Boy’s visit to heaven is now pulped fiction

Boy’s visit to heaven is now pulped fiction

Hop across to this Australian Daily Mercury report of 2011 and read about Alex Malarkey, above, who – following a car crash in Ohio in 2004 when he was six – went to heaven, saw angels carry his father out of the car wreck, met and talked  with Jesus, and ‘heard the most incredible music’.

A while after emerging from a two-month-long coma, the boy, with the help of his father, Kevin Malarkey, wrote an account of his sojourn in heaven –  and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven made it New York Times’ best seller list in 2010.

In it, Alex, who was left paralyzed by the accident, wrote:

When I arrived in heaven, I was inside the gate. The gate was really tall, and it was white. It was very shiny, and it looked like it had scales like a fish. I was in the inner heaven and everything was brighter and more intense on the inside of the gate. It was perfect. Perfect is my favourite word for describing heaven.

Do I hear you cry “bullshit?”

If so, you’re right. Earlier this week, Alex admitted lying about the afterlife. In an open letter to Christian bookstores posted on the Pulpit and Pen Web site, Alex states flatly:

I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.

Referring to the injuries that continue to make it difficult for him to express himself, Alex wrote:

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short. … I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention.

When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

Immediately after, Tyndale House, a major Christian publisher, announced that it will stop selling The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.

Todd Starowitz, Tyndale House’s PR Director, told The Washington Post:

Tyndale has decided to take the book and related ancillary products out of print.

A statement from the publisher read:

We are saddened to learn that Alex Malarkey, co-author of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, is now saying that he made up the story of dying and going to heaven. Given this information, we are taking the book out of print.

There is considerable disagreement about when Alex first recanted his testimony and objected to the book, which has reportedly sold more than 1 million copies.

Maggie Rowe, senior publicist of Tyndale, released an updated statement Friday evening, saying:

For the past couple of years we have known that Beth Malarkey, Kevin’s wife and Alex’s mother, was unhappy with the book and believed it contained inaccuracies. On more than one occasion we asked for a meeting with Kevin, Beth, Alex and their agent to discuss and correct any inaccuracies, but Beth would not agree to such a meeting.

Last April, Alex’s mother posted a statement on her blog objecting to the memoir and its promotion:

It is both puzzling and painful to watch the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven not only continue to sell, but to continue, for the most part, to not be questioned.

She goes on to say that the book is not “biblically sound” and that her son’s objections to it have been ignored and repressed.

She also noted that Alex:

Has not received monies from the book nor have a majority of his needs been funded by it.


Phil Johnson, above, is one of those people decrying the publisher’s and the bookstores’ slow response to complaints about Alex’s made-up memoir.

Johnson is the Executive director of Grace to You, the media ministry of John MacArthur, senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. He is prolific author and an internationally syndicated Christian broadcaster.

Several years ago, Johnson edited a manuscript by MacArthur that offered a scriptural critique of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven and other books like it.

When Johnson posted critical comments about book on his blog, Beth Malarkey contacted him. In Johnson’s words, she told him:

My son and I have been trying to get the word out that this book is an exaggeration and an embellishment and is not true.

She asked him to help them. Johnson wrote to Tyndale House himself and says he has seen “reams of correspondence between Beth and Tyndale,” but he never received a satisfying answer to his objections. He said:

The idea that Alex suddenly recanted is just not true. He’s been trying to make his voice heard as well as a teenage paraplegic boy can. There was proof everywhere that he did not stand behind the content of this book. But it was a bestselling book. Nobody in the industry wanted to kill it.

On his blog Johnson yesterday revealed that:

Even a pastor from whom Alex sought counsel said he thought the book was ‘blessing people. He advised Alex to be quiet and let it ride.

He added:

One of the top online reviews of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven says: ‘I can tend to be a little skeptical of otherworldly experiences, but when I hear it from the words of a child, I am much more open to the idea. A child is not going to be capable of making up these kinds of images and keeping his story straight for month after month after month’.

That, sadly, is what lots of readers think. What they don’t realize is that there is a massive industry behind books like these, heavily populated with decision makers who care more for filthy lucre than for truth.

Employed in that industry are some mercenaries who have no scruples whatsoever about making up tales like these, polishing and embellishing them, and buttressing them with details designed to enhance the illusion of believability. It’s the very worst kind of pragmatism gone to seed. What’s  ‘good’  is defined by what sells. Scripture calls it ‘the teaching of Balaam’ (Revelation 2:14).

Hat tip: Trevor Blake

18 responses to “Boy’s visit to heaven is now pulped fiction”

  1. Lucy1 says:

    So who wrote it? The dad?

  2. AgentCormac says:

    Heaven is just a lie, you say? Really? Who would have thought?!!!

  3. CharlyO says:

    No problem – most knew it was in fun and those that didn’t were comforted.
    Standard religious stuff IMHO. 😉

  4. How easy it is to fleece the credulous and gullible, desperate to have their evidence-free conclusion validated with the very ‘evidence’ they purport to be inferior to ‘faith’ as a measure of reality.

  5. Rob Andrews says:

    This helps to explain the dogmatic schnooks
    Who believe everything regurgatated from books
    Those brain dead monkeys
    Willingly become submissive flunkies
    Of passionate manipulative crooks.

    Sure. just add on to already existing beliefs. Like all the UFO books from the 1970s. ‘Chariots of the gods’ etc.

    from http;//

  6. L.Long says:

    He said ‘I did not die’
    Like NO Schite!!! since you are here saying so!!!
    I love how LIARS4jesus misuse words like theory and DIE,
    when they mean WAG and unconscious.

  7. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry to go OT, but I’ve just watched a clip on PZ Myers’ excellent Pharyngula site about the nature of the universe. One of the first things that the presenter, Phil Plate makes clear is ‘Understanding that our understanding might be wrong is essential, and trying to figure out the ways we may be mistaken is the only way that science can help us find our way to the truth.’

    Compare this to Potty Hutton’s intractable and utterly non-negotiable approach to life.

  8. Paul Cook says:

    I’m shocked.
    There is no heaven?
    Is the babble, jesus, gawd all made up?
    What a shocker.

  9. Vanity Unfair says:

    “Alex Malarkey…went to heaven, saw angels carry his father out of the car wreck, met and talked with Jesus, and ‘heard the most incredible music’…It was perfect. Perfect is my favourite word for describing heaven.”
    Then the all-loving JHWH decided to play another cruel trick and sent him back to a life of paraplegia and machine-dependence instead of perfection in Heaven.

    “The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”
    And the Bible was written by…? Even were it revealed, it was still written by imperfect people.

    “…Tyndale House, a major Christian publisher, announced that it will stop selling The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.”
    And refund the purchase price to any complainant?

    “We are saddened to learn that Alex Malarkey, co-author of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, is now saying that he made up the story of dying and going to heaven.”
    by Kevin and Alex Malarkey. It sounds too complicated for a six-year-old.

    “Beth Malarkey…was unhappy with the book and believed it contained inaccuracies. …It is both puzzling and painful to watch the book …to not be questioned. She goes on to say that the book is not ‘biblically sound’”
    Tyndale House
    Committed to excellence

    “She also noted that Alex:
    Has not received monies from the book nor have a majority of his needs been funded by it.”
    malarkey n.
    slang (orig. U.S.).
    Humbug, bunkum, nonsense; a palaver, racket. (Usually of an event, activity, idea, utterance, etc., seen as trivial, misleading, or not worthy of consideration.)

  10. Barry Duke says:

    I omitted to point out in this report that there appears to be only one “ancillary” product connected to this book – a DVD that received glowing reviews on Amazon from folk who fell hook, line and sinker for Alex’s tale.

    But the best of the newest reviews, by one Harold H, reads:

    Just bought a copy to leave on the coffee table to remind friends that in the words of a famous scientist, “All it takes to believe a lie is faith, it takes proof to believe the truth’.

    It is amazing to read all the 5 star reviews of how wonderful the proof of heaven is and then read all the 1 star reviews of the book that reports this book to be patently false. Guess who was right.

  11. Robster says:

    People afflicted with the christian afterlife nonsense are desperate, desperate I tell you, to have some reinforcement of their wishful thinking..err.. I mean belief. They’ll happily embrace anything that fills that role, ‘specially complete fiction because the belief is just that. Of all age groups, children have the most fertile imagination (at least in my experience) so for a child, with some “assistance” from mum and dad to come up with such a story is not a total surprise. Another shining example of christian honesty. I’m sure they’d have a hard time being honest if you asked for simple directions. At least the kid’s developed some honesty.

  12. barriejohn says:

    What a lot of malarkey.

    YouTube is full of videos of people making similar ridiculous claims (just type in the words “visit to heaven”), and one guy who wrote a book on the subject of his “visit to hell” (I mentioned him here a while ago – as well as that neurosurgeon featured in the clip below) has been appearing recently on TBN UK. This has now become an industry to rival the “my childhood experiences were worse than you could possibly imagine” fiction that fills the shelves at your local bookstore. Bill Maher tears them apart:

  13. barriejohn says:

    Great blog by “Rosa Rubicondior”:

    Barry: Can’t you include links to other atheist and humanist blogs again, as I found that feature really useful.

  14. Paul Cook says:

    We see that frank is meeting the masses in the Philippines and lo and behold a great storm blew and forced him off of the island (that was devastated by a greater storm killing many many people).how (and more importantly why) did gawd kill so many cafflicks, for surely a great storm is (presumably) the work of gawd.
    But frank left early as the storm grew and grew in strength – not a particularly good advert for an omnipotent benevolent loving all seeing gawd is it, but a great advert for the lack of one.

  15. Angela_K says:

    To paraphrase an old saying: “Tell a big enough lie and publish it…”

    This boy, parents and gullible fools who believed him have ignored the fact that science saved him and is keeping him alive, his god didn’t intervene to prevent his accident.

    David Hume sums this up very well: “The gazing populace receive greedily, without examination, whatever soothes superstition and promotes wonder”.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Robster: This was evident to me when I was a Christian, and I had many arguments about it. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Christians are supposed to take on trust what the Bible says, so why this unseemly desire to find “evidence” to support its claims? That should be totally unnecessary, and if you provide evidence that the alleged overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah by “brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven”, the “Burning Bush”, the Plagues in Egypt, the Crossing of the Red Sea, the “Pillar of Cloud by Day and Pillar of Fire by Night”, and so on, can all be explained without resorting to the miraculous, then where does God fit in? He just made natural events occur at the appropriate time! What it demonstrates, as you so rightly say, is the flaky nature of their faith; the fact that they can see that many of the claims of the Bible are quite ridiculous to any rational person; and the fact that they so desperately want some confirmation that they’ve not been deluded by a collection of primitive fairy stories.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Colton Burpo (where DO they get these names?) stands by his story:

    I want to keep telling people about my experience because it has given hope to so many people.

    And makes a lot of money for me and my family!

  18. Cali Ron says:

    Late post (catching up on the weekend postings).
    Rob Andrews-
    Enjoyed the poetic discourse, a rhyme can be so fine.

    If Tyndale House is going to quit selling this book of bull shit because it’s not true then when are they going to quit selling those bibles which are also filled with bull shit. And all that other religious nonsense they make a living from. My mother sent me ‘Heaven Is For Real’, one of the current crop of books about near death experiences for gullible christians. I read most of it, but it was so easy to debunk it was a waste of time reading it. Sadly, my mother latches on to this stuff, seeking to validate her beliefs. She’s very conflicted these days-her “good” son, the ex preacher is in prison and her “bad” son (that would be me, the atheist) is moderately successful and not in prison. Just doesn’t fit into the god narrative of good happening to “godly” people and vice a versa.