A collection of Facts, Opinions and Comments from survivors of Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong,  The Worldwide Church of God and it's Daughters.
Updated 02/28/07 12:58 PM PDT

The painful truth about Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Arrmstrong and the Worldwide Church of God

Articles Pertaining To Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong and The Worldwide Church of God

PT Home Page
Complete Articles Index
Featured Articles
2006 Articles
2005 Articles
2004 Articles
Read the Ambassador Report
Download the Ambassador Report  (Right-click and choose "Save Target") 12.2 megabytes

Email Index
Email The PT

Primary PT Sub-Pages
Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God Exposed
What About the Bible?
The Age of Reason
Acts of God  
Alcoholism and the Worldwide Church of God   
Suicide and the Worldwide Church of God
Recommended Books
411, Information Please  
Death Notices For The Worldwide Church of God  
Prophecy Index
You might have grown up in the Worldwide Church of God if . . .
Garner Ted Armstrong and Geraldo Rivera Video Download
Stanley Rader on "Sixty Minutes" with Mike Wallace Audio download
The Graveyard Church of God
Google Adwords for Herbert W. Armstrong



Email To The Editor
(Page 95)


I was devastated when you appeared to be gone for good around about April/May 2006; I just did a half-hearted Google search for "painful truth" and lo and behold, you reappeared! I am so relieved!

My father was in the Cult from 1968 till his death earlier this year; my mother put her foot down and refused to have anything to do with Herbie or any of his works, so my sister and I were spared untold suffering that other survivors of Worldwide Church of God have endured. It is so important to keep The Painful Truth on the 'net, to give comfort and a place to "vent" to those who even now are emerging from the fog of Armstrongism.

Consider yourself bookmarked!

Colleen Dawson
10541 W. Everett Cir.
West Allis, WI 53214

(Feel free to use my name/address)

Colleen, it's letters like yours that we live for.   The people responsible for knocking us off the web were unsuccessful at silencing us, but did damage our ability to be found quickly by search engines.  Even though we're back, our "searchability" has not been fully restored, and that takes time.  Thanks for not giving up.  Spread the word to anyone you know that we are still here.


Ed or Mike:   I have never visited your web site until today. I am curious. For all the griping and groaning I read, was anyone chained, flogged and ordered by a local judge to attend the Worldwide Church of God? Does anyone have whip marks from scourgings applied by ministers who are now labeled as taskmasters? It sounds as if the former members who contact you simply made a wrong choice, and the way they are able to make themselves feel better is by expressing a good verbal lashing towards everyone but themselves.   

Letters from former members read like something out of the dark side of a fairy tale gone bad and the characters in the story are throwing a wide variety of temper tantrums and apparently no one is listening because the verbal fits continue. No one forces anyone to do anything. Members chose to join and now they are crying and refuse to move on. Herbert Armstrong made many mistakes, but where is the personal accountability from members who were like little children and willfully followed? If someone can say they attended for years, were the doors locked and no one was allowed to leave? Yes, I was abused, but I allowed it. I attended for years and didn't leave because it was my choice. I don't now sit around and mope about bygone days from the 60's to the 80s under the heavy hand of Herbert W. Armstrong. I mean come on, if it was 3 to 5 years ago, it would be one thing, but we are speaking of when I didn't have gray hair.  

Your website reminds me of a place where people can go and punch a figurative Herbert Armstrong figurine because they just flunked Anger Management 101. Grow up people. The world is leaving you behind. We are no longer living under the rule of Herbert W. and Garner Ted Armstrong. Maybe a bit of counseling by a professional is in order. If anyone is angry, kick yourselves in the butt instead of a man who died 20 years ago.  

It doesn't say much for anyone if they were in Worldwide for a number of years and somehow couldn't leave. Was anyone held prisoner? Didn't everyone have a choice of whether to attend or not? Former members who feel ripped off, attended on their own free will, but now want to take their anger out on a dead man who can't defend himself. The days of slavery are over the last time I checked, yet a number of brethren blame Worldwide for their inability to stand up for themselves. If you felt like a prisoner, all you had to do was open the exit door with your hands and free yourself.  

For me to stay in Worldwide was my fault and no one else's. I definitely feel that many former members of "Weirdwide" were people with low self-esteem. We were like little children who had to be told what to do. Now, we are throwing temper tantrums and refuse to take responsibility for ourselves. Everyone needs to grow up and move on. I know this is like telling Mt. Everest to get out of the way, but how long are brethren going to continue to give Herbert Armstrong the finger?  

A bit of advise on your homepage. Why don't you have your webmaster design a hand with the middle finger pointing straight up. This way you will relay your attitude towards God and it is also a way of showing how you feel about the days of Herbert W. Armstrong. You never know, you may find that whipping the bird is exactly what former members need. You can provide jackets, caps, coffee mugs and bumper stickers that say: "Hey, Herb! Stick it."  

Richard Markland

Richard!  Great to hear from you.  If indeed you are visiting us for the first time, that is wonderful news, as it means people are starting to find us again.  Your letter is most welcome.

You make a few excellent points.  People do indeed need to get on with their lives, take responsibility, and as much as possible, put the past behind them.  You apparently have done that, as have I and most of those I know who escaped the Worldwide.   If you've been reading our articles (as your letter suggests), then you've been reading material that in many cases was written as many as nine years ago.  I think you miss the boat by assuming that the people who wrote those pieces have not been moving forward, but have remained stagnant in their misery.  Bad assumption.  Much of what you read here can be viewed as therapeutic prose.  By confronting what happened to us, we got better simply by writing about it.  But most important of all, what we wrote serves as a witness to what happened, and what is STILL HAPPENING in the Worldwide Church of God spinoffs. 

It's sort of like warning a neighborhood that a sex offender is living nearby, and even though the original offender may have died, his sons are also sex offenders and are still very much alive.  People are still being harmed, and as long as that is the case, silence on our part would be negligent. 

You seem to be telling us to "GET OVER IT".  Certainly you aren't the first one to say that, nor likely the last.  Your questions, which may seem logical to you, have been answered repeatedly on the pages of this site, so I won't bore you with a response.  Just keep reading and you will see for yourself.

As for giving Herb the finger...when does he cease to deserve it?  People still give Hitler the finger 60 years later, and Nero and Caligula 2000 years later.  The finger, once deserved, is always deserved.  There is no statute of limitations on the bird.

Jackets?  Caps?  Coffee mugs?  Damn, that's a GREAT idea!  Do you have any marketing skills?  Maybe we should get together and discuss it!

John B


Ed, Mike or whoever you are:


I was curious as to what sarcastic response you would post after receiving my letter yesterday. True to form, you respond like a kid who is a bit of a brat and justifies why he is.


I really don't think there is anyone who can touch a nerve with you when telling you to grow up. Are you a teenager or is puberty sitting in? You can't move on but live in a little world of your own making which is small, yet the justification for what you do appeases anyone with a bad attitude and it is what makes you tick.


By the way, just because I visited your site, doesn't mean it will happen again. I notice the number of hits you have received is not exactly something to brag about. Your site has to rank pretty low compared to popular ones, yet I am sure you will say, "Ah, but it's higher than a lot of others".


To be blunt, take off your diaper, quit sucking your thumb and be a man. Your mind is like a little kid that tries to find how to get into trouble. I have a pacifier from one of my granddaughters if you need one to suck on.


Perhaps you should change the name of your site to "The Pain In The Butt Truth" because this is what you are. Ghastly, guy, move on.


As far as the mug and jacket idea is concerned. It takes a real dweed to take something like this seriously and what I said was more of an insult towards the lamebrain format you have than anything else. Of course I don't believe you were serious, but simply a smart ass.


Oh, by the way. You don't have to write back and tell me my letter has been posted. I fired you and your crew for what you are doing. I have better things to do than to waste my time by the endless diatribe you post. Grow up and be a man instead of a little kid that can't stop pouting about a past that you chose to be a part of.


Richard Markland

Well, shit, you just can't be nice to some people, I guess.  You thought my reply was sarcastic?  I thought it was rather upbeat.  I gave you the benefit of the doubt and treated you with respect.  And now look at your latest letter!

Any time we get a letter condemning us in strong terms from a "former Worldwider", red flags go up immediately.  You gave no personal history except to claim to be an ex-member.  Of course, those still active in the splinter cults might consider themselves ex-members of Worldwide Church of God, and I suspect that is what you are.  More to the point, you're probably a low-level minister or self-important deacon (you even said "ghastly"!  That's pure Garner Ted-ism.)  Your idea of Christian "love" is to attack anyone who dares disagree with you.   The simmering rage in your second letter pretty much proves that The Painful Truth really IS telling the painful truth.  If you really were abused between the 60s and the 80s, then why are you mad at US?  Makes no sense.  Something is rotten about your story.

You wrote: By the way, just because I visited your site, doesn't mean it will happen again.

Well, you've been here once at least.  When I read your first letter I almost asked if you had actually read any articles or someone else just told you what we talk about here.  I suspected the latter, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt.  Now I'm quite certain you didn't read anything at all, and certainly you haven't come here to find out what we are about.  Clearly, YOU DON'T HAVE AN OPEN MIND!  But you're welcome to stay or leave, as you see fit.  If you stay, hopefully you'll read something that will help you deal with whatever is eating you up inside, because you obviously are not possessed of any of the fruits of the spirit. 

I breathlessly anticipate your reply.


Hi, John B-

When I read a letter like Richard's I have to wonder what manner of reasoning
was used by the writer to counsel the victim to blame himself for having been
ripped off. Richard is not the first to raise the question in my mind nor,
unfortunately, will he be the last.

We are lucky that the American style of jurisprudence doesn't follow the bent
logic Richard applies. How is it that our courts don't immediately set about to
discover why victims of crimes should be seeking justice and restitution? Why
don't our judges simply say that victims "should just get over it"? Why is there
even a word in our language describing what victims are? Why is so much time
and money spent on fault-finding if it is so simple to dismiss crime by blaming
the victim?

I suspect that people with Richard's mindset are merely revealing just how well
the brainwashing works in a Bible-based cult like the Worldwide Church of God. Christianity is all about finding fault in oneself. It starts out by having one repent of sin (missing the mark).
Then for the rest of the stay in the cult one has to keep blaming self for not praying
enough, not fasting enough, not studying enough, not loving enough and generally
being unfit to be alive except for the pity of some make-believe god. Christianity
is the very foundation of poor self-esteem. Cult members are always beating up
on themselves. People with pride of life don't become Christians. It's a big study, of

Anyways, I submit that folks like Richard are still suffering from low self-esteem
and are seeking others to stand along side themselves by accepting blame for
the terrible things that happened at the hands of evil, lying men like the Armstrongs.
Boy that makes sense. We were nothing but a rotten piles of junk in the cult and now
that were out we'll absolve the criminals and take all the blame on ourselves to make
it all better. What's wrong with this picture?

Richard says we all "attended on their own free will." I submit that free will can only
operate when the subjects have all the relevant information. That, of course, is denied
one in the cult since to allow the free exchange of information is anathema to the
cult masters. In short, we were NOT operating under free will, it only seemed that
way as a result of ministerial indoctrination. I remember one of my early pastors
inviting any one us to leave the room we were using. Of course, that only made us
want to stay even more. (He eventually did walk out the door 12 years before me!)

In addition the article you wrote, Richard should also read Janey's article, "No One
Held a Gun to Your Head".  If he finds it boring then he really has no interest in learning.

He counsels that we should just "kick yourselves in the butt." Well, my own sense of
self worth and pride of having excaped tells me that is the route to more madness
than even Christianity allows. It also makes me wonder about the motivation of
Richard. Is he a mouthpiece for the Worldwide Church of God? He certainly is giving aid and comfort to criminals. (They do, of course, operate with Constitutional protection).

I wonder what sense of justice Richard experiences when he kicks his own butt?

And I also wonder if he would have written his letter had he been religion free.

Jim Baldwin

The boy definitely has issues!  I wonder if the next letter will contain death threats?


Hey John,


      I just read that letter from "DICK" and am sending in a response. You can use my name if needed.  Here goes.


 Hey Dick,

You wrote ~ Herbert Armstrong made many mistakes, but where is the personal accountability from members who were like little children and willfully followed? If someone can say they attended for years, were the doors locked and no one was allowed to leave?~

 I DID NOT JOIN on my own.  I was a toddler brought in when my parents joined. Just like you, they were seeking a better life here and here after as well.  With the manipulation tactics that "Headquarters" used , including Herbert and Tkach and CO., it was easy for someone to follow without question and to stay.  Is it the fault of the lay members in the catholic church for the pedophilia that has been going on  for years?  When they got a new priest who was sent after the "leaders" moved him to a new location, they were unaware as to why, but still followed his "preaching" from the pulpit.  Back to your ridiculous statement.  All I knew was Worldwide Church of God and their teachings.  So for ones like me who grew up in the teachings not that hard to see why we stayed.  As for my parents when they realized what was going on they left and have not looked back since.  Other then having to swallow their pride and repenting to family and friends for their decisions based upon supposed teachings by a "Prophet".  It comes down to this: It is one thing to be wrong in ones teachings but when those teachings ARE WRONG and You know it and you just use it  to gain money then it is disgusting.  It is STEALING, it is EXTORTION!!!!!!!!!  It was abuse physically and spiritually of exponential proportions.  Once I saw through their ridiculous religion I "fled" to a place of safety.  One way away from the Worldwide Church of God!!!!!  Unfortunately, since it is in a religious format, it gets undue protection from the constitution.  We aren't here to bitch and moan, but to get our experiences out there to show others that you can leave and the "BAD" things they tell you will happen, WILL NOT!!!!!!!!!!

I challenge you to study the articles then and now.  ;






The gentleman identifying himself as Richard Markland seems typical of a subgroup of the A-COGs who like to refer to themselves as "non-aligned".  Unlike typical splinter group members, such people will often post on the various Worldwide Church of God-related forums.  Basically, they use some of the same phrases as many of we former members use, such as "I left the group", or "I have moved on with my life".  They eschew the cultic aspects of Worldwide Church of God, and often admit that it was a personality cult with many of the practices being extra-biblical, based on Herbert W. Armstrong's personal and often arbitrary opinions and Pope-like edicts  Individual non-aligneds  may or may not believe in tithing, British Israelism, or setting dates for the end, however they still observe the Old Testament sabbath and Holy Days, keep the Armstrongized version of the kosher laws, and believe in soul sleep followed by eternal life or extinguishment of the soul in the Lake of Fire.  It seems very confusing sometimes, because while they hate to be referred to as "Armstrongites', they always fall back on the specific exegetics which were used by Herbert W. Armstrong, and strongly disagree with exegetics provided on the same topics by more thoroughly educated and better informed theologians.

As with Richard, the ones I've encountered may protest when someone bashes either of the Armstrongs, and may express wonderment that the Tkach's don't get subjected to equal amounts of bashing.  "Non-aligneds" may admit that Herbert W. Armstrong was wrong in many ways, and sinned like other humans, but will follow that up with statements about not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  "Truth is still truth" is another remark they might make.  They often meet in small study groups (although they resent having these referred to as "Livingroom Church of God"), and at least one whom I've encountered claims to be able to recognize when someone has the Holy Spirit, and that person refuses to study with anyone thought not to be filled with it.

You were spot on when you picked up on the "ghastly" connection, as there are a sizeable number of non-aligneds who passed through Garner Ted's organization, but left for reasons of conscience when GTA proved himself unable to resolve his chronic sexual addiction.  Ron Dart offers a package of services and resources specifically tailored to non-aligned COGgers, including his broadcast, study papers, and CEM feast sites.

I used to think in terms of 1) people who have left old school Worldwide Church of God and are in recovery, 2) those who have gone "New Covenant" with the Tkach's, or 3) those who are in the various major splinter groups, such as UCG, LCG, and PCG.  But, as I've learned, that doesn't always tell the full story.  Just when you think you fully understand the Worldwide Church of God problem and the general ways in which people have dealt with it, a formerly unheard of permutation surfaces.  I've also encountered some who have become Jews, some who have become Messianic Jews, sacred namers, and yet others who really jumped from the frying pan into the campfire by becoming part of the militia movement.  Armstrongism, the gift that just keeps on giving!


Byker Bob 

I'd say you've identified the guy quite correctly.  His immature rage at this website is completely illogical under any other circumstances.  He's definitely a coward, because he hasn't bothered to read any of the mail that he generated (if he had, he wouldn't have been able to keep quiet).  I'm also quite certain that he never bothered to read anything on this site.  He knows nothing of what we are about and isn't interested in finding out.  No doubt someone told him that we bash Armstrong and that's all he needed to know.  Just goes to show that cults will never go away, because the Richard Marklands of this world NEED them.



Ed post this to your Painful truth blog!

For years I thought I was the only one that had been screwed over. My
life should have been different. But wait a minute! Do we really know what
is the destiny of our lives. You make a lot of cense for the funny parodies
we all had to endure. I like using the one of how I first got kick out of school
for the refusal to make a bunny rabbit out of a shoe box. I was back in class the next day after my parents explained to the principle the dogma over Easter. I
was six years old and had given up Christmas and my birthday the year

The first crisis was the Christmas of 1957 at the age of five. My
grandparents on my dads side gave me a coloring book about Bugs bunny
and all the other wonderful characters from WB. It was wrapped
in red paper with Santa Claus printing. They knew better because they
had introduced my father to GTA-ism. I was under my first trial of

I locked up refusing to thank them for the really
neat book. This had to be a trick. The embarrassment set my father
into a rage which led to a series of disciplinarian cowboy belt beatings.
Each trip to the bedroom made me more resolute that it
had to be a trial from GOD. I was not about to give in and have my
sole dammed forever. So after a few hours of getting the tar whipped out
of me I won. Dads arm was so sore that he had to give up.
He was going to have to buy a new belt to hold up his pants. I was
saved from the devil. OH NO I was a rebellious son and would amount to no
good. For years my grand parents and Dad felt that I was a
ungrateful worthless son. Just before he died I told him how it
really was. But he did not know how to apologize, just like the founders of
the church. I even made him watch the video of GTA stating
that he was allowed to participate in Easter during public school.
BOY HOWDY do these guys have some answering to me when I get to the next

For good or bad the church did keep me aware of global news. This has
left me with ability to figure out what is around the corner. And a piss
ant can derail a train if he strikes at the right moment. That is history through the ages. But I do not want to become a martyr. So I remain a silent soldier hoping I die a peaceful death after a long peaceful life. Lord knows I have earned it.

Richard Nance

Amazing story, Richard.  Thanks for writing.  (Oh, by the way, Ed isn't here any more.)


Email By Pages








If you have anything you would like to submit to this site,
or any comments, email me at:

Back to Painful Truth menu


The content of this site, including but not limited to the text and images herein and their arrangement, are copyright 1997-2006 by The Painful Truth. All rights reserved.

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