Fact Check

Is This a C. S. Lewis Quote from 1942?

A "quote" shared widely during the COVID-19 pandemic may have felt timely, but that is probably because it was written in 2020.

Published Mar 30, 2020

25th November 1950:  British writer C S Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis, 1898 - 1963), a Fellow and Tutor of Magdalen College, Oxford. Original Publication: Picture Post - 5159 - Eternal Oxford - pub. 1950  (Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) (John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Image Via John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Claim:
Author C. S. Lewis wrote a passage in "The Screwtape Letters" involving Satan wanting to "shut down businesses" and Jesus wanting to restore the family unit.

Snopes is still fighting an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can help. Find out what we've learned and how to inoculate yourself against COVID-19 misinformation. Read the latest fact checks about the vaccines. Submit any questionable rumors and “advice” you encounter. Become a Founding Member to help us hire more fact-checkers. And, please, follow the CDC or WHO for guidance on protecting your community from the disease.

In late March 2020, an image supposedly showing an excerpt from author C. S. Lewis' "The Screw Tape Letters" started to circulate on social media among users who claimed that the passage was especially pertinent when so many people find themselves homebound due to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic:

The excerpt involves an exchange between Satan and Jesus that presumably occurred in the aftermath of a similar pandemic. Satan says that his purpose was to cause "anxiety" and to shut down businesses and places of worship, while Jesus says that he will use this trying time to restore the family unit:

The full exchange reads:

Satan: I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil.

Jesus: I will bring together neighbours, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources.

This passage was not written by Lewis and it does not appear in "The Screwtape Letters." We searched a digital version of this material available via Google Books and could not find the above-displayed passage. Likewise, a copy of this book from Project Gutenberg did not contain this quote.

This passage is not a piece of prescient writing originally published in the 1940s; rather, it actually has modern day origins. It was written by a Facebook user named Heidi May and first appeared on Facebook on March 12, 2020:

Sources

Thomas Aquinas College.   "Alumnus Priest Finds Peace Amidst Pandemic."     19 March 2020.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

Article Tags

Become
a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.

Perks

Ad-Free Browsing on Snopes.com
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime
default