Note: Author Frank Viola doesn’t run this blog. You can contact Frank directly at PTMIN@aol.com
Several years ago, Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson) responded to a rumor on his blog. In the post, Michael wrote,
“According to the most recent rumor—which I’ve now heard twice—we [Thomas Nelson] are planning a layoff for June 19th … We are scheduled to close the transaction on June 12th, so, supposedly, this will happen the week following. I want to assure you that this is indeed a baseless rumor. There is absolutely no truth to it … If you hear this rumor, I would be grateful if you would help me short-circuit it. You can tell ’em it’s not true, and you heard it directly from me.”
I recall when this rumor was circulating and was saddened (and surprised) at how many Christians believed it without going straight to Michael to see if it was true or false.
Another example that’s much more national.
Late last year, I came across a website alleging a sex scandal involving President Obama. The “story” first came out in 2008 just before the primary. It was shown to be baseless and quickly faded away. Then it resurfaced again in 2010. (The original story was removed by the source after staying online for 4 years.)
Another site purports alleged “proof” that Obama is a Muslim terrorist in disguise. Again, a baseless rumor.
And another alleges that Obama is gay, has sexually harassed males, and abuses drugs. Again, baseless.
Note: I don’t agree with many of Obama’s policies. But these accusations are scurrilous, vicious, outrageous, and just plain slimy. There’s no good evidence to support any of them. That’s why they’ve never gained traction. However, because they are written intelligently, they persuade the uniformed (a characteristic of effective libel).
Earlier this year, Rick Warren was personally attacked, judged, and lied about by professing Christians.
We live in a very dark world where rumors abound. Gossip abounds. Slander abounds. Even in the “Christian” community (so-called), tragically.
Slander is a serious sin, and according to Paul, slanderers will be barred from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
I have good friends and people whom I respect who have been lied about on the Internet, and I’ve quickly come to their defense wherever I’ve seen such lies (as I did with Rick Warren).
Point: Anyone who has profound influence is going to have detractors and enemies. And some of them will go on a personal “smear” attack using distortions and fabrications.