Christian Plagiarism

by Tishrei, Fruit of the Word

Last night I was reading an article at a Christian news site. In fact, it was a topic that I decided to blog. I quoted a couple of sentences and included a link to the original source. I continued reading and read all the comments. As I was reading the comments to the article, I read something strangely familiar. In fact, it was very, very familiar. It was so very familiar because … I wrote it. One of the commenters to the article had found an article on my blog and cut and pasted two long paragraphs and used it in his comment. In fact, those two paragraphs were the sole content of his comment and he posted it as his own words. The Christian took someone else’s work and made a choice to deceive anyone reading his comment that it was his original argument. No mention was made of the source or even that he found it on the internet.
I have not been harmed by his deception. My blog does not earn income of any kind off of any post. I have no ads that I would earn any income. In fact, I do not gain anything from my blog. I blog simply to share what I have learned, my thoughts or views on my world from a Christian perspective and to interact with others who may give me insight or may gain insight from what I post.
Make no mistake, plagiarism is theft. It is defined as:

  • “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” (Dictionary.com) The origin of the word is: plagiarism
  • 1621, from L. plagiarius “kidnapper, seducer, plunderer,” used in the sense of “literary thief” by Martial, from plagium “kidnapping,” from plaga “snare, net,” from PIE base *p(e)lag- “flat, spread out.”Plagiary is attested from 1597. (emphasis added) (Dictionary.com)


If I was not harmed in any way by that person plagiarizing my post, what’s the problem? The problem is that it is theft, plain and simple. Some Christian out there on the internet pasted someone else’s work as his own with the intent to deceive others that it was his own words. Christians represent Christ. Imagine someone running across his post and then later finding my post. It’s not an impossibility nor even unlikely. I know I have read something on the internet and decided I want to learn a little bit more on a subject so I do an internet search. And there you have it – plagiarized work easily found out. I found my work posted by someone else as his own work by sheer accident. And it is NOT the first time.

plagiarism

If he simply had stated that he found the following (my work) on the internet, it would not have been a problem. In fact, all he had to state is “author unknown” and it would have been obvious that it was not his original work. I am not looking for credit for what I write. However, the problem is that he lied by deceiving his readers that my words really were his own. It makes him a thief and a liar. As Christians, nothing we write about our faith is original. Christianity has been around for over 2,000 years and written work about theology has been written about by countless people. Even the posts on this blog is not original. I did not learn theology in a vacuum. I’ve listened to sermons. I have read much on the internet. I have read many Christian books. Whatever I write is not original for I have learned it from somewhere. However, if I take it verbatim from another source,
I must cite my source. If I do not, I would be guilty of deceit and eventually lose credibility and become known as a liar and a thief. For instance, I know certain things about the Civil War. If I were to state:
The Southern states seceded the union based on their belief that they had a right to do so. However, this act was rejected by Washington. As such, the Confederate army attacked a South Carolina military site.
This is not considered plagiarism. I am repeating common knowledge. It is something that we all learned in history classes.
However, if I were to post the following:

  • Secession was followed by a constitutional argument regarding the right of a state to leave the Union. The United States administration rejected the secession, and termed it as a rebellion. The battles between the two forces began on April 12, 1861, when the Confederate forces attacked a United States military installation in Southern Carolina.

I would be required to cite a source because I cut and pasted the above. It is someone else’s work. (source of the above taken from here)
I don’t have to cite a source if I were to write “George Washington was the first president of the United States.” That information is common knowledge, written in those words in countless history books.
To those Christians who cut and paste someone else’s work as their own, SHAME ON YOU. You are purposely deceiving your readers and that makes you a liar and a thief. You may never be found out in this life. You may continue to lie and deceive others. But make no mistake, you have not deceived God. He knows that you are stealing from another and passing it off as your own. It’s shameful when you have been caught. The person who stole my work and passed it off on his own, I’m waiting to hear what he has to say. I’m not asking him to give me or this blog credit. Really, I don’t care about that. What I really hate is when Christians do something that hurts the Christian witness. He probably won’t answer me because of his shame. He should be ashamed of his deceit. You lose credibility and your witness has been compromised when we lie and steal. Is the theft worth your witness?

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