Will God blue-tick me: Grappling with faith in an age of social media

From Facebook Hinduism and hijabi influencers to Buddhist YouTube and digital Christian confessions, faith groups get creative to attract millennial congregations in the digital age.

Globetrotting instagrammer writes about being Muslim and her struggles with depression


Nur Atikah Amalina Mohd Zaini, 28, in Mauritius in 2014. Ms Atikah's honest views about her faith and personal life, including her struggles with anxiety and depression, have garnered more than 16,000 followers on Instagram. PHOTO: NUR ATIKAH AMALINA MOHD ZAINI

When she embarked on her first solo trip after breaking up with an abusive boyfriend in 2013, Ms Nur Atikah Amalina Mohd Zaini, 28, was aware that some people in the Muslim community would brand her "wild" or "rebellious".

After all, some Islamic scholars say it is not permissible for a woman to travel alone. Others say it is fine if she makes sure she stays safe.

For Ms Atikah, the two-week trip through Spain that she took during a six-month university exchange programme in Manchester, England, healed and empowered her.

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Christian site quenches thirst for honest conversations


Thir.st staff (clockwise from left) Wong Si Qi, assignments editor, Gabriel Ong, writer and copy editor, Edric Sng, editor and Joanne Kwok, 30, creative producer. ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

If God is good, why did my grandmother have to die? Why am I taking so long to find a job. Did God forget about me?

Such questions about faith may not be easily addressed by a pastor from the pulpit or even comfortably discussed face to face.

To address this need, Mr Edric Sng, 39, quit his job as a supervising editor at Mediacorp's digital news unit in 2016 to launch Thir.st, a digital Christian publication.

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Buddhist talk show targeted at the young goes viral on Facebook



A screenshot of a video by the Singapore Buddhist Federation Youth (SBFY), featuring (from left) SBFY media head Candy Chang, Venerable Kwang Phing, and SBFY vice-president Jeff Foo. PHOTO: SINGAPORE BUDDHIST FEDERATION YOUTH

Most young people who identify as Buddhists do not actively practise the religion, says president of the Singapore Buddhist Federation Youth (SBFY) Lawrence Lee.

"In a typical family, if you ask your mother or ah ma about things like why they always pray to Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy, or why you can't eat beef, they will often tell you not to ask so much and just follow the traditions," said the 39-year-old property agent.

The younger generation, who are exposed to science and information, want to look for logical explanations, he said.

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Two young men start a digital gathering point for Hindus in Singapore



Mr Shivanand Rai (left) and Mr Janarthanan Krishnasamy, both 29, who started the digital platform SGHindu to share information about Hinduism in Singapore.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

As more people began to take to the Internet and social media to air their views in the early 2010s, Mr Shivanand Rai, then a student at Singapore Management University, began to see a lot of misinformation that was being spread by non-Hindus from abroad.

"They would bash rituals, (the fact that) we have many gods and call us superstitious pagans or non-believers. This was extremely painful to see as a person of a minority faith," said Mr Shivanand, 29, a manager in an artificial intelligence company.

He and his university mate, Mr Janarthanan Krishnasamy, 29, who is equally passionate about Hinduism, felt that the community did not have a platform to address issues in society.

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