April 1995 (AR58)
WCG in Chaos
as Revenues Plummet
The religious empire founded by the late Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) has never been in greater disarray. On January 7, virtually all Worldwide Church of God (WCG) congregations were required to sit through a videotaped sermon given by Armstrong's successor, Pastor General Joseph W. Tkach. Preaching in a shrill and often haranguing tone, telling occasional jokes about Baptists and Methodists in heaven, and once even referring to himself as "this crazy Russian," the long-winded Tkach announced a startling number of doctrinal changes. Among the many statements that shocked Tkach's listeners was this one:
We have already seen in Hebrews eight that the Old Covenant is obsolete. It's history! As someone would say, it's kaput! It's over! Finis! The old package of laws has been taken apart. And some of the laws have been discarded. Some laws have been changed. And some have been continued. And others have been added. A new covenant is different. It not only adds faith and Holy Spirit, it also renews some of the old laws and the burdens and packages that we could not bear. Let's look at Hebrews seven.... Does it sound like I'm doing away with the law? I'm helping us to understand what God expects of us so we can run true to form as the children of God.
Emphasizing his new New Testament understandings over HWA's old Old Testament preferences, Tkach told the stunned members of his WCG that a legalistic keeping of the Old Testament sabbath, holy days, and dietary laws comes from "ignorance and stupidity" and such observances would no longer be required for WCG membership. Additionally, Tkach told his followers that his ministry would no longer teach that strict tithing is mandatory, either.
Tkach was well aware he was risking a drop in church income by making the announcement. During the sermon he even admitted how he knew that by speaking on the subject he was gambling. But apparently he hoped that after his announcement members would actually contribute even more generously than they had before. Speaking about members who in recent months had reportedly been withholding their tithes from him, Tkach said:
So how much more should we be willing to give freely and generously to the work of God to be done? Not holding back your tithes! Oh, Oheeeeeh! [Editor: At this point Tkach's voice panicked into well above the high-C stratosphere and, for a brief moment, some thought he was having a heart attack. Barely catching his breath, Tkach continued:] They, they go on to say, "We know that in a sense it is a form of stealing, but when we do return it we're going to give another 10 percent or 20 percent to it" - based on the Old Testament requirements. Under the New Covenant the tithe is voluntary. And you're just as guilty of stealing if you don't give anything voluntarily as you were under the Old Covenant when you were commanded to give a tithe!!!
Some have speculated that Tkach's "Russian Christmas Present" (as the sermon is often referred to because it was broadcast on January 7, the traditional date of Russian Christmas) may have been intended to weaken the WCG. A careful review of the taped message reveals that such was not the case. What comes across very clearly is that Tkach, albeit in a very clumsy way, was trying to increase WCG revenues. For instance, he told members that the weekly sabbath was only an Old Covenant law. So members can now work on Saturdays if they want and supposedly they will tithe on the wages earned while doing so. But Tkach never intended that WCG members discontinue tithing. In fact, he made it plain that he was anticipating that members would henceforth be contributing even more to him. He shouted, "The New Covenant requires greater sacrifice!"
Many members apparently did not hear that part of the sermon. It is not surprising. Most were so chagrined by some of the things Tkach said they were left virtually speechless. Tkach did not simply lambast strict sabbath keeping. He left many with the impression that Jesus authorized all kinds of law-breaking when it was expedient. For instance, Tkach said that Jesus's apostles were technically guilty of law breaking when they gathered and ate wheat on the sabbath. But that was no big deal, said Tkach. Using the example of David in I Sam. 21, Tkach said, "Taking care of hunger is more important than keeping such strict taboos that were forced on us." Actually, in his 12/21/94 Pastor General's Report, which had prepared his ministers for the new teaching, Tkach had expounded upon the same incident by writing (pp. 16-17), "The letter of the law was broken, but that was OK because a more important principle of the law was being kept. There was an important human need.... Humanitarian needs are more important than sticking to a strict interpretation of rules." After all, said Tkach in his sermon, "Compared to the Pharisees, Jesus was an extreme liberal." Finally, in the conclusion of his sermon Tkach said:
We are a New Covenant church.... It's a New Covenant between God and his people. We have finally been LIBERIZED!---or liberated I should say; I hate the word liberized [sic]. We've been liberated!
The effect of Tkach's Russian Christmas Present was immediate and profound. WCG income plummeted. As a number of newspapers observed, "The Worldwide Church of God told its members that tithing was voluntary, not God's command, as previously believed, and they listened. Now a month later, the church is facing its toughest financial crisis in its 61 years" (The Washington Post, 2/18/95; The Arizona Republic, 2/18/95; The Charleston Gazette, 2/18/95; The Rocky Mountain News, 2/19/95; The Houston Chronicle, 2/25/95). While in official announcements church leaders say that WCG income for 1995 is only 20 or 30 percent lower than for the same period in 1994, insiders have stated that the total drop for 1995 might eventually prove to be more than 50 percent. So convinced are some that the WCG is heading for bankruptcy, a number of field ministers have discouraged their flocks from sending any money to headquarters because, as one put it, "Most everything sent in to Pasadena will only wind up in the pockets of lawyers." As for the attitude of the WCG membership as a whole, one insider said, "There are only two kinds of people left in Worldwide: Those that love Tkach - they don't tithe. And those that still tithe - they hate Tkach." Obviously, Tkach's gamble has not paid off.
©1995 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
The Music Is Ending
The general public first became aware that a major crisis was brewing in the WCG in January when church leaders announced that they were discontinuing the Ambassador Auditorium Concert Series after the current season ends. Here were the headlines: "Ambassador Concert Hall to Close in May" (Los Angeles Times, 1/28/95, p. A1), "Auditorium Will Face Its Final Curtain: Loss of Church Funding Marks Ambassador's End" (Pasadena Star-News, 1/28/95, p. Al), "And Then There Was Silence in Pasadena" (Los Angeles Times, 1/30/95, p. F1), "Adieu, Ambassador" (Pasadena Weekly, 2/3/95, p. 2).
Ambassador Auditorium, with its exceptionally fine acoustics and beautiful surroundings, has been a Southern California landmark for twenty years. Not surprisingly, therefore, news that its concert series would be discontinued came as a shock to many civic leaders. Michael R. Hawkins, president of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, obviously made prayerful by the news, said, "God Almighty, that incredible auditorium, with those acoustics, it would be a crime to let that thing sit empty." David Hulme, Ambassador's director of performing arts, also seemed to be hoping for divine intervention when he said, "It would be wonderful if members of the community around us could come to our rescue in whatever way they feel they can" (Los Angeles Times, 1/28/95). Not every Pasadenan, however, was heartbroken by Ambassador's plight. Rick Cole, a Pasadena councilman and former mayor who lectures on civic responsibility at Pasadena's Fuller Seminary, told the Star-News (1/28/95) that he thought the Auditorium was "a gaudy and expensive effort to buy respectability" by the WCG. "It was an extraordinary cultural asset," he said, "but it had no connection to the city of Pasadena.... It was paid for by little old ladies from the Midwest, and they spent lavishly. A [city] bailout is inconceivable." Cole went on to say that last year the WCG had been offered an "attractive deal" for some of its east-of-the-freeway properties from a Los Angeles development company (probably Pacific Alliance Realty), but that before the deal was consummated, Worldwide had asked the city for certain unspecified "non-monetary concessions" which Pasadena officials were not willing to grant.
While the classical music concerts that HWA loved so much, and to which the WCG provided a $2.5 million yearly subsidy, are certain to end, David Hulme, a WCG evangelist and part-time jazz concert producer, told the press that the Auditorium may still be used for public events (an awards ceremony for Black History Month was held there in February), for jazz concerts ("a source of revenue, not a drain," says Hulme), and for rental to independent promoters (Los Angeles Times, 2/3/95, p. F14).
Cuts, Cuts, and More Cuts
The announcement about the demise of the Ambassador Concert Series was just the beginning of woes. For weeks Southern California newspapers continued to report on the incredible shrinking church of Joseph Tkach.
In "New Direction for Church Leads to Spending Cuts" (Pasadena Star-News, 2/7/95, p. A1), writers Keith Sharon and Mark Kendall reported how the WCG was taking drastic action to stay within its ever-dwindling budget. According to WCG spokesman J. Thomas Lapacka, the Plain Truth magazine, already down to a circulation of 1.5 million (it was once over 8 million) is to be cut back to 750,000. Plain Truth editions in Spanish, French, Italian, and Norwegian are being discontinued altogether. The WCG's Pasadena technology department will be cut back, as will the so-called athletic department. (What? No more personal trainers or free rubdowns?) The church's Imperial Schools for the children of church members and the WCG's private travel Agency will both become companies accepting patrons who are not WCG members in order to increase revenues.
The church's fleet of 250 vehicles will be sold, as will Tkach's two limousines and corporate jet (a decision that resulted in his becoming more upset than when his parents died, said Tkach). Right now it looks as though Tkach will not be able to write out another $100,000 WCG check as a gift to the Reagan Library or for dinner with the Clintons at the White House. Nevertheless, Tkach expects an upturn. He has stated, "Things are going to get better or God doesn't exist."
In AR56 we reported how for 1993 WCG income had dropped to $175.6 million. According to David Hulme, the WCG's income for 1994 was even lower, only $130 million, and that for 1995 it will go lower still. Obviously, the WCG is strapped for cash and selling off its Pasadena properties would help. But church treasurer Steve Andrews admitted that while the WCG has had six offers to purchase the church's Pasadena properties, none of the offers had been considered adequate for acceptance (Star-News, 2/7/95).
In "Church Cutbacks Continue" (Pasadena Star-News, 2/8/95, p. A1), Mark Kendall reported that Ambassador University's $8.8 million per year budget was being trimmed. As a result, 39 faculty and staff members were being fired and tuition will be raised 17 percent to $315 per class.
In "Financial Crisis Grips Worldwide Church of God" (Los Angeles Times, 2/9/95, p. B1), writers Larry B. Stammer and Denise Hamilton reported that the WCG was being "rocked by members' reaction to major reversals of its most fundamental doctrines.... a startling recanting by church leaders of long-held church teachings set down by its founder...." The article detailed how the WCG was firing 107 (15 percent) of its 708 Pasadena employees and that the Plain Truth edition currently being printed in England would be eliminated. When asked if the church now regretted having taught false doctrines in the past, WCG spokesman Tom Lapacka said, "Yes, we always regret. We express regret."
A day after the Times article appeared, the Pasadena Star News (2/10/95, p. A1) reported that the WCG was firing 41 of its editorial employees and 22 of its television employees. The church is closing its Caribbean office in Fort Lauderdale and its five-member staff there will be reduced to three who will work out of their homes. After March the WCG would not be producing any more television commercials. It was just a few months ago that the church's television program was cancelled in favor of the commercials-only approach. (Ironically, The Worldwide News of 2/21/95 had a front-page article with the headline, "TV Ads for Literature Hit the Spot," which claimed the commercials were proving to be a great success. Now even that campaign is dead.)
Two days after the above Star-News article appeared, the same Pasadena paper (2/12/95, p. A1) ran a large front page article and an accompanying piece providing an overview of the WCG situation. Those articles contained these interesting comments:
Reinterpreting the Bible has recently become a costly enterprise for the Worldwide Church of God.... Tkach, who a church spokesman said does not speak to the press, has been reinterpreting the Bible since he took over the church in 1986....
Peter Eddington, a church member from Pasadena, said the changes represent "growth" in the church. Elizabeth Mizner, a member from Glendora, said the move toward mainstream Christianity is "exciting."
Exciting indeed. Three days later, with a headline that read "175 Face Church Layoffs," the Star-News (2/15/95, p. A1) reported, "The church will fire between 175 and 180 of its 708 employees by May...."
Trying to figure out exactly who is still on the WCG payroll and who isn't has become a tricky business. There was a time when determining such things was not all that difficult. The WCG's "grapevine" used to be an almost totally accurate source of information. That, however, was in the days when most members thought it was a sin to lie. Now things are different. Today, it is not uncommon for church leaders to intentionally spread false rumors. Sometimes this is done to see if the rumor, ostensibly given in confidence, is leaked - thereby revealing the tippee as a disloyal subject. Other times the false information is spread simply to hurt political opponents. When we attempt to verify outlandish rumors, we still find that many are true. But there is often no way of knowing quickly what is really happening in WCG inner circles and the situation there is constantly changing.
Today, the actual makeup of the WCG hierarchy is extremely unstable in nature. In the last few weeks, for example, it has been commonplace for some WCG executives to be fired, rehired, suspended, reinstated, retired, reevaluated, rehired, and refired again in almost endless cycles. This bizarre pattern has, to some extent, been due to competition in the evangelist market. Roderick Meredith's renegade Global Church of God, for instance, has been luring away some WCG executives by promising them a salary equal to what they earned in Worldwide if they should bring along a certain number of sheep into Global. Sometimes extensive negotiations between the sheep rustlers have resulted in Meredith upping the ante by 10 percent, with Tkach, just hours later, again upping the ante a few more points in order to hold on to a star evangelist and his sheep.
Other reasons for the confusion include the major miscalculations of Tkach himself. For example, during the week ending February 3, WCG employees in Pasadena were told that, because of the church's dire financial situation, those that resigned or were fired in the future could not be guaranteed severance pay (they currently receive one week's pay for each year they were employed by the church). Employees were then told, however, that should any resign immediately they would still receive their severance pay at the old rate. Within two days so many of the WCG's top employees had turned in their resignations it appeared that very soon there might not be enough qualified personnel left to continue operations. Tkach panicked. By Sunday, February 5, when Report associates paid an informal visit to WCG headquarters, we learned that Tkach had already retracted the previous week's statement. Those who are let go in the future will still get severance pay - supposedly.
So who is left? Some are saying that during the last few months about 80 WCG ministers have resigned and approximately 20 more have been fired (but these figures go up and down every day, it seems). Here are some of the personnel changes we have learned of:
Evangelist Leroy Neff, former WCG treasurer and the executor of Herbert Armstrong's estate, has left. Early in the year he sent Tkach a scathing six-page letter that Tkach claims left him heartbroken. As copies of the letter began circulating among members, many sent bouquets of flowers to Neff at his old headquarters address. They were intercepted by Tkach's "assistant" Ellen Escat. We have not been able to locate Neff for a statement.
Evangelist David Hulme, who for a number of years was the WCG's front man on TV, has resigned from the ministry. Apparently he will remain as the Auditorium's director of performing arts only until the current concert season ends.
Victor Kubik, a conservative (that is, a traditional Armstrongite) and top administrator who spearheaded the WCG's outreach into the Ukraine, has resigned. Rumors abound that he will start his own church in Minnesota where he has a small following.
Doug Horchak and his wife Tanya, one of Tkach's two daughters, have left. How and to where is unknown at this time.
Church theologian Kyriacos Stavrinides has been sent packing back to Greece. He accused Tkach of not understanding the WCG's new trinity doctrine. (Does anyone?)
Evangelist Dibar Apartian, head of the WCG's French language ministry, has resigned to join evangelist Roderick Meredith's Global Church of God.
Colin Adair, who recently headed the WCG's Caribbean efforts, has also resigned to join Global.
Pastor Harold Smith left Worldwide with his Washington state congregation to join Global.
Long-time WCG minister Carlton Smith has been "retired" but reportedly without retirement pay.
Long-time WCG minister Don Billingsley (who was driving the church vehicle in the 1958 car crash that took the life of Richard Armstrong) has been fired, most likely for being a conservative.
Minister and Spanish language broadcaster Pablo Gonzalez is reported to have left Worldwide and gone independent.
Alabama minister Ray Wooten has left and now has his own United Church of God (2543 Elizabeth Drive, Pelham, AL 35724; tel. 1-800-688-8266).
Earl Williams, charismatic minister and PT writer, has resigned from the WCG. While church leaders say he is not starting a competing group, he has completely left, taking with him a large number of members and some elders. He continues to produce materials for many WCG members who find his New Covenant views appealing. His address is Christ's Church of Grace, 2531 Burwick Walk SW, Snellville, GA 30278.
Houston pastor Jim Franks has left Worldwide. Tkach loyalists say Franks is now with "the party of the circumcision."
Others who have left the WCG ministry include Roy Holladay, Ken Giese, Ron Wallen, Rand Millich, Ron Weinland, Dave Mills, Jim Servidio, Gerald Weston, Lyle Welty, and Eugene Noel. The March 15 Pastor General's Report listed most of these men and others as leaving. The comment that they were simply resigning the ministry but had no intention of going elsewhere or starting their own organizations is not true in every case.
Among those ministers who have vacillated about resigning, but who are still technically in Worldwide, as of our press deadline, are Herman Hoeh, Dennis Luker, Robin Webber, Frank Brown, Leon Walker, Dean Wilson, and Les McCullough.
Gene Hogberg, for many years the WCG's expert on world news, is no longer with the PT. Insiders say Tkach doesn't believe world news is important.
Church attorney Ralph Helge is no longer head of Worldwide's legal division. While still employed somehow by the WCG, he has indicated to friends that he now suspects there may be something wrong with the church. Worldwide's legal department is now under the auspices of church treasurer Steven Andrews, said to have been a protigi of one-time WCG powerhouse Stanley Rader.
Incidentally, speaking of Rader - some say that the famous attorney-CPA was recently spotted at Worldwide headquarters in Pasadena. The sighting has led to speculation that the former HWA advisor who assisted in the sale of Ambassador's old Bricket Wood, England campus may now be assisting in the sale of the WCG's Pasadena real estate.
Not all those leaving the WCG's employ do so profitably or painlessly. On Feb. 2, WCG minister Ron Howe committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He left behind a note, but its contents have not been publicly disclosed. He was given a nice obituary in the Pastor General's Report.
Party Time for Tkach
Now with all the doctrinal and financial chaos, defections, and intrigue swirling about what HWA used to refer to as his "Eden" in Pasadena, what is Joseph W. Tkach up to privately? Obviously a believer in the aphorism, "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping," Tkach has gone on a personal shopping spree. Insiders say that Tkach has been buying wide-screen televisions, crystal, and other fine things for himself. And, some say, he is now having second thoughts about selling off his two limos and his jet. Tkach recently moved out of his home at the corner of South Orange Grove and Del Mar Boulevards. That residence, designed by the famous early Pasadena architectural firm of Greene and Greene, has gone to Tkach's daughter Jennifer and her husband Paul Butler. Tkach has now moved a half block up Pasadena's "Millionaire's Row" into what was previously Herbert Armstrong's mansion (the Ambassador "Social Center"). Existing garden walls there will soon be heightened to increase privacy and to keep Tkach's guard dogs at bay.
At the Greene and Greene residence, Tkach for some years now has kept a younger, single male housed in the Tkach guest room over the garage. Tkach and his male friend had often been seen together feeding Tkach's large flock of pet pigeons and, it is claimed, on at least one occasion the two had been seen holding hands. Whether Tkach will be taking his male friend to a new location is not yet known.
But on the west side of Orange Grove Boulevard is a WCG-owned condominium complex where Ellen Escat, one of Tkach's frequent companions, has been residing. That building will now be sold. To accommodate beloved Ellen and other friends, Tkach has had his private interior decorator refurbish the nearby Grove Terrace apartments which for many years served as college dormitories. Now transformed into luxurious condos - some at a cost of $500,000 each (necessary because of the fine draperies and carpeting, gold leaf trims, expensive furniture, rare paintings, stocks of fine wines, etc. that went into the refurbishing), beloved Ellen will be able to enjoy the comfort to which she has become accustomed since leaving her husband (see AR43). Tragically, however, decorators were not able to find a suitable location for beloved Ellen's Jacuzzi at her new condo. But not to worry! Tkach ordered some of the church's custodians (a number of whom had been given their termination notices a few days before) to have the Jacuzzi installed in Tkach's new backyard, just a hundred feet or so from beloved Ellen's new condo. So everything is working out just spiffy for Tkach and his friends.
Secret WCG Bylaws
Leaked by Insider
Editor: In recent years the WCG's leadership has gone to considerable lengths to create the impression that the WCG is no longer a destructive cult. Nevertheless, the church's leaders continue to keep many crucial facts hidden regarding the inner workings of the Worldwide organization. For example, members (those baptized and paying tithes) who request copies of the WCG's Bylaws are routinely told that such documents are not meant for distribution to lay members. In fact, such documents are considered so top secret they are stored in a multilocked vault and without special clearance even top ministers are not permitted to see them. For that reason, we are very pleased that one WCG insider recently provided us with a copy of the following:
BYLAWS OF THE
WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD,
A CALIFORNIA NONPROFIT
ARTICLE I - SUBORDINATION
1.1 This corporation is chartered by and subordinate to the Church of God, a/k/a Worldwide Church of God, an unincorporated association, of which Joseph W. Tkach is the Pastor General, which Church is hereinafter referred to as the "Association."
ARTICLE II - DEFINITIONS
2.1 "Corporation" shall mean this California Corporation.
2.2 "Corporate Governance" shall mean the Pastor General. In the event that either of the conditions occur set forth in Sections 5.4 or 5.5 of Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or article) of the Articles of the Association, then the term, "Corporate Governance," shall mean and include the Board of Directors of the Corporation as it shall from time to time be constituted, until the designation of the successor to the office of Pastor General or upon his inability to govern being terminated, as provided in Sections 5.6 or 5.7 of Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or, article) of the Bylaws of the Association, at which time the term "Corporate Governance" shall again only mean the Pastor General.
2.3 "Ecclesiastical Decision" shall mean a decision that requires religious considerations. Such decision shall be within the sole and subjective discretion of the Corporate Governance, shall be conclusive and final, subject to review by the Association's Church Authority, as that term is defined in the Articles of Association and Bylaws of the Association, and shall not require oral or written evidence as to its basis.
ARTICLE III - OFFICES
3.1 The principal office and other offices of the Corporation, for the transaction of its ecclesiastical and temporal activities, shall be designated by the Corporate Governance as it deems advisable according to the circumstances.
ARTICLE IV - MEMBERS
4.1 There shall only be one class of corporate members. They will be referred to as the "Members of the Corporation." "Members of the Corporation" shall mean the Advisory Council of Elders of the Association as it shall from time to time be constituted.
4.2 Only the Pastor General shall be empowered to call meetings of the Members of the Corporation. Notice of any such meetings may be given in any manner permitted by law, including, but not limited to, the following: Certified or registered first class mail to the Member's last known address, postmarked forty-eight (48) hours before the meeting, or upon four (4) hours advance notice, either in writing personally delivered, or by oral communication, to the Member or an adult person residing in his household. All meetings of the Members of the Corporation may be held within or without the State in such locations as the Pastor General shall designate.
4.3 In the event that either of the conditions occur set forth in Sections 5.4 and 5.5 of the Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or article) of the Articles of the Association, then the call and notice of meetings of the Members will be as follows:
4.3.1 Call of Meetings: Any three Members of the Corporation will be empowered to call a meeting of the Members of the Corporation.
4.3.2 Notice of Meetings: Notice of any such meetings may be given in any manner permitted by law, including, but not limited to, the following: Certified or registered first class mail to the Member's last known address, postmarked seventy-two (72) hours before the meeting, or upon forty-eight (48) hours advance notice, either in writing personally delivered, or by oral communication, to the Member or an adult person residing in his household.
4.3.3 A copy of such notice shall likewise be delivered to the then advisor to the Association's Advisory Council of Elders at his then current office address.
4.3.4 All meetings of the Members of the Corporation under Section 4.3 of these Bylaws may be held within or without the State as a majority of said Members shall designate.
4.4 Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit waiver of call and notice, meeting by telephone conference call or action without a meeting, which are otherwise provided by law.
ARTICLE V - CORPORATION RECORDS
5.1 The Corporation's books, documents and records shall be deemed absolutely confidential and secret and no person shall have any right of access to or utilization of said information unless authorized or subsequently approved by an Ecclesiastical Decision. The Members of the Corporation and the members of the Board of Directors of the Corporation are exempted from this restriction and shall have power and authority to review such books, documents and records at any reasonable time as limited by law.
ARTICLE VI - GOVERNANCE
6.1 The governance of the Corporation is, after the biblical example, hierarchical in form. Joseph W. Tkach shall hold the office of Pastor General of the Corporation and the office of Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors. The title and office of Pastor General shall be equivalent to that of President.
Appointment and Removal
6.2 The Pastor General shall have the sole power and authority to appoint and remove officers of the Corporation. He may exercise said power and authority at any time, with or without cause or notice.
6.3 The Pastor General shall have the sole power and authority to appoint and remove any singular member of the Board of Directors, or the entire Board of Directors of the Corporation. He may exercise said power and authority at any time, with or without cause or notice.
6.4 The Pastor General shall have the sole power and authority to form and dissolve committees and to appoint and remove any singular member of the committee or the entire committee. He may exercise said power and authority at any time with or without notice. No member of any committee need be an officer or a director of the Corporation.
6.5 In the event that either of the conditions occur set forth in Sections 5.4 and 5.5 of Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or article) of the Articles of the Association, then the Members of the Corporation shall be vested with the power and authority set forth in 6.2 and 6.3 of these Bylaws.
6.5.1 The Members of the Corporation shall be vested with said, powers and authority until the designation of the successor to the office of Pastor General or upon his inability to govern being terminated, as provided in Sections 5.6 or 5.7 of Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or article) of the Bylaws of the Association, at which time the power and authority so vested in the Members of the Corporation shall terminate and the same shall be reinvested in the Pastor General.
Numbers and Qualifications
6.6 The authorized number of directors shall be not less than one (1) and not more than fifteen (15). Each member of the Board of Directors, each committee member or each officer of the Corporation must be a Church member of the Association at the time of his appointment and must remain such during his term in office. If for any reason he does not remain a Church Member of the Association during his term in office, then he shall be disqualified from serving as a director, committee member or officer, which disqualification shall constitute his removal from his respective office without the necessity of further action. A quorum of the Board of Directors or of any committee for the purpose of conducting corporate business shall mean a majority of the directors or committee members holding the office of director or committee member at the time of the meeting.
Terms of Office
6.7 The person holding the office of Pastor General of the Association shall also hold the office of Pastor General of the Corporation. Joseph W. Tkach shall hold the office of Pastor General of the Corporation and Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors for life. Other members of the Board of Directors and other committee members shall serve until they resign or are removed.
Place of Meetings
6.8 All meetings of the Board of Directors may be held within or without the State and in such locations as the Corporate Governance shall designate.
Call and Notice of Meetings
6.9 Only the Pastor General shall be empowered to call meetings of the Board of Directors and of any committee. Notice of any such meetings may be given in any manner permitted by law, including, but not limited to, the following: Certified or registered first class mail to the director's or committee member's last known address, postmarked forty-eight (48) hours before the meeting, or upon four (4) hours advance notice, either in writing personally delivered, or by oral communication, to the director or committee member or an adult person residing in his household.
6.10 In the event that either of the conditions occur set forth in Sections 5.4 or 5.5 of Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or article) of the Articles of the Association, then the call and notice of meetings of the Board of Directors will be as follows, until the designation of the successor to the office of Pastor General or upon his inability to govern being terminated, as provided in Sections 5.6 or 5.7 of Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or article) of the Bylaws of the Association, at which time the power and authority to call and notice meetings shall be reinvested in the Pastor General:
6.10.1 Call of Meetings: Any three members of the Board of Directors will be empowered to call a meeting of the Board of Directors.
6.10.2 Notice of Meetings: Notice of any such meetings may be given in any manner permitted by law, including, but not limited to, the following: Certified or registered first class mail to the director's last known address, postmarked seventy-two (72) hours before the meeting, or upon forty-eight (48) hours advance notice, either in writing personally delivered, or by oral communication, to the director or an adult person residing in his household.
6.10.3 A copy of such notice shall likewise be delivered to the then advisor to the Association's Advisory Council of Elders at his then current office address.
6.11 Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit waiver of call and notice, meeting by telephone conference call or action without a meeting, which are otherwise provided by law.
ARTICLE VII - INDEMNIFICATION
7.1 The Corporation shall have the power to indemnify or make advance payments to the full extent permitted by law.
7.2 The Corporation shall have power to purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of any director, officer, employee or agent of the Corporation, its affiliated or subordinate organizations, or their predecessors or successors against any liability asserted against or incurred by them in such capacity or arising out of their status as such whether or not the Corporation would have the power to indemnify them against such liability.
ARTICLE VIII - AMENDMENT TO BYLAWS
8.1 The Pastor General shall have the sole power and authority to amend or repeal these Bylaws. In the event that either of the conditions occur set forth in Sections 5.4 or 5.5 of Article V (or any corresponding renumbered section or article) of the Articles of the Association, then the Members of the Corporation shall be authorized and empowered to adopt, amend or repeal these Bylaws only upon two-thirds of the Members of the Corporation affirmatively concurring to do so at a duly called and noticed meeting, or by unanimous written consent of said Members without a meeting, provided the notice therefore or the consent sets forth the Bylaw to be amended or repealed and the Bylaw to be adopted.
Editor: The above Bylaws of the WCG Corporation (not to be confused with the Bylaws of the WCG Association) have been reproduced exactly as they were provided to us. There are no edits or deletions. Hopefully, in the future we may be able to publish the WCG Association's Bylaws with its "top secret" Article V which deals with procedures should the Pastor General be incapacitated physically or mentally (the latter being what many feel has already happened). A few important points should be noted carefully:
(1) Most people who classify themselves as WCG "members" are only members of the WCG "Association." The only members of the WCG Corporation are those who belong to the Association's Advisory Board of Elders. Thus to some extent the WCG Corporation parallels the organizational structure of the Orthodox Catholic Church where "the church" is in reality only a select group of bishops.
(2) Tkach has sole authority over the selection and removal of the corporation's Board of Directors. If some board member does not like Tkach's managerial decisions, Tkach simply replaces him with someone who will obey his dictates. Tkach can do so without cause and even without notice. He explicitly also has sole authority over the content of the Bylaws. The Corporation's board is therefore a true dummy board. Because the Association's Advisory Board of Elders is determined in the same way, it, too, is a dummy board. Thus, as regards governance, the only major religious organization that compares to Tkach's WCG is the Pope's Roman Catholic Church.
(3) In the final analysis, all WCG doctrines, policies, assets, and personnel are controlled legally by the whims, caprices, and fantasies of but one human being - Joseph W. Tkach. In a very real sense, therefore, the Worldwide Church of God is Joseph W. Tkach.
One final thought. Many of us can recall seeing copies of the WCG's Constitution and Bylaws in 1979 when the Attorney General of California brought the state's lawsuit against the WCG. An amendment to that document filed with the State of California on June 18, 1968 seems to indicate that any major change of the WCG's legal structure required a vote of a majority of the church's baptized members, not just its elders. It would seem, therefore, that for the current Bylaws to have legally superseded the old ones would have required such a vote. When was there such a vote?
More Chaos Coming
Many, many more WCG changes are right around the corner. Already, the WCG's Youth magazine has a price tag on it. (Who would want to pay for such pablum?) According to Tkach's "Dear Brethren" letter of 2/23/95, the church's summer camp in Minnesota may not open this summer. As for the unclean meats doctrine, Tkach wrote in the 1/24/95 Worldwide News (p. 8), "there is no scriptural requirement for Christians to abstain from unclean meats." Also on diet: "[Gen. 9:3] indicates that humans did not eat any meat before the flood" (WN, 2/21/95, p. 7). Now top evangelists are privately talking about doing away with the yearly Passover service and replacing it with a "Lord's Supper" to be celebrated four times per year. In time the foot washing ceremony will also be deleted. The Feast of Tabernacles is still scheduled for this fall. But eventually Tabernacles will probably have its name changed to "The Festival of Faith." As for the time of the year at which these Festivals will be held, well, that is no longer certain. Some ministers say they want that decision left up to local pastors. So if a local congregation would want to hold its festivals, say, December 25 to January 1 that would be okay with some. As to whether this fall's scheduled Feast will ever materialize, some have doubts. Already WCG members are being told that they do not have to take off from work to keep the holy days and that the Bible does not command them to save second tithe (WN, 1/24/95, pp. 5, 8).
Apostle Tkach has told associates that he wants the WCG ministry purged of all disloyal conservatives by the coming Passover season in late April. Tkach seems to have deluded himself into believing that by doing so he will put an end to his problems. That is unlikely. The situation with Big Sandy is a case in point.
Ambassador University at Big Sandy, Texas is headed by Dr. Donald Ward who led the drive for that institution's recent accreditation. A few months ago Ward, a conservative, fell out of favor with Tkach. Insiders say that with the WCG having financial problems and being unable to sell Pasadena for the kind of money he expects, Tkach finally came to regret going against HWA's wishes to have the Texas campus sold and the Pasadena campus maintained. Unable to take full responsibility for his decision, Tkach blamed Ward for what he now sees as a fiasco. Ward was asked to resign. Ward refused, pointing out that he has a five-year employment contract. Miffed, Tkach decided to cut back the University's funding. Now it is rumored that some at Big Sandy, viewing Tkach as "an out-of-control moron," are talking about a complete break with Pasadena. There is even talk that eventually, should Worldwide go bankrupt, some sort of Big Sandy linkage with Garner Ted Armstrong's International or Rod Meredith's Global will materialize. Insiders say that with so much of "his money" invested in Big Sandy, such talk sends Tkach "right up the wall." But with his support among many old-time members slipping daily, there may not be much that Tkach can do to permanently save Big Sandy for himself.
With so much confusion in the Tkach camp, it is perhaps not surprising that someone would start a new Worldwide Church of God. Yes, that's right, another Worldwide. WCG minister George Crow, a Houston lawyer, has registered a new Worldwide Church of God with the state of Texas. This one is called The Worldwide Church of God Texas (Charter No. 1347064, filed with the Texas Secretary of State on 3/6/95). Crow has stated privately that the new corporation is "a shell" being readied should the Pasadena group go bankrupt. Who will be in this new church and exactly what its real purpose is remains unclear. The new group can be reached via Mr. Crow at 1519 Miller Ave., Katy, TX 77449; tel. 713-391-9564.
One possible WCG scenario is that Tkach and his associates will, themselves, intentionally split up the WCG. Some top honchos in Pasadena have already been toying with the idea of splitting the WCG into two separate organizations - one for the old diehard conservatives and one for the new liberals. While Tkach has told the field ministry that no new church name is in the offing (PGR, 3/1/95, p. 6.), some WCG leaders for a time contemplated "The New Covenant Church of Christ" as a name for the new liberal subsidiary. What legal ramifications such a church split would have is unclear. Would WCG assets be transferred to the liberal wing, with the conservatives getting stuck with all the retirement programs and other bills left over by Tkach? Would the old WCG just walk away from all its financial and contractual responsibilities? Would the new liberal group? And what would be the ethical justification for such a move? No one seems to know. Insiders say, however, that because of the unanticipated complexities of such a plan, it is being shelved - for now.
One cynical insider explained it this way: "Look, it's a little game we play with the members. We're going to liberate the church no matter what. But it can't be done all at once. We go two steps forward and wait for a response. If there's too much howling from the kiddies [the counterrevolutionaries?], we say it was all rumors. We deny anything major is being changed. So we take one step backwards. But as soon as things cool down, well, then it's time to take two more steps forward. It's not fast enough for me, but Joe [Tkach Jr.] and Mike [Feazell] know what they are doing."
HWA's Views on the
Contrary to the hopes and beliefs of a handful of Armstrongite fanatics, Herbert Armstrong remains in his grave and will continue to do so for some time. Nevertheless, years before his death HWA did make a few statements that have relevance to the current Tkach administration.
Ambassador alumni from the earliest years of the college recall how in the 1950s HWA would frequently say, "If this work is not of God, it will perish." Then, in later years HWA told some that he envisioned the WCG after his death splitting into numerous warring sects with perhaps one eventually predominating. At least regarding the future of his own organization, Armstrong seems to have had some understanding, maybe even a prophetic insight.
There is one other HWA statement, frequently made while he was alive, that many Ambassador alumni also recall: "God is not the author of confusion!"
Bible Knowledge Expanding
As we approach the year 2000, interest in the Bible seems to be expanding at an exponential rate. Go into almost any bookstore and you will find dozens of new books by reputable scholars writing about the Bible's origins, its contents, its significance, etc. Even on TV there are frequently programs now devoted to such topics. One of our readers recently commented:
Having studied the Bible all my life, I thought I had a good understanding of its contents. But in the last few weeks since getting cable television installed I have been watching a series called "Mysteries of the Bible." I have come to see that there is very much that I need to study. Here are just some of the few surprises I got from the one segment I saw.
I used to think that the Old Testament was canonized hundreds of years before Christ. I learned that it wasn't. It was after 70 A.D. that the Old Testament was finally canonized by the rabbis of that time. I used to think that everything that was done by the Roman Emperors was evil. But I discovered that Constantine played the key role in canonizing the New Testament at Nicaea. I used to think that everything the Gnostics taught was heresy. But, I wonder now, because I learned that they were persecuted by Constantine because they would not bow to what they thought were his own heresies. I used to think that we had the whole Bible today. But I found out that there are Lost Books of the Bible - books that are now lost, but that are actually mentioned in the Bible, itself, as being inspired.
So many of us who spent years in the WCG were led to believe that we really understood the Bible when we actually did not. That is why I think it is wonderful that so many who have left are finally getting around to confronting some of the really big religious issues.
In recent months, AR has been receiving so much Bible-related information of significance in the mail it is not possible to review more than a few items. But, because some are so noteworthy, we will very briefly mention a few for those who are interested in biblical studies:
"The Christmas Covenant" was an article by Jeffery L. Sheler that appeared in the Science & Society section of the 12/19/94 issue of U.S. News & World Report. The subtitle stated, "Was Jesus's birth part of a divine plan leading to a golden age? Scholars are re-examining the biblical prophecies." If you have not already seen it, try to locate a copy at your local library. Even many who have studied the subject for decades have told us they found the article very enlightening.
Not everyone likes the writings of William F. Dankenbring. But we recently found his article "The Battle Over the Bible" fascinating. Quoting extensively from the writings of Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165), Dankenbring makes the startling claim that during the early years of the Christian era certain Jewish scholars tampered with the Hebrew Scriptures in order to obscure references that could point to Jesus as the Messiah. Dankenbring concludes that the Septuagint version of the Old Testament may be more accurate than the Masoretic text. The article was published in the January, 1995 issue of Prophecy Flash! (P.O. Box 292, Altadena, CA 91003).
Another researcher who has concluded that certain Jewish rabbis of the past have tampered with their own Hebrew scriptures is Carl D. Franklin. In his 30-page paper "The Two Jehovahs of the Psalms," Mr. Franklin made some assertions we found so astounding we asked him for further documentation. He kindly responded with an extensive bibliography that covered the following points: (1) source material which shows the corruption of the rabbinic text edited by Jacob ben Chayim of 1524-25; (2) source material which shows the corruption of the Levitical priesthood; (3) source material which shows deliberate tampering with the Old Testament text; (4) source material which shows rabbinical corruption with the worship of Isis and Osiris of Egypt, Mithras of Persia, Ba'al of the Canaanites, and Mystical Kabbalism; and (5) source material which analytically destroys rabbinic, German, and English textual criticism of the last one hundred years. Those interested in reading Mr. Franklin's papers should write to Carl Franklin, 58775 Klumbis Rd., Dowagiac, MI 49047.
A good number of our readers continue to express an ongoing interest in the Branch Davidian-Waco tragedy. Dr. Phillip Arnold informs us that "Reunion Institute offers a package of research materials on the Waco Crisis including articles, audio tapes, and video tapes for a $30.00 donation (shipping included)." As Dr. Arnold was personally involved in the negotiations that went on with David Koresh, he has a good deal of information about what really transpired in Waco. Some will also be interested to learn that Dr. Arnold heads the Religion-Crisis Task Force, an organization composed of 24 leading scholars and professionals concerned about the way government approaches religious groups perceived as dangerous and labeled as "cults." To order the Waco package or to contact the Task Force write: Reunion Institute, P.O. Box 981111, Houston, TX 77098; tel. 713-523-1861; fax 713-523-3585.
In AR56 you reported how WCG minister Robert Boraker stated, "The word 'trinity' is not in the Bible and we will refrain from using it for that reason." Well, the words "Millennium," "Eucharist," "Bible study," "pray and pay," "co-worker," etc. are not in the Bible either. What consistency.
I was sorry to hear of Gene Justice's loss. I remember him from college as a man of warmth and wit. When I got your last AR I was also facing loss. My husband, Mike Murphy, died July 11, 1994 after a 15-month battle with cancer. He graduated from Big Sandy in 1969. I was then Lois Holman and attended 1968-9....
I've been out of the WCG for over 15 years and enjoy reading of the changes. Many seem too good to be true, but I think they are. I recently attended a WCG service while visiting my parents and was very pleased with the service.... I think there are changes coming in the Christmas doctrine and in calling pastors "reverend"....
I would appreciate letters from those we knew if you will print my address. Old friends are so special and it's so hard to keep in contact.
541 Oak Park Drive
Choctaw, OK 73020-7511
Your publication performs a valuable service in mentioning the many, many new ideas circulating in WCG circles. I have written to most of the groups you have referred to. Some have valuable truths but some have wild ideas. For instance, I wrote to a few Preterist groups. I was shocked to discover that some seem to think that Christ returned to earth way back in the first century! I laughingly mentioned this to my brother-in-law who is still in the WCG. To my amazement, he agreed with that view! He says his minister is teaching that God's Kingdom is already here!
I would like to see AR devote more space to the new doctrines and Bible theories.
Editor: We simply do not have the resources to thoroughly review all of the new ideas that are circulating among current and former WCG members. We have space to only briefly allude to them and give a few references for those doing their own research. However, you are very correct in saying that some of the new teachings and theories are a little wild.
In your last issue, you asked if anyone knew of a group that teaches the United States is the Beast of Revelation. I am surprised that you did not know already. Both the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists teach something close to that. Here at [WCG] headquarters, a few of us are leaning in that direction, but because we are in a doctrinal overload situation, Mr. Feazell does not want any new teachings aired publicly right now.
I was interested that other readers suspect that the United States is the Beast of Revelation. Waco started me thinking along those lines. The chief proponent of this kind of interpretation is Kenneth B. Klein. In his book The False Prophet, he makes a good case for the United States and the United Kingdom being the fulfillment of the Beast of Revelation 13 (similar to the SDAs) and the False Prophet. He sees the United Nations as the eighth beast of Revelation. He has an interesting idea for the image of the beast. The book is available from Ken Klein Ministries, 1574 Coburg Rd., #125, Eugene, OR 97401. He is currently making personal appearances in Southern California; I attended one of these. Another Oregonian, James Lloyd, expresses similar views in his Beyond Babylon. As may be expected, this interpretation is abhorrent to many who believe in Anglo-Israelism.
How could anyone think that the United States is the Beast? Mr. Dankenbring has proven conclusively that it is Saddam Hussein. Anyone who reads Prophecy Flash! magazine would understand this.
On page seven of AR57 you listed six hypothetical scenarios for the fulfillment of the Beast prophecies. Would you like to increase the total to a "perfect seven"? After all, the Beast has seven heads - tsk, tsk. So here is one more speculative construct to entertain your readers, if it fails to expand thinking into potentials.
Most prophecy buffs (HWA, the evangelicals, etc.), knowing that Rome fell in AD 476, seem to get locked into a resurrection scenario that plays out in Western Europe with a trail of heads and horns composed of characters like Justinian, Charlemagne, the Hapsburgs, Napoleon, Hitler, et al. This trail supposedly leads to the final formation of 10 nations/10 kings. That view has been quite popular. But other views, previously thought marginal, are growing in acceptance.
For example, as a number of historians recognize, there was a second trail of continued power leading away from Rome! First, Emperor Constantine transferred Rome's authority to Constantinople (often called "the Second Rome"). Then when that city fell to the Muslims in 1453, the trail of power called the "Eastern wing" (leg?-see Daniel 2) went first to Kiev and then to Moscow (which the Russians call "the Third Rome").
Notice that this hypothetical scarlet-colored Beast (Red Russia/Red Army) has had seven heads from Lenin to Gorbachev (hereinafter "MSG"): Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, and MSG. (Malenkov does not qualify as a head because he was only a temporary interregnum). MSG, the seventh, suffered a "deadly wound" when he was ousted from power and the USSR collapsed. Broadcaster Dan Rather used almost those very words when he first reported that "the mortally wounded Gorbachev" had been ousted. The deadly wound (two-fold: MSG and the USSR) will be healed upon his return to power when he fulfills his avowed purpose of restoring the USSR. Events will dictate this, but the restoration will not include all 15 of the former republics because five of them are Islamic and will never agree to the plan. Only ten of the republics will come together on a voluntary basis and together they will "give their power to the Beast" (Rev. 17:13). This includes their weapons, both land-based and submarine ("rise up out of the sea," Rev. 17:13). Under this scenario, I guess the only clear prophetic identity we could assign to Yeltsin is that he is "the eighth and is of the seven" (Rev. 17:11).
When Andrei Gromyko cast his vote for MSG he said, "He has a nice smile, but he has iron teeth." As for that famous birthmark on MSG's head - could it be the endtime fulfillment of the legend that began with the mark of Gen. 3:15?
I'm no prophet, I'm only presenting a possible scenario, but I'll consider any clue that unfolding history hasn't already scrapped. After all, Rev. 13:3 says, "All the world wondered after the beast." What eventually transpires will be different than what the majority will be expecting.
For those who would like to know more about MSG's possible future, let me suggest the Center for Action Monthly Newsletter published by Bo Gritz (c/o HC 11 Box 307, Kamiah, ID 83536). Col. Gritz has shown that MSG has 50 characteristics of the Antichrist. For those who only read the mainstream press let me suggest the eye-opening article about MSG entitled "Trying to Grab the Microphone" which appeared on page 32 of the 3/13/95 issue of Newsweek.
"Conspiracy" seems to be a hot topic of animated discussion among many AR readers. Being a long time student of the subject, I thought I'd offer a thought or two.
First of all, what constitutes a conspiracy? Mr. Webster defines conspiracy as (1) a planning and acting together secretly, especially for an unlawful or harmful purpose such as murder or treason; (2) the plan agreed upon, the plot; (3) the group taking part in such a plan; (4) a combining or working together.
Considering Webster's definition, I am surprised that any controversy should arise regarding the subject in WCG circles. From cover to cover, from the Garden of Eden to the endtime Beast, the Bible, which most of us have studied assiduously, chronicles the centuries-long tale of world conspiracy upon conspiracy stacked upon numberless conspiracies. Why should we, then, be surprised that major conspiracies continue in this day and age when they have existed for centuries?
Rather than mount my soap box, I simply suggest you consider a few books I have found useful in my studies: Secrets of the Federal Reserve and The Federal Reserve Conspiracy by Eustace Mullins are "must read" books revealing the who, what, where, when, why, and how with names, faces, places, and bountiful citations from government archives and Federal Reserve documents. None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen - a great little pocket book with essential information. Hard to find these days. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, a 1,348-page study by Dr. Carroll Quigley, a world-class historian who for several years was allowed "to study it all from the inside." The Naked Capitalist by Cleon Skousen, an excellent commentary on Quigley's Tragedy and Hope. The Anglo-American Establishment, another outstanding book by Quigley, only 354-pages but potent. America's Secret Establishment: An Introduction to the Order of the Skull and Bones, another outstanding book by Dr. Quigley sheds a bright light piercing the dark side of America's movers and shakers. The Federal Reserve and Our Manipulated Dollar by Martin A. Larson reveals why we're broke and they aren't. The Creature From Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve by G. Edward Griffin exposes the method by which the Federal Reserve creates money out of nothing, the concept of usury as the payment of interest on pretended loans, the true cause of the hidden tax called inflation, the way in which the Fed creates boom-bust cycles, and why yesteryear's dollar has been devalued more than 98 percent! For those who are really stout of heart, there are Des Griffin's books: Fourth Reich of the Rich and Descent Into Slavery. Finally, there is Call It Conspiracy by Larry Abraham, giving most of the names with pictures!
Two bookstores I recommend are: Emissary Publications (owned and run by my good friends Des and Karen Griffin), 9205 SE Clackamas Rd. #1776, Clackamas, OR 97015, tel. 503-824-2050; and American Opinion Book Store (managed by my irrepressible daughter, Erin Cullen) 4306 Utah Street, San Diego, CA 92140, tel. 619-281-1338.
Those who are interested in digging deeper into "The Conspiracy" may write to me. I will respond as health permits.
-Howard C. Clark
P.O. Box 246
Gasquet, CA 95543
I have no need of your reports any longer so please cancel my subscription. For more than 30 years I was sure that God was using Mr. Garner Ted to tell it like it is. But lately I saw that God is now using Rush Limbaugh, a great American. Rush speaks the truth. How anyone could be a Christian and not back him 100% I don't know. I wish Mr. Garner Ted would get off the air and give his time and support to Rush. I think you all should do the same.
Editor: Former deejay Rush Limbaugh and his "dittoheads" are clearly a major political force in the U.S. today. So much so that there is even a magazine that critically monitors everything Limbaugh says and does. It's called Flush Rush Quarterly (P.O. Box 270525, San Diego, CA 92198).
Our mail shows that many people somehow view the so-called political right as identical to "true Christianity. " It may sound funny, but an increasing number of Americans seem to believe that Jesus is a Republican. Such individuals might have their view of reality expanded somewhat if they could study the views of a remarkable individual I first met in the late 1980s.
I was at the Loyola Law School Library in Los Angeles where I was doing legal research. Walking through a corridor, I heard a dynamic voice coming from one of the public lecture halls. The speaker was a mid-fortyish but lean, square-jawed man of somewhat military bearing. I had never heard him, or of him, before. But because of the power and clarity of his presentation I took a seat in the sparse audience and listened. He was saying things that I thought at first were completely, outrageous: The Soviet Union, he said, was not really a serious military threat to the U.S. The strength of the Soviet miliary had been greatly exaggerated by the U.S. military-industrial complex to insure that excessive amounts of tax dollars would flow into their coffers. The "Star Wars" program would not succeed in guaranteeing peace, but if fully deployed would very likely bring about nuclear war because of the inherent limitations of computer technology. Then he said something that still rings in my ears: "Having sat in meetings with some of our nation's top leaders, I can tell you - the lunatic fringe is not in charge now, the lunatics are."
Normally, I would not have paid attention to such comments, but this was no fool. The speaker was Dr. Robert M. Bowman, a retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel who flew 101 combat missions over Vietnam, earned his Ph.D. from Caltech where he specialized in aeronautics and nuclear engineering, and then went on to head the "Star Wars" program in the Ford and Carter administrations. He is a recipient of the Eisenhower Medal, the George F. Kennan Peace Prize, the Society of American Military Engineers Gold Medal (twice), and many other awards. After his government service, he was Manager of Advanced Space Programs General Dynamics and Vice President of SpaccCom.
In recent years he has headed the Institute for Space and Security Studies and publishes Space and Security News, a journal that provides unique insights about the world's military, political, and environmental condition. (Example: his 3/94 issue featured a shocking exposi about the big-government/big-business coverup of the health dangers posed to all of us by power lines and radar.) A study of Bowman's writings reveals that in spite of his extensive military background, he is probably the antithesis of a Limbaugh "dittohead. " For example, he is not fearful of the U.N., does not panic at the mention of international law, is not anti-environmentalist, and most certainly is not anti-intellectual. Yet - and this is important - Bowman is a well-versed and devout Christian.
In January, I was very pleased to learn that Dr. Bowman now has his own radio program called "Solutions From the Left and From the Right. " The Los Angeles Times has called Dr. Bowman "the best public speaker in America" and even if for only that reason, many will find his new program provocative. Additionally, Dr. Bowman now publishes a newsletter called Christianity in Action. Its premier edition took on the thorny, and usually sidestepped, issue of "Making War: A Christian Perspective. " Those who would like a sample copy should write to: Christianity in Action, 5115 S. AlA Hwy., Melbourne Beach, FL 32951. (One suggestion though: I know for a fact that Dr. Bowman and his wife Maggie, in their patriotic and Christian zeal for sharing what they know, have gone even more into debt than I have in putting out AR. So please, if you want his newsletter, contribute to it as you are able.)
In AR56 you ran the obituary of Mr. John Wiedner, the WWII hero. I recently talked to a Pasadena man who knew him personally and he told me something amazing. In performing all his heroic exploits in WWII, Mr. Wiedner never killed anyone or even carried a gun. Surely, to have saved the lives of so many Jews and Allied airmen as he did, he must have had God's help. I would like to read the book about his war experiences. Where can I get a copy?
Editor: The book is Flee the Captor by Herbert Ford. Copies of the updated edition may be obtained from the Adventist Book Center, 1501 E. Chevy Chase Dr., Glendale, CA 91206, tel. 800-765-6955. The price is $12.95 plus $4 shipping per copy.
The best thing about AR is that it shows decisions, changes, and internal dynamics of the WCG to be based upon expediency - the true raw material of humanistic psychological workings, not the Holy Spirit, not the mind of God, not the leadership of Jesus Christ. This then assists former and present members (and others negatively impacted upon) to see that this expediency is a worldwide phenomenon (pun intended). Human nature is everywhere. The WCG is not different and it is not special!
This is an education by degrees, a gradual lifting of a veil that blinds and chokes and disfigures perceptions. Finally one can stand and state clearly that one's membership in the WCG cult was an egocentric and selfish experience - an experience to be learnt from thoroughly!
Someone sent me your publication. Tell them to stop it. I've read enough. I saw the letter from Mr. Baldwin. It's too bad that he has left God's church. If he had stayed longer he could have heard explained why Jesus Christ let the early church believe He was returning in their time. Mr. Waterhouse explained two years ago that if Christ had told them He was returning many centuries later they would not have been motivated to preach the gospel during their lifetime as it was necessary to have done. So that explains it.
You people don't know it but you are helping Mr. Meredith's Satanic work. He claims to be loyal to God, but he has thrown out God's basic truth - loyalty to the GOVERNMENT of God! Nothing else matters. He once knew how God chose Mr. Armstrong. We all understood that was true because Mr. Armstrong was the only one to whom the true gospel was shown in 1900 years. We know that God later chose Mr. Tkach because Mr. Armstrong told us so! Therefore the new doctrinal understandings that Mr. Tkach has taught us are from GOD! Mr. Meredith does not understand that. Neither do you people.
Will all WCG property be sold and unaccounted for, like the Poconos? Events of the last few years seem to indicate that now, with the groundwork laid, all that remains is to alienate the membership (well underway!), sell the assets, and depart on an extended vacation.
It has been reported that a very good offer was made on part of the Pasadena property but was refused because payment was proposed to cover a five year span instead of for immediate cash.
Nevertheless, the members don't seem to be shaking loose that easily. Perhaps the old brain washing that Pasadena is infallible is a bit of a hindrance just now. My wife and daughter left the bunch six months ago for Rev. Rod and his rebellious reprobates, but now they do read the AR.
Here in Texas the story has really gotten around that since he took over from Mr. Herbert Armstrong, Mr. Tkach has been able to stash away $2 million each year in a foreign bank account. We've repeatedly been told that Joe Jr. has been able to do the same with $1 million per year for some time. Have you also heard this?
Editor: Yes, we have. But we have seen no evidence yet to confirm that the story is true. In these strange times when it seems there is a new, competing WCG offshoot springing up every other day, we suggest a bit of skepticism in dealing with all the stories - at least until they can be verified.
I'm mad! For 25 years we supported the Work with tithes and offerings to the point that we could not support our family properly, could not send our kids to college, could not get medical help for serious problems, and so on. Now we are told it was all a big mistake. We really did not have to send that money in and we would not have been under a curse if we did not. It seems to me we have been under a curse! For listening to Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Tkach, and the rest. We have been robbed! I feel lower than low. All washed up....
For your information, in a local paper the last week of January, I saw this letter to columnist Ann Landers:
Dear Ann: I'm afraid you recently gave someone some advice that was not up to your usual standard. You told the person who had been victimized by various televangelists that he could not sue. A Florida couple recently was awarded $1.5 million by a Dallas jury in a case against a prominent televangelist. I know of at least seven other lawsuits pending against televangelists.
You also said televangelists only promise to pray, not to heal. The sad truth is that many of the televangelists do promise miracles in exchange for donations. By so doing, they are taking advantage of people's faith, which is as cold-hearted and cynical as any kind of abuse.
Faith abuse is a huge problem in America today. I am director of the Trinity Foundation, a watchdog organization dedicated to ending this abuse. We sponsor a nationwide toll-free help line for people who believe they or a loved one has been victimized by a televangelist. The number is (800) 229-VICTIM.
By the way, Ann, I agree with your assessment that Billy Graham is about the only big-name preacher who seems to be trustworthy.
-Douglas Duncan, Director
Trinity Foundation, Dallas
If any of your other readers are as angry about what is going on in the church, then they may want to call Mr. Duncan's organization as I have done, or they can write to Evangelist Victims Advocates, P.O. Box 33, Dallas, TX 75221. They should mention the WCG and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope for a reply. I also think some of us need to start writing to the proper government officials to ask for an investigation. I suggest that everyone who has been victimized by the WCG write to their own state's attorney general. They can help. Also, because the WCG is based in California and Texas, everyone who has contributed to Tkach can write to the top lawmen of those two states: The Honorable Dan Lungren, Attorney General of California, Dept. of Justice, 1515 K Street, No. 511, Sacramento, CA 95814; and The Honorable Dan Morales, Attorney General of Texas, Supreme Court Building, P.O. Box 12548, Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711.
It should not come as a surprise that the WCG is now on the verge of total collapse. Mr. Tkach claims to have been chosen by Jesus Christ, but it is very easy to prove that Christ did not choose him. The Bible shows us very clearly how God wants a new leader of his church to be chosen. First the entire congregation, not just some secret board of elders, should put forward candidates whom the entire congregation recognizes as having proper spiritual experience and maturity. Then those chosen individuals should draw lots. In that way God reveals who He chooses to lead His people (Acts 1:15-26). Mr. Armstrong's autobiography and the church history book by Dugger and Dodd show that Mr. Armstrong was chosen to be an Apostle by this very method. Any other method of choosing a leader, such as the Roman Catholic system which the WCG has adopted, will produce the confusion we now see. It is sad that in his old age Mr. Herbert Armstrong forgot this and was swayed into choosing Mr. Tkach. But then again, we really don't know for sure that Mr. Armstrong really chose Mr. Tkach, do we.
In AR57 you made some positive comments about Mr. Tkach. I think it is commendable that you try to see good in someone even if you disagree with them overall. However, I hope you are not being deceived about Mr. Tkach's true nature.
After repeatedly listening to a cassette recording of his January 7 taped message (the one my relatives call the Russian Christmas Present), I came away with mixed thoughts about Mr. Tkach. In one way, I feel sorry for him. He is up in years, having spent most of his life duped by Mr. Armstrong. Now he has come around to seeing that what Mr. Armstrong taught was not really the true gospel of Jesus Christ. He's probably bitter. Having carefully studied and prayed about what he has said, I have come to see that Mr. Tkach is theologically correct in most of what he says. But that is not the end of the story.
Thousands of us have given many years to the WCG. And we have given much time and much money. Now Mr. Tkach says, in effect, it was all for nothing. We were stupid in doing what we did. It doesn't take the brain of a genius to figure out that we have been defrauded! That being the case, why is Mr. Tkach, who is supposedly so full of the Holy Spirit's love and wisdom, not returning the money we gave him under false pretenses? He is not doing that. Instead, he puts out of the church anyone who openly disagrees with him about anything. I know of some ministers who have given their whole life to the church, thinking they were serving God, who Mr. Tkach has thrown out of the Church with barely the shirts on their backs. Many are now up in age. Somehow I think that is wrong. Especially when you consider that Mr. Tkach, himself, is doing very well financially.
And what about those who left years ago because they were teaching the very things that Mr. Tkach now says are the true gospel? I frankly don't see much difference between what Mr. Tkach is now teaching and what Dr. Martin has taught for years. Correct me if I'm wrong. So is Dr. Martin being given an apology and asked back? What about the other "liberals"? Is Wayne Cole going to be asked back? Or David Antion? Or the hundreds of other "liberals"?
Mr. Tkach is preaching love and tolerance all the time. Yet in his own management of the church there is precious little toleration, precious little justice, fairness, or kindness. He seems to want to be a New Testament Christian, but he also wants to be a rich, powerful corporation president who has the respect of the world. I don't think you can have it both ways (Matt. 19:24). Even if much of what he says is theologically correct, don't let him fool you! Mr. Tkach, like Rasputin, is still the center of a cult - one that demands only two things: obedience and money.
Editor: The above cartoon was not created by AR, but is from a flyer being distributed widely among WCG members. It shows some of the feeling generated by Tkach's "Russian Christmas Present. "
You may remember how I wrote to you folks back in the fall after I met an ex-member who gave me your address. I had spent many years in WCG and the new direction had left me in a daze. I thought to myself it was finally time to figure out what I had really been a part of. I ordered all your back issues and have since read every one. To say my eyes were opened is a huge understatement. I have now started reading some of the books you suggested in AR 56, and again my eyes are getting opened real wide. So, I thought, I'll try to encourage some of my family who are still in the Tkach church to read your materials. But no. They will just not listen to anyone. I am flabbergasted. You have so much to offer, but they will not pay heed. They are like people who are walking in their sleep and do not want anyone or anything to wake them up! How terrible.
It is absolutely true that simply giving a WCG member one of our publications will not automatically result in the Worldwider discovering that he or she is being manipulated by very devious charlatans. Nevertheless, every week Ambassador Report plays a major role in assisting people to come out of what is obviously a very destructive cult experience.
I wish we had the means to do more. Nevertheless, each issue is helping hundreds who have been victimized by the "Worldwide experience." Lack of funds have made it necessary to cut a huge amount of information out of this issue. However, with a bit of luck we will be including all of that, and more, in AR59.
My thanks to all of you who are helping Ambassador Report.
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