STORIES THAT MAY BE CHRISTIAN URBAN LEGENDS
Still more neat stories of events
that may never have happened
Stories that may be Christian urban legends:
We have run across a number of other stories that have the general
feel of Christian urban legend. However, we have little or no evidence
that they are in fact only myths:
||The human soul has weight: There is an article which is
allegedly a reprint from American Medicine magazine for 1907-APR.
1 It describes a series of tests by Duncan MacDougall
of Haverhill, MA. in which he measured the weight of individuals as they
died. He noted a sudden weight loss of ¾
ounce, and ½ ounce on his first two
patients. The third lost ½ ounce at
death and an additional loss of one ounce a few minutes later. Another
lost about ⅜ ounce. He later performed the
experiment on dogs and found no change in weight at the time of death.
A search on the Internet for the phrase "American Medicine magazine"
turned up seven hits, including one reference to the magazine having existing
in 1914. 2|
We have been unable to find a definitive
reference to any replication of this study by other researchers. There are a few vague suggestions on the Internet,
but nothing that gives dates, times and results:
||One physicist wrote us about an experiment done in the 19th century. A
large balance was constructed that supported the weight of a dying
person on a bed. When he breathed his last, there was a sudden drop of
one ounce weight which was attributed to the soul leaving the body. The
experiment was repeated on other individuals with similar results.
||A 1998-NOV posting to the Neurology WebForum, sponsored by the Department
of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, discussed a
short article circa 1988 about a similar experiment. It showed that
"the body unexplicably [sic] lost a few ounces. I remember this
clearly because of the graphic they had with it of a soul leaving a body
lying on a bed (similar to the movie "Ghost"). Another
posting mentioned that "The study was a turn of the century or
thereabouts. If I recall it was reported in one of the Charles Fort ('Fortean'
occurances) books or something like that. There was even a drawing of
the bed placed up on four sensitive scales. I have seen it several
||A German magazine Horizon was reported to have published an
article about a similar experiment performed at the University of
Berlin. Weight measurement of about 200 dying patients showed that
the human soul weighs 1/3000th of an ounce, on average. When one
considers that an average body may weigh something on the order of
2,000 ounces, then this measurement would have required scales
accurate to one part in six million. Scales with such accuracy are
extremely improbable. Horizon
had no record of having printed the letter. The University of Berlin
had no record of the experimenters who were alleged to have been Dr.
Becker Martens and Elke Fisher.
||A visitor to this web site reports that Sunn Classic Pictures
featured a simulated re-enactment of this experiment in its 1978 documentary
film "Beyond and Back."
In science, a research finding is considered of little value unless it is
replicated by other scientists. We only suspect that this is an urban folk tale.
We have no proof that it
is. But it certainly "feels" like one.
||God relocates church: The story is about a congregation who wanted
to relocate their church building. They had approached the owner of a
desirable piece of empty land, but the owner would not sell. Subsequently, a
tornado came through the area, picked up the church building and set it down
squarely on the previously empty property. This convinced the land owner
that God must want the church there. So he gave the property to the
||The Mormons and Coca Cola ™: The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (LDS), the Mormons, strongly recommend that
its believers not drink tea, coffee or any drink containing addictive
substances. In an interview with Bob Marshall, Frank Zappa either
started or repeated a rumor about the LDS and Coca Cola. He said: "Don't
drink coffee". You can't drink Coca Cola or any of that kind of stuff.
That was written in the Book until they bought into Coca Cola. And
suddenly this one particular form of caffeine was O.K. and now Mormons
get high on Coca Cola. That's their big thrill." 3
A similar Pepsi rumor has circulated since 1999 -- perhaps earlier.
Neither is true. Mormon leaders have recommended against the consumption
of all caffeine drinks for many years. 4 According to
one source, 9% of the Coca Cola company is owned by a bank, 15% of the
shares are held by past and present executives and the families of those
who established the company. The remaining 76% of the company is
owned by a very large number of institutional and individual investors.
||The Mormons and web sites: A rumor has been circulating on
the Internet that the LDS Church -- often referred to as the Mormons -- is trying to shut down all
independent Mormon web sites. This would leave the official LDS web site
as the only source of Mormon information on the Internet . There is an
element of truth in this rumor. The LDS once strongly encouraged local
congregations to temporarily take their web sites off line, until standards could be prepared for them. The Church's concern is that some
local web sites might be promoting unofficial doctrine. However, the
thousands of web sites that are operated by individual Mormons have not
been restricted by the church. |
||Christian pastor tears up 3 million dollar check: Michael
Phillips wrote an article about an alleged gift of $3 million from
Christians in the U.S. to Dieder Palacki, a Christian pastor who
survived imprisonment and torture behind the Iron Curtain. Palacki
allegedly said: "I have spent much time in your countries. I have
been in your churches and bookstores. I have witnessed with my own eyes
the trappings of your so-called spiritual prosperity, which is really no
prosperity at all, but a hollow empty shell."|
"Something within me wants to shout and say to you all, ‘Go home to
your contented and wealthy homes and communities and churches.' The Good
News of Jesus Christ is alive and vibrant and is fully capable of
carrying itself abroad into the hearts of hungry men and women without
the benefit of your expensive and lavish commercial efforts on its
"For thirty years we have smuggled and traveled, taught, preached,
gone hungry, organized, yes, and even spoken and written to you of the
West as well. Thousands upon thousands of our fellow Poles and Russians
and Slavs and East Germans have laid their lives on the line for the
sake of their faith and in order to share that faith with others....."
"How many of you listened to us?"
"My brother and friend Alexandr Solzhenitsyn attempted for a decade
to be heard, as have so many others. We asked for your prayers, for
Bibles, for help in teaching and training our people. And some help did
come, for which we were grateful."
"But the rest of you continued to feed your own mammoth religious
systems, building yet bigger and bigger transmitting stations and more
television stations and publishing more books - all in the name of
proclaiming the gospel."
"But did you ever give of yourselves? Did you come help us? Did you
pray for us? Did you suffer and die and starve with us? How much did you
really care about the people you now so pompously think you will save
for the kingdom?"
"Where have you been all this time? We needed your help and prayers
and support and Bibles when times were hard! We have been beaten and
imprisoned and even killed for the gospel’s sake. Where were you when it
counted? We lived our faith behind the Iron Curtain, and now that it is
down, who is to say we even want you coming with your pompous egoism and
He is reported to have then torn up the check into several pieces and
let them drop to the floor. 6
Related essays on this web site:
Additional religious urban folktales can be found at:
Duncan MacDougall, "Hypothesis Concerning Soul Substance Together with
Experimental Evidence of The Existence of Such Substance," American
Medicine, 1907-APR, at:
Neal Smith, "Occupied America: A Chronology of Nazi Infiltration and the War On Some Drugs," at:
"Frank Zappa interview," 1998, at:
W.J. Walsh, "Cola Drinks," All About Mormons, at:
http://www.mormons.org/ This link is no longer
"The Mormons own the Coca-Cola Company," at:
Michael Phillips, "Dawn of Liberty," Dr. Chadwick's Church
Copyright © 1999 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on
Creation date: 1999-APR-5
Last update: 2005-FEB-04
Author: B.A. Robinson