The slowed-down, altered video of Nancy Pelosi makes her appear slurred and incoherent – which one version at the time of writing this has millions of views and thousands of shares. This should matter to us as followers of Christ.
Christians have a distinct responsibility, one that we do not keep in mind often, with what we share online, in texts, or even in person. How and what we choose to communicate is a direct reflection of our life of faith. When we spread information that is false, or based on a lie, we are just as culpable for that lie or misinformation as the original source.
In the case of this recent, viral Nancy Pelosi video, we have the responsibility to verify that the video is even real.
The rule of thumb for Christians (and really anyone for that matter) is that if you haven’t verified it, don’t share it. Or, to put it another way, if you don’t take the time to research, understand, and can’t confirm something is true, don’t retweet, repost, or share it.
We live in a culture that prizes confirmation over truth. If a video, article or piece of information confirms what we believe, we are quick to share it. You may have even noticed, as I have, many people share satirical news articles as true simply because they reaffirm what they believe. In this culture, the satirical website, The Onion, has become just as true as the most verified fact.
When Christians share things such as the Nancy Pelosi doctored video, there are three outcomes:
1. We tend to make ourselves look ignorant, or even malicious, appearing hateful, which is similar to the next point but is distinctly different. It reflects poorly on us.
2. It reflects poorly on Christ. We hurt our Christian witness. Why would someone want to follow Christ when our public and social witness is born out of ignorance or malicious intent?
3. Finally, when we share things like this, we are sharing in slandering and lying, both of which believers are directed against many times within the Bible, the book we often claim as the standard by which we should live.
In Matthew 12:36 Jesus says, “I tell you on the day of judgement people will give account for every word they speak.” Titus 3:2 calls us “to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always be gentle toward everyone.” 1 Peter 2:1 reads, “rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.” Let alone, there is the call of one of the Ten Commandments, one of the most fundamental lists of commands in the Bible, to “not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Even if you’re ignorant of the lie, it’s still spreading the lie. Ignorance does not keep you from the culpability of sharing a falsehood.
People of faith need to be leading the way in being above reproach. We must be the people to denounce the use of false facts, lies, and doctored information in an attempt to put others down or to have our own ways (including political ways).
It’s not Facebook’s responsibility to take down a post like this. It is our responsibility to not share it so it won’t go viral and be perceived as true.