It happened again today. I received an email with photo documentation purporting to show some well-known government official doing something (you choose) stupid/unAmerican. Of course the photo had been doctored as I discovered with less than a minute’s work using www.truthorfiction.com, and the story was false.
So the person who originated the hoax is certainly guilty of lying.
What are the people who spread the false story around guilty of? Slander?
And what are all those who read it uncritically, filing the “information” away, guilty of?
I often receive these emails from folks who claim to be Bible-believing Christ-followers. To us, God’s word is clear:
Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Romans 13.7)
Are we honoring our elected officials, whether we voted for them or not, when we make up or pass around or uncritically listen to stories about them which are false?
One final observation, I often write personal, and, I hope, polite notes to the senders pointing out that what they just sent to their entire mailing list was false. Then I wait for the email, again sent to their entire mailing list, apologizing for their error. Alas, that rarely comes. When it does, I commend them for their integrity.
Lying and slander and rumor-mongering are wrong whether we do it face-to-face about someone we know personally or whether we do it by email about people we don’t like.
Maybe all we need to do is apply Matthew 22.39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus ranked it #2.