Fake News: Christian Pastor In Vermont Sentenced To One Year In Prison After Refusing To Marry Gay Couple

We here at Jesus Name news don’t just want to post the news, but we also want to let our readers know when there are hoaxes being sent around the Internet. A “news” story has been going around the Internet in the last few days and we want to keep all of you, our readers, aware of the truth of what is happening:

Example of the False Story at newsexaminer.com

The news story is saying that a Vermont pastor has been sentenced to one year in prison for refusing to marry a gay couple. Here is an excerpt from the story:

Proctor, VT  —  According to NBC News, a pastor at the Christian Proctor Church in Vermont, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison after refusing to marry gay couples. This comes shortly after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision ruling that states must allow gay marriage.

The Christian Pastor, 56-year-old Paul Horner, had his lawyer speak to reporters on his behalf.

“We are currently disputing the guilty verdict and I am confident my client will be a free man here shortly,” said attorney Tom Downey. “Horner was just using his best judgement according to his rights and religious freedom in this country.”

The Honorable Myron Danus handed down the harsh sentence.

“Religious freedom goes both ways, Mr. Horner,” Danus told a packed courtroom. “It is not your place to deny individuals the same rights that everyone else has, rights that were passed down and agreed upon in a court of law, the ultimate court, the Supreme Court. It is not your decision whether or not you agree with the law but more importantly that you follow it and enforce it.”


Here are some of the common issues with this story:

  • The original site is not nbc.com (home page for NBC’s network of broadcast channels. Think “NBC Primetime Television”) or nbcnews.com, it is nbc.com.co. That is a fake website posing as a legit NBC website. Its a common Internet hoax scheme used to fool people into believing fake stories. Many times these kinds of site are using for phishing/hacking/identity theft purposes. Be careful out there! I can’t verify right now who owns nbc.com.co, but it is not updated enough for NBC (a major media company) to be posting as major of a story as this on it. The last article before this one was in 2014. Why would it break on this website if it was truly from NBC?
  • If a pastor in Vermont were arrested for refusing to officiate a gay marriage, it would be the biggest news story of the year. Bigger than the initial ruling by the Supreme Court. I want to point something out about this article: it is not about the initial arrest, the investigation, or the trial of the pastor. It is about his sentencing. Where are the articles about the arrest? About the investigation and pre-trial motions? Where is the circus of high profile cases? Where was the trial? Can anyone anywhere find any evidence of any of that? Because I don’t see any of it anywhere.
  • A Google search for “Christian Proctor Church Vermont” brings up nothing but postings and repostings of the news article in question. Why can’t I find the exact church or Pastor mentioned? Anyone with any direct contact/connection to the man outside of the new article originating at a fake website?

Here is the Snopes link. Information from Snopes:

  • nbc.com.co is a fake mirror site of a fake news site.
  • The judge is also not the real name of a real judge in Vermont.

So there you have it folks! Be careful what you believe and what you see on the Internet! Just because Twitter or Facebook users are posting about it doesn’t mean it is true. Stay tuned to Jesus Name News in the future for more real news and more exposure of fake news.

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