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Email: Pastor Removal From Television

September 23, 2009 10:35 am ET

The following email has been widely forwarded.  Media Matters Action Network has written a response to the text below.  Please feel free to copy and paste it and send to your friends.

"Pastor Removal From Television"

[note - all mistakes below are original to the text]


Hey - this email is outrageous!  Why does the government think it can restrict free speech and freedom of the press?!  I can't believe the FCC would go this far.

But I checked online and something's fishy.

Apparently, this is an old email and it used to blame Madalyn Murray O'Hair, an atheist who was murdered.  It's also sometimes signed by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family.  Those versions are fakes, as is the one you received and sent to me.

The Focus on the Family website has this to say about one version of the email:

"Every Christian in America with e-mail has probably received warnings that Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist who took credit for the 1962 Supreme Court case that removed prayer from public schools, has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to outlaw religious broadcasting. The e-mail is often accompanied by a counterpetition to be sent to the FCC. A similar rumor holds O'Hair responsible for taking the TV show 'Touched by an Angel' off the air.

O'Hair was murdered in 1995. Even before then, though, this myth was easily proven false:

Information about the FCC's ruling is online, at*. To date the FCC has received more than 30 million pieces of mail about the 29-year-old petition and innumerable e-mails and faxes.

The rumor continues unabated, most recently in a new e-mail. Allegedly written by Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of the board of Focus on the Family, the e-mail urges Christians to forward it to their friends or contact the FCC and protest. Needless to say, Dr. Dobson did not initiate the e-mail; nevertheless, Focus on the Family has received thousands of calls about it."

That link is here -

The FCC has also addressed the rumor:

"A petition filed in December 1974 by Jeremy D. Lansman and Lorenzo W. Milam which was routinely assigned the number RM-2493 added further confusion regarding the issue of religious programming. They had asked, among other things, that the FCC inquire into operating practices of stations licensed to religious organizations.

The petitioners had also asked that no new licenses be granted for any new noncommercial educational broadcasting station, until the requested inquiry had been completed. The 'Lansman-Milam petition' was DENIED by the FCC on August 1, 1975. The Commission explained then that it is required by the First Amendment 'to observe a stance of neutrality toward religion, acting neither to promote nor to inhibit religion.' It also explained that it must treat religious and secular organizations alike in determining their eligibility for broadcasting channels.

Periodically since 1975, the FCC has received mail indicating that, in many parts of the country, there were rumors claiming the petitions of RM-2493 had called for an end to religious programs on radio and television. Such rumors are false.

Additional mail and telephone calls came in from people who thought that Ms. O'Hair was a sponsor of RM-2493. This rumor is also false.

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."

That page's link is here:

Another page on the FCC site shows that it is not trying to end any kind of religious programming -

If that still doesn't convince you, a site that does a lot of poking around at rumors has some good stuff on why this is fake:

I hope this makes you feel better.  I know I'm happier knowing that those programs aren't going to be taken off the air.

Talk to you soon.


Posted in - Viral Email