A Healer and Televangelist Reaching out to the Secular Swedish Public Sphere
The American televangelist and healer Benny Hinn was invited to host three meetings at a Christian conference in Uppsala 2010. The hosting institution was the Swedish charismatic Christian denomination Livets Ord. Benny Hinn has been invited by them several times before, and it can be said he is popular in some parts of Christianity, but considered rather controversial in others. The invitation and the whole event spurred an online debate, mainly on blogs and Twitter, where Livets Ord and Benny Hinn were discussed and scrutinized. This article will focus on describing and analyzing how the event was perceived and evaluated, primarily in the digital media, before, during and after the event. The churches are currently attempting to reach new audiences through digital channels, and hope to support their adherents in their everyday life beyond the meetings and activities hosted at their physical church building. However, as seen in the article, entering the digital era is not always unproblematic or straight-forward. What is of particular interest here is how the digital media relocate the event – how this opens up a previously closed event, and potentially flattens out and questions traditional authorities.
Keywords: Benny Hinn, Livets Ord, Twitter, Authority, Online, Digital religion, Digital humanities
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