Southern Religion

Blessed is he who deletes wrong/mean email without forwarding


There is a golden rule for this, our season of emailed manipulations, when so many senders want to use your good name [again] by having you forward their hyperventilating claims to your friends. Because the same spam-spewing political machines think we’re wackos who will tamely meet their political needs.

The rule: When in doubt, delete it.

Or as Norman Shapiro and Robert H. Anderson wrote in the authoritative 1985 RAND corp. study Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail, “Exercise your responsibility to be selective in the broadcast of information.”

How to make a sound decision about what to forward (broadcast) and what to ditch?

Test the email’s veracity at:

If it is political, check facts in the email at:

Political or not, look the topic up at WikiPedia or here.

The Associated Baptist Press asked several Christian ethics experts and in addition to some we suggested above, their suggestions included:

  • The least reliable: Administer the “smell test” and if it doesn’t smell right, ditch it. So said said Bill Tillman, holder of the T.B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary.
  • Wise: Consider the “seven deadlies,” said Robert Kruschwitz, director of the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University. Thus you will avoid spreading an email which encourages “any of any of the seven deadly sins — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.”
  • Much better: Consider motives of the sender, and consider your own motives.
  • Basic: Measure gossip against the Golden Rule. David Gushee, distinguished university professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta, recommended applying the Golden Rule in terms of “pass on accusations about others as you would want others to pass on accusations about you.”

If the facts are right and the ethics are right, it’s probably OK for forward. Assuming you actually want to promote the cause at issue.


October 20, 2009 - Posted by | Politics, WWW

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