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Chain Letters: The Case Against Them

Updated on October 13, 2017
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks writes for three different websites: HubPages, Blasting News, and Vocal. She loves sharing interesting things.

What is a Chain Letter?

Have you ever received a chain letter? Have you ever sent a chain letter? Let's first define what a chain letter is.

A chain letter is a letter that the sender asks the recipient to pass on to a number of other people and then those people will forward to other people. This follows a chain; hence the name chain letter.

A typical chain letter consists of a message that attempts to persuade the recipient to pass the letter on to as many other people as possible. Chain letters might seem harmless, but chain letters are annoying. Chain letters are manipulative. They try to exploit the recipient with superstitions to threaten the recipient with bad luck, physical violence or death if the recipient breaks the chain and does not adhere to the instructions in the letter.

Chain Letters Are a Nuisance

Some chain letters are indeed fairly harmless. For example, an elementary school student wishing to see how many people can receive his email for a school project can grow exponentially and may be hard to stop.

Sometimes chain letters contain false promises from well-known individuals such as Bill Gates promising a monetary reward to everyone who receives the message.

There are chain letters that warn people about a virus. Sometimes this is a hoax. People have become so accustomed to receiving them that unfortunately, they dismiss the warning even when it's true.

Chain letters are a nuisance. They play on the recipient's emotions.

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Myspace have made it easy for people to send a chain letter to hundreds of people at one time.

Chain Letters Can Be Illegal

Chain letters can be illegal if recipients are asked to send money and forward the letter to others asking them to do the same. These chain letters are not only illegal, but they might contain trojans.

In the United States, under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery says it is illegal to mail chain letters that involve financial arrangements or provoking people to send money.

However, asking for items of minor value such as business cards or recipes are not covered by this law. Don't think you are getting off easy if you send your pyramid scheme chain letters through e-mail. This is called wire fraud.

Chain Spiders

Even worse than the chain letter is a chain spider. A chain spider is a type of electronic chain letter whereby recipients are encouraged to sign a petition in favor of a particular cause.

Chain spiders multiply in an exponential fashion. Therefore, chains with long recipient lists are likely to spread to a lot of people in a very short time.

Many Christians Send Chain Letters

I am surprised that many Christians send chain letters.They, of all people should know better.

Here are some ways to know you have received a chain letter.

  1. The letter tells you to pass the letter on to 10 people in order to be blessed. The Bible tells us another way to get blessed, and it is not by responding to a chain letter.
  2. The letter says if you are my friend, send this to 7 people. Since when does sending chain letters prove friendship?
  3. The chain letter says if you love me, send this letter back to me. This is such a poor way to express love. Love cannot be reduced to a click on a keyboard.
  4. The chain letter says if you want me to have a good day, send this letter back to me. It is a sad situation when receiving one's own letter back makes someone's day.
  5. The letter tells you to do something and then promises you something in return if you do what they specify. It is legalistic because it tells you how many people to forward the letter to. It is witchcraft because it is manipulative.
  6. The most disgusting chain letter I have ever received said, "If you love Jesus, send this to 12 people." No! No! No! That ain't Bible! [emphasis added]. The Bible says if you love me, keep my commandments. It says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about responding to a chain letter.

Chain Letters Are Not Godly

Chain letters are not of God. We don't have to send chain letters to prove our love for God. You should not send chain letters to prove friendship. When you receive a chain letter through the mail, put it in the trash. When you receive a chain letter through e-mail or text, put it in the trash. If you respond to it, you are as guilty as the person who sent it. Also, if you refuse it, the chain will be broken.

Sending chain letters in the name of God says one thing about the sender . . . he or she is Bible illiterate!

If I told you to forward this to 12 people in order for you, the recipients and me to be blessed, this would be a chain letter. But of course, you know I wouldn't do that because I have just made a good case against chain letters.

Do you send or respond to chain letters?

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    • profile image

      Johnd74 3 years ago

      I truly enjoy looking at on this web site , it contains superb blog posts. Heavierthanair flying machines are impossible. by Lord Kelvin. gddeeeeceddd

    • profile image

      MissCapri 3 years ago

      I'm back again. You are in my "List Of Honor" that is a collection of Christians speaking out against chain letters. There are nowhere near enough of us, we're hard to find among the morass of Christians spreading chain letters, and so many people sounding off tending to be non-Christians. *Facepalm*

      So, here it is.

      List Of Honor

      Have you heard about the appalling case of two preteen girls who nearly killed another girl because of their belief in a chain letter? Specifically, it was Slender Man, a vile creepypasta (copy paste AKA chain letter).

    • profile image

      Miss Capri 7 years ago

      Yes! This makes my day to see more Christians speaking out against chain letters, and for the same reasons I speak out. I'm sick of Christians letting themselves be taken in, and seeing so many people on the net sounding off against chain letters turning out to be non, even anti-Christian as well. Great hub!

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Genna, I still get them even though my friends know how I feel about them. I delete them immediately. It really is hard stopping them entirely.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I'm not a fan of chain letters, and do get annoyed when receiving them. Especially, those that state, "if you don't forward this on, you will have bad luck; if you do, fortune will smile on you." They are rare, but still manage to weed through the cracks. Great hub!

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Betty, for reading my case against chain letters and sharing your personal experiences with chain letters. I suppose all of us have received them.

    • Betty Johansen profile image

      Betty Johansen 7 years ago

      It always frustrates me when I receive a really outstanding email with one of those messages at the bottom. I want to send it on because it's so good, so funny, so beautiful, etc. But I want to kill it because it tells me to pass it on. Anyway, you've nailed it again. Thanks for pointing out the case against chain letters.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Faye, thanks for reading and responding. Feel free to share with others, if you like.

    • profile image

      Faye 7 years ago

      Thanks for posting this,I hate those letters.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Tara, good for you. I am glad you know the real deal about chain letters.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, capncrunch. I like your pun. Thanks for reading and responding about those annoying chain letters.

    • profile image

      Tara Howard 7 years ago

      I used to get many chain letters via email. And I used to forward them until I got one that stated to send to be blessed. The statement made me uncomfortable because I knew it was untrue. But I will say that I will still forward thought provoking or things that touch my heart when I read them. I have just become very good at removing what I find offensive when I forward and I forward very selectively (without the instructions to reforward).

    • capncrunch profile image

      capncrunch 7 years ago from New Orleans

      I agree with your great hub. I was getting these chains in texts for awhile until they realized I didn't reply, I guess. And you are very much correct about it being a nuisance and sometimes illegal. I've gotten some of these from unsuspecting persons of higher chain of command. No pun intended there.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      FaithDream, as usual thanks for reading and responding. We have to keep letting people know that forwarding a chain letter doesn't prove that we love God. Like you, I have informed my friends not to send them to me, but once in a while some will slip through.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 7 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Amen!! Finally someone has spoken up. I get these from "well-intention" friends. And those that say forward if you love Jesus, just get to me. I agree with you 100 percent. I have even went back to the one who sent it to tell them the same thing. Those that know me very well, don't send them to me at all.

      Thanks for another great article.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 7 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Michael for responding. I juat read your hub about the Lord's Prayer chain letter.

    • Michael Adams1959 profile image

      Michael Adams1959 7 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

      I have broken so many chain letters it is not even countable! I posted one as a hub after seeing the way it was written it was on the Lord's Prayer.