be sighted anywhere", with a caption by the poster which reads "Remember! Just because Ramadan is over does not mean you stop going to masjid!"

    Others are playful observations of the Muslims experience. Another meme shows an empty fridge with a cartoon figure wishing there was something to eat (before Ramadan), and another photo under that shows a fridge full of snacks and candy (during Ramadan). The point is that Muslims seem to think there is nothing to eat before Ramadan, but then all they see are delicious foods in the fridge when fasting.

    In all, the Muslim Memes seem to be good natured and geared towards the Muslim community and intended to be shared amongst fellow Muslims. Indeed, many of the memes require knowledge of Muslim practices and rituals to understand.

  8. I've encountered a number of memes on both the blog and the facebook page of "Stuff Christian Culture Likes," which is run by Stephanie Drury, a progressive Christian who delights in pointing out the idiosyncrasies of fundamentalist, evangelical Christian culture. Most of the memes posted on the blog and the facebook page are sarcastic, pointing out the inconsistencies between fundamentalist evangelical iterations of biblical texts and (what Drury perceives as) what those biblical texts actually say.

    The end goal for all of the posts on this site (memes included) is to foster open discussions about Christian culture. These conversations include a number of different types of people, many who aren't Christians, and some who have no religious preference at all. It's worth noting that Drury has been blocked from a number of megachurch pastors' twitter accounts because she consistently challenges their patriarchal, ethnocentric tendencies.