There's something really off about these videos.
A TikTok account is churning out AI-generated videos of a talking Jesus — and the uncanny Christ figure may be exemplifying the absolute worst of profit-driven proselytizing that prays on the vulnerable and gullible.
In an editorial for The Conversation, religion scholar Brandon Dean of the University of Iowa pointed out that because of TikTok's video monetizing rules, the human behind the popular AI Jesus account Daily Believer may well be being paid by the Chinese-owned social platform.
With its more than 800,000 subscribers and high-performing videos that have been watched, in some cases, more than 22 million times, Daily Believer more than qualified for the TikTok Creator Fund, which until last week allowed users with at least 10,000 non-bot followers to apply for payouts on their videos. Though the website suspended the Creator Fund last week, it says that an upcoming — or should we say second coming — version of the feature will pay high-performing creators more than the two-to-four cents per 1,000 views it was previously giving them.
Welcome Jesus into Your Home 🙏🏠 This video brings a special visitor to you, straight from my home. He is someone I know very well, his name is Jesus Christ. He is ready to enter your life, bring protection to your family, and cleanse your heart with His love. #lordjesus #praise #jesusislord #orar #jesuschristislord #biblia #bible #jesusisking #jesuschrist #christ
Live Long and Prosper
Though it's unclear whether Daily Believer took part in the Creator Fund, the messages preached by its creepy Jesus simulacrum fall very much in line with what's known as the "prosperity gospel," which televangelists use to bilk their parishioners out of hard-earned cash.
Anyone who's ever tuned into "The 700 Club" is familiar with the prosperity gospel, even if they don't know it by name. The basic idea is that in order to gain good fortune — think job opportunities, surprise checks, or better luck in love — one need only pray to Christ and throw a few Washingtons towards the humble pastor.
To be clear, the various talking Jesuses posted by the Daily Believer account don't seem to be asking people for money in the vein of its evangelical predecessors, but the videos do ask viewers for something almost as good and well within TikTok's rules: comments, subscriptions, and shares, a sort of unholy trinity [!!!] for the streaming set.
Those who believe in God, the robotized white Jesus tells viewers, will get everything their heart desires — as long as they comment "I believe" and send videos to friends.
And if they don't, they may be subject to God's wrath, because as John the Baptist said in the Book of Michael — and one of the Daily Believer's animated Jesuses reminds viewers in its most popular video — "Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
Talk about reaching out and touching faith.
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