Acharya S. (D.M. Murdock)
Acharya S. is the pen name of D. M. Murdock. A proponent of the Christ-myth hypothesis, she has authored two books and operates a website named "Truth be Known". Her contention is that all religion is founded in earlier myth and that the characters depicted in Christianity are the result of the plagiarizing of those myths to unify the Roman State.
In 1999, Acharya published The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. The book is based on development and expansion of an essay from her website, The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ. Christ Conspiracy argues the concept of Jesus Christ as myth, and states that the Christ story is a fabrication based on earlier pagan mythology.
A follow-up book, Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled, was published in 2004. In Suns of God, she comments on the Hindu story of the life of Krishna, as well as the life of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). She claims parallels to the Christian stories of the life of Jesus, presenting this as evidence that the story of Jesus was written based on existing stories, and not the life of a real man. Suns of God also seeks to address some of the criticisms leveled at Christ Conspiracy.
Claims about Christianity
Acharya denies the historical existence of Jesus Christ, describing the New Testament as a work of mythic fiction with an historical setting. The story of Christ, she maintains, is actually a retelling of various pagan myths, all of which represent "astro-theology" or the story of the Sun. She asserts that the pagans understood these stories to be myths but that Christians obliterated evidence to the contrary through the destruction and control of literature once they attained control of the Roman Empire.
This purportedly led to widespread illiteracy in the ancient world and ensured that the mythical nature of Christ's story was hidden. Scholars of other sects continued to oppose the historicizing of a mythological figure. Where no evidence exists, Acharya claims that this is because the arguments were destroyed by Christians. However, Christians preserved these contentions, she states, through their own refutations.
Acharya compares Jesus' history to that of other "saviour gods" such as Mithra, Horus, Adonis, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl, and - claiming that the similarities result from a common source: the myth of the sun-god or solar deity.
In "The Christ Conspiracy" she describes this theory, noting for instance the allegorical parallels between the story of Christ, and the story of the solar deity: "The sun 'dies' for three days at the winter solstice, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th", and "The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30[degrees]; hence, the 'Sun of God' begins his ministry at 'age' 30."
Claims about other religions
Acharya S is highly critical of certain aspects of Judaism, in particular Hasidism. She writes online about the possible creation of a theocratic New World Order which would impose the Noahide Law:
If the Hassidic Jewish Movement has its way, the so-called Noahide Laws would be followed to the letter, as would many others found in the "Old Testament," prescribing capital punishment for abortion, euthanasia and "sexual deviation" such as adultery and homosexuality. The punishment, in fact, for breaking any of the Noahide Laws is decapitation .
In another online essay, she quotes allegations by conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints smuggled uranium to Australia "for future use when it would attempt to obtain world conquest and single world government.... The rumor was... that the Mormon Church had arranged to assist Israel in bringing off Armageddon ." . Her criticisms have also been directed against Islam and Buddhism.
Critiques: Pro and Con
Earl Doherty, historian and author and also a proponent of the view that the Gospel accounts are borrowed from pagan sources, wrote:
"Acharya S has done a superb job in bringing together this rich panoply of ancient world mythology and culture, and presenting it in a comprehensive and compelling fashion."
Barbara Walker, American feminist author, wrote:
"[The Christ Conspiracy] is a well-crafted, thought-provoking work that belongs in the library of every thinking individual. It should be read by every person concerned about the moral, ethical, and spiritual aspects of our culture; it should be read particularly by those who profess belief in any of the numerous varieties of Christianity."
Alex Burns, an editor at "disinformation" wrote:
"The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (Adventures Unlimited Press, 1999) is an explosive book which dares to scholarly analyze the Gospels' depiction of Jesus Christ with pre-existing religious rituals and mystery schools. Comparing Christ to Mithras, Heracles/Hercules, Dionysus, Krishna and Horus (The Younger), Acharya reveals the mythopoeic Cultural Scripts at the heart of the world's major monotheistic religions. [...] What sets Acharya's research apart is her attention to detail and footnoting. The resulting book that has attracted praise from Adam Parfrey, Kenn Thomas and Robert Sterling amongst others."
Robert Price, a professor of Theology and another proponent of the Christ-myth hypothesis, was at one time critical of Acharya's writing:
"Writing at second hand, she is too quick to state as bald-faced fact what turn out to be, once one chases down her sources, either wild speculations or complex inferences from a chain of complicated data open to many interpretations."
Acharya subsequently wrote a rebuttal to Price's review. Price has since retracted his attack on Acharya. On Sept. 1, 2006, Price and Acharya guested together on the Infidel Guy radio show and the two have plans for future works together.
A number of Christian apologists have criticised Acharya's work. James Patrick Holding has presented a list of criticisms of Christ Conspiracy, replacing an earlier essay titled S is for Stench, which was rebutted by Acharya, and was later rebutted by J. P Holding.
Apologist Mike Licona of the North American Mission Board has also presented a critique which was subsequently rebutted by Acharya, to which Licona wrote another response.
Acharya's Views on Spirituality
Someone asked Acharya on her discussion group about her views on spirituality: "Acharya, have you ever considered writing about YOUR spirituality? Laying it all on the line ... revealing your very soul? So you think that christianity is where it's NOT; well, where IS the action? What/who is god? Energy, force, power, intelligence, ... ?"
Acharya responded as follows:
Thanks for the interest and query. I do believe my soul is revealed in bits and pieces at least throughout my writing. Possibly at this moment, the most concise writing in this regard is "The Gospel According to Acharya S," which can be found at: 
Briefly, I do not believe there is a single, male God in charge of the cosmos, but I do CHOOSE to experience an awe of creation whenever I can. For example, I walk through the woods, and the flora and fauna rejuvenates me. I climb a mountain, and the sight takes my breath away.
Do I believe in an afterlife? I stay away from the term "believe," as it can be rather irrelevant. If I believed there was a Cosmic Porcupine, would my mere belief make it so? I HOPE there are afterlives of a wide variety, because the Christian heaven would be my hell, etc. I hope my mother and father are still alive somewhere "out there." Ditto with all lost loved ones.
Do I have any concrete proof of such wishes? Of course not. Do I feel like there is something indestructible about us? Yes, I do, but its definition is capricious. It could merely be the molecules of our bodies. It could also be our experiences passed onto others. And, it could be something more "soulful."
Acharya S is classically educated in archaeology, history, mythology and languages. Her formal training includes a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Classics, Greek Civilization, from Franklin and Marshall College. She also attended the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in Greece.
She is a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, a division of the Council for Secular Humanism.
While preserving her privacy, she has been interviewed on a variety of radio stations. In an interview she said she came from a moderate Christian background. Though not traumatic or "Fundamentalist", she described it as "boring" and said she ceased attending church regularly at age 12.
Her inspiration for exploring the Jesus myth theory was reportedly Joseph Wheless's book Forgery in Christianity. She then read other works, such as Kersey Graves. The World's 16 Crucified Saviours and Barbara Walker's The Woman's Encyclopaedia of Myth and Secrets.
Since I had been raised a Christian, and had rejected Christianity as being no more true or important than the rest of the world's religions and mythologies, I can't say that the faith ever had any profound meaning to me. I remember being utterly repulsed by Christianity in college and post-graduate school, when I spent a great deal of time in Greek Orthodox Churches, where just about every neurosis and psychosis is manifested. By "psychosis" I refer to the monasteries, where everyone is seriously repressed and there are images of horrible tortures painted on the walls. What kind of "spiritual" environment is that?
I had studied so many religions and mythologies even by then, because of my interest in history and antiquity, that I considered Christianity just one of the many. In truth, even as a child I didn't believe most of the Jesus stories, as they were no more convincing than the tales of the Greek or Roman gods, which were universally pronounced as myths
Religion and politics have been the main tools used to control the masses for the benefit of the elite. What we saw during the 18th and 19th centuries were members of the elite themselves coming forward and forcefully speaking the truth. I will say that, because of the Internet, many people are becoming more politically savvy - possibly more than before. And, perhaps, we will see an increase in people thinking for themselves about the important matters of religion and philosophy. They simply must, or the mass, herd mentality will destroy this planet.
As concerns influences on my writing, Barbara Walker and Gerald Massey are two scholars whose work I sincerely esteem. Because I used their work so abundantly in The Christ Conspiracy, I turned to numerous other sources for Suns of God, nevertheless showing the same salient motifs in mythologies from around the world. So, you see, it matters not what the source is: The truth is out there.
we still have such appalling poverty and violence on this planet...
religion has been the single largest factor in causing entire cultures to commit atrocious crimes, such as wholesale theft, torture, genocide, etc., ad nauseam. So long as humankind divides itself into "isms" there will never be peace on Earth and people will never progress to becoming true human beings.
Acharya S is an archaeologist, classicist, historian, mythologist, linguist and member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece. She has served as a trench master on archaeological excavations in Corinth, Greece, and in Connecticut, USA. Acharya has traveled extensively around Europe, and she speaks, reads and/or writes Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese to varying degrees. She has also cross-referenced the Bible in the original Hebrew and ancient Greek. Acharya is the author of the best-selling and controversial The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold and the follow-up tour de force Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. Articles by and about Acharya S have been published in several magazines and books, and Acharya has appeared on dozens of radio programs over the past decade. Her website is http://www.truthbeknown.com.