I first learned of the website ChristWire from a Facebook friend who linked to a much-read post that lists questions for wives to answer if they think their husbands might be gay. My friend asked whether anyone knew if the list was satire, because it sure seemed like it. The answer to her question, according to New York Times columnist Mark Oppenheimer, is a resounding "yes." Having operated ChristWire since 2008 under pseudonyms, the founders revealed their true identities—and intent—publicly last week.
Bryan Butvidas and Kirwin Watson started ChristWire to be "something like what The Onion [a popular fake-news site] would be if the writers cared mainly about God, gay people and how both influence the weather." The site's tagline is "Conservative Values for an Unsaved World," and articles are heavy on pronouncements about God's vengeance against gay people (e.g., "Hurricane Earl Projected Path, Gay East Coast of America"), as well as racist rants and ridicule of celebrity lifestyles.
It's ugly, hateful, over-the-top stuff intended as social commentary. But it appears that many readers don't get the joke. Many commenters respond to ChristWire posts seriously, with both support and shocked contempt. According to Oppenheimer, even seasoned bloggers from established conservative and liberal news sites, such as RenewAmerica and the Huffington Post, were taken in.
The founders, a nondenominational Protestant and a practicing Catholic, insist that their target "is not Christians but those who do not question what they hear on the news." Even so, a brief glance through ChristWire's topics suggest Butvidas and Watson are taking on a certain brand of Christian. While their portrayal of conservative Christianity is not completely ...1
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