This morning, my wife forwarded me a chain email she received from an acquaintance, someone she described as a “good person.”
By way of background, my wife’s a great judge of character. If she describes someone as a “good person,” you can generally bank on that evaluation, which is precisely why we were both confused by this situation.
The email this “good person” had forwarded to over 100 people in her address book told a story about an Imam in a prison ministry who acknowledged that all Muslims are out to kill the rest of us.
Hold on. It gets better.
The chain email concluded with this sentence: “Please pass this on to all your e-mail contacts. This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well-known leader in prison ministry.”
So I Googled “Rick Mathes” and found, in a matter of seconds, this refutation at BreakTheChain.org, a site dedicated to debunking junk email and Internet-enabled misinformation; plus this refutation at Snopes.com, a similar site dedicated to debunking “urban myths.” I also found Rick Mathes’ own clarifications on the matter. While he stands by much of his original story, there are critical differences between his account and the chain email my wife received. Importantly, even Mr. Mathes concedes, unlike those who have twisted his words, that “not all Muslims are called to kill all infidels.”
I won’t belabor this post with the details of the refutations; you can read them for yourselves. But I do want to highlight some of the date stamps: March 24, 2004 at BreakTheChain.org and January 25, 2005 at Snopes.com. Furthermore, according to the report at Snopes.com, the original source of this story was published by Rick Mathes sometime in 2003. That means, despite information to the contrary, this particular chain email and its various iterations have been alive and circulating the Internet for three to four years.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In a former life, I consulted with Procter & Gamble. Several years ago, they were forced to deal, once again, with the decades-old, unfounded and entirely false rumor that their CEO encouraged Satan worship among employees. I remember wondering then how such rumors surface and how they persist. Are people just too lazy to check facts for themselves? Are they/we really that gullible? Or, in the deepest, darkest corners of our souls, are we really just hateful creatures, itching for a reason to unleash our spite on others?
(For more information on Muslims who defend and practice peace and charity, like their Christian, Jewish, and other-religion counterparts, please reference one of my earlier posts at Central Sanity and/or the writing of Ruth Nasrullah, a convert to Islam who maintains a Reader’s Blog, The Straight Path, at the Houston Chronicle’s Web site.)