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We’ve Seen This Clinton Conspiracy Movie Before — And It Still Stinks

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We’ve Seen This Clinton Conspiracy Movie Before — And It Still Stinks


Back in 2000, I interviewed the late Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of Joe Conason’s and my book The Hunting of the President. It took place at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, VA. We were surprised he agreed to speak with us, as an entire chapter of the book dealt with The Clinton Chronicles, a bizarre video Falwell promoted on his syndicated TV program The Old Time Gospel Hour.

A near-delusional concatenation of preposterous falsehoods and conspiracy theories, the video presented the then-President (and his wife) as an embezzler, drug smuggler, and serial killer. Supposedly, Bill Clinton routinely had his political rivals murdered, which in a small state like Arkansas, you’d think local reporters might have noticed.

Almost needless to say, the fool thing sold like gangbusters. It was reportedly shown in evangelical churches. As H.L. Mencken used to say, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

Alas, to many voters, the real world give and take of democratic politics isn’t exciting enough. They require End Times melodrama: salvation vs. damnation, good vs. evil. Your candidate’s a savior; his opponent’s satanic.

Anyway, when Falwell brought his road show to Arkansas, the pastor of Little Rock’s largest Baptist church denied him its pulpit. He explained that by promoting a scurrilous video filled with falsehoods about the Clintons and many other Arkansans, the portly televangelist had violated the Ninth Commandment against bearing false witness.

So I asked Falwell, on camera, if the Ninth Commandment was more or less important, theologically speaking, than the Sixth Commandment forbidding adultery. Somewhat to his credit, he acknowledged that they were the same. Falwell added that he’d had no idea how many of the video’s crackpot claims were true, but that the American people deserved to hear them.

 At $40 a pop, including $3 for shipping and handling.

And with that the interview ended. Rev. Falwell suddenly had somewhere else he needed to be.

Ancient history, I know. Pre-Fox News, pre-Breitbart, pre-Internet even. I mean, VHS videotapes. Who even remembers what those were?

 Falwell died in 2007, although his son, Jerry Falwell, Jr., recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Liberty University to that exemplary Christian, President Donald J. Trump.

A controversial Fox News report about the death of a Democratic National Committee employee last summer a story that had fueled a conspiracy theory that rocketed across right-wing media, but reportedly embarrassed some of the networks staffers was retracted by the network Tuesday afternoon. Fox News host Sean Hannity has featured the story heavily and tweeted about it Tuesday afternoon. Newt Gingrich also spoke of the story over the weekend.

But one thing that hasn’t changed over the ensuing decades is the seeming need of a substantial proportion of the American electorate to believe that Democrats named Clinton are satanic killers.

Hence the appearance, after all these years, of yet another make-believe murder tale—this one championed by Fox News, Breitbart, and online conspiracy sites, with a substantial boost from WikiLeaks and Russian state news media.

Oh, and Newt Gingrich. Because it wouldn’t be a serious hoax without Newt. Also because, believe it or not, defending the honor of wrongly accused Kremlin intelligence agencies appears to be the whole point.

The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel documented Newt’s recent appearance on Fox and Friends,  where the former Speaker breathlessly announced that “it wasn’t the Russians” that leaked thousands of embarrassing Democratic National Committee emails to WikiLeaks.

No, it was supposedly a young DNC staffer named Seth Rich, who was shot to death on a Washington street at 4 a.m. in what DC police think was a botched robbery attempt last July.

Russian “fake news” operatives went right to work, charging that “a top American Democratic Party staffer preparing to testify against Hillary Clinton was assassinated this past Sunday during a secret meeting in Washington D.C. he believed he was having with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, but who turned out, instead, to be a ‘hit team’—and who, in turn, were captured yesterday after a running gun battle with US federal police forces just blocks from the White House.”

Got that? A team of professional assassins hired by Hillary Clinton got into a firefight with Federal agents, and were taken down just outside the White House. And you never heard about it. Total media blackout.

Whoever wrote that has seen far too many spy thrillers, where epic car chases and gun battles take place in picturesque parts of major cities all the time. Of course, Jason Bourne rarely sticks around to read the newspapers. But if you’re the kind of person who believes that such things are possible…

Well, you’re either a gullible hayseed who also believes that Hillary Clinton ran a child-molesting ring at a Washington pizza joint while simultaneously conducting a presidential campaign… Or else you’re a Kremlin imagineer whose only knowledge of American life derives from Clint Eastwood movies.

For the record, apart from Seth Rich’s tragic death, there’s zero evidence for a single alleged “fact” supporting this absurd fable. No leaked emails, no pending testimony, no hit team, no nothing. It’s sheer make-believe. The victim’s bereaved parents have repeatedly begged these cruel hoaxers to stop besmirching their son’s memory.

But that’s not how they roll, Fox News apparatchiks.

Editor’s note: Fox News Channel retracted its online version of the Seth Rich fake news story on Tuesday. Fox News host Sean Hannity continued to promote the falsehoods, however.

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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  1. According to the Bernie personality cultists on this very site, Hillary is apparently “to the right of Attila the Hun”, so expect to see them dropping by to coincidentally spread the right-wing smears and lies they claim to be against.

    1. Mariaeminnick May 24, 2017

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    2. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

      Women are quite used to men always running for the “smear reputation” card. It’s gone on since we were all in high school.

      By the time women got to college and refuse to put out, the boys figured, “What the hell? Just rape them.” Ergo the constant complaints by female coeds of college rape.

      Not to mention rape in the military, complaints of which get ignored.

      So, the subliminal message to women must be, if you dare to run for office, dare to get an education or dare to venture into MR. MAN territory, you get raped?

  2. Dapper Dan May 24, 2017

    These outright lies is bad enough but for people to actually believe these lies is unconscionable. For Christians to perpetuate lies is a direct violation of the 9th Commandment “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” If Trump was right about one thing is yes there’s Fake news and it’s coming from very unsavory sources but not the mainstream media. Telling the truth is outlets like WAPO, NYT, CNN and MSNBC to name just a few. The liars are Fox News, Breitbart and Alex Jones along with the standard staples like Star and the National Enquirer. With a major shift in viewing preferences MSNBC & CNN now top Fox in the ratings derby. Finally people are waking up they’ve been duped and lied to. Expect a major purge of GOP lawmakers in next years midterm elections

      1. Dapper Dan May 24, 2017

        If it wasn’t for MSNBCs weak weekend programming of Lockup they could easily win the ratings war across the board. If I’m looking for news on the weekend I usually switch over to CNN. Of course they may look at revamping their weekends in the near future at MSNBC

        1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

          I agree. CNN and MSNBC has become the Go To place because they have some pretty savvy journalists who ask the questions that are most difficult. Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow (and I can almost predict which right winger balls will find a nasty name to call her), Erin Burnett, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews.

          I find Matthews more difficult to follow because he interrupts his guests too much. I think Erin Burnett has the best technique and manages to keep her guests from chaos. I like that she is brainy and always projects professionality.

          1. A. D. Reed May 24, 2017

            Don’t forget Joy Reid, the best of them all!

          2. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

            Oh I love Joy Reed! She’s like the balm of Gilead in her journalistic style. She has a way of asking questions that have such depth that very often her guests miss the point she was trying to make.

        2. idamag May 24, 2017

          PBS, local news, Newsweek Magazine, Time Magazine and The Republic Magazine, are honest sources of news. People like RichFromShowMe, will never go to those sources as they do not feed their hate and ideology. His ignorance is a danger to democracy.

          1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

            The only thing men like Rich EVER show me is their ignorance and intent to control others. Now really, smart men and women know not to try to control the minds of other adults.

            Therein lies the huge problem for the conservatives in this country. Trying to impose their rules and regulations flies directly in the face of the rights and freedoms granted to us by the U.S. Constitution. So what they really are doing is a violation of Constitutional law.

          2. dpaano May 24, 2017

            I kinda like The Week magazine as it gives a very non-partisan view of things….a little of both sides….and allows you to make up your own mind.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

      These so called religious right wing men make educated women laugh. You just know if you dig deep enough, you see they hide a whole lot of their “past sins” behind religion, just like the ISIS terrorists hide behind Islam to pump that testosterone across the globe.

      Falwell is about as sinless as Jim Jones, David Koresh, Warren Jeffs, Jim Baker and our own modern day version of the Bible Thumping Conversionist: Reverend Pence.

      Curious thing that. How in the hell did a “HOLY” man like Reverend Pence EVER get himself involved with a lying, cheating mobster thug like Trump? That has to be the best US joke yet.

      1. Mama Bear May 24, 2017

        Holy Man Pence is just like all the rest of them, E. His religion has taught him to hate, look the other way, and that god intends men like him to dominate. He’s a dominionist. If you are not familiar with that philosophy check it out.

      2. stcroixcarp May 24, 2017

        Speaking of Jimmy Bakker, has anyone else noticed his frequent appearance on Right Wing Watch?

      3. idamag May 24, 2017

        When the Bible Belt almost overwhelmingly went for trump, it shows how religious they really are. When a good Catholic, I know, voted for trump because he said he was against abortion and made a graphic statement about ripping tiny babies from the womb four days before they were to be born, she showed me her hypocrisy and ignorance. Don’t brag to me about being a Christian. When I see them getting out of their cars on Sunday Morning and entering their churches, I see a bunch of hypocrites.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

          Ida, I have to agree. It is conceptually out of kilter with any Catholic to support Donald Trump knowing what his past has been.

          Catholics are bound by their religious dogma to practice the Corporal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, bury the dead, shelter the traveler, comfort the sick, and ransom the captive.

          Trump can’t live without Russian white beluga caviar while he watches from Trump Tower the homeless going hungry in the streets of Manhattan. He can’t find a water fountain because he was instrumental in signing off on executive orders that make water no longer a necessity for people but an absolute necessity for corporations.

          He can’t clothe the nake because they can’t afford the price of his $1,000 men’s suits. But now, he can bury the dead by cutting all of the program’s the living already paid for and didn’t get to enjoy. We already know he is determined to keep 6 countries from ever being sheltered as travelers.

          The only sick he plans to comfort are his own gaggle of grifters in his family. And we know he would never spend a dime to ransom any captive. So much for that visit to Pope Francis.

  3. A. D. Reed May 24, 2017

    Can a family sue for defamation after a person is dead?

    1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

      The answer is “Yes.” But, the family of Falwell has nothing to sue for. He is the guilty party right now roaming what he would call “hell” for smearing Hillary Clinton for no reason than being the kind of woman his kind of man hates most: A woman smarter than he was.

      The reality is that men like Falwell come from a backward culture that lives so far in the past, they simply have no vehicle toward progress because that would mean accepting women with brain power.

      And God help the woman who is as powerful as Hillary. As the Kentucky Bourbon Boy showed, when he tried to make a fool of Elizabeth Warren and Trump when he called Warren “Pocahontas,” men like these are not valuable to any woman.

      Right now, these guys are fighting like hell to keep the MALE MAJORITY in Congress. So now, they go after Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Dianne Feinstein and Kirsten Gillabrand. Because as women all know, “How DARE a woman EVER take 1st place?”

      Time for some men in this country to stop thinking with their balls.

      1. A. D. Reed May 24, 2017

        I was thinking about the Rich family suing Gingrich, Jones, Hannity, Fox, et. al.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

          My understanding of defamation of character is that the courts view it through the prism of “loss.” If the Rich family has suffered loss of reputation even into future generations, the family can sue for loss of potential wages and public reputation.

          The only reason Hillary doesn’t bother with a libel and slander lawsuit, even though by now she’d be a billionaire if she did, is because her public persona is such that she has more supporters than detractors. The detractors are a vengeful, vehement bunch who, in the final analysis, are not in any way preventing Hillary from her status as the most powerful woman in the world.

          This is also true of President Obama. He won’t bother to sue Trump for that lie about the Trump Tower wiretapping because he knows allowing Trump that lie makes Trump look dirtier.

          1. A. D. Reed May 24, 2017

            Thanks. I hope the Riches sue the hell out of them.

            Aren’t there different standards applied to “public figures,” though? I read somewhere a while back that Obama or Clinton might not be able to get damages, even for deliberate lies about them, if a court considers the statements part of “public discourse.”

          2. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

            In a lot of ways, NOT suing by public figures is often the best path. It always forces the accuser to provide factual proof that will hold up in a court of law. When the accusers can’t do that, they hole up like moles never to be heard from again.

      2. plc97477 May 24, 2017

        If falwell is against women who are smarter than himself he doesn’t like the fairer sex at all does he?

        1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

          No. But then most of the Mutton Chops and Corn Pone Kings history lies with oppression of women. Remember, these were the men who threw suffragettes in jail for fighting for their right to vote only after they ridiculed them and smeared their reputations in the same vile way their grandsons do today.

      3. idamag May 24, 2017

        People, like him, do come from backward culture. Soak the rubes. Sell them tickets to heaven. If you try to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge, they might learn you do not have the title to the Brooklyn Bridge, so heaven is a better ploy.

  4. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

    From an educated, intelligent woman’s point of view, men in the south and midwest belong to the same brotherhood as ISIS. The mutton chops and corn pones, like ISIS males all walk around, chests puffed out, fists pumping and think that will intimidate all women into cowering, submissive handmaidens of these self created “masters of the universe.”

    Falwell is a much a phony as the chest puffing Trump, the coy slick article Sessions and the oh so glossy and glitzy oozing in oil Tillerson.

    Then, you add in the Corn Pone brethren like Reverend Pence, Bossy Mouth Ryan, Gorilla Gape Gowdy and Honcho Cotton and you see what these boys all want is dicks and balls ONLY in government.

    Never mind they expect women to pay EQUAL taxes on mostly unequal salaries. But, let’s all keep up the Sharia Law Corn Pone and Mutton Chop style.

    Sorry…when men cannot give the same latitude to women who are their equals in intelligence and innovation, you see why it is Japan leads the world in women’s equality.

    I can just see it now. All those lil ole Dixiebelles and Corn Pone Queens batting their eyelashes so Big Daddies will butter their palms while they “know their place” and hide behind burquas and chastity belts their “men” (yeah right) impose.

    Then, these corn pones and mutton chops wonder why it is free bird women like men keep our distance. If having a man in your life means giving up the freedoms the U.S. Constitution grants to ALL citizens, not just men, thanks but no thanks.

    And while you guys are at it. How about drop the teenage boy hormone raging game of smearing the girls who won’t put out for you? REAL men know THEIR mouths are not the only government in this country.

    1. Mama Bear May 24, 2017

      well said as usual 🙂

      1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

        Thank you MB. Always appreciate your posts.

  5. bobnstuff May 24, 2017

    Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed,” Fox News said in a statement posted online.
    How bad can the story be, even Fox found it below their standards. Poor Hannity was made to drop it.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

      Rupert Murdoch, the male doyenne of journalism just doesn’t know when he’s reached the limits. His own record of illegalites was evident when he wire tapped phones in the UK.

      As for Hannity, his job is to distort truth and facts. Who pays for that?

      1. pisces63 May 24, 2017

        And they kicked his ass out!!

        1. BDD1951 May 25, 2017

          No, they didn’t.

      2. stcroixcarp May 24, 2017

        Sponsors pay. Call the sponsors and tell them to stop financing lies.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

          I just usually threaten to start a boycott. That’s what we did with Lawrence O’Donnell when he was supposed to be fired from MSNBC.

          It amazes me how making a serious (never idle) threat to boycott sponsors can cut them down at the knees. No sponsors? No programs.

    2. Joan May 25, 2017

      Hannity said he was going to stop, but within the same broadcast, he persisted. Hannity was involved in “Pizzagate”. Sanctimonious pr!ck does not care who he might hurt, cause ratings, cause Merica

  6. latebloomingrandma May 24, 2017

    I have a brother, age 50, college graduate, who believes that Hillary is responsible for at least 15 deaths. He also states that he wishes he could quit his job and work for Trump.
    It saddens me that this is my brother’s mindset. There is no reasoning with him either. We’ve always been a family who enjoyed talking about politics, but in the past few years have to completely steer away from the subject. Frustrating.
    I think a steady stream of right wing “news” and talk radio somehow alters the brain.

    1. Mama Bear May 24, 2017

      There is a book, or maybe it’s a move, not sure but it’s called “I lost my dad to Fox News”. Same story and I hate to say it but not that uncommon. Just found a link: http://www.thebrainwashingofmydad.com/
      That people are so willing to give up their critical thinking skills is very sad.

    2. stcroixcarp May 24, 2017

      My brother has been getting politically crazy over the last few years too.

      1. dpaano May 24, 2017

        I kinda steer away from anyone who actually believes that Trump is the best ever president! I know that if they think this way, they have a serious mental problem!

      2. FT66 May 24, 2017

        Your brother’s craziness can’t reach of my uncle’s. He took the photo of Trump’s plane in one of the rallies. Lord, that photo is treated like a baby. He makes sure everyone he knows must see it. He is one of those when polled say they will vote for Trump again.

    3. idamag May 24, 2017

      My deepest sympathy to you. Having someone, you love, be this way would be very hard. My brothers were progressive. My oldest brother was an active Democrat serving as a ward something or other in Seattle. My youngest brother was progressive. My middle brother was progressive. However, I have nieces and nephews who are not. My brothers all died with cancer and did not live to see this. It pains me to know they are what he hoped they would never be.

    4. cthetruth May 24, 2017

      Many others are like your brother. We have friends and family alike with whom you cannot have a conversation. Sad,how easy it is to brainwash so many Americans.It is also a dangerous mindset.

    5. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

      Call his bluff and make him name the 15. The only way to stop liars and those who smear a woman’s reputation is to force them to provide facts. No facts? No truth.

    6. Snopes debunked that dumb list decades ago, and still keeps it up to date:


    7. Jan123456 May 25, 2017

      As someone below has posted, snopes has debunked each and every death in that list and even provides a bit of psychology on why people start believing it.

      That being said, if your brother is anything like other “Clinton Body Bag” believers, don’t use the word “snopes” with him if you ask him. Most righties laugh off snopes as some kind of left wing nut site. However, snopes DOES include all their sources – such as police reports – when they debunk. As Eleanore said, ask about individual deaths and use the same sources snopes does to refute.

    8. BDD1951 May 25, 2017

      And I have a daughter that has been brainwashed the same way. Hard to believe that she would turn that way. It’s okay to believe in conservatism but not idiocy.

  7. FT66 May 24, 2017

    The only medicine that can cure those who are spreading lies intentionally and spoil people’s names is to SUE THEM. Once they appear in courts, they will never play this bad game again.

    1. idamag May 24, 2017

      Absolutely! Without consequences some people will commit crimes against others non-stop.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

        It’s a mentality to always try to “get away with” what they would never allow others to get away with.

    2. pmbalele May 24, 2017

      I have told Trump never to trust the so called conservatives. These include the following: You, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Allen West, Ruddy Giuliani; Michael Steele, Herman Cain, Newt, Romney, FoxNews people like Sean Hannity, Dick Morris, Bill O’rielly, Charles Krauthammer, Dr. Carson, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Trump, Joe Arpaio, Roger Ailes. They wished Cruz be their candidate. Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father. These laugh with Trump when present, but stab him in the back when he is absent. Just look at their faces when Trump is signing – snobbish. Trump should avoid these people.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

        Trump is a magnet for these crooks. Wake up! You obviously do not know Trump as well as you think. Do come visit NJ and do that rah rah Trump and see if you are not met with facts you will not like.

        Your post is proof that Trump supporters are either conveniently blind and deaf and mentally handicapped. By the way, how’s about you come and help NJ taxpayers out with those 6 corporate bankruptcies Trump dumped on us?

        Money talks, BS walks and you haven’t enough money to resolve Trump’s major mental problems.

      2. FT66 May 24, 2017

        Since when I became a conservative? Thats the last thing of all the things I can do on earth if need be. Anyway, thanks for the laugh.

    3. Eleanore Whitaker May 24, 2017

      I had a friend once who stood toe to toe with a CEO. His response was to threaten to sue him for libel and slander.

      Lawsuits are one way but always, always, always call the bluff of bullies. They usually have a foundation made of quicksand.

  8. idamag May 24, 2017

    The Bible says if you break one commandment you have broken them all. Jerry Falwell has broken every one of them. Is this typical of those who claim to be Christians? Even if you repeat a lie that was told to you by someone else, then you are bearing false witness. And this man had the gall to say Elvis Presley’s music was evil. “Blue Suede Shoes” never hurt anyone.

  9. notafoxfan May 24, 2017

    if “newtie” or Hannity are opening their mouths, conspiracy theories and “alternate facts” are spewing forth..if you were to take credence to everything said,elvis would still be alive,kennedy has been in hiding in south America since 1963,and Hillary clinton is responsible for the 9/11 attacks..disgusting gibberish and an insult to intelligent people..!

  10. stsintl May 24, 2017

    Question: “What does the Bible say about backbiting?”

    Answer: The definition of backbiting is “talking maliciously about someone who is not present.” To backbite is to gossip about someone behind his or her back. Secret slander is the essence of backbiting, and it is strongly condemned in the Bible.

    The word backbiting appears in the Bible in the ESV: “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks” (Proverbs 25:23). Malicious talk or gossip is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, listed along with sins like murder and envy (Romans 1:29), things that should not be practiced or approved (verse 32).

    Proverbs 25:23, the verse that specifically uses the word backbiting, paints a vivid picture of how people respond to a gossip. Just as a cold north wind brings rain, so a tongue given to backbiting will bring angry looks from the victims of the gossip. In other words, if you want to make people angry, just spread rumors about them secretly. The source of the gossip will eventually be known, and the ones you’ve slandered will not be happy.

    Negative or malicious talk may feel good for a moment, while you get something off your chest, but ultimately it does no good and can actually do great harm, even separating close friends (Proverbs 16:28). Backbiting is contrary to love, which is a reconciling force (1 Peter 4:8). Jesus said the peacemakers will be blessed, not the backbiters (Matthew 5:9). God’s children are to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19), and “peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18). There is no place in the Christian life for backbiting.

    Shame on those who indulge in backbiting.

  11. Johnny five June 4, 2017

    What a bunch of losers!


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