In April 2019, the following image started to make the rounds on Imgur, with the original poster claiming in the caption that “the elders at my brother-in-law’s church” (Christian Life International, or CLI) unwittingly produced a lewd shirt for its softball team:
The elders at my brother-in-law’s church got to design the church league softball shirts. The thought “CLI” (Christian Life International) alone wouldn’t signify a church, so they added the cross. Magnificent.
The user claimed:
[Christian Life International “elders”] thought “CLI” (Christian Life International) alone wouldn’t signify a church, so they added the cross. Magnificent.Christian Life International Softball Shirt DesignChristian Life International Softba...
On Twitter, a tweet featuring the same image shared three days after the original post accrued tens of thousands of likes and thousands of retweets:
A search for “Christian Life International softball” suspiciously turned up nearly nothing but links to the image and its description, and we have so far found no evidence that anyone had made the slightest attempt to verify the claim before repeating it on blogs and across social media. We were also unable to find mention of a Christian Life International softball team on CLI’s official Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages, and a search of their entire website returned no results for the word “softball” at all. If CLI had a softball team, it was a well-kept secret.
In other words, one completely unsubstantiated claim on Imgur about an embarrassing Christian Life International softball shirt formed the basis of every iteration of the rumor on social media and blogs. We found no information indicating anyone had checked the story with anyone affiliated with CLI at all, nor any information indicating the church had a softball team. We contacted Christian Life International via phone and email, but have not yet received a response.