Conservative News Website Falls For Muslim-Burning-Catholics Hoax

"Muslims burning Catholics alive" Photo HoaxAlthough it’s been repeatedly debunked over the last two years, yet another conservative website is reporting that a photo of the July 2010 explosion in the Congo that killed over 200 people is actually an instance of “Muslims burning Catholics alive.” The photo hoax originally began in 2011 as reported by Waffles at Noon:

A horrifying photo has surfaced on Facebook, one that claims the dead, charred bodies in the photo are Christians burnt alive by Muslims in Nigera. A common caption reads reads:

Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims in NIGERIA…(Posted by Jillian Becker in Africa, Arab States, Christianity, Christians burnt alive by Sunni Muslims, Islam, Muslims, jihad)…..PLEASE SHARE IT OR JUST UPLOAD YOUR OWN…BUT SOMEHOW SPREAD IT IF YOU’RE EVEN 1% CHRISTIAN — It is still not over yet!  

As expected, enraged comments ensue. Problem is.. the photo itself is real but the story attached to it is fake. already took this photo to task with an excellent dissertation posted several months ago, yet the story continues to be passed around. That site will show you that the charred bodes were in fact a result of a tanker explosion in the Congo. Because they have already posted an authoritative rebuttal to this photo, such a discussion isn’t necessary here. I urge you to read their blog if you have any doubts about the photo.

Who originally perpetuated this hoax? It was none other than infamous anti-Muslim Pamela Geller. She spread the hoax via her blog in 2011 after pulling the photo from The Hive (which has since issued a correction that the photo was not what they said it was). The actual photo is of a  Congo explosion story reported at (click the diaporama to see the “breaking news” photo posted in 2010). Here’s another French-language report covering the same story with additional photos: RDC : les images atroces du drame de Sange au Sud-Kivu.

The story has been debunked so many times (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, to name just a few sources) it’s almost Onion-esque that a conservative publication would still report this story as fact (and as new-news, no less).

Sara Marie Brenner

Sara Marie Brenner

And who is the perpetrator? None other than Ohio politician and novice journalist Sara Marie Brenner. Her story – “Catholics burned alive by Muslims in Nigeria — where’s the MSM?” – cites no credible sources in any attempt at journalistic integrity. In fact, the only source she does cite is a Father Juan Carlos Martos (who apparently has no other media credentials other than being someone with the Catholic Church who was told this story was true). The other quoted item in the article (a Nigerian news site called Punch) isn’t even about her supposed Catholic-burning. Reading the full article, it’s revealed that the story is actually about tensions with Christians – not any specific “genocide” incident.

There’s a reason the mainstream media isn’t reporting this – mainly, it’s not news. It’s not even a new hoax. For being a self-proclaimed “alternative” to the MSM, the Brenner Brief certainly seems to have problems reporting real news.

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he’s dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging – he’s been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.