Bee advised: Amid religious and political tumult, readers may welcome a good chuckle
Behold this recent “news” item:
DALLAS, TX — Pastor Robert Jeffress, longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, has publicly accused Jesus of Nazareth of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” after reading that the Christ condemned adultery in the Sermon on the Mount.
A baffled Jeffress read Jesus’s words condemning not only adultery but looking at a woman lustfully and immediately concluded the Rabbi was simply exhibiting symptoms of deranged, unfair hatred of Donald Trump. …
Here’s another one:
WASHINGTON — In an alarming show of religious extremism and complete disregard for the separation of church and state, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was spotted by news reporters serving food to the homeless.
Kavanaugh performed the frightening display of religious devotion alongside an organized group of radicalized Catholics, whose extremist mission appears to be helping the needy. Local news crews leaped out of the bushes and caught him in the act, asking him, “What do you have to say for yourself, BIGOT?”
As you surely perceived, this is not real fake news but fake real news, that is to say fictional satire, posted by The Babylon Bee.
Hey, in times of political and religious tumult, everyone can use a good chuckle.
The online Bee, which first hit an unready readership two years ago, is religion’s equivalent of the devoutly secular The Onion, whose recent gibes include an item headlined “Sessions Vows To Protect All Deeply Held Religious Bigotry.”
Though the Bee is overtly Christian and pretty much evangelical in tone, it’s neither reverential nor partisan (see tmatt columns here and later here). The site merrily twits all sorts of pious personalities and events (prosperity preachers, hipster Calvinists and megachurch pastors like Joel Osteen are particular favorites) as well as the foibles of secular culture.
If your outlet hasn’t yet done a feature on the Bee, this is the ideal moment since:
(1) The Bee has issued its first book, a self-help sendup called “How To Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living” (Multnomah).
(2) Founding editor Adam Ford recently sold off his creation to launch a different venture.
(3) Thus the Bee has a new editor, Bee contributor Kyle Mann.
Mann spent the past decade selling construction materials, submitted items to the Bee as a lark, evolved into the chief non-staff contributor and is now the full-time editor. In an Aug. 4 podcast for hollywoodintoto.com, Mann said “I love the church” and that he has “great respect for the scriptures.”
However, reporters will want to identify his religious affiliation and outlook, not to mention basics like past education and current location. (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org). While they’re at it, how about similar info about the Bee’s buyer and new majority owner, digital entrepreneur Seth Dillon (a former tmatt student at Milligan College)?
Why did Ford bail out so quickly? He explains his farewell on the site where he posts his cartoon panels. Ford says he’s “very uncomfortable” with personal attention on himself and dislikes the chore of building up a young company, but recognizes both are inevitable and necessary. “I sometimes felt like I was holding the Bee back.”
Beyond that, Ford is wholly devoted to his new gig, which deals with real rather than fake news. Christian Daily Reporter, which launched in January, is a Drudge-like aggregator of general and religious news articles.
Ford’s “manifesto” for the Reporter echoes a major theme from his Bee farewell – fierce hostility toward Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. In a you-can’t-make-this-up situation, the Bee had to fight a Facebook system that would miss the humor and bar its items as fake news, not satire (as in this CNN spoof, which was taken seriously by some “fact checkers”).
But Ford’s crusade goes far beyond that. He wants the Reporter to be independent of “the Internet content gatekeepers” because they “shut down content that they don’t approve of” and “are increasingly hostile toward Christian content and information.” He calls these social media monopolies “unacceptable,” “dangerous” and “terrifying.”
Is that issue worth a religion article all by itself?