Before You Forward that Email…

David Anderson

‘Tis the season… for political campaigning. And with it, a bombardment of political ads and forwarded emails. And the kind of messages that get CC’d and Bcc’d tend to be full of inflammatory rhetoric designed to stir up hatred and fear toward the stranger. A lot of heat, very little light. Personally, I “love” the ones that I know are spreading false facts that have already been debunked, which violates one of the Ten Commandments:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Ex 20.16 KJV).

Posting the Ten Commandments in your yard or in a public square does no good if you don’t read them. You might want to say that this or that person is not your neighbor. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan makes it clear God places no restrictions on who your neighbor is (Luke 10.26-38).

Not bearing false witness. Not spreading lies. Not slandering people. Not spreading rumors that stir up hatred and fear. Not making ad hominem attacks that are long on screed and short on facts. That is basic to Old and New Testament morality. It is basic to human decency and fairness.

Lying lips conceal hatred, and whoever utters slander is a fool (Pro 10:18 NRS).

O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? Those who walk blamelessly… who do not slander with their tongue [or computer or blog or email]… (Psa 15:1-2a, 3b NRS).

And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), “Let us do evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved! (Rom 3:8 NRS)

And this verse I think says it best.

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you (Eph 4:31-32 NRS).

So before you forward that email, ask yourself, Does this slander the person or group mentioned? Is it true? Do I know the facts? Does this misrepresent the facts? Remember, slanderers will not abide in God’s tent.

So here’s a good illustration to help you remember:

Before you assume, learn the facts

And in keeping with the passage in Ephesians, Does it stir up bitterness, anger, and malice? If the answer is yes, DO NOT FORWARD to anyone. If you do, then as Paul said, your condemnation is deserved.


Here is part of my response to one of those mass emails that indicates the kind of tone I’d like to see during the next 11 months of campaigning.

I have many conservative friends and family. We understand we have disagreements politically – sometimes passionate disagreements – and we still love each other. We share prayer concerns. We participate in Bible studies together. We don’t question each other’s integrity as Christians. We don’t question each other’s patriotism. Being different political parties doesn’t mean either of us loves Jesus or America any less. I promise to remember that from now on and hope you’ll do the same.