2005_08_brotherjohn.jpgThe basics:
Age, occupation, where do you live, where are you from?
I’m Brother John McCarthy, spreading the gospel word of the Lord around the city. I’m in my 80s. I live up in the 80s. I’ve been there about 33 years. Originally from New Jersey.

A few for you:
Is the end of the world coming any time soon?
This world will end after the thousand-year millennium. After that, there will be a thousand year reign. Jesus himself will reign on earth for those thousand years. We’re still in the age of grace right now. After that, there will be a new heaven and a new earth. You’ve never seen horses descend from heaven, have you? But you will when the thousand year reign starts.

How often do you preach to the public?
Usually once a week I come here, but many days I go to different places in the subway, Port Authority, on the street. This is a good place, but the best place is out on the street. Sometimes 42nd Street. That’s usually the best place as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes I preach, usually I hand out gospel tracts. “Eternal Life,” “The Gift of God,” tracts like that. The International Baptist Church, out in Brooklyn, supplies them.

How many do you distribute a day?
Sometimes 500, sometimes 1000. Whatever I have available.

What do you say when you’re preaching?
I quote things. “You’ve heard the joyful sound,” “Jesus saves,” things like that. I ask, “Are you a Christian?” “Are you born again?”

It must be exhausting.
It is exhausting. But we would have a lot more crime than we have if people didn’t go out preaching. When it rains, I usually go inside. I try to go where it’s cool. Some buses are lukewarm, some are cold. When they put on the air real high when it’s hot, I like that.

Ever see the really belligerent street preachers? What do you think of them?
They’re fanatics. Especially the ones with the noisemakers. And the ones with the jazz. It’s not a joyful noise, like the Bible says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” That’s a disturbing noise.

What’s the response from passersby?
People get born again! That’s the response. A woman came to me a month or two ago, she saw me in the subway, and said, “You were giving out tracts 50 years ago on 34th Street.” She remembered me. I believe she was born again. It must’ve been a real thing or she wouldn’t have come back and remembered me.

Do people ever harass you?
They’ll heckle you, they’ll harass you. They used to say a long time ago “Oh, you get paid good for that!” In here, they don’t hardly say anything. They look at my sign and keep going. People are busy.

Do the police ever hassle you?
They haven’t given me a hard time on the street. In Grand Central, they come and ask for my permit. In here you need one to do this. Out there, no permit.

Are you an ordained minister?
Anyone can be a minister. Someone who hands out tracts or sings in the church, they can be called minister. I can be called a minister even though I’ve never been ordained because I go with a sign, I read the word. Only if you preach in a church do you have to be ordained.

Do you have a day job?
I work for a company that puts up lights for the city. I’ve been doing it for about 30 years.

How long ago were you born again?
Since 1947. That’s when I started with tracts, and talking a little.

How has the city changed since you began preaching?
The people are more wild now. They used to be more tame. It used to be safe. No violence at night. It’s more dangerous. People love to bang into people on the subways, especially the elderly and children. They didn’t used to do that before. The best thing for those people would be to get born again. In 1983, I was mugged and robbed in the subway around Times Square, with a gun. They didn’t hurt me, they didn’t get too much money. That’s a miracle right there. In a city like New York, that can happen.

And spreading religion is making New York a better place?
Getting people to become Christians helps make New York safer. You change people, you change a lot of things.

You’ve got every religion in the world here. Isn’t its diversity what makes New York great?
Well, the Jews they should be able to do okay in New York City.

If they would come and trust in Jesus they would do even better.

And other religions? Muslims, Hindus, Budhists?
They need to be born again. Those kind of people are being converted around the world. India, Malaysia—there’s ministers going around there.

Should evolution be taught in schools?
I don’t think so. I’m not for that. I’m for Christian doctrine. Different people teach science.

Best place to eat in the city?
It’s hard to find good places today. There used to be good places like Horn and Hardhart, Bigford’s. You can’t find those today. It’s only McDonald’s.

What do you think of George W. Bush?
I believe he is a Christian. I like him. Other people don’t like him. People don’t think he’s good. I like him. I like the governor too. I like people like that who are for freedom. I’m against those who are for dictatorship.

Any advice for Mayor Bloomberg?
If he would get born again, that would be the best thing that can happen to him.