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SEPTEMBER 29, 2008 8:44PM

The New Rumor Mill

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I read about this on the Mother Jones blog, and also at Think Progress, the source of the story is the Charlotte Observer.

So it seems that in South Carolina the  mayor of Fort Mill, one Danny Funderburk  passed on one of the weirder political chain emails that are going around this election season, specifically the one suggesting that Barack Obama is the AntiChrist.  He now claims that “I was just curious if there was any validity to it.  I was trying to get documentation if there was any scripture to back it up.” funderburk

It isn't only in email, tv host Glenn Beck asked pastor John Hagee the question right there on CNN back in March.  Unreal. He asked because he said he'd been receiving emails about it, I'd guess it is some variant on the one that the South Carolina mayor was passing around.  John Hagee said "no chance that Obama is the AntiChrist."  pshew says Glenn Beck, as if this is even an issue worth discussing on national television for goodness sake.  Now that's a whisper campaign on steroids!  Even if the answer is "no", there are unfortunately a few people out there who will just hear the question as a fact.

My first question about this mayor was whether he used a personal email account and his own time to do this chain email spreading.  The Charlotte Observer article says that he used a company email account to send it, so at least he isn't using taxpayer funded email to do this.  But still, on a company email account?  If you own a company do you really want your employees spreading this kind of crap using the company name?  I wouldn't think so.

The very useful fact checking website Politifact has an excellent step by step debunking of the email going around. (and around and around) in case you  (or anyone you know) are now worried that Obama is actually the "antichrist"!  Politifact also has a specfic section just for  , they are that much of a phenomenon this time around.

This is a new phenomenon that political campaigns have to consider strategies on how to handle.  These chain emails are pretty powerful, as they are passed from individual to individual.  Usually you receive them from someone you know, not just from a political group or specific candidate's  campaign.  So with the personal contact of email it is more than just being handed a flyer on the street by a stranger, or a whisper campaign by anonymous callers on the phone.  There is more implicit credibility to these little gems of disinformation.

Have you gotten any of these chain emails yourself? How have you responded?

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There is a good post about this here. Satire. I will see if I can find it.
Driving home last week, I spotted a pickup truck with "Obama is the Anti-Christ" hand-written on its back window. Scary times, IMHO.
With a name like "Danny Funderburk" it's got to be good.

This is because we don't get the Apocalyptic Times Newsletter.


Seriously, if Obama is the anti-Christ, then who is Cheney?

Yes, a guy with a name like "Funderbunk," he has way more worse problems than we can imagine, I'm sure.
I used to get emails like that all the time but I alienated the senders by replying (to ALL the recipients) and pointing out the falsehoods, giving them links to debunking websites, etc. I was polite about it. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that they did not want to hear the truth. The falsehood they had forwarded was what they wanted to hear.

To give y'all a little insight into the thinking behind this, my sister-in-law forwarded a BS email to me. I "replied to all", debunked it. She was furious with me. How dare I call her a liar. I wasn't calling you a liar SIL, I was pointing out that the email was untrue. Oh, then I was calling her aunt a liar because that was where SIL got it. Sigh. I give up.

Before the interwebs, crap like this spread through phone conversations or chats in grocery store aisles, bars, etc. (The psychology of why people believe and spread nonsense like this has provided material for many a scholar and I won't even try to explain it.) But Julie's point is dead serious--with the Internet's ability to reach thousands of people in less than a second, the impact is much greater and potentially much more damaging. It is far from clear how to overcome it, though.
I remember back in the 70's, when my folks, among several other families, left the Catholic church to join the Body. They spoke in tongues, believe in the gift of prophecy, etc. But the hotbutton issue for them that election season was that Kissinger was the false prophet; and Nixon was the Antichrist.

Since having seen the error of their ways (evolving?) and, among other things, reinstituting Christmas (for the grandkids, methinks), they hold no truck with this Obama = Antichrist BS, and define it as same.

Mom says they get hokum and bunk daily in their emails, under the guise of thoughtful or caring warnings; blanketed in religious righteousness. Here's an excerpt from a recent letter from my mom, regarding a letter I'd sent her from a coworker's aunt who was all up in arms about Obama, Israel, etc.:

"Many Christians, especially Southern Baptists are fed
that kind of opinion from the pulpit. That's what got W elected. We have received similar stuff on the internet all summer - calling Obama everything from committed Islamic to antichrist. Most of it makes about as much sense as anti-abortionists killing doctors. Let me reassure you we do not believe our country's support of Israel is what has propped up the USA for the last 6o years. I give you a couple of Bible references - you can look them up.:
Romans 2:28-29, Galatians 6:15-16 The Israel of God here means those who profess belief in Jesus Christ and order their lives accordingly. Obama gets two votes here. Love,Mom."
What percent of chain emails are ever factually accurate? 1%? Why don't people realize this?
Thanks LT, that was a good post to read along with what I was writing about.

Julie that is a really scary thing to see a bumper sticker like that, do they think it is funny or do they really believe it I wonder?

Jodi and Odette, I know, when I looked up the name I couldn't believe it and figured that alone probably contributed to the situation somehow.

Susan, Connie, and Blake - Honestly, I'm always surprised to hear that any reasonable person will fall for this stuff, but when it comes from someone you know, it is easier to get past your bs defenses. There must be a strategy that would work to combat this email warfare, but I don't think anyone has come up with it. Snopes and Politifact are doing a pretty good job until then. But if people aren't open to hearing the facts, then you're kind of stuck aren't you?!
John Hagee said "no chance that Obama is the AntiChrist."
I can confirm that because I am the Anti-Christ.
Dick Cheney, Acting U.S. President (just like in The Omen)