Stories of religious intolerance across the world:
Fake Satirical News Articles:
Government of Iceland
Christianity a Threat,
& All Religions to be
Weapons Of Mass Destruction!
2017-APR-01: A fake news article in Patheos said that Iceland's Parliament had declared Christianity to be a threat to the public:
Apparently in honor of April Fools Day in 2017, a satirical essay was published by Andrew Hall in the "Laughing in Disbelief" section of the Patheos web site. It said that Iceland's Parliament officially declared Christianity to be a public health threat! 1
It said that Prime Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson had signed a bill into law, saying that it protects:
".... the elderly from scams, our children from nightmares, and the general population from chicanery."
The law was said to not restrict the free practice of any religion in the country, by either citizens of Iceland or its visitors.
It was said to urge citizens to:
"pick up a book ... [and to] engage fellow human beings in the spirit of compassion regardless of creed."
This Patheos article contains a link to another essay titled: "Is This Satire?" 3 which says:
"The story you are reading is satirical. The post may have links to real events that the satire is based on, but the Laughing in Disbelief article is fake.
There are winks to readers in each piece besides the link(s) to this page that I humbly offer as hints that the story in question is satirical.
Maybe there is someone in the story who has a name derived from "canard?"
Perhaps the people in the post are named after Confederate generals or Nazis?
The article starts out seemingly sane and then spirals into absurdity?
All of these, my friends, are signs that the story is a Poe.
Now go back to reading and have a laugh."
Religion in Iceland:
About 80% of Icelanders are members of the Lutheran State Church. Another 5% belong to other Christian denominations, including the Free Church of Iceland and the Roman Catholic Church.
Another 5% follow Asatru, the historical Norse religion which was formally reestablished during the 1970's. Their name comes from a phrase in Old Norse language meaning "faith in the Æsir." The Æsir" are the ancient Germanic pantheon of Goddesses and Gods. 4
Further comments on the fake news article:
The article said that the law also calls for research to determine how to best promote Humanist values throughout the world. It also said that a number of Christian denominations, including Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and others formed a group to combat the impression given by the law that Christianity is a negative force in the country. Reverend Andrew Canard allegedly said:
"Yes, certain rogues have used Christianity to fleece the old and give hellish nightmares to the young. However, faith requires the acknowledgment of not knowing, and we can all agree simplistic and often contradictory answers found in the Bible are the answers to not knowing."
One other indicator that the Patheos article was a satire is its reference to "Rev. Andrew Canard." The word "canard" means an unfounded rumor or story."
The author, Andrew Hall, writing for Patheos, said:
"Icelandic public officials are calling for calm and rational thinking. However, the religious are fighting calm and rational thinking." 1
"Reverend Canard" responded:
"That’s what caused the law to get passed in the first place."
Some Roman Catholics are saying that the law is promoting a "witch hunt."
One citizen -- apparently a non-Catholic -- said:
"A witch hunt is where a mob attacks the weakest members of society and prosecutes them typically via a sham trial. The mob then executes the poor soul. The last time I checked, the Catholic Church were the undisputed champions of the world in such games for centuries,"
President Donald Trump was said to have called the law and the controversy it generated to be "dangerous" and wondered if Iceland is not fit to be a member of NATO.
About 370 readers of the articles posted comments. The first dozen or so commenters may have accepted the article at face value and not realized it was fake. Finally, "Bieu" commented:
"this did not happen.it is satire,a spoof.they should make that clearer,imo............the 2 little asterisk,should have been placed next to the title,and then the comment,explanation at the bottom." 1 (Grammatical structure in the original)
2018-MAR-04: A new satirical article on Iceland declares ALL religions to be weapons of mass destruction:
About 13 months later, Andrew Hall wrote a second satirical on the "Laughing in Disbelief" section of Patheos. He said that the Iceland government had declared that
all religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. were "weapons of mass destruction," in the same category as "nuclear weapons, mustard gas, and weaponized biological agents." 2
The fake news article mentioned that a Member of Parliament, Andrew Kanard, voted in favor of the bill. He said:
"Weapons of mass destruction by definition are weapons with the capacity to inflict death and destruction on such a massive scale and so indiscriminately that its very presence in the hands of a hostile power can be considered a grievous threat. Looking at the Crusades, the wars of jihadist conquest, or how evangelical climate-denying oligarchs in America are destroying the planet, one realizes faith is fatal on a mass scale. ..."
"We passed a similar measure regarding Christianity a little while ago. We in parliament felt it necessary to let people know all religion is a mental disorder and a dangerous one at that." 2
Hall again referred to a nonexistent person with a last name derived from the word "canard" which means "an unfounded rumor or story."
Arjun Deodia of India Today searched social media and found many places where this Iceland law was discussed. Some of the postings praised Iceland for such an historic and ground breaking decision. For example Rajiv Tyagi posted a Facebook article that begins:
"By and by, more nations will see the light... The last to see the light will be the jaahil followers of Islam and Hinduism..." 5
Deodia completed an extensive search of the Internet and was unable to find any reports in mainstream media that discussed the the Patheos article as a true event.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Andrew Hall, "Iceland Declares Christianity A Public Health Threat," Patheos, 2017-APR-01, at: https://www.patheos.com
- Andrew Hall, "Iceland Declares All Religions Are Weapons Of Mass Destruction," Patheos, 2019-MAR-04, at: https://www.patheos.com/
- "Is this Satire", Patheos, undated, at: https://www.patheos.com/
- "Quick Facts," The A-Ö of Iceland, at: https://www.iceland.is/
- Arjun Deodia, "Fact Check: Chill. Iceland hasn't declared religions as weapons of mass destruction," India Today, 2019-MAR-12, at: https://www.indiatoday.in
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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Original posting: 2019-APR-15
Author: B.A. Robinson