Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good rumor

We should thank our lucky stars for emailed chain letters, otherwise we would never know about all the travesties that are being committed out there.

Having spent most of my adult life in journalism, I have developed a fondness for accuracy. I realize not everyone shares my values. I have several friends who simply cannot resist a good chain letter, especially if it has anything to do with religion, God, patriotism or the military.  I am a big supporter of all those institutions. I just don’t think they need fictional scare tactics to generate support.

My friends are especially fond of the chain letters that warn you that if you break the chain you will suffer some dire fate.

The latest campaign (actually not really the latest, since this has been going around for about five years) claims that the ACLU is trying to remove crosses from military cemeteries and prohibit military chaplains from mentioning Jesus in prayers.


As a young reporter, I learned that you get calls and reports all the time of nasty things going on. Usually the more outrageous or juicy the story, the less likely it is actually true (unless you happen to work in Miami.) The same should apply to email “rumors.”

Apparently the truth is — there is no truth here. I found some information on Annenberg Political FactCheck.  Here are some excerpts.

The ACLU has filed no such suit, and it hasn’t sued to “end prayer from the military” either.

The claim that the American Civil Liberties Union sued to have crosses removed from military cemeteries is a false one that first circulated six years ago……But the ACLU says it has never sued to remove religious symbols from headstones in military cemeteries and never would. It says that would be contrary to its support for the First Amendment’s guarantee of free religious expression.

…Also false is the e-mail’s claim that “[t]he Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus’ name in prayer thanks to the retched [sic] ACLU and our new administration.”

Maybe I should stop being such a spoil-sport. My friends will stop emailing me their stories. That might not be such a bad thing, except it’s so much fun to write about them.

2 responses to “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good rumor

  1. Nothing ruins my kind thoughts about a person more than finding out they’re one of the idiots that forwards these things without confirming them first. Sometimes I feel like I’m really, really dumb and then there are times I wonder how that can be possible alongside the fact that I’m so much smarter than a huge part of the populace. It scares me tremendously.

  2. Those chain letters aren’t true? You mean I shouldn’t have sent my bank account information to the widow of an African doctor who promises to share with me a portion of her millions, just for letting her transfer her money temporarily to my account?

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