Mark Oppenheimer–an author of three books, who has a doctorate in religious studies–wrote an expose in the September 3 issue of The New York Times about ChristWire.org. He starts the article off with the titles of a few pieces posted on the website. After unveiling that the site is a big joke he introduces the people behind it and how its content permeated into mainstream, non-joke sites. The later part of the article covers how people at these more established sites reacted when they learned that they fell for a joke.
Mr. Butvidas, one of the two originators and writers behind the project summarized the site’s concept as “Let’s write stuff to expose how stupid people are.” Oppenheimer is right on target when he explains its popularity in these terms:
A close reader of ChristWire will soon figure out (one hopes) that the site is not serious. But many of the columns are deft enough, just plausible enough, to fool the casual reader. Even — or perhaps especially — a reader whose beliefs are being mocked.
I would like to add to the analysis that one of the reason sites like ChristWire can gain popularity is the tendency to seek out information that supports our established worldview. In this case, if you are a conservative Christian you are more likely to be interested in reading content that is in alignment with what you believe in. This characteristic, however, applies to most of us.
In recent decades religion and politics mixed in new ways. Ever since the Christian right became a prominent feature of the political landscape politicians on all sides rely on the stereotypes about the block. This is what the writers for the ChristWire play upon. They know the call words and the hot buttons that are associated with their target audience. Therefore the site is a mockery of the connection between the political and religious views of people.
There are plenty of smart people amongst conservative Christians, but this site strengthens the stereotypes that most of them are stupid. It’s unfortunate, but often makes funny reading. Similar sites could be made about other segments of the population and they probably exists. Could you point me to some?