Scare The Hell Out of Your Minister:
Get an Attorney
Hello, (Please do not identify me)
I have recently come across your story on the Painful Truth Website. It is so refreshing to know of someone, who as a Worldwide Church of God pastor was unwilling to continue accepting the lies and deceit and abuses coming out of Pasadena. You actually put yourself on the line. I hope you have recovered.
I came into Worldwide Church of God in the very early 70's. I had always carried a suspicion of doctors and the medical world so the church's anti medical stance really didn't bother me at that time. However, I came to notice that in my area the church 'hated' members of the medical professions. I began to feel this hatred was greatly excessive on the part of our people. It's one thing to avoid them because of personal belief or doctrine but another thing to have that hatred against them. Over a period of years I contracted some serious health problems and avoided medical help, as a good member would, for far longer than I should have. Finally my life became so disrupted by my condition that I decided to at least get some medical opinions and possibly some help. At first it was church friends who reacted unfavorably to my action. Our pastor at that time was a kind gentleman and he told me it was 'my pain' I was having to deal with and that others really couldn't make judgments on my finally reaching out for help. Some 'friends' over a period of time became more 'unfriendly' as I continued seeing several doctors, as some specialists had to be seen. Their transformation was amazing. It was as if I had betrayed not only the church but also them personally. I was given dire warnings that I would become a medical guinea pig and that dangerous experiments would be imposed as the doctors would take pleasure in taking complete advantage of me and my deteriorating condition.
What actually happened is that I wound up with a team of kind and concerned doctors who exhibited great care in helping to stabilize me. They made sure that 'I' was an equal member of the team working for my betterment. They discussed options with me and carefully allowed me to take full part in making decisions. They were far kinder than the church had been. They were actually far more caring. I was very fortunate in having a wonderful team working together to help me manage a condition that could not be cured.
I should make clear that there was a very small group of church friends that seemed satisfied to allow me to make my decisions in seeing the doctors, although most of them would not have done so. After the pastor of that time was transferred out we had a long number of years during which we had very stern, austere, hard line militaristic abusive type ministers. Also, family problems resulted, since all this is hard on all the family. My physical survival was seriously in doubt, according to the physicians. There is much I really cannot go into right now to make the story complete. However, I was in a perfect setup for some serious problems with the church.
I wound up in professional counseling as a (male) object of mental -emotional spouse abuse, a concept I never would have come up with for myself but my doctor could see what was going on. There was a court action to protect me from likely spousal assault.
The hard line, controlling pastor we had by now became very harshly abusive against me. He came down quite hard against me for accepting medical help and psychological counsel for the reasons my doctor put me into it. It was as though he had clearly taken sides in a situation he shouldn't have and had declared war against me, despite all the evidence of the error of his positions.
As I had started psychological treatment for the reasons given, my counselor first explained that he was a Christian and that his counsel would go along those lines (How could I have been so blessed on this?). What I immediately very clearly saw was that this counseling was vastly more insightful than the torrents of opposition I had seen from the church. It became obvious that the ministry was light years behind in any understanding of human nature. My counselor was also helping me build a case that could be used against the church because of its support and encouragement of an abuser against a disabled spouse. He was aghast that a church would support, encourage and help such a condition continue and worsen.
My ministry really continued to beat me down. They would continue to come over and viciously verbally attack me until some family member wrote headquarters and told what they saw and knew about my situation here. Then it eased off a bit and then a really vile one took a hard swipe against me. I had decided by that time I wasn't going to take any more of this. With the statements from my doctor and psychologist and talk with my attorney it appeared certain here was a case we could go with. I was guaranteed we could get some favorable results.
Before going with this I sent the complete story and documentation to Mr. Joe Tkach, Jr., then Director of Church Administration. I felt sure there was no way he could ignore this. And sure enough, I got a good response and RELIEF.
Those individuals are now employed by splinter groups that broke away from Worldwide Church of God. I guess they still love their old ways.
I also might insert that the domestic situation improved a great deal. My wife and I declared that Worldwide Church of God would NEVER be allowed back into our private lives. They were total failures in these areas and caused much un-necessary suffering. Again, they were absolute, total failures. They didn't have the simplest ideas of how to counsel in family matters. None whatsoever.
I am so happy there were a very few, like you, who took a stand when you clearly saw so much that was so wrong. I admire you. I thank you for being there for us. You are a great encouragement to us and you are ministering in your own given way.
I've probably gone on too long but the story of the way I was threatened and abused by an unloving and mean spirited ministry cannot be given briefly. They actually tried to stop me from seeing my doctor and my psychologist. I clearly told that pastor that he could not 'threaten' me for seeing my doctor or any other professional he referred me to AND he could not 'threaten' me for going over all this with my attorney. He then dropped all this like it was a hot rock. Then, of course, it was a succeeding pastor that started it all over and I appealed to Mr. Joe Tkach, Jr.
If you've read this far thank you so much.
(Again, please do not identify me).
Hello there F:
Thank you for your letter and you really have had one awful time with Worldwide Church of God, didn't you? I'm sorry your journey has been this tough through a line of sadistic cultmasters, but at least you're out now, and those cowards finally backed down.
You name will NOT be identified with this letter, but I want to check and see if I can send your letter and reply onto the Editors. Would that be Ok? I'm sure many could be helped by it, and your final stand against their thug like tactics, a stand which many could learn from.
When you reply back to me, could you please tell me the actual names of the minister/s who threatened you with NOT going to doctors? These guys are criminals in my opinion who enslave the minds of innocent people. Could you please give me the names of those bullies, including the ones that have gone to splinter cults?
I won't send this letter to the Editors until I get your Ok, and you get back to me.
Thanks again for a most informative letter, and many blessings to you.
Hello Mr. John,
First, thank you for even reading what I had to say. I wasn't even expecting such a prompt reply, which I am happy to receive.
Yes, you may send my letter to the editor. In fact, I'd be pleased for you to do so. I'd appreciate, however, if even my first name would not be published.
Also, I'm going to give you the several names of ex-WCG ministers referred to in my message, but I think I also should give a little bit more information along with it. If any of the following would be deemed useful in connection with my first letter please feel free to use it:
Mr. Jim was a very angry tyrant against me (and a few others). I had fit in very well with military life and had learned to accept absolute authority over myself, but without being hard on soldiers under me. I had taken a rather submissive position toward Jim after all this was God's only true church there was no other so God's government had absolute authority and we were told it was vested in the ministry. I was in a position of service (deacon a servant) and I had attempted to work well under him and get along with him. However, he wanted total control even in our personal lives, which had nothing to do with the church.
I began deteriorating with a neurological deficit disorder, which took my physical strength from me and among other things might have contributed to a persistent seizure disorder (no seizures now since 1989). Also, some terrifying headaches came along right behind all this. My spinal fluid has abnormal sedimentation and abnormal protein and there is a mark of unknown origin on the spinal chord. I very rarely give this much information on my illness but you might need to know to understand my story. My doctor noticed that my wife became tired of this and was 'not on my team' and even asked her to discontinue accompanying me on my visits with him. This gave him a chance to get into some areas of concern I never would have brought up and wound up under his referral in treatment as the object (I'm avoiding using the term 'victim', which they did use) of emotional-mental spousal abuse of a disabled person.
My doctor and mental health provider greatly encouraged me to get away for temporary breaks from the strongly negative domestic environment, which I took pleasure in by continuing to take Spring trips into the Western states. From records the doctor asked me to keep it was very clear that as I would get away I was enjoying a great deal of relief from the pain in my head until I would return.
It's understandable that my wife, whom I love, could be unhappy about things as they were. She would go to Jim and I have no way of knowing what she really would tell him, but she tells me she only asked him for help for herself. She claims she tried to make it clear to him that I, personally, was not the problem but that she needed help in handling what was going on.
From the time Mr. Jim arrived at our church he made it clear to me that I would take my Spring journeys only on his permission. I tried to get around this by notifying him in writing (he loved requiring lots of writing until HQ discouraged it) of the dates I would be away and some minor justifications for it. He began coming down on me harder and harder. In a deacon-elder meeting he attempted to put me in a tight spot about my physical condition because it had interfered with the amount of work I could do for the church (I wound up in medical retirement from my vocation). He attempted to embarrass me in front of the others but I felt I took it all that rather well, and he must have noticed that. He also would tell me that when I removed my sins from my life I would get well it was all completely up to me. Never any kind of compassion in any way whatsoever was shown. He would continue to snipe at me and be hard on me and remind me that I needed to stop seeing the doctors and make whatever changes in my life that were needed so that I would become well and strong again. He took responsibilities away from me, but I took all that in stride, as it was his prerogative. Then he started demanding by whose authority was I taking it on myself to make my yearly travels. He understood I wasn't asking his permission I was simply letting him know when I would be gone and he seemed to me to be having a difficult time with this.
With all the foregoing, when my wife approached him he decided that all her problems and all my problems were MY FAULT ONLY. And he came. And he attacked. I never could understand why I was under such authoritarian attack about things I had absolutely no control over. I had no idea of any understanding as to what I was supposed to do and he never made clear to me what my 'secret sins' must have been. He made life very difficult for me on top of what else was ongoing.
Spring of '93 approached and I made my usual plans under the encouragement of my physician to go back out on my annual journey that gave me a much needed break. I said nothing to Mr. Jim about it. No talking and no writing. I should have known he would blow up on this one. And he did. He created an extremely nasty public confrontation with me after HD services when he had found out I was to leave the next day. I just bobbed and weaved with him careful not to verbally strike back out at him and be publicly dismissed from the church. I felt he wanted me to react the same way he was carrying on and I wisely chose not to, as that would give him ammunition to fire back at me. I continued to hold on that I would take my trip. He then attacked my seeing my doctor(s) and the psychologist and counselor and made clear that these things had kept him from being able to 'help' me. He then made one thing very clear: That when I returned home he was going to get me and 'get me straightened out'. He stated that he had a lot or work to do on me (no, thank you). I expected to be disfellowshipped and sentenced to the lake of fire (remember?)
A few friends noticed the public harsh confrontation and expressed sympathy for what they could clearly see going on. He was well known here as an unapproachable pastor. Many friends expressed that they learned not to go to him for any counseling. I responded that I was aware of the problem but cautioned them to be careful in talking about it because they would wind up being put out of the church. Throughout the foregoing I let my military background be my guide and remained respectfully polite before my erring and out of control superior.
I went away, however, very heavily burdened. I'd done the best I could but here was a situation that had become impossible and I went very much into prayer about it. In my despair I almost decided to cancel my planned travel beginning the next day. However, I decided he could NOT be given that extent of control where he had so clearly overstepped his bounds. I very seriously prayed about this impossible problem. On my own I could not have had a way to work it out and remain within the church.
It occurred to me that I have an extremely valuable resource that most people do not have except at great cost; the services of an extremely capable and well known attorney. During my time away I sent him a card and told him that when I returned I would need his help because of someone who was causing me a really bad time without any cause. I gave no more information at that time. When I returned home and made contact he was ready and anxious to get into it. He assured me he could very easily get this pastor off my back. He said that I was dealing with a bully and that he (the attorney) was getting rich cutting bullies down to size and was enjoying it as he was doing it.
Also, on my return, Jim asked if I was ready for him to begin his 'work' on me and I asked for a week or two before we got into it. I then informed the attorney that Mr. Jim was wanting to get on me right away and how should I handle it. The attorney informed me I should tell my pastor that he was going to be receiving a letter from my attorney. I simply don't know how to fully explain the effect that it had on Mr. when I told him that. The best way I can say it is that he showed a mixture of fear and rage and other disappointing emotions thrown in. The effect was most profound. His first statements were that, "...you CANNOT win with this". I simply responded that we would go with it and see I could work with him (Mr. Jim) on my own no further and I was going to use the resource I had. Then there was a most sudden change of attitude as he knew he did not want to take this one on. He asked that he and I talk, immediately and work this out between us and I explained that since the attorney was now getting involved I wasn't sure I wanted to or should talk with him before asking whether I should. I don't know if you can help me understand this but Mr. appeared desperate that HQ not be made aware of any of this. He said it would then be,"...out of our hands". Well, I had no problem with that because I certainly needed it out of 'my' hands. The attorney told me that I did NOT have to face him alone one on one any more if I desired not to but he had no problem with it if I chose to, with a few instructions and guidelines, especially for ending the session if it started to go badly for me.
The main thing now was that I was in an extremely strong position with no dread or fear of any kind at all. I had been given permission to make any agreement if I wanted to or not to make any if I decided not to and the attorney himself would finish what he was already preparing on it. Jim 's strong concerns about HQ getting any of this actually made this an easy session for me, and I felt HQ was at this point to be the least of his worries (if you can enlighten me a bit about such concern please do so). I explained to Mr. that I was already laying possible plans for my travels the next Spring (a VERY sore point of his. He told several of my friends that he was going to STOP me from taking those annual trips). I remained firmly polite and related to him that he could not threaten me any further for seeing any health care professional, nor could he threaten me for getting my attorney involved. He suddenly seemed most agreeable if only HQ wouldn't be notified of anything. We went over a number of points of my concerns of his mistreatment of me and while he wanted to disagree with the facts he did agree that our relationship would definitely change, and it did. Nothing was demanded of me, only that we not get HQ informed. Things then went along fine for the rest of his time here. He returned some responsibilities to me there seemed to evolve some degree of respect toward me and I never in any way tried to hurt him with any of the people, although he had a very poor reputation of dealing with people.
In time the domestic situation deteriorated to the point I was afraid for my personal safety. I took some legal counsel from another source and was asked to go the domestic violence division of our State's Attorney's Office, which I did. I discussed the then current problems with a female attorney in that office and she said I should file for a restraining order for my protection. I immediately go up to walk out and she called me back and informed me that she could not tell me what to do but that she COULD tell me on the basis of experiences in her office that I was in great danger and should not just walk away. I filed. A judge issued a restraint for my physical protection pending a court hearing.
In the meantime we were assigned a new pastor, and in response to your request, it was Mr. Robert (Bob) . I heard before and after his arrival that he had a bad out of control temper problem (that's a nice one, isn't it?). He began forcing himself into our domestic lives, an area he was in no way qualified for. A family member, knowing that he was giving me a bad time wrote HQ to give them another side of the story, including things they had observed here. They did not see it the same way he did. I don't what HQ responded to him but they did respond to the relative that she did give a different account than what they seemed to understand. It was a positive response that they did not believe I would be having any further difficulty with my pastor. Well, Mr. Bob (since you asked) came out and he was most furious against me because 'someone' had written HQ about his treatment of me. I guess he suspected I was behind it. Anyway, be became most verbally brutal against me. I let my prior training reign for the time being but I knew this wasn't going to stand. I maintained a respectful bearing (in the face of great disrespect) and knew I would take some kind of action but I didn't know what at that moment. I saved a MOST IMPORTANT piece of information for him until the end of his rantings as he expelled his rage against me. And I remained well behaved while he pitched that temper tantrum.
At the end of this I read to him and showed him the court injunction issued for my protection pending the court hearing and here he was in a brutal verbal attack against me in support of the one I was under threat from. He immediately understood that he had just messed up very badly if I wanted to press it. He showed a most profound and sudden change in his (mis)demeanor.
I very much dreaded coming up to the court hearing because I hated the thought of testifying against the spouse I love but I knew I had to do it. It was in the back of my mind that the ministry could not imagine that she could do anything wrong and I wasn't completely sure a judge would be able to see it either. Well, it just so happened that a very capable judge immediately saw an attitude in her that convinced him that she was, indeed a threat to me. I said almost nothing. He read my original statement and her defiance completely convinced him. He issued a three years restraining order against her for any threat or action against me and informed her that if I had to call the authorities for violation of that order that they would be required by law to take her into custody. I pleaded with him to remove the restraint and let her go with learning a lesson from this. He refused. I made the plea twice more and on the third plea he relented with instructions to her.
This left the pastor to be dealt with in some way. I contacted the attorney and he said we could handle it. I wasn't sure I wanted this particular attorney on this and I made contact also with another one, who immediately saw something to work with. I didn't want legal action but I figured it was going to be the only thing I could do. I had told Bob that I probably would write a complaint to HQ and he assured me NOTHING would come of it. He said they would only give any letter I might send back to him and implied they would take no further interest in it. While the original attorney was doing some things before getting back to me I sent my story to Mr. Joe Tkach, Dir. of Church Administration. I included medical statements, a statement from my psychologist and counselor and copies of court papers. I just couldn't see how my pastor could be allowed to come over and verbally beat me down in the face of so much evidence contrary to his position (and even if he had been right he handled it in an extremely immature manner). He had simply pitched a temper tantrum in support of the one the court found to be at fault. Well, Mr. Tkach wrote me a very nice letter. He expressed his thanks to me for informing him what was going on here and assured me it would be dealt with. My pastor didn't talk to me any at all for quite some time. Just before he left the church he warmed up to me a little. When my original attorney got back to me on this I explained what I had done in the meantime and the result. He felt well enough to leave it alone if I really wanted to do that. The second attorney seemed to very strongly feel I should consider legal action against the pastor and the church. I preferred to wait and see.
In the meantime along came Spring of '95 when we finally viewed a tape from Joe Tkach,Sr. explaining major changes in doctrine and practice. Mr. Jim and Mr. Bob went to work for United COG. Also, the lesson to my wife stuck and her behaviour improved greatly (before, her misbehavior had been so strongly supported and defended by our ministry that she was only encouraged to continue it. Without their corrupting influence she became much better. THEY were making her worse by supporting her abusive antics).
Here is where you probably will feel I have jumped the track. I am still in Worldwide Church of God. Can you actually believe that? Well, it is a different church not really a good one, but still very different. I don't feel it can be of great spiritual help to people for the most part. I don't invite people who probably would go with me. I don't owe it anything. I just don't know of anywhere I would really be comfortable, although I'm not fully comfortable here. They owe such a great debt to so many. I do have a few friends I enjoy there but nothing really close. My wife is at the point she wants to drop out and I will completely leave that up to her and be supportive.
Here is something very important that I can say at this point. They have ABSOLUTELY NO POWER OVER ME IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. I feel that I'm now the one in power. I'll come and go as I please. I am still a Christian and I have a desire to fellowship with other Christians, although I'm now aware I don't I have to be within anyone's church to do so. I'm not sure what I'll do about a church relationship in the future. I'm open for change of some sort.
If you have read this far I have taken up too much of your time. Again, if any information in this letter would be appropriate for adding onto the first one, or useful in any way it's fine with me. You do understand, however, that I named the two pastors at your request (and I'm completely happy to do so for you) but I don't want that published. If there should be further questions I will be delighted to respond to you. Please don't allow the use of even my first name if this is published. My first initial would be O.K.
God bless you. I think you are doing a good work. I'm a newcomer to the internet and I find it exciting to be able to find all the information that's now available at our fingertips. The internet will render it impossible for an organization like Worldwide Church of God, or any other to get away with what they did in the past. I never suspected all the rot and filth within this church. Now we all know. Thank you so much.
Hi again F:
Thanks for the reply and the naming of the hirelings that did this abuse. Only their first names will be mentioned if this is published by the editors. Your name will not be mentioned at all.
What puzzles me, is why haven't you left this cult? I thought you had. Since it seems to be the cause of most of your current problems, and since you said that you don't need them anymore, then why stay? The abuse on you personally is only likely to get worse if you stay, so why give them the chance to continue their actions, even if the "new improved" Worldwide Church of God has supposedly changed. Actually, it hasn't. It's the same old crap with slightly different doctrines, but the policy of people control is still very much in effect.
If I were you, I'd talk to my lawyer and seek his advice on the situation and see what he thinks is best for you.
Let me know what happens, and thanks for the information.
Best to you.
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