Robert Marus & Ken Camp of the Associated Baptist Press ask a very interesting question in a recent article:
“What does virtual rumor-mongering say about Christians?”
It seems Christians are prone to sending out those wacky emails that say ridiculous, untrue things.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair is trying to ban religious programming on television. (She was killed over a decade ago and never tried to ban such programming during her lifetime.)
Barack Obama is a Muslim. (No, he’s not.)
Al Gore once said his favorite Bible verse was John 16:3, not John 3:16, indicating he wasn’t *really* a Christian. (Actually, that gaffe was made by George H. W. Bush.)
But is this rumor-spreading typical of Christians or the general culture?
So, why are Christians so willing to believe unsubstantiated rumors? And more troubling, why are Christians, who should hold the highest standards of truth-telling, so eager to spread such rumors — and even downright libels?
Christians are not necessarily any more gullible than the population at large — and there’s the rub, said Bill Tillman, a Christian-ethics professor at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary, a Texas Baptist school.
“Their gullibility seems to follow the culture’s levels and channels of gullibility,” Tillman said. “That similarity should give Christians pause to think: If I am no different than the surrounding culture on the treatment of e-mails and communication they carry, with what else am I no different?…”
One thing’s for certain: the more Christians spread those easily-debunked lies, the less seriously we have to take their other claims of truth.
So is this a “Christian” phenomenon of sorts? No, I think it’s even broader than that.
The article never claims it, but it seems obvious to me:
Religious people in general are more likely to believe in unsubstantiated rumors. If someone they trust sends/tells them something, they’re less likely to challenge the claim.
I know I’m making a blanket statement — it doesn’t apply to every religious person, of course — but would anyone like to play devil’s advocate?
Most religions are a series of fake claims, one after another, spread over generations. Is it any surprise that such misguided statements get spread even in modern times?
I have no evidence to back this up, but I’d bet good money that atheists are less likely than the general population to send those false chain letters to other. We’re more skeptical of what we see and read.
But maybe I’m wrong. Are there any false rumors that atheists perpetuate?
(Thanks to Hugh for the link!)