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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I cycle through many of the same fake or outdated stories in my feed—sometimes with the most horrifying and heartbreaking images.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

305 Comments Post a comment
  1. 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.

    August 1, 2013
    • 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.

      August 2, 2013
      • Don #

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

        August 3, 2013
      • True Christian #

        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…

        August 6, 2013
      • Amber #

        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…

        August 10, 2013
        • Amber #

          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.

          August 10, 2013
          • Bex #

            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).

            August 31, 2013
      • Rod #

        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.

        August 10, 2013
        • Eugene #

          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.

          August 12, 2013
      • Sandy #

        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?

        August 12, 2013
        • James #

          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.

          August 12, 2013
          • Don #

            Prove that to me from the BIBLE, not some made up history book.

            August 22, 2013
      • RStarke #

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

        August 31, 2013
  2. He also said, “Get behind me, Satan.”

    Neither of these sayings are relevant to this conversation.

    August 1, 2013
    • sheree #

      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.

      August 1, 2013
      • *sigh*

        August 1, 2013
      • Jason Weirauch #

        That is so classic of a post that I would love to mock, I can only believe it is fake. Surely someone put that up as bait, if not is is far too sad. I have to leave it alone, it speaks for itself.

        August 1, 2013
      • axolotl #

        “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.”
        One might think you were inferring the author is not.

        August 2, 2013
        • I think the point of Sheree’s comment is more:

          “The only judgment I think is acceptable is when I am judging people for making judgments.”

          August 2, 2013
        • Bradley Hill #

          It is honorable for a man to stop striving, Since any fool can start a quarrel.

          Prov. 20: 3

          August 4, 2013
  3. Bdburke #

    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.

    August 1, 2013
    • Well . . .

      I didn’t present it as a scientific poll. It is my experience with my friends most of whom I am extremely familiar with where they fall in the theological spectrum.

      August 1, 2013
    • Jason M #


      August 7, 2013
  4. 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!

    August 1, 2013
  5. Jean Cattley #

    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.

    August 1, 2013
    • Jean,

      Not only have I considered it, I have considered it at length.

      Thanks for the comment.

      August 2, 2013
  6. Diane Scott #

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

    August 2, 2013
  7. Kim #

    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.

    August 2, 2013
  8. Very good and insightful. Although it is not 100% reliable, often exposes hoaxes.

    August 2, 2013
    • Redheadwglasses #

      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.

      August 5, 2013
      • Screwtineyes #

        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.

        October 11, 2013
        • redheadwglasses #

          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.

          October 12, 2013
          • Screwtineyes #

            They interview cops, business owners, local journos, and they read the local papers. So I guess they must be telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth hey.
            And btw, just because you say you’re right, doesn’t make it so. But you believe what you want. I believe in discernment. Have a great day 🙂

            October 14, 2013
    • Elizabeth #

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

      August 7, 2013
      • Grackle #

        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 I think you would enjoy it!)

        August 7, 2013
  9. Carl O #

    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.

    August 2, 2013
    • 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.

      August 5, 2013
      • Kathy #

        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.

        August 6, 2013
      • Carl O #

        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.

        August 6, 2013
        • CSM #

          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.

          February 16, 2014
      • Patty Diamond #

        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.

        August 7, 2013
    • Laura #

      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.

      August 8, 2013
    • Amber #

      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’.

      August 10, 2013
    • 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.

      August 16, 2013
    • 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.

      November 8, 2013
  10. Martha Bolden-Kennerson #

    Thank you. Well said.

    August 2, 2013
  11. joe baker #

    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

    August 2, 2013
  12. Steve #

    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.

    August 2, 2013
    • Hey Steve,

      Thanks for reading—I appreciate it. Maybe if we both spread some sanity in our circle of influences, we can all treat each other a little better.

      August 2, 2013
  13. Greg #

    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.

    August 2, 2013
  14. 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.

    August 3, 2013
  15. Yes—thank you for writing this.

    August 3, 2013
  16. 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 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.

    August 3, 2013
    • 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.

      August 3, 2013
    • 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.

      August 7, 2013
      • Kris R #

        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.

        November 30, 2013
  17. Bradley Hill #

    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.

    August 3, 2013
    • EngLady80 #

      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.

      August 3, 2013
      • Bradley Hill #

        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.

        August 4, 2013
    • ktj #

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

      August 4, 2013
      • 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.

        August 4, 2013
    • 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”.

      November 5, 2013
  18. 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”.

    August 3, 2013
  19. which means everyone, right? Judging people at all is judging souls.

    August 3, 2013
  20. Reblogged this on An Unknown Berean's Blog showing that IHOP is New Age and commented:
    Good points.

    August 4, 2013
  21. Aaron #

    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.

    August 4, 2013
  22. 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.

    August 6, 2013
  23. Guilty. Point taken!

    August 6, 2013
  24. BDB #

    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!

    August 6, 2013
  25. 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.

    August 7, 2013
  26. B. Hill #

    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 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.

    August 9, 2013
  27. Jim #

    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 for information on exactly what is happening in OUR world.) Everything is a choice. Everything.

    August 10, 2013
    • 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.

      August 10, 2013
      • Jim #

        Absolutely! Thank you for the platform to share.

        August 10, 2013
    • Mmj #

      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.

      August 10, 2013
  28. Jim #

    … 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.

    August 10, 2013
  29. Paula #

    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.

    August 11, 2013
    • I am afraid that you have latched on to a word and have extrapolated a meaning from it that was not intended.

      August 11, 2013
  30. 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.

    August 11, 2013
  31. 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.

    August 16, 2013
    • Carl O #

      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

      August 16, 2013
  32. 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!

    November 8, 2013
  33. Rebecca #

    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.

    November 9, 2013
  34. 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.”

    February 16, 2014
  35. Ian Watson #

    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.

    July 1, 2014

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