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The Episcopal Church repeatedly stung by Babylon Bee

The Episcopal Church repeatedly stung by Babylon Bee
Satirical sites find TEC easy target

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
April 21, 2022

Wikipedia describes The Babylon Bee as "a conservative Christian news satire website that publishes satirical articles on topics including religion, politics, current events, and public figures."

The Babylon Bee, which is basically the conservative evangelical Christian version of "The Onion" -- a secular satirical website site focusing on satirizing international, national, and local news -- has found easy prey in The Episcopal Church.

The Bee, which has been buzzing around since the spring of 2016, has targeted The Episcopal Church a dozen times, hitting dead center in the bullseye.

The Bee headlines read: Episcopal Church Reports No Change in Attendance In Recent Weeks (2007); Report: Episcopalians May Still Exist (2016); Episcopal Church Burns Man At Stake For Believing In Biblical Inerrancy (2017); Episcopal Priest Forced To Resign After Revealing He Believes In God (2018); White Sox Attendance Now Lower Than Average Episcopal Church Service (2018); and Local Pastor's Description Of Holy Spirit Identical To 'The Force' From Star Wars (2018);

ALSO: 37 Episcopalians Remaining on Planet Vote To Stop Using Male Pronouns For God (2018); Episcopalians Confused By Strange Book Trump Brought To Church (2020); Episcopalians Permanently Switch To Cardboard Parishioners (2020); Progressive Church Tells Young Unvaccinated Couple Stuck Out In The Cold That There's No Room (2021); Powerful Statement: New Episcopal Hymnal Replaces All Lyrics With The Word 'Gay' (2022) and The Babylon Bee Guide to Every Christian Denomination (2022).

There is also a Babylon Beesque lampooning of The Episcopal Church written by Ben Myers, entitled: My failed attempt to write for Babylon Bee -- Product recall on hundreds of church ministers (2016). He eventually published his Episcopal Church satire on the Faith and Theology blog.

What makes the Babylon Bee satire so successful is that, sadly, there is an element of truth about The Episcopal Church in what is being humorously dissected.

The Babylon Bee has been so adept at its satire of The Episcopal Church that there have been times that the mainstream media could not tell the difference between fact, fiction, and satire, picking up on a Bee satire, repackaging it as a genuine news story and running with it.

The Bee doesn't only poke fun at churches, high level government officials are also on The Bee's radar.

Currently, the website is in an intense battle with Twitter over its headline: "The Babylon Bee's Man of The Year is Rachel Levine," identifying Admiral Levine -- a biological male turned transgender woman -- as a man.

The Babylon Bee refuses to bend its knee to those who seek to define what is or is not acceptable social communication.

"Truth is not hate speech," said the Babylon Bee, standing firm on principle. "If the cost of telling the truth is the loss of our Twitter account, then so be it."

The battle between the Babylon Bee and Twitter continues over the Levine tweet, with Twitter demanding The Bee delete the tweet.

"They (Twitter) could, of course, delete the tweet themselves. But they won't. It's not enough for them to just wipe it out. They want us to bend the knee and admit that we engaged in hateful conduct," The Bee's CEO Seth Dillon explains. "They (Twitter) can delete our joke if they want. They have that power. But we're not bending the knee and doing it for them."

Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker says: "Satire allows you to say almost anything. That's where truth is spoken to power in our society. When you sugarcoat a bitter truth with humor, it makes the medicine go down. Your audience lets its guard down."

The Babylon Bee is not the only website satirizing The Episcopal Church as the American daughter of the Church of England makes world headlines over same-sex marriage blessings, gay bishops, faithless bishops, corrupt bishops, oceanographer presiding bishops, transgendered priests, spiraling church membership and attendance, the embrace of the woke culture, liberal theology, feminist theology, woke theology, heretical liturgies, scorched earth litigation, rampant defrockings, genderless language ...

In 2007, even before the Babylon Bee came on the scene, Tiger Mike over at Political Smack Talk said: "It's never wise to satirize the Episcopal Church. They defy parody."

The Covenant Magazine, published by The Living Church, has occasionally dabbled in satire.

Truth with teeth: The study of satire and our study of the Bible (2016); and How to Save a Dying Church (2019) are just two of Covenant's satires on The Episcopal Church.

In 2007, ScrappleFace took aim at Ann Holmes Reffing, an Episcopal priestess in Seattle, who had openly embraced Islam in 2006. In 2009, Bishop Geralyn Wolf (XII Rhode Island) defrocked her on April Fool's Day. The bishop's action was not a satire -- it truly happened.

The ScrappleFace post -- Episcopal Church Appoints First Openly-Muslim Bishop --has been scrubbed from its website after it was hacked in the fall of 2020 and its entire archives was wiped clean.

There are of course other satirists out in the vast blogosphere who take careful aim at The Episcopal Church. The Tom-in-the-Box News Network: Episcopal Church Considers Ordaining Straight Male Clergy (2008); and Global Christian Worship: Psalm 151 in Anglican Chant (2014); and Neutral Ground News: Chalmette Catholic man in holy sh*t after enjoying rival (Episcopal) church's live-stream Masses (2019) are just a few who poke fun at today's Episcopal Church.

A couple parodies are also making the rounds on YouTube: St. Anne's - Tifton Georgia, You'll Be Back -- a takeoff on Hamilton (2020); and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was spoofed on the Weekend Update segment on Saturday Night Live following the British Royal Wedding (2018).

In the animated sitcom The Simpsons, the Springfield Episcopal Church is across the street from First Church of Springfield which is a part of the "Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism." The Episcopal church structure is visible in two The Simpsons episodes: "Simpsons Christmas Stories" (2005); and "Bart Has Two Mommies" (2006). The church edifice is also available for The Simpsons: Tapped Out, a video mobile game for smartphones.

Other Tapped Out Springfield religious buildings include: the Chocolate Chapel, the Cut-Glass Cathedral, the Impulse Wedding Chapel, Jewish Heaven, Jogyesa Temple, the Mega Church, Notre Dame of Springfield, the Old Cathedral, Shotgun Pete's, the Springfield Buddhist Temple, St. Basil's Cathedral, St. Paul's Basilica, St. Paul's Cathedral, Temple Beth Springfield, the Tower of Babel, and Westminster Abbey.

There is one other satirist who cannot be overlooked. VirtueOnline's own David Virtue has done a masterful job in tracking and commenting on the Episcopal Church's engagement in the culture wars.

Originally appearing on Virtue Online as Episcopal Toast -- satirical essays based upon C.S. Lewis' classic book The Screwtape Letters -- "The Episcotape Letters" have been woven into a published book as a "series of satirical essays on the state of The Episcopal Church and their implications for the wider Anglican Communion."

"In my own more modest attempts I have attempted to emulate the great Lewis with my own reflections on the state of the church through this literary device," Virtue explains. "The Screwtape Letters written by the late C.S. Lewis has become a model for satire about the current state of the Anglican Communion, especially the Episcopal Church."

Sometimes it is hard to tell with The Episcopal Church, and Katherine Jefferts Schori in particular, what is satire and what is truth because there's always a kernel of truth embedded in the satire.

The Spoof: Prince Charles to Marry Gay Bishop (2003); Extreme Theology: The 2006 Second-Reformation Award for Excellence in Deeds Rather Than Creeds (2006); Get Religion: Jefferts Schori (quietly) goes Pentecostal (2010); Clergy Confidential: I Will Survive (2014); Episcopal Cafe: Fifty sure-fire ways to get millennials into church! (2016); Episcopal Cafe: Holy Spirit loses preference for all white male bishops, is it the fault of feminism? (2018); Episcoboomer: The Torah Dance at the Blessed Katherine Jefferts Schori Episcopal Worship Community (2020).

Even Bishop FitzSimons Allison (XII South Carolina) took a crack at satire: Beers Writes Letter to Schori (date unknown).

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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