4 Reasons Christians Need to Quit Sharing Hoaxes


From Christians to atheists and beyond, my Facebook friends run the ideological gamut. I’m blessed to have thoughtful and deep friends from all walks of life.

But after spending years on Facebook, I’ve seen a trend that’s both interesting and troubling: If I find a hoax in my news feed, chances are it will have been shared by an evangelical Christian.

I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say, but it’s true. In fact, it’s so typical and intriguing, that I’ve been keeping track of the phenomenon for quite a while. I’ve often wondered why mainstream Christians (not my high-church friends, not my Catholic friends, etc.) are so quick to pass on news stories and testimonials that are untrue. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Today I want to talk through some reasons they need to stop:

1. They’re credibility killers

The Christian message is one that requires a certain suspension of disbelief. I mean, come on, we believe in a man who turned out to be God and was resurrected after he was crucified. What do you think it does for our credibility every time a Christian shares something that they could easily disprove with a simple Google search?

Paul calls the message of the cross foolishness to the gentiles (1 Cor. 1:23). I have a hard time expecting people to wrestle with the claims of Christianity if they have to overlook the fact that we’ll obviously believe anything. We can’t afford to let our gullibility be the obstacle between people and Christ.

2. They spread fear

The message of Christianity isn’t that the world is a scary place where everything and everyone is a potential threat—but you wouldn’t know that on Facebook.

From CFL lightbulbs which will burn down your house to Obamacare requiring the implant of RFID microchips ushering in the mark of the beast, there’s plenty of hoaxes to wring your hands over. Sometimes it seems like evangelicals are so enamored with end-times scenarios that they’re actively looking for stories to legitimize their paranoia.

The Christian message to the world isn’t, “Hey, look how bad things are!” It’s “take heart, He has overcome the world!” We don’t have to share every sensational and scary story—especially when their truth is suspect.

3. They engender phony activism

I cycle through many of the same fake or outdated stories in my feed—sometimes with the most horrifying and heartbreaking images. Whether I’m supposed to keep sharing a story to ensure a child’s heart transplant or keep sharing a story because Facebook will donate $3 for each share to help a burned infant, my sympathies are being played upon to solicit some kind of response.

The problem is not just that these stories aren’t true, it’s that there are people in hospitals in every city who need legitimate financial and moral support. We could be encouraging real philanthropy instead of the fake humanitarianism and concern generated by these bogus statuses.

4. They elevate emotion over accuracy

Recently the story of Pastor Jeremiah Steepek was making the rounds. In the story a new pastor pretends to be homeless when he visits his new church and uses the experience as a lesson to the congregation. No one can find any proof of this pastor, and even the picture that accompanies the story is a fake.

In one discussion on Facebook, a Christian stuck up for this story because Jesus used parables to teach lessons too. But the difference is that Jesus didn’t try to pass his stories off as true when they weren’t. We cannot afford to pass off questionable stories as true just because we appreciate the message.

Knowing the truth is quick and simple

When I see a story shared in my feed, I’ll usually check the source. If I recognize the source’s legitimacy, I’m more likely to trust it. Then I’ll Google the first sentence. This will usually tell me in moments if it’s a hoax.

It really doesn’t take too much work to figure out if a story is trustworthy or not, and knowing the truth is priceless.

Image: David Reeves

About the Author

Jayson D. Bradley
God-botherer, writer, audiophile, musician, social media consultant and strategist.

292 Comments on "4 Reasons Christians Need to Quit Sharing Hoaxes"

  1. One reason is enough, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    • You’re right, sorry if you had to read that whole post! :)

    • Please take the following comments as an effort to inform and not condemn.

      While I’m not advocating lying as necessarily Biblically acceptable, I’d like to point out that the commandment concerning bearing false witness is not about lying per say but is actually something much more serious.

      One of the stipulations for carrying out the death penalty under the Torah was that you had to have at least two witnesses give testimony corraborating the alleged offence. See for example one of the reasons for the Two Witnesses in the Book of Revelation.

      The commandment you cited is really about not giving false testimony in a trial where the penalty is death. Basically, don’t lie in court when the death penalty may be given out. The commandment is not neccessarily a prohibition against lying in general.

    • This is very true, but most people who do post these things don’t realize they are falsehood – and that is the premise of the article.

      • …and they hate admitting they were wrong, despite the fact that the Bible speaks out heavily against that type of pride. Sometimes people will just make up something on the spot to back themselves up (“I saw it happen myself!”) and what started off as honestly believing something turns into flatout dishonesty.

  2. On target as usual :)

  3. Great article! A frustration I share, especially when I do it =S (p.s. small typo – #2, 3rd paragraph, first sentence, I think you mean isn’t not is)

  4. Very well written …
    Far too true, especially for people called to speak the truth …
    Far too long over due …
    Sharing with the hope that it makes some people think …

    • Rationalityislost101 | July 31, 2013 at 3:03 am | Reply

      I understand your target audience and do agree with you about your message in calling for more scrutiny but would like to comment on the true demographics involved. I think its more than a single religion. While the majority of your experiences of shared hoaxes may have been those of a similar background than you, I think you are overlooking a broader generality. That is being of a low to middle socio-economic background where the basis of education doesn’t lead to questioning information being presented. Unless personality contradicts the social norms ingrained through primary education or another factor that usurps the media presented, many will just accept things as true because it is easier; it is what they were trained to do. Most ‘Christians’ are only in religious services 2-5hrs a week, depending on religion of course. They were in primary education for 35-40hrs a week. Where do you think the habit was reinforced more? I fail to account for the parental figures, but that is another long-winded paragraph. With some imagination, one can play out on their own.

      My TLDR: Religion is not always the cause and is usually a detractor from the real issue. I believe it is much simpler than that.

      Good read, thank you.

      Someone also noted theology being a science, however, I think you were correct in labeling it an art. If it cannot follow the scientific method it’s not science. There are no natural laws, theories, experiments to prove hypotheses. All the information is presented as such and one must believe upon faith. Now if one studied the history or culture of a religion in a psychological or sociological context then I see how the shades of grey come into play.

  5. Yes! Thanks for getting the word out. I wished more in the Christian community would take this to heart!

  6. Thank you!

  7. Well said – and this phenomenon gets under my skin, too!

  8. When I point these things out to my Christian friends, I often get the excuse, “I just don’t know how to check that out,” or they just precede the message with a caveat, “I haven’t checked this out.” So, I try to tell them as kindly as I can, “If that is true, PLEASE, don’t forward or repost it. PLEASE.”

    Thanks for this. Much needed…

    • You’re getting a better response than me. Many times when I debunk one of these stories for my friends, I’m informed that my source (especially if I use Snopes) has a liberal bias and is therefore unreliable. They then refuse to believe the information and insist their post is real.

  9. I personally think there is a little bit of a lack of compassion and understanding here. Maybe even a little judgement…which is God’s job, I thought. Maybe instead of complaining and getting frustrated with these kinds of people, we should try understanding what makes them believe these things more. Also, it IS o.k. to question things…even ourselves sometimes, that’s part of what reminds us we are humans and imperfect. As far as the story about the pastor, I think it’s being over-analyzed. it doesn’t matter if people are trying to pass it off as true. What’s important is that people are getting and sharing a positive message about caring for and loving one another WITHOUT judgement in the name of God.

    • It doesn’t matter if people are trying to pass it off as true?! Going to have to agree to disagree here, Josh. But thanks for the comment.

      • I’m with you Jayson, truth matters. Even if something has a positive message, well as a follower of The Christ I believe part of what sets my belief system apart from other positive messages out there is, well, the truth. People are by no means perfect, however we are called to strive towards the perfection that is seen clearly in The Christ. I think this includes our time on Facebook ensuring that we take ownership of the truthfulness of what we post.

      • I agree, truth matters. The author of that story could have started it with the phrase what would happen if… and then proceed to say what they think would happen. It still would have been a powerful message. The picture was also lifted from a photographer’s page on flickr. Not very cool.
        I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking people to check their facts before re-posting. If I had a friend who consistently relayed false statements about people I would probably ask them to check their facts and to please stop gossiping to me. This is the web-equivalent of that same conversation.

    • Sharing a lie to further your cause does more damage in the long run. The lie is accepted by those that already share your thoughts and views and further alienates those you may be trying to get the message to. I see a lot of Christians think that they can lie if it is for the greater good. How would these same people feel about Muslims or atheists knowingly lie to make a point?

    • Josh, you’re judging Jayson for being judgmental…

    • Josh referred to a lot more than the issue of truth, Jayson. Why not acknowledge the issues on which he might have a point?

  10. Reblogged this on Rabbit Trails and commented:
    If you have been on Facebook you no doubtably have seen the B&W picture of man and a compelling story of a pastor who dressed like homeless man. As it turns out it all was fake. Here is a great article on what this type of hoax does to the Christian witness. Something to think about…

  11. Thank you Jason! This is refreshing to say the least. Much of this has forced me to take a serious look at the church today. (From my own newsfeed with bleeds with this stuff.)

  12. I totally agree with the premise of your 4 points and I believe Christians have a responsiblity to insure the message we portray is accurate. I do, however, have a problem with one sub-point you made on the microchips. I do not believe it is ushering in the mark of the beast but if you research the issue under affordable healthcare act people will be implanted with a microchip. Unless they have changed that within the last few weeks and it went un-noticed.

  13. Barbara Corry | July 30, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Reply

    Here is the truth on the microchipping. It’s not true!!!


    • See how dangerous these lies can be. There is a whole segment of society convinced that the story is real. The microchip story I read was clearly satire, yet my coworker believed it.

    • I have used Snopes to prove some things were not true……and then have been told: “Who is Snopes, but a couple of people who check a few things, and tell us we are wrong?”……..I believe Snopes has some great references, but some people are just hard to convince….

      • Snopes isn’t the only game out there. Other sites are doing the same thing. The only way Snopes can stay in business is to be as transparent and true as possible. They do themselves no good by making mistakes.

  14. There’s something not quite right about this blog. I stumbled upon it today because a facebook friend had been reading it. I’m happy to admit I haven’t had time to go further than the ‘about’ section and this one article. But I have problems with what I’ve read.

    Something is prowling through evangelical Christianity at this historical moment. I grew up in a home where spiritual warfare went no further than ‘thank God the holy spirit is taking care of all that.’ So I’m not going to speculate on what’s going on. But as a former Bible college student and avid reader, I know I’m not the only one to feel this.

    It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but I’m going to try, if only because it’s an excuse to procrastinate. I’m talking about a liberal approach that’s gone right past fruitfully open-minded and ended up sounding overly keen to define itself through reference to wine, coarse jesting and relativism (I love Ghandi too but in context, it sounds like you’re staking a claim). I’ve noticed a widespread acceptance of major Christian leaders being pitted against each other, as if it’s not only natural to get into a camp and stay there, but it’s funny, too. I’m taken aback by jesting that’s on the wrong side of coarse, as if it’s so oppressive/ twenty years ago to refrain from leaving stuff that shouldn’t be thought about/talked about. There’s an incessant veneration of alcohol – which is fine up to a point, I guess. Except when it seems to be the password into some camp that defines itself by talking about…well, wine. A flaccidity of thought that seems unaware of its own limitations. I love retreating into an ironic cleverness as much as the next postgraduate student…but it’s not really that clever or funny. Why you aiming for a well-reasoned, intellectually humble, graciously holy voice in this debate we’re living through? Why does your biggest dream have more to do with laziness and self-love than reaching the poor in body and spirit? And what’s the aversion to using a favourite bible verse to share what Jesus is doing in your life?

    Before you say it, I will. It was tongue in cheek. I get it. What I’m wondering is at what point these tongues come out of the cheeks and start functioning outside those fashionably clichés) For however much you say it like it is and however cool I might find you once I get to know you, this stuff is a little stale. There are people out there who don’t know Jesus, who are actually cool, who aren’t too clever to passionately believe in something and who would probably be a little baffled by people who have gone to a lot of trouble to stand for something they seem embarrassed to be starry-eyed about. To live out faith in a culturally relevant way is to allow Jesus to shine through our culture in all its quirky beauty, but I don’t see much of Jesus in all this.

    If you think facebook is full of junk, set an example and don’t subscribe. People are only going to stop immersing themselves in these fake stories when people like you are suggesting something better to do. And since when do you get to decide what proper humanitarianism looks like? Wishing for Christianity to keep a hold on credulity is one thing. It’s lazy and high-handed to blend that message with the personal opinion that we should be meeting worthier needs instead of clicking share on the photo of the kid awaiting a bone marrow transport. Unless, as I suggested a moment ago, you are leading the way by putting true philanthropy where facebook used to be. (Out of interest, is this ability to canvas large numbers of people to find a match not one of the few wonderful things to have come out of facebook?)

    I have friends who are leaving our community next month to bring up their young family in a world light years away from the one we know. Perhaps you guys are better read than they are, perhaps you think you’re funnier. You know what I think is a shame, more than all those phony photographs of sick children that clog up your facebook page? Hardly anyone knows what they’re doing. In their own way, they’re spiritual giants. But they don’t have a platform. You do.

    The word hoax comes to mind. Grow up. Please.

    • I have to approve my comments, and I approved this one because it’s interesting to me. I’m not going to bother defending myself, but I want to thank you for the time and thought you put into responding.

      • Just wanted to say that this comment is almost indecipherable in it’s attempt at sounding intelligent. At one point I stopped and considered whether it was generated by a spam bot… but there weren’t enough typos for that.

      • My sentiment exactly, Brandon.

      • Well, I read that and now my brain hurts. Jayson, I appreciate your willingness to approve this, but I think I actually lost a few IQ points just now.

      • Thanks for a great article Jayson. I also wanted to say that I really appreciate your humility evidenced in your responses. Kind of hard to find that spirit in the blogsphere. :) All the best!

      • I have to agree with Brandon, I am also a well educated person and found myself wondering what in the world I was reading. As another posted, I quit reading. I got the sense of somone pontificating for their own gratification: look how many big words I know! That rant was so convoluted it became benign.

        I initially read your blog because as a Christian, I wondered why only Christians needed to be careful, and was delighted to see the first thing you said was it crosses all faiths! Bravo!

        You make excellent points, and because I have encountered these same issues I very rarely share anything these days. I dislike sharing anything I believee or even suspect is not wholly the truth. Unless the author makes a disclaimer in the beginning that the story is just that, a story.

        Thank you for your insights.

      • If I understood the above comment correctly, I would have to say I agree with the essence of what this person is saying. In the grand scheme of things, there are much more important things to worry about than whether or not a Christian accidentally posts a hoax on facebook. What are we doing for the kingdom of God? When we stand before the judge, He will not ask us if we have ever posted something untrue, but He will say, “Have you done the things I’ve said? Did you feed the poor? Did you visit the widow? Did you help the orphan, and love the prisoner?” Let’s stop wasting our time on things that don’t matter, and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the kingdom of God, for His glory!

      • You’re welcome, Jayson. Sorry I wasn’t able to put my points across better. But why don’t you wish to respond? Surely the purpose of a blog is to offer a starting point for thoughtful dialogue!

        I can accept that you can’t be bothered to respond to my points. Actually, that’s wrong? There’s one issue on which I’d like to push a little harder. If for no other reason that you have started this debate and discouraged others from clicking ‘share’ on pleading pictures of sick children, I believe you have a responsibility to consider the potential for facebook to draw potential bone marrow matches together. Might Jesus work through this? Well, he has enabled your Christian witness to be exponentially expanded through the medium of new technology – why not facebook, too?

        Scrolling through these comments, I’m noticing a closed shop effect – you’re read by people who, on the whole, agree with you. When someone doesn’t, you don’t engage, other than to choose their weakest point and comment incredulously. That’s not debate and it’s not even Christian. It looks like disagreeing with you is likely to incite criticism from your fanbase. I guess I can take it :)

        • I have given you a venue to disagree with me. A closed shop would be me not approving negative posts. I don’t see any reason to get into a debate in the comments section. People aren’t going to agree with me and that’s totally okay.

          I couldn’t have responded to your earlier comments even if I had wanted to because, by and large, I didn’t understand them. I don’t say that to be mean. There just seemed to be a whole lot of commentary based on a lot of different stimulus that called into account my character and genuineness of my faith. I don’t have to defend myself and am not really interested in picking through the super-long comment to decide what’s worth defending.

          Hoax Facebook shares might draw attention to real issues but not as well as really addressing real issues would. In fact, I typically don’t spend a lot of time thinking through the complexities of issues presented to me in questionable formats. Is it possible someone could be moved to do something amazing based on a lie they heard? Yes. Does that justify lying? No.

        • Also, I am not sure I have a “fan base.” Rumors of my celebrity might be a hoax too.

    • I think that somewhere in this post, you were trying to make a point, but I have read it three times and it’s still incoherent. Therefore, I must ask:

      What in the Sam Hill are you talking about????

  15. Hmm.. if it’s a hoax and we spread it, wouldn’t that make it GOSSIP?

  16. you do know that some of those Christians that see those don’t know its a hoax, right? I try to share whats true and not false but sometimes those false posts are manipulated so thoroughly that a lot of people,including me don’t know its false.

  17. Is this article even real? :)

  18. You realize that “the resurrection” is a hoax, right?

    • Aw man! Your troll game is #onpoint!

    • that is your freedom to believe but one day you will bow before an Almighty God and have to answer for that. Humans are the only living thing that have a free will so we can choose what we want to believe. nature, science, math, and everything else around you points to God. It breaks my heart to hear something like this. but it is your God given choice to choose.

  19. Flawed article and response… Some of these cite snopes as their reasoning and justification to call something a hoax. Is snopes.com the regulated tell all be all of truth? Didn’t think so. There have been some instances where they have been proven wrong. Admittedly it’s rare but it has happened…

    For instance… The Jeremiah Steepek story. The picture in and of itself is not fake. What I gathered during my own research it is a real homeless man. It is not “Jeremiah Steepek” although I’m not sure the story I originally read ever claimed the picture was him. Even snopes has that story as undetermined. Why reference it in your article as untrue. The correct phrase should be not proven. Furthermore your article paints a broad stroke of Christians as being gullible dummies. People I know are more inundated with political garbage that is unverified, not true, and in many instances very outlandish. I am more inundated from these types of posts from Christians, Athiests, Gay’s, Lesbians, and everything in between.

    • Thanks for your comment. Let me just respond to it.

      1. Stories are true or not (or a mixture thereof). Snopes isn’t the arbiter of online truth, but they have been in the game for an awfully long time. I am sure they get it wrong at times, but with the traffic they get regularly they wouldn’t last long if they weren’t open to retractions and being face-forward on this kind of stuff.

      2. The versions of the Jeremiah Steepek story in my feed read, “Pastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured below) transformed himself. . .” The moment it starts that way, it’s untrue.

      3. My post doesn’t paint Christians as gullible dummies. I am a Christian, I don’t think I am a gullible dummy. I am speaking from my experience—one that I have been watching intently for some time.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  20. Barnabas Holleran | July 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Reply

    Do you have any idea as to why it’s the more mainstream Christians who are caught sharing these things? I’ve noticed the same thing, and I’d love to read your insights.

    • This is something that I have been thinking about—A LOT. I’m almost scared to say because I think it would be a little inflammatory.

      • Could it be that we’ve been (by and large) taught to “just believe”? I think that our pastors and teachers are well-intentioned when they emphasize faith (and they’re mostly right), but we also need to make it very clear that ours is not an unreasonable faith. Intellectual thought and Christian faith are not incompatible (but neither will academia provide proof of our faith).

        Thanks for the post. I’ve noticed the same correlation and have been equally concerned.

      • I’m in the middle of “letting” my teen daughter question her faith…..I am doing so, against all I’ve been taught by my parents generation (you go to church, or else….) partly because I believe it’s imperative for her to seek and find for herself and not have faith simply because I do. I hope with all my heart she sees truth and comes back to faith….just like I hope with all my heart she grows into a critical thinker and can discern between hoaxes and truth in the other areas of her life.

    • Perhaps our Christian community is substituting passionate dissemination of stories that seem enticing or exciting because we are not funneling our energy into being passionate about sharing the Gospel. I believe that if we were focused on sharing Jesus with a lost world, we wouldn’t have time to get caught up in rumors and things of this nature.

    • Rosie Perera | July 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Reply

      (Like one of the other posters, I wasn’t sure about the use of “mainstream Christians” — perhaps “mainstream evangelical Christians” would be more accurate.)

      My provisional guess is that being well-practiced at believing something that seems incredible (in the literal sense) to the rest of the world leads people to turn off their inner skeptic completely. Perhaps there is a fear of skepticism as a fundamental intellectual stance towards things that have not yet been proven. A fear that it might lead to loss of faith. And thus these types of Christians are gullible about things that resonate with their hearts. I wonder if they’re also gullible more broadly, about those online offers that are too good to be true?

      A confession: I’ve fallen for some of these hoaxes too (I believed the Jeremiah Steepak story the first time I read it, but nevertheless checked Snopes instinctively and found out it was likely an urban legend). I generally don’t forward on viral stuff at all anyway, regardless of whether I’ve determined it’s trustworthy, but I did get caught passing on a false story only to have to retract it. Once was enough to teach me never to do that again.

  21. Then there is the irony of how Christians refuse to acknowledge climate change, and some of our societies bigger problems, because they are too busy focusing on these hoaxes. It’s like they’ve lost the capacity to discern reality.

    In my opinion, I think it would be worth considering what factors in this way of thinking, besides Christianity. It’s not that these people believe in hoaxes and are attracted to bad science, or Fox television, because they’re Christian. I refuse to buy the argument that following Jesus, makes us check our brains at the door. This leads me to wonder whether there is something else, which causes these people be attracted to hoaxes. We might ask a different question, “Why is it that the Christians church seem to tolerate and even act as an incubator for this kind of thinking?”

    • I don’t think following Jesus makes anyone check their brains at the door. I think there are a number of reasons associated with the Christian attraction to hoaxes.

      I think that part of it stems from the fact that we generally don’t encourage people to think for themselves . . . but I’d be interested in your thoughts, too.

      Thanks Darren!

    • A few things to percolate into the discussion. None of these are offered as root causes or proof of _anything_, but I think they may be related:

      A) Since the Pilgrims, American protestant Christianity has a long tradition of coming down VERY firmly on the “faith” side of the faith-vs.-works camps and a similar history of preferring simplicity of interpretation over morally suspect sophistication.

      B) Since WWII, American Evangelical Christianity has become fairly enmeshed in the fabric of “American Culture” that was offered as a bulwark against the encroachment of foreign (originally Soviet) influence. The plus side, for the church, was a surge in church attendance and state recognition (“In God We Trust” went on currency and “under God” went into the Pledge in the 1950s). The downside has been a marriage to political forces of cultural conservatism who consider the “Don’t Question” attitudes of McCarthyism to be a _good_ thing. (This has led to a disturbingly large and vocal group backing “God, Guts and Guns” which just THOROUGHLY baffles me.)

      C) It’s much easier to recognize sexual heterodoxy, signs of the End Times and the cultural “Other” (terrorists, Chinese baby eaters, minority violent offenders) than it is to recognize unkindness, lack of charity and unforgiveness. In my opinion, I think this has led many Christians to focus on the easy-to-recognize things as demonstrable articles or demonstrations of their faith.

      D) It’s also much easier to recognize acceptance of and agreement with complaints about those same, glaring “problems” above as proof of your own (and others) faith than to search your (or their) characters for faith, kindness, charity and forgiveness. As such, questioning them (not immediately sending them on) “shows” a weakening of faith.

  22. Years ago, I got an email hoax from a Christian. I tried to explain to her that what she had sent me was wrong and that she needed to check these things out first. She sent me an email saying, basically, that I have my beliefs and she has hers, and she was choosing to believe the lie she was propagating.

    Another time, a supposed friend of mine posted a hoax as truth on his blog. I posted in the comments that it wasn’t true, and I was immediately jumped on by all of this man’s Christian friends, most of whom I had never even met and none of whom was a good friend of mine.

    Sadly, I have found that the only way to deal with serious hoax-spreaders is to delete them from my friends list.

  23. *serial, not serious (oops)

  24. Reblogged this on Thoughts by Jamie and commented:
    Complete and utterly true!!!!

  25. James Linton | July 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Reply

    I think your use of “mainstream Christian” is a little interesting. You know that most Christians probably fit into what you may call the ‘high church’ camp, right? It seems that there would be a lot of different definitions of ‘mainstream Christian,’ but, if numbers speak, a ‘mainstream christian’ probably worships liturgically.

    Great article, though.

    • Don’t get too hung up on semantics here, James. You are right. When I use the term “mainstream Christian” I am speaking to those who generally garner the most attention in my culture of origin.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  26. The worse part is discovering it is a hoax and it is still defended. The other thing that concerns me is the oft used slogans and “bumper stickers” slogans that judge a whole group of people that borders on bigotry rather then kindness. It makes Christians look like we hoard money, hate people who are different from us, etc and that is just as damaging. Anyway, a well written article I am sure to share this one on my wall for my friends.

  27. Hi Jayson, I just wanted to say thank you for your article. I have to admit that at times I have probably shared some of these stories myself. I can’t say I will stop sharing all of them but I think I will definitely check them out before sharing. If I am unable to find out if the story is true or not I think I will now put a disclaimer on them when I share them and hopefully if untrue someone will comment where they proved it false. Too bad you have gotten some negativity when you are just trying to help and enlighten. Keep up the good work and remember not everyone will hear because they don’t want to listen.

    • Thanks Shelly,

      It’s good to be mindful and to do your best to know what you’re sharing is true.

      And as far as the negativity is concerned, I am sure it is with the best of intentions.


  28. Kirra Antrobus | July 30, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Reply

    Excellent post. Thank you. Ever since I discovered snopes.com and truthorfiction.com, I have been extremely picky with what I share and try to influence others to research before they share. Just because its made several trips around the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true!

  29. Here’s a thought. Some, not all, because it’s not limited to Christianity. Do research before they share no matter what belief system they have. I’ve been called on one or two by an atheist webcomic artist whose webcomic sometimes surprises me with a good message. Tangled in among things that probably should offend me. For that matter, I saw one part of it that was a literal “i need to smack myself in the head because I as a Christian should know better” to me. And I don’t know if he intended it.

    Sorry for the sidetrack. Point. If people who are not Christian can research to see if an article/news blurb/ is true or not, why don’t we.

  30. It’s hilarious that Christians believe idiotic internet stories that a 5 yr old would know are false by the end of the first sentence. Your post was beautifully written…and I see this myself on an almost daily basis…

  31. Great article ! I have only one complaint; in your Sub-title “Theology isn’t science; it’s art.”, Theology was once understood as the “the Queen of the Sciences”. If theology is art, then it becomes subjective instead of being the objective truth that guides us.

  32. I appreciate your thoughts. Several of these ideas have occurred to me at various times. I’m less attracted to the idea of Christians being susceptible to these pitfalls, since that is the group that I identify with. All generalizations are false, really. I’d rather be judged on my actions than on the actions of others that bear the same label. As for those who responded negatively to your post, I would urge them give more attention to the merits of the arguments or to the thought process itself, and try not to get distracted by ideologies and stereotypes.

  33. Hi Jayson, great article. I have been an internet user since 1994 and have seen so so so many hoaxes arise and sadly enough many are still circulating around today via email and facebook. I can usually tell a hoax by the way it is written. It’s not that hard to spot if you know what to look for. Now the Pastor Jeremiah one I just saw a few days ago and I saw it as an allegory. Yes the picture is not him however this pastor did have a similar story just not the one that was written down. Stories and Parables are very similar. Now if a story is based on a fact that is not truth, that is a hoax but a Parable is a story that comes from truth. Not sure how else to explain this but what the story did for me was make me think about how I might view someone like that coming into my church. I found that many people responded with conviction. That was the point. It did what it was supposed to do. When Jesus shared parables it was to encourage and convict a person’s heart.. ( notice I never said condemn). When that story goes around there needs to be a disclaimer. Not all stories should be passed around though. I hate the end time hoaxes… Perfect Love is to cast out fear not to bring on fear! :-)
    These are just my thoughts. I know we might disagree and that is so ok. :-) Bless you!

  34. unfortunately we need to remember that satan can appear as an angel of light, is the father of lies, and the deceiver. often times it is hard to distinguish what is truth and good and what is a lie and evil. i have been guilty of posting errors on facebook and if i can catch it i will delete the post. (also known as sticking your foot in your mouth) i agree about the need to speak truth especially for credibility. if any part of the story is a lie then the whole becomes a lie. if any part of the bible is a lie my faith is a lie and my life in vain. but the apostle Paul has already said that. the book of revelation says that if any man takes away or adds to this book he shall be cast into the great pit of fire. if one word is changed, think about that. i had lied to my girlfriend about smoking pot for over two years and at one point i had to lay everything out, confess and acknowledge every wrong that was before her. she is still with me for some reason but you can guess how much credibility i now have with her. the damage was irreparable for me. Fortunately i serve a very powerful God and Savior. I am and have been a believer for a number of years and she is not. that makes this scenario even that much more powerful. moreover it wasn’t until she left for six months with our son and came back to be with me not of my will. i am not saying this to enlighten you about the sin in my life that i know is there rather to show you the power of God and the power of lies. i have since been cultivating my relationship with my savior who ransomed me with blood on calvary and allowing the Holy Spirit to work. my girlfriend has since come to me as an unbeliever telling me she now sees a massive change in me that she never knew who i was. She is not only allowing but encouraging of my relationship to God/Christ because of the changes she sees even as an unbeliever. i have since stopped lying to her period no matter how painful the truth is because the pain of a lie is always greater. the consequences are always harder. we also need to remember we are all humans created with flaws. as a Christian i encourage you not to take every word your pastor or bible teacher tells you for truth but work it out yourself with God. i also went to bible college and had to learn some seriously hard lessons through that experience. i had professors with multiple phd’s that said fallible lies. yet they were convinced that they were truth because of complacency and a closed mind. Pray, read the Word of God, and be diligent if seeking out truth and only truth.

  35. Reblogged this on Skeptic Christian and commented:
    This is actually something I see all the time as well, and something I really don’t like ANYONE doing, regardless of faith.

  36. You have generated a lot of dialogue which I think is a good thing, thank you

  37. 4 reasons to get a life
    1) You can’t prove whether something is a hoax or not.
    2) Two words: free speech
    3) If you’re offended by what people post, hide the post or hide the person from your news feed.
    4) You’ve got way too much time on your hands. You could have done something constructive in the time it took you to write this essay or whatever it is.

    • Debbie:

      1. I think that’s what Mel Gibson says about the Holocaust
      2. Did you honestly read this as a polemic against free speech? Weird.
      3. Ooooh these are good ideas, I will consider them.
      4. The irony of this comment is delicious.


    • 1. Hoaxes absolutely CAN be proven to be false. That’s what corroborating evidence is for

      2. ”Free speech” has nothing to do with whether something is true or not.

      3. If someone is going to be offended by being corrected, they should probably be checking the veracity of the stories they are going to spread around in the first place.

      4. Since you did nothing to address the actual phenomenon covered in this blog, aren’t you yourself guilty of the very thing you are accusing the author of doing?

  38. Good article. And on the same general topic, when Christians perpetuate a particular website or facebook page by ‘sharing’, without taking the time to actually read the name of the site or f/b page, sharing instead a vulgar word or phrase that makes up said website or f/b page. Even though the message may be cute and cuddly, spiritual or otherwise, the source, if offensive and rude, gets deleted by me.

  39. This comment isn’t specific to this article. I apologize in advance.

    I’m a pretty regular intellectual atheist/spiritualist whatever. I had an extremely Protestant upbringing, etc. That’s all the background you need to know.

    You’re awesome. No, wait, I didn’t type that right, but they won’t let me use bold (and I’d rather not look like I’m yelling). You’re faithful, but conscientious. You’re respectful and often logical. You’re what most modern Christians aren’t.

    I don’t mean that in the half-wit “they’re not Christian enough” way, although I wish I could use that phrase given its accuracy (it has, however, been sullied by maniacs, shock jocks, and televangelists) I mean that you’re awesome for recognizing that adding “under God” to the pledge of allegiance in the 1950’s was kind of suspect, or that dehumanizing people is WRONG. I actually feel like I could even sit down and have a civil conversation with you, or even chill while leaving the the challenging stuff for a more appropriate time. It’s incredibly sad that civility is the exception with mainstream modern Christians (who probably wouldn’t even remember who Mary Magdalene was or why it’s relevant to this line of thought).

    I don’t agree with your viewpoints on what happens after death, what constitutes morality, and the purpose of existence. I, however, respect you enough to listen to you and even say a few words, myself. I’d bet dollars to donuts that there are hundreds of evangelists out there who threw away opportunities like these because they weren’t patient or degrading. You rock.

  40. #boom well said. Looks like you beat me to writing this!

  41. The best point in my humble opinion “I have a hard time expecting people to wrestle with the claims of Christianity if they have to overlook the fact that we’ll obviously believe anything.”

  42. Our brothers and sisters are being deceived to believe these hoaxes. And we all know where the lie originates. You fight darkness by lighting a candle and you disarm lies by telling the truth. There is nothing wrong with asking someone to check facts before spreading a lie.

  43. Great post. Couldn’t agree more. Just because we have had an encounter/experience with God doesn’t mean we have to “check our head” at the door. God gave us a brain. I wish more Christians would use it before simply reacting to every news item that scrolls across their Facebook page. So often we have become our own worst enemies in our efforts to secure a seat at the table of social discussions.

  44. ned arbogast | July 31, 2013 at 9:13 am | Reply

    how about 5 It’s a lie! “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”

  45. I have thought the same thing for several years. As a born-again Baptist church member, I cringe when I see some of these things revived so frequently by those whom I otherwise trust implicitly in things of the faith. Thank you for your wisdom, and especially for the grace-filled way you shared it, with biblical reasoning. I pray it will strike a cord.

  46. While ministering for 35 years, I don’t know how many times I had to chase down facts because a well’meaning member or leader in the church wanted to start a campaign of some kind based on false information (ie. computer program finds lost time from Bible, Madeleine O’Hare was about to get Christian radio and television put off the air). When I told these Christians what was actual, they appeared to be more irritated than relieved. As Jesus so often noted, It seems that our ears are more likely to itch than they are to listen.

  47. Debbie Stauffer | July 31, 2013 at 9:58 am | Reply

    I don’t think that most re-postings are done with the purpose of lying or perpetuating a falsehood. If you use a computer frequently, you probably know your way around better than most people over 45. Even tho’ the Jeremiah posting was a hoax, it made me think about my greeting habits and caring for people…all people habits. It made me want to work harder to be kinder and welcoming to people I don’t know. Was that bad or good? I read fiction a lot, and even though they are stories…I still learn things from them.

    • I agree with you Debbie, they’re not posted intentionally. In fact, the whole point of this post is that they’re not posted to intentionally mislead. I don’t think ignorance of validity makes it okay, nor does posting something with inspirational value despite the fact that it’s masquerading as a true story when it isn’t.

  48. …Petty thing here…Last sentence you spelled “too” wrong as “to”

    Loved the blog. Accurate. I wish I could MAKE some people read this. However, again that is wrong too. I cannot cram it down someone’s throat. But, I totally agree with you.

  49. I LOVE this sentence: The Christian message to the world isn’t, “Hey, look how bad things are!” It’s “take heart, He has overcome the world!” It’s going on my kitchen chalkboard!

    • This means a lot to me, thanks!

    • Seconded! Truth is, people are well aware that the world is messed up. Maybe for not the same reasons as we do, but all of us humans know, on some level, that we’re broken and our world is broken. We don’t need alarmists; we’ve all got one in our heads. We need *hope*. The message that “God can redeem you” is the most hopeful thing out there.

  50. Hmm. I wish I could remember what I posted last night. Because I did, and can’t find it.

  51. Great, great post. My facebook and email have both been inundated by stories that can be disproven by a simple search on snopes. I think a lot of the time these stories persist because they play into the beliefs and superstitions a lot of evangelicals hold near and dear. These rumours validate feelings and ideas that are deeply ingrained, so it’s not that difficult for some people to believe something (however outrageous) that falls in line with said beliefs.

    Thanks for starting this discussion!

  52. onemanshowministries | July 31, 2013 at 10:31 am | Reply

    I was a journalism major and this is a pet peeve of mine…passing off stories without breaking a sweat to see if they are true. When we repost things that aren’t factual–as well-intentioned as they may be– it undercuts the Christian witness to be trustworthy, noble and above reproach. Do a little research before you hit the “Share” button, friends. It ain’t that hard.

  53. “The Bible hasn’t been proven” people say. I say, then try to prove it wrong. Were You there? I ask the bible doubting people who wish to debate. It’s hilarious what some people have come up with, like Moses parting the Red Sea. They argue, some of them, it was simply a drought, or low tied. Others argue that Christ’s return to the disciples was either another person posing a Jesus, or that he didn’t really die, that they took him down off of the cross and administered medical attention to him IMMEDIATELY afterward. I have heard these arguments and have bust out laughing.

    • Tom, what does any of that have to do with this blog post? Do you believe everything in the Bible is true? That is a whole different topic and one I’d love to discuss elsewhere.

    • @Tom Seay

      So, your argument is the classic argument from ignorance fallacy? Prove the Koran isn’t true. Prove that Santa Claus isn’t real. Prove that Hindu holy books aren’t true. Were you there? Have you been to the north pole and can you see invisible magical hidden elves?

      Your stories are silly and they don’t have to be “proven” false by anyone. YOU are the one making the claim that they are true, so YOU alone have the burden of proof. And the evidence that any of the crazy stuff actually happened is severely lacking, so the best explanation is that ignorant, superstitious, shepherds made it up thousands of years ago when people would believe anything.

      I don’t claim that they did or didn’t happen, but there is enough important stuff to consider in the real world that nobody has to worry about whether magic was conducted millennia ago when people were far more ignorant of science than they are today. In addition, there were no independent studies done back then to confirm anything, so anyone could write down anything and, if it them feel good (which is all religion is for to begin with) they would record it in their books and never question it.

      What you are requesting is for a silly debate to prove some silly stories true or false when none of it is warranted. There is no reason to believe any of the supernatural stuff happened, and until you provide intelligent, logical reasons to believe otherwise, nobody has any obligation to humor you and your petty agenda.

      • The Koran makes claims about Jesus that contradict the claims in the Bible (written 500 years closer to the events) and in some cases are lifted from third and fourth century pious fiction like The Infancy Gospel of Thomas. By the criteria of historical literature the Bible is to be preferred above the Koran.

        Your claims about the Bible betray so much ignorance that it’s hard to know where to start. Only some of the Bible writers worked as shepherds, some were kings, some were government advisers, some tax collectors, some fishermen. The ancients were not credulous, especially when claims were made that challenged the status quo. Claiming, for example, that a crucified man was uniquely representative of God was simply begging to be debunked, especially when Jews regarded those hanging on a tree as being cursed by God.

        Here’s a suggestion, actually know something about a subject before you comment. Or I suppose, you could just argue from ignorance.

    • jason maloney | July 31, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply

      I believe moby dick and through the looking glass are real. Now prove them fake. The authors just claimed them as “fictional” works to keep from causing panic. Prove them wrong. It may be hard to come of with definitive proof that the aren’t real, even though they are claimed to be works of fiction. Good thing the burdon of proof isn’t on me to prove validity, but on you to disprove validity. In fact, as I post this, I am watching a great documentary about the near extinction of the human race by aliens. Its called oblivion. Prove it’s not based in fact.

    • AtheistLaughing | July 31, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Reply

      Oh I don’t need to disprove them with reasonable examples of their misinterpretation. I feel it is a book of fiction just as the Greek & Norse mythology, nursery rhymes and many other books written in the past. It is a book of part fantasy, part fiction & part wishful thinking. In a response to death, people wanted to believe they’d see their loved ones again- so they combined some old wives tales, with fables & a fantasy about a place (& a way) that we may see our loved ones again. Honestly, it’s absolutely reasonable to me that Christians believe all these fictitious stories on Facebook. Their entire belief system is based on fantasy- so it’s not a stretch that they have no desire to seek the (scientific) proof/disproof.

      • Here’s my quandary. I’d like to approve this post but I don’t want a bunch of theist/atheist bickering on here. It doesn’t do anyone any good and only solidifies people’s opinions/prejudices and creates more polarity.

        On the other hand, I don’t want you to think that I am not approving your post because I disagree with you.

        So I’ll approve it, but if it turns into nonsense arguments (from anyone) I’ll start deleting comments.

      • Go to wiki and read about Russell’s teapot. Basically he says that there is a teapot orbiting the sun between the Earth and Mars. He says that it would be nonsensical to put the burden of proof on the person refuting a claim like that, and the same can be said about the Bible. It is up to Christians to prove to the nonbeliever that God is real because the concept is not scientifically justifiable. At the same time, everyone has faith in something, even if that something is science. If I asked someone to prove that the Earth isn’t flat, there are very few people who would be able to do it without relying on someone else’s work. It took thousands of years before someone came along who was smart enough to figure out how to prove scientifically that the Earth is round. If you believe that the Earth is round, but do not have the knowledge to work it out for yourself (and have never been to space to see it with your own eyes) then you have to have faith that what all the different scientists and pictures have told you are true. I chose to let my faith rest on independently repeatable science, but I don’t feel that I am in a position to tell someone that resting their faith in religion is stupid. To each their own.

  54. This is excellent. I’m going to share it on facebook right now. If it gets a million likes my mom says I can go to disneyland.

  55. Yes! And the worst are the specifically faith-tailored hoax parable things. I can’t believe these three still go around- http://anirenicon.com/2013/03/12/3-untrue-christian-stories-know-a-parable-when-you-see-one/

    Definitely kills the credibility.

  56. I had to pass over a number of posts to leave this, so I hope It’s not overdone, but this same concept could be applied to political arguments (on both sides, by the way).

    I’ve seen some VERY extreme positions taken by people that I know are intelligent, but seem completely unable to think once a “trigger” word is read (or spoken); they just roll around in their own hate until they smell like all their friends.

    By disengaging the brain in order to elicit, manipulate, and profit by another’s emotions, they make it appear as if they have given up on seeking intelligent agreement, and they’re just trying to gather a mob.

    In the case of sharing the Gospel, the consequences are grave; by participating in lies, and demonstrating a willingness to lay down in that filth, they give non-Christians the excuse they’re looking for to turn away from God.

    To be fair, it’s not done with bad intentions. It begins with a benign motive; “Anything done in the service of God (or America) can’t be wrong, can it?”.

    I grieve for those who are lost in that kind of trap. In my opinion, it’s now the biggest threat to our great country; how can we solve problems if we can’t talk to each other? How can we demonstrate the love of God if we’re falling for the Illusions of the world ourselves?

    I believe the answer lies with your blog post; take a breath, and make sure that the message truly resonates with a loving God before you send it.

    What would Jesus post?

  57. Gullible people without critical thinking & reasoning (or Googling) skills, scare me to no end, and it amazes me how many of them there are in the world. It has gotten to the point where I almost hate identifying myself as a “Christian,” because it’s like saying, “I’m a gullible, thoughtless, right-wing conservative with no brain.” (None of which is true of me, by the way.) I happen to be a quite liberal, educated, free- thinking Californian Democrat, who happens to believe in Jesus. People who post hoaxes on Facebook disturb me, too. The only one I have posted was the one about Shark sightings resulting in beach closures in San Clemente 4th of July Weekend. I knew it was a hoax, and hoped non-locals would fall for it!

    • Keith Havens | July 31, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Reply

      That wasn’t very Christian of you. What would your Jesus have said about selfishly trying to keep non-local people away from the beach?

    • Hmmmm. Liberal, educated, free thinking democrat.

      I suppose in your mind because I am a believer in Jesus Christ, happen to be a Constitutionalist, happen to be a third generation Californian, believe in smaller government, believe our current President is anti-Christian, using deceit all the while destroying this country (and should be tried for treason)
      that I am

      ” a gullible, thoughtless right wing conservative with no brain”.

      You are sadly mistaken. And easily deceived.

      • The point seems to have gone right over your head… Melissa was referring to the stereotype of what a Christian is by the vast majority of how Christians in America tend to act. She says she’s frustrated at the stereotype because she isn’t that way. Why then respond with anger over the stereotype, directed at the person frustrated at it itself? How foolish.

    • I don’t think you’re using the word “free-thinker” correctly.

  58. If only more would head your advice! –

    Our Lord is the light and we as believers are reflectors of that light – – when we pass on untruths as truth, we distort the light – we pervert it – We present a different picture of our Creator than he is – we minimize our Savior and we confirm to the suspicious and the unchurched that we have a different agenda than loving our neighbor (whether that was our intent or not) – – – we cause people to curse God’s reputation (His Name) because we sully that reputation as representatives of Him!

    Be blessed!

  59. I have to wonder if I’m the person mentioned in #4. Did Jesus always say his parables were parables? If he didn’t, would you accuse him of sharing hoaxes? Would you condemn him?

    • Hypotheticals never clarify anything, but if Jesus was trying to get me to believe something that wasn’t true, I’d hope I’d call him on it.

    • likesurethingscoob | July 31, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Reply

      I think a better question to ask would be, “Does it matter whether Jesus’s parables ‘actually happened’?” He tells his stories to make a point, not to make you believe they’re true.

      • I think context is important. How is it understood in the culture and medium? In the gospels, which are being presented as a factual narrative about the life of Jesus, the gospels writers take pains to ensure that we know when Jesus is telling a parable. See Matthew 13, for example. In the facebook medium, these stories are presented as if they are akin to the news stories going around, and in our culture, people expect these things to be true. So, if they are meant to be “just a story”, that needs to be clarified, or else it crosses the line between a parable and a deception.

  60. I don’t know you and I don’t normally comment on stuff but your post resonated with me because I have felt the same way. I know such stories cut across all kinds of things but I’ll focus on the ones that seem to be politically motivated.
    It’s tiring to go through my newsfeed and see people spewing hate and venom over things that no one bothered to check their accuracy. I see this most when elections come around and it really hurts me because even Christians join in an insult a man who was made by God just because they heard he was doing something evil. No one cares to realize that the people spreading the story have a lot to gain by making a person look evil.
    I know we all have some bias but it would help if we were more careful in jumping into conclusions on something that is wrong about someone. Even if it is true, we must treat people with love and respect.
    Maturity is having the right to say something but deciding not to because it does not benefit anyone.
    Thank you for Posting. May God help us be better stewards of our words.

    • Thank You so much for your post, Okem. You do possess a kind way for
      cutting through the retorhic so the real concerns can be revealed.
      Over the years that I have studied the Scriptures, no place have I found our Lord arguing His point with unbelievers, that He was the only begotten One of God, the creator of all things.

      Jesus tells people (when they ask), who He is. Other times He asks people who they think He is. There is never an argument or a disagreement recorded for or against His relevancy.

      I have followed this pattern in the way I witness to unbelievers, by not involving myself or invoking others into petty arguments and discussions that only go sideways and the truth of Christ’s is left unheard.

      I believe if Christian’s showed unbeliever’s how much they cared for them, they would stand a better chance of them listening to what they had to say when coming to the place where they would impart the good news of Jesus Christ.

      Be blessed!

  61. Did you think that perhaps the sample is skewed? If you have more than the societal average of Christians as friends, chances are better it will be one of those Christians that passes on bogus news.

  62. I do agree with you. My favorites are the posts that show a photo of Jesus or something religious and include a prayer with some sort of message about your prayers not being answered unless you forward the message to several of your friends or share it or something to that effect. I have, in the past, used it as an opportunity to point out that God is not an extortionist who demands payment or retribution…..He gives salvation freely to anyone who asks for it.

  63. Reasons 1-4: Spreading hoaxes make you look like an ignorant, myopic imbecile who knows nothing of their cause and therefore can only damage it.

    Signed ~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Heathen.

  64. I blame the public schools. 😀

  65. And just for the record, snopes.com has the low-down on just about every one of these stories going around. I ALWAYS check it.

    • I do, too but I have noticed an ever-increasing tendency of people who share this junk to disregard Snopes because it doesn’t agree with them. As an example:

      “Don’t EVER rely on SNOPES, Your an idiot if you do, they are a married couple that just sits at home on their ass and tries to research from the Internet themselves then post on the site and you idiots believe it!! Ignorant people if you believe snopes is going to be right every time!!”

      People who can’t figure out that these stories aren’t true get really upset when you use the internet to prove them wrong because they consider the internet to be one all-encompassing source. If that story from Fred’s grandma’s neighbor ain’t true then how can you believe Snopes?

      • Snopes is funded by George Soros

      • Snopes is unreliable as well. Wikipedia is worse (it even has disclaimers about needing credible references). Journalistic integrity in general is suspect. I avoid stories that don’t site resources (and be able to cross reference those sources, etc.), and always check the “about” section of the website link (you can glean pretty fast how they lean). As for political and Christian posts, I stick to facts. I am a Christian, I believe murder is wrong, we have a president who, as a senator voted for partial birth abortions, so I really don’t think he is Christian. Not when you see folks like Gosnell and the president does not even address that his legislation has lead to infanticide. It makes you wonder where his morals are, regardless if you are Christian or not. I think most would agree that snipping a live, crying, viable baby’s spinal cord is infanticide.

        As for the atheists on this comment section, I often find many just argue to argue. Please stop calling us delusional or stupid. I don’t say the same of you. I just have a different set of beliefs.

  66. There is an interesting page at the TruthOrFiction (.com) website about how to recognize a hoax.Look for the page “Anatomy of a Rumor.”

    • PS: I saw a New Yorker Magazine cartoon whose caption read, “What are you doing? I’m searching the web to see if there’s any truth to the internet rumor I started.”

  67. Oddly enough, here’s a credible version of the homeless-pastor stories: http://www.amazon.com/Down-Out-Providence-Memoir-Homeless/dp/0824522761
    The people who share the story might not recognize this version – a female Episcopal bishop – but it’s true.

  68. You have a lot of comments so someone probably said this already, but a lot of times the stuff is nothing but malicious gossip! Gossip hurts people and Christians shouldn’t be engaging in it for so many reasons.

  69. Steven L. Stilts | July 31, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply

    The author actually nails the reason Christians are so much more likely to repost hoaxes with the statement that the Christian message requires a “suspension of disbelief”. That’s just another way of saying faith. According to the bible, Hebrews 11.1 faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. In essence faith is believing things for which you have no proof; it’s not hard then, to understand why people for whom faith is the software running on their brains, would be the least likely to require proof of authenticity for anything. After all if you can believe that the bible, with all it’s glaring inaccuracies and contradictions, is the inerrant word of god then what’s so hard about believing that there is a Obamacare tax on your Cabelas purchases?

    • Oh bollocks. Pistis, the Greek word we translate “faith” is “trust based on evidence”. So yes, when you have evidence of past performance, you can have confidence of things you have not yet seen.

      Of course, the uncritical parroting of the usual uninvestigated atheist claims about the Bible discredits your claims.

      • Is there a reason you guys are arguing about that here? Are you going to berate someone into the faith? I’ve never seen it work before—I’m excited to see how it turns out.

      • Without going to far into how easily you’ve made a mistake here, let me just say that you’re wrong, and it didn’t take the 2 years of Seminary I took to realize it.

        “Pistis” is the NAME of a personification in Greek mythology. A personification of trust, the word is used to simply mean “trust in”. It has ZERO connotation or reference to evidence or empiricism in any way. In fact, quite the opposite – it is a benchmark of Noetic faculty, which states that the trust derived from faith is given directly by the spirit of God, and not by the person’s own reliance upon evidence or rationality. It’s supposed to come from an other-worldly source.

        Of course, anyone could have found all of this out with a 2 minute Google search. Something tells me that you aren’t a fan of definitions that don’t coincide with your preexisting opinions.

  70. What is irritating about the Steepak hoax is that it blurred the true story of a Methodist pastor in Clarksville, TN who had recently done the same thing before assuming his new appointment. Hence the true story goes unnoticed because of a fake meme.

  71. It seems to me that the reason Evangelical Christians (or really any flavor Christian) are willing to spread hoaxes about everything from Obama being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (rolls eyes) to the “your prayers are worthless if you don’t share this picture” crap is that they look for anything that appears to confirm what they’ve always believed. They don’t want to hear anything that could prove them wrong. They half-listen to some sermon on why milenia-old men disapproved of homosexuality and suddenly “God hates Fags,” which based on every other Christian teaching is a complete falsehood.

    • What bible are you reading?

      Of course God doesn’t hates homosexuals. He is in grief over their sin and wishes to see them repent and turn from their ways.

      The Muslim Brotherhood is evil. Islam is pure evil and the antithesis of the Father-Son-Holy Spirit. Are you educated on how many members of the Muslim Brotherhood are in Obamas’s circle of close advisors?

      Please open your eyes.

      • I don’t see much of a difference between extreme Muslim behavior of the current age and common Christian behavior of the last one. Maybe you could enlighten us to the differences?

      • Ann, you are spreading hate. These “Evil Muslim” Advisers you speak of were sent in a mass hate email I recieved from several different Christian friends. Among these evil men is Eboo Patel, who is an interfaith leader that helps people from all faiths work together to understand each other to achieve common goals. I will gladly send you his book “Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America” if you would agree to read it with an open mind. The rest of the men on the list are legitimate advisers not the devils henchman out to eat Americas soul. Research for yourself and draw your own conclusions, don’t just fall for what your neighbor read in an email. I think that is part of the point the author was making. Use that big brain of yours.

  72. And here is another irritating side of this story, when you correct someone about a post, their first reaction is to get mad at you, instant rage, no middle ground on facebook…

  73. Kirra Antrobus | July 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply

    I think too many are putting too much attention on the “homeless” pastor story. What about the ones where Pepsi left “in God we trust” off their cans? What about when several restaurants in my hometown were painted in a negative light because they supposedly served members of the Westboro church who were coming to picket? No one person could actually say they were even in town and they definitely weren’t picketing. The pastor story is harmless really, and it can have good effect. I think what we really should be considering is the false causes. Also to the person who has mentioned encouraging people to be tested for bone marrow matches, that’s fantastic, but when it comes with a false-pretending-to-be-true story meant to make you feel bad, I would think that would actually hurt the cause once it’s proven false. Further, very few Internet rumors I’ve seen have been encouraging that. Most just want you to click like/share so that Facebook/Bill Gates/Yahoo or whoever will send a buck. That used to go around in emails all the time, and I’m amazed that people still fall for it.

  74. Reblogged this on Jonathan D. Gradin's Portfolio/Blog and commented:
    Excellent post. Reall, it takes about as much time to verify your stories as it does to click “share!”

  75. Sandra Miller | July 31, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Reply

    I agree that posting hoaxes discredits anyone. What is just as alarming is the vituperation directed toward Christians when they respond to a news report. I think this article needs balance because the news media does slant their reporting giving false impressions – make it hard to know who is truthful.

  76. Great post. One note: Snopes does verify that a pastor has, indeed, posed as a homeless man before preaching about judgment. It wasn’t “Steepak” but a pastor near Nashville was interviewed after doing it. In case Snopes isn’t trustworthy, I can verify that the Tennessean (Nashville’s newspaper of record) printed the interview on the week of July 4th this year.

  77. Thank you for this. It’s needed! Been shared…

  78. Speaking as a Catholic, I do try to link to legitimate news articles on Facebook. And I very much agree with your second point; Christ came not to spread fear, but the love of God and love for our neighbors. Great post!

  79. Loved this and shared on my Facebook. I get so annoyed at some certain friends who attempt to witness on their news feed constantly (I always wonder if anyone has ever actually been saved from a Facebook friend’s posts) and then clearly have never heard of fact checking things that are clearly hoaxes. Way to ensure that nobody will ever take you seriously, geniuses.

    I especially love when it’s something I first got in an email forward in 1996. I bet whoever wrote those things back then if laughing their head off that almost twenty years later there are still morons passing those things around.

    • My thought is that everyone posting in this forum has been a moron at one time or another, knowingly or unknowingly, who passed on some hoax, later to find out that is was so.

  80. In addition to Snopes (who have been examined carefully by a number of independent sources), there is Hoax Busters, Hoax-Slayer, Truth or Fiction, About Urban Legends, Break the Chain, Sophos, VMyths, Symantec. I’ve used a few of them.

    But as somebody said, it is fairly easy to recognize a hoax by the kind of claims and the wording or “send this to all the people on your list” and the like.

  81. I am not sure if I have fallen for hoax stories or not (hope not), but I completely agree here. Unless we know for certain that something is true or not, we should really look into something before making a judgment about it one way or the other. The bible says in Matthew 10:16: “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” There will be people out there that want to derail Christians, and do so in ways that can drag some Christians in if they are not careful. Sometimes even liking a facebook post simply because it tugs at your heart strings can be a distraction away from truth and/ or people who really need that attention.

  82. I should add,regarding #2, that one slightly reminds me of a friend of mine who won’t do certain things because it might cause a fire or whatever (cannot remember specifics), for which I can recall doing the same thing so many times without a problem that I almost wanna say, ‘but yeah, its highly unlikely even if that cam happen.’ When I say something to her she is often like ‘better safe then sorry.’ For people who believe hoaxes, particularly ones that are relatively knew and really have not been looked into much, I bet there will be (for some of those ‘new’ hoaxes) people who think/ believe/ say ‘better safe then sorry.’ But in reality, do some research first before believing something you don’t know for sure is true. Better to be ‘safe then sorry’ if it turns out the thing that you wanted to believe (and tell others about and to believe/ support/ help or whatever) was a hoax and not true at all.

  83. If only we were sharing the gospel as readily as we will forward a heartwarming or alarmist story. Great post.

  84. why WOULDNT they post fake things? those are the same people who are addicted to faux news. they see lies being lied all day long. of course they think its ok. if they believe the crap on fox, why wouldnt they also believe the bullsh!t on fb? these are the sharpest crayons in the box yall

  85. When I saw the pic and the story of Pastor Jeremiah Steepek. I was taken back and surprised because as I read it it was identical to what I had really done. I am friends with the pastor of my youth on facebook and shared it with him asking if it sounded familiar. I surrendered to God’s call in my life when I was 13 years old and that year the youth had the opportunity to lead the service. I did dress up like a homeless man, had a had that had long hair built into it. I used some of that stink bomb liquid and stayed at the entrance. No one spoke to me and I went in and sat in the back. When it was time for me to speak that pastor introduced me and as I took off the hat an jacket people realized it was me. I use the same passage of scripture. The parable of the sheep and the goats. I have been serving in the ministry ever since. I am now 36 years old serving as a missionary in PR working with the Deaf and their families. My family and I also travel to Africa to lead training conferences there. Really not much has changed in my drive to take the gospel to all people, from that day until now. I would imagine that many have made the same connection and decided to use the same method to present the truth of those passages in a way that people will see and take to heart. My testimony is here if your interested. http://www.newdaycm.org/david.html

    God bless,

    • This thread is interesting in the same way that so many are. I agree with Jason’s four observations about Christians and credibility in his first post, although technically, they are opinion, not argument, since Jason implies an appeal to some unspecified and unstated “reasonableness” to support them, not fact or logical argument. But although I agree with the four statements in bold, his comments, “The Christian message is one that requires a certain suspension of disbelief. I mean, come on, we believe in a man who turned out to be God and was resurrected after he was crucified,” are confusing. Is he equating the core Christian message with the nonsensical claims on the internet? Or is he stating an assumed belief of opponents of Christianity? I can’t tell, but I hope it’s the latter.
      In any case, as one reads through the responses in the thread, one finds the typical emotion, arbitrary claims, bad spelling and semi-intelligible English that typify this type of blog discussion. It’s hard for me to take anyone seriously, whether philosophical friend or foe, who is so emotional that they just bang out misspelled nonsense (meaning unintelligible sentences) in order to get their opinion posted as quickly and easily as possible.
      But that’s not true of “AtheistLaughing,” who posted at 10:04 a.m. on 7/31. I didn’t see a single misspelling and I understood every sentence. I would like to point out, however, that this is still a typical atheist post (just a more careful one than most). In fact, it’s typical of most atheist writings, including the tomes of our most aggressive atheist authors. AL begins with, “I don’t need to disprove [claims that the Bible is true]… I feel it is a book of fiction…” He/she doesn’t need to disprove, he/she feels. If anyone accepts this as an argument, whether he or she “feels” the same way or not, they are accepting a faith-based claim no different that that of the least learned Christian. It is the most arbitrary of arguments, and arbitrariness is a logical fallacy.
      There is one big reason why internet threads like this usually accomplish nothing. They are discussions that quickly turn into arguments and then often into vulgar exchanges (as in Cataconicus’ 9:04 p.m. diatribe) between people of galvanized opinion. The difficulty in reaching secularized people with the truth of the Gospel of Christ is that they feel completely sufficient in themselves. They trust fully in their arguments and feel no need to face any contradictions or weaknesses squarely because this is what they’ve always been taught, or it’s what the vast majority seems to believe, or what everyone in their immediate environment believes, and (most importantly) these beliefs make them most comfortable. This can, of course, be true of anyone who accepts any belief system, but it is virtually always true of atheists (yes, I do realize that this is my arbitrary claim, so take it as opinion).
      The difference between authentic Christians and non-Christians is that Christians have recognized their inability to run their own lives successfully and sought freedom from the chains of endlessly repeated failure, disappointment, discontent, uncertainty and regret. They have realized, based on the obvious facts all around them, that there must be a God and have sought Him and found the only credible expression of Him in Jesus Christ. Non-Christians don’t feel the need for that at all, and given that, Christianity has nothing to offer them. So no amount of logical support can ever in their minds warrant a sincere look at Christianity.
      And that’s okay. Atheists, like everyone, were created with the ability and the right to choose who they will serve. They’re allowed to choose themselves if they wish.

      • “The Christian message is one that requires a certain suspension of disbelief. I mean, come on, we believe in a man who turned out to be God and was resurrected after he was crucified,” are confusing. Is he equating the core Christian message with the nonsensical claims on the internet? Or is he stating an assumed belief of opponents of Christianity? I can’t tell, but I hope it’s the latter.”

        He’s saying that the truths that Christians hold dear sound like nonsense to those who don’t believe it. There’s no reason to make the important things Christians believe even less palatable and believable by the fact that they can’t seem to distinguish truth from fiction.

      • Reading your post reminds me of the verse in 1 Corinthians 1: 18 which says;

        For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

        No Christian is able to enlighten a soul to believe in the gospel for 2 Corinthians 4: 3- 4 says to us;
        But even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled to those who are perishing. Verse 4 whose minds the god (Satan) of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

        Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 2: 14 reminds us—But the natural (unregenerate or unbelieving) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

        When the believer aligns themselves to the will and plan of God for their life then
        God uses them as a conduit to attract the unbeliever to Himself. The Holy Spirit draws that person whom God has chosen. This concept is taught in the book of John chapter 15ff The branch and the vine.

        Keeping these things in mind is the major reason why Christians should be more serious about the stories they send to people they associate with in different ways.
        Seeking the truth in any story before pushing the “SEND” button should be mandatory in every serious Christian’s life so that God’s word is maintained with a
        higher level of credibility.

  86. in Europe we are too monitoring but have to admit that nothing worth to awake from a slumber around. Recently you had an idiot for a soldier which by my mind did a treason due to the capital punishment. The new guy, Snowden gets more symphaty by Europe at least. A good warning. We just are more careful where to discuss.

  87. Two comments:

    First, this blog makes a good point, and here’s another: it’s past time that moderate Christians got visibly active in refuting the Dominionists (whether the latter admit they are or not, by their actions and words one can easily tell they are). I can’t tell you how delighted I was to see moderate Christians (in company with several non-Christians and atheists) doing the Moral Mondays protests in North Carolina over the terrible laws the Dominionists are passing there. It’s a first step in bringing to the nation, the world, and the media the *gasp* position that the Dominionists are doing wrong and they don’t speak for all Christians here. I truly hope their movement grows, because it’s *needed*.

    Second, I wish a lot more Christians would not only actually ready the entire Bible objectively, *without* automatically taking their religious leader’s interpretation (but instead actually thinking it over themselves), but *also* do some study and research on how the Bible was constructed, written, and altered over the centuries. In the past, information on this was mainly limited to historians and Biblical scholars; nowadays an awful lot of it is available on the web. I was raised Southern Methodist; converted to Catholicism in my first marriage, and in both cases I know very well now how much we were *not* taught. One of the biggest reasons so many fall prey to literalism is because they have no clue about the history of the Bible as a document/anthology—and in fact, a great many have never even read the full Bible itself! Instead, they quote the verses their pastors cherry-pick to “prove” their opinions.

    I’m no longer a Christian (I’m Pagan)—but like many others, including a lot of atheists, it’s clear from what the Dominionist types say, I’ve read more of the Bible and studied more of its history than they have. I won’t go into my entire philosophy on it and the religion, but in short will say that for millennia, humans have used organized religions as a path to power: when a large number of individuals surrender their personal power to you, and do as you say, it’s rather like having a million people give you a dollar—it adds up. This is why the Bible and other organized religions’ writings seem so split-personality: some who were writing (or editing and interpreting and translating) were attempting to strengthen the power structure, while others were attempting to inject humanitarian, higher principles of love, compassion, sharing, co-existence, tolerance, and peace. Those who use it for power (and that includes the lay-members who use the “exclusivity” ideal to elevate themselves over others) gain power by pushing fear, hatred, exclusion, de-humanizing others, and pushing for their structure to Rule (by Law). You can see this among certain Christians; equally you can see it among certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindi.

    In any of these faiths, you can usually tell which path a person follows by how they act, how they treat others: the enlightened work on themselves, extend compassion and tolerance toward others, and let their lives show others what their faith does for them without pushing it on anyone; the power-addicted push fear and hatred (no matter if the word “love” comes out of their mouths—anyone can say it; but to live it is another question); they actively seek to control others and to force their faith upon others, and they don’t truly see others not like themselves as real human beings deserving of the same respect and freedom that they demand.

  88. Green Dragon | August 1, 2013 at 6:22 am | Reply

    I find it odd that the author cannot figure out why Fundamentalist Christians share hoaxes more than others given that they believe that Jesus rose from the dead, the earth and all life was created in 6 days, there’s a place of eternal fire and punishment called “hell” and that Jesus is going to come back and swoop them all up someday. I could go on, but hey, when you believe all these fantastic tales with no proof, why not a toilette spider?

    • This is the point the author was basically making with #1. He took the angle of credibility, but this is the other side of that same coin.

      It gives others an opportunity to say, “Of course they believe this bizarre meta thing . . . because the’ll believe ANYTHING.”

      Thanks for the comment.

      • Green Dragon | August 1, 2013 at 6:33 am | Reply

        No, the point he was making is that Christians need to quit spreading rumors as it hurts their credibility. My point is it takes a certain type of gullible person to believe the evangelical doctrine and believe anything without proof. It’s a personality sickness rather than a behavioral one.

      • That’s what I hoped was meant. But I wasn’t sure. Thanks.

  89. Jesus did not try to pass off fake names and titles as truth and then steal photos off flickr. One of the comments I saw related to the homeless pastor story said it was “proof” that Christians are liars and the Bible is similar fiction. Many Christians think the story was harmless because it made believers take a look at ourselves but it made non-believers look at us too. If it makes even one person despise Christianity, then it was a bad thing. God is incapable of blessing a lie. And, like those heart-wrenching fake prayer requests, this viral post will likely live on for years in a cycle of beliefs, disproves, copies and re-posts.

  90. Indeed a good post.

  91. Amen. I addressed a similar theme in my recent travails with an over-excited, under-researched pastor who got upset with an illusion he saw on a video and concluded it was demonic. I kid you not. The ‘controversy’ ultimately led to me appearing on Alan Colmes’ radio show to try to clear up that all Christians don’t think everything we see is some kind of witchcraft. http://turnermagic.com/2013/08/protecting-your-brand-or-industry-image-in-the-media-part-2/

  92. If you substituted the word “muslim” or “gay” or “black” in every place that you used the words “evangelical Christian” or “they” meaning evangelical Christians, you would be kicked off of fb for your discriminary or prejudiced remarks. This is a real slam on Christians. In the guise of being really easy going or accepting of all kinds of friends, your bias shines forth to all. There is a truth that ALL PEOPLE should check out the validity of a story before re-posting it. (I didn’t check you out, so maybe you are a hoax??) However, to lay the hoaxes on the backs of evangelical Christians, and for others to just fall in line behind you is crazy. Are you helping or harming the cause of Christ???

  93. Yes, yes, yes. I find the same trend is true on my newsfeed! I have started private messaging people with links to Snopes when I see stuff like this (unless I think it will really upset them). I don’t know how else to point out people’s ignorance without shaming them.

  94. YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!!! I just challenged my Christian friends the other day regarding their posting of stories that are obvious hoaxes or can’t be verified in any way. Thank you for stating so much more eloquently than I what my heart was trying to say.

  95. I am guilty for posting the supposed, “Pastor Jeremiah” story. However, with the post, I also wrote that even though it appears that the story is a hoax, it still has a great message, one that touched my heart. When posting about “Pastor Jeremiah,” and other such examples, it is fine to have an opening statement about the possible hoax, but the importance of the moral lesson.
    The article about hoaxes, “4 Four Reasons…” is bang on with presenting the truth: “We cannot afford to pass off questionable stories as true just because we appreciate the message.”

    “Listen, if it’s on the internet, it’s absolutely true.” – Abraham Lincoln.

  96. As followers of Jesus, we’re to speak the truth. If His truth isn’t good enough to convey a message, we don’t need to try to “prove” God some other way.

    I too challenged the Steepek story and got the rebuttal that Jesus used parables, too.

    Sad. But I guess we can guess that folks who are not well grounded in God’s truth might be expected to pass along stories that aren’t true.

    • Paul kidnapped Christianity, after the resurection and Jesus left us, the followers of Jesus were led by “James the Just” Jesus’ older brother they became known as knowledgable Christians, Pauls bunch were adopted by the Romans and were hybridised into a Roman religion of Mithras,and became known as the Roman catholic church, which should really be called the Catholic Roman church because there is very little Catholisism and mostly Roman Religion.

      • Jesus did not have an older brother, read your bible! The rest of your statement is hooey too.

      • True Christian | August 6, 2013 at 10:40 am | Reply

        O my Goodness!!! I guess either you don’t know the meaning of the word “Firstborn”, or you haven’t read a word of what is in the Bible…SHAME on you…

      • Ok, I have heard some interesting points of view…and have researched many denominations and religions, but this one is totally out there. Since Mary was a virgin, how is it that HE had an OLDER brother? hhhmmm…

        • Oh and to add to that…James was not even a name used at the time of Jesus. If you look at history and the original Greek of the Bible, you will see that James is no where to be found. Jacob is actually “James”. The reason that James is even used in the Bible is because of King James whom the “King James Bible” was credited to. He was so arrogant that he wanted one of he Apostles “named” after him and that he wanted his name in the Bible. There for the apostle James is in fact the Apostle Jacob. If you research this, you will see that it can in fact be proven.

          • Absolutely. And then he built a time machine to go back and force Wycliffe to change the name “Jacob” to “James” two centuries earlier in his translation and in every subsequent English translation prior to the KJV (the Geneva Bible, the Bishop’s Bible, Tyndale’s Bible, the Douay-Rheims Bible, etc.). I heard there were ninjas involved. Cyborg ninjas. That rode dinosaurs.

            In Hebrew, the name was Iaqov. Then Greek made it Iacobo. Then Latin made it Jacobus. In Late Latin, Jacobus became Jacomus. From there it became “James” in French, and, of course, English (most of our Latin roots come from French–Norman Invasion and all that).

      • I don’t know the truth or otherwise of “James the Just”, but an older brother is possible if you accept that the Romans copied and added in the virgin birth myth from the Mithras legend so as to make Christianity more palatable to their subjects.

        • Actually, the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus include that he would be born of a virgin (IsIah 7:14). So the Romans didn’t “add in” the virgin birth.

      • If Mary was a virgin it would have been hard for Jesus to have an older broththeer but then fairy tales don’t have to make sense do they?

        • Obviously people do not read either history OR their bibles.

          James was indeed Jesus half brother.
          Joseph was a widower who had children and then later married Mary after she was carrying Jesus. In fact James was not a believer in Christ’s deity until after he witnessed his resurrection.

          If you will notice, Joseph is not mentioned during the period Christ was spreading the Gospel. Mary is always mentioned in the singular or as being with Jesus brothers. Most biblical scholars agree that he had likely died prior to this period.

          That is all, carry on with your petty squabble.

      • Thanks for this example of another hoax story. Jayson should have added it to his post. :)

  97. He also said, “Get behind me, Satan.”

    Neither of these sayings are relevant to this conversation.

    • In Matthew, the disciples came to Jesus and said: Master we saw someone casting out demens in someone else’s name and we rebuked them; Jesus replied If they are not against us they are for us.

      I read this statement as saying don’t worry over the little things that will seperate Jesus’ followers but focus on God. Jesus went on to say: a house divided against itself will not stand.(Matthew 12)

      This is the passage I remind myself before saying a Christian who does something differently is wrong. I also believe it helps me when having to work with so many people with different gifts to remember all who have accepted Jesus serve the same God. We are all serving with “Heaven on Earth” in mind.

      I wasn’t upset that you asked people to stop posting falsehoods but was upset with the labeling of the worst violators. You are likely correct in your reasoning but I caution the use of labels.

      I will yield now and leave this blog as I know I am just a simple person who believes Jesus died and was raised again and will come again. I do trust that God uses us all (Rom 8:28) to His purpose and God forgives us of our mistakes. I also leave all judgement to God for He alone knows what is in someone’s heart.

      Be encouraged and all continue to seek His ways as I pray and ask for prayers to be able to do the same.

  98. I’m wondering how you’ve gathered data to quantify “evangelical” Christians. This wouldn’t be a hoax you’re passing around, would it be brother.

  99. thank you! I’ve been preaching this for years! I was on (probably the same) a facebook Christian site that was justifying using the homeless pastor story. I left the site and my objections were deleted. You have worded it all very clearly. Thanks!

  100. So… you’re suggesting that people should expect a reasonable standard of evidence and solid reasoning from established principles before they should accept something as fact?

    Dude. Think about what you are saying here.

    And have you perhaps considered that is is *precisely* the suspension of disbelief allowing people to hold the Jesus story as fact, that opens the door to facepalmingly-bad hoaxes?

    Bad epistemology is dangerous. People can and do die of it.

  101. Another reason to quit sharing hoaxes is if it is about a real person it could be slanderous.

  102. Reblogged this on DiscernIt and commented:
    I so tired of the false reports being circulated. Especially those sites who sell survival supplies or books that support end-time fantasies. Some just foster political hate.

  103. Very good and insightful. Although it is not 100% reliable, Snopes.com often exposes hoaxes.

    • Redheadwglasses | August 5, 2013 at 10:05 am | Reply

      Can you name one time when Snopes hasn’t been 100% reliable? Even when they’re not sure of a story, they say so. Perhaps you’re not aware of the exhaustive investigative efforts Snopes puts forth about the stories they share on their website. THey will literally *fly* to a story’s location, interview cops, interview other journalists, interview business owners who allegedly were involved, go through the library’s old newspaper articles on the subject, etc.

      • Really? They fly to the story? Snopes is run by a husband and wife team who do their research on the net. Just like you or I could do. They aren’t a big company/site that they would like people to think they are. And truth or not, they are very biased in their answers. They only tell you what they want you to know.

        • redheadwglasses | October 12, 2013 at 8:12 am | Reply

          You are completely wrong. I am completely right.

          And you are basing your incorrect opinion on YOUR OWN OPINION. I am basing my statement on a news story on this couple. They DO fly to story locations. They DO interview cops, business owners, anyone potentially involved with the story or knowledgeable about it. They interview local journalists and read the local newspaper accounts to get more sources and information. I was very impressed (and admittedly surprised) at the lengths they go to for their website.

          So maybe before you state something as if it’s fact, you should know what you’re talking about.

    • I too, would like an instance where Snopes was incorrect and refused to acknowledge or correct it.

      • Same here. I’ve been reading their site for 15+ years and have never found anything to be inaccurate.

        Once heard someone say that s/he didn’t trust Snopes because “it’s run by Obama and his cronies”, though. I literally have no idea where that came from but perhaps s/he went to Snopes to check on one of the dumb hoaxes the author of this blog mentioned and, finding it false, constructed a convenient conspiracy theory.

        Anyway, I’m an atheist myself but that’s irrelevant when it comes to the issue of spreading misinformation–I just wanted to say that this was an excellent blog post and despite the fact that it’s aimed at a specific demographic, it’s good advice for everybody. (And I assume you’re familiar with literallyunbelievable.tumblr.com? I think you would enjoy it!)

  104. I really enjoyed this and fully agree. Although, if there’s a worse offender I would guess that it’s people 50 and older. With a strong percentage being women. Girls are softies.

    • Are you serious? People 50 and older? I’m 63 and female and offended. I’m not a softie. I’m strong. And publishing hoaxes is my biggest pet peeve for now.

      • I’m over 50 and I don’t think your correct Carl O. I have learned in my few years on earth to have some discretion about what links I share. The Sheepek story did catch my attention, but I didn’t share because I felt pretty sure it was just made up. There is so much floating around that discernment should be used by all of us. I do share links, and probably have shared some that I shouldn’t but we live and learn, no matter our age.

      • If a few people don’t fit my statement it doesn’t automatically mean that my perception is invalid, inaccurate, or irrelevant. My experience is that most of the online hoaxes are spread by people who are middle-aged or older. For example, my fiance’s grandmother sends me at least two a week in my email. Granted, she is in her 80s and falls a bit further along the curve.

        Being offended is your prerogative. However, I am truly sorry that you feel that way as it was not my intention.

        But, this is the internet; you’re gonna get offended.

        • This 62 year old female is positive there are more than a few of us who do not fit your perception of us….FYI…and, I am not offended, I just perceive you as narrow-minded, misinformed and prejudiced against older females…lol.

      • Patty Diamond | August 7, 2013 at 6:11 am | Reply

        I’m also over 50 and female. I didn’t share the story either. Why? Because I’m a thinking individual and question everything, and maybe I’m a little jaded by all of the “share this or you don’t love Jesus” threats. Sorry, Carl O, but I think your logic is flawed. This is not a gender issue, it’s an accountability issue.

    • I don’t know about women (I know more women, so I see them post more of everything and can’t really compare to men’s behavior) but I’ve also noticed a slight trend towards older people being more accepting – it makes sense, as younger people more familiar with the internet have learned to be less trusting. People raised in a time where most of your news came from actual newspapers where there was at least some accountability are probably more likely to believe what they read.

    • Um, I am not over 50 but I am female, and I am not a softie. I do check the credit of a story, if however, it has a good moral understanding in it, I will put in my starting line (of the shared post) that it is not a true story but a good lesson and then I post it. YOU might want to check YOUR information. That was not polite. Women are just as discerning as men and older people (I say this out of understanding that I have not “reached” my full potential yet and can learn a lot from these older, wiser people of Christ) need to be respected for the wisdom that they have. You have disrespect two “people groups” with your words. Even though I do not become offended easily, it was just simply rude. Just sayin’.

    • An observation that I believe would be of benefit to you ladies to take into account, is that it would be much wiser for you to make use of the level-headed thinking you claim to be proficient at, and to simply take into advisement Carl’s opinion, without allowing yourselves to become personally offended by a generalization which is also a purely subjective assessment (and which furthermore doesn’t claim to be anything beyond that — but rather, a “guess” based on his perception of his experience), and be thankful that not only are you yourselves not examples of the discouraging trend that Carl feels he sees among his acquaintances, but that you are mostly personally acquainted with people who on the whole also make more effective use of their intellect and wisdom in dealing with such situations as we are discussing, and that you have not had the misfortune within your small spheres to witness the opposite.
      You could even humbly and kindly express your own subjective experience in the matter in the hope that although you also (apparently, based on your statements) have only relatively very small experience to draw from, yet it might encourage Carl in the midst of his situation to take heart in the possibility that things may not be as bad as they seem to him at this time.

      And on a related note: as ladies, being “soft” is nothing to be ashamed of — God made you to be so.
      … Not only that — God is soft.
      He is also wise beyond description. And extremely fierce when the need exists. And above all, He is good and true.
      So let Him show you how to be smart as well — according to His plan for you.

    • I agree with this. In my experience, it’s often older people who are not very tech-saavy who pass along the hoaxes. They will add “I don’t know if this is true, but it’s better safe than sorry”. Sometimes they don’t really know how to do the search to see if it’s true.

  105. Martha Bolden-Kennerson | August 2, 2013 at 9:09 am | Reply

    Thank you. Well said.

  106. Albert Lee. This is very deep thoughts and I hope reaches some of us that need or appreciate it. Too many spiritual citizens are greedy and/or racist and are good at sending false half truths out to public. I appreciate your thoughts. Always. Joe

  107. I really would like to repost this, but, as an atheist, I don’t think it should come from me. It’s a good message, Jayson. Keep spreading sanity.

  108. I am a PK and an atheist. Good article, however I see no difference in the current trend of social media posting of not-true stories than in the heart wrenching stories told from the pulpit. Both are non-factual and, many times, presented as fact and both are used to elicit an emotional response to sell belief. I agree, I have many Christian friends and many atheist friends and as a whole the Christians win the game of who can forward the most crazy stories and relay them as true . Forward this to 20 others within 5 days and receive $10,000 from the Center For Factual Forwards.

  109. I find the most dangerous hoax is the one with the most truth, but just enough lie to engender the desired response. For instance, the story of a repairman out testing a recently fixed scooter attacked by a mob of “Treyvon” activists who beat him and stole the scooter. When you check out the story their was indeed a man in some kind of incident but the details were sketchy, and their was no mention whatsoever of ties to the Florida case. Of course, people did not care that I took the time to post the actual sources and links. It’s like some “Christians” want to have something to hate.

  110. Yes—thank you for writing this.

  111. I don’t understand your anger at them sharing the hoaxes, and I’ll tell you why. Most of them don’t know enough to Google the first line or go to snopes.com. Instead, they just blindly send on these things, living in fear as they go. I don’t believe evangelical Christians have a market on these things at all. I’ve received plenty of these hoaxes from people in all walks of life. Rather than be angry at them, I just gently point out the places they can check emails and go on my way.

    • I went back and checked, and I am not sure where you’re getting “anger” from. Exasperated? Yes. Angry? Not really.

      That said, this is written from my personal experience and trust me, a majority of the hoaxes in my news feed are from people who know how to Google.

    • Pointing out that they story is wrong and then asking people to actually check before sending something is what most often generates anger in my experience.

      • Yeah, I’ve had people go off on me for suggesting that they google something before sharing it. It caused so much strife, I just un-friended them.

  112. Bradley Hill | August 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Reply

    Funny, I just received this email today from a friend who is in her mid 70’s. I happen to know this man by his comedy acts & rudeness over the past 45 years. Many younger people than I might not have even heard of him, but after reading this short article, they would have to Google his name,
    I Binged Don Rickles name and yes, they got it right about what Don “still” does for a living. He

    is an American stand-up comedian and actor. This email has his age as being 84, but he is really 87 years old since this last May 8th. Mr. Rickles was born in the year of 1926. I did the math.
    Now, I will leave off here for anyone else to prove or disprove what he allegedly said in this email. FACT OR HOAX ?? Just having some fun with this is all!

    Subject: He is 84

    This man makes the most sense of a very bad situation.
    Only at 84 could he get away with this…FACT OR HOAX

    Only at 84 could he get away with this…
    Hello, Dummies! Oh my God, look at you. Anyone else hurt in the accident?

    Seriously, Senator Reid has a face of a Saint… a Saint Bernard. Now I know why they call you the
    arithmetic man. You add partisanship, subtract pleasure, divide attention, and multiply ignorance.
    Reid is so physically unimposing, he makes Pee Wee Herman look like Mr. T. And Reid’s so dumb, he makes Speaker Pelosi look like an intellectual. Nevada is soooo screwed! If I were less polite, I’d say Reid makes Kevin Federline look successful.

    Speaking of the Speaker… Nancy Pelosi,hubba, hubba! Hey baby, you must’ve been something before electricity. Seriously, the ex- Speaker may look like an idiot and talks like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. She really is an idiot.

    Charlie Rangel… Still alive and still robbing the taxpayers blind. What does that make, six decades of theft? Rangel’s the only man with a rent-controlled mansion. He’s the guy who writes our tax laws but forgot to pay taxes on $75 grand in rental income! So why isn’t he the Treasury Secretary? Rangel runs more scams than a Nigerian Banker.

    Barney Frank… he’s a better actor than Fred Flintstone. Consider that he and Dodd caused the whole financial meltdown, and they’re not only not serving time with Bubba and Rodney, they’re still heading up the financial system! Let’s all admit it… Barney Frank slobbers more than a sheepdog on Novocain. How did this guy get elected? Oh, that’s right… he’s from Massachusetts . That’s the state that elects Mr. Charisma, John Kerry… man of the people!

    You know, if Senator Dodd were any more crooked, you could open wine bottles with him. Here’s a news flash, Dodd: When your local newspaper calls you a “lying weasel,” it may be time to retire. Dodd’s involved in more shady deals than the Clintons . Even Rangel looks up to him!

    Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, I really respect you…Especially given your upbringing ~ All you’ve overcome. I heard your birth certificate is an apology from the condom factory. I don’t know what makes you so dumb, but it really works for you. Personally, I don’t think you’re a fool, but what’s my opinion compared to that of thousands of others?

    As for President Hussein Obama, what can I say? They say Hussein is arrogant and aloof, but I don’t agree. Now it’s true when you enter the room, you have to kiss his ring. I don’t mind, but he has it in his back pocket. His mind is open to new ideas… so open that ideas simply pass through it. Obama lies so much, I was actually surprised to find out his first name really is Barry or Barack or something? Just don’t ask about his middle name! But Obama was able to set a record… He actually lied more in one day
    than Bill Clinton did in four years.
    President Obama just completed the UNHOLY and ANTI-AMERICAN TRIFECTA:
    1st president in 110 years to miss the annual Army-Navy Football Game.
    1st president to not attend any Christmas religious observance.
    1st president to stay on vacation after a terrorist attack.

    So, Are You Going To Share This
    OR …

    — Rich S.

    • This isn’t hard to figure out…. mathematically. If the email says he’s 84, but he’s really 87….. that means this email has probably been circulating for at least 3 years.

      • Bradley Hill | August 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Reply

        You are so correct EngLady80. But, I have not seen this email until I did. Must have been in a slow state of circulation. Anyways, I only brought the readers up to date with his age. Anyone in their 50’s to 60’s will be familiar with his character and demeanor.

    • Jayson, I am actually very sad that you approved this comment, since it adds nothing to the discussion.

      • And yet I did. I’m also going to allow this one as well even though it’s only chastising me.

        I haven’t denied any comments (yet) and unless their egregious, I won’t.

    • Since no one else has refuted this, I’m just going to leave this here.
      Quoting the person who left this: “Now, I will leave off here for anyone else to prove or disprove what he allegedly said in this email. FACT OR HOAX ?? Just having some fun with this is all!”
      And that’s the problem, passing off scurrilous gossip as just “having some fun”.

  113. Awesome! This is really good. The last one, about sharing stories that just aren’t true really hit home for me. Several years ago I heard a teacher share a story at a Christian school during chapel. It was a very heartwarming story about helping a down and out student. The teacher told it in the first person, as if he was the one who helped the student. The story seemed really familiar to me, so later when I was home I checked it out and sure enough it was one of those stories shared on the internet via email and FB. The next day at school I overheard kids talking about the chapel sermon and saying “how can we believe that teacher when he lies to us at chapel?” They had found the same thing I did, and by personalizing that story he negated every thing he was trying to accomplish. It would have worked much better if he has shared it as a “story he read”.

  114. which means everyone, right? Judging people at all is judging souls.

  115. The one about a pastor is true but the true story is a different person. Maybe the story was a fictional account and this pastor got the idea from it, I don’t know. http://www.unitedmethodistreporter.com/2013/06/pastor-arrives-at-new-congregation-as-a-homeless-man/

  116. Interesting piece. Being one who believes in many of the same tenets of faith as “evangelicals” I find it disturbing that those in your experience who are passing on false reports, something that is tantamount to bearing false witness in my estimation, are largely “evangelicals”. When these sorts of things were first circulating via email back in the early 90s, I (sometimes not so kindly, alas) asked the senders not to send them to me, to verify them before they did, etc. My pleas mostly fell on deaf ears. For some, I think it was simply entertainment. Granted, at that point, many if most who were sending these things were not “evangelicals”. Most of the so-called evangelicals I knew were too busy in ministry to have time to read and forward baloney. Those who forwarding the emails were largely from the generation above me – middle aged to elderly. And that is quite provocative. My more cynical nature (call me judgmental if you wish) concludes that I’m dealing with people with far too much time on their hands. But now I’m in that generation “above” and it stings to hear that we are repeating such bad behavior. Frankly, I’m glad that this rot doesn’t come into my inbox anymore, as I can scroll over without reading nor need to be concerned about deleting (or more importantly using up precious bandwidth that was costing me money.) But it is far worse that it is on social media for it now has a wider audience. Lies spread like wildfire in such a medium. And are not easily deleted. That said, the far more important question is what is it that would motivate some “evangelicals” to spread fear or falsehoods or even things that display a lack of compassion for people whose worldview is different from their own, as I recently saw on Facebook. I’m not saying that I’m great in the compassion department myself. But by the Spirit of God I’ve begun to recognize that there is a corner (large or small) of my worldview that is not lining up with the teachings of Jesus and therefore I’m not being obedient to his word and I’m asking for help. I hope that you will open the discussion soon to what is going on within so-called evangelicals – open, because I have come to the conclusion that what is going on is complex and not one-sided. Yes, eschatological belief plays a factor in this. But I hold to (probably) similar beliefs as other “evangelicals” yet do not forward such things, do critical research, etc. What makes the difference? I suspect it is a matter of culture.

  117. Guilty. Point taken!

  118. Instead of trying to cast stones upon another group (with very limited data by the way) let’s all agree that passing on a hoax is nothing more than gossiping! All suffer for having been involved. Now that would make a story!

  119. Maybe it’s not such a coincidence that evangelical Christians are the dominant source of internet hoaxes in your stream. Think about it–if they’ll believe one hoax, why not another?

    What I’m saying is, there is no God. Jesus wasn’t God, nor was any other person before or after him, because the very concept of a living deity is ridiculous, and completely without sensible basis. Deal with it.

  120. A few things I’ve learned about dealing with those who post hoaxes:
    Correcting your Christian friends on the Internet: Is it the right thing to do? Dealing with misinformation on the Internet is never easy. In fact, if you’re not careful, you can end up spreading it yourself (though there are ways to avoid that). Before you decide to take any course of action, it would be best to keep in mind that it could very easily be you on the other side of the comment box. So, how would you like to be corrected if you were unwittingly spreading falsehoods?
    Another thing to consider is that if you take it upon yourself to join the Internet Truth Legion, you’re signing up for a full-time job. Even if you stick to Facebook, millions of links are shared every day on the social network. That includes everything from fake Facebook privacy chains to unwanted political discussions. You can’t prevent everyone from being wrong everywhere and trying to could easily cast you in the role of that guy who always has to chime in.
    Still, there are certain occasions where it’s not only okay to correct someone, but helpful. In fact, you can make a decent living connecting people with useful information on the Internet. Where do you draw the line, though? Here are a few tips to consider before pressing submit:
    Be efficient

    The quickest way to decide if you should chime in is to see if someone else already has. For simple hoaxes it usually doesn’t take long for someone to weigh in with “This is not true,” and a link to Snopes.com Belaboring the point with the same information won’t do much besides raising tensions with all parties involved.
    The exception, of course, is if you can still contribute something new. Chances are you don’t need to send them three paragraphs proving the President didn’t really abolish all taxes. However, discussing what’s really going on with Facebook’s newest round of privacy changes may be something that you can contribute to if someone hasn’t already.
    If you’re dealing with a conversation started by someone you don’t know well, get to the point and stick to the facts. Sharing helpful information that others don’t seem to know is one thing, but getting into an argument is an uphill battle you’re unlikely to win.
    Be polite

    As we said earlier, it’s important to remember that you could be on the receiving end of a correction just as easily. So, ask yourself before you post: how would I like a stranger to publicly call me out online? Would you even want it to be public at all? If you’re friends with the person on Facebook, you can just as easily send them a private message give them a chance to remove the link if they so choose.
    There may be some situations where that’s not the best option—your friend doesn’t respond to messages or has chat disabled—and in those cases, proceed with caution. Remember how to give critical feedback without being a jerk. Above all else, respect your friend’s freedom. An outright confrontation could be less effective than helpfully offering alternative evidence or asking questions.
    Of course, the argument could be made that more direct confrontations and even a little profanity may be beneficial sometimes. However, it would be best to reserve those for friends you’re familiar with, lest you end up with more problems than when you started.
    Have a plan to abandon every thread you engage
    From your perspective, it may be a simple matter of correcting false information, but if you’ve been on the Internet for more than five minutes, you probably know that things can spiral out of control quickly. Before you send a single character, know how to abandon ship.
    Being helpful and pointing out a hoax or false rumor is nice, but if doing so begins to damage your ability to be productive, it’s time to hang up your hat. Everyone has that one friend that will continue to re-share everything in their feed, no matter how many times they’re reminded to double-check. Sometimes the best solution is to say nothing at all.
    Ultimately, you have to realize that you’re not going to fix the Internet’s problems single-handedly, which is a very liberating thought. You are free to do other things. Your life does not need to center around correcting the world’s posts.

  121. There are many things about this world that Christians fail to understand. “Hoaxes” shouldn’t be thrown into the same category as a conspiracy or conspiracy theories. Many Christians do not want to face the music when blind faith is challenged through science or other forms of research. News articles or blogs that talk about certain topics that may cause fearful emotion often do so that people can be aware of what is happening around them. Getting “scared” or “angry” is an emotion that has no other master besides the person who creates that emotion within. As a former Christian, I became bored with spinning my wheels on stagnant concepts, myths and shallow belief. I understand each person has their own walk, some “stronger” than others. Christianity is completely unfounded upon really anything that proves it’s validity. The Bible is often referred to as the ultimate “truth” of history, when in fact, has historical and scientific proof that it was a manipulative tool created by men in order to control the people. There are actually many documented religions that predate Christianity that actually prove most religions are made up and mimic each other. No one talks about it because it’s a “hoax?” Ridiculous. The information is out there. It is the frighten rabbit who hides the carrot from the others. I am a former “Christian” and believe many of the teachings of Jesus. I don’t believe anyone is “saved” or goes to a heaven or hell. That stuff is made up. It is truly made up myth. You have to search to understand. No man is educated who lacks the ability to admit when he’s wrong. “Christians” are people who murdered to spread their ideas of dogma during the Crusades. What we see in the world today is a leftover domino effect of the biggest unbelievable hoax of all time – the idea that god is separate from ourselves (which isn’t true. Anything we understand of god has come from the mind of a human being which makes god…man and man…god) as well as the idea that we were born a “sinner.” This stuff came into full effect here in America in the early to mid 1900s. We are the residual effect of an idea being kept alive. Why is history so foggy? Does it not alarm anyone that history is easily manipulatable when you own all of the chips of the game? Follow the money throughout history and it always leads to the same banks or royalty. It was men who deified Christ and created religion based off his teachings to control man – which closely resembled the teachings of Buddhism and other ancient religions. Jesus’ core teaching was love. Nothing else. If people only choose to love one another, everything else will fall into place. That is how powerful love is through positive attraction (law of attraction.) This isn’t a “hoax,” this is true information that is out there. If Christians are so correct, why are Christians scared to read articles that could actually challenge the blind faith they hold so dear? Fear is of the mind. This is a scientific proven fact. Things you fear I do not. Vice versa. You do know Christ was killed because he was spreading hippy love, right? He wasn’t some “perfect” this or that, although all beings are perfect. He was just a man trying to wake and free those in his world. When you challenge the rules and agenda of any gov. they will do their best to crack down on you. This is what happened to Jesus. Be conscious and aware of the world you live in. This is everyone’s planet. We are all one and should treat and love each other like we are floating together in the middle of a universe. Shouldn’t that be exciting for someone who is claiming something they have no actual proof that supports itself? Sure, many ideas may turn out to be ridiculous ideas that don’t align with Christian dogma, but one mustn’t be afraid to read every bit of information available. People forget to use common sense. Yes, even with religion. It isn’t the articles, it’s the lack of critical thinking that clogs the wheel of what creates true common sense per individual reading anything. I am you and you are me. Together we are all searching for truth and it’s out there. It is something you can actually feel within which wipes away fear. That isn’t a hoax. Remember, even when you disagree with someone – LOVE. There is nothing to fear but much to be conscious and aware of. When people are awoken, the world will change and that will be the “return of Christ” the Bible talks about. Enlightenment to new positive ideas. Heaven is now. (Watch: Zeitgeist Moving Forward, Ethos, I Am on Netflix. Visit http://www.thrivemovement.com/the_movie for information on exactly what is happening in OUR world.) Everything is a choice. Everything.

    • There’s a lot here I agree and resonate with and a lot that I don’t. In the end, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    • Not all Christians fit the stereotype you describe. I find it interesting that the belief system you describe and promote is also based on things that cannot be scientifically proven or quantified: truth, love, being “awoken.” I agree that these concepts are valid, but their validity cannot be proven. Perhaps your new belief system is not as far from your old one as you might think.

  122. … I should also say, this is only my opinion based on my continuous research of our world. I understand not all Christians or people of any other religion will understand the things I’ve written. It is up to personal research on all matters for anyone to ever find worldly truth in all corners of the globe.

  123. Last time I checked, not only was Catholicism considered “mainstream”, it was also considered the first Christian denomination. I realize this isn’t the point of your piece, but it’s a little insulting to continue seeing Catholicism dismissed by many evangelicals as a less than Christian denomination. It’s just wrong.

  124. There’s an excellent book that, while not exactly related to the topic at hand, addresses similar problems in “folk Christianity.” The book is called Questions to All Your Answers by Roger Olson. I highly recommend checking it out. He advocates in it a “reflective Christianity”: one that analyzes itself and appeals to the God-given intellect to work out paradoxes in our faith rather than scoffing at doubters and seekers with phrases like, “It’s a mystery; just trust it.”

    I believe that as believers we need to live life with a healthy modicum of cynicism.

  125. An observation that I believe would be of benefit to you ladies to take into account, is that it would be much wiser for you to make use of the level-headed thinking you claim to be proficient at, and to simply take into advisement Carl’s opinion, without allowing yourselves to become personally offended by a generalization which is also a purely subjective assessment (and which furthermore doesn’t claim to be anything beyond that — but rather, a “guess” based on his perception of his experience), and be thankful that not only are you yourselves not examples of the discouraging trend that Carl feels he sees among his acquaintances, but that you are mostly personally acquainted with people who on the whole also make more effective use of their intellect and wisdom in dealing with such situations as we are discussing, and that you have not had the misfortune within your small spheres to witness the opposite.
    You could even humbly and kindly express your own subjective experience in the matter in the hope that although you also (apparently, based on your statements) have only relatively very small experience to draw from, yet it might encourage Carl in the midst of his situation to take heart in the possibility that things may not be as bad as they seem to him at this time.

    And on a related note: as ladies, being “soft” is nothing to be ashamed of — God made you to be so.
    … Not only that — God is soft.
    He is also wise beyond description. And extremely fierce when the need exists. And above all, He is good and true.
    So let Him show you how to be smart as well — according to His plan for you.

    • Thanks Paul, I appreciate your comment.

      This seems like a good place to put one of my favorite quotes. :)

      “If you have come to these pages for laughter, may you find it.
      If you are here to be offended, may your ire rise and your blood boil.
      If you seek an adventure, may this song sing you away to blissful escape.
      If you need to test or confirm your beliefs, may you reach comfortable conclusions.
      All books reveal perfection, by what they are or what they are not.
      May you find that which you seek, in these pages or outside them.
      May you find perfection, and know it by name.”
      ― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

  126. I love this list! I am one of those annoying people who will call out hoaxes when they are posted. I generally will message the person privately so that they have the opportunity to retract it themselves.
    I have one friend who emails hoaxes and rumors constantly. I consistently emailed back a link to the correction to the entire email list. She finally complained about it and I told her that her options were to remove me from the group she sends them to or stop sending them along. :) People are sure funny!

  127. Thanks for this. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine, too. And I think your point is well taken for Christians especially. If we claim to be people concerned with truth, then we should be the last, not the first, to pass on stories or information that is unsubstantiated. Sadly, a lot of this junk is not only untrue, but appears to be politically motivated, and sometimes downright racist or completely slanderous. This is unbecoming behavior for anyone who cares about truth.

  128. 2 Comments:
    I worked for 15 years in the communications department of a major denomination and sat on the board of the communications section of the National Council of Churches of Christ. I can’t tell you how much time we spent on counteracting the rumor that Madilyn Murray O’Hare was out to get the FCC to ban all religious broadcasting from radio and TV. The rumor continued to spread even after she died.
    As far as the “homeless pastor” goes I have a more positive example that I can attest to since I was there. Our church was waiting for an “interim pastor” to arrive for her first service. By happenstance our youth group was participating in a “homelessness” experiment by camping out on the front lawn of the church in cardboard boxes. A homeless woman came to them and asked for some food and shelter. They took her in, fed her and gave her some of their blankets. As time for church came around they invited her in to worship service and sat with her at the back of the church. When it came time for the service to start the “homeless” woman began to walk to the front of the church. Some of them tried to stop her but as she shed her costume they (and the rest of the church) were surprised to greet our new interim pastor. Needless to say the learned the lesson of giving hospitality to strangers thereby entertaining “angels unaware.”

  129. While I agree with the point of your excellent article, I do have to point out that CFLs DO catch fire. I had one burst into flames in my bathroom a couple years ago. I got rid of all of them after that and use good old fashioned incandescents now.

  130. Agree 95%
    The one disagreement: it’s NOT only Christians. Click Snopes “random” link a few times and you’ll see that many of the hoaxes are not for, against, or about an issue that concerns Christians specifically.
    But I certainly don’t disagree about the effect on our credibility. In fact, I think some of the hoaxes were deliberately designed to foster the illusion that Christian are stupid.

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