Charles K. Johnson Obituary, The Daily Telegraph UK

  • 3 Replies


  • Administrator
  • 1146
Charles K. Johnson Obituary, The Daily Telegraph UK
« on: February 23, 2005, 05:00:22 PM »
Obituary of Charles Johnson He believed the Earth was flat
The Daily Telegraph (London)
April 06, 2001, Friday


CHARLES JOHNSON, who has died aged 76, was the most prominent advocate of the theory that the Earth is flat; he was president of the Flat Earth Society for 30 years.

Flat-earthers dissent from the more widely held view that the world is a spherical, spinning ball - an idea that stretches back to Pythagoras, Hipparchus and Ptolemy. "We have studied the Earth," declared Johnson, "and found it flat."

The Flat Earth Society evolved in 1956 out of the Universal Zetetic Society - founded in early Victorian England by Sir Birley Rowbotham. At its peak, it claimed 3,500 members. The previous president, the Englishman Samuel Shenton, decided before his death in 1972 that Johnson should inherit his mantle. So after 25 years working as an aircraft mechanic in San Francisco, Johnson moved to a cabin in the Mojave Desert near Lancaster, California, to assume his responsibilities.

Johnson perceived the Earth as a disc of unknown size floating in primordial waters, with the North Pole at the centre and a wall of impenetrable Antarctic ice, 150ft high, surrounding its outer edge. "Nobody knows what lies beyond the ice," he said. "Nobody has ever crossed it."

He described the equator as a circle halfway out from the centre of the disc. The Sun and Moon, both 32 miles in diameter, circled above it at a steady height of 3,000 miles; "the heavenly dome" lay a further 1,000 miles up.

Charles Kenneth Johnson was born at San Angelo, Texas, on July 24 1924. "When I was in school," he recalled, "the first maps I saw were flat. Then Roosevelt flooded all the classrooms with globes. Well, I didn't believe it."

He became an aircraft mechanic with Pan Am in California, keeping his heretical thoughts to himself until he discovered a like-minded group of people at Zion, Illinois, and began to correspond with them.

Like geo-centrists, whose world view has Earth at the centre of the universe, and fundamental "scientific creationists", flat-earthers base their beliefs largely on a literal reading of the Bible, and not only on the Book of Genesis. The New Testament, they point out, tells of Jesus ascending up to heaven but "if the Earth were a sphere, there would be no up nor down in the universe".

Johnson and his followers also cited the evidence before their own eyes. Looking out from the porch of his desert home to the straight horizon miles away, he would say: "Any fool can see that it's flat".

Nearby was Nasa's Edwards Air Force Base, where the space shuttle lands after orbiting the Earth; Johnson called the shuttle a "very ludicrous joke".

As for awkward phenomena such as sunrise, sunset, satellites orbiting in space, moon landings and lunar eclipses - Johnson maintained that he had answers to them all. Sunrise and sunset, he described as "merely optical illusions, tricks of perspective". The moon landings were faked in an
aircraft hanger, to a script by Arthur C Clarke.

Johnson's theories brought him a degree of ridicule, but he remained resolute and enthusiastic, with a cheerful sense of humour. As well as writing and publishing Flat Earth News, he was often invited to speak about his beliefs; he also once appeared in a television ice cream advertisement.

Johnson met his Australian-born wife Marjory in 1959, when they were both buying the same Acker Bilk record in a San Francisco shop. She too was a keen believer in a flat Earth, and later became secretary of the society.

"Marjory has always known that the Earth is flat," said Johnson. He added with irrefutable logic that Australians "do not hang by their feet underneath the world" and recalled how shocked and offended his wife was on her arrival in America to find people speaking of Australia as being "down

In 1995 the Johnsons' cabin home caught fire. Johnson managed to pull his wife to safety, but everything else was destroyed, including the society library, archives and membership lists.

Marjory Johnson died the following year. There were no children.

Charles K. Johnson Obituary, The Daily Telegraph UK
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2005, 08:55:35 PM »
There were no children.

What a relief.
 like my Earth the same way I like my breasts... round!

Charles K. Johnson Obituary, The Daily Telegraph UK
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2007, 07:28:42 AM »
so FEism is based on biblical literalism?

Charles K. Johnson Obituary, The Daily Telegraph UK
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2007, 07:39:08 AM »
WAS originally