Originally written on February 17, 2017.
I’ve hidden all posts from the Babylon Bee from my newsfeed and blocked their page. And why, you ask?
Is having a Christian version of The Onion with Calvinist undertones offensive? Do I just think poking fun at church subculture is too sacrilegious?
Nope, those aren’t my reasons. Here’s the deal. Not all comedy is kind.
Some of their articles aren’t mean, and comedy about evangelicalism can be quite funny to those of us who grew up in the church.
I read Matthew Pierce’s blog posts all the time. They’re hilarious. (example: A Brief History of Christians and Social Media)
But most of the Babylon Bee’s jokes are just hurtful.
Here are some blog posts written by other people about the problems with the Babylon Bee’s humor. I ask you to consider these voices before sharing their articles and giving them web traffic.
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“I grew up evangelical, and I know the way we judged people who didn’t agree with us, the little euphemisms and jokes we used to mock them. We kept it indirect and coded in church-y language so it didn’t sound so bad, but it had a rotten core of arrogance and hate, which we called “love.”
“Over and over … the punch line to so many Babylon Bee articles. ‘lololol look how silly people are, who don’t believe the correct Christian things that we believe!'”
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“I mean, to watch Christians gleefully retweet and share the Babylon Bee, you’d think Jesus said: “By this will everyone know you are my disciples, if you mock one another.”
“The Babylon Bee isn’t about equal-opportunity laughs. Or speaking truth to corrupt power systems. The Babylon Bee is all about making you laugh at the harmless joke so that later, you’re more likely to laugh at the sexist joke. This is psychology 101. It’s called foot-in-the-door compliance, and it’s a real thing.”
“The point is, the Babylon Bee doesn’t expose oppressive religious culture and structures, (which is what true satire does), it actually reinforces them.”
(After she posted this in May 2016, the Babylon Bee wrote a satire about Elizabeth Esther, prompting twitter trolls to harrass her for several days. She had to disable her account for some time afterwards.)
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“As my friend Jayson tweeted, “The Babylon Bee is the answer to the question: ‘What if Matt Walsh tried to be a comedian?'”
“The Babylon Bee gives privileged Christians permission to laugh at people who aren’t like them, and to do so in plain sight.
“Christian satire continues to miss the mark because it fails to do the work of good satire, which at its heart, fittingly enough, is a prophetic art. The Biblical prophets found their witness not in mocking the vulnerable, but in challenging the powerful. Christian culture’s refusal to acknowledge privilege, intersectionality, and basic power dynamics means that it will always misidentify, as the comic above does, who the truly marginalized in our society are.
“Satire that punches down, rather than up, is not only ignorant—it’s oppressive.”
– Jonathan Hollingsworth, in a Medium article that’s since been deleted, The Babylon Bee, Transphobia, And Why Christian Satire Still Misses The Mark
Here’s the deal: comedians like Matthew Pierce are poking fun at stuffy religious people, the sort of people that end up oppressing other people with their beliefs. Those people who are in power.
The Babylon Bee is kicking those who are already down. That’s where the problem is.
Their supporters can troll me for criticizing the site all they like. I’m not afraid. 🙂