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Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I refuse to stay silent on this issue as both an Internet/college-trained journalist and as a Christian.

Before one more incorrect political statement continues to be smeared across the web and end up in my inbox, perhaps we Christians should not only FACT CHECK our email forwards but remember Commandment #9: "Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour."

Between yesterday and today, I've received this email forward a total of 3 times (intentionally) from someone who shall remain nameless:

As I was listening to a news program last night, I watched in horror as Barack Obama made the statement with pride. . .'we are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., . . .

As with so many other statements I've heard him (and his wife) make, I never thought I'd see the day that I'd hear something like that from a presidential candidate in this nation. To think our forefathers fought and died for the right for our nation to be a Christian nation--and to have this man say with pride that we are no longer that. How far this nation has come from what our founding fathers intended it to be.

I hope that each of you will do what I'm doing now--send your concerns, written simply and sincerely, to the Christians on your email list. With God's help, and He is still in control of this nation and all else, we can show this man and the world in November that we are, indeed, still a Christian nation!

Uhhh.... did someone forget to conduct a little 5-second research online, or perhaps fail to, oh... I dunno...visit the Barack Obama website to make sure that what they'd be sending was, at the very least, accurate?

Let's break it down, folks.

First of all, Obama's quote was altered and taken out of context, which is pretty much the cardinal sin of journalistic reporting. Here is the actual quote:

Given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer JUST a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” - Call to Renewal Keynote Address

Friends and family - forgive me as I refuse to perpetuate this fallacy. Perhaps it's just me, but I prefer to double-check the accuracy of mass emails before I commence forwarding them along to every Tom, Dick and Harry in my address book.

Furthermore, consider this - Obama's exact statement was, in fact, a true statement. Surprise! There are Jews, Muslims and Buddhists in our country and we must respect their beliefs even if we don't necessarily agree with them - period.

Second, has an inkling this is just merely another planted PR piece:

Public relations campaigns in which boilerplate letters are sent to editors around the country, hoping to get them printed, have been a staple of persuasion campaigns for generations. The Internet has provided a new avenue for such organized efforts. If this is one such effort, it has succeeded. An Internet search for the words "Obama says U.S. no longer a Christian nation" brings up page after page of blog entries and other Web postings repeating the altered Obama quote, without the word "just."

And for those of you who need clarification, here are more direct (and accurate!) quotes to supplement the aforementioned correct statement straight from Obama himself:

"When you have pastors and television pundits who appear to explicitly coordinate with one political party; when you're implying that your fellow Americans are traitors, terrorist sympathizers or akin to the devil himself; then I think you're attempting to hijack the faith of those who follow you for your own personal or political ends.

I don't think it's helpful as candidates or as a country to get into discussions about who's more religious. That sounds a little like storing up treasures on earth to me. I've just always been clear that my Christian faith has motivated me for twenty years and I'm not ashamed to talk about it, or the role that faith should play in our American life."

The moral of the story? Don't believe everything you read and be careful what you email. Half the time it's either Photoshopped or inaccurate.

Unfortunately, ignorance is ignorance.

A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.
Proverbs 14:15

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