How do I find religion
Religion on YouTubeLooking for a neutral voice
"Welcome to 'Religion for Breakfast', a channel dedicated to the academic study of religion."
Andrew Mark Henry welcomes visitors to his YouTube channel "Religion for Breakfast". And he makes it clear right away: He neither wants to convert someone, nor does he want to make religion bad.
"You might be thinking that I am trying to convert you. Or maybe you are thinking that I am trying to bash religion as the worst thing ever."
Andrew Henry is not concerned with ultimate truths, he says, but wants to improve "religious literacy". He wants people to learn more about religion through his videos.
"We here at‘ Religion for Breakfast ’are committed to improving your religious literacy."
"More than just the facts and figures"
What exactly he means by that, the YouTuber explains in an interview. I can reach him in Jerusalem, where he is just finishing his doctoral thesis:
"Religious education is more than just the facts and figures. Of course you can learn the five pillars of Islam by heart, or the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. But it is much more important to understand that religions keep changing. And that religions are very complex. In one and the same church people can believe in very different things. And religions are not independent, but they are closely connected to the rest of society. Wherever you look, you will always find influence of religion. "
In order to show and explain this influence, Andrew Henry deals with very different topics on his YouTube channel. Henry is American and is doing his PhD from Boston University. He is a religious scholar, his specialty is early Christianity. You can also see that in the videos.
"If you know anything about ancient Christianity, you might have heard of Gnosticism. / The gospel of Thomas is probably the most famous non canonical gospel. / Jesus was Jewish, Paul was Jewish, Peter was Jewish. / Mary Magdalene is both: very famous, and very misunderstood. "
"I wanted to close this gap"
It's about Mary Magdalene or the Gnosis or the Gospel of Thomas. Or how Judaism and Christianity separated. But there are also many other topics in the channel that have nothing to do with early Christianity: from introductions to Islam or Buddhism, to religion in the video game Pokemon.
"How Japanese religion has influenced Pokemon, the video game. To more introductory topics, like an introduction to Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism."
Andrew Mark Henry closes a gap with his YouTube channel (YouTube / Religion For Breakfast)
Andrew Henry started making videos about five years ago. At that time he liked to watch scientific channels on YouTube himself, but he could not find anyone who dealt with religion in religious studies. So he did it himself:
"I started the channel because I noticed that there was a loophole. There are a lot of YouTubers who talk about religion. They are either religious people who talk about questions of faith or explain how to get on with life And then there are still many anti-religious and atheist YouTubers. But there was simply nothing in the middle where one tries to understand religion scientifically. And I wanted to close this gap. "
"People have been waiting for it"
With the name "Religion for Breakfast" Henry wanted to make it clear that things shouldn't be as dogged as usual when it comes to religion. It's scientific and informative, but also relaxed and a bit funny.
"Oh, religion, that's awkward. I'm sorry, I even asked."
Henry apparently hit a nerve, because his channel now has over 110,000 subscribers. His most popular video received 1.3 million views. Numbers that the scientific community usually cannot even dream of. Henry therefore sees his channel as an advertisement for religious studies. Because many people don't even know that this kind of religious research exists - until they happen to end up on his channel while googling.
"I think I have so many viewers because I have no competition. There just aren't any other YouTube channels that deal with religion like me. But I hope there will be more soon. Because people have it waited. "
"Religion evokes strong emotions"
Other YouTubers with so many clicks often monetize their channels. They advertise in their videos or sell their own products. Or they find sponsors. With Andrew Herny, however, it hardly works, he says, and he suspects that this is due to his topic:
"Religion arouses very strong and sometimes negative emotions. I think that's why advertising agencies keep their hands off it, even though I deal with religion neutrally. But the channel is financially supported by a few hundred users, through regular donations, a few dollars. Because the money I get from YouTube from their advertising revenue would never be enough to cover the channel's expenses. "
And Andrew Henry has some expenses, because for the videos he not only does a lot of research and needs the technical equipment, but he also travels: to interview experts or to see the religious places himself, about which he then makes a video.
"You get a lot of hatred"
The fact that religion is a controversial topic is also shown by the comments that reach the YouTuber. There are many positive ones among them, says Henry, but also many negative ones.
"You just get a lot of hatred. Every morning when I wake up I check the YouTube comments, and a lot of them are very hateful - from very different directions. Some say I'm an apologist and defend the religion. Others believe me." be an atheist and would want to destroy the religion. People put me in a drawer and then they attack me. But that doesn't knock me out because that's only a minority. I try not to let the hatred influence me. Unfortunately, there are also many anti-Semitic or Islamophobic comments. I delete such hate speech because I want to help ensure that religion is properly discussed on YouTube. "
Andrew Mark Henry has already produced over 100 videos, and he still has tons of ideas. When he has finished his doctoral thesis, the religious scholar wants to youtub full-time.
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