The best-selling author of "Conversations with God," revealed he unwittingly passed off another writer's Christmas anecdote as his own in a recent blog post.
As a result, Neale Donald Walsch's blog on the spirituality Web site Beliefnet.com has been shut down. The Web site said in a statement that Walsch had failed to properly credit and attribute material from another author.
Walsch had written about what he described as his son's holiday concert two decades ago in which children were to hold up letters spelling "Christmas Love." One of the children held the "m'' upside down, so the audience got the message "Christwas Love," according to the retelling.
Author Candy Chand said in an interview Tuesday that she stumbled onto Walsch's post when she ran "Christmas Love" through an Internet search engine. She immediately recognized her own words, from her story based on her son's kindergarten Christmas pageant. She contacted Walsch and Beliefnet.
The story first appeared in a spiritual magazine in 1999, and was later anthologized. Chand said she copyrighted the story in 2005, in part because it had appeared on the Internet uncredited. The story was published as the illustrated book "Christmas Love" for this past Christmas, she said.
Walsch wrote on his blog Tuesday he was "truly mystified" about what happened and apologized. He said he had been telling the story for years in public talks and "somewhere along the way, internalized it as my own experience."
"As a published author myself, I would never use another author's words as my own," Walsch wrote. "Yet I have apparently done just that - although with no deliberate intent to do so."
Chand, of Rancho Murieta, Calif., said she did not believe Walsch's account.
"It's pretty difficult for me to believe that someone has a memory lapse that is word for word my story," she said. "He deleted the first paragraph. That's it."
Beliefnet said in a statement Walsch "failed to properly credit and attribute material from another author. As a result, Mr. Walsch has decided to remove himself from Beliefnet's blogging roster, a decision we will support in order to protect the mission and integrity of our site and community. As a faith-based web portal, Beliefnet will continue to hold ourselves and our writers to the highest standards of trust."