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This essay describes more CULs that we have uncovered from Internet mailing lists, Emails from conservative Christians, Urban Legend web sites, etc:


Petition to ban religious broadcasting: The legend states that Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the well known strong Atheist activist, had been granted a hearing by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Her petition, PM 2493, could eventually ban all religious broadcasting by radio and television stations. She is alleged to have petitioned also for the elimination of Christmas songs, programs and carols from TV, radio stations, schools and office buildings. 1 One of many erroneous Emails still being distributed as of early 2010 is:

"Petition, Number 2493, would ultimately pave the way to stop the reading of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, on the airwaves of America. If this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast on the radio or by television will be stopped."

A petition numbered RM-2493 actually existed, but it had nothing to do with O'Hair or with existing radio and TV stations. It was a petition about the issuance of broadcasting licenses that were reserved for non-commercial educational purposes. Jeremy Lansman and Lorenzo Milam asked that a freeze be placed on such licenses for stations run by religious universities, bible schools or colleges. Their intent was to make certain that licenses which were intended for educational purposes not be used for religious proselytizing. The petition was heard by the FCC in 1974-DEC and rejected in 1975-AUG. The FCC correctly interpreted the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as requiring that the Commission "observe a stance of neutrality toward religion, acting neither to promote nor inhibit religion." The petition had nothing to do with existing Christian radio and TV stations. It had nothing to do with Ms. O'Hair. Although it was rejected in 1975, the FCC is still being inundated by angry petitions about the infamous RM-2493. Between 1975 and 1995, over 30 million pieces of mail on this topic had been received by the FCC. The FCC has denied the rumor, but the letters still arrive, even 15 years after Ms. O"Hair died. 2

bullet WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?): The legend involves a final exam for a course in the life of Jesus that was given at a religious institute. The students arrive at the exam site, only to find a notice that the test had been moved to another building at the other side of the campus. As each student rushed to the other location, they were approached by a beggar who asked for help. Only one student stopped to help the person. That student received an 'A' on the course. The others failed the course because they obviously had missed Jesus' basic message. The beggar was the test!

This urban legend is different from the others in this essay, because it was based on a real event in 1970 at Princeton Theological Seminary. Some seminary students were asked to prepare a talk on the parable of the good Samaritan, or similar topic. They were then told to go to another building and deliver the talk. On the way, they passed an actor who was slumped in an alleyway. The study observed how many students stopped to help the person in need. 3

bullet Enema explosion in Thailand: Darwin recognized the following as one of the finest urban folk tales of 1998.  Charnchai Puanmuangpak died almost instantly after attempting a self-administered enema using a compressed air hose from a local gasoline station. A police spokesperson commented: "We still haven't located all of him. When that quantity of air interacted with the gas in his system, he nearly exploded. It was like an atom bomb went off or something." A spokesperson for the Nakhon Ratchasima hospital commented: "Pumping is the devil's pastime, and we must all say no to Satan. Inflate your tires by all means, but then hide your bicycle pump where it cannot tempt you." This is a rather unbelievable urban legend because Thailand is a Buddhist country, and Buddhism is theoretically non-theistic. It is unlikely that a hospital spokesperson would make references to the devil and Satan which are Christian and Muslim concepts. It is quite possible to die from a compressed air hose used in this way. However, an explosion is most improbable.
bullet Angel bodyguards: This is a quite widespread story involving a university coed. Various versions of the story place her at Ole Miss, or the Universities of Missouri, Florida or Ohio. The event allegedly took place on a college campus where the students were alarmed at a number of recent muggings and rumors of a rape. Sally, a sophomore, fell asleep in the library while studying history. She woke up at 1:03 AM and had the night janitor let her out. She was terrified, because she had to walk across campus to her dorm. She prayed continuously "Oh, Lord, protect me. Place your angels around me." Just as she made it to her door, she heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the path that she had just walked. She phoned the police. They captured the campus bandit, and found a young woman that he had just murdered. It turns out that he had been hiding in the bushes with the intent of attacking the next woman who passed. He bypassed Sally and attacked the next woman instead. When asked why he did not select Sally, he replied: "How stupid do you think I am? Do you think I would attack a girl with two huge guys on her arm?" 10
bulletA rope around the priest's ankle: This story has been repeated by many Christians and Jews for centuries, in many forms. It talks about the danger that a Jewish high priest faced when he entered the Holy of Holies of the Temple once a year. If he were not properly prepared, God might kill him. The rope was allegedly tied around the high priest's ankle, leg or waist. Then, if he were to be murdered, the other priests would be able to recover the body by dragging it out of the Holy of Holies. No mention of the rope appears in the Bible or in any other Jewish source, like the Talmud or Mishna. According to the Zion Messianic Jewish Fellowship Congregation: "The way the curtains of the temple were designed, the priest could not have been dragged out of the HOLY of HOLIES. The veil was made using many layers of cloth. The thickness was over three feet. The curtains overlapped and made a small maze through which the priest walked..." 11
bulletMadeline O'Hare at it again: A rumor has circulated among Christian radio stations about Madalyn Murray O'Hair (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Madeline O'Hare). She was perhaps America's best known strong Atheist. The most recent urban legend involving here is that she is single-handedly responsible for convincing CBS to discontinue its program "Touched by an Angel." Apparently the people spreading the rumor are unaware that O'hair died in the mid 1990s, long before this rumor started to circulate.
bulletRumors about the Harry Potter book series:  J.K. Rowling has written the most popular series of children's books in history. They involve a Witch-in-training, Harry Potter, and his experiences during his wizard training at a special school of witchcraft. Unfortunately, the words "witch" and "witchcraft" have at least 17 different meanings.

bullet Rowling writes about imaginary witchcraft -- about a culture of flying broomsticks, unicorns, invisibility cloaks, etc. that does not exist in reality.
bullet The terms are also used to refer to followers of Wicca and other Neopagan religions. These are popular Earth-centered religion which are growing rapidly in popularity. The appeal to youth and young adults in particular, perhaps because of their concern for the environment, and lack of racism, sexism, and homophobia.
bullet Also, English translators of the Bible sometimes use "witch" and "witchcraft" to condemn evil sorcerers and persons who murder with poison.

All three "kinds" of Witches are essentially unrelated to each other. However, some religious and social conservatives treat them as identical, and believe that all three are versions of Satanists and Satanism. By their reasoning, both Wicca and the Harry Potter books are clearly Satanic. Two urban legends have been widely circulated by E-mail about Rowling's books. Both are based on satirical articles that were intended to amuse readers, and were never expected to be taken seriously:
bulletA satirical feature titled "Post Morten" was published by the National Post, a socially and politically conservative newspaper. It described an imaginary interview between Rowling and a fictional Post reporter, Massimo Commanducci. In the article, Rowling was quoted as saying that she is an avowed Satanist. She decided to give herself "...body and soul, to the Dark Master. And in return, he will give me absurd wealth and power over the weak and pitiful of the world. And he did!" She said: "I worship the Devil, Beelzebub, Satan, Lucifer -- in all his unholy forms. And I owe all my success, all my glory, all my power, to my sweet, beautiful Lucifer." She said that "...the books are designed to corrupt young minds. That's what Lucifer demands of us -- all of us [Satanists]!" This work of fiction has been picked up and distributed widely. 12
bulletAn Internet humor/satire site, The Onion, specializes in writing sensational stories of fiction to amuse their readers. They publish a disclaimer, stating that they use "...invented names in all its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental." One of their works of fiction involved interviews of children in Lock Haven, PA, who had been reading the Harry Potter books. One Christian, going by the name of Roger Lynn, circulated an E-mail circa 1991-DEC quoting The Onion's article as if it were reporting an actual event. 13 He may not have been aware that it was a satirical work of fiction.  In the Onion article, some children gave the following comments:
bullet Craig Nowell, a recent convert to the New Satanic Order Of The Black Circle allegedly said: "The Harry Potter books are cool, 'cause they teach you all about magic and how you can use it to control people and get revenge on your enemies. I want to learn the Cruciatus Curse, to make my muggle science teacher suffer for giving me a D." (Wiccans are prohibited from dominating, manipulating and controlling others. A muggle is a non-Witch) Craig and the Order apparently do not exist.
bullet "Ashley" allegedly said: "I used to believe in what they taught us at Sunday School. But the Harry Potter books showed me that magic is real, something I can learn and use right now, and that the Bible is nothing but boring lies." Ashley doesn't seem to exist either.
bullet High Priest Egan of the First Church Of Satan in Salem, MA allegedly said: "Harry is an absolute godsend to our cause. An organization like ours thrives on new blood - no pun intended - and we've had more applicants than we can handle lately. And, of course, practically all of them are virgins, which is gravy." Egan and the First Church do exist. However, he was in on the satire and had no objection to the parody. The quote could never be true since the First Church has a lower age limit of 18 for its members -- a common feature of Satanic groups.

Lynn stated that J.K. Rowling's series of books:
bullet "...openly blasphemes Jesus and God and promotes sorcery, seeking revenge upon anyone who upsets them by giving you examples (even the sources with authors and titles!) of spells, rituals, and demonic powers. It is the doorway for children to enter the Dark Side of evil."

To our knowledge, none of the Harry Potter books mention Jesus, God, or Christianity -- except for a passing reference to Christmas. They also condemn harmful sorcery. 14

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Related essays on this web site:

bullet Christian urban legend menu
bullet Christian urban legend hoaxes exposed by the ICR

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Additional religious urban folktales can be found at:

bullet at:

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References used:

  1. Cynthia Fulford, "Fight Atheist attacks on Christians to the Government," at:
  2.  FCC statement: "Religious broadcasting rumor denied," at:
  3. "The lesson in compassion," at:
  4. James Dobson, "Dr. Dobson's Study, 2000-APR" at: A copy of the photograph can be seen at this URL.
  5. Presbyterians Pro-Life Research, Education and Care, Inc. has a web site at: 
  6. AANEWS release, 2000-MAY-14
  7. " 'Hand of Hope' showcased on Capitol Hill," Family Research Council, Washington Update newsletter, 2003-SEP-26.
  8. Michael Clancy, "A moment...from a child," at:
  9. Roger Lynn, "Harry Potter chain letter," at:
  10. Emily Dunbar, "The heavenly bodyguards," at:
  11. "...Questions about the Temple..." at:
  12. "Harry Potter Author Admits She's an Avowed Satanist," at:
  13. "Kids in Lock Haven, PA are Giving Up Their Christian Faith and Starting Satanic Churches because of Harry Potter Books-Fiction!," at:
  14. "Harry Potter Books Spark Rise In Satanism Among Children," The Onion, at:

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Copyright 1999 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Creation date: 1999-APR-5
Last update: 2010-FEB-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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