Snopes.com ran an expose on another of those "miracle in the midst of disaster" pieces this week, this time about the supposed selflessness of the miners in January's Sago mine disaster.
...I work in Buckhannon and the lady who cleans our office was in here late last night as I was still working. She came in very excited that someone was still here so she could share some good news surrounding this incident. I though it was incredibly inspiring, touching, and worth sharing as a testament to God's purpose in all things.
She had a couple relatives who died in the accident, and she knew the family and young man who survived. Randall McCloy apparently has a young family and small children, and those fellow miners who were trapped with him made the decision at least in part to give their oxygen to this young man so he could survive to raise his family. According to her there are notes in several of the deceased miners lunch boxes describing their decision. Her comment was that she knew several of them and that some weren't right with the Lord, but her belief is that the Lord, working in ways we cannot comprehend, opened an opportunity for them to open their hearts to God, and then make an extreme sacrifice of love for another.
Problem? None of this is true.
Final messages in the form of scribbled notes to loved ones were found on some of the miners, but none of their contents (as released to the media) made mention of oxygen being donated to McCloy.
Several months after the accident, when Randal McCloy was sufficiently recovered to release a statement, the story he told was the opposite of the one presented above: At least four of the miners' air packs did not function, so McCloy shared his own rescuer with another miner, and the miners trapped with him shared theirs with the other three men whose own devices did not work:
I have no problem believing that God works in our lives. I do have a problem with people pursuing their own agendas (packing their churches and spreading their personal brand of theology) by lying about the events in a horrible tragedy. From what we hear, the accident is the result of an inherently dangerous situation exacerbated by reduction of government oversight.
As always, God gives us the tools -- infused morality, reason, science -- to help us improve our own lives. And as usual, we refuse to use those gifts. Having failed to use our gifts to improve the lives of our neighbors, we have no right to turn tragedy into triumph with phony recourse to supposed divine intervention.
The Sago miners died because they pursued a dangerous line of work, because industry put profits before safety and because government decided to take a vacation from protecting its citizens.
What better illustration of St. Paul's dictum that "the wages of sin is death"?
Image: A makeshift memorial for some of the miners killed in the Sago disaster. Getty Images. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5134307