Stop Spreading the Story About the Pastor Who Drowned After Attempting to Walk on Water January 3, 2014

Stop Spreading the Story About the Pastor Who Drowned After Attempting to Walk on Water

For some reason, there’s a story making the rounds again about a pastor who tried to walk on water… and drowned:


An evangelist who tried replicating Jesus’ miracle of walking on water has reportedly drowned off the western coast of Africa.

Pastor Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation he could repeat the biblical miracle, and he attempted it from a beach in Gabon’s capital of Libreville.

‘He told churchgoers he’d had a revelation that if he had enough faith, he could walk on water like Jesus,’ an eyewitness told the Glasgow Daily Record. ‘He took his congregation to the beach saying he would walk across the Komo estuary, which takes 20 minutes by boat.

Let’s put on our Snopes hat for a bit…

This story initially went viral in 2006 after WND, the Christian tabloid that cares little about the truth, posted about it. It’s been repeated in several sources ever since. Needless to say, WND is not a credible source for anything.

Furthermore, I dare you to find evidence of what church Kabele led. Or pictures or video of the water-walking attempt (it was 2006; it’s not like that technology wasn’t available). Or, frankly, anything about the pastor outside of stories about how he supposedly died.

A search for the pastor’s name on the Daily Record‘s website also comes up empty.

Yes, it’s amusing to believe someone would be so foolish as to actually try walking on water… at least water that hasn’t turned into ice. But we skeptics of all people shouldn’t be so gullible as to believe this without more evidence.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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  • Guest

    If you hadn’t posted this Hemant I never would have known about it lol

  • Deus Ex Lasagna

    the Christian tabloid that cares little about the truth

    Wait, there’s a Christian tabloid that DOES care about the truth?

    …Wait, there’s a Christian publication of ANY kind that cares about the truth?

  • JoeAtheist

    Generalizing much?

  • Deus Ex Lasagna
  • JoeAtheist

    I’m so sure you meant it as satire, friend. Please stand by your posts if you want to be taken seriously.

  • NotThatGreg
  • Deus Ex Lasagna

    Who says I need to stand by my posts, or that I’m not already? The statement stands for itself just fine. That shouldn’t be difficult to see given that the foundation of Christianity, especially the modern strain of it, is built on outright aversion to empirical truth. Is the original statement based in fact, albeit responded to in an exaggerated form? Yes? Then why do I care about being taken seriously, on the internet of all places?

  • A3Kr0n

    Why does the first link say “Not the Onion”? Does that mean it’s the Onion? I mean, it’s reddit, so I don’t know what it means.
    The second link was totally blocked by ghostery saying no-no to facebook social plugin, and I agreed.

  • Terry Firma

    I tried slapping down the same bullshit story on Reddit last week. The bogus tale still garnered many hundreds of upvotes.

  • Deus Ex Lasagna

    Touché. Serves me right for going at such apparently low-hanging fruit, I suppose 😛

  • Dana Logsdon

    Oh great, now I have to “fact check” religious stories. Oh the IRONY! It burns!!

  • Jeff See

    Me either. I don’t think anyone believes enough in the whole deal to even try that one; or risk the sin of vanity for being successful. Too risky for the individual, no matter how it goes down.

  • Foridin

    Not the Onion is a subreddit (Section of reddit dedicated to a certain topic) that focuses on true stories that look as if they came from the Onion, but actually happened.

  • I spent one afternoon with Albert Einstein: unpretentiousness, warmth, some false political predictions. I soon lost my self-consciousness, a rare treat for me at that time. I still love to quote a statement of his:

    “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.”

    “In and Out the Garbage Pail” by Frederick S. Perls

  • A3Kr0n

    OK, subreddts. I’ve heard about those. That place sometimes leaves me bewildered as to what just happened.

  • kielc

    Seriously. Spend time instead circulating the story of the inventor of the Segway, who rolled over a cliff to his death on one.

  • Jachra

    “Yes, it’s amusing to believe someone would be so foolish as to actually try walking on water… at least water that hasn’t turned into ice. But we skeptics of all people shouldn’t be so gullible as to believe this without more evidence.”

    There seems to be some sort of subtle point here…

  • Whitney Currie

    This is one of those times where I personally have a strange internal dialog on what I really should be doing.

    On the one hand, this could be a very amusing tale to share with friends/coworkers. Which is mostly fine, so long as it’s clear that it’s made up, and never really happened.

    On the other hand, there’s a good chance that someone would only hear part of the story, and not realize that it never happened.

    On the third hand, it’s kinda fun to mess with people who are so gullible as to believe such an outrageous story. Doesn’t really excuse the second point, but does increase the temptation.

    Then there’s the fourth hand. Why, exactly, do so many followers of a faith believe in “old time” miracles (feeding of the crowd, walking on water, raising the dead) but not new ones? I mean, if someone had enough faith to move that mountain two thousand years ago, why can’t anyone today have that same ability? Of course, pointing this out is likely to get me in a world of trouble, so I guess I will keep my mouth shut. Some days, though, I just want to go around asking the obvious questions, I guess.

  • Lando

    If I see this ‘Ron Wyatt found Noah’s ark in turkey’ story one more time in my Facebook feed this month, I’m going to punch a hole straight through my monitor.
    TL;DR, I feel you, Terry

  • Randay

    The magician Dynamo has done the walking-on-water trick, including on the Thames River. Videos on YT. This one is maybe easily explained, but he does others that are more remarkable.

  • TCC

    Jimi Heselden owned the company, but he didn’t invent the Segway.

  • brbr2424

    It always amazes me that the C S Monitor is a reliable source. The Christian Science religion (cult) has Christian in the name but isn’t what one usually associates with Christianity. Similarly Scientology doesn’t have much to do with science.

  • There is an epidemic of this. There were always these urban legends and other oft-repeated but untrue stories, but the internet seems to make it worse. People don’t even have to hear themselves repeating the absurd story. They read it once and forward it to everyone in their email address book. Considering what a dick I am to my conservative relatives about these things, I would be hypocritical not to be equally hard on everyone else. Just because a story affirms your own prejudices about someone or something, that doesn’t make it true.

    BTW, as a companion to this, I hear from Evangelical relatives frequently that in Africa they are seeing both demonic possessions and conversely Christians there able to walk on water and perform other miracles. Oddly enough no one at those events seems to ever have their cell phone handy to make a video. It’s 2014. Video or it didn’t happen.

  • So you interpreted that silly post I wrote in 2006 that started with “According to WorldNetDaily…” as suggesting that I believed the story was true? Fascinating!

  • kielc

    Right you are–I stand corrected. Here’s a fun list:

  • Taneli Huuskonen

    How do you get into the water deep enough to drown without noticing you aren’t walking on it?

  • Why go for such a dangerous stunt when one can make like Oral Roberts, who told his congregation that God spoke to him, and he wants another million dollars of their money or “he’s gonna take me home”? Roberts eventually died, but not the first time he used that trick!

  • Artor

    A long walk off a short pier?

  • Jeff See

    I’m pretty sure people still don’t believe he’s really doing it. In fact, I’m pretty sure magicians only fool the same group of people that religion does.

  • Jeff See

    For the record: I DID honestly try this one time. I stood by the waters edge, and prayed HARD, for several minutes. When I was certain my heart was completely in the hands of God/Jesus, I stepped out; and sank into the water. I never tried it again.

    I was 10 years old.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-Visited

    by John H. Martin

    Chapter 5: Jemima Wilkinson

    There were many stories about Jemima , some by her enemies, some by skeptics, some of just plain malicious rumor. One which is probably not true, but is worth recalling, says something of the matter-of-fact sagacity for which Jemima was noted. At one point, it is claimed, Jemima was challenged as to whether she, as the Bible purported Jesus did, could walk on water. She agreed to satisfy skeptics of her reputed divine powers by walking on the waters of Lake Seneca.

    At the appointed time, a crowd is said to have gathered at the lakeside, and Jemima preached a stirring sermon to them which moved her listeners greatly. Throughout her peroration, she punctuated her preaching with a forceful, “Do ye have Faith?” Worked up by her energetic preaching, the forcible answer always came back, “We do!”

    Finally, at the end of her very long and rousing discourse, she looked straight at the group and asked, “Do ye have faith? Do ye belief that I can do this thing?”

    “We believe!” shouted the now much aroused listeners.As she departed with a flourish, she is said to have replied to the group, “If ye have faith, ye need no other evidence.”

  • TheG

    On the other-other-other-other hand, when you find someone steeped in religion who tells you how ridiculous it is to simply believe any story that comes along and this drowning is clearly made up, you have a wonderful teaching opportunity.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Walking on water : Joseph Smith, Jemima Wilkinson, and the folklore of religious imposture

    by Stanley Thayne

    Thayne examines the purported accounts of Joseph Smith, founder of The
    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as staging a
    walking-on-water demonstration as an act of his power as a Prophet of
    God. Through the following of many folktales and legends as recorded by
    those who lived in areas in question in the seventeen and eighteen
    hundreds, Thayne seeks to give these account a proper place as
    entertaining folk legends, as apposed to historical truth. Created by
    Stanley James Thayne while enrolled in Eric Eliason’s English 391 course
    during Winter Semester of 2006.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    … so foolish as to actually try walking on water… at least water that hasn’t turned into ice

    Even so.

    Three people die after separate drownings after falling through thin ice

  • dwb1957

    Okay, so this particular story may not be true, but ya gotta believe that something like this has happened somewhere at least a few times in the last couple of thousand years. Human nature.

  • This story is like the Italians love to say: Non è vero ma è bene trovatto. It isn’t true but it is a beauty. So us atheists want to believe it.

  • Wildcard

    I’m pretty sure magic fools hardly anyone. The point is that it is entertainment.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I’d want to meet the person that could pull off walking on water.

  • Mark

    It seems this could be a tale. He would have to get to deep water so there were people with him,his first step was a hint that it didn’t work. Is this another Jesus myth passed on from one person to another to then gain a “real” story by how popular it is? I think this is a myth. This is Chinese whispers, the story getting more impressive as people add excitement to the original story if there was one at all.

  • Why would WND lie about a Xian pastor drowning? Could it be they’re really atheists making bank on the crazies?

    Maybe the editors sit around and say “Ok, ok! What’s the craziest s#!t we can say about Xian pastors!” And one pipes in “One of ’em drowned trying to walk on water?” Then they all yell “Yes! Yes!” And the Editor-in-Chief says “Ok, let’s run with that! Now, what’s the craziest s#!t we can say about Obama?” …. Nah!

  • Nigel Holland

    Since when is fox news is a good a source? llh


    I think this behavior should be encouraged among evangelists.

  • Great!!! I always use Snopes to debunk “Glurge” as well as “Email Lies” Amazing how long they stay around and how they evolve like a chameleon. Praise God for Same for the Lions Den story. “In all things getteth an understanding” PR

  • Jeff See

    Yeah, no duh. I’m not sure how we got to into a discussion about circus topics, when we were talking about a false story concerning a pastor.

    Oh, wait.

  • Jeff See

    the power of entertainment compels you!

  • DragonsREpic

    “Epic fails of ‘faith’ ” and earns this months Darwin Award that plenty of candidates

  • whomeveryouneedmetobe

    So, challenging this with no facts to dispute it should be seen as believable? Kind of reminds me of children arguing and one cries out in feigned anguish, “PROVE IT!!!” while the other one sits calmly with a smile on their face…jeezus in deed!

  • Monica

    Should’ve at least taken a couple swimming lessons first.

  • Matt Woodling

    Standard Internet practice – please adhere to it:

    “Folks, here’s the first rule of reacting to something you see or hear on the Internet. If it appeals to your emotions, it must be suspect. You are intellectually and morally obligated to find out if it’s true before you comment or re-post.

    I caught myself wanting to believe xxx actually said xxx, because xxx has said many things that are this stupid and offensive. That alone made me stop and do 2 minutes of research. Seeing no hits on Google for any of this tract made me withhold belief that it was true.

    People, please stop and think for a second before you make yourself and us look like idiots.”

  • Nemani Lui

    If he was at the beach and took a second step how could he have drowned? On the second step wouldn’t the water be ankle deep from the beach. It sounds that this is a made up story.

  • Jim Jones

    > Similarly Scientology doesn’t have much to do with science.

    And even less to do with ‘-ology’.

  • Jim Jones

    You have to run really, really fast. Like Wily Coyote.

  • Jill

    Because you salivate at the thought of people you personally disagree with dying a painful death?

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