Buddy Christ memes are inspired by the film Dogma (1999). For this case study, examples of the Buddy Christ meme that expressly questioned or affirmed religious authority were selected for investigation. The Buddy Christ meme case study revealed the importance of intertextuality in religious memes and how intertextuality can frame the communicative usage of religious memes online. Buddy Christ memes juxtapose religious texts that assert authority with popular culture texts that question religious authority claims. Despite this contradictory message offered by the meme’s creators, seeming to undermine religious authority, memes about religion can also be framed to affirm the authority of religious leaders. In this study, a religious leader’s choice to embrace the intertextuality of the Buddy Christ meme on a church blog generated reflexive discourse and an affirmation of religious authority. Thus, this case study illustrates that religious memes can employ intertextuality that may either affirm or provoke religious authority, and represents a departure from traditional framings of religious authority online.
The Buddy Christ meme posted above was created specifically for this blog in order to illustrate the findings of this case study. This meme exemplifies both the visual and intertextual characteristics of the body of Buddy Christ memes online. Here, the colorful and parodic image of the Buddy Christ serves as the background, with a superimposed textual message. Like many Buddy Christ memes, the text included here references biblical text – specifically, the words of Jesus Christ as recorded in John 14:6 – and modifies them in a way that does not acknowledge their original authoritative intent. Moreover, this Buddy Christ meme acknowledges the intertextual and reflexive nature of the meme as a communicative unit by noting its usability in discursive contexts online, namely blogs. This Buddy Christ meme is a newly generated and representative example of the memes investigated by this case study.