The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God
Sexploitation

By Douglas

It has become so matter of course for people to expose Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, the leadership of Ambassador College, the Worldwide Church of God, the Churches of God, et cetera, that sometimes the exploitation and abuse lose their meaning in the background noise. Nevertheless, the relevance lives on in the ruined lives of tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people.

The outrages not only live on, but there are so many of them and their scope is so broad and deep that sometimes they are beyond the comprehension of most of us. One would think that "normal" objective people would neither engage in the activities of the Worldwide Church of God and Churches of God, et cetera nor tolerate those who did. Certainly, we would expect that once members knew of the unethical and mostly illegal activities of the ministry, they would take responsibility and defrock those who were pursuing the deviancies duly recorded in the mouths of two, three, four, dozens, hundreds, and lately, millions of witnesses.

Let us begin with the ninety page issue of the 1977 "Ambassador Report" Contents:

  •  
  • About this issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
    Letters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
    Executive Exodus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
    The Missing Dimension in Ambassador College--
    Accreditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
    The Booklets Nobody Wants to Talk About . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
    What the Armstrongs Say About Other Churches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
    Twisted Teachings on Tithing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
    Separation of Church and State? $2.5 Million
    Federal Handout to Armstrong Cult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
    Computer Snooper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
    Financing the Church -- An Insider's View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
    Intimidation at A.C. -- A Case History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
    Excerpts From the Tithing Papers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
    The Manpower Papers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25
    Herbert Armstrong -- Man on the Move . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
    The Incredible Story of Mr. Mission Impossible --
    Ambassador College's Illustrious "Professor" Gotoh . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
    Southern Exposure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32
    Garner Ted Armstrong -- Son of the Legend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
    In Bed With Garner Ted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36
    Herbert Armstrong "Disproves" the Bible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
    The Profligate Son . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
    Ambassador College's Participation in
    Jerusalem Dig Ends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
    Home-breaking -- Armstrong Style . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
    The Prophecy Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53
    Bobby Fischer Speaks Out! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
    Fleecing the Flock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
    Spying in the Name of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
    Herbert Armstrong's Religious Roots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .68
    The Edifice Complex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
    Modern Moloch -- Human Sacrifice in the Armstrong
    Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
    The Ten Commandments Revised at Ambassador College . . . . . . . . . 89
  • This "Ambassador Report" and all the others are available through John Trechak, Publisher.

    What is so amazing about all of this is the currency of the material, even though it was written over 22 years ago. Note the Seventh Commandment of The Ten Commandments Revised At Ambassador College:

  •  
  • "VII. You shall not commit adultery unless you are pastor-ranked or higher. Adultery by low echelon ministers and laymen should be revealed to church administration and recorded and filed, but the adultery by pastors or evangelists must be covered up for the "good of the church".
  • From that time to the present, the ministry has certainly had their way with the lay people--both women and men, beginning with Garner Ted Armstrong. By 1972, by GTA's count, he had committed adultery with over 200 women in a twenty year period. The seduction of the single young woman by GTA, as recounted in the 1977 "Ambassador Report", was a remarkable account in that she really didn't want to submit to the intercourse, but felt helplessly "in a trance". The description was one of a sexual predator: GTA did what he did, coldly, calculatingly.

    He wasn't the first evangelist to do this, nor was this sort of activity confined to evangelists. This wasn't the only kind of adultery committed.

    The confirmed stories abound. My most excellent friend once in the Worldwide Church of God told me back in the late 1980s that his single sister, who had also grown up in the Worldwide Church of God, had been with the local married minister for quite some time. There were pedophile local elders and deacons who were reported, but nothing ever came of it, and some of the more responsible leading women in the church kept careful watch, especially on the Holydays. Homosexuality also abounded at Ambassador College, both with the Faculty, Staff, and students, of the which I have personal knowledge, but is also documented in "The Ambassador Report".

    Even today, there are those in some of the Churches of God, et cetera who have certain backgrounds among the ministry who "counsel" some of the younger married men and curry close, loving friendships, replete with the hugs in public at church.

    This is all extremely unethical and should never be tolerated. Dr. Richard Irons, MD, an addictionist on the medical staff of the Menninger Clinic, Topeka, Kansas wrote:

  •  
  • "Sexual misconduct and offense are among the most common and egregious abuses of power and position. Almost all faith traditions establish fidelity to vows, faithfulness to a marriage partner, as a central moral virtue. Clergy are taught and expected to model this virtue whether they are married or not. Sexual misconduct by clergy abducts fidelity, both in the clergy themselves and in those they serve. With such an abduction, the potential for soul trauma is profound.

    "Professional sexual exploitation includes sexual misconduct or offense. Professional sexual misconduct is defined as overt or covert expression by the clergyperson toward the congregational member of erotic or romantic thoughts, feelings, or gestures that are sexual or may be reasonably construed by the congregant as sexual. Sexual offense is a direct or indirect attempt by the cleric to touch or make contact inappropriately with any anatomic area of the congregants body commonly considered reproductive or sexual. Offense also includes any efforts made to have the congregational member make contact with these same anatomic areas on the minister. The array of conduct that is considered exploitation includes sexual innuendoes, derogatory comments, verbal or physical improprieties (such as nontherapeutic hugs), erotically charged encounters with present or former congregants in or out of the sanctuary or office, overt sexual activity, and abuse through perpetration analogous with rape or molestation. This is a highly charged emotional, moral, and legal terrain that is quite irregular and filled with many ambiguities and gray zones."

  • Note that he includes "nontherapeutic hugs" as one of the indications that impropriety has occurred. Has your minister encouraged you to let him hug you--whether you are a man or a woman? Are you comfortable with this? Do you suspect an agenda?

    Dr. Irons estimates that one in fifteen of the clergy, over all, in all faiths, engage in sexual misconduct.

    Clergy have an incredible impact upon their parishioners by virtue of various forms of transference and countertransference. A minister may be seen as a father figure, an authority, a counselor, a "man of God". In the majority of cases involving clergy sexual misconduct, conscious appreciation of these projected images and emotions is not attained by victim or offender until after sexual contact has terminated, the consequences and trauma derived from the relationship are realized, and the relationship is disclosed to other parties.

    Dr. Irons does not let the clergy off the hook, just because they might be mentally ill:

  •  
  • "Many, but by no means all, sexually exploitive clergy will be found to have a mental illness which has significantly contributed to the events leading to formal evaluation. The presence of a mental disorder does not excuse or rationalize inappropriate or exploitive behavior, but may represent a mitigating factor. The experience of professionals involved in formal evaluation of clergy facing allegations of professional sexual exploitation indicates that many will be found to have a paraphilia, some other sexual disorder, or an impulse control disorder, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Some may be found to be suffering from other undiagnosed and untreated acute mental disorders such as major depression, bipolar affective disorder ( mania-depression ), or an active alcohol or drug addiction. Rarely, unrecognized dementia (senility or cognitive dysfunction) or even an acute dissociative or psychotic disorder may be present at the time of formal evaluation."
  • What to do, what to do?

    Dr. Irons says:

  •  
  • "Intervention is the first action step in resolving allegations of clergy sexual impropriety or misconduct. A successful intervention requires complete honesty and compassion on the part of those who are confronting the potentially impaired religious professional. A straightforward presentation of the allegation is almost always the best approach. Expression of concern on the part of Church authorities and others present can help the accused from slipping into morbid despair and possible suicidal ideation or action while making it readily apparent that sexual harassment, abuse, and offense are intolerable and unacceptable. A good intervention reflects social justice in the important details of holding the perpetrator of sexual exploitation accountable for the behavior and assuring the victim(s) and community that there will be no further misconduct."
  • They won't quit, it seems, until they have been caught with their pants down.

    Dr. Irons asks the questions: Can they be helped? Should they be helped? He points out that guilt and anger may serve as catalytic agents of healing and takes the view:

  •  
  • "Within each human being is the need to know that one is loved and affirmed for one's own sake. The foundational environment for this to occur is placed in the early developmental years. Over 80% of sexually exploitive professionals experienced psychological wounding and often physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in their formational environments. The theological tasks for exploitive religious professionals are to accept the forgiveness of God and others, and to reestablish a relational quality of life that reflects a personal relationship with God that influences and frames their interpersonal lives. The movement is marked as a passage from self-doubt, fear, denial, and anger to a humble perception of oneself as acceptable and worthy to be a beloved child of God. If each of us is one of God's children, have we not inherited the right to seek integration, atonement, and spiritual reconciliation? Only through offering forgiveness and reconciliation to all, including those servants of our Churches who have fallen, can we represent God's love on earth."
  • Dr. Irons points out correctly that anger which is based on resentments, bitterness, and hatred is destructive. He apparently believes that a few of the clergy can re-enter their chosen field--but does not hold a great deal of optimism.

    Those interested in the full text may find it at http://www 2.csbsju.edu/isti/irons.html

    Dr. Irons set forth the expectation that the "Church Authorities" will work through their problems with the professional clergy. The situation is common to any number of religious orders.  Once public, most responsible church religions take action, even if it only a matter of self-interest to continue their existence as a group. In the Worldwide Church of God, and the Churches of God, et cetera, this is a naive hope, for the foxes are firmly entrenched in guarding the chicken house and have continued to turn their heads so they do not see what is going on in their midst. The only solution is to confront the perpetrators. The problems will not go away on their own.

    Indeed, many of the perpetrators don't seem to know that they have done anything wrong.   From their point of view, they are perfectly justified in their own minds.   They have no idea what impact they have had on others because it "feels right" to them.  Sexploitation serves their needs; it fills an empty void produced by their own abused lives of the past for those who are too weak to constrain themselves. Their emotions have overcome their judgement and suppressed their mores.  It is not until they are confronted that they can even begin to see who and what they have been.

    The most unfortunate result of this abuse is that much of it happened very early on in the lives of those affected. Children, teenagers, and young adults subjected to the sexploitation of so long ago will suffer the rest of their lives. While this was not unique to the Worldwide Church of God, it was magnified by the cult aspect of the religion and the projection of powerful dominance by the leadership--all very destructive to the abused.

    More personal stories need to surface as a catharsis for those who have been subjected to the sexploitation. With the documentation, we need to confront our abusers of the past, if we are to be healed. Those so abused need to realize that it was not their fault. They need to walk away from the guilt and pain which they did not cause. This is more easily said than done, for, though we might have intellectual realization, it just doesn't FEEL like we are innocent of wrong-doing.

    It was the leadership. They were corrupt. They bear the responsibility.

    Now that we know, we also bear the responsibility--to insure that it never happens again and to assist in any way possible for the healing of the abused.

    It takes courage to be the standard bearer. There's a lot of personal risk to promoting the truth.

     

     

    If you have anything you would like to
    submit to this site, or any comments,
    email me at:
    CLICK HERE FOR EMAIL ADDRESS.
    Send Me Email

    Back to "Painful Truth" menu.

     

     

    Copyright
    The content of this site, including but not limited to the text and images herein and their arrangement, are copyright 1997-2002 by The Painful Truth All rights reserved.

    Do not duplicate, copy or redistribute in any form without the prior written consent.

    Disclaimer