April 1998 (AR68)
GTA Ballistic on CGI's Boot
Just in case you haven't heard - January 9, 1998 is a day that will "live in infamy." At least, so says evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong, because on that day the board of directors of the Church of God International-- finally gave him the boot.
As we reported in previous issues, Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA), the son of Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), the late founder of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and of the defunct Ambassador University, has been making headlines again because of his sexual peccadilloes. Yet, in spite of a lawsuit charging him with sexual harassment, many articles exposing his sexual indiscretions, and even a video tape showing him cavorting naked in a massage parlor which has been shown at least three times on national TV, until this past fall the board of the Church of God International (CGI) refused to remove the promiscuous pastor from his leadership position in that organization.
In September, however, CGI leaders discovered that Armstrong's sex sins were even more outlandish than had been portrayed in the press. A female member of the church came forward and said that she had been GTA's mistress from 1990 to 1995. That affair only stopped, she said, after the masseuse's lawsuit began and after both Armstrong and his wife called her to ask for her "continued support."
The church leaders, in a message sent to their members and posted on the church's Web site, then admitted: "We now know of several other women Mr. Armstrong has been with sexually since the early 1980s." The board was finally forced to conclude that it is not good to have a minister who is "known as a womanizer."
In November, the CGI board unanimously voted to give Armstrong a retirement package of $125,000 per year in return for a promise to stay out of their pulpits. Church attorney Shelby Sharpe (his real name) strongly suggested to Armstrong that he accept the offer. At that point the board thought they had a deal and there was not even any plan to publicly take back GTA's ministerial credentials. However, they soon began to suspect that GTA was not about to go gentle into that good night.
GTA laid low for awhile and even flew to California for his yearly ritual of New Year's celebrations. But friends in California say they never saw him more depressed. Some who have known him for many years said that he was "completely baffled" as to why fellow ministers could not get over his little problem. While GTA may be baffled, psychologists we talked to have not hesitated in diagnosing him as being a classic case of someone addicted to a bizarre lifestyle, with a wife who is a classic co-dependent, and with both Ted and his wife clearly being in massive denial. GTA never made it to the Rose Parade. He flew back to Texas with something on his mind.
A few weeks earlier CGI's board discovered that Armstrong had been feverishly working behind their backs to discredit them, spreading rumors of having been "set up," hinting at "a conspiracy," and accusing the church board of financial malfeasance. They soon realized that GTA was about to challenge them for a larger share of CGI's tithe revenues. In a January letter to their members, the CGI board lashed back at GTA:
He has turned to fabrication and distortion, imputing motives and making allegations that are self-serving and totally void of the truth. He has told so many "untruths" that it is difficult to know where the truth begins....
Mr. Armstrong's recent letters, filled with innuendo, accusations, and misinformation, have only led to an environment of suspicion, discord, and confusion. His blatant disregard for the truth is beyond the limits of reasonable behavior expected of a minister....
So, on January 9 - according to Armstrong, "a day that will live in infamy" - the board of CGI gave Armstrong the final boot. Back in 1995, CGI membership had peaked at about 5,000. After the massage parlor scandal broke, about half of CGI's membership and about 60% of its ministers left, leaving CGI with less than 2,500 members. Now, after the latest split, only two thirds of that figure remain in CGI, with those that have followed GTA out of International numbering less than a thousand.
Leaders of the shrinking CGI include: Ben Chapman, James Throgmorton, Loren Chamberlain, Bob Tackett, Ken Register, Vance Stinson, Bronson James, and Charles Groce who is serving as interim chairman. CGI still maintains a telecast outreach which is now called The Armor of God. Current broadcasters are Bronson James and Vance Stinson. CGI's mailing address remains P.O. Box 2525, Tyler, TX 75710. Their Web site is: <www.cgi.org>.
Garner Ted Armstrong's new setup is divided between two corporate shells: his new Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association and a new church dubbed the Intercontinental Church of God. It has been speculated that the new church was named after one of GTA's favorite hotels. Both corporations are operating out of P.O. Box 747, Flint, TX 75762. Their Web site is: <http://www.gtaea.org/>. The Evangelistic Association is putting out a television show appropriately called just Garner Ted Armstrong. It mostly airs at inconvenient times on a few small stations. The new Intercontinental Church has a small congregation in Dallas/Fort Worth and small satellite congregations in Seattle and New Orleans. In addition, there are a number of living-room groups around the country that get together weekly to watch GTA video tapes (of him preaching, not the X-rated ones).
Sounding a bit like Don Quixote, Armstrong has described his new work as "the new beginning of the last phase of God's work on this earth for this time." When it was announced that GTA had started an Intercontinental Church, some recalled CGI's official seal of an old helmet with crossed swords, and it was speculated that Intercontinental's new seal would be crossed ICBMs above the helmet of a space cadet. Nevertheless, GTA has settled for a seal depicting a global map beneath a crown, suggesting to some Armstrong's status as one of the world's greatest televangelist clowns and his ongoing reign as the great prince of promiscuous preachers.
© 1998 Ambassador Report. John Trechak, Editor & Publisher. Published as a Christian service almost quarterly - as finances allow.
Opinions expressed in by-lined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. References to books, ministers, and organizations do not constitute endorsements.
United Dethrones Hulme
January was a bad month for more than one ex-WCG minister. On January 20, the governing body of the United Church of God (UCG), its Council of Elders, removed David Hulme from the church's presidency. We asked one UCG insider why, and he responded, "Do you want the short answer or the sordid whole truth? The short answer is David Hulme thought he was Herbert W. Armstrong."
The longer explanation is that last year the UCG Council of Elders (COE) voted to move the denomination's home office from Arcadia, California to Cincinnati, Ohio (see AR65). Even though an independent consulting firm had advised against the move, a majority of the COE thought it was necessary in order to put to rest rumors of continued UCG ties to the WCG. Since then, in spite of the fact that the financial wherewithal to move was found, Hulme did almost nothing to implement the decision. In fact, COE members got the impression that Hulme and his close associate, church treasurer Steven Andrews, were doing everything in their power to see to it that the home office stayed right where it was.
But there were other COE complaints against Hulme. Some suspected that Hulme was attempting to start a cult of Hulme. As evidence of this they point to the fact that there were huge expenditures for a planned UCG television program in which Hulme, in the style of Garner Ted Armstrong, would be the only featured speaker. In pursuit of TV stardom, say his critics, Hulme unilaterally chose himself as the UCG's media spokesman, was overspending church funds, was hiring employees without board permission, was transforming personal views into church policy, was withholding employee salary information from the COE, was refusing to carry out Council decisions, was controlling all UCG publications solely toward cult-of-Hulme goals, was refusing to attend many COE meetings, and was firing employees that were perceived as upstaging him. For instance, Hulme fired Jerold Aust, the UCG writer who consistently turned out more articles for UCG publications than any other writer including Hulme.
Finally, some COE members complained that Hulme was traveling to numerous foreign countries on what was purported to be UCG business, but he had done so without COE approval and with the expectation that his exorbitant bills would be paid for by the UCG treasury. In other words, Hulme had been behaving pretty much the way that Herbert W. Armstrong used to behave. No wonder some say Hulme thought he was Herbert W. Armstrong.
With such an abysmal performance, we would have thought that Hulme would have not just been removed as president, but would also have been immediately removed from the COE. Amazingly, however, after the January decision, Hulme remained as a member of the church's board and at full salary. Robert Dick became interim president, and the behind-the-scenes process was begun for a switch in church administration.
Meet the New Boss
Those of us who have been out of the WCG and its offshoots for a number of years are often unfamiliar with the varieties of governance now found in the Armstrongite groups. About two years ago one of our readers, UCG member Eric Snow of Michigan, gave us this explanation of what church government is like in some of the major WCG offshoots:
The UCG is, as one friend of mine in Global likes to call it, a republic, not a democracy. We aren't congregationalist in our form of governance, but the elders do vote for members of the Council of Elders, on the bylaws, and on doctrinal issues as well as the annual budget. The problem with the WCG's form of governance wasn't hierarchy as such, but an uncontrolled hierarchy with no checks and balances on it. Of course, our moderate [UCG] position won't please either Dr. Meredith and Globalites on the one hand, or the Alan Ruth/Ray Wooten/Norman Edwards congregationalists on the other, but it does seem to be lined up with Scripture when examined carefully. Of course, the Bible is mainly silent on the subject of church governance, but we can see no examples of lay members firing ministers in the New Testament. Neither does a one-man, top-down dictatorship exist either, which even Dr. Meredith admits these days.
Well, how is the UCG republic faring? If recent events in UCG are any indication, a lot of former Worldwiders are not getting an education in democratic institutions, but they are getting an education in human nature. The UCG's yearly general conference was scheduled for March 7-10 in Cincinnati. But well before the conference important decisions apparently had already been made. Here is the way one of our UCG sources explained it to us in early February:
The question who will be the next president and when has already be answered. Leslie McCullough will be the next president. He will be selected by the Council of Elders when the general session begins in March. Dennis Luker would like to become the Chairman of the Board. Oh, and by the way, about fifty elders will probably be terminated. The official ruse will be that there isn't enough money. The truth is, some elders are going to be eliminated because they supported David Hulme.
The conference has come and gone. Board member Peter Nathan of England, a Hulme loyalist, resigned. Hulme also resigned from the board and has been replaced by Aaron Dean, described by one Armstrongite as "a spiritual powerhouse who, as the very last and closest personal assistant to Mr. Herbert Armstrong, should have been his successor." Besides Dean, the other members of the board now are: Robert Dick, Leslie McCullough, Victor Kubik, Dennis Luker, Gary Antion, Donald Ward, Leon Walker, Roy Holladay, Jim Franks, and Burk McNair. While Robert Dick, not Dennis Luker, remains as chairman, sure enough, former WCG evangelist Leslie McCullough was elected president. The election result proved convenient for McCullough who, as luck would have it, had purchased a new home in Cincinnati just weeks before the surprise vote. Nevertheless, it was a stressful conference for some. One source reported:
The participation in this year's General Council meeting was not prepaid by the UCG. The coffers were empty and people had to raise the money locally or pay for the trip themselves. Many elders did not attend, which is why on some of the issues, they sent faxes to affirm their decisions. And that is also why church attorney Steven Andrews refused the faxes, and after that Chairman Robert Dick sent out e-mail saying the faxes were okay.
COE members had been bristling as much with Andrews as with Hulme whom Andrews has supported. Just a few months ago the relationship between the COE and Andrews had become so strained that the COE had demanded of him a public apology for what they viewed as his attitude of insubordination. In response to that demand, the only public statement issued by Andrews was a written refusal to apologize. Where that tension will resolve itself is anyone's guess. Andrews, a lawyer, had hinted that he might seek his remedy in the courts. Along with his friend Edwin Stepp, Andrews has now resigned. In the meantime, we are told:
In a recent New Beginnings, there was mention of an attorney hired by the Council of Elders to deal with Steven Andrews. What no one has said is that Dennis Luker is the one who hired the attorney. How was the lawyer found? Dennis Luker looked in the yellow pages of a telephone directory. Just so you know. Advertising in the yellow pages does work!
As for why the COE chose McCullough for their president, one of our UCG informants wrote:
McCullough spends a lot of time on the phone talking to United's ministers about their problems. He promises to do something, but never does. He is very much a status quo kind of guy. For a church that is run by committee for the benefit of the minister class, he is perfect.
In a move some describe as "politically brilliant," McCullough has announced that unless he is reappointed by the board in three years, he will step down. In the meanwhile, Chairman Dick is spending more time in foreign travel and is, as one member put it, "proving himself dispensable."
Is the evolving UCG going to be an improvement on the WCG? If their latest general conference was any indication, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
On their Web site, the editors of The Journal, an unaligned Sabbatarian newspaper put out by UCG members, recently ran an amusing story about how they were treated by the UCG's leaders at their general conference. Editor Dixon Cartwright and writer Bill Stough attended the fourth general conference of UCG in Louisville, Kentucky (not far from Cincinnati, UCG's new home-base). Cartwright had attended all previous UCG general conferences without incident. But this year was different.
According to The Journal, on Sunday, March 8, Cartwright was sitting near the back of the hall with about 650 other people listening to a panel discussion by the COE who were fielding questions from the audience. One elder asked why two of the panel members, Leon Walker and Donald Ward, were listed as being on the staff of the independent paper. A discussion followed during which an elder in the audience, Joel Meeker of St. Louis, rose and addressed the chair, asking, "Is the reporter here from The Journal who is not a member of the general conference of elders here with the permission of the chairman?" Chairman Robert Dick said no, to which Meeker responded, "Then I would request, sir, then, since this session, as I understand it, is reserved for members of the general conference, that he be asked to leave." Chairman Dick ordered Cartwright and his associate to leave. Cartwright refused. Chairman Dick then called for hotel security guards to escort Cartwright and Stough out of the building.
We asked one of our UCG experts what was really behind the strange incident. He pointed out to us that Joel Meeker, besides being a UCG elder, is also editor of the French edition of UCG's Good News, a publication that some view as competing somehow with The Journal. "What many elders don't like about Cartwright's newspaper," he said," is that it has some independence and often reports unfavorably on United and favorably about some of United's sister denominations. The Journal may be promoting Sabbath-keeping churches as a group, but it is simply not filling a role as a UCG booster. A lot of United ministers want to see it disappear or, at least, be less offensive by not reporting certain facts."
Just days ago virtually all Armstrongologists were convinced that the career of evangelist David Hulme was dead and buried. But now we have learned that Hulme is revolting. That is, he is about to lead a new Church of God revolt. Here is the report we have just received from an exasperated UCG informant:
More chaos and confusion! After saying just a few weeks ago that he had no intention of starting a competing church, we now discover that David Hulme may be starting an independent group to be called simply "The Church of God." Original, isn't it? And how will he explain away his previous comments about not planning to start another church? Well, he will say he is not starting another church. God is!
The new movement seems to be picking up a little speed. UCG member Eric White tells us:
Clearly a schism is developing over the home office relocation and "central only" versus "local also" preaching of the gospel. At services our pastor read an April 4 letter from Bob Dick and the Council of Elders condemning this action and the misunderstandings some are evidently promoting during this time....
Someone told me that Mr. Hulme may be setting up a new COO based in Fresno, California. For some time, the standard rumor has been about the United Kingdom branch seceding from the UCG. But the real issue is: Why don't they go join Global, instead of setting up yet one more Church of God organization?
So there you have it. Another split is probably on the way. Already the anti-Hulme forces have dubbed Hulme's followers "the Hulmites" (pronounced: Heoomites) and the dogma of his followers "Hulmitism" (pronounced: Heoomitism, it rhymes with rheumatism).
Meanwhile, Back on the Titanic...
December 4, 1997 was a bad hair day for Joseph Tkach. He awoke to discover that the tabloid New Times Los Angeles, just arriving at newsstands, had a major story about his reborn WCG. With a cover illustration of Tkach's bearded face, a tiny church building in his right hand and a screaming puppet crucifix over his left, the article's title was billboarded, "Honey, I Shrunk the Church."
The article by Ron Russell describes a rapidly devolving WCG being destroyed by its leaders. Here are just a few of Ron Russell's revelations:
What makes the implosion of the once-prosperous Worldwide Church of God unusual - indeed unprecedented in modern American religious life - is that Armstrong's followers haven't so much abandoned the church as the church's new leaders appear to have abandoned them. Under the stewardship of Joseph Tkach Jr., a 45-year old former social worker, Worldwide's leaders have set off a stunning exodus.... Among the many who have left are those who view Tkach and his colleagues as opportunists who've commandeered the religion for personal gain. "They stole the church!" declares Aaron Dean, a former close aide to Armstrong....
"I've come to the conclusion that the church under this group exists to perpetuate itself and to make money," says David Covington. Formerly one of Worldwide's top field ministers, he spent 25 years in the organization before resigning last year....
Russell points out how, as a result of the changes he made in WCG doctrine, Tkach "has become the darling of conservative religious talk shows." But, at the same time:
A former high-ranking church official says that Tkach's compensation package exceeds $300,000, including a hefty raise he reportedly was given even as plans were being drawn up to lay off staffers.
Russell is quick to point out that the WCG's top four leaders were given numerous opportunities to answer his questions, but that "Albrecht, the public relations chief, told New Times that neither they nor any other church officials would make themselves available for comment." Russell then discussed the WCG's chaotic financial situation and made this startling observation:
The leaders also refused to publish the church's bylaws until a smuggled copy turned up on the Internet last year. Afterward, the church printed the document in its monthly newsletter. The bylaws confirmed what doubters had long suspected - that Tkach, as head of the church, wields virtually absolute financial authority. Not only does the title of Pastor General denote his eminence in spiritual matters, but as chairman of the church's board of directors, he possesses the extraordinary power to appoint or remove other board members "at any time, with or without cause or notice."
More troubling to some, however, is an obscure document drawn up in June, 1987, the year after the church patriarch's death, and during the administration of Tkach's father. The document, a copy of which was obtained by New Times, amends the terms under which church assets may be distributed in the event that Worldwide ceases to exist. Should that occur, once outstanding debts are paid, the amendment gives the Pastor General exclusive ability to control the assets and to assign them to an entity of his choice. "That's why [the leadership] has been careful to retain a hierarchical, as opposed to a congregational, structure," says David Covington, the ex-Worldwide minister.
December 4 was not just troublesome for Tkach because of the appearance of the New Times article. Later that day Tkach was to be a guest on Larry Mantle's popular radio talk show done at KPCC's new studios on the campus of Pasadena City College. Fortunately, AR staff members, who years ago worked for the station, were tipped off that Tkach was going to appear, and so we were able to get Larry some recent issues of the Report, an advance copy of the Ron Russell article, and a list of suggested questions. For months, Tkach had been touring the country promoting his new book and had been having an easy time on conservative religious talk shows (he was even on giggling Pat Robertson's 700 Club on March 5). But this time Tkach was put in the hot seat.
Tkach probably suspected he might be in trouble when a few minutes into the show Mantle casually mentioned that he, himself, used to listen to the old World Tomorrow broadcasts, had admired the broadcasting skills of the Armstrongs, and that he also personally knew and liked David Hulme. Tkach surely also noticed how Mantle excitedly told his listeners that Tkach headed a church that had changed all its founder's teachings "almost overnight!" But the interview really started to get interesting when Mantle started to question Tkach's motives:
MANTLE: But why not leave the church [properties] for them? I understand that you've gone through what is in a sense a conversion process. You have embraced evangelical Christianity that says you are saved by grace, not by your works.... And that's fine. But why not, you and the others who hold that belief, go off either joining other mainstream denominations or starting your own group and leaving [it] for those who put all their money into this, the Herbert Armstrong church?
TKACH: Well, they're in the minority. We're the majority. And we put all of our money into this too. Ah...
MANTLE: But I thought you'd lost about three quarters of your membership!
TKACH: We've lost about, not only three quarters of our membership, but also three quarters of our income. They took their income and they, ah, they went and started their own work and...
MANTLE: But they would have stayed had your father not made this Christmas Eve, 1994 sermon in which he announced the [changes to be made]. They would have stayed!
TKACH: I can't say that they would have stayed.... Of the total number... of 150,000 people, the majority have stayed. The minority want to hold on to Armstrongism.
Mantle quoted from Russell's article about HWA's excessive lifestyle and the allegations of incest with his daughter (which Tkach did not deny) and then he asked Tkach, with all that known, why he did not distance himself further from Armstrong. "You've been pretty conciliatory," he said. But, replied Tkach, "I don't want to stand in condemnation of Herbert Armstrong," adding with an audible snicker, "I'll let God do that." One caller asked Tkach how his church could still be the Worldwide Church of God because, "Isn't a denomination defined by its doctrines?" And, after all, hasn't he changed all of the WCG's doctrines? Even non-churched radio listeners could see the problem. Then toward the end of the hour-long interview, Mantle's interrogating got quite pointed:
MANTLE: I do want to talk, before we conclude, about control of the church. Again, referencing this New Times story. It is stated in there that you control the board of directors of the church. So you can pick and choose who is going to be the board of the Worldwide Church of God. That board controls the church and its assets. As a result, effectively you control the church's assets. Is that accurate?
TKACH: Ah, not entirely, no. Ah, first of all, I'd mentioned that we are currently in the process of revising our bylaws so that the position I hold is elected by the board. So the idea that I own all the property, or ever have, is absolutely preposterous and false.
MANTLE: Or control it. I don't think anyone is alleging you personally own it. But that, for example, if the property were sold and the church dissolved, that you would be able to dispense that money to the nonprofit organization of your choice.
TKACH: Ah, the way, if I recall our articles and bylaws correctly, the way that they prescribe we would have to proceed is that the board would determine who, ah, who the assets would go to.
MANTLE: But if you control the board then, effectively, you control - at least as your bylaws are currently written - you do control that.
TKACH: But they prevent inurement. I couldn't give them to myself. I couldn't prosper from it myself.
MANTLE: No, but if you had some pet... I mean let's say, for example, you believed in UFO visitations and you decided you wanted to give all the church's assets, I mean millions of dollars, to the UFO Network, there'd be nothing precluding you from doing that.
TKACH: Yeah, I would have to, if the board disagreed under this scenario, I would have to, ah, terminate everyone's responsibility on the board and then do that myself.
MANTLE: Stuff like that has happened before.
TKACH: Yeah. I don't think I would get away with it.
MANTLE: Who would stop you though, if it's in your bylaws allowing you to do it?
TKACH: (Quietly and audibly gulping) My family would stop me.
[EDITOR: At this point we wondered who Tkach meant by "my family." His aging mother? His WCG relatives who are not even on the board? His UCG relatives? The UFO Network? Perhaps even the Mafia? He didn't say.]
MANTLE: And the bylaws are going to change that. You're not going to have the level of authority?
TKACH: As my book tells in the last chapter, that is something we've said we're going to do. And that's something that we're working on. Ah, yeah. I think it'll be something that we will have completed this year. And when I say this year I mean 1998.
Tkach to Step Down?
It's not likely to happen, but Tkach has been hinting privately that he could, at least ostensibly, step down as President of the WCG. In mid-November the WCG's board began to discuss potential changes in the way it functions. Apparently, Tkach had instructed church counsel Bernie Schnippert to do research into how the church was legally organized with the goal of eventually making changes in the bylaws. Some ideas that Tkach has been playing with include putting a term limit on the Pastor General's service, broadening the grounds for removal of the Pastor General, and the development of a "more collective mechanism for appointing board members and the pastor general."
These sound like sensible ways to bring the WCG more into the Christian mainstream. But many wonder if the WCG's membership is ready for such changes. In fact, some do not feel the proposed changes would accomplish anything other than the complete fragmentation of the WCG as a unified church. Should that fragmentation be accomplished, it could very well set the stage for the transfer of all WCG assets to a new corporation controlled by Tkach and his colleagues.
In the course of the WCG board's discussions of the new corporate direction, Dr. Schnippert explained what is meant in church documents by the term "the Association." Most who would have read the legal documents would have concluded that the term referred to the WCG's lay membership, or at least to its full ministry. Not so, says Schnippert. The way the board looks at it, "the Association" refers only to the WCG's Council of Elders - all of whom are handpicked by Tkach and all of whom can be fired by him at will. Students of European history will notice that, viewed in that light, the WCG's current system of governance is virtually identical to that of the Roman Catholic Church where the Pope handpicks the College of Cardinals and the College then picks his successor. The WCG system is also akin to that reportedly found in some secret societies. We therefore don't hold out much hope that Tkach is serious about implementing changes that would be of real benefit to current, let alone past, WCG members.
Those who know Joe Tkach Jr. personally say that one of his great psychological needs has always been to "fit in," to, be a part of "the world." Some say it was his childhood in the WCG - when he couldn't join all the other kids in keeping Christmas, Halloween, April Fools, "and all the other fool days" (as HWA would say) - that made him feel estranged from the mass of humanity. He has apparently been trying hard to "fit in" ever since. And one way he has been fitting in has been through transforming the WCG into an evangelical merchandising operation.
Many remember the days when it was the Catholics who were big on selling religious trinkets, statues of Jesus and Mary, postcards, and candles. But now, using modem marketing methods taught in business schools (such as the one in Phoenix where Tkach got his MBA), many evangelical groups are merchandising Christ with far more sophistication.
First, there are the "specialty Bibles." These tend to target specific audiences. Some new titles are Rappin' With Jesus which turns the plot to kill Christ into a drive-by shooting, Path to Victory, an athlete's New Testament which comes illustrated with pictures of baseball star Orel Hershiser, friend of the Tkach organization, the Couple's Devotional Bible, the Singing Bible, the Kid's Comic Book Bible, and the Women's Study Bible which includes notes on fertility and menopause. There is even a bulletproof New Testament.
Then there are the modern Christian celebrity books. Unbeknownst to most purchasers of these, however, is the fact that most are ghost-written, and often by non-Christian writers. In "The Scandal of Christian Ghostwriting" (Midnight Messenger, Jan.-Feb. 1997) writer Texe Marrs pointed out:
My investigation of the Christian book world has uncovered the disgusting fact that the majority of books supposedly authored by famous Christian personalities are, in fact, the products of ghostwriters. Both novels and nonfiction books are involved. Sometimes the real writer is recognized in the acknowledgement section or elsewhere in the book, but, most often, he or she is not.
One such ghostwriter who has written many Christian books is Mel White of Dallas. He uses the title "Reverend" but few of his readers are aware that the ghostwriter is a homosexual who pastors a church Marrs describes as "a militantly gay church." Another author who uses a ghost is Hal Lindsey whose book The Late, Great Planet Earth, Marrs says, was actually written by a woman, Carla Carlson, a fact Lindsey has admitted.
Beyond the Christian celebrity books, one can find hundreds of Christian self-help books, some written by "Christian psychologists." Then there are Christian thrillers, Christian bumper stickers, Christian music CDs, Christian jewelry, Christian wall decorations, Christian clothing, and Christian knickknacks (items with religious artwork or with scriptures quoted on them). There are even Christian cereals, Christian cookies, Christian diet books, Christian chewing gum, and a Christian dice game called "Pilgrim's Progress" with dice that have no 6 (the number of man), but do have a 7 (the number of perfection). There are numerous Christian board games; one is called "Bibliopoly." There is a talking Patty Prayer Doll and even Gold Cross Fragrant Pantyhose. Writes Roy Rivenburg in the Los Angeles Times (9/24/95):
What would [Jesus] think of this melding of commerce and Christianity?... today, with religious retailing booming - and secular companies swallowing up Christian ones - some say it is hard to tell whether the Gospel is something sacred or just another brand name. Indeed with the exception of furniture and major appliances, it is possible to outfit an entire home in Christian products - bird feeders to body lotions, luggage to lamps.
To promote the consumption of such "holy hardware" and "Jesus junk," as it is actually referred to by some of its purveyors, there is now a burgeoning Christian marketing movement which among other things has given us "Christian super stores." A fact not generally known to most Christians who purchase Christian products is that not only are fortunes being made in, the new industry, but many of the small Christian companies making and distributing the products are actually owned by large conglomerates which have no interest in religion except for its profit-making potential. For example, Time Alliance, a Christian music company, is owned by TimeWarner, the corporate giant which published Madonna's Sex book. And Zondervan Press, which publishes the top-selling Holy Bible, New International Version - which is the WCG's officially recommended Bible and the version it quotes in all WCG publications - is actually owned by Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins which also publishes The New Joy of Gay Sex.
Joseph Tkach Jr. wants his church to be a part of this new age of Christian merchandising, and so Plain Truth Ministries was created. Of course, much like the body-building magazines of old which served primarily as catalogues for in-house bodybuilding products, the new Plain Truth magazine functions mainly as a catalogue for Christian products which have ties to the Tkach company.
Plain Truth Ministries, which was founded on money siphoned from the WCG, may very well prove to be a big money-maker for the Tkach marketers. But whether the new marketing methods will also save the church that originally bankrolled it remains to be seen. There is still no committed buyer for the two major WCG properties Tkach is trying to unload. In spite of a renewed emphasis on tithing, the WCG's announced budget for 1998 is 10 percent lower than it was in 1997. Some WCG insiders are now even saying that the WCG switch to evangelicalism may not have been such a great business decision. According to Empty Tomb, a Christian research and service organization based in Champaign, Illinois, giving to evangelical churches is in decline. In a study titled "The State of Church Giving through 1995," the group said that evangelicals were now giving only about 4 percent of their incomes to their churches as compared to about 6 percent in 1968. No wonder Tkach is not focusing his attentions on the new evangelical WCG but is, instead, concentrating on his PTM marketing operation.
In II Pet. 2, the Apostle Peter warned of false teachers whose methods would cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of, and who through feigned words would make merchandise of the church. That word "merchandise" is also found in John 2:16 where Jesus said, "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." Some seem to have forgotten that Jesus threw the money changers out of the Temple. He did not teach his disciples to study their methods and do likewise.
European Unity Closer
While the Tkach team keeps their followers' minds focused on loving thoughts and consumerism, the goal of politically uniting all of Europe got a step closer to fulfillment on March 24 when the European Commission officially recommended that 11 countries be allowed to join Europe's single-currency plan, which is set to begin next year. The plan is not without numerous obstacles including high unemployment in many countries and strong opposition in more than a few. Nevertheless, advocates of European union are moving ahead.
At this time, Greece, which wanted entrance into the monetary union, has failed to qualify for entrance. Britain, Sweden, and Denmark could qualify and are interested in joining, they say, but only at a later date. That leaves 11 countries which want entrance now and which have qualified: Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Finland. Armstrongites still holding on to founder Armstrong's prophetic scenario for Europe will find the following information interesting: According to The World Factbook published by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, of the 11 countries, Finland (whose population is overwhelmingly Evangelical Lutheran) is the only one without a large Roman Catholic population. In Germany churchmen are almost evenly divided between Roman Catholics and Lutherans and in the Netherlands the number of Roman Catholics are about equal to those of the Dutch Reformed denomination. In all the other countries of the 11, the overwhelming majority of the population are Roman Catholic.
On May 2, European national leaders will meet in Brussels to sign the final monetary union agreement and to resolve one issue that still remains: Who will be in charge of the new central bank.
Many former WCG members, particularly those in Britain, recall the dire prophecies of the Armstrongs and view a United Europe with alarm. As a sign of decline, some point to the increasing ownership of famous British institutions by foreigners. Egyptian Mohammed al-Fayed, for example, seems to specialize in acquiring British emblems. So far he has acquired Harrods, London's most famous department store (HWA always shopped there), Turnbull & Asset, the famous British shirtmaker, the castle of Clan Ross in Scotland, and even Punch, the weekly magazine of satire, cartoons and witty reviews. Now the inevitable purchase of Rolls Royce by Volkswagen or BMW is seen as another sign that Germany will eventually come to dominate Britain economically. With regard to such concerns, a law school librarian recently sent us the following:
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby the official language of the EU will now be English, rather than German which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phase-in plan that will be known as "EuroEnglish":
In the first year, "S" will replace the soft "C." Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants skip with joy. The hard "C" will be dropped in favor of the "K." This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have one less letter.
In the sekond year, there will be growing publik enthusiasm when the troublesome "PH" will be replaced with the "F." This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Government will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always been a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "E" in the languag is disgrasful, and they should go away.
By the 4th yar, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "TH" with "Z" and "W" with "V."
During ze fifz yar, ze unesesary "O" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "OU" and similar changs vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.
After zis fifz yar, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun wil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.
ZE DREM VIL FINALI KUM TRU!!!
Obviously, the talented author of the above has a wonderful sense of humor. But for many Englishmen, behind that humor lurks a reality that inspires genuine fears.
What Will Happen?
That the entire world is now undergoing a profound and unprecedented technological, cultural, economic, and political transformation is no longer even questioned in the mainstream press. The observation that the entire world is in transition is made so often by major authorities in the media it is getting almost hackneyed. We can all sense that the next few years, let alone the next century, are going to bring astonishing changes in our world. But what kinds of changes? And what kind of a world are we heading into? Of course, religionists like those of the Armstrongite offshoots have their own views. But today there are also many bright and educated secular thinkers who offer us insights that go beyond mere religious speculation. During the past year, we surveyed more than two hundred books on the subject and have found about a dozen that are particularly relevant to the question of where we are going. Ironically, while not biblically based, all of them actually contain much that is relevant to both the prophetic literature of scripture and some of the prophetic theories of the Armstrongites:
With the collapse of the Armstrong Empire, not only have most Worldwiders turned their backs on the old Armstrong prophecy teachings, but even Armstrongites are increasingly questioning Armstrong's old notions about "the end time." One part of those old Armstrong doctrines was the prediction that we would see in our lifetime a ten-nation world-ruling empire. Now with the plan for a European Union having gone beyond a ten-nation Common Market, more and more ex-Worldwiders are making adjustments to their prophetic scenarios and are looking elsewhere for "the ten." Many are leaning toward a world view that very much comports with today's "conventional wisdom" that we are going to see a world united by telecommunications and global capitalism. Many Armstrongites have even swallowed the Pat Robertson idea that we are on the verge of a "New World Order" where a world dictator will be leading us into a world where there will be only one government and only one allowable, and mandatory, Satanic religion.
While to some ex-Worldwiders that idea is thought to be esoteric to their own religious tradition, one can find quite a few thinkers, even some with very secular views of the world, who believe we are quickly heading toward at least some type of a one-world situation. For instance, William Greider in One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (Simon & Schuster, 1997) argues that we are pretty much already there. While he does not write about universal Satan worship, his view of where the world is now and where it is heading is almost as sinister.
But while Greider and others write of a global capitalism, is a truly united world-civilization really possible? One leading scholar who argues that it is not is Samuel P. Huntington, the distinguished Harvard University professor and the author of The Clash of Civilizations (Simon & Schuster, 1997). Huntington writes:
Little or no evidence exists... to support the assumption that the emergence of pervasive global communications is producing significant convergence in attitudes and beliefs around the world. Indeed, this Western hegemony encourages populist politicians in non-Westem societies to denounce Western cultural imperialism and to rally their constituents to preserve their indigenous cultures.... The central elements of any civilization are language and religion. If a universal civilization is emerging, there should be signs of a universal language and a universal religion developing. Nothing of the sort is occurring.
While Huntington does not see the world heading toward union, he does view the world as coalescing into cultural or regional blocs framed by religion, history, and language. Looked at that way, Huntington points out how the world is already divided into about ten major geographical regions or civilizations:
1. Sinic - the Chinese
6. Western - Western Christianity and its progeny
7. Latin American
8. Orthodox-Eastern Christianity and its progeny
10.Modern Indian - a mix of Hindu and Islamic
Actually, Huntington adds an eleventh group - the civilization of the Philippines, which he refers to as the Sinic/Westem. But when one considers Filipino culture alongside the other ten, one has to suspect that Huntington was attempting to have his civilization chart come out to some number other than ten. Whatever the case, it is interesting that in some ways Huntington's view of the near future, like HWA's, involves a world divided, both geographically and spiritually/culturally, into ten, or about ten, parts.
One final comment about Samuel Huntington. In the 1960s Huntington co-authored The Crisis of Democracy, a research paper that in essence argued there was too much democracy in the United States. That paper was the first one produced by and for the Trilateral Commission.
Huntington is not the only scholar who is dividing up the world in anticipation of the new millennium. In Tribes (Random House, 1992), author Joel Kotkin predicts, somewhat like Huntington, that "race, religion, and identity determine success in the new global economy." But, somewhat different from Huntington, Kotkin, who has been a business trends analyst for Fox Television, a senior fellow with the Center for the New West and the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., as well as an international fellow at the Pepperdine University School of Business, is convinced our global economy will increasingly be run by cross-border networks of ethnic-and-religion-based groups who will be ever more tribal and clannish.
Kotkin begins his analysis with the international Jewish community as the prototypical international clan that has a leg up in the business world because of an entrenched network based on shared history and values. Kotkin then goes on to analyze what he sees as the other four leading international networks that will dominate the new global economy: the British (with Anglo-American), the Japanese, the Chinese, and the east Indian. Oddly, while acknowledging that the British, and their Anglo progeny in North America, still control the largest accumulation of foreign investment and most of the world's largest corporations, Kotkin does not envision a never-ending American, or even European, hegemony.
Perhaps one weakness in Kotkin's analysis is that at least two more huge international groups should probably have been added as being predictable economic powers of the near future. For example, the Spaniards within the Spanish-speaking world now wield increasing influence. Regarding Spain, Larry Rohter in The New York Times (2/15/98) wrote:
The explosion of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor 100 years ago Sunday set the stage for Spain's retreat from the last remnants of its empire in the New World, and for the emergence of the United States as a global power. Yet as the American Century draws to a close, a resurgent Spain is once again flexing its muscles in Latin America and pushing aside any lingering memories of "El Disastre" as the Spanish-American War is often called there. If it was the cross and the sword that inspired Spain's initial foray into the Americas 500 years ago, it is the checkbook and the satellite dish that are leading what one Colombian magazine calls "the second Spanish conquest."
Rohter, much in line with Kotkin's thinking, points out that a common language and culture - not to mention membership in the European Community and a prospering Spanish economy - give Spain an advantage in Latin America not shared by those countries' big brother to the north.
A second powerful international network that could have been added to Kotkin's group of five is international organized crime. In Thieves' World: The Threat of the New Global Network of Organized Crime (Simon & Schuster, 1994), distinguished journalist Claire Sterling shows:
No one has benefited more from the political changes of the 1990s than international organized crime. Within the space of just three or four years, the world's great crime syndicates have joined in a planet-wide criminal consortium unlike any in history. A Pax Mafiosa has emerged - an agreement to avoid conflict, devise common strategy, and exploit the planet peaceably together - linking the American and Sicilian mafias, Russian organized crime, the Chinese Triads, the Japanese Yakuza, and Columbia's cocaine cartels. It threatens the liberty, security, and political integrity of the U.S., Europe, and all free societies.
For these giants of the underworld, the creation of the European Community in Western Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the east have erased borders and made the commerce of crime easier than ever....
The drug traffic alone, exceeding half a trillion dollars a year now, is the world's second biggest money-maker, after the arms traffic; and these syndicates engage in both. The interest they have accumulated from investment of drug profits in the last decade is approaching a trillion dollars, according to a European Community estimate.... That doesn't count customary pursuits such as theft, fraud, extortion, gambling, loan-sharking, forgery, pornography, money laundering, and contract killing.
While many governments engage in the same kinds of activities, there are only a handful of national governments that can claim that amount of income and such financial resources. And as Sterling explains it, international organized crime appears to be more organized than many governments. That being the case, it would rank behind only a handful of nations in international power. While not given a chapter in Kotkin's Tribes, the international organized crime network is surely one of the powerful tribes to be reckoned with now.
Kotkin's book is not a perfect crystal ball into the future, but what makes his ideas still interesting from our ex-WCG perspective is that in spite of his academic credentials, his approach to the global economy is quite similar to the way many Armstrongite leaders have looked at the world all along. He sees the world as propelled far less by rational thinking, and far more by tribal, almost "conspiracy-driven," networks which in the coming millennium will certainly make "who you know" more important than ever.
This is not the way many of us remember business school. Nevertheless, Kotkin's book is usually found in the business sections of larger bookstores.
Fascism played an important part in the prophetic scenarios taught by Herbert W. Armstrong. For decades, the WCG's founder unflinchingly taught that a revitalized fascism would one day reawaken in Europe and would come to dominate not just that continent, but the world. With the decline of the WCG, not only have Worldwiders ceased believing such ideas, but even many of the Armstrongites that remain seem to have put aside that anticipation.
Now, however, an important book makes the startling claim that some, like Armstrong, who taught a future resurgence of fascism, may have been right all along. In The Beast Reawakens (Little, Brown and Company, 1997), author Martin A. Lee shows that not only is fascism alive and well, it is right now being resurrected at alarming speed not only in Europe, but throughout the world. Lee does not simply rehash what we have already known - that after 1945 many Nazis fled to Latin America - but he makes the startling claim that:
Shortly after World War II, both the United States and the Soviet Union recruited Nazis and fascist collaborators for the upcoming Cold War - but these Third Reich veterans pursued their own agenda, even while working for Eastern and Western secret services. By playing the superpowers off each other, these unrepentant extremists paved the way for an eventual revival of fascism.
While most of Hitler's Nazis are now dead, Lee claims that they left behind a whole new generation of fascist fanatics that are now rearing up in Western Europe, Latin America, and especially in Eastern Europe. Lee even shows that fascism is reawakening in the United States.
Ironically, some of the American organizations that Lee associates with fascism are among the very groups toward which some ex-Worldwiders have gravitated in recent years. There is a reason for the connection. Most of the neo-fascist groups in North America have a strong affinity with white-supremacist, or at least white-separatist, sentiments, and in this century there was no writer more influential in spreading the idea of a racially superior, or at least racially distinct, Anglo-American race than Herbert Armstrong. Even though his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy is now rejected by the Tkachites, it still finds favor with many white supremacists such as those affiliated with the Aryan Nations. In Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy (Plenum Press, 1996), author Philip Lamy, a recognized authority on paramilitary groups and apocalyptic cults, gives Herbert Armstrong credit for having "helped popularize British Israelism among the millions of Americans who read his books" and in so doing having cultivated the soil in which others planted more insidious racist seeds. Thus, unwittingly, HWA may have helped to bring about the very reawakening of fascism that he prophesied.
The Great King
One of the linchpins of Herbert Armstrong's prophecies was his prediction that a European king would rise up and bring about the unification of Europe. Armstrong had various ideas who that leader would be. For instance, for many years he thought Bavarian politician Franz Joseph Strauss would be the man. But, toward the end of his life with Strauss having passed away, Armstrong started to suspect that Otto von Hapsburg would fulfill the prophecy. It may have been that suspicion that led HWA into developing a close friendship with old Otto.
With monarchies on the decline in Europe and with Otto past the age of eighty, many scoffed at Armstrong's speculations about the Hapsburgs. Now, however, some wonder if HWA was not on to something. For while Otto is up in age, advocates of monarchy are increasingly heard from in Europe. And, of all the royal families on the Continent, the one that is increasing the most in prestige and influence are the Hapsburgs, and especially those of Otto's line.
In the Los Angeles Times (3/27/98), Mary Williams Walsh and Deane E. Murphy reported how Otto von Hapsburg's seven grown children are increasingly active in European politics:
From Scandinavia to the southernmost reaches of the changing and unsettled continent that is post-Cold War Europe, Hapsburgs are turning up in interesting places, positing the idea that their family's imperial history holds answers to some of the most pressing questions of modem times. Hapsburgs are keeping up the age-old family tradition of strategic marriage, tantalizing monarchical revivalists and striving through electoral politics to shape the development of the continent, which is inching toward unification.
"My brother is doing the same that I am doing," Gyorgy [von Hapsburg] said, referring to Karl Hapsburg-Lothringen, 37, who represents Austria in the European Parliament. "My sister [Walburga] is doing the same in Sweden. If everything goes right, she will be elected to the European Parliament. My sister in Spain [Monica] is very much interested in local politics."
Gyorgy von Hapsburg, 33, is a business executive who lives in Budapest, Hungary. Prime Minister Gyula Horn, a former Communist, appointed Gyorgy "ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary," and charged him with ensuring early membership for Hungary in the European Union as it expands into the former East Bloc. So popular is Gyorgy, that his arrivals at public functions are often met with cheers of "Hail the King!" Then there is Otto, who but for the intervention of a couple of world wars and a few revolutions, would have today, at age 85, been Emperor of a realm once called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Instead, he is merely the representative of the German state of Bavaria in the European Parliament. There he sits next to his eldest son Karl and tells the people of Europe, "Why not take advantage of the wisdom the Hapsburgs and their thousand-year family can offer?"
Those who would like to learn more about the Hapsburgs (also spelled Habsburgs) should check out The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire by Andrew Wheatcroft (Penguin USA, 1997). An even more interesting book is The Last Descendant of Aeneas: The Hapsburgs and the Mythic Image of Emperor by Marie Tanner (Yale University Press, 1993). Some of the intriguing chapter titles are: "Mythic Genealogy," "The Legend of the Last Emperor," "The Order of the Golden Fleece," "Fidecrucem: The Hapsburg Veneration of the Cross," and "The Hapsburg Cult of the Eucharist." Yes, this crazy family really does take itself that seriously.
The New World Order
One of the notions that has swept through ex-WCG circles in recent years is the idea that world conspirators are bringing about a "New World Order." That ancient phrase was brought to modern public consciousness by former president George Bush during the Gulf War, and ever since it has been the subject of much speculation by conspiracy theorists. Anyone not familiar with the "NWO" theory can get an excellent overview of its general dimensions from chapter 34 of The Sixty Greatest Conspiracies of All Time by Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen (Citadel Press, 1996). In their entertaining and informative book, Vankin and Whalen are quite adept at poking big holes in many of today's popular conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, regarding the NWO, they write:
Lest we dismiss such concerns as the ranting of survivalist kooks, it's important to note that the New World Order is an equal opportunity conspiracy theory. Left-wingers were just as exercised by Bush's words, although progressives tended to see the preppy president more as a champion of capitalism run amok than as a creepy commie.
In fact, right-wing or left, suspicions about the New World Order are actually quite rational. The champions of the "NWO" are indeed a cadre of powerful industrialists, bankers, academics, and politicians who for three quarters of a century have been a gray eminence behind the governance of Britain and America. More to the point, perhaps, they are the governors of the Western world. Call them what you will, they are the "Establishment."
There is a lot of religious writing that deals with the "New World Order." Nevertheless, some of the most valuable books on the subject are not religious. Here are two:
The New World Order: Whether It Is Attainable, How It Can Be Attained, and What Sort of a World a World at Peace Will Have to Be by Herbert George Wells (Alfred A. Knopf, 1940). While most people recognize H. G. Wells as one of the preeminent science-fiction writers of all time, many are not aware that he was also a highly influential political thinker and an advocate of world government. While not an admirer of Marx or an advocate of violent revolution, in some of his political writings, Wells actually promoted the idea of "an open conspiracy" to bring about a politically united socialist world - pretty much the kind of thing some right-wing pundits fear could happen. Furthermore, Wells envisioned a strong United Nations. In fact, Wells "became the leading spirit behind the Sankey Declaration of the Rights of Man, which influenced the setting up of the United Nations" (Brian W. Aldiss, Introduction to War of the Worlds, Oxford World's Classics). For those reasons alone, one would think that his New World Order would not only be much read today for clues to where we could be heading, but much quoted by those of the Bircher mold. Surprisingly, not only is that not the case, the Wells book is currently out of print. Why, we have no idea. But those interested in the subject may be able to find a copy, as we did, in a public library or in a bookstore specializing in old or rare books.
Finally, a most important book on the "NWO" is World Orders Old and New by Noam Chomsky (Columbia University Press, 1996). Chomsky, the political activist and MIT professor of linguistics who has been called "the eighth most-cited person in the history of the world and the most-often-cited living human being," is an extremely prolific author who writes in at least two different styles. First, there is the very accessible style of his writings for the general public. A good example is the so-called "Chomsky Trilogy" consisting of his short books What Uncle Sam Really Wants, The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many, and Secrets, Lies and Democracy, all of which give a very concise and readable overview of the state of the world and Chomsky's own political ideas. But another kind of Chomsky book is distinctly in the scholarly style with copious notes and voluminous and detailed references to obscure declassified (and maybe classified) documents from major think tanks, the United States government, and foreign powers. World Orders Old and New is that type of book.
Chomsky's insights into U.S. policy in the Gulf are extraordinary and his analysis of the Middle East peace process has been described as incendiary. For even though raised in a Jewish home and the son of a Hebrew scholar, there have been few intellectuals more scathing of what he sees as the undemocratic, brutally oppressive, and monumentally hypocritical Middle-East policies of both the United States and the state of Israel. But it is in his analysis of our present and evolving "World Order" that Chomsky brings insights that are not just penetrating, but often very unsettling. In chapter two, section six, "The Contours of the New World Order," Chomsky writes (pp. 178- 179):
Structures of governance tend to coalesce around domestic power, in the last few centuries, economic power. The process continues. In the Financial Times, BBC economics correspondent James Morgan describes the "de facto world government" that is taking shape: the IMF, World Bank, G-7, GATT, and other structures designed to serve the interests of TNCs [Transnational Corporations], banks, and investment firms in a "new imperial age." At the other end of the bludgeon, the South Commission [a Third World group of intellectuals] observes that "the most powerful countries in the North have become a de facto board of management for the world economy, protecting their interests and imposing their will on the South," where governments "are then left to face the wrath, even the violence, of their own people, whose standards of living are being depressed for the sake of the world economy" - that is, the present structure of wealth and power. A particularly valuable feature of the rising de facto governing institutions is their immunity from popular influence, even awareness. They operate in secret, creating a world subordinated to the needs of investors, with the public "put in its place," the threat of democracy reduced....
One may imagine what classical liberals would have thought of this new form of unaccountable, absolutist power, with its extraordinary scale; Thomas Jefferson, for example, with his scorn for a "single and splendid government for an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and moneyed incorporations," through which the few would be "riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry" - a nightmare realized beyond anything he might have dreamed.
World Orders Old and New should be assigned reading for the many Armstrongites who are waiting for the evil New World Order to arrive. Because if Chomsky is right, it is already here.
Where Are They Now?
Just after our last issue came out, we were pleased to be paid a visit by our long-time friend Gary De Jager (AC-BW 1970) who was on his way from business meetings in New York back to Sydney, Australia where he lives with his wife Roberta (nee Mitchell, AC-BW 1972) and their three teenage girls. Since their WCG days, Roberta has earned an advanced degree in foreign languages and teaches Japanese and French. Gary has earned a Ph.D in mathematics and currently works as a derivatives specialist for Chase.
Many will remember Dr. Robert L. Kuhn (AC-Pasadena 1969) who was Garner Ted Armstrong's executive assistant in the early 1970s. After that era, Kuhn, who already had a Ph.D. from UCLA, went on to get an MBA from MIT. In the years that followed he wrote and/or edited more than 30 books on business and finance. He is currently president of The Geneva Companies, a group specializing in the arranging of mediumsize corporate mergers. In addition, Kuhn is also chairman of the Original Bible Project.
While many are aware of Dr. Kuhn's accomplishments, many may be surprised to learn that his wife, Dora Serviarian-Kuhn, is a respected concert pianist who performs with major orchestras around the world. Her recent recording of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto on the ASV label has been hailed by a number of critics as the finest since William Kapell's legendary recording of fifty years ago. The Kuhns are scheduled this month to be in China where Dr. Kuhn is working on a series of TV documentaries about the new Chinese economy and where Dora Serviarian-Kuhn will be performing with the China National Symphony.
Another well-known concert artist is pianist John Khouri (AC-BW 1967) who for a time served in the WCG ministry and then went on to head Ambassador's music department at Bricket Wood. Khouri, who is based in Vacaville, California, specializes in performing early nineteenth century music written for the fortepiano, the historic predecessor to the modem piano. Khouri owns five restored fortepianos from that era and tours so frequently he no longer has time for teaching. He also performs in duo-fortepiano concerts with Janine Johnson. Khouri records for the Entr'acte label and his Web site is: <http://www.best.com/-jbartram/khouri.html>.
Books, Pamphlets, Tapes
We regularly get letters from readers skeptical of the many reports over the years that Herbert Armstrong had had a long-time incestuous relationship with at least one of his daughters. People want proof. Well, unfortunately, or fortunately perhaps, video tapes of those acts do not exist, And, as the GTA massage parlor case suggests, even if we had video tape evidence many would still discount the evidence. That does not mean, however, that there is no evidence. For instance, in the recent Ron Russell article, the author mentions how he interviewed HWA's grandson, Richard Armstrong (see AR67), and how Richard corroborated that HWA's daughter, Dorothy Mattson, had on numerous occasions told family members about the incestuous abuse. (In fact, during her years as a Pasadena-area business woman, Mrs. Mattson had also told many others.) For those who may be interested in seeing the entire Ron Russell article that appeared in New Times Los Angeles, it is on-line at: <ht tp://www.newtim esla.com>.
Anyone wanting to hear all of Larry Mantle's interview of Joe Tkach on KPCC can obtain a cassette recording of the one-hour program for $15 by writing to: KPCC Radio, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91106. Be sure to give the date of the program (Dec. 4, 1997) and the subject (Joseph Tkach and the Worldwide Church of God) along with your address and phone number.
In our last issue we reviewed Joseph Tkach's new book Transformed by Truth. Those who would like to read another John Trechak review of the Tkach book can see it at the online bookstore Amazon.com. Just go to that site and type in the title of the book. Besides the critical review of the book, you will also see another, this one a rave review, by a David Rowell of Montana. We e-mailed Mr. Rowell and suggested he might discover a different, more realistic, perspective of Tkach and his book if he were to read a few copies of Ambassador Report which we would be glad to send him free of charge. He replied:
Who are you to tell anyone the truth about a book you didn't write, about a journey that you didn't complete? Were you privy to all the things the author experienced? Have you been a loyal member of the WCG for 26 years as I have? I've never heard of you so I'm sure you weren't in any way intimately involved. If you were a disloyal former member, which splinter group did you join? I don't recommend you send me your analysis. You wouldn't enjoy my response because it would expose any false accusations and assumptions you have surely made in writing it.
Discovering the Plain Truth: How the Worldwide Church of God Embraced the Gospel of Grace by George Mather and Larry Nichols (Intervarsity Press, 1997). The long title pretty much tells you what this book is all about. The authors never once contacted AR for our perspective. They did buy the WCG's version of events, however. For an excellent review of the book, see David Covington's Ministry of Healing Web page: <http ://members.aol.com/coving1d> or <http://members.aol.com/exwcg>.
The Prophetic Significance of New York City by Gary Arvidson. Sometimes we get a little tired of former Worldwiders and their Bible prophecy notions. After all, while usually still retaining Herbert Armstrong's Darbyite premillennial dispensationalism, there are now hundreds of variations on the original theme. So many, in fact, we are finding it difficult just keeping up with the new theories. This new paper by Arvidson, however, did get our attention. Years of research have gone into it and many of his conclusions actually make sense. The 24-page paper is available for $5 by writing to: Prophecy Report, P.O. Box 442, Dallas, NC 28034.
We have commented many times on the writings of Dr. Ernest L. Martin. But many readers will be interested to learn of a new book Martin has written: The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot. Of this book Martin has said: "It will show that our Jewish friends who now gather to worship God at their Western (Wailing) Wall are worshipping at the wall of the Roman fortress of Antonia (named after Mark Anthony) and that wall has nothing to do with their former Temple." A number who are aware of Martin's decades of biblical and archaeological research on the subject tell us they expect Martin's book to cause shockwaves in the world of religion and even among politicians. For more information, contact: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, P.O. Box 25000, Portland, OR 97298-0990, Web site: <http://www.askelm.com>.
We have mentioned The Original Bible Project in past issues. Recently Bob Ellsworth sent us a Translation Sample of parts of the Bible that Dr. James Tabor and his team of scholars have already translated. We were extremely impressed not only with the care that has been applied in the translating, but also with the unique and practical format that the project has adopted. We have had letters from a few readers who believe that more translations of the Bible are not needed. But having seen some of what has been done on the project so far, we think this new translation will prove to be an important contribution to biblical scholarship. Those wanting to get more information or a copy of the Translation Sample should contact: Robert Ellsworth, The Original Bible Project, 408 South Pasadena Ave., Suite 1, Pasadena, CA 91105.
Back in 1995 (in AR60), we reviewed the book Why Waco? which was co-authored by James Tabor. At the time, we were somewhat critical because the book struck us as overly sympathetic to the Koresh cult. That, however, was before we saw the new documentary movie Waco: The Rules of Engagement which got an Academy Award nomination this year. When we contacted Tabor recently, he commented: "I am not convinced that the FBI actually shot people - but the rest of the film, as far as I can tell, is accurate." We agree. What is quite disturbing about the film is not just big government's willingness to use overwhelming force (even against elderly people and children) in order to protect its image of invincibility, but also its willingness to bend the Constitution out of shape and then unabashedly deceive the public about it. Perhaps almost as disappointing is the abysmally poor job the major media did in covering the whole story. We understand that copies of Waco: The Rules of Engagement are already available in some video rental stores. A copy can also be obtained for $25 by calling (800) 771-2147 (ext. 19).
On Sabbath we were told that the terrible attacks on President Clinton have now yielded fruit. The true Gospel of the Great Warning Commission is now being preached to him. Because of his troubles with the press, we were told, he called a famous preacher for guidance on what to say. Mr. Garner Ted, of course. And that is how it happened. So whatever Mr. Armstrong did, God was behind it for us to do the Great Commission. We were also told that Mr. Rader is behind the Paula Jones lawsuit against our President and that he is now her lawyer.
Editor: Paula Jones' lawyer is Robert Rader Jr., no relation to the Rader of WCG fame. As for God inspiring preachers to commit adultery so that "the great commission" can be accomplished, we don't see any such idea in scripture. According to press reports we have seen, the "famous preacher" Clinton called was Rev. Jesse Jackson. Nevertheless, if President Clinton were to actually call GTA for advice on how to handle a sex scandal, he would certainly be calling an expert.
My sister is a follower of the new Garner Ted Armstrong Intercontinental Church and she has shown us a printing of his new church seal. She thought it was an improvement over the one International had. However, her husband, who is not religious anymore, pointed out to us that the new Intercontinental seal is almost identical to the official seal of what he calls the "OWK." That stands for the "Other World Kingdom" which is an international network of expensive, jet-setting prostitutes who specialize in deviant, pagan sex rituals. He is a programmer and he showed us their Web site. I could only stand to look for a few seconds but, yes, the "OWK" seal is very similar. I hope there is no connection, but I fear the worst.
Yesterday, I was in a "Christian book store" when I came upon a new book titled Difficult Scriptures. "Let's see what those might be," I thought. So I peeked in and was not surprised to see that the author chose to attack the Ten Commandments, the law of unclean meats, and Sabbath keeping. What really surprised me, however, was the author's name. It was Dr. David Albert. I seem to recall that there was a David Albert in Worldwide years ago. If this is the same man, he must have changed. Can you tell me anything about him?
Editor: Yes, it is the same man. In some ways he has changed, but maybe in other ways he has not. A lovely lady that I know tells of how, as an Ambassador student who worked in the church's television production facilities many years ago, she became convicted in her heart and went to Mr. Albert, as he was then called, for ministerial counseling about baptism. The matter was very serious to her and she expected the minister to discuss the Bible, sin, repentance and other spiritual matters. But to her surprise, he completely ignored those subjects. Instead, he questioned her about the political situation inside the WCGs television production facilities, about the inside scoop on GTA, about who was having affairs, about who was on the way up or on the way down, and other completely worldly matters. Albert then okayed her for baptism. About ten days later, feeling no different after baptism than she had before, she thought back on the counseling session and the whole process. She then concluded it was all a farce. Twenty-five years later she has yet to return to any Christian denomination. As for Dr. Albert's new Christian ministry, let us hope it has improved a bit since the old days.
Dear Brother Trechak, Grace be unto you from Yahweh, our Father, and from the Savior Yahshua the Messiah.... In your newsletter of December 1997, page 9, you talk about the House of Yahweh and the Two Witnesses. The second Witness was Yisrayl Hawkins' own blood brother Jacob (or Jaaqob) Hawkins who died on March 22 of 1991.
Just a day after I read of the Worldwide member who killed his wife probably over a religion difference, I discovered that the son of Don Schroeder, the famous Plain Truth editor, committed suicide by hanging himself. I feel so sad for the families. And I wonder where the Holy Spirit is in all this.
I'm not sure if anyone noticed - or perhaps I should be asking if anyone really should care - but the WCG Web site has removed the blank "Accountability" page from its "Administrative Leadership" homepage. It is replaced with a "Statement of Financial Stewardship" at http://www.wcg.org/PastorGeneral/FinSteward.html.
Among other things, it tells us, "The practice of tithing, while not mandated, is encouraged as a minimum standard of Christian financial stewardship." But apparently accountability about exactly how much money the holy hierarchs pay themselves - their total compensation packages, detailed, by name - is not included in the WCG's minimum standard of Christian financial stewardship.
Nevertheless, we are assured, "The Worldwide Church of God, together with its affiliated entities, takes seriously the matter of financial stewardship and strives to abide by the highest of fiscal integrity." Hmmm. Is there something wrong with this picture?
I have some info to share with you. First, Shorty and Patty Sue Fuessel are still living in Amarillo, Texas. He is unemployed after more than two and a half decades with WCG as a loyal minister.
There are quite a number who fall in this category. None get unemployment checks; they did not have social security for all that time of employment with WCG. They have been cast aside; all this under a cloak of "Christianity." Charity obviously doesn't begin at home for HQ leaders. And there are currently meetings going on in Pasadena with the regional directors who are going to lay off more pastors and field ministers.
Phyllis Duke is employed as a secretary to evangelist Greg Albrecht at Plain Truth Ministries. Politics? Her husband, Russell Duke, the last President of Ambassador University, is now only teaching an English composition class at Azusa Pacific University. It is a floating class shifted from department to department every year. He is NOT teaching any theology classes. This could be due to the fact that he has a non-traditional (mail-order, write your own program) degree. Academicians may be snobs, but they do have higher standards. And Russell is not fully accepted by the other Azusa faculty because he is not really needed and they know he "bought his way in" by getting Tkach to put AU funds into APU hands.
There are still nine families living on the Big Sandy campus, while we are still living with the harsh consequences of the decisions made by Joe Tkach and Russell Duke. Neither of them turned out to be the men we thought they were.
-"Tired of being blindsided"
When I lived in Los Angeles and used to read the Los Angeles Times, I was always pleased when I read Mr. Trechak's letters to the editor. I was glad to see that he took on the evils of big business and big government with the same relish and sardonic wit as he takes on organized religion. You can imagine my surprise then when shortly after moving to Philadelphia I noticed in The Philadelphia Inquirer a John Trechak opinion piece in which he took on our corrupt court system. There are some very evil things going on in this country and I am glad a few still have the guts to speak out.
Editor: My comments in The Philadelphia Inquirer appeared in the Opinion section on January 8. They concern the infamous Lisa Lambert case in which the defendant, convicted of murder, on appeal was found not just technically innocent, but "actually innocent" by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell. He released the defendant with statements to the effect that it was obvious she could not get a fair trial in the state of Pennsylvania. The state appealed his ruling and won. Pennsylvania then reimprisoned Lambert and, at first, made the astonishing claim that the situation required no retrial on the facts (which included many new ones showing Lambert could not possibly have committed the crime). Now, as we go to press, I have discovered that the state has been pressured into retrying the case. Unfortunately, the case has gone back to the original judge who seems to be corroborating Judge Dalzell's views about the Pennsylvania court system. It is not even possible for the public to find out how the new trial is going as the judge has issued so many gag orders so as to make the trial virtually a secret one. The Philadelphia Inquirer, in an angry March 14 editorial, has quite properly referred to this new secret style of adjudication as akin to a star chamber.
I was very glad to see that you recognize that our history books are teaching many lies to our children. I have just read Lies My Teacher Told Me by Dr. James W. Loewen. He did a long study of history books used in our school systems and found that the majority contain many major errors that are intended to deceive our children into a stupidity about what this country is all about. I now see why the author wrote, "Indeed history is the only field in which the more courses students take, (in High School) the stupider they become." I am also reminded of a folk song someone once did about how God always backs up our country's side, no matter what we do. It just isn't so.
I would like to also mention one criticism of the AR. I think you are a little soft on criticizing the Catholic Church, the Lutherans, and the Buddhists. I am sending you a cassette tape of a lecture, "The Political Uses of Religion" by philosopher Michael Parenti ($5 from People's Video, P.O. Box 99514, Seattle, WA 98199). I'm sending you a free copy. Listen to it! I am also sending you tapes of his lectures "Inventing Reality: The Politics of News Media," "Democracy and U.S. Intervention," "Human Nature and Politics," and "Conspiracy and Class Power." Let me know what you think of them.
Editor: I don't usually have time to listen to the many tapes that are mailed to me, but I did start listening to the religion one you sent. Then, after I got over Parenti's New York accent and his Woody Allenish humor, I found myself hooked. Dr. Parenti's strong criticisms of the Catholic Church, Martin Luther, and the Buddhists are most thought-provoking. However, I do hope you noticed that the professor's politics are rather left-wing. I noticed at one Pasadena bookstore that Parenti has published a book titled Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America. I thought it was interesting that at the very beginning of that book, Parenti, who I am sure is an atheist, quotes Isaiah 2:7-8 with the implication being that the United States fits that description. I thought it was an apt allusion and recall that it is one Herbert Armstrong, himself, used to make.
As for being soft on Catholicism, I hope that by running your letter you can see that I am not. Nevertheless, that denomination does constitute a very large percentage of Christendom and I don't think it should be ignored. They have big problems, yet not everything that they teach or stand for is wrong, as the Armstrongites seem to think.
As for inaccurate history books, that problem is not confined to the United States. Historical inaccuracies abound in textbooks around the world. In a February 14 editorial, The New York Times pointed out that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern European textbooks at first replaced praise of communism with blind acceptance of capitalism. Yet those same history books still perpetuate distortions about the Soviet Union's participation in World War II. Another country where textbooks are changing is France where until recently textbooks ignored France's collaboration with its Nazi occupiers during the war. And in Japan there is an overt national policy of down-playing the Japanese military aggressions of the late thirties and forties and the Japanese war crimes of that era.
Even in Israel, there is now a debate over the accuracy of the accepted history of that country's founding fifty years ago. A number of Israeli scholars and a recent television documentary challenge the traditional Zionist tale of heroic return and nation-building in an empty, desolate homeland and draw unsettling parallels between early Israeli "freedom fighters" and modern Palestinian terrorists (The New York Times, 4/10/98).
So the problem of historical accuracy and revisionism is a global one. By the way, I think the song you refer to is "With God on Our Side" by Bob Dylan.
A few issues ago, you reported on a group of researchers who are convinced that the real Mount Sinai is located not where it is generally claimed, but in Saudi Arabia. When I first read your article I thought, "Who are these AR folks to think they know anything about something so profound?" Well, I take it back. Last night (Sunday, April 5) we caught the TV program Dateline NBC. They showed the mountain you wrote about and at its top there was clearly visible evidence of massive fire or radiation damage which suggests to us that the "pillar of fire" (YHVH), mentioned in the OT, had once been on that mountain. They interviewed the researchers and they seemed very reasonable, level-headed and learned fellows - not religious fanatics of any kind. The program showed the massive rocks at the bottom of the valley which were obviously set up in ancient times as a giant altar. And right nearby are ancient petroglyphs depicting calves or young bulls. They also showed the military base and security precautions that surround the area. Obviously, the Saudis do not want the Jews to take back through military force the real Mount Sinai! Again, thanks for bringing this amazing story to our attention.
I was sorry to learn of the Report having financial troubles. You deserve better. Here are three suggestions: First, ask each of your readers to do what I have been doing: Occasionally I will call old WCG friends and tell them about your work. I might loan them one copy, but if they like it, I tell them to subscribe themselves and to send in a contribution. If each AR reader would do that I am sure your subscribers would increase in number and it would make a big difference. You might even be able to publish more often. Second, don't promote so many other people's crummy writings in your publication. Each dollar sent to other groups means the Report will not be getting it. Finally, have you ever though about putting a subscription price on the AR?
Editor: Yes, we have thought about it and the reasons for not doing so are explained in a form letter we occasionally send out. If any readers would like a copy, just ask. As for mentioning other publications, yes, we probably hurt ourselves by doing it. And most of the organizations we plug don't even send us a contribution. Nevertheless, giving our readers other sources of information is an important part of what we do in fighting destructive cults and public ignorance. Lastly, we really do like your suggestion about asking readers to try to get others to subscribe. We wish many more readers would do that. It would certainly help to ease some of the financial strain we are under.
We have just learned that the revolt within the United Church of God is spreading. Bill Bradford, a UCG minister in San Francisco, told his congregation, "Support the ruling Council or you can go elsewhere!" About 130 decided to leave and go elsewhere.
Joining them in the revolt are Hulmite ministers and lay members in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Oakland, California; Boise, Idaho; Louisiana; South Dakota; and New Jersey. Departing ministers include Cliff Veal, Waldo Armstrong, and Mike Regan. Marc Masterson has been put on suspension. Estimates of how many people are splitting from UCG range from a low of only 350 to a high of over 1,000 - so far. Already a P.O. Box is said to have been established for the all-important task of collecting tithes.
In UCG's largest congregation, the Eagle Rock church near Pasadena, California, Pastor Brian Orchard has decided to leave the UCG's employ. In addition, every last one of the elders and deacons in Eagle Rock apparently has decided not to participate in the UCG's Passover services. Instead, they are going to keep it with a new group split off from United.
The central doctrines of the Hulmites have been described as "right-wing independent-hierarcialist." And the ring leaders of the new sect are reported to be David Hulme and Steven Andrews who some are calling "the next Two Witnesses." That may refer to the book of Revelation. On the other hand, it could be referring to possible litigation between the many factions of the United Church of God.
The excitement never ends. More next time.
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