What Are Your Thoughts on Forwarding Emails That May Be False?

Question from a reader:

Well-meaning Christians sometimes forward me emails that I find out later are not true. And I’ve done this unknowingly myself. What are your thoughts on this?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

First, we need to make a distinction regarding emails we receive from reputable, reliable Christian sources alerting us to things going on related to moral/ethical issues which we need to consider. What we are talking about are emails that are forwarded by others without a substantial verification. Even if someone says, “An attorney says this is true,” or “I checked it out and this is true,” we should not trust an unsubstantiated report.

God holds us accountable for every word we say, including the careless ones. Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36). This means we should think carefully before we pass on emails that may be false.

Unfortunately, gossip and misinformation flow unceasingly in the Christian community. One day, in Heaven, they will be burned to ashes by the consuming holiness of God. Despite the fact that we complain about media bias, Christians tend to believe whatever we hear—in newspapers, websites, blogs and emails, and in personal conversation.

Here is one of the many erroneous emails floating around:

“Petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, on the airwaves of America. If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped.”

This is actually a remake of a previous story that had been circulating since 1975 related to Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Over 20 years later, the FCC was still being contacted by Christians who were hearing for the first time the lie that atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair was petitioning the FCC to ban religious broadcasting from America’s airwaves. This woman actually died in 1995 and was never involved in such a thing even while alive!

Before you forward any questionable email, you can check out its authenticity by going to www.snopes.com or www.truthorfiction.com. If you have forwarded an email that you later find out was false, you can help educate others by graciously letting them know it was false and directing them to the two websites mentioned above.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries