Posts Falsely Link Evangelical Leader to Cannabis Product
A viral Facebook post, which links to a webpage that misrepresents itself as a Fox News report, pushes the false story that evangelical Christian leader Charles Stanley is selling CBD, a cannabis product. Stanley’s organization said the story was a “scam”.
Charles Stanley is the founder and leader of the evangelical Christian organization In Touch Ministries, which claims to reach more than 100 million homes in the United States through its digital, television and radio broadcasts. Stanley, the former senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, also served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
But a viral Facebook post, which has since been deleted, incorrectly claimed that Stanley was also selling a line of gummies with cannabidiol, or CBD, an edible form of a chemical found in marijuana. CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana that produces a high.
The post linked to a webpage that impersonates Fox News by hijacking the network’s name and logo on the page. The bogus page also names Brit Hume, senior political analyst for Fox News, as the author of the fabricated Stanley story.
Another webpage on another website published a similar fake story, which also impersonates Fox News and includes photos of the religious leader. But, in this case, Stanley is falsely portrayed as selling another brand of CBD products. The two webpages – which provide links to Florida-based companies that sell CBD products – are not affiliated with Fox.
“Both of these sites are bogus sites and are in no way affiliated with Fox News,” a Fox News spokesperson confirmed to us in an email.
Fake ads for “Charles Stanley CBD Oil” appeared on Facebook as early as April. fake websites and social media posts included reviews of the products, stating that there are “significant benefits of Charles Stanley CBD Gummies”.
In response to the messages, In Touch Ministries posted a “scam alert” on their website. The statement, in part, reads (emphasis added):
In Touch Ministries, June 5: We want to alert you to a scam that was posted on Facebook and spread through various emails, websites, and even text messages.
In Touch Ministries has received reports that scammers have posted the image of Dr. Charles Stanley, falsely reporting that Dr. Stanley is starting a new business venture in CBD oil. Some of the articles even use fake Fox News headers to sound more persuasive. However, none of this is true. THIS IS A SCAM. Dr. Stanley did not start any new ventures.
PLEASE DO NOT CLICK ON SUCH MISLEADING POSTS, EMAILS, TEXTS OR WEBSITES. Scammers attempt to trick you into giving up your personal information or infecting your electronic devices using the image of Dr. Stanley.
There have been similar versions of this false claim using the names of other celebrities to promote a CBD product, including the actor tom hankreligious leaders Joel Osteen and TD Jacques, and others.
Editor’s Note: FactCheck.org is one of many organizations work with facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
Bauer, Brent. “What are the benefits of CBD – and is it safe to use?” Mayoclinic.org. December 18, 2020.
Fox News spokesperson. Email to FactCheck.org June 11, 2021.
“In Touch Ministries, Inc.” Web page. GuideStar. Accessed June 11, 2021.
In touch ministries. “DON’T GET ROUNDED!” InTouch.org. June 5, 2021.
Mandy. “Charles Stanley Biography, Wife, Age, Children, Contacts, Books, Worth.” BiographyScoop. July 5, 2020.
Reinhold, Robert. “A fundamentalist re-elected as the leader of the Southern Baptists.” New York Times. June 12, 1985.
Tom Hanks (@TomHanks) “That’s wrong and it’s an intentional prank. I never said that and I would never give such an endorsement. Come on man! Hanx!” Instagram. January 21, 2020.