This essay describes CULs that we have uncovered from Internet mailing lists, Emails from conservative
Christians, Urban Legend web sites, etc:
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
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
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:
Satanists burned the church down.
Satanists have held rituals there and may still be doing this.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Witches were once executed near the church by hanging. 3,4
It is very doubtful that any of the above are in any way
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.
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
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
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
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:
In the 1980's many gold conversions were observed in Argentina.
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.
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
In 1997, many similar incidents were observed in Mexico.
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
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 "...open thy mouth wide and I will fill it".
Similar stories have since spread to the nearby Eastgate
Christian Fellowship in Hamilton, ON.
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
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."
We suspect, but cannot prove at this time, that the phenomenon is a Christian urban
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