Yesterday, FOX News provided a perfect example of two somewhat related things: the organization having journalistic standards that would embarrass Lord Copper, and U.S. Jesus fans seeing anti-Christian persecution the way a chronic hypochondriac experiences aches and pains — which is to say, constantly and without reason.
‘Secret Church’ event hit by ‘cyberattack’ preventing people from watching it live
Note how cyberattack is in quote marks. Who or what is Parke quoting? We don’t learn. The “secret church” in question — it’s really just a slick website hawking pay-per-view Christian video seminars — wrote on its Facebook page that its April 24 “simulcast” ran into problems, with lots of people not being able to log on.
As a skeptic with cynical tendencies, I suspect that the difficulties were internal, but the church claims that
… “it appears that our site was under attack.”
“It appears” may be there for deniability afterwards, and of course attack doesn’t necessarily mean cyberattack. Tons of Christians believe that the devil loves to sabotage what’s good and wholesome. (When my wife and I went for our third and final adoption, Christians kindly cautioned us that demonic forces wage “spiritual warfare” against adoptive parents in the two weeks prior to the family addition.)
In any case, saying “our site was under attack” sure sounds a lot better than “we didn’t pay our hosting bill” or “our IT guy was on the sauce again.” It’s an especially perfect excuse for an organization whose entire identity and branding are wrapped in the Christian-persecution narrative.
But let’s say there was a DoS attack, or some other malicious act against the website by a vandalous hacker. Watch where Parke’s article goes from there, with zero segue.
Some 260 million Christians — 1 in 8 believers worldwide — currently live in areas of high persecution.
In seconds, and with no proof whatsoever, a likely glitch (1) becomes “an attack,” which becomes (2) a “cyberattack,” which becomes (3) an anti-Christian cyberattack, which becomes (4) proof of persecution that’s ever so casually lumped in with instances of foreign imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial executions.
In countries like Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, China, and Pakistan, there is persecution of Christians, and on this blog we’ve never been shy about voicing our revulsion of it (examples here, here, here, and here). But we’re also put off by the lies and delusions that Western Christians perpetuate — nurse, even — about how they themselves are being oppressed (examples here, here, here, and here). The latent desire to be persecuted (just like Jesus and his original acolytes!), the legitimacy they hope to derive from it, often causes them to spout habitual exaggerations. This then results in much dismissiveness and eye-rolling among non-Christians. Both groups thus do a disservice to actual victims.
In his article, Parke demonstrates a dicey relationship with truth and skeptical thinking. His journalism, in this instance at least, is worse than stenography. He didn’t just jot down what the “secret church” said; he embellished it into a paint-by-numbers, pre-constructed narrative that’s extra remarkable for its tone-deafness regarding true Christian persecution.
One day, the fresh-faced “faith and values” reporter could be Starnes’ natural successor.
I hope I’m wrong, and that Parke will wow us with accuracy and fairness in the future. Those qualities should cause quite the stir among his FOX colleagues.
P.S.: Parke says that 50,000 people tried to log in to the “secret church” simulcast last Friday. Access to the six-hour digital event cost 12 dollars per person, with a small volume discount for groups. If everyone eventually managed to log on, gross revenue would’ve been around half a million dollars.
With that kind of earnings potential, no wonder America’s faith economy is thought to be worth the princely sum of 1.2 trillion dollars — equivalent to the 15th biggest economy in the world. It’s also more money than the 10 largest U.S. tech companies combined make in a year.
P.P.S.: Via his personal website, we learn this about Parke: (1) He won a Leadership Institute’s Conservative Leader-In-Training Award; (2) he claims that someone wrote or said that he, Parke, is “one of the leading voices in Christianity today” (no source given); and (3) he says he’s “read through the Bible at least once.” Do with that what you will.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)