Saturday, April 30, 2016

Charlie Johnston Lies about Me - and I Admire Him for It!



Charlie Johnston is from Belleville.

If you come from St. Louis, that's all you need to know.

Charlie is the kind of guy you'd meet in a bar in Belleville, Illinois - a working class community across the river from St. Louis, where I'm from.  Guys from Belleville - and from all over Southern Illinois - are characters.  They come up with tall tales and you sit on a bar stool listening to them and you take everything they say with a grain of salt because they're from Belleville.

Charlie Johnston is a liar.  Or a teller of tall tales.  Take your pick.

He says an angel is giving him secret messages.  He says, among other things, that the last normal Christmas was Christmas of 2013, and if you didn't notice how abnormal Christmas of 2014 and Christmas of 2015 were, that's not his fault.  He says that his angel has told him that Obama will not finish his term; that he will convert and that the 2016 elections will be suspended.  He says that the Virgin Mary will publicly appear in 2017 and that there will be a utopia of Christian believers on earth from that point forward.  He says he walked across America - even though he appears to be in his 70's, is overweight, admits to having nerve damage, and his own posts on his Facebook page prove that he did no such thing.

On Friday, April 29, the National Catholic Register published a well written and well researched article by Patti Armstrong detailing Charlie's weirdness and the bishops who have warned their flocks about him and banned him from speaking in their dioceses.  In that article, Patti quotes me, and my two posts on Charlie (this one and this one).

Charlie's response?

Before I tell you Charlie's response, you have to realize what happens when a guy from Belleville starts telling tall tales - claiming an angel is giving him visionary messages that are patently absurd, claiming he's walked across the United States, claiming a cataclysm is coming, the date of which he keeps changing - when a guy from Belleville starts telling tall tales and suddenly discovers that there are a ton of Devout Catholics who, for whatever sick reason, ARE ACTUALLY BELIEVING HIM!

Now if you're Charlie Johnston and you've been making this up as you go along, what do you do when the National Catholic Register links to an article by a guy named Kevin O'Brien, a guy from across the river in St. Louis, who has proof that you've been lying about one big thing in particular - your walk across America?

You could attack this Kevin O'Brien in a number of ways.  He's a public figure, he's a sinner, he's got a temper, he's vulnerable.

But let me make a comparison.  If you notice, people who hate the Catholic Church hardly ever hate it for valid reasons - the sex scandal or the corruption in Rome or bad bishops - they usually hate it for really bizarre reasons, like "The fishing industry has the Pope in its back pocket, which is why Catholics have to eat fish during Lent" or "Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and Dan Brown was right and Mother Teresa was evil".

Likewise, Charlie Johnston (who's from Belleville), and who could, if he wanted, dig up some real dirt against me and do some damage (frequent sinner and occasional jerk that I am) - Charlie does what any other teller of tall tales does when he realizes he's been knocked off his bar stool and the gig is up.

He lies.

Boldly.  Completely.  Out of thin air.

He makes up a totally bizarre fib out of whole cloth and sells it - even though it's a lie that is impossible for him to support.

Here's what Charlie says about me (my emphasis) ..

She also cites blogger Kevin O’Brien who, some time back, did an unhinged attack piece, in which he didn’t allow any comments. It was chock full of misinformation, including that I had never taken a pilgrimage at all and that I was raising MILLIONS (use your best Dr. Evil voice) for the Shrine through the donations button on my website. I corresponded with him for a few days, noting that I do not have and never have had a donations button on my website. Oops – he corrected it without noting any correction had been made. Old-time journalistic ethics allow for minor grammatical and spelling edits to be made without publicly acknowledging it, but require any substantive edits to be disclosed. The business on the pilgrimage was strange. There were literally thousands of contemporary witnesses who were virtually following me on my way. Over a few days, O”Brien edited and re-edited that portion of it, again without acknowledging he had made any errors in the first place. The last time I looked he concluded that I had “only” walked 1,700 miles, that it was not coast to coast, and that I accepted rides from people who offered.

Now CHARLIE JOHNSTON HAS NEVER CONTACTED ME!  He did not correspond with me for a few days.  This is an incredibly bold lie, and an incredibly stupid one.

So let me address Charlie for a moment.

Charlie, either you're lying or I am.  If I'm lying, and you and I did correspond for a few days, as you claim, all you have to do is produce the correspondence to prove it.  Where are these "few days" of emails or letters, Charlie?  You cannot produce them because they do not exist.  Charlie, you are lying.

And I edited my original post once, to take out a reference to Father Corapi, a reference that did not fit.  Other than that, I have not changed one thing in my original post since I published it last fall, despite what Charlie claims.  I have never written that Charlie had a donation button on his website or that he was raising millions or that he walked anywhere near 1700 miles.

Again, if I'm lying and you're not, Charlie, prove it.  I have screen shots of your Facebook posts that demonstrate that you did not walk across America (in case you decide to delete them from Facebook).  Do you have screenshots of the various changes you claim I made on my site?

Well, I don't mean to be angry or nasty.  I like Charlie.  I really do.  How can you not like a guy from Belleville who lies like this?

I called Charlie yesterday after he lied about me.  "I want to tell you that I admire you for lying so boldly," I told him, and I meant it.  It takes guts to lie like this.  "But of course," I continued, "you have no evidence to support your lies, which you should have realized before you told them."  At which point, Charlie went ballistic, said that I was the one who was the liar, and hung up on me.

Later, this happened ...

charliej373 says:



I just had a call from Kevin O’Brien, congratulating me on being a “bold liar.” I hung up. I have had my say – and they have had theirs. Let them continue.

Like

Ha!  I'm an "ambitious young sort"!

Do you know how long it's been since I've been an "ambitious young sort"?  It's been years!  

I love you, Charlie Johnston.  You are an American icon - a religious huckster; you're a biblical icon - a false prophet; you're an eternal icon - an emperor without any clothes, and your fans keep admiring how well dressed you are.  You pull tall tales out of thin air and you're as amazed as I am that your fan base believes you - because you're not at all good at lying, but your True Believers don't care; they eat it up no matter what you say.

I really admire your guts and the inanity of your lies.  The next time you're in Belleville, I'll drive across the river and buy you a beer.

I'm not mad that you're lying about me.

I'm mad that your followers are believing you.

***

UPDATE - May 1, 2016 - On Charlie's blog, he has admitted that he and I never "corresponded for a few days".  He still claims I re-edited my original blog post a number of times, though he has no evidence of that.  He continues to malign me, but he has admitted that there was no correspondence.




12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kevin O'Brien. I was sent your post on Charlie Johnston and laughed all the way through it. You have a wonderful sense of humor. This led me to listen to the links provided in your post. I was so edified to see and hear your presentations. When I saw that you also admire my favorite Catholic author, Peter Kreeft, I knew you were also an intellectual
and an apologist. Thank God you are now in the Church. I would hate to confront you, if you were not.
Kaye Drohan

Kaye Drohan said...

Kaye Drohan

Scott Woltze said...

You and Charlie are never boring reads, so he should feel some kinship with you.

I've never been to Belleville, though I have been to prison. I met a fair share of Charlies there: articulate yarn-spinners who half-believed their own BS.

One day Charlie will learn that Jesus loved him even when he was unlovable (by our lights). He tries so hard to be important and esteemed, and yet Christ always loved him. Time for Charlie to surrender and be transformed.

DO said...

Well, an innocent onlooker simply looking at your post vs. Charlie's could, at least, certainly see where the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit are found. And they're not here, that's for sure.

Christene Bartels said...

"Charlie Johnston is not a good man." Really. Well, who died and made you the judge of men's heart, Mr. O'Brien?? That statement alone raises a big, huge, ginormous red flag in my book as to your Christian temperament given your obvious lack of goodwill towards a fellow brother in Christ.

"Charlie Johnston is a liar". Oh. And I should take that as the gospel truth because.....???? Because YOU say it?? Given the aforementioned example I just provided, I think it would be prudent of me to give Mr. Johnston the benefit of the doubt over you.

Perhaps you would do well to visit the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its section on the Eighth Commandment.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.280

2497 By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation.

I don't know if Mr. Johnston stole your date to the high school prom or what, but you obviously have a personal ax to grind with him. May I humbly suggest that you do that in a face to face meeting with him and on NOT in the pages of national publications and in petty, snarky posts on your personal blog. On behalf of the body of Christ, I thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Charlie Johnston is a liar". Oh. And I should take that as the gospel truth because.....???? Because YOU say it?? Given the aforementioned example I just provided, I think it would be prudent of me to give Mr. Johnston the benefit of the doubt over you.

Christine,

No, you should consider it because Charlie has accused Kevin O'Brien and has offered no proof, and, in fact, has been forced to issue a retraction/clarification of said accusation after being challenged.

To my mind and way of thinking, Kevin has better standing here for that fact alone.

---A Reader

Christene Bartels said...

As I stated before, Anonymous, this kind of petty tiff should be addressed face to face, not in the pages of national publications and public blogs. As for some of Kevin's assertions, especially about his charge of outright fraud on the part of Mr. Johnstons blog about the walk he took across America, where is Mr. O'Briens proof of that?? I would think that if the Archdiocese of Denver had proof that Mr. Johnston had fabricated that entire year long episode, that information would have forthwith in their letter to the faithful. Or is Archbishop Aquila just not as "on the ball" as Mr. O'Brien?? Also, Mr. O'Brien claims that Bishops are "speaking out against him and banning him". Really?? Like who?? Names please of the Bishops, Mr. O'Brien along with your source of this information, because this is news to me.

Jeremiah Bernard said...

messages from heaven are not a game or an industry. They would always be given for a reason. If the messages to Charile were private, keep them private. If they are meant for the world, publish them. But don't use your filter to "describe' what you were told 60 years ago. This is of no use to anyone, since God does not need anyone to act as His filter.

I don't believe Mr. Johnson has received messages from heaven. Many authentic Visionaries and prophets have. When they share these messages, they are always in quotation. And the words of the Lord are always given with great word economy and clarity. God himself would have no other way to communicate. But Mr. Johnson has actually received messages, he may want to consider publishing them rather that to talk "about" them. That way, further light can be shed in a discernment process that everyone should be determined to undertake if they follow these statements from him. I read some initial representations from Mr. Johnson and discerned these were not worth paying attention to. This post by Kevin O'Brien, and the article by Patti Armstrong, have only solidified my impressions of Charlie Johnston. I personally won't be paying attention to anything coming from Mr. Johnston

Christene Bartels said...

Well, Jeremiah, by all means, don't read Mr. Johnstons blog. If you will read my comments carefully, I am not here to defend Mr. Johnston or advocate for his alleged messages. I am addressing the questionable public conduct of Mr. O'Brien in light of the readings of the CCC and the call of our Lord Jesus in scripture. Let's stick to the actual content of my comments, please.

Christene Bartels said...

Still waiting, Mr. O'Brien, for that list of Bishops who"are speaking out against Mr. Johnston and banning him" and the sources you used for that assertion. Also, the proof that you alone seem to have that Mr. Johnston fabricated his year long walk which he chronicled in his blog. Tick, tock. Perhaps, I should include the section of the CCC on rash judgement, detraction and calumny also;

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:

- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279

- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

This is no small matter, Mr. O'Brien.

Anonymous said...

As I stated before, Anonymous, this kind of petty tiff should be addressed face to face, not in the pages of national publications and public blogs. As for some of Kevin's assertions, especially about his charge of outright fraud on the part of Mr. Johnstons blog about the walk he took across America, where is Mr. O'Briens proof of that?? I would think that if the Archdiocese of Denver had proof that Mr. Johnston had fabricated that entire year long episode, that information would have forthwith in their letter to the faithful. Or is Archbishop Aquila just not as "on the ball" as Mr. O'Brien?? Also, Mr. O'Brien claims that Bishops are "speaking out against him and banning him". Really?? Like who?? Names please of the Bishops, Mr. O'Brien along with your source of this information, because this is news to me.

Dear Christene,

Is that it? That's all you have to respond with? You ask a question about credibility and it is answered then you default to "public vs. private" conversations? If you want it to go to that level, then I guess you have accepted O'Brien's credibility to do so.

As regards his evidence for the claim of a trumped-up hike across America, O'Brien linked to the Facebook page. Have you gone through the posts and done the math??!!

---A Reader (please address me as such and not by "Anonymous."

Kevin O'Brien said...

OK, comments are closed from this point on. Those of you who don't know Charlie and don't care about Charlie have a real sense of the demographic he's appealing to, thanks to the above comments.

Christine, the bishops who have banned him are the archbishop of Denver and the bishop of Bismark. Read the article in the National Catholic Register - http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/alleged-visionary-charlie-johnston-continues-ministry-despite-denver-archdi/.

But this is not about reason, evidence or logic.

This is about people behaving foolishly.