Christian influencers are attracting the attention of tens of thousands in Germany. Some of them preach in a particularly conservative way.

A blonde raises her index finger on a sofa

With index finger raised: Jana Highholder Photo: Jörn Neumann/imago

Christian influencers Jana Highholder and Jasmin Neubauer confidently present themselves in their new podcast “Jana & Jasmin”. “In times like these, there are all kinds of things that are socially relevant [sic!] The questions have thousands of answers,” says the announcer. “We believe: only one of them is true.” Now they both want to “talk about everything.” They already do it on their highholder and Liebezurbibel Instagram channels: between beige biblical mosaics or cute motivational videos, they express themselves politically again and again and get closer and closer to the political right.

“Who should I vote for as a Christian?” Neubauer asks on her channel and then tries to answer directly herself. The “personal parameters” she lists include “maintaining the family between man, woman and child” or “staying away from political ideologies.” [sic!] in the nursery”. The influencer does not give any specific electoral recommendations, but makes it clear which parties meet her demands.

Additionally, in February 2023, Neubauer appeared in a YouTube video by Leonard Jäger, who presented himself as a “heretic of modern times.” In January 2023, he disrupted a queer service at Berlin's Humboldt University and then ridiculed it on YouTube. In the video with Neubauer they talk about the biblical account of creation, which serves as legitimization of Jäger's disorder. The gender binary that is supposedly fundamental there has been forgotten.

Highholder and Neubauer blame this forgetting on something they call “deconstruction,” that is, historicizing biblical statements and understanding them in light of the present. Neubauer considers this way of reading the Bible to be “false teaching” that makes people sick. Only fidelity to the biblical letter and the simplest possible answers would help against this.

He often struggles with his doubts.

Kira Beer, a theology student, has been following the evolution of the two influencers for a long time. She also talks about her faith on her Instagram under kira__beer, but follows a different strategy. Instead of giving a simple answer, she wrestles with her doubts in often detailed articles.

Those responsible distance themselves and trust influencers who transmit a diverse image

For Beer, it is not the influencers' positions that have been radicalized, but their willingness to represent them aggressively. The stronger presence of progressive voices challenges right-wing Christians in their claim to represent the “only true Christianity.” However, its political influence is difficult to assess, Beer says.

From 2018 to 2020, Highholder was also officially active for the Protestant church with a YouTube channel called “Jana believes.” The joint work of Evangelical Journalism (GEP) and the Evangelical Youth Working Group (aej) were co-responsible for this.

Distance from the former star

It should inspire young people with Christian content offerings tailored to their needs. However, at this moment, Christian and world The accusations against the influencer are strong: Highholder is a “Trojan horse” who propagates “biblical and evangelical positions,” according to Protestant pastor Hanna Jacobs.

Those responsible now distance themselves from their former star. With the Protestant content network still in place, the GEP prefers to support influencers who convey a diverse image of Christianity. The queer pastors Steffi and Ellen Radtke, for example, show their everyday family life in Osnabrück in a particularly impressive way.

But while Highholder and Neubauer have between 60,000 and 70,000 followers on Instagram without institutional support, anderssamen's advertising is much smaller: 24,000. And new challenges await: The competition between religious influencers has just begun on TikTok. Jasmin Neubauer is already there and her most successful video has been viewed 185,000 times. It's about hell.

Failed to fetch data from the URL.