Jesus wants your soul. He also wants your hard drive. Or at least that's what the writer of the "It Take Guts to Say Jesus" virus hoax would have readers believe.
This hoax is ancient -- I got my first copy back in 1998, and it's actually the e-mail that inspired me to launch Nuketown's hoax debunking section. I received dozens of these e-mails from well meaning friends, and I finally snapped and decided to do something about it. Of course, years later these hoaxes -- even this one -- are still circulating, but I think Nuketown has played at least a small part in stemming the tide of idiocy.
But I digress. Here's the original hoax I received:
Did you receive the following?
If you receive an email titled "It Takes Guts to Say 'Jesus'" DO NOT open it. It will erase everything on your hard drive. Forward this letter out to as many people as you can. This is a new, very malicious virus and not many people know about it. This information was announced yesterday morning from IBM; please share it with everyone that might access the internet.
Once again, pass this along to EVERYONE in your address book so that this may be stopped.
And here's a more recent version:
Date Captured: 2/4/2005
If you receive an email titled: "It Takes Guts to Say Jesus"
DO NOT OPEN IT. It will erase everything on your hard drive.
This information was announced yesterday morning from IBM; AOL states that
this is a very dangerous virus, much worse than "Melissa," and that there is NO Remedy for it at this time.
Some very sick individual has succeeded in using the reformat function from
Norton Utilities causing it to completely erase all documents on the hard
It has been designed to work with Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet
Explorer. It destroys Macintosh and IBM compatible computers.
This is a new, very malicious virus and not many people know about it. Pass
this warning along to EVERYONE in your address book ! and please share it
with all your online friends ASAP so that this threat maybe stopped.
Please practice cautionary measures and tell anyone that may have access to
your computer. Forward this warning to everyone that you know that might
access the Internet.
This hoax is actually a modified version of an even older hoax, called "Good Times". Most of the wording is exactly the same as the earlier hoax -- about the only thing that changed was the name of the alleged virus. Interestingly, the "Good Times" hoax seems to have died off -- I haven't received any e-mails about it in years, while I received two e-mails about "Jesus" over the last few months.
So how do we know it's a hoax? First off, the last line is a pretty good tip off that this is a hoax -- almost all of them end with some sort of a plea to forward the e-mail to EVERYONE YOU KNOW!, implying -- if not outright stating -- that the fate of the world may hinge on whether or not you press the "forward" button.
Still, some valid threats also end with that proclamation, so its good to seek proof. Back when this e-mail originated, IBM had a page debunking it, which was a quick and easy proof of the e-mail's falseness. Unfortunately, that page is now gone.
That's ok though, because we can always turn to the anti-virus companies for proof. In this case, two of them have debunkings:
- Symantec: "Guts to Say Jesus" Includes three versions of the hoax.
- McAfee.com: "Guts to Say Jesus": Includes two versions of the hoax.
Debunkings of the hoax can also be found at other urban legend sites: