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'A Wake-Up Call': Inside The Babylon Bee's Satire Empire, Efforts to Give Believers 'Courage' Through Comedy

09-30-2022
The Babylon Bee website
The Babylon Bee website

The Babylon Bee has solidified itself as one of the most popular satire sites in America, particularly among Christians who find ironic truths at the core of oft-times bombastic and comedic headlines.

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For Joel Berry, managing editor of The Babylon Bee and co-author of “The Postmodern Pilgrim’s Progress: An Allegorical Tale,” satire is a way to reach people with important truths.

Truth Through Satire

“In today’s world, humor has kind of become one of the most effective ways of communicating truth,” Berry told CBN’s Faithwire. “We’re oversaturated with information. It’s coming at us from all sides. There’s so many distractions. Our attention spans are short.”

He said there are many times when “a pithy little headline that makes a point can be more effective” than other traditional communications mechanisms.

But beyond that, Berry said the type of humor The Babylon Bee serves up offers an opportunity for sanity in a world in which many can feel alone and isolated.

And that’s just one of the reasons he believes the satire site has experienced monumental success.

“I think it serves to give people courage. I think social media is designed to keep us in silos and cut off from each other … feeling alone,” he said. “And, in the way, we think like we’re the only sane person left on planet Earth, and The Babylon Bee … serves to help people remember they’re not alone in thinking and their worldview.”

The comedic site doesn’t just spark laughs, though; sometimes, controversy and anger ensue. The Babylon Bee has drawn the ire of CNN, has been punished by Facebook, has seen its Mailchimp service suspended, and has been unable to tweet for months after purportedly violating Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policies.

Attacks on The Bee

Kyle Mann, editor-in-chief of The Babylon Bee, acknowledged the site gets “blasted from so many different angles” but said the most surprising thing is the source of the attacks.

“We get criticism from the people you would expect,” Mann said. “But there’s also hate from progressive Christians, there’s hate from people who are on either side of the political extreme.”

Some critics, he said, love the jokes until wisecracks are suddenly directed at them.

“What I find is that, anytime people are so absorbed in their political system, or they’re so sold out to some extra-biblical idea or some tradition, they’re not able to laugh at themselves,” Mann said. “It is humorous to me how people can take a joke and laugh and see the value of humor — until it’s directed at them, and then, all of a sudden, it’s not funny anymore.”

The most frequent critiques, of course, come from liberals and secularists who often target The Babylon Bee’s jokes. These individuals and the institutions they run also tend to go after the satire site.

Mann believes there’s a reason those in big tech and other venues so often target his company: they’re realizing they no longer corner the market.

“They’re getting a wakeup call to how powerful their means of communication have been over the years as they’ve controlled so much of the late-night shows and comedy and movies and all of that,” he said. “Now that those tools are pointing towards them, all of a sudden, they treat us quite differently than they treat somebody like The Onion when they fact-check us. When they fact-check The Onion, it’s very lighthearted.”

These differences in treatment haven’t slowed The Babylon Bee down, though, with the site’s ever-increasing popularity corroborating Mann’s broader point.

The Babylon Bee’s Creative Process

Berry and Mann said great care is taken in the content creation process, noting every headline and story published is the end result of the sifting through and rejection of “dozens if not hundreds of headlines.”

This is likely why so much of the content goes viral on a daily basis. The testing and vetting seem to be paying off, helping The Babylon Bee hit routine home runs.

The Babylon Bee is also diversifying, launching into books. In June, Berry and Mann released “The Postmodern Pilgrim’s Progress: An Allegorical Tale,” a book that pays homage to a classic, dubbing itself “a twenty-first century take on ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress.'”

“It’s a book that is very much an homage or kind of a love letter to the original,” Berry said. “The original was extremely influential in both of our lives, and we kind of wanted to give it a bit of a modern spin, a bit of a satirical edge.”

Mann said he’s hoping to make people laugh and also to “make them think a little bit about their Christian life and the way that they follow Jesus.” This, it seems, is an issue deep in the authors’ hearts — and one Berry spoke about as well when he detailed his concerns about the church today.

Referencing the deconstruction movement — the process many go through to question their faith and, in some circumstances, abandon it altogether — he expressed tragic worries.

“We’re seeing a lot of people fall away … not just deconstructing their faith and rebuilding it but leaving it altogether,” Berry said. “One of the things that’s really important for Christians right now is understanding the truth of Scripture as it’s written in God’s Word and holding onto that in spite of the cultural noise that is around us.”

Berry said he’s hoping “The Postmodern Pilgrim’s Progress: An Allegorical Tale” helps serve and encourage people in this way.

***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.*** 

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