April Fool's Day Religious Hoaxes
Phony Church Meeting.
"A shameful April fool hoax was perpetrated by a lady in Philadelphia, who sent to the pulpit in a Methodist church, a notice of a meeting to be held in aid of another church. Names of prominent clergymen were mentioned as to take part in the exercises. The preacher read the manuscript to his large congregation without hesitation, until he came to a passage announcing that a certain layman would sing a comic song, when he became confused, suddenly remembered the day and abruptly sat down." [The Elyria Democrat — Apr 25, 1866]
Critics of Catholicism receive Catholic medal.
The French government received a message from Athens, Greece, sent via official channels, announcing that three prominent Parisian critics of Catholicism had been awarded the Order of the Redeemer, the highest decoration awarded by the Greek government. The decoration is considered a high honor among Catholics, since it symbolizes the rebirth of the Greek nation through divine assistance. The three men who supposedly had been awarded the medal were M. Ferdinand Buisson and M. Aulard of the Sorbonne, and M. Victor Basch of the University of Paris. In reality, the decorations had been conferred on less controversial figures. It was not known who had found a way to use the Greek government to
Holy Grail Discovered.
Discover magazine reported that an archaeologist digging in Jerusalem had uncovered the legendary Holy Grail. The archaeologist, Leon Decoeur, found the grail on Christmas eve when, for no particular reason, he had decided to work late at the dig. The discovery had sparked intense excitement and controversy in the scientific community, although some doubted Decoeur's findings, remembering that 15 years earlier he had claimed to have found the Sermon on the Mount. Most exciting of all, blood had been found at the bottom of the cup. Decoeur hypothesized that the DNA of Jesus might reveal, once and for all, "that we're closer to chimpanzees than to the deity."
Alabama Changes the Value of Pi.
The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0. Before long the article had made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly made its way around the world, forwarded by people in their email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by physicist
Saudi Mufti Condemns April Fool’s Day.
Saudi Arabia's chief cleric, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, issued a fatwa decreeing that April Fool's Day was a form of organized lying practiced by unbelievers, and that Muslims therefore should not participate in the tradition. Al-Sheik acknowledged that many younger Muslims were beginning to adopt the custom, but said, "It is prohibited because lying is prohibited at all times and under all conditions." He noted only three exceptions to this rule: when lying brings reconciliation between people, when it occurs during times of war, or when a husband or wife must protect the honor of the spouse.
Norway's TV 2 announced a new crime-reduction strategy being considered by the police. Prisons were going to send inmates to see The Passion of the Christ. Police officers would then position themselves outside the theater and wait for the criminals to confess and repent after seeing the movie.
Oprah Becomes 4th Member of Holy Trinity.
Belief.net announced that all the major Christian denominations had jointly agreed to make Oprah Winfrey the fourth member of the Holy Trinity, thereby broadening its appeal and making it less gender-biased: "Along with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the popular talk show host will be recognized as one person in the sacred and indivisible unity of the Godhead—or Quadhead, as the updated Trinity will now be called."
In response to the news, Oprah's production company issued a statement: "This just confirms what millions of Americans already know: that Oprah is a goddess—and one completely compatible with Christian faith." However, the Russian Orthodox Church had not supported
Bob Carroll, creator of the online Skeptic's Dictionary, announced that he was abandoning skepticism and embracing a Christian belief in divine design. He attributed his conversion to an epiphany that occurred after doing yardwork: "I came in afterward and noticed that there were several weeds stuck to my socks and shoes. It was like a hammer to the head. I started to see the patterns. There was clearly a design here. The weeds excreted a sticky substance that allowed them to cling to my clothes. When I moved around I carried their seeds with me and had unwittingly deposited them throughout my yard. Soon, my yard would be crawling with weeds and I would have been partially to blame. But I
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