New efforts to make religious texts more engaging and appealing to youth has culminated in what some might see as the inevitable: an adaptation of the King James Bible using emoticons and internet lingo, released as a downloadable e-book for $2.99 last week.
The new “translation,” which covers all 66 books of the Bible and spans over 3,282 digital pages, is called “Bible Emoji: Scripture 4 Millennials.” Produced by an anonymous Christian over a period of six months, it promotes itself as a “great and fun way to share the gospel.”
The creator of “Bible Emoji” opted to hide his or her identity after the idea produced internet backlash from both atheists and Christians, who found the concept pandering or demeaning.
But the work’s producer disagrees, explaining: “[Emoji are] language-agnostic — they allow you to convey an idea to anyone, regardless of what language they speak. A major goal of this whole process was to take a book that I think is very non-approachable to lay readers and try to make it more approachable by removing a lot of its density.”
As the numbers of American adults who readily identify as Christians continue to shrink, especially among young adult populations, many people value the effort to branch out in new and modern ways to spread the Bible’s message.
“I wanted to make it similar to how you might text or tweet a Bible verse, by shrinking the total character count,” the e-book’s creator said.
However, Millennials have time and again proven themselves as one of the most challenging demographics to understand and please. Fewer than one-third of Millennials identify as Protestant, though they’re also characterized as “tolerant” and “optimistic” by researchers. Only 15% place leading a religious life as a priority over pursuing a career, and while 66% flock to suburban areas to settle down and buy a home, 24% prefer rural locations and 10% look for urban city homes.
In all, while some see the “Bible Emoji” as a strange attempt to convey scripture, others see it as positive.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea to be presenting the Bible in new and creative ways,” Caleb Woodbridge, who works for Scripture Union in England, told Premier Christian Radio. “We’re all about reaching the next generation with the Good News, and anything that engages people in a fresh and exciting way seems a good idea to me.”