No, an Ethiopian Pastor Didn’t Get Eaten by a Crocodile During a Baptism

Every few months, it seems, we hear another story about an African pastor doing something religious in a large lake… only to drown himself, drown the person getting baptized, or get eaten by a crocodile.

Today’s story, from Ethiopia, involves a crocodile.

Docho Eshete was conducting the ceremony for about 80 people on Sunday morning at Lake Abaya in Arba Minch town’s Merkeb Tabya district.

Residents and police told BBC Amharic a crocodile leapt from the water during the baptism and attacked him.

Pastor Docho died after being bitten on his legs, back and hands.

As I write this, there are multiple news outlets talking about the same story… but keep a few things in mind since we’re all trying to be good skeptics here:

  • Every article cites the same BBC report I quoted above. Whenever a story cites a single source, with very little first-hand reporting, you should question it.
  • There are no photos or videos of the event. When do you ever hear about 80 people in the same place, for a supposedly life-changing event, without a single person getting the action on tape? Seriously?!
  • Stories like this appear all the time. They’re never true. Just last year, we heard about a Zimbabwean pastor who tried walking on water, only to drown and get eaten by crocodiles. That story also had alleged witnesses… and no proof. Snopes later said it was false. Even the Daily Mail, which usually spreads falsehoods like that, admitted the story originated on a satirical site.
  • Look at who’s writing about it. I don’t care who they’re citing. If the British tabloids and FOX News are the most likely places you’re hearing about this story, it’s bound to be a hoax.

We have all the same elements in today’s report, which looks to have originated from this article on BBC Amharic. The translated version of that page reads like a joke even if it’s meant to be serious. Regardless, it’s shoddy reporting.

So stop spreading this story as if anything happened to a pastor. It almost certainly didn’t. At least wait until the body turns up.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to everyone for the link)

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