Somewhat factually challenged Rick Warren tweeted and reiterated the allegation that last year 146,000 Christians were put to death because of their faith. No one, except Christians, said anything."< p>
Unless you count Amnesty International (not a Christian organization) and Human Rights Watch -- and others.
The number 146,000 is almost as startling as Warren's willingness to encourage, without just cause, self-isolating Christian self-pity. In the lengthy process of attempting to find a valid source for Warren's claim, we learn that 146,000 is a number which turns up frequently. Almost as if it were a magic number:
- The number of Nigerians killed in road accidents in 2007.
- An apparently commonplace wrong answer to the question: How many people die per day, worldwide?.
- A number of deaths in Burma (Myanmar) associated with cyclone Nargis in May of 2008 when the Suu Kyi regime refused to allow the delivery of aid.
- The number of women who were expected to die of causes related to smoking in 1991, according to the Washington Post.
- A controversial top-end number of deaths in Darfur cited in an April of 2005 speech by then Assistant Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick.
- Not a number unearthed by a search of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven online magazine produced no results. Not even when narrowed to just the number 146,000.
Dismissive assertions using dramatic, undocumented numbers -- like Warren's 146,000 tweet -- tend to progressively discredit the source. It's inevitable. Unless the source comes back with persuasive proof of his/her claims, they are demonstrations of untrustworthiness.