In recent months, TikTok user @imthejay converted to Christianity and started spreading her faith on her platform of 5.4 million followers. However, becoming a Christian influencer has not been easy on her: With each Christian-based video she releases, her haters and hate comments grow even more vocal. Some leave mild comments such as, “fame changed her,” while others are not ashamed to tell her that they’ve lost all respect for her and are happy that they unfollowed her a long time ago.
Christian influencers regularly get attacked by followers, and even those that do not follow them, for the idea that by posting Christian content, they are “shoving Christianity down everyone’s throat,” all while receiving comments such as, “y’all need Lucifer, let me pray for you.”
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One commenter took it upon himself to let Christian influencer @imthejay know that TikTok is not a platform for Christians and that she shouldn’t post such content to avoid making people who are not Christians uncomfortable. Some followers responded to this comment quickly, shutting him down for proposing such a double standard. However, this begs the question: If TikTok is not a platform for Christian influencers because it may make non-Christians uncomfortable, then what topics should be allowed on the platform?
In one video that @imthejay posted on her TikTok page, the influencer captioned the phrase “Stop killing Christians” on photos of Christians being oppressed in other countries, hoping to bring awareness to the issue. In response, some commenters made it clear that the death of Christians did not worry them. One comment stated, “don’t stop,” and another comment said “why? There is to many people on this planet so like?” The hateful nature of the comments should have sparked controversy, but both received likes and supporting comments.
It all circles back to a similar question: Why do Christian influencers receive hate based on nothing other than their faith? The Bible can be used to answer this question in Matthew 10:22: “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” However, even if the Bible cannot be used as a legitimate source because not everyone shares the same faith and beliefs, the same question still stands.
Author Timothy Egan proposes an interesting perspective in his article “Why People Hate Religion.” Egan wrote, “They hate religion because, at a moment to stand up and be counted on the right side of history, religion is used as moral cover for despicable behavior.” Egan’s theory is that people hate Christians (including Christian influencers) because fake Christians give Christianity a bad reputation. He talks about how many young people leave their churches and religions because the people at the pew are frauds and fakes.
This theory makes sense: that Christianity is hated based on a stereotype. Circling back to comments that are left in Christian influencers’ posts, it all begins to tie together. One user comments, “you talk a lot for someone who probably wont do anything lol” and another says, “Christians never practice what they speak lmao stop posting this s—.” What could have angered these people enough to say such things to an influencer that they have never met in real life? Perhaps Egan’s theory is correct and people judge Christianity — along with public figures that are proud of their faith — based on the bad experiences that they have had with religion.
What, then, does it mean to be a Christian influencer in today’s society and with today’s harsh critiques in the media? If Egan is right, then it means that all eyes are on these influencers, and hateful followers are just waiting for them to mess up. If there are fake Christians that set the bar extremely low for all other Christians, then the role of a good Christian influencer would be to show the world that real Christianity is not what they have personally seen. It would mean that a Christian influencer would have to rise above and beyond and prove that Christianity, first and foremost, promotes love.
Author Cindy Singleton agrees that living a life of love is the way a good Christian influencer should live. Her article, “Do You Have What It Takes To Be a Good Christian Influence?,” has many eye-opening insights in regard to what it means to be a good Christian influencer. One thing she mentions seems to stand out: “To have a solid Christian influence, Christians must read, understand and obey the Bible.” This ties in closely with Egan’s comments about Christians not acting in accordance with what they preach. Singleton hits this right on the head by addressing that Christian influencers have to understand and obey their own proclamations. This does not guarantee that an influencer will receive less hateful comments, but it does guarantee that their love and faith may spread further and wider.
Being a Christian influencer also requires a lot of patience. There will be people who comment things like, “you seriously believe in a book written by men a thousand years ago lol.” However, users can easily be blocked, comments can be deleted or even disabled and it’s important to remember that being a Christian influencer means spreading the love of God, even in times that love does not seem like an option. In a helpful article titled “How To Deal With Online Hate,” writer Nick Douglas recommends not engaging with this abuse, and always remembering that even the most wonderful and popular things (and people) receive hate. Although it is not specifically directed toward Christians, it is useful advice.
What does it mean to be a Christian influencer in today’s society? It means to be patient, to be full of love and to be prepared for gigantic waves of hate and criticism. However, it also means being able to change someone’s life through a screen, or empower someone to become better, or encourage someone to make changes in their life. Being a Christian influencer means setting the bar high for other Christians, and not promoting false faith. It means turning Christianity into a good thing again.