Facts Matter: Pope didn't say vaccine needed to get into heaven

  • Pope Francis puts on his face mask as he attends an interreligious ceremony for peace in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, in Rome Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

    Pope Francis puts on his face mask as he attends an interreligious ceremony for peace in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, in Rome Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 Associated Press

Updated 12/19/2020 5:43 PM

A satirical website last month published a story claiming the pope said taking the COVID-19 vaccine is a requirement to enter the pearly gates.

According to the fake story on The Babylon Bee website, Pope Francis said, "We must be wary of the greatest earthly sin of all: not getting the COVID-19 vaccine. God has informed me that He will not let you into Heaven unless you have received BOTH DOSES of this very safe vaccine."


But some social media users didn't get the joke and shared the story without labeling it satire, according to PolitiFact.com.

The Babylon Bee bills itself as "the world's best satire site" that writes about "Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life."

According to Reuters, Pope Francis did talk about the vaccine in September, saying, "If anyone should be given preference, let it be the poorest, the most vulnerable, those who so often experience discrimination because they have neither power nor economic resources."

Bus carried office equipment

A school bus transporting office equipment was stopped at a gas station Dec. 3 in Buckeye, Arizona, after police received a call about an abandoned bus full of large machinery, according to The Associated Press.

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Officers determined the vehicle was not abandoned, the driver was with the vehicle, and the machinery in the bus was printers bought at an office equipment surplus sale.

"The guy was legitimate. It was just printers and blank paper," a gas station employee<URL destination="https://apnews.com/article/ap-fact-check-united-kingdom-health-media-social-media-39efdb570c6e58bd99fbc5ae7f27dc05 "> told the AP.

</URL>However, a person at the scene when police were investigating later posted photos on social media, claiming the bus was hiding voting machines.

"The place was crawling with police and investigators!" the post read. "They opened the back doors and the bus is completely packed with voter machines!"


One photo showed a close-up of a sticker on equipment that read, "Election Systems & Software," according to USA Today. But a spokeswoman from the company that made the equipment said it was a printer.

"The item seen in the photo is not a voting machine or a tabulation machine," Katina Granger, public relations manager for Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Nebraska, told USA Today.

The next day, the Buckeye Police Department issued a statement regarding "misinformation circulating on social media."

"It was determined the bus was full of office equipment purchased at a surplus sale, complete with invoices and receipts," the statement read. "The information in the original post is inaccurate."

Hydroxychloroquine not OK'd

Radio host Rush Limbaugh recently told his listeners the American Medical Association has reversed a previous statement on hydroxychloroquine, the drug President Donald Trump recommended as a treatment for COVID-19.

"Now all of a sudden the AMA (said) -- although very quietly -- that hydroxychloroquine is OK," Limbaugh said during his Tuesday broadcast. "It's perfectly fine. Go ahead and use it if you want. It can be helpful."

But the AMA never rescinded a March 25 statement opposed to prescribing hydroxychloroquine, and the Florida-based website Published Reporter that Limbaugh cited has since corrected its report, according to PolitiFact.com.

The day after Limbaugh made the claim, the AMA responded on Twitter: "In March, AMA urged caution about prescribing hydroxychloroquine off-label to treat #COVID19. Our position remains unchanged. Evidence-based #science & practice must guide these determinations."

Order doesn't call out military

An item circulating on social media this month claims Trump will be "tactically" implementing parts of an executive order on election security and "patriots" should have weapons "at the ready."

The meme, referencing a 2018 executive order, claims the implementation will freeze money and assets of citizens, who should "be prepared to assist the National Guard and the military commands in defense of our nation."

In reality, the executive order doesn't have anything to do with freezing assets or calling out the National Guard, according to Snopes.com.

The executive order, signed just before the midterm elections, was about combating election interference by foreign countries.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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