(RNS) – In a 2019 YouTube video titled “Hund the Hound Meets Jesus Christ,” a man wears a plaid robe and a clumsy blue dog mask. Overwhelmed by his own technology, he faints and has a vision of the Son of God – or, at least, an actor playing him.
Viewers, even those familiar with the furry Christian community, had questions.
“(What) the f- I just watched, Hund?” one commenter asked. Hund the Hound replied, “My new channel presentation.”
Hund the Hound, a 33-year-old Ohioan, is furry. He is also a Christian. For Hund and many other Christian furries, these two identities coexist peacefully. Not everyone would agree.
The furry movement, which developed in the 1970s as part of the underground world of comics, engages in anthropomorphism – attributing human characteristics to animals, in their case creating self-representations of the avatar, called “fursonas”, and in many cases make matching costumes. Hund the Hound’s fursona is, well, a dog.
Like fans of Marvel characters or other comic-based media, furries congregate at conventions, the largest of which are Anthrocon and the Midwest FurFest, which in 2019 reported over 11,000 furries attending. Some spend time in online role-playing games or costume design and construction.
Furries do not identify as animals; they identify with animals, said Sharon E. Roberts, associate professor of social development studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada and co-founder of Furscience, an interdisciplinary group of professors who have studied the anthropomorphic identities of more than 40,000 furs.
Most furries, however, don’t consider themselves religious, according to data from Furscience. When asked about their religious beliefs, a third of the furries identified themselves as atheists or agnostics. According Furscience’s discoveries.
With its roots in underground comedy culture, the furry community has long been associated with sexual experimentation, erotic content, and gay culture. During the “Burnt Fur” movement of 1998–2001, there was a concerted effort among a fur group to “purify” its public image. Today, according to the Furscience website, furry fandom includes people of all ages and sexual orientations, with “adult” activities kept separate from other events. Still, her fan base tends to be wary of the religious community.
“Given that most furries are LGBTQ+, this can put a lot of people off being religious, especially if the religion is at odds with LGBTQ+ people,” said Furscience researcher Courtney Plante, an associate professor of psychology at the University. Bishop’s.
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But despite the possibility of encountering stigma in the furry community, being a furry emboldens Hund’s faith. His furry companions, he said, pulled him out of the depths of his suicidal thoughts and gave him a support system.
God placed Hund in the community, he said.
“He knew dressing me up as a blue dog would lift me out of my depression, develop my social skills, and make me the person I am today,” Hund said. Hund the Hound’s YouTube channel, which Hund has run with his wife, Lilly the Fox, since March 2017, has 320,000 views and nearly 5,000 subscribers.
Nonetheless, Christians in the furry community are cautious about who knows both their fur and their loyal selves. Christian furs interviewed for this story, including leaders of the group calling itself the Christian Furry Fellowship, asked to be anonymous, fearing “doxxing” within the largely secular furry community for their Christian identity and ostracism from their professional lives for their furry hobby.
“My furry friendships are a blessing,” said a CFF organizer with a red fox fursona who asked to be called “F.” “And for that reason, I’m sad to see so much grief within the fandom that could be helped by knowing the Lord.”
Founded in the late 1990s on internet chat rooms, CFF is a ministry that sees furry fandom as a mission field. In 2010, CFF members converged on Anthrocon in Pittsburgh. Another leader, who asked to be called “AD”, described the 10 days he spent searching for members in their hometown to share the event with 4,000 other furries at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center as one of his “dearest memories”. .”
CFF members primarily meet on Discord and Telegram for Bible study and fellowship.
A CFF executive, a data engineer who asked to be called “S”, said the suits and being behind a screen can promote anti-religious discourse. “When you’re behind two layers of anonymity, like furries are, you’re more inclined to speak your true thoughts,” S.
Such animosity, he said, can be a bonding experience for Christian furs. “I actually like that the fandom is predominantly non-religious because it leads to deeper connections with members of the fandom who are religious,” he said.
The CFF, for its part, does not enforce any gendered worldview for its casual members. Like many conservative Christians, its members believe that engaging in same-sex sexual relations is wrong. having homosexual feelings alone is not. Furries who disagree with this position can still join, S said, as long as they follow the group rules.
Jonathan Duncan, a 34-year-old artist and educator, left his lifelong Christian community in 2018 and now identifies as trans. While Duncan remains open to attending church services, they no longer practice a denomination.
Her first exposure to furry culture happened at a church camp in 2002, when her friend explained the furry fandom. Duncan, who was raised in a culture of purity, found the fandom’s sex positivity “shocking but compelling.”
Inspired by the accepting nature of the furry fandom, Duncan finally accepted their new identity.
Hund said Christian furriers need to understand why the LGBT furry community doesn’t like Christianity. “It’s been centuries of hate and pain,” Hund said.
Christian furs, he said, have a chance to present a different face of their faith to their fellow furs.
“I have my relationship with God, but it’s between me and God,” Hund said. “When others think of a relationship with God, they think of the persecution of this church. It’s not God. It’s God’s people doing a bad job.
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