By Michael Ashcraft —
In 2014, Adam Ford quit his day job to write satire news and The Babylon Bee, the “most trusted source of fake news,” was born two years later.
Stylistically similar to secular The Onion, The Babylon Bee, which clocks 9 million monthly views, has laughed its way through hallowed halls of mega churches and Congress.
Its writers lampoon everything from pro abortion forces to repetitive Chris Thomlin choruses (Headlines: “Planned Parenthood Honors King Herod With Lifetime Achievement Award” and “Chris Tomlin Finally Wears Out His Computer’s Copy, Paste Shortcut Keys.”)
Sometimes, its roasts resemble reality so closely that even Snopes has been duped into “fact-checking” its articles. Cue the endless eye-roll.
“Satire is a powerful, effective and Biblical tool for conveying ideas,” Ford wrote on Adam4D.com when he launched the Bee. Satire has “belong(ed) almost exclusively to the anti-religious view. The Bee aims to change that. Christ-centered news satire is now a thing.”
With the endless stream of negativity in your news feed, some laughter provides much needed stress release.
But The Babylon Bee (note the alliterative disharmony of the ancient Biblical capital city with the quirky newspaperish “Bee”) aims at more than just making fun of people. It shoots for reflection.
“It’s important to look at what we’re doing, to ‘examine ourselves.’ Satire acts like an overhead projector, taking something that people usually ignore and projecting it up on the wall for everyone to see,” Ford told Christianity Today. “It forces us to look at things we wouldn’t normally look at and makes us ask if we’re okay with them.”
It has ridiculed the ongoing impeachment against Trump: “Santa Claus Accused Of Quid Pro Quo For Giving Children Gifts In Exchange For Good Behavior.” It has lampooned Trump: “Donald Trump’s Ego Most Fragile Element In Known Universe, Scientists Confirm.”
It has poked fun at atheist physicist Stephen Hawking for postulating the multiverse (multiple universes) to by-step the insurmountable improbability of life spontaneously generating: “Atheist Accepts Multiverse Theory Of Every Possible Universe Except Biblical One.”
Some of the parodies are theological. Calvinists bear the brunt of the Bee’s beatings: “Calvinist Dog Corrects Owner: ‘No One Is A Good Boy’”
Other spoofs slam mega churches. Joel Osteen seems to good-naturedly ignore the incessant onslaught. One headline: “Joel Osteen Opens Church Cafe That Only Serves Lukewarm Beverages.”
You have to stay abreast of current events, of nerdy theological debates and of church trends to get most of the jokes.
It is ironic that so much humor started from Ford’s anxiety. Ford wanted to share his Christian faith by becoming a church pastor. But then he started suffering panic attacks, one so bad he thought it was a heart attack while he was driving, according to the Washington Post.
In his despair, Ford isolated himself. He turned to writing as a coping mechanism. Comics and satire became his prescription for mental health.
“I’ve been in a dark place before, numerous times, where all I really had to cling to was the gospel,” he said. “God’s promises are what sustained me. I didn’t feel them, but knew them, and that was enough. Feelings can lie, but the truth is the truth.”
His brainchild succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. It turns out that he filled a huge void, and The Babylon Bee exploded through social media to actually become a profitable venture.
Then when Ford’s turnaround testimony seemed finished, the incessantly liberal “fact-checking” site Snopes delivered a series of withering blows to Ford’s site. Never mind that the Babylon Bee states overtly that the news is made up. Snopes began debunking what never were real news articles, and this in turn triggered Facebook and Google to de-platform the Bee.
In March of 2018, The Babylon Bee jeered CNN’s bias saying they used an industrial-sized washing machine to “spin” news. Snopes tagged it “false.” Automatically, Facebook flagged the Bee’s content and threatened to limit their content distribution and monetization.
That a real news fact-checking site would subject satire to its scrutiny was mystifying. Facebook quickly walked back and corrected its flagging system, but it was disconcerting to Ford to see his livelihood jeopardized by the whims of the powers that be, and he panicked.
Ford sold The Babylon Bee to Seth Dillon and handed over the reigns to Kyle Mann as editor in chief. “Facebook has the power to kill publishers, and they do, not only based on publishing techniques, but based on worldview,” he wrote on Adam4d.com.
Fortunately, new leadership maintains the old hilarity, and the Snopes controversy devolved into a funny feud, with the Bee taunting: “Snopes Issues Pre-Approval Of All Statements Made During Tonight’s Democratic Debate,” says one headline.
Then another went even further: “Snopes Rates Babylon Bee World’s Most Accurate News Source.”
Can you blame the Bee? How can anyone take Snopes seriously after it took seriously unveiled fiction?
The Bee, with ribbing, continues to sting.
Michael Ashcraft complements his Christian journalism by selling bamboo steamers on Amazon. He might as well. He’s not getting too many compliments for his Christian journalism.