Thursday, August 07, 2014

Blogger Troll Confesses To Criminal Record- "Big deal"

[JTO Editor's Note: I write this article in the Third Person, hoping that it not be perceived as a personal defense of myself or anything that has occurred to me. For my part, I am content to allow God to use persecution to buffet my soul and have posted my view on such HERE. But, for the cause of Christ and His Holy Church I come to the defense of God's people who are the targets of an enemy who "roams to and fro, seeking whom he may devour."] 

A blogger troll has confessed to his criminal record. In a Comment posted to the JTO blog, Minas Michael Christie of St. Petersburg, Florida, admitted to a criminal history that includes drug possession and criminal trespass. Public records show that Mr. Christie was arrested for and charged in three separate offenses in 1983, 1986, and 1997.

"Both the pot cases were in the 80's and the felony charge was dropped to a misdemeanor", Christie said in a correspondence with JTO. "If you must know, I bought $10 worth in a sting operation, received a $100.00 fine and that was it. The trespass charge in 97, was over a domestic dispute with an ex girlfriend, the cop ordered me to leave and when I didn't fast enough to his liking. I was charge with trespass after warning, jailed over the weekend and released with time served. Big deal."

Now, all would agree that if we repent, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but an obvious, arrogant, rebellious, and lawless sense of entitlement seems to characterize Mr. Christie's conduct still today. "Quite frankly, I am not in monastic obedience to anyone...", Christie said.

JTO first learned of Mr. Christie four years ago when he began to attempt to post comments on the JTO blog. The vitriolic and false nature of the comments, laced with name calling, sarcasms, and profanity, did not warrant posting. JTO's refusal to publicly post his comments, brought a barrage of accusations from Christie of "censorship!"

JTO subsequently learned that Mr. Christie had previously been removed as a writer on the Orthodox news site, News From The Underground (NFTU), allegedly for his conduct toward the readers and commentators there. According to public posts, Mr. Christie then proceeded to launch a public campaign against the administrator of NFTU, even to the extent of publicly criticizing the physical appearance of the administrator's wife. A recent post by the editor of the NFTU website, exposes the story behind his removal from the site. Elsewhere, Christie has also attempted to publicly post a comment criticizing the physical appearance of a 9 year old Orthodox boy as looking "like a little girl with that hair and the clothes he is wearing."

One might think, by his conduct, that the internet troll, Minas Michael Christie, is anything but an Orthodox Christian, but, as of this time, Mr. Christie is listed on his Blogger Profile as an administrator of three Orthodox blogs: Rocor Refuges Read More, ROCOR Refuges, and Remnant ROCOR, all three operated by Joanna Higginbotham of Oregon. Ms. Higginbotham, whose site says she is part of "ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel", has repeatedly joined Mr. Christie on various blogger forums in personally attacking individuals, including the JTO editor, with the aim to discredit them and cast dispersion on their character. In fact, one of the features on the side bar of her Remnant ROCOR directs the reader to avoid authors and blogs she deems to be "safe" or "unsafe", prompting one Orthodox clergyman to sarcastically retort to another besieged blogger, "I am so glad you linked Joanna's blog. Now, after all of these years I know who is "Ortho-safe and who is not." Another orthodox blogger has referred to them as "very angry people."

Several of Higginbotham's posts have appeared denouncing and ridiculing individuals by name as being demonized or in need of salvation, and include invitations to other bloggers to join them in their denouncements of individuals. One Higginbotham post includes two photos of an individual standing in what appears to be a liturgical setting. Under the photos are the tag words, "parasite" and "subhuman psycopath" with a detailed description of her target's other perceived sins. 

More recently, Higginbotham posted a doctored photo of JTO author Nathan Lee Lewis, which was apparently lifted off of a FaceBook post. The heading says, Narcissism in the Church. Over the face, is pasted the face of another man. In the comment section below the photo, Higginbotham says, "The face is Sam Vankin, a self-realized diagnosed psychopath." The caption says, "BACK HOME I USUALLY WEAR MY BLACK ROBE. BUT IN HOLLYWOOD I JUST FLASH MY 100-KNOT PRAYER ROPE." In the Comment section, Minas Christie adds, "Looks like Sam Hollywood to me."

The original photograph of Lewis (at right), also an Orthodox Reader and a film producer, was actually taken by Lewis' wife as they sat in a quiet outdoor Virginia cafe on their 33rd anniversary trip. Through inference, one can only assume that both Higginbotham and Christie are of the opinion that Orthodox Christians in the film industry, or at least this one Orthodox Christian, is a two-faced psychopathic hypocrite. In any case, where does public defamation of character, libelous statements, slander, sarcasms and mockery, such as those posted by Higginbotham, and supported by Christie, fit into the Orthodox Christian ethos? What can be said of an Orthodox BLOG or person that promulgates such?

Although Higginbotham's blog contains disclaimers that, "This is a privately owned blog. It is not and has never been an official organ of any ecclesiastical organization", Metropolitan Agafangel's name and jurisdiction are still predominately displayed. The high profile of her blogs in English have the de facto effect of being the American voice for the jurisdiction that is predominately Russian speaking. The tone and posts of some of her blogs refers to "enemies" of the church, which include almost anyone outside of Agafangel's jurisdiction. Is it any wonder, then, why Higginbotham so endorses the likes of Christie, who shares in and even often leads the vitriolic and destructive charge to publicly discredit individuals and orthodox jurisdictions whom they don't favor?

Christie and Higginbotham's techniques of public, personal, character smears are not limited to the lower ranks of Readers or Orthodox Filmmakers. Their focus goes beyond defending the faith or simple commentary concerning the authenticity of a Bishop's succession or the validity of an Orthodox jurisdiction. Without foundation or evidence, they use the technique of raising questions as to the character and integrity of Church leaders, posting captioned photos laced with fictitious quotes and mocking sarcasms. Another recent Higginbotham post focuses on Metropolitan John LoBue. Both the captions on the photo and the comments between Higginbotham and Christie below the post, infer that this faithful bishop and monk, defender of the Faith, and Metropolitan of a major Orthodox Old Calender jurisdiction is a liar. Using conjecture alone, both Christie and Higginbotham have a public conversation between themselves in the Comment section, with one brave blogger adding a comment, telling them, "Cut it out."

Although Higginbotham lives in Oregon, she claims Father Gregory Williams, of Holy Annunciation, Liberty, Tennessee, as her priest. When asked about his relation to Higginbotham and to her claim that he was her priest, Father Gregory affirmed that it was true. It was only after many months of correspondence to Father Gregory by JTO, and written appeals concerning both Higginbotham's internet conduct and her relation to Christie, that Christie's name disappeared from her blog, and inflammatory and personal indictments toward the JTO blog and JTO author Nathan Lee Lewis were also deleted. The new doctored photo post of Lewis would infer that she only temporarily heeded the words of her priest. A recent written appeal to Father Gregory concerning the current activity of his parishioner, Joanna Higginbotham, went unanswered, but in a prior response, Father Gregory stated, 

"I've known Joanna for a very long time. She lived here for quite a while (maybe more than a year; I've forgotten), had me up on a pedestal within a few weeks, left in a rage when I wouldn't take her orders to baptize her future son-in-law while he was living "without benefit of clergy" with her pregnant daughter, then marry them. For several years I was public enemy #1 so far as she was concerned, with endless letters to bishops, other clergy, you name it. After a few years of getting no "satisfactory" response, she went on to someone else. After the marriage (accomplished quite uncanonically & resulting in a reprimand to the offending priest from the bishop) collapsed in disaster and the defection of most of our brethren to the MP, she changed her mind. I have little or no control over her activities, either by e-mail or blog (of which she also has many). Before setting her sights on you, she engaged in a war with [another parishioner]... If I thought it would do any good, I would issue a "cease and desist" order." 

Most of the attacks by Mr. Christie and Ms. Higginbotham, sometimes joined by a Reader Daniel, have been toward Orthodox clergy or laymen who are in good standing with their various Bishops. In the midst of Christie's abusive internet conduct, Ms. Higginbotham has commended him, "Minas has a good solid reputation in our Church. He is not a convert, all his known ancestors are Orthodox", Higginbotham said. It is not known whether or not Higginbotham knew of Christie's criminal background when making this endorsement.

While Ms. Higginbotham works in the open, providing e-mail and biographical information, address, phone number and photos, Mr. Christie has attempted to remain in the shadows, providing no contact information, e-mail, or biographical profile. Even his Blogger Profile has only the name "Minas", with no other personal information. The irony in Christie's stealth methods is the fact that he has clearly expressed his intent to expose others who decide to have anonymity on the internet. Christie recently prided himself in his ability with an attempt to "expose" an Orthodox blogger. This blogger did not operate an orthodox blog, dealing specifically with religious issues, but rather, was an Orthodox Christian with a blog sharing his various personal interests. Still Christie attacked,

"[name omitted], your (grammatical error is Christie's] not very good at protecting your secret identity on Facebook. As ex star [again grammatical error is Christie's] reporter for a internet [once again, grammatical error is Christie's] Orthodox news clearinghouse, which shall remain anonymous, I feel it my duty to report on this breaking news. You are [name omitted] and your trophy wife is [name omitted]...I think it's time the world needs to know just who [omitted] is..."

This attempt brought the blogger's ire toward Christie and Higginbotham, when he told them to "get a life" and provided a link to the Irish drinking song, "Bugger off You Bastards Bugger Off!" The blogger "excommunicated" them from ever again posting comments on his blog.

Mr. Christie's harassing tactics includes cryptic suggestions that he is privy to information such as private Facebook photos, that he has copied and pasted even deleted posts and other materials, with the inference that he intends to use them to embarrass or discredit the subject. This type of intimidation, along with, likening people to apes, calling them liars, accusations that one has paid money in order to be tonsured, and profanity-laced tirades, are common tactics. It is important to note that these attacks are not doctrinal in nature, nor matters of the church, but personal character assassinations in which Mr. Christie is engaged. Saul Alinsky would be proud as Christie faithfully follows his rules, especially:

1. "Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon." There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. 
2. "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.  
3. "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Ms. Higginbotham shares in these tactics under the guise of some self-proclaimed, spiritual mandate to protect what she deems to be the authentic church. Regarding a barrage of internet attacks on an individual, in which she was participating, Higginbotham encouraged others to join her, "If we love Orthodoxy and truth, we will not permit a brother to remain comfortable in delusion",  Higginbotham said. The take-away from that discourse is that Higginbotham, Christie, and their associates, are the "we", and deliberately intend to inflict continual discomfort on those they publicly attack. Although there is no "Saint" Alinsky,  his bible, Rules For Radicals, is certainly their guide. In an early e-mail exchange between JTO author Nathan Lee Lewis and Ms. Higginbotham, in which Lewis encouraged her to follow the biblical guidelines (Matthew 18) in dealing with a brother she deemed to be in sin- to not deal with it in public- but first go to him privately, then take two more witnesses- then as a last resort take the person before the whole church--and always done under the guidance of the bishops- Higginbotham replied, "Don't you Bible thump or Bible-bully me, Nathan. Remember that WE wrote the Bible and it is not open to your interpretation for you to twist into your imaginary justification for your erroneous ideas." One wonders which of the words of Jesus, Higginbotham finds erroneous. In addition, Higginbotham asserted that because she had consulted her "we" group, and had sent Lewis e-mails, pleading with Lewis to "repent", that she had fulfilled the scripture and was thus doing the work of the church. One blogger, coming to the defense of Lewis after a public attack stated, "If the way people treat him on his blog is their idea of being an Orthodox Christian, then I don't want to be one."

JTO has refused to post comments from Mr. Christie (or Higginbotham) for four years. In those four years, JTO has not responded in first person to Mr. Christie, though the conduct of Mr. Christie and Ms. Higginbotham have been the inspiration of several blog posts- their identifying names never used, until now.  Mr. Christie is right in one thing that he attempted to post in the JTO Comment section, that a blogger is in the public eye and must expect to be attacked. His own conduct has partially been the catalyst for the recent establishment of at least two Orthodox blogs specifically designed to push back on Christie and Higginbotham's abhorrent conduct in the body of Christ. See HERE and HERE. It is true that "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again", and both Higginbotham and Christie are now being isolated by the righteous indignation of those they have attacked, and former associates are distancing themselves from them.

Although it is an embarrassment to the body of Christ for such discord to be displayed publicly to a perishing world, the non-Orthodox looking in on this event should know that good Orthodox Christians will not stand for the unchecked conduct of those who sow discord among the brethren and will speak to it- privately if at all possible (as JTO has attempted for four years to do), but publicly if necessary. Even Christ picked up a whip when he needed one.

What Mr. Christie did not know is that JTO has been researching the whereabouts and conduct of Minas Michael Christie for those four years. That research includes publicly available information, various internet activity, and a background check. A Florida attorney, specializing in internet libel and defamation, has also been consulted concerning Mr. Christie's alleged personal threats and intimidation to JTO author Nathan Lee Lewis and others. So, when Mr. Christie attempted recently, after several months of relative quiet, to post on JTO another comment, laced with false accusations and profanity, and with his comments on the new doctored blog photo posts, it seemed time to shine light into Christie's shadows. In response to Christie's recent attempt to post a comment on the JTO blog, JTO simply posted a link in the JTO Comment section for the Dade County Criminal Court. Mr Christie arrogantly shot back with his "big deal" comment. What is not included in his confession above is Mr. Christie's attempt to divert attention to himself by defaming another fellow blogger and promptly sending JTO (via the JTO Comment section) a link to a criminal court on another site. The link was complete with the mugshot and stats of a female perpetrator. Mr. Christie claimed it was the wife of a fellow orthodox blogger. Mr. Christie was wrong. JTO has confirmed that Christie's tit-for-tat claim was blatantly false. The name was wrong, the state was wrong, the person was wrong--it was not the wife of the blogger. Christie's actions, in writing, were libelous, slanderous, and defamatory. The blogger has been notified of Mr. Christie's slanderous actions toward he and his wife.

JTO needs not comment further on the despicable actions of someone who would stoop so low as to publicly attack the family members, including wives and children, of good Orthodox Christians, not to mention faithful Orthodox clergy in good standing with their Bishops, and the Bishops, themselves.  It is JTO's editorial view however, that Minas Michael Christie should see the light of day shine on his destructive deeds. Sowing discord among the brethren is a tool of the devil and Mr. Minas Michael Christie has proven himself to be as "Minas the Devil". Indeed, he has seemed to thrive off of the attention. This post will no doubt give him more fodder, but at least all will be in the light and his desired anonymity- gone. Father Gregory Williams and his Bishop, Agafangel, should also shine the light of day on Higginbotham and her vitriolic internet conduct toward individuals and churches. Not only is Agafangel's name displayed, but for years, Father Gregory's name has appeared as a contributor on Higginbotham's blog- along with Minas Christie. Others on this list would do well to disassociate themselves from bloggers such as Higginbotham who are the catalyst and enablers for such destructive discourse.

In an Alinsky-type communication, Higginbotham has published a public statement that is the antithesis of what she and Christie are actually doing. The tactic is to accuse others of the very thing you are doing so as to disguise your own tactics and divert attention. We see it often in politics. Unfortunately, we also see it in this case. Higginbotham writes:

In the words of the Prophet Nathan, when confronting the sin of King David, "Joanna, thou art the [woman]!"

Early efforts of JTO to communicate with Christie by inviting a private e-mail conversion were all rejected. Appeals to priests connected to both Higginbotham and Christie have also failed to fully curb both of their appetites for public destructive discourse. They have presented themselves as the public gatekeepers of what and who is holy and orthodox, though there is nothing holy or orthodox about their conduct. Non-Orthodox who are considering a Journey To Orthodoxy, must know that these two nor their "we", do not represent the Orthodox Faith and are under no-one's authority. They are islands unto themselves, propagating a personal agenda. Their conduct has also been a tool to prevent Old Calender True Orthodox jurisdictions from finding a place of communion. Bishop Agafangel would do well to curb Higginbotham's and Christie's, public, negative representation of the church he pastors. They are indeed despised by many in the orthodox world and by association, so is His Eminence Agafangel and Father Gregory Williams. Brethren, this ought no so to be!

Expect to see a flurry of public vitriolic activity directed toward JTO and author Nathan Lee Lewis as a result of this post and others who are now speaking out. More lies, conjecture, insinuation and libelous statements are sure to come. Christie has even attempted to do JTO author, Nathan Lee Lewis, personal and financial harm with fabricated accusations regarding his business and livelihood. Through his company, Rocky Top Pictures, Lewis is currently producing a pro-life feature film, and a feature film on the life of Saint Moses The Black, among others. Now, Higginbotham seemingly has joined Christie in this effort to slander Lewis' character and thwart these efforts. Such conduct brings to mind the words of Christ, "Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and render unto God that which belongs to God." To engage in public slanderous and libelous statements is illegal - and in this case, appeal to Caesar, is a viable option. For four years JTO has followed the principle, "Do not answer a fool in his folly, lest you become like him" , but there comes a time when one must push back on those who would, as a matter of deliberate practice, harm the cause of Christ by intentionally harming his children, or anyone for that matter. Lewis' business is Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) and is represented by an Entertainment Attorney who recently was successful in getting the New York Times to retract false information concerning Lewis that they had posted. Christie and Higginbotham's attempts at attack-journalism certainly do not rise to the literary skill or readership volume of the New York Times, but the same law applies to both. Neither Christie nor Higginbotham are above the law, nor are they beyond the reach of litigation designed to protect the interest of an LLC.

Ms. Higginbotham should guard her own reputation and that of her blogs. Google has recently censured her for Copyright Infringement. Her response was to proudly post all correspondence between her and the owners of the material she illegally posted and the Google letter. Her own sense of entitlement would not allow her to repent, even when publicly rebuked by Google for her illegal activity. Copyright infringement is a federal crime.

Accordingly, Mr. Christie might consider the hypocritical irony of exposing the splinter in his brother's eye when he has a very large criminal log in his own.

Enter Minas Michael Christie to see the full PUBLIC criminal record.

But, of course, to Mr. Christie, his own sins are no "Big deal ".

One question for Christie and Higginbotham concerning those whose reputations -their chosen enemies -that they seek to diminish: Does the scripture teach us to hate our enemies or to love them, to condemn them or to pray for them? The answer to this question will dictate what their future actions should be in the body of Christ. Yes, we must stand for the truth, but the public personal destruction of individuals is not the way of Christ. For JTO's part, both Higginbotham and Christie are prayed for everyday by name as we are commanded to do.

One request for Christie and Higginbotham: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart soul and might and your neighbor as yourself. Tend to your own life. Guard your own soul and leave the souls of individuals you deem to be "enemies of the church" to God.  At the very least, talk to your "enemies" PRIVATELY, especially when they invite you, and plead to them for their soul's sake. At the very most, contact their Bishop or priest. In this, you may secure their salvation. What you are doing now accomplishes the opposite.

One comment for Father Gregory Williams and Bishop Agafangel: You have a maverick female blogger engaged in independent vitriolic discourse under the banner of your ministry. She is causing discord among the brethren undermining the very church you seek to defend. She has become your de facto spokesperson to the world via her several blogs. She enlists the aide of men, not under your pastorate to assist her in the personal destruction of the characters of godly men. She is accountable to no one, not even you, as she speaks to jurisdictions and Bishops as one of your members. To do nothing to curtail this Jezebelian activity is to endorse it. For, indeed, Joanna Higginbotham is influenced by a Jezabel Spirit and Minas Michael Christie is her Ahab.

A word to all who have been similarly attacked by Higginbotham, Christie, and their "we":
Take heart. Both Higginbotham and Christie are entering a time of isolation. Their deeds are being exposed. Good men are rising up and prophesying against them, and their time for freedom in vitriolic expository conduct is coming to an end. And, like Jezabel and Ahab of old, watch as these words are fulfilled before your eyes:

"Because you have been a divider, God will cause division among you. You will be cut off- isolated- alone. Strife will fill your days and peace will be far from you. You will be cast down and the dogs will feast on your flesh."

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