AR15 March 31, 1981
With the State of California versus Worldwide Church of God (WCG) lawsuit now completely over, many are asking where does the WCG go from here? That is no easy question to answer. For now that the state attorney general is no longer pursuing WCG leaders, there is more in fighting and confusion in the WCG hierarchy than ever before.
GTA Returns - Almost
While many thought that Stanley Rader's "victory" over the State of California guaranteed his total control over the WCG's future, a three-month chain of events indicates that his influence on Herbert Armstrong is waning and that Garner Ted Armstrong's return to the WCG may be imminent. Here briefly is an outline of recent WCG events:
January 4 - Rader announced he would step down as church treasurer, effective July 1. While still remaining as head of AICF and personal advisor to Herbert Armstrong, Rader said: "Under no circumstances would I ever be the pastor general of our church" (Pasadena Star-News, Jan. 5, 1981).
January 8 - The Los Angeles Times carried a full-page ad bearing Stanley Rader's photo and signature. The ad, which reiterated Stanley's January 4 announcement, carried the headline: "The Attorney General Kept His Word. Now I Will Keep Mine." Ironically, that same edition of the Times also carried an article which began: "Attorney Gen. George Deukmejian took a major step Wednesday toward running for governor in 1982 by disclosing he will appoint an exploratory campaign committee and hold a $500-a-plate fund raiser in march...."
January 20 - Herbert Armstrong, in a letter to co-workers, wrote (p.3):
"Satan knows how short time is. He is now striking at destroying THE CHURCH AS A WHOLE. I cannot reveal to you at the moment what Satan is up to now, BUT IT IS BIG, and we all need to be FASTING AND PRAYING as never before that God will restrain Satan."
It would be interesting to know how Herbert obtained the inside scoop on Satan's plans. Nevertheless, this statement, plus certain others made in letters to WCG ministers, has led to a flurry of speculation. While some discounted the whole matter as just another fund raising scheme, others thought, (1) HWA's corporation sole is in deep trouble with the IRS, (2) HWA is in failing health - possibly even has cancer - and knows his time is short, (3) the percent of new converts is down due to the totally insipid telecasts HWA has produced of late, or (4) there are serious troubles in the HWA household. While none of these theories are beyond possibility, we frankly have not been able to substantiate any of them.
Incidentally, long-time WCG members may find one statement in the January co-worker letter (p.1) of particular interest:
"During the late sixties, certain indications led me to envision the possibility - never the certainty - that the Work of the Philadelphia era of the Church might be completed by the first week in January, 1972. Never did I remotely believe that could be the time of Christ's return; the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and other prophesied events had to occur after completion of our Work proclaiming Gospel Message, Law of God, repentance and fact of coming Kingdom of God. Nor did I set 1972 as definite date but only a possible date for completion of our commission."
The letter ends with: "We are launched on the greatest PUSH FORWARD ever, PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!"
January 31 - The Pastor General's Report to the ministry of the WCG opened with a "long overdue acknowledgment" by Herbert Armstrong. This short, one-third-page tribute was to Virginia Kineston, Stanley Rader's secretary, whom Garner Ted Armstrong claims is the true top administrator of the WCG. Insiders claim the tribute was done in response to ministerial criticism of Mrs. Kineston, especially in regard to her close relationship with Rader aide Jack Bicket. Wrote Armstrong, in her defense, "I know her to be a woman of highest moral and ethical integrity and professional in her abilities." The odd article was interpreted by many knowledgeable Armstrong followers as in indication of new stresses in the power structure.
The short HWA article was followed by a Stanley Rader article entitled "Christ's Apostle in the Philippines." It began with "Christ's Apostle will be leaving Manila today..." and after numerous references to "Christ's Apostle," ended with, "Yes, Christ's Apostle has certainly begun 1981 with a running start -1981 should be the biggest year yet in the history of the Work."
February 24 - The Pasadena Star-News, in an article entitled "Banished Garner Ted Armstrong May Return," quoted Stanley Rader (who "leaked" the story to the Star-News) as saying Ted could be back within a month "if there is proper repentance."
Dick Lloyd, the reporter covering the story, revealed deep insight into the inner workings of the WCG when he wrote:
"If Rader's acknowledgement of a possible return is a strange twist after months of vilifying the son, it is a routine experience in the church, which has played yo-yo for years with programs and personalities...."
Later on in the article, Lloyd stated:
"There is widespread speculation in the church that Garner Ted Armstrong, 48, is coming back, Rader said, taking pains not to discourage it and seemingly opening the door for an inquiry."
But when Lloyd contacted GTA about the matter, GTA said, "I don't know a thing about it." Nevertheless Ted told the reporter he didn't rule out the possibility of returning to the WCG. GTA said it all depended on how the offer was made and by whom. (We have learned that Stan Rader has tried repeatedly to contact GTA by phone, but Ted has rudely refused both to speak to him or to return the calls.) GTA told Lloyd he would not be the one making the overtures toward reconciliation and that he would not talk to go-betweens.
Two days later, Garner Ted was in the Pasadena area - to tape a segment for a CBS news broadcast, he claimed. And Herbert Armstrong, who had not made a public appearance in California in two years, was also in Pasadena. Ironically, however, their paths evidently did not cross. Each hoped the other would initiate a reconciliation call but neither could muster the required degree of humility.
HWA, who had secretly summoned 250 WCG ministers to Pasadena from around the world, was not able to make the announcement he had wished to make that GTA had repented and would return. Instead, he announced to the assembled clergymen that Stanley Rader's resignation as church treasurer would take effect Sunday, March 1, and not on July 1 as previously announced. Armstrong praised Rader for being a "mastermind" and for being of great service to the church. Said HWA, "I feel that Mr. Rader's salary is grossly inadequate for these extraordinary services" (Pasadena Star-News, Feb. 26). To rectify the situation, HWA announced he was presenting Mr. Rader with a bonus - $250,000 net.
The next day Garner Ted Armstrong, back in Tyler, was furious. The Tyler-Telegraph (February 27) carried these GTA comments:
"'He [Rader] resigned from a nonexisting post in a non-existent corporation,' Ted Armstrong said. 'They fired every individual on the payroll list of Worldwide Church of God and rehired them all through Herbert W. Armstrong Corp. Sole, based in Tucson, Ariz.'
"In what the younger Armstrong called a 'snow job,' all the Worldwide Church assets were transferred to the new corporation sole.
"'He steps down from nothing, he loses no power, because all the power is concentrated in my father and in corp. sole,' Armstrong charged.
"Ted Armstrong added that as long as Rader remains legal adviser to the church, head of the auditing agency, owner of the advertising agency that handles all church accounts, and right-hand man of Herbert Armstrong, he is a church power.
"The ousted Armstrong said he was dumbfounded to read in the newspaper Thursday morning that Rader had been granted a $250,000 bonus on his 'retirement,' what Armstrong called an 'astronomical bonus on top of his breathtaking salary.'
"'I have a letter here from my father to the church constituency urging them to "sacrifice as never before" because the church was in dire need of money,' Armstrong said. 'In fact, he said if the constituency experiences any tax break this year, to send that in to the church.'
"Armstrong said he found it odd that such a large bonus was handed to Rader when the church was 'screaming for money.'"
Big Sandy To Reopen
The same day Herbert Armstrong spoke to the assembled ministers in Pasadena, Virginia Kineston, Rader's secretary, confirmed to the news media that rumors of Big Sandy reopening were true. The Texas campus of Ambassador College, closed since 1977, will reopen in September as a junior college with an enrollment of 100 new freshmen and 75 transfer students from Pasadena.
The decision, announced a few days earlier to church leaders by Herbert Armstrong, contradicted earlier statements made by Stanley Rader. As recently as August, Rader has stated that the Big Sandy Ambassador College campus would never reopen. The new dean of faculty of the Big Sandy campus will be Pastor Don Ward. Ironically, it was Garner Ted's appointment of Dr. Ward to that same position three years ago that was cited by HWA then as one of the central mistakes requiring his son's demotion. In addition to Ward, the Mar. 16, 1981, Worldwide News mentioned that Evangelist Leon Walker will be deputy chancellor, while Ron Kelly will again be dean of students. One source feels that the opening of Big Sandy may be one of the inducements to lure Garner Ted back, as the Big Sandy campus was Ted's favorite.
Rader's Power Waning?
While Stanley Rader remains an advisor to HWA, in recent weeks his influence on HWA has diminished considerably. For instance, Henry Cornwall, Rader's long-time associate, is no longer making HWA his full-time concern. For two years he has personally monitored HWA's activities in Tucson, but now he has been replaced as Armstrong's day-to-day aide by long-time WCG minister Bob Fahey. One Tucson source points out that HWA has also become suspicious of his wife Ramona's loyalties, believing she may be overly biased toward Stanley Rader's points of view. A separation would not surprise anyone. In fact, as we go to press, Herbert Armstrong has apparently been spotted residing in his old Pasadena residence. Ramona Armstrong, however, was not seen in Pasadena.
Editors Quit Quest Magazine
Since its inception four years ago, Quest magazine has been both a major drain on WCG finances and a cause of disgruntlement among many WCG members who often found its editorial content offensive. During that four years, however, church leaders often distanced themselves from Quest's editorial content by claiming they had no control over what went into that publication. Now, however, that tune has changed.
The January 12 issue of both Time and Newsweek reported the resignation of Quest's editor Robert Shnayerson and his five top staff members. Newsweek reported:
"The first open sign of the upheaval came when the 88-year-old Armstrong took out a crusading full-page newspaper ad, of the kind he publishes from time to time. This one, in the Wall Street Journal, addressed the Arab-Israeli crisis under a typically high-voltage headline (A Voice Cries Out ... Peace Out of Conflict??). But at the end of the ad, he struck a different note. 'I suggest,' he wrote, 'you read my cover story in Quest/81... on the Middle East controversy, its origin and President Sadat's planned World Peace Center.'
"For the Quest editors, the Journal ad signaled defeat in a battle that had begun early last month, when the magazine received an unsolicited 3,000-word article in the mail. According to Shnayerson, the article was an idiosyncratic account of the origins of strife in the Middle East, which also lavished praise on Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's proposed peace center at the base of Mount Sinai. Riddled with exclamation points and written in a hortatory style, it was the kind of piece, Shnayerson says, that he would have rejected routinely - except that its author happened to be Armstrong.
"To head off a showdown, Shnayerson wrote to Armstrong's chief aide, Stanley R. Rader, arguing that such articles would cast Quest as 'a house organ for a church' rather than as a general-interest magazine. 'Traditional national advertisers won't touch church magazines,' said Shnayerson, whose letter to Rader emphasized how assiduously he and the advertising staff had worked to convince Madison Avenue that Quest is a sophisticated, strictly secular publication. Such an 'abrupt jettisoning of editorial standards,' cautioned Shnayerson, would result in 'a critical loss of revenue.' For a time, Shnayerson says, there seemed to be a chance of compromise, with Armstrong's article to be replaced by a straight journalistic account of the peace-center project. But that hope was dashed by the Armstrong ad."
Contacted by Newsweek, poolside at a Manila hotel, Rader contradicted earlier official statements, saying: "There is no such thing as the editor's autonomy... Mr. Shnayerson is not under any contract other than as a paid editor working under control." In other words, Rader has been responsible for Quest's editorial content all along.
At the time-the Newsweek article appeared, few realized it, but it was an indication that HWA was reasserting his authority and that Stan Rader's influence on the Armstrong empire was in decline. As we go to press, we have just heard that plans are in the works for a discontinuance of financial support for Quest. Without the church's subsidies, Quest magazine - a Rader pet project - will be doomed.
HWA Establishes Council of Elders
With HWA approaching 89 (July 31) and Rader's star fading fast, the question again surfaces: Who will succeed Herbert Armstrong? While Herbert has for years bragged that he was appointed by Jesus Christ and not some committee, and while numerous WCG preachers have been teaching that HWA would live until Christ returns, Herbert Armstrong has now designated a committee to choose his successor at his death.
The panel's existence was made public shortly after it became clear that Garner Ted Armstrong would not reinstate himself in the WCG through proper repentance. According to Stan Rader (Pasadena Star-News, Feb. 28), the membership of the committee will not remain constant but currently includes Raymond McNair, Dean Blackwell, Joe Tkach, Ellis LaRavia, and Dibar Apartian. Many in the WCG regard the committee formation as a final blow to any possibility Stan Rader nay have had of becoming the official head of the WCG upon Herbert Armstrong's death.
One might suspect that the newly formed council of elders would appoint one of their own upon HWA's demise. But as one looks down the list of its members, one finds not one individual with the intelligence, administrative ability, or charisma demanded by such a position.
However, there area number of individuals who aspire to the position who are not meirbers of the council. For instance, there is Roderick Meredith. Highly ambitious, he was for years considered the number three man in the WCG. In fact, he himself considered himself number five "in the universe" (humbly, after God the Father, Jesus Christ, HWA, and GTA). While not on the new council of elders, he is still quite popular with many so-called "right-wingers," a group well-represented on the council. He has recently been boning up on his broadcasting skills for what he speculates is his inevitable takeover of the "World Tomorrow" microphone.
Another name that should not be overlooked is that of Gerald Waterhouse. While viewed as an outright kook by some fellow ministers, Waterhouse is perceived by marry church members as currently the WCG's most powerful preacher. Loud, long-winded, and almost hypnotic to some, Waterhouse has gained a devoted following in the WCG with his calls for blind devotion to HWA. Yet questions persist about his mental balance. Here are quotes from some of his more memorable sermons of the past two years:
"No one can disagree with HWA and be right in God's eyes: No one:"
"HWA's office is the most vital office on the face of the earth by far...."
"This is the Work of God...and he will always work through HWA without exception...God will work through no other. God will keep HWA alive up to 3= days of Jesus Christ's return. You can rest assured of that. If HWA needs another 900 years, God has proven he can give it ....God could keep HWA alive a million, a billion years in the flesh, did you know that?... God has given absolute promises in regard to HWA ....We are called to be on HWA's team ....Everyone called in this age is called to be on HWA's team."
"We will be so locked-in to Christ through his apostle that we will go and do...whatever Christ leads the apostle to lead us in.... The prophecy of HWA as far as being a messenger is absolute. It shows he will live to Christ's coming.... He will die 3= days before, and that's for a purpose too...."
"You don't die for something unless you believe it. So when they finally are convinced of Christ's authority through HWA and realize their future is at stake, then they have something to die for ....They've got to or else.... Everyone that has ever rebelled against HWA can make it [salvation] on the condition that he come back to acknowledge the power and authority through HWA...and dies testifying he will support...."
GTA Still at It
After all is said and done, we won't be surprised if Garner Ted returns to head the WCG. As this is being written, we have heard that he is planning a call to his father to discuss a possible reconciliation.
The March 8 Tyler Courier-Time-Telegraph carried an article on GTA. The GTA quotes it contained show a GTA that hasn't really changed all that much. Here are a few excerpts:
"'My father may have made some wrong decisions along the way ...but I believe he is utterly dedicated and sincere in his religious convictions.'
"'God gave me a gift, an ability ....' 'They can turn that camera and light on and, with any subject out of the Bible, I can do a bang-up, ad-lib job for 30 minutes without a note.'
"'After they got rid of me, I became the whipping boy for everything that happened to that institution...' his son said. 'Then they began to get a little dirty about it - unpleasant and scurrilous innuendos. It was very sad. I would not get down in the gutter with them and I won't do it now.'
"'Here I'm preaching the same thing. It's the same person, the same personality, the same voice, the same Bible, the same marks in my Bible, the same old notes sometimes.'"
In our March 24, 1980, newsletter we predicted (p.8) GTA would start an evangelistic association. That has now cone to pass. It's called, "The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association." It's not difficult to see why this was started. In his Jan. 30 co-worker letter GTA warns his followers:
"As a caution, in my letter explaining the need for separate television funds, I mentioned I certainly hoped people would not take money from the normal income for the church and simply earmark the same tithes and offerings they were sending anyhow, but for a different purpose.
"However, the reports I have been given for the past several weeks have strongly indicated that many may have done just that: The income in these last few weeks has begun to slide dramatically for the work of the church!
"I'm sure all of you know we are running a very tight ship indeed, that there simply is no such thing as 'fat' in our lean, tough, small and hardworking organization!
"When we are forced with making cuts we are cutting into the lean; right into the flesh and bone of the operation, not into any excess 'fat.'"
Of course, the "excess fat" does not include his own salary. He recently gave himself a raise - he's making over $60,000 a year now. And, of course, there's an expense account. And let's not forget his three sons are on the payroll too.
But while GTA is getting by financially, he's not without some difficulties. In the CGI church newspaper for December 1980 GTA wrote an article entitled "Members Avert Tragedy." It concerned the arrest of a young man shortly after a GTA personal appearance in Chicago. According to the article, the recent church schism had caused the young man personal problems and he was contemplating the murder of an ex-girlfriend and suicide, but not before assassinating Garner Ted Armstrong to help the WCG and the CGI "get back together."
The WCG in the News
We should point out that during December, January, February, and March the WCG has been in the news media almost constantly. Limited space does not permit more than a passing reference to some of these "splashes."
But for the record, the Dec. 29, 1980, issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had an interesting article on the WCG by Bohdan Hodiak entitled "Church Executive Savors Victory Over California." This article gave an overview of the WCG's recent history. It ended with: "'We know this is the end time,' Rader said, giving the world about a dozen more years. His financial contract with the WCG, however, runs until 2003."
The January 6 and January 10 Pasadena Star-News carried articles about an Anne Truelove (a.k.a. Margaret Wilson) who, for days, waited in front of Ambassador College with a "message from God." On Jan. 3, she apparently strode up to the Ambassador auditorium podium after sabbath services to ask if she could see Mr. Armstrong. She was immediately disfellowshipped by minister Robin Webber. She then began her vigil.
The Feb. 23 issue of Time magazine carried an article on the WCG, nothing new, just a short summary of the WCG's recent problems.
During this time the WCG has also been running full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal (in an attempt too convert the stock brokers of the world?). One bizarre ad we found particularly amusing appeared in the Feb. 23 issue. Signed by HWA, the long, three-sentence headline read: "A Voice Cries Out: The Executive with Rose-Colored Glasses. He was a bit ahead of his time. Still, things will be far more rosy than he sees them now:" Some Garner Ted followers wondered if HWA had Stan Rader in mind when he wrote this ad.
On March 2 the WCG officially dropped its $800 million lawsuit against the State of California. The action officially brought to a close the more than two years of litigation that commenced Jan. 2, 1979, when the attorney general brought his lawsuit against the WCG's leadership. Rader, in making the announcement, said the WCG did not want to be perceived by the public as an aggressor, nor did the church want to spend vast sums on further litigation.
In past issues we mentioned Wisconsin farmer George McElroy's legal battle with the WCG. We are happy to report that that battle is finally over and that Mr. McElroy will be keeping his farm. We think you may find the following AP news item of interest.
"A Barron County farmer, 'blinded by programming' of a California church, won appellate court approval Tuesday of his attempt to recover a farm he gave to the organization. The church insisted its First Amendment rights were being violated, but the 3rd District Court of Appeals said a church, like 'every other person and corporation, is obliged to obey the law relating to undue influence.'
"George D. McElroy, 67, said he gave his $14,000 farm in 1969 to Ambassador College of the Worldwide Church of God and the World Tomorrow....McElroy...won a Circuit Court case for return of the farm, plus more than $7,000 in other contributions. The church appealed.
"'McElroy's testimony was sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to find by clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence that the deed was the product of undue influence by the church,' the three-man appellate court said. The court was told that McElroy, troubled by a divorce, 'was looking for meaning in life' when he heard the church's broadcasts and began reading its literature.
"He said he was persuaded to reduce his herd of dairy cows by more than 50 percent, was convinced the world would end in 1972, and donated his farm through a deed prepared by the church. The case's documents include a letter from a church attorney which begins: 'Greetings once again from the legal office of God's work.'"
The WCG in History
Unknown to most people in the Western world is the fact that there are significant stirrings among the world's 800 million Muslims. While many today are aware of Arab-Israeli tensions, OPEC, and the problems in Iran, most Westerners are not aware of the growing unity of the Islamic peoples and the significance this has for the future of the entire world.
In the February 1 issue of the Los Angeles Times there appeared in the Opinion section a remarkable article by Don A. Schanche entitled "Islam Reborn." Mr. Schanche explains in detail how Islam is on the move in dramatic ways and how the Islamic world is growing increasingly more united. In explaining the history of this vast international religious-political movement, Mr. Schanche wrote:
"The Islamic conference, for example, was born in a worldwide surge of Muslim outrage over the August, 1969, burning of Jerusalem's Al Aksa mosque, third holiest shrine in Islam after Mecca and Medina, by a deranged Australian Jew, who many Muslims believed was a pawn in a Zionist plot.
"The call to gather in Rabat, Morocco, to unify and do something to redress the outrage drew only 25 of the more than 40 nations in the world with Muslim majorities. With only one cause to unite them, the kings and presidents talked for only a day and issued a call for the restoration of Arab sovereignty over Jerusalem and other territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Then they adjourned. The meeting and the newly founded organization were all but ignored by the rest of the world....
"Last week, with its membership now grown to 42, but attendance weakened by the suspension of Egypt and Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and the pointed absence of Iran and Libya, the Islamic conference went a long way toward achieving its long-sought goal of power in unity."
It is worth remembering that the individual responsible for the 1969 Al Aksa mosque burning was Dennis Rohen, a Plain Truth reader and Armstrong co-worker, who had at that time and later on sought to become a baptized member of the WCG. Herbert Armstrong acknowledged (The Plain Truth, Oct. 1969, pp.1,47) that Rohm was a Plain Truth subscriber and was taking the WCG's Bible Correspondence Course, but he failed to mention that Rohen admitted he was attempting to hasten the fulfillment of HWA's prophecy that another great Temple would soon adorn the sight of the old Temple - which was where Al Aksa mosque was situated. Interestingly, thereafter, HWA insisted neither he nor the WCG had ever said a new Temple would be rebuilt. But that doesn't nullify the fact that the church did indeed teach that doctrine (see The Plain Truth, June 1967, p.1; March 1968, p.8).
Suffer Not Little Children to Be Brainwashed
With so many children of WCG families leaving the WCG as soon as they obtain majority, it's no wonder that the Armstrong church's leadership has decided to make an extra effort to get a hold on the minds and tithes of these potential converts. Leading the way is a new WCG periodical called Youth 81. The first edition appeared in January and featured a portrait of Herbert Armstrong on the cover.
The editorial direction of the new magazine is perhaps best exemplified in a crossword puzzle found on page 13 of the first issue. Here are the clues to some of the blanks the little kiddies were asked to fill in: (1) "Complete name of 'Mr. HWA,'" (2) "Year in which Mr. Armstrong was born - spell out, " (3) "Day of month on which Mr. Armstrong was born - spell out," (4) "State in which Mr. Armstrong was born," (5) "At age 18 Mr. Armstrong learned he had aptitude in this field," (6) "At age 18, Mr. Armstrong earned this reputation," (7) "First name of Mr. Armstrong's maternal great grandfather," (8) "Mr. Armstrong's parents' religion," (9) "Mr. Armstrong learned he also had aptitude in this field," (10) "Month in which Mr. Armstrong was born," (11) "City of Mr. Armstrong's birth," (12) "Mr. Armstrong was told he would become a Philadelphia_____," (13) "On Mr. Armstrong's first advertising job, this is what he was assigned to write - two words," (14) "First name of Mr. Armstrong's uncle, who guided Mr. Armstrong's career the first 11 years," (15) "Another word for rules," (16) "Name of king of England to whom Mr. Armstrong can trace lineage," etc. We found it significant how much Armstrong-centered (as opposed to God-centered) the new publication was.
Lennon's Music-A Loud Squawk
Since our last newsletter came out, we have all been saddened to hear of the murder of singer-songwriter John Lennon. But not surprisingly Herbert Armstrong had a different view. In his front-page article, "How the Beatles Changed the Culture of the Western World" (The Worldwide News, Dec. 22, 1980), Herbert had this to say about Lennon's music: "I had never thought of it as music, but a loud raucous SQUAWK and SCREAM with a fast beat - just an irritating noise.... I have heard roosters make a loud raucous squawk when being captured for a Sunday dinner when I was a boy," Herbert craned, "but I just never had been 'educated' to call that 'music.'" One paragraph later Herbert begs his readers to "please bear with me in my ignorance."
We can't remember a single squawk or scream in "Michelle" or "Yesterday" - two of Lennon's most famous songs. But Herbert writes as though Lennon's music was all noise.
Further on Herbert writes of Lennon:
"Of the Beatles, Lennon seemed to be the 'brains.' ...he was influenced by Eastern psychedelic and demon influences. His voice was the most gritty, raucous and hard, angry, driving and determined of the group. Yet he became like mild putty in the hands of his Japanese wife. In later years he became the househusband, tending the child and house duties while the dominating wife supervised investments and business matters. In his search for something that would satisfy his troubled mind, he went into things mystic and psychedelic - not realizing they were Satan influenced."
Toward the end of his article, Herbert declares that Lennon was "leading a misguided humanity further into Satan's way of life" and that Lennon's killer himself was possibly demon possessed.
While such views are considered decidedly wacky by most people, those who know Herbert have come to realize that all his adversaries are called "Satan-inspired" or "demon possessed." Even those who simply disagree are accused of having "demon influence." Amusingly, though, Herbert's critics (as well as WCG ministers, surprisingly) are claiming Herbert often behaves much like those in the Bible who were said to be possessed.
Certainly, HWA's attack on the assassinated composer has done little to bolster church confidence in Herbert's mental balance. Even Garner Ted Armstrong found his father's diatribe too much to bear. While not mentioning his father by name, in an article entitled "What Is God's Kind of Music?" (The International News, Jan.-Feb. 1981), GTA assailed his father's dogmatic view on music and then went on too express sympathy for the family of the fallen composer. Aiming an obvious barb at his dad's worship of classical music, Ted wrote:
"When I hear some of the songs John Lennon and others of the Beatles wrote in various arrangements, especially some of their best works played by symphony orchestras, I have to admit that such music is... far more enjoyable than almost anything ever written by Debussy or Bach."
Armstrong's Doctrines Unique?
Lately there has been a spate of articles in such publications as Time and the Los Angeles Times accusing Seventh-day Adventist prophetess Ellen G. White of plagiarism in compiling 53 volumes of religious writings. We find that amusing because we have reported in past ARs how Herbert Armstrong is guilty of this very vice himself. One of his oldest and most heavily advertised booklets, The Proof of the Bible, was taken, in part, from a much earlier Adventist publication, Prophecy Speaks!, which, by the way, contained certain biblical and archaeological inaccuracies that Herbert gullibly accepted without challenge. To this day he has never acknowledged his booklet's errors concerning prophecies about Tyre and Babylon. Evangelist Herman Hoeh, realizing the stupidity of some of the booklet's historical clains, took it upon himself in the Dec. 1980 Good News to point out some of the fallacies in Herbert's arguments.
Hoeh declared that the prophecy about Tyre, a modern-day Lebanese city, "is not the challenge to the skeptic we assumed. It is a prophecy yet to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ..." (p.39). Hoeh, in an uncharacteristic display of humility, admitted: "I was wrong" (p.5). But very wisely, he never once says Herbert was wrong. Nevertheless, we heard that an enraged Herbert had the magazine recalled two weeks after it had been mailed to subscribers.
After listening to Herbert and skimming through his rambling writings, one cannot help but notice that he claims many of his doctrines are revelations from God -"unique truths" revealed to God's "true church." But what unsuspecting members haven't realized is that most of Herbert's "new" truths were taught in essentially the same form by other church groups decades before Herbert decided to become a man of the cloth.
Recently another book on the Armstrong movement came to our attention: Ambassadors of Armstrongism by Paul N. Benware. One of the most scholarly books on Armstrongism we've seen - it has 15 pages of footnotes and a 7-page bibliography - this book spends almost a whole chapter illustrating haw several of Herbert's "unique concepts" were being taught by other religious groups long before Herbert became a minister.
Author Benware explains that "Herbert Armstrong was affiliated for several years with the Church of God (Seventh-day), which is an offshoot of Seventh-day Adventism. The influence of Adventism is readily apparent by conparing quotations from Armstrong's writings and those of Adventist writers, and Mr. Armstrong himself admits studying much of their literature" (see The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, 1967, p.338).
In chapter 2 Benware documents the similarity of the teachings of Herbert Armstrong to those of the Seventh-day Adventists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and the Church of God movement. Here are some of the major areas of similarity he discusses:
Seventh-day Adventists: sabbath keeping, Sunday observance is the mark of the beast, keeping the Ten Commandments is necessary for salvation, the moral and ceremonial laws are different, man is mortal and has no soul, immortality is conditional, the new birth is connected with the resurrection, et al.
Jehovah's Witnesses: the trinity is pagan, the holy spirit is a force, Jesus rose in a spiritual body, the wicked will be annihilated, et al.
Mormons: the deity is the ultimate goal for men and men will eventually join the Godhead, the Fall was planned by God, the true church has been lost since the apostles' day, the name "Elohim" shows a plurality of Gods, et al.
The Church of God movement: the idea of "church of God" being the true name of the church, the insistence that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and rose on a Saturday, sabbath keeping, the declaration that certain holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) are pagan and should not be observed by Christians, both organizations had a pamphlet entitled "Has Time Been Lost?", et al.
Benware points out, as the AR has on several occasions, that Herbert's teachings on the U.S. and British Commonwealth in prophecy are not unique to him but were copied wholesale from J. H. Allen's book, Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright (first published in 1902), and British-Israelism theory, which flourished in the 1800s.
It is Benware's conclusion that the WCG's system of teachings is "eclectic" because the church "has evidently borrowed, incorporated and revised doctrines from others and brought them into its system. It cannot legitimately say that it holds the key to the truth of the Scriptures, while at the same time holding too the identical teachings of other groups.... This is especially true when the other systems were on the religious scene years before the founding of the Worldwide Church of God" (p.26).
For those interested in obtaining a copy of this book, write to Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Box 817, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865. The price, which includes postage, is $3.20-NJ residents should add 5 percent sales tax.
Tuit Book Finally Out
John Tuit has informed us that, after numerous delays, his book The Truth Shall Make You Free ($8.00, The Truth Foundation, 11 Laurel Court, Freehold Township, NJ 07728) has finally rolled off the press and will be mailed out this week. Mr. Tuit was one of the initiators of the State of California versus Worldwide lawsuit, and his book covers that lawsuit in some detail.
The Tuit book also reviews a bit of Garner Ted Armstrong's past - a fact that has not delighted the GTA organization. Benny Sharp, a GTA aide, angrily told Tuit: "Just because Ted went out and _____ed a few girls, you don't have to bring all that up again:"
But Tuit believes Ted's past history is relevant today. When GTA was thrown out of the WCG in 1978, Tuit was one of those who thought that GTA had really changed, and he hoped the CGI would be set up differently than the HWA church, but it didn't turn out that way. Tuit spent some time visiting the Tyler organization and came away very disillusioned. Says Tuit, "I just didn't like the moral climate. The constant dirty jokes and smutty attitudes really bothered me. Also it's become increasingly obvious that the CGI is GTA-centered. I had hoped it would be Christ-centered."
Tuit isn't the only one who's been disappointed by the GTA organization. One former ministerial assistant told us recently how he paid a visit to GTA's Tyler headquarters on Dec. 31. He was surprised to discover a New Year's Eve party in progress. GTA aide Ron Dart, however, explained to him that it wasn't really a New Year's Eve celebration (which the church calls "pagan") but a "year-end party" which was necessary to avoid offending the CGI's numerous unconverted employees.
Robinson Fights On
David Robinson, author of Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web and former WCG minister, is still locked in a costly lawsuit over his book. According to Robinson, "HWA continues to use the court system - and appeals - to seek a reversal of the order which permitted us [he and his wife] to distribute the book. What can he prove if he wins? Nothing. All he can do is inflict oppressive financial strain in order to reap vengeance," especially since "thousands of copies of the book are now in the hands of the public." To continue the legal battle, Robinson wrote a letter to those who had purchased his book, asking for contributions to help him pay a $22,000 bill for legal fees.
New Groups and Groups New to Us
The Church of God Evangelistic
(David J. Smith, President)
P.O. Box 1053
Maryland Heights, ND 63043
Church of God
P.O. Box 184
Augusta, KS 67010
Assemblies of Yahweh
Bethel, PA 19507
Motivation Ministries International
P.O. Box 35451
Tulsa, OK 74135
Ken Johnston, president
(Mr. Johnston offers "free literature
on the subject of motivation and success
principles as taught in the scriptures.")
Church of God (7th Day) of Eugene
1340 E Street
(Marion A. Cox, Elder)
"The Singing Evangelists"
John and Katherine Kiesz
820 Woodlawn Avenue
Canon City, CO 81212
(Elder Kiesz is a long-time member of
the Church of God (7th Day). During
the '30s he was an editor for The Bible
Advocate and knew Herbert Armstrong
personally. He has recorded a cassette tape
telling of the early history of Herbert Armstrong.)
Where Are They Now?
We are always receiving letters asking us where former well-known headquarters employees of the Armstrong organization have gone and how they are faring. As we have reported, most are doing extremely well - showing a creativity and hidden talent that the Armstrong organization refused to tap. Herbert believed in a strict authoritarian style of management, refusing to delegate any real authority to the yes men with whom he surrounded himself. Rather than developing incisive thinkers and challenging his subordinates to surpass his accomplishments, he encouraged just the opposite by his frequent temper tantrums, layoffs, and firings. Little did he know what a wealth of talent lay waiting to be tapped in his organization if he would only have changed his medieval managerial style.
Take former Ambassador biblical archaeological instructor Chris Patton and his wife Denise. Their success story was written up in none other than The Wall Street Journal (March 5, 1981, p.15). The article describes how they bought and sold their first home for a tidy profit and had the foresight to realize there was still lots of money to be made in real estate. So in 1979 they entered the market in earnest. Since then they have parlayed their real estate transactions and Denise's design business "into a cluster of enterprises from renovation to property management. Real estate has made them wealthy (though they decline to specify their assets)." They do admit that they bought $3 million in residential income property, all of which was financed in a series of no-money-down deals.
Chris and. Denise own everything from slums to luxury areas, and they expect their holdings to appreciate at 10% to 15% this year. Their specialty has become buying "problem property" and restoring it. In one of their most speculative deals, the Journal reports, "the Pattons ventured into the ghetto of south-central Los Angeles and bought the site of the fiery 1974 shootout between Los Angeles police and the so-called Symbionese Liberation Army, which had kidnapped heiress Patricia Hearst." This site included seven adjacent houses and one burned-out foundation. "The houses were indescribably filthy," Denise was quoted as saying, "with roaches and rats." But their persistence and hard work in renovating them paid off handsomely, and they realized a net appreciation of about $75,000 and are now earning 12% interest on a mortgage in that amount provided for the new owner.
Chris and Denise Patton aren't the only former Armstrong employees who have achieved success since leaving the employment of the Worldwide Church of God/Ambassador College. We are happy to report that former evangelist Charles Hunting was recently married to an English lady and is working in real-estate development in Florida. Jerry Horton, a former supervisor in the Pasadena radio studio, is managing a Denny's restaurant in Orange County (California). George Johnson, who used to write for the editorial department, is pastoring a Church of God (Seventh-day) congregation in Michigan. Kathy Zimmermann, who worked in the registrar's office and continuing education, is about to receive her master's degree in computer science and is now a project manager at Security Pacific bank.
The following individuals are employed as cost engineers in Alhambra: Jerry Baker, former section head of co-worker and subscriber development in the personal correspondence department; Wayne Antion, former member of the theology department and PT staff; Stan Suchocki, one-time elder and member of the personal correspondence department; Paul Knedel, former PT writer and news bureau staff member; John Hesket, one-time mail processing center supervisor.
Tom Rogers, once an auditor for Rader, Cornwall, Kessler, and Palazzo and an employee of the French department and CAD, is a CPA in San Jose, California. Barbara Saye, onetime secretary to Richard Rice, is working for Parsons Constructors Inc. as secretary to a project manager. Joe Bohannon, who was the Weekly Comments editor in the mail-processing center, is employed as a production coordinator with a manufacturing company in Burbank. Glenn Parker, once budget director for the Armstrong organization and business manager for Quest magazine, is a management trainee for 7-Eleven Food Stores in Texas. Cheryl Graunke, former executive secretary for Robert Kuhn and Garner Ted Armstrong, is an administrative assistant for a wealthy investor who is chairman of the board of five companies, including Standard Wire & Cable; Stainless Steel Products; and Bell, Riddell, Inc. (makers of pro football and motorcycle helmets).
Gary Reid, former manager of systems development in the data-processing department, is the systems manager at a Toronto, Canada, bank. Howard Clark, former WCG pastor and AC faculty member, is president of an organization called Institute for the Preservation of the American Family. His group helps the handicapped and offers counseling, aptitude testing, vocational rehabilitation, and alcohol abuse rehabilitation. He says his non-profit organization presently has many more requests for services than funds available to pay for them. He can be reached at P.O. Box 1214, Paradise, CA 95969. Mike Kneebone, former WCG minister, is working as a supervisor for Maritime Life Assurance (the Canadian subsidiary of John Hancock) at the head office in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Keith Crouch, who was a minister and faculty member, is the manager of Don Ricardo's restaurant in the Santa Anita Fashion Park in Arcadia, California.
Peter Grieder, who did accounting work for the French department, is now the director of the International Division of Denny's restaurants. Presently, he is traveling virtually all over the world setting up Denny's branches. Former minister Milo Wilcox now has received his doctor of chiropractic.
One former Ambassador College instructor-administrator we are often asked about is Joe Bauer. Readers will remember Joe as the MC of many GTA personal appearances, the director of many "World Tomorrow" telecasts, the founder of the Ambassador College big band, and one of the early administrators of the AICF concert series.
Since leaving the employment of the Armstrong organization Joe has continued working in the entertainment-communications field and with considerable success. In the last few years, he has produced television programs, produced and directed a critically acclaimed revival of "South Pacific," managed singer Debbie Roberts (of the Liberace show), and was a top executive with Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He is currently senior vice president of a Las Vegas entertainment network.
Dr. Ernest Martin, director of the Foundation for Biblical Research in Pasadena, has recently received worldwide acclaim for his research on the date of Jesus' birth and the star of Bethlehem. According to the Pasadena Star-News, he "has melded astronomy, secular history, and biblical research to provide what he believes is astounding new credibility to the New Testament narratives of the Nativity by writers of the synoptic gospels Luke and Matthew" (Dec. 11, 1980). Martin's theories explain what the star of Bethlehem was and when it appeared, that the Magi bearing gifts was not a fable, and that Jesus was born sometime in the 3-2 B.C. period, not in 7-5 B.C. as believed by scholars for centuries. Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the University of Arizona, and the University of Nebraska changed their Christmas programs to reflect Martin's new findings, as did about 25 other planetariums in the U.S., Germany, and Greece. Scores of others are considering a shift. Martin's research is available in a revised book titled The Birth of Christ Recalculated, which sells for $9.95 (this includes postage).
I was very disappointed to learn Gov. Brown had signed the Petris bill into law. If he is that misinformed, all I can say is I'm thankful he didn't get a chance to be President of the United States.
In light of the recent "victory," when the attorney general dropped the suit against the WCG, it may be asked whether the church is better off with Rader at its helm or forced from his post. Naturally, most church members, who do not enjoy a reputation of perceptive foresight or love for facing problems squarely, "think" with their emotions and greatly rejoice that "God" has once again delivered them. But delivered them from what or into what? That's the question. For the moment, the church has a few days of calm. But its leadership is one that feeds on crises. This church would soon collapse if there was not some real or fictitious problem to be battled. The next crisis will surely come, so stay tuned.
I haven't been to services since last February, and the only interest shown in my behalf was one phone call (long distance) from the minister - all that bunch in interested in is money! I haven't received The Plain Truth, Worldwide News, or Good News since early summer, and when I write to inquire I do not receive a reply.
We were disfellowshipped from the WCG about two years ago, due mostly to speaking against Stan Rader. We resigned from the WCG about three months ago because we weren't getting answers to questions on doctrine - mostly on Galatians. Thank you for all the informative material. Many former questions have been answered.
My wife and I are ex-members. We left the WCG two years ago because we made people angry by asking too many questions they wouldn't and couldn't answer. The people treated us coldly because we couldn't agree with many church teachings, and when we used scripture from the Bible in our questions, this made them very angry.
When will their ministers stop and ask themselves this one question: If there is only one mediator between God and man (that mediator is Jesus Christ) and if every minister who has a following is in reality a mediator, who are they a mediator for? They can't be for God because God has only one mediator.
I've read all of your literature and I thank you for sharing your thoughts and beliefs with me and others. But no I don't need on want your AR anymore. I made a decision 16 years ago to follow what I believe is God's way, being taught through those whom I believe are teaching basic God-ordained truths.
The men, some of them (handsome, smooth-as-butter speakers) have come and gone, and we are still alive, growing, and going strong. So until someone else comes along that can, will, and does preach God's world as effectively as the Worldwide Church of God ministry, then I'm going to stay right where I'm at. Because I think this is it! And if I'm wrong, then God help those who are more wrong. And may God the Lord reward you according to your works.
Your people had better not even send me anything in the U.S. mail again. How dare you put my name on your mailing list without my permission. I want to know how you had access to my name and address. I am mailing the report dated June 20, 1980, and the envelope which is post marked August 22, 1980, to Mr. Ralph Helge, and I hope he can find out how you have access to my name. I want my name removed immediately. I promise you I will take action if you ever again send me so much as a greeting card.
Please remove my name from your list of receivers of your slanderous reports against the Church of which I am part of the body and against Jesus Christ, who is the Head. For surely you know when you attack those anointed to lead the flock, you personally attack Jesus who anointed them. And why, oh why, do you think that I would be interested in hearing all the slime you have accused me of as a member of the WCG? It does make me even more aware and assured this is the True Church of God, for Jesus said if they persecute Him, they would most certainly persecute us. When you accusers were called into God's Church at one time, did you conjure up a report on the church you left to become a part of God's church? You are a living example of how "hate" can pervert one's mind when we do not "forgive" what we take personal offense to. If you came into the church believing Mr. Herbert Armstrong was a perfect man and not entitled to any human errors, you planted your seed erroneously in the first place, for surely you have learned through Scriptures we are and there are no perfect ones, only Creator God is perfection.
You evidently did not see the "goal" we attain for and placed the vanities of men's achievements above God's . The very fact that you have our address suggests you would bend to false ways and roads to vent your hate and lies against God's chosen. God said through His apostles the enemies of His Church would come from within and His warnings concentrate against those within us who would falsely accuse us and your report concurs this.
Yes. I want your report but want to criticize you for giving a former minister of 30 years association with "the organization'' so much space for advertising his book. He ought to hang his head in shame for having known "all these things" and kept his mouth shut "all these years - as have most ministers. Yes. I want to see this outfit exposed, stripped, and go begging as do most former ministers who "knew all the answers."
Editor: If your letter refers to Dave Robinson, then I believe you are somewhat in error. Robinson, according to his book, did not know of the extreme excesses in the life of HWA until quite late in his ministry. It was not long afterward that he left the WCG and pursued a course of action that has opened the eyes of perhaps thousands at great cost to himself and his family. We are not members of Robinson's Tulsa church, nor are we advocating that our readers adopt his personal philosophy or religion. But let's give credit where credit is due. Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web is an eye-opening book that will undoubtedly help many people.
Basically, I just wanted to let your readers who might be interested know what happened to yet another WCG minister who "disappeared" without a trace. After presenting several controversial research papers, one that I felt pretty well demolished the church's OT basis for three tithes, I was summarily visited twice by _______ and told that all my findings were wrong and that if I didn't adapt the things that I'd been taught in AC, they might have to dismiss me from the ministry. This happened just before the Feast of Tabernacles in 1979. After taking _______ to the airport after his first visit, I decided it was time to get out of this group. They weren't interested in seriously examining anything different from what HWA had erroneously taught for decades. I didn't tell ________ that I was going to quit until January 1980. In the meantime, I began doing more research into other fundamental church teachings and trying as subtly as possible to try to help the members in _______ to begin to use their heads. As can be expected, most didn't, though a few did. I wasn't supporting HWA or Stan Rader. I was teaching there wasn't a place of safety - fact I pointed out that the Bible doesn't even mention Petra once by name, let alone that it is some place to escape tribulation.
It was my intention to stay with the WCG until they could send out a replacement in the spring. I had long ago decided that there was little point in "dropping the bomb" on a church congregation. WCG people are simply not capable of handling that kind of information all of a sudden. I decided to simply concentrate on helping them to learn how to do fundamental Bible reasearch for themselves, how to look things up, how to ask questions. In short, how to think! I don't know if my program will ever bear any fruit or not. Perhaps I should have simply "dropped the bomb" on them, but I'd seen that approach tried before with not a lot of success. And then, too, I felt if people are going to leave the WCG, they should do it for the right reasons. They should do it because they have proven that HWA's theology is wrong, not necessarily because of the personalities involved. Afterall, anywhere you go in human society you're going to find similar excesses, and pretty soon we'll all become so cynical life won't be worth living anymore.
Anyway, by the spring of 1980, the arch-conservative members and elders in _______ had had enough. I had told _______ that I was going to resign and had at the same time informed my local elders, giving them a copy of my resignation statement, which really said very little as to the real nature of why I was quiting (remember this was in early January 1980). I sent ______ a copy, besides having read it to him over the phone. I told him later that winter that I would probably read my statement on the last holy day of Unleavened Bread, which would be only a little over a month before they had planned to send my replacement. But in the fear that riddles the organization internally, _______ and the others weren't going to take any chances with me. Sunday afternoon, the day before the last holy day of Unleavened Bread, ________ called and said he was in town and that as of that minute I was relieved of my duties. They would continue to pay my salary until the end of May (they actually ended up paying me a lump sum). ________ offered me the chance to read my statement the following day, but not have any other part of the service. The next day I showed up by myself, handed my statement to one of the elders, and gave them "all my church supplies and ordination papers. I told _______ who showed up a few minutes later that I had no intention of being around to read my statement, that he could do with it what he wanted, but my family and I were taking a few days vacation. He warned me that should I try to influence the people against HWA, I wouldn't receive the severance pay they had promised. He need not have worried, I had done all I could to lay the foundation for those people to use their minds if they wanted to. And besides, I felt that as long as I maintained a good relationship with the members, I could be of help perhaps later if they needed me, rather than burning "all my bridges and embittering a tot of fine, but sadly naive people.
So, here we are back in my hometown trying to start a couple of different businesses. We aren't millionaires yet, nor do we have any desire to be. It isn't easy for us financially but we really aren't too worried. Few if any businesses are easy to start and keep growing. We are happy and do not in any way regret our decision to leave the WCG. We appreciate Ernest Martin's literature. He helped us make the transition back to normal society. We aren't affiliated with any church nor do we have any desire to be. White still in ________, after being axed, a former WCGer now with Garner Ted offered me the chance to speak to their group, but I refused. Like you, I feel Ted isn't anything but a warmed over version of his dad. I was never really comfortable as a paid minister anyway and had no desire to continue to live off the efforts of others.
In conclusion, my only wish is that my fellow colleagues will also have the courage to look into what they've been fostering off onto people and stand up for the truth . And you can add my name to your list as expunged WCG ministers. Thankfully, my wife and I woke up when we did.
-Former WCG minister
I attended the WCG from 1969 to 1976 and went to Ambassador College and got one semester's worth of their "experience," which I might add was quite enough. I decided that I had better start questioning a bit what I had so gullibly swallowed as the "truth." It has taken me four yeas to free my mind from all that ridiculous dogma. I feel that I truly see the light as I'm just beginning to understand what the New Testament is all about. I hope your organization truly flourishes and if it ever saves just one person from becoming ensnared in the WCG trap, then it has truly been a success.
Keep up the good work! The AR is our only contact with what is going on down there in California. If it wasn't for the AR, we would still be believing HWA. You are very much in demand!!
If the ministry of the WCG had only shown a small amount of the consideration for the people that you have, Ambassador College would have been worthwhile.
Were it not for you, we would be wide open to WCG propaganda. I don't know how to thank you for the amazing enlightenment you have provided of which I must admit, there is no other source.
Perhaps yours is the lone voice in the wilderness of the WCG, striving to wake up the sincere, innocent, and self-sacrificing people who believe they are doing God's work. But, we have all been so saturated in the doctrines of this falsely so-called "true church of God," that only God himself can extricate us and show us our peril. What can we do, besides praying, to help them? Member simply do not want to listen to anything against Mr. HWA, nor do they want to read Ambassador Report. It frightens them....
You see, I've known about your paper for two-and-a-half years. At first, I regarded it as "poison." Now, I know you've realized the facts and have only wanted to help members of the WCG to escape the false teachings and other subtle traps. I want you to know that the wit and humor in young articles really, but really, helps us to keep our balance, as the sad facts are laid open! Thank you so very much for all your help and your honest information. It takes men with courage to do what you are doing!
Mr._______ sure gets the word out to present members of the cult as well as to those who have left and are still aching from the scam. Your newsletter, he tells me, helps them a lot.
Wonderful job - keep it up! I've kept everything you sent and invite friends and fellow law students to read it.
-Student, Loyola Law School, California
We have two adopted children the church said [adopting them] would be a sin. (Dave Albert waxed long on this one. The "family expert" is now divorced I understand.) I have a beautiful home near Santa Cruz, and getting out of Herbert's swill was the best thing I ever did.
In January I relinquished my membership in the WCG and since then have been totally ostracized by my supposed "friends" of many years. Since I have multiple sclerosis and, as you may or may not know, deep emotional traumas can worsen the condition, that is exactly what has happened. Never, never will I ever again put myself in a position where any man (other than possibly my husband) can tell me whom I can befriend, or when and how I must drop them! It's amazing what irreparable damage this has done to my health.
I now stand denounced, disfellowshiped, and marked. This was done Sept. 6, 1980, but I stopped going June 28, 1980, and sent Mr. McMichael a letter withdrawing on August 1, 1980. Strange how they can put you out of the WCG after you have left and formally resigned.
Editor: Mr. McMichael has himself recently been disfellowshipped and accused by HWA of being "demon influenced."
I have in fear of repercussions failed to bring up a point of interest concerning the situation at WCG. I still wish to remain anonymous. Several years ago I attempted to leave my real estate and personal belongings to WCG, but in reading the fine print I found that after 20 years from the date of signing my property became the property of the WCG. Being a young man I felt that I would still need the property after that date.
I was advised by the legal department that it was a technicality required by the State of California. Needless to say I rejected the whole thing, and I am sorry to say I destroyed the copy of the will. I find it hard to believe that California would require this and could not under normal circumstances wait until death to obtain title of the property.
Are you people checking The Worldwide News? The incredible baloney printed about HWA being so poor, one would out of pity almost send him money for food. I believe that was in the July 14, 1980, Worldwide News. Now the August 25 issue's financial report shows that he rewards himself with about $450,000 per year. Absolutely mind boggling! Yet they are able to keep going and going!
I wish to thank you sincerely for all the help you have given me through these past years. You may never know how many you have helped up here as I had many others read your reports. After so many years of hearing about the Armstrong cult, I have grown weary of hearing his name and feel liberated to be out of his clutches. I think it would help me to forget that traumatic experience by not getting your reports any more. Therefore with a grateful heart again I say thank you to you all and hope you can save others with your work. So far you have done wonders. May God bless you all and your work also.
The more we see of this vicious cult, the more heartsick we are and grateful for the "60 Minutes'' exposure! Out oldest daughter's little boy was hit by a truck, and she way harassed night and day by their minister who said it was her bad attitude that caused their terrible tragedy!
My husband has been in Herbert Armstrong's group for nine yeas now, and we have recently separated because of the difficulties it has caused in raising our children.
Congratulations to the Ambassador Report for your valuable service to those of us who want to know the facts. It is quite obvious now that the "official" WCG version of recent events bears little or no resemblance to the truth.... Speaking of church government, since this term is the rationale for imposing the Government of God upon the church membership, I thought it might be instructive to point out some of HWA's own previous teachings in this regard. For any of those dedicated members who view Mr. Armstrong's writings as approaching infallibility, they shoutd be willing to scrutinize these doctrines more closely before they are willing to sacrifice their possessions, families, and possibly even lives to the cause.
Perhaps many of the WCG members do not realize that when HWA was doing the "work" in Oregon, his concept of government was 180 degrees away from the authoritarian regime that is in control today. Now many people might gay, "So what? Herbert has came across new truth in the meantime." If he comes across new truth, then where did the "old truth" come from? Which truth is the real truth? I ask these questions especially since he has made statements like the following from the February 1972 Tomorrow's World, p.3: "I was not taught by man. But I way taught as was Paul, by the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Now we would not want to accuse Mr. Armstrong as he did the big established churches and denominations in that article when he said: "They do teach certain errors which they are afraid to confess, for fear they would lose members." But we should hold him to his word when he went on to say: "If we knew of any error still remaining, now, we would change it! If and when we find one in the future, we shall correct it."
There is no doubt that church government is the regimen used to keep people in line in the Worldwide Church of God. The concept has become so ingrained that I have actually listened to a minister tell his congregation that the major theme of the Bible is government. My only question is, if this is so, why do we find in an exhaustive concordance the word "government" mentioned only about five times while the word "love" is mentioned literally hundreds of times. Well, so much for the facts. The WCG doesn't seem to allow things such as these to interfere with their grandiose plans.
Recently a February 1939 issue of the Good News came into my hands. This was one written by HWA when he was operating in Eugene, Oregon. The entire issue was devoted to the subject of church government. When I began to read it, I could hardly believe my eyes. When you make an explicit comparison between the statements of Armstrong in this 1939 Good News and what he has promulgated in the years since, there are some truly astounding conclusions you can draw about the credibility of the man as a religious leader of any type of integrity....
To better illustrate the issue, I will intersperse quotations from an article by HWA entitled "Just What Is the Church," which appeared the July-August 1970 issue of Tomorrow's World with corresponding quotations from the February 1939 Good News for comparison.... In order to delineate what comes from what, HWA-39 means that the quotation comes from the Good News article and HWA-70 means the quotation comes from the Tomorrow's World article. The comparison goes as follows:
HWA-70: "But did Christ, the Head of the Church, ORGANIZE that Church? Does it have a definite form of organization? Indeed He did - and indeed it has!" [Emphasis HWA's throughout.]
HWA-39: "Jesus never set up an organization, nor did He establish any Church GOVERNMENT. "
HWA-70: "Putting all New Testament passages together, the Administrative offices, in order of rank and authority under Christ, were: 1st, apostles: 2nd, evangelists...."
HWA-39: "An Apostle does not mean one IN authority, but one under authority... nowhere in the Scripture do we find the slightest hint that the twelve constituted a higher-up church board, and nowhere were they ever given any power to rule, or govern, or decide what doctrines the other disciples must believe."
HWA-70: "God's government is government from the top down."
HWA-39: "Our Heavenly Father never planted any super-organization, or established any Church GOVERNMENT, or set man IN AUTHORITY over either spiritual or financial affairs, in the NEW Testament Church. Any such 'plan' was never planted of God... and therefore IT SHALL BE ROOTED UP."
HWA-70: "Now I have shown that the true Church of God is... composed of all who have and are being led by the Holy Spirit of God abiding in them. Yet the Church is organized."
HWA-39: "Those who are IN, and MEMBERS of an organized church government, submitting to doctrines declared... are in BABYLON. "
HWA-70: "The resurrected, eternally living Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. The very fact the Church has a Head implies organization."
HWA-39: "It is IMPOSSIBLE to have ORGANIZATION, or GOVERNMENT, without having a MAN as the actual and real head, even though we say Christ in heaven is the Head, and continue to try to believe it that way."
HWA-70: "But it is a BIG, WORLDWIDE WORK. If every individual in it goes out alone, independently, trying to carry out the entire divine commission in whatever way he sees fit, we shall have confusion."
HWA-39: "What has sptit and divided up the saints in the Church of God? Nothing but ORGANIZATION... which has led to politics, ministers lusting for rule and for power... striving against each other, lining up the brethren on their side, against the other."
HWA-70: "I have... been called... to follow Christ as He leads and directs, and witness to the true light. Hundreds of millions have now HEARD, SEEN, or READ."
HWA-39: "Leaders desiring power to RULE send out misleading, exaggerated, deceiving statements designed to convince the tithe-payers that 'The Work is progressing.' What a tragedy. What a pity."
Now I can only ask, after an examination of the above statements by HWA, can anyone be a better prophet of what Herbert Armstrong has become than Armstrong himself? It must be quite obvious why very few if any of his original converts in Oregon are still around.
Keep up the good work. Your letters are very encouraging. It is telling it like it is! It is not a pretty picture, but it is true. I know! My husband has been a member of Armstrong's so-called church for 12 years. He is deeply hooked. Other than a miracle of God, I cannot see him coming out of this. His whole personality has completely changed. He is no longer the "happy-go-lucky" guy I married 28 years ago.
His mail from "Big Daddy in Tucson" becomes more demanding for more money and it is being giving without any thought for family. Crazy phone calls with "one word" conversations. They try to keep them so busy that there is no time for a family life especially if it is with a non-member. I pray that God will intervene soon and expose them (to my husband) for what they are.
Would it be at all possible to obtain another copy of the last issue of Ambassador Report? I made the foolish mistake of showing my wife (who is a devout follower of the Rader-Armstrong group) an article in same. Needless to say, the results were catastrophic.
Unfortunately, all or most of the people remaining in the Rader-Armstrong "church" are too ignorant, narrow-minded, or brainwashed to accept and/or acknowledge the plain truth.
You have my permission to print all or part of this letter in the Report if you so wish, provided that my name and address are deleted. I suspect that the pastor of the local church may have access to your publication, and I wouldn't care to have what's left of my marriage and family life jeopardized any further.
One attorney has said that often when federal judges are appointed, they become "God." Certainly it seems that some of the WCG leaders become "God" or attempt to play "God," which seems to be in violation of one of the ten commandments, which they advocate keeping. This is past history or is it present history?
The church ministers have been quick to give financial and business advice that has been disastrous to many, inctuding myself. Often they have no financial or business experiences or training.
The local church is really cracking down on its members to fill out their cards giving the church all information as to what property they own, if it's clear, if mortgaged how much is still owed, and how much money they have in banks or savings. Looks like they are preparing their trip to Petra.
Since I wrote you some time ago and told you of the decline of this family because my husband is in the WCG, things have become even worse because of the heavy tithing. We have a son who has cerebral pltsy and has been in a private school for the handicapped for 17 years. My husband has stopped paying the tuition and our son will be sent home May 1. We live in an old pre-Civil war house because my husband doesn't want to indebt himself definitely to anything that will take money from tithes. This means I must leave my job and not have money for any health care I need or dental care. I am 59 years old and will have to take care of our son at home since he is totally handicapped.
My husband seems bent on totally subjugating me. He hates the freedom I have by earning my own money and not being tied up by the rules of WCG. You may wonder why I don't leave him - if I did our son would suffer.
Reading the AR, [I saw] the letter about the husband not having sexual relations with his unconverted wife A few years ago my husband told me we could have a good marriage without sex. Not to brag, but I am a very good looking women, and we had a very deep loving life before he joined the WCG. I've met with his minister a number of times, but he plays a cool game. As long as my husband gives over $2,000 a year to HWA, I'm the loser. He pretends to counsel, but nothing comes of it. Also remember that over $2,000 goes into the bank for second tithe, and part of that goes to HWA also.
Of course, I know my husband is trapped. If he ever leaves the church at my insistence, is forced out or gets out on his own, he'll be destroyed. He'll have nothing to live for. He has given over $35,000 to HWA in twelve years . He lost his job as a top salesman with an industrial company. He now does carpentry work with a group in his church so he can take off all his holy days, etc. We had owned a good deal of stock with Leggett and Myers. He was induced to sell it, at a loss, because it was considered gambling and it was also a whiskey and cigarette stock. However, he sent HWA a huge tithe on the proceeds. Also, all our other stock was sold in the same manner. Referring to "drinking," he and his friends drink constantly - are always getting together at any excuse to eat and drink.
My husband is a descendant of.... We may ask ourselves what weakness caused my husband to throw out the fine traditions in the family and choose a debasing life.
-Wife of WCG member
Editor: Although permission was given to publish the name of this letter's author, we have not because we do not wish to do anything to enflame an already difficult marriage. We are especially saddened, however, at the utter callousness and ineptitude shown by the WCG clergy in handling situations such as this. Unfortunately, many letters that we have received show that the above situation is far from unique.
I think your readers would be interested in an article I saw some time ago. It appeared in Full Gospel Business Men's VOICE (November 1979). The cover article was titled "Turmoil - the Farrell Moughan Story." I think your readers would find Mr. Moughan's story (he is from Oxford, England) of interest because it is about how he left the WCG and found Jesus Christ. It's a very moving story. Copies can be obtained from: FGBMFI, Box 5050, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
I hope you will pass along to your reading audience [the name of a]... book entitled Armstrongism, The Worldwide Church of God Examined in the Light of Scripture by Dr. Robert L. Sumner. This may be obtained from The Biblical Evangelism Press, Brownsbury, IN 46112, hardbound edition for $7.95 plus 81" postage. It is advertised as fully documented, with 424 pages.
May I suggest you get a hold of a paperback entitled Pawns in the Game by William G. Carr, Angriss Press, Box 2726, Hollywood, CA 90028. It really gives a very fine perspective regarding Stan Rader and the WCG as a microcosm of a world strategy.
I would really like to contribute more for the purpose of advertising if you would establish such a fund. If your readership numbers 1,000, $6 to $7 apiece would buy a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times, as uncle Herbert is doing. I really believe your readers would contribute toward it if they could see the result.... You people must be a secret to most Worldwide members.
Editor: Thank you for your suggestion. But (1) a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, or Washington Post would cost about $15,000 and (2) based on the difficulty we presently have of just keeping the AR going financially, we do not remotely believe we could raise even $7,000 for an ad. Thanks again, however, for the suggestion.
I regret I am unable to contribute more to expenses of the distribution of the AR. Unfortunately, we are at present facing bankruptcy, and every dollar is vital to us right now. Much of our present circumstances can be attributed to our years in the WCG, their archaic laws, and heavy financial demands and ill advice by one of their ministers who was totally inexperienced in the field of business, but who had ''God's'' authority to advise, even on a legal disagreement between two parties.
In the past we were able to make copies of the AR for distribution, but we have had to sell all our printing equipment.
Members of the WCG in Australia have been told by Gerald Waterhouse, by way of tape, that even if HWA took all their tithes, put them in a wheelbarrow, wheeled it to the center of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and set a match to it that that would not matter, they must still be loyal to him and other leaders. What was that about being a good steward? Obviously, it is all now evident that money is easy come, easy go in the WCG. If members go along with the above instructions, it is adequate proof that they are indeed effectively brainwashed.
Sorry I have not been able to send money right along, but I am now finally on Social Security at $147 a month. My husband has hardly opened up his little shop anymore as he has had very little to do. He cannot get his Social Security as yet, as he is a little younger than I am. I would be happy to help more if I could... for the newsletters... mean so much to us. I hope that before long I will find one in out mailbox. Your report said you would be mailing them quarterly if you had the money. I sure do hope that those that can afford to help you financially have made this possible. I am so anxious to know what is now happening concerning the Armstrongs. They had an awful scare a while back. My daughter-in-law's mother, who does not belong to the church, as her husband and daughter does, told me that they were planning on all leaving because of the trouble the church was in, going into hiding. She was so upset and said she didn't want to go but would be left all alone without her family. She didn't know where they were going but said it might turn out like the Jim Jones cult. Well I called my kids. My son said they might have to go into hiding but would say no more.... I sometimes wonder if out heartache will ever end because of that cult.
You have graciously been tending me the AR even though I have been unable to support your work with any large sums of money. I earn a small salary and because of my financial contributions to the WCG for almost 15 years I find myself with virtually no bank account (actually about $40) and prospects of retiring early due to ill health on a small pension. I have just spent 15 days in the hospital undergoing surgery and looking forward to 4 to 6 weeks recovery at home. There is further surgery yet to come.
-A blind subscriber from Canada
Just a quick letter to let you know about a situation faced by at least a certain percentage of ex-WCG members . I'm speaking of that faced by single, unmarried (including divorced and widowed) ex-members who may not be all that happy about their marital (or at least dating) status. Since leaving the church, they are now fairly widely scattered and contact between them for the purpose of dating, parties, etc. is quite limited. Many may find it quite difficult dating or trying to build any sort of meaningful relationship with "ordinary" persons in their general area unacquainted and generally unsympathetic with their religious and philosophical views (i.e., sabbaths, holy days, diet restrictions, Christmas, Easter, etc.) which they may still hold.
The situation for singles (except perhaps in larger churches) was never really that good in the WCG. The church constantly accents marriage and the family and also marrying someone especially compatible. Yet within most church areas there were very few singles to date and the chances of finding someone especially compatible thus usually slim.
I approached the church about a dating referral system to help compatible members find each others, but of course, they weren't interested. Remember, it's government from the top down - the "dumb sheep" don't know anything, even those with college degrees or who are professionals! The old "Pen Pal" section of The Worldwide News (now propaganda) was at least a step in the right direction, but of course they discontinued it.
I would therefore like to offer the following service to those AR readers who may fall in this category. They may write to me giving their names and addressees and perhaps telling something about themselves if they wish. I will then try to set up some sort of referral system, perhaps even a small newsletter if response is great enough to at least let singles know about the whereabouts of each other. Any comments or suggestions they may have are welcome also. I would appreciate any small donation they may wish to include to help offset any postage or printing costs I may run into, at least if they can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
-Robert A. Shaffer
8460 Marsh Road
Algonac, MI 48001
In an effort to call attention to further research material, I should like to point out the book How to Organize and Manage Your Own Religious Cult, by Duke McCoy, published by Loompanics Limited, P.O. Box 264, Mason, Michigan 48854, copyright 1980. Despite the publishing date, it would seem that the Armstrongs have followed the instructions to a letter.
In addition, the Sabbath Handbook Directory published by the Sabbath Association, Fairview, OK, over the years has given historical data and doctrinal beliefs of a number of organizations with similar or almost identical beliefs of the WCG. The above church has more space in the latest directory than other groups. However, it, as far as I know, has never called attention to the existence of the directory.
Editor: Directory of Sabbath-observing Groups, publisher: The Bible Sabbath Association, Rt. 1 Box 197, Fairview, OK 73737, tel: 405-227-4496.
How involved are Rader and HWA with Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem? I note in the Freeman Digest, Jan. 1979, p. 95, that Teddy Kollek is a speciat adviser to the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. Pasadena's Judge Shirley Hufstedler also is connected with the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies. She is a trustee, and she befriended Rader in his recent battle with the California courts.
Aspen is where the world's elite go for advanced seminars in global planning for the future of humanity, you know.
Editor: Teddy Kollek has for years been a close friend of HWA and Rader.
Like so many others, I became hooked on the Armstrong line years ago when I read the old booklets on prophecy that contained drawings by the late Basil Wolverton. I understood Mr. Wolverton was one of the first ministers ordained by Herbert Armstrong, and his name appears on the church's earliest incorporation papers. That is why I was so surprised to learn that Mr. Wolverton was also once involved with another religious group, one of the most bizarre ever to come out of California, the racist Holy City cult led by "Father" William Riker and "Mother" Lucille Riker . I discovered this in the book New World Utopias by Paul Kagan (Penguin Books 3903).
The Riker cult is one of the weirdest and most scandalous I have ever read about. You can imagine my shock when I read on p. 114 of Kagan's book that Basil G. Wolverton illustrated Riker's literature. In fact, on p.109 there is a photo of one page from a booklet put out by Riker. And right there is a Wolverton illustration that later appeared in Herbert Armstrong's booklets. I also noted there are many similarities between Herbert Armstrong and William Riker and between their teachings.
Editor: The late Basil Wolverton also did illustrations for science fiction comic books during the '30s and for Mad magazine during the '50s. He was a very talented and original artist and, you are right, his artwork did influence many into getting involved with the Armstrong organization.
Has anyone noticed the big drop in radio stations airing Herbert Armstrong? From 217 U.S. stations in May 1971 to 99 in Jan. 1979 to 51 in Oct. 1979. The Dec. 1980 Plain Truth listed only 58 stations. WCG TV stations dropped from 92 U.S. outlets in May 1977 to 59 in Jan. 1979 to 52 in Dec. 1980.
Editor: You're right "The World Tomorrow" is in deep trouble. Unless the WCG can lure GTA back as its spokesman, that trend will probably continue.
Our thanks to all those who helped make this issue possible.
Ambassador Report is published quarterly as finances allow. Publishers are: Robert Gerringer, Bill Hughes, Mary E. Jones, John Trechak, Leonard Zola and Margaret Zola. Editor: John Trechak.
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