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What Happened to the Babylon Bee?

“The Onion for Evangelicals” is now into anti-vax lib-owning.
by Jim Swift
September 1, 2021
What Happened to the Babylon Bee?
Hat for sale from the Babylon Bee's store (Photos: Screenshot / GettyImages)

Until a few years ago, the Babylon Bee was a niche humor site—the Onion for conservative Protestants. The Bee was founded seven months before Donald Trump took office and became popular mostly because many of the jokes were very funny—but also, if we can be honest, a little bit for purposes of lib-owning. The Bee was often labeled as fake news by mainstream fact-checking sites and this series of boners—the Bee is literally and intentionally fake news; that is its whole reason for existing—made the Bee’s existence a convenient cudgel for people who were invested in undermining the very idea of fact checking.

These idiots don’t even know that the Babylon Bee is satire, so Trump never said there were very fine people on both sides at Charlottesville. #corncob

But the Bee has been changing. The site was founded by Adam Ford, but in late 2018 he sold the site to a “Christian entrepreneur” named Seth Dillon. At the time of the sale Ford said, “Seth, the new owner, is a successful businessman who uses his resources for Kingdom purposes. The Bee is in good hands.”


It didn’t happen overnight, but the site that used to run spoofs of churches with fog machines has gradually morphed into a MAGA entertainment node. The site’s menu used to have categories about news, Christian living, celebrities, politics, and church. Now it’s “News,” “Trending,” “Video,” “Podcast,” “Store,” and “Newsletter.”

What sort of lifestyle brand is the new Bee? This kind:

Because nothing shows you’re doing the Kingdom’s purposes better than poking fun at vaccines, liberals, and pronouns all at once.

Now, it’d be one thing if the Bee were just trying to make a couple bucks with irreverent merch. But Dillon and the new team seem to believe in vaccine trutherism.

Here’s a piece of cutting wit from June 30, headlined “Delta Variant Found To Be Twice As Virulent And Blah Blah Blah Whatever Who Cares At This Point”:

U.S.—Scientists now warn that the COVID-19 Delta Variant is, like, more contagious and also, like… other stuff about it. Some of them have brought up masks again. I’m sure you’re rapt with attention about all this.

“It’s really concerning,” said some scientist named… I dunno. Who cares what his name is. Anyway, he went on for a while, but it all boiled down to… it’s still the coronavirus, but now you’re totally going to catch it for real this time. They are super double serious.

So if you’re, like, one of those Karens who loved worrying about this sort of thing, now you have new reasons for that while everyone else goes back to normal. You can yell at people, “You have to be more concerned about the Delta Variant! The Delta Variant!” and everyone can just kind of nod at you and then ignore you as usual.

Anyway, they say the vaccines are still effective against it, so I don’t even know why we’re still talking about this. Seen any good TV shows lately?

Maybe this is funny, but it doesn’t seem like it. More to the point, it doesn’t even seem like it’s trying to be funny. It’s not the Churchy Onion so much as low-rent John Oliver. It’s trying to make a point. Except that in this case, the point is that you, the vaccine-skeptical audience, are a good person and all of the hysterics around you are crazy Karens and what could possibly go wrong.

Just in case you care, June 30 is almost the precise date at which the fourth wave—comprised of the COVID delta variant—began showing up in testing.

Mind you, this isn’t to say that the Babylon Bee is to blame for the fourth wave. Merely that at a moment when responsible people were warning everyone that there was trouble ahead, the Bee was there to comfort their audience poking fun at all the ninnies worrying about the mass death of their friends and neighbors. They are super double serious.

It doesn’t make sense except as lib-owning. And a few weeks ago Dillon said so explicitly. Here’s Dillon suggesting that Lindenwood University economics professor Howard J. Wall should seek therapy for criticizing his shirt, which he advertises as “lib repellent.”

Dillon has a lot of views on vaccines, which you can read for yourself, but this one stood out to me:

And it’s not just Dillon. Here’s Bee editor-in-chief Kyle Mann getting in on the action:

That was not a one-off:

LOLOLOL look at the stupid libtards we have owned them with our razor-sharp satires all their base are belong to us.

In a way, the progress of the Babylon Bee mirrors what has happened to a lot of American Christian organizations over the last few years, both Protestants and denizens of the One True Church. The Christian Post became Breitbart for Believers. Liberty University became the MAGA Strayer University. First Things became Theocracy Monthly. And the Babylon Bee turned into the Federalist’s humor vertical.

As a wise man once said: Everything Trump touches dies.

Jim Swift

Jim Swift is a senior editor at The Bulwark.