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Did you see the latest pope hoax?

Pope Francis leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican October 2, 2013 (Credit: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters)Pope Francis has reportedly declared, "Whether we worship at a church, a synagogue, a mosque or mandir, it does not matter.  Whether we call God, Jesus, Adonai, Allah or Krishna, we all worship the same God of love."  He supposedly stated that "the church no longer believes in a literal hell" and claimed that "all religions are true."

In other religion news, did you hear about the pastor who drowned while trying to walk on water?  The report was published last December 28 by MJ Celebrity Magazine and has been shared and liked on Facebook 100,000 times.

What do these stories have in common?  The fact that they're fiction.  The fabricated Pope Francis story is part of a mythical Third Vatican Council that has never met.  The pastor-drowning story was first reported in 2006 and has been repeatedly debunked.  But both stories are making headlines this week.

Unfortunately, this report is true: a satanic group has unveiled plans for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol.  Since a 10 Commandments monument was placed at the Capitol in 2012, the group claims they have the right to erect their statue as well.  They intend their monument to "have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation."

One more news item: Tim Tebow made his debut as a college football analyst with Monday night's championship game.  He drew rave reviews for his work.  And he surprisingly predicted that heavily-favored Florida State would defeat Auburn by only four points, 35-31.  The final score: 34-31.

"Speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) has never been more important than it is today.  Satan is "a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44)—we can count on him to fabricate stories that defame Christians.  He also "disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14)—we can expect his followers to promote his deceptions in our culture.  But God is giving believers like Tim Tebow a public platform by which to manifest his salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) and declare his word "with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

This morning I want to thank every one of you who responded to our year-end financial request.  As a donor-based ministry, our work depends entirely on your support.  Your generosity enables us to send the Cultural Commentary to readers in 203 countries.  Last year, page views on our websites more than doubled to nearly three million and our social media following doubled as well.  Your support will enable us to continue speaking biblical truth to the issues of our day, using this platform to advance God's Kingdom for his glory.

As I thank you for your financial partnership with this ministry, I want to encourage your personal ministry as well.  When you use your influence for the Kingdom, your witness in works and words touches people for eternity.  David Livingstone, the famed missionary doctor, asked: "If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"

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