A community of nuns is amassing a wide following on TikTok, the mobile social media program that exploded in popularity in 2020. The Daughters of St. Paul only have three videos, but they have pulled in millions of views and 50,000 followers.
Led by self-proclaimed “media nun” Sister Bethany Davis, the Sisters have taken to performing “TikTok Challenges.” These are similar to the trends of “Planking” or “The Ice Bucket Challenge,” which stormed social media in the last decade. Usually they require the performers to accomplish a task or a dance, to be compared to others who have recorded a similar video.
Sister Bethany saw the evangelical potential of the new social media platform and jumped on it. Keeping her eye out for the trends that would best suit the sisters, she has wisely chosen several great ways to bring religious communities to the forefront of discussion. In an interview with ChurchPop, Davis said:
“I saw the trend pop up on TikTok and thought, ‘We could make that super [for] Daughters of St. Paul!’” Sr. Bethany said. “Our mission in the Church is to bring Jesus to the world by using the most modern and efficacious forms of media,” she added. “We are still trying things and figuring out how best to utilize this platform. There is so much potential on TikTok, so we want to be there.”
The “This or That” Challenge
The Daughters of St. Paul’s most successful video by far was their “This or That” challenge, posted in early December. The challenge gives the performers two choices for which they move to either side of the screen depending on their preferences. The seven sisters who took part in the video chose between: morning or evening prayer, Advent or Lent, blue or black sweaters, the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and St.Peter or St. Paul. Spoiler alert: They all chose their patron, St. Paul.
This short, quirky video, set to Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky,” blew up in a big way, going viral on the platform. Their “This or That” challenge has been viewed 3.3 million times as of early January. It was from this that they gained a lot of their following, as the release was welcomed during the Christmas season.
Sister Bethany kept the channel quiet for the rest of the month, as the nuns were most likely very busy with Christmas. They emerged again, however, on January 11 with a fun, short lip-synced scene. Lip syncing is another popular trend on TikTok, where one or more performer will mouth the lyrics of a popular song. Often times they take on characters and add captions to the video in order to give the video a unique story.
Here, Sister Bethany takes the part of a tempted person, while another nun plays the “devil on her shoulder.” Sister Bethany repels the devil to the tune of “Is This Available” by Lubalin. The captions note that she is able to overcome the devil thanks to the sacrament of Confession. We especially liked how she pulled up a picture of the Sacred Heart when the song references calling up the attorney general.
This short video has enjoyed even faster success than the first. In its first 24 hours, it was viewed more than one million times. That the sisters have only 50,000 followers suggests that TikTokers may be more open to interacting with religious communities than was anticipated. It only takes a brief interaction with spirituality to deepen one’s faith. With how much fun the sisters seem to have making these videos, we wonder whether their ranks, and videos, may soon swell with new members.
Visit the Daughters of St. Paul’s TikTok page to watch their third, earliest video. Then, click here to learn more about the Daughters of St. Paul.
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