Protest email claims that atheists have filed a petition asking for the FCC to put an end to religious programs on radio and television.
The claims in the message are false. No such petition exists. Versions of this baseless rumour have been circulating since 1975.
Subject: FW: Most Urgent Pastor Removal Petition
Pastor Removal from Television
Removal of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah and other pastors from the airwaves. An organization has been granted a Federal Hearing on the same subject by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington , D.C. Their petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, on the airwaves of America . They got 287,000 signatures to back their stand! If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped. This group is also campaigning to remove all Christmas programs and Christmas carols from public schools! You as a Christian can help!
We are praying for at least 1 million signatures. This would defeat their effort and show that there are many Christians alive, well and concerned about our country. As Christians, we must unite on this.
Please don’t take this lightly. We ignored one lady once and lost prayer in our schools and in offices across the nation. Please stand up for your religious freedom and let your voice be heard. Together we can make a difference in our country while creating an opportunity for the lost to know the Lord.
Please, if you don’t wish to participate, return this email to whoever sent it to you so they can at least keep this email going or forward it to some one you know who will wish to participate. Dr. Dobson is going on CNBC to urge every Christian to get involved. I hope you will sign and forward to all your family and friends. Please press forward, CLEAN UP THE MESSAGE, and forward this to everyone you think should read this.
Now, please sign your name at the bottom (you can only add your name after you have pressed ‘Forward’ or you have copied and pasted the text). Don’t delete any other names, just go to the next number and type your name. Please do not sign jointly, such as Mr. & Mrs., each person should sign his/her own name. Please defeat this organization and keep the light of our freedom of religion.
When you get to 1000 please e-mail back to:
[878 NAmes Removed]
For those of you who don’t know how to add your name – hit forward first. And then just add your name at the bottom and then forward it on to your friends. So many people do not know this and are forwarding it without their names added. Not a word said, but actions speak very loud.
According to this protest email, an anti-Christian organization has filed a petition (Petition Number 2493) asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put an end to all religious programming on radio and television. It requests recipients to “sign” and forward the email as a means of raising awareness of the issue and countering Petition 2493 by collecting at least one million names.
However, the information in the email is untrue and, as with many other email based petitions, “signing” and forwarding the message is totally pointless. Versions of this rumour began circulating back in 1975. With the arrival of the Internet, the rumour took on new life as an email forward and has been passed from inbox to inbox ever since, spawning a number of variants along the way. Well over thirty years since its inception, and despite thorough debunking by a number of reputable organizations, including the FCC itself and various Christian groups, this utterly baseless story continues to circulate.
Earlier versions falsely attributed the petition to highly vocal atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair who was murdered in 1995. In order to set the record straight, the FCC published the following statement debunking the rumour and explaining its background:
A rumor has been circulating since 1975 that the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, a widely known, self-proclaimed atheist, proposed that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) consider limiting or banning religious programming.
These rumors are untrue. In December 1974, Jeremy D. Lansman and Lorenzo W. Milam filed a petition (RM-2493) asking the FCC to inquire into the operating practices of stations licensed to religious organizations, and not to grant any new licenses for new noncommercial educational broadcast stations until the inquiry had been completed. The FCC denied this petition on August 1, 1975. Ms. O’Hair was not a sponsor of this petition.
Since that time, the FCC has received mail and telephone calls claiming that Ms. O’Hair started the petition and that the petition asked for an end to religious programs on radio and television. Such rumors are false. The FCC has responded to numerous inquiries about these rumors and advised the public of their falsehood. There is no federal law that gives the FCC the authority to prohibit radio and television stations from broadcasting religious programs.
Although the FCC has tried to quell the rumour over a number of years, many people are still taken in by the false claims in the message. The FCC notes:
Since 1975 to the present time, the FCC has received and responded to millions of inquiries about these rumors. Many efforts have been made by the FCC to advise the public of their falsehood. The laws and the FCC’s policies on the broadcast of religious programming have appeared in numerous publications (including newspapers, religious publications, TV Guide and Time Magazine) and have been discussed in religious group meetings.
Many versions of the email claim that the protest message and counter-petition was organized and written by, or at least supported by, Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Christian organization, Focus on the Family. However, this claim is also untrue and has been denied by Dobson and Focus on the Family. In a statement debunking the rumour, Focus on the Family notes:
Focus on the Family recently learned of a version of the rumor that said that Dr. Dobson himself was asking for people to respond to the e-mail by signing a petition and circulating it to their friends and family. Please be assured that this is not true; Dr. Dobson did not initiate and does not endorse the e-mail petition.
Thus, forwarding this email will do nothing more than perpetrate falsehoods, waste the time of organizations such as the FCC and Focus on the Family, and clutter inboxes with even more useless information. After more than thirty years, it is high time this unfounded rumour was finally laid to rest.
Last updated: 5th October 2010
First published: 3rd December 2008
By Brett M. Christensen