Faith

What is a Babylon Bee and Why Am I Suddenly Seeing It Everywhere?

Screenshot of Babylon Bee website (www.babylonbee.com)

Have you heard about Calvin’s School of Bearded Theology? How about the gridlock between two Christian men both certain God told them to date the same girl? Did you notice that Target is offering a 10 percent discount to anyone who self-identifies as over 60 years old?

Welcome to the Babylon Bee. These headlines may not be real, but they sure are hilarious. Even better, the man behind them is a Bible-believing Christian who enjoys using his faith to mock believers and non-believers alike. Adam Ford actually wanted to become a pastor, but after panic attacks and clinical depression, he settled for making the world laugh instead. This 32-year-old dad in Detroit quit his day job a year and a half ago to produce web content, and launched the Christian web comic www.Adam4d.com.

Following the success of www.xkcd.com, Adam4d brought a theologically complex understanding of Christianity to the world of internet humor, and it proved a strong success. In early March of this year, Ford went a step further, launching the satirical news site the Babylon Bee.

“I’ve been wanting to create a Christian news satire site for years because of the effectiveness of the medium at positing and defending ideas,” Ford told PJ Media in an email statement. “It was just one of those ideas that wouldn’t let go of me, so I finally acted on it. The main motivation is to utilize satire to articulate the truth.”

Despite the wit and success of the Babylon Bee, it does not have bylines on the articles, and it lacks an “About” section. Ford explained that he’s not interested in notoreity. “I like to focus on the content and not on an individual,” he told PJ Media. “That’s one reason my name isn’t on it anywhere.”

Some articles do acknowledge writers, however. “We sometimes include authors’ names after articles (other than me, we have a little team of writers, and we also occasionally run reader-submitted pieces) but usually not,” Ford said.

Next Page: Pope Francis declares all cats Christians; Using satire for Christian ideas.

Ford has emerged as an equal opportunity mocker. One article reported Pope Francis’ declaration that all cats are ChristiansAnother quoted Jerry Fallwell Jr., in saying, “Deny Your Conscience, Take Up Your Guns, and Follow Trump.” A third mocks the awkwardness of Christian men who avoid close, personal hugs — one of whom finally perfected the “side hug.”

But some articles also touch on important political and religious issues. One story reported the King of Saudi Arabia’s reaction to Apple attacking North Carolina over the transgender bathroom bill.

“Look at this–this Tim Cook fellow is publicly chastising the governor of North Carolina, sending him threatening letters, ordering him to repeal this bathroom law,” he chortled to several nearby bodyguards. “Just two years ago, this same man was begging us for clearance to operate here in our blessed kingdom, where being homosexual is punishable by death, as it is the will of Allah.”

After reading a few paragraphs of the story aloud in between howls of laughter, the King went on to remind his guards that cross-dressing is literally illegal in Saudi Arabia, where Apple is happily doing business. He then used one of his iPhones to text his son, Prince Faisal, a link to the story, adding, “Oh no, do you think Tim Cook might send us a sternly worded letter? Lol.”

As Ford told PJ Media, “Satire is an incredibly potent weapon. We’re trying to use it to illustrate the truth.” In this case, the site highlighted liberal hypocrisy.

There is a strong tradition of using satire to put forth Christian ideas.

Terry Lindvall, professor of communication at Virginia Wesleyan College and author of God Mocks: A History of Religious Satire from the Hebrew Prophets to Stephen Colbert, told The Washington Post that satirists often act like prophets, helping believers see where they’ve gone astray.

“You can be a prophet with solemn pronouncement or you can be a prophet with comic pronouncements,” Lindvall explained. Humor can be more effective than hellfire and brimstone, especially when it’s clear the satirists are mocking themselves as well as other targets.

“People that can laugh at themselves are open to their own repentance and redemption,” he explained.

The Babylon Bee has exploded in the past two months, perhaps suggesting a funding source pushing the content. The site has risen from 0 to 5481 on the Alexa ranking since the launch in March. When PJ Media probed the site’s author Ford for some explanation, he merely responded, “Yes, I’ve been very happy with the reception and it has surpassed [my] expectations, praise God.”