I just received an email that contained a religious PowerPoint presentation created, apparently, by Bro. Joe. It begins with a "news" article about an Egyptian man who kills his wife for reading the Bible, then kills and buries his two kids. Fifteen days later people go to bury an uncle and find the girls alive. They describe a Christ figure as feeding them after their interment.
On subsequent pages, the a commentator (not Bro. Joe) expands the story. He claims that the people in Egypt are "outraged" and that the "man will be executed in July." Also, the writer predicts that "Muslim leaders are going to have a hard time to figure out what to do with this."
Of course, the story never happened. According to scopes.com, the email was first seen in 2004, and its creator has been identified (the wife of a pastor). It's a fabrication. [Subsequent note: snopes.com now reports that the pastor's wife says her husband received the story via email himself.-Rob]
It's a lie. There were no news reports about this event; no one was sentenced to be executed for this crime.
Now for the first question. If the writer wants people to believe in God and Christ, is she justified in creating a phony story to convince people of Christ's presence and miraculous powers? I think not. Christ used fables to get a point across, but I doubt if he used phony news reports. I doubt if he would have sanctioned such an ends-justifies-the-means approach to spreading his message.
The second question is related. Was the pastor's wife trying to gain converts? My guess is that she is preaching to the choir. Will any non-Christian read it and decide to become a Christian? Surely not.
Besides, it's my guess that she sends out such God's message emails to friends who are already Christians. (I have relatives that do that.) So the desire is either to make them feel good or to reinforce an "us versus them" perception. Hence the anti-Muslim slant. Part of the reason for sending it out is fear.
Now the third question. Why did Joe make the woman's email the foundation of a PowerPoint presentation and send it out to his friends? I will assume that Joe believes the story was true. In a dozen pages following the story he urges the reader, many times, to send the slides on to many others. Why is only bad news forwarded? he asks. Why jokes but not messages about God? As I read, I could feel his despair. He bribes people with "Send this on and God will abundantly reward you."
By the end, instead of the beautiful scenery over which he had pasted his text, he was putting images of Christ in the clouds, with lines of scripture beneath. Poor desperate Bro. Joe.
So, about the entire production. I find myself annoyed with the creator of the phony news article. No girls in Egypt were found alive after being buried for 15 days. It just didn't happen.
I find myself feeling sad for Joe who is so desperate to get the good news out that he creates a PowerPoint presentation about it. (He rushed it, as shown by the cut-and-paste errors he made from an original HTML document.) That he even believes the story, though, causes me to lose sympathy for him.
And I find myself frustrated that so many people will believe the countless crap that appears in our mailboxes, whether it's reports about abductions by UFOs, conspiracy stories, or tales of little girls surviving in the ground because Christ visited them bearing food.