October 23, 2015
How Phones, Apps and Religion Come Together
There’s almost nothing that a smartphone can’t make more of in our connected world, and it seems that religion is no exception. A study by AT&T shows that increasingly, people are turning to technology either to connect with people in their local or religious community, or to provide spiritual comfort or encouragement. While it is still frowned upon by some, 20% of people say that they have used their smartphone in church (though be sure to follow the correct etiquette). Whether this is to read along with holy texts as part of the service, or tweeting poignant comments from the pastor, social media is by far the most important way for people to connect with their religion.
Nowhere was this more apparent than during Pope Francis’s recent visit to the USA, with smartphones providing an easy way to follow and interact with the pontiff on his tour. The Pope himself is no stranger to social media – Pope Francis has no less than nine Twitter accounts, all in different languages, with over 20 million followers. Twitter even gave him his own emoji. But it’s not just His Holiness that inspires people to reach for their smartphone. Almost all aspects of Catholicism are represented in the digital age. For example, the Bible App has been installed on very nearly 200 million devices worldwide – the same sort of numbers that tech powerhouses such as Facebook and Instagram command.
It’s not just the Christian world that is making the most of the smartphone revolution. Muslims around the world are taking advantage of technology to make their lives easier and to connect with their religion. There are apps to help tourists find halal food, Islamic dating apps, guides for religious observance during Ramadan and even a compass that points toward Mecca. Some aspects of the Jewish faith are more restrictive when it comes to technology, but that does not stop people from making their own brand of smartphone, nor connecting and coming together via social media for global events.
No matter what your religion – Sikh, Hindu, Buddhism – or even if you’re not religious at all, it seems that there is an app for that.