Meredith Bounces Back
By The Skeptic
Longtime Worldwide Church of God executive and, more recently, religious entrepreneur, Roderick C. Meredith, is a man who is often underestimated by his enemies. For example, when Meredith stormed out of the Worldwide Church of God, little did Joseph Tkach know that it would cost him thousands of valuable conservative tithe payers. This man just seems to have a magnetic and almost charismatic appeal for conservative Armstrongites who are seemingly unfazed by his past hypocrisy, lack of scholarly depth, and apparent personal wealth.
Meredith's ego second only to Herbert Armstrong's was evident when he felt he should continue Herbert W. Armstrong's massive media presence to reach the world with Herbert W. Armstrong's unique eclectic gospel. However, as you might expect, fiscal realities soon overtook Meredith's towering ego. Lacking Herbert W. Armstrong's hypnotic ability to extract money from his followers, Meredith soon found himself funding his media outreach from debt. This situation, coupled with Meredith's increasing discomfort over a form of church government that blocked him from the absolute power he craved, soon led to a blow up within Global's power circle.
It was once again time for Meredith to hit the road at least in the minds of the other board members, although one can't help but think that in the back of Meredith's mind, he was engineering the whole thing. The reason one is tempted to conclude this is the debt that hung over the Global church (said to be over one million dollars). If Meredith could somehow break away and start over again or better still, get fired he could effectively escape that stifling debt (kind of like a corporate bankruptcy reorganization). But would his Pied Piper charm work a second time ? Would his years of tutelage under the master, Herbert W. Armstrong, pay off again ? The answer was a resounding yes because, amazingly, he was able to draw off 80% of the Global membership !
So now Meredith has the best of both worlds: the vast majority of the members and, for the time being, no debt ! He still occupies the same office suite in San Diego with the original Global church on the floor below him (they used to have both floors). However with the fiscal crisis now squeezing the original Global, they will be moving out of the lower floor and departing for that new Mecca of Bible Belt fundamentalism, Texas. That is, if they last that long as fewer and fewer Globalites take on the Herculean task of paying down that huge debt. This is made all the more distasteful in the eyes of some members by the fact that the present leadership won't reveal their salaries and perks (not that this has bothered Armstrongites in the past). One interesting piece of information that came out of the Meredith/Global flare up was the level of salary Meredith was paying himself at Global: a generous $120,000 per year, according to a reliable insider (only $10,000 less than his Worldwide Church of God "evangelist"-level salary). No doubt this figure popped out from secrecy during the bitter factious squabbling that preceded Meredith's ejection. Regarding Meredith's wealth, for those of you who are already doing some quick "back of an envelope math", yes, Meredith, like Tkach, after receiving these salary levels for literally decades, would easily be a multi millionaire given moderate investment management.
So, like I said at the beginning, in the cut-throat world of the Californian religion business, opponents who underestimate Meredith, often do so to their own peril. Now he happily sits atop the successfully reorganized Living Church of God with no debt and a championship team of blue ribbon tithe payers to keep him in clover living his grand Southern Californian lifestyle while his opponents are forced to pay off the debt and shove off to Texas where the competition amongst fundamentalists is even more fierce !
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