FACT CHECK: Did Steven Levy Make This Statement About Religion In America?
A Facebook post shared over 600 times attributes a long statement about being religious in the U.S. to journalist Steven Levy.
There is no evidence Levy made this statement. He has refuted the claim.
The lengthy post contends that Levy, a well-known technology journalist and the editor-at-large of Wired, gave an impassioned speech on “CBS Sunday Morning” about the need for religion in the U.S. in response to the White House allegedly referring to Christmas trees as “holiday trees.”
“I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians,” reads part of the alleged speech. “I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.”
However, there is no evidence that Levy made this statement or anything resembling it. In fact, he published an article for Wired in 2014 denying that he authored the message, which he called a “deranged rant,” or ever discussed the White House referring to its Christmas trees as a “holiday trees” on “CBS Sunday Morning.” (RELATED: Did Tomi Lahren Say, ‘Obama Created Festivus To Destroy Christmas’?)
An internet search reveals part of the post is derived from commentary presented by conservative economist Ben Stein during a December 2005 “CBS Sunday Morning” news broadcast, according to the Lowell Sun. Stein was not, however, speaking about how the White House supposedly referred to Christmas trees.
Other aspects of the post, including the mentions of the late prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair and the late pediatrician and author Dr. Benjamin Spock, did not come from Stein and are of indeterminate origin. Check Your Fact didn’t find any record of Levy making those comments, either.
No credible news reports of the White House using the term “holiday trees” to refer to Christmas trees could be found. The White House website repeatedly refers to “Christmas trees” on a section of the site dedicated to the holiday decorations displayed at the residence this year.
While there is no evidence Levy made the statement attributed to him in the post, he has appeared on CBS News as recently as Nov. 29, where he discussed Twitter and former CEO Jack Dorsey’s resignation as CEO.