Joel Kilpatrick, a 1995 graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is not as readily recognized as other alumni such as Patrick J. Buchanan, Howard Fineman, or Steve Kroft. But his satirical LarkNews.com has a devoted fan base that includes evangelical and mainline pastors, an editor for the satirical newspaper The Onion, and musical satirist and filmmaker Steve Taylor.
What keeps fans coming back for each month's fresh material is a wit so sharp that, as with The Onion, people sometimes mistake its satirical stories for real news. In February 2003, for example, Kilpatrick made up an item that Zondervan would publish a gay-friendly version of its New International Version of the Bible. Like many gay advocates within churches, the theoretical gNIV assumed that Jonathan and David were lovers. Enough people sent in horrified e-mails that Zondervan issued a statement calling the report "a sick joke."
Meanwhile, homeschooling bloggers fell for "Harvard forcing homeschoolers to 'Fit In,'" which played off of stereotypes that such students need more social skills. And Christian radio stations were duped by "Wal-Mart rejects 'racy' worship cd": "The latest Vineyard Music worship cd, 'Intimacy, vol. 2,' has raced to the top of the Christian sales charts, but Wal-Mart is refusing to stock the album without slapping on a parental warning sticker. The groundbreakingsome say risquéalbum includes edgy worship songs such as 'My Lover, My God.'"
Ron Poarch, pastor of Grace Reformation Church in Woodland, California, admits that he too was tricked when he discovered LarkNews, and he quickly became a fan. Poarch says he and about eight church members visit the site together at the end of Bible studies ...