When Rumors Run Wild
In recent months an email message has circulated suggesting the president of Proctor and Gamble appeared on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show, at which time he supposedly declared his membership in the church of satan. The email message then calls for a boycott of all related products.
However, a visit to the Proctor and Gamble web site (http://www.pg.com/rumor/), reveals a letter from the Sally Jessie Raphael Show that denies this rumor. In fact, the site posts letters from Dr. Paige Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, denying the rumor's validity.
The web site for the Sally Jesse Raphael Show also addresses the rumored episode. Answering a related inquiry, Raphael responded, "… THIS IS A HOAX … it never happened."
Various versions of this baseless rumor have circulated for years. As Christians, we ought to take great care in what we pass along as fact if we have not indeed verified the facts. It is a simple matter to contact the principals involved for clarification or verification.
Great harm can be done to the innocent by the misinformed, even when motivated by the best of intentions.
A Modern-day Religion
In a discussion of whether racial representation on TV matters, The Washington Post (July 25) reported that studies have "found that watching television has a profound impact on average Americans." The story also cited an Atlantic Monthly article in which media scholar George Gerbner claimed TV had risen to the level of a "modern-day religion" because of its power to inform and control. Gerbner suggests his studies showing that "excessive TV viewing can give people a distorted view of the world around them."
Legalized Mercy Killing
The Dutch government announced plans in August to legalize mercy killing which would allow children as young as 12 to demand and receive euthanasia.
The plans are expected to gain parliamentary approval next year, which would make the Netherlands the first country in the world to legalize mercy killing.
Under the new law, which formalizes practices already widely accepted and carried out in the Netherlands, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would be legal only if carried out under strict guidelines.
Although 3 percent of all Dutch deaths – 3,600 people – each year are reported as euthanasia, the actual number is believed to be double that because many physicians fail to report cases.
The plans were given a guarded welcome by the Netherlands Association for Voluntary Euthanasia, which includes Health Minister Els Borst among its 100,000 members.
The association "sees it as a step in the right direction that after more than twenty-five years of discussions in society, there will now be legislation governing death at your own request," the group said in a statement.
Associated Press, August 10, 1999
From Death to Life
The chief executioner of the Khmer Rouge "killing fields" in Cambodia now claims to be an evangelical Christian. When Kang Kek Ieu, 56, was taken into custody, officials discovered that he had been teaching and working with relief agencies in western Cambodia. He told reporters that he is deeply sorry for his actions and is willing to face justice. An estimated 1.7 million people were murdered during the Khmer Rouge's reign.
Alliance Life, June 9, 1999
Radical Muslims in a North African country discovered the secret meeting place of a group of believers and set out to massacre the congregation. None of the believers arrived at the meeting time, however, not even the guest speaker. Sixty-five people reported unusual delays – from a flat tire to an unexpected family visit – that prevented them from coming.
Commission, August 1999
Americans and America's Values
Poll findings published in the August 2 USA Today report that nearly 60 percent of adults responded that the most serious problem facing the country is the decline of moral values. The major causes seen as contributing to this moral decline:
Families not teaching good values
Rise in drug abuse
Society too tolerant of bad behavior
Adult language/sexually explicit TV
Pornography on the Internet
Reduced influence of religion