"It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
These are the catching words that opened the George Orwell novel "1984," a novel which is probably more apro-po in its content today than when it was written. Orwell is long dead, but I wonder if he could see now what this world is like, would he not smile and nod his head? Would he not say: "I told you so." Would he not look at the world of organized religion and comment: "Looks like 1984 all over again." And this specifically applies to the Worldwide Church of God and its offspring.
There is a valuable lesson we can all learn here. For some, like many of us, it came almost too late. The damage, in many cases is already done. But for others, it may not be too late, and by honestly using some logic and common sense, then a 1984 scenario may hopefully never impact these people. Please make no mistake about it, what happened in the novel "1984" were shadows of what happened in the WCG, and (according to our email) is now happening in the WCG+ offspring.
This article is not intended to tell anyone what to do. That's up to each of us. It is also NOT intended to tell anyone how to lead their lives. Again, that's up to them. But if someone can see the imminent disaster that will befall people if they continue to charge up to the rim of a bottomless pit with the intention of jumping, then it's time for someone to wave the red flag. So, please (for those who have ears to hear) look at this article as a big "Red Flag."
The 1984 novel depicted a futuristic society that had been devised by devious, egotistical, and controlaholic minds. This is not all that different to WCG. The big difference is that WCG and dead Herbie never made it to that level of national control over people, but their reign of terror did show - in type - what things might have been like if Apostle Herbie and his minions were ever to gain national or international power. This may sound far fetched, and although it never happened to the large extent that I've mentioned here, many principles of people control that were used in the novel "1984," were also implemented in WCG. The spirit was the same.
In the novel, the story was based around a society that was fundamentally socialistic, with some variations of communism thrown in for good measure. The governmental structure was basically the same as communism, with its brainwashing, its wacky ideology, and like most communist regimes, they point to some "leader" or father-figure as the savior of the country. The father figure, in this case, was called "Big Brother." His effigy would appear everywhere - on walls, on posters, banners, TV, movie theatres, and it was flashed to the masses when special announcements were to be made. This gave the impression that this special message was coming directly from Big Brother himself. This could parallel something we're all familiar with. These announcements were almost like co-worker letters that purportedly came personally to all the WCG following. These co-worker letters were also supposedly signed (in print, of course) by Herbert Armstrong. As in the novel, "1984," and during some special announcement or other, the 1984 masses gazed in rapture at the big-screen illustration of Big Brother and actually believed all the propaganda bilge that was coming from the announcer. It was in this exact same way that the loyal WCG followers looked at our WCG co-worker letters and the signature, and we all assumed it was coming directly from Herbie.
In the early WCG days, Herbie did apparently write his own letters, but as the organization got bigger and Herbie became more and more removed from his flock (in more ways than one), most of those letters were reportedly written by others, namely his secretary Mary Ellen Dahlgren, and they were likewise dictated and approved by Stan Rader. But we all gullibly believed otherwise. We believed the signature, what the co-worker letter stated, and we believed what was fed to us by our own personal image of "Big Brother." In other words, much of what was said to us in those letters - the money pleas, the state of the work, and the reasons for overseas trips - was (in many cases) nothing but an album of deception. Herbie was too "out of it" to write many of those later letters, and the newer authors could therefore assume the Big Brother identity, and would thus manipulate the membership. So, it looks like we were screwed by those who took advantage of our trust.
In later years, I was told that many of the PT staff knew this. They all had a good giggle or two at our expense. But this wasn't funny at all, and especially for the trusting membership that honestly believed the "plain truth" about the contents of Herbie's correspondence, the condition of the "work," and the fact that Apostle Herbie actually wrote all his own letters. Most of the membership didn't have a clue as to the mendacity of what was happening.
In the 1984 novel, the character of Big Brother never existed. Apostle Herbie may as well have never existed either, and in later years, he was so "out of it," that he might as well have been dead. Big Brother, from the novel, was a concoction of the upper echelon of the Party. However, since Big Brother's name and image were constantly flashed onto screens around the cities, and since his name was synonymous with prosperity, peace, love, productivity, and truth, all people believed in Big Brother as their own existing father-figure, even though such an individual never lived. It was the continual propaganda that kept the concept of Big Brother alive. People saw his image, they read their controlled newspapers with Big Brother's picture, they read the party line nonsense, and they believed everything they read. That was because the propaganda was the ONLY thing that they were allowed to read. All other reading, viewing, or orally transmitted material was utterly forbidden.
So, in "1984," the masses worshipped Big Brother. His illustration was only briefly seen on the TV screens, but images of him abounded. The propaganda about his greatness flooded the country. The records of his great deeds were legend. The miraculous way he single-handedly took control of the revolution and saved future generations from the evils of the outside world, were well documented for everyone to see. (See also "Animal Farm" by George Orwell). The courageous way Big Brother still led his loyal armies against all enemies of the state was continually fed to the masses as a reminder to be grateful to this noble man. Truly, everyone thought that this man - Big Brother - was really a gift to all, a miracle, a superman, and a refuge. He was valor and strength personified. And Big Brother never even existed.
Amazing isn't it? It goes to show the power of propaganda. And the story is not too far fetched either. People who don't even exist can be worshipped by the masses for any cockamamie reason that might be fed to them. It doesn't matter if the reasons are a pack of lies, because once the credibility and infallibility of a "Big Brother" type of person is well established and brainwashed into the minds of the followers, then the rest is easy.
The upper echelon of WCG were well versed in the science of propaganda.
It's interesting to note the comparisons with the happenings in "1984" and the behavior of the WCG. Some are listed below.
FIRST: Like Big Brother, Apostle Herbie didn't exist in the flesh to most people. In the earlier days (not in the later ones) the people at Pasadena saw him whenever he preached. But he was invariably chauffeured away quickly so he didn't have to mix with the unruly crowd, and many didn't get to "press the flesh." Although he preached (usually about himself) at the FOT each year, there was little or no personal contact. He was more isolated than any President of the United States.
It's interesting to note that other "biggies" in the religious world also behave like Herbie, namely Robert Schuler, Jimmy Swaggert, etc. All these "Christ-like leaders" have their own chauffeur driven limos, as they don't like to mingle with the plebs.
Herbie's contact with most people was like that of Big Brother. He was a personality, seen occasionally, photographed often, constantly giving edicts and begging for money, but the heavily censored propaganda that followed him was voluminous. Any of his ghost writers could have said anything in any of the co-worker letters, and the membership would have nodded their heads in agreement. After all, (like the Big Brother's edicts) these co-worker letters came with Apostle Herbie's sanction . . . didn't they? No one knew any different. Bugs Bunny could have been writing those letters, and the membership would have dutifully believed everything that was said.
When the name of Apostle Herbie was even mentioned from the pulpit - just like with Big Brother - people sat up, they went mentally to attention, they spiritually clicked their heels, and proceeded to obediently swallow any type of effluent that emptied itself out of the hireling that stood behind the pulpit. Big Brother was alive. Big Brother had spoken. Big Brother must be obeyed. The only thing missing between Herbie's Sabbath edicts and the "1984" novel was the mindless follow up to the announcements, that of the predictable, orchestrated and hysterical membership shouting. But, then again, we all gave Apostle Herbie a standing ovation and cheered him at each Feast of Tabernacles. Didn't we?
SECOND: In "1984," the members of the Inner Party lived in luxury, while the workers were forced to live in almost impoverished conditions. Usually, those workers lived only in one room, with one bathroom per floor, and as always, they were watched by the telescreen (a spying device that received and transmitted all a person's movements) in each room, and it transmitted a constant flow of propaganda about the success of the party's programs, the wonderful umpteenth five year plan, the victorious achievements of the State's new manufacturing methods . . . . yak, yak, yak, . . . and of course, Big Brother's victorious achievements abroad.
Every so often, an austerity program had to be implemented. Not that the average worker had much to begin with, but now they were forced to give more for the sake of the party, its work, and to conform to the will of Big Brother. The Inner Party were apparently not affected by this "austerity" program. Their lives continued on as luxuriously as usual The loyal worker, on the other hand, had to economize, sacrifice more, and adopt a more austere lifestyle, as the work of the party demanded it.
The Inner Party, in contrast, continued to live in the luxury of fine homes, and each had the option of turning off their telescreens whenever they wished. They had their vintage liquor, fine foods, and the finest blended tobacco for their cigarettes. The average worker had to drink the State's made Victory gin (rotgut), and shop for stale food at the State run Victory stores, and smoke the (who knows what) inside the State manufactured Victory cigarettes. The workers were told that these small sacrifices were for the benefit of the party, and the honor and glory of the work of Big Brother. No sacrifice was too much for the honor of the work of the party and the goals of Big Brother. After all, Big Brother could NEVER be wrong.
Now, doesn't all this sound familiar? Doesn't the above scenario ring a bell? Ding-ding-ding? Apostle Herbie had almost as many emergency financial situations as he had temper tantrums. And as always, the membership were the ones who got squeezed. The membership (many of whom were on the brink of bankruptcy), were intimidated to give even more, as God was "testing them," and if anyone held back for personal reasons, then that excuse became tantamount to "robbing God."
But all this is quite remarkable in the light of the fact that the upper echelon of WCG cultmasters basically gave nothing. Supposedly, many gave money only to get it back later as "bonuses." It was a big show - nothing more. None of those cultmasters scurried to sell their luxury homes. Did they? They didn't sell their lands, or empty their bank accounts - both in the US and overseas. Did they? Why not? If the need was so great that many urgent co-worker letters were necessary to "keep the work on the track," then why didn't the leadership set the example and do their part? I noticed that not one of those whores sold his elegant car to drive a second hand clunker. Their wives were also a part of this legal larceny. They kept their affluent lifestyle and jewels and the treasures inside their lavish homes. None of those upper cultmasters or wives sacrificed anything that they didn't get returned - in Spades. Just like the Inner Party members in "1984," the cultmasters lived the continued life of extravagance and deprived the membership, in many cases, of the basic necessities of life.
THIRD: Censorship. This was a big thing in "1984." Nothing could be published or spoken about that was not given the approval of Records Department, which was usually influenced by the Fiction Department, whose work was periodically interrupted by the standard broadcasting of "Two minutes of Hate," which was monitored by the Thought Police who worked under the tyrannical jurisdiction of the Ministry of Love.
Anything that was, or could be, detrimental to the party was destroyed. Anything that had to be re-written, for the sake of "clarifying" history, was rewritten. All history, all current events, and all happenings of interest were produced by the programmed imaginings of the Records Department, who were influenced by the . . . .etc., etc. Everything had to conform to the party line, and everything that was reported was to have a positive treatment. Even the most asinine statements were treated like wonderful expostulations of wisdom. "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength." All these sayings were regarded as normal and accepted as part of peoples' lives. In other words, the dumbest, most absurd statements became perfectly normal to people who were brainwashed to believe the most bizarre of propaganda.
This reminds me of another organization. Any clues? Didn't the WCG (and now its offspring) censor everything that went out of its portals? Wasn't everything that was reported, done in a positive light? Even the bellyaching for more money had a positive tone at the end, as the money would help spread "this great gospel to the world." Didn't we believe the most ridiculous drivel about Apostle Herbie? Weren't we brainwashed to believe that God revealed all new knowledge to him?
Didn't we believe that his trips overseas were for the preaching of the gospel? Didn't we believe that there was 25,000 people who attended each night of his Manila campaign? Would we have believed it if we read Colin Adair's letter to Les Mac saying that those figures were totally out of whack? Would we believe that Apostle Herbie only had a total of (paid) attendees (less than a thousand) at the whole campaign for all three nights? Adair's letter made Herbie out to be either a compulsive liar or a senile idiot who could neither see nor count. Could we have ever believed that Herbie's overseas trips were really not for gospel preaching, but for sex therapy, tither paid (and bribed) testimonials to himself, and a mess of wild partying? Could we have believed any of this?
Didn't we believe that we were in God's "only true church?" Didn't we believe that somehow Jesus had called all of us specially and we were going to rule the universe (with a rod of iron) simply because we were faithful and loyal to Herbie? Weren't we subtly taught that because we were White Anglo-Saxon (true Israelites) Protestants, that we were better than those of different color? Weren't we subtly taught that anyone who was not a WASP might just be allowed a part of the First Resurrection, if they were fiercely loyal to Herbie? Didn't we believe that we were the true descendants of Israel, and those who were (mainly of different color) outside our "chosen" races were thus classified as Gentiles? Didn't we believe that God respected us more than all others? In what trash bin did we leave our logical minds?
We might say the same things of those in the 1984 scenario, namely the separation of the party members and the proles, but were we any different? And do you know the really pathetic part of all this? There are thousands today that believe God is working through only ONE man and his organization (e.g. the WCG+ mess), and that God is revealing all new info through this one man - whichever cultmaster he might be. This ONE man - this chosen of God, whoever he might think he is - naturally demands three (that's 3) fictional tithes to show loyalty to God, and for the sake of the work. There are - sadly - thousands still caught in these offspring cults, controlled by men who have (in the past) shown definite signs of ego-mania, and by at least one psychiatrist's report have displayed evidence of being psychotic. For those who have ears to hear.
FOURTH: Authority. In the "1984" novel, authority was always "from the top down," and in our modern day WCG+ cults, we find the same example. Despite the fact that the Jesus character in the Bible said that the greatest person should be the servant of all, these cultmasters have taken their own one-eighty degree version of that saying. Please remember the early Catholic Church redacted the scriptures in the fourth century AD, and they were absolutely power crazy and total authority nuts.
In the "1984" scenario, the authority came from Big Brother, to his lackeys, to their minions, to the overseers, and thence to the masses. In the WCG+ scenario, the authority comes from the head cultmaster, to his lackeys, to their minions, to the hirelings, and thence to the membership. Since Big Brother never existed in the 1984 novel, that means the upper party members, in the book, made all the rules for their own advantage. And since Apostle Herbie was described as either too inebriated or "indisposed" for much of the time, his upper cultmasters must have been making their own rules - also, for their own advantage. From what we've been told, Apostle Herbie didn't give a damn one way or the other, just as long as he had his own brand of, reportedly perverse, contentment. So, the WCG was actually being run by someone else other than Big Brother, Herbie.
The sad part about all this is that the membership were fed with lies that Herbie said this and that, and most believed it. They followed the instructions because they were brainwashed to simply believe "The Apostle." Anyone could wave around Herbie's name and the membership would freeze with respect. Just the name and the photo were enough to evoke obedience. The same happened with Big Brother in "1984."
Since we've been given the most precious gift of our own thinking minds, it behooves all of us to guard it against the wiles of those who would twist, pervert it, and manipulate it for their own glory, and naturally, profit. The whole "Christian" world is full of such charlatans, and sometimes, these characters get caught with their pants down - literally. But many get away with it. BIG HINT - if anyone asks for money for doing "God's Work," then that's another Big Red Flag.
If we ever choose to give over our brains and thinking over to these cultmasters, then we'd be well advised to know EXACTLY what we're doing. Since most of these dingbats are all calling themselves "servants of God," or "God's chosen," then this makes their behavior boarding on the ego maniacal. At worst, it makes their conduct psychotic.
Whenever we choose to give our thinking, our thoughts, and desires over to these Big Brother cultmasters, then we deny the very thing that's uniquely our own. And that is our own, personal, deductive, conscious mind. That's our greatest gift we can be given by the Infinite Life, but because of ignorance and foolishness, we sometimes and willingly give it over into the hands of someone whose mental stability is possibly in question. If such a cultmaster ever snaps - and it did indeed with Jim Jones - then where does this leave the obedient followers?
Although the novel "1984" leaves us with a hideous picture of what can happen when people blindly follow propaganda and a Big Brother leader who's almost been deified, this is the exact same parallel that happens today in modern religion. If such a leader gets the ultimate mind control, as he desires, then where will it end? Could he lead his congregation to some suicidal outcome? We've all seen it happen. Under the right circumstances, it could happen again.
In 1979, at the 1979 RECEIVERSHIP, and the struggle that followed, I personally heard some hard-core dedicated followers of Apostle Herbie say that if HWA ever told them to drink the Kool Aid with the cyanide, then they would do it. The reason? Because Herbie was God's anointed, they said. To disobey Herbie would be rebellion against God, and that member's eternity would be forfeited. They honestly believed that they would suffer the fate of the Lake of Fire. Their belief in Herbie was so strong. And this is what can happen when we have the scenario of such a Big Brother. If we're brainwashed enough, we'll do anything for them - even commit suicide. It's that serious.
Remember all such similar dictators in the past, and remember what happened to their followers when they followed the leadership of this madman. Remember Hitler. Remember Hirohito. Remember Stalin. Remember Mao. Remember Pol Pot. Remember Saddam Hussein. Remember Apostle Herbie. And remember, we still have the HERBIE WANNABES.
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