Last week, a ludicrously fake story about the Supreme Court abolishing the teaching of Islam in public schools began spreading across conservative so-called news sites. The article circulated with clickbait-y headlines celebrating Donald Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch for supposedly pissing off Muslims and Obama.
If the story somehow didn't automatically register as fake news, a little Googling easily proves its claims false. Gorsuch's first day on the high court wasn't until this past Monday, days after fake-news site America's Last Line of Defense posted its article. And as Snopes points out, the court didn't even hear any cases involving religion in schools before Gorsuch showed up.
The dubious validity of the story was apparent even to a few savvy, disappointed commenters on Conservative World Daily. Alas, the same can't be said for North Miami Beach Councilman Anthony DeFillipo, who yesterday excitedly posted the article to his Facebook page and repeatedly insisted it was "Fact!!" even after dozens of his constituents pointed out it was literally a made-up story.
"Here comes the sun!" DeFillipo wrote above a link to the story on a totally legit-sounding site called donaldtrumpnews.co. "America grew balls again! #USA the integrity of this nation shall never be compromised!!!"
Commenters quickly pointed out the story was faker than Trump's tan.
But DeFillipo, a property manager elected to North Miami Beach's council in 2013, refused to back down. He responded to critics with made-up quotes the story claimed were from a ruling written by Gorsuch.
Among them: “We should [sic] be teaching any religions in this country besides standard Judeo-Christianity, as our founders wanted, and we certainly shouldn’t be filling the children with lies about Islam being a 'religion of peace' when they see the carnage on the news almost every day.”
The bogus article claimed schools would now be allowed to teach students only about radical Islam "and what students can do to stop it." It ended by cheering the win for Christianity, adding that "thanks to our president we can get back to respecting our true values and the normal every day worshipping of the only real God."
For the record, public schools are not allowed to teach religion, though they can teach about it in a secular context.
That DeFillipo could be bamboozled by patently fake news is alarming; more concerning is his apparent delight over a story that paints Islam as violent and contrary to American values and trumpets Judaism and Christianity as the only legitimate religions in the United States.
By early Wednesday morning, DeFillipo deleted the post. The commissioner — who was recently in the news as one of the backers of North Miami Beach's FBI-investigated move to privatize its water supply — hasn't replied to an email from New Times asking about his penchant for fake news.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.