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Saturday, September 14, 2013

He Said WHAT???

All over Facebook the past few days I have seen headlines and posts titled something like "Pope Says Atheists Go to Heaven." Some went ahead and included a small quote of a paragraph that if read alone would confirm the Pope did indeed say such a thing.

The responses have been interesting. Many non-Christians like this quote, but it's the response from the Protestant Christians that leave me dumbfounded. Many are using it to spew their hatred of Catholicism. Of course if the Pope really did say such a thing and intend it the way it sounds, they would be right in getting the "truth" out. But did the Pope really say that? Did he? Are you sure?

Did these people take the time to read the actual letter this quote came from? If so, do they still believe the Pope said that in the context they are sharing it? Yes, they may have read a secular media news article that confirms their belief that the Pope says atheists will go to heaven. But did they read the ACTUAL letter written in his own words? Probably not...

HERE is that letter translated into English.

My advice is when something seems so outlandish, like this particular case of one of, if not the most well known heads of a church or religious group supposedly making such a comment,  go to the original source before sharing on your news feed. Read it in the context in which it was written and intended. Then, if you still want to share on your social media feed, also share a link to the ORIGINAL document.

This is good and true advice in any matter. I happen to be a huge fan of this particular pope so of course I want to see the truth shared and not yet another gross misquote as has happened so many times with this pope. But the same caution should be applied whether sharing quotes from presidents we may not care for, movie or rock stars or anyone. Do your research, check Snopes, original documents, and more. Doing anything other is risking someones reputation, not to mention making you look foolish when you realize you shared wrong information.

Many of my family members shared this quote from the pope, as did a well known religious figure who prides himself on being a Biblical Scholar and Theologian. This is someone I have respected for a number of years as he is also well known in homeschooling circles and I have gone on more than one occasion to hear him speak. His gross misquote of this yesterday and his response caused me to "unlike" his page and I most likely will not follow him any longer. Not because he misquoted someone I respect and admire, but because his carelessness in not linking to the original document so we can see the quote in context, has made me now doubt anything he has posted in the past or will in the future. A little time googling is all it takes.

This is just one of many reasons I have such a love/hate relationship with Facebook and other forms of social media. So much misinformation gets shared as facts. It can be fun, it can be useful, it is an excellent way to stay in touch and share photos and such with faraway family and friends, but stuff like this makes me wonder if it's all worth it in the end. If everyone was honest and did their research before sharing things, it would be, but unfortunately, that's not often the case.

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