It happened again. It’s happened less so of late since we started working from home, but it still happens. I’m speaking of those email forwards that you get – you’ve seen them… those ones which contain some powerpoint attachment which range from those ‘soppy-shallow-theology types with photos from creation’ to ‘beware-this-latest-email’ to the more general warnings regarding the latest serial killer’s tactics of luring people into their traps. All of these emails containing some encouragement to forward the message on (and I especially love those encouragements which read, “I’d rather get this 1000 times than not at all!”).

More often than not the content of the warning emails is generally either misinformation or an outright hoax. I’ve only ever come across one email which contained information which could probably be true.

The latest email came from a person at my church. It was about the holocaust and how the UK has stopped teaching it in their schools so as not to offend Muslims. Here is an article from Snopes.com regarding the general content and here is another article from the BBC explaining the extraordinary lengths the UK Governement is going to stop these emails.

Now it seems easy enough to simply delete these emails and get on with life – consider it spam which made it’s way into your inbox and just move on. But I’d like to point out one thing for us to keep in mind before you click ‘forward’ on the next email…

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. – 2 Peter 1:16

Peter was clear that the information he imparted regarding Christ was a true and trustworthy account. He was not making it up, nor was he relying on second-hand information – but [they] were eyewitnesses of [Jesus’] majesty.

Everytime a Christian forwards on a hoax email it impacts our credible witness to this world. If we are so quick to believe, and forward on, an email which contains unreliable information how are people going to trust us when we impart to them things of utmost importance – namely Jesus’ death and resurrection?

So before you click forward on your next email do a google search to determine if the content is true or not. Or jump onto snopes.com or hoax-slayer.com and search for your email. You might be surprised.

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2 Responses

  1. it seems that there are two types of people referred to in your post:

    1. those who (more or less) immediately delete such emails, presumably without entertaining the thought of actually forwarding them on.

    2. those who tend to forward such emails.

    and it appears you are moreso addressing the second group – advising them to check out the validity/authenticity of the claims in the email before clicking forward, and presumably in the majority of cases resulting in no forwarding because those claims are generally found to be not true (enough).

    there is a third response which i’m not sure if you intended to cover, or maybe hinted at but didn’t really articulate (as far as i can read). that response is for those who stop the forwarding chain from going past their inbox (ie both groups of people above) to go back a step and educate the people who sent it to them, that in future such chains might shrink (and ideally never really get past the original instigators of such mistruths and misinformation).

    as i was reading your entry a question formed in my mind as to whether you took such a step :) ie it’s good to have a general word of encouragement like this post for the benefit of people who might need to hear it, but perhaps better to have a specific word of encouragement to someone who (definitely) needs to hear it.

    i know that’s a step i need to make, but often don’t bother to.

  2. Upon re-reading that post I can a more curt tone than I had originally intended.

    Thank you quop for pointing out where my post was lacking! Yes, I did reply to the original emailer and that person has since replied to the person who emailed them at the start.

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