CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois congressman says <a target=”—blank” href=”https://www.facebook.com/RepBost/photos/a.1000111276683396.1073741829.996394850388372/2012767862084394/?type=3&theater”>a photo of him</a> delivering a bag of prayer cards to President Donald Trump was taken nearly a year ago and had nothing to do with last week’s deadly school shooting in Florida.
Stories on sites including patheos.com incorrectly state that Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bost delivered the prayer cards “after the Florida school shooting.”
The post spread on social media and drew condemnation from people who said it was an inappropriate response to the deaths of 17 people. Many criticized Bost and Trump for smiling widely in the photograph.
Bost says his wife collected the prayer cards in 2017 from people in southern Illinois who wanted Trump to know they were praying for his administration and the country. The photo was taken at the White House last spring, but Bost’s office says he didn’t receive it from the White House photographer until Friday.
Bost spokesman George O’Connor said the photo was posted on the congressman’s Facebook page that day because constituents had been asking about it.
The original caption stated that Bost had hand-delivered the prayer cards but didn’t specify when the photo was taken. The caption was edited Tuesday to state that the photo was taken in 2017.
O’Connor says the prayer cards and photo had “absolutely nothing to do with school shootings.”
In a new Facebook post Wednesday, Bost says “it’s a sad state of affairs when collecting prayer cards and scriptures from church communities in Southern Illinois gets lambasted by political radicals on the left.”
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.