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These letters published December 22  2002 (with Ambassador Watch 33)


Someone sent me a bit of info from your web site someone had furnished to you without fully verifying. I thought you might want to know.

You wrote, "Ducky's is the work of John Prohs, a former AC employee ..."

Actually, Ducky's Village is not one of his endeavors; I know because I am it's creator. He has never been involved with the site; but he is with with the Church of God, AIC (Hulme).

In an interesting dialog that followed on from this email we were able to confirm the Duckys web administrator's identity (but we're not telling!)  We also discovered that Duckys is one of the longest running COG related sites on the web, since 1995, predating almost everything else now on offer. If MD is around just half that long we'll be deliriously happy!

Greetings from England.

I'm a new reader of AW and so far have not delved much into your archives. But I do notice that the Churches of God Outreach Ministries (CGOM) is invisible on the site. You probably know we are an offcut from CGI following the GTA debacle. In short, CGOM decided that we would not go the way of a mega-church, but would follow what we think is the New Testament pattern of independent local assemblies each working together voluntarily for various outreach programmes - eg the bi-monthly New Horizons magazine, a web-site etc.

This way we don't need a bureaucracy, buildings, imposed rules, salary structures etc. Each local assembly has full autonomy - no hierarchy breathing down its neck.

If any visitors to your site would like to know more about us, you may see more on our developing web-site at CGOM is still very much in its infancy. However, we see it as a possible way forward for all the larger COG denominations.

Thanks for your time. I will be pleased to respond to any queries at COGUK@AOL.COM

James McBride

James, you might not realize it, but there are some who wish their groups were invisible on MD! You'll find CGOM already listed on the links page and that it features in our splits and splinters graphic (including a link.)

I really enjoy your website and check it out every Sunday or Monday for the latest.  You quoted Steve Dalton in your latest mailbag section.  I remember his work from the ESN website, which he is no longer part of.  Does he have his own website yet, or any pages on another website somewhere?  Thanks for any help!

The bad news is, no, Steve's articles were removed from ESN and he has no current website. The good news is we've got Steve penciled in for our interview series here on MD early next year. And - speak of the devil...

 Earlier this year, while doing research on my family's history, I had some DNA tests run on me to track down my genetic make-up. When the test results came back, I got some surprises about my Dalton family history. I was told we were Scot-Irish, but the tests showed that we are Irish, with quite a bit of German, English, Scandinavian, Scot, Welsh, and even Spanish and Native American. Some searching on the net showed that my branch of the Dalton family were Irish who lived in England before and during the 1500's and came to America in the late 1600's.

Now I had reason to believe my Spanish ancestor was of Jewish descent, for her name was one that was used by Jews in Spain before the expulsion in 1492. So I asked Bennet Greenspan, the president of, where I got my testing done, on the wisdom of taking the Cohanin test that is being used to discover possible descendants of the high priest Aaron. Bennet told me that my previous test results would indicate that the test would probably be negative. Now you (and many Armstrongite COG British-Israel supporters) may ask, what does this have to do with British-Israelism?

I ask, if the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Scandinavian people are supposed to be descendants of Jacob, why didn't my test results show any relation to any Semitic group like the Jews? If we are Israelites, why don't certain genetic illnesses like Tay-Sachs and Familial Mediterranean Fever show up in people of Nordic descent unless they have some Arab or Jewish ancestry? The answer is painfully simple: The Nordic people are Indo-European, the descendants of Japheth, while the Israelites are Semitic, the descendants of Shem. The Norse traditions, collected in the Sagas, show that the ancestors of the Nordic people came from the Far East, not the Middle East. So my own genetic make-up disproves the British-Israel doctrine, and if the various Armstrongite COG spin-off members would get genetic testing like I did, they would have evidence from their own bodies that this doctrine is a silly fable. I'd like to see GTA, RCM, and the other COG leaders take these tests. They would find out in a hurry that there's more of a chance of them having Native American, Sub-Saharan African... and Turkish DNA than Israelite! What is blow to racialist pride that would be! LOL!

Steve Dalton

They can tell all that from a DNA sample? Just as well that technology wasn't around in the Third Reich! You make some interesting points. I wonder though whether any ethnographer worth their salt would give credence to the sons of Noah (Shem, Ham and Japheth) being the progenitors of modern racial groupings in anything other than an eponymous sense.

I am just amazed at the responses to your new poll on whether Herbert will make it to heaven.  The amazing thing is the over 150 some people who think he will have a VIP position!  I hope they only voted for humor instead of being serious!

Probably just one of Herb's twisted devotees who thinks he's being really clever by manipulating the vote. If the old sinner is going to rise again, it's gonna be in the Third Resurrection (using the language of WCG eschatology.) On the same topic...

I just checked the current results of the latest poll, and either I misjudged who [the MD] viewing audience is, or someone has been trying to fix the results to reflect what they think they should be.

from "Top Ten Ambassador College Alumni Christmas Party Traditions: (forwarded, author not identified)" [AW32]

6. Special hillbilly Santa with stringy beard and sack full of possum

Thanks for passing along the stereotypical slam on us Appalachians... we get pretty tired of this bigotry.

I guess that's understandable. I'm sure Tom, who sent in the item, will feel suitably chastened. The line between humor and offense has always been a fine one. Come to think of it, maybe I should stop telling Australian jokes?... Nah, a bloke's gotta have some vices.

I was looking at that new "PCG info" site and suddenly realized I had become paranoid.  I see Flurry as starting with a bunch of people who saw things his way.  He indoctrinated them for years, then began culling the "flock".  Forbidding them to read "dissident literature" or talk and associate with anyone outside the church, even family, he tightened his control. 

Now, he's building this "estate" even tho' we're in the "last hour".  Is it possible that Gerry will give the word to flee to the most loyal of his flock, tell them to get themselves to the "estate" where they will live as slaves to Gerry's wishes and whims?  That this is all a huge hoax, that when things go bad, Flurry will be sitting pretty with his own brainwashed workforce to grow his food and wait on him while he and his cronies live like kings in their fortress?  Is he buying grenades and machine guns?  Boy am I glad I got out when I did.  "That Prophet" was too much for me to swallow at the time and I thank the Kuhnes for putting it into words that I couldn't.

What a close call.  Then I was poor and broke, just fodder for money mad PCG, now they would want me to stay so I'm glad I'm long gone.  I give my money where it will do the most good, not to PCG. Thanks for publishing Kuhne's letter and site.  Anyone with an association in PCG needs to see that.


These letters published December 15  2002 (with Ambassador Watch 32)

From the 12/8 MD, regarding Greg Albrecht as Dean:

...we wonder if the Lord has ever "laid it on his heart" to look up the many young students whose lives he had such a devastating impact on, and offer a sincere personal apology for such heavy-handed, paternalistic off-the-wall meddling. Not from what we've heard!

I have to admit, he did apologize to my now husband for trying to force us apart when we were in AC. I was not included in the apology, but my husband believes it was sincere and has accepted it. This was probably 8-10 years ago now. Albrecht said that he was happy to see us together and prospering. The context of the discussion was the many failed marriages of couples who were our contemporaries at AC despite the stamp of approval from the administration; we, who didn't fit the mold of the ideal AC couple in any way, shape or form, and who had been forbidden to see, write to or speak with one another for many long months on pain of expulsion from college, were now in a successful marriage.

We still are, thanks be to God.

(name provided)

Greetings from England.

By way of introduction, I co-ordinate the Churches of God, UK (COGUK) and we are associated with the Churches of God Outreach Ministries (CGOM). I edit the CGOM magazine New Horizons and the Bible Basics study course  (both viewable on the CGOM website, The local COGUK (OUTREACH) Newsletter is monthly. COGUK is a tiny corner stall in the COG marketplace! ...

I noticed on the December 1st issue of AW (re the church in Britain) that I am supposedly associated with the CEM/ICG group who run the festival in Kendal. This is not so - I do not have any association with this site. It would be appreciated if you would place a note to this effect, please.

I like your tongue-in-the-cheek and often witty comments on the COG scene.

Many thanks

James McBride

Thanks James. The reference to COGUK and CEM/ICG is on Robert Taylor's news page, which AW30 linked to.

Hi Gavin!

At Sabbath services in San Diego a week ago [Dr. Meredith] "publicly announced that we should not be surprised if those in NC referred to us as part of a cult or sect" (Bob Thiel)

It sounds like Dr. Meredith already has received a bit of Charlotte "Bible Belt Baptist" hospitality. For one thing, it's the future headquarters city of Billy Graham (and has been de facto for years). The infamous PTL Club was based just down the interstate in South Carolina -- and when Jim Bakker was sighted in the Charlotte area a few years ago, TV stations gave it "live team coverage."

There's also a big religious radio network based in Charlotte which is VERY straight-laced in the music it plays and the messages it presents. The head man condemns Contemporary Christian Music every chance he can.  He won't let most female preachers on the air. He praises the U.S. President. He.... 

Hey, wait a minute. LCG ought to get along great with this guy.

Take care, Richard Burkard

It would appear that to assume the "doctor" (and I use that term loosely) would have any intent or meaning in his statement referencing the definition of the LCG as a "cult" or a "sect" [see AW 31], would be to assume that he has anything worthwhile to say.  "Always a day late, but never a dollar short", he seems to have nothing to say when something is meaningful, but a lot to say when something is insignificant!  It would appear that labeling it a "money machine" would be better suited, but obviously rejected by the "true believers". Are there "two rewards" that one receives for doing Christ's "work"?  If not, the second one he's looking for may be doubtful.  In my opinion, he is merely using a "tactical statement" to deflect attention from something else...maybe a little research by the curious?  Facts always speak for themselves.  They are what have to be "properly presented" by the "faithful" ministry to keep up the appearances necessary to "do the work".  May the truth set you free.

I read the following at your site:

"Armstrong himself admitted to excessive drinking as a young man, but 'not at all even the fraction of the volume of an alcoholic' (Autobiography, p. 240). Commenting on this, a writer for the Exit and Support Network noted that his statement is typical of an alcoholic in denial" ... [see the MD page on HWA and Booze]

I looked in my 1986 and 1973 versions of the Autobiography as well as volume II and did not find that statement.  Are you sure you listed the right page or did I simply not find it?  If it is there, please tell me what version and what paragraph.

The chapter title is "Business Disintegrates" (chapter 12).  The section where the quote appears is called "Recuperating in Iowa."  Check out the fourth paragraph.

"I began palling around with two other young men who were advertising representatives of magazines. One of them was in process of separating from and divorcing his wife. The wife of the other was away for the summer and fall. We began to haunt nightclubs - then called cabarets. Often we would hang around these places of sorrowful, moaning, screeching, wailing music - if you could call such dirges "music"- until 1 or 2 A.M.  We began to drink - not at all even a fraction of the volume of an "alcoholic"- but too much for efficiency. My mental attitude became one of frustration."

I'm not sure whether that passage was expunged in later re-writes, but it's there in black and white in the 1967 edition. It seems ol' Herb was something of a party animal in his "pre-conversion" youth. 

MD also ran your question by researcher Steve Dalton. He comments:

... warn your readers ... to use the Autobiography as it appeared in the old Plain Truth's, if they have access to them, and to use both the older, blue striped edition and the newer sepia colored edition. I have found that in the newer editions the Autobiography has been heavily rewritten to blue-pencil embarrassing information about Armstrong's early life. For example, in the "Pigeon Milk Hunt" section on page 23 of the same, Herbert admits to taking "fiendish delight" in drowning rats that he caught in his family's barn in Union, Iowa. In the sepia edition, the quote isn't there. Since it is now well known that this is a early indication of developing psychopathy, that quote had to go!

These letters published December 8  2002 (with Ambassador Watch 31)

It must truly be the end times because the gospel is now reaching more people than all those radio and TV stations in the 60s and 70s put together. Herbert is now for sale at Walmart. [via the MD Yahoo group]

Now there's one book that we won't recommend!  Over on JLF Anne mentions yet another hagiography of Herb we'll be passing on: "The initial two books from 1st Books (described as trade papers) are now online at Walmart... also available ... the 2001 booklet by Stephen W. Boston "Essential Teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong: His Teachings Focused on the Incredible Human Potential" from Writers Club Press." 

Nice job with the current issue of AW.  It's chock full of interesting reading...

Just looking at your latest poll regarding the publication of Mystery of the Ages and other Armstrong tripe, I am surprised by the fact that the majority were in favor of censorship. Given the heavy-handed censorship Armstrongism necessitated, I find it a little sad that so many who previously were victims of such despicable behavior would be willing to support (I'm reading a little into the poll here, I realize) the same behavior. Censorship is censorship, and no matter how ridiculous or simply ignorant any given piece of writing might be, suppressing it is far more harmful than publishing.

The book is an ignorant piece of racist shit -- what do we have to worry about?

Just a few words in response to a letter by Douglas Becker in the last mailbag.

Becker makes many excellent points in his COG-survival analysis. His answer to, "Will the Churches of God even survive?" is quite clearly, "No," and while I in part agree with him and in a way even think it would be for the best if the COGs all folded, I'm not entirely convinced they will, for two reasons.

First, the COG leaders and members believe too strongly that their survival is not at stake and that it is in fact guaranteed, and they will go to great lengths (read: fiscal sacrifice) to make this so.

Becker began by pointing out that "The question of survival is a larger one than the kind of questions asked by such ministers as David Pack." This is true, but only for us outsiders looking in. Survival issues can't possibly even enter the mind of a COG sect leader or member who truly believes. I can't really imagine David Pack (or any other COG leader) giving a sermon entitled, "How the XCG Will Survive." It is, in their world, blessed by God. They are doing God's work, and to imply that God's work can fold is equivocal to implying that the sun won't come up tomorrow morning.

In the end, that's what the COGs have always done to survive - create a world that is somehow detached from that which the rest of us call reality and live only in that world. They call it "coming out of the world," or not being "unequally yoked" with unbelievers. (It's amazing, isn't it, the number of metaphors for the COG laity that de-humanizes them by equating them with animals: sheep, oxen, doves, etc.) That's the only way they can protect themselves from the reality that they're a cognitive minority and that a large portion of society would look at them as intellectual circus freaks if their beliefs were widely known.

And once you create such a world, what do you do? You pass it on to your children.

Now, the information revolution might indeed have made it more difficult to keep second- and third-generation COGers "in the fold," so to speak (there's that sheep metaphor again), but one only has to look at the posts on LCG's youth message board ( to realize that this argument is only partially valid. These kids aren't just toeing the line, inching as close to The World as possible but still "keeping all the commandments;" many of them seem really to believe what they're writing. And why shouldn't they? Their parents were right when they taught them "left" and "right," so why wouldn't they be right when teaching them about all things Armstrongian?

So it seems to me that the survival of various COGs might be a larger question than the scope of the work they do, but some form of Armstrongism, backed by some XCG, will linger for some time.

Secondly, Becker points out seven sociological and cultural reasons why the COGs future looks bleak, but I feel he's missed something: these trends he described might very well apply to the majority, but the COGs have never been about attracting the cultural majority. Generally speaking, the ones who end up in sects and cults (XCG included) comprise the fabled Disenfranchised Minorities.

For example, Becker writes, "Modern generations are more sophisticated and the narcissistic behavior of the Churches of God treating people as being stupid alienates them." This is true unless they were raised in an abusive home where their parents taught them implicitly and/or explicitly that they are stupid. Then it feels surprisingly like home.

The same thing could be done to each of Becker's seven points - each one applies only to a certain percentage of the population, leaving a minority receptive to a COG-type message.

Bottom line - people are stupid. Extremely stupid. Myself included. Look at all the idiotic things people believe and the moronic superstitions that motivate and shape their actions in this, the "enlightened" age, and it seems more than likely that that at least some remnant of the COGs will survive for quite a while.

Gary Scott

This fellow Lane, needs a good dose of Preterism. See

Jim Baldwin

Hi Gavin:

Just found your site a couple of days ago.  Seems you have some good info on the multitude of cults founded by dead Apostle Herbie.  I write regularly for the PT [Painful Truth] Site.  Just [thought] you'd like 2 know that your site is certainly appreciated.

Keep up the good work.  Best from California.  


Hi Gavin,

Contrary to what one of your readers stated, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark does not demonstrate "BEYOND A DOUBT [emphasis mine] that Mark and large portions of Acts are historical frauds" anymore than "The Two Babylons" demonstrates beyond a doubt that an ancient mystery religion is the direct antecedent of Catholicism.

Except for the subject matter, your reader's overestimating enthusiasm for MacDonald's book is not much different from the overconfident pronouncements of the average garden variety Herbivore relating the latest "new truth" his cult-masters have invented.

Fundamentalism comes from a mind set which more than the religious fall prey to.

Best wishes to you and all your readers,
Ron Brendel

Hi, Gavin;

I was just wondering if you can explain something?

Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (KJV)

This was quoted quite often under Herbert Armstrong and was particularly important because it was said that it would be revealed to the Church where the Place of Safety would be and when we would flee, with the admonition that we should pray that it not be on the Sabbath or in the Winter (Matthew 24:20) and we be "accounted worthy to escape all these things" (Luke 21:36).

The question is this, how can we rely on the predictions of any of the Churches of God when they missed three really big events, which we would thought should be something which should be revealed:

    1) The Six Day War [June 5, 1967];
    2) The Fall of the Berlin Wall [November 9, 1989];
    3) Terrorism on September 11, 2001?

Certainly, God would have known, and the Churches of God should have had the prophets to reveal that these things would occur--these were not small events.

Why not a peep?

Yes, some of the leadership capitalized on September 11, 2001, saying that it was "a wake up call" and "God was punishing us" and all such other things, but if that were true, then God would have been behind it, and they, as the ministers--prophets of God--should have had it revealed to them, which they did not, and saying that God was behind these events, means that they tacitly acknowledge that they ARE prophets of God: They use the events to declare their own particular gospel.

And there have been many other events which have shaped the world in our time they have utterly missed.

Do you see my problem with this scenario--it's all very disturbing that the ministry did not have a clue as to what was coming, and God was supposed to reveal it to them, and now they take credit for it?

I know we are supposed to walk by Faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7), but this is ridiculous! Doesn't God make the way of the righteous plain (Proverbs 15:19)?

And if God didn't reveal it to them back then, is it because their sins have separated them from their God (Isaiah 59:2) or that they just don't understand (Psalm 111:10)?

Is there a future in which the ministry--prophets, if you will--will "get back on track", and have God reveal the future to them, so they can accurately prophesy in His Name, and, more importantly, we can have confidence for being saved from the Great Tribulation in a Place of Safety, since their accuracy has been found so wanting in the past [and what about the credibility of their sermons and doctrines today?]?

Can you help?

Douglas Becker

Douglas, I wouldn't even try  ;-)


I find it interesting that Joe Tkach responds to [a JLF correspondent], but won't let me interview him.  He used to let me interview him but apparently felt The Journal was twisting things.  I have never bent anything he said, or put my own opinion on it.  And I am not down on Joe Tkach regardless of how the anti-WCG crowd feels.  I also don't care what happens to the MOA book.  I just want to report the actual news. 

Churches that have always controlled news can't buy into an approach like that and consider it spin doctoring.

Bill Stough

Bill is a writer for The Journal. His recent lead article on the reprinting of MOA appeared in the October 31 issue and was quoted, in part, in a recent AW. Too bad the WN doesn't appear to have journalists of this professional caliber.

Shouldn't this be a local congregation's decision?

WCG Policy Statement

Do not rent or use 15-passenger vans for any Worldwide Church of God function. We must guard the safety of church youths and members, as well as other motorists who share the roads. The Worldwide Church of God believes the potential risk is too great to accept.

Maybe, if insurance was arranged on a congregational level. Apparently it's not, and the church is acting on advice from its insurer.


These letters published December 1  2002 (with Ambassador Watch 30)

Hi Gavin -- can we now declare Rod Meredith the "King of All Media?"  

On the other hand, LCG is on 146 tv and 18 radio stations proclaiming the Gospel. LCG has about the same amount of members as before the takeover. LCG is the only major COG that spends the same percentage of its income to on this top priority as WCG did under HWA. LCG is the only COG I know of that meets the criteria that HWA (and Jesus) set for the Philadelphia era of the COG. [Bob Thiel, quoted in AW 29]

This leads to some obvious questions -- beginning with WWJB.  What would Jesus BUDGET -- for a media ministry, at least?    Also, what exactly ARE the criteria that Herbert Armstrong (not to overlook that parenthetical near-afterthought, Jesus) set for this era of the Church?  I don't recall seeing anything in the New Testament about specific TV station counts.  Of course, maybe I have the wrong translation....  

Richard Burkard

Hmm. Did you try Fred Coulter's Harmony of the Gospels? I betcha it's at least in the footnotes...

Did anyone catch it ?  It was the very last news item in the Update section of the latest Worldwide News :  the WCG's  January "Youth Discovery Weekend" will be defending the "Biblical Jesus" using Lee Strobel's book "The Case for Christ".  Never mind that Strobel's book is dismissed by scholars as a lash-up suitable only for a Bible Belt fundamentalist audience.

Nevertheless fundamentalists like Tkach and his millionaire boardroom buddies must defend their Business Model  (and the "Biblical Jesus") from modern "liberal" scholarly "attacks".  Let's forget for a moment that it has been known for decades that the alleged "eyewitness biographies" of  Matthew and Luke in fact rely heavily on the gospel of Mark and "Q" as source material.  And how authentic is the earliest gospel of  "Mark" ?  A groundbreaking new book called  The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark demonstrates beyond a doubt that Mark and large portions of  Acts are historical frauds - much of it directly lifted verbatim and event-sequential  from the Greek Classics.  And we thought Herb was a good plagiarist !

Thanks for drawing the book to our attention. 

Will the Churches of God Survive?

The question of survival is a larger one than the kind of questions asked by such ministers as David Pack:

The question isn't whether or not the particular Church of God will be able to "Preach the Gospel to this World", but whether or not the Church of God will survive at all.

Sociological changes have made raw survival more of an issue than most would believe for several reasons: 1) Fear religion and issues of personal survival pale in the wake of the terrorism of September 11, 2001 and fail to
motivate people to turn to the kind of God CoGs are preaching [punishment for the wicked and trials for the righteous--yeah, that works for me, but how can you tell which is which?]; 2) Predictions for a dystopian future are not of interest--and, if in fact, people discover the failed prophecies of the Churches of God, the CoGs will be SO dead; 3) materialism of the modern generations reduces the appeal of CoG religions and makes them irrelevant [not to mention the materialism of the CoGs themselves]; 4) people are interconnected through modern technology and decide very quickly who is genuine or not and when they find espoused morality doesn't track with the hypocritical behavior of many of the ministers, they are out of there; 5) the CoGs simply do not offer current generations anything relevant to them; 6) CoGs don't listen--and that is very important to the new social order; 7)
modern generations are more sophisticated and the narcissistic behavior of the Churches of God treating people as being stupid alienates them--and, worse, people realize that they know more than the preachments of the rather
"inaccurate" ministry and move on.

Seven reasons--doesn't that make you feel better now?

Generation Y is problematic at best for the Churches of God--it is the future of this world, and the issues of the Churches of God are so irrelevant to them that there isn't any hope of interesting them in the CoGs in any way.

The Worldwide Church of God seems to have retained most of the younger adult Generation when Global and United were formed because the WCG represented a "kinder and gentler" environment than the WCG under Herbert Armstrong, and because all of their friends stayed; unfortunately, the WCG made a number of missteps financially, and doesn't look viable in the long term with the albatross of the Pasadena Campus sinking the ship of state.

The UCG has the best chance of survival and it has ABC, the Ambassador Bible Center, to train up a new generation of ministers, it has summer camps for the teens, it has a growing Television, Radio and Internet work, along with the Flagship magazine, "The Good News" and a stable income.

Unfortunately, UCG has a graying and retiring ministry with fewer than 100 full time paid ministers, the membership is retiring too, reducing the potential income--although the members try harder and harder to contribute; a lot of them are losing their jobs in a downsizing economy and there aren't a lot of newcomers to take up the slack and some have died from various illnesses like diabetes; the increases in membership indicated by a 6% increase at this year's Feast of Tabernacles attendance is due primarily to the final fall of the Church of God, Christian Fellowship--the failed remnant of the Global Church of God, and the prospects for more such windfalls is pretty dim; $18 million a year is a far cry from the tenfold $180 million a year work the WCG used to do under Herbert Armstrong and after all is said and done, the mammon of this world is what kept the old WCG aloft and flying; there are a number of teens and children growing up in the UCG, but whether they will stay is problematic, particularly since many of them have already joined the ranks of Generation Y and are off looking for fun.

The Living Church of God keeps on with the conservative message of the old style dedication and service to the leadership... er... to God in an authoritarian harsh and hard manner which alienates the modern generations who are looking for consensus, not domination--and the LCG is ready to plunge anyone who does not agree with the leadership into bankruptcy.

The Philadelphia Church of God is harder than LCG and much more secretive too, giving rise to suspicions about its sincerity from the perspective of prospective membership from modern generations.

The rest are barely on the radar scope, and speaking of barely, GTA can't hope to be of interest to the hypocrisy hating Generation Y.

Even the ministers "Preaching the Word" are having some obvious cognitive dissonance, particularly when it comes to sermons on prophecy and the behavior of some of their peers; they also have issues with their own leadership listening to them.

If you'd been privy to my mailbag, you'd find that people are really ticked about Narcissistic behavior--modern generations are sick of it!

And what do you find in the Churches of God these days?

So the question remains: Will the Churches of God even survive?

Time will tell.

Douglas Becker

I would like to respond to Jane from New Mexico.

I think Jane is bypassing my major point. Worldwide is broke. Why get into this fight to begin with? I think that Worldwide’s sudden change of stance about Mystery of the Ages more or less validates my point.  Copyright and trademark laws are nowhere near as cut and dried as she seems to make them out to be. My point is that you can, through inaction, vacate a trademark or copyright...

Jane wrote “I would like to respond to the comments about the WCG blocking the PCOG from publishing Mystery of the Ages.  The writer says, "Why would anyone in their right mind block PCG or anyone else from republishing works that have absolutely no value?" The answer is simple: Because the owner of the copyright wants to.  No other reason is needed. Copyright allows the copyright owner to control the distribution of a work.”

The last point is key. You have to defend it to control its distribution. There is a hot dog chain where I live that used to call itself Donald Duck’s. It was in operation for close to 15 years and had close to 40 bad, dirty ‘restaurants’ all in bad neighborhoods.  Disney did eventually make this business change its name. The argument they used, simply, was that they didn’t know one of their trademarks was being used in such a manner. They can’t be expected to comb every slum in the universe to see if someone is making off with their  work. Once Disney found out—it took them 15 years?—they took action.

Worldwide doesn’t have this defense. First and foremost, PCOG  has been doing this for years. As has LCOG, UCOG and the street corner COG.  Worldwide was aware of this for years and did nothing. What they did was disavow the whole lot of HWA claptrap, claiming that it had been superceded by their new doctrine. That’s giving the works up for grabs once. Failing to defend it in a timely manner is giving it up for grabs twice. Moreover, PCOG, LCOG and the other Armstrong COGs are no secret to Worldwide. That’s giving it up three times. Now they want to defend it?  Finally, the Armstrong COGs have fair right to use religious materials which are no longer being published.  They specifically have a right to them because they are no longer being published, on both academic (I use the term broadly) and religious grounds.  Worldwide seems to have agreed with me, in the end.  My contention is that their lawyers finally straightened them out.  I stand by my point.

Jane also wrote: “He can withhold it from the public if he chooses.  It is a right granted under the law. The fact that the copyrighted material is valuable to other people is irrelevant.”  “Just because a copyright owner decides to not have a work published doesn't mean he forfeits his rights to control copying and distribution.” “The WCG owns the copyright to HWA's writings because HWA was an employee of the church when the books and booklets were written.  That makes them works made for hire, and the copyright vests in the employer--the Worldwide Church of God.

I am content that Jane doesn’t work for the Worldwide Church of God. I am also content that she is certain of her opinion. It’s not as cut and dried as she has made it out to be. As it should turn out, weight-class, to use a boxing term, is the most important aspect in copyright disputes.

Jane sets up my point here: The writer says, "Freedom of religion beats copyright infringement every time."  In the United States, freedom of religion is a First Amendment right and is a constitutional right.  Copyright law also arises from the Constitution, article 1, section 8. Copyright law is enumerated under Title 17 United States Code. Title 17 lists the specific rights and remedies available to owners of copyrights. What the writer may be trying to say is that ideas--such as religious doctrine--cannot be copyrighted.  However, the original expression of those ideas in a fixed form is copyrightable.  Mystery of the Ages is copyrighted until 70 yeas after HWA's death.  Since he died January 16, 1986, his work will pass into the public domain on January 1, 2057.”

From Jane’s mouth to the ears of Providence. She seems to have taken the tack that the Restored Church of God has taken.  This splinter is undertaking the dubious task of rewriting via paraphrase all of HWA’s works in order to void any copyright claims that Worldwide may have against their marvelous paraphernalia. This is what guys who are working out of a garage do. (It seems like the Restored Church of God works out of a garage. That is entirely my opinion.) Paraphrasing a work does not make it new. Worldwide has the same problem when it comes to HWA’s ‘original’ texts.

The man was a flat out plagiarist. He can claim to have a unique synthesis of ideas as long as he attributes those ideas from where they were drawn. (This is not entirely true.)  He didn’t. He lifted whole texts from other authors. Some of his doctrine is utterly stolen. It is not unique in any way. His learning library is a sick world inhabited by words he largely didn’t write. The trademarks are his, I guess.  What HWA uniquely presented would be very hard to defend or define, at least in his writings. In short, he has trademarks, but no real copyrights.

HWA is essentially a religious figure. (Please don’t kick me.) He was an Apostle. His work was revealed to him by Jesus himself. No one taught him this doctrine. Those are his own words. He has given up copyright.  HWA put his every utterance in the Public Domain.

The radio programs, the TV shows and the ‘Unique’ aspects of his literary presentation may have a copyright stance. His writing? Forget it. To paraphrase the great idol, “You don’t have to trust me, look it up.”

I don’t know whether Mystery of the Ages was plagiarized or not.  Sources I find reputable say large parts of his other works were.  I am not taking Worldwide’s side here. And I am certainly not taking PCOG’s side here. But I am standing behind my point.

Just because circumstances have validated my opinion does not make me right. Things get overturned.  Worldwide has already signaled that PCOG will win.  I find it odd that Worldwide would agree to offer to publish writings that they have disinfected themselves from.

Jane has a lot of valid points. When the issue enters into religion, it’s in another weight class. I won’t labor the point about how works for hire vest in the employer simply does not apply. I’ve said enough. I stand by my point.

In a right and just world, Worldwide would turn over its assets to the people who were fleeced by it. In a right and just world, there would be no PCOG.

Happy Thanksgiving!


I continue to be disgusted with the approach of WCG leadership in: -

1. taxing local congregations 50% plus,

2. disenfranchising local congregations from their freedom in Christ, and

3. the continued self-serving, control-freak, domineering and manipulative sherrifing from HQ.

 It saddens me that so many sheep in the WCG camp are starving spiritually, being fed by uneducated pastors.  It saddens me that they are being held back from spiritual growth by not having the freedom to make local church financial decisions.

 People need preachers with a good training in theology in order for them to be able to feed the sheep good spiritual meals.  Most current WCG sermons are recycled, prepackaged food rather than freshly made home-cooked healthy meals.

 People do not need a theology degree to make local financial decisions.  This can be done by any group of business-savvy people.

 People do not need theological training to run a local church.  This is the fallacy of episcopal governance.  The only ones who need a theological education are the teachers/preachers.  The rest of the affairs of the local church can easily be run by lay people.  In fact the word "lay" is a misnomer, because often the preachers are lay people when it comes to financial, management, business, organizational, advertising and other such functions.

 Biblically, the episcopate (overseers) is a group not limited just to theology-nerds.  Many healthy churches see that the group of overseers (call them elders or deacons [ministers] if you will) are made up of not only the main preacher, but others of upstanding Christan example.  This is where the episcopal model fails.  This is where WCG is also failing.

 WCG leadership, let my people go!

The writer of this letter has identified himself as a former WCG pastor.

These letters published November 24  2002 (with Ambassador Watch 29)

Do you read GTA's Twenty-First Century Watch?  The Nov/Dec 2002 issue is entirely devoted to hard-line anti-Muslim, anti-Saddam and anti-Western-liberal-peace-mongering articles.  Par for the course...  But there's an interesting throwaway line in the middle of an article entitled "Heavy Sits The Crown..." about Saddam Hussein: "As I learned many decades ago, dictators do not groom successors."  Surely GTA can't be referring to his dad?

David V. Barrett

Perish the very thought!  


I recently viewed you pages on GTA and Armstrongism. I am a student of these groups, since having worked with one of the original members of the WWCOG for many years. We would debate and discuss doctrines, etc.  In fact, I live a few miles north of Tyler. I have a question if you don't mind. Did the Int. Church of God sell its campus on Lake Palestine to R. W. Schambach Revivals?

Also, when I first went to Tyler to look up the Int. Church of God headquarters, I dropped into a funeral home... I thought that these folks might know where GTA's offices were. When I asked the man if he knew Garner Ted, a very strange look came on his face, he said, "Yea, I know GTA very well. He used to come into the shop where I worked and buy very expensive whiskey, he always had a beautiful girl with him, different ones, and I also saw him at the golf course, in short pants, shirts, you could see the naked women tattoos all over his body."

Sounds like our Ted. The tattoos are reportedly a memento of his time in the navy, before Ted was "converted" and became understudy in his father's religion business. You have to wonder why, with today's laser treatments, he hasn't long since had them removed. The CGI facilities at Lake Palestine were sold after Ted was booted out of the sect. Here's the story that MD ran June 14 last year:

CGI sheds Lake Palestine: The Church of God, International has sold its 20 acre headquarters property on Lake Palestine, Texas, to a group called Schambach Revivals (Tyler, Texas). You can check out "Brother" Schambach’s prayer ministry online. Schambach describes himself as "a bold, powerful, old-fashioned, Holy Ghost revival preacher". What must Teddy be thinking?

Hi Gavin,

Just a quick note to tell you how much I've enjoyed your site.  I discovered it a couple days ago on a tip at the MSN Ambassador Alumni group.  I think I read nearly all of it (with the exception of back issues of your weekly) in one sitting, your writerly competence and beguilingly dry sense of humor having sucked me in.  There are so many shrill (and to my lights rather self-pitying) WCG hatchet-job sites out there that I stopped reading that kind of material years ago in a spirit of "c'mon, let it GO!!!".  In this case I thought, "Ahh, what the hell, I'll give it [yours] a peek," and was pleasantly surprised.

You know what blew me away was that Kessler letter. (I s'pose the reason I never saw it earlier was my above-noted distaste for some of these sites.  I gave up before I discovered the real goods.) Fascinating not only for its many salacious revelations, but for the fact that an AC grad could write so damn well!  ;)

Enjoyed that Keith Stump editorial too...  I had the good fortune to work with him a bit when I was an intern in the Television Department summer of '93 after graduating from AU Big Sandy.


Tkach's Worldwide Church of God is not the only multimillion dollar sect running travel packages for its followers (AW 28). It seems all the big shot Televangelists -  Zola Levitt, Pat Robinson, John Ankerberg etc -  are doing the same thing. Forgive my cynicism, but I feel all these expensive cruises and "pilgrimages" are used by millionaire hucksters like Tkach to filter out those followers who have substantial financial resources.  Once these large and potentially large donors are isolated, they can be documented for future reference and special mailings and worked over in exotic locales as they get to meet superstar executives - perhaps even Tkach himself, but at least other HQ millionaires such as John Halford.  How is this any different than the way big casinos entertain the so called 'Whales'  (high rollers) and how political parties allow photo opportunities and handshakes with leaders for those who are big contributors ? 


... One of the great problems with the Churches of God is that they have never been able to recognize evil when it comes by:  Just recently, the story of a minister who committed rapes against 16 teenage girls, got away with it, and continued to be a minister in full view of the ministry, popped up. It's scary to think that those who are supposed to have a Spirit of Discernment are oblivious to the psychopaths among them.

Here's a clue: Go buy your own copy of "Without Conscience--The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us" by Dr. Robert Hare, whose web site is; if that's not enough, why aren't you ministers in the Churches of God following the command of Scripture to "Put the evil from among you"? You complain about how "the whole nation is sick" and write about the evils of this world; how God is going to punish the wicked in his wrath; how modern Israel is going to go into captivity for its sins--why don't you confess your own sins and repent of them first? Doesn't judgment begin at the House of God? Or is that just hyperbole? Don't you believe your own preachments? Pay special attention to the Excruciatingly True Stories which occurred in one Church Area of the WCG at they continue to this day... unfortunately.

The Churches of God are certainly following the formula set down by Dr. Chris Argyris, Professor Emeritus of the Harvard School of Business Communications in his book, "The Management Trap": 1) Lie, 2) Cover up the lie, 3) Cover up the cover-up, 4) Make the whole thing undiscussible--based on the premise that you must be 1) In Charge! 2) Positive! 3) Win! 4) Appear concerned for others [ ]

What ever happened to the premise that you should not be ignorant of Satan's Devices; not only are you ministers ignorant, you are willingly ignorant, because you want so bad to preserve the reputation of the church by covering up the evil within it:  Does that make any sense, or is the truth going to come out anyway and you'll be caught trying to explain why you've been wallowing in the cesspool as accessories after the fact--trying so hard to cover the garbage dump with what looks to be freshly fallen snow so it will seem so beautiful and innocent? What is so aggravating about the ignorance is that it is ARROGANT ignorance!

It's time for you to wake up and smell the foul stench stinking in the nostrils of the God you claim to worship; we note the corruption of modern corporations, but it compares quite favorably to the corporate world of the Churches of God; see ye to it...

Douglas Becker 

There are many varied reasons that we became involved with the WCG. But there is one common aspect we all shared--that is the fact of being gullible. We could have all used a fair amount of skepticism and cynicism in the beginning stages of our captivity. A few well-directed, penetrating questions would have kept many of us from wasting our lives in the religious madness called Armstrongism.
The questions we did deal with were conveniently provided for us:

"Just What Do You Mean-Born Again?"
"Which Day Is The Sabbath Of The New Testament?"
"Why Were You Born?"
"Does God Exist?"

Then the cult's self-serving answers were served up in the booklets above. So we went happily on suppressing all questions not conveniently answered in a booklet or PT/GN article.
As I have written elsewhere, I was able to escape the cult's grasp because I started asking questions, albeit about 30 years late. The recent Whistler's column caused me to activate my questioning mode once again. It is a thing I do now with all things I read. Once bitten, twice shy goes the secular proverb. (Another good one is, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.")
The basic gist of the Whistler column is that Norman Vincent Peale's book, "The Power Of Positive Thinking" (PPT) is the be-all and end-all of having a happy view of life. Three readings of it apparently saved Whistler from fully cracking up. He also praised Peale as one of the great ones. Well, maybe it worked for him but I am now fully skeptical of such praise of any book. So I printed out a copy of Whistler's paper to mark up and did a little research and questioning  which I am happy to share. First off, I would say that Whistler gave little thought, it seems, to the title of his paper. His use of "regaining" implies that we were sane in the cult. Not so. We were all disconnected from reality, insanely  feasting on the poisoned meat Armstrong and his thugs provided at  great cost to us. We were told what we wanted to hear. Armstrong was following the old salesman's dictum, "Jones pays the bill, give Jones what he wants." We wasted our lives in a make-believe soap bubble we called "living by faith." I don't ever want to regain that nutty lifestyle back. Do you? Does Whistler?
Whistler writes that Peale's book was of my few links with true spiritual reality during those Armstrong-fogged years. If one will turn to the word "oxymoron" in the dictionary, there will appear this quote. Of course I jest, but that is the word to apply to this muddled thinking. Just what is "spiritual reality", Whistler? This is the kind of New Age fog that one can fall into pursuing that disparate philosophy. A philosophy I might add that was frequently endorsed by Norman Vincent Peale. I recall in the cult that we were warned away from writings like that of Peale as they advocated a "pick-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps" philosophy.
Whistler, apparently referring to this said This was also my belief for years, but once I actually got into one of his books, I found this [charge] was completely false. Oh, yeah? In the beginning of PPT on page 1, Peale writes Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities. How does that square with the Bible's condemnation of trusting in one's own understanding?
Quoting Whistler again: 

I have found no evidence of a false gospel in Peale's books, for I have found them to be very effective in bringing people to a relationship with Christ and God, through biblically-sound teachings. 

This reminds me of a statement Herman Hoeh made to me during one of the "Refresher" programs in the 80s. He was discussing some arcane point of prophecy I'd never heard of. I mused aloud during the Q&A that I had never read that in any church literature. Hoeh pointed out that it isn't wise to put all of your teachings in print. At the time I thought that to be good counsel. But it also hides. Anyways, I checked some websites to see just what were the beliefs that Peale believed in. Whistler should have done this. Read these quotes made outside his books during an appearance on TV with Phil Donahue in 1984: 

It's not necessary to be born again. You have your way with God; I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine... I've been to Shinto shrines, and God is everywhere. 

Then Donahue exclaimed, "But you're a Christian minister; you're supposed to tell me that Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life, aren't you?" Peale replied,

Christ is one of the ways! God is everywhere. At this same time Peale called the virgin birth "some theological idea" of no importance to salvation.

Now, I ask you, how many reading this paper believe those quotes to be in accord with their own beliefs? Christ is only one of the ways? 

Just a few months before his death in 1993, Peale discussed his beliefs in an interview. He paid the common lip-service to some of the standard Christian list of beliefs and added 

Now I'll tell you something else. I personally love and understand this way of stating the Christian gospel. But I am absolutely and thoroughly convinced that it is my mission never to use this language in trying to communicate with the audience God has given me. 

Who else played this game? Herbert Armstrong with his "Give and Get" philosophy. Remember? In his travels he wanted to hide the fact that he came representing a church. How wise we thought him to be.
And who said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ"? 

Peale has endorsed a fair number of New Age books. If you really want to grasp what it means to become addle-headed, then read some of these books. I have. They are filled with confusing religious phraseology, pop psychology, and metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.
One book, "The Jesus Letters", by Jane Palzere and Anna Brown, claims to be

...a book communicated through a process known as inspirational writing (automatic writing). Self-identified as Jesus. (Automatic writing is considered by occultists to be the product of communication with discarnate beings; sometimes beings in other dimensions.)

Here is an excerpt: 

God does not see evil. He sees only souls at different levels of awareness. It matters little if these writings come from Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus of Jane, they are all the same consciousness and that consciousness is God. I am part of God, and Jane and Anna are part of God. 

Peale endorsed this gobbledygook by writing the blurb: What a wonderful gift to all of us is your book. You will bless many by this truly inspired book. Well, Whistler, do you practice this kind of thinking? Do you think the thoughts of Jesus of Jane have equal value to Jesus of Nazareth?
Another popular New Age book is, "Levitation", written by Steve Richards. He suggests that by using the technique of "suggestions articulation" found in PPT it can induce meditation which can be used to transcend gravity. Yeah, right. Anyone here in for a float around the room? Do you practice this, Whistler? How high did you get?
It is a fact that Peale borrowed his phrase "positive thinking" from Charles Fillmore, founder of the New Age Unity School of Christianity.
In 1986, Peale wrote these words about meditating: 

A meditation in which you visualize a white mist filled with myriads of little points of energy. Scientists say this is life substance, the life force. Visualize this mist high above you, around you, at your feet, then breathe in the white mist, and visualize it proceeding upward into your brain making it alive with new power. I have been practicing this type of meditation for several days. It induces a sense of vital energy, an awareness of God's presence. Who is God? Some theological being? He is so much greater than theology. God is vitality. God is life. God is energy. As you breathe God in, as you visualize His energy, you will be re-energized. 

Now there is something to chomp on. How about it, Whistler. Is that the "spiritual reality" you spoke of? Dreaming up a "white mist filled with myriads of little points of energy." On the cover of another New Age book, "The Game Of Life" by Florence Shinn, Peale writes

By studying and practicing the principles laid down in this book, one may find prosperity, solve problems, have better health, achieve good personal relations--in a word, win the game of life. [This book] is filled with wisdom and creative insights. That its teachings will work I know to be a fact, for I've long used them myself. 

Now here is a part of what is inside: 

Jesus Christ knew in reality there is no evil. There is an old legend that Adam and Eve ate of 'Maya, the tree of illusion.' Therefore, evil is a false law man has made for himself... [he] has been hypnotized by the race belief of (sin, sickness, and death) which is carnal or mortal thought.

Boy, aren't you glad you finally found that truth? Here's more gobbledygook: 

We know now from a scientific standpoint, that death could be overcome by stamping the subconscious mind with the conviction of eternal youth and and eternal life. Working under the direction of the superconscious, (the Christ or God within man) the 'resurrection of the body' would be accomplished. 

So that's the trick! I always wondered how it worked. 

New Age books are filled with this tripe. And Peale endorsed a great many of them as well as saying he practiced their wacky suggestions. All the while posing as a respected Christian minister. In another interview concerning the charge of endorsing New Age books he said: I've got to look into it. But anything that develops legitimate, positive thinking principles, I'm for it. Gasp! Maybe Peale was as gullible as Whistler. I think the above quotes can give you some idea of the weird thinking of Peale likely to be found in his books. I don't think any of the visitors to this page from a WCG background would endorse them except possibly, Whistler.
One person who made an interesting statement about Peale was his father, a Methodist minister. It is in one of Peale's books where Peale spoke of his near resignation from the ministry after heavy criticism from his fellow clergymen who were concerned about the New Age thinking and endorsements Peale had made. The father wrote a letter of encouragement where he said

You have evolved a new Christian emphasis out of a composite of Science of Mind, metaphysics, Christian Science, medical and psychological practice, Baptist Evangelism, Methodist witnessing, and solid Dutch Reformed Calvinism. 

Now, out of that grab bag, let's see you form a solid belief to live by. 

In his column, Whistler quotes two fictional stories from Peale's PPT. After one story about a troubled little boy he exclaims: Wow! I think I can relate to the above account. Then after the other about a man having visions he says: What an awesome account of one man's experience of being touched by the hand of God! This is pure gullibility. Not a suggestion of any skepticism. Now we know why Whistler was in the cult. But, then, we were all gullible. The point is that we should now be highly skeptical of any stories "too good to be true" posing as factual. Whistler just drank it in. Why should we? One might as well read the novel "Pollyanna" and feel good all over. 

Whistler was impressed by some of the suggestions Peale made concerning how to pump yourself up each day.

First thing every morning before you arise say out loud, "I believe," three times. 

Out of the mumbo-jumbo Peale wrote of and endorsed, I ask, believe what? Just what are you supposed to believe, Whistler? That Jesus of Jane has something relevant to say? That one can levitate? See? This sounds so spiritual until some pointed questions are asked.

...mark every passage in the Bible that speaks of faith, hope, glory, happiness, radiance. Commit each to memory. Say them over and over again until these creative thoughts saturate you subconscious mind. 

Yeah, brain-wash yourself. Ignore all the gloomy and scary parts of the Bible. One might as well read the Jefferson Bible where old Tom cut the Bible up to focus only on the humanitarian aspects and got rid of the judgmental, doctrinal, and other boring parts. 

"He [Jesus] is with me. He is with me now." Repeat that affirmation three times every day. 

More brain-washing. Which Jesus? Jesus of Jane? In his paper Whistler speaks of "religion burnout." He wrote that: I have at times myself felt this very strong pull to just chuck everything relating to religion. He doesn't say why he didn't. I guess it was just his will to believe was too strong. That coupled with an unquestioning acceptance of Peale's fictions. 

I think I have here pointed out the flaws of Whistler's advice. If you want to know more, check out some critical websites like

In closing, I want to say that I am certainly not an advocate of book censorship. I think the reading of many books adds to one's fund of knowledge, in contrast to what the Bible says. But it is helpful to see an opposing view to Whistler's unqualified endorsements as in the case of his recent paper.
Whistler should do a bit more research and a little less whistling.

Jim Baldwin

We asked the Whistler to respond to Jim's points if he wished. His reply is available on a separate page.

I would like to respond to the comments about the WCG blocking the PCG from publishing Mystery of the Ages.  The writer says, "Why would anyone in their right mind block PCG or anyone else from republishing works that have absolutely no value?" The answer is simple: Because the owner of the copyright wants to.  No other reason is needed. Copyright allows the copyright owner to control the distribution of a work.  He can withhold it from the public if he chooses.  It is a right granted under the law. The fact that the copyrighted material is valuable to other people is irrelevant.  

The WCG owns the copyright to HWA's writings because HWA was an employee of the church when the books and booklets were written.  That makes them works made for hire, and the copyright vests in the employer--the Worldwide Church of God.  

The next question is: "Can my writings be suppressed?"  The answer is yes under certain circumstances.  The owner of a copyright has as much right under the law to prevent a work from being copied as he as to cause a work to be printed and offered for sale.  If the owner of a copyrighted work believes the work is flawed, he can use his copyright to prevent new copies from being made and sold.  

Just because a copyright owner decides to not have a work published doesn't mean he forfeits his rights to control copying and distribution. The copyright for works created after January 1, 1978 lasts for the author's (or artist's) lifetime plus 70 years. Copyrights can be passed through a will. Then the heirs own the copyright and can control distribution.  

The Worldwide Church of God is well within its legal rights to fight the PCG over the unauthorized distribution of Mystery of the Ages and all the rest of HWA's  writings.

The writer says, "Freedom of religion beats copyright infringement everytime."  In the United States, freedom of religion is a First Amendment right and is a constitutional right.  Copyright law also arises from the Constitution, article 1, section 8. Copyright law is enumerated under Title 17 United States Code. Title 17 lists the specific rights and remedies available to owners of copyrights.  

What the writer may be trying to say is that ideas--such as religious doctrine--cannot be copyrighted.  However, the original expression of those ideas in a fixed form is copyrightable.  Mystery of the Ages is copyrighted until 70 yeas after HWA's death.  Since he died January 16, 1986, his work will pass into the public domain on January 1, 2057.

New Mexico, USA


I must respond to [Dee's] latest e-mail to you... Dee apparently thought "Laura" was being legalistic because she took exception to a linked to article that said "having a relationship with God is more important than religion." This statement is inane Evangelicalism at its worst... God and religion are equally important. You can't have one without the other. While it's important to have a one-on-one relation with the Lord, one also needs a corporate relationship with God and his fellow Christians in the church, for isolated sheep are easy prey for the wolves. Also, there is an old saying from the ancient church "that those who will not have the church as their mother, will not have God as their Father." Since God sent his son into the world to save the world, and founded the church to nurture those brought to the faith via the work of the same, Christians ought to be wary of any one teaching that they are not cut off if they are not members of a church. Dee claims that she is concerned about what will be "healing" for the exiters, but the attitude she is transmitting via her site will discourage many of the exiters from seeking the help of the one organization that has the best chance of helping them. All the people that I know who have been "healed" have gotten that help from a church. Talking to someone on the net isn't going to help in the long run. The exiters need the help of Christian churches in their hometowns.

... Laura, in an e-mail on Feb 4, 2002 says, "Have you noticed in my writings that Dee and I don't agree on every doctrine? ...I'm am not offended that she doesn't agree with me on every doctrine... What we have in common is greater than what divides us..." Does this sound like "Laura" is [a pushy] type of person? I don't think so!  "Laura" is a deeply sensitive person that I lashed out at because I mistakenly believed she was playing the hypocrite when I was having my own troubles with Dee. Laura, if you see this, I ask for your forgiveness for my sin against you. I hope this squares things away with you.

This e-mail has been somewhat painful to write and send, but I had to set things right. It's part of my "legalistic" beliefs. LOL!

Steve Dalton

Thanks Steve. Correspondence on this issue has now closed.


These letters published November 17  2002 (with Ambassador Watch 28)

Hi Gavin! Couldn't help thinking when you wrote this... Mr. Blunck, a former member of the Pack-led Restored Church of God... Are people in that denomination known as Pack-rats? 

Anyway, thought you and your readers would want to know I've moved the "World Wide Web Church of God" web site to a new location. LaughLine went out of business (selling on Yahoo auctions for all of $7.50 US -- boo hoo), but the articles and "Prophecy Scoreboard" go on at this new address:

So AW is moving to Sunday postings, eh? Is this a subtle hint to the Sabbath-keepers like me? :--> 
Take care,

Richard Burkard

Good luck with the new site! Nope, never heard the RCG described as pack-rats, but have heard Pack himself described as a member of that rodent order (and a few other things beside.) As for Sunday uploads, the new arrangement means doing the donkey work on Sundays then posting Sunday night NZ time (Sunday morning US time), so I think Sabbatarian sensibilities are safe, LOL.

In the Spring of 1974, a freshman from Ambassador College Pasadena, attended his regular Bible class one morning.  The teacher that day was Rod Meredith. Meredith talked about the great tribulation and how everyone outside "the one true church" was going to suffer and starve to death.  It was, to say the least, not the most uplifting experience.  I know, I was there.  I felt like throwing up.  That freshman, 18 years old, whose name I will not mention out of respect for his relatives, walked directly out of that class to the Arroyo Seco Bridge and jumped off.  (I'm not blaming Meredith.  I'm just giving the facts.) We found out about it later that day during an assembly.  But what stood out to me the most is that the suicide was almost an after thought to the real subject of the day:  Herbert Armstrong angrily defending himself, as always, against those who would question his authority -- this time rebellious ministers.


I've added a new piece on the RCG. FYI.


Gary Scott's website is well worth a visit at any time. The main entrance is

I find it both humorous and tragic that the works of Herbert W. Armstrong are now being fought over in court.  All of that money and effort trying to gain control of what amounts to the rantings of a religious madman.

Could you please take some time to say some positive/negative thoughts on Raymond Cole's church?

Raymond Cole, founder of the Church of God, The Eternal, died last year. The sect is now led by Jon Brisby. The group is apparently very small and has had its share of divisions. Bryce Clark (Bethel COG, Eugene) was formerly with Cole. Anyone able to add anything?

Thanks for explaining about how some of those comments on a past AW were "Laura's" and not necessarily yours. I have changed the name to "Refuting Gerald Flurry's Truths" and this section is now being used to post a number of articles from different authors. I have nothing against "Laura" personally (and I wish her well in debating the cult leaders), but it did seem that after I gave her a section on the web, she felt like she had a say-so in what my site should have on it and who I linked to. One error I made was not understanding exactly what her church held to (5-point Calvinism) and how dogmatic she was about it. For instance a tip-off was when I offended her by linking to an article that said "having a relationship with God is more important than religion." In order to please her, I removed the link and tried to let it go. But no one has a right to come at me (or any of us) and judge us to be "a heretic," "a sinner," etc. That is too close to WCG's exclusiveness, and that is what I took exception with. (And it was my counselor that first said it sounded like she had "exchanged one form of legalism for another.") "Laura" (and this name has been removed from her articles) did write some good material, but no more than William or I could have probably put together. 
"Laura" (pseudo name) was never "publicly denounced." The article I posted named no names and mentioned no particular section on the site. It applied to anyone that fit the bill and was posted to help survivors who have these types of problems. I admit that the problems I had with her "inspired" me to write the article, and that happens many times (I'm always thinking of how I can validate exiters' experiences), but I never referred to the name "Laura" until an "anonymous" person started emailing me and coming at me for not encouraging exiters to find a church. I have never "denounced the Christian church" (as she says) only the liberals, apostates, legalists, frauds, ecumenical movement, etc. However, survivors cannot be told they must be in a church or they are cut-off. She failed to see this. I try to stick to the goals for my website; i.e., what will be healing for the exiters, and I try not to push them, but to encourage them. Since I don't try to please everyone, differences (not strife) will arise. 

Dee, Exit & Support Network 

It's unfortunate that the "Ministerial Guide to Mental Disorders" didn't make it to the minister writing the Article "The Bible's Keys to Mental Health" in "The Good News", page 22 of the November-December 2002 issue in time, because it could have saved hundreds of thousands of people grief if they had the truth about the subject.

To be fair, one or two points may be of help, but many of the perspectives are ill advised: To just go away and think happy thoughts is terrible advice for people with depression and bipolar disease because up to 25% of those untreated will commit suicide and it isn't clear than any Church of God wants that on their conscience--the best advice is to get treatment from mental health professionals; furthermore, to a person in manic mode, the advice to "think of things that are lovely... good report," etc will just cause them to go out and spend more money and get them into greater irresolvable debt.

The statement, "Many mental illnesses can be prevented, and the Bible provides helpful information to that end", neglects the fact that most mental illnesses are genetically based and CANNOT be prevented.

There is a clear delineation between the medical and spiritual and ministers are supposed to know where one begins and the other ends.

For those who may be interested in the "Guide which was way too late to do any good", it may be found at:

Not that it will do any good, that anyone will pay any attention to it, or that it will prevent any harm already in motion.

Most ministers of the Churches of God will balk at the information on Alcoholism because of their backgrounds, but Rational Recovery is the only effective means to insure permanent life-long abstinence--and AVRT not only works for Alcoholism, but other addictions as well [and for those smart enough to understand, it is also Scriptural: Quick, quick, which Apostle and what chapters of what Books?]; we aren't helpless and we're perfectly capable of stopping alcohol use forever, right now: Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions already have.

Douglas Becker


This is a definite first. How do you break the bad news to the guy, especially when he seems to have missed the whole thrust of the site already? Makes a change, though, from the usual get rich quick scam emails coming from Nigeria.

The London Daily Telegraph of  Oct 30/02  reports:

... on present trends, fewer than half a million adults and almost no children will attend Sunday services in 30 years... if the trend continued, the church could look "radically different" in 2030, with  "a myriad of tiny congregations" struggling to maintain their buildings, but crushed by their heritage.

Already in Hull, which has the lowest proportion of churchgoers in Britain, fewer than one percent of the population attends Sunday services, a "meltdown" which could spread across the country...

In view of the above trends, it should not be surprising for us to be hearing of the recent crashing income and attendance for the WCG in the UK.  After all, the WCG is viewed as a Californian Cult in the UK, headed by a shadowy bunch  of  leaders who still refuse to give any details of  their personal levels of compensation and wealth.  What chance does the $chnippert/Tkach Cult stand of  surviving in the UK ? 

(Originally posted on the MD Yahoo group)

Two Issues:

Why the heck is the Worldwide Church of God spending good money defending the copyrights of works they no longer publish? Mystery of the Ages is widely available on line and through disks sent from private parties.

If HWA was wrong about everything, then why bother defending his works? Why get into a lawyer nightmare about things you no longer believe in? HWA's works have absolutely no value to the Worldwide Church of God.  In fact, they are a liability.  Considering the fact that they are not being published, they have no value whatsoever. Why would anyone in their right mind block PCG or anyone else from republishing works that have absolutely no value?

Worldwide is wasting money, hurling it with both fists, on an issue that they should lose on. And even if they win, the victory is meaningless and wasteful.

What the heck is Worldwide afraid of?

Let's say I'm a wallpaper manufacturer. I no longer want to make this blue diamond design that I've been selling for years. I have the design copyrighted and trademarked. Someone else starts making this wallpaper that I don't want to make. Would I go into court to stop them?

Not in a rational universe. Now, I own the design.  Absolutely. I just don't want to print it up anymore. I have better things to manufacture. Do I go after the manufacturers who are publishing my design? I can. But I have no damages to be assessed against the offending party, because I am not publishing my design. They are not taking any business away from me.

Religion, however, is not wallpaper. Let's say I wanted to rewrite the Book of Mormon. Can the LDS stop me? They can try, but it's not really worth their effort. As opposed to saying that Jesus appeared before the Indians, let's say that Jesus appeared before me in my uncle's trailer home. He told me that a matchbox was God. I go onto publish my bible, which includes the Old Testament, the New Testament, my rewritten Book of Mormon and about thirty pages in purple crayon about my talk with the matchbox that is Jehovah Himself.

Can my writings be suppressed? No. Not really. If my Purple Crayon Church of God decides one morning, well after my death, that I am a total loon ball, they may not suppress my writings simply because they have moved on to a higher plane of enlightenment.  In a proprietary sense, my Purple Crayon Church of God has no damages from other people publishing my writings. The church has no cause of action.

Freedom of religion beats copyright infraction every time. My missive from the matchbox may not be suppressed. If the Purple Crayon Church of God has gone on record disavowing my writings, then they have thoroughly lost any claim to them in the first place.  The Purple Crayon Church of God is certainly free to disavow the writings and not publish them. They may not, however, suppress them.

PCG should win its case against Worldwide. PCG may run out of money before they can win. That seems to be Worldwide's strategy.

This fight is utterly meaningless. All it does is drain Worldwide's already diminishing income. 

Can religious doctrines actually be copyrighted? Can you stop other people from making a product that you don't want to make?  What price would you pay to defend doctrines you have publicly disavowed?

My Solution For Worldwide: Fold. There's too much money on the table and you don't have any reserves to ride this out. Renounce the copyrights to Haw's material. You don't buy this crap anymore. Why defend it? Let the idiots have it.

My Solution for PCG: Seek psychiatric help immediately. Get out now.

Issue Two:

Sell the stupid campus, already!

Master developers? Master planners? Real estate agents? Boy scouts? Since when?

You've already blown selling the Pasadena Campus once.  Here's how not to blow it again.

Abandon the idea that you know what you are doing. I am not a hang-gliding instructor. If I had crashed on my first hang-gliding attempt, I would not designate myself a master hang-gliding instructor. Please kindly admit defeat. You're making the same mistakes again.

Sell the property as is. With the exception of the library, all of the buildings are in fairly good shape. It's a shame that the
library, also called the Newton Claypool estate, has to be torn down. It does have to be torn down. It's falling down. You haven't maintained this thing in twenty years.

Take down all of the signs that say this or that place is going to be converted into a bed and breakfast. My, what a lot of bed and breakfast. Take down all the signs while you are at it.

Sell the properties along South St. John to the City of Pasadena. The only absolutely irreplaceable structure is the 300 car parking garage under the utterly abandoned running track. Why am I thinking that this looks like West Pasadena Police Headquarters? Because it is. All of the structures are there. It is a municipal complex and it is in the right place. It's right by the highway. No sane person would want to live here. The absolutely vacant Employee Building would make a perfect place for cops.  As for the Physical Education Building, tear it down. Tear it down before it falls down. It's listing. There is a massive crack in the foundation. As for the athletic field to the south of the Physical Education building, leave it alone. Donate it.

Vacate the property. Relocate your some twenty essential staff members to offices in an industrial  park.  You don't have to believe me. Ask your advisors. Getting the heck out will help the property sell better.

As for the Auditorium, I haven't a clue as to what to do. Donate it to anyone who can maintain it.  How many millions of dollars that you don't have does it take to keep this unused structure running?

Put Grove street back in. Two of the premier mansions do not have any form of roadway access.

Demolish everything that is falling down. I have mentioned a few structures. There are others. Most of them are apartments. You know what I'm talking about.

Demolish the Fine Arts Hall and Science Building. Not just because they are ugly. The Hall of Administration is just as ugly. You might want to expend the same effort on maintaining your buildings that you do on defending doctrines you no longer believe in.

Sell the mansions. How many mansions do you guys own? I gave up counting. How many mansions do you own on West Green? How many on South Orange Grove? You own all of St John and Del Mar.

You know how I can tell when a mansion or an apartment building is owned by the Worldwide Church of God?  First off, it's empty. No kid's toys in the front yard, no car in the driveway, no sounds about. Secondly, it's filthy.  It's the filthy things get when they are not being used at all. Thirdly, they all have horizontal blinds in the front window.

Honey, this is a very nice three million dollar mansion that I have just bought. Let's hang white rubber horizontal blinds in the front window. Just to make the place look like a hospital that went out of business 20 years ago.

The apartments are in worse condition. Everyone has the same set of blinds. Everyone has the same brand of air conditioner. It was 112 degrees when I showed up. Not a single air conditioner unit was on.

If you look around this neighborhood, you can see that it is a mansion district. There are condos here and there, but basically the housing is mansions. Rich people have to live somewhere.

Final Answer: Sell It Now. Sell it as is. Get out. You've already blown it.

1900 housing units? Here? Where? Up the hills? In the middle of the street? I'm all for demolishing those buildings that are falling down. Thanks to Worldwide's utter neglect, there is no shortage of them.

Better Answer: The city of Pasadena enforces it's building codes.

Best Answer: Pasadena issues fines and turns the land over to public use. They put Grove street back in. They sell the mansions. Urban renewal happens. Plots of land get sold to the highest bidder. And the Worldwide Church of God is never heard from again.

Probable Answer: The Worldwide Church of God goes flat broke. Having been looted from the top since its inception, Worldwide simply runs out of funds. Its largely elderly and destitute followers will no longer bail it out. Thank you very much, Herbert W Armstrong.

The fact of the matter is that I don't know how the Worldwide saga is going to play out.  What I do know is that Joe Jr. and his clan haven't made a good move yet.

Why bother pretending that you are a real estate developer when you are not?

Why initiate a copyright infringement case on a piece of literature that you are no longer publishing and whose underpinnings you are on the record as saying are disavowed?



More letters - Go to Archive Page 1 / Archive Page 2 / Archive Page 3 / Archive Page 4


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