to the Caylor Evangelistic Association
Loving Remembrance of John & Mildred Caylor
Anyone who uses email has
one-that well-meaning friend who sends those well-meaning emails
that warn us of all sorts of impending doom. In the past month,
one such friend has warned me that Google (a widespread search
engine) can provide addresses and maps to a persons house
simply by typing in a phone number. (Its true.) Ive
also been informed that I should not buy Starbucks products
because the company wont send free coffee to our troops in
Iraq. (Its absolutely false.)
By far the most popular internet
hoaxes/legends, however, deal with the removal of God from
American life. (See previous column on Madelein OHair.)
Recently, my well-meaning friend sent me the following:
**This is by a daughter of a
murdered couple in Raytown who had a Bible and book store on 63rd
When I had to testify at the
murder trial of my parents a week ago, I was asked to raise my
right hand. The bailiff started out Do you swear to tell
the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
I stood there and waited but she
said nothing. She said Do you? I was so stunned I
blurted out What happened to so help me
God? She came back with Do you? I replied
yes, but I was perplexed.
The e-mail writer goes on to say
that the judge allowed her to say, So help me God,
and that the same thing happened to her son and daughter. She
says that taking God out of the courtroom is going to
result in more criminals.
The email also quotes a CNBS poll
(saying that this is the highest number of responses ever
recorded) that overwhelmingly shows that Americans support
keeping So help me God in court proceedings.
I was asked to send this on if I
agreed or delete if I didnt. Now it is your turn ... It is
said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a
very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about
having In God We Trust on our money and having God in
the Pledge of Allegiance. Why dont we just tell the 14% to
Sit Down and SHUT UP!!!
If you agree, pass this on, if not simply delete. **
This has all the markings of an
urban legend. It combines very specific details with very vague
details (the writer or judge is not named). Interestingly the
percentage who wish to keep the words so help me God
(86%) is exactly the same as the number of Americans who believe
in God (86%). Maybe the implication is that, of course, anyone
who believes in God would also want to keep these words in our
This legend/internet warning has
one huge believable element. It is based on a very real murder
case! John and Mildred Caylor were murdered in their Christian
bookstore in Raytown, Mo., on Oct. 20, 2004. The website www.caylors.com is in their memory and
documents the murders, arrests, and convictions. On Nov. 4, 2004,
a man was arrested for the murders, based on DNA evidence.
Thus, a very real murder case,
whereby two Christian bookstore owners were murdered, becomes the
platform for an urban legend of taking God out of the U.S.
courtrooms. A couple of points make this undisputedly an urban
legend. The Caylors did not have a daughter! Photos on the
memorial website show three sons, but no daughter. Also, at the
time that the legend began making its rounds, the case had not
come to trial.
Obviously, the message of this
urban legend is that God is being removed from all sorts of
American institutions, and it is time to stand up and fight. The
problem is that the incident being question never happened.
The most remarkable aspect of
this particular email, however, is how it illustrates how quickly
and geometrically an internet legend can spread. The message that
I got can be traced back three days. In that time, it had been
rebroadcast four times and listed 64 people to whom it had been
Since the action that
is suggested is to send this to all of our internet friends, we
can assume that, at least, some of those friends send it to
friends who sent it to friends who sent it to friends. It is not
unreasonable to assume that the message that I received had
reached several thousand people in three days. In several
months time, the message could conceivable reach hundreds
of thousands of people.
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Caylor Evangelistic Association 2004 - 2008