Pop quiz! Which of the following claims have appeared on social media and news sites?
Coronavirus originated with Chinese people eating bats
U.S. government introduced the coronavirus in 2018
Coronavirus is bioweapon engineered by the Chinese government
Coronavirus no worse than the common cold
Taller people have heightened risk of catching COVID-19
Nicotine protects smokers from COVID-19
Vaccine for COVID being withheld by U.S. government
Hydroxychloroquine approved by FDA as treatment for Coronavirus
America’s Frontline Doctors claim hydrochoroquine is ‘cure for COVID.’
Cloth masks not effective in preventing spread of COVID-19
OSHA confirms masks dangerously reduce users’ oxygen levels
N95 filters too porous to stop Coronavirus
If you answered “all the above” you are correct. But which claims are accurate? That’s more complicated! But for Christians, here is the accurate unadulterated, verified truth:
The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies (Psalm 7:14).
[Love] rejoices whenever the truth wins out (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Always stand for the truth (2 Corinthians 13:8).
Stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body (Ephesians 4:25).
Keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies (1 Peter 3:10).
So, the apostle Paul urges us to “test everything that is said” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Or if Paul were writing today, “Test everything that is posted on line.”
The first three rules of journalism are 1) verify, 2) verify and 3) verify. “If your mothers says she loves you, check it out.”
Three of the most popular fact-checking sites are factcheck.org, politifact.com/truth-o-meter and snopes.com.
Being the cynical journalist I am, I checked out these verifying sites for political bias! MediaBiasFaceCheck.com rates FactCheck “very high” and “least biased” with “factual reporting due to impeccable sourcing of information.” Politifact is rated as the “least biased based on low emotional reporting and high for factual reporting due to proper sourcing and a clean fact check record.” Snopes “infrequently” leans slightly to the left, but is rated “high for factual reporting based on transparency and proper sourcing of information. (And no, Snopes is not owned by liberal activist George Soros!)
So, here’s my point. Actually, I have three:
1. Spreading fake news, junk science and unfounded conspiracy theories is lying.
2. God is not happy with lying!
3. Please—for the love of God and the integrity of the Church of Christ—do not forward any post without vetting it for truthfulness. Spreading these lies simply encourages the perception that Christians are ignorant, prejudiced and hateful.
Psalm 15:2 commands us to “walk with integrity” and “speak the truth from sincere hearts.”
So, may it be said of us, as the Pharisees said of Jesus “We know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are” (Matthew 22:16).
And be sure to verify the information in this post!
Copyright © 2020 James N. Watkins