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Before You Pass It On, Check It Out (by Jonita Barram)

I received another one today—one of those compellingly patriotic (or Christian or Republican), staunchly conservative e-mails. The ones that make us feel good about our personal beliefs. But this one, like so many others, wasn’t completely true.

I used to believe that a story coming from an acquaintance or friend must be reliable. But one experience about 15 years ago burst my naivety about e-mails. I had used a story from an e-mail as an illustration in an adult Bible study I was working on. Our retired former boss later read the illustration in the then-published study and let the new boss know the story was fiction. Oops! How embarrassing! That experience taught me to question every story, history lesson, etc. that comes via e-mail and to check out the ones I care about.

If your inbox is piling up with those patriotic (or Christian or Republican), staunchly conservative e-mails, this is for you: Before you pass it on, check it out. I recommend visiting www.snopes.com or www.truthorfiction.com.

Snopes is owned and operated by secular people. When you visit their site, you can type or copy the heading from the e-mail or a key word into the search box. If the particular subject has been addressed, you will find a version of the e-mail you received, a rating (true, false, or mixed), and an explanation. As you read the explanations, you will notice that the author(s) don’t necessarily share our worldview. And that’s why it is helpful to check out the Truth or Fiction site as well. Its owner/operator is a believer and as a Judeo-Christian worldview, but the Snopes site generally addresses more topics.

I’m no expert, just someone who’s “been there, done that” to my own embarrassment and who has learned to check things out before passing them on. I’d like to encourage every other believer to do the same. We, of all people, should not be perpetuating falsehoods and inaccuracies.