Rumors or Gossip

 

[This story has nothing to do with my book. However right now I needed a place on the web to post some of these topics. Thanks for understanding!]

Is there any such thing as Christian rumors?

After getting many, many, many rumors circulated by email and assumed to be fact, I decided to see what some other groups thought of the idea of Christians spreading rumors.

The best article I have found so far is the one below. It is okay to copy it and circulate it IN ITS ENTIRETY but not to copy only parts of it for your own use or for profit.

Does the Bible say anything about rumors?

Rumors are simply STORIES or THINGS YOU HEAR which MAY BE HARMFUL to someone’s reputation. I believe as many others do that rumors, emailed rumors, bear checking thoroughly to see if they are true. Perhaps even if they were, it is best to leave the story with God. What if it is found to be untrue later? Then we have participated in spreading a rumor or we have gossiped about whoever the story is about.

Lately stories have been circulated by a particular ministry that Rick Warren and Robert Schular are participating in Chrislam, supposedly the joining of Christianity and Islam which of course is impossible because many parts of Islam are entirely against what the Bible teaches.

I have received emails. I have heard people reporting that such and such a ministry said it was true, so it must be. I don’t believe any of these persons are deliberately trying to harm the reputation of the two men in question.

But do we not see that is a rumor? Have YOU checked out to see if it is true?

Have you checked with the ministry that is spreading the rumor to see if they approached Rick Warren and/or Robert Schular to ask them if it was true? Did the spreader report what they said when he asked them?

If the spreader of the rumor, who you may think is reliable, does NOT follow the Biblical pattern of going to the person BEFORE going to the church [and especially the whole world as by email], then that person is NOT following the proper procedure and we cannot trust someone who does not BELIEVE that they should follow a Biblical injunction.

CAN WE BE GUILTY OF SPREADING A RUMOR BY NEGLECTING TO CHECK FOR ITS TRUTH?

Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (NIV)

Ephesians 4:29 – “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.” (NIV)

Christian Rumors

E-mail

Written by Kerby Anderson

Madalyn Murray O’Hair

No doubt you’ve heard them and wondered if they were true. Stories about Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s campaign against Christian radio, Janet Reno’s definition of a cult or Charles Darwin’s supposed deathbed conversion. Are they true or not?

Believe me–I see more than my share of these myths and rumors. Because of my public visibility and presence on various web pages, I probably get a lot more e-mail messages than most people do. So I probably see a higher percentage of myths and rumors than most. Yet, I am amazed at the number of rumors flying around the Internet.

And we get lots of phone calls at Probe from people wondering if various stories they have heard are true. Others forward e-mail messages they receive and ask if they are true, before they forward them to others.

Many of these messages are relatively harmless ones like the promise that you will get free M&Ms if you forward an e-mail message to someone. This apparently has mutated into the belief that IBM will send you a free computer if you forward a particular e-mail. Supposedly IBM is doing this because of a recent merger between Hewlett-Packard and Gateway. As my teenage daughter likes to say, “Yeah right!” Oh, and don’t forget about the GAP offering free clothing because of a supposed merger with Abercrombie and Fitch.

Some other rumors are harmful to companies. One example would be the false rumor that an executive with Proctor and Gamble announced he was a Satanist on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show. The original rumor had this happening on The Donahue Show. And then there’s the rumor that the designer Liz Claiborne told the Oprah audience that she donates profits to the Church of Satan. None of these rumors are true, yet these e-mails still show up in Probe’s inbox on a fairly regular basis.

In this article I want to address what I consider to be the major myths and rumors that are spread by the Christian community. With so many, I had to be selective; so I tried to focus on those persistent myths spread by Christians and some of the rumors which seem to nearly have a life of their own.

The most persistent rumor in the Christian community over the last few decades is the mistaken belief that atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair has been trying to ban religious broadcasting through petition RM 2493. Back in December 1974, there was a petition by Jeremy Lanaman and Lorenzo Milam to investigate radio stations with non-commercial educational licenses. The FCC unanimously rejected the petition in August 1975. But somehow the original information mutated into the current rumor that Madalyn Murray O’Hair was trying to remove Christian radio stations from the airwaves. The rumor wasn’t true when she was alive, and certainly isn’t true now. Nevertheless, the FCC has received millions and millions of bogus petitions. Let me state once again, the rumor isn’t true and all of us should do what we can to stop the rumor.

Janet Reno, Enemy of Christians

I am trying to address what I consider to be the major myths and rumors that are spread by the Christian community. Many of these show up in e-mails, while others are repeated by Christian speakers and believed to be true, even though they are false.

One persistent rumor has been attributed to former Attorney General Janet Reno, who supposedly defines Christians as belonging to a cult. Let me quote from one variation of the e-mail.

Are you a cultist, ACCORDING TO JANET RENO?? . . . I certainly HOPE SO!! Attorney General Janet Reno, “A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies; who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause; who home schools their children; who has accumulated survival foods and has a strong belief in the Second Amendment; and who distrusts big government. Any of these may qualify a person as a cultist but certainly more than one of these would cause us to look at this person as a threat, and his family as being in a risk situation that qualified for government interference.” Janet Reno, Attorney General, USA Interview on 60 Minutes, June 26, 1994 Do you qualify? Are you (as defined by the U.S. Attorney General) a threat? If any of these apply to you then you are!! This worries me. Does it worry you? Let’s impeach her too!!! Everyone in this country “The land of the free” with computer access should copy this and send to every man, woman and child who can read.

The quote is a hoax, but that didn’t stop many Christians from trying to send this e-mail to nearly everyone they knew that had access to the Internet. Even now that Janet Reno is no longer Attorney General, this e-mail still circulates on a fairly regular basis.

Here are the facts. According to CBS, Janet Reno did not appear on 60 Minutes in 1994. And it is doubtful that she would ever say something so inflammatory on this program or any other program. If she had, certainly it would have made front-page news to define millions of Christians as “cultists” and a “threat” to society.

The Office of Legislative Affairs in the Justice Department says they believe the quote first appeared in the August 1993 edition of the “Paul Revere Newsletter” published by the Christian Defense League in Flora, Illinois. The group has been described by some as a “far right hate group” holding to racist and anti-Semitic views. The newsletter subsequently ran a retraction.

This is the unfortunate origin of this persistent e-mail message. Unknowingly, Christians circulated a rumor started by a group bent on attacking the Attorney General. They did so because Christians were attacked as being cultists, thus they spread a rumor that was not true.

Joshua’s Long Day

One story that has been around for quite a long time is the myth of NASA discovering Joshua’s long day. As the story goes, computers at the space agency discovered that as they went back in time the calculations did not work. Scientists doing orbital mechanics calculations to determine the positions of the planets in the future realized that they were off by a day. A biblical scholar in the group supposedly solved the question when he remembered the passage in Joshua 10:13 which says that “the sun stood still, and the moon stopped” for about a whole day.

Attempts to verify the story through the NASA Spaceflight Center in Maryland never materialized. But that didn’t stop the spreading of the story that NASA found computer evidence of a missing day, which thereby verified the story of Joshua’s long day.

As it turns out, the apparent origin of this story precedes NASA by many years. Harry Rimmer wrote about astronomical calculations recorded by Professor C.A. Totten of Yale University in his 1936 book The Harmony of Science and Scripture.{1} He quotes professor Totten, who said, “[A] fellow professor, an accomplished astronomer, made the strange discovery that the earth was twenty- four hours out of schedule!” He says that Professor Totten challenged this man to investigate the question of the inspiration of the Bible. Some time later, his colleague replied: “In the tenth chapter of Joshua, I found the missing twenty-four hours accounted for. Then I went back and checked up on my figures, and found that at the time of Joshua there were only 23 hours and 20 minutes lost.”

Researchers have gone back to Professor Totten’s book Joshua’s Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz (published in 1890) and have not been able to find the story of the astronomer. Instead they find his argument for the lost day based upon the chronology of Jesus Christ. He believed that Christ must have been born at the fall equinox and that the world was created four thousand years before Christ was born. He therefore calculates that the world was created on September 22, 4000 b.c. This day must be a Sunday, but using a calendar we find that this date was a Monday. Therefore, argues Professor Totten, Joshua’s long day accounts for this “missing day.”

As you can see, there is no story about NASA scientists, nor are there even skeptical astronomers. He makes a number of very questionable assumptions in order to supposedly “prove” Joshua’s long day.

The story of NASA verifying Joshua’s long day is a myth that has been passed down for decades and apparently has its origins from stories recorded even before NASA existed. The story is false.

Darwin’s Deathbed Conversion

One of the most persistent stories is the supposed conversion of Charles Darwin and his supposed rejection of evolution on his deathbed. Christian speakers and writers retell this story with great regularity even though there is good evidence that Darwin remained an agnostic and an evolutionist to the day of his death. And even if the story was true (and it is not), its retelling is irrelevant to whether the theory of evolution is true. Darwin did not recant, and scientists would continue to teach the theory even if he had changed his mind.

The origin of this story can be traced to one “Lady Hope” who started the story after the death of Charles Darwin. On one occasion, Lady Hope spoke to a group of young men and women at the school founded by the evangelist D. L. Moody at Northfield, Massachusetts. According to her, Darwin had been reading the book of Hebrews on his deathbed. She said he asked for the local Sunday school to sing in a summerhouse on the grounds, and had confessed: “How I wish I had not expressed my theory of evolution as I have done.” She even said he would like her to gather a congregation since he “would like to speak to them of Christ Jesus and His salvation, being in a state where he was eagerly savouring the heavenly anticipation of bliss.”{2}

D. L. Moody encouraged Lady Hope to publish her story, and it was printed in the Boston Watchman Examiner. The story spread, and the claims have been republished and restated ever since.

The claims were refuted at the time and were subsequently addressed by Darwin’s son and daughter when they were revived years later. In 1918, Francis Darwin made this public statement:

Lady Hope’s account of my father’s views on religion is quite untrue. I have publicly accused her of falsehood, but have not seen any reply. My father’s agnostic point of view is given in my Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. I., pp. 304-317. You are at liberty to publish the above statement. Indeed, I shall be glad if you will do so.

Darwin’s daughter, Henrietta, writing in the Christian for February 23, 1922, said she was present at her father’s deathbed. “Lady Hope was not present during his last illness, or any illness. I believe he never even saw her, but in any case she had no influence over him in any department of thought or belief. He never recanted any of his scientific views, either then or earlier. We think the story of his conversion was fabricated in the U.S.A.” She concluded by saying, “The whole story has no foundation whatever.”

So that is the history of the story of Charles Darwin’s deathbed conversion. It simply is not true.

Satanic Affiliations

Now I would like to conclude by looking at rumors linking various individuals and groups to Satan.

One individual linked to Satan is J. K. Rowling, the author of the best-selling Harry Potter series. Although we at Probe have expressed some concern over the books, we believe some of the criticism concerning her has been unfair. One purported quotation making the rounds comes from a satirical publication known as The Onion. Supposedly she says, “I think it’s absolute rubbish to protest children’s books on the grounds that they are luring children to Satan. People should be praising them for that! These books guide children to an understanding that the weak, idiotic Son of God is a living hoax who will be humiliated when the rain of fire comes.” The quote goes on to use pornographic language.

Editors at The Onion made up the quote along with just about everything else in the article. The fictitious article includes mock quotes from blaspheming children planning satanic rituals. It claimed that fourteen million American children have joined the Church of Satan because of the Harry Potter series. Unfortunately, many Christians did not understand that the magazine is a blatantly satirical tabloid attempting to lampoon Christians concerned about the Harry Potter series.

A similar rumor surfaced in the 1980s when chain letters and petitions supposedly documented that the Procter & Gamble symbol was really a satanic symbol. According to the story, the company’s historic “man in the moon” symbol was the devil. And Procter & Gamble executives supposedly appeared on a TV talk show (Phil Donahue or Sally Jesse Raphael) to boast that their company gave some of their profits to the Church of Satan.

I think the lesson this week is that Christians should be more discerning. If you receive a letter or e-mail full of sensational information, you should ask yourself why this is the first you have heard about it. If Janet Reno or J.K. Rowling or an executive with Procter & Gamble said the things they allegedly said, wouldn’t you have heard about it long before you received this letter or e- mail? If it sounds incredible, maybe that’s because it isn’t credible. If you have questions, feel free to write us or call us at Probe or check out the numerous Web sites dedicated to debunking myths, rumors, and urban legends. In the meantime, we should all learn to be more discerning.

Notes

1. Harry Rimmer, The Harmony of Science and Scripture (1936), 281-282.
2. Ronald W. Clark, The Survival of Charles Darwin: a Biography of a Man and an Idea (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1985), 199.

©2001 Probe Ministries.


About the Author

Kerby AndersonKerby Anderson is National Director of Probe Ministries International. He holds masters degrees from Yale University (science) and from Georgetown University (government). He is the author of several books, including Christian Ethics in Plain Language, Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope and Making the Most of Your Money in Tough Times. His new series with Harvest House Publishers includes: A Biblical Point of View on Islam, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality, A Biblical Point of View on Intelligent Design and A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare. He is the host of “Point of View” (USA Radio Network) heard on 290 radio outlets nationwide as well as on the Internet (www.pointofview.net) and shortwave. He is also a regular guest on “Prime Time America” (Moody Broadcasting Network) and “Fire Away” (American Family Radio). He produces a daily syndicated radio commentary and writes editorials that have appeared in papers such as the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

Further information about Probe’s materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:

Probe Ministries
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 2000
Plano TX 75075
(972) 941-4565

info@probe.org
www.probe.org
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This article may also apply to the situation.

What the Bible Says About… Gossip

By , About.com Guide

Question: What the Bible Says About… Gossip

Are you a gossip? Did you take the Gossip Quiz to find yourself surprised at the answer? We live in a social society where we share in each other’s lives. We are also curious people, always desiring to be “in the know.”

Yet, gossip is not helpful. Gossip actually serves to break the trust of those the people around you. The Bible has a lot of important statements regarding gossip.

Answer:

What’s Wrong with Gossip?

Everyone likes a good story, right? Well, not necessarily. What about the person the story is about? Does that person like the story? Probably not. Spreading rumors only hurts others and destroys our credibility. Who is going to trust us with anything when they think we’ll tell everyone else?

Gossip is also a way we judge others, which really isn’t our job. God is in charge of judging people, not us. Gossip really only ends up creating greed, hate, envy, murder.

Gossip is also a sign that we are not really active in our faith and in our lives. If you think about it, the busier we are, the less time we have to gossip. We no longer have the time to get wrapped up in someone else’s life. Gossip is bred out of boredom. It may start as a simple conversation about people, and then escalates quickly. The Bible clearly tells us to do more than discuss other people’s lives.

Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.” (NIV)

Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (NIV)

Romans 1:29 – “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.” (NIV)

1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” (NIV)

Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (NIV)

Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” (NIV)

So What Do I Do About Gossip?

First, if you catch yourself falling into gossip – stop. If you don’t passon the gossip there is nowhere for it to go. This includes gossip magazines and television. While it may not seem as “sinful” to read those magazines, you are contributing to gossip.

Also, when you are faced with a statement that may or may not be gossip, check out the facts. For instance, if you hear someone has an eating disorder, go to the person. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the person yourself, and the rumor is something serious, you may want to go to a parent, pastor, or youth leader. Getting someone to help in a serious situation is not gossip as long as the information stays with you and the person you go to for help.

If you want to avoid gossip, focus on creating helpful and encouraging statements. Let the gossip and end with you and remember the Golden Rule – if you don’t want people to gossip about you, then don’t participate in gossip.

Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 13:14 – “Then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly.” (NIV)

Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (NIV)

Ephesians 4:29 – “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.” (NIV)

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This article too may help your understanding about rumors and gossip.

On Christians Spreading Rumors and Gossip in the Church

Background:

So why write on this subject? … BECAUSE … nothing hurts a church more than the spreading of false rumors and gossip. Being honest with ourselves, all Christians must admit that at one time or another we have spread rumors. It might be something that is done quietly without serious intent, among just a few “close” friends. What may start off as a somewhat innocent statement can fast become something else as folks down the line add a little spin and/or twist when passing it on the next person. Sometimes the spin and/or twist is intentional … meant to drive home a point, tear down a reputation, or simply put someone’s integrity into question. Let me be quite frank, spreading gossip and rumors are a major tool of the devil.

Long-time Christians have probably heard countless sermons over their lifetime on the dangers of spreading rumors and gossip. Have you become calloused and immune to the topic? Are you too smug to admit that you might be contributing to the problem by either passing along the rumor/gossip or not stopping it in its tracks. Or, are you just pious enough to believe that only others are guilty of this sin?

I’m not a preacher or church staff person. I’m simply a Christian business man, a regular member of my church with a lot of chronological years to my credit. So my thoughts about spreading rumors and gossip don’t come from an exhaustive Biblical study done in a seminary. However, the Bible is absolutely clear on the subject. God thought enough about the topic to include it as the Ninth Commandment. There is absolutely NO room for misinterpretation. Rumors and gossip are sinful and do tremendous damage to the ministry and work of the church.

Scriptures (all NIV unless otherwise noted):

Read these scriptures for yourself and then you decide if you are presently guilty of this sin and in need of repentance.

  • Exodus 20:16 – “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (KJV)

  • Leviticus 19:16 – “Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.”

  • Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

  • Romans 1:29 – “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.”

  • 1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”

  • Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

  • Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”

The following scriptures provide sound advice on how to personally avoid being involved in passing along rumors and gossip and how to stop it in its tracks. The list is in no way exhaustive … just representative.

  • Proverbs 26:20 – “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

  • Deuteronomy 13:14 – “Then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly.”

  • Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

  • Ephesians 4:29 – “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.”

  • Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (KJV)

  • I Thessalonians 5:21 – “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (KJV)

Reflection:

Even the life of Jesus was subject to hurtful rumor and gossip. Matthew records the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:18-19 (KJV) as He recounts the nasty and sinful statements made about John the Baptist and the Lord Himself: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners …”

Each of us needs to look deep into our lives and hearts. We need to ask, “Is it I, Lord?” “Am I a gossip? Am I spreading rumors and gossip because of jealousy, vengeance, vanity or self-justification. Am I quietly involved in this “secret” sin? Is my family, my friends, or my church suffering because I am passing along half-truths, rumors and gossip?

The Bible teaches us that spreading rumors and gossip is sinful. It is particularly harmful to the church. It is an unhealthy activity that can unnecessarily bring about unjustified harm to church leadership and the Lord’s mission for the church.

You can take immediate action to halt the “rumor mill” in your church by stopping the spread of gossip in its tracks. If you make this a standard practice in your everyday behavior, others will follow your leadership. Kindly tell those spreading rumors that nothing good can result from such and that you don’t make a practice of participating in the rumor mill. Insinuations, gossip and half-truths when repeated often enough somehow become believable … even to the person responsible for initiating the information.

As I close this article, I am reminded of Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” This verse convicts me. I am committed to doing what is right in the sight of God. Does it convict you?

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About jimdavenport

Jim Davenport resides in Snellville, Georgia, is a member of the Pine Lake Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia and is a Christian business man. Jim and his wife Charlotte have one son and daughter in law, Keven and Amy, and two grandchildren, Ashlyn and Mason. Jim and Charlotte own a mountain home located on Lookout Mountain in Alabama where they spend many spring, summer and fall days working in their raised bed garden. Jim serves as a Deacon and Trustee in his local church and is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of Shorter University, an intentionally Christian institution located in Rome, Georgia. Jim has a passion for the word of God and has always believed that Christian principles should guide every aspect of his life. He also loves Christian music and often serves as a tenor soloist in his church. One of the highlights of his life was the nearly 20 years he spent singing with The Good News, a southern gospel quartet. Jim has served as an Information Technology professional his entire working career of over 45 years having held senior positions in and consulted with hundreds of world class organizations. Currently Jim is a partner in IT Governance Partners, LLC and owner of Infosys Solutions Associates, Inc. both of which are “Trusted Advisor” technology and business consulting firms. Jim holds both a BS and an MS in Mathematics from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia and completed Management Development Training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. View all posts by jimdavenport

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