Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories,
How Bad Was It, Really?

Page Six

If you would like to share your horror story, send them anonymously or under your name, please send them to me at:

February 26, 2009

Hello Ed,
Just stumbled upon your website... My mother who was abused as a child and had an alcoholic well to do husband was easy prey for HWA in the late sixties. She had suffered
for many years what I consider to be varying states of mental illness. What lured her
to "the church" was one televised sermon stating  "Do you feel different? Do you not
fit in with your neighbors? or even family? It is because YOU have been called by God!"
She fell hook, line and sinker... What this meant to us was the next 25 years would be
filled with fear, helplessness and poverty.
I am one of 7 children, as I said before... My mother was abused, sexually abused by a
family member. Of course she felt as if everyone knew, she felt she was a second class
citizen all her life. I was born into this church. My alcoholic father thought it easier to
just let my Mom do as she wished as far as religion, at least if she was trying to be a
Christian "maybe she wasn´t out sleeping with the milkman!" It became a way for him
to control her even though he didn´t attend. The worse thing my mother did was to
"confess" about her sexual abuse to him. In his drunken fits he´d accuse her of "asking"
for it (at 4years of age) and claim she was a whore since she never told anyone before.
Now the reason I tell all this is because I believe a mentally healthy person can switch on
the TV and discern between a cult and a "real" church. My mother didn´t qualify as capable
of making these choices for her family. The only joy we knew was at Xmas, birthdays... any
holiday. My Dad always tried to save the day at the last moment and brought us home  gifts. This may seem trivial to an adult but to a child... These were some of the only special, happy moments I remember as a child. Once my mother joined "the church", my father only once, 8 years later surprised us kids with xmas. Never has the smell of pine smelled so fresh as it did that year!
Because my mother NEVER left the house except to take us to church... us girls were responsible for shopping, gardening, pretty much anything that involved leaving the house.
Even though we had money as a family we lived below the poverty line. My dad drank his pay and the small amount of money he left my mother (lunch money, bus fare for school... food...) My mother tithed 30% of it as if it was her salary. That meant we either had no breakfast or no lunch... we were not allowed to tell my father that we walked rather than took the bus to school, we couldn´t say we skipped a meal on a daily basis... The worst was lunchtime at school. We had to say hot or cold... I was almost always cold lunch which meant "no lunch" or a banana or apple. We ate several mustard sandwiches as children! Before feast days my mother would instruct me or another sibling to ask for money for shoes, clothes etc... Then she would use that as her tithe money at Passover, Pentecost, Unleavened bread... We were forced to fast as young kids and my mother fasted when she was pregnant
We were beaten with my fathers belt if we complained about going to church. I was my mom´s favorite when it came to belt time! She was jealous of the relationship I had with my Dad. We were close because we had the same birthday. Which meant at least I had a birthday present every year (something forbidden!) I would always go to bat for my siblings as well... reminding my Dad over and over of their birthdays. My mom would lose or hide our gifts saying they were evil. But at least we had a few hours or days of fun!
This jealousy would eventually cross over to some of my siblings. My 2 older brothers decided that would start to sexually abuse me when I was around 6 years old.  Now they were in their teens and did know better. It took me till maybe 10 years of age to come to the conclusion that this was wrong and I told my mother. Several of the "church boys" also took these liberties with their sisters. How do I know? The boys would gloat about it before and after church together in front of us! Of course we were humiliated but since "everyone's doing it" was the policy, it hardly seemed wrong. Now this is when my relationship really started to go sour with my mother. She blamed it on me... a 6-10 yr. old, not my 15 and 17 year old brothers. Told me that if I told my dad then my brothers would be thrown out and if they weren´t at home they would die when the trumpets sounded without the churches protection... She said she had "counseled" the situation with her pastor and was told as long as I hadn´t had my period then "it was normal experimental behavior" etc... an excuse to make me shut up. She also just said for me to keep quiet because  I  may have to leave the house and I wouldn´t be able to go to the place of safety either!
We were told on a weekly basis we would either die a miserable death or go to this "place of safety" soon. So we never spoke of what we wanted to be when we grew up. Never spoke of college or even high school at some points.  We had no immunizations and remember the horror every year of being called out of class and having to explain to the school nurse and then having to get notes from the church to take to school. I remember one feast in WI. Dells when the whole congregation was called to pray for a small girl suffering from appendicitis. Her parents had refused medical care for her, she died a few days later and I was truly devastated. As I look back now as a mother I do not understand this. How can a parent watch a child die knowing how to cure them? It is murder. How many children died over these years? And why could higher up members or HWA himself recieve medical care and his believers no?
I too, like Anna, on your website had sock mittens, only one pair of pants, a winter coat that went to my elbows, bread bag boots, a hungry belly that groaned at night, nightmares of the shadows resembling Jesus on my closet door, dying of thirst going to the place of safety, or the church not allowing us to go (it would be expensive, my mother would say).


Racism in my church. We had ONE black family. At church dances we were instructed to not dance with them.. We had an Asian woman and her white husband join...During the Sermon they were called to stand and were given as an example not to follow. ( They had married before entering "the church") My mother was called a "Spiritual widow" because my father didn´t attend church. We were treated as second class citizens because of this. My best friend at 16 was forced to marry our earlier YES teacher because she became pregnant by his abuse... He was in his late thirties. He came from a prominent family and everyone excepted it. Even though she had maintained sexual relations with him since she was 13. He would later on sexually abuse their 2 year old daughter and she would be asked to leave the church and him allowed to stay. Another friend who also tithed her non-church going husbands money... She wanted to leave him because he abused drugs, she was told by the pastor that she would be discommunicated for leaving her husband. My sister was kicked out for wearing gold earrings that resembled calves( they were koalas!). My brothers left to assume crime ridden lives. I left  and had a family of 4 kids by the time I was 21. My mother and younger sister left to join the Spin off church that was voted on in our area. The still attend. My sister and mother are followers... They just did away with ALL their beliefs and joined a Sunday worship, xmas celebrating, ham eating church. I was so excited to tell my father this years later. (She never told him of the changes). Needless to say, there was no Ham brought into that house after that day by my dad! My Dad years ago stopped drinking, I have told him about all the secrets and abuse and he hugged me and said " I would of protected you if I´d only known" I don´t know if that´s true or not... I´ve forgiven my mother. She only did what she knew growing up. She was brainwashed, weak, ill. I rejected ALL faiths for years. It was very hard to learn to love a "new" God! A forgiving, loving God.
I am now a Catholic convert and love my newfound faith. It has taken years for me to learn to trust people at church. My Catholic community have helped pay for my children's education, have embraced me and my family, treat our family with respect and only ask for what we can give. The reason I write this is that I know how scary it can be for our old demons to pop up. Many of us run from religion after the experience of growing up in a cult. What we need to remember is that there is only ONE GOD. The different faiths just choose to worship him differently. ALL faiths. The World Wide Church of God did NOT worship God. We worshiped HWA and his teachings. We cannot forget this. HWA had many symptoms of Schizophrenia, from finding secret messages in jumbled up scripture to thinking he was God or God´s Prophet. Most people who "run" cults may start out in the beginning thinking they´re in it for the money or even to do good, but most actually end up thinking they are God to their followers, and they are! We gave HWA and his Elders the power and we have the power to take it away. As long as you run from YOUR true God, He, HWA still has you under his thumb.
Finding my way back to faith has helped heal me and the counseling I´ve received from my new Church has given me back my life. Whether it´s Mainstream Christianity, Judaism, Islam... Or just going up to the mountains to enjoy nature... We need need to feel at one with ourselves, our greater humanity and community. By totally disbelieving in a higher force, whatever that may be... does ourselves a great injustice. You can be agnostic and pray to your God... We can become atheist and respect people who believe in God. HWA taught that only his people deserved respect, even though we never received it! He wanted us to ostracize ourselves from the world so that no one would talk us back to our senses! We can´t give up... If we do he wins....
Beth R.


Thank you for submitting your letter to the Painful Truth.

This letter stands as testimony as to the mental deterioration one can find in the various Churches of God. Placing a guilt trip on a six year old or even a ten year old child is to blame them for others actions. Armstrongism has always called out to people in psychological dissociation or distressed situations. It sounds like your mothers dissociation with reality was her way to sidestep dealing with distress producing events, such as being a member of Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God. The people who joined the WCG were attracted to the power from a helpless and powerless existence. Unfortunately, your story is typical of so many others here on the “Horror Story” pages.

“The idea of forgiveness is one of the most difficult issues with which survivors of sexual or domestic violence must deal.”

Try this link for a better understanding of survival : How the Christian Church Guilt-Trips Survivors.

“Racism in my church.”

From M.A.M: “With his adoration for the past, it is no surprise that Armstrong’s views on race relations remained unchanged from his youth. Segregation, bans on interracial dating and marriage, and the inferiority of the “Negro” race were things he took for granted. As his article in the   October,1963 Plain Truth demonstrated, Armstrong cloaked the racial prejudice practiced in the Jim Crow south with Biblical garb. His attempt to make racism Biblical is truly astonishing."

People like Armstrong are not born—they are excreted.

Editor #5

 Page numbers on magazine and not the pdf document: 6, 22, 23, 26-31


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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.

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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.

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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.

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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.

Click here for Page Five,
Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.

Click here for Page Six,
Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.

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Worldwide Church of God Horror Stories.













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