Plagiarizing “Christians” – Thou shall not steal!
Beware of thieves
It is a sad day indeed when one discovers that someone else is plagiarizing his or her hard work on the internet. However, it’s sadder when a website, professing to be Christian, takes another Christian’s writing and uses it on their page as his or her work without the author’s permission or without giving the author/website credit or recognition.
Such was my recent experience when I discovered a “Christian” website had copied and pasted one of my hubs on their site. I’m not speaking of a few words here and there, but my entire hub, word for word. Thanks to a fellow hubber’s warning, Hunbbel Meer, who wrote a hub exposing a website stealing original work from Hubpage writers. The warning served as a timely reminder to check my work for copyright infringement using copyscape. Copyscape is a great site to check for plagiarism, but you can also use other sites, including Google Alerts. Google Alerts will notify you by e-mail of new contents published based on cleverly search queries you enter.
Sadly, I found it unnecessary for someone to copy my work. Many times I’ve had people contact me asking to use my hubs to share with other Christians, and I have happily conceded every time. Many of my hubs are to warn and teach others, and I do not mind sharing them as long as people do not pass them as their own. But upon discovering that my work had been copied verbatim, and used in a manner without my consent or knowledge, that made me livid. No one likes to see their writings and hard work plastered all over the internet by another person who did not author or coauthored the contents.
If you have ever been a victim of a break-in and had your personal belongings ransacked and stolen, then you know what it feels like to be violated. And that is how anyone that’s been victimized by plagiarism is left feeling after they discover their work has been stolen. It is a feeling that can make you suspicious of anyone, even of people claiming to be Christians. It’s no wonder so many have come to regard Christ followers downright hypocritical and just as crooked as those who are not Christians committing the same crime.
However, in my defense and in defense of many other true Christ followers, not all Christians are this way and we should not be labeled or generalized. Not all who call themselves “Christians” are Christians, and to prove that, I will give you an example of what is not a Christian at the end of this hub. When it comes to stealing, I am sure that the act is wrong in whatever religion one professes to practice. But even if you are not religious, there are government laws that dictate stealing is wrong.
When it comes to “Christians” plagiarizing someone else’s work the Bible has something to say about this. Here’s what two of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 has to say, “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.”
Stealing is a criminal offence as well. Now plagiarism, which simply means using another’s original thoughts and ideas as though they were your own, is a violation of US copyright laws and can be considered a felony offense under certain state and federal laws. Therefore, anyone who takes another’s thoughts and ideas as their own is not only breaking two of God’s Ten Commandments but possibly breaking state and federal laws as well.
It is my sentiment, anyone opening or publishing in a website, particularly a Christian website, who feels that he or she has to copy and paste another person’s hard work, should close down their page and give up masquerading as the author of the contents. In the end, they will be discovered and exposed for the impostors they truly are.
Plagiarism is immoral and unethical. Unfortunately, when we display our work on the net, we are also running the risk of our work falling into the hands of every crook in cyberspace. If you find yourself in the same situation as me, there are a few things you can do. One way is filing a DMCA complaint and Hubpages gives excellent advice on how to file a DMCA complaint. A sample of a DMCA letter and other tips can also be found here. It is also a good idea to check your work often in Copyscape. There are other websites you can check for copyright infringement and they can be found by doing a Google search.
Now, for the promised example mentioned above to prove that not all who claim to be Christians are truly Christ followers. The following is my (distasteful) e-mail exchange with the website’s “Christian” administrator who copied my hub. What I find interesting is that the hub he copied and pasted, ironically also applies to him. He also removed my links to other hubbers in Hubpages as to not draw attention to where the article came from. I call that deceitful, and you cannot claim to be teaching truth if you are deceiving others, especially with stolen work.
Furthermore, anyone establishing a web-based or otherwise Christian ministry, with Facebook followers, and involved in evangelizing should know better than to steal another person’s work, even if they think they are doing it for the glory of God. Did I say they think they’re doing it for the glory of God? Hmm, well let’s see… when that person is copying and pasting another writer’s contents and using it as their own, getting hundreds of “like” clicks from Facebook followers, possibly making money from ads in their websites, and enjoying the benefits of a tax-exempt status, it is unlikely that God has anything to do with it, don’t you think?
Now on to the e-mails. I will call this website administrator Mr. W., and will omit from the e-mails his signature, title, favorite scripture, email address, tax-exempt A 501 C 3 non-profit corporation status, tax ID #, telephone number, and his website links (phew!), all which he proudly and arrogantly displays in every one of his e-mails in an attempt to impress and intimidate me.
... and the duel begins!
My letter to the website administrator:
Date: April 5, 2012
To: (name(s) omitted)
From: (name omitted), aka Faithful Daughter
Re: Copyright infringement
This is to notify you that the following page infringes on my copyrighted work: http://www.(omitted).htm. The copyrighted work at issue is the text that appears on http://faithfuldaughter.hubpages.com/hub/deceptionandfalsedoctrines.
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
Furthermore, I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner.
Please remove said copyrighted work from your website immediately.
aka: Faithful Daughter
Mr. W’s response:
lol, no problem! I hope you receive all the honor glory and praise YOU deserve!!!
Apparently YOU did not have any problems passing my work as yours for YOUR glory!! It would be nice to do the righteous Godly thing and not copy off of other Christians work and pass it on as your work. You have just broken two of God's Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not steal" and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.”
All you had to do was ask.
Mr. W’s come back:
lol! I certainly don't want to covet YOUR ass! Again may YOU receive all honor and glory. I never once passed that on as my own EVER!!
Very Christian of you with that language. Do you praise God with the same mouth? Furthermore, when you do not give author/website credit or recognition, YOU ARE passing it on as YOUR own!! The copyright text at the end of the article explains it very clearly, or did you not read that? How convenient.
This is all I have to say on this and will not respond to anymore of your self-righteous rants.
God bless you!
Mr. W’s reply (determined to have the last word):
"self-righteous rants" LOL LOL LOL from the person who wants all the glory, praise and honor!!! And just for the record responding to email's is NOT a rant!!!! And thank you so much for the promise of not responding!!!And for the GREAT laugh today. (Mr. W. includes several emoticons with their tongues out)
As you can see Mr. W is not the brightest crayon in the box and not only is he a thief, but he lacks integrity, conviction and humility among many other Godly attributes. A simple “I will remove the content” would have been sufficient. Instead, Mr. W was defensive, offensive, unremorseful, and tried to turn the issue around by accusing me of wanting all the honor, glory, and praise instead of giving it to God.
Do you think Mr. W. was in the right using my hub in his website without my consent or knowledge because it was for a Christian cause?
It is apparent Mr. W. felt he was in the right, and was giving God all the glory by doing what he did. But Mr. W. is missing a minor detail here— stealing! How is stealing what I wrote and posting it in his website glorifying God? If Mr. W. wanted to give glory to God, he could have written his own article and not taken my words and thoughts. Moreover, I find Mr. W’s pride and moronic immature attitude (hardly a Christ-like behavior) prove he is not someone people should be following as a disciple of Christ, yet he has a ministry with many followers? Scary if you stop to think about it.
Mr. W. will probably be visiting me again, if he does, I hope he reads this hub. Stealing is stealing and using God as an excuse is wrong!
If you would like to get more information on anything in this hub, you may contact me through Hubpages.