Since 2016, four friends who met online—Amanda Glover, Melanie Cress, Yaki Kostelec, and Kyle Hide—have had a running group chat, mainly to talk about three things: Lady Gaga, Minions, and God.
Each was raised religious within different denominations of Christianity, and the foursome found connection through their churchgoing, pre-Internet childhoods and shared queer identities. “We [each] had these, like cursed experiences with religion growing up,” explains Hide. Their digital space to share God memes invoked the very question of God, effectively interrogating the group’s estranged religious roots and rekindling their true belief that God loves them and there was nothing they could do about it.
In 2018, they made their private chat public-facing, before the eyes of God and of Instagram. The handle @ineedgodineverymomentofmylife took inspiration from this unofficial Minions image. Due to Instagram’s character limitations, the ‘single’ was dropped.
Now, I NEED GOD has a following of over 20,000. With I NEED GOD, you are guaranteed to have God in at least most moments of your life, at least on your social feed. It is a massive moodboard of found memes and media that Hide calls, “real sentiment about God and faith,” wrangled in from other corners of the Internet, like a parody of the CDC vaccination card that identifies the holder as “Vaccinated by the Lord” or the canonically Christian Veggie Tales vegetables paired with a nod to an Internet catchphrase dujour, “God made you…Submissive and breedable”. It gives lighthearted reminders that, “God gives his silliest battles to his funniest clowns”, but also reaches for bigger questions like, “Hey, Atheist idiots if God doesn’t exist why is this Bible so heckin true and valid?”.
I NEED GOD offers its wisdom in light of the collective trauma of the ongoing global pandemic: “Normal isn’t coming back. Jesus Is.” To Hide, “The world is so crazy, nothing makes sense anymore. All meaning is breaking down. No one knows how to act with each other. And we’re so alienated and the computers are dividing us through the algorithm and like, you just got to surrender to God at this point, because ‘there’s nothing that’s gonna save us’ kind of vibe.”
God has been on the rise in popular culture. The theme of the 2018 Met Gala, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” bridged religious iconography with celebrity and style: Jared Leto (already predisposed to looking a lot like Jesus) donned a gold crown; the late Chadwick Boseman wore a priestly all-white Versace suit. High fashion celebrated high religion, its iconography, and its grandiosity. The following year, in 2019, Kanye West began holding his Sunday Service series, an exclusive, invite-only pop-up church experience in the leadup to his album Jesus Is King. That album’s accompanying merch (marketed at Coachella 2019 as “Church Clothes”) made clear that Jesus is King—but also lets us know that Kanye is one too.