Saturday, January 12, 2008

Please Be Careful Forwarding Stuff...It Might Not Be True!

I received a disturbing forward in my email from someone I love dearly the other day, and it was something a dear friend of theirs had forwarded to them and to many other "Christians," who feared our nation is in danger with regards to our next presidential election. I promise that those forwarding this thing to me did not know they were being tricked into spreading untruths.

This blog post is NOT about who needs to be our next president; it is about being careful when distributing false information about another person. The biblical descriptions for such activity include "bearing false witness" (It must be pretty important to make it in the Ten Commandments.), "slander," and "gossip."

In short, the email accused presidential candidate Barack Obama of being a radical Muslim, among other anti-American activities, beliefs, etc. The email that is circulating is claiming the truth can be found at www.snopes.com, and that this website substantiates their claims. Well, I go to snopes quite a bit, so I did for this item. Guess what? The email was lying. Snopes completely contradicts the claim that Obama is a Muslim of any kind, or ever was one. Here is the official response to the email:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/muslim.asp
(By the way, it was on the top of the lists for distributed urban legends this week.)

I have read in several places (that I trust including Snopes) that Obama is member ("baptized" and everything!) of the United Church of Christ since 1985, long before he had presidential aspirations. Who you vote for in any election is your business, but "our" business as Christians is to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), put away ALL slander (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Titus 3:2; 1 Peter 2:1), and one of my favorites: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph 4:29)

So have at all of these candidates as they promise us the world, declare their fitness for office, etc. Attack them all you want on their political stances (as long as you are dealing with their "actual" political stances and not some untruths you received in an email). This is just a reminder that God commands us not to spread untruths about any of them, in either party, ever! Just take less than a minute to check out an email before you forward it.

By the way, this all applies to everyday life, too! Most people have probably experienced the pain about some untruths being spread about them (ask anyone in the ministry). Just remember to THINK before you speak (or forward)! Ask yourself, is what I am about to say or forward:

T - TRUE? (go to www.snopes.com or www.truthorfiction.com)
H - HELPFUL?

I - INSPIRATIONAL? (i.e. good for "building up" another)*

N - NECESSARY?

K - KIND?

*One variation of this is that I stands for INVOLVEMENT. Am I "involved" in whatever I am passing on to others, or just a spectator?

Thanks for letting me ramble, now go out there and say something that is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Thanks, Pastor.

I agree whole heartedly. I typically do this and find most people don't think an e-mail from a trusted friend can possibly be tainted.

I have been burned once by forwarding a plausible sounding e-mail and then receiving a snopes link in reply.

And your right about a Christians political involvement, too. Let's focus on issues, not personalities.

A scripture I try to use to help me with what to say, Phil 4:8. If we dwell on those things, we can't go wrong.

But, a reminder for those Brothers and sisters who are distressed about our nation, just remember that the formula of II Chr 7:14, is better than fretting over who to vote for. Who we spent as much time praying for our nation, fasting, repenting, etc as we do in political events, we wouldn't be in the trouble we are.

PEACE!
Michael