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

bullet Human and dinosaur footprints: If human and dinosaur footprints were actually found together, the theory of evolution would suffer a major shock. According to paleontologists, the last dinosaur died over 60 million years before the first human took a step. Human footprints have been reported beside dinosaur footprints in the Paluxy riverbed in Texas. If true, this would indicate that humans and dinosaurs lived on earth at the same time.

There are numerous locations where dinosaur and human footprints seem to appear together. In some locations, the human footprints appear to be inside the dinosaurs' prints. In the Texas case, some of the "human" footprints are in reality tridactyl dinosaur tracks that have been partially filled in by natural processes. Others are simple pious hoaxes. Glen J. Kuban has a web page devoted to this topic. 2

bullet Rapture ready: Religion in the News is a website that contains many unusual stories. The webmaster says: "Some of the stories below are really true. See if you can figure out which ones they are." The following story is clearly fictional. However, enough people picked up and distributed the yarn that it became an urban legend. Georgann Williams from Little Rock, AR, thought that she saw Jesus by the side of the road, and a dozen people floating up in the air. She decided that the rapture was in full swing. The rapture is a major part of conservative Protestant theology. It is a time when Jesus is expected to return towards the earth, and when born-again Christians will float upwards in the sky to meet him. She leapt through the sun roof of her moving car to be with Jesus. She landed on the pavement and died. Thirteen others were injured in the twenty-car pileup that resulted as drivers tried to avoid hitting the woman. It turns out that she saw a man dressed as Jesus who was on his way to a toga party. The tarpaulin covering the bed of his truck had come loose and had released 12 blow-up sex dolls filled with helium.
bullet Stairway to Hell: It would seem only logical to many conservative Christians that if Hell exists somewhere underground, that there must be some access port that connects it to the earth's surface. One urban legend states that just such a stairway exists in Stull, KS. This is a very small town about 15 to 20 miles outside of Lawrence, KS. The gateway to Hell is rumored to be in or near a collapsing church in an ancient cemetery. The tale apparently originated in an article in a University of Kansas student newspaper. 2 The theme was picked up on a recording by an alternative music group Urge Overkill; the album cover had a picture of the cemetery and church. There are a number of tall tales related to this area:
bullet Satanists burned the church down.
bullet Satanists have held rituals there and may still be doing this.
bullet Time magazine reported that the pope asked that a plane he was flying in, during his 1993 visit to the U.S., bypass eastern Kansas because the area was so unholy that he didn't even want to fly above it.
bullet If you take two glass bottles, use them to make the sign of an inverted cross, and throw them against the church building, they will not break. Others suggest that any bottle thrown against the building will not break.
bullet Even though the roof has collapsed, rain will not enter the building; it rolls off to the side as if the roof were still in place.
bullet You can go down the stairway and return quickly; only a few minutes will seem to pass. But you will emerge into the world two weeks later. So, be sure to feed your cat well before visiting Stull.
bullet There are conflicting stories about when the gateway to Hell is accessible: some people say that it is always open; others claim that it only can be entered on Halloween night or an equinox.
bullet Witches were once executed near the church by hanging. 3,4

It is very doubtful that any of the above are in any way accurate.

bullet Fetal viability in the early 2nd trimester: This story involves a fetus allegedly having been born early in the 4th month/2nd trimester of gestation. The fetus was said to be so small that the medical staff measured its dimensions in centimeters rather than inches. The baby is said to have survived. One can understand why such a rumor would circulate. The pro-life position would be significantly enhanced if it could be proven that a fetus at 4 months gestation could live outside the mother's womb. About 9% of abortions are typically performed during the second trimester.

The story has no basis in fact. A fetus cannot survive even with a respirator and the best of medical care unless the air sacs in its lungs are sufficiently developed to permit oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass into and out of the bloodstream. "This is extremely unlikely until at least 23 weeks gestation...." 5 Some fetuses who have been born after 24 weeks gestation have been able to survive, although often with serious disabilities. "According to a brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services by more than 150 distinguished scientists and physicians, 'There are no medical developments anticipated in the foreseeable future that would bring about adequate fetal lung function prior to 23 or 24 weeks of gestation'." A fetus surviving at 17 weeks (4 months) gestation is out of the question.

bullet Reparative therapy: A small percentage of psychologists, psychiatrists and other therapists believe that they can "cure" homosexuality. Most of them believe that people become gay or lesbian because of poor parenting. Since they believe that sexual orientation is not genetically caused, they assume that it can be reversed. Many persons who state that they are "ex-gays" have organized Christian ministries, appeared in advertisements and gone on the lecture circuit in order to encourage gays and lesbians to try to achieve a conversion to heterosexuality. We have been monitoring the reparative therapy field since the mid 1990's. We have found stories of bisexual individuals who have decided to choose to restrict relationships to members of the opposite gender; other stories talk about homosexuals who have simply decided to remain celibate. But we have never found a reliable story of an individual who had changed from homosexual to heterosexual orientation and maintained that status for any length of time. Major professional mental health associations have warned the public about the dangers and ineffectiveness of reparative therapy.
bullet Teeth fillings turning to gold: There are widespread stories of individuals going to an emotional religious service, often Pentecostal, and having the fillings in their teeth change from mercury amalgam to pure gold or silver. The story has surfaced in various locations:
bullet In the 1980's many gold conversions were observed in Argentina.
bullet In 1995, The Winston-Salem Journal reported that evangelist Steven Joneson of North Wilkesboro, NC had the God-given power to replace conventional tooth fillings with gold, silver or pearl.
bullet At a revival service in the Philippines, (date unknown) evangelist Sal Frutis had prayed for a dental miracle for Len Hummel. Len went home and found that one of his back molars had become pure gold. 6
bullet In 1997, many similar incidents were observed in Mexico.
bullet In 1999-MAR, the Toronto Blessing (Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Toronto, ON) held a prayer conference which was attended by about 3,000 Christians. Pictures of teeth conversions from South Africa were shown. Jim Paul, pastor of TACF, reports that at the prayer conference: "Instantaneously, many people said 'my teeth are turning gold'...We have it on video...You could see the color change from dark metallic to gold or silver." Their website cites Psalm 81:10 " thy mouth wide and I will fill it". Similar stories have since spread to the nearby Eastgate Christian Fellowship in Hamilton, ON.
bullet By late 1999-JUN, more than 100 Christians in Britain have claimed that their dental fillings have turned to gold. In a slight variation on this theme, Dennis Morgan-Dohner, a U.S. pastor who visited Britain, said that his crown was transformed from porcelain to platinum. He said: "The God of the universe has reached in and touched my mouth." 6

We suspect, but cannot prove at this time, that the phenomenon is a Christian urban legend.

bullet Man of faith walks on water: Michael Boldea of Hand of Help Ministries related a story that he heard as a child. A group of Christians had gone to live on a small island off the coast of Italy and became separated from the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Three priests heard about this isolated group and set out in a rowboat. They taught the islanders how to say the rosary, how to pray using the correct prayer. As they rowed away from the shore, a man ran towards them, waving his arms and asking them to stop. He ran to the side of the boat and said: "We need you to come back, we forgot the prayer, we don’t remember how to say it." The  priests were stunned, for the man was running on water, and was standing on the top of the water beside the boat. The eldest of the priests hung his head and said: "However you’ve been praying, whatever devotions you’ve been making to God, continue to do so. Forget what we attempted to teach you, because it is obvious your faith is greater than ours, and through God, your faith allows you to do what we cannot." The man turned, and walked back to the shore on the surface of the water. 7

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  1. "The David Alexander Shaw affair: A Death in Edmonton; A study in the pathodynamics of homophobia,"  at: 
  2. See "The Paluxy Dinosaur/"Man Track" Controversy" at:
  3. "Stull Stull Stull..." at: 
  4. Chad Smith, "Stull, KS: A gateway to Hell," at:
  5. "Abortion and Fetal Viability,"  Planned Parenthood® at:
  6. Michael Kesterton, "Eyebrows up", The Globe and Mail, Toronto ON, 1999-JUN-23.
  7. Michael Boldea, "Financing the End Time Harvest," Hand of Help Ministries, 2004-NOV-30, at: Used by permission

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Copyright © 1999 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Creation date: 1999-APR-5
Last update: 2005-FEB-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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