I get emails from my relatives sometimes. (My family – both my immediate family and extended family – are pretty religious.) One of the common themes of their email forwards involves this or that “attack” on Christianity (which seems to invariably be a hoax – most of the stuff that gets sent around the internet via email forwards is). Although, since they are right-wing conservative Christians, they get email forwards from their friends and relatives (who think the same) that play into the right-wing conservative Christian worldview. Standing back and looking at things, you kind of understand why they think the way they do – they’re surrounded by people who think like them. Their exposure to information outside the right-wing Christian worldview is infrequent enough that they simply dismiss it as false information — because it doesn’t fit with everything else they believe.
Anyway, here’s the email:
Sorry if you don’t believe in this cause- I wasn’t being picky in my address list. This crap just ticks me off! I don’t watch it but change the channel if you have a problem- this is AMERICA! And GOD Bless our SOLDIERS!
Dr. Dobson & CBS Response
Apparently we are to be allowed to watch TV programs that use every foul word in the English language, but not the word “God.” It will only take a minute to read this and see if you think you should send it out
DR. DOBSON’S PLEA FOR ACTION
CBS discontinued “Touched by an Angel” for using the word God in every program. Madeline Murray O’Hare, an atheist, successfully managed to eliminate the use of Bible reading from public schools a few years ago.
Now her organization has been granted a federal hearing on the same subject by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Washington, DC.
Their petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel, our Lord and Savior, on the airwaves of America.
They got 287,000 signatures to back their stand! If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped. This group is also campaigning to remove all Christmas programs and Christmas carols from public schools!
You as a Christian can help!
We are praying for at least 1 million signatures. This would defeat their effort and show that there are many Christians alive, well and concerned about our country. As Christians we must unite on this. Please don’t take this lightly.
We ignored this lady once and lost prayer in our school and in offices across the nation
Please stand up for your religious freedom and let your voice be heard. Together we can make a difference in our country while creating a way for the lost to know the Lord.
Please press “forward”, and forward this to everyone that you think should read this. Now, please sign your name at the bottom ( you can only add your name after you have pressed the “Forward”).
Don’t delete any other names, just go to the next number and type your name and state. Please defeat this organization and keep the right of our freedom of religion.
REMEMBER: Our country was founded on freedom of religion and our Constitution is based on the 10 Commandments.
Agree or Delete: Instructions to sign are at the bottom.
PETITION FOR PRESIDENT BUSH
PETITION TO REINSTATE PRAYER IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
[ Followed by 2200+ names ]
The email is a little weird in that it suddenly changes from ‘keep God on the airwaves’ through most of the text, to ‘reinstate prayer in schools’ at the very end. Anyway, Snopes debunked this story. The email seems to imply that Madalyn Murray O’Hair is still alive (“We ignored this lady once and lost prayer in our school”), but she actually died in 1995 (wikipedia has an interesting entry on her: she was a communist who tried to defect to the USSR; she was a bitter woman; her son – the one involved in the school-prayer court case – became a preacher, and she was ultimately murdered along with her granddaughter.)
But, concerning the actual claims in the article: it’s a bunch of misinformation that ends up making Christians feel embattled, attacked, and under siege. I wonder what exactly the author was thinking as they created it. Was it just a prankster who wanted to see how widely people would distribute his story, or did he want to stir up Christians – make them more politically active by making them feel like victims? Whatever his motive, it certainly does stir up the Christians, and reinforces their opinions about the evil atheists working to remove all mentions of religion on the airwaves. You can almost imagine their reaction: “Where will it end? When will these atheists leave us alone? They work tirelessly to remove all mention of God from this God-fearing country.” Of course, that’s ridiculous. Atheists do have a legitimate complaint over having mandatory prayer and Bible lessons in the public schools (just as Christians would have a legitimate complaint if teachers were preaching Islam to their children in the schools). Although, I think the comparison would be lost on some Christians because, they would argue, quite simply, the comparison doesn’t hold because Christianity is the true religion and Islam is a false religion – therefore, it’s okay to remove Islam from schools, but wrong to remove Christianity. Or, they might argue that most Americans are Christians, so most of the children would simply be learning their parent’s religion in school (too bad if you have a minority view). In the case of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, “In 1959, Murray filed her case on behalf of her son, William J. Murray, who was being forced to attend bible readings in school and was being harassed by teachers and school administrators for refusing to participate.” (Link)
I also found this claim humorous: “REMEMBER: Our country was founded on freedom of religion and our Constitution is based on the 10 Commandments.” Of course, that sentence contradicts itself – the first two of the 10 commandments prevents freedom of religion: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and “Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol”.
Anyway, I generally feel like my extended family lives in a little bubble where God’s existence is unquestionable, the United State’s laws were built on the Bible, preachers are doing God’s Will, and all good people wave their flags and support President Bush. The other people – the people “out there” – are troublemakers: living in sin, slandering God’s Word, stealing the right to even speak about religion, and pushing their lifestyles on everyone else. Why do atheists get a bad name? Part of it is the simple fact that this kind of misinformation gets spread around the internet.
(On a related topic, I remember getting another ‘Christians are being victimized’ email hoax a number of months back from another relative: A display at the National World War II Memorial omits the words ‘So help us God’ from a speech by President Roosevelt.)