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Old Hoax Recycled - Focus On The Family - Petition
An email, claiming to be another ’petition’ for good Christians to ’sign’ is currently doing the rounds and spreading around the world. It claims that Dr James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, is linked to the effort to prevent an unnamed organization petitioning the USA Federal Communications Commission to ban Christian broadcasting, as well as attempting to remove all Christmas programmes and Christmas cards from schools.
The most common current version of this email chain letter hoax comes as follows:
’Subject: FW: ChurchLive?
CRY FOR HELP!
To all Christians everywhere, I know you’re not all Americans but those of us who aren’t should join them in this petition. Dr. Dobson is going on CNBC to urge every Christian to get involved. I hope you will think about signing this and forwarding to all your family and friends. Dr. James Dobson, with Focus on the Family, pleads for our action.
An organization has been granted a Federal Hearing on the same subject by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Washington, DC. Their petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour, on the airwaves of America.
They got 287,000 signatures to back their stand! If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped. This group is also campaigning to remove all Christmas programs and Christmas carols from public schools!
You as a Christian can help! We are praying for at least 1 million signatures. This would defeat their effort and show that there are many Christians alive, well and concerned about our country. As Christians we must unite on this. Please don’t take this lightly.
We ignored one lady once and lost prayer in our schools and in offices across the nation. Please stand up for your religious freedom and let your voice be heard. Together we can make a difference in our country while creating an opportunity for the lost to know the Lord.
Please press “forward,” CLEAN UP THE MESSAGE, and forward this to everyone you think should read this. Now, please sign your name at the bottom (you can only add your name after you have pressed “Forward” or cut and paste the text). Don’t delete any other names, just go to the next number and type your name. Please do not sign jointly, such as Mr. & Mrs.... Each person should sign his/her own name. Please defeat this organization and keep the right of our freedom of religion.
Before forwarding this hoax on to all the people in your address book, consider some important questions and points:
1.) ’…in this petition…. I hope you will think about signing…’ This is NOT a petition. Petitions have a specific format and wording and are generally only relevant when constituents give their full name and address details and add their actual signature. Non-constituents outside the jurisdiction of the authority receiving the petition cannot sign such petitions — they would be completely invalidated as a result. You cannot SIGN (add your actual signature) to these emails. Adding your name is not the same as signing your name. If this was a genuine effort to gather support it would still NOT be a petition and you would not be able to actually sign it. On that basis alone this email should be ignored and NOT forwarded on.
2.) ’Dr. Dobson is going on CNBC to urge every Christian to get involved.’ When will he be on CNBC? Note the lack of dates and other specific information on this (and similar email chain letters). The email itself is not dated; the supposed media appearance is undated — there are no date or timeline indicators setting the timeframe limits for this ’petition’ — all of this invalidates the whole thing and on this basis alone this email should be ignored and NOT forwarded on.
3.) ’Dr. James Dobson, with Focus on the Family, pleads for our action.’ No he DOESN’T! This is an outright lie. Neither James Dobson nor his Focus on the Family organisation is behind, or supporting, the circulating of this email message - their website makes clear that it is a hoax:
How many people receiving this email have bothered to check out the information with Dobson’s Focus on the Family (either by telephoning the local branch or representative, or checking out their website) — BEFORE forwarding the message on to others? This lie alone is enough to invalidate the whole email message and on this basis alone this email should be ignored and NOT forwarded on
4.) ’An organization has been granted a Federal Hearing… They got 287,000 signatures to back their stand!’ What organisation? No name is mentioned. When were they granted a Federal Hearing? When did they get all their signatures? No dates are mentioned. Vague and generalised ’threats’ of what an anonymous group in the USA might supposedly achieve (’stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour, on the airwaves of America’, ’all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped’, ’to remove all Christmas programs and Christmas carols from public schools!’) all amount to sensationalist scaremongering that reveals a significant lack of understanding about the nature of petitions and similar action documents, as well as an ignorance of the American culture and place of radio and television in that country. All this is enough in itself to invalidate the whole email message and on this basis alone this email should be ignored and NOT forwarded on.
5.) ’You as a Christian can help! We are praying for at least 1 million signatures. This would defeat their effort…’ It is not explained how 1 million ’signatures’ (names) would defeat the efforts of this unknown group. This message plays on Christians being ignorant and gullible — thinking only with their emotions — but has no real substantiated information that could validate its claims and indicate it was actually supportable — let alone being worthy of support.
6.) ’We ignored one lady once and lost prayer in our schools and in offices across the nation’ — This is a veiled threat typical of most chain letters. You must comply with the dictates of this letter or there will be negative consequences…someone failed to take a previous message seriously and the results were a disaster. Christians should recognise such veiled threats as forms of intimidation and manipulation. On this basis alone this email chain letter should be ignored and NOT forwarded on.
Please note that just adding your name to this so called ’petition’ achieves absolutely NOTHING - - it is nothing more than a time-wasting, concern/anxiety generating hoax (also referred to as an ’urban legend’).
It is a variation of an older hoax, originally linking (long dead) American atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, with supposed (untrue) efforts to ban religious broadcasts in the USA. It was always untrue - a hoax to stir up the Christians.
If you received this email and passed it on to others, please be responsible and pass on the information in this article to all you know who received this email hoax chain letter.
The following article from our website reveals something of the original background of this email hoax: The O’Hare Radio Hoax.
When receiving email chain letters that ask you: ’Please don’t take this lightly… and forward this to everyone you think should read this’ - be responsible. Stop and think. Ask questions of the email. Check out its claims. Check with organisations mentioned if they support it. Check with CCG Ministries or various Internet websites that expose urban legends and hoaxes. Do a bit of ’homework’ BEFORE you even consider passing such emails on. When you do this, you’ll find most of the time such emails should be trashed instead of forwarded. Christians, especially, have an obligation to avoid falsehood and bearing false witness — an obligation to truth and passing on the truth, remembering that we serve the One who alone is the Way, and the TRUTH, and the Life!
(From TACL Vol 26 #4 July/Sep 2005)