Who is Sister Cindy? Evangelist Christian preacher, 63, is winning Gen Z hearts on TikTok
An evangelical Christian campus preacher from Indiana is making waves on social media, boasting over 300,000 followers on TikTok. Her USP is iconic catchphrases that seem to hit a chord among college students.
Cindy Smock, 63, launched her TikTok after learning that college students had been sharing her online preaching videos. Gen Z is in love with the preacher, whose hashtag #sistercindy has over 194 million views on the app. She sells her own merchandise on the platform, and ardent fans can buy their own personalized videos for $59 a pop. "I am at a celebrity status among the college students," she told Newsweek, recalling how she spent decades preaching on campuses across the country after reforming from being a "bad girl at the University of Florida."
Who is Sister Cindy?
Sister Cindy and her husband, Brother Jed, hold campus preaching sessions and upload videos of these sessions. On her Instagram account, Sister Cindy shares that she is a wife, campus preacher, mother of five children, and a grandmother of 10. She began preaching alongside her husband on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. As a street preacher, she calls attention to herself by using monikers like "Sl*t-shaming Sister Cindy.”
Smock is still coming to terms with her newfound fame. "The crowds started being there when I arrived. I just had to say on TikTok when I was coming, and there would be 100 to 1,000 people waiting for me," she told the outlet. One of Smock's more popular videos sees her recite the lyrics to Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B's controversial hit "WAP".
"When I read the words, I was aghast, it was not empowering women. The woman was saying the man was bringing her pain. And she was happy about it. So I just wanted to speak their language," she explained. "Some Christians are very critical of me, because I will say wet a** p****," added Smock. She admitted that while WAP wasn't reminiscent of the word of god, she used "the term kind of for a shock value."
"I think when they're calling themselves that, it seems cool. But when a 63-year-old woman says that, it cuts their hearts a little," she continued.
Riley Pereyra, who reportedly hit over ten million views with a video of Smock preaching at California State University Long Beach, told Newsweek that it was the "shock value" that catapulted her to the metaphorical TikTok hall of fame.
"From a marketing perspective, it's genius. She's taking what Gen Z loves, shock value, and she's just riding it out," Pereyra said. "And if it's a little controversial too, that's the perfect formula. So what she's doing, it's successful, because it's wrong."
Smock acknowledged that many of her followers aren't believers and only follow her for the humor. "I'm not saying everybody is suddenly believing like me, and I know there's still a big element who follow me or come out to hear me just for the humor," Cindy said to Newsweek. "I watch them come up and take pictures, and sometimes they'll try to act like they're sincere because they think I don't want them to take a picture or a video if they're not sincere, but I can see through them most of the time," she added.
According to Smock, her TikTok reign could soon be coming to an end because she may upset her social media overlords. "I expect that I might get kicked off TikTok," she predicted. "Even though I'm trying to go by their community standards and not say anything they don't want to be said and keep it age-appropriate, I think people are really upset that I'm liked by the Z generation."
Nonetheless, she believes that "your hater of today, is your Christian of tomorrow."