Games reach an incredibly diverse set of people across national, linguistic, and social barriers, and that goes for religion, too. Last week, we noted that Ninja was taking meals off-screen out of respect for Ramadan, and it should be little surprise to see religious groups taking up residence inside virtual spaces. One Christian pastor now holds church in VRChat, and that even includes baptisms – no matter how ridiculous a person’s avatar.
Pastor D.J. Soto is the subject of a new video from YouTuber Syrmor (via Polygon), and the whole process is equal parts earnest and absurd. Soto describes his VR ministry as allowing disadvantaged people – from folks in wheelchairs to recovering drug addicts – to attend church without the judgement that sometimes comes from traditional congregations.
Fellow YouTuber Drumsy, appearing in VRChat as a busty, pink-haired anime girl in a pastel suit, undergoes a digital baptism by crouching underwater for a few seconds as Soto describes the symbolism of the ceremony. You can see Drumsy’s own perspective of the baptism on YouTube, or see Syrmor’s full video below.
After the baptism, a banana hugs Drumsy. A tiny cat asks how Drumsy feels – “I feel like I’m out of breath. I feel like I just had an experience.” Then SpongeBob hops into the baptism pool, soaks up all the water, and runs away.
It is, again, absolutely absurd and absolutely earnest. Soto himself has been retweeting these videos in between announcements of his VR church schedule, so even with some accounting for the wild gags in these videos, it seems he’s glad they’re out there.
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Syrmor’s other videos similarly shine a light on the human element of VR, including casual chats on topics ranging from abusive families to homelessness and bullying.