When does satire about faith become mockery? And should Christians even care?
In a piece from his satire column "Satire from The Borowitz Report," The New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz took aim at the professed faith of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett with the headline, "Amy Coney Barrett Searches Bible for God's Opinion of the Internet."
The column, ostensibly inspired by the Supreme Court battle in Gonzalez v. Google, which some pundits believe could lead to the court allowing tech platforms to be sued over content, turns the millennia-old practice of Christians seeking answers from the pages of the Bible into a punchline.
Borowitz depicted a fictional scenario where Barrett "called for a recess in arguments before the Supreme Court so that she could search the Bible for God's views on the Internet."
In the piece, Borowitz imagines Barrett's response to the issue: "'It doesn't matter what we think about the Internet,' the Supreme Court Justice said. 'What does God think about it?'"
The satire column finishes with Barrett instructing her clerks to "comb the Bible for the Almighty's opinions on digital matters," only to result in their failure to "find any mention of the Internet in the books of Genesis, Exodus, or Leviticus, but were said to be 'holding out hope' for the Book of Numbers."
Far from being the only example of anti-Christian sentiment in Borowitz's column, the Barrett piece follows a long tradition of satire aimed at the likes of Christian (and Republican) public figures like former Vice President Mike Pence, Reps. Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
The premise of another article sees Boebert, an outspoken Christian, mix up the Bill of Rights with the Ten Commandments.
Borowitz writes, "The Colorado lawmaker said that people who believe that there are nineteen amendments' need to turn off their NPR and pick up the good ol' Bible'."
Borowitz — who once wrote, "the baby Jesus was the last homeless person the Republicans liked" and shared a story about former President Donald Trump making an appearance at the Values Voter Summit with the caption, "Because nothing's more Christian than telling hurricane victims to go f— themselves" — also mocked the pro-traditional marriage values espoused by Chik-fil-A's President Dan Cathy in a 2012 satire piece.
Written amid a national debate over same-sex marriage during the Obama administration, the piece refers to a fictional new sauce at the fast-food giant, where customers were "ordering their sandwiches with extra hate."
The article included a fictional quote from a customer calling the sandwich "so spicy it makes your mouth feel like it's on fire — like a gay couple in hell."
The New Yorker did not respond to a request for comment from The Christian Post as of Tuesday afternoon.
The New Yorker made headlines in 2013 for a controversial cover romantically depicting "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie after two groundbreaking rulings favoring same-sex marriage.
Last August, the Center for Christian Virtue (CCV), a public policy advocacy group, criticized The New Yorker for a story about their organization they said was "packed full of mischaracterizations, manipulations, and flat out lies."
In an article titled "When the New Yorker came after CCV," president Aaron Baer says the publication misrepresented CCV as "one of the premier lobbying forces in Ohio" and how they "command unusual influence" in a 2022 report headlined "State Legislatures Are Torching Democracy."
"While we're flattered by the compliments, the reality is, the influence CCV has garnered lies in the fact that we engage in the public policy conversation with excellence and integrity, and we empower people like you to have a voice in the process," Baer wrote.
"If I spent my days responding to every attack and piece of misinformation about CCV and why Christians care so deeply about the future of our state and nation, I wouldn't have time to sleep."
Bill Hull, co-founder and CEO of The Bonhoeffer Project, wrote about a 2021 New Yorker article on the "wasting of the Evangelical mind," which depicted American Christians' "vulnerability to conspiratorial thinking and misinformation" as a root cause in Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol building.
Hull told CP that while some Christians may take offense to articles like those in The New Yorker and other publications, many others in the public square don't share that sentiment.
"Evangelical leaders, writers, and academics yearn to be taken seriously. If there is anything worse than being mocked by Borowitz or some 'funny only to the left' humorist, it is being ignored," Hull said via email.
"Not being taken seriously is much more punishing than mockery and ridicule. That is why conservatives don't mind being laughed at on Saturday Night Live. Fame is more pleasurable than credibility, celebrity more desired than character," he added.
"This is evidence that secularity has won. Even Christians want the good stuff now instead of later."
Some Christians, Hull added, will gladly tolerate their faith being ridiculed if it means career advancement and media coverage.
"The power of the culture is in this recognition system. It has a gravitational pull that drags everyone with ambition, talent and drive along," he said. "And inside the Evangelical community, it has its own system, but it bows the knee to the secular one.
"This is why so many Christians will take the mockery and ridicule, because as Oscar Wilde famously said, 'The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.'"
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.