A highlight from Who Would Jesus Mock?
Jesus Christ. Okay, why don't we start with you just telling me the joke? I guess I can pull it up to see what year it's from. I recently asked Atlantic staff writer Emma green to pull up a joke that she told me from a Christian satire website called the Babylon bee. So here we go. Okay, so this is from their early days from 2016. And the headline is, Holy Spirit, unable to move through a congregation as fog machine breaks. Which is really funny because, you know, I guess now I'm explaining the joke, which is a little lame. This is poking fun at the fact that there's a certain kind of megachurch where the environment is very much like a rock concert. It's like fog machines and skinny jeans and neon lights, so it's just a funny joke to be like, we're here to be reached by the Holy Spirit. But the fog machine kept us from doing that because we got distracted thinking that the fog machine was the point. Emma, of course, covers religion for the Atlantic. And she first came across the Babylon B as this sort of evangelical answer to the onion. I remember thinking, oh, this is something different. This is like insiders who totally get what evangelicalism is. And love it and consider themselves part of it and also just hold a really hilarious joke about smoke machines and a megachurch. But if you've followed the Babylon bee over the last few years, you know it doesn't just poke fun at megachurches. The Babylon B has always had a political streak to it. And you can say a political mean streak. Like the headline Trump announces illegal immigrant gladiator games, or another one. Hillary turns to husband for advice on attracting young impressionable female voters. So as these political posts have started to go viral, they have gotten a lot of criticism for pushing satire past the line of making jokes and into misinformation. Liberal media wouldn't know a joke of a punched him in the tic tac sack, especially jokes from a popular satire website. The Babylon bee. New York Times recently denounced the Babylon B is, quote, a far right misinformation site that quote sometimes traffics in misinformation under the guise of satire. No humor allowed. So. With my reporting, I spend a lot of time. In the evangelical world that the Babylon bee inhabits. And I wanted to know directly from them what do they think they're doing when they're telling these jokes? So I called the editor in chief of the Babylon B, Kyle Mann. Well, I'm not going to explain the joke to you. Do you want me to explain the joke dude? Yes. The joke is that humor is this weird thing where either you think it's funny or you don't, either you see it as a joke or you don't. And I think understanding the why behind that can also help us understand something bigger about politics about this divided political world that we're living in. And I really think it's important to understand the people who think that the Babylon bees jokes are funny. This week, Atlantic writer Emma green sits down with Kyle man. The editor in chief of the Babylon bee. To talk about Christianity and comedy. There's this idea that conservative comedy can just say something and everybody will laugh because they agree with it. It just comes off as angry. It's not gonna hit that mark. Like it has to be clever. The balance of comedy is trying to find that line. Where is the line between making a joke and doing harm?