Check the source
When I was coming up through school there was a major push by the teachers to have students cite all the sources they used during a class project. This was to cut back on plagiarism as well as to ensure that the sources used by students were accurate sources.
The idea is that good sources that depend on fact and truth are clearly better than opinion articles in solving a question or dispute. There are so many fake stories and satirical news cites that should not be used as factual information because, well, they are not factual.
I was a serial offender of using bad information when I was in school. I had to redo a number of papers because I copied and pasted bad information as a shortcut to try and make my point.
I learned, the hard way, that facts and truths matter. I remember one teacher would always say, just because someone said it, that doesn't make it true. As a result I try very hard to use only reputable sources when sharing information with others.
So you can imagine my frustration, some 20 years later, when I see those teachers, and teachers who I worked with during student teaching, and teachers from our local school districts, posting nonsense to Facebook without checking the source.
It isn't even the idea behind the post that is so incredulous; it is the fact that they are using lies to support their beliefs.
In the past few days I came across a picture of an African-American security guard with the caption "killed by rioters" and insinuating that the Black Lives Matter movement does not care about his death because he was not killed by a police officer.
The truth is that Patrick Underwood was a security guard who was shot and killed on May 29 in California. He was shot by an Air Force sergeant linked to the far-right extremist "Boogaloo" group.
The man who shot him has been arrested. This information can be found at http://www.snopes.com. Or I could tell you about a picture posted of former President Barrack Obama standing in front of yellow curtains claiming he was standing in front of a Muslim prayer blanket instead of the American flag during a major political address.
The truth is that the yellow curtains are at the White House. There are pictures of President Trump, President Clinton, President Bush, and so on in front of the same curtains. It is amazing how many things are misleading or outright lies circling on social media.
The problem is that too often we find something that we agree with the sentiment of, and post it because we think it makes our case stronger. When everything that is used to support our views is fake or made-up it only diminishes the authority with which we speak.
We all need to check the sources of everything we post and everything we say. When we build our views out of flimsy words and half-truths, we are like the man who built his house on the sand.
When tested, it falls apart. There is still plenty of information that is worth posting and sharing.
I present to you the Bible.
No other book in history has ever been scrutinized with such intensity as the Bible.
Yet almost universally people will agree there is truth and wisdom within its pages. Things like, "The person who pays back evil for good, evil will never leave their house", "a good name is more desirable than great riches", "wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise", "Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel." This is but a sampling of the wisdom found in Proverbs.
That is the point. Instead of relying on flimsy news sources or fake stories, we need to place our trust, and base our words, on the word of God.
You know it's funny that a decade before I learned about proper source identification and citation methods, I learned a children song that speaks clearly about the issue of where we place our trust.
You probably know the song it goes like this, "The B-I-B-L-E yes that's the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E."
When we stand on the word of God our source is the ultimate source of truth and wisdom, right and wrong, life and death. Trust in God, and stop posting, sharing, and saying things that are not true.
Posting false things hurts everyone and it is called lying. If we base our lives and our actions on the word of God, we will be a lot gentler, humbler, and kinder. We will be far less likely to be involved in ridiculous Facebook fights.
Most importantly our lives will be grounded on the truth of God's promise. And as John 8:32 says, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Rev. Brian Hauser is pastor for the Edenburg Presbyterian Church in Knox and Concord Presbyterian Church near West Freedom.