The Raving Theist

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May 29, 2007 | 2 Comments

The January 2007 atheist-bashing letter to the editor by “Alice Shannon” was a hoax, according to TRA commenter Crosius. The paper in which it appeared, the Kenai Peninsula Clarion, printed a mea culpa stating that Ms. Shannon had admitted it was a “complete joke.”

But was it? The Clarion also disclosed that “we received a letter from a person telling us the same letter was found in a blog from a woman from South Carolina, and he sent us the Web address.” While the Clarion doesn’t provide the blog name or the link, I assume they’re referring to this. It’s not a blog, but a letter to the editor from one Gloria “Wendy” Ray of Aiken, South Carolina which appeared in the Augusta Chronicle on October 22, 2001. Ms. Ray was responding to this article earlier that month about atheists, including Chicago-area nurse Gail Pepin, who were mourning the then-recent 9/11 attacks but felt excluded because the nation was unifying “under God.” Given how high emotions were running at the time, there’s no reason to believe that Ms. Ray wasn’t being perfectly serious. According to a contemporaneous post at Positive Atheism Forum the Chronicle editors also received a lot of flak from atheists but nobody questioned the writer’s sincerity.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that Shannon saw the Ray letter when it resurfaced on this quote site in mid-January and decided to submit it under her own name a few days later. Does that qualify as a “hoax”? It might if it were submitted under a celebrity’s name, but no one cares who “Alice Shannon” is and the name appears to be a pseudonym anyway. As it stands every word of the letter itself was sincerely meant by the person who actually composed it — all that has changed is the time of its publication and the newspaper in which it appeared.


2 Responses to “Hoax?”

  1. YAAB
    May 29th, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

    Unfortunately, the actual, sincere opinions held by countless numbers of fundamentalists and evangelicals (is there a difference?) make it nearly impossible to unambiguously lampoon their positions. I mean,, is that a joke? Apparently not.

  2. Godthorn
    May 29th, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

    Hoax or not, that was one dumb letter. Not all “believers” are dummies, but virtually all dummies are “believers.”

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