Religion In The News

From "World Magazine"

September 15, 2001

Mirrored From:


Not so Independent

Ever hear the one about the woman who jumped to her death because she thought a man going to a toga party was Jesus ushering in the Rapture? Thousands of British readers have, because the London-based Independent on Sunday on Aug. 19 reported the Internet urban legend as fact.

According to the newspaper and several Internet sites, a woman jumped out of the sunroof of her moving car when she thought she saw Jesus and his disciples ascending into heaven in Arkansas City, Ark. Someone named Ernie Jenkins, who was dressed as Jesus, had stopped on the side of the road when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose, releasing 12 helium-filled dolls.

Problem is, the story doesn't check out. Arkansas City's sheriff fielded 30 calls over the past two weeks from reporters asking about the story. Chief Deputy Edgar Stain, who patrols the tiny town, said: "Sounds to me like somebody doesn't have a whole lot to do but start some false Internet rumors."

That somebody is a computer programmer who writes under the pen name Elroy Willis. He says he pokes fun at what he calls "the ridiculous things that religion can cause people to do." Mr. Willis was surprised at the Independent's bungle but "got a kick out of it."

A chagrined David Randall, who wrote the Independent story, told WORLD via e-mail: "If the story was a hoax, then I've been had. No complaints, no excuses."

All (EAP) news stories are property of Elroy Willis and may not be reproduced without written permission. Contact me at: