The Christian version of The Onion is facing fire and brimstone for a satirical article on an famous evangelist published the day she died.
The Babylon Bee, a religious satire news site known for its biting parody, took the joke too far when it mocked Trinity Broadcasting Network co-founder Jan Crouch, say critics. The article poked fun at Crouch’s role in the so-called "prosperity gospel movement," which embraces wealth, as long as one tithes.
“As the nation mourns the sudden and unexpected loss of TBN co-founder Jan Crouch, various baffled prosperity gospel preachers have begun offering theories Tuesday on how Crouch could possibly have passed away, given her overabundance of faith, her supernatural ability to name and claim health and wealth at will, and her decades of collecting donations while promising that God’s will is for everybody to be wealthy and healthy,” reads the lead paragraph from farce news article.
Crouch, who was 78, and husband Paul Crouch, who died in 2013, were well-known for being leaders within the prosperity gospel movement, according to ChristianExaminer.com.
The article also included mock quotes from well-known evangelists like Joel Osteen.
"Maybe she read a really mean tweet or some criticism of her theology, and she spoke the words out loud and gave them life,” Osteen was “quoted” as saying. “How else can you explain someone who possessed supernatural health from God dying four years before the average female life expectancy in the U.S.?"
The article’s snark enraged some from the religious community.
"I have been a fan of the Babylon Bee. I have appreciated their sometimes irreverent and stinging satire,” Barry McCarty, professor of preaching and rhetoric at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, told the Christian Examiner. “I would also say that ordinarily I appreciate wit and satire and I am no fan at all of prosperity gospel and televangelists — but this struck me as being beyond the pale today."
Others took to the website’s Facebook page to express dismay over the article.
"Being in the funeral industry, the Bee has lost me on this one," wrote one reader. "She does have a family who is grieving her loss. Pray for her family that they may see the truth and be brought closer to God. Don't make fun of her after she passed. What would Jesus do? I love ya Bee, but you crossed the line this time."
"I normally think everything BB posts is gold.... but this was completely insensitive. Satire and jokes are fun, but this crossed the line," wrote another.
Some took to the social media page to defend the Bee, which has not removed the article.
"Satire works because it offends and in offending shocks our senses to the reality behind the joke," wrote one defender of the article. "It is in the very moments of life and death and pain and suffering that the hellacious Prosperity Gospel does its most damage.
“So this is the perfect time, there can be no other. Go BB."