AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The organization and its founder, Klaus Schwab, did not make these declarations, as some social media posts suggest. The comments, which are taken out of context, were made by Yuval Noah Harari, an author and historian who has spoken at WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing screenshots of a story from a publication known for running false information and conspiracy theories to make the claim that Schwab and the WEF recently made controversial comments about God.
The article includes an image fabricated to look like a tweet from the WEF saying “Jesus is fake news.” It also includes video clips of Harari making various statements about God, Jesus and divine powers and describes the author as a “top advisor” to the WEF and “right hand man” to Schwab.
“God is dead, according to the World Economic Forum, who have also declared that ‘Jesus is fake news’ and that WEF leaders have ‘acquired divine powers’ to rule over humanity,” one TikTok user says in a recent post as snippets from the stories featuring the false claims run in the background. The video has been viewed more than 6,000 times.
“This should scare everyone,” wrote a user on Twitter who shared one of the articles containing the false information.
But the comments don’t come from Schwab or the WEF.
The organization, which is known for its annual gathering of global political and business leaders in the Swiss mountain resort town of Davos, has long been the subject of conspiracy theories — in particular around its “Great Reset” initiative, a post-pandemic economic plan championed by Schwab.
“This news is part of another infamous defamation campaign originated by conspiracy theory websites,” Yann Zopf, a spokesperson for the WEF, wrote in an email. “It is completely made up.”
A review of the WEF’s Twitter feed — including older versions of it saved on the online tool the Wayback Machine — shows it never posted anything saying “Jesus is fake news” on Nov. 22, as the stories claim.
The comments highlighted in the stories appear to be paraphrased from Harari, an author and historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who spoke at the Davos conference in 2018 and 2020.
“All these stories about Jesus rising from the dead and being the son of God — this is fake news,” he said in a 2018 interview at Google as he tried to explain how a Jewish rabbi might dismiss Christian beliefs when promoting their own faith.
Harari also referenced Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote that “God is dead” in his 2015 work “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.”
“More than a century after Nietzsche pronounced Him dead, God seems to be making a comeback,” he wrote. “But this is a mirage. God is dead – it’s just taking a while to get rid of the body.”
And when discussing the promise of new and future technologies, Harari, who has written a number of popular science books, has warned about the potential dangers, often in Biblical terms.
“We are really acquiring divine powers of creation and destruction,” Harari said in a 2020 interview. “We are really upgrading humans into gods. We are acquiring, for instance, the power to re-engineer life, and we have to be extremely careful not to confuse this power with wisdom.”
Naama Wartenburg, a spokesperson for Harari, stressed the author has never declared the WEF should rule the world or that it’s planning to acquire divine powers. She also said Harari has never worked for the WEF, or even met Schwab in person.
“People presenting Prof. Harari as Mr. Schwab’s advisor, assistant, or as someone who has worked for the WEF are either deliberately lying, or are simply misled or misinformed,” Wartenburg wrote in an email.
Klaus Schwab, a German engineer and economist is the founder and Chairman of World Economic Forum (WEF). He was born to Eugen Wilhelm Schwab and Erika Epprecht in Ravensburg in 1938. His parents had moved from Switzerland to Germany during the Third Reich in order for his father to assume the role of director at Escher Wyss AG. Schwab’s family was monitored by the Gestapo, which in 1944 also interrogated his mother (who was from Zürich) for using a Swiss accent in public. Schwab was raised Catholic. He is a citizen of Germany although he has three Swiss grandparents and two Swiss brothers.
Schwab has been married since 1971 to Hilde Schwab, a former assistant of his. The wedding took place in Sertig Valley at a Reformed church. The couple live in Cologny in Switzerland. The Schwabs have two adult children, Nicole (born 1975/76) and Olivier. Nicole Schwab co-founded the Gender Equality Project.