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AR46 January, 1991

No More Good News

As 1990 closes and the new year begins, the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and its Ambassador College (AC) continue their steady decline under the leadership of Pastor General Joseph W. Tkach. Insiders say that for 1990 the WCG experienced less than zero financial growth. Important WCG news items since our last issue went to press include the following:

 In his September 25 letter to WCG members and coworkers, Tkach shocked his followers by announcing that the WCG's weakening financial condition had caused him to kill the Good News, for decades the church's main theological magazine. The January 1991 issue is the final edition. According to Tkach, the WCG's more secular Plain Truth (PT) magazine will now become more religious in tone. But Tkach has also admitted that the PT's circulation is being pruned back. Whereas under church founder Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) the PT had grown to a circulation of over seven million (and at almost double the current number of pages per issue), the PT's circulation in recent months has shrunk to 3.2 million, according to the official WCG newspaper, The Worldwide News (WN, Aug. 27, p. 3). During this past summer, church executives were already anticipating that the PT's circulation would drop to 2.3 million (ibid.). By late August the PT had already been phased out in areas of the Middle East, West Africa, "and other nations where we simply cannot sustain the circulations" (WN, Aug. 27, p. 1, quoting WCG executive Larry Salyer).

 The World Tomorrow, the WCG's television program, is also feeling the effects of the church's financial decline. The number of stations now carrying the telecast has shrunk from 250 in 1988 to only 113 this past year. The WCG's media experts anticipate that that low figure will sink even lower (ibid., p. 3). Like the PT, the telecast is expected to become more religious in tone (WN, Nov. 19, p. 1).

 In spite of Tkach's decree allowing church members to do campus construction work on the Sabbath (see our last issue, p. 2), the new buildings at AC-Big Sandy were not completed until mid-November (WN, Dec. 3, p. 1). And according to evangelist Donald Ward, current president of AC, achieving accreditation for AC should not be considered a foregone conclusion. Mere candidacy for accreditation is not possible for AC before June 1992 (WN, Dec. 3, p. 3).

 Remarkably, while almost all indicia of the WCG's health point downward, Joseph Tkach Jr. (director of the WCG's U.S. ministry) claims the church's membership is growing (WN, Sept. 10, p. 1). To accommodate such supposed growth, Junior says it is important that the WCG ministry be completely interlinked by computer:

The ministers use the computers for word processing and local record keeping [of highly personal information about members' private lives - ed.]. Through electronic mail the computers are connected to headquarters, regional offices and the computers of other ministers. About 75 percent of the U.S. ministers have computers now, but Church Administration hopes that almost all will have them by 1992. (WN, Sept. 10, P. 1.)

 As in years past, the continuous musical chairs game goes on in Worldwide. Evangelist Frank Brown, formerly over the WCG's operations in Britain, is now over the WCG's operations in Canada (including the French-speaking areas). Evangelist Leslie McCullough, formerly over the WCG's operations in South Africa, is now in Frank Brown's old job in Britain (WN, Nov. 19, p. 8; Dec. 3, p. 1).

The new chairman of the theology department at AC is Russell Duke, considered by a good number of older ministers to be a theological bantamweight.

Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith (1261 E. Palm Dr., Glendora, CA 91740, tel. 818-914-4004) is no longer allowed to preach or write articles for church publications. Exactly why Tkach is angry with Meredith we cannot say.

Evangelist Leroy Neff has been removed as the WCG's director of Financial Affairs and Planning because, we are told, Tkach thought him too loyal to HWA's ways and too open with the membership regarding the church's declining finances. Neff has now been given the unpleasant task of heading the WCG's Divorce and Remarriage Evaluation Committee. Neff's weighty duties over WCG finances have been given to Steven Andrews, an inexperienced, generally unknown young administrative assistant formerly under Larry Salyer (WN, Nov. 19, p. 3).

The list of those holding the "rank" of WCG evangelist continues to swell with the recent additions of. J. Michael Feazell (Joe Sr.'s chief ghost writer and Joe Jr's "side-kick"), Bernard Schnippert (Tkach's "Five Year Plan" coordinator), Kyriacos Stavrinides (one of Tkach's top doctrinal theoreticians), Dr. Clint Zimmerman (on Neff's D&R committee), and Joseph Tkach Jr. (WN, Nov. 5, p. 3).

 Under Tkach, WCG doctrines continue to change. Whereas HWA taught that "God's Work" (the true church's proclamation of "the warning message" just before Christ's return) was in the "gun lap," Tkach emphasizes that Christ's return could very well be far off. Nor does Tkach see the church's commission as being that of a watchman warning of the coming Beast power. For Tkach, the church's commission is to preach Jesus Christ (WN, Aug. 27, p. 4). Those who studied theology under HWA will instantly recognize Tkach's new (actually "mainstream") gospel as what HWA used to refer to as "another gospel."

Whereas HWA taught that the majority of those faithful to "God's Work" would be spared the anguish of a soon-coming, universal "Great Tribulation," Tkach now teaches that it is a serious error to teach that those who are faithful will be physically protected (lbid.).

For decades, most WCG members believed that during the Great Tribulation, all loyal WCG members would be miraculously taken to "the place of safety." Most members were convinced that that place would be Petra, a desert area of Jordan honey-combed with caves. World cruising evangelist Gerald Waterhouse liked to call Petra "the place of final training [for ruling the world]." Until recently, most WCG members believed Tkach also held to Waterhouse's view - especially since Tkach made a 1987 tour of Jordan, met with King Hussein, visited Petra, and had the entire trip played up big in The Worldwide News (March 9, 1987, pp. 1, 3, 8).

©1991 Ambassador Report. Published irregularly (as finances allow) as a Christian service.            ISSN 0882-2123
John Trechak, Editor & Publisher                            Mary E. Jones, Associate Editor
Founding Publishers: Robert Gerringer, Bill Hughes, Mary E. Jones, John Trechak, Len Zola, and Margaret Zola.

Now, however, Tkach and a good number of his mimicking subordinates are saying that they have grave doubts about the Petra theory and that probably those members lucky enough to be protected during the Great Tribulation will be scattered among numerous places of safety. The new teaching has set off a wave of panic among a good number of Worldwiders who, we've heard, are increasingly hiking into wilderness areas in search of caves in which they hope to hide out during the three and a half years of WCG-prophesied world chaos.

But why did Tkach change his views on Petra? Recent news reports out of the Middle East have pointed out how Petra, far from being an isolated area, is actually Jordan's leading tourist attraction, often bringing thousands of visitors per week. It was even used as a movie set for the conclusion of Steven Spielberg's 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Perhaps Tkach realized that with visiting film crews and thousands of tourists every week, Petra was just not the isolated "place of safety" he once thought.

 More and more WCG members are apparently taking an interest in various conspiracy theories of world events. Tkach has recently been going out of his way to ridicule such theories, especially the so-called "Jewish conspiracy theory" (WN, Aug. 27, p. 4).

 With Tkach changing so many WCG doctrines, it is not surprising that there are more and more reports of groups of members and some ministers leaving the WCG. The latest minister to make his exit is Mr. Colin Sutcliff of Christchurch, New Zealand. Sutcliff, who is the father-in-law of WCG broadcaster David Hulme, reportedly left with about 40 members to align with Gerald Flurry's breakaway church in Oklahoma. He will not be the last WCG minister to exit because of Tkach.

Want Your Tithes Back?

About every other month AR gets a letter from an angry ex-WCG member who writes as one recently did:

When I joined the WCG I was led to believe that it was the one and only True Church and that its leaders were sincere and dedicated caretakers of the truths revealed to Mr. Armstrong and of the tithes I contributed toward publishing those truths. Now, after years of sacrificing career, family well-being, friendships, health, and savings on the WCG's triple tithing doctrine, I have been disfellowshipped for doing one of the very things that they preached - trying to "prove all things." It has become painfully clear to me that the WCG is a gigantic fraud. The church's leaders do not believe the very things that they preach. They show their true colors by the self-serving, whimsical way they constantly change church doctrines and by the immoral way they live. They tolerate the grossest of sins among those in headquarters' inner circle. Yet all the while they browbeat us members for being human.

I now find myself forced out of the church to which I gave many years of service, sacrifice, and loyalty. Yet they keep all the money I took from my wife and kids to give to what I was led to believe was "God's Work." When I asked the church to return all the money they took from me by fraud, their lawyers had the gall to say the church could not return one penny because they had already spent all of it!

Surely there must be a legal solution to my dilemma. I certainly would never have contributed to the WCG had I known that the church was going to use my tithes to preach doctrines that it once taught were of the Devil. I certainly would not have given money for "God's House" if I had known "God's House" would be used by homosexual performers and then be sold to Japanese investors so that a small group of controlling executives I had never even heard of before could maintain their lifestyle! The money that I contributed was given to me by God with the requirement that I be a good steward. Surely there must be some way I can get the courts to get it back for me so that I may use it the way God intended. Surely a just legal system would never tolerate such evil in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Would our judges simply allow the perfect crime to be committed in God's name?

Every time AR gets such a letter we feel sick to our stomachs. Because the way the legal system has operated in the past, the answer has been: yes, sadly, our legal system does tolerate such perfect crimes. Lately, however, we have begun to wonder if all of that is changing.

Of course, the argument used so often by WCG lawyers that "your contributions have already been spent" is both flippant and nonsensical. Dollar bills, like bushels of wheat, are legally fungible, i.e., one dollar bill is equally as good as another. Nor can the WCG hide behind the traditional view that all gifts or pledges to charities must be nonrevocable because to hold otherwise would deprive charities of financial stability. That principle makes some sense for legitimate charities and churches. But it was never intended as a means to perpetrate fraud and extortion (as where the vilest of hypocrites pretend to be pious "men of God," use mind control techniques to achieve an undue influence over uninformed followers, and then, through fraudulent statements and fear-inducing tactics, coerce followers into giving money that eventually gets used for purposes at variance with their church's stated goals).

Regarding the latter, the United States Supreme Court appears to agree. The Nov. 17, 1989 issue of Christianity Today (p. 71) reported:

The [U.S. Supreme] Court also let stand a lower court ruling [869 F.2d 628 (1st Cir. 1989)] that a woman [Elizabeth Dovydenas] who gave millions of dollars to the Bible Speaks, a Lenox, Massachusetts-based religious group, may get it all back based on her contention that she was unduly influenced to give. Church/state expert Dean Kelly of the National Council of Churches called the ruling "ridiculous." "If a former member can recover contributions made to a religious group in good faith, and this becomes a trend, churches would have to put all donations in escrow, essentially being unable to use them for fear of having to give them back," Kelly told the Chicago Tribune.

It apparently never occurred to Kelly that such rulings will encourage churches to be more honest, even more Christian. Nor does it seem to have occurred to him that the more the crooked ministries are put out of business, the more money there will be freed up for use by legitimate Christian groups who truly are seeking to do God's will.

The days when a money-making organization can be immune from judicial rulings simply by claiming it is "religious" are clearly over. The successful prosecution of televangelist Jim Bakker shows that the nation's courts are losing patience with religious frauds. And the Supreme Court decision in Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith, 108 L. Ed. 2d 876 (decided April 17, 1990 and commented on in our last issue), greatly clarifies the principle that the conduct of individuals and groups is not beyond the authority of the courts simply because such conduct is labeled as "religious." Dozens of cases currently before the courts are bearing this out. One example was reported on in a UPI story carried by many papers (including the Los Angeles Times, Religion section, p. 7) on June 2, 1990:

WHEELING, W. Va.- Federal officials say they will attempt to confiscate everything at the Hare Krishna Vrindaban commune except the temple, alleging that it was all purchased with money obtained through fraudulent means....

The three men and the corporations, the indictment alleges, used mail fraud to defraud the public of the money by fraudulently soliciting funds for a school, but failed to tell those contributing that "children were sexually molested" at the school.

Because of its victory in the 1979 State of California v. Worldwide Church of God lawsuit, many WCG executives arrogantly assume that the WCG is legally impregnable. But legal experts that we have talked to say such an assumption on the part of Tkach and company is a mirage.

Just as we go to press, we have received a letter from Nebraskan Richard Stambler, the spokesman for a group of recently alienated WCG members, who, very much like the author of the letter that began this article, feel the WCG has defrauded them. The group has been doing considerable legal research and consulting with attorneys with the goal of putting together a class-action lawsuit against the WCG corporation, its trustees, and its officers. The group intends to take the WCG's current leaders to court and to get their tithes returned, at the very least.

Not being legal experts, AR has no way of knowing if such a lawsuit will succeed. Nor do we know how various statutes of limitations would restrict participation in such a suit by members put out of Worldwide more than two or three years ago. Nevertheless, the group's legal theories generally seem quite logical.

Mr. Stambler says, "If there are any ex-WCG members who have been disfellowshipped unjustly (or who felt morally compelled to resign from the church) in the last few years and who wish to be part of a legal action aimed at getting their contributions returned, we'd like to hear from them. Letters should be addressed to me, Richard Stambler, Rt. 1, Box 92, Walton, NE 68461. I would prefer letters that are as detailed as possible and that are either typed or printed very clearly. But I will also take phone calls from those interested in what we are planning. My phone number is (402) 489-8514."

Two Views on What Makes the WCG Tick

Editor: We at AR have had our own ideas about what really motivates the leadership of the WCG. But, as the following two letters show, others have their own, very often quite substantiative, views.

I think church ought to be a place where people go to take instruction in how to use the Holy Spirit, the power of God, but those now in control of the WCG cannot allow that kind of instruction. They don't want to see us take up arms against them. I am, of course, referring to the demons-alien spirit invaders on the planet. Thus they hold down the membership. (Remember the 1986 movie Aliens with Sigourney Weaver?)

Your comments [in AR43] on Mrs. Joseph Tkach and her demon-possession problems were most interesting. The fact that none of the WCG ministry can cast them out is also most interesting. That fact says to me that they have no positive spiritual power. The WCG's ministers are all spiritual frauds!

That Joseph Tkach would consent to live with demons in his wife says to me that he is also possessed. The book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by Dr. M. Scott Peck (1983) - formerly Assistant Chief of Psychiatry and Neurology Consultant to the Surgeon General of the Army - was most instructive to me on the subject of evil, possession and demonic behaviors. On page 80 of his book he said this: "It is my experience that evil [demonic possession] seems to run in families." So I would suspect that all of the Tkach family is infested/infected.

Dr. Peck also says: "Since the primary motive of the evil [person] is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture... evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them" (see the footnote on pages 76-77) ....

The WCG is a place where many [demons] have chosen to hide out. And I think that they are doing more than merely hiding out - I think that the WCG is part of an enormous plot to do something on the world scene soon. There is a glitter in Joseph Tkach's eyes that speaks volumes.

-Phyllis Nelson Grau
 New York

Having had past institutional employment with the State of Oklahoma Department of Human Services in the areas of counseling and direct care with mentally ill clients, I am able to professionally detect many traits of dysfunctional characteristics among the leading ministers in the WCG past and present. It would be interesting to see what appropriate testing would reveal. However, based upon observation in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-III-R medical diagnostic criteria, it is virtually certain Mr. Joseph W. Tkach is, at the very least, presently suffering some textbook symptoms of Dysthymic Affective Disorder, which helps to explain many of his decisions concerning the future course of the WCG. He may be very sincere and doing the best he feels he can, but yet be at the mercy of a clinical illness which he neither understands nor will admit. Denial of such afflictions is exceedingly common. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, whom I always loved and admired, was a very complex and tormented person who internally suffered most of his adult life. His medically based DSM-III-R diagnosable condition of egodystonic psychosexual disorders are easily understood when recognized they were deriving from a narcissistic personality disorder with paraniodal tendencies compounded by classic symptoms of dysthymic depression, which helps account for both his charismatic leadership ability and his desire to initiate personal relationships with international authority figures.

Although Herbert Armstrong was mentally aware of his actions, I firmly believe he did the very best he could while suffering from his unrecognized and untreated mental health problems. I'm certain our true Creator will take his medical problems into consideration at the judgment.

Recognizing the mental illness factors in the ministerial activities and modalities of operation also helps to understand why so many WCG members have been mentally and emotionally upset - occasionally traumatized - rather than being the recipients of "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control" from the WCG ministry! It is virtually impossible for persons suffering from mental illness to control themselves into the exacting standards of scriptural discipline - this in itself can create and intensify an ego-dystonic disorder.

-David C. Whitaker

Editor: DSM-Ill-R is the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (1987).

Pakozdi-Parker and Gateways Institute

For a lot of people, "the Worldwide Experience" has provided more than its share of surprises. One of our readers wrote us the following:

As a former 20-year-plus WCG member and a current CGI member, you can imagine the head spinning I have been enduring since reading many of your reports.... When I joined the WCG in 1968 I was told the road would be rocky. But I never imagined anything like what the past 23 years have held - and this is all before the Tribulation!...

Until the early 80s [here in the Cincinnati area] we had a WCG minister named Jack Pakozdi. Now, on cable television there is frequently seen a Jonathan Parker, Ph.D., who is with Gateways Institute of Ojai, California. He sells tapes on success, weight loss, how to quit smoking, etc. Oddly, this Dr. Parker is a dead ringer for Mr. Pakozdi! Seen with Dr. Parker is a Dr. Leslie Brice, Director of the Institute. And, amazingly, Dr. Brice is a dead ringer for Mrs. Jack Pakozdi! Could all this be mere coincidence?

Robert L. Swimm
Covington, Kentucky

As our Kentucky reader may have begun to suspect, Dr. Parker - or "Jonathan," as many of his devoted followers now refer to him - is actually one and the same person as Jack Pakozdi, his former WCG minister.

Media Master

If you tune in to Jonathan's programs (really hour-long paid commercials masquerading as educational programs) you will see the very finest in smooth, sophisticated, high-tech salesmanship. Two of Jonathan's programs, broadcast hundreds of times in the Los Angeles area (one on "success," the other on weight control), are so well done that some confess to being almost mesmerized into watching them repeatedly.

Through Jonathan's television programs and publications such as his Break-Through newsletter and Discoveries Through Inner Quests catalog, one learns about Gateways' more than 300 self-help and subliminal tape programs authored and narrated by Jonathan.

According to Gateways publications (P.O. Box 1778, Ojai, CA 93023), Jonathan's lectures and subliminal messages will increase your wealth and prosperity, help you stop smoking, unlock your natural healing forces, reduce stress, dissolve fear and worry, lower your body weight, produce a body beautiful, improve self-image, increase self-confidence, heighten creativity, expand your memory, sharpen your concentration, help you overcome grief and fear of rejection, improve your sleep, keep your kids off drugs, and even improve your driving! Naturally, for all this you most pay. Some of the tape sets cost more than $150.

Enlightened Mind Workshops

If the tapes aren't enough to do the job, there are Jonathan's Enlightened Mind Workshops. According to one of Jonathan's ads:

At the heart of the workshop experience is accelerated self-mastery through altered-state mental clearing and positive reprogramming. You will refine the process of using mind training techniques that enable you to:

  • Eliminate negative memories, fears and guilts.
  • Dissolve self-sabotaging thinking and conflicts
  • Manage transitions and weather difficult crises
  • Explore higher consciousness and channel your higher self
  • Get in touch with your life-purpose
  • Realize the profound meaning of the Secret Tibetan Doctrines and Egyptian Mystery School Teachings
  • Explore past and parallel lives
  • Experience mental projections or enlightening out-of-body experiences

In such New Age lingo Jonathan promises a great deal. But on the registration form for one of his workshops there is this warning:

Meditation provides opportunities for personal growth, but can also involve both pleasant and unpleasant emotional and/ or psychological experiences. Your attendance at any meditation session presented by the Institute of Human Development is entirely at your own risk.

Jonathan's workshops have been held in such scenic locations as Aspen and Maui. Of course, they are not cheap. Nevertheless, some of Jonathan's adoring fans cannot do without them. Wrote one devotee:

During the workshop all surface questions were answered and deeper ones were laid to rest, creating an extremely peaceful state of mind. The discussions and meditations caused a chain reaction and I feel a clearer mind, a peaceful attitude and a total willingness to explore totally the inner world. I sincerely hope Jonathan continues to do workshops because the energies that are felt in person cannot be transmitted on tapes.

Jonathan's True History

Jack Pakozdi, who would later become "Dr. Jonathan Parker," was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Before coming to Ambassador College (Pasadena) in 1967, Pakozdi lived in Wellsville, a small rural town in western New York state, and earned a B.S. degree in education from Mansfield State College in Pennsylvania. Leslie Ann Brice came to Ambassador (Pasadena) in 1967 from Phoenix, Arizona where she had been a student at the University of Arizona Jack and Leslie were married in 1969 and after graduating from Ambassador in 1970 Jack was employed by the WCG. From 1974 he served as a WCG minister in Hays, Kansas. Then in early 1979, during the turbulent period when the WCG was being sued by the State of California, Pakozdi was sent back to Ambassador for a refresher program and in mid-year was transferred to Cincinnati where he pastored a WCG church and Leslie sold real estate.

Sources close to Jonathan Parker say that most of the methods now used by Jonathan were actually learned while he was a student at Ambassador College and while he was a WCG minister. In fact, it was while serving as a WCG minister in Cincinnati that Pakozdi developed his Dr. Jonathan Parker alter ego and launched his Institute of Human Development, a supposedly "non-profit" organization that is the parent of Gateways Research Institute. For a time in Cincinnati, friends say, Pakozdi actually lived a double life. On weekends he was a WCG minister giving "Christian living" sermons at sabbath services. During the rest of the week, however, he was transmogrified into famed researcher Jonathan Parker, Ph.D. Because he feared the WCG might discover the true identity of his alter ego, early promotional literature put out by "Dr. Parker" showed him wearing a homemade disguise consisting of a tilted toupee with mismatching beard and mustache. Such precautions, however, did not prevent Pakozdi's suspicious superiors from eventually discovering his double life and defrocking him.

Pakozdi's exit from the WCG was no quiet fading away. His final WCG sermon, given in mid-1982, was described to the Report by Mr. Swimm:

Services began normally with hymns, opening prayers, and sermonette before Pakozdi took the pulpit for what we thought would be a routine sermon. He then proceeded to denounce the church's leadership and to announce that he and his wife were divorcing. (It wasn't until a TV appearance by "Doctors" Jonathan and Leslie that I even suspected they were not divorced!) Pakozdi then tearfully left the pulpit and the building. The congregation was left in a state of shock!

Overflowing Abundancy, At Last!

Quiting the WCG and starting his Institute has paid off handsomely for Jonathan. Insiders say, for instance, that Jonathan's 1988 sales were a whopping $23.5 million. At one point Gateways' marketing operation employed a staff of 80, making it one of Ojai's biggest employers. According to one insider, Jonathan and Leslie (who, until recently, was the one actually running the company) banked upwards of $20 million from their "Mind Power" TV show alone. In a predictable concession to their nouveau riche status they purchased the largest house in Ojai - a $2 million, rambling 8,000-square-foot expanse of house-trying-to-be-mansion.

According to his self-promoting materials, some of Jonathan's Gateways income has gone toward grants to better-known research institutions and scientists. Thus, like the WCG's Ambassador Foundation, Gateways has attempted to buy respectability. But how legitimate is Jonathan's Gateways Research Institute?

On his products and in his publications Parker is described as "one of the most highly respected authorities in the self-development field." Yet, among leading psychologists and therapists that we talked to none had ever heard of Parker or his Institute.

Jonathan claims to have a Ph.D. Yet inquiries to Gateway on this subject are met with flimsy evasions. AR has been unable to find any evidence that Jonathan (or Leslie) ever earned a doctorate anywhere. A letter from AR to Jonathan asking for details about his Ph.D. and requesting an interview was never answered. Nor have we found any evidence that Jonathan is now, or has ever been, licensed or board certified to practice psychology or psychotherapy in California or any other state. The California Board of Psychologists and the California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners in Sacramento told the Report that they have no Jonathan Parker or Jack Pakozdi on their certification rolls. While Jonathan's programs make mention of his years spent in "private practice," such practice appears to have only been his experience as a WCG minister. Nor have we found any evidence (such as published research papers) to indicate that Gateways is in any way a true research institute.

Laced throughout Jonathan's TV commercials are skillfully casted testimonials supposedly from satisfied customers whose lives were transformed by listening to Jonathan. In fact, insiders to the Gateways realm say that some of the testimonials are given by friends, relatives, employees, or associates of Gateways. In one blatantly dishonest TV testimonial a man is shown driving up to a sumptuous mansion-like home in a sparkling white new $50,000 Jaguar, extolling that all his new-found wealth was a result of listening to Jonathan's "prosperity" tapes. Actually, say insiders, the home and car were both Jonathan's. The man, who lives in much more modest circumstances in another part of the country, was provided a free round trip ticket and other perks to fly in for the carefully orchestrated charade.

The Subliminals

A big part of Gateways' current catalog advertises Jonathan's subliminal tapes. These are recordings of innocuous New Age music or nature sounds such as ocean waves over which have been inserted voice tracks of supposedly positive messages. These messages are recorded in such a way as to be consciously imperceptible, but, supposedly, are still able to affect the listener's subconscious mind. Wilson Brian Key, Ph.D., author of Subliminal Seduction, The Clam-Plate Orgy, and The Age of Manipulation, claims that advertisers have been successfully manipulating the public for years using subliminal techniques (a claim strongly denied by the advertising industry). In recent years, some have claimed that subliminal technology has also been used to overlay demonic and suicide-inducing messages onto the recordings of certain "heavy metal" rock groups (a claim strongly denied by music company executives).

But does subliminal technology really work? While there are some researchers who say it does, the preponderance of current scholarly evidence in the field indicates that it does not. For a discussion of that evidence, see "Subliminal Deceptions" by Bruce Bower (Science News, 8/25/90, p. 124), "Are You Open to Suggestion?" by Jo Anna Natele (Psychology Today, 9/88, p. 28), and "Now You Hear It ..." by David Kalish (Marketing and Media Decisions, May 1988, p. 32).

Rehashed Psycho-Cybernetics

What about Jonathan's lectures? A careful review of Jonathan's Prosperity Solution and Winning at Losing sets of tapes reveals that while his lectures do contain much useful advice (the kind of stuff one would expect in a "positive thinking" church sermon), the real core of Jonathan's approach parallels that found in Dr. Maxwell Maltz's book Psycho-Cybernetics (Prentice Hall, 1960, and still available in paperback in many bookstores). During the late sixties the Maltz book was widely read at Ambassador College where it was strongly recommended by instructor David Albert (now a broadcaster on the World Tomorrow religious program) and professor Richard Plache (now in prison). Nevertheless, around 1969, after Ambassador College vice president and evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong, attacked Maltz's methods in a sermon as being "demonic," the campus was purged of all copies of Maltz's work and the reading of Psycho-Cybernetics was strictly forbidden at Ambassador College. Apparently Jonathan doesn't agree with Armstrong's assessment of Maltz's theories; he has adopted them as gospel truth.

Divorce Pending

Whether or not Gateways' tapes are able to help those paying for them, they apparently have not been able to do much for Jonathan and Leslie's relationship. They recently filed for divorce. (This time it must be for real. The Ventura County case is number D177286.) Friends say they are not surprised as the Parker's "open marriage" was maintained formally only for the good of their two boys. Jonathan, some say, has had a mistress since his days as a WCG minister.

Leslie, trim and attractive as ever, is currently working for Wolf Fitness, an Ojai company that sells $1000 exercise machines. Friends say that while Wolf is connected to Gateways, Leslie is no longer running the Institute. Her old position has been taken over by Sylvia Taylor, currently married to an architect, but formerly married to WCG minister Doug Taylor of Cincinnati (one of the ministers the IRS put in prison years ago for a "start your own church" scam - see the April 1984 issue of Ambassador Report). Sylvia, described by insiders as efficient and charming, is well remembered by WCG members in Cincinnati. Wrote one of our readers, "When Mr. Taylor pastored the 'Cinti South' church, his wife Sylvia would come to services braless. She used to stir up quite a fuss among the brethren and even more among the wives."

HWA's Formula Works

Even with its recent reorganization, Gateways continues to thrive. Friends of Jonathan say he is intelligent and personable. But much of the credit for Jonathan's success must go to the late Herbert W. Armstrong, the advertising man who founded the WCG and Ambassador College. Clearly, Gateways has been built upon the same formula Armstrong used to build the WCG. Business experts point out how both organizations (1) have identified a specific market, (2) have cornered a specific placement in that market through unique products, (3) utilize slick packaging, (4) have authoritative spokesmen, (5) make outlandish promises for their products, (6) make sophisticated use of the media, and, most important, (7) utilize the true essence of Herbert W. Armstrong's "give-get principle," i.e., get more than you give and you make a profit.

The system works. As Jonathan intones ever so slowly on one of his hypnotic "Mind Talk" tapes: "The good life is mine. I face life with happiness and confidence. I achieve success more and more every day. I am filled with positive expectancy. My life is like a great magnet that attracts happiness, fulfillment, and prosperity. Each day I progress further and further. Each day is exciting and wonderful. My mind is focused steadfastly on my goals and objectives. My positive thoughts and beliefs make me wealthy and prosperous...."

Combatting Cult Mind Control

A number of readers have complained that they have not been able to locate a copy of a book we recently recommended, Steven Hassan's Combatting Cult Mind Control. It appears that the hard bound edition is now out of print. However, we have learned that a paperback edition is now available. It sells for $12.96 (plus $2 for shipping) and may be ordered from Inner Traditions International, c/o AIDC Dept. 09, 64 Depot Road, Colchester, VT 05446. Or you may call their toll-free number: 1-800-445-6638 to order the book if you have Visa or Mastercard.

Sir Anthony Buzzard and
The Restoration Fellowship

Many Ambassador alumni will remember Sir Anthony Buzzard as one of Bricket Wood's better lecturers of the 1970s. Educated at Charterhouse School and Christ Chruch, Oxford, Buzzard (pronounced Ba-zard4) now teaches at Oregon Bible College in Illinois. He has written numerous articles on Christology and eschatology and is the author of the book The Coming Kingdom of the Messiah - A Solution to the Riddle of the New Testament (Ministry School Publications, 1988). Buzzard is also founder of The Restoration Fellowship which publishes a number of studies relating to certain WCG doctrines.

Who, or what, was Jesus before his human birth? The WCG (similar to the Catholic Church since the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and many Protestant denominations) teaches that Jesus had been Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. (This teaching is, of course, one of the major barriers separating Judaism from modern Christianity). Buzzard disputes the WCG (and Catholic) teaching in a number of well-reasoned articles. We first became aware of some of the details of Buzzard's view through one of his articles reprinted by the Foundation for Biblical Research in 1989. In response to a letter from AR, Buzzard wrote us:

It is difficult indeed to see how one can be the second Adam, if one's origins are not in the womb of one's mother. Granted, of course, that Jesus is supernaturally conceived, yet He is a man (I Tim. 2:5). The Jewish people did not think the Messiah would be other than human.

If you enjoy good theological books there are two which more or less say this clearly. James Dunn's Christology in the Making, (Westminster Press, Philadelphia) challenges the whole notion of Incarnation and just rescues it in John, but does not find it in Paul. My cousin, the late J. A. T. Robinson, argued with Dunn that preexistence is not in John if you read without the benefit of postbiblical spectacles colored by the conciliar decisions at Nicea and Chalcedon (Human Face of God, SCM Press)....

Gen. 1:26 is not thought even by Trinitarians these days to be a proof of a second or third member of God's council as elsewhere. Elohim certainly cannot be used as any kind of proof. It is plainly a singular word in meaning where it refers to the Messiah (Ps. 45:6) and to a pagan god. It may be a plural (in form) of intensity or majesty; authorities differ.

Mark 12:8ff provides the locus classicus of Jesus' confirmation of the basic tenet of Israel. "The Lord our God is one Lord." Yet the Messiah is a different Lord as is clear from the later part of the same chapter. Ps. 110: 1 (the most often cited passage in the NT) distinguishes between Yahweh and the Lord Messiah. Some ex-WCGers are still mishandling this passage.

Charles Hunting, who is very active as time allows him correspondence with all enquirers, and I are preparing a book on the Trinity. We hope this will help the genuine truth seekers amongst the ex's and any others.

Anthony Buzzard has written a number of articles on the pre-existence of Christ doctrine and the questions it raises. Those interested in learning more about his controversial view on the subject should request a copy of his paper "The Preexistence of Christ - Truth or Tradition?" Write to Restoration Fellowship, Box 100, Oregon, IL 61061. To help with postage and handling, the Fellowship says a contribution of $1 would be appreciated. Incidentally, those writing to the Fellowship may also wish to request a copy of Buzzard's short paper "An Examination of Worldwide Church of God's Treatment of Daniel 11 and 12." It is quite relevant in these times of heightened interest in Bible prophecy.

1975 in Prophecy

Of all the booklets ever written by WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong, 1975 in Prophecy probably caused more people to join the WCG than any other. But because 1975 didn't turn out the way that HWA predicted, that booklet is one that the WCG would prefer to forget. Nevertheless, copies of the uncopyrighted 32-page booklet are still available from a number of sources. One organization that can supply copies (at $3 each) is Midnight Messenger, 9205 S.E. Clackamas Rd., #1776, Clackamas, OR 97015. (For an additional $2, you can also obtain their Sept.-Oct. edition of Midnight Messenger which contained what we thought were a number of eye-opening articles about the causes of the Persian Gulf crisis.)

Incidentally, in our last issue we stated that the WCG had warned Richard C. Nickels not to distribute the "1975" booklet. Mr. Nickels recently wrote us stating that, although some years ago the WCG asked him not to distribute certain WCG copyrighted booklets, the "1975" booklet was not one of them. AR's editor apologizes for his error.

Living With a WCG Mate

AR very frequently receives letters from individuals asking for advice on how to understand and cope with a mate who has joined the WCG. While back issues of AR can provide insights into the WCG, we are not marriage counsellors and do not pretend to have answers for every situation. Recently, however, we became aware of a very fine article on the subject of how a Christian from a main-stream denomination can adjust to living with a mate who is a WCG member. The article, "Religion Divides Our Home" by Phyllis Doudna, appeared in the August 1985 issue of Home Life magazine. The author has kindly offered to provide a free copy of her article to anyone who requests it and sends a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Those interested should write to: Mrs. Phyllis Doudna, 973 W. Exchange St., Akron, Ohio 44302.

Ambassador Report Reunion and Support Groups

We continue to hear from reunion and support groups for ex-WCG members. One in the Kansas City, Missouri area has had enjoyable reunion picnics in 1989 and 1990. Another get-together is planned for September 1991. Those interested in more information should write to: Tom and Jeanette Buller, 5125 N. Tullis, Kansas City, MO 64119 (or phone 816-455-3376).

Former Minister Offers Help

Editor: AR is very pleased that more and more former WCG members and ministers are coming forward to assist those hurt by the WCG. The following two letters are excellent examples of what we would like to see more of.

Dear AR Staff:

My exit from the WCG in the fall of 1970 was an exhilarating and uplifting experience into a freedom and compassion I had never know. I was not at that time interested in counseling or helping others leave as I felt like a rank amateur in the new life I had found. Years of work, study and experience have shown that I was. Now 20 years later and after reading your June 1990 AR I would like to offer my name and address as one who would be happy to talk to and counsel with any people who are sincerely considering leaving, are in the process of leaving, or who have left the WCG and want help with traumatic emotional reactions.

While I never have felt any animosity for the WCG, for its members, or for my 10 year experience, I have never wanted to return. What I do on occasion miss is the genuine camaraderie I experienced with many I pastored in three local churches and the real bond I felt with some ministers, fellow students, and friends in the church.

I do have extensive training in dealing with deep-seated emotional problems - no degrees other than my AC degree - but I work with severely troubled young people and children, so I do have much first-hand knowledge of the psychological forces that motivate all of us.

I would be happy to hear from people who want to do in depth analysis of why they feel as they do, people who just want a sympathetic ear to vent on or some who just might want to say hello after 20 years.

Robert Lay
383 David Drive
Evergreen, CO 80439

WTL Fellowship

We know there are a lot of ex-WCGers that are hurt, angry and disillusioned. They've had so much taken away from them. Sometimes it just helps to have someone to understand, or just bounce their feelings off of. We would really like to be able to help them in that way. Although qualified counselors have their place, even they can't fully understand what WCG does to a person without having experienced it firsthand. So, although we can't and don't intend to replace a qualified counselor, we would like to lend all the support and encouragement possible to any and all ex-WCGers who'd care to write us. For what it's worth, one of us is a college graduate with a major in psychology and was a social worker for a number of years. But the "plain truth" is, we just want to be there for fellow ex-WCGers.

WTL Fellowship
P.O. Box 741
Merrill, WI 54452


In your most recent issue you made a comment on pages 2 and 3 regarding ministries that Tkach has lashed out at. I must tell you that you are misinformed about the Flurry and Amos group....

First of all, the book Malachi's Message is scripturally based only to the extent that anything Herbert Armstrong ever wrote or preached was scripturally based. If you believe HWA's doctrines were scripturally based, then you will also believe that Flurry's book is scripturally based. You are correct when you state his book is a critique of corruption at WCG headquarters. But it is only a critique of the corruption of Tkach and there it ends. Flurry vehemently denies any corruption at the hands of HWA. He states dogmatically that HWA was a righteous man. You see, Malachi's Message is nothing more than a deification of HWA. It is a written graven image of Herbert W. Armstrong. Malachi's Message is a plea for the people of the WCG to return to the "righteous" ways of HWA. Otherwise they are all going to die in the Tribulation and probably go to the lake of fire for choosing Tkach over Flurry....

Mr. Flurry has set HWA up on a pedestal. One member counted the number of times HWA's name was stated in one sermon; 26 times! God was only mentioned by name three times....

You seem to defend HWA by criticizing Tkach's watering down of the former false prophet's doctrines. You may rest assured that Tkach has not mischaracterized Flurry and Amos. They are simply HWA resurrected.


Editor: Perhaps we should have written that Flurry's book was based upon his interpretation of scripture rather than "scripturally based." We did not mean that we endorse Mr. Flurry's views.

As for the changes that Tkach has made, we have never stated that those changes are all bad. His new teaching on healing, for instance, will clearly make life better for many in the church. Nevertheless, even where his changes have been generally positive, or even theologically sound, we have noticed a negative side. Consider the following points:

(1) While Tkach has repeatedly tried to fool the WCG membership that he is carrying on in the HWA tradition, that is not the case. Tkach is clearly going contrary to HWA's teaching in many areas. The Faithful Word group has documented this very well.

(2) If Tkach is going contrary to HWA's will, then where is his authority? Tkach sits in HWA's seat! He would not have been given that seat had he not deceived HWA into believing he was going to carry on in HWA's footsteps.

(3) Even though Tkach has liberalized the church's policies on medicine, makeup, birthdays, and interracial marriage, thereby making the life of WCG members easier, aren't those changes really going to make the WCG a more enticing cult? Doctrines that you will probably not see changed are those central to the WCG's cult status: the WCGs church government doctrine, which puts Tkach in an infallible Pope-like position, and the WCG's triple tithe doctrine which continues to bleed dry those who are mesmerized into thinking it grants magical blessings.

Finally, now that Tkachism has replaced Armstrongism, why would any WCG member believe his church is the true church? I was recently flabbergasted to learn that some poor souls are hanging in there because they are convinced they are being led by "an Apostle." And they believe Tkach to be an Apostle because they have been taught that the WCGs "Apostle" can somehow trace his authority in some kind of unbroken line of succession back to one of the twelve whom Jesus chose. Such an idea is, of course, completely nonsensical. No evidence of such a line of succession exists. However, the question needs to be asked: If doctrine is really secondary to an unbroken line of succession from one of the twelve apostles, then why are those of such belief in the WCG? Somewhat rhetorically I would ask such WCG members: Why not just join one of the churches that really have evidence that they can trace their bishops' lines of succession back to one of the original twelve- namely, the Catholic (Roman and Orthodox) churches?

Dear Mr. Trechak:

Needless to say, the 12 issues [of AR] I have read have been a shock. Like many others who have never been members, just recipients of literature (and sometimes donators of tithes), I had no idea of the extent of WCG's problems and hypocrisies.

I've been receiving their material for close to 20 years. Even without having been a member, I have noticed a great change in their material - The Plain Truth, Good News, World Tomorrow telecasts, and even some booklets - since the death of Mr. Armstrong. It is as if everything he emphasized is slowly being erased. One can only wonder why.

A prime example of this is something I am at a loss to understand. From the beginning of my contact with WCG, I was constantly reminded to be on the lookout for the reunification of Germany. It is happening. Yet, since the removal of the Berlin Wall, I have not seen WCG "capitalize" on this in any of their publications. It suddenly seems that it is no longer important, even though they've mentioned it constantly in the material I have received for close to 20 years! What is going on?....

I don't know if many people have read WCG's French-language booklet, Les Pays de Langue Francaise Selon la Prophetie ("The French-Speaking Nations in Prophecy"). It is about the European half of The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. Anyone doing just surface research about European migrations, dolmens, and megaliths will come across maps with routes identical to the migratory routes WCG claims the enslaved Israelites took after their Assyrian captivity. Indeed, in all of my years of reading WCG material, this is the only book I have come across that mentions the erection of stone monuments to the biblical God, yet none of their English-language material has mentioned it! In fact, I've never seen this topic mentioned in material from other Bible-based religions....

I should also mention that WCG now has two versions of The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. The new one has 53 pages of text and no index. The original book by HWA had the same cover, but was 196 pages with an index. Oddly, the revised version (uncredited) does not allude to a French-language booklet at all (the HWA one does, on page 146). What is going on?

-New Jersey

Editor: Obviously, those that now head the WCG have ideas about Bible prophecy that are somewhat different from those of HWA. But exactly what their views on prophecy really are remains to be seen. It could very well be that at this time those now heading the WCG do not even know what their own views on prophecy really are.

I am very pleased that you have finally gotten around to reporting on the Ambassador Foundation's concert series [in AR45]. According to The Worldwide News, the concerts are helping to build the church's "image." But if you read the local papers you will see that that is not always the case.

For instance, in 1988 the church sponsored a performance by Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya at the Shrine Auditorium. It was a disaster. According to Martin Bernheimer, the Los Angeles Times music critic [April 26, 1988], the old dancer was very stiff, her costumes were old and dirty, her performance was like a vaudeville show, and instead of having live musicians in the pit, she had a loud tape recorder! Gag! And we were told the church was promoting quality in the arts.

Then last year there were the Foundation's ads for soprano Jesse Norman. Did you notice what the church called her? The "greatest of high operatic priestesses." I kept thinking, "Since when does God's House need to have a priestess"? Even more shocking to me was what the Pasadena Star-News wrote about violinist Alexander Markov [March 16, 1988]. That paper wrote how Mr. Markov "plays like the devil" - just like Paganini who was supposedly "in league with the devil." Mr. Markov, the article said, was "every bit suggestive of a modem-day fiddling Faust" and "demon-strated" at God's House!


Editor: The Star-News critic was undoubtedly only using a metaphor for passionate fiddling. But the metaphor does bring to mind a humorous bit of WCG history. During the late '60s one Ambassador professor, David Wainwright, came up with a unique aesthetic theory. Because the Bible speaks of "this world" being "Satan's world," and because "God's Apostle" (HWA) talked about Satan "broadcasting" to the world, surely (so the theory went) all the great music of this world was inspired by Satan and his hordes of demons. Wainwright heard demonic influence in virtually all of the great composers (Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, for instance) and in some of the world's greatest performers (Horowitz was at the top of his list). Wainwright's theories caused a good number of Ambassador students to fear listening to classical music, just as, years later, the music theories of Ambassador professor Richard Plache would frighten many Ambassador students away from rock records. Wainwright's campaign to expose the supposed demonic influence behind classical music came to an end, however, when Herbert Armstrong discovered that some of the compositions on Wainwright's hit list were some of his own favorites. Wainwright continues to teach at Ambassador, but his current views on musical demons are unknown.

I was a member for 15 years. My husband is still a member (13 years) and is an Ambassador graduate. He is questioning, but after we attended a recent GTA public meeting (Aug. 11, 1990) just out of curiosity, he was called aside into a back room the following Sabbath by the WCG minister and local elder and intimidated. They told him he committed a "very serious offense" by attending that meeting, and mentioned the word "disfellowship" many times. My husband told them to do what they felt they had to do, but he defended a person's responsibility to prove all things. He was curious why GTA was disfellowshipped for supposedly the same teachings they have brought back. We had not told anyone about attending the public meeting so apparently the WCG spies were hard at work.


During my "member-in-good-standing" era, I found few problems with the WCG's theology, but began to find many with its messengers. That feeling became expressed. I told John Rittenbaugh and another minister that they and the church were wrong to preach that HWA would not die but would be alive to lead the flock to a place of safety. I reminded them of the church's own teachings of prophecy in which certain scenarios had to be in place and that HWA could not possibly live until those things became evident. (HWA was very ill at the time and died not long afterward.) At that moment in our conversation Rittenbaugh and the other minister seemed to be taken by apoplexy at my "overt blasphemy" against God's prophet. With visible trepidation they suggested that if I felt that way it might be best if we sever my relationship with the church.

-South Carolina

I went to my library in Victoria and most of the books mentioned in your flyer are now out of print....

I've been involved with the Worldwide Church of God for 8 years now and was interested in checking its background along with another church member. The WCG ministry heard about it through my "friends" and put me and my curious friend out because the AR material is supposedly a threat to the WCG and me. I feel like I've been slapped in the face for trying to "prove all things."


Editor: One reason why it is difficult to find books about the WCG in public libraries is that WCG members often remove and destroy them. There are whole states where many libraries list books about the WCG as having been purchased for their patrons use, yet not one can be found on their shelves. Some WCG members have also been known to mark library books with WCG-related messages.

My daughter was told not to come to church if she didn't tithe. Yet she is a single parent trying to raise two children on a less than minimum wage job.


I allowed my high blood pressure to go untreated for 20 plus years because the church then taught that medicine to control it was a grave "sin" and I believed it. Now I am permanently disabled with heart, kidney, and artery disease at age 42. I am now on total disability so my income is very limited.

-Former WCG Member

I have a sister still in WCG. I am hoping she will read AR and free herself from it, but I have little hope that she will as she reads only what she's told she must read. To quote her, "I don't clutter up my mind with anything but the Bible." As I pointed out to her, she reads only what she's told to read even in the Bible.


A friend has been involved in the WCG for about six months and I am concerned that he's been brainwashed by WCG. Although he used to be a vibrant, happy, alive person and very talented, now all he ever talks about when I ask what's up is the WCG. To my inquiries about the WCG, his responses are what I consider somewhat flimsy regarding challenges to doctrine.... In closing, I'd like to say that while I am not at all an adherent to any Christian denomination or any organized religion, I do believe in many aspects of spirituality and in some divine and very beautiful, incredible Creator. It is much easier for me to read and trust AR because of its nondenominational stance and open mind.

-South Dakota

I am disabled and retired on social security at $432 per month and have heavy medical bills. My wife is still brainwashed by WCG and is today on her way to the Feast of Tabernacles. She works part-time and gets a social security check of $581 per month, but as you know a lot of that goes to WCG. I struggle to get her to read the AR but seldom will she consent to reading it or any other literature about God's Word unless it is written by a minister in WCG.

I have never been happier in my life than I am today even though I suffer physically and miss the fellowship of my wife and others of like faith. After giving 15 years of devoted time and work to the WCG, I didn't formerly resign from it. I just stopped going to their services and stopped giving any money to them and to my great surprise not one minister, not one deacon, nor any other church person ever contacted me and asked me why I left WCG. That is how much love or care they showed about me in their belief that I was doomed to their hell fire and brimstone death, never to have another chance to live again. But in reality I was glad that they didn't call me or come to talk to me and ask a reason for my leaving. That left me free from their shackles and I didn't have to explain anything to them. This shows how much love there is in that cult.

I love my wife and I don't bug her anymore about the so-called true church and she doesn't want to hear about what I believe concerning salvation, etc. But I let her know as much as she will listen to, but she doesn't like to talk about it.

-AR Reader

Before I knew what hit me, I was feeling very suicidal. I never knew what "dysfunctional families" were. I came to find out I was raised in one! My husband was beside himself. He didn't know what to do with me - institutionalize me or what! Over the last eight years since my husband and I have been together, I've tried to tell him what it was like growing up in WCG. At first he thought I was exaggerating or even making it up, everything seemed so bizarre. Well, now he knows differently. I received help through a therapist. That decision was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I also started buying all the books and pamphlets I could about my problem and then found out about you.

Even my mother who is still in the WCG has told me she has had suicidal thoughts off and on. It's no wonder as my mother has had a horrible fife in that destructive cult. Mom and Dad have been in WCG for 27 years....

My father had a very successful business before they joined up. Then eventually (you know how the story goes) he lost everything, even our home - our home! I'm 33 years old now and trying to pick up the pieces and go on. But it's been so very, very hard.


You and your staff make everything so plain about all the deceit and the corruption that goes on in the WCG. Anybody with part of a brain should be able to see through their curtain and know what's going on behind it. I honestly believe that the scripture "Like sheep led to the slaughter" applies to them.


It saddens me so knowing my son and family are such a part of the WCG. And frankly, they now seem more involved. My son works for a well-to-do WCG deacon in the man's business. Yet he receives minimum wages and tithes 30 percent. As a parent, can you please advise how to reach members if they appear very happy and ever so smug in this church? It is as if we are so wrong and they are the only church that is the true one. I simply feel frustrated at times but avoid any discussion. I remind myself as a mother my unconditional love is to accept them in all this. In the meantime, I pray a lot and offer my concerns to our loving Lord.


I was a deacon in WCG for 15 years and it was tougher on me than on my wife. It seemed I was in more church functions than her. They kept me so busy that I had no time for my children and they were neglected many times. The love between my children and myself was almost gone. We are happy now and the love has returned, thanks to you folks.... May God bless you many times over.

Joe and Doris Coutcher

Readers' Gay Concerns

Dear Mr. Trechak:

You will probably think I am an overly suspicious woman, but with all the talk here at headquarters about certain ministers being bisexual or gay, I can't help it. There is something about our Pastor General that bothers me. It's his official portrait - the one that appears in The Plain Truth and in the new Ambassador College catalog. First of all, Mr. Tkach is holding a book of poetry by Milton. I cannot understand why he did not choose to hold a Bible. Then there is his expression. Maybe I'm imagining things. But frankly, to me Mr. Tkach looks effeminate in that picture. Most of all, however, what bothers me is that instead of a wedding band on his left hand Mr. Tkach has a pinky ring! Now, before you start laughing at me, let me explain.

In our culture married people wear their wedding ring on the ring finger of their left hand. This has been the custom for hundreds of years. Mr. James Remington McCarthy made this very clear in his book Rings Through the Ages [Harper and Brothers, 1945]. Mr. McCarthy further wrote that wearing a ring on the little finger of the left hand is a symbol that the wearer is a "lover," not a married person [p. 59]. I asked a librarian about this and, to my amazement, she referred me to the new Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. (I never suspected such books even existed!)

According to our library's Encyclopedia of Homosexuality [Garland Publishing, 1990], "Gay men have often used clothing to indicate that they were potential sexual partners for other males. Of course, any type of clothing associated with the opposite gender can be so used, but more subtle signals are often desired" [p. 246]. Then on page 416 it says that some homosexuals wear pinky rings as a symbol of their sexual preferences! What do you think about Mr. Tkach's pinky ring?

-Pasadena, Calif.

Editor: Perhaps Mr. Tkach's ring is too small for his ring finger. Whatever the case, don't get carried away. Symbols can change. I checked the encyclopedia you quoted and found that in years past, a red tie was "'almost a synonym' for homosexuality in large American cities." Yet, today, red ties-like the one worn by Tkach in his official portrait - are worn by so many men in public life that the special connotation has surely been lost. As for Tkach's official portrait, well - he looks friendly, at least, doesn't he?

In reading your September issue I found it interesting that you have finally noticed how the church has been influenced by the so-called Gay Liberation movement. But I was disappointed in how wimpy your coverage was. I cannot believe you are not more aware of just how serious the problem really is at headquarters.

To begin with, you certainly must know that the Bible condemns homosexuality from cover to cover. Contrary to The Good News views of Dennis Luker, homosexuality is not simply a bad habit like having one beer too many or eating an extra slice of apple pie. Gay activists know the Bible is their enemy. Dr. George Weinberg in "The Madness and Myths of Homophobia" wrote that the chief cause of "homophobia" (the term he uses to describe all negativity toward homosexuality) is "the teachings of religion, and the Bible in particular." In reading Dennis' Good News article, I thought it amazing how he did not quote but a very few of the Bible's many passages that condemn homosexuality, and that the ones he did quote he watered down.

What Dennis' article accomplished was to show that the Church has fallen victim to the same International Gay Conspiracy forces that are affecting all of society. You may have noticed on the op-ed page of the Dec. 3, 1990 Los Angeles Times there was an article by left-winger Marshal Alan Phillips praising The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible which replaces the 1952 Revised Standard version. Phillips wrote how the "new Protestant version of the Bible is more tolerant of and sensitive toward homosexuality, removing one more obstacle to full societal acceptance of gays, including legal marriage and its associated benefits." The new translation simply waters down all the Bible passages that condemn homosexuality. In other words, instead of turning away from those practices the Bible condemns, the gay lib movement has simply gone ahead and changed the Bible!

For well over a decade the U.S. has been the target of a very real, very organized, and very powerful movement aimed at making homosexuality an accepted "alternate lifestyle." Now, before you call me a conspiracy freak, go to your nearest big city library and see how many books there are on the subject of "living gay." In particular notice The New Gay Liberation Book published by Ramparts Press of Palo Alto, California in 1979. It can be found in almost every big public library in the country. It begins with a chapter on how to become a practicing homosexual and then moves on to tell about how "the movement" will eventually make the homosexual lifestyle accepted in America. The chapter headings tell the story: "Born Again" (not about Jesus but about losing one's virginity in a gay bar), "Testament of a Gay Militant," "Memoirs of an Ancient Activist," "Bisexual Politics," "Inside Sado/Masochism," "Looking Toward Transvestite Liberation," "The Madness and Myths of Homophobia," and "We Will Conquer...."

In the eleven years since Ramparts' gay lib book came out, homosexuality has become so accepted in America that one can become labeled a bigot, or worse, if one even hints that homosexuality might really be a perversion. Not only are most media personalities dead-fly afraid of offending any gays, many politicians rely on gay organizations to get elected. It is well known, for instance, that Mayor Bradley of Los Angeles has the large gay population and many gay organizations of that city as a power base. It is also well known that a good number of his top staff are gay. (One question for you. Why is it that even though he can't get one vote from Worldwiders because none of us vote, and even though he never cared much for Mr. Herbert Armstrong while he lived, Mayor Bradley now is very friendly toward the Ambassador Foundation and the church's new leaders?)

I think you folks at AR need to do some homework. Let me suggest a number of books: Shadow in the Land by U.S. Congressman William E. Dannerneyer (Ignatius Press, 15 Oakland Ave., Harrison, NY 10528, copyright 1989), Gay Priests by James G. Wolf [Harper and Row, 1989], and Betrayal of Trust--Clergy Abuse of Children by Annie Laurie Gaylor (Freedom From Religion Foundation, Box 750, Madison, WI 53701).

You might also benefit from a GTA [Garner Ted Armstrong, P.O. Box 2530, Tyler, TX 75710] tape titled "Is Homosexuality a Sin?" The tape is from a broadcast he did in 1980 and, I have been told, was in response to conditions in Pasadena that he was aware of at the time. In spite of his own problems in those days Ted made a lot of sense in that broadcast.

I should make one more suggestion. There are some gays who not only deny they are gay, but hide the fact by actually going out of their way to attack homosexuality! I learned this from a book you may not have read. It is Citizen Cohn, the biography of lawyer Roy Cohn, by Nicholas Von Hoffman [Doubleday, 1988]. You can get a Bantam paperback edition in almost any bookstore. Cohn was one of the most influential conservative Republicans in America during the last forty years. Perhaps because he never married, some wondered if he was homosexual. But he not only vigorously denied he was gay, he publicly attacked the notion of gay rights and referred to all homosexuals as "fags." Yet, as Von Hoffman thoroughly documents, Cohn was not just gay. He was notoriously promiscuous, on one occasion even bringing a young male lover with him to the Reagan White House. He died of AIDS in 1986.

I mention all of this simply to point out that one can be publicly against the gay lib movement, yet secretly be a practicing homosexual, even secretly promoting the gay lib movement.

I simply am wondering: Are you just sitting on information that the rest of us are already well aware of? If so, why? Are you afraid of the GLAAD organization? Or are you just plain naive?

-City of Industry, Calif.

Editor: You've raised quite a few issues. I'll try to comment on each, even if only briefly.

Yes, AR is in possession of much information about homosexuality in the WCG hierarchy that is, as yet, unpublished. But there are good reasons why I do not immediately publish every scandalous WCG story that comes my way. First of all, unless I can independently verify such information, I do not publish anonymous letters containing serious allegations (and there seems to be an avalanche of such letters in WCG circles these days). Verifying such information is often very difficult, if not impossible. Second, I am very leery of information coming from sources who do not reveal how they obtained their information and then say "don't quote my name." Increasingly, I am getting shocking letters of that type. Again, if such information is not independently verifiable it's not usually usable.

Third, contrary to a widespread belief in the WCG, I simply do not believe all WCG news of a scandalous nature is fit to print. For instance in the mid-80s a number of readers informed me of how a certain minister had many years ago committed some serious immoral acts with church girls. I made inquiries and developed a file adequate for a story. Before I actually decided to run the story, however, the minister discovered I was investigating and phoned me. He was candid and upfront. He admitted the information I had was correct and he knew I had every legal right to run the story. But, he said, the conduct was repented of, not since repeated, and if I ran the story it would only hurt his family and the good he was able to accomplish as a minister. Maybe I was overly trusting, but I believed him then and still do. I never ran the story. To this day I am convinced that my decision was proper.

Now, with all of that stated, let me specifically address the issue of homosexuality in the WCG leadership. In addition to the three points expressed above, this topic has given me a number of very serious concerns. One has been that in delving into this matter for a number of weeks both with informants and with books some have asked me to study, I have found the whole business not just repulsive, but extremely depressing. I now wonder if a frank and thorough AR expose on the subject will not prove as repulsive and depressing to AR's readership as it has to me.

But there is a more serious ethical problem that I have been forced to confront. Even though the "gay lifestyle" is repulsive to me personally and even though I personally abhor the so-called "gay lib" movement (because it encourages people to experiment with morose practices many will find addictive), I sincerely do not have any built-in animosity toward gay people. Perhaps that is because during my lifetime I have known and gotten along reasonably well with many intelligent and talented gays both in my work and while at various colleges (including Ambassador). I also appreciate the accomplishments made over the centuries by gays in literature, music, the visual arts, and many other fields. For example, one of my favorite orchestral works is Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Purcell by Benjamin Britten, the late English composer who happened to be a life-long practicing homosexual. (Incidentally, that piece is the theme music for the Ambassador Foundation's Los Angeles area classical music broadcasts.)

But whatever my own moderate (at least, I think they are) views on the subject, I know that many people are far less understanding. In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in unprovoked violence directed at gays. And I have really wondered if a tell-all type of expose on the subject of homosexuality in the WCG would only inflame the hatreds of some who lack any Christian charity toward those whose heredity, upbringing, or whatever, has led them to adopt a self-hurting lifestyle. AR is unequivocally opposed to all forms of violence and hatred directed at gay people (as far as this goes, Dennis Luker's Good News article was at least correct up to a point). AR is also opposed to government intrusions into the bedrooms of private citizens (something some "conservatives" apparently favor).

Nevertheless, even with all the above caveats of compassion and moderation, we are still faced with a fundamental question: Where do we draw the line?

Lest anyone think I am some kind of a moral nihilist, let me just state for the record that I very much agree with the traditionalist views (on sex, family, and homosexuality) of attorney, Lutherian elder, and Congressman William E. Dannemeyer as expressed in the Congressional Record of June 29, 1989 (pp. H3511 -H3514). Those views - based, I feel, on a very straight forward reading of history, scripture, and the law - seems to be quite moderate and balanced. Yet Dannemeyer's concise statement, which not only defined homosexuality as contrary to the common law, natural law, and scripture, but also alleged that federal policy is now being heavily influenced by the gay lib movement, aroused such vehemence among leaders of that movement that one U.S. Congressman felt compelled to call for a House Ethics Committee investigation - not of the many Congressmen now promoting the agenda of the gay lib movement - but of Rep. Dannemeyer! (Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1990, p. E5.) I would strongly urge those interested in so-called gay rights issues to read the Dannemeyer statement. The Congressional Record can be found in most public libraries. For those who don't have access to a public library, Rep. Dannemeyer's office has kindly offered to send a copy of his Congressional Record statement on homosexuality to any AR reader who requests it. Write to: Hon. William E. Dannemeyer, 1235 N. Harbor Blvd. #100, Fullerton, CA 92632.

Regarding the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), organization, I'll just make a few comments. Most Americans would be dumbfounded if they knew how much influence GLAAD has over the American media. Members of that national homosexual organization monitor virtually all electronic and print media in the U.S. So-called "slurs against homosexuals" are reported to the various GLAAD hotlines. Then through its huge network of gay activists GLAAD responds against those individuals and companies it feels are not representing the gay lifestyle in a positive light. Increasingly, news editors, fearing lost advertising, product boycotts, subscriber cancellations, and even personal unemployment, are very reluctant to write or say anything critical of gays or homosexuality in general. Even television evangelists have to be careful of what they say about homosexuality. I understand that a few years ago evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong's television program was cancelled in a few markets because he made comments critical of homosexuality. Since then he seems to have toned down somewhat his public criticisms of homosexuality. AR has not yet had any pressure exerted on it by GLAAD (probably because we're too small). But even if we did, it would not affect our decisions regarding what we publish.

One final comment. Like the journalists that probably write for your local paper, I am not someone who claims to have all the answers to life's multitude of problems, paradoxes, and moral dilemmas. Some, or even many, of my views discussed above may be in error. But I hope I have, at least, candidly answered the City of Industry writer's questions (the same questions many others have also been asking me of late) and given you some idea of the journalistic and ethical problems with which I have been burdened for many months. I have not yet decided how much I will write on this matter (if at all) in the future. So any suggestions or criticisms I receive will be carefully considered and appreciated.

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My thanks to those of you who are continuing to support Ambassador Report. And my best wishes to all of you for a healthy and happy 1991.


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