The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

Insights Into How Herbert W. Armstrong Did It

(Parted us from our money and our minds, that is)
By Whistler

 

Those of us who are a little long in the tooth have experienced the fund-raising techniques and mind-control psychology employed by Herbert W. Armstrong that the chapter 3 excerpts below bring out. Those who have never been subject to these diabolical mind manipulations can't relate to what is being discussed here, but are only able to parrot their standard retort of "Get over it! The man is dead and buried!" Would to God that the man's strangle-hold on the minds of countless thousands of those who still believe the "truths" he taught was also dead and buried!

I believe that the only way to really counter Armstrongism is to thoroughly understand all of the techniques and tricks of the trade that Herbert W. Armstrong employed, along with his errors in doctrine. Hopefully with this knowledge will come a gradual understanding of how so many could be so totally deceived in a day and age when people pride themselves in being "enlightened." And also with that knowledge will come freedom, or as the Bible tells us, "and the truth shall make you free."

There are still far too many sincere people out there who haven't a clue as to what has been actually going on between their ears once Herbert W. Armstrong gained their confidence and gradually and subtly took over doing their thinking and reasoning for them. To these people this series is dedicated. I will continue in my unending quest to release as many as possible from the personal hellish twilight zone many have unknowingly taken residence in, also known as "Armstrongism."

Excerpts from "Armstrongism Religion Or Ripoff" - by Marion McNair, Chapter 3, written in 1977.

Marion McNair was a member of the Worldwide Church of God who attained to the highest rank of Evangelist back in the 1950's and brother of Carl and Raymond McNair. This 339 page book is excellent, and is available in an authorized reprinted format for $20 plus $2.50 S&H from:

Emissary Publications
9205 Clackmus Rd, #1776
Clackmus, OR 97015
Ph (503) 824-2050
 

PART 1

(All that appears below, including comments, to "End of Part 1" is taken verbatim from Mr. McNair's book, with the exception of minor spelling corrections, etc.)

THE ARMSTRONG SUPPOSITIONS

The following is a catalog of a few suppositions held by the Armstrongs and their adherents - all are effective tools in getting people to contribute.

1) Loma Armstrong through an angel prophesied Herbert Armstrong's present work.

2) Herbert Armstrong superstitiously credits God with his business failures - turns it into a sign that God wants him to fulfill his wife's dream-vision.

3) Armstrong claims to have spent three and one-half years in study for his ministry - just as the Apostles were supposedly with Christ for three and one-half years - and that is supposed to have some supernatural significance.

4) Armstrong claims he did not get his doctrinal teachings from other men - that they were REVEALED BY CHRIST with whom he was in communion (like the Apostle Paul) during that three and one-half year period.

5) Armstrong claims that no one has preached (original Greek - published) the Gospel from the time of the early Church until he began his ministry in 1927 - which he is quick to point out is ONE HUNDRED "19-year time cycles" after the (supposed) beginning of Christ's ministry. And all that is supposed to have some supernatural significance.

6) Armstrong assumes the title of APOSTLE (he declares only one APOSTLE is necessary today)and teaches that his commission is to "publish" the Gospel to the world as a "warning" witness - not specifically to make converts and save souls.

7) And of more recent date, the Armstrongs have declared that Garner Ted's ministry was foretold by the Old Testament prophets.

What do all these suppositions have to do with acquiring FIFTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS annually? They are Armstrong suppositions but they become SUPERstitions to his adherents. And when they become SUPERstitions in one's mind he will contribute heavily to his last breath. Thousands and thousands have compromisingly accepted them and many thousands more have gullibly believed those suppositions.

They are suppositions pure and simple! None of the above points have anything to do with the "way of life" - how you treat your neighbor and live before God. They are EXTRA BIBLICAL. They cannot be directly proved by the Bible because it just doesn't deal in suppositions.

Reinforcing Armstrong's suppositions is a highly exercised code of psychological propaganda to which the average, unwary reader is completely oblivious. This adds even greater weight to his leverage for soliciting donations.

SELECTED RULES OF PROPAGANDA:

1) Always appear PATRIOTIC! Your position is almost invulnerable when you stand up for "Mother, God, and Country."

2) Get on the BAND WAGON! Really whoop it up. Put on the sales pitch. Bring in a few glowing testimonials, and hand out a few rewards - trophies, titles, etc.

3) Use glittering GENERALITIES! Always deal in vague terms. Let others think they know your stand - but keep your real position, facts, figures obscured.

4) Elevate those who compliment you - who back you without reservation. Always speak well of them - put them in a good light. Promote them in every way possible. Reward them well with money, gifts, and honor when it is within your power to do so.

5) Always have a COMMON ENEMY readily at hand. When difficulty develops within your camp - always lay it to the charge of that OUTSIDE ENEMY. When one within your ranks is in disfavor always equate him with the OUTSIDE ENEMY. Then attack that ENEMY rather than the man. This isolates the culprit from his friends and puts them (his friends) in your camp.

6) Deprecate those who question your decisions, actions, or motives. Avoid them like the plague. Any reference to them must be one of pity, scorn, or reproof.

7) Use the HALF TRUTH. Don't give all the facts. Use only the ones favorable to your goals and array them so as to present your efforts in a good light even when the whole picture is very bleak.

8) Tell the BIG LIE (Gospel not preached for 1900 years). The BIG LIE technique - make it big enough and tell it long enough and even the most skeptical will believe it.

Armstrong's arsenal of suppositions born on a tidal wave of propaganda, floods the minds of his co-workers, on an average of once a month, on some occasions, more.

End of Part 1

Next time:

We will examine the typical Armstrong co-worker letter and the psychology it employed.

 

 

Insights Into Herbert W. Armstrong's Techniques / Part 2 Examining Armstrong's Co-worker Letters

We have been examining HWA's techniques for gaining control of our minds and our money. Although he is dead and buried, perhaps the most dangerous part of the man remains alive and kicking, in certain of the various X-WCG churches - in the form of his unscriptural ideas and his methods of deceiving his fellow man through spiritual intimidation and abuse. In Part 2 we will delve a little deeper into his modus operandi.

(The following was excerpted from Marion McNair's "Armstrongism Religion or Ripoff?", chapter 3, written in 1977. Mr McNair was a Worldwide Church of God evangelist in the 1950's.)

Part 2

(All that appears below, including comments, to "End of Part 2" is taken verbatim from Mr. McNair's book, with the exception of minor spelling corrections, etc.)

LETTER OPENERS

Armstrong's co-worker letters, like a sandwich, consists of THREE basic parts.

1) The top crust

2) The filling

3) The bottom crust

The top part, the opening of Armstrong's letters, usually contains a short paragraph at or near the beginning, which announces some supposedly startling news - either some world event or an important happening in the development of his work.

Take a look at some examples:

From Armstrong's co-worker letter dated April 12, 1943:

"WHO (a 50 KW radio station in Des Moines) HELD! SUPER POWER WOAI, San Antonio, ADDED!"

Author's comment: Large 50 KW station contracts were difficult for Armstrong to acquire. The above announcement, which may not now appear to have much significance, was a real victory for Armstrong in those days. WHO, Des Moines, was trying to cancel his program and he was able to save it by making a special trip there. This was hailed as a direct intervention from God. The same is true for the 50 KW station in San Antonio mentioned above.

From Armstrong's co-worker letter of early April, 1946:

"I have just arrived in Hollywood from New York where I spent a week attending and observing the vital SECURITY COUNCIL meeting of the new UNITED NATIONS world organization. . . "

Author's comment: This was thrown out as an opener for two reasons. First, Armstrong associates with the GREAT as much as possible. He wants his reader to think he is betting on a winner when he supports him. It is the old PRESIGE ROUTINE. Associate with the GREAT and others will think of YOU as GREAT.

Throughout the letter Armstrong shows pity and contempt for those "poor deceived men in the UNITED NATIONS" who don't know how to bring peace. The whole tenor is to subtly sever the reader's loyalties from constituted authority, bending them in the direction of him and his efforts.

From Armstrong's co-worker letter dated September 8, 1950:

"Here's the BEST NEWS IN YEARS! . . . After all the discouraging conditions and troubles encountered this year, 1950 is turning out to be the most productive, the most successful, since God started us in His work!"

Author's comment:

What was the big news? Armstrong was finally able to get together enough funds to put a baptizing team in the field. The term "most successful" on this occasion has reference, not to the amount of money brought in (that was a real problem at that time), but to the fact that a number of people were being baptized. There is certainly no reflection upon people being baptized, however, it was unusual for Armstrong to reckon the progress of his work in terms of "souls being saved."

"Saving souls," according to his own testimony is not his mission - and his usual criteria of measurement was a 30 percent increase in money. At the time this letter was written, income had been very low. And at the expense of shifting emphasis, he held this out as his brightest star of hope.

From Armstrong's co-worker letter of January 18, 1965:

"I want to report BIG NEWS!!! It is the BIGGEST news that ever happened in the history of this work! Later on, after the World Tomorrow has dawned (meaning after Christ's return) the world may look back on this event as a big milestone in world history!"

Author's comment: What had happened here? Armstrong had contracted to put his broadcast on one of the pirate ship stations off the coast of Britain and this was the date for airing the initial program. A relatively short time later Britain outlawed the pirate stations and forced Armstrong off the air. Little if any significance is now attached to this event. But it did make flourishing copy at the time it was written.

From Armstrong's May, 1970 co-worker letter:

". . . This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT announcement I have ever made to our Co-Workers . . . We are in the process of intensive preparation for the most POWERFUL world program ever launched to WAKE UP this drowsy, sleeping world BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!"

Author's comment: The essence of this announcement? Armstrong planned for his son to carry evangelical meetings to all American cities. The effort was known as "AMERICA LISTEN - before it's too late." Only a few such campaigns materialized and the project was abandoned for a better format a couple years later. Little notice was taken by any other than WORLD TOMORROW broadcast listeners who were specially invited by letter from Armstrong's mailing list. The drowsy, sleeping world just didn't hear the message.

These example cases of Armstrong's sensationalized letter openings were picked at random. There are literally dozens and dozens of similar examples among his letters where opening statements grossly over-play the situation.

The object of his startle-approach in the co-worker letters gives the illusion of super progress toward fulfilling his interpretation of Mrs. Armstrong's 1917 dream-vision. Armstrong's concept of the fulfillment of that vision is essentially that of warning and WITNESSING to the world to get it ready for Christ.

In his words, ". . . we came to realize that this (Mrs. Armstrong's dream-vision) really was a message from God . . . My wife saw an angel . . . revealing that God was calling me and her to the mission of WARNING this world of the fast-approaching END OF THE AGE, and the second coming of Christ . . . Jesus Christ has called us to a 'DIVINE MISSION' " (See co-worker letters 19 and 28, 1956).

Armstrong's mission had grown in his thinking from that of "WARNING THIS NATION" (see co-worker letters of the early 1940's) to WARNING this world" in 1956.

Armstrong wrote on November 15, 1955:

"That great prophecy (Matt. 24:14 and Mark 13:10) is being carried out by . .. YOU AND ME TODAY!.."

This was further amplified in Armstrong's co-worker letter of Nov 25, 1957:

"Listen! Read this TWICE! Realize this!. . . No other work on earth. . .is. . .preaching this true Gospel of Christ to the whole world!!!. . . This is the most important activity on earth today!"

Armstrong is propelled by a burning zeal to fulfill that vision. He uses those who will be used to advance his work. Those who he considers impediments are ruthlessly and summarily crushed (see Chapter Seven). Thus Armstrong casts a Christian-looking cloak over the Machiavellian doctrine, "The end justifies the means." This is done by figuratively, relentlessly "martyring" his "LOYAL OPPOSITION" to the tune of his pseudo-innocent refrain, "IT'S ALL FOR THE GOOD OF THE WORK."

In deference to this VISION Armstrong manages to paint a progressive picture even under the bleakest circumstances. When an obvious reverse occurs, it is negated by his "cocked gun" parable, "It's just the cocking of the trigger for another mighty plunge forward" (Armstrong's phraseology).

He avoids revealing decrease in growth rate when possible. Such "growth decrease," by his own admission (in earlier years), was evidence God may not be blessing the one who suffers the reverse. After all, one of the purposes of his co-worker letters is to relate progress - not stagnation. He is quite aware that people won't bet on a dead horse. He desperately tries to project the image of being in control of a winner - way out in front!

He vigorously protests, "The work can never STAND STILL. If it doesn't go forward, it will stagnate, GO BACKWARD and DOWN AND OUT." He has exerted every psychological pressure possible to make it grow at the rate of 30 per cent a year. But as of publication date the growth rate of his work is constantly going down.

For many, many years he purposely over-extended the budget for broadcast, publishing and general expenditures by 30 per cent. He would then plead, beg, cajole and occasionally threaten his adherents with the lake of fire it they didn't come to his aid and "SAVE THE WORK!"

By the mid 60's Armstrong's habit of over-extension by 30 per cent had so infected the lower and middle management segment of his organization that it was common practice to include in a department's annual budget a 30 per cent over-extension - predicated solely on anticipated income growth.

This has been a look at the top crust of the parabolic sandwich with which we compared Armstrong's co-worker letters.

End of Part 2

NEXT TIME: In Part 3, we will take a look at the bottom crust, as it were, to see what the co-worker letter CLOSING generally looks like.


 

Insights into Herbert W. Armstrong's Techniques / Co-worker Letters / Part 3

Excerpts are from "Armstrongism Religion Or Ripoff ?" - by Marion McNair, Chapter 3, written in 1977

(Marion McNair was a member of the Worldwide Church of God who attained to the highest rank of Evangelist back in the 1950's). This 339 page book is excellent, and is available in an authorized reprinted format for $20 plus $2.50 S&H from:

Emissary Publications 9205 Clackmus Rd, #1776 Clackmus, OR 97015

Ph (503) 824-2050

We have been examining Herbert W. Armstrong's techniques for gaining control of our minds and our money. Although he is dead and buried, perhaps the most dangerous part of the man remains alive and kicking - his unscriptural ideas and his methods of deceiving his fellow man through spiritual intimidation and abuse. In Part 3, we will further examine the psychology behind his co-worker letters, looking at the "closer" portion of his letters.

PART 3

(All that appears below, including comments, to "End of Part 3" is taken verbatim from Mr. McNair's book, with the exception of minor spelling corrections, etc.)

THE CLOSER

This area of Armstrong's co-worker letter is usually an urgent plea for funds. The first one, randomly selected, is dated:

Magenta - 1) January 24, 1952 - "Yes, the work is growing - things are literally HUMMING with activity here - thousands and thousands of new names are going on the mailing list . . . but our Co-Workers, very many of them, are slacking off again in their efforts. In ten more days this could become a fatal crisis! Co-Workers, EVERY ONE, leap to my aid! Send in the very largest sum you possibly can, at any sacrifice, BY RETURN AIR-MAIL in the enclosed envelope, whether it be a check or draft or several thousand dollars or one or two dollar bills - the widow's mites. There is no time for more words. I must make this brief so it can be printed and mailed AT ONCE. It's VITAL to the life of the work that you keep tithes and offerings coming in REGULARLY - as often as possible! . . .PLEASE HURRY!"

Magenta - 2) July 24, 1953 - ". . . the July PLAIN TRUTH has had to lay, all printed, for one solid month in the printing plant because of lack of sufficient funds to pay for it. Think of it! One month late! And we had it printed ON TIME! . . .The summer months are the most difficult of the year . . .Co-Worker! I call on you now in Jesus' Name to rally to God's great cause! We have to re-double our efforts! . . .A miracle is now needed to keep the work going . . ."

Magenta - 3) July 31, 1954 - ". . . Co-Workers, I can't carry my load much further, unless you'll get into DEADLY SERIOUS EARNEST about this! If you don't have a thousand dollars to send, YOU COULD PRAY HARD ENOUGH, AND BELIEVING ENOUGH, that God would lay it so HEAVILY on the heart of one who CAN, to do so! . . .But I doubt whether God will hear you UNLESS you are willing to do your UTMOST {i.e. give your utmost} . . . It's all deductible on income tax, up to 20% . . . And, not only do we need an IMMEDIATE response to this letter - WE NEED TO HAVE IT KEEP UP . . . There's no need for this undertaking to fail - IF YOU'LL STIR YOURSELVES AND GET UNDER THIS BURDEN WITH ME! But we shall have to keep it up UNTIL TV produces its harvest!"

Magenta - 4) February 3, 1955 - "Listen, Co-Workers! Do I have to send you desperate, urgent appeals to be faithful in sending God's tithes, and your generous offerings? It is still a life and death struggle . . . It always will be! {This indicates Armstrong actually planned to budget beyond the level of current donations and constantly keep pressure on the members and co-workers.} . . . Send the largest amount for the work God has made possible for you to send - AND KEEP IT UP, as OFTEN AS POSSIBLE! It's later than we think! Time is growing short. . . "

Magenta - 5) March 23, 1955 - ". . . This work . . .is not only a matchless PRIVILEGE - it is also the very testing ground of FAITH, to try us, and make us WHITE in the righteousness of God! . . . Either we endure in the joy of our glorious Mission {supporting Armstrong's work with money} - or we lose salvation! . . . I tell you dear Co-Workers, your own salvation for eternity is at stake . . . "

Magenta - 6) October 19, 1956 - ". . . if ever we needed a number of LARGE donations of $1,000 to $10,000 or more, it is right now. I would suggest that any of you in position to make such a gift or loan contact me immediately by long distance telephone . . .There's not an hour to lose! Please hurry!"

Magenta - 7) November 25, 1958 - ". . . I must stop right here and RUSH this emergency S.O.S. to you! God's Work needs your WIDOWS' MITES - it needs the generous offerings of one or several thousand dollars from the VERY FEW of you who are able to give so much for CHRIST and His Work. It needs whatever amount is GENEROUS giving, according to YOUR circumstances and ability, whether as much as $50,000 or only one or two dollars."

Perhaps it has happened before - but surely it is rare for a religious leader in a mass circulated letter, to request specific donations of even a few thousand dollars, not to mention TEN THOUSAND or FIFTY THOUSAND. Such a request has just been witnessed - spiced with a threat of "loss of salvation" if enough doesn't come in to keep Armstrong's work going.

But how does he get people to respond to requests mingled with threats? The real psychological pull which impels Armstrong's adherents to dig down deep is found between the letter's opening and closing. And like the great American hamburger, it is almost addictive.

End of Part 3

Just what kind of filling does Armstrong put between the upper and lower crust of this (co-worker letter) sandwich? We will find out in Part 4.


 

Insights into Herbert W. Armstrong's Techniques / Co-worker and Member Letters / Part 4

Excerpts are from "Armstrongism Religion Or Ripoff ?" - by Marion McNair, Chapter 3, written in 1977

(Marion McNair was a member of the Worldwide Church of God who attained to the highest rank of Evangelist back in the 1950's).

We have been examining Herbert W. Armstrong's techniques for gaining control of our minds and our money. Although he is dead and buried, perhaps the most dangerous part of the man remains alive and kicking - his unscriptural ideas and his methods of deceiving his fellow man through spiritual intimidation and abuse. In Part 4, we will further examine the psychology behind his co-worker letters, looking at the "filling" portion of his letters.

Part 4

(All that appears below, including comments, to "End of Part 4" is taken verbatim from Mr. McNair's book, with the exception of minor spelling corrections, etc.)

THE FILLING

The body of Armstrong's co-worker letter is a flavorful, homogeneous concoction for addicting and mesmerizing the unwary soul. Ever so subtly one is led to believe or accept more of Armstrong's suppositions:

1) The Devil has everyone in the world deceived except Armstrong and his adherents.

2) The Gospel hasn't been preached (Greek - published) in over 1800 years - until Armstrong started his ministry in 1927.

3) Preaching the Gospel to the WORLD as a witness (Matt 24:14) will be done by some INDIVIDUAL human preacher - and Armstrong claims to be fulfilling it.

4) Mrs. Herbert Armstrong had a REVELATION from God by an ANGEL which told her, she and Herbert Armstrong were to fulfill Matthew 24:14.

5) The prophecy of Matt 24:14 is essentially the same as the prophesied Elijah of Malachi 4:5 and Armstrong is consequently identified as doing or fulfilling the Elijah prophecy.

6) Armstrong's WORK is the only work of God in the world today.

7) Armstrong has been specially selected, trained and appointed by God to be a Watchman to fulfill the office of a modern Ezekiel (co-worker letter of March 28, 1966).

8) Armstrong's mission is that of WITNESSING and WARNING - not that of making converts and saving souls.

9) Armstrong has a specially revealed understanding of prophecy.

10) The U.S., Great Britain, and the democracies of Europe are descendents of the northern ten tribes of ancient Israel.

11) The U.S., Great Britain, and the democracies of Europe will go into captivity and will be delivered by Christ at His coming.

These are only a few of the Armstrong suppositions. There are many, many more! And they are a powerful leverage which he uses to cause his adherents to give more.

But how does Armstrong bring people to believe and accept such suppositions? Surprising as it may seem, it has been partially made possible by the way Christian ministers have handled the matter of church holidays - Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc.

Serious Christian scholars know Christ's birth date was not on December 25. But they fail to tell their congregations Christ exact birth date is unknown - and December 25 is only a traditional date on which they have decided to celebrate it. The people of the Christian congregation just take it for granted that Christ was born on that day. A similar misunderstanding surround Easter and Halloween.

It is quite easy under these circumstances for Armstrong to create a credibility gap between a person and his minister. Once this has occurred, it is usually just a matter of time until he is drawn into the body of Armstrong's co-workers. There he is made to feel he has a DIRECT, ACTIVE part in getting "his" gospel to others.

He begins receiving Armstrong's co-worker letter every month, as well as hearing him on the air and reading his literature. Very subtly he is fed the Armstrong suppositions. Once he begins to believe them, he can be pressured into larger financial commitments to the Armstrong cause.

Slowly he gravitates toward Armstrong's church, as he is presented juicy doctrinal morsels, delightfully seasoned and delicately served on a guilded tray of propaganda. And thus, a large percentage of people having lost faith in their local pastor will become members of Armstrong's church.

But, Armstrong does not, at first, teach the new adherent all his doctrines. There are generally TWO stipulations for joining the Armstrong organization:

1) One must repent - utterly abhor himself, abhor his own very body and mind as well as his sins.

2) In accepting Christ, he is required to make an unconditional surrender. This UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER which one thinks he makes to God, in reality turns out to be an unconditional surrender to Armstrong's doctrines.

After becoming a member, the new adherent finds the real pressure is on. He begins attending church services under on of Armstrong's local pastors.

This NEW CONVERT, with an attitude of TOTAL SURRENDER, now sits at the feet of a man who teaches him he must give a full tenth of his gross annual income to the church. This TOTALLY SURRENDERED convert later finds there is another TITHE to be devoted to religious causes. Then later he discovers still another TITHE to be devoted to religious causes. And then finally a TITHE of the TITHE. This may sound a bit bewildering but little by little it is accepted and practiced.

Suffice it to say that the member in Armstrong's church will earmark between 25 and 30 percent of his gross annual income for religious purposes.

Now, take a look at the final ingredient in the CENTER FILL of Armstrong's gold-getting sandwich. Yes, there's more! It is yet another special co-worker letter which goes to Armstrong's members. It is from these that he fleeces about 75 percent of his total receipts. Up to this point only Armstrong's co-workers in general have been discussed - a group-classification of adherents which provides about 25 percent of his income.

Take a look now at his letters to the group from which he receives the other 75 percent - those members who have surrendered TOTALLY!

Following are direct quotes from letters written to this select group:

1) (Member Letter - March 2, 1967) "You KNOW that we are on a SEVEN YEAR (or longer) building program, that began less than four years ago, and has three or more years yet to go. And yet, YOU BRETHREN, who call yourselves GOD'S PEOPLE, have dwindled down to about HALF the amount of SPECIAL OFFERINGS for the BUILDING FUND you were sending in a year ago - though there are 30 percent more of us!

"THINK OF IT! How ASHAMED God must be with His Church! . . .

"LISTEN, Brethren - and listen HARD! Learn a LESSON that may save you from the Lake of Fire. Learn a basic TRUTH about how you are to develop character and GROW spiritually to INHERIT GOD"S KINGDOM! Learn a GREAT TRUTH! Learn what may mean your ETERNITY!

"Read this two or three times! UNDERSTAND IT!

"Some of you do not GO FORWARD spiritually with Christ, UNLESS I or YOUR LOCAL PASTOR , or SOME ONE PUSHES YOU! But our PUSHING will never get you into God's Kingdom. Our PUSHING will never get you to the PLACE OF SAFELY for the Great Tribulation about five years from now . . .(1972)."

2) (Member Letter - September 1, 1968) ". . . MANY who DO have the ability (to give) . . . are GUILTY BEFORE GOD of shirking - of letting the SATANIC attitude of GET fill their minds . . . The only reward, later, will be DEATH in the LAKE OF FIRE!"

3) (Member Letter - May 5, 1969) "Now about the annual Holy Day offerings . . .Brethren I wonder if that (what you have done) is not doing almost exactly what Ananias and Sapphira did! . . .They professed that they put in the amount they sold their property for. Peter said THEY LIED to THE HOLY SPIRIT. They DROPPED DEAD! If YOU profess that what you put in the Holy Day offering is a SPECIAL HOLY DAY OFFERING, when it is only a regular offering, is not that about the same thing? Brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ I say I WOULD BE AFRAID to do such a thing!"

End of Part 4

Next time, in Part 5, we will continue with these abusive membership letters in which Herbert W. Armstrong accuses the members of the very thing he guilty of - the sin of desiring to GET rather than to give.


 

Insights into Herbert W. Armstrong's Techniques / Member Letters / Part 5 (Conclusion)

Excerpts are from "Armstrongism Religion Or Ripoff ?" - by Marion McNair, Chapter 3, written in 1977.

(Marion McNair was a member of the Worldwide Church of God who attained to the highest rank of Evangelist back in the 1950's).

In Part 5, we will conclude our examination of Armstrong's abusive use of the Member Letter, starting where we left off, with sample letter number 4. Looking back, I find it AMAZING how much abuse just to raise money Herbert W. Armstrong was willing to dish out, and how willing we were to accept it!

What we can gain from the reading of these letters is not an increased disgust with Herbert W. Armstrong, but a heightened awareness of the various means by which many were and still are manipulated, both psychologically and emotionally. I believe it is evident that in each of the following letters there is a kernel of truth present - otherwise the writer would not be able to go on to "set the hook" emotionally. The manipulation and redirecting of the thought process that subsequently takes place is what we need to focus on and learn from if we are to protect ourselves from ever letting it happen to us again.

Part 5 (Conclusion)

(All that appears below, to "End of Part 5" is taken verbatim from Mr. McNair's book, with the exception of small spelling corrections, etc.)

4) (Member Letter - June 29, 1969) "What, then, is the WORST, most TERRIBLE sin? . . . It is that which cuts you off from . . . INHERITING and SHARING with God ALL THAT HE HAS! . . . Could it be that EVEN YOU are putting some of these things ahead of HIM - or ahead of YOUR PART in HONORING our God with this EXTRA SPECIAL BUILDING FUND . . . I cannot authorize (certain buildings) unless the statement of intentions (promised money) amounts up to $200,000 per month. . . "

5) (Member Letter - March 30, 1970) "This was suggested this afternoon by Mr. Stanley Rader, our legal counsel and financial advisor . . . go to your local bank and borrow whatever you are able - from $100 to $1,000 . . . giving it to the work, and paying it back monthly yourself - in ADDITION to continuing to send in your tithes and offerings."

6) (Member Letter - September 3, 1970) ". . . it seems MOST OF YOU have cut down on - or quit altogether - sending in SPECIAL OFFERINGS for the building and property fund . . Also the THIRD TITHE fund has been slacking off. The number of members is INCREASING, and these funds ought to increase also." (This THIRD TITHE will be more fully explained later).

7) (Member Letter - April 12, 1971) "THINK what a great work has been generated! And yet, WHAT A SHAME that I have to tell you it is facing a financial CRISIS, in which we may even have to STOP publication of The PLAIN TRUTH!"

8) (Member Letter - December 27, 1971) "AT LAST! And this time IT'S OFFICIAL! . . . The ground breaking ceremony for construction of the superb HOUSE FOR GOD (. . . but will be known by the public as . . . the auditorium of Ambassador College. . . ) . . . is set definitely for Friday, January 14th, 1972! . . . The contract has been let, and we are now bound. To pay off the balance of this financing, we have to meet payments of $200,00 per month for the next few (ten) years."

According to notes taken by the author, Armstrong indicated while speaking before local Pasadena church members, the financing was to run for TEN YEARS - making a total of TWENTY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS PAY OFF INCLUDING FINANCING.

9) (Member Letter - May 31, 1972) "I cannot longer delay telling you that we now face a crisis even more serious than we faced at the end of February, 2 1/2 years ago. I had to ask you, then, even to go to your bank and borrow what you could pay back within 2 years on a monthly repayment basis . . .I simply have to tell you brethren that we now face an even more desperate crisis, and reluctant as I am to do so, I am forced to ask you to respond once again as you did . . . (borrowing money from their local banks and giving it to Armstrong - Paul said, even God does not expect you to give what you have not got. But apparently Armstrong does)."

10) (Member Letter - August 28, 1972) "Now, AS NEVER BEFORE I call on you, by the authority of JESUS CHRIST, to get back of this Work as NEVER BEFORE . . . to sacrifice for it as never before!"

11) (Member Letter - October 27, 1972) "There is no 'success story' I verily believe, in the annals . . . equal to what has been accomplished in this great work . . . the number one REASON . . .God has put YOU into His Church. . . to help GIVE . . .Our Mission is NOT to CONVINCE the world, not to SAVE the world NOW - it is to TELL the world what is going to happen whether they believe it or not . . .We have had no GUIDELINES. We cannot organize or operate like activities, organization, or businesses in this world. . . Yet the building of . . . (this) church. . .has become a 'success story' probably unparalleled IN THE ORGANIZATIONS OF THE WORLD."

12) (Member Letter - November 2, 1972) ". . . This Work . . . is geared to a pattern that demands constant INCREASE. IT CANNOT HOLD EVEN. It either goes forward, or it goes backward! We MUST . . . GET THIS GREAT WORK BACK ON THE PATTERN OF A 30% annual INCREASE in power and scope . . . Brethren, we have to face a VERY SOBERING AND SERIOUS SITUATION. Unless drastic CHANGES take place, we are going to have to reduce many vital phases of the Work, and eliminate others. That means seeing the Work . . .start going BACKWARD for the first time in 40 years! . . .Brethren . . .WE DARE NOT LET THAT HAPPEN . . . Brethren, I KNOW the CAUSE of our present situation. WE AS A CHURCH HAVE BEEN LETTING DOWN . . . That means that NOT ONLY God's Work is in danger -MANY of YOU BRETHREN are in MORTAL DANGER! I say to you candidly, I know that some, if not MANY of you are in REAL DANGER of the LAKE OF FIRE! . . . Let's not dodge the real issue - let's not deny the REAL CAUSE - let's not PASS THE BUCK! Our own personal, individual SALVATION is at stake . . .Jesus Christ has shown me THE REAL CAUSE - not merely of the present situation, BUT OF THE DIMINISHING INCREASE IN INCOME - and -consequently IN THE ENTIRE SCOPE AND POWER OF THE WORK these past three and four year! . . .I know that the ETERNAL LIVES of many - perhaps more than HALF. . . are at STAKE . . . "

Why do "children of God" submit to this kind of abuse heaped high in Armstrong's fund raising letters? They have been slowly bound by an invisible spun web of propaganda enclosing them in a cocoon of total submission. They have drunk deeply of Armstrong's intoxicating chalice of suppositions. In the blur of their vision, tyranny and spiritual turmoil are glamorized as freedom and harmony.

Their stupor mistakes determination for inspiration, and transforms mights and maybes into infallible prophecies. In the giddiness of their spiritual deception the garment of a beggar appears as royal glamour.

They grope their way along the avenue of life until the day a psychological peel of lightning rends the skies in startling revelation that the True Prophet is the Savior Jesus Christ in the heavens!

Members of Armstrong's Church support his efforts out of a sincere conviction that they are supporting God's ONLY Apostle and Prophet doing God's ONLY WORK for the first time in 1800 or more years (THE BIG LIE).

According to Armstrong's own testimony those who support his work are the poor, and the middle class - not the wealthy or elite. There is a constant flow of letters to Armstrong from widows, pensioners, and recipients of Social Security all over the land - people who deprive themselves of needed food, clothing, and adequate shelter to give to his cause. The author has personally read hundreds of such letters in Armstrong's offices.

Typical is a letter which Armstrong quotes in a Co-Worker letter:

(Co-Worker Letter - August 9, 1954) ". . . I have to sacrifice to send what little I do. I try each day to sacrifice a little more, to have a few more cents to send. I know that if I put God's work ahead of my own personal need that He has PROMISED to supply my every need, and I am trusting Him for that. . . we must work harder than ever before, altho it seems my part is so little . . .$2.00 enclosed."

That certainly is a fine, sacrificing attitude. By the tenor of the entire letter, it is easy to see this humble lady put implicit faith in Armstrong's honesty and ability to administer her precious $2.00 sacrificial offering - to use it to the glory and honor of God in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The foregoing examples are sufficient to show how Armstrong attracts the really big as well as the small donations. Thus the pieces of Armstrong's Financial puzzle have fallen into place. The picture it projects is a FIFTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLAR annual "take."

But in the background lies a nagging question - does Armstrong use the offerings of the poor, the widow, the struggling farmer, and Mr. Average middle class to take the Gospel to the world as Christ commanded? That is a good question for our next chapter.

End of Part 5

And I think we all know the answer to the above parting question posed by Marion McNair. We have the benefit of the passage of time and the testimony many disillusioned ex-Armstrongites. It has become almost common-place knowledge among those who are willing to admit it that there was little accountablity demanded of the Armstrongs for the usage of the church's income. After all, who would dare have the nerve to suggest that Herbert W. Armstrong be accountable to anyone but God himself. With the assurance that he was accountable to no one, it is little wonder that Herbert W. Armstrong and a few of those under him basically had free rein in spending. The misuse of these tithes and offerings has been well documented in numerous personal testimonies and articles, so we needn't go into it at this time as it is all a matter of public record.

Hopefully we have gained a little more insight into the stratagems that were so masterfully used by Armstrong, to the detriment of us all. Let us file this knowledge away in a readily-accessible portion of our minds lest we ever again be tempted to allow a man to place himself between us and God.


 

 

 

 

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