Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories,
How Bad Was It, Really? Page Seven
I know there are a lot of Worldwide
Church of God horror stories out there. If you would like to share them
anonymously or under your name, please send them to me at: CLICK HERE FOR EMAIL ADDRESS.
I have contributed to your website some
time ago. I contacted you over the summer about my niece.
I've finally managed to put something
together about my niece's and my story for consideration of being
posted on your website. It is attached. May need some editing. Best I
can do with the time I have. There's a lot more to the story, as I've
witnessed two generations over 35 yrs of families being
destroyed by HWA and splinter groups. I have some other stories I'd
like to share with you later. A famous actor has a role in it.
Thanks for your consideration.
Church of God Parents Abandon Minor-Aged Daughter
my 17 year-old niece told her parents she no longer wanted to
participate in the Philadelphia Church of God, her cult-member
parents abandoned her to the streets. “God’s Will,” her mother
some time, my niece has been disillusioned by the Philadelphia Church
of God. Her first awakening occurred when she asked her parents if
she could stay with a non-cult member relative who lives on the East
Coast, (that would be my wife and me), for two weeks, as part of her
summer vacation. A boy her age, (a non cult member), who was
enrolled in an accelerated program at school studying to become a
doctor, was staying with us. My niece particularly wanted to meet
this boy because she is also interested in studying medicine. The
relative, that would be me and my wife, planned on taking the boy and
my niece to see NYC and the NJ shore. My niece’s parents adamantly
refused to let her visit the us. My niece’s “God ordained head of
the household father,” who had been barred from practicing nursing
in several States for violations, (I believe he showed up at the care
facility in which he was employed, intoxicated. First, he was
suspended for 2 years, then he had his license revoked permanently),
especially wouldn’t even hear of the idea. My niece became
distraught. Instead of letting their daughter enjoy her summer
vacation with a like-minded teenager pursuing a career in medicine,
her parents forced her to stay at home in the company of another girl
from the Philadelphia Church of God. My niece says this cult member
spent most of the time on her cell phone, bragging about having a
three-way with two Mexican boys.
important event influencing my niece to leave the Philadelphia Church
of God occurred while she was attending the Philadelphia Church of
God youth camp in Edmonton, OK. Camp organizers forced my niece to
play soccer in the heat, even though she had high fever. When she
returned home, she had puss running out of her ears, and was deathly
sick for two weeks afterwards. PCOG believes in relying on God’s
faith to heal. Philadelphia Church of God “ministers,” camp
organizers, and her parents refused to treat her medically.
final event occurred when her parent’s tried to strong-arm her into
a marriage with a cult-member boy, whose mother had died from lack of
medical attention. The boy had mailed her an engagement ring. This
arose when my niece became particularly vocal about leaving the cult.
My niece reports there was much arguing, screaming and threats of
physical violence in her house.
for an escape from her miserable home-life, she became involved with
a non-cult member boy at her high school, and smoked pot once. Her
parents pulled her out of school, exaggerating her “drug use,”
claiming she was on crack, and needed to go through detoxification at
home. Their real intention was to force their daughter to spend hours
being isolated, “counseled,” or rather harangued by a
Philadelphia Church of God minister. He said she was evil for wanting
to study medicine, and attend medical school, (She wants to become a
gynecologist. The minister said this type of doctor is particularly
sinful because they perform Caesarian Sections. My niece was born via
Cesarean Section. Also, my niece has severe endriometriosis that her
parents left untreated, jeopardizing her ability to become a mother).
During this time period, her parents drove her to a Philadelphia
Church of God congregation in Salem, OR, a three-hour drive from
their home, locked her in their car parked at the end of the cult
parking lot, where she had to wait, a prisoner all day, while they
attended the all-day service. At night, they let her out to be
counseled by a minister. The minister demanded she fast, after she
hadn’t eaten a thing all day locked in a car. He “suspended”
her for six months.
my niece continued to press her parents to be released from the abuse
of the Philadelphia Church of God, her mother said she was “dead to
her,” and turned her photo face down on her bureau top. Her parents
told her to leave the house, as they wanted to concentrate their love
and affection on their other daughters, who wanted to remain in the
cult. My niece said her parents told her she was infecting the
household with her “evil.” While kicking her out of the house,
they refused to drive her anywhere, and threatened anyone who helped
her with legal action for harboring a minor. My niece was forced to
walk a busy highway for over an hour alone, until a classmate saw her
and gave her a ride.
days later, when my niece called her parents after she was out on the
streets for a few days desperate to return home, her parents refused
to answer her calls, or return her voice messages. When they saw her
in public, they turned their backs on her and walked the other way.
At one point, her parents let her return for a few days while they
made sure they wouldn’t get in any legal trouble by abandoning
their minor-aged daughter to the streets. During these three days, my
niece says she had to sleep on the floor, as her parents had turned
her bedroom into a weight lifting room and removed her bed, giving it
to the family dog. She was told to leave the house after the third
day, apparently after the parent’s consultation with their
“lawyer,” who must have told them they wouldn’t get into too
much legal trouble. If their lawyer is the one I know of, this
individual is a cult member, who the Bar Associated suspended at one
point for practicing law in their state without a license.
niece wound up staying with her then boyfriend’s family. When she
tried to return to school to finish her junior year, she said her
mother would call the school, and falsely accused her of possessing
drugs. The security guards would detain her every time she stepped
foot on school property. She said her parents also falsely accused
her of being pregnant, spreading around rumors to intimidate her, so
she would repent and return to the Philadelphia Church of God.
Frustrated, she dropped out of high school, missing completing her
niece called us, begging to stay with us. For three and a half weeks,
she told us of the abuse she received at the hands of the
Philadelphia Church of God and her cult-member parents. When we
called her mother after our niece returned to her state, her mother
wanted us to call the police out there and have her arrested, to
“teach her a lesson.” “God’s will.” Her mother didn’t
want to know where her daughter was staying. She said if we mentioned
a word about the Philadelphia Church of God, she would hang up the
phone immediately. Her daughter is now struggling to finish high
school, bouncing from house to house, her future and her safety in
serious trouble, thanks to the destructive influence of the
Philadelphia Church of God. If you can help in anyway, please contact
me at the email address PCOGAbuse@gmail.com.
This must be what these cult members call unconditional love. What is it really? Child abuse. Throwing a young child to the streets at that age is to set her up for being exploited by undesirables and a lifetime of failure! What the hell is wrong with these people? Do they love that damned church more than their daughter? Does their "God" not demand mercy? Or just what or who is their God? Is it
their church or the God of the bible? Really KT, you need to
call the authorities in on this one. This is just not child abuse alone, this is a criminal matter! Do the right thing and report these parents. The law will sort this out. This kind of abuse must end and you are the one who can end it. As I understand it, Fox News takes an interest in these kind of affairs.
The first memories of
WCG that I have are of ministers constantly coming to our house and
holding prayer sessions for my sister Mary Helen. She was very ill
and I don't remember her ever not being ill. She died at home after
suffering for 2 years. No doctors, no medicine just ice chips and
pain. I was supposed to be napping when I heard Mother scream and
went to Mary Helen's doorway. She was lying on the bed so thin and so
tiny for an 8 year old. I was 3 at the time and I can see it now just
as clearly as if it were 10 minutes ago. The ministers were called
first, then the funeral home. The ministers got there first and the
prayers began, not for the little girl but for Mother. She was
"suffering" so much and needed comfort. (Mind you I
have replayed this in my mind for years now, 46 to be exact) I didn't
understand why Mother needed help but no one helped Mary Helen.
All things after this
event in my life in regard to WCG are painful, not as horrific as
seeing my sister die but painful nonetheless.
The next thing I
remember is coming home from school one day with my side hurting, I
began to vomit and fever. Mother put me to bed and called a nurse
from the "church", she came to the house and I remember
hearing her say I had appendicitis. Then Mother began calling the
minister to ask what to do for me. The nurse gave me tomato juice and
brought a bucket to the bedside for me. I don't know how long I was
sick but I missed quite a bit of school. When I did finally get
better, my side still hurt and I could not stand up straight. When I
again was able to walk, Mother took us to the grocery store with her
and because I would not walk without holding my side she whipped me
in the parking lot at the store. When we got home, she picked a
switch from the tree and whipped me again because I had cried and
embarrassed her at the store. When I continued to complain about my
side hurting she took me to a deacon's house (Reitmeier) and asked
him to beat the devil out of me as it surely must be Satan causing me
to act that way. He was more than willing to comply with her request,
not only this time but each and every later time as well. (When I
turned 21 and married I was not able to have children due to scar
tissue in my abdominal cavity. I went to a fertility doctor and when
the surgery was scheduled for a paratubal reconstruction they found
my appendix was a shriveled mass of scar tissue. The doctor told me I
had been very lucky that my appendix had not ruptured and that it had
leaked slowly out and had caused the scarring. I told him of my
illness when I was a child, and what had happened, he was speechless)
After that visits to
Reitmeier's house were frequent. Whenever we disobeyed or got less
than an A in school, or just because she got the notion we were
possessed by Satan was good reason to take us to his house. Reitmeier
and his wife had no children of their own to beat so we 3 girls were
shared with them. I remember my oldest sister Ellie coming home from
a trip to Reitmeier's and she could not sit. I walked into her room
and found her looking at her behind in the mirror. There was a
bloody, raw spot the size of her entire butt cheek, Reitmeier had
literally beaten her bloody. She had gotten a C in math.
Lucille only went a
couple of times before she got slick enough to avoid the trips,
blaming me or Ellie for anything that Mother found not to her
satisfaction. Can't blame her, it was survival of the fittest. I
think the last time I remember getting a beating was when Mother
found that someone had eaten some of the chocolate chips out of the
bag in the freezer. She beat all of us, they were not ours, they were
hers and she was making cookies for church, now what would she do?
After that, I don't know where I went. I don't remember anything
until about age 14 when I was thrown out by Mother and the state took
I know why the skirts
were to be worn so long, as least in my family. Easier to hide the
bruises, belt marks and switch stripes. If a mark is not seen it
is not questioned. I hated the feast, I hated starving when we
were demanded to fast (Mother was extreme, not even water was
allowed) The heat in the meeting place at Big Sandy was stifling and
the long hours of sheer boredom for a 5 year old. How could they not
know? How could they not care? What was the purpose? If we kill off
the children they will have more money to give WCG and HW and GT
Armstrong? We were already the shunned of the congregation, no
father, Mother was on welfare, Grandma too old to work anymore as a
teacher. What more could they get from us?
I have spent 43
years wondering what I did that was so wrong my mother hated me
enough to let others abuse me. I will soon be 50 and cannot, no
strike that, will not forgive WCG. I have worked so hard to let the
hate and fear out of my mind. I wait for the axe to fall in every
relationship, I dare not let someone know I am alive inside for fear
they will get to me. This is what WCG left in it's wake. Fear,
sadness, hate, anger, mistrust. A lifetime of it. The greatest harm
was done to the children, the innocent that had no choice. Yes the
original fear sowers are gone or going, the children of the
followers continue to relive the nightmares. No matter how hard we
try, no matter how much professional help we seek. We were abused
from birth and we cannot forget. It never goes away.
In loving memory
of Mary Elouise (1956-2009), Mary Helen (1957-1965) and Mary
Lucille (1958-2007). I speak for my sisters all three gone too young,
still waiting for the ax to fall...
Thank you for sharing your story with the readership of the Painful
what you went through was terrible! Where was your father during all
this? Did he divorce your mom? These parents like your mom are
mentally ill. I am of the opinion that the mentally ill seek out
religion to give themselves purpose, direction and to hide their evil
behind the cloak of righteousness.
people are not only part of the general membership but serve as
elders, ministers, and song leaders. Mental illness know no bounds
and has not borders.
you reach this level of dysfunction in a group, such as the WCG did,
you have got to wonder why only a few of these people found
themselves in criminal court. A sizable chunk of the membership
should have been behind bars. The question is, what did the
Armstrong's ever do about the mental illness problem in the church?
Nothing. The problem was compounded by the WCG “healing doctrine”
that forbade the use of doctors.
HWA had been warning his followers against relying on physicians in times of illness and how going to doctors was analogous to "going to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron."
From the Oct.-Nov. issue
of the Good News in which HWA wrote in an article entitled: "Are We Back on the Track When We Lack Faith?"
For anyone outside of Armstrong's influence, this would have all seemed so insane. Reading further from the Ambassador Reports (AR 18) we read "Besides consulting with Dr.
Cooper, other medical experts HWA has been seeing recently include a leading
Pasadena podiatrist. When it comes to his personal medical problems, HWA
gets the very best advice possible. It's good to see that at least one
individual in the WCG has the good sense not to take too seriously HWA's
proscription against seeking medical advice. But it is sad to see him reject
the sound advice of those professionals, especially when their advice is in
line with Biblical injunctions for moderation"
Quite the hypocrite the old goat was. Even though Armstrong should had been held responsible for his actions involving all the needless deaths and destroyed lives, the reality of getting sick himself was very difficult to
swallow. Just the fact that he used doctors to save his own skin, while at the same time telling the membership that going to a doctor is going to "Baal-zebub," or when he pens "Medicines can't heal," proves that he never believed one word he wrote. The one who lacked genuine faith in that miserable cult was that old
I also would like nothing more than to forget the entire constellation of Armstrong's religion that brought all of us to our
present point in life. If natural selection indeed worked by
removing the weakest and most genetically unfit members of a species,
then Armstrong and those members who abused their children should have been the first to go. Never forget. Never forgive. I concur.
delusion held by one person is a mental illness, held by a few is a
cult, held by many is a religion.”
June 20, 2009
I started attending WWCG services in 1971 with my father. I was 13 years old. My dad tried to get my mom to attend services but she liked to eat ham and celebrate Christmas so it didn't go over very well. Neither did telling her "I am the head of this house and you will obey me." I didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of the end for my family. My sisters and brothers spent Saturdays with Mom, while Dad and I spent
the day at services (and a one hour drive each way to get there). I had become best friends with a girl my own age at services, and I think that was a big part of why I wanted to go to services every week, plus having my dad's attention all to myself.
This friend got accepted to church camp in Orr, Minnesota the summer of 1973, so I decided I wanted to go too, so I could go there with her. Only problem was she was a "worker" in a worker cabin, with privileges I would not have as I was just a typical camper. She was allowed a radio, and could come and go from her cabin as she pleased. Since my mother did not attend services, I was placed in the same cabin as the other
girls who had only one parent who attended WWCG, and also all the black girls. I previously had attended a local 4-H camp several times and loved it, so I expected to have fun. I found out very quickly this camp was more like being in the army. The whole emphasis seemed to be on appearances, not fun.
The girls in my dorm were not allowed to leave the cabin unless we all went together as a group. Our beds were to be made perfectly with perfect corners, and were inspected daily. We stored our personal care items, socks, ect. in cubby hole shelves on a wall. Each item had to be kept neatly and perfectly organized in a row. Breaking rules or being disrespectful in any way to our Ambassador College camp counselors meant swats with
a large wooden paddle. There was a black girl named Sharon in my cabin, who got swatted continuously throughout every single day of the month we were there. It was so upsetting to constantly hear the "whack, whack, whack." I don't know how she made it through the month, and I remember feeling so badly for her. My heart really goes out to kids who grew up in WWCG, who suffered such abuse either from their parents and/or those with church authority.
Meanwhile at camp, my girlfriend was having a blast and getting away with all kinds of mischief, because she wasn't so closely watched over-- her parents both attended WWCG, and she wasn't black. It was so ironic, because this friend was pretty wild, did drugs, and slept around, and I didn't. I remember having to line up and get our skirts measured at camp-- they had to be so many inches to your knee, or you had to rip out the hem
and wear your skirt like that the whole time. One of our activities was to row in a canoe over the lake and go into the town of Orr. I bought a souvenir to take home to my beloved grandfather, but it was very delicate-- so getting it back to the cabin via rowboat was a project! It was small, but there was no room in my cubby hole for it, so I put it somewhere else that was safer. It was a squirrel made from two walnuts with a thermometer. But I had disobeyed my counselor, because the rule was stuff goes in your
cubby hole, no exceptions. So for the first and only time in my entire life, I got swatted. I came home from camp with very confused feelings about the church.
By the fall of 1973 my mom had had enough of WWCG as well as my father, so she decided to take my siblings and the family dog and leave. She never even asked me if I wanted to go with her, probably because we clashed over WWCG beliefs and she didn't want to have to deal with that. I was 15 years old, and didn't talk to my mom for over a year. I felt so abandoned by both parents-- by my dad, too, because he was so overcome with his
own loss and grief from losing most of his family, that he was not emotionally there for me. Our house got sold when their divorce was final, and I had to move and attend a new school in my senior year. I'd lost just about everything that meant something to me by then-- my family, my home, my school. Even to this day when my sisters and brothers talk about their fond growing up memories, I feel so left out because I was robbed of growing up with them.
When I was 17 a guy from church who was a few years older than me, asked me on a date. After the date when he was driving me home, he pulled the car over and told me to get in the back seat of the car. He actually had a gun and for the first time since I'd known him, a temper to go with it, and I was terrified. He raped me, and I was in such shock that I could hardly comprehend what happened. This was someone from church and I was
naive enough to think something like that only happened "out there" in the world. I was so ashamed and embarassed, I told no one what happened. And all of a sudden he stopped attending church. I did have to go to a clinic, though, because he gave me VD.
By now I didn't really care much about my life anymore. Going through such a horrific experience made me feel dirty and unworthy of a good man. I felt like it was somehow my fault for what happened to me because I was dumb enough to go out with a guy that could do something like that to someone. I eventually stopped attending church and started to go to bars to drink away my pain. But after several years, in 1980, I started attending
WWCG services again. I decided to get baptized, and I remember wondering why my pants that I wore to be baptized in were so tight. I found out I was pregnant from a guy I had dated when I was "out in the world."Now I had to face the congregation who were congratulating me on my baptism, with being pregnant. I decided to tell a few people who I thought were my friends, before everyone else figured it out for themselves when I started to show.
I made the mistake of telling an older deacon, whose response was, "haven't you ever heard of condoms?" I may as well have worn the scarlett letter"F" on my chest. Certain people even avoided me and turned and went the other way when I came down the hall at church with my big belly. I had my daughter in spite of them, but now there were very few men interested in dating me because I came with "baggage."
I remember how hard it was to get myself, my baby, the stroller, the diaper bag, and my Bible and notebook from the car into services. And I don't remember a lot of offers of help! I even had a man at services tell me outright that he wouldn't date a women who had a child.
I raised my daughter on my own until she was four, and eventually I got a marriage proposal from a guy at church who didn't really sweep me off my feet, but I figured it was probably the best I was going to do (we were only allowed to date within the church and it was slim pickin's). This man turned out to be ultra-controlling with an out-of-control abusive temper. I remember coming home from services one Saturday, and who knows what
set him off, but I had to grab my daughter and 6 month old baby and flee my home. He had thrown a baby gate into the wall and just missed hitting the baby, and also kicked a door in. I drove back to church and the minister was still there, so I asked to talk with him in private. I was told to wait until hubby cooled down and then go home. I lived in six years of misery with this man before I got the courage to leave. Now I was a single mother again with TWO kids to raise on my own.
Shortly after leaving my husband, my 11 year old daughter confessed to me that her step-dad had been sexually abusing her. She had been too afraid to tell me when it was happening because her step-dad had threatened to kill her dog if she told. Both my daughters and I have had to have years of counseling to try and recover and heal from the years of abuse we suffered from him. I can't help but wonder what my life would have been like
if I had not attended services with my dad, but had stuck with my mom instead. Thanks for listening-- getting this all out has been very theraputic for me. You can put this on your website if you want, but please don't use my real name.
Anon. (Deleted by request)
Thank you for writing the Painful Truth with what I regret is another horror story on the legacy of Armstrong-ism.
The way that men treated women within the confines of that church was criminal in my opinion.
As you know, there was a criminal element in Armstrong's church and they flourished due to the lack of true, loving and sane leadership.
The boy who held you at bay and raped you was one of those criminals. Now if you had went to the church authorities, what do you think would the outcome had been? The Painful Truth and other websites dealing with Armstrong-ism have countless pages of testimony
as to these injustices.
For the men and women who did not have a spouse, the pickings were slim indeed. You had to settle for someone who was in the church, and may I add, looked to be one of those who was on the lower end of the gene pool. As for the step-dad, you might want to check with the State that this crime took place in and see if it can still be prosecuted. In many cases the crime can be prosecuted a decade after
the fact. It is better to get a pound of flesh than live with the regret of knowing the son-of-a-bitch got away with this crime against your child, and most likely is still doing other innocent children.
Why did we stay in the Armstrong cult when we repeatedly
observed or experienced such dysfunctionalities?
When I was a member of the Herbert's cult, I started to notice how many of the members appear to be less than sane. In time I came to the conclusion that many of “my brethren" appeared to be rather mentally unstable. Any organization or church can have a few neurotics, that
is to be expected, but cults in general collect more than their fair share of
nut cases out of the total population of the country. We
are not talking about main stream Christianity here, but cults. In the Armstrong cult, we refused to see a lot of contradictions and discrepancies about the behavior and decisions of others. Whether it was another member or the pastor, we had to rationalize and explain away a lot, thereby deceiving ourselves about what was really going on.
However not all cult members are the same. Some may have been a little deluded when they watched Herbert on the idiot box, or a little bewildered about what Mr. Confusion, Herbert W. Armstrong, was teaching. In any case, some did wise up eventually to the
fact that they were conned. Some such as yourself had to learn the hard way about the mentally
unstable in the cult before you left the group. For more information
on past criminal activity in the various Armstrong break-offs, go HERE or HERE.