A SOCIOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL ANALYSIS OF DIGITAL RELIGION, WORSHIP AND PIETY IN CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA
Religion has found its way to the digital space. Digital religion, worship and piety are becoming more conspicuous than ever in Christianity in Nigeria. This reality has raised a great deal of questions concerning the compatibility of religion and the cyberspace. The moral and community aspects of religion have also been somewhat thwarted and the academic study of religion became even more complex. This study interrogates the digital religion, worship and piety phenomenon in the light of Emile Durkheim’s functional theory of religion and Jeremy Bentham’s ethical theory, utilitarianism. This descriptive study garners data from focus group discussions, participant observation, interviews, and published literature, and adopts the inductive approach to research and analyzes data thematically. Findings show that the 2020 Covid-19 restrictions on physical contacts heightened digital religion in Nigeria. A sociological and ethical analysis of the phenomenon of digital religion is instructive and reveals that digital religion is laced with a great deal of social and moral gains, as well as pitfalls. Digital religion also complicates the academic study of religion in contemporary times. To counter these, this paper recommends, among other things, that caution should be taken in order not to make a total transition to digital religion, but rather use a hybridized form. Again, the paper recommends the deployment of rule utilitarianism in order to clearly define acceptable rules for digital religion, worship and piety, and scholars of religion should use the already available knowledge of digital methodologies to be able to better analyze the evolution of religion in contemporary times.
Keywords: Digital Religion, Worship, Piety, Christianity, Nigeria.