Example: [Collected via e-mail, May 2013]
Origins: After a tornado wrought massive destruction in and around the town of Moore, Oklahoma, in May 2013, the news was full of accounts of survival and heroism, such as the story of Rhonda Crosswhite, an elementary school teacher who shielded some of her students with her body while praying for the twister to spare them:
Rhonda Crosswhite, a sixth-grade teacher at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, shielded three kids with her own body,
Amid the schoolhouse chaos, Crosswhite never lost faith that she and her students would survive.
"The whole time I just kept screaming to them, 'Quit worrying, we're fine, we're fine," she said, adding that she was unsure if her attempts at reassurance could be heard over the twister.
"We're going to be fine, I'm protecting you," Crosswhite recalled telling the students. "Then I said a few prayers: 'God, please take care of my kids' — and we're fine."
Paulina Trumble, 52, a twenty three year veteran educator at Briarwood Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma knew she was in trouble the moment the cyclone passed after realizing she had uttered out loud a prayer to the Almighty, violating strict separation of church and state laws.
"In a moment when I believed we were all going to die I naturally sought comfort from the only place I knew," said Trumble.
"I know prayer is strictly forbidden in classrooms, and the students know that too, but I’m only human and in the face of such terror I did break the rules. I’m sorry if I offended anyone or violated their civil rights."
Nonetheless, the rumor that a teacher in Moore, Oklahoma, had been fired after praying for safety during the tornado became so prevalent that school officials took to the news media to debunk it, as described in the Tulsa World:
No such school employee existed by the name circulated and no employees were fired, Superintendent Susan Pierce said.
"That's such a mean-spirited and disrespectful action," Pierce said at a news conference.
The rumor began that a teacher was fired because she lead the class in a prayer when the tornado barreled toward Moore on May 20.
Pierce said school officials checked out the rumor and found it to be false.
"I haven't stopped praying. We haven't stopped praying" since the storm, Pierce said. "We all turn to our beliefs and our faith in our time of crisis."
Wofford, Jerry. "Moore Superintendent: No Teacher Was Fired for Praying." Tulsa World. 27 May 2013.