A cross on a chain sitting on an open Bible.

Did a Muslim Cashier Confront a Christian Boy at St. Cloud Sporting Goods Store?

A chain email and viral Facebook post about a 17-year-old boy who purportedly stood his ground after a Muslim cashier confronted him at Shield’s Sporting Goods in St. Cloud, Minnesota, because she was offended by his cross necklace first appeared in December 2015:

A young 17 yr. old boy was shopping in St. Cloud at a sports store, called Shields.The cashier was a muslim lady who was wearing her headscarf. The 17 yr. old was wearing a necklace with a cross on it. She told him he would have to put his cross under his shirt because it offended her. He told her would not do that. Then he told her that he thought she should take her headscarf off. She then called for the manager. The manager came out & told the 17 yr. old to just put his cross under his shirt and everything would be fine. The boy again refused to do so & at that point he left the items he had intended to purchase & walked out. Several customers who had been in line behind him had heard the conversation & also left their carts full of items & walked out of the store!!

This story is a perfect example of why stories that do not include names, dates, or other verifiable details should be regarded as misinformation or disinformation until proven otherwise — particularly if those stories are spread via email forwards or on social media. This is a slight variation of an earlier story that has already been thoroughly debunked.

In December 2015, a Facebook post told a story of a Walmart cashier in St. Cloud who was dressed in a hijab and refused to check out a customer because they were wearing a necklace bearing a crucifix. However, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said in a St. Cloud Times report that the store had conducted an internal investigation and was unable to verify the claim:

“We looked into the situation as soon as we learned of the allegations,” Lundberg said. “While we’ve asked our cashiers and management about this, we’ve been unable to verify that this happened at all. We’ve been working to identify the actual customer making these claims.”

Lundberg said Wal-Mart officials even reviewed surveillance video of the two St. Cloud stores, but it can’t find evidence that the event occurred. Such an action by a store employee would violate company policy, he said.

A short time later, the Facebook post was removed.

Then, less than a month later, the setting of the story moved to a “Shields” sporting goods store in St. Cloud in the forwarded email. In that version, a Muslim cashier told a 17-year-old boy that she was offended by his cross necklace, but he supposedly stood his ground and refused to take it off.

There’s also no store called “Shields” in St. Cloud, but there is a store called Scheels All Sports. The name may have been changed in the email by accident, or it may have been changed to make the new claim impossible to verify. (There is also the question of how one can infer the personal beliefs of an imaginary cashier from a simple item of clothing that does not always have religious connotations.)

Either way, this is almost identical to a previously debunked story, and it is often used to redirect or confuse the national conversation whenever it reappears. However, this story, as with its previous iterations, is false.