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Janet Reno Defines 'Cultist'

Netlore Archive: Forwarded message claims Attorney General Janet Reno has labeled all Christians 'cultists.'

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since:1994
Status: False (see details below)

Example:
Email text contributed by a reader, Sep. 1998:

Fwd: ??Are you a cultist, ACCORDING TO JANET RENO??... I Certainly HOPE SO!!!

Attorney General Janet Reno,

"A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies; who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause; who home schools for their children; who has accumulated survival foods and has a strong belief in the Second Amendment; and who distrusts big government.

Any of these may qualify a person as a cultist but certainly more than one of these would cause us to look at this person as a threat, and his family as being in a risk situation that qualified for government interference."

Janet Reno, Attny. Gen., USA
Interview on 60 Minutes, June 26, 1994

Do you qualify? Are you (as defined by the US Attorney General) a threat? If any of these apply to you then you are!!
This worries me. Does it worry you?
Let's impeach her too!!!

Everyone in this country - "The land of the free" - with computer access should copy this and send to every other man, woman and child who can read.


Analysis: Recent publicity surrounding the Bill Clinton sex scandal, not to mention the proximity of election day in November, seems to have brought the cyberloons out of the woodwork. Conspiracy theories, rumors, innuendo, and outright political lies are proliferating faster than anyone can keep up with them.

The most egregious example is the "Clinton Body Count," a list of 50 or so names of "friends" of Bill Clinton — many barely connected to the President at all — who died under allegedly "mysterious" circumstances. The text implies, without citing a scintilla of evidence, that the President and First Lady are responsible for the murders of dozens of people who may have been in possession of "incriminating evidence." It's a masterwork of sleaze.

In mid-September a message went into circulation quoting Bill Clinton supposedly calling for the resignation of Richard Nixon immediately after the latter admitted to lying to the American people in 1974. But while that quotation turned out to be roughly accurate, another message soon appeared attributing a similarly hypocritical statement to Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. That one proved to be a hoax, clearly invented for the purpose of discrediting Starr and his investigation.

As of September 1998, the above statement attributed to Attorney General Janet Reno has been making the rounds. It, too, is demonstrably false, and has no evident purpose other than to convince U.S. Christians that the current administration is their sworn enemy.

According to CBS News, Janet Reno never appeared on 60 Minutes in 1994, period. More to the point, even if she had made such an appearance — and even if she does hold the outrageous opinion about Christians attributed to her (I have not seen any evidence that she does) — no Attorney General of the United States would dare utter such impolitic words in front of a camera. Not if she valued her job.

Reasonable people who find themselves tempted to believe such nonsense owe it to themselves to read it a second and third time, think about it, and consider how implausible the quotation is. If such a statement had actually had been broadcast over national television, the public condemnation would have been instant and deafening. It would have been denounced from every pulpit, in every legislature, every newspaper op-ed column, and every radio talk show in the United States of America.

Update

Despite the fact that most of us have only recently encountered this rumor, it turns out to have a bit more history. A variant of the same quote containing a direct reference to the 1993 Waco debacle was already circulating by fax and email in 1994. That version went as follows:

A cultist is one who has a strong belief in the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ; who frequently attends Bible studies; who has a high level of financial giving to a Christian cause; who home schools for their children; who has accumulated survival foods and has a strong belief in the Second Amendment; and who distrusts big government. Any of these may qualify (a person as a cultist) but certainly more than one would cause us to strongly look at this person as a threat, and his family as being in a risk situation that qualified for government interference. Waco was one of those situations that qualified under our definition of people being at risk that necessitates government action to save them.


The rumored remarks attracted enough attention at the time to spur Rep. James V. Hansen of Utah to query the Justice Department as to its authenticity. Hansen's letter elicited the following response, from the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs, dated March 7, 1995:

This responds to your January 23 letter inquiring about Attorney General Reno's alleged statement on the television program "60 Minutes" defining a "cultist."

The plain fact is that the quote is a hoax. The Attorney General has never been interviewed on "60 Minutes." She has never discussed cults, or tried to define one. There is nothing in the counterfeit quote that guides government policy.

The quote first appeared, to our knowledge, in the August 1993 "Paul Revere Newsletter" of the Christian Defense League in Flora, Illinois. The information came by telephone from a woman in Florida whose name was not noted. The newsletter subsequently ran a retraction.

It bears pointing out that the Christian Defense League is a far-right hate group known for spouting racist and anti-Semitic views, not to mention paranoid conspiracy theories.

Two months after the DOJ response, the alleged Reno quote was again branded a hoax, this time by The New Gun Week, a publication of the Second Amendment Foundation. Executive Editor John P. Tartaro quoted the above correspondence between Rep. Hansen and the Justice Department before adding:

Given Reno's other public statements, her public record in Florida and in federal office, and her responsibility for both the good and the bad of the Justice Department, it is not hard to understand why people might believe the "cultist" definition statement attributed to her. However, if someone concerned about her philosophy, her statements, and her unwillingness to publicly put to rest public worries about the Waco and Weaver cases, and a host of other flawed operations by FBI and other government law enforcement agencies which she supervised, were to publicly use the attributed quote in a speech or article, they could quickly be discredited by their opposition. Such an event would tend to also discredit any other comments made at the same time or at a later date, no matter how factual. Once you are publicly made to appear a kook, that will be the remaining public perception.
— The New Gun Week, April 28, 1995

Well, the "kooks" — in the present case, the same rabid pro-gun groups and far-right zealots who find the "Clinton Body Count" email convincing — are still at it, unfortunately. Thanks to the Internet, the phony Reno quote has remained on artificial life support ever since 1994, circulating constantly via email among extremist groups and cropping up from time to time in Usenet articles and on Websites.

A 1997 variant circulated by a Neo-Nazi organization alleged that Reno made the statement at a Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco luncheon. No date was given.

Currently, the quote can still be found displayed on Websites ranging from the wholly uncritical and conspiracy-oriented "Pissed Off American Page" to the slightly more cautious, conspiracy-oriented "Coming Earth Changes" millennial Website (defunct as of January 2000).

The authors of such pages would do well to heed the closing words of Second Amendment advocate John Tartaro:

It doesn't matter whether inaccurate information is intentionally or accidentally put in our paths, we have the obligation to know that something is accurate before we repeat it. And it doesn't matter whether the slander is directed at friends or enemies. Otherwise we are merely proving the accuracy of another quotation, this one from Mark Twain:

"It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you."

Is anyone listening?


Last updated: 06/17/12


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