Can the message of Christianity be spread through 140-character tweets? Two church leaders — Pope Francis (@Pontifex, with 5.84 million followers) and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen, with 3.34 million followers) — are trying to do just that.

The two prominent Christians are the subject of “Prayers, Tithes and Tweets: A Rhetorical Analysis of Joel Osteen's and Pope Francis’s Discussion of Fruits of the Spirit on Twitter,” a project by Allison Barnes that will be featured at the Celebration for Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance (CURCP).

“As social media proliferates and information becomes increasing accessible, we are bombarded with messages,” student Allison said. “As a Christian, I am interested in how religious leaders use social media.”

Allison reviewed the @Pontifex and @JoelOsteen Twitter feeds, categorizing their tweets according to the fruits of the Spirit. “I found that Pope Francis and Joel Osteen varied very much in their content, and that Pope Francis’ Twitter content was much more easily organized by Fruits of the Spirit,” she said. “I think this has implications for the church and hopefully will spark meaningful conversations.”

See Allison’s research at CURCP on Friday, April 10, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse. The event will feature 231 research projects conducted by 370 Hope students both independently and in collaboration with peers and faculty mentors.

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