Hoax About Atheist Teacher Suspending Student Who Said ‘Merry Christmas’ Goes Viral

The War on Christmas meme must not be going too well if you have to resort to making shit up.

How about this wild tale: A San Francisco elementary school suspended a 9-year-old student the other week because he wished the homeroom teacher “Merry Christmas.” The teacher is an “outspoken Atheist”; obviously, therefore, the student’s insolent act of cheer and holiday spirit had to be punished.

It’s not even remotely true, but the hoax went viral anyway.

The rumor originated about six days ago on what appears to be a satirical website called the National Report, which features content designed to look like real news stories.

A story on the site said a fourth-grader at “Argon Elementary” in San Francisco was given a weeklong suspension for saying “merry Christmas” to his homeroom teacher, an atheist. The site later changed the school name to “Anon.” …

The story also named the boy, the boy’s mother and the teacher – none of whom exist.

Still, the hoax went viral, with the National Report site garnering about 20,000 likes and shares on Facebook as of Tuesday. Nearly 400 links were made to the original story on Twitter feeds. Dozens of online sites picked up the story, many of them leaning to the political right and each spreading the rumor further afield.

The fake story claimed the incident exemplifies the ongoing “war on Christmas,” a debate that some cable networks and talk show hosts say has taken root in such liberal bastions as San Francisco.

Here, for your amusement, are some of the responses to the National Report story:

Whoever perpetrated the hoax also set up a Google+ page under the name of the putative teacher, and filled it with outrageous, hateful little snippets such as

I wish I could piss on all my students that believe in Jesus.

For the record, there is no Argon (or Anon) Elementary School in San Francisco. There is an Argonne Elementary, however. You can guess the rest.

The nasty calls and e-mails started to hit the real Argonne elementary on Thursday and have continued this week, district officials said. “You don’t expect to have to deal with this at this time of year,” [district Assistant Superintendent Leticia] Salinas said. “What was mostly upsetting was some of the references of what people should do to the teacher.”

The Argonne school secretary spent hours answering the phone, explaining to irate callers that the story wasn’t true. Most were surprised and simply hung up.

The district assigned an extra security officer to the school, and police have increased their patrols of the campus.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.

  • unbound55

    But, but, but…it was on the internet. And they don’t allow things that aren’t true on the internet…

    I understand that there are stupid people in this world, and I understand that there are those who rush to judgement because they are easily offended. What scares me is the sheer volume of those groups.

  • sam

    “The district assigned an extra security officer to the school, and police have increased their patrols of the campus.”

    And again, this protection is against those who wish to spread holiday cheer, peace on Earth, and goodwill towards Man? Are these the people waging a war on or for Xmas?

    I knew this story was fake, because if the teacher were a real atheist, she would have eaten the child. Nothing like a holiday child for a nice xmas feast.

  • $925105

    Looks like Kevin Sorbo might have another acting job coming up as he plays the cruel Atheist teacher who persecutes children over saying Christmas during the holidays.

  • Rob P

    the web site Literally Unbelievable needs to branch out from from just he Onion stories that people believe are true.

  • 7Footpiper

    God, save me from your followers! The War on Christmas™ is a completely fictitious thing fabricated by the religious in search of an issue to keep them in the news. Most atheists don’t really care until the church/state line is crossed but the godbots still don’t understand that so of course they’ll fly off the handle when they read something like this. I honestly couldn’t give a toss if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I do celebrate Christmas though I have no need for the myth that comes packaged with it but I’d never be offended.

  • cary_w

    This would all be hilariously funny, except for this:

    “The district assigned an extra security officer to the school, and police have increased their patrols of the campus.”

    The threats created by these people are all too real. This is why we need to fight ignorance and celebrate the decline of religion in this country. People who send death threats to people who don’t believe their silly superstitions cannot be tolerated. What I find really appalling is that so many Christians claim their religion is all about love. I’m just not feeling the love from these people.

  • dats3

    Your not feeling the love because Jesus isn’t in your heart. If he were you’d feel it. You’d have a ton of guns too. You’d probably want to take some to the school and administer some Christian love. Ahh the holidays. Don’t you just love Christmas?