Babylon Bee

Fixer Upper update (with M.Z. flashback): Was Gaines slam just BuzzFeed news style?

Fixer Upper update (with M.Z. flashback): Was Gaines slam just BuzzFeed news style?

Over the past few days, I have been searching for actual updates on the whole BuzzFeed vs. Chip and Joanna Gaines story and, as far as I can tell, there has been little or no news to speak of on that front.

It's clear that, for most journalists, these HGTV stars are cultural heretics who are on the wrong side of history, if not the cable-TV ratings. However, some commentators -- including a few on the cultural left (Brandon Ambrosino here in The Washington Post) -- have asked whether Kate Aurthur of BuzzFeed did the right thing when she probed the couple's silence and, in effect, blamed them for the traditional Christian teachings (on marriage and sex) voiced by their pastor, the Rev. Jimmy Seibert.

For example, Vox has issued one of its usual pieces on What. It. All. Means. The headline is logical: "Chip and Joanna Gaines and the anti-gay controversy over HGTV's Fixer Upper, explained." That's as good a place to start as any, in terms of the status of the journalism issues in this high-profile case.

After expressing lots of outrage over the religious beliefs at the center of the case, Vox reaches the summary paragraphs: "What the fight over the Gaineses’ beliefs is really about." Let's read that:

HGTV has a long history of leaning toward the progressive in the types of people it features on its shows. Same-sex couples are featured in many of its programs. The network airs programs like House Hunters International that sometimes feature non-American same-sex couples, and shows like Property Brothers and Love It or List It have had same-sex couples who had their homes renovated. And the channel stated on December 1 that all of its current programs are open to LGBTQ couples. ...
In 2014 the channel canceled a proposed show, Flip It Forward, because its hosts, David and Jason Benham, were vocally anti-gay. The Benham brothers are sons of a man named Flip Benham, the leader of an organization called Operation Save America, who has gone on the record in saying that “Jesus hates Muslims” and blamed the 2012 Aurora massacre on Democrats. David Benham spoke to a conservative talk show in September 2012 and said, “Homosexuality and its agenda ... is attacking the nation,” plus some nonsense about "demonic ideologies."

Then there is this, the only real commentary on journalism questions:

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#WarOnChristmas: RNS, other media jump on (nonexistent) controversy over Starbucks cups

#WarOnChristmas: RNS, other media jump on (nonexistent) controversy over Starbucks cups

Yes, Virginia, Religion News Service wrote a snarky "news" item quoting three anonymous Twitter users.

The subject of the report: The alleged controversy over holiday cups at Starbucks.

The wire service's lede:

(RNS) Yes, Virginia, there are people brandishing pitchforks because the new Starbucks cup is green and doesn’t have a snowflake.
On Tuesday (Nov. 1), the much-loved and much-derided coffee chain rolled out a cup with a white circle on a green background covered with an army of little cartoon faces drawn with a single line by artist Shogo Ota.
For some customers, this was the first salvo in what they see as the company’s annual “War on Christmas.”
“Starbucks is trying to take Jesus out of Christmas with the new cup,” someone named Jazmine H wrote on Twitter.

Wowza! If Jazmine H is upset, this must be a legitimate national news story!

And there are even reports that Starbucks has unveiled new Satanic holiday cups.

Oh, wait. That report is from the Babylon Bee, the fake religion news website. My bad.

Back to the Starbucks cup brouhaha: As the late, great Yogi Berra said, "It's deja vu all over again!"

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After 'scheduled maintenance,' Energizer Baptist Al Mohler back in the news

After 'scheduled maintenance,' Energizer Baptist Al Mohler back in the news

The Babylon Bee — the fake religion news website — keeps making me laugh.

My favorite satire of the last week was the Bee's report that the Southern Baptist Convention's Energizer bunny — Al Mohler — would go offline for "scheduled maintenance."

Regular GetReligion readers — not to mention anyone who pays attention to religion news — are familiar with Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Mohler, who hosts “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview, is a favorite go-to source for reporters — and I'm no exception. I interviewed him recently on politics and churches for Christianity Today's ChurchLawandTax.com.

Today, Mohler is a key voice in an in-depth NPR report on some evangelicals digging in — and others adapting — on culture war issues.

The NPR piece qualifies as mildly interesting. For me, it doesn't cover a whole lot of new ground. Of course, I follow these issues on a daily basis. The report might hold more appeal for a general audience.

From a journalistic perspective, it provides a fair measure of balance, quoting both traditionalists and progressives. Mohler, in particular, figures heavily on the side intent on standing firm:

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Breaking: Babylon Bee buys RNS, will publish mix of fake and real news (SATIRE)

Breaking: Babylon Bee buys RNS, will publish mix of fake and real news (SATIRE)

How's this for a scoop?

We've learned that the Babylon Bee, the fake religion news website, has purchased Religion News Service and will merge the two media organizations.

"For several years, it's been difficult to tell where the snark ends and the real news begins at RNS, so we decided this partnership would be a match made in heaven," a high-ranking source said, speaking on condition that no one accuse left-leaning RNS of believing in a literal "heaven."

I kid. I kid.

But hey, RNS asked for it by poking fun at your friendly GetReligionistas. More on that in a moment.

First, though, if you're not familiar with the Babylon Bee, it really is a bastion of fake religion news excellence. 

Veteran religion writer Bob Smietana wrote a neat feature about it for the Washington Post last week:

What would the Onion look like if it were written for the godly?
How about these headlines?
“Mountain Climber Recovering After Decision to Let Go and Let God”
 “Worship Leader Caught in Infinite Loop Between Bridge and Chorus
Local Family Attending Church on Easter Just in Case God Is Real
At the Babylon Bee, the news is always fake but the stories are often true.
The satire site, which began in early March, features witty headlines that poke fun at the foibles of churchgoers.
The site is the brainchild of Adam Ford, 32, a Detroit dad who quit his day job a year and a half ago to produce Web content.
His first project was Adam4d.com, a Web comic supported by small group of donors and a few ads. He’s aiming bigger with the Babylon Bee, which he said attracted more than 1 million visitors in its first three weeks.

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