Charles Merrill, whose cousin, Charles Merrill, founded Merrill Lynch, has had his username, “Anti-Christ,” suspended by the Hendersonville Times News, a publication owned by New York Times Corporation.
In a press release today, Merrill states, “I have been a very frequent blogger to the online Hendersonville Times News, http://www.hendersonvillenews.com/, which is owned by The New York Times. Suddenly out of nowhere, because they found my username offensive, the paper removed me from the site.”
Merrill, 72, a Palm Springs resident, is an artist and self-made millionaire. His late wife, Evangeline, was the only daughter of Johnson & Johnson founder Robert Wood Johnson. He is a lifetime member and financial contributor to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, http://www.ffrf.org/, an organization currently arguing a case before the Supreme Court on whether the FFRF can mount a First Amendment challenge to the Bush Administration’s “faith-based” initiatives.
“Ironically, The New York Times, in a February 28th editorial this year, argued on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s position and against the Bush Administration’s stand on mixing up religion with the government,” Merrill said. “Yet, on the other hand, the Times-controlled newspaper says I can’t have a username such as ‘Anti-Christ.’ Frankly, I am very surprised at the Times’ bigoted position and being suspended because of my username. It is taking away my First Amendment rights as a U.S. Citizen to express myself as an atheist, a person of reason.”
“Of course I am ‘Anti-Christ,'” Merrill said. “The one very serious defect to Christ’s moral character was that He believes in hell. I don’t believe anyone who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment and you find a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching. What reason would God (Jesus) let drown innocent children in natural disasters, the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina?” Merrill asks.
Merrill continues to be under attack by the IRS for not filing income tax in protest on over two million in stock sales and income for 2004. The IRS is withholding 28 percent of Merrill’s income that they know about, until he files a report. Merrill and his partner Kevin Boyle are not filing Federal income tax because the Federal tax code is discriminatory towards domestic partners and will not extend the same benefits as married couples receive.
An irate Merrill states, “We are atheists, so we don’t care what our civil union is called. They can call it un-sanctified marriage by heathens or Federal Civil Union, whatever. We just want the same Federal tax benefits afforded to everyone else.” Merrill and his partner were named by the leading gay magazine Out as two of the 100 men and women who rocked 2006. Out magazine wrote in its December 2006 issue: “A marriage license in exchange for a tax payment – sounds reasonable to us.”