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Issue 39 - June 2003


28 June  TED'S LOCALE, HARRY POTTER, SCOPING MEETINGS.  Mail: WCG members vote with their wallets, Where'd the Church Go? Vertical thoughts, UCG contradictions

GTA in Emerald Bay: According to an anonymous source responding to a query in the last mailbag, Garner Ted Armstrong calls Emerald Bay home. Here's what we know about Emerald Bay.

Emerald Bay is a residential community developed to provide a relaxed, secure environment for member-owners.  It is located on a peninsula of 26,000 acre Lake Palestine, and is 15 miles south of Tyler, Texas... HOMES: 450, including single family homes, townhouses, garden homes & duplexes. SECURITY: Front gate manned 24 hours; community patrolled periodically. GOLF COURSE: 18 holes, 6500 yards, par 71. Chipping green, putting green and driving range. SWIMMING POOL: Lifeguard on duty during summer. TENNIS COURTS: Two, hard surfaced and lighted. BASKETBALL: Concrete court. BOATING, FISHING & WATER SPORTS: Two marinas with boat storage. CLUBHOUSE: Dining room, party room, bar/lounge with activities including bridge, mah Jongg, parties, and dancing.  Also available for private parties for members. INITIATION FEE: $10,000 plus $675.00 tax  MONTHLY DUES: $193.46  per month includes both club dues and homeowners association.

Harry Potter and the Cincinnati muggles: It's bad enough that Harry Potter has to put up with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and the loathsome Dudley. The poor guy has barely escaped from Lord Voldemort's clutches on multiple occasions, AND he still has to suffer through Professor Snape's classes at Hogwarts. So it's just as well he doesn't know about the United Church of God which has just issued more dire warnings about the dangers of children reading good literature. A regular reader from Britain forwarded a copy of the latest "eNews" produced by UCG which includes links to a couple of particularly silly articles from GN and World News & Prophecy back issues. We suspect none of these writers has actually read any of the J. K. Rowling novels, which is of course their loss.  

Mat's message: This property update from the pen of Mat Morgan via Dateline Pasadena.

Scoping meetings were held on June 4 and June 11 as part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process on the Ambassador Campus plan. Scoping meetings, hosted by Pasadena city staff, are for the purpose of determining what issues should be studied as part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The public had the opportunity to suggest the nature and scope of the environmental studies that are now underway. These environmental studies, which include development impacts to traffic, noise, air quality, water resources, etc. will be shared with the public later in the year when a Draft EIR will be circulated. Public comments will again be collected and responded to before the Final EIR is completed. 

The sale of two small out parcels are scheduled to conclude during June and July as part of the church's plan to sell peripheral property that is not part of the larger Ambassador Campus development. A small parking lot behind the Friend Paper Company on the east campus and the tennis court property just south of the west campus are scheduled to close. Five single family homes fronting Orange Grove Blvd. on the west campus are also being prepared for sale and have been excluded from the larger development.


WCG number crunching: I found the WCG news release of attendance figures fascinating! With a little bit of calculation we can see just how much your typical average WCG household is giving to the church these days now that they are freed from the mandatory tithing doctrine. WCG claims 24,000 households in attendance, and according to Ron Kelly , an annual income of approximately $20 million to the WCG. This works out to $833 annually per household being donated to the church. According to the 2000 US census data, the average family household income was $43,162. This implies a giving rate of just 1.93% from WCG households to the church. How does this stack up compared to other religious groups? Not too well I'm afraid. The prestigious "Barna Group" did a marketing study of American charitable giving.  The WCG claim of 40,000 adult members would work out to an income of $32 Million dollars if the average church giving by an American adult was achieved... The rate of giving at WCG is only ONE THIRD that of their Evangelical cousins, and only ONE HALF that of their Born Again brothers. It is obvious to conclude that in spite of the hype that the "New WCG" is occupied by many happy campers and inspired Armstrong retreads, that the pocketbooks of the membership are not quite as sanguine as the publicity! 

Bill Lussenheide

Dividing by zero: It is just a suspicion, but the WCG membership seems awfully high: By my admittedly biased and casual unscientific figures, I'd put the true membership of the WCG at no more than about 15,000 adults--and that might be high.

The WCG has had a long history of inflating their figures one way or another; it was particularly bad for the Feast of Tabernacles, when they kept it, adding a thousand here and a thousand there, and averaging this and taking the highest that...

One of the interesting things about the Festivals is that not a single one of them in the US are kept on the days or for the period of time covered by the Hebrew Calendar. The one that comes the closest is Seaside, Oregon, from October 8 to October 12. Registration for the Festival will cost you $55 if you are single and $110 if you are a family. Don't worry, though: Registration is a secured transaction.

The good folks at the WCG--and particularly Joel Lillengreen--ought to check out their reservations VERY CAREFULLY, because if you check the Convention Center Schedule the WCG has the auditorium from the Tenth through the fifteenth. Oops! Well, I'm sure it's just a misprint--not unlike the membership figures.

If you really care to keep the Festival all 8 days with the WCG, just like in the old days, you'll have to go to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada... The plucky Canadians are not about to give up their celebration it seems. But be warned: This is not your father's Feast of Tabernacles! [Pun very much intended!] It ends on Saturday, 10/18 with the Lord's Supper. So if you are traditional, you may have to compromise with some accommodations. [Translation: Compromise yourself and give into the WCG--once you divide by zero, you might as well go the distance all the way to infinity! If you sort of keep something, but you sort of don't, you have no integrity! None! Either keep it or don't! Don't keep on being double-minded!]

Speaking of the Feast, be sure to check out "Festival Reservations" at my [MD related] site.

A more convincing cross-reference to insure that accuracy for membership figures, I think we should insist that they count only the attendees who attend weekly (weakly?), who also happen to tithe AND attend the weak and insipid Festivals. After that, we want the figures validated by a reputable accounting firm, like Arthur Andersen.

As for the membership, all we can say is that WCG seems to stand for, "Where'd the Church Go?".

Douglas Becker (from a post to the MD Yahoo board) 

A scurrilous observation: UCG's youth magazine -- they're changing the title from Youth United to Vertical Thought. An utterly scurrilous observation -- does this mean they're aiming it more for mid-teens than young adults? "Youth united" might imply illicit congress between young people, and we can't have that, can we? But what "vertical thoughts" occupy the minds (and bodies) of all 16-year-old boys? HWA would know -- he kept a little black book...

Cherished member? [Re. UCG Answers in the previous mailbag] I have received answers from different UCG ministers, but the two I made reference to were signed by the same person. Unless different ministers use the same alias, it was from the same source. Compare their Feast booklet (2003) to their study paper on the Last Great Day. If you don't see a contradiction, then you're just the type of member they thrive upon. Of course, since you feel that ministers (of UCG) teaching contrary to one another is actually healthy, you're probably one of  their more cherished people. As far as whether or not Christ sinned being a nonessential area, well, I believe that speaks for itself.


27 June  WCG ADMITS ONLY 40,000 US MEMBERS, JOE OUR MODEL OF FREEDOM.  Mail: More on Fred, UCG letter procedures, Ted's salary

9,000 pruned from WCG membership total: Buried in the July WN is an admission that alleged membership figures released in March by Bernie Schnippert (he then claimed 67,000) were wildly inflated.

"Church membership currently stands at roughly 58,000. Membership in the United States is 40,000"

“It had been some time since we updated our figures,” Mr. Kelly said, “... We thought you might be interested in the updates.” Church membership currently stands at roughly 58,000. Membership in the United States is 40,000, with 18,000 members in other nations. In the United States, the 40,000 membership is made up of 24,000 households. Statistically we know from many years of membership records that each household on our member list represents about 1.7 people (hence the 40,000 membership in the United States).

Not that we'd want to appear churlish about Ron's belated burst of conscience on the issue, but the 40,000 figure seems "soft" (to say the least) looking at the way it's calculated. Many of those 1.7 member households will now be religiously divided in the wake of the continuing disintegration of the sect, and we all know of people who are "still on the list" but inactive or disillusioned. Multiplying 24,000 US households by a more realistic 1.3 provides a figure of around 31,000. The article continues:

Of course that includes the children in each family. Almost all churches include children and adults in their membership count, and so do we. Each of the 24,000 households receives The Worldwide News and our member letters every month. Membership worldwide in the mid to late 1980s was approaching 150,000 adults and children. With the decline in membership, the WCG has experienced a proportional decrease in income.

“We were reminiscing with this reporter that just a few years ago, our Media Operations budget for the television and print ministry alone was more than $50 million per year,” Mr. Kelly said. “The entire expense budget for the Worldwide Church of God last year was $33 million.  “What many in the greater Christian community find remarkable is how there can be so much joy in the Worldwide Church of God when we have experienced such losses."

Yeah, joy. Right. That must be what members feel as they survey their shattered, alienated families and friendships. How silly of us, we thought it was trauma.

Joey and the weak in faith: In the July WN Pastor Generalissimo Tkach lays it on the line. Emphasis added.

Paul... explained his strategy to the Corinthian Christians as an example of how he did not demand his “rights” as an apostle, in order to serve other people...

Not always possible

Paul’s approach may have been a good evangelistic strategy, but it would not be a good pastoral policy. A pastor cannot seek peace at any price, cannot forever make accommodations to people who are weak in the faith. At some point, a pastor must model freedom in Christ, not laws that are no longer valid. When the congregation be­comes a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles, the pastor cannot behave like them both—a decision must be made.

Oh, heavens to Murgatroyd, lets not accommodate those lower life forms who are "weak in faith". Not when you yourself are such a spiritual titan, basking in the luminescence that flows from your high office. Why can't these plebs understand that!

When we are in mixed company, we are to live like a Gentile, not give deference to the old covenant. It would be wrong, especially for a leader, to permanently live as if the weak in faith were right. A leader must model freedom, not just talk about it. 

Oh no, certainly not a LEADER... It all becomes clear now. Oh Joey, you have been so tragically misunderstood!

Do we want the message of grace to be confused with laws that the gospel specifically sets aside as not for Christians? Do we want our customs to give the wrong impression about the gospel, rather than to commend Christ?

Obviously, not all congregations are in a position where they can meet on Sunday. For some, Saturday is simply the best day to meet, or the best day to rent a meeting hall, or the best day for the pastor to visit the area. But in our hearts and actions we do need to follow the example of Paul, who lived like a Gentile when he was in a Gentile culture, for the sake of the gospel rather than his own comfort.

We need to set aside the Jewish customs (unless you are in a Jewish culture)! And like Paul exhorted Peter, let those who are used to these Jewish customs not separate themselves from believers who live like Gentiles.

Sunday is, it seems, definitely the preferred day. And any of you backsliding Saturday attendees are in deep effluent with God's hand-chosen leader and super-pastor. (We know he's hand-picked by God, as nobody else has obviously had a say in the matter.)

When people take their children out of school to attend an old covenant festival, does that support the gospel, or distract people from it? Does it cause unnecessary questions about the Christian faith? Our festivals are Christ-centered and gospel-focused, but what is the value of remaining tied to the dates of old covenant festivals? Does this choice of dates uphold the gospel, or does it uphold a familiar and comfortable custom that implies requirements that are in fact not part of the gospel?

And there go the residual elements of Holy Day observance. Listen carefully and you can hear the flushing sound.

... we should shed peculiarities from our past that distract people from the gospel, from the simplicity that is in Christ...

When Paul preached tolerance, he did not authorize anyone to say, “You should accommodate my preferences and tolerate my opinions.” Rather, he urges people to say, “I will give up my preferences in order to help the gospel get a better hearing in the society I am in.”

When it is simply a matter of relations within the church, we are to be tolerant of different opinions and practices (Romans 14:1). But when we want to make the gospel attractive to a Gentile society, we need to eliminate customs that confuse the gospel with the old covenant law. That’s something worth thinking about.

Well, Joe must be right. We all know how the early church sought to be attractive to gentile Roman society. Naturally they got on really well with Imperial policies right from the start. In fact Christians featured prominently in the entertainment industry of the time, big attractions at the coliseum we hear, so highly regarded were they. Yup, Joey must be right. One question though. How come the new "mainlined" WCG keeps losing members? Why aren't folk flocking back to the new improved culturally compliant WCG? Something else worth thinking about.


Re-thinking Fred: ...let me vent about Fred a little here if you will as I once thought he was such a generous and thoughtful minister with at least some expertise on the Scriptural truths. But I have had to learn the hard way (just have others) that he is just as much of a merchandiser as the rest of the ministry... 

Fred has learned well the art of isolating his followers with his own doctrinal concepts and so now he will write the 'Fred' version of the Scriptures just as he wrote the 'Fred' version of the Passover commandments and never bothered explaining that once you get to the Spiritual Covenant everything translates into the keeping of the Spirit of the Law which means that unless we have the Spirit we do not get past the Old Covenant rituals that keep us in the "letter of the Law."

He attempts in his version of the Passover commandments to do away with Deut. 16 which of course does not agree with Fred's version of the Passover...

I was made fully alert as to where Fred is taking his 'little flock' when I heard the sermon of the dying wife whose husband gave testimony during a 'Fred' sermon once about how she just wanted to have another 'Fred' tape played and it would solve all of her grief about her illness. Unfortunately the woman died putting her trust in Fred for salvation. 


UCG answers: Tom is wrong. These kind of questions (see Venting on UCG in previous mailbag) are not answered in the home office but are sent to the field ministry so it is only natural that there might be a difference of opinion. This is actually healthy as it shows some variation in beliefs on nonessential areas. I bet that if Tom had gotten the exact same answer his letter would have been just as critical of United's authoritarianism (no dissent allowed)

"Positive Dennis"

Tedquarters again: It was interesting to see the World Headquarters of the Intercontinental Church of God.  Any idea of what type of house GTA affords himself or his salary?

MD: Your guess is as good as mine. Somehow I doubt that he and Shirl just have a modest residence in the 'burbs. Let's throw out this one to any readers who may be in a position to comment.

26 June  THE FRED VERSION, GOOD CITIZEN BERNIE, TONGUE TWISTERS. Mail: Wolverton article, Ted's carpet, Loma alone, passive Tedophiles, snake bite, Herbal roots of UCG misogyny, UCG personal correspondence

Gospel according to Fred: Fred Coulter, who left WCG back in the late 70s, has already produced a translation of the Gospels, which he incorporated in his A Harmony of the Gospels in Modern English, published back in 1974 by Willie Dankenbring. Coulter is now about to release his own version of the full New Testament. In a June 12 letter to supporters he writes:

We realize that all of you are eager to receive your copy of the New Testament. You will not have much longer to wait. We have reached the point that we have tentatively set the end of August for the completion and final editing of the commentaries. Then, we should be ready to go to press within two weeks. It looks like we will be able to ship the New Testament to you right after the Feast of Tabernacles.

It is not immediately apparent whether Dickinson Press, which Coulter is negotiating with, is a vanity publisher. However, with a proposed print run of just 5,000 copies it seems Fred's expectations are suitably realistic.

Bernie says "no worries": Schnippert says neither WPRA nor Save South Orange Grove have anything to worry about in a new Pasadena Star News article. Church officials "will do right by Pasadena" according to Bernie. But apparently not everyone is convinced. Susan Mossman, executive director for Pasadena Heritage, said she and others continue to watch the church carefully. Read the story on the PSN website.

Spokesman Club remembered: Richard Burkard, posting on JLF, suggests that those terrible tongue twisters that were used as warm ups in Spokesman Clubs need updating. Among Richard's suggestions:

* If a splinter group splits, will the splinter sputter or the splinter spurt?

* Flurry flew into a feverish fervor, forsaking the favor of the fellowship.

* Harry Hugh held the Holy Day on the high hill. If Harry Hugh is hassled by higher-ups for holding a Holy Day on a high hill, should Harry Hugh hold a Holy Day at all? Or should Harry Hugh hold a Holy Day in hiding, in the hollow of the high hill?

* Thomas Tattertoot took his two tithes and told the Tkaches, "Toodle-oo!"

Richard seems to have laid down a challenge for others to equal or better his inspirational effort. Suggestions welcome (but please, remember MD doesn't carry anything X-rated!)


Monte's canon: What's especially funny about Mr. Wolverton's statement on the books of the Bible is that that "series of councils" to which he refers consistently included the deuterocanonical books, which Protestants call the Apocrypha. As anyone can learn who cares to investigate the matter, the list of books that those councils produced matches up perfectly with the list that was approved by the Catholic Church's Council of Trent in the 1500s.

Jared Olar

Tedquarters: I was always told that if you cannot respect a man, you have to have respect for his office.  Ted has managed to destroy that homily on both counts. Herb, despite his delusions of grandeur, managed to project a  je ne sais quoi in matters of architecture and interior design.  Ted's aesthetic sensibility apparently gelled while on the set of television's Hee Haw.

This man of God has Electra Glide in Blue carpet. Note the bookshelf brimming with weighty tomes. Not. A mind-boggling starving artist show painting of the rugged mountains forms a backdrop for his hoary head.  The lake in the painting is the same color as the carpet - that's a coordinating effect "done in them fancy houses." Where is a computer for keeping the pulse on rapidly changing end time events via the internet? Maybe Shirley doesn't let him have one in a room with a door.  Ditto on a couch.

Scott Murphey

In search of Dad: In the pictures of "Tedquarters" that there was a picture of Loma Armstrong hanging in the board room.  But where was the picture of "dad"? Interesting....

Accountability Ted-style: Hi Gavin, I love your site and visit it nearly every day.  I'm a former WCG member (thirty years, from age 7 to 37), and am now a Quaker.

GTA's photos led me to Here are some favorite quotes, I'm sure you'll find more...

Any person, regardless of  nationality, race, color, creed, religious or political persuasion, is welcome  to fellowship with the INTERCONTINENTAL CHURCH OF GOD at any of its regular  worship services, Bible studies, annual festivals or other church occasions, so  long as all such persons refrain from espousing, preaching, teaching, handing  out tapes, literature, or materials of any kind which set forth anything  contrary to the doctrines and practices of the INTERCONTINENTAL CHURCH OF GOD,  and so long as such fellowship remains passive, worshipful, cooperative and  cordial.

(Note:  only "passive" sheep are welcome.)

Adoption of constitutional amendments shall only occur upon a unanimous vote by all members of the Board.

(Note: Only board members get to vote.)


Aaron and the snake: Sounds like Aaron may not fit the necessary 'signs' of the believers described in Mark 16:17-18...

Women in the UCG: They believe the false doctrine of women being "silent in their church" because of Herbie's biased opinions about women. I remember Herbie at one FOT shaking mad and saying, "Women are for ONE THING ONLY!!" He made all the women throw their make-up in the trash cans at Big Sandy. (Boy, I wish I would have collected the trash! Could have sold it all back to them a couple years later.)  


Venting on UCG: This may be a good test for people to use to see how un-United United is.  I emailed a question to their contact address and received an answer that would have had Christ breaking a command instead of merely going against Jewish tradition.  I waited and sent a similar question, using a different email address, stating that those who hold to that conclusion have Christ breaking that command (I made no mention of their previous answer).  Of course I received a totally different answer. 

Another problem I find with UCG leadership seems common to many who have sent in thoughtful questions.  If the question takes more than a minute or two to read, it is most likely misunderstood or by seeing just a few words, they feel that they know what the person is asking and go on to give an answer that misses the point completely.  This could be attributed to a short attention span, but is most probably the arrogance of scholarship and abundant education.  I live in a college town and have witnessed firsthand the perception of those with a few letters after their name, concerning the seemingly uneducated.  UCG's response is that their ministers are just too busy.  If they are too busy to properly answer the questions of their members, obviously there is a problem.

I've been hearing more and more complaints concerning similar problems, so UCG may discontinue answering other than basic questions from their home office (don't say headquarters).  I've also noticed that they make changes to their study papers without any indication of an update. These changes are not minor corrections.  It's hard to understand how the majority of UCG members seem to be just along for the ride no matter where it takes them.   UCG members need to not be afraid to ask questions.  When enough are openly ridiculed or silenced, the problem will become more obvious and a change in leadership will be made necessary.  They also need to read the UCG booklets and compare it to what they thought UCG teaches and then ask "When did this change?" 

Thanks for the vent. 



Not quite the Hall of Ad: Ever wondered what GTA's post-WCG, post CGI headquarters looks like? Wonder no more. Take a virtual tour of "Tedquarters" courtesy of the ICG. Peek in at GTA's office, stop by the auditorium, marvel at the board room, be enthralled by the lectern seal, and gasp at Matthew Armstrong's resemblance to his sainted father. And not a massage table or karaoke machine in sight! Just think, when Joey sells that troublesome Pasadena property, he can then aspire to something nice like this!

What is a cult? Is it right to call Mormonism a cult and not Methodism? Or is the word "cult" just a way to insult people whose beliefs differ from one's own? Check out the discussion on the term "cult" on

Monte on "Cults": The May/June Plain Truth contains an article by Monte Wolverton entitled Cults: What makes them so bad anyway?  Monte draws attention to "two prominent American cults claimed to be Christian": the Latter-day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses, zeroing in on their respective founders, Joseph Smith and Charles Taze Russell. No mention though of Herbert W. Armstrong.

Like the current generation of WCG leaders-in-denial, Monte would have readers believe that a cult is a group that is simply defined by wrong ideas.

In this article, we look at "Christian" cults -- groups that claim to follow Christ, yet deny one or more of the core teachings of Christianity... Bad theology, bad teaching and bad biblical interpretation are not only spiritually damaging, but they lead to false assumptions and inaccurate worldviews, which form the basis for bad decisions.

"Bad", you have to suspect, means different. By Monte's criteria not only Jehovah's Witnesses and LDS, but Quakers, Unitarians, Orthodox Christians, Coptic Christians and Catholics are potentially cultic as they each demur from at least one of the items on the list of "essentials" Monte has helpfully provided as a yardstick: the Trinity, the deity of Christ, Salvation by Grace, a high view of scripture (the 66 book protestant canon), and the universal church. The article states, for example:

The 66 books of the Bible were recognized as authoritative by the early church through a series of councils. The Scriptures are complete.

For a discussion on the biblical canon, read the MD feature Questions about the canon.

For Monte's information the Catholic and Orthodox churches have more than 66 books in their canons. For its Old Testament the early church used the Septuagint, which differs considerably from the current version. The exact composition of the New Testament canon was a matter of debate for centuries.

By ignoring criteria that describe how a church treats people ... WCG can declare itself squeaky clean, and a shining example. Count those criteria in and WCG is exposed as something else altogether.

Funnily enough, Monte doesn't bother to address the issue of a group's control over its members through hierarchical leadership (like WCG's Pastor General and his flunkies) or non-existent accountability practices. He doesn't mention groups that lie to their members, deliberately mislead them, or threaten them with disfellowshipment if they dare act without official consent (witness the strange case of the passover prohibitions in Pasadena). He seems blind to churches that deny their members active, meaningful participation in decision making processes. By ignoring criteria that describe how a church treats people, both fellow human beings in general and its own members in particular, WCG can declare itself squeaky clean, and a shining example. Count those criteria in and WCG is exposed as something else altogether. You have to wonder, though, what Jesus would make of a manipulative, authoritarian group - however doctrinally "correct" - that treated the people within its fellowship like dirt.

The Plain Truth article is a bit like reading a testimony on healthy diet by Colonel Sanders.

Meridian magazine and the Stone of Scone: Mrs. Elizabeth Windsor, a state beneficiary living in London, is regarded by many COG members as being a descendant of David (the ancient Israelite king) and keeping Jesus' throne warm for him. It seems that there are Mormons who share this conviction, if this article - - is anything to go by. Almost, in fact, the kind of thing you'd expect to find in Tomorrow's World. The writer presumably has some credibility within the Mormon fold as he has previously had material published in Ensign, the flagship magazine of the Utah-based LDS church.  

Points of Truth: Trust Dateline Pasadena to uncover another unique contribution to the wide world of COG splinters. Larry R. Lasiter is pastor & founder of the Crusade Church of God (we kid you not), AKA Church of God Fellowship. Lasiter lists modern pentecostal-style "prophecies" on his site which resemble those once published by World Insight International ("Worldwide Church of God in Prophecy", Ken Storey, World Insight International, 1979). 

Mikey Online: One of Joe's top mullahs, Mike Feazell, has his own website. Judging from the links, Mike spends his spare time digging into matters cosmological, and has an interest in children's literature. If you've got 28 minutes to spare you can also view a video interview with Dr. Mikey spouting forth on "Is This the End Time?" (questions being put by Glendora WCG pastor Neil Earle). Another Dateline Pasadena discovery!

Alas poor Aaron: From a posting on the MD Yahoo group: Has anyone heard about the poisonous snake bite that laid up [UCG elder and former Armstrong aide] Aaron Dean? Either a copperhead or water moccasin as he went outside to switch off the porch light. Even with the anti-venom, his leg swelled up to twice its size and turned an ugly shade of yellow.

Ouch! We wish Aaron a speedy recovery.


Epistle of Roy: Just got around to reading the Epistle of Roy to the Brethren regarding the treatment of wives. As Roy states, women have their place in the human realm as complements and supplements to men. Where would Roy be without his wife Norma? Norma has made him a warm and fuzzy human being. "She [Roy's wife Norma] has a love and concern for people that is immediately evident to anyone who meets her. I have had to grow in these qualities. My service to the Church would have been greatly impaired without her. I have learned how to be much more approachable and concerned for people through her example." (Those who have seen Roy in action must have busted a gut laughing over that one.)

What Roy left unsaid is that while women are around to help out, men would do the heavy lifting. It brought to mind an article that ran in the September 19, 1999 issue of The Journal. The article titled "Council discusses congregationalist tendencies, women's role, new Ambassador Bible Center" reports on the meeting of the governing council of the United Church of God held on August 25 through September 1, 1999 in Seattle, Washington. One of the hot topics discussed was the role of women (page 8), and some of the comments have to be seen to be believed.

"On Aug. 31 Mr. [Dennis] Luker moderated a discussion of the biblical role of women in the Church of God.

"The men agreed that a woman's role in the church does not include service in the ministry."

So much for women's names appearing on the masthead of any UCG publication.

"Women's retreats turned out to be a controversial topic among the council members.. Mr. [Roy] Holladay said he is concerned that some people might view something called a 'women's retreat' as a 'women's ministry.'

"'All things may be lawful, but not all things are expedient,' he observed."
The meeting teemed with equally profound observations. Look:

"Council member Aaron Dean said terminology is crucial to the presentation of such a program. He suggested that 'wife-and-mother seminar' might be a palatable name for a women's function, but 'women's retreat' has 'the world's ring.'"

Such are the weighty issues on which the council's time and members' tithe money were expended during United Church of God conferences. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed: "President [Leslie] McCullough said the content, not the name, is the important thing when it comes to women's church-related activities."

Or did they?

"The content of any such function, he said, must be presided over by a male spiritual leader if it is judged to be a spiritual retreat.."

"Mr. [Dennis] Luker commented that 'a lot of women' will be discouraged if they are told they cannot get together and 'nurture one another' and 'encourage one another.' He said that perhaps people's anxieties about a retreat could be lessened by calling it a 'women's seminar.'

"He offered to get involved, along with his wife, so 'women are not taking off and doing their own thing.'"

I was so astonished by this article that I wrote a letter to the editor, which appeared in the October 25, 1999 issue:

"The article 'Council discusses congregationalist tendencies, etc....' in the September 19, 1999 issue of The Journal illustrates why the UCG will never make inroads into the world of Christianity. In the report on the
Council's discussion the role of women in the Church of God, one of the concerns is whether it is safe to let women meet together without a man present. Dennis Luker is quoted as being willing to get involved in women's
activities with his wife, so 'women are not taking off and doing their own thing,' as though that was dangerous somehow.

"In any other organization, the people expressing these reservations would be laughed out of the meeting. Only among the Church of God ministry would such a concern be a topic of serious discussion."

It's no surprise that women have no editorial input into United Church of God publications when they have Neanderthals running the show.

There is one other point that caught my attention. Roy writes, "I know that all the men in the ministry, if they had the opportunity to write this letter, would express similar thoughts about their wives. Being a minister's wife is not an easy task," says he. "Our wives have sacrificed over the years, made moves, uprooted families time and time again and cared for the household-especially when we were gone on visits or conferences."

Here Roy does what church of God ministers have always done. He tries to portray the ordinary circumstances in which he and his wife live as extraordinary. The events of a normal life are portrayed as acts of great sacrifice. Is life really that tough for ministers' wives? Are they the only ones who have to move every four or five years? Is it unusual for a woman to stay home while her husband is away on business trips (the visits and conferences, where he and his colleagues wrestled with such serious issues as what to call women's retreats)? Do only the wives of ministers care for a household? A lay member's wife works from sun to sun, it seems, but a minister's wife's work is never done.

The fact that she enjoys a higher standard of living than most of the people in her congregation is not mentioned. Church members pay three tithes, while ministers pay only one. And in the golden age of the Worldwide Church of God, ministers got tax-free rent subsidies and a brand new car every couple of years. On top of that, they were exempt from social security taxes. Rather than enduring lives of sacrifice, ministers and their wives enjoyed, and still enjoy, lives of privilege complete with tax free income, lower tax rates, free cars, and exemption from the most rigorous of the church of God's religious observances.

Not only did Herbert Armstrong create a bunch of hirelings, ministers who sold their integrity for a nice paycheck with extravagant fringe benefits. He also created a group of poor, deluded souls who live in a fantasyland, men who think they are God's anointed, who believe their ordinary lives are extraordinary. They cannot live without that illusion, and they are addicted to the adulation Church of God ministers receive in their exalted positions. Remember, ordinary lay-members were not considered worthy to address their ministers by their given names. It was Mr. This or Mr. That. Hundreds of COGs have been established so that ministers can continue to live in their world of make-believe.

This is why anything a minister says must be viewed with skepticism. Whenever you deal with a person who does not have a firm grasp on reality, you really can't trust what he says, especially when he is also afflicted with delusions of grandeur. Accepting anything a church of God minister says is a very risky proposition.


Tragedy in Chino: [A PCG member] from the Chino, California congregation committed suicide Wednesday, June 18, at 3am.  She shot herself in the head.  The sound of the gun going off woke [her husband] up and there she was.  There was a note but the police have it.  We don't know why she did this.  She is survived by her husband ... and their son  There was a tremendous hushing up of the event and people in the PCG were informing others to keep this quiet.  This is the second or third major suicide in Craig Winters' region.  I sure hope the FBI gets involved in this.  These people certainly know how to make people feel worthless.

Very concerned ex-member.

MD: The writer has provided names, and added "For any of you out there who are interested or know these people, I thought you might want to know what happened to them because the PCG sure isn't going to let you know!!"  In respect for the family at this time MD has elected not to publish names. 

Ossuary going cheap: If Scott Ashley of the UCG still thinks the 'James Ossuary' could still be genuine (AW 6/22), then he should contact the owner, Oded Golan, as the price on this 'artifact' is now significantly reduced. As the New York Times said, the fake '2000 year-old' patina (on the inscription) can be easily detected by scientists - appeals to the "authority" of The National Geographic Society not withstanding. I wonder what 'authorities' the UCG uses to support their belief in the thank-God-I'm-white-Anglo-Israel Theory?


Pastor General's preferred porcine provender

"boerewors = boeries = wors = boerewurst ...  This is a spicy South African farmer's sausage, made with beef, pork, and pork fat, and seasoned with coriander."

Joe the sausage gourmet: This report on the WCG leader's recent South African trip was posted on the Ekklesia board.

Joe Tkach was in Cape Town over the weekend for a WCG local conference. He raved about the physical beauty of the greater Cape Town area and Africa in general, and boerewors (a spiced sausage for barbecuing).  He also mentioned that he'd been offered a position by the Lutheran church, but declined it... 

Visit Europe for FREE!  Planning a European tour? Why bother. Veteran Armstrong minister Don Billingsley is reminding members of his tiny COG Faithful Flock that Americans will get there soon enough. Here are a few charming and edifying excerpts from his June 15 member letter.

The millions who will survive the nuclear warfare will be herded together by the enemy armies in hastily made concentration areas in the areas where they will be taken captive (probably just a wire fence enclosure).

From there they will be forced to walk to the nearest transportation that will be left and taken to airports or sea ports and from there transported to enemy lands as Israel was in 718-721 B. C. (II Kings 17:1-18, 22-23 by Assyria, Germany of today)...

The millions to be transported will probably be by ships to Europe. During the time required to reach the destined place of temporary detainment their living conditions will be much like the Jews who were packed in boxcars from the counties in Europe that Hitler had conquered and were sent to the death camps without food or water and no bathroom facilities. A horrible stenching mess to endure from the vomit and fecal matter.


 In the skills of self deception disciples are, if possible, even more adept than their masters. They want to find someone in whom they can believe as unreservedly as saints believe in God, and on whom they can transfer all their longings for a golden age and a life without moral responsibility. They are like romantic women looking for an ideal husband. and once they have found him, nothing will convince them that he is anything less than perfect.

Colin Wilson. The Devil's Party: A History of Charlatan Messiahs.

Upon their arrival millions of them will immediately be put to death much like the Jews were! Primarily those under 12 years of age, along with the sick, the weak, and old people! Once separated one group will be sent in one direction to die; the others will survive as slaves to cruel taskmasters They will be interested in only those are able to do hard manual labor.

Those who will be spared will then be sold into slavery to the highest bidders and moved into other nations by those who will buy them...

Not ever having been enslaved we can only read the words that tell us of the coming captivity. We have to read between the lines, so-to-speak, to imagine in part the suffering that will be experienced by all who have to die in it, or live through it!

To really understand one has to experience the whip, the boot, the trained dogs tearing out the genitals, the dashing of babies heads against trees or using them for target practice while being thrown up into the air, the tearing out of the fingernails, hanging by the wrists or feet, or stretched on the rack, along with many other forms of slow torture, before death mercifully comes.

These hateful fantasies illustrate the kind of sick, demented fear-religion that drove thousands into Armstrong's clutches during the Cold War years. But for Herb's geriatric former lieutenants - and Billingsley is hardly alone in this - time seems to have stood still. 

Cloying PR - the propaganda machine on overdrive: Just in case anybody still cares, here's yet another PR initiative from the silver tongued Schnippert. WCG has provided the following press release to local media. It appears here courtesy of Dateline Pasadena

Assuring the community of its commitment to save historic homes on the Ambassador Campus, the Worldwide Church of God has asked the City of Pasadena to form a new historic district to protect prominent single-family properties on Orange Grove Boulevard.

The five contiguous home sites form the longest stretch of single-family dwellings on South Orange Grove Boulevard, an area now dominated by condominiums and apartment buildings. The historic district designation would require owners of the homes to seek city review and approval for any significant modifications, especially to the outside profiles of the buildings.

"The Church saved these beautiful homes when they were purchased many years ago," said Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning for the Worldwide Church of God. "We want to make sure they continue to help define the historic character of Pasadena."

The five homes represent some of the last remnants of what was known in its heyday as "Millionaires Row." The homes, built between 1890 and 1911, are living examples of several important architectural styles, including California Craftsman and Dutch Colonial Revival, and represent the work of prominent architects, including Frederick Roehrig. If approved by the City Council, the historic district would be the fifth created in Pasadena. The designation would give the city's Historic Preservation Commission authority to reject proposals for demolition or major renovations that are deemed inappropriate. While the ordinance does require an extra step or two in the permit approval process, it generally does not affect indoor remodeling, landscaping, painting or additions not readily seen from the street. "We know that city officials also see the value of maintaining these homes as an important historic resource and an example of Pasadena Character," said Schnippert. "We are looking forward to working with the city council and staff to achieve this important protection for the historic properties." 

The Worldwide Church of God assembled more than 130 separate lots and combined them into one of the most lovely campus environments in Southern California – Ambassador College.  The Ambassador Campus grounds include acclaimed gardens, historic homes, and the Ambassador Auditorium, which has been compared to Carnegie Hall in its grandeur and acoustic quality. Some of these historic homes had fallen into disrepair before being acquired and refurbished by the Church over the past 50 years that the Church has been based on the Ambassador site. They are now seen and enjoyed by thousands of visitors to Pasadena every year as they walk along Orange Grove Boulevard at the start of the Rose Parade. The historic district is one of several important initiatives undertaken by the Church to maintain and preserve historic resources on the Campus. Other prominent historic homes are being incorporated into the Ambassador Campus residential development. These would include the Merritt Mansion, Manor del Mar, Mayfair, Terrace Villa and the Grove Villa Apartments. In addition, many of the historic gardens are essential elements of the Ambassador plan.

The Church is also working with the City of Pasadena and many community groups and individuals to develop a plan to reopen the Ambassador Auditorium as an active performing arts venue.

The Worldwide Church of God is creating a new residential community on the Ambassador Campus site. The Church's application to the city for that plan is the result of many months of study and planning by the Church and its team of experts on design, architecture, traffic, historic preservation and the art of building new, planned communities. The planning process also included a series of community open house meetings at which neighbors shared their ideas for the Ambassador. Among those ideas was the desire to preserve the historic home sites.

The Church is seeking approval of a plan that would build 1,431 units on the site, significantly below the 2,000 units allowed under existing zoning law, known as the West Gateway Specific Plan. Just as the Church is seeking to save the historic homes, it is also preserving many of the prominent gardens and other noteworthy features of the Ambassador Campus in its plan. The Worldwide Church of God's property consists of 44 acres roughly bordered by Orange Grove Avenue and Colorado Boulevard and straddling the 710 freeway that splits the property into what is known as the West Campus and East Campus.

Think that was bad? Try this for gushy, sugary goo...

One of the many beloved Oak trees on the Ambassador Campus has succumbed to age and disease and the City of Pasadena has ordered that it be removed. The tree is now considered by the city to be a hazard because its dead and weakened bows are no longer able to carry their weight and could fall at any time.

As anyone who has visited our campus knows, the Worldwide Church of God takes great pride and care in our extensive gardens, stands of trees and great lawns. The Church, through the support of our members, works diligently to maintain the campus in the way  Pasadena has come to expect during our 50 years as a good neighbor.

The Worldwide Church of God is in the process of building a new residential community on the 43-acre Ambassador site. Through
extensive planning and creative design most of the historic gardens and trees will remain to be enjoyed by the new residents of the
campus. With additional plantings that are planned, the total tree count on the property will actually increase.

Dateline Pasadena comments: "[The above item] was sent to me this morning, and was reportedly sent by WCG to the Pasadena Star News."  A covering note from the sender adds: 

WCG applied for the application to cut the tree down.  The City did not order it to be cut, but gave approval to cut it down.  The tree was not dead but leaning at a dangerous angle after a recent windstorm.  The tree was located in the Student Center Patio area. 

Another little embellishment of the truth by a sect that long ago appears to have lost its sense of moral direction.


James ossuary: Yesterday's news reports, from which you quoted, are a case of something quite common in the archaeological world--namely "dueling experts." A report at the National Geographic Web site--rather ironic, since they are so consistently pro-evolution in their outlook--offers a considerably more balanced perspective on the issue. Your readers may wish to read their piece at this Web address:

At some point it may be possible to indeed prove the ossuary and/or inscription to have been faked. However, this is not the proof... And, as even your piece on the article in The Good News acknowledges in a backhanded way, Mario Seiglie's article allowed for the possibility that it may some point be shown to be a fake.

Scott Ashley
Managing editor, The Good News

Ex opere operato: I've now read the four responses to my comments on baptismal validity... 

(1) To begin, let's look at Jim's question about the difference between St. Matthew's "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" and St. Luke's "in the name of Jesus"

Jim should note that the four places in the Book of Acts do not all verbally agree -- in one place it is "in the name of Jesus Christ," another place it is "in the name of the Lord Jesus," etc.  Doesn't sound like a single ritual formula is necessarily being shown to us.

One explanation... is that in the Book of Acts ... the early Church distinguished its baptismal rite from the other kinds of baptism practiced by Jews and pagans back then by referring to it as "baptism in the name of Jesus."  If so, Acts wouldn't necessarily be specifying the words used in the rite.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Catholics do not rely solely on explicit scriptural testimony for their doctrines, but also accept apostolic traditions that are mentioned outside of the Bible.  Thus, we can point to the Didache, which scholarly consensus would apparently date to the latter decades of the first century A.D. ...  That document describes how Christians should perform baptisms, and it specifies the words "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  Later, circa 150 A.D., St. Justin Martyr also attests to baptism under the trinitarian formula.  After him, Tatian mentions it as well, and so on and on throughout the early centuries of Church history.  There is no record of any Christians in that early era using the words, "I baptize you in the name of Jesus." It is the position of the Catholic Church that if the baptizer says only, "I baptize you in the name of the Jesus," but not, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," then the baptism is invalid.

(2) Bill Hohmann said he didn't see the connection between baptism and the understanding of the Trinity.  To him, the issue in the Bible was belief in Jesus as Savior, not understanding of God's nature.

I would suggest that upon reflection, a Christian should see that coming to believe in Jesus as the prophesied savior of the world must carry with it an acceptance of Jesus' true identity.  If He is God Incarnate as Christianity
claims, then the question of God's nature immediately comes into play.  Who is Jesus?  How could God become incarnate as a human being?  Is Jesus distinct or separate from His Father, and if so how and what does that mean? And how does the Holy Spirit enter into all of this? ...

The fact that the question of the Trinity is intimately connected to baptism can be demonstrated by this example:  "Baptism in the name of Jesus" rather than "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" is championed by Oneness and Jesus-Only Pentecostals, who reject the orthodox Trinity doctrine in favor of a form of Modalism.  Their rejection of the Trinity and of the trinitarian baptismal formula aren't just accidents or
coincidences -- rejecting one is logically the outcome of rejecting the other.  Bible interpretations have consequences.

(3) Jim Baldwin had nothing worthwhile to say, so I will pass over his sarcasm with no more comment than this sentence.

(4) Finally, Myra asserted that "if there are no positive results toward a true relationship with your Maker, water baptism is nothing more than being dunked in water."

However, in sacramentalist Christianity, baptism is believed to impart an indelible character on the soul, healing the soul of original sin and restoring it to life.  This action of the Holy Spirit is totally an act of grace, so it is not dependent on anything that the baptized Christian does or thinks or feels.  If the baptism is valid, then it is more than being dunked in water EVEN IF there are no positive results toward a true relationship with God.  (But we believe that the grace of baptism tends toward the actualization of a true relationship with God, just as a baby
being born automatically tends toward the development of a relationship between the baby and its parents.  In baptism, we become children of God -- that's a true relationship if there ever was one.)

Anyway, what I'm describing here is the principle known in Latin Rite Catholicism as "ex opere operato," which means "from the work being done." That is, a valid sacrament is truly efficacious simply by being valid -- the
faith, or lack thereof, of the person being baptized has no effect on the efficacy of baptism.

...  Our weakness cannot overpower the Almighty God, and our faithlessness cannot make God unfaithful.  Consequently, a valid baptism does what God says it will, whether or not we live up to our baptismal promises -- just as we are always are parent's children, no matter what we do with our lives.

As I said before, I don't expect to convince anyone of sacramentalism, nor am I attempting to do so -- but I at least wanted to explain where sacramentalist Christians are coming from on the issue of baptism validity.

Jared Olar


The book that puts the Christian case against Seventh Day observance. More details on the Bookshelf page.

VIP Joe - World Traveler Extraordinaire: Globetrotting Pastor Generalissimo Joe Tkach is back in the States after yet another tithe-funded trip to distant lands. This time he's been to South Africa where he was "extremely inspired" at "a wonderful and blessed conference in Capetown". So where will Joey's next jaunt take him? And how many days a year does the un-mandated, un-elected sect leader actually spend at his desk in Pasadena? Maybe somebody could come up with a comparison between the time the third Pastor General spends in this way with his illustrious predecessor, Herbert W. Armstrong.

Friends of the Sabbath: Craig White, one of Armstrongism's most enthusiastic proponents, has re-launched the Australian based Friends of the Sabbath website. 

CT response: Dateline Pasadena forwarded this response to the Christianity Today articles which was posted to the women's discussion group on Yahoo.

This makes me furious! ... anything for the almighty dollar! If it was really true that WCG had changed -- that the true spirit of the organization had changed and that they truly had the welfare of the people at heart, then that old doctrinal stuff would have been used for kindling... burned... and all rights to republish it refused without question! If the WCG had any moral conscience towards the public, towards the people ensnared in PCG or any of the splinter groups, that old HWA garbage would have been permanently discredited and disposed of so that no one could ever propagate it as "truth" ever again. But of course... TKJr could make a buck by selling it, so what the heck... let a few more generations suffer at the hands of HWA... its no sweat off his brow....

...  this proves that this "leopard" has NOT changed its spots... it'll do or say ANYTHING for the "Almighty Dollar" at anyone/everyone's expense. 

COG7 gathers in San Antonio: The 2003 General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day) will be held in San Antonio at the end of the month (June 30 - July 5). COG7 has about 40 groups in Texas, dating from the establishment of the first congregation in San Antonio in the early years of the 20th century among the Spanish speaking community. The first English language church was established in 1930. The venue for most activities is the Hyatt Hotel, with some services at the Municipal Auditorium. Information on the convention is available on the church website. Using a metaphor WCG members might identify with the June Bible Advocate states "Come to the feast in Texas..."! (p.20)

Look before you leap: The January/February edition of UCG's Good News carried a breathless story on the "James ossuary" by Mario Seiglie. Despite the GN's irritating policy of implying what it wants to convey rather than stating it directly (just in case it goofs) Seiglie left little doubt that he believed the limestone box was the genuine article, a container in which were once interred the mortal remains of James, the brother of Jesus. Some quotes:

fraud seems rather unlikely... the find nevertheless appears to be powerful evidence for the accuracy of the Gospel accounts... through the discoveries of archaeology, there are stones that are now figuratively crying out as a witness to the authenticity of the biblical account.

This despite the fact that warning lights were already flashing about the "discovery". Now comes news that the "unlikely fraud" is indeed a forgery and a hoax. These excerpts from a Reuters report.

Israeli archaeological experts said Wednesday an inscription on an ancient stone box suggesting it once contained the bones of Jesus' brother, James, was a forgery.

The burial box and its Aramaic inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" had excited speculation it could be the earliest physical reference to the founder of Christianity outside the New Testament.

But the director of Israel's Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, called it a hoax.

"The ossuary is real. But the inscription is fake. What this means is that somebody took a real box and forged the writing on it, probably to give it a religious significance," Dorfman told Reuters after a news conference on the matter...

Oops. GN managing editor Scott Ashley has contacted AW to point out that a quote from AP that appeared in an early version of this item actually related to the Jehoash tablet, another dubious artifact promoted by the same gentleman, Oded Golan, now promoting the James ossuary. We thank Mr. Ashley for setting the record straight and have removed that section. 

Dr. Gideon Avni, the archaeologist who chaired a committee of archaeological experts investigating the find's provenance since March, told reporters the conclusion was unanimous.

The committee concluded that ... the stone of the box was more typical of Cyprus and northern Syria than ancient Israel.

The committee's report said the inscription of the "James Ossuary" cut through the stone's patina, or natural fossilized sheen, and appeared to be in modern text, written by someone attempting to reproduce ancient biblical fonts.

An AP report adds:

Robert Eisenman, who wrote a book on Jesus' brother, studied the box and said the writing on the box, written in two different hands, along with the artifact's sudden appearance, made its authenticity questionable.

"I always considered the timing of the James ossuary very odd and worrisome. There was a spate of books on James and his importance in 1997 and 1998, then the box appeared," he said.

19 June  CHRISTIANITY TODAY COVERS WCG. Mail: Adolph Armstrong, sacramentalism

WCG gets CT coverage: Leading conservative Christian magazine Christianity Today has two articles featuring the Worldwide Church of God in its latest issue. Neither is likely to make cult leaders, who posture as "evangelicals" while maintaining an exclusionary authoritarian structure, ecstatic.

One article deals with the sell-off of Herb Armstrong's dubious "literature" to a group Joe Tkach has publicly labeled dangerous, the Philadelphia Church of God led by Gerald Flurry. A second article recounts the tribulations of cult leaders in their long running effort to sell off the Ambassador College campus. Both articles quote Bernie Schnippert who never seems to be lost for a word on such subjects.

Relevant comment on the "30 pieces of silver" ($3 000 000) the WCG took for Herb's writings comes from Reg Killingley.

Some former WCG members criticized the church's leaders. "They're willing, in effect, to support what they condemn—to permit the perpetuation and promotion of heresy for the sake of money," said Reginald Killingley, a former Worldwide Church pastor.

Elsewhere CT describes WCG's dollar woes as a "financial Armageddon", and quotes Joe as saying:

"I didn't have any complete grasp of how the changes would rock my world," the younger Tkach told Christianity Today. Schism begat schism, as many pastors and members left the church, forming dozens of spin-off groups. Tkach's own sister and brother in-law belong to one of the groups. "It's something I never get any closure on," Tkach said. "Some people I went to high school and college with think I'm possessed by no less than the devil." ... Tkach has received death threats and hate mail from former members related to the initial theological changes. "They're bitter because they feel betrayed," he said.

Aw shucks, poor old Joe. Maybe if the guy moved his butt off the pontifical throne and brought some accountability to the cult's highest echelons he might glean a modicum of sympathy, but as things stand his comments will probably only draw guffaws from insiders. While death threats are hardly a joke, and a matter for police investigation rather than whining to reporters, Joe might reflect on the fact that the powerless and much put-upon members of his hierarchical empire have every right to feel betrayed. Coca Cola has been substituted for Dr. Pepper, but the inbuilt systemic abuse continues unabated.


Herb ist der führer: In regards to the woman asking if HWA read Hitler's book... the answer is a definite YES!  He had two sets of Hitler's writings in his library.  These books were later moved to the basement.  I know this is a fact because I worked in his home and saw the books.  He had underlined various comments in the books.  Also of interest is the fact that for several years before Meredith's church split off from WCG, The Protocols of Zion were widely read by members in Pasadena.  The majority of these people later joined up with Meredith when his splinter cult formed...  It stands to reason that if Herb saw something significant in Hitler's rantings then Meredith's members could also find things to support their conspiracy theories in the Protocols which are vehemently anti Jewish.  The Protocols were being read around the time that the Jewish community in Los Angeles was very  outspoken against the Ambassador Auditorium concert series.  Itzak Perlman swore up and down that he would NEVER perform in the Auditorium because Armstrongism was trying to imitate Judaism and was trying to draw converts out of Judaism.

Baptism & stuff: (1) In Jared L. Olar's article, "Snide remarks" he stated twice: Jesus Himself would use a Christian's voice to speak again the words, "I baptize you into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Matt.28:19) But these verses say "In the name of Jesus", only. Acts 2:38 , Acts 8:12 , Acts 8:16 , Acts 10:48 , and Acts 19:5 


(2) The commentary regarding the validity of baptism in relation to the trinity or understanding of a triune nature of God seems totally irrelevant to me. The examples I see in scripture had to do with belief in Jesus as the prophesied savior of mankind, not an understanding or belief in God's nature and how that relates to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Bill Hohmann

(3) I appreciated Mr. Olar's discussion of baptismal authenticity. With a bit of editing it could be placed in the dictionary to help illustrate the old magician's phrase of "hocus pocus."

Jim Baldwin

(4) Well you might let Mr. Olar in on something else about religious sacraments and theological practices. And that is that if there are no positive results toward a true relationship with your Maker, water baptism is nothing more that being dunked in water. (i.e. "unless God builds the house, they labor in vain that build it" - Psa.127:1)


16 June  SIZE MATTERS, MISOGYNY COG-STYLE? BOBBY FISCHER RESURFACES, APOSTOLIC PSYCHO-ANALYSIS. Mail: Herb's kamf, Bobby Fischer again, LCMS/Catholics on baptism, the Spanky Proclamation

Sizing up: According to Bob Thiel "UCG has 17,000 who regularly attend with it and now produces 435,000 copies of its Good News magazine... LCG has 7,000 who regularly attend with it and now produces 182,000 copies of its Tomorrow's World magazine." Which makes both bodies barely a blip on the Christian radar screen.

Roy's boys: President Roy Holladay recently wrote to the entire UCG with his reflections on marriage after he and wife Norma celebrated their 40th anniversary. Wise and well tempered counsel no doubt. Wouldn't it have been nice though to hear a woman's perspective from Norma as well (or if she felt uncomfortable with the task, another woman with a long, successful marriage). The entire letter seems directed to the husbands of the church (women apparently don't read Roy's epistles). Is the patriarchal hubby the only one in the UCG family capable of receiving such God-given discourse?

Well, maybe on any subject actually. A quick check of the online Good News for May/June reveals of the 30 names listed on the masthead, not one is of the feminine persuasion. Zip, zero, nada. And the same is true of the articles. Every single one is written by a bloke.

Have we missed something here? Are there any active, competent women in the UCG with significant roles? 

Bobby swaps PT for Pravda: We've commented before on the similarity between the WCG's goose-stepping party journal The Worldwide News and the former Soviet publication Pravda. Well, we'd like to apologize to Pravda and state for the record that the comparison was unfair and misleading. Here, for example is a recent story about former WCG supporter and world chess champion Bobby Fisher which appeared in the Russian newspaper. Unlike the WN, these guys do seem to have grasped the concept of journalism, although the translation into English leaves something to be desired.

On the couch with Herb: Herbert W. Armstrong liked to glad-hand important people and have his photo taken with them. Despots, dictators, World Court judges, chinless members of obscure royal families, Japanese parliamentarians, it didn't really matter as long as they were important. And when the self proclaimed "ambassador for world peace (without portfolio)" couldn't meet certain VIPs, he was quite happy to dream up an encounter, such as the PT interview-that-never-was with Chinese leader Chairman Mao.

Imagine another such dialog. Armstrong lies down on the couch of none other than Sigmund Freud for a spot of psycho-analysis. Of course it never happened, but WCG's Glendora pastor Neil Earle has done the next best thing in an article on the local church website. Inspired by a controversial biography of Luther, Earle decided to put the End Time Apostle under the microscope in what he calls "A developmental study."

This paper attempts a psychohistory of Herbert Armstrong by fusing the insights of Erik Erikson and his Eight Stages of Life model with James W. Fowler’s Six Stages of Faith hypothesis as informed by the critiques of James E. Loder. Loder’s five-step transformational model of human development will be supplemented with insights from H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture and Erik Erikson’s Young Man Luther. Daniel Levinson and other sources will also be cited along with comments from Americans and popular journals to round out the Armstrong impact.

It sounds more daunting than it is. The article appears to be unfinished, perhaps a work in progress, but contains some interesting quotes and observations.


Request number 1: I am very interested in knowing if anyone has information regarding HWA's adaptation of Volkish philosophy and/or Hitler's "managerial" methods.  My family joined the Radio Church of God in 1959 when I was four years old.  So much of what I learned in a recent history course seems more than coincidental, but obviously, my perception could be skewed.  The following paragraphs have been published on the Painful Truth Website, on the letters to the editor page, but I have not received any response.
My question is this: is there any genuine firsthand evidence that HWA was an admirer of Adolph Hitler's book, Mein Kampf? I remember reading something about it years ago in David Robinson's book, but I don't know if this was an urban legend within the church or if anyone can document that he did base his ideas and his dealings with subordinates on the principles found in Mein Kampf.

I am interested in writing an essay on the parallels between Hitler, both as a man and regarding his leadership in the Nazi Party and Germany, and the governmental structure of the Armstrong era WCG, and the similarities between the organizational structures of the WCG and Hitler's organizational techniques, use of propaganda, his love of modern technology but his hatred of modern morality, etc., which stemmed from the Volkish traditions, Hitler's version of Spokesmen's Club and its purpose [hint: it wasn't to create good speakers], the fact that he had very few original ideas, but rather had an energetic, forceful and charismatic personality which mobilized the NSDAP. There were many groups at the time with views similar to those of the Nazi Party, but none of them had an Adolph Hitler. For anyone interested in reading more, both to draw their own conclusions, and to gain more information than the excerpts that I would cite in my essay, I recommend that they read Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History Jackson J. Spielvogel, c. 2001, Prentiss Hall. This is very readable upper division college textbook, and Speilvogel is a highly respected historian of Western Civilization. I see quite a bit on the internet where similarities are noted between life in the Armstrong WCG (and beyond) and other groups or nations which suffer under dictators, but my interpretation of Speilvogel's text in relation to the WCG goes beyond these general similarities, which would be consistent with anyone's experience in a cultic organization.

I am interested in knowing if an historical case can be made that the Radio Church of God/WCG under Armstrong was deliberately patterned on Adolph Hitler's understanding of individual and mass psychology, as well as many of Armstrong's doctrines being based upon the Volkish ideology of which Hitler was an almost lifelong ideologue. Is there anyone who can supply me with firsthand information that HWA was both a reader and student of Mein Kampf or other Volkish literature?

Kathleen Kakacek 

Request number 2: I've been in contact via email with a professional author working on a biography of Bobby Fischer (who was involved with the WCG from about 1962-1978). He is aware that Fischer lived for a time at Pasadena with WCG church leaders in the mid-1970s, contributed some significant amounts of money to the church, and was wined and dined by Herbert for a while. He is looking for anyone who may have had any contact with Fischer at that time. He is trying to get a handle on how Fischer's relationship to and experiences with the WCG back then may have had an influence on the strange personality quirks Fischer is now displaying. Anyone willing to talk to this author on or off the record, even if they would like their participation to be totally anonymous, can write to me and I will put them in contact with him.

Pam Dewey

MD: On March 15 we ran what seems to be the same request in a letter from Rene Chun, author of a major article on Fischer for the December 2002 Atlantic Monthly. That article can be accessed at 

Snide remarks: I noticed your snide remarks this morning about the position the Missouri Synod Lutherans have taken that old WCG baptisms are invalid. Since you seem not to understand why they have taken that position, perhaps I could try to explain:

'Adding God's Word to the water,' is sacramentalist terminology. In the sacraments, Christians genuinely encounter Christ Himself, for Christ is held to be the true minister of every sacrament.

The sacramental view of baptism is that the minister (who can be any baptized Christian, but is usually clergy) invokes the Holy Spirit through prayer and the reading of scripture, thereby making the water holy (i.e., specially to be used by God to wash away sin and cleanse the soul).  Then comes a trine affusion or immersion in the water, with the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Thus, in the sacramental view, Jesus Himself has performed the baptism -- quite literally, and not just in a figurative or metaphorical or "spiritual" sense.

Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, etc., hold that baptism truly brings God's grace, which takes away sin and restores the soul to life.  That is, baptism is something that CHRIST does for us, not something we do for ourselves or for God.

So the Missouri Synod Lutherans wouldn't be "managing the trick" at all -- rather, in their view (and the view of most Christians in all times and places) it is Jesus Himself who "manages the trick."  In the sacrament of baptism, Jesus Himself would use a Christian's voice to speak again the words, "I baptize you into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Now, for a true sacrament, you've got to have three things: valid matter, valid words, and valid intent.  That is, you've got to use the material that the Church has always used (which Jesus said we are to use), you've got to say the things that the Church has always said (which Jesus said we are to say), and you've got to do it with the intent to do what the Church does (which Jesus said we are to do). In the sacraments the Word of God is joined to material elements, which then serve as channels of God's grace.

In the case of baptism, that means you've got to have water, you've got to say at the very least, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," and you've got to intend thereby to convey to the baptized the eternal life of the Triune God.

WCG baptisms had valid matter and valid words, but denied the Trinity.  Thus, a legitimate question arises about whether the old WCG's baptisms were valid.  Since baptism can only be validly conferred once (just as a human being can only be born once), if you were validly baptized in your life, it is unnecessary and wrong to be baptized again.

When I was received into the Catholic Church three years ago, there was naturally some doubt about my baptism.  The Diocese of Peoria has a list of Christian denominations and sects and cults that shows which ones have valid baptisms and which ones do not.  But the WCG wasn't even on that list.

From the very beginning, the Catholic Church has generally accepted baptisms performed by heretics. The priests in our parish said my baptism was probably valid, despite the false theology taught by Herbert Armstrong -- because we had such a strong emphasis on baptism literally begetting you as a child of God, entering into "the God Family."  In many ways, our doctrine agreed with orthodox Christianity, even though it's so obviously wrong in other ways.  But then the Catholic Church does not accept Mormon baptisms as valid, even though they use water and say the right words.  The doctrine of the Trinity is so very essential to Christianity that it's inevitable for baptisms performed by non-Trinitarians and anti-Trinitarians to be called into question.

Because there was doubt, it was decided that I would be "conditionally" baptized.  In that case, the minister says, "I conditionally baptize you in the name of . . ."  That's another way of saying to God, "If he's already been baptized, then of course this action is not sacramental."  Personally, I find reasons to believe that my baptism in 1988 was valid -- and one of the parish priests even said that if he had been presiding over the Paschal Sacraments that year, he would not have conditionally baptized me.  But that's neither here nor there anymore.  What's done is done.  The Catholic Church has not officially spoken on the issue of old WCG baptisms, and until she does, each bishop, priest, and deacon must apply the abovementioned principles to the best of his judgment.

You described the Missouri Synod as "fundamentalist," and that's probably an accurate description.  Years ago, when reading some Missouri Synod literature, it struck me that they might be what the WCG would look like if the WCG were a mainstream, orthodox Protestant denomination.  However, you're quite mistaken to imply that the Missouri Synod is not "a mainstream Christian denomination."  

Jared L. Olar

MD: Thanks for your comments. As someone who was raised and confirmed in the Lutheran church I'm familiar with sacramental theology. As to what is and isn't mainstream, that is something relative to whatever exemplars you select. LCMS is definitely not mainstream within Lutheranism in terms of membership in the Lutheran World Federation, its position on the ordination of women, biblical literalism, nor in its practice of closed communion. I think you state it well when you say "they might be what the WCG would look like if the WCG were a mainstream, orthodox Protestant denomination", except that the LCMS, to its credit, does insist on accountability in governance, representative structures and has meaningful lay involvement.

Jared Olar is a consulting editor to the online publication Grace & Knowledge, produced by Doug and Sherry Ward.

Gentle hint: Did I read this correctly?  The Living Church of God issued a proclamation to the city of Charlotte?  Isn't it usually the other way around in most U.S. cities -- that the city issues a proclamation honoring a church, business, individual, etc.?  It makes me wonder what gives here.  Is LCG trying to send a gentle hint to City Hall?  Is the city not proclaiming anything toward LCG -- perhaps because it knows the backlash which might result?  

Richard Burkard (A "Charlotte Observer")


Keeping the Europeans compliant: This interesting paragraph from the WCG's UK website (emphasis added).

The major area of discussion was the establishment of Policy Governance as the way in which the European Council of National Directors conducts its business with the National Churches as well as Donat Picard in his role as Denominational Director in Europe.  Headquarters in Pasadena need assurance that denominational directives, guidelines and suggestions are implemented and [in] the other direction Europe needs to be able to input Pasadena with questions and guidance.  Policy Governance will enable this to happen in as smooth a way as possible.

Uh, maybe they speak a different variety of English in the WCG ghettos of Europe and California, but while it's understandable that directives should be implemented (precious pearls proceeding from the puissant Pastor General), guidelines are, well, guidelines. And suggestions are, um, suggestions, falling therefore somewhat short of Holy Writ. But no matter, such distinctions apparently mean little. Rather than encouraging national churches to become strong, mature, self governing independent bodies, the anally retentive apparatchiks at cult HQ seem hell-bent in the opposite direction.

As for Donat Picard, his role seems less and less like that of his Star Trek namesake - boldly going where none have gone before - and more and more like Colonel Klink of Hogan's Heroes fame. 

The Glorious Leader: In authoritarian cults of personality, the highest value is personal loyalty to the GL – Glorious Leader. This leads to nepotism, cronyism, sycophantism and intellectual constipation (you can only know what the leaders knows). Cronies, family members and kissers-up tend to reap the greatest benefits, and all others can take their chances in the real Darwinian world.

Those words come from Brian Knowles who, as a former PT managing editor and one-time confidant of WCG's top mullahs, should know. In a recent column on Ken Westby's ACD site (not the one in the latest Journal) Knowles tackles the issue of the abandonment of WCG employees to a miserable retirement. The points he makes are well worth considering by anyone in a financially dependent position with the Tkach church or any of the various splinters.

New Journal issue: The May 31 print issue of The Journal has been mailed out and includes a major feature on Pam Dewey. The Journal also notes that the Kenneth Westby's One God seminars, which were to be held in the Big Sandy COG building, have been moved to another location following what seems to be a "mutiny" on the board. Good to see a local board getting stroppy, proving that the Big Sandy COG isn't just another bunch of cowering, servile boot lickers. Maybe they should be giving seminars themselves - to remaining members of the WCG!

Having said that, the Westby seminars do seem to be addressing issues that deserve a fair hearing.

Believe it - or not! The lucky citizens of Charlotte NC were honored with a special proclamation from their newest cult-in-residence on April 10. The proclamation reads:

Proclamation— To the City of Charlotte: Be it resolved on this 10th day of April 2003, that… 

The Living Church of God sincerely appreciates the kindness and love shown by everyone here throughout the relocation of our operations, that…

We humbly ask our Father in Heaven for His love to be poured out on the gracious City of Charlotte, in the beautiful state of North Carolina, to continue this great Work, preaching the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to the entire world.

Be it known that the Church looks forward to a long and mutually favorable relationship with Charlotte as a good neighbor, promoting a family atmosphere, that…

We are pleased with our new international headquarters location and that…

We prayerfully ask God’s blessing on our community, building, activities, members, employees and ministry!

How deeply meaningful! But for those non-LCG readers who are still carnal and unconverted, MD provides this helpful picture of an Air New Zealand barf bag to help ease the distress.

Living Blues - Sage counsel from God's servant: Just when you think it can't get any more bizarre, along comes the latest Living Church News (our thanks to the member who forwarded a copy). This issue features an incredibly profound potted history of the 20th century and timely warning to all the plebes from God's right hand man and closet Republican, Roderick C. Meredith. 

Having been full-time in Christ’s ministry for more than 50 years, I hope I can bring some perspective to the situation. Back in the 1950s, we had a serious drought that lasted for seven years. But the nation was very strong then and, in fact, was even increasing in strength. By the 1960s, a widespread immorality was seeming to increase more than ever in the United States, as “Elvis the Pelvis” became a sensation, and later the Beatles and other hollering, screaming, gyrating characters came along and generated a sense of hysteria among the young people. Some of the youth used marijuana, or other drugs far worse! But the nation as a whole was strong, and the U.S. military was the strongest in the world.

After the debacle of Vietnam and the “malaise” of the 70s, the nation still was able to strengthen itself militarily under President Ronald Reagan, and this momentum carried through until the first Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush. Then the Clinton years came along, when America’s military was essentially “gutted” and immorality accelerated its rise, encouraged by the horrible example set “at the top.” Nevertheless, in His mercy, God allowed no terrible foreign adventures to weaken us, or any strong foe to challenge us since the demise of the Soviet Empire, which had already taken place under the watch of the first President Bush.

But now, the situation is definitely deteriorating all over the world as far as America and Britain are concerned. ... Our current President has not yet had time to rebuild the military in order to face the various challenges that seem to be facing us. Our national debt is exploding, the balance of payments situation seems to be getting worse and worse for the United States, and the euro has gained a great deal against the dollar. Slowly but surely, Europeans, Asians and others are beginning to withdraw their investments from the United States and place their monies in Europe and elsewhere. Even now, while U.S. forces are massed in Iraq, the dictator in North Korea is threatening the world with an atomic bomb! Also, some of the 1.2 billion Muslims all over the world may be stirred to aid in various terrorist attacks and other acts that would undermine the pride and prestige of the United States and its faithful ally, Great Britain. Various “mystery” diseases such as SARS are beginning to show up around the world, earthquakes are growing more powerful and more frequent and occasional shortages of food and other items may begin to occur in our stores.

I feel it is incumbent upon me as God’s servant to warn all of you brethren to realize this—and to do your part to prepare for both the spiritual and physical emergencies that may soon be upon us! I have commented on this before. But now I feel it is time for me to give you specific warnings and instructions about this—and at least provide some general ideas and advice about how to prepare for these coming emergency situations.


If the [Worldwide News] had been the official paper of the Titanic, I'm sure the headline after the iceberg struck would have read something like:

"Passengers get close-up view of Iceberg - minor leak detected in forward compartments"

From JLF

The WCG has given extensive sessions on Financial Stewardship and even won an award, but my goodness, surely somewhere in all that training they should have learned about being accountable to the ones who are supporting them.

Financial stewardship at the membership level does not end when they entrust their money to Pasadena. Rather it demands that the membership hold those entrusted with their funds accountable for their use.

From JLF

Very kind of you Rod. We had no idea you were a civil defense authority.

If we are truly Bible-believing Christians, we need to prepare for these situations—including the terrorist attacks which now seem to be imminent...

At times like this, we all need to be genuinely humble—and to listen to instruction from God’s Word, and
from our human leaders in the nation and especially in the Church of God. We read: “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.… The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:1, 15). Besides listening, we need to act on what we are told, as long as we know it is within God’s will. ... So I hope that all of you brethren, and your loved ones, will take action on the things I have just pointed out, and that you will show God that you are willing to do your part zealously. Also, to help you think carefully about specific ways to prepare your household physically for tough times ahead, I hope you will read and consider the specific ideas and suggestions in the box accompanying this article.

What follows is an article called "Creating a disaster plan", taken from a US federal government publication. It includes advice like "post emergency telephone numbers by telephones." This apparently is what Rod means by giving specific warnings and instructions in his role as "God's servant."

Most Endangered: This item was posted by Anne on JLF.

The Ambassador Campus and Auditorium (termed as irreplaceable) make the Pasadena Heritage society's most endangered list.


Inspired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s long tradition of highlighting historic properties at risk, Pasadena Heritage announces its own “Most Endangered List.” All of the places listed below are irreplaceable parts of Pasadena’s architectural, cultural, or natural heritage. These wonderful pieces of Pasadena’s history were chosen because of various threats such as general neglect, insufficient funding, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. Pasadena Heritage hopes this list will raise awareness of Pasadena’s plethora of historic resources, which have made this city the beautiful and unique community it is today, and also raise awareness of the challenges in preserving its historic beauty.

Most Endangered as of June 1, 2003 in alphabetical order:

Ambassador Campus and Auditorium
Caltrans-Owned Houses Along the Proposed 710 Freeway
City Hall
The Civic Auditorium
La Loma Bridge
Macy’s (the Bullock’s Pasadena Building)
The Raymond Theatre
The Rose Bowl & Surrounding Arroyo Area
The Stuart Company Building

More information about these sites is included in Pasadena Heritage’s June 2003 newsletter. To request a newsletter, please contact Pasadena Heritage at 626/441-6333.

Seamus returns to MD with his latest poetic offering: Conspiracy.

Are you saved brother? Another item from Anne.

I've heard Dr. Joseph Tkach Jr. agree at an EMNR roundtable that it would be a very rare thing for those who embraced Armstrong's doctrine to be "saved". Those Armstrong followers/believers (except for those very RARE individual such as HIMSELF) were "lost". (From the EMNR tapes at past conference in Chicago)

But wait, if that sounds unfamiliar it is because he has told his own members that their baptism (under Armstrong) was as valid as any other Christian's. He made this remark after that same EMNR conference.

Unbelievable ... literally.

EMNR is the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, which seemed to consider Joey something of a poster boy for a while. Meanwhile, on a related theme...

Missouri Pharisees Pontificate on WCG: One of the world's most rigid Lutheran bodies, the fundamentalist Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, has determined that anyone baptized in the old WCG has not yet been truly baptized. The sect, which is outside the fellowship of the Lutheran World Federation, has posted the following information on its website.

Q. If one was baptized years ago in the Worldwide Church of God (when they were considered a cult) and would like to join the Missouri Synod, is it necessary to be rebaptized?

A. Our LCMS theologians have taken the position on the basis of the Scriptures that the baptisms of non-trinitarian or anti-trinitarians are not valid baptisms. While they may use a trinitarian formula in their rite, they in fact deny the Trinity. In such cases, therefore, God's Word is not being added to the water, but rather a man-devised caricature of the words of Christ. Since such is the case with the former Worldwide Church of God, it would be necessary for one to be re-baptized.

Exactly how Missouri clergypersons manage the trick of adding "God's Word" to the water in their baptismal fonts is not explained. Maybe it comes in effervescent tablets? Former WCG minister Thomas Lapacka is the highest profile convert to the LCMS (he has since been re-ordained as a synod minister), which was one of the first outside groups to get behind the Tkach "reformation". Lutherans practice infant baptism, usually by sprinkling, and regard it as one of three valid sacraments (the others are the Lord's Supper and absolution). Missouri Lutherans should not be confused with members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is a mainstream Christian denomination.


The Swaziland connection: There is still a further connection between the monarchy of Swaziland and the COG.  As I recall, there were members of the Royal family in the WCG back in the 1970s - 80s. I believe even the prince next in line to the crown. It may be possible that the one who read this "Royal Edict" is the same person! 

Bill Lussenheide

Foul führer?  Hmmm.  A senior WCG leader calling someone's ideology foul.  I think for once I'll listen to what he (the senior WCG leader) has to say, I think he'd definitely be an expert on foul ideology!


"Hurbert" and "TGA": TO THEY WHO CREATED THE GARBAGE ON YOUR WEB SITE. I just came across your ugly disgusting web site about Hurbert W Armstrong and wanted to throw up at you. I cannot believe this information due to the fact that national television had a disgusting show on his so called truthful son WITH REAL VIDEOS OF HIM to boot on his pitiful taking advantage of he women in his very own church.

Now I have to wonder who is the villains are here. It appears that TGA is a gross individual who obviously did not like his daddy and HWA's daughter sure didn't either. In fact what kind of women would still be having sex with her father at 40 years old?!

Even if it were true you are no better than he is. Remember you don't have the right to judge others. May God have mercy on you!

MD: Thanks. And may the Lord have compassion on your logical fallacies, spelling and grammar.

Out of Oz: It looks like Bob Brinsmead, the gifted scholar who changed the WCG forever... is using his influence as a local councilor to oppose a proposed ban on allowing continued residential sprawl consuming prime farming land. Bob just happens to own one of these farms. At least it is Bob's own land. The same can not be said of  Joe & Bernie - unless one takes a purely legal viewpoint (the Corporate Sole thing). If they get even richer that would be our fault of course - for supporting such a cockeyed scam!

MD: Ain't necessarily so. Here's part of Bob's as yet unpublished reply to the Sydney Morning Herald. "When Ms. O'Rourke phoned me to get information for her article, I told her in no uncertain terms that none of the landholders in our group want housing estates. The secretary of the Cudgen/Duranbah Landholders Group then faxed Ms. O'Rourke a copy of its 9 page submission to Planning NSW that stated: "At the outset we want to make one thing clear: the Cudgen/Duranbah landowners do not want to see their land swallowed up in urban expansion." How could this reporter get it so completely wrong?" 

Letter policy: When MD was launched two years ago, there were only a few correspondents willing to put their names to published emails. As the site has become established, a greater openness has developed, and named letters are becoming much more common. However we still understand that some people may not be comfortable with their names appearing. A problem arises when it isn't clear whether a writer wishes to remain anonymous or not.

If an email is received which is signed at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear under that name unless there is a note attached which asks for anonymity. When signing a letter, writers have a variety of options from full name to initials, and everything in between (e.g. Bart Simpson, B. Simpson, Bart S., BS ...) If the email is unsigned at the bottom it will, if published, usually appear anonymously, unless the writer has already expressed their willingness to have their name attached. Letters are published at the the webmaster's discretion and may be edited for clarity and content.

MD often receives mail that is "not for publication." This is always respected. Just be sure to clearly state that the content is private. 


One demon got away: From a posting on JLF comes this perspective on the David Stone situation from none other than Joe Tkach.

Joseph Tkach, in a recent email exchange, said this:

"We fired David Stone for being doctrinally bizarre. His main point of difference was not "tongues." They had much more than the tradition definition of speaking in tongues. There was a prophet who would come to services and tell David on the spur of the moment a "word from God" instructing him what his sermon should be about. That is not all...

"It was that his version of spiritual warfare was "charismaniacal" in that they laid hands on all the songbooks, all the chairs to cast demons out of them. They were required to change their names, both first and last... and they wre all required to sell their houses and move to a new location and the list goes on...

"As I recall, David Stone came from the Southern Baptists before he came to the WCG and AC. And he worked in the non-profit sector as president of a social service agency before he became a pastor for the WCG."

Send Spanky to Swaziland! The LCG, led by Rod "Spanky" Meredith, is big on anything remotely resembling "gender confusion". No long hair on blokes or pants on blokesses (American readers can substitute the words guys and gals.) Poor old Spanky is something of a "prophet without honor" in the USA, ranting about the evils of modern society in the small hours on obscure television stations. But Rod would go down well in Swaziland it seems. This item appeared on Reuters.

Swaziland's absolute monarch has singled out women wearing pants as the cause of the world's ills in a state radio sermon that also condemned human rights as an "abomination before God."

"The Bible says curse be unto a woman who wears pants, and those who wear their husband's clothes. That is why the world is in such a state today," Mswati, ruler of the impoverished feudal nation of about one million, said late on Thursday.

The Times of Swaziland reported that the monarch, who reigns supreme in the landlocked country run by palace appointees and where opposition parties are banned, went on to criticize the human rights movement.

"What rights? God created people, and He gave them their roles in society. You cannot change what God has created. This is an abomination before God," the king told an audience of conservative church leaders.

Women on the streets of capital Mbabane were not impressed. "The king says I am the cause of the world's problems because of my outfit. Never mind terrorism, government corruption, poverty and disease, it's me and my pants. I reject that," said Thob'sile Dlamini.

A correspondent to the RCG forum comments: This reminds me of a time we were visiting some friends in New Jersey that we met at the feast.  When we arrived my wife was wearing jeans.  Some of the local members were shocked and told us that she shouldn't be wearing pants.  We thanked them for their opinion and had a good laugh about it!!  I've been telling my wife that she is the cause of all of the worlds problems... now I have proof!


More on Nev: It appears Neville Stevens is the one in need of "Mat-e-matics."  Herbert Armstrong debuted on radio in Oregon in October 1933, not Passover of that year.  That's according to Volume 1 of his Autobiography.

Trying to stop religious Jayson Blairs

Richard Burkard  

MD: Forget Jayson, it's Tony that worries me  ;-)

Gambling on Ted's reputation: I [ran] across the following site on a search engine ... see what you can make of this -  It is an advertisement for gambling casinos as far as I can see.  I think it is just too coincidental that GTA loves to gamble and this website has this address.


MD: The Tedster changed his web address some time ago and some enterprising character has obviously decided to buy the old domain name. How appropriate!

Academic request: Hi Gavin, one of your readers put me on to, where I found Marion McNair's book (signed by the author) at $15 -- the actual book, not a bulky comb-bound reprint for $20.  The p&p will be considerably less as well.  Thanks for this tip.  But anyone having a spare Tuit (or any other similar books about HWA/WCG), or spotting them at sensible prices anywhere, please let me know.

Someone doing a Masters on Sabbatarianism contacted me; I'd be pleased to be put in touch with anyone else doing academic work on WCG.  I do have a very old Bibliography which includes a few academic studies, but haven't come across much that is recent.  Again, if anyone knows of anything...

Several people have suggested I try the Emissary Publications site. I already knew about this site, but I have a problem with them because they sell (presumably with approval) a number of ultra-right-wing conspiracy theory and blatantly racist and anti-Semitic works, including the utterly discredited "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and revisionist historian David Irving's Holocaust-never-happened video. Some of this stuff is really nasty, and some of it quite dangerous, and I'm not sure I'd want to give them my financial support by buying books from them. 

(A senior WCG person I interviewed a while ago told me he started getting worried about British-Israelism when he "found that so many of the Aryan Supremacist groups in the States loved our literature, stockpiled it, and it gave rise to what I consider some of the most foul ideology available...")

Thanks to all the people who emailed me directly.

David V. Barrett (


Campus non-sell-off, episode 5,637: From the June 4 PSN.

Old Pasadena's business association has joined west side residents in their criticism of the Worldwide Church of God's plan to redevelop the Ambassador College campus.

The Old Pasadena Management District laid out its concerns at a public hearing Wednesday at the Pasadena Senior Center. The meeting was the first of two forums to determine what should be studied in the environmental impact report, or EIR, for the project. It calls for building 1 ,431 houses on 43 acres of land.

Maggie Campbell, president and CEO of the Old Pasadena Management District, said the EIR should include an alternative plan that reduces residential development and increases retail and commercial on the 12-acre East Campus.

The church's plan includes some retail, but not enough to meet the management district's goal of developing the areas around Colorado Boulevard, Campbell said.

In a letter to the city, the management district says the mostly residential plan for the East Campus "will have a chilling effect on the growth of Old Pasadena; will result in over-congestion and traffic tie-ups; and, most importantly, will block ... the most important goals we have fought long and hard to achieve for that area.'

Campbell drew applause when she said the church should lower the housing density on the 31-acre West Campus. This has been a primary goal for groups like the West Pasadena Residents' Association.

The Ambassador campus runs from Del Mar Boulevard north to Green Street and from Orange Grove Boulevard west to DeLacey Avenue. It is divided into east and west campuses by the Long Beach (710) Freeway spur. The East Campus falls entirely in the Old Pasadena Management District's scope of influence.

About 230 people attended Wednesday's meeting. Traffic and housing density continue to be the major concerns for residents living near the Ambassador property. The West Pasadena Residents' Association, WPRA, said it had done a survey of likely voters in the city and found these issues were of concern to the wider community as well.

Of the 464 responses, 'a vast majority' said the EIR should include an alternative with a lower density, according to WPRA president Charles McKenney.

"The EIR should try to include negative impacts of failing to proceed with development,' said John Fuhrman, a proponent of the project.

There were several speakers who encouraged the city to support the plan based on the church's stewardship of the property over the last 50 years. One speaker warned that if the church's plan was opposed, the campus could be split apart and developed at a much higher density than the church plans.

Church officials tout their plan as an example of "smart growth' a trendy slogan for development that strives to balance economic, community and environmental concerns. Goals include building homes closer to jobs to reduce sprawl and automobile traffic and preserving open space through an "efficient use of space.'

"Every aspect of smart growth development has been incorporated into the design for the new residential community,' church officials said in a flier prepared before the meeting.

Speaking before the meeting, Bernard Schnippert, the church's director of finance and planning, said he expected various groups to present alternative ideas for the property, but said no one should expect any substantial changes in the plan.

"By and large, its in the shape and is the type we hope to build,' he said. "And we believe it is very good for Pasadena and when it is properly understood, we believe it will receive widespread acceptance.'

Clearing The Air

We must correct a misimpression left by the story, "City, church at odds over homesites." Far from a "bureaucratic brawl," only two people spoke in opposition to our lot line adjustment requests, and all but one of the requested changes were approved unanimously by the Subdivision Commission.

The City of Pasadena and the Worldwide Church of God are in full agreement over the future of five single family homes on Orange Grove Boulevard. We agree that these homes should be preserved for single family use, and have clearly stated this as our objective throughout this project.

In fact, our lot line adjustments were to facilitate sale of these homes for single family use, to assure the community of our commitment to maintain these historical homes as we have lovingly cared for them
for decades.

Most importantly, as soon as we became aware of the color-coded error in our lot line application, we immediately wrote to the city to correct the mistake, and to allay any concerns that such a mislabeling could create. Our site tour before the hearing, which included city officials, representatives of the neighborhood and Pasadena Heritage, further clarified our commitment that Manor Del Mar would be preserved.

It is very important that readers know that the Worldwide Church of God is proactive and vigilant in keeping our commitment to preserve these historical properties and to continue our positive working relationship with the city and community.

Mat H. Morgan

Doing the mat-a-mathics: (Adapted from a JLF post) In an attempt at damage control the article in the sidebar is from WCG spokesman Mat Morgan.

Of note is Mat dismissing the cited article (see June 1) because "only two people spoke in opposition to our lot line adjustment requests." Well Mat I guess you forgot about the representatives from the WPRA, Save South Orange Grove and Pasadena Heritage (not to mention the concerned city planner etc.) who showed up for the public meeting. Why else did Bernie Schnippert show up with 7, count them 7, consultants?

The WCG is treating the Pasadena residents to the same tactics as their members. There is the words of reassurance and caring then there is what goes on behind the scene.

Compare what was said to the employees and etc. by Mat Morgan and the actions at WCG HQ: (see the "mark your calendars" section under June 1's "Campus ell-off" item)

And from the Pasadena congregation's church bulletin: "Property Sale Update - Mark your Calendars - Please attend one or both of the Scoping Meetings scheduled for June 4th or June 11th at 6:15 at the Pasadena Senior Center , 85 E. Holly Street , Pasadena . The meetings have been scheduled by the City of Pasadena as part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process on the Ambassador Campus plan. Scoping meetings are for the purpose of determining what issues should be studied as part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Some vocal opponents may use these meetings as an opportunity to grandstand and make negative comments. Your supportive comments, should you choose to make them to counter the negative ones, will be very helpful to offset their misstatements. If you can only attend one meeting, please attend on June 11th. Please contact Mat Morgan with questions. Thank you."

And compare it to what Mat publicly said: "It is very important that readers know that the Worldwide Church of God is proactive and vigilant in keeping our commitment to preserve these historical properties and to continue our positive working relationship with the city and community."

Sound familiar? Paint the people with concerns as the enemy ("opponents") who are misstating the facts.

Casting Stones: The last and shortest item in the June 1 AW has caused the most comment. We provided a link to a recent addition on The Painful Truth site concerning ex-WCG pastor David Stone. Dateline Pasadena comments:

Sources informed us that LCG recently paid out a large sum of money because of similar allegations against one of Meredith's right hand men. 

MD is aware of a further abuse story which was scheduled to be published in The Journal recently until roadblocks were put in the way. That case apparently concerns the UCG.

Whatever the truth of those accusations, there is little doubt about the Stone affair. This item appeared May 23 in the Biloxi MS Sun Herald.

A Saucier minister charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy is behind bars again, accused of having contact with the teen.

Sheriff's investigators re-arrested 52-year-old Larry "David" Stone on Wednesday after his May 16 release because the alleged contact violates conditions of his release from jail, said Harrison County Sheriff George H. Payne Jr.

Investigators also arrested the teen's mother Thursday, saying she is accused of forcing her son to contact Stone at his home by telephone Saturday and during church services Sunday. Police did not say how they learned of the contact.

Stone was pastor of All By Grace church on West Wortham Road when deputies reportedly saw him and the teen involved in sexual contact in woods near the church. He was arrested April 22.

Stone's wife is leading the 30-member church until the charges are resolved.

The teen's mother is charged with obstructing justice. The Sun Herald is withholding her name to avoid identifying her son.

"We're really unsure of why she forced her son to contact (Stone)," said Sheriff's Lt. Ron Pullen. "She didn't say much in her statement."

Stone is charged with unnatural intercourse, sexual battery and three counts of unlawful touching of a child.

After Stone's first arrest, Justice Court Judge Mary Foretich set his bond at $500,000. She later reduced it to $100,000, but ordered Stone to stay away from the boy, to avoid one-on-one contact with anyone under age 21,
and to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Stone posted the reduced bail May 16. After his re-arrest Thursday, the judge returned the bond to $500,000.

Foretich said she doesn't plan to hold another detention hearing for Stone until June 9.

The teen's mother was booked at the county jail under $100,000 bond.

Sheriff's officials said prosecutor Bobby Payne asked the Department of Human Services to investigate the teen's parents because of the alleged forced contact.


McNair and other books needed: I'm wondering where I can get hold of a copy of Marion McNair's Armstrongism: Religion or Ripoff? Any ideas? I'm assuming, as it's written by an insider who was one of the first seven students at Ambassador College, and one of the first seven Evangelists in Worldwide, and who clearly knew HWA and all the other major players intimately, that this one is really worth reading...

Also, John Tuit's The Truth Shall Make You Free and William Hinson's Broadway to Armageddon -- any info?  
None of these is on eBay at the moment. But looking at what's available secondhand on Amazon, there are three that caught my eye -- though I think they're all from an Evangelical Christian point of view, which I'm not really after: Herbert W. Armstrong and His Worldwide Church of God - Roger T. Campbell, Plain Truth About Armstrongism - Roger R. Chambers, Ambassadors of Armstrongism: An Analysis of the History and Teachings of the Worldwide Church of God - Paul N. Benware. Total cost of books, $18.94. Total cost of p&p from US to UK, $29.37. Probably not worth it -- unless you or anyone else really recommends any of them. Any thoughts?

David V Barrett

MD: David Barrett is author of The New Believers and is studying the WCG and related groups as part of a PhD thesis. He is based in the United Kingdom. If you'd like to respond to David's email you can reach him at 

A surfeit of Elijahs: In usenet newsgroup alt.religion.w-w-church-god, some of Neville's [Neville Stevens] cult members [Zion Ministries] mentioned that Neville had set Passover 2003 as when judgment would begin upon the church. Neville wrote on his website that 70 years after HWA's 1933 radio debut, Elijah (meaning himself) would be revealed. The former was dismissed as a "mistake" by an overzealous brother. The latter was acknowledged by a cult member with a statement that 2003 isn't over yet.


MD: A couple of years ago MD ran this story: Meantime, another miniscule group from the land of Oz, Zion Ministries, seems to have completely hijacked the WCG usenet group. Headed by someone called Neville V. Stevens, it proclaims some truly bizarre stuff. The sourpuss ZM posters have specialized in baiting other contributors to the extent that there is little else under discussion than the pros and cons of Nev's nutty rantings. Seems like nothing has changed.


Whirled News & Profligacy: From the Likeminds discussion board comes these pertinent observations by Tim McCaulley:

School's out, temperatures are up, fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high--so what should appear to cloud this bucolic perfection but the latest UCGIA Inc. "World News & Prophecy" magazine.

For those of you needing an excuse to take a few antacids to calm a nervous tummy, or in need of some justification for your latest migraine headache, I prescribe a "liberal' (I mean "generous" as in ample or large not "socialist" as in Stalin or Hitler) dose of WNP. There are lots of things crummy things happening in this wretched world and its time for the apostles of the apocalypse to "splain it all".

Melvin Rhodes' lead article asks somewhat nervously "After Iraq, will Europe get its act together?" The blurb under the headline whines: "Many Europeans want a united continent rivaling America as a superpower. Is this ever likely to happen? Bible prophecy contains some surprising answers." So what does it all mean? Mel concludes:

"Just as the Roman Empire united much of Europe, so the revived Roman empire will do the same. Although the EU as presently constituted is unlikely to form the new Roman Empire, no doubt the Treaty of Rome that committed the member states of the EU to build "an ever closer union" will directly or indirectly give birth to the European superpower that the Bible predicts will soon be upon us."

Now there's a statement about which nobody could find any fault (or much meaning!).

Moving on, Daris McNeely is seeing "Visions of Judgment: The Pale Horse of Pestilence". This article's blurb proclaims:

"We come to the fourth seal, the fourth horseman, and his ride of death by disease. It is a timely subject, given the emergence of the deadly SARS virus from China."

Is it human engineered? How does it compare with the other "plagues" of history? Are we prepared? In brief the answers are "don't know", "don't know yet", and "No".

And now that you know as much as you did before, it's time for John Ross Schroeder's, "A Brief History of America at War". Its blurb reads:

"Nothing divides the American people like war. From its inception as a nation, the prospect and in two or three cases the reality of war has usually been its source of damaging division in the United States. The period prior to the recent conflict in Iraq was no different. How does this historic theme fit into America's divine destiny?"

So who would have guessed that this is nothing but a long form ad for "The United States and Britain in Prophecy" booklet?

Finally Fred Nance is all a twitter over "The Alarming Increase of Anti-Americanism in Latin America." What has caused this? The blurb tells us: "The war in faraway Iraq has fueled rising resentment against the United States closer to home."

So that was it! Wow, and here I thought that maybe the CIA involvement in "attempted or actual regime change over the years (Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua) or American confiscation of territory (Mexico and Columbia -- which the "country" of Panama -- including the canal zone -- used to be a part of) might have been a cause of the problem.

I am actually relieved to learn that the United States enabling of the gangster-led cocaine economies of Peru and Columbia or its recent support (and then withdrawal of same) for the military junta that attempted to overthrow the legitimately elected government in Venezuela had nothing to do with the rising tide of anti-Americanism in Latin America. Nope, it was 'cause we are Israel and God gave us all these national blessings and that's why they hate us so.

Okay, there you have it! Another trip to the fantasy land or COG corporatania complete with vague assertions, dire predictions (sort of), and nervous hand wringing!

Those interested can find the May issue of WNP online.

Latest in Campus sell off: From the Pasadena Star News:

The city's Planning Department has scheduled two public hearings to determine the scope and content of the Ambassador Campus development's environmental impact report. The first meeting will be held at 6:15 p.m. June 4 at the Pasadena Senior Center, 85 E. Holly St. A second meeting is set for June 11.

Save South Orange Grove, a neighborhood group opposed to the plan, sent mailers to homes in the area to request residents attend and protest the "massive housing project right in the heart of our neighborhood.' The development proposal calls for about 1,435 houses on the 46-acre campus, which is near Orange Grove Boulevard and Green Street. The city anticipates completing a draft EIR by October. Final completion is expected in February 2004.

Dateline Pasadena throws some extra light on the machinations going on behind the scenes:

Here we go again...

WCG has mailed out cards to local church members, employees and supporters of the church asking them to show up at the two upcoming city meetings. Many have been asked to show up early to fill up the meeting areas first and are also being given questions to ask that are positive in nature or are asked to be vocally supportive of the project.

"Mark Your Calendar!"
Please show your support for the Ambassador Campus plan by joining us at the Scoping Meetings!  Your support helps us to make this exciting community a reality. 

They might not let you vote, or participate in any meaningful way, but they sure ain't slow to call the sheep in to strengthen their baa-gaining hand!

The following update (via Dateline Pasadena) came just before this issue of AW was uploaded: a letter appearing in the May 30 PSN.

Protect Our Backyard

"The Worldwide Church of God finds it can hardly make a move without the risk of stepping on a political land mine."

So begins an article on the city's subdivision committee meeting which is described as "the bureaucratic version of a brawl." 

It seems that the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) wanted "minor variances and lot-line adjustments to bring five historic homes on South Orange Grove Boulevard up to city code," which would enable it to sell the homes. However, the Pasadena Heritage foundation along with the West Pasadena Residents Association and Save South Orange
Grove objected, saying that if this was done "a new owner would have the right to demolish the houses, one of which was designed by Castle Green architect Frank Roehrig."

A casual reading of the article would lead one to think that the church was a bumbling, well-meaning group just trying to do the right thing. But, in fact, this was just one more disingenuous act by the WCG in its aggressive move to build over 1,500 apartment units in Pasadena.  Remember, this is the group that launched a community outreach program to "listen" to Pasadena citizens and then ignored their major concern: density.

The church requested to split into two parcels the property on which the historic Manor Del Mar sits, which by city codes would mandate they would be demolished.  Bob Yoder of Shea Homes, the WCG's master-plan developer, said they were committed to protecting the historic houses in perpetuity and would make some provision to make sure that happens.

This despite the fact that the church had represented in one of its filings that it would not need a variance for the Manor Del Mar "because the house was to be removed."

The request to split the property on which the historic Manor Del Mar sits was denied.  With the Manor Del Mar demolition off the table, the city's committee voted unanimously to approve the other changes.  With its victory the church will be able to sell the other properties for development This prompted the WCG's Bernie Schnippert to smugly conclude, "We always intended to take the high road, to be transparent, to communicate publicly."

Traveling along the high road with Bernie are quite a few people. "The church arrived to the hearing armed with seven consultants, including a public relations official and the lead attorney for the Ambassador Project."

There is big money riding on this development and the churches relentless in its drive to achieve its development aims.

This huge development is coming at a time of unprecedented growth in Pasadena.  Citizens worry as they watch dissolution of their community as an invasion of affluent strangers move into expensive new developments, pushing out longtime Pasadena residents who can no longer afford to live here.

How dare we take action to protect our community from urban density and the crowds, traffic noise and dirt that come with it?

How dare we question the church's development goals?

We only live here.  This is not just a west Pasadena issue.

Overdevelopment is an issue of everyone who lies in Pasadena and I, for one, will never lose sight of the fact that not everything belongs in our backyard.  Not if it threatens our well-being.  After all, it is our backyard, not theirs.

Audrey O'Kelley
Pasadena Star News, Friday, May 30, 2003

UCG Tackles tough issue: The "United News" has an article "What Christians Need to Know About Sexual Abuse"  Helen Richards and John Cafourek cover the topic in an amazingly balanced way and there may be many people who could benefit from the article.  (Douglas Becker)

New on the MD Book page

Creationism series: Several people have asked when the third installment of the Creationism series will appear. Part 3 is scheduled for the end of June, but meantime an introduction has been added (including an outline for the series) and the existing two articles have had some minor revisions. 

If you've found the series interesting so far, Ron Numbers' outstanding book The Creationists is highly recommended.

Whistler on Lazarus: The latest Whistler column features a tightly argued article written by former WCG member and AC graduate Wayne Becker on Lazarus and the Rich Man.

Keith Stump on Women Pastors: Check out the latest mailbag below for Keith Stump's views on the role of women in the church. Keith is a former Plain Truth writer and staff member. 

The New Legalism: An article by Karl Moore which appeared back in the February British WN has attracted favorable attention on the JLF board. One comment: "Of note is the more balanced approach he shows to such issues as the Ten Commandments and worship styles. Good advice for the WCG HQ." Moore, a professor at McGill University and WCG elder, is the brother of Canadian director Gary Moore.

Lussenheide at large: And now for a quick commercial break.

Beginning June 1, longtime Church of God members , Bill Lussenheide and David Liesenfelt will co-host a radio talk show about investments, financial issues and the Stock Market. The program, "The Investment Warrior Report", will air each Sunday from 11:00 to Noon (Pacific Standard Time) on 50,000 watt KPLS (830 on the AM band). KPLS covers all of Southern California from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and as far away as Las Vegas.

Lussenheide is a Registered Investment Advisor and will be sharing his financial wisdom, and teaching a philosophy of incorporating "Strategy, Patience and Discipline" to financial and investment affairs. 

The bulk of the show will be live call in "interactive", for answers to investment questions on 1-800-551-3880. The programs will also be archived at for those who want to hear them later. 

Bill Lussenheide notes: "the Church of God has always had a strong broadcasting and media slant, which over the years, has practically been a personal education about using radio for outreach and marketing." 

David Liesenfelt is an Ambassador College graduate and Vice President of Lussenheide Capital Management Inc. He says "Our program is an outreach to educate about one of the major areas of power in peoples lives... the management of their money. There is a real need for honest, legitimate and informed advice in this area..." 

Both Liesenfelt and Lussenheide (who are also brothers in law) attend the Orange County Fellowship of God. (Bill Lussenheide)

Wolvertoon outrage: The Pasadena Star News published an editorial cartoon in the Tuesday edition by Monte Wolverton of Plain Truth Ministries. You can see the cartoon on his web site (about the "New Wall") 

It has stirred up a hornets nest in Pasadena. On Thursday the Star News published the following comments at the bottom of the Opinions Page:

Clarifying cartoon view

Tuesdays' cartoon on this page may have been misunderstood as an affront to Muslims in general. The cartoon depicted Muslims as extremists in a broad-brush approach. We recognize that selecting opinions or cartoons in the past, we've offended segments of our readership. The cartoons presented on this page are offered as varying points of view, not necessarily those of the newspaper. We will continue to present balanced perspective while acknowledging the sensitivities of our readers.

(Dateline Pasadena)

Joey - citizen of the world: The latest Pastors Report begins: Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I’ve just returned from Montreal, where the Canadian Church Board held its Annual General Meeting. Not only are the Brits seemingly incapable of running their own affairs without Joe flying in especially to hold their hand, the Canadians are obviously seen in a similar light. Just as well the "Great White Father" can find time in his busy schedule for globetrotting. And what does Joe actually do at these meetings that justifies all the church-funded international air travel? Here's a portion of the report David Silcox gave following Joey's last junket to Great Britain.

The latest Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Worldwide Church of God was held on Sunday, 11th May, 2003.  The Meeting was chaired by Mr Joseph Tkach...

A good proportion of the Board Meeting was taken up with procedural matters which included the approval of the Minutes, noting of any amendments, signing of various documents and other such matters...

The Chairman reported on the latest developments concerning the sale of the Pasadena property.  Good progress is being made and some small parcels of property have been sold and others are in the process of being sold.  Further regular updates will appear in the Worldwide News.

Riveting stuff. 

Holy Days and Holidays: From JLF (condensed):

Going against promises made to the membership, the Worldwide Church of God has eliminated the WCG traditional festival days from their official liturgy. The WCG has yet to make a clear statement of what they recognize as legitimate “Christian” festivals preferring instead to bury their opinion deep in their website.

The new calendar highlights what days they will officially consider as part of the Worldwide Church of God Christian liturgy. Instead of the combined calendar we were all used to seeing, WCG HQ officials have posted a revised “Worldwide Church of God” calendar with a link to another webpage listing “Israelite” festivals.

In doing this the WCG has in effect said that the “traditional” WCG festivals are not Christian. That they have separated them seems to indicate that the WCG believes that they cannot/should not be used in Christian worship.

The addition of the dates for “Jewish” festivals such as Purim also signals a prejudicial effort to stigmatize those who see a continuity of God’s revelation.

(For calendar go to and select the literature section. At the bottom of the page is a link to the alphabetized list. See article “Festival Dates”.)

One small problem … this has not been “officially” communicated to the membership at large. In fact this move goes directly against previous statements by Tkach personally in the Worldwide News and by WCG top executive Mike Feazell.

In his ironically titled booklet, “Finding Peace in Christ”, calling for peace and mutual respect within the denomination, Mike Feazell writes: “For the same reason, no festival is forbidden for Christian worship -- as long as the festival is used to worship and honour Jesus Christ.”  “If you are an observer of Christmas and Easter, it means you must not try to make others feel that they are not truly mature Christians until they begin observing Christmas and Easter.” 

The WCG HQ now positions the cast off “traditional” Festivals on their website with these words: “The Israelite festivals were not given to Christians, but we list them here as a service to members who want to know the dates. The WCG encourages the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter), the celebration of Resurrection Sunday (Easter), of Pentecost, and Advent.” (Festival Dates article)

The JLF writer concludes: "I continue to find it unbelievable that the WCG HQ cannot come out and clearly and honestly say what they really want and believe. This is hardly a Christian approach nor does it reflect the love of God, in fact to me it highlights how little the WCG has grown spiritually. After all if as it is stated in Finding Peace in Christ, that it is wrong and against church policy to make people feel less Christian because of their worship preferences, then how much worse is it when the administration violates it’s own guidelines?"

Stone age abuse: Finally, a link to an article over at The Painful Truth concerning former WCG minister David Stone.

A note from the webmaster: Due to current heavy commitments AW will be updated weekly until the end of June.


Women and ministry: Hello Gavin! A number of people have e-mailed me asking about my position on the "Women As Pastors" debate.  I'm not exactly sure why anyone would care about my view, but I thought I'd dash off this letter for any who might.  I hope it is helpful.

My opinion, in a nutshell:  In Christ there is no difference between male and female.  End of story.

Many will now be reaching for their Bibles--blood pressure rising--to trot out a host of "proof scriptures" to attack this "liberal"--if not "satanic"--view.  (George Bernard Shaw rightly observed that great truths often begin as blasphemies.)

I reject the applicability of each and every such scripture.  There is no credible biblical argument against ordaining women.  There are, however, human agendas.  And human fears.

The books of the Bible are products of, and were adapted to, the culture and level of understanding of the time.  Anyone who does not recognize this basic principle of exegesis has about as much understanding of the Bible as a blind man has of Picasso or Renoir. One may take the Bible seriously in terms of authority and still recognize that its teachings are not in every case imperatives for all time. 

Paul's opinions are not doctrine.  They are OPINIONS.  His letters must be understood for their meaning in their own time.  Those who would chisel Paul's opinions onto tables of stone make a fundamental error, one with far-reaching and sometimes devastating consequences in the lives of Christians.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would GUIDE the church into all truth (John 16:13).  The implication is clear.  The Church today--nearly 2,000 years after Paul--should have progressed far beyond Paul's often meager understanding and that of the error-ridden early New Testament church.  If one makes no use of new insights provided by the Holy Spirit, one closes off all possibility of growth and development.  Too many in the churches of God fail to understand the dynamic quality of truth.

Blind acceptance of Paul's sometimes bizarre opinions and personal preferences as divine mandates is a fatal flaw.  Paul's "hard to be understood" musings were, frankly, often the result of muddled thinking.  On some issues, Paul was a prisoner and a victim of his times.  Sometimes he just didn't "get it".  If we listened to Paul, we'd still be regarding slavery as a natural and normal condition within society.

If Paul did not allow a woman to teach a man or to have authority over a man, it was the ignorance of his times speaking.  He was culturally conditioned by Jewish and Greek views of his era.  At least he said, "I do not allow," not "God does not allow."  But many today conveniently ignore that distinction.  The Bible is God's revelation to humanity, and sometimes it reveals just how misguided some Christians--even apostles--can be.

Paul's outmoded opinions are irrelevant.  The proscriptions of Old Testament patriarchalism are irrelevant.  Isaiah's hand-wringing about women "ruling over" men is irrelevant.

Many, of course, will disagree.  My advice to sympathetic readers: Don't bother arguing with their biblical rhetoric.  It's a waste of time.  You can't tell people anything they don't want to hear, or that they're not spiritually mature enough to hear.  They are smug in their blindnesses and prejudices.  Leave them to God.  I am slowly learning not to argue with people for whose opinions I have no respect.  Truth does not require believers; it remains truth nevertheless.

This goes especially for those who deify Herbert Armstrong and elevate his plagiarized teachings to the level of divine proclamations.  They have abandoned even a pretense of sound intellectualism. They no longer have minds of their own.  It's pointless to reason with them for they have abandoned reason.  They measure doctrine against Herbert Armstrong's collected ramblings, not against Scripture and godly reason.  To them, "theological research" consists of searching the archived writings of HWA to determine what "God's apostle" may have decreed on the matter at issue.  It's rummaging through a trash heap in search of a pearl.  They have no understanding of theology or biblical exegesis.  In their worship of a human idol and their slavish devotion to the foolishness of his so-called "18 Restored Truths", they reject the continuing role of the Holy Spirit in guiding the church into all truth.  In so doing, they play a very dangerous game.

We can only hope that with the passing of their aging leaders in the years just ahead, some who are enslaved within these dysfunctional groups will reconsider the folly of their affiliations, and eventually be liberated from the grip of darkness, superstition and idolatry. (It's ironic that those who are so concerned about avoiding the alleged idolatry of a Christmas tree have no compunctions about idolizing a plagiarist, libertine, child rapist and hypocrite, and supporting ministers who make their living promoting his heresies and covering up his sins--sins so flagrant and disgusting as to totally disqualify him from any kind of ministry, much less "apostleship". But I digress.)

The notion of sexual inequality is primitive and foolish.  It is the teaching of weak and fearful men who promote the subjection of women as a means of bolstering their own insecure masculinity.

Men and women are equal in the mind of God, and should be equal in the eyes of each other.  Women should have their rightful share of opportunities.  It's abundantly clear that the Holy Spirit gives gifts of ministry to women.  If women are spiritually mature and have pastoral gifts, they should be allowed to use them in positions of ordained leadership.  Yet many churches drag their feet and continue to resist, and in so doing grieve the Holy Spirit.  Their leaders will be held accountable for their weakness and indecision.

A study of history reveals that a woman's place in society marks the level of civilization.  The same is true of the level of enlightenment of a church.  It's a good rule of thumb.

Those who have been led by the Holy Spirit to understand the spiritual equality of the sexes have a choice to make.  If churches refuse to release women from the stereotypes of the past, enlightened parishioners must either compromise their beliefs and by their silence reinforce and perpetuate male domination, or join a denomination whose views more closely correspond to their own.

Time is precious.  Those who have a personal preference for wider options in spiritual enlightenment should not be wasting their time waiting for change (which may never come) on this or any other issue. They must look for a Christianity that's more relevant and user-friendly and less spiritually confining.  The alternative is to remain indefinitely mired in a church that's sidetracked by irrelevant details and silly prohibitions.

As hard as it is for church of God veterans to believe, God CAN be found in other churches--even those with women pastors!

Keith W. Stump

No joke? Believe It or Don't! Just to set the record straight, it was I who originally suggested the name "The Real Truth" to Mark John Allen. We were going to produce it together and then I opted out. I used to host and Both out of commission.

No joke, Lee Clark

MD: Your websites were truly remarkable Lee, I remember them well.

Phil of Phoenix: We've lived in Bella Vista since January 1993, but I took temporary employment in Phoenix from the first week of August 1998 thru the last week of April 1999.  We attended Phoenix' dwindling WCG (160+ attendees, down from 900+ in 1990 when we lived in Tucson) fronted by Phil Rice.  Phil did then what Dennis [Pelley] is doing now: Phil, with cover by a committee, came up with a new name, a new day (the first week in May, just after we had returned home to Bella Vista, they moved to Sunday services) and a new location (formerly, as I now dimly recall, we met at a Baptist facility, and relocated, ironically, to Seventh-day Adventist facilities in  upscale Scottsdale), and some weeks before that Phil had come up with a new logo to complete the window dressing.  The Phoenix numbers the week they switched were 30+ attendees on Saturday (meeting in a back room of the Adventist facility) and 130+ on Sunday (meeting in a "magnificent sanctuary" Phil proclaimed, as if that was so very important to us who had sat hours on end on steel chairs in dance halls and lodge rooms for so many years).  (I met with Phil the day before we left Phoenix and told him he'd messed up, but I will admit this, older bodies probably prefer curved wooden pews to folding steel chairs. <grin>)

Don Barness

PME: IMO PME (Post Mortem Evangelism) is one of the few things that the old WCG got even close to right...

To understand why what happens after you are dead really doesn't matter to the WCG (and therefore why PME/hell is really not a big deal to them) you have to understand that the WCG has always been oriented towards fleecing as much as possible from the members in the "here and now".  What happens is important only in how is can affect things now.  Once you die - once everyone dies - the WCG has always been very consistent in espousing a completely - and even impossibly - utopian view.  Perhaps that was Armstrong's way of atoning for that which he did in to people while they were alive - give them something to hope for.  If you give them hope for the future then atrocities in the present seem much less troublesome to the rank and file.  Something, might I add, that Hitler also used to comparably terrible ends.

Personally, I think those that are calling for hellfire and brimstone for all "sinners" are the worst sort of people.  They are trying to rule by fear rather than by love.  That is no way to live, and for once, I find myself agreeing - in spirit, at least - with the doctrinal position that the WCG has chosen to railroad through.  It just goes to show that even by completely guessing you're bound to get one or two things right here and there.


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