A persistent hoax
has it that prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair
has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to have religious broadcasting banned in America. This hoax is usually spread by well-meaning Christians who fail to check the facts before they pass on what effectively is gossip. And they do more than simply pass on the hoax, which asks people to sign a protest letter to be sent to the FCC:
We need 1,000,000 (one million) signed letters. This should defeat what Ms. O'Hair is attempting to do to show that there are many Christians alive and well and concerned in our country.
"We stopped counting when they reached 25 million, and that was in 1994," said Audrey Spivack, spokeswoman for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). "This rumor has been circulating since 1975, and it's simply not true."
Like many hoaxes, this one gets updated every once in a while. For example, currently the hoax mailing states, ''CBS will be forced to discontinue 'Touched by an Angel' for using the word God in every program.'' Again, that's not true, as this item posted on the ''Touched by an Angel'' web site shows:
For the past several months, a chain email has been floating around the internet and our message board stating that the FCC is forcing CBS to take Touched By An Angel off the air because we mention the word "God." The email goes on to ask its readers to send a petition to the FCC to save the show. This is a new variation of an old hoax that has circulated (originally in paper chain letter form) for the past 26 years. If you are a recipient of this email, please ignore it. As a matter of fact, we are very pleased to announce that CBS has already renewed our show for 24 episodes next season!
American Atheists, Inc. Position Statement on FCC Petition Hoax
From the horse's mouth, so to speak.
FCC Denies Religious Broadcasting Rumor
Official statement. See also Additional Information on RM-2493
The phone number for the FCC's information line is 1-888-225-5322.
Did Madalyn Murray O'Hair try to get religious broadcasting banned? A hoax debunked.
FCC Religious Broadcasting Ban
Older, but useful information at the Urban Legends site.
Database of archived news items
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database
For newer items, see Religion News Blog