Home Page

Herbert Armstrong


Ambassador Watch

Site Guide


A Conversation with Bill Fairchild

Note: Bill is a man who speaks his mind, as those who have read his material on Ed Mentell's Painful Truth site can attest. This interview is no exception. Questions were put by Gavin Rumney.

MD: You seem to have been aware of a lot of problems with the church for a long time. Yet you stuck with the church through till the mid-90s. What was the "glue" that kept you hanging in there for so long?

Bill: The "glue" that kept me in was the church's teaching on "the government of God".  Specifically, we low-level peons must obey the leaders even if we know absolutely that they are thieving, murderous, lying-ass dog conmen, because God put them in charge, only God can remove them, we should have faith that God will correct the leadership problems when the time is right, and "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft."  This teaching allows not only a camel's nose but also an entire aircraft carrier to sneak in underneath the tent flap.  The glue was fear.  Fear of pissing off God.  That is what kept me in when I read issue no. 1 of The Ambassador Report by Trechak et al. around 1976 or 1977.  I also read a book about this time, possibly by Robinson, detailing the many failures and sins of Pervert W. HARMstrong, such as his keeping a "flog log", which was his diary of whenever he masturbated.  A year or two after deciding to ignore my strong revulsion and to let fear rule my life and make me stay in, I started leading songs, then giving sermonettes, then found myself ordained a deacon and ultimately a LCE.  My own ascent up the power ladder and food chain in the Washington , DC church area provided more incentive to stay in.  Fame, glory, and power are powerful incentives.  A big fish even in a small pond filled with the weak of the world still feels like a big fish.  Finally in 1996 I couldn't stand the massive stupidity of the top management any more, and quit in disgust after the gang of four told me it was OK for me to leave.  I was still valiantly trying to obey "the government of God."  I had finally been given permission by the same alleged government to leave, so I was able to convince myself that I was obeying God by leaving.  Since then I have come to have radically different opinions about any such government and whether we should obey them or not.

MD: Apologizing is something WCG leaders seem to have a constitutional aversion to. And some of them have so much to apologize for! I know you've added your name, as a former local elder, to the apology section on Ed's site. Then I read your comments about Brian Knowles, who went out of his way to apologize to the couples he advised to split up during the years the church taught a particularly harsh D&R doctrine. You mentioned that he was the only minister you know of who had the decency to do that... 

Bill: Please don't construe my comment about Knowles to mean that he was definitely the only one to apologize.  I was a low-level peon employee and did not have many high-level contacts.  The only reason I knew about Knowles was because a close friend of mine at HQ worked in the booklet department, which was being managed by Knowles at that time.  My friend told me the story about Knowles' apology.  I can't vouch for the truth of the story.  I certainly hope that Knowles did that.  Any human with power who is still humble enough to seek out and apologize to all the people whom he has hurt by abusing his power would probably not go around telling others how he had apologized.  If anyone reading this knows of any cases of true ministerial apology, he should write to you and give that minister the praise due him. I have exchanged many emails recently with someone I knew at HQ 30 years ago and who knew Howard Clark very closely for the last few years, and I believe that Howard Clark was also a real human being, who tried to help as many get over being in the cult as he could before he died a few months ago.  I didn't know Howard myself very well 30 years ago, but this fits in with what I knew about him.  But stories like that are not publicized widely.  The bad and rotten ones get all the publicity.  The broad majority are mediocre and avoid publicity because they have nothing much to brag about, but also have somewhat to hide.  We will never hear publicly about the very few who are truly good, because they are good and promoting your own virtues is not part of being good.  At the time I wrote my autobio for the Painful Truth website, I had not yet begun emailing my friend who knew Clark so well, so at that time Knowles was the only one I knew of who had tried to make people whole again.

We were constantly being fed "strong meat" sermons about our need to confess our sins and repent, but we never heard about any ministers doing that.  The one exception was Gagner Stud's alleged confession and repentance in early 1972 so that he could get back into his powerful position as the no. 2 top dog in the food chain and "be used by God" some more.  A few years later I read about what really went on with his alleged repentance.  People in positions of power will ALWAYS try to cover up their mistakes.  That's one of the hundreds, or maybe thousands, or reasons why NO human being should ever be entrusted with any kind of power over others.  As Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Great men are almost always bad men.”

There was one other case that I heard of.  Roy Demarest told me around 1995 that HWA had apologized once to the Pasadena congregation about something pretty major (which I can't remember now).  I nodded politely, and thought why couldn't that grand pervert have had the balls to apologize to the whole church through a letter or article in the Worldwide News or Plain Truth.  He never apologized to me.  I wasn't there that day when he did that.  There were other cases when he would confide something to the Pasadena congregation where he was preaching that he probably felt, for legal reasons at least, that it would not be prudent to put in writing and to publicize, such as when he told the HQ church about Stan Rader's secret legal maneuverings to put himself (Rader) in charge of everything should HWA ever die, Rader was plotting to sell the whole church HQ and college campus to CalTech, etc.  All this was revealed by HWA to the HQ church some time around 1982.  I don't necessarily believe that this was true, either.  All of those top level bastards were liars and thieves, as are almost all top leaders in all organizations (at least according to Lord Acton).  Some were more successful than others at stealing, lying, character assassination, manipulation, and covering it all up.  We have a similar case now with trying to find out if Iraq has any weapons of mass destruction.  Our government tells us that even if no evidence is found by the UN inspectors that that is proof that Iraq has been concealing evidence.  What a load of shit!  All any reasonable person can conclude is to say "A plague on both your houses" and refuse to believe either side or to participate in any such obvious mental frauds.

MD: You are, I think, the only former WCG member I know of who has read Noam Chomsky, which is an interesting observation all in itself. Can you briefly tell us how his ideas on mind control helped you get a handle on that issue.

Noam Chomsky

Bill: I read in one of the Ambassador Reports that Trechak was lamenting that so few church member or ex-members had ever read any of Michael Parenti's works, and Parenti is a greatly simplified and far more easily readable version of Chomsky.  I just happened to stumble upon Chomsky’s work before I did Parenti’s.  I started reading Chomsky's works because of his mind-shattering and massively documented exposés of our hideously cynical, sinful, and downright EVIL American foreign policy.  The big attraction of HWA's con game was that we should get into an organized effort to "cry aloud, spare not, and show my people their sins...blah blah" and to warn the world of what was coming.  I still feel this way.  On the other hand, HWA also taught us not to question anything our human political government did, to trust God to run the nation, rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, getting involved in politics is Satanic, blah blah.  We contented ourselves with publishing hundreds of magazine articles explaining that individuals were breaking the Sabbath, lusting after evil things, polluting the earth, etc.  But we never said a word about the physical pollution caused by our own U.S. government, the manipulations in other nations' internal affairs, the theft of trillions of dollars made possible by politicians, and all the secret coups and major overt wars we were involved in ever since about 1860 designed to prop up and promote the profits of certain  American business interests that were protected and connected with political leaders through bribery, blackmail, all forms of treachery, or simply institutional evolution.  That is exactly Chomsky's message.  He is very hard to read because every other sentence has a footnote, and I prefer to go read the footnote when I first see it referenced.  Parenti is much easier to read because he has far fewer footnotes, but he has essentially the same message as Chomsky, as do many others, such as Ed Herman and Howard Zinn.

The very first book of Chomsky's that I read was "Manufacturing Consent", which Ed Herman mostly wrote and Chomsky collaborated on.  This book explains just exactly who is doing the deceiving, mind manipulation, and how it happens.  We were already taught to believe that the whole world is deceived.  When I saw Trechak's lament that only a handful of ex-members were reading Parenti, I knew at once that even fewer than a handful would be reading Chomsky.  Chomsky has pretty much the same message as HWA did, except Chomsky has removed all the religious and prophetic trash surrounding the message.  That's why it appealed to me so much.  Parenti's books are written like Tom Clancy novels compared to Chomsky’s, whose writings are like Strong’s Concordancecompared to Parenti’s.    More thought and effort are required to plow through Chomsky's writings.  Also he has a somewhat dry writing style and interjects wit and sarcasm only rarely.

Not only am I reading Chomsky, but I also met him and spent about 20 minutes in his office chatting with him in May, 2000.  I moved to the greater Boston area in July, 1998, I had started reading his books, and I knew he was a professor of linguistics at MIT in Cambridge , so I emailed him out of the blue one day and asked if I could come talk with him in his office some time.  He replied to set up an appointment with his secretary, which I promptly did.  Not only is he one of the most brilliant, honest, and outspoken men alive, but also he is very humble and easily approachable (unless you are foolish enough to challenge him and not have massive documentation for your case).  He is one of the rare exceptions to Lord Acton's statement - a great man who is not also a bad man.  He is an American Jew who is honest enough and not afraid to criticize Israel when he feels it deserves criticism.  He has opinions in other areas with which I do not agree (such as economics), but his research into and speaking out on the evils of American foreign policy are absolutely right on.  I have also seen him twice in live speaking activities in the greater Boston area since moving here.  He is now 74 years old, still a full-time professor at MIT, and still actively sparing not, crying out in the wilderness, and exposing the unfruitful works of darkness coming out of the Washington-corporate collusion, all of which are messages that SHOULD have been part of the WCG's commission, if it was ever to have any commission to warn the world of anything.  I told Chomsky that I loved reading his works, but they were hard to read because of the heavy footnoting.  He nodded in agreement, and replied that whenever you attack or criticize a powerful institution, such as the US government’s foreign policy or US media, you must thoroughly document what you say.

The mind manipulation, propaganda, and mind control in the USA are getting worse every day.  Our government lies to us constantly.  Q:  How can you tell when a politician is lying?  A:  His lips are moving.  The "freedom of the press" guaranteed in our Constitution's first amendment does not guarantee that the press will tell us the truth; it only guarantees that the government cannot shut down the news media.  Financial profit and other selfish motives have driven our news media into becoming little more than stenographers for the latest government propaganda.  We have our political whores in Congress and in all 50 states' legislatures, and we also have our propaganda whores in the news media.  I read a lot of news stories from the Internet so that I can have access to the news as seen in other countries, and also I read a LOT of "alternative news" stories.  What is on our television is total trash.  Even the so-called all news networks like CNN and FOX are turning into pure entertainment.

MD: I got a kick out of your anecdote about Raymond McNair's bicentennial book (Ascent to Greatness.) I confess that it's the only book of American history I've ever read, so now you've got me really worried!  Any other WCG related nominations for the "most ridiculous book" award you'd care to make?

Bill: You probably didn't have time to read any other book on American history.  Neither did I.  We were all so busy reading the garbage published in Pasadena that the only reason I made time to read McNair's book was because it was written by "one of God's top servants", so therefore it must be inspiring, true, worth reading, etc.  That's the only WCG-related  book that I ever read that I felt was poorly written and ridiculous.  I think Raymond McNair must have a very weak mind, as he also wrote a Plain Truth article with which I strongly disagreed for logical and scientific reasons.  I was a true believer when reading McNair's book.  Even as a true believer I was never able to turn off my mind completely, and I could see how his book had been hastily and sloppily put together, probably in order to meet a publishing deadline in order to cash in on the bicentennial mania around 1976.  I gave up on his book in total disgust.  I read Rader's book about the gates of hell, Garner Stud's book, and all the other books produced by bona fide church leaders for years and years.  McNair's book totally sucked.  It has some historical data in it that is correct, but I just couldn't gag it down with all the obvious flaws.  For anyone who wants to learn about American history, I would suggest he start with "Lies My Teacher Taught Me" and go from there.  First you must learn what is wrong with the way history is taught.  After you understand that, then you can read one or more history books from the right perspective.  There is a great deal we can all learn by reading history books, but before we start we must learn how to evaluate history books we might want to read, how to recognize when an author is grinding an axe or pushing an agenda, when an account is one-sided, etc.  Before we can start learning any subject WE FIRST HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO LEARN properly.  One of the main things we should learn very early in life, but unfortunately most of us never learn, is how to recognize faulty reasoning, factless emotional appeals, and propaganda when we see it.

The problem is that our American educational system pumps out just as much mind-manipulating propaganda as do our government and news media, and as the WCG did and still does.  Yes, such-and-such a Founding Father did whatever in the year 1783 or something, but what is left out is an explanation of why, what were all the influences on him at the time, how much of his motive was his own immediate personal profit vs. any possible lofty idealistic vision of the future country, how important was what he did, etc.  And our public school system has become reprehensibly negligent in truly educating our youth.  It's bad enough when we learn silly myths about our history in school that tend to mythologize our own history.  But schools today don't even teach the silly myths any more.  A great emphasis is placed on learning all about diversity, political correctness, feeling good about yourself, outcome-based education instead of learning anything, etc.  As Chomsky et al. point out, the public school system is just another part of the government-business collusion's propaganda system which has the result of producing a steady stream of non-thinking zombies who can willingly be manipulated into buying whatever trash is the fad of the moment, consume consume buy buy spend spend debt debt TV TV, or even march off to war in order to support some insane policy that can't be explained to us.  Here, gimme your mind; take this credit card and go into debt; take this rifle and go kill the evil ones; be cannon fodder for Unocal, AT&T, Wal-mart, Martin Marietta, etc.

MD: You were at HQ when the auditorium was completed, and you attended the inaugural concert. Any thoughts on the prospect of its demolition less than 30 years later?

Bill: It pains me greatly to think that such a fine building would have to be demolished rather than used for its intended purposed, which was to be an auditorium for performing arts.  The fact that I personally sacrificed to help pay for it is irrelevant.  I didn't help pay for the Globe Theater in England where Shakespeare plays were performed, and never saw a live performance of any of Gilbert & Sullivan's operettas done by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, yet I was pained when both of those fine old English cultural institutions had to close down.  On the other hand, I would feel a certain amount of satisfaction knowing that every remaining vestige of Armstrongism has been destroyed.  That includes the current incarnation of the WCG, the gang of four, the entire church, and all the hundreds of offshoots.  The people in these various cults should not be destroyed, but the organizations should, as should all other cults, mainstream churches, and governments - anything which teaches lies, manipulates people, and abuses power.  All people everywhere should learn to think for themselves instead of being manipulated into believing they should let someone else think for them and tell them what to do or believe.

MD: Things have continued to change rapidly since you left the church. Or have they? Is Joe Tkach doing anything right?

Bill: Joe Tkach, Jr. is the great clueless one.  The blind leading the blind.  He is at least savvy enough to be providing for his own personal and very comfortable future, I am sure.  I don't give them any thought or follow their stupid blundering mistakes closely.  I'll be content to read in a few years that they finally managed to self-destruct totally.  I really don't have any interest in watching their day-to-day shenanigans.  I am too busy reading Chomsky, news items from Jeff Rense's and Orlin Grabbe's website, real history books, original source material (such as Hitler's Mein Kampf, Lenin's speeches, Gandhi's works, Nietzsche's books, Plato, Melville, Hawthorne, etc.) rather than others' opinions about what is in these books.  Right now, e.g., I am reading a 900-page biography of Goebbels as well as a 600-page book on the American Revolution.  I know your website places a lot of emphasis on WCG watching, which is fine.  It just doesn't interest me any more, but I don't expect others to be interested in what I am interested, either.

MD: It's been a long trek from that day in 1965 when you first heard GTA on your car radio, through to the present. After all those years, though, GTA is still at it. Rod Meredith has just celebrated a half century of "ministry" with no sign of divergent brain activity, and Herb's memory endures even though he's been dead 16 years. With Ted and Rod, I sometimes wonder if these guys have learned anything in all that time. Is there one thing you know now that you'd want to share with your younger self if you had the opportunity? 

Bill: I got sucked into the cult because I had lost a lot of my self-esteem due to things I brought upon myself in 1964 and 1965 (youthful stupidity, indiscretions, and rash deeds).   I shoved my mind and my intellectual curiosity about almost everything onto the back burner in 1966 when I gave HWA control over my mind.  Nobody gave me my mind back in 1996.  I woke up, smelled the coffee, and TOOK my mind back from the bastards.  Now I am eagerly devouring knowledge about everything with a vengeance.  As it says somewhere in the New Testament, I have left the dead to bury their own dead.  That's what the WCG is now - the dead.  The blind and dead leading the blind and dead.  The best thing anyone still in any church can do is to read a Bible- and Christianity-refuting work like Thomas Paine's Age of Reason.  He wrote that around 1791.  We learned enough about difficult scriptures in the WCG to be able to explain away some of what he says, but not most of it, and certainly not his central premise.  Get rid of all false beliefs, read widely, learn what is myth and what is not, trust no man, question EVERYTHING, and don't trust yourself either.  There are many excellent websites devoted to Deism and atheism with well-written, well-reasoned, and well-documented essays on what is wrong with the Bible, with religion in general, with Christianity in particular, and with any faith-based belief system.  Faith really means turning off your ability to think.  We can never hope to understand everything, even if we are great thinkers, but turning off our thinking processes and believing that black is white just because our religious or political leaders say so is a sure, quick way to destruction.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity you have given me to vent my spleen and rant.  And I am pleasantly surprised that you have not changed anything I wrote.  You are a rare and honest journalist/editor.  I am a perfectionist, and that is probably one of the many reasons why I was attracted to Perbie's message.  We were supposed to be perfecting ourselves, with God's help, and to cry out about all the imperfect things we saw going on around us that were causing the slow death and eventual self-destruction of all humanity.  These seemed like very worthy goals to me when I was a low-self-esteemed young man of age 22 in 1966, just out of college, starting my own independent life, finding my own place in the world.  The church's alleged commission appealed to me greatly.  It still does.  It is such a pity that the current WCG has lost all its zeal.  There are some groups and some brilliant individuals who are zealously speaking out against the great evils of our day.  One of the reasons I admire Chomsky so much is that in addition to his intellectual brilliance he is also a tireless zealot for his cause, has never burned out, is optimistic, and so far seems to have kept his personal integrity.  The big problem with the WCG's original message was all the myth, false religion, false teaching, and thievery at high levels that were associated with the ostensible goal of getting out the global warning message, which is even more badly needed today.  We like to find simple explanations for all our complex problems, such as blaming all the current problems in the USA on our national inability to follow the ideals of our Founding Fathers, international Communism, or now "terrorism".  The WCG's simple explanation for everything was the Devil made us do it.  These are all myths that have the effect of keeping us mentally enslaved to abusive power structures.  I definitely do not know everything, and do not have all the answers, but I have at least learned not to believe in popular opinion.  HWA taught me that all those other churches were wrong, as indeed they were and still are.  Then I found out that his church was wrong, too.  He also taught me that the whole world was deceived, as indeed it was and still is.  Then I found out that I, too, had been deceived by Perbert the Deceiver.  Now I am working assiduously on avoiding deception wherever and whenever I smell it coming at me.  And it is everywhere.  HWA also taught me that life is one constant opportunity to learn, as indeed it is, and that we must keep learning or stagnate and die.  I am working happily on that one now.  HWA also taught us that the only thing that is constant is change, as indeed it is.  Not everything HWA said was wrong.  And I could have learned all these wise principles from a large number of others.  So a year from now I may not be interested in Chomsky, politics, economics, abuse of power, or the USA's attempts to achieve global hegemony.  But I will still be trying to learn new things.  Chomsky and other thinkers like him turn off a lot of people because their political views are perceived to be "leftist" or conspiratorial.  I don't know or care what left and right mean any more in the political sense.  I only concern myself with what seems to increase everyone’s personal liberty and responsibility, and to decrease abusive power wielded by others.

As England Dan and John Ford Coley sang so inspiringly 20 years ago, "Light of the world, shine on me, love is the answer.  Shine on us all, set us free, love is the answer."  Not blind, sappy love, but rather the "enlightened self-interest" that I first heard about from Howard Clark 30 years ago.   Which is what the Golden Rule is all about, and which was written about by Plato and Confucius many hundreds of years before it was attributed to the Jesus of the Bible.

MD: One last question Bill, and I guess it'll occur to others too. How you feel about the whole God/Christianity thing now? Would you describe yourself, for example, as a skeptic or agnostic?

Bill: When I left the Worldweird Cult in 1996, I still felt as if I believed in Jesus but most definitely not in his church.  I vowed never again to trust any organization of humans that had more than one person in it.  I didn't do any real religious or theological reading for another four years.  Then I discovered the Internet.  My current belief system is constantly undergoing fine tuning as I read more and more.  Right now I am still convinced that some THING created everything that exists, but I have no clue, nor care to have any clue, as to why.  And if anybody tries to tell me he knows what God's will is for me, I run the other way.  Sometimes I think that my core belief means I should be called a Deist.  I prefer that label to atheist because I am not yet convinced that there is NO God.  Anyway, that's my core belief.  I am also utterly convinced now that we humans have MAJOR deficiencies in our minds; namely, we have an almost universal need to believe in some kind of myth, even if we intellectually know it is a crock of shit, because it makes us feel better.  We willingly give in to leaders who usually do not themselves believe what they tell us we must believe.  The masses of humanity are truly dumb sheep who are for the most part being manipulated, milked, looted, and bled dry by a very few who are ruthless, cynical, and utterly evil.  My morality system boils down to the Golden Rule.  And, for me personally, there is an extra commandment:  Thou shalt and must read and learn all that thou canst.  Much intellectual curiosity has been given to me, and I believe that much learning is therefore expected of me.

I have also read several works by Acharya S and others that refute the Bible, the Jesus myth, and all other religious myths.  I strongly suggest to MD readers that they consider such writings.  The bottom line here is that there is NO credible, undisputed evidence documenting the existence of Jesus in the 1st century A.D. in the Roman province of Judea; there is a great deal of evidence showing how the early church fathers commonly practiced plagiarism, lying, manipulation, fraud, and deliberate forging or creation of fake stories and writings about Jesus in order to increase their own followings (i.e., power and money); there is plenty of evidence showing how church fathers voted on which N.T. books to include in their canonized version, and that the reasons in many cases why one book was chosen and another rejected were political rather than theological; and there is a great deal of evidence showing that all the details associated with Jesus were identical to details of Mithra and plenty of other fake gods of 3rd century Mediterranean cultures.  The Roman Emperor Constantine, in order to consolidate his empire more perfectly, put all the teachings from all the religions in his vast realm into one huge theological stew-pot, stirred it up with the help of theologians, and out came the religion called Christianity which he then cynically embraced as his own and forced all others in his empire to accept on pain of death.  The Christianity of the Bible is a hodge-podge of wise sayings, feel-good morality for weak and willing dupes, and magical mystery myths attributed to a literary fictional character.  And that's the theoretical, idealistic, nicey-nice Christianity of the Bible.  The real Christianity as practiced by hundreds of millions of people for the last 1,700 years or so has been rape, pillage, murder, looting, genocide, tyranny, hypocrisy, and deception.  I don't want either flavor of "Christianity" for myself.