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Covering developments and advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups
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Issue 42 - September 2003


29 September. LINKS REVAMPED, POMMY PT CUT LOOSE.  Mail: Wooten's FOT, Chipper, Kennedy boys

Links page reorganized: The MD links page has been expanded and extensively reorganized in order to make things easier to find. All the previous links are still there, and a number have been added.

"The Plain Truth has grown up and it is time to leave home."

Unhitching the British PT: While the American Plain Truth has been separated from the WCG for some time, the British version has continued under the umbrella of the sect. However, times are tough, and the PT is now being re-established as a separate entity in Britain too. That means it can no longer legally be a recruiting device for the WCG, if it wants to compete for charity grants, which in turn means that the WCG no longer has a recruiting device! Has the WCG once again shot itself in the foot? This excerpt from the most recent UK Worldwide News.

At the Board meeting of the Church in Edinburgh recently, final arrangements were made to complete the legal separation of The Plain Truth from the Worldwide Church of God. The Charity Commission and the Inland Revenue have approved the necessary applications, and the magazine can now function as a charity in its own right...

About two years ago, the Board of Trustees reviewed the church’s medium- and long-term financial position in the light of the delay in the sale of the Ambassador College campus in Pasadena. It was becoming clear that a substantial tranche of cash that was expected as a result of the sale would not become available in the immediate future. Some difficult decisions had to be made if the church in the UK was to avoid severe financial problems. The Board of Trustees asked National Director, David Silcox, and his administration to revise and balance the budget to reflect the new reality.

Among the budget-balancing measures proposed and approved by the Board was the elimination of the subsidy the church had previously allotted towards the publishing and production of the UK Plain Truth. The down-sizing of the office also meant that the support services previously provided would no longer be available. The Board, however, also recognised that it would not be responsible to abandon what had become a significant ‘outreach’ tool if some other means of financial support could be arranged.

We therefore proposed a plan by which the magazine could become self-supporting (ie, without the church’s subsidy) by the end of 2003. This plan was accepted.

The success lay in finding other means of raising the approximately £180,000 needed to cover the annual budget for publishing the PT in the UK. There were three possibilities. First (and most obvious), ask the readers for support. Second, to increase the income from advertising.

Third, we would try to tap into the millions of pounds available in charitable grants. (An obvious fourth option—to charge a subscription price for the magazine—was carefully considered. After receiving professional advice, we decided to maintain our free subscription policy.) ...

The application was successful, and The Plain Truth is now officially registered as charity number 1098217, and has a separate Board...

Although The Plain Truth is no longer the ‘Worldwide Church of God’s magazine’, please don’t interpret this to mean that we are leaving the church. Although the separation must be real for it to be effective, it is not intended to be a hostile divorce. The WCG is—and will continue to be—the church where we and most of the trustees attend. We share the same beliefs, based on the WCG’s Statement of Belief’s, and that of the UK Evangelical Alliance.

Becoming a separate charity recognises officially what was already the case—that The Plain Truth has become a trans-denominational magazine. As you have probably noticed, many of the writers are not WCG members, and do not write from our particular denominational perspective. You have probably also noticed, however, that many of the articles are written by WCG members...

The magazine intends to maintain a strong, friendly link with the WCG, which it considers to be the parent church. Our editorial policies are drawn from the WCG’s Statement of Beliefs. But The Plain Truth has grown up and it is time to leave home. Now we can no longer rely on the subsidy, The Plain Truth must make its own way in the market place... We will encourage participation in church life, but we will not act as a recruiting agent for any specific denomination, including our own parent church...


If God places it on your heart: Here's the latest from one of our glorious churches of God: "I need to ask one favor of you relative to UCM (United Christian Ministries) and the feast in Sevierville. We are in need of some funds to pay for the materials we provide regularly and for the facilities we will use for the feast. If you have a donation, other than Holy Day offerings, that you have planned to make to UCM or plan to make before the feast, it would help tremendously if you send it now. Or if God places it on your heart to send a donation, please send it. We don't normally make appeals for help, but, we are running considerably behind in income and ask your help. Thanks for all your support and your willingness to obey our Father. In Christ's service, Ray Wooten"

Notice he needs this donation, and he needs it now, before the Feast, but don't take it out of what you will give on the Holy Days. It should be in addition to Holy Day offerings. Also notice if we send him a donation it shows a willingness to obey our Father. Is this pressure here? Is it intimidation? It sure is. There is nothing new coming from the churches of God. It's the same old message.

Chipper's first outing: (1) Having navigated the mangled grammar in Mark Armstrong's "A Word from Mr. Armstrong", I have to say that he need never worry about the ghostwriter rumors that plagued JWT. It's clear that he has inherited none of the natural writing ability of his grandfather, HWA.

(2) It seems Ted's son Mark has been busy at the newly assigned task of making a living off dad... The great and holy wall is falling, falling, falling........

"Reverend Kscribe"

MD: His Reverence is a regular, no-holds-barred, straight-talking contributor to the Painful Truth forum. The MD mailbag must seem quite tame by comparison!

Kennedy look-alikes? Does that picture of the Armstrong Boys remind you of the Kennedys? First thing that hit me when I saw it ...  Mark has an intensity in his eyes that would scare the hell out of me if I met him on a crowded street at high noon. Beware them boys!  They looks hungry!

John B


Chip off the old block

The newest COG leader speaketh: There's a new "A Word from Mr. Armstrong" on the GTAEA site. Has Garner Ted risen from his grave? Nope. This one is written by Mark Armstrong, who seems to have floated to the top of the ICG by virtue of being a chip off the old block. Armstrong speaks of his "prolific, articulate, and fearless father" and bounds enthusiastically into the classic COG strategy of speculating wildly about events in the Middle East. So, what else is new?

But does the new top dog have what it takes to charm the dollars out of the wallets at the upcoming ICG FOT? 

Record breaking month: The MD site has already clocked up more than 51,000 page views this month, the previous record was just over 40,000. The busiest day was understandably September 16, with both the highest number of daily page views and unique visitors ever. 

Really different FOT Sites - no. 1: Syncretism anyone? Looking for a Feast site with a difference? Tired of the same old Dwight Armstrong hymns? Look no more! Albuquerque is the place to be to enjoy the most, ah, unique FOT on offer. Learn all about the First Seal, listen to the Maitreya delivering inspiring Satsang. Hoo-boy! And be sure to check out the nifty Calendar of God!

 27 September. BECKER ON ABUSE, FOT CYBERCASTS, ROBIDOUX SPLINTER, TRUMPETS.  Mail: Feast of Booze, positively COGish, idle gossip

Abuse - "the gift that keeps on giving": Douglas Becker is back with a new series of All2True columns covering abuse in the COG movement. The first part  includes some straight-talking comments concerning Herbert Armstrong and Tkach Senior. He also dares to ask what many have privately wondered: whatever happened to Garner Ted's other children? Judging from the first installment, this should be a riveting series.

UCG webcasts FOT: The United Church of God will again provide webcasts of Feast of Tabernacles services this year. Bend, Oregon and Hagerstown, Maryland in the US; Kelowna and Regina in Canada, and the Italian venue. Details at

Attleboro cult in news again: The WCG-related Attleboro cult featured in a news item carried September 26 by the Boston Herald.

Jacques Robidoux

More than three years after their tiny bones were exhumed from a makeshift Maine grave, the remains of two infants who died while in the care of an Attleboro cult are still lying in a Hub morgue because their families haven't claimed them.

The remains of Samuel Robidoux and Jeremiah Corneau were found in 2000 in Maine's Baxter State Park after cult member David Corneau led investigators to the hidden site. Since then, Samuel's dad, Jacques Robidoux, has been convicted of starving the boy to death and is serving a life sentence in MCI-Concord. The boy's mother, Karen Robidoux, faces a January trial on second-degree murder charges.

Jeremiah died during a home birth but neither David Corneau nor the infant's mother, Rebecca, were charged. The couple are still members of the controversial sect but reportedly have separated.

Both boys' remains are held at the state medical examiner's office because no one from either family has tried to claim them, Bristol Assistant District Attorney Walter Shea said. 

The sect known as "The Body'' has little contact with mainstream society and shuns government. Karen Robidoux's attorney, Joseph Krowski, couldn't be reached for comment. Jacques Robidoux's lawyer, Frank O'Boy, said he hasn't spoken to his client.

CBN covers Feast of Trumpets: An article about Trumpets appears on Pat Robertson's CBN News. An excerpt:

Today, Jews around the world will mark the beginning of the New Year. Rosh Hashanah is a day that holds the promise of new beginnings for both Jews and Christians. The blowing of the shofar heralds the start of Rosh Hashanah or, as the Bible calls it, "The Feast of Trumpets." 

"The Feasts are important because they lay out in great detail the timetable of God for planet Earth," said Ron Cantrell, author of The Feasts of the Lord.

Cantrell, who also serves with the volunteer group Bridges for Peace, says the feasts of the Bible, including Rosh Hashanah are important not just for Jews, but Christians too. 

"The Feasts are actually rehearsals for ‘end time’ events. Not only ‘end time’ events... some of them have been fulfilled. The Feasts are from the book of Leviticus 23, and actually they are not the Feasts of the Jewish people, Leviticus calls them the Feasts of the Lord, and I believe that's a calendar pointing to God's timetable," he said. 

Cantrell notes that Rosh Hashanah heralds a profound prophetic event. 

"I like to tell Christians because we are waiting for something. What Christians are waiting for is the sound of the trumpet. From Thessalonians, it says that the Lord will descend with a shout and the sound of the last trumpet and we will know that He is coming. So Rosh Hashanah is the wrap-up of everything," Cantrell said...

Cantrell's comments sound not unlike the COG position. 


God blamed for actions of men: In response to "Dragged in at a tender age" (HDN): My family and I came into the WCG in the late 80s just before things started breaking up. We had come to understand the Sabbath, but were not in total agreement with the Seventh-Day Adventists. We saw the World Tomorrow program and started receiving the literature. We had never heard of HWA until after attending services. In fact, it took time to learn of the many problems in the WCG. They taught some truth, but this truth was not unique to the WCG. HWA adopted what truth he had from other groups. His twists to Scripture were not being taught openly when we started attending. I never fully accepted the feast days nor the push to drink alcohol (which many understand more clearly why tabernacles was so anxiously awaited, now having learned of the large consumption of alcohol during this time). Only after Global began was I able to find more revealing information on HWA. We had formed close relationships with many in the WCG. This is what compelled us to continue associating with any of the splinter groups. I have stopped attending. My wife and daughter attend one with the understanding that they are mainly there to meet with longtime friends. I keep them aware of the changes being made by the leadership and they are amazed at how uninformed the others are (even the minister and his wife). They have learned not to say anything about the problems with the group's leadership and to just enjoy getting together with friends (I would say fellowship, but it is more of a social gathering). 

The WCG knew to keep potentially troublesome information under wraps until the membership could be slowly turned in the right direction. Many of the splinter groups continue this practice. It is amazing to me how that after what happened just ten years ago, former WCG members are still so willing to blindly follow without question. Even when they see a clear change made by the leadership, they fully accept the leaderships' word that it is not actually a change. My heart goes out to those who suffered under HWA's leadership. We tried PCG for a few months, so I feel we had a taste of what it must have been like. I can't imagine suffering that year after year. I was very angry with the Tkach leadership for what they did to the people. However, one good thing that has come out of it is the availability of the information concerning HWA and what he taught. It is just sad to see so many have given up on God because of the actions of men. Give up on organized religion, but not on God.


COG News: I went to the [Church of God News] site and it was interesting to see that they have a list of books written by former and present COG members. The books by David Robinson, Marion McNair, and Bruce Renehan are noticeably absent. Well, they didn't claim it to be complete. And they do want to be "positive." Of course, one way to hide the facts is to act as if they did not exist. No sense upsetting the sheep and causing those
troublesome questions.

Jim Baldwin

Gimme the facts: Really, can't you find something better to do than just offer idle gossip to your readers? How about some facts? Or is that beyond your capabilities?


MD: Fact: Ted is dead. Fact: An obituary appears in the latest issue of TIME. Fact: The New York Times likened Ted to Elmer Gantry. Fact: An unofficial WCG "event" is being held in Phoenix on the traditional Feast of Tabernacles dates. Fact: WCG income from donations in August was reported down over 11% from August 2002. Fact: Gerald Flurry is promoting January 16, 2010 as the likely date for the beginning of the Great Tribulation...

Fact: You can find all of the above facts together in only one place - here.

Now, how many more facts would you like listed ma'am?


Ted makes TIME

Garner Ted Armstrong's name appeared in TIME magazine again this week. Previously he featured in less than flattering articles in 1972 and 1974. Here's the text:

Died. Garner Ted Armstrong, 73, U.S. evangelist; in Tyler, Texas. The son of Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert Armstrong, he starred on the church's TV and radio show The World Tomorrow, reaching tens of millions of people around the world. Sexual misconduct led to his excommunication in 1978, after which he started his own, less influential on-air ministries.

COG News ignores GTA death: Ted Armstrong might have rated a mention in TIME this week, but he didn't cut any ice with Church of God News. You might think any publication using that name could hardly miss perhaps the biggest COG news story of the year. But the October issue is now out, and there is no obituary, in fact no acknowledgement whatsoever.

Church of God News is an online newsletter produced by former Raymond Cole supporter Richard Nickels at G&S (that's Giving and Sharing, not Gilbert & Sullivan).

Randy Dick at Ted's funeral: This item from the WCG's UK site.

Mr Garner Ted Armstrong

We are saddened to report that Garner Ted Armstrong died at 1.20 p.m. on Monday, 15th September. He had been in hospital for some time and his condition deteriorated rapidly towards the end of last week. Mr Randal Dick will represent the Worldwide Church of God at his funeral. Mr Ted Armstrong was for many years the voice of the World Tomorrow radio and telephone programme and also an evangelist in the Worldwide Church of God. He wrote numerous books and articles as well as lecturing at Ambassador College. Please remember his family in your prayers.

David Silcox

Heading 'em off at the pass! These comments by Anne Hanna appeared on JLF after yesterday's items on Phoenix were published.

Senior Pastor Philip Rice is moving quickly to try and "head this off at the pass" ... Just one day after the article appeared on line.

The last thing he wants in his backyard is another Grand Junction. For those unfamiliar with Grand Junction, it was a Festival site in the USA where last year the WCG administration conducted a crack down.

Interesting and rather sad is how members have to hunt around for a place to go. You are out of luck "officially", unless of course you are a fan of sea cruises like the Tkach family.


Ted "like a father": As Like James Tabor and countless others, I had a positive experience of GTA. I first began listening to him, and his father, on the radio, in 1964. After three years of college at Florida State, on full scholarship, I transferred to AC/Big Sandy. After graduation I worked at AC/Pasadena for a few years, until 1976.

Like most of you, I’ve read all of the stuff, and heard all of the stories about GTA and HWA. Their dark sides are well known, and may possibly be well repeated, if not enhanced and exaggerated, by folks who may have their own issues and their own agendas to pursue. One can only speculate. But there is no doubt that GTA and HWA each had their personal dark sides. All I can tell you is my personal experience with GTA. He was like a father to me, during my formative teenage years. He was my alternate father, on the radio in the mid to late 1960’s. 

And I have fond memories of him from my early years at AC/Big Sandy, beginning in 1969. He would come to campus, and hold sing-alongs, play the banjo, etc. He seemed to enjoy his visits to Big Sandy, as much as we enjoyed seeing him, during those years.

After graduation from Big Sandy, I moved to Pasadena, and worked at “HQ” for a couple of years, until 1976. For various reasons, I drifted away from the WCG after that experience. A long passage of years tends to heal a lot of wounds. Here it is, 2003, and I remember GTA’s good influence on my early life, not his many faults. For a long time, I’ve known that he was not perfect. And for me, at least, his early good influences on my life are what I remember of him, and how I knew him.

I also think GTA and his father had a message. They had something to say, which has been discarded and forgotten by the current WGC, much to their shame. If I pity anyone, or hold anyone to shame, it would be anyone from the “old” WCG who is still in the “current” WCG.

And by the way, I’m currently not affiliated with any religion, or any religious belief.

Lew Griffin, AC/Big Sandy 1973

Forced meme exchange: Memes (meems) are contagious ideas all competing for a share of a human mind in form of natural selection. Memes are mind viruses that need a host to take over by dismantling previous beliefs and replacing them with their own. Once done, they must do their missionary work and replicate through the enthusiasm of others to survive. As memes evolve they become better and better at distracting us from whatever we'd really like to be doing with our lives. Memes are responsible for most of the ideas we accept without question and why we break up into tormenting groups of "my way only" in our culture. Christianity itself is a meme that controls. Religious organizations are the Meme Meisters who, like a virus, spend enormous amounts of energy endeavoring to dismantle minds and ... get them to think like they do and of course contribute energy ($) to perpetuate the meme. Our whole experience in WCG has been a form of forced meme exchange, by new Meme Meisters and the fallout not unlike the dead cell material left over from a new viral invasion of the body. 

When leaves change and weather cools, I feel I am supposed to be somewhere else for a time belonging to something good and true. Such is the power of memes.

With this in mind, I thought it interesting that the Phoenix WCG was having it's 8 day, non FOT during the old FOT times when the replacement meme of Christmas should have long ago destroyed it. Even having dropped the Fall Festivals, I still miss the Fall Festivals. Even having dropped Sabbath (and Sunday) for religious meetings at some virus central, I still miss it. When leaves change and weather cools, I feel I am supposed to be somewhere else for a time belonging to something good and true. Such is the power of memes. Whether they admit it or not, most WCGers miss the IDEA of festivals. (Humans need legitimate rituals) I find this subconscious need exemplified by the Phoenix non-pfeast pfascinating! Let's face it, some memes are more enjoyable than others. 

Dennis Diehl

MD: While the word meme doesn't seem to have grafted itself into too many Down Under dictionaries yet, the American Heritage Dictionary (2000) seems to have succumbed to the infection, and defines it as: A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. The term was first coined by author Richard Dawkins.

Folly and shame: I would like to respond to criticisms from one of your readers who indicates that Vance Stinson refuted Darrell Conder's research in a sermon, and then recommends Josh McDowell. I find it incredible that Armstrongites are still dragging up Josh McDowell in their feeble attempts to excuse their blind faith, especially in light of McDowell's attacks on Herbert Armstrong and his doctrines. As Darrell pointed out, if McDowell's books are credible for use against his research, then it is credible to refute Armstrongism. Also, it amazes me that your reader is condemning Darrell's research when he admits that he hasn't read any of it! (In case he hasn't read it, Proverbs 18:13 says "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." Perhaps your reader should consider that verse before he writes again.)

Your reader offers a few bits of disconnected detail about the similarity in pre-Christian myth and Christian tradition and seems to think that he has settled the questions raised by Darrell Conder. The fact is that Darrell's use of mythology is only a small part of his research. The mainstay of his writings is pointing out and documenting the blatant contradictions found from Genesis to Revelation. These are the points that COG ministers continue to ignore, and refuse to answer. If your reader had bothered to read Darrell's works, perhaps he would be like me and thousands of other former Worldwiders who have abandoned Armstrongism for the jumbled mess that it is. Maybe that's what he fears. 

By the way, if you'd like to read Darrell's answer to Vance Stinson's deceptive sermon, it is posted on Darrell's web site. 

Lawrence Anthony
Webmaster for

Dragged in at a tender age: I check out your site almost every day. My father found the Radio Church of God around 1960. I was 6 or 7 then. I finally had the sense to get out when I was 21. What a freaking nightmare those years were. I guess at age 50 I still have issues or I wouldn't be writing this. I can't figure out why adults would have fallen for this man. At least I had an excuse, I was dragged into it at a tender innocent age. You would think after the mid 70's that anyone with any common sense could figure out this group. Reading about people getting involved with this group in the 80's and 90's really makes you wonder. I have been in a church a few times for weddings but I will never ever join a group to be led or instructed by any group of men. I remember when I was a child I was taught to pray for Garner Ted and Herbert W. nightly. What a joke that was. I wonder how many of us there really are. People with a lot of bad memories that almost go away. Keep up the good work.


25 September. FEAZELL ON MOA, PHOENIX.  Mail: Phoenix's non-FOT, in the Armstrong trenches, "positive harm", gravy train

MOA - heresy: Mike Feazell has provided a critique of Herb's literary gem Mystery of the Ages on the WCG site. Too bad the people who most need to read it - those captive to the Oklahoma cult WCG sold the book to - are unlikely to do so. Here's the conclusion to the piece:

Herbert Armstrong’s assessment that no church but his proclaims the return of Christ and his ultimate reign over all nations and the universe is without basis in fact. His assessment that the gospel is not the gospel of grace, or of salvation, or about Jesus Christ, is in direct conflict with the biblical record...

Armstrong’s view of himself as the one and only true apostle of the one and only true church, through whom all doctrinal and biblical truth comes from Christ to the church, lies at the heart of all the heresy in Mystery of the Ages. Only when one accepts Herbert Armstrong’s call, roll, office and stature as God’s one, true, end-time apostle to the world, can one believe his unique interpretations of the Bible.

Christian faith is rooted in God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, never in the veracity of claims made by any human to represent him. Herbert Armstrong’s distinctive interpretations are rooted in his sense of a personal divine call to be God’s sole authoritative, end-time representative on earth, and largely based on his study of disreputable sources, who possessed, like Armstrong, limited understanding of church history combined with limited skills of biblical interpretation.

Great stuff. But one question. How come it's okay to rigorously critique Herb's work, but it's not okay to do the same with the current incumbent of the Pastor General's office? 

Response from Phoenix: Yesterday's posting about the unofficial local festival hosted by Phoenix WCG brought immediate responses from both Phil Rice and associate pastor Al Yeager. Both emails are found in today's mailbag. Phillip Rice also requested that the following statement be published:

The recent edition of Ambassador Watch excerpted part of a letter I sent to Worldwide Church of God members who live in the Phoenix, Arizona area. To be clear, our local "Eight Days to Celebrate Christ" event is not a festival of Tabernacles. 

Our worship activities will focus on believer's salvation in Christ and the wonderful gift that we have through faith in Jesus' living, dying and rising. Sermon messages will reflect current WCG teachings and understanding. 

I believe that your intentions are to keep your readers updated with accurate information about the Worldwide Church of God and other groups that you follow.

In short: despite the scheduling of this eight day "event" over the very same time period (Saturday, October 11 to Saturday, October 18) as the traditional FOT days, this is not to be thought of as, heaven forbid, a FOT! 

Then again, a rose by any other name... which could explain the interest from all those "members in sixteen states".


Graciously welcome: To the editor of Ambassador Watch,

I just learned that your newsletter excerpted part of a letter I sent to attendees planning to come to our local "Eight Days to Celebrate Christ" event next month. Your viewers could easily and wrongfully assume that this event is a WCG "traditional Feast of Tabernacles," which it is not. 

In my letter to attendees I clearly characterized this celebration as a WCG event. Sermons will reflect current WCG teachings and understanding. I referred to our gathering as unofficial only in the sense that it is not organized by WCG Church Administration. Our local celebration will focus on believer's salvation in Christ and the wonderful gift that believers have through faith in Jesus' living, dying and rising. 

While our local congregations want to graciously welcome those WCG members who have contacted us about it, we have not promoted this celebration outside our local area. 

I believe that your intentions are to keep your readers updated with accurate information about the Worldwide Church of God and other groups that you follow. If you have any questions, please refer them to me using my email address:

Phillip Rice
Senior Pastor of the Community of Hope Church and the Phoenix Worldwide Church of God

Too late anyway!  Gavin, I was provided a copy of your reply to Senior Pastor Rice (and his electronic-missive to you). I read from Issue 42 that the source of your information was Dateline Pasadena and that the information was taken from Senior Pastor Rice's member letter (not his letter to attendees). This MEMBER LETTER was posted on the Community of Hope Church web site. You had provided your readers with a "link" to our local site. It should also be noted that we had a "cut-off" date of July 31st for registering to attend our locally sponsored activity. I'm sorry for any difficulty the Dateline Pasadena posting has created. Have a great day! 

Al Yeager, Associate Pastor, Phoenix Worldwide Church of God 

MD: The link was indeed to the member letter, which was the intention. 

Response to Gary Birney: Excuse me, Mr. Birney, but you can't understand the crime until you've done the time. Your puny 7 years doesn't qualify you to slap the ex-members who did hard time slogging out the battle in the Armstrong trenches. Happily, you can't know because you lack the experience. Lucky you.

Jim Baldwin

Ron Dart's eulogy: (1) I agree with you on your analysis of Ron Dart's statements...lots missing "between the lines." However, I sure would like to hear what his explanation of "positive harm" is. Never heard that one before. 


(2) Better take another swig and pass that "unidentified beverage". Travel, Games, Conversation, Fine Dining, and Drink do not a Kingdom make (by their own standards)! If that's the case...Vegas is the place and Colonel Sanders  must have had the secret recipe?

Mark Armstrong: God have mercy on us! Not another Armstrong pounding the pulpit! Is there no end to this CULT?

Family business: I was a member of CGI in the mid 1990s and from what I heard GTA's sons had significant problems interacting with church employees and the church membership. When CGI imploded after the massage therapist scandal and many woke up and left the church in a mass exodus [questions were raised about possible] siphoning of [funds for] personal use... it appears the gravy train and flow of easy money are now over. 



MARKeting Ted: The Armstrong dynasty continues. Mark Armstrong appears about to take control of his dad's religion business. Dateline Pasadena notes an announcement  on the ICG website reads:

For a list of Mark Armstrong's personal appearances go to the EA web site.

Apparently the gift of prophecy has been passed down in the gene pool. Exactly if and when the heir was (or will be) ordained is unknown.

Unofficial FOT attracts interest : Another story via Dateline Pasadena. We all know the WCG no longer sponsors traditional Feast of Tabernacles celebrations. And we all know that Herman Hoeh long ago retired to a life of obscurity and Buddha-like reflection. Right?

We thought so too. But then, how about this announcement from Phil Rice on the Phoenix WCG website?

Next month the Phoenix Worldwide Church of God congregation (PWCG) is hosting the “Eight Days to Celebrate Christ” festival from Saturday, October 11 to Saturday, October 18. For the past three years members who attend our service on Saturday have gathered for this annual festival to celebrate the salvation gift God has provided all mankind through Jesus. News of this year’s upcoming celebration event has spread to quite a number of WCG members who plan to attend. 

Even though we have never promoted our local eight-day celebrations to other WCG congregations, Al Yeager has received numerous phone calls and email inquiries about our 2003 local festival from WCG members in sixteen states. To date, about 180 people (not counting our local members) plan to attend. I want to emphasize that our local celebration is not an official WCG festival site. The strong interest from people who have contacted Mr. Yeager has surprised all of us. 

Since the Rotunda was available to us for every service during the celebration, except on Sunday, the Camelback Seventh-day Adventist Church has graciously allowed us to hold our services in the Rotunda for a very nominal cost. Dr. Herman Hoeh will present sermons on the two days that he and his wife will be in the Phoenix area (October 15-16). The worship service on Sunday, October 12, will be held in the sanctuary to accommodate the larger group, which will include members from the Community of Hope Church. In other words, there will be one combined service on October 12. (September member letter)

Rice has a reputation for being an enthusiastic cheerleader for sect leader Joe Tkach, so the 2003 arrangements come as something of a surprise. Rice ministers to two WCG congregations, the more traditional PWCG on Saturdays and Community of Hope on Sundays. Should any MD readers be interested in contacting Al Yeager with a view to attending, his email address is


Ron Dart on GTA: Former GTA right-hand man Ronald Dart has written an obituary for Ted which was read out at the Tyler COG this past Sabbath. It was forwarded to MD from the CEM forum. The statement is as interesting for what it does not say as what it does.

I think everyone knows by now that Garner Ted Armstrong died last week and was buried on Thursday afternoon near Gladewater. He can’t be ignored, because he lies directly in the path of the lineage of this church and of my own ministry. I first met Ted in 1958 when I was a freshman in AC. I was 24, he was 28, a faculty member, and sharing the radio program “The World Tomorrow” with his Dad, HWA. He was young, good looking, and extremely knowledgeable of the Bible for a man his age. All of us who attended AC in those days were intense in our Bible study. It was one of those true values we were pledged to seek. 

I began to become personally acquainted with Ted after an illness sent me back to college to recuperate. I was a minister by then. Ted and his buddies often needed a fourth for a game of cards, and I was elected. We became friends over the years that followed, and while I was in England, he always sought out Allie and me to go to dinner while he was there. 

In 1969, he brought me back to Pasadena to act as his assistant over the foreign offices, and I was later made Vice President over that field. From that date forward, we became very close friends. 

There have been those who wondered about Ted, about his sincerity, even his conversion. I never did. I had first hand knowledge of his acquaintance with the Bible. For one thing, I have seen his personal Bible which was worn out from study, well marked with underlines and notes. But apart from that, I know about it from endless conversations over every kind of beverage, meals in every kind of place from Quaglino’s in London, to the Criterion in Johannesburg, to a bowl of venison chili in hunting camp. I know about it from conversations in a bass boat, in the cockpit of an airplane, in the cab of his pickup. Ted Armstrong knew the Bible as well as any man I have ever known. And he was converted, and he had the Holy Spirit, and was gifted of God. 

I have little doubt that he grieved the Holy Spirit many times in his life. I know he grieved me more than once. But I never stopped loving him, and I can trust that God didn’t stop loving him either. 

I think there were times in his life when he did positive harm. That said, he still managed to turn the hearts of no small number of people to Jesus Christ. He didn’t do that by his person. He did it by pointing people to the Bible, and to Jesus Christ. His book, “The Real Jesus,” was easily his most often requested work. 

And if I start walking back down my path to find my spiritual roots, I am bound to stumble over Garner Ted Armstrong. He was my friend. I will miss him. I am sorry he is gone. I am terribly sorry for his wife Shirley and his family.

CGI extends olive branch: The following statement appears on the Church of God, International site:

Members of the Church of God, International are saddened by the unexpected news of Mr. Ted Armstrong's death. We grieve along with other believers who realize the gravity and inexplicability of such a loss. We will honor Mr. Armstrong in death as we did in life, by working toward a unity of Spirit which was a frequent subject of his preaching. Our condolences are extended to his family.

Funeral Album: ICG minister Chris Cumming has produced an extensive photo album of scenes from the funeral of Garner Ted Armstrong. The album can be found at The images below are from the album.

In a letter to the mailing list Cumming also related: In one dynamic statement, Mr. Trent warned “those wolves in sheep’s clothing” had better not even consider coming into this flock for “they will utterly fail”. Both Mark Armstrong and Mr. Trent once again gave reassurance to the fact that Garner Ted Armstrong’s Work would continue and that his sermons, TV Programs and booklets and other materials would always be made available to both members and the public.

Matthew, David & Mark Armstrong (left), Shirley Armstrong

Meanwhile, in Angola...  The continuing adventures of the WCG as it attempts to deal with the fallout from reform is illustrated in a fascinating article in the latest Northern Light. Members in Angola, struggling to deal with pressing needs in their own country, have also been hit by dissention and division. The cavalry arrives from HQ... 


Dictum observed: Permit me just a few words to express my deep thanks to JDS for his graciousness, civility and balance expressed in his tribute to GTA. JDS shows that the choice we face in remembering Ted is not between the extremes of George Trent and the Steves: that there is a balance and that decency and a sense of appropriateness demand that we take that balanced approach. There was no cover-up of GTA's sins in JDS' tribute, no attempt to whitewash and certainly no attempt to deify. There was open acknowledgment of the dark side of GTA-- which has been well covered over decades. That some people could not find it in them even for a week or two to refrain from the caustic, belligerent comments is a sad commentary on the dark side of human nature.

People like like JDS restore my faith in humanity. You don't have to be a Christian to be civil and to observe the dictum, "There is a time for everything".

Ian Boyne

MD: The writer is pastor of the CGI in Jamaica.

How anyone could consider them a cult... I have intensely read your website from front to back for the last 7 days. It was forwarded to me from a friend the day after GTA passed away. I find it very informative and comprehensive. However, it really upsets me that anyone puts blame on GTA for their downfalls in life! I was a personal friend of GTA's and his family. I have known them for the last 7 years and will always treasure that relationship. Never once did GTA or anyone I met from that faith, ever try to convert, preach, or push their religion on me. How anyone could consider them a "cult" is a far stretch of the imagination. All these people wanting to put the blame on the Armstrongs instead of where it really belongs, (own weak ignorance) are in fact just that, "ignorant"! So GTA wasn't perfect. Well guess what, neither am I and I'll guarantee nobody else reading this is either.

I never heard of GTA or WCG until 7 years ago. The interesting thing to me is, that after reading your website, it just makes me appreciate him that much more! You see, Ted was human. He NEVER thought he was too good for ANYBODY. I could go on and on and tell you all the good qualities in GTA, but it seems most your fans are just interested in the dirt! My thoughts and prayers are with Ted's family. In ending, I'd just like to say that it was my privilege to know Ted Armstrong and he will always be remembered. 

Gary Birney

Our Father in hypocrisy: GAG!!!!! "He was our father in the gospel.." I DON'T THINK SO!!!  Obviously, [George Trent] does not know the Bible! Was it not Jesus Himself who instructed "call NO MAN father", meaning in a spiritual sense. And, turned so many to the truth???? What? ... Can you imagine this legacy following one of the true Apostles who were used to pen the N.T? It is also rather disgusting when men use the story of David as an excuse to abuse. Yes! David did wrong! He also had to PAY a price for his deed---he was not allowed to have any more children after his son (with Bathsheba) died. The two books of Corinthians are written to chastise a congregation that was turning their heads from a member who was having an affair with his father's wife. We are also told that the Old Testament was written for our example, that we would NOT make the same mistakes that are written there... 


22 SeptemberMcNAIR UPDATE, ANOTHER OBIT.  Mail: Ted, healing, Amarillo group 

Raymond McNair request: The following posting appeared on the Original WCG Yahoo board.

Prayers are requested for Mr. Raymond McNair. Doctors have found a mass at the base of his spine. Results from further tests to determine whether or not it is malignant are not yet back, but his white blood cell count is quite low. Please consider his wife as well.

McNair, a longtime WCG evangelist, has been aligned with the Global Church of God, the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship (both groups now defunct) and the Living Church of God since leaving the WCG. Earlier this year he separated from the Living Church of God.

Enormous recognition - large troubles: Excerpts from a Reuters obituary for GTA by Jon Herskovitz.

Garner Ted Armstrong, one of the early evangelists on television, has died at the age of 73 from complications of pneumonia, officials from his ministry said on Tuesday... 

Along with the enormous recognition came large troubles for the evangelist. He was asked to step down from a church he founded after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her, and his father excommunicated his son from his ministry over allegations of gambling and adultery. 

Armstrong was born in Oregon in 1930 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was about 18 years old. After leaving military service he soon joined the ministry of his father. The younger Armstrong split from his father's Worldwide Church of God in California in 1978. 

Herbert Armstrong, one of the early preachers on the radio, died in 1986 at the age of 93, amid allegations that he embezzled millions of dollars from his ministry. 

Garner Ted Armstrong founded the Church of God International in 1978. After a masseuse accused Armstrong of sexual assault, he split with the Church of God International and founded the Intercontinental Church of God in 1998 near Tyler, Texas. He also denied the charges. 


Need to vent: Thanks JDS for a balanced and non spiteful look back at GTA, feet of clay and all. Sometimes the hateful tone of remarks on this site is disturbing. I realize that many have been hurt by abuses in the past and may need to vent and this is a place that can be done.

Off to hell: George Trent's glory, laud, and honor heaped upon GTA at his funeral certainly takes the cake!! Not only do I not agree that GTA will have a place in heaven, I expect that in the judgment he will find himself taking part in the most awful scenario in the Bible. At that late date, GTA will find out that he falls into the category of Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says that not everyone who says to him 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven. GTA will be confronted with finally being labeled the worker of iniquity that he is, and it's off to hell from there.

CEM coverage: GTA's death has been on the Forum since the day he died.... and before, when he was sick. And Mr. Dart? I will let [Dave] dig up his comments on the CEM Forum. 

Paul Ray

Miracles spun from pulpit: During the 28 years I attended the WCG I can recall many requests for prayer and fasting on someone's behalf so that they might be healed of cancer. I also recall an equal number of death announcements. Does anyone have a documented case where God intervened in an otherwise hopeless case and the person was healed? And has anyone ever verified that the miraculous happenings we heard about from the mailing that went only to pastors did indeed happen as they were spun from the pulpit? It would be interesting to know what percentage of those who had serious health problems and who depended on divine intervention were actually healed and how many "miracles" actually took place as related to the membership.

Amarillo COG: You listed [on the Links page] Christian Church of God in Amarillo, TX as a healthier COG congregation... I would like to briefly advise you of my experiences:

1) On the surface, doctrine and ministerial style, as well as "openness" appear to be healthy; however, Jeff Booth continues to carry forward some of the same indoctrination that he received at Ambassador College. For example, it has been my experience that questioning doctrines that HE holds dear is a BIG no-no and he has no problem calling your commitment, not just to the church but to "God's truths" in question should you be brave enough to voice your differing opinion. I will say in his favor, he doesn't use the heavy-hand of disfellowship...

2) This congregation began in great spirit... At its peak, CCG had about 120 members who attended regularly. Currently... the population has dwindled to about 15... The last I heard, CCG is considering opening its doors only one Saturday a month. 

3) While their Festival is open to all, the members do not have real say about who is speaking or where it will be held. Yes, Jeff would say that everyone gets to vote, but... they are usually heavily weighted... to meet the needs of the ministry, speakers, etc., not the members!

4) While I will say that some small doctrinal issues have changed, for the better, over the years (i.e. foot washing is not a part of the sacraments at Passover), I say with sadness that the overall structure of CCG still leans toward lots of legalism--and NOT only because of its doctrines, but by the way in which Jeff and Joe Kirkpatrick (the "elder") use the pastor's pulpit... and how all of these things are ultimately undiscussable! ... 

Healthy Christianity is so much bigger than this scripted CCG version... LOTS of people before me have left feeling much the same way!  (But of course I discounted them as having a problem with Jeff, until it happened to ME... now that's maturity for you! UGH.) ... 

(name supplied)

MD: Thanks for the feedback. The latest upload no longer includes the "Healthy COG Congregations" list.

21 September. GTA - HERO OF THE FAITH?, WN DEVOTES 177 WORDS TO FORMER LEADER, WCG MONTHLY INCOME DROPS 11%, TED MISSED ON PAINFUL TRUTH FORUM.  Mail: Ted, squabbling COGs, the NY Times obituary, a CEM eulogy?, emotional gush

A "giant among men": The following comments are excerpted from a report on Garner Ted Armstrong's funeral published in the Longview News-Journal

Hundreds mourn televangelist at funeral


GLADEWATER — World-renowned televangelist Garner Ted Armstrong was eulogized by friends and family as a "giant among men" during funeral services Thursday.

An overflow crowd of several hundred packed the Croley Funeral Chapel and filled rows of chairs set up outside the facility...

If the Book of Hebrews were written today, I'm sure we would have at least one more name. Garner Ted Armstrong would be in the spiritual giants hall of fame. I know of no man who has turned more people back to righteousness than Garner Ted Armstrong. He is our father in the gospel.

George Trent lays it on thick.

George Trent, a minister at several churches affiliated with the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association in Tyler, said Armstrong had touched millions of lives through his radio, television and magazine ministries.

"He was a giant among men, and we've had a lot of giants in our time," Trent said.

Like a modern-day Noah, Armstrong preached repentance to the world, Trent said. He often warned people that America and Israel would face "trouble more severe than they've ever known."

"He challenged them to look into the Bible and see if it was true," Trent said. "If the Book of Hebrews were written today, I'm sure we would have at least one more name. Garner Ted Armstrong would be in the spiritual giants hall of fame. I know of no man who has turned more people back to righteousness than Garner Ted Armstrong. He is our father in the gospel."

His ministry was not without controversy, however...

Armstrong was an evangelist in his father's Pasadena, Calif., church for many years before Herbert Armstrong excommunicated him in 1978 over charges of adultery.

The younger Armstrong founded his own church and evangelistic association in Tyler in 1978. He left that church after a nurse accused him of making lewd advances toward her while he was undergoing massage therapy in her home in 1995. Armstrong then founded the Intercontinental Church of God in 1998.

Cecilia Rece Hall, an employee who handled telephone calls for the television program, said Armstrong was beloved for his strong message of faith and repentance. And even charges of sexual misconduct didn't sway his followers.

"He was doing a work we believed in, a message of warning to the world if we don't repent," Hall said after the funeral service. "He believed firmly. He was very passionate. He was a man like everyone else, but the repentance was always there. He repented bitterly." ...

His son Mark described Armstrong as a peacemaker.

"No matter what the challenge, no matter how daunting, he always went forward instead of going back," he said. "My dad exemplified what it is to be a father figure. He was a disciplinarian, but he was forgiving. He'd never bring it up again."

WN October issue out: Yesterday's challenge to the Worldwide News to do the decent thing quickly became redundant when the online issue appeared today (September 20 US time). The anonymous notice appears below. We're fascinated by the use of the euphemism "discharged" to refer to Ted's firing and disfellowshipment. Is this really the best that the WN can come up with?

Garner Ted Armstrong: 1930-2003

TYLER, Texas—Garner Ted Armstrong, 73, son of WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong, died in a Tyler hospital at 1:20 p.m., Sept. 15, of complications from pneumonia.

Mr. Armstrong was president of the Intercontinental Church of God of Tyler, Texas, and the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association of Flint, Texas.

Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1930, he spent his boyhood in Eugene, Oregon. He enlisted in the Navy in 1948 and spent four years in the service, including time aboard an aircraft carrier during the Korean War. He then entered Ambassador College in Pasadena and graduated in 1956.

By 1957, Mr. Armstrong had become the full-time speaker on the World Tomorrow radio program. He served in the WCG ministry until he was discharged in 1978. Mr. Armstrong had no association with the WCG after that year.

The funeral took place Sept. 18 at Croley Funeral Home in Gladewater, Texas. Mr. Armstrong is survived by his wife, Shirley; three sons, Mark, David and Matthew; and five grandchildren. We pray for their comfort and peace.

And the word count? 177.

WCG money woes: From Ron Kelly's financial column in the October WN.

... I do want to keep you informed that August donations this year were down just over 11 percent from August 2002. Obviously that statistic is a concern to us. If income continues on a negative scale, we will have to make even greater reductions in our projected expense budgets for 2004...

During the rest of 2003, in order to maintain our current level of service, programs and employees, we will continue to use the reserve fund on an as-needed basis. I mentioned above that we have added just over $2 million to our reserves between January and August [from property sales], but I expect we will use a portion of that overage during the final quarter of the year.

In the meantime, we will be working on the 2004 budget and coming to some difficult decisions on balancing that budget with our projected expenses.

Moving tribute: Among the tributes to GTA published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph was this rather cryptic one.

Sep, 17 2003. Yes, Ted will be missed by all his fans on our forum! Yes indeed!! Just like his father Herb! Rev. Kscribe.

The forum referred to is The Painful Truth, and "Rev. Kscribe" one of the regular correspondents.


A life both charmed and tragic: Concerning Garner Ted Armstrong’s untimely death, I’m finding the realization extremely difficult.  For better or for worse, he was a part of my life from 1955 onward.  He was not my close friend, but he was almost always friendly, and could change my countenance from depression to elation with no more than an exuberant smile.  He had that gift.  As a wide-eyed young Ambassador College student full of Godly expectations, one noticed things like that.  It’s only fair to dwell on some of his positive traits, if just for a moment or two.  Surely enough has been written to unveil the dark side.

I will never forget hearing Mr. Armstrong’s extraordinary voice live for the first time, in the college library, where student assemblies were held during my freshman year of 1958-59.  He had no peers as an extemporaneous speaker, and his speaking voice was a natural wonder. 

He saved my job once or twice at Ambassador, when massive layoffs began to characterize the work situation there.  I am indebted to him for that.

When I worked for the campus Transportation Department, one of his sisters-in-law inadvertently managed to get me shanghaied to the less-than-lofty position of campus truck driver/trash collector.  But I loved the job for its physical challenges and its healthy distance from supervision.  In this job, it fell my lot to regularly back the college trash truck down GTA’s driveway to collect his trash.  He would come out of his house to help me throw his family’s big trashcans over the side of an old eight-foot-tall stake dump truck.  He didn’t have to do that.  Nobody was looking; it wasn’t a photo-op; he did it simply to lend a hand.  One must allow that GTA had some fine qualities, among which was being genuine.

He was a loving husband and father, an avid outdoorsman, a dance floor prodigy, a tolerable singer and banjo player, a good athlete and sports enthusiast, a courageous activist against crude church doctrines and policies, a gifted news commentator, a prolific writer, a licensed pilot of both jet and propeller-driven planes, an engaging personality, and like the image in Nebucchadnezzar’s dream – like the rest of us, to one degree or another -- Garner Ted Armstrong also had feet of clay.

He did some really dumb things, and his being in the public eye made us all privy to his embarrassingly absurd foibles.  His theology was not always compelling, and he neutralized much of what was positive by acquiescing to his weaknesses.  His life was as tragic as it was charmed.

Nonetheless, at this terrible time for his family and closest friends, I feel a lot better remembering how he helped me push trashcans over the side of a dump truck – or recalling him singing his heart out in a spontaneous barbershop quartet in the basement of Manor Del Mar (a men’s dorm on the Ambassador campus in Pasadena ).  He had his very good side, full of fun, and as real as any other part of his life’s resume.  Because of this I expect to see him again in a better world where all of us will be better people.  Until then, rest in peace, Garner Ted.  


Petty squabbling: Once those formerly associated with the WCG rise above the petty squabbling that so characterized that incredibly dysfunctional organization, in retrospect now it's really quite sad to see what Herbert W. Armstrong's once touted "one true Church and most important Work on the face of the earth" has come to in actual reality. The primary fruits are blatantly obvious for those willing to see and think for themselves.

Doctrinal chaos reigns supreme between the competing splinter groups as they gradually break up into ever smaller and less effective "remnants."

Numerous HWA wanna-be's have proved more than willing to authoritatively "take up the mantle" and proclaim to us the truth about everything, as they simultaneously sling bitter accusations of "heresy" toward each other. Such rantings are in great abundance on their many websites out there on the Internet.

Interesting results, considering how much all the splinter groups continually emphasize the importance of personal relationships and living "the give way" of cooperation - sort of like Adolph Hitler lecturing on the fair treatment of non-Aryan minorities. What's wrong with this picture, folks? But as Christ once pointed out, "Wisdom is justified by her children."

One thing that remains a steady and predictable constant, however, are the constant pleas for their gullible followers to keep coughing up more and more money to support their ever-diminishing ministries. Ah, some things never change!

Observing the antics of the various Church of God organizations - no matter what name they currently are going by - is like watching the most melodramatic of soap operas. It's just hard for a sane mind to comprehend how people can continue to so seriously devote their lives and resources to such nonsense - especially in the light of the above realities. But when it comes to hard-core religious believers who are convinced of the righteousness of their cause, I suppose nothing should surprise us.

What's even sadder, though, is that there will always be an unlimited supply of people unwilling to think for themselves, who, like little puppies, feel the need to gather around the feet of religious gurus willing to take over the responsibility for them, claiming to have all the answers to life's greatest mysteries. That path is so simple and easy, requiring so little mental effort, and just proves too tempting for many to turn down...

Press coverage: The "Bill Glover" quoted by the Eugene newspaper is in fact a disfellowshipped WCG minister who's tried to start a spinoff group with his son in recent years. (Son Stephen Glover, a Pastor in Montgomery, Alabama, was kicked out of WCG in 2000.) "Living God Ministries" apparently is still struggling to get off the ground -- as it has no web site, or mention on the web at all.

How interesting to see the New York Times devoted 800+ words to GTA's life and death. All that space from a "liberal newspaper" -- or at least that's how COG's portray it so often, in holding it to scorn? You'd think the Times would have ignored the Armstrong death altogether. Maybe this will change the way UCG and other spinoff groups think of that newsp.... naaaaahhhh, that's not gonna happen.....

Richard Burkard

Extended eulogy? Though I did search, I cannot find even a reference to the death of GTA on Ronald Dart's website.  Perhaps it is late in coming.  However, should one not appear, the question would have to arise as to why.  If Mr. Dart does not want to be associated with GTA, then one might ask why it took a couple of decades of scandal -- scandal which most everyone knew about -- for him to come to that decision.  If he has no problem being associated with GTA, then we will look forward to his extended eulogy.


Happy-clappy: I like your depiction of the new WCG as "happy-clappy." It's right on the mark. Tkach is trying to emulate American Protestantism in WCG services... Unfortunately, that's the trend here in the States... long on emotional gush and short on substance.

I stopped going to church when the usher began stomping his foot and shouting "hallelujah" during every service. Someone who still attends tells me that there is lady who sometimes gets so worked up emotionally that she screams and faints. This was something I had to see, so I went to services and my friend pointed her out. Sadly, she had to leave early to go to work, and I missed her performance.



Remembering Garner Ted

Pasadena Star News

530 word article

New York Times

815 word article

Worldwide News


Garner Ted Armstrong served as executive vice president of the Worldwide Church of God for many years.

Will his massive influence and contribution be adequately acknowledged and analyzed in the October Worldwide News?

Or is the church still too much of a cult to provide the kind of thoughtful response that the secular media have provided?

We've been highly critical of the standard of journalism in the WN in the past. Here's an ideal opportunity for the church  to prove otherwise.

We await the next issue of the WN with great interest.

WCG and UCG acknowledge Armstrong's death: UCG Chairman Clyde Kilough has noted the passing of Ted Armstrong at the end of a member letter about the upcoming holy days.

Finally, by now probably most of you have heard that Garner Ted Armstrong died on Monday, September 15, due to complications from pneumonia. He had been ill for a few weeks but seemed to be making progress before unexpectedly taking a turn for the worse the last few days. His wife, Shirley (formerly Hammer); sons Mark, David and Matthew; five grandchildren; and many extended family members survive Mr. Armstrong, who was 73. They have our sincerest condolences and prayers that God will comfort them in their loss.

WCG Pastor General Joe Tkach included the following short mention in his latest weekly update:

We are saddened to report that Garner Ted Armstrong died this last week after having been hospitalized nearly three weeks ago. Please remember the family in your prayers.

(Note: we earlier identified the UCG statement with Roy Holladay, church president. This was incorrect. The letter was from the chairman.)

Discord at funeral: This report is based on a compilation of emails and news board postings:

Over 200 people turned up to farewell controversial evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong at a Tyler funeral home on Thursday afternoon. Mark Armstrong delivered a eulogy rehearsing his father's accomplishments, and CGI minister George Trent read the appropriate Bible verses. According to one person who attended, the service itself was unremarkable. Only family and close friends proceeded to the gravesite.

More remarkable was the rancor evident when some former brethren attempted to pay their respects. Two prominent colleagues from CGI days, Charles Groce and Benny Sharp, had apparently contacted Mark Armstrong earlier, who indicated he was happy that they attend. Sharp however was reportedly confronted when he arrived by a prominent ICG member and told he was not welcome, and was then asked to leave by the funeral director. An appeal to Shirley Armstrong was made, and Sharp was graciously given dispensation to sit outside in the lobby during the service. Sharp understandably preferred to leave, as did Groce when he learned what had happened. 

Journal posts updates: The Journal was an invaluable source of information as Ted Armstrong's health situation became more and more dire. Editor Dixon Cartwright, caught in the invidious position of having just printed an issue that announced GTA was improving (based on information which was current at the time) circulated important updates from ICG to those on the newspaper's email list, thus keeping the wider COG community informed. MD would like to put on record an acknowledgment of the work The Journal did. AW is often able to "scoop" print publications simply because it is an online ezine. The Journal, however, still can't be beaten for in-depth coverage. The next issue should be a "don't miss" edition.

Eugene remembers: The Register-Guard, a Eugene, Oregon newspaper, paid tribute to GTA this week, noting that the evangelist grew up in that city. Excerpts:

[GTA's] mark still resonates in Eugene, where at least two churches - one that adheres to the Armstrong family's original teachings and another that's more mainstream - meet every weekend. Tim Sitterley, pastor for the Worldwide Church of God in Eugene, said his church no longer subscribes to many of the tenets preached by Garner Ted Armstrong. But that doesn't erase Armstrong's stature as one of the "very first dominant figures in television ministry," Sitterley said." He set a standard that you can see even today. You go across the tube on Sunday morning, and you'll see people using the same sets, the same style of delivery, that he used in the early days." Randy Stiver, pastor of United Church of God in Eugene, said he sometimes takes visiting guests on an informal tour of locales in Eugene where Herbert Armstrong preached and raised his family. Stiver's denomination is the largest of several "splinter" churches that formed after the Worldwide Church of God repudiated much of the Armstrongs' theology. But while the United Church of God elevates Herbert Armstrong, it has little to say about Garner Ted. "He was a controversial figure, and you hope that the controversy can now be at peace," Stiver said. Benton Johnson, a retired professor of sociology and religion at the University of Oregon, said the younger Armstrong was a key figure "in one of the most successful, small entrepreneurial religious movements of 20th century America. "Eugene - a college town in a state with one of the nation's smallest turnouts of churchgoers - might seem an unlikely place for a new denomination to take root. But relatively secular regions tend to attract a greater share of people to nontraditional faiths, Johnson said...

Sitterley, who like Armstrong attended the church's now-closed Ambassador College in Pasadena, said he remembers several light moments with Armstrong. "I played the bagpipes, and he didn't like the bagpipes, so he'd give me a hard time about that," Sitterley recalled. But on another occasion, "he said I had until 5 p.m.. to get my hair cut," Sitterley said. "It was probably about as long as it is now, but in those days a more military cut was expected." Bill Glover of Eugene worked with Armstrong at the college and said they played basketball and softball. Glover said their relationship frayed when he advocated for female students who accused Armstrong of sexual improprieties. Even amid such accusations, Armstrong "was hooked on this lifestyle of preaching and influencing people," Glover said. "He felt this was his line of work, and he couldn't leave it alone." Sitterley said Armstrong enjoyed wide popularity - including regular appearances on the comedy-variety TV show "Hee-Haw" - but that his legacy may also be one of scandal and missed opportunities. "Garner Ted Armstrong had a lot more potential than he lived up to," he said.

Excerpts from a bulletin on the KLTV site:

Vance Stinson, a Church of God International minister, has known Garner Ted for 15 years and feels his greatest talent was his dynamic speaking ability

"I recall a time when I was scheduled to give a sermon in the local church," says Stinson. "I got away from home, and it was about 20 miles back to my home from where we were meeting, and I realized I had left my notes. I asked Mr. Armstrong when he came in, I said could you possibly take the sermon because I can't do this without my notes. He thought for a few moments and said yeah, I'll do it, and got up and gave a sermon you would think he spent a month preparing. That's just the kind of ability he had."

Inquiries and condolences have been arriving at the Intercontinental Church of God headquarters on highway 155, south of Tyler, from all over the world. Included in that list is entertainer Merl Haggert, who was quoted as saying, two of the most influential people in his life have recently died. Johnny Cash, and Garner Ted Armstrong.


Loss and bewilderment: Don't know what to make of GTA's death. There is some vague sense of loss and bewilderment: Waste of talent? Did more harm than good? ­ don't know quite how to think of him. I suppose that he and his father did some good in one sense: one can learn to appreciate freedom by going through the holocaust. Should we have more holocausts, therefore? I was baptized by GTA's brother-in-law, Tony Hammer (whatever happened to him, anyone know?) and I stayed in the WCG for 15 years. Then I wrote TITHING: God's Command or Man's Demand? ( and was promptly ousted, then invited back. I also published HWA's slew of plagiarisms. I am not bitter, but that's because I was not ruined as much as others. I have other interests now (see:, and I hope to continue in that direction. I left WCG around 1980 and have never looked back. I don't think the current organizations (Ted's OR the WCG) are much of an improvement. Too bad - and woe to the unwary!

Tony Badillo

Scram! Keith [Speaks'] comment about playing basketball and blocking GTA's shots brought back another bit of nostalgia (neuralgia) for me. I was in the gym playing basketball, and GTA came in to play, and I was immediately told to take a hike. When I asked what was the problem, I was informed that unbaptized students were not permitted to play basketball either on GTA's side or the opposite side. They were "concerned" that a carnal person might try to injure him, etc. Anytime after that when he showed up to play basketball, they would just give me that look that said, scram!

Bill Hohmann

The manner least expected: When Mark Armstrong says he can't understand why they didn't "get the healing they begged for" it reminds me of Joseph Tkach, in announcing the death of HWA: whether he was uncertain about how one should announce a death, or if he was trying to emulate his predecessor, he went back to the 1967 letter Herbert had written to announce his first wife's death. In it, HWA said that our prayers had been answered in "the manner least expected." When Loma Armstrong's death was announced in 1967, with the healing doctrine still firmly in place, HWA's phrase made sense, within the context of the time. If memory serves me correctly, Loma and her family had refused all medical intervention. But by 1986, when Tkach used this phrase, lifted intact, to announce the death of a frail, ill, 93 year old man, (and one who'd had doctors coming to his house every day) something didn't smell right on a couple of levels. Same here. While I'm glad that GTA, or anyone else, gets medical help when they need it, it seems odd to say that one cannot understand why they didn't "get the healing they begged for." If they have faith that their prayers will be answered to such an extent that they are left in a state of bewilderment when the object of the prayers dies, the hospital stay seems superfluous.


Huh? Are you reporting on your website that Garner Ted Armstrong went to his massage therapist on one occasion, sexually assaulted her, and then she allowed him back into her establishment for a second occasion of sexual assault?

MD: The comments you refer to are quoted. If you really want the tawdry details check out the Geraldo Rivera transcript.

Same old ploy?  In regard to UCG "requesting" more, "excess tithe", it is just  the same old manipulative ploy to extract every dime they can from their sucker members. I heard it from a reliable source who is very good friends with one who works at the "Home Office" (don't say headquarters!) that UCG has plenty of money to help those who have needs for the feast. Yes, the "work" of the cults goes on, despite the demise of one of their greatest cult leaders.



James Tabor comments on Garner Ted Armstrong in today's mailbag 

Easy charm - dark message: One of the most perceptive obituaries for Garner Ted Armstrong comes from the New York Times.

Garner Ted Armstrong, Evangelist, Dies at 73 

Garner Ted Armstrong, a silver-haired television evangelist known for his easy charm and dark message, died on Monday in Tyler, Tex. He was 73.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his son Mark said. Mr. Armstrong was the son of the evangelist Herbert W. Armstrong, who called himself the "only apostle of our time" and used radio to build a ministry that eventually reached millions with its message of the imminent end of the world to be followed by the second coming of Christ. An advertising man, he called his denomination the Radio Church of God.

Garner Ted Armstrong took the story into the television age. Speaking extemporaneously and informally, he brought wry humor to his apocalyptic forecasts, which were routinely peppered with actual news reports of disasters.

He was at first reluctant to follow in his father's footsteps, but by the 1950's had become the star of the radio and television programs of his father's church, by then renamed the Worldwide Church of God. Both programs were called "The World Tomorrow," with the radio version heard on 360 stations on five continents and the television version seen by 20 million people on 165 stations.

In addition to spreading a spiritual message, the church grew materially to include Ambassador College in Pasadena, Calif., and a sizable publishing operation. By the end of the 1970's, The New York Times reported that it took in more than $70 million a year, more than Billy Graham and Oral Roberts combined.

The narrative of Mr. Armstrong's life had elements of biblical stories and some that recalled Elmer Gantry, the lustful evangelist of Sinclair Lewis's novel.

The most dramatic event came in 1978, when his father excommunicated him because of doctrinal disagreements and accusations of sexual misconduct that were widely reported in the news media. Six years earlier, he was taken off the air for four months after it was discovered that he had been engaged in an extramarital affair, according to the reference book Contemporary Authors.

After his excommunication, Mr. Armstrong formed another church, the Church of God International. But he was asked to step down as leader of that church in 1995 after a Texas woman accused him of sexually assaulting her during two massage sessions. He then formed the Intercontinental Church of God, remaining its president until his death.

No criminal charges were ever filed in the incident. But with each division, Mr. Armstrong's reach lessened. At the end, he was on about 100 cable television stations and a handful of radio stations.

The rift with his father never healed, in part because Garner Ted had accused Herbert of stealing millions from his own church.

"I tried repeatedly to call him and get in touch with him through letters, but he refused to talk to me," the younger Mr. Armstrong said in an interview with The Associated Press at the time of his father's death, at 93, in 1986.

"My biggest regret is not being able to see my father face to face during these past years," he said. Garner Ted Armstrong was born on Feb. 9, 1930, in Portland, Ore. His father saw his birth as a miracle, because his wife had recovered from an anemic condition shortly before he was born. Herbert Armstrong dedicated his newborn son to God "for him to use as he had need," he said in his privately printed autobiography.

In October 1933, Herbert made his first radio broadcast in Salem, Ore. Early the next year, he published the first Plain Truth magazine on mimeographed paper.

The theology he espoused was the same his son would later hold, even as he moved between churches. It blended fundamental Christianity with some tenets of Judaism and Seventh-Day Sabbath doctrine; it departed from mainstream Christianity in rejecting the Trinity and regarding Christmas and Easter as pagan holidays; it held that Anglo-Saxons are the lineal descendants of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.

Members gave the church 10 percent to 40 percent of their income, a tradition Garner Ted continued.  He graduated from high school in Eugene, Ore., in 1947, the year that his father moved his religious headquarters to Pasadena because of the broadcasting facilities there.

Mr. Armstrong joined the Navy in 1948, partly to escape his father's authority. After his honorable discharge, he worked in his father's mail processing office. He entered the church's Ambassador College in 1952.

The next year, he underwent a spiritual conversion and was baptized in his father's church, and married Shirley Hammer, who survives him, along with their sons, Mark, David and Matthew. All live in Tyler.

A daily feature on Mr. Armstrong's Web site is news that may portend the end of the world. Yesterday's report included a water crisis in the Russian Far East, cholera in Liberia and the death of 200 civilians in the Congo.

Thiel on Mark Armstrong: These comments from LCG member Bob Thiel on the COGwriter site:

... I have spoken with [GTA's] son Mark Armstrong a few times over the telephone. There is some speculation that Mark may takeover his father's responsibilities at ICG (Mark already works there, and has for two or so years I believe). Suffice it to say that from my limited perspective, that Mark is not like any other COG 'minister' I have ever spoken to.

Bob is not known for his droll sense of humor, but this may be the exception that proves the rule. As we understand it, however, Mark has never been ordained - at least not yet.

Herb gets analyzed: Glendora WCG pastor Neil Earle is continuing to write on cult founder Herbert W. Armstrong. A sampling is online at According to Dateline Pasadena a hard copy version is planned.

Time trip to 1928: Something for those readers interested in COG memorabilia. A conservative Armstrongite site has published PDF files of eleven 1928 issues of The Bible Advocate, featuring articles by the proto-Apostle himself.

British WCG gears up for Sunday observance: The British WCG has a reputation for being a little more stolid than the happy-clappy American variant championed by Joe Tkach. But the Brits seem about to get a major shake-up if these comments by David Silcox are anything to go by.

Last weekend about two thirds of the UK and Ireland Elders met in Conference at the St Stephen’s Centre in Bricket Wood.  The theme of the Conference had been set last March and was “Evangelism.”  Further impetus was given to this theme by Mr Tkach’s Editorial in the July Worldwide News in which he talks about barriers that we need to examine to be effective in evangelism.  We were able to set a goal and vision to examine this subject over the weeks and months to come so that we maybe a unified Church as we continue on the journey begun by Jesus Christ when we were converted.  That journey for us as individuals, and as a fellowship, must continue as we grow in grace and knowledge.  You will hear much more on this subject.

Stiff upper-lip, chaps!


GTA as mentor: I am deeply saddened to hear of Ted's death and my sympathies go out to his family and all who knew him well and loved him.  The Scriptures admonish, "Remember your Creators (Hebrew is plural) in the days of your youth," which I take to mean parents, mentors, and others who have contributed to our lives in positive ways.  I can honestly say, though I know it was HWA in the beginning, that beginning from age 17 or so, when I used to listen to him on the radio as a senior in H.S., six days a week, it was through GTA that I was turned toward a biblical understanding of the God of Israel.  I suppose, given that measure, he could be said to be the most influential person in my life. Through that initial experience I have made life-long and loyal friends, from whom I could only be separated by death.  My academic and scholarly career was set on a course that contributed toward the recapture of the essential Hebraic roots of the early messianic movement led by Yeshua the Nazarene, John the Baptizer, and James the brother.  I doubt I would have ever seen the Hebraic way of looking at things, except through that work ... and here I am, 40 years later ... still wrestling with the great issues of God, Torah, and Israel, and the plans of our Creator in terms of the Kingdom of God "on earth" as it is in heaven. I am profoundly sad to lose this talented and incredible VOICE.  There is no one out there that can fill these shoes.  I am sorry that he was not able to find himself more fully, as I think he could have done much more than he ended up doing.  I am sure he felt that too the last few years.  I will miss him, though I did not know him as closely as many others.  I spent some time with him face to face, but most treasured to me are some personal letters he wrote me, long letters, so they were not formalities, a decade or so after my Ph.D. experience at Chicago when I was searching so desperately for a place of faith again within the biblical tradition...he was very gracious and understanding and incredibly encouraging.  I realize that many who frequent this site had other experiences and feel profoundly negative things about HWA, GTA, and the whole WCG experience.  My contacts, memories, and dealings were always totally positive.  I know there are others that can say the same. This is not to negate another's experience, but simply to record a different one.


Dr. James D. Tabor
Prof. of Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Ghastly looks of horror: As an AC Pasadena student in the early and mid-70s, I had much occasion to be around Ted since I was a basketball player. I was also a non-Church raised kid who didn't know or care about the hierarchical protocols of the WCG. 

My claim to fame is my boast that I was the greatest athlete in Ambassador College history, a boast I made several years ago on the Planet Alumni website and which was subsequently voted by a super majority to be valid. I, yes, I, blocked GTA's jump shot during a pickup basketball game, and witnessed the ghastly looks of horror and amazement from those playing and watching. 

My great athletic feat actually was that I smacked back Ted's shots ... and didn't ever get called to the dean of student's office for discipline, admonishment or some type of punishment. That indeed was the greatest accomplishment ever of an AC athlete, my friends.

Keith D Speaks

Real cowardice: Garner Ted Armstrong was a false teacher. Anyone who thinks he did more good than bad is deluded. However, I would like to direct my comments towards those who, at the time of his death, have taken the approach that "we are all human," and "should not judge."

This is exactly the attitude that allowed the Armstrongs to do what they did. It takes a real coward to sit on the fence and refuse to call right and wrong what they are. It takes a real coward to excuse oneself for evil -- simply because others are likewise guilty. It takes a real coward to look at HWA, GTA, and the WCG, and glean from it "all the good." Those who do that are exactly the type of people false prophets prey upon, and who open the door for them to prey upon their children. How dare you not open your eyes -- indeed, open your Bible -- and take responsibility for knowing the Truth? How dare you open your Bible and justify sin and immorality because David, or others, committed it? How dare you admire yourself for being so loving and forgiving towards the offenders, all the while forgetting the victims. You sit there and admire a person's voice, and ability to speak. And you think this is what is important. Hitler could speak and sway audiences. Do you admire HIM? How dare you admit that, yes, GTA was an adulterer, but "we need to look past that to what good he accomplished." Do you really believe that the adultery was the biggest damage? The reality is, if GTA could have stayed in the WCG, he would be there today -- doing exactly what he did before he was kicked out. The proof is that he continued doing it once he WAS kicked out. He was no martyr. He simply lost a power struggle.

My condolences go to his family. A dad is a dad, and I cannot rejoice in the death of anyone, or in the grief of anyone. But even this is tempered with the realization that some of them plan to continue on with GTA's "work." I would imagine that in time we will see on the internet a number of "shrines" dedicated to GTA, as we now do to HWA. The legacy continues.

There is an old saying which goes something like this: "Those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them." Some folks will never learn. And they will be held accountable by God for not learning what should have been so clear and plain.

Irrelevant: Perhaps the saddest and most ironic bit about Garner Ted Armstrong was, despite all of his extraordinary communication skills and potential, at the end of the day, he was - irrelevant.

Something for us all to perhaps think about as we go about our daily tasks.


Anger - the first step: For the well intentioned person who bids a peaceful rest to GTA, and chides those who are expressing anger at him, as news of his final illness and death opens old wounds: try to spare some of your empathy for your former brothers and sisters. Only those who have been sinned against by him, directly or indirectly, have the right to extend forgiveness to him. If your time spent in the WCG was positive--wonderful! I'm happy for you. But please try to remember that, for many of your brothers and sisters, it was a nightmare. I don't necessarily believe there is an afterlife, so I'm not concerned about whether or not GTA or HWA are now facing divine judgment. But I do believe that for so many of us, our anger was the first positive step toward mental health and breaking free from the cult of Armstrongism. Personally, I believe that I've been able to put the bitterness to rest, but not everyone who was harmed has had the support and opportunities for growth and healing that I have, and I'm not about to judge anyone else for their emotional state. When you question someone's ability to forgive GTA, be sure you are in a position to require it of them.


Moral pedestals: You know, everybody who's ever written about GTA's sins with the ladies always gets up on this moral pedestal. Sin!!! Awful!!! To my knowledge, very few of these ladies have come forward, most notably the one interviewed for "In Bed with Garner Ted". So, I've been sitting here doing the math and thinking. There must have been some ladies who really enjoyed the whole thing. Not to trivialize, but many folks have a dark side, and it's quite possible that at least a few of these ladies had a really good time with ol' Ted. From what I understand, it wasn't rape. I, for one, really [would] be interested in reading about their experiences, provided that they were written tastefully... 

Biker Bob

MD: Nobody would have cared about Ted's "sins" if he'd sold used cars or joined one of a thousand other socially acceptable professions. The issue was that Ted preached one thing for everyone else while practicing another for himself.

A ministerial apology: You may recall I contacted you last winter about publishing an essay on my Worldwide Church of God (Fraud) experiences. The essay has now turned into a small book. I haven’t touched it in several months, but about a month ago I thought to myself I really needed to complete the book while such people as Garner Ted Armstrong were still alive. I was going to send him a personal copy. Yesterday, I was informed of Mr. Armstrong’s passing. I am now too late. Apparently, contrary to Armstrong teaching, this generation (and the previous one) did actually pass.

Unlike some of your readers, I do not hold the Armstrong’s and the Church relevant to my life – good or bad. As background to your readers, I attended the Worldwide Church of God (Fraud) from 1968 to 1976. I have not had any contact with the Church or its members (other than family members) for more than 25 years. Therefore, I have a large knowledge gap (thankfully) as much of the church history that I missed since 1976 I have only learned of in the past two years. 

My book is based on the meticulous notes I took in my Sabbath Services notebooks documenting the dates, times of church services, the sermon speakers and what they had to say. Remember how we were encouraged to take notes and write down the inspired precious words of “God’s ministers”? Well, I found my notebooks about a year ago and almost threw them out. That began the retrospective journey into my past and the essay on “1972 in Prophecy”. It has now grown into a small book on the [WCG] in general. I can definitely understand the bitterness expressed by some of your readers particularly from those representing the thousands of children that grew up in Armstrong’s oppressive fear religion. Personally, I wouldn’t wish the [WCG] on any child. 

Notwithstanding, I do want your reader’s to know that some (or at least one) Armstrong minister is offering apologies. Last summer, I found one minister’s e-mail address on the internet and made my first formal contact with a representative of the Church in more than 25 years by forwarding him an excerpt from my book that quoted his very scary 1969 sermon. Recorded in my Sabbath Services notebook were such statements as “If you die in the hands of doctors, you will go to the Lake of Fire” and “There is a great chance you will die in the next three years”. His response more than 30 years later surprised me. I offer the response to your readers for healing and closure: “I would like to apologize for the comments that you mentioned. In 1969 I was just 29 years old, too young to be a pastor. Many of the things I said and did in the first years of my ministry are a great embarrassment to me. I was a young fool. I apologize to both you and God”.

With the quite passing of “America’s Playboy Preacher”, the Armstrong legacy is further diminished as only a long distance memory – insignificant and irrelevant to the real world despite being told 30 years ago that it was the most important Work on earth, that time was very short, preaching God’s final end time warning message before Germany would be used by God to punish America in 1972. Time marched on without any respect to Herbert Armstrong’s and son Garner Ted’s prophetic end time speculations. Time actually ignored them. The son’s passing gives me new urgency to finish my book. 

Richard A. Dahms

Parrot spotting: Though I had not intended to be controversial, a short time after having emailed my piece regarding GTA possessing admirable qualities, it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps on a WCG recovery site this concept might prove very controversial! The many postings which have resulted from GTA's death have illustrated that too many people are still allowing the Armstrongs to have way too much power in their lives! This is why there is so much hurt. They programmed us as to how to think while part of the organization, and believe it or not, programmed all of us as to how we must think as ex-members! Many times, people from the splinter groups will post their thoughts, assuming that nobody will realize that these messages are from current members. But, they are instantly recognizable as such, and you have to imagine the voice of a parrot to get the full impact of this, because the messages all seem to have the same content: "WAAAKKK!, Root of Bitterness! Root of Bitterness! WAAAKKK! Lake of Fire!!!!"

I guess the past 25 years have turned me into something which we were all told could not exist: a largely non-bitter former member who has no intention of ever going back. Want further proof? I sent my condolences to GTA's family! Why? Well, it could have something to do with the fact that as WCG members, we were taught that non-members were basically non people. When we left, we found that we were considered non people. And we later discovered that "worldly" people also want to be happy, have hopes and dreams, can laugh with pleasure, feel pain and cry, often act with pure motives, and wish to be treated with dignity. In short, we realized that these people are not non persons, at all. I refuse to reverse WCG thinking, and to treat current Armstrongites as non-people, even though it sometimes seems that you might not be able to have a real conversation with them as individuals, because many are just spouting party line.

I thought the Holy Days were kind of cool. It was great knowing that one day of the week was reserved for kicking back. Tithing didn't particularly bother me because I did the math and realized that keeping my tithes wasn't going to make me a rich person, anyway. After all these years, I still don't have a palette for most unclean meats. As a typical male, I find the whole concept of doctors to be repugnant. If Jesus ever existed, his story was absolutely beautiful and he certainly was a good role model, much as Gandhi, Buddha, Yogananda Paramahansa, and various other holy men. What I did resent was the manipulative, intrusive, authoritarianism which was used to regulate virtually all areas which should be matters of personal choice: who one was allowed to have as friends, musical taste, hair style, types of clothing, whether or not to enjoy motorsports, basic type of personal car, how many minutes or hours to pray each day, career or occupation, and a plethora of other matters which should be a function of what the Armstrongs referred to as free moral agency. Prophecy, to me, basically sucked, because it was tops in the arsenal of manipulative tools.

I cannot get rid of my admiration for GTA's secular strengths and abilities. I cannot make myself feel that he was other than my fellow victim. Some posters, in frustration, have brought up the issue of judgment, not really knowing how else to deal with the whole Armstrong phenomenon. I think we should at least consider the logic that there might be no God, that there will be no judgment, and that HWA and the WCG have gotten us. They've won, and left the building! What we all need to be concentrating on is healing, making ourselves well. It takes lots of work, and sometimes comes only thru the passage of time! It is my fervent hope that the death of this man whom I admired, but whose teachings I choose not to follow, might facilitate this healing process!

Bob Evans

UCG seeks second tithe: The death of GTA and HWA does nothing. The work of the cult goes on.

The latest news from United is nothing new. In fact it is even more damaging. Remember when [WCG] used to tell us to turn in our excess 2nd tithe after the feast? United is even filled with more thieves and robbers. They said in their Festival Announcements just sent out, "The needs of the brethren for the Feast vary greatly. For example, there are hundreds of member families who need our help right now with financial assistance to prepare for the upcoming Feast. We may serve them by sending excess Festival tithe to the home office for distribution to these needy members. Usually the assistance requests amount to more than we receive as excess Festival tithe. This is one way we may help now to serve others!"

They need it now.

Where did all the tithes go that United has received throughout the year? Why can't they use that?

They aren't happy to just bleed the 1st tithe from people, they need that 2nd too.


Jamaican CGI minister Ian Boyne comments on Ted's death in today's mailbag (below)

Mark Armstrong: Is Mark Armstrong, eldest son of GTA, about to step into his father's shoes? That's the conclusion many have come to after reading his letter announcing Ted's death (AW 16 Sep.) Others suspect that David Antion (Ted's brother-in-law) might ride in from Southern California to direct operations. 

What do we know about Mark? Not a lot, at least not in recent times. He was apparently baptized only a few years ago, is now around 50 years of age, and divorced. He has been the voice introducing the GTA television program and literature promos, and a producer for the program.

Younger brothers David and Matthew were born deaf. One strand (among many) of prophetic speculation circulating in the pre-1978 WCG held that they were likely to be miraculously healed at the beginning of the Tribulation, and would then become the "two witnesses".

Whether the Intercontinental Church of God has enough critical mass to survive Ted Armstrong's death is uncertain. The core membership is believed to be very small. 

Site traffic quadruples: The MD site has "gone crazy" over the last two days with four times the usual number of visitors. These have been the busiest days the site has recorded since it was launched over two years ago. An indication that Ted Armstrong was still a major factor in the COG psyche at the time of his death.

"Reconciling" the budget: (Dateline Pasadena) From Curtis May's latest ORM newsletter RECONCILE:

"Concerning our policy change: We have had to make a change in how we are organized technically.  None of this affects how we do ministry.  The change is that we are no longer functioning under a separate 501 (c)3 as a para-church ministry but are serving once again as a ministry of the Worldwide Church of God."

Painful Truth announces GTA's death: Ed Mentell's Painful Truth site has heralded the news of Ted Armstrong's passing in its own distinctive fashion: 

Splinters silent on GTA: Few of the proliferating WCG splinter groups have mentioned the death of the movement's only "celebrity status" spokesman, Garner Ted Armstrong. One that has is Ted Phillips' Church of God Talents Ministries. The following information appears on their site.

Funeral Arrangements for Garner Ted Armstrong

The family of Garner Ted Armstrong announced arrangements for his funeral.  It will be a 2 p.m., Thursday, September 18, in Gladewater, Texas.  Mr. Armstrong died September 15, at the age of seventy-three.  

Handling the final arrangements is Croley Funeral Home, of Gladewater.  The service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Thursday, in the chapel of the funeral home, with Elder George Trent, of Princeton, West Virginia, officiating.

Mr. Armstrong was born on February 9, 1930, in Portland, Oregon.  He is survived by his wife, the former Shirley Hammer; sons, Mark, David and Matthew; and five grandchildren.

Which, strangely enough, is more than you'd discover on the GTAEA site! Ted Phillips was formerly affiliated with the Church of God, International.


The first reformer? I guess you would appreciate hearing from a voice from the Third World! As the pastor of the largest congregation of the CGI and the largest ex-WCG congregation in the entire Caribbean, (220), I would like to give my brief reflections of the life of my organization's founding President, Garner Ted Armstrong. Unlike hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who, tragically, have been badly damaged by their "Armstrong experience", my story is the exact opposite. I was an underachiever in high school before hearing the resonant, captivating  voice of Garner Ted  Armstrong.

The first thing  which struck me about GTA's preaching-- and the profound impression and impact never left me-- was how practical and relevant he made Christianity. His  father's booklet "The Seven laws of Success" transformed my life and  gave me direction. Today I host the leading talk show on both radio and television (and the longest-running on Jamaican television--16 years,) and am a columnist for the largest circulating newspaper in the  Caribbean. I have been the recipient of four national journalism awards and graduated with distinction at university in mass communication studies. Had I not heard the voice of GTA it is unlikely that I, who was fatherless by ten and whose mother migrated to the US when I was 15, would have  achieved what I have, through God's help.

Your obituary was charitable, graceful and balanced, though naturally I would disagree with some aspects. But you made an important point which careful historians and analysts should not gloss over: Garner Ted Armstrong was the first significant reformer in the Worldwide Church of God. In my view, the Golden Age of the church was  at the zenith of his leadership in 1974-1978 before the ultra-conservatives  came back to power. It was under GTA that such serious scholars as Lester Grabbe, now a highly accredited theologian, George Geis and Robert  Kuhn came to the fore. Under Ted  men of ability like Ron Dart, David Antion, Brian Knowles emerged, with the first two being significant change agents against ministerial abuse and authoritarianism.

No one needs to tell me about GTA's weaknesses or "moral lapses". I was a subscriber to Ambassador Report since 1982 and got all the issues going back to the first. I have the  John Trechak expose article of 1977, the Penthouse article (acquired for the GTA piece, mark you!), the Atlantic article ("Father, Son and Mammon" by William Martin) as well as  "Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web", "The Broadway to Armageddon", "The Truth Shall Set You Free", every issue of Ambassador Watch, all the stuff produced by Painful Truth etc, plus the extensive Press reports on GTA. I doubt there is anyone in the world, with the possible exception of David Barrett, who has a more extensive  anti-Armstrongism library than I have. So I don't need to be "enlightened about GTA", being from the Third World. Nor do I believe "It was all lies". But you cannot take away from his undoubted  positive contribution to reforming Armstrongism, as  you, with such commendable fairness and balance noted in your  obituary... I understand the pain of people like Steve but there is a value in emotional control and the ruling of the head over the heart.

GTA eventually fought against the excesses in the healing doctrine, tithing, place of safety, race, authoritarianism. He came a far way. He rejected his father's de-emphasis on Jesus and spoke about both the Messenger and the message. I shall give a fuller analysis in The Journal but suffice it to say that  I am one person who, despite  my rejection of GTA's reactionary political views, will remain indebted to his ministry. I say thanks to you for putting GTA in perspective , especially for highlighting the reform agenda which he pursued in the WCG, famously shouted down by HWA and other ultra-conservatives as "liberalism".

Ian Boyne

No locked doors? Just a simple statement, to honor the life of Ted Armstrong ... he had an influence on thousands of people that was positive. When did we stop forgetting that we are all just human? And more importantly, are we still not capable of forgiving others? The Armstrongs never fostered a cult. The doors of Ambassador College and the Church of God never had locked doors. Who among us is worthy of casting the first stone? Ted has only to answer to God, not any of us. Rest in peace, Ted. 

Jackie K. (Graduate Pasadena Campus 1972)

The David Defense: David broke the last five Commandments in rapid succession, as he progressed through this sin [with Bathsheba]. The enormity of this sin, combined with the other things we've seen from David's life, makes one realize just how big a character David was in OT history... As large as David's sin was, God's forgiveness was larger... This is what Garner Ted Armstrong understood.

Gary & Donna Tillotson

Dancing on a different grave: (1) So Ted finally died. I guess we finally can say with assurance that he is no longer a serial adulterer, nor is he any longer assaulting masseuses. I don't rejoice in his death, but neither do I have any sorrow. As for dancing on graves, that pleasure is planned for ... a different Armstrong on my big trip West next spring. My accompanying music: Culture Club's "Church of the Poison Mind."

Randy Karnes

(2) I have never felt that the death of someone automatically places them beyond reproach - I have gotten in "trouble" several times for expressing this view in other forums, and yet I still stand by it. Was GTA a victim of his  father? Yes, I would be inclined to think that he was. Did he not have a moral responsibility to attempt to shake off those reins as [he] matured? Yes. The fact that he didn't was solely his problem, and not his father's or  anyone else's. What he became was his choice.

Am I celebrating the death of GTA as a person? Am I dancing on his grave? No, I am not. However, GTA's death represents something very significant to me - the death of a small piece of the evil that I had to live under through most of my life. And insofar as GTA represented that evil, his death is yet another stage in the destruction of HWA's carefully built empire. And that grave I will happily dance upon, along with a great deal of hooting, hollering, and maybe even some booze.

I am sure, however, that those women whom he abused will definitely be dancing on his grave. That is the price that you pay when you commit acts such as that. You make people despise you. If that is not the legacy you want to leave when you die, you *don't do it*.

Patsy implied that people such as myself have not "let go", and that we will have to "answer to god". I have news for Patsy - and I am an agnostic/atheist, so the argument "look after your own salvation" has no merit with me  - if there is a god, he will have to answer to me, for allowing people such as GTA, HWA, and all sorts of other three letter initials to run roughshod over my childhood. Maybe Patsy had a choice as to what to believe, and  entered into it with her eyes wide open. Being born into it, I had no such choice, and I will not take the blame for it. The responsibility for healing comes from me. The blame does not and I will not allow anyone to tell me differently. If there is a god, and that god is worth its salt, then GTA is even now answering for aiding and abetting his father, and indirectly, for the damage that he has caused by doing so to me and others like me. 

Perhaps I simply don't understand what GTA's family is going through. I accept that. But in spite of that, I intend on celebrating this weekend - celebrating the fact that evil dies, and a small piece of it has died this week, and good, even if only by attrition, has won a battle.


Without excuse: While I was taken in by that voice and personality back in the early 70s, I cannot agree that GTA was any less guilty than Herbert. As the newspapers have speculated, Ted could have built a very successful career as a news commentator or entertainer apart from his father’s shadow. Ted chose the wide and easy road. But how many of us have the degree of integrity or strength of character to have done otherwise under the circumstances? Apart from experiencing a true conversion… or kidnapping… he was doomed from the day he signed on with ol’ Dad. While adults may have the ability to “move on”, “get over it”, and such, this is not true of children. The harm of “Armstrongism” upon the little ones, now carried on by enthusiasts like Spanky, Pack and others is without excuse. As for Ted, I thought of envying the cherub on the wall as he faced his Creator, but another thought comes to mind: Proverbs 24:17.

Holding a gun: Once again we see a person who has more condemnation than understanding. Patsy Lamb says that, "no one held a gun to them and forced them to do anything." She refers to the victims of Ted Armstrong's shameful life.

Well, I suggest she gain a little learning and perhaps even some empathy by reading this paper by "Janey": 

Jim Baldwin

Further response to David Barrett: David replies: [A]s a professional observer it's possible for me to see a wider view than that of those who have been caught up inside. 

What your position doesn't afford you, is the experience of life-changing pain. When your very faith in God had been twisted to meet the needs of a man and his organization, that effects all areas of one's life--things that even a professional observer's wide view cannot begin to understand.

[B]ut the abuses, the pain and the suffering over many years, are all too real -- just as yours are, Tina and MAM, and many others who suffered abuse in WCG. Please don't think I was dismissing or diminishing this.

Thank you for at least acknowledging our pain. That is certainly more that I have ever received from the "church. But calling us "a very vocal minority" (see next statement) leads me to believe that you are a little dismissive, but I chalk that up to lack of real experience in a high demand group. 

But I should add that I also know people in all these religions -- and in the Worldwide "family" of Churches -- who gain a tremendous amount from their religion, and have no desire whatsoever to leave. I also know many, ex-members of what are often called "cults" who, although they have now moved on, are still grateful for their time as members. Ex-members who are filled with anger and bitterness tend to be the very vocal minority. 

I would be interested in hearing from the "majority" of ex-members who are grateful for the time spend in a cult. Maybe they can join the group of domestic violence survivors and be grateful together...oops, there goes my bitterness again.

My comments on GTA were really two-fold. First, I thought it was very bad taste for people to bad-mouth him as he was days away from death, and to gloat over how God would judge him. 

I do agree with you that bad-mouthing a man who is on his deathbed is in bad taste. I just think our definition of "bad-mouth" is different. I think questioning his standing before God or his punishment for sins may be over the top, but to criticize the man who had a hand in such a destructive religion and has never, to my knowledge, apologized or even acknowledged the pain he inflicted, then I would not call that bad-mouthing. Again, I may be in the angry, bitter highly vocal minority.

Second, I was simply mentioning my own brief and distant contact with him. I hardly think my comment on his preaching was written "in glowing terms"; does anyone deny that GTA was a superb orator? My mention of "a great man with great sins" was reporting an observation by others; there's no doubt that a lot of people who knew him personally retained a fondness for Ted Armstrong while not being oblivious to his faults. 

Bully for him, he could speak well. So could Ted Bundy. By-the-way, faults are one thing, corruption and destruction are another. 

GTA had moved on from HWA's harsh doctrine. 

See that's the thing, David. As an outsider, you look at the harsh doctrines as being the problem. The inside track is how the doctrines, harsh or not, were deliberately a means to manipulate, control and to gain power/position. That is where the abuse comes from! If it had just been a matter of "misinterpreting" scripture or even kooky doctrine, you would not be hearing about all this stuff! 

And many who knew him personally over the decades will feel sadness at his {GTA's} passing. No disrespect to Steve, MAM, Tina, Russell and others, but I can empathize with this more readily than with dancing on his grave. 

Yes, it is easier to have empathy for those in mourning--I, too, have sympathy for those saddened by GTA's passing (I may be bitter, but I'm not heartless). All I am asking of you is to have some compassion for those who were his victims!


Shanghaied: I was shanghaied into the WCG at age 6, that would be 1961. I was ordered to leave "The Church" in 1971, until I agreed to "accept its tenets and follow its teachings". Even that was done in an underhanded way. Both my parents, prolific "offering givers" and unflinching "tithers", would have stopped my being kicked out. They were not warned or consulted. I was dragged into a private room with David Oder, told I was a "Natural Leader" and that I was leading the children of the Orlando, FL church "right out of The Church". This was a lie. I wasn't leading anyone anywhere. I simply chose to grow my hair and whiskers a little too long, dress unacceptably, listen to forbidden music, and speak my mind about the restrictive slavery forced on children within the church. Once the cowed and fearful among the kids noticed I kept showing up and was never fried by lightning, they, too, began to question. 

I'm in contact with a few of the kids I went to church with; I also have encountered some fellow "escapees" from other branches. Each and every one of them has irreparable scars from the church. For some, never having had Christmas or a birthday celebration, they never missed them. For later victims like me, they went from happy days to nothing. 

There is a time when you simply accept what's coming from the pulpit; you don't know any better. The Armstrongs, especially Herbie, painted this excellent vision of the final return of Jesus, the battle of Armageddon, and how we were going to be sailed off in a nasty old cargo ship and hole up in some brutal desert place called "Petra", hide in caves and survive miraculously till God comes back and we get rewarded for our good behavior. Great hiding place, too; put mostly Americans smack in the middle of Arab territory. Herbie probably would have brought his office furnishings and an air conditioner while the rest of us sweated.

I could write you a hundred thousand words about how it was, what it did, HOW it was done. I could tell you that there are websites out there, dozens of them, for survivors of this Cult nightmare. There are people who are sworn atheists, there are people who have turned to Satan, simply from being subjugated to the nightmare of growing up under the Thumb of the Worldwide Church Of God.

The year before I got the boot, I got the opportunity to attend SEP, "The Church's" Summer Camp. I had some good experiences there. Made some friends, got the opportunity to learn to ski, sail, went canoeing into the Canadian wilderness with a group that included Matt, Garner Ted's youngest son. Ted's older sons? While the rest of us walked, ran, or (rarely) got to ride in a bus, they were zooming around the grounds in a souped up Trans Am, scoring with the girls, partying, having a great time...

Essentially, I'd just like to say that both Herbie and Garner Toad ruined thousands of young lives, and the largesse in which they lived was off the sweat and pain of people like me: Don't expect my sympathy because those lying criminals are dead. Every nice thing they had or gave their families cost me. I was living slightly above poverty level and missing opportunities while they were pampered, catered to, and spoiled, and it was MY parents' money that gave them those opportunities. They're lucky God must judge them: He'll be fair and impartial. I'd be brutal and vindictive. Neither of those losers was a "Great Man". They were con artists, liars and cult leaders.

Arnie Simon

The Profligate Son: Garner Ted Armstrong, by his own admission, committed fornication with over two hundred women, many of them coeds at Ambassador College. Some of these coeds later became the wives of ministers and church executives. His dalliances and the subsequent cover-ups are documented by Al Carrozzo in his article "The Profligate Son", which appeared in the second issue of the Ambassador Report... Mr. Carrozzo was one of the first ministers, if not the first, to leave the Worldwide Church of God when he learned of the Armstrongs' corruption.

Garner Ted's... seduction technique is documented in the article "In Bed With Garner Ted", an interview with a former Ambassador College student who had an affair with Armstrong. It also appeared in AR2. His participation in student activities was part of his hunt for vulnerable young women whom he could bed down.

It doesn't surprise me that Garner Ted never lamented what he could have been if he had been uncalled. He never could have matched what he had in the Worldwide Church of God. His talents made him suitable for only two fields: televangelism and politics...

Ted was a spoiled rich kid. He was the youngest child of a man who was a multimillionaire with an income in the eight or nine figures. At one time the church owned four airplanes. Ted had his own private jet. He didn't learn how to fly in the navy. He was not a carrier pilot. He learned how to fly courtesy of the tithes and offerings of the longsuffering members of his church. Garner Ted only lamented after he was kicked out of the Worldwide Church of God. Ambassador Report 16 quotes Garner Ted as desiring to return to the WCG:

"To some of his closest friends, Ted has been quite open about his desire to return to the WCG to 'get vindicated,' get on 'more TV stations,' and 'get a plane again.'" ...

His ability to play hard was also paid for by the tithes and offerings of the church members. Even the hunting lodge in Colorado to which he was exiled after one of his sex scandals was bought and paid for by the church. Not only did he ride horses in the field, he played hard at the tables in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, even though gambling was considered sinful in the Worldwide Church of God. But as we all know, the rules didn't apply to the Armstrongs. Church members were forbidden to gamble because it would eat into Garner Ted's bankroll, and a high-roller like Garner Ted needs lots of money. No five dollar wagers for him. Playing hard included not only dude-ranch make-believe wild west games on horseback, but also booze, broads, and high stakes gambling in Vegas, the sin capital of the world.

Garner Ted was a man of many gifts. I became interested in the Worldwide Church of God because of Garner Ted's broadcast. I can attest to the fact that he was a very interesting and even spellbinding broadcaster. Herbert W. Armstrong was not nearly as effective in his old age. Ambassador Report 34 cites a 1984 Gallup poll in which more people said they watched Garner Ted Armstrong on a handful of stations than Herbert W. Armstrong, who bought more television time than any other religious broadcaster at the time. But Garner Ted used his gifts to manipulate members, and ministers and to seduce inexperienced teenage college students and young adults.

As for his being a pilot... Any reasonably intelligent individual can learn how to fly, and even obtain a commercial pilots license, if he is willing to put forth the time, accumulate the flying hours, and spend the money. Hard work, and a lot of money, is what it takes... Church of God ministers and their supporters have always painted their ordinary accomplishments as superhuman feats which can only be accomplished by extraordinary gifts bestowed by God on his chosen few...

Shirley Armstrong is not a public person, and I won't comment on the devotion of the Armstrong family. All I can say is that I feel sorry for Mrs. Armstrong, and wonder why she stayed with her wayward husband for as many years as she did.

Mr. Evans saw the good side of Garner Ted Armstrong. But for every quality Mr. Evans found admirable, there was a flip side. He led a double life. In public, he was a man of the cloth, a Bible-thumping minister railing against sin and the moral degeneration of the United States and Britain. He knew what he was talking about. He was very experienced in the sins he denounced... It is fitting that the last time he came to the attention of the public, it was because he was videotaped naked trying to seduce a woman in a massage parlor. The tragedy of Garner Ted Armstrong is not that we have just lost a gifted and talented man. The tragedy is that a man as gifted and talented as Garner Ted Armstrong chose to use his gifts to exploit others in the pursuit of pleasure. His was a wasted life.

As for David V. Barrett's response... I understand his position. His contact with Garner Ted Armstrong was cordial, and he has no reason to feel any ill will toward him. It is bad form to show ill will toward the dead. I normally don't do it myself. I am making an exception in this case because both Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong were a bad influence, and their organization and it's doctrines caused great suffering to thousands of people. In the case of Herbert W. Armstrong, his influence is felt seventeen years after his death, especially in that most malignant of cults, Gerald Flurry's Philadelphia Church of God... While it may seem cruel to an outsider to welcome someone's death, it is necessary to point out the true nature of Ted Armstrong so his memory and teachings are not used to exploit yet another generation of sincere worshippers. Garner Ted may have been a victim of his father, perhaps even more so than the ordinary church member. But he was also his father's partner in exploitation, and he used many of his father's cult control techniques in his own church group till the day he died.



And Farewell Friends Around the World

Garner Ted Armstrong (1930 - 2003)

Whatever final judgment one may come to over the life and ministry of Garner Ted Armstrong, he was certainly a remarkable individual. A talented musician, capable writer and, oh, that voice! Ted’s considerable charisma weathered well over the decades. He had the ability to mold an audience, sounding utterly sincere and convincing. His personal appearance campaign in Minneapolis earlier this year was classic GTA, though those who gathered were the merest fraction of the sizable crowds he drew in his heyday.

Ted traded in a no-nonsense, no sanctimoniousness brand of religion. He loved to strike the macho pose, poking fun at steepled hands in prayer, rosary beads, altar calls and the other accoutrements of mainline “churchianity”. But despite the posturing and bravado, Ted Armstrong also seemed to be caught in the web of his father’s deceitful ambitions and forever unable to escape.

Ted’s one brief foray as an independent, authentic person may have been his time in the navy, after running away to “sow wild oats” - and escape from the domineering, oppressive influence of his father's religion. But at the end of that time he meekly returned to the security and recognition that Herbert's Radio Church of God offered, picking up an “Ambassador PhD”, a fabulous salary, beautiful home… and discovering that he was very, very good as a radio and television presenter. More than that, he was heir apparent to the family firm. It would have taken immense integrity and strength of character to turn down a deal like that. 

And there was, of course, the playboy reputation. Not an easy thing to get away with, you’d think, while appearing in public as a minister of Jesus Christ. He even pursued it with a certain panache. What other evangelist would dare publish an endorsement from Penthouse on the dust jacket of his biography of Christ?

Despite this, Ted arguably did some good things, steering the church away from the worst of Herbert's excesses. On issues like healing, the place of safety and tithing, Ted was a moderating influence. Anyone who fell afoul of Rod Meredith can't have been all bad. He was also willing to take advice from others, at least while he occupied the office of church vice president. Hard-line critics called this “liberalism”. 

Following a messy separation in 1978 from the Worldwide Church of God, and establishing the Church of God, International in Texas, Garner Ted was understandably keen to take firm control of his own organization after decades of chaffing under the iron rule and inflated ego of Herbert. Individuals like Wayne Cole, initially attracted to Ted’s “new beginning”, quickly dropped away. The man who was once accused of liberalism was to morph into the most rigid of arch-conservatives. The evangelist who relished a swinging, dissolute lifestyle would launch vitriolic attacks on all things bohemian. The preacher who exposed hypocrisy at every opportunity in other religious traditions wallowed in a double standard that alienated even his most loyal supporters. 

Despite his passionate denunciations of a “sick, sick society”, it was the allure of just what such a society can offer that constantly subverted his career as a "man of God". He was, as one news report put it "known as much for his moral lapses as for his intense preaching". Moral lapses were to torpedo Ted's leadership of CGI, just as they had been used against him in the late 70s. Little wonder that self loathing appears to underlie much of the invective he aimed at others. 

Garner Ted Armstrong was never to escape from the baneful influence of his father, even after Herbert’s death in 1986. Ted was never above drawing Herbert’s mantle about his own shoulders when it suited him, or when his credibility was wearing thin. Many - perhaps most - of the remnant which supported his Evangelistic Association and the Intercontinental Church of God did so because he was his father’s son.  Even in death, Herbert's vice-like grip was firmly on his wayward son's shoulder.

Garner Ted speculated more than once that his final end would be as a martyr, perhaps even as one of the "two witnesses" of Revelation. As it turned out his passing was to be much more mundane. The colorful prophetic speculation that was his stock-in-trade had let him down yet again. 

What kind of man would Ted have been if he had defied his father’s manipulation and followed his own star? Ted’s greatest tragedy may be that he never took the opportunity to find out.

Bernie "saddened": From the Pasadena Star News come these comments.

Known for his strict interpretation of the Bible and his sermons on everything from globalization to Armageddon, the silver-haired, silver-voiced evangelist was also dogged in his career by accusations of adultery and was estranged from his father after a power struggle over leadership of the Worldwide Church of God.

But the father and son had a tumultuous relationship. The younger Armstrong was suspended from the church for six months in 1971 amid rumors of an adulterous affair. Seven years later, he was removed from power completely.

At the time, the younger Armstrong said the church was being ruined by its leaders' lavish spending habits and poor financial management. The church was also embroiled in an extortion case involving another accusation of adultery by Armstrong.

In 1995, Armstrong was sued by a Texas masseuse who said he sexually assaulted her. He left the Church of God International and later became head minister and president of the Intercontinental Church of God based in Tyler, Texas

"He has not been associated with this church for over two decades, but we are nonetheless saddened and our condolences go out' to the family , said Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning for the Worldwide Church of God.


Two fold comments: Steve's original letter, and the responses to my response to it, emphasize a point which I should not forget: an outside scholar can never fully appreciate the feelings of insiders. You've been there; I haven't. Yes, in the past I've been involved in other areas of Christianity, so I do have an "inside" understanding of what it is to believe and belong, but I've never been part of the often dysfunctional Worldwide "family" of Churches. I can come out with all sorts of sociological stuff about "rational choice theory" and all the rest, but I don't know for myself what it is to have my Church membership and my salvation threatened because I take an Aspirin or want to wear an ear-stud. 

On the other hand, as a professional observer it's possible for me to see a wider view than that of those who have been caught up inside. Abusive religions are unfortunately not all that uncommon. I've read many accounts, and spoken to many people who have experienced a wide variety of abusive practices within, amongst others, Scientology, the Hare Krishna movement, Jehovah's Witnesses, the International Church of Christ, Rajneesh, and assorted modern Western Buddhist movements -- and even the Church of England. True, as Alice says, often members are abused because "they gave these men power over their lives", but the abuses, the pain and the suffering over many years, are all too real -- just as yours are, Tina and MAM, and many others who suffered abuse in WCG. Please don't think I was dismissing or diminishing this. But I should add that I also know people in all these religions -- and in the Worldwide "family" of Churches -- who gain a tremendous amount from their religion, and have no desire whatsoever to leave. I also know many, many ex-members of what are often called "cults" who, although they have now moved on, are still grateful for their time as members. Ex-members who are filled with anger and bitterness tend to be the very vocal minority. 

My comments on GTA were really two-fold. First, I thought it was very bad taste for people to bad-mouth him as he was days away from death, and to gloat over how God would judge him. I still think that. Second, I was simply mentioning my own brief and distant contact with him. I hardly think my comment on his preaching was written "in glowing terms"; does anyone deny that GTA was a superb orator? My mention of "a great man with great sins" was reporting an observation by others; there's no doubt that a lot of people who knew him personally retained a fondness for Ted Armstrong while not being oblivious to his faults. 

One further point. Again, I wasn't there, but I have read a vast amount by people who were, particularly in the turbulent decade of the 1970s. It strikes me that although GTA was clearly part of an at times very abusive system, he was, as Bob Evans and Rich suggest, as much a victim as a perpetrator. The authoritarianism and irascibility of his father, coupled with the hard, cold ambition of Stan Rader and others (some of whom are still in positions of power), made any attempts by GTA and others to liberalize teachings and practices, a lost cause. Yes, Garner Ted Armstrong was part of the problem, but his 1964 statement on healing, which you quote, was HWA's teaching at the time. By the mid-1970s, GTA wrote about healing in the STP, "Christians are encouraged to appreciate this special benefit from God as well as to do everything they can for themselves in times of illness or injury by seeking the most competent professional help. Faith in God for healing does not conflict with the use of modern medical science." This is a very different position from his 1964 statement; GTA had moved on from HWA's harsh doctrine.  When GTA had the opportunity he did attempt to moderate the excesses of those who were really in charge; he should be given credit for that. I suspect that if he had succeeded his father as leader, WCG would have been a far less oppressive and abusive Church. 

When Ernest Martin and Bob Devine died, I wrote to their families to express my thanks for the help they had given me in my studies. I shall be doing the same with Garner Ted Armstrong's family. They will be grieving their personal loss. Members of ICG will be mourning the loss of their leader. And many who knew him personally over the decades will feel sadness at his passing. No disrespect to Steve, MAM, Tina, Russell and others, but I can empathize with this more readily than with dancing on his grave. 

David V Barrett

Reforming a cesspool: Rich wrote: "Despite the anguish he caused even GTA's worst critics acknowledge that he did try to reform some of the worst aspects of the WCG.  Hopefully those of us still in pain over what happened in WCG will be able to find some peace knowing that it is now in the hands of God."

That's like claiming that someone among Hitler's sycophants tried to reform the worst of the death camps. WCG cannot be "reformed" to be anything but a stinking cesspool. It was a sick, twisted, perverted puddle of dog vomit, and it still is. Nothing anyone could do or has done will ever redeem it.

Yes, I hope GTA is in God's hands now, having to answer endless questions about each and every person he violated in his cynical, manipulative, degenerate existence.


Cop out: I have been reading the comments about Mr. Armstrong the past few days. I feel very saddened. These people that have the time to blame the WCOG for their problems, need to get a life. Grow up, no one held a gun to them and forced them to do anything. Be an adult and take responsibility for your own actions, then and now. Both Mr. Armstrong's will stand before God just as I will and all of you will. Worry about yourself answering to God, not what someone else has done to you. Stop blaming others for your own short comings, use the brain that God gave to you. What a cop out to blame others after all of these years have gone by. As for me, I will pray for Mrs. Armstrong, Mark, Matthew, David and their families. I have lost my parents to death and I know how it feels. I pray that God helps these people that have all of these hateful and negative feelings. 

Patsy Lamb

End of an era: The passing of GTA is certainly the end of an era - the Armstrongite era. That poem Ozymandias keeps coming back to me. I was going to say that maybe you will be out of a job, but I fear that the legacy is sufficiently entrenched that you could be kept quite busy tracking the other offshoots for quite some time yet.

Getting Deader

I'm getting deader all the time
I used to be glad with my church
The ministers that taught you were fools
They held you down, turned you round
Filling you up with my rules.
I've got to admit I'm getting deader
A little deader all the time
I've have to admit I'm getting deader
I'm getting deader, but your tithes are mine.

Me used to be angry old man
Me hiding me head in the sand
I gave you the word
You gave it when heard
Now I'm getting all that I can.

I've got to admit I'm getting deader
I used to be cruel to women
I kept them apart from makeup they loved
Man I was mean but I'm changing my scene
And I'm still getting all that I can.

I've got to admit I'm getting deader
A little deader all the time
I've had to admit I'm getting deader
I'm getting deader, but your tithes are mine.

Melancholy mad: Unexpectedly, the news that Garner Ted is dead made me a little melancholy at first. Why? Maybe it was because his velvet-tone voice echoed in my head at age three (1962) as my mother did housework with The World Tomorrow booming on the intercom system. For 16 years after that, I heard countless sermons from the guy, always with a condescending tone, carefully enunciating middle eastern names and giving subtle reminders on how good a pilot he was and how lucky we all were to be listening to him in a cave while everyone else would be swinging from meat hooks when the Germans had them in the tribulation. Sometimes those early voices stay with you no matter how hard to try to shake it.

May 1978. I sat in the Auditorium in May of that year as an Ambassador College freshman, hearing GTA pound the lectern, telling all of us the only way he would leave "the church" was "in a pine box." He was gone three weeks later; the box has been waiting for almost a quarter of a century. After that, he became a mere footnote in Armstrongism, but an indelible memory in my brain.

I keep an tattered and yellowed copy of my mother's 1963 GTA manifesto entitled "The Plain Truth About Child Rearing" in my desk drawer at work. If I ever feel inadequate as a parent, a quick look at this reminds me how good I really am, breaking almost every piece of advice in the pamphlet. Now that I think about him in more detail and the effect he had on countless lives of my WCG generation, I am no longer melancholy: I am mad.

Why do we universally afford the dead respect? I do not buy the argument that the dead are not able to defend themselves. Who was there do defend the minds of the children of the WCG against the insanities of Herb and Ted? I proposed that live sycophants make dead creeps and the dead are not immune to scorn or ridicule just because they are not here to experience it.

Therefore, I dedicate the following song (sung to the Beatles tune Getting Better), to Ted for all the mind games he played on me as a child:

(If you want to hear background music as you sing along, go to

Scott Murphey
Creator of the Graveyard Church of God

Why Ted wasn't healed: Poor Mark Armstrong! ... He wrote:

We cannot fully understand why the healing we begged for was not granted. But God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and He has plans sometimes that we as mortal humans cannot see.

Yyyyy-yeah!  Or maybe it's just that Ted was SEVENTY-THREE years old!  Will someone please tell poor Mark that, when people get OLD, sometimes they DIE! ...

John B

16 September. GARNER TED ARMSTRONG DIES, NEWSPAPER REPORT.  Mail: Responses to David Barrett on GTA, more on GTA

The announcement

Dear Concerned Friends,

It is with a broken heart that I must inform all of you that my precious Dad, Garner Ted Armstrong, died today at 1:20 pm. I know that all of you prayed with all you had as we did here, and fully expected God's intervention. We cannot fully understand why the healing we begged for was not granted. But God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and He has plans sometimes that we as mortal humans cannot see.

I know that my Dad fully expected that his work will continue, and we all have an enormous responsibility to make certain that his work has not been in vain, and that his voice will not be silenced. His broadcasts will continue, his wisdom and his knowledge will constantly be made available to the church and to the public at large in the unique way only he has been able to explain and portray the truths of God.

Garner Ted Armstrong was known as much for his moral lapses as for his intense preaching on the religious broadcast "The World Tomorrow."

AP News item

Following a dispute with members of the Church of God International who wanted him to step down after allegations of sexual assault were raised, Armstrong founded the Intercontinental Church of God in June 1998 with headquarters in Tyler.

Mark Armstrong did not comment specifically on why his father left the church, but acknowledged a disagreement with the church.

He called the Intercontinental Church of God the "true" religion and said the beliefs were based on the Bible with base values rooted in the Ten Commandments. 

From another AP report

The wooden stake is finally in the chest of the Armstrong Legacy.

Comment on ekklesia list

I'm in the process of contacting all of the area coordinators and leaders throughout this fine organization you all have helped my Dad build. I will be looking to them for wisdom and council. Thank God for the fine gentlemen who have unselfishly given of themselves during this most recent phase of my Dad's ministry. Thank you all for the generous support you've shown my Father. He appreciated all of you and constantly thanked God for you.


Mark Armstrong
Send cards and flowers to:

Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association17444 Hwy 155 South
Flint, TX 75762

News hits Tyler: Excerpts from an item appearing in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

World-known evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong, 73, died of complications from pneumonia Monday afternoon at a Tyler hospital. Services are pending with Croley Funeral Home in Gladewater...

Armstrong founded two church organizations. The first was the Church of God International in 1978 after his father Herbert W. Armstrong, the late founder of the Worldwide Church of God, ex-communicated his son from the Pasadena, Calif.-based church.

At the time, Garner Ted Armstrong was known internationally for his television program "World Tomorrow." Armstrong was seen by an estimated 20 million Americans weekly on television and his radio show was broadcast in five languages to every inhabited continent on more than 300 radio stations.

He also founded the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association in Tyler in 1978, along with the Church of God International. Following a dispute with members of the Church of God International, Armstrong founded the Intercontinental Church of God in June 1998 with headquarters in Tyler...

Armstrong was born in Portland, Ore., in 1930, and his boyhood days were spent in Eugene. He enlisted in the Navy in 1948 and served four years, some of them aboard an aircraft carrier during the Korean War. He graduated from Ambassador College in 1956 with a bachelor's degree, then earned his master of arts degree in 1960, followed by a doctorate of philosophy in 1966.

In 1957, he became a full-time speaker on the "World Tomorrow" radio program. His first television show was in 1955. He had interviewed many national and world leaders during the past four decades and has written dozens of articles and booklets on world, social, economic and religious conditions. He also published two books.


Responses to David Barrett: (1) I would agree that it's not the most charitable thing to speculate that GTA might "finally get what he deserves", should he succumb to his illness; however, I don't believe, David, you have a clear, personal understanding of why the statement was made. You describe, in glowing terms, Ted's powerful speaking style and generosity in helping you with your book research. Sounds fine, but it seems to me that it's easy to pronounce GTA as a "great man with great sins" if you have never been on the receiving end of the "sin" . I'd like to ask you, David, to imagine a different, more up close encounter. Imagine, you have chosen to follow this "powerful speaking" man. Because you come from such pain and dysfunction, you feel at home with the general dysfunction of his organization. Next, you fervently embrace the "great teachings" espoused by HWA, Ted and Co. "Godly" wisdom found in The Plain Truth About Child Rearing like spanking an infant, forbidding preschool children to play pretend games and keeping your children from participating in ANY school activity, most especially if it's pagan or interferes with the great god, Sabbath. Later, you come to believe GTA  & Co. when they say that paying tithes as a "cheerful giver" will result in financial blessings, even though doing so causes your family to have to eat expired foods, wear clothing from Goodwill and eventually file bankruptcy. Finally, imagine years later, standing in the pile of rubble that was your "faith", after following this "great man"; then following one of his hirelings, which ended up only being the same song, second verse. Now imagine looking into the face of your adult daughters, whom you raised with all these lies, as they struggle to overcome the poison because you thought this "great man" (and his minister cohorts) was really called of God. As you struggle to answer, at 60+ years of age, who is God? Do I really know him? Do I really want to? David, now can you see the picture? Now can you get a feel that "great men with great sins" can cause GREAT damage? 


(2) I can understand David Barrett taking offense to some of the statements made about Garner Ted Armstrong. It seems heartless to derive satisfaction from a person's impending death. But the quotation from the 1964 Good News magazine reminds us that there were hundreds who preceded Garner Ted in death because they followed his anti-medicine teaching. In 1964, Garner Ted was a healthy young stud in his early thirties who was saw fit to tell the old and the sick that they risked their eternal lives if they sought medical treatment. 

There were curious exemptions from this doctrine. Around 1970, Roderick Meredith suffered a detached retina and was threatened with loss of vision in the affected eye. Armstrong granted him dispensation and Meredith's condition was successfully treated with surgery. The excuse Armstrong gave to the membership was that Rod was so important to The Work that we couldn't risk losing him. As Rod Meredith delighted in pointing out, he was the number five man in the universe, behind God the Father, Jesus Christ, Herbert Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong, in that order. We couldn't risk losing someone that high up in the spiritual totem pole. But, if God didn't choose to heal him, maybe he wasn't that important, except in his own good eye.

When I started attending services in Manhattan, NY in 1980, Mrs. Ruth Banks, an elderly diabetic, had to have her leg amputated. Forever afterward, the pastor of the congregation would always give as an example of lack of faith a certain unnamed member who had her leg amputated. During his sermons, he would rattle off lists of actions which demonstrated a person's lack of faith: "not paying first tithe, working on the Sabbath, not studying the Bible, not watching the World Tomorrow program, not praying enough, failing to respect ministerial authority, not paying second or third tithe, paying 3% of your income every year for third tithe instead of paying 10% in the third tithe year, reading the Ambassador Report, and having your leg amputated." He did this while Mrs. Banks was in the hospital recovering, and continued when she returned to services in a wheelchair. He wouldn't mention her by name, but everybody knew about whom he was talking. I used to drive Mrs. Banks to services, and I never heard her complain about the pastor's public attacks on her faith. She later had to have the other leg amputated, and she died shortly afterward. I guess Mrs. Banks wasn't very important. After all, she was a senior citizen who wasn't a tithe payer. Think of all the second and third tithe assistance the church saved when she passed away.

During this period, this pastor had a polyp in his sinuses surgically removed. The excuse he gave was that he couldn't breathe, and he would die if the polyp wasn't removed. This hypocrisy was typical of the ministry. The ordinary member was required to demonstrate his faith by dying from his often treatable medical conditions, while the ministers would scramble to find any excuse to exempt themselves from the ban on medical treatment.

A few years before Mrs. Banks was held up to public ridicule in New York City by her minister, Herbert W. Armstrong was receiving the best medical treatment the Worldwide Church of God could buy, thanks to the efforts of his son Garner Ted. Let's let Ted describe it:

Shortly after his marriage [to Ramona Martin], just before the Feast of Tabernacles, in 1977, my father was stricken with congestive heart failure and nearly died. He became confined to bed at his home in Tucson. If ever anything swept away all negative feelings, made me fear for his life, and face the future almost terrified with the thought he would no longer be there at the helm, this sudden heart problem certainly did it. I was deeply concerned, wondering if God would allow us to lose him.

I visited him time and time again, sometimes staying for a week or so at a time, visiting him each day. He was taking about eighteen or twenty pharmaceuticals each day. Often, I would hold him up, help him with his glass and bent straw, as he laboriously swallowed down so many of this or that color pill the doctors had prescribed. His dresser top looked like a drug store.

During this time, all tensions were forgotten. I was deeply concerned for his life, and moved to tears many times as we talked together.

My wife can testify to the time we were leaving his bedside for a return trip to Pasadena, and how I told her I didn't know what I would do if my father died; how I was suddenly overwhelmed with the enormous weight of responsibility that would fall on my shoulders if he died. I was in tears when I said it. God knows I wanted him to be healed, to completely recover, and to be there for the sake of the church, and the work.

He hovered near death for a time. On one unforgettable occasion, I had piloted our GII to Tucson to visit my father, and had landed back at Van Nuys Airport, gotten into my Dodge Maxivan, and headed down the freeway toward Pasadena, only to have my mobile telephone ring, and be told by Lois, my secretary, that my dad had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance!

I called from the van, got my copilot's wife on the phone, asked her to tell him when he called, or arrived home, to return to the airport immediately. We turned around, and when he showed up, took off for Tucson. A couple of my father's closest aides and confidants were with him, as was the wife of one of them, not members of the church.

When we arrived at the clinic where they had taken him, he was incoherent, lying on his side on a wheeled ambulance bed. I was frightened for his life, and asked the doctor how he was.

I was told his heart was wildly erratic, that he could die at any time; was told in no uncertain terms that he needed immediate hospitalization. Frankly, I was surprised that he had only been taken to a clinic, and was not already hospitalized.

His aides vehemently urged me to give instructions he be taken to the hospital. He had been conscious earlier, and had told them he did not want to be put in the hospital, for he feared he would never survive the ordeal.

I left my wife and the others discussing the situation in the doctor's office, and went back down the hall to the room where my father lay. He was on his side, eyes closed.

I leaned close, said, "Dad? Can you hear me? This is Ted."

He mumbled something. Finally, with thick tongue and slurred speech, he said to me, barely audibly, "Ted, don't let them take me to the hospital! Don't let them take me to the hospital!" It came out "'ohpt'l," barely understandable.

I hugged him, with tears in my eyes, and prayed for him that God would spare his life, raise him up. I reassured him that he would not be taken to the hospital.

I went back to the doctor's office, and told them I wanted him taken back to his home.

His two aides and the doctor were shocked, and angry. They argued with me.

I said, "Gentlemen, that is my father in there, and God's apostle. He is the human head of this church, and my boss! He ordered me not to let them take him to the hospital! How do you think I will feel if I go against his wishes, and he should die? Even if he recovers, and finds I let him be hospitalized, how will he feel toward me? No, so long as he can still call the shots, he is in charge. He is to go home."

His home became like a hospital, in fact. Two doctors came daily, one for his heart condition, the other a liver specialist. He was on oxygen, and under the care of three nurses, with 'round-the-clock nursing care.

(The Origin and History of the Church of God, International by Garner Ted Armstrong. Pages 46-48)

A few items of interest need to be pointed out. At a time when the ministry was teaching members that using the medical profession was mortal sin, Herbert W. Armstrong was popping pills by the handful. Garner Ted, who said, "To rely on any foods, supplements, medicines, drugs, knives, or even on fasting for healing (and none of these can, ever have, or ever will heal!) is to break the commandment against idolatry!" was shoveling them down his throat. Herbert's aides, instead of agreeing with Garner Ted and getting Herbert as far away from the evil medical profession as possible and rescuing him from idolatry, disagreed vehemently with his decision to take him home. Garner Ted, the man responsible for the 1964 quotation, was responsible for transforming Herbert's home into a private hospital. Both Herbert and Garner Ted imposed one set of standards on the membership, and another set of standards on themselves that was much less demanding.

There are some people the world would have been better off without. The names come easily to mind. For example, we all would have been better off if Adolph Hitler had never existed. I believe the world would have been a better place had Herbert W. Armstrong never existed. The same can be said for Garner Ted Armstrong. I may offend some by saying this, and some will think I am cruel, but in a day or so, when Garner Ted leaves us, the world will be a better place. To those who have lost loved ones to the Armstrong healing doctrine (or, more accurately, the Armstrong death sentence doctrine), Garner Ted's death didn't come soon enough.


Hands of God: I feel sorrowful regarding the death of Garner Ted Armstrong. I have always felt that many of GTA's problems stemmed from being raised by an authoritarian and at times abusive father. I believe GTA did try to overcome his problems but would fall off the wagon and crash his life. 

Despite the anguish he caused even GTA's worst critics acknowledge that he did try to reform some of the worst aspects of the WCG.  Hopefully those of us still in pain over what happened in WCG will be able to find some peace knowing that it is now in the hands of God.


Reasons to admire GTA: Rather than using this occasion to take cheap shots at GTA, I would like to provide a bit of a different perspective on the entire situation.  Reasons for this are twofold: 1) As one who has family members amongst the clergy of one of the splinter groups, it would be very hurtful to read extremely negative postings concerning them. Although I disagree vehemently with their theology. they are still my family. It should be obvious that GTA's family would feel the same way. 2) Believe it or not, there were many reasons why I admired GTA, while, once again, disagreeing with his theology. Some 25+ years after having left the WCG, there is nothing in my life for which I hold him blameworthy, and certainly would never want him to suffer on my account. 

While I was a student at AC, I was amazed at the level to which GTA would join in on student activities. This was clearly a man who understood the universal power of music, sports, and humor, and he used them very effectively to relate to the student body. One would regularly see him on the basketball court, or strumming his guitar as he led singalongs. I don't recall any negative remarks concerning his singing or athletic abilities, the important thing was that he was right there, not really caring about exposing himself to possible criticism, enjoying himself with the students.  Years before, at SEP, I once found myself walking across a dusty Texas field with some fellow campers.  We saw a cowboy galloping around a field, as several men watched. As we watched, one of the men, Bob Hammer, if I recall correctly, looked at me and asked, "Do you know who that is? That's Mr. Ted Armstrong. He works hard, and he sure plays hard!" 

Unlike other ministers, I never knew GTA to lament what he could have been if "uncalled". He let his actions speak for themselves, an admirable quality. It takes amazing skill and intelligence to obtain a pilot's license, let alone regularly fly a jet. It would be difficult to imagine others in the ministry doing this. Also, how many of us could consistently come up with new and interesting materials for a daily radio or television broadcast, day in and day out, without repeating oneself or becoming stale? We're talking about someone here who was into ecology long before the concept of keeping our earthly surroundings habitable ever crept into the public consciousness. Yes, there were teams of excellent researchers providing information, but it takes a special person to make those facts live! He greatly surpassed his father's abilities as an effective broadcaster, which was no small feat. 

There must be unconditional love in the GTA family. His wife and children know him better than any of us who once received his teaching, and are still there for him. We should all be so fortunate. You can't explain this in terms of money alone. There are so many examples of people gladly giving up a comfortable lifestyle to escape intolerable conditions.  That is commonplace at this time in which we live. Yet, there they remain, another testimonial as to his abilities in family relations.  Many of us watched as his sons rebelled in the process of attempting to discover their particular roles on planet Earth. It couldn't have been easy to have such a high profile Dad, there being such natural competition between fathers and sons. Apparently they resolved all of this and are there with him now. 

So, am I about to email the GTA Evangelistic Association and request baptism? No. Been there, and done that with the WCG.  But, I submit that all of us had to make choices in direct reaction to HWA, and have paid the prices throughout our lives. Is it too unreasonable to believe that GTA's life was also a series of such choices, and that what we all witnessed was simply the way in which his particular personality reacted to an incredibly evil religious cult, and a Hitlerian father?  The women's movement in general, and several high profile cases such as that of Patty Hearst have taught us so much about victimology. We were all volunteers to participate in a very intense psychological study, known as the WCG. It would appear that GTA, at best, was a fellow subject of this study, our fellow victim, arguably more susceptible to the coercive tactics of his father by virtue of familial closeness. I for one cannot be too harsh in judging him. Theology aside, I find him to have some admirable qualities and hope he fully recovers from this illness.

Bob Evans

Silent websites: It's... odd that there's no mention of GTA's current condition on either the ICG or GTAEA site. On the main ICG site, there's a page for Special Announcements, with only the text "There are currently no special announcements." Okay, it's only a small organization, and I'm sure they have other things on their mind at the moment than updating their websites, and presumably they've told all their members either in services or through a prayer letter, but it still seems strange that the public websites of both organizations are silent on this. When Ernest Martin and Bob Devine were dying, there were notices on their respective sites. There's not even anything on the Dallas/Fort Worth and New Orleans ICG local sites. The only mention I could find on an ICG site was at, the Intercontinental Prayer List. 


MD: Perhaps the equation goes a bit like this: No Ted = no "Work" = no tithes... so no public announcements.

Not comforting: Other than to say that were Ted to die, I would probably find a way to celebrate the passing of someone who has directly and negatively impacted my childhood, I will go no further on that particular subject.

However, I am thinking that, should this be the end, it's a particularly fitting one. Imagine being someone who has negatively impacted, and yes, even damaged, indirectly the lives of millions of people and directly the lives of thousands, including those hundreds of women that he misused his ministerial credentials to abuse sexually, in a coma, unable to move or speak. I wonder if his mind is active, and I wonder what kind of personal hell he is living in right now. Moreso, I wonder if he has directly found out yet if there is a god, and if so, whether he is looking forward to the meeting.

I wonder how long he will stay in this state before he finally "crosses to the other side" - and I wonder what is waiting for him there.

Even if he does recover, I wonder how he will feel to know that so many people are ready to dance on his grave. That can't be comforting.



GTA in coma: From David Antion's mailing list:

By now, most of you have heard that Garner Ted Armstrong has been in the hospital. It has now been 3 and 1/2 weeks since he entered the hospital in Tyler, TX. He first went in because he was having a hard time breathing and it turned out to be pneumonia. He was placed in intensive care for about 1 week and then was moved to a regular room as his breathing returned to normal.

They were even beginning to get him up to begin walking. But upon administering another antibiotic, he began to have some reactions which at first were not caught by the doctors and he was given even more. Severe reactions have taken place to the point they have moved him back into intensive care once again.

His liver was damaged, the blood platelets were reduced, and it may have attacked his bone marrow as well. Presently he appears to be in a coma. He is not sedated and appears to be in no pain but he does not seem to respond to outside stimuli.

His wife, Shirley and their sons, thank you for your prayers on his behalf.

David L. Antion

Bleak news on Ted Armstrong: This latest bulletin from ICG's Chris Cumming.

Greetings to everyone, 

I just received a report from Mark Armstrong via minister, Tom Griffith. Mr. Armstrong's condition has gotten much worse. Doctors informed the family that there is a staf [sic] infection in the blood and some other complications. Headquarters is asking that on this day of fasting, we pray even harder for God to intervene. 
Please do this now, if you are able. 

Love to all, 
Chris Cumming at the Web Site Office

The Journal website is A PDF version of the front and back pages is available.

COG Women's ezine: The latest issue of The Journal gives prominence to Women in Christ, an ezine produced by Nancy Vandemark and Scarlett Stough. There is also an interesting article on the influence ex-WCG members are having among Messianic Jewish churches.

The Journal also mentions that a couple of sites provide a holy day calendar calculator. With it you can determine the exact day any COG holy day falls on from 3761 BC (which is apparently the Hebrew year of creation) till doomsday, so to speak. 

Journal ads: Find answers to life's most perplexing questions in the advertising section of the latest Journal. "Looking for Eugene Walter's thesis on music?" Nope. "Do you want to go to the Place of Safety?" Nope. "Why Abib?" Because otherwise the baby slops the mushy peas all down her front. 

Jan Aaron young writes "I'm not certifiably mad." Thanks, but can we get a second opinion? Arlen Berkey brings us Part III of his gripping exposition "Wake Up! The Bridegroom Cometh!" Don Billingsley warns: "Brethren, the time is almost upon us!" and Truth Publications of Ypsilanti, MI advises: "Until You Come Out of Satan's Corporate Box - The Synagogue of Satan - he will Jerk you Around Like a Puppet and a Yo-Yo on his String, and Dance you Straight Into the Lake of Fire Along With him!!!" You have been warned! 


"To rely on any foods, supplements, medicines, drugs, knives, or even on fasting for healing (and none of these can, ever have, or ever will heal!) is to break the commandment against idolatry!"  


Good News Magazine, June 1964


Best doctor on call: Steve's letter reminded me of a sermonette given in our local church years ago by a die-hard deacon.  He mentioned that he didn't need medical insurance for his family as he already had the best doctor on call--God.  I wonder if the management of GTA's organization felt the need to provide medical insurance for it's employees.  I also am curious how they can justify him receiving such extensive care in light of their beliefs. 

Horribly offensive: No doubt Steve's letter contains much truth, but I don't think it's appropriate at this point, with GTA so close to death. To write "Is Ted taking a turn for the worse? Maybe God is finally allowing him to get what he deserves" is horribly offensive; I very much hope no one in his family reads it. 

Whatever his faults, Garner Ted Armstrong always had people willing to choose to follow him, within WCG, out of WCG to CGI, and then into ICG. I never met him, but in the 1960s I heard him on Radio Luxembourg, and found him a compelling preacher. I have a tape of a sermon from a couple of years ago, and he was still pretty powerful; though I never did, I can fully understand why people follow him. When I was researching a book and wrote to him in 1996, he took the trouble to reply personally, with warmth and some self-deprecating humor. Over the last few years I've spoken to a number of senior ministers in several offshoot Churches, who freely acknowledged Ted's problems, but still had a genuine fondness for him, many years after working with him. One told me, "Ted is a great man, and great men tend to have great sins." Okay, so that's hardly a ringing endorsement for a man of God, but it accepts his human weakness. 

I don't know how God measures our sins, or whether he rates Ted Armstrong's worse than mine, or Steve's; somehow I doubt it. But I do know I'm not going to cast the first stone. 

David V. Barrett

Faking it? I don't know if I believe that Garner Ted is really sick. Taking into account the tendency of Church of God ministers to play on their members' guilt to extract money from them, what if it's a trick? He may be faking it sick so he can get the sympathy of the few suckers that still send him their life savings. The more they feel sorry for him the more they'll send him. Will he have an "amazing" recovery and convince his followers that he was healed by God to continue his work as Gods one and only real legitimate end time apostle? He might even go so far to say that he died and God brought him back to life. His dad did the same thing when he had that so-called congestive heart failure in 1977. I wouldn't put any stunt past an Armstrong.


Jumped up ministers: I keep reading about people who suffered so much in WCG. I have followed HWA from '60 to the present but I never turned my life over to any jumped up minister. The one single experience I had with one of these authoritarian ministers caused me to investigate and find out just what had happened to [WCG] and boy did I find out. Why is it I was able to get along fine on my own, learned everything I needed to and never turn myself over to some man to ride herd on my life? 

It is clear why so many suffered a failure of faith when HWA died, they were weak to begin with because they gave these men power over their lives. Had they stood up from the beginning, the problems may never have developed at all and we would still have a healthy strong [WCG]. Complaining now is only admitting to a weakness of faith and that people were content to be told what to do rather than find out for themselves. In other words, weak. God gives us the information in the bible to become strong on our own, what happened?


MD: There was never a "healthy, strong" WCG, just the illusion. And bowing and scraping to those "jumped up" ministers wasn't optional, it was a prerequisite to baptism, and "proof" of a person's yieldedness to "the government of God." None of which was apparent to those admirers who didn't commit themselves fully as members.

14 September. GTA - FAST CALLED.

Garner Ted's Last Days? The following announcement was received today from two sources

Greetings to all the church on behalf of the Area Coordinators of the Intercontinental Church of God, 

Following many phone calls, the updates from Mark Armstrong, and the worsening condition of Mr. Armstrong, we all collectively felt it imperative to send this urgent message and request.

By now you have probably read the update on the condition of Mr. Armstrong. As Mark stated in his e-mail to the church, 'His heart is beating too fast and he is in grave danger.'. We also received another e-mail late tonight from Tom Griffith stating, 'I just finished a long phone conversation with Mark (Armstrong) and received a very grave picture of Mr. Armstrong's condition in ICU. The doctor has told them that he may not pull through this and that they should 'prepare the family for the worst.'

We know all of you have been fervent in prayer during these past weeks, and many have privately fasted for Mr. Armstrong's condition. But the time has come that it is needed to call for a collective day of prayer and fasting. Time is of the utmost importance. We are asking that you read this information to your congregations tomorrow and ask if it be at all possible to begin the fast on Sunset at the close of the Sabbath for a 24 hour period. (Sat. Sept. 13, 2003) We also know and understand that this may not be possible in everyone's situation. Particularly those with their own health problems, or individuals who may be facing situations that may prohibit a fast. If you are not able to fast at this time we are simply asking that each person go to God as fervently and sincerely as possible, so that we as one voice, as His spiritual organism be heard. And that God will grant our petition for his healing.

The scriptures are filled with numerous examples of God's intervention on behalf of His people. There is no reason to believe that He will not intervene now. James 5:15 states, "And the prayer of faith will save the sick". One last thing; before you leave to go to your respective homes this Sabbath, please come together and close out the day in a prayer  that God would grant His healing and mercy upon Mr. Armstrong, Mrs. Armstrong, his family and this church, and that He honor our fast and grant a quick recovery.

Many thanks in advance on behalf of the church for all you do each and every week. We know that Mark will keep us posted as we go forward.


No tears for Ted: Is Ted taking a turn for the worse? Maybe God is finally allowing him to get what he deserves. All the "minister" hirelings will someday get what they too deserve. Throughout the years, they put many people through a living hell! They "disfellowshipped" and marked many without just cause. They ruined people's marriages. Many died because of their silly "healing doctrine". They chased decent people away. They showed favoritism. They catered to those who gave large sums of money and kissed their asses. They tried to control everything we said, did, or thought. They oppressed the poor, while they became rich and increased with goods. They put the widows on meager incomes, if any at all. I know of one widow who was given $8.00 a day for the feast of tabernacles and stayed in a shack motel, while the "ministers" lived it up, staying at their EXCLUSIVE extravagant accommodations, in which they reserved long before the rest of us could even call to make reservations.

(This brings me to an interesting sidenote: I remember my wife calling a place in Corpus Christi and the proprietor of the establishment told her that it was unfair what our "ministry" was doing...getting the finest places for themselves. She reserved one of the units for my wife. When the "ministry" found out about it, the shit hit the fan! Needless to say, we didn't get to stay there. Of course, when the proprietor heard about it, she never again rented out those particular condos to the "church". I never saw them on the list again.)

Do I relish in the fact that Ted is near death? Not necessarily. I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, the hypocrites, or the charlatans, but if that is the only way to get rid of the deception, corruption, and greed, then so be it! If Ted doesn't die now, he will eventually die, and will have to stand before his Maker, just like we all will. I'm sure that many "ministers" have themselves convinced that what they are doing, and have done through the years, has been justified in their own eyes. "There is a way that seems right unto a man...", and, "The heart is deceitful above all things..."


13 September. GTA BACK IN INTENSIVE CARE.  Mail: Ted


"Now, this is kinda sober, but I probably will never pass this way again."


Personal Appearance Campaign, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003

Garner Ted suffers another setback: The following was forwarded from the CEM forum.

Mr. Armstrong is back in intensive care... apparently a reaction to an antibiotic had stopped liver function and left blood platelets dangerously low. Liver function has improved along with platelet count, but his condition is apparently very serious.

(Info from an e-mail forwarded from Mark Armstrong)

As a historical note, this is not the first time GTA has battled with pneumonia. This excerpt comes from an early Ambassador Report article by Margaret Zola.

Early in July 1932, Ted became seriously ill with pneumonia, and Herbert rushed home to anoint the child. Not only did Ted have pneumonia but "...he had been, to that time [he was all of 2 years and 5 months], dumb-unable to talk... He would point to whatever he wanted... grunting 'Ugh! Ugh!'" (Ibid., p. 449). Sometime between the age of six months and a year, Ted had fallen out of his crib and had landed on his head. Herbert and Loma had attributed his inability to speak to this fall. When Herbert anointed Ted, he not only asked God to heal his son's pneumonia, but also asked God to restore Ted's power of speech. Supposedly Ted recovered immediately and began to say a few words by the next day. Again Herbert claimed a great miracle and commented about it in his autobiography. "Words have been pouring like a torrent out of his mouth ever since..."


Servile lackeys: A most interesting quote: "Our family has prayed that God would guide the doctors to do the right things to assist his recovery...". When I became a part of the WCG in the mid 1960's such a thought would have been anathema. I doubt that there are any of us from that era of the WCG who cannot name many people who died horrible deaths because the ministry forbade medical help. When I think of the many fine people I have known who died in agony because this man and his servile lackeys convinced them that "there is not a cure in a train load of medicines" I can't help being outraged by this statement. So many people suffered and died that could have been helped. It seems such a miscarriage of all that is fair and just that one who convinced so many that God would heal them is now hoping the doctors "will do the right things." I strongly suspect that whatever the doctors do will be based solely on their expertise instead of the "strong hand from somewhere" he so glibly spoke of back then.


Life was hell: First of all, I want to say how much I enjoy your website... I am a former WCG member for over 20 years from 1965 through 1985.  And I can confirm life was hell in the WCG.

The main purpose of sending this email is to ask about Garner Ted and his health crises.  It seems that his son is keeping the cause of GTA’s illness a secret and only has revealed some of the symptoms of his condition.  Does anyone know what the real story is behind his hospitalization?  As usual, WCG and other splinter groups are only providing us with part of the truth. 

Jack L. Owens

Info welcome: Thanks for your web site, it's nice to be able to find info on past and present [WCG] and the Armstrongs.

11 September. TED TAKES TURN FOR WORSE.  Mail: Bluegrass, Be Like Gerry! not a compliment, courage or arrogance?

GTA health reversal: This latest update from Mark Armstrong was received via an anonymous source.

Today is Tues. Sept. 9, and I think it is necessary that I send an update now about my Dad's situation. 

He is still in the hospital, and though we have seen positive signs in regard to the clearing of his lungs and a gradual regaining of strength, I feel that I must now communicate with you again. 

His strength is not returning as rapidly as we hoped it would in the days following his release from intensive care.  He has a very painful sore throat, and though his voice returned to near normal for a few days, he is speaking very quietly and only when necessary because of that. The biggest concern now is that the progression toward a return of his strength seems to have slowed.  He is very weak, and tests are being conducted to try to determine why his progress has slowed.  Our family has prayed that God would guide the doctors to do only the right things to assist his recovery, but realize that ultimately only God can truly provide the help and healing he needs. 

I'm very disappointed that we have not seen the rapid progress toward leaving the hospital and returning home that I confidently predicted only last Friday.  I believe that the lack of progress demands this interim update both to inform all of you who love and need him, and to ask for your fervent prayers on his behalf.  He remains stable, alert and cogent.  I'm spending all night every night at his side to attend to his needs, and my mom is with him now and all day every day.  He is incredibly precious to us as I know he is to all of you, and I ask that all of you who love him pray that God will relieve his pains and give him the healing he needs.

I know I've not shared every detail or satisfied every speculation.  I can only report what I know for sure, and at the same time respect my parents' wishes for a certain degree of privacy.  The great Creator God knows our needs, and demands our faith.  That is how we intend to proceed. Thank you all again for your love and concern.  I will do everything within my power to care for and encourage him as will my mom. We greatly appreciate the prayers that are going up, and believe in their power. 

Our most sincere thanks to all of you,

Mark Armstrong

Quotable: "When I grew up in the church you were not permitted to vote. Now it seems you must be a registered Republican." (From comments about CEM posted on WCG Alumni Board)


How to build a CD collection: Reading your mailbag about Bluegrass music kinda makes me miss those sermons.

When I was attending WCG back in the 70's and 80's I always secretly appreciated the anti-rock music sermons. I thought it was all hog-wash. About every three to five years some ignoramicus bozocus in authoritis would give a sermon on rock music, backward masking, hidden messages, etc., and just like Lemmings, all the recent converts would throw out their albums. Early in my WCG experience I picked up on this habit, and after a music bashing sermon, contacted those with large album collections, and offered to take their Satanic music. In most cases they just gave them to me for free. Amazing.

Bluegrass Ambassadors: The set of tapes the "Young Ambassadors" produced, included some Bluegrass. One song even had the good ole 5 string banjo. I think that was before Mr Armstrong's death, so he may have lightened up some. 

Prophets for profits: Reading the new AW post, we think there's a bigger market out there for phonies than we thought! Here's the ad we could run:

"Yes, you, too, can be like Gerry! Just pick out the Bible quotes that refer to YOU! Become your own prophet or prophetess! Influence MILLIONS!!! Gain respect AND control many! Live off the already impoverished elderly! Brainwash the youth! Make & ruin marriages! Learn self-righteousness from the experts! Become your OWN GOD!... and the god of others!" 


Step outside the box: I am glad that I have twice allowed Jared Olar to experience amusement at my observations and recommendations. Being amused as opposed to be being challenged, informed or even irked may be a sign of a spiritual smugness typical of those who are no longer able to step outside the box and see the truth they see may not be all the truth there is. I suspect an hour of Jared's endeavoring to convince those I recommended of their not being capable of offering "much if anything of value" would not be an amusing experience for him. 

Jared sounds a bit like the Apostle Paul (and this is not a compliment) who was also evidently amused by those who might inform him... "As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me.. those men added nothing to my message." (Gal. 2:6) "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars..." (:9). By the time one finds no one who can add anything to their perspective, or sarcastically names those capable in their field as "reputed" types... the box is closed and "beware the man who has only one book" (or vision) becomes good advice.

Dennis Diehl 

A fine distinction: You wrote that your impression of Jack Spong was of "a man of great courage and integrity." For another view of Spong, see  I live near where Spong worked as a pastor in the 1960's and know several people who knew him then. The view expressed on this website matches comments that I have heard about him. There is a fine line between courage and integrity on one hand and arrogance and egotism on the other. In fact, I believe that both sets of terms have been used to describe HWA.

Stephen Richards

10 September. GERRY THE MODEST PROPHET, GARNER TED STILL SIDELINED, FRED BOSWORTH'S INFLUENCE ON HERB.  Mail: Bluegrass gets up Herb's hooter, acronyms, views on Maccoby, Spong lambasted

Humble Gerry: Gerald Flurry is a humble man. Never one to blow his own "trumpet", so to speak. As we all know, "That Prophet" makes no grandiose personal claims...

Yeah, right! Check out the side panel, a clip from Royal Vision which was posted online by Robert Kuhne.

News late in Cumming: Ted Armstrong was still in hospital, last we heard, some 16 days after being admitted back on August 22. It took till August 29 for an "official announcement" to be made. Here's an abbreviated version of a letter sent out by Chris Cumming on September 8.

Greetings to all on the GTA Quick Alerts List, At present, Mr. Armstrong is in the hospital recovering from a case of pneumonia. He is just about to check out and resume his duties, which means we will be sending out these e-mail alerts once again. Following are the last two official announcements regarding his stay in the hospital.  Mr. Armstrong entered the hospital on the 22nd of August with a bad case of pneumonia. Following are official announcements that went out from Tyler: 

29 August: 
Greetings from Headquarters in Tyler, Texas, 
Thank you all for the outpouring of love, support and concern so many of you have expressed for my Dad and our family. I want to let you all know that he has made very substantial improvement. It appears the condition that put him in the hospital has cleared up almost entirely, and we feel very encouraged. His color is great, all his vital signs are perfect and we're hoping that he'll be back home soon. As many of you may know, these types of illnesses require a period of rest and recuperation and he is progressing satisfactorily. We hope that you'll continue to pray for his full and complete recovery. 

[There follows a series of unrelated comments about how amazingly well things are going etc.]

Thanks again for all your prayers and support for my Dad. I'm confident he'll be giving you the update himself in the very near future.

With Respect and Many Thanks,

Mark Armstrong 

5 September: [Presumably "the very near future" of August 29]
Greetings again from HQ in Tyler,

My Dad has asked me to thank all of you for your concern and prayers. He has come a long way since last week's update. He is lucid and the lung ailment has cleared up entirely. His appetite is slowly returning and he is gaining strength by degrees. 

He expresses his heartfelt thanks for the way the other Ministers have rallied to fulfill the speaking engagements he missed, and for the continued dedication of all of you who enthusiastically support this work. He's still in the hospital at this writing. We hope he'll be home in a matter of days. 

You will undoubtedly be hearing from him personally by next week's update. My Family and I thank you for the love and support you've all shown, and for prayers that Dad's strength will continue to increase.


Mark Armstrong

Since Friday, he continues to improve and he is expect to get out of the hospital shortly. The next official update will be by his own hand. Let me know if you have further questions. Use my direct e-mail address:  
Chris Cumming, minister
Personal Correspondence

Not that we want to be uncharitable to Chris, but "Quick Alerts"? August 22 to September 8 redefines the meaning of "quick"!

Has the experience of having the Angel of Death come-a-knockin' on his door transformed the septuagenarian preacher into a kinder, gentler soul? Has Ted finally tired of recycling the same, tired old party tricks to tease tithes on television?  Is Mark Armstrong's role as spokesman indicative of his elevation as heir apparent? Has Mark ever been ordained by his father? Did Ted take the opportunity to have his "naked lady" tattoo removed while he was laid up? Tune in again next week for Days of Our Tithes.

Another Herbal source? Who wrote this?

It is very important for every student of prophecy, in fact, it is absolutely necessary for their understanding, to see the distinction the Bible makes between the Jews and the other Tribes of Israel. Until this distinction between the two Houses, Israel and Judah, as that distinction is taught in the Scriptures, is clearly understood, a great portion of the Bible will remain a closed book... Nothing can be more unscriptural than to call all Israelites "Jews;" it is as absurd as calling all Americans Californians.

Yes folks, it was Fred Bosworth!

Fred Bosworth?

Fred was an "evangelist" when Herb was still selling ads for "modern laundry" products, and a British Israelite as well. You can find his eerily Herb-like booklet "The Bible Distinction Between The House of  Israel and The House of Judah" (based on a radio transcript) at Could it be that the Great Plagiarist also "borrowed" from Fred?

The radio talk unfortunately carries no date, but he was holding major evangelistic campaigns as early as 1924, which is when the photograph above was taken in Ottawa. He is also described as "a pioneer preacher in radio ministry". 


Bluegrass Feast: Reading the [Painful Truth] article concerning Herbert's musical tastes reminded me of an incident at Big Sandy during the FOT.  I don't recall the year, but it was about 1980.   A number of feast goers had brought fiddles, guitars, banjos, and other acoustic instruments to play a little bluegrass while fellowshipping.  They arranged to make it available to all by having a jam session in the main meeting hall one night.  HWA was to speak the next day and arrived the day of the bluegrass jam.  The next day in his sermon he lambasted bluegrass music as if it were without any redeeming qualities.  I don't recall anymore bluegrass that year.  But it was really quite good.  As a lifelong fan of such luminaries as Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs, I was taken aback.  But I still listened to it anyway.  Not so with a church member who had heard about the evils of 1950's rock and roll in a local church sermon.  I heard him tell his wife, "I guess we won't be playing our Fats Domino records anymore".  One year at Big Sandy Garner Ted had Buck Owens there to perform.  At least he had some interest in country music as did at least a few ministers I recall.  But as for Herbert, he was able to disdain any music he did not approve of no matter how well it was done.


Acronymania: The "ACCM suggestions" has created a lot of fun for the readers of your page.  Why not expand it to the acronyms used for WCG and its many split groups?  For example:

WCG - Wacky Church of Greed;
PCG - Psychotic Cult of Gerald;
UCG - Up-yours Council of Grief (when questioned or confronted about changes in doctrine). 

I'm sure this would give weeks of entertainment.


Differing views on Maccoby: (1) You've got to hand it to Ron Brendel for having the chutzpah to direct us to a fundamentalist apologetics website in order to get "the other side of the story" about Paul the Mythmaker. That's like sending us to a vegan restaurant for "the other side" of the Atkins diet. How much credibility can you give these "apologists" who, having reached their conclusions in a mighty leap of faith, as an afterthought rummage around desperately in order to cover their tracks with whatever convenient "facts" they can find. For Ron's information - and anyone who may have taken the link he provided seriously - Maccoby is a legitimate scholar (despite whatever the "apologists" might want you to think). Check out the University of Leeds site for a list of his published works. 

For an academic review of Paul the Mythmaker try 

To read the first two chapters of Paul the Mythmaker online, go to  Then, rather than taking the apologists word for it, you can judge for yourself.

Reconstructing Christian origins from 2000 years out isn't an exact science, obviously, and I'm not saying Maccoby is 100% right in his thesis. But then again, I think we can safely say that the traditional position which treats the gospels as first-person eyewitness accounts is demonstrably wrong.

Ned Beckett

(2) In the latest AW, I noticed Dennis D's letter in the mailbag, which read in part, "I found answers to life long doubts in Hyam Maccoby's Paul, the Mythmaker, about just who Paul was." Just thought I'd provide readers a different point of view on that book.

I read it about eighteen months ago, and I would have to say it has the scholarly merit of the average high school freshman's book report. Maccoby makes wild claims and then provides absolutely no documentation to back them up. He interprets the NT in an almost Armstrongian way, accepting things that support his thesis and rejecting as inauthentic, later interpolations things which seem to discount his thesis.

"The Mythmaker" is, simply put, mythology.

Gary Scott

MD: In addition to the online chapters mentioned by Ned, a further excerpt can be found at Gary's letter also contained a link to the same article Ron cited. Paul the Mythmaker is currently out of print. No further correspondence on this matter please.

Michael, is that you? Is that Jim [Grable] a pseudonym for Michael Morrison? The rhetoric structure seems familiar. LOL. 

Ralph Ford

Jack Spong and Integrity: I continue to find amusement in Dennis Diehl's remarks and recommendations. He spoke highly of Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong's "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism," and went on to say, "I had about a year of personal correspondence with Bishop Spong and in the end, he told me I would not survive the ministry if I could see that the Bible is neither inerrant nor literally true in its presentation."

In my own experience Spong's writings have never offered much if anything of value, so I'm not at all surprised that Spong, who no longer believes in even the most elementary doctrines of Christianity, would hypocritically advise Mr. Diehl to be intellectually consistent and leave the WCG ministry while continuing to play at being a Christian bishop. Would that Spong would show the integrity that Mr. Diehl has shown.

As for Mr. Diehl's recommendation of the late Father Raymond Brown's books "Birth of the Messiah" and "Death of the Messiah," it's important to remember that Father Brown lived and died as a very proud Catholic. Were Father Brown still alive, he would vehemently object to his works being misused to justify the conclusions and opinions that Mr. Diehl advocates. But Father Brown's studies are quite advanced and erudite, and so are easily capable of misinterpretation or misapplication by the unlearned.

While considering the "liberal Protestant" viewpoints of certain of AW's correspondents (including the bizarre Darrel Conder, who apparently has opted for the worst of both worlds), I thought a quote I happened upon recently, from a letter of Flannery O'Connor to someone in religious anguish, was relevant and insightful:

"If what the Church teaches is not true, then the security and sense of purpose it gives you are of no value and you are right to reject it. One of the effects of liberal Protestantism has been gradually to turn religion into poetry and therapy, to make truth vaguer and vaguer and more and more relative, to banish intellectual distinctions, to depend on feeling instead of thought, and gradually to come to believe that God has no power, that he cannot communicate with us, cannot reveal himself to us, indeed has not done so, and that religion is our own sweet invention."

Jared Olar

MD: I had the chance to hear Jack Spong speak in person a few years ago while he was visiting New Zealand. I didn't agree with everything he said, but the impression I gained was of a man of great courage and integrity. 

I've also read Raymond Brown's Birth of the Messiah. Like many other Catholic theologians, Brown had to walk a fine line in presenting the fruits of his scholarship to a wider audience. The iron fist of Holy Mother Church still descends on any Catholic theologian who dares speak out too directly (witness Hans Kung and Michael Morwood!) But you'd have to be pretty dense not to realize the implications of what he was saying. And while Brown was certainly "erudite", he isn't beyond the grasp of any well read Christian. Dennis got the subtext of Birth of the Messiah quite correct.

And while AW welcomes intelligent correspondence from all quarters, Darrell Conder has never appeared in the Mailbag.

Refuting Conder: There appears is the current column this remark: "He said to this day no one from any of the CofG's has ever been able to refute Conder." Just because he isn't aware of a refutation doesn't mean it isn't. I have not read any, and I have heard only one that I recall, and that in a sermon by Vance Stinson which was then, and perhaps still is, found at  I think that Vance did a credible job given the limitations that a sermon presents. 

What readers should know is that the hypotheses which are attributed to Darrell (I have not read his works) are the image of teachings from the 1800's which were discredited by reputable scholars before Darrell, you or I were ever born. Much of the mythology synonymized with the Christ accounts has simply been shown to be modern invention. It's a bit like the current teaching that the Plantagenet king, Richard Coeur de Lion, was gay. Try finding that in any history book written prior to the 1940s.
I recommend, to any who want a wrench to stick into Darrell's works, that they look at works such as McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict.

The triple problems of trying to second guess the New Testament are that (1) we are almost 2000 years removed from its origins and evidence tends to disappear with time, (2) the guys that wrote it were willing to lose their lives over what they taught, and (3) they dared teach it in the places where the events are purported to have occurred soon enough after their occurrence that the accounts could easily have been challenged by the locals who knew better. 

MD: The "mythic Christ" stuff goes back at least as far as David Friedrich Strauss in the 1830s, but is still very much alive and well (though it naturally tends to be dismissed out of hand by most committed Christians). Perhaps the most accessible contemporary presentation is Earl Doherty's "The Jesus Puzzle" (both the book and the web site). 

Conder seems to have succeeded in doing what no other COG critic has ever managed, borrow from the most controversial critical scholarship, cross-pollinate it with selected COG distinctives, and then get the hybrid package taken seriously in Church of God circles. 

09 September. GERRY UH UM FLURRY,  ROY HOLLADAY'S DESERT ISLAND DISCS.  Mail: Bible contradictions, Maccoby the Mythmaker? Conder, ACCM

Flurrybabble: From Bob Thiel's site:

Robert Kuhne reports that PCG's Gerald Flurry publicly stated, "Now, as Mr. Davis mentioned to me, uh, we have, first we have the seven years and then we printed Mystery of the Ages. And now we have the six years of the crisis years, and uh, seven more years will take us to January the 16th, 2010. What do you suppose might happen then? I'll tell you this, it's a 19 year time cycle - January the 16th. I would think probably something pretty dramatic is going to occur. Tribulation gonna begin? Well, I certainly think, uh, it could. Something is gonna happen, and I don't think it's gonna be good for this, this uh, world, and certainly for Israel, it's not gonna be good. [Flurry sermon, The Mantle of Elijah part II, 3/8/03...]"

Robert Kuhne's website can be found at He is a former PCG member.

Black Sabbath: UCG president Roy Holladay's ministry goes a long way back. In 1983 the future leader of the Cincinnati-based church was still firmly saddled in the WCG, and happy to address the deep theological issue of exactly what kind of popular music was acceptable for church members. An article on The Painful Truth site provides details of his extraordinary performance.

Now, if I could only find that old Meat Loaf album... 


Inerrancy: If you believe that a person "knowingly or willfully has testified falsely as to any material fact", you are at liberty to disbelieve him entirely and to reject all of his testimony as false. This is peculiarly true with respect to the Scriptures, said to be in totality inspired and true: if some parts are proved false, the whole is discredited.

If we find that the "Word of God" tells the same story in two or more totally different and contradictory ways, or that one inspired writer is "moved by the Holy Ghost" to tell his tale one way, and another inspired writer is moved to tell it in another way, totally different and contradictory in the essence of the alleged facts of the same event, we are forced to know and confess that one or the other record at least is wanting in God's inspiration of truth and is inevitably false. This being so, and there being no possible way of determining which version is the false and which may not be, both must be rejected as equally false, or equally uninspired and incredible; and in either event, the theory of inerrant inspiration and of the revealed truth of the "Word of God" is irreparably destroyed.

Jim Grable

Maccoby book: For MD readers interested in reading more than one side of an issue, an opposing view of Hyam Maccoby's Paul, the Mythmaker can be found at the following link:

Ron Brendel

Conder: I was talking to someone that was named on Conder's web page today.  He said Conder's first book made such an impression on CofG members from the various churches that over 5,000 people left.  He said that is why so many different churches all disfellowshipped Darrell at the same time.  It was a control tactic by the churches to keep the members in line.  He said to this day no one from any of the CofG's has ever been able to refute Conder.

MD: Conder seems to promote a unique blend of critical scholarship and uncritical fundamentalism. How he manages to harmonize the two is a bit of a mystery.

ACCM suggestions: My contributions:

Artful Cash Culling Methods

Articulating Cult Control Methods

Acme Course in Cult Making

Academy of Corrupt Christian Mercenaries 

More may follow depending upon how bored I get.

Bill Hohmann 

07 September. CONDER RESURFACES, UNEQUALLY YOKED, PYRAMID PROOF.  Mail: ACCM, another AC survivor, Dennis Diehl's book recommendations, twisted teachings, Herb and Mick

Conder's return: If any name is calculated to stir up controversy among COG members, Darrell Conder's must come near the top of the list. From the nice people who support independent congregations and reject hierarchical government, to the hard-line Herbophiles who stoutly defend the total integrity of their dead Apostle against all comers, Darrell Conder hits a raw nerve. Separating from WCG a number of years back, he at first supported several derivative groups before striking out with a provocative book that got him disfellowshipped from not just one but several COG bodies simultaneously - no mean feat!

Now Conder seems to have gathered an interesting assortment of supporters to help promote a new website. The following individuals are listed:

Lawrence Anthony - a WCG member since 1951 and former AC employee who now serves as Conder's webmaster.

Richard Jackson - served at Pasadena HQ in telecommunications, as a financial assistant to the elder Tkach, and was ordained. Jackson was known for his musical contributions to the WCG.

Marie Russell - described as a researcher in religious psychology.

William Weakley - an editorial consultant to Conder with a cluster of degrees as well as a WCG background.

While Conder seems to have kept a low profile over the last several years as he further refined and developed his ideas, he now seems ready to rejoin the fray, and attempts to answer his critics, including Pam Dewey and Eric Snow.

It should be noted that Pam Dewey has produced a letter by Conder (to Fred Coulter, May 2000) that appears to be highly anti-Semitic in nature. In it Conder states: "Currently my main efforts are aimed at warning my fellow Americans about the deadly Zionist enemy dwelling in our midst... this is not because I have changed my mind about the problems of the New Testament, but because I see my past efforts as helping the "Jews" attain their goals, i.e., the destruction of our Western society." Conder rejects the charge of racism on his website, but it is hard to see how these comments could be interpreted any other way. 

The following comments were published in John Trechak's Ambassador Report (December 1997):

The latest controversy to hit many of the Armstrongite spinoffs, one that appears to have many Armstrongite ministers in a panic, concerns the controversial writings of Darrell W. Conder, a professional genealogist who had once been a personal assistant to Pastor General Joseph Tkach Sr. About two years ago, Conder published a book titled Mystery Babylon The Mother of Harlots in which he put forward the idea that many of the customs of the Catholic Church and Christianity in general derive from ancient customs of the pagan mystery religions. Like others who have written on the subject, Conder's views were somewhat similar to those found in The Two Babylons by Hislop. As such, Conder's views were not acceptable in the new WCG and it was about the time that his book appeared that he and WCG parted company. Nevertheless, those views were very much acceptable in the Armstrongite offshoots. And so, two years ago, Conder's first big book got good reviews in the pulpits of UCG, GCG, and other Armstrongite churches and Conder developed something of a network of enthusiastic readers.

The new Conder website notes "that neither Darrell Conder, nor the staff of necessarily agree with the entire contents of [Mystery Babylon]. We have all grown in knowledge and understanding since the initial release of MBII back in 1997..."

A recently revised statement of his position can be found in the article How Christianity Got Its New Testament.

After the publication of his first book, however, Conder's historical probings continued and his views began to go decidedly beyond those of Hislop and company. Those new views made it into print in his second book, Mystery Babylon. In it Conder not only paints the Roman Catholic Church as sinister beyond anything even Hislop or HWA ever imagined, but Conder now also puts forth the thesis that all of Christianity is a hoax perpetrated by the early Catholic fathers in a Satanic attempt to destroy all Israel through Baal worship. While believing in Anglo Israelism and retaining the Old Testament, Conder now maintains that the New Testament is unreliable. He even rejects the Christian Messiah and claims Jesus is merely a mythic literary creation of the early church fathers.

Of course, such ideas are not entirely new. HWA was referring to such debates when he talked about the "higher critics" of nineteenth century German rationalism. What is shocking, however, is that such issues were not debated earlier in the spiritual lives of so many who have devoted so much of their time, energy, money, and spirit to the Armstrongite churches. As it turns out, Conder's ideas are having a dramatic impact on many in the Armstrongite groups. So much so that some Armstrongite ministers, while usually sidestepping any mention of Conder's name, are finding themselves increasingly having to do battle with Conder's ideas.

UCG - razor wire on the barricades: This statement appears in the latest United News.

It is United’s policy that a minister of UCG should not be performing marriages between a believer and an unbeliever. If a minister believes he has an exception (for example, a young person who has grown up in the Church, but is not yet baptized), he is to discuss the situation with his regional pastor for advice before he officiates at such a wedding. Exceptions are rare, but they do come up. This policy also prevents an individual from "shopping around"...

A doctrinal paper on this subject clearly spells out what is intended: "member (believer) ... non-member (unbeliever)".

Oddball book remembered: Even the most ardent Armstrongites have conveniently forgotten that Herb once gave credence to the speculations of "pyramidology", a particularly stupid variety of British-Israelism. So patently ridiculous, in fact, that even Herb eventually cooled on the idea, reportedly after he and Loma took a tithe-funded trip to Egypt to see the monuments in person.

One of the classic pyramidology texts, Great Pyramid - Proof of God by George Riffert, was once regarded as something of a companion volume to J. H. Allen's Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright (both were produced by Destiny Publishers). First published in 1932, there's little doubt that it helped fire HWA's early interest in the subject. You'll find a brief review available at which includes this delightful excerpt. 


The Magna Charta of England provides that wheat shall be sold according to a measure called the "London Quarter." This in turn is just a fourth of what is known as the Anglo-Saxon "Chaldron." Now one of the amazing things about the "COFFER" or lidless stone chest in the King's Chamber is that it holds EXACTLY ONE CHALDRON or 4 LONDON QUARTERS of wheat, and that the COFFER, CHALDRON AND ARK OF THE COVENANT HAVE ALL THE SAME CUBIC CAPACITY. It would seem that this evidence alone would establish, beyond question, the identity of the British as Israel.

So there you have it! No wonder Herb was impressed - who could possibly argue with logic like that!


ACCM again: This one came to me this morning. Armstrong's Cold Corpse Missed
Randy Karnes

Happy survivor: I've only recently become active in responding to people who have been affiliated with the WCG (and their self -professed eras and splinter groups) recently.

I was eight when my parents joined the "church" and fought my way through life straddling normal deism and full committal to HWA... I finally succumbed to "Apostle worship" and attended Ambassador College from 1983-1987 witnessing the full transition of the Church during this period, while taking advantage of the money that students could abuse while living well in Pasadena if they proved to be good servants.

I was also in attendance learning from such "learned" men (I speak as a fool) as Rod Meredith, Dick Ames, Dick Paige, Dean Blackwell, Ray (of little light) McNair... and so on and so on.

After leaving in 1995 the auspices of a Christ-led organization whose leader shot himself in the foot by releasing the sheep from false doctrines of the past fifty years, my level of learning increased "ten-fold". Well, at least doubled. I learned the true meaning of the cliché... "You burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice? Shame on me."

I have many friends whom I've lost contact with because of time and belief systems that really needed to change. I continue to be amazed by people who hold to the very idea that HWA, GTA, or anyone affiliated with this sad organization possess any kind of credibility. These people caused suicides, marital couplings that were doomed to end in divorce, confusion for thousands of human beings.

Let's just face it everyone. The organization isn't valid for any type of discussion. It needs to be destroyed... obliterated... eliminated. If anyone of us needs spiritual truth then go out and find it. To allow another human being to lead one to some sort of understanding of God or the universe is all fine and good, but let's not kid ourselves, there should be some sort of positive benefit. That never happened in any organization that ever was or came out of anything that Herbert W. Armstrong ever "plagiaristically" created. I say this because the man never had an original thought in his brain. He just knew how to take workable ideas that he discovered from other charlatans, and he made them his own.

I am very pleased to have benefited from my time with the WCG and Ambassador College as I was able to travel to the Middle East, to Fiji, to Europe, and discover what the world is about and how people live. I was able to do that because not everything that ever spewed out of the old man was gold, and I knew it at that time. I made friends, discovered the planet, and being somewhat intelligent held back from being completely overcome by this chameleon conman. The only reason I followed this man was because of my extreme loyalty to my family. If I would have left this church I would have been shunned by family. I decided to go find out for myself what was going on at Headquarters, and my discoveries were not of a positive nature.

At this time, I am a writer and artist in my own right, and a proponent of self expression instead of wasting time trying to chase after a God who likely only wants us to live our lives in a manner that makes us happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.

I have only read one of your recent issues, but will read more and comment if I can help any of the "lost sheep" that still seem to need to chase after a human Shepherd.

A happy survivor,
Rand Zacharias

Apologetics - the lowest form of theology: In 1992 I read John Shelby Spong's Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and the enlightenment I needed began. I had about a year of personal correspondence with Bishop Spong and in the end, he told me I would not survive the ministry if I could see that the Bible is neither inerrant nor literally true in it's presentation. The more the WCG was determined to reinvent the wheel of evangelical Christianity, from where I had already come, the more I was determined to find out once and for all why RCM could not answer the contradictions brought to his attention in our "Harmony" of the Gospels class, or others in Epistles of Paul classes. 

Every doubt I ever had as a sincere "bible reader" came to the fore. There is precious little harmony in the gospels is why! I was not trained to think critically and neither are Fundamentalist or Evangelical types -ministers or members. I was never impressed with Christian apologetics but the term fits the problem well. Many contradictions in scripture require an apologetic tone to account for it without admitting it is a genuine contradiction. Bishop Spong set me on the trail of discovering why the Birth Stories of Jesus don't match and how "Matthew" reached back into the OT to find meaning in Jesus but that his "and thus it was fulfilled..." references were very bad readings of the Greek, not Hebrew scriptures. Matthew takes great license and violates "the Bible can never mean what it never meant" every time he attempts to link Jesus to the OT. The same inconsistencies and contradictions plague the resurrection accounts and contrary to literalist thought, those credited with writing the gospels are not those who actually wrote the "gospels." I recommend Raymond Brown's Birth of the Messiah and Death of the Messiah boxed sets, that this renown Catholic scholar produced... 

When you know where and how to look, the editing out of embarrassing and contradictory accounts is obvious as well as the politics of the times. While the Gospel of Mark has no ending, the Gospel of John has two. Find out a possible why and one's eyes open. 

I found answers to life long doubts in Hyam Maccoby's Paul, the Mythmaker, about just who Paul was. I never understood why he could rarely, if ever quote Jesus, his life, birth, death, miracles, teachings, miracles and example when it would have been perfect in his writings to do so. Paul gets to write most of the NT theology as if he knew him personally. He did not. All of Paul's knowledge of Jesus was in VISION! He never knew Jesus in the flesh. And why did Jesus train disciples who never wrote much and disappeared quickly into history? And why did Jesus not write anything himself? There are answers to these questions...

I have always loved the study of theology. I should of done a lot of things differently in my early life, but things are as they are. I accept the agony and ecstasy of this path I have chosen, but I have two suggestions if one is really wanting to understand the bible. Read Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism by John Spong and Hyam Maccoby's Paul the Mythmaker to simply awaken your critical thinker. I also recommend you stay home from church and save 10%...

Dennis Diehl 

WCG scars: There was just enough truth in HWA's WCG to allow the hook to be regarded as loving chastisement from God. However, it doesn't take much time to find out that what truth he did teach was taken from other groups. The 18 Truths Restored should be called the 18 Truths Stolen. All 18 can be traced back to groups and individuals such as: COG (7th Day), Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witness, Mormons, G. G. Rupert and J. H. Allen. Even Bob Thiel has watered down the idea that they were revealed directly to HWA. It takes a great deal of study and faith in God to weed out all the twisted teachings of HWA and hold on to God's Truth, without totally rejecting actual Truth or even God Himself. The current WCG has been unable to do so. To correct the errors of HWA, they have exposed his twisted teachings, but have rejected actual Truth and retained the greed and callousness of their predecessor. In yesterday's Mailbag, Dave stated that the current WCG had taught that tithing was no longer necessary. Don't forget that not long after Joe, Sr. taught this, he found new evidence to bring back the doctrine of tithing after income dropped drastically. As with most of the COGs coming from HWA, money has much to do with their teachings and their need to control their members. Wounds are still be inflicted by WCG and the splits, but keep in mind that these scars are from men not God.


Herb filtered through Mick Jagger:  Every time the subject of WCG childrearing comes up, I can't help but weigh in on the subject. Of all the lingering influences the WCG experience has stamped into our personalities, the childrearing has produced the most profound and lasting effects. What I am about to describe is probably typical for certain personality types, but not for most of those whose parents were rigid followers of HWA. These are my personal reactions, not necessarily typical of the entire cross-section of people who have come to be known as "second generation Christians". Given the facts that society around us has vastly changed over the past 50 years, and the philosophies of the splinter groups have failed to change, I shudder to think of the even more extreme damage yet being done to the lives of countless young people, children who through no choice of their own have been caught in the snares of an extremely evil religious cult. Let's face it, these kids are currently helpless, and totally at the mercy of the demagogues whom their parents are emulating.

One effect which lingered well into adulthood was very intense recurring nightmares. Hypnotherapy finally helped eliminate these. They were all the same, basically. Suddenly, I was transported back to a state of helplessness at the hands of my parents, subject to their particular concept of justice, in which logic and intelligence had no part. Frequently, the dream would end with my shouting epithets at them, and I would wake up in a cold sweat, breathless. 

Some of the effects are humorous. Because Tabasco sauce was used as a disciplinary measure, I acquired a love for spicy foods. Pepperoncinis, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, you name it, and I love it! I also learned to love and look forward to pain. We laugh about Spanky, but one of my personal aberrations has been the enjoyment of a good spanking occasionally. My wives and girlfriends were happy to oblige my requests, and some became very adept in the handling of a belt. Sparring at Karate class was also very enjoyable, because an unblocked kick or punch would often provide days of enjoyable pain.

Career wise, however, it was always a severe challenge to rise above the attitudes promulgated by WCG regarding authority figures. My reactions varied. Sometimes, I delighted in sabotaging and humiliating extreme authoritarians, either secretly or with very public displays (just because I now could!). My sales career has enabled me to build my own little world, and I have constantly shunned and eliminated authoritarian type business owners and managers. My carefully built territory consists only of nice specimens of humanity, the type of people one would be willing to lie down in the middle of the street and die for if necessary. To this day, I do not respond well to authoritarians. In fact, many are simply not accustomed to anyone standing up to them, and are visibly disturbed as I righteously get into their faces and shake up their entire world. Over the years, I've learned to limit this type of behavior, not out of any new found love for the authoritarians, but because it is perceived as being immature and has sometimes been self-destructive.

Yet another vestige has been a thirty year adolescence. Deprived of certain activities in youth, I've spent the past thirty years catching up on those things missed. It would be difficult to imagine my grandfather when he was my age, which he was when I was in high school, undergoing a severe weight training work out with loud rock n roll blasting from the stereo, occasionally plugging in his Stratocaster to jam along with the music. I also can't imagine him later going out to the garage to fire up his Harley for a brief blast about town. This is not male menopause, I've been doing these things all my life! And it might be due to my filtering the influence of Herbert W. Armstrong through the influences of Mick Jagger!

Even in WCG expatriate circles, it is difficult to explain my behavioral reactions, although this dissertation is certainly not a complaint, as life has been fun. But, it is incomprehensible to me that some of my peers, from the same background, with the same level of intelligence, athletic ability, and interests, somehow embraced the WCG system, and transformed themselves into abhorrent authoritarians themselves, carrying an oppressive philosophy to the next generations. Back then, these were the docile ones who allowed themselves to be subverted by WCG childrearing, and their only power comes not from deep within, but from the religious system which backs them up. Their weakness has become their strength. Take away their ability to channel authority (a Linus blanket if there ever was one), and there is nothing of substance left!

Biker Bob

05 SeptemberMUDDYING THE INSPIRATIONAL WATERS, LEGACY INSTITUTE. Mail: Here comes the paddle, Dave's 3 points, Laodiceans in Philadelphian drag, returning pleasantries

Kroll on Inspiration: Longtime WCG writer Paul Kroll (well known to some MD readers in his obfuscating role as "personal correspondent" for the sect) has produced a thoughtful article on the inspiration of the Bible, newly uploaded to the WCG site. You'll find prominent mention of Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong, The Jesus Seminar, and Marcus Borg (author of The God We Never Knew and Meeting Jesus for the First Time). While Kroll appears to be doing a typical smoothie in evangelical apologetics, glibly dismissing the very real issues raised by scholars, he does also introduce some concepts that might be new, and perhaps helpful, to those steeped in the kind of hyper-literalism that WCG once championed.

In a second article Kroll trots out a standard rebuttal to the scholarship of The Jesus Seminar. You get the feeling, though, that Paul didn't bother to dig very deeply. Here he is far less convincing, resorting to some pretty dubious arguments.

Anyone wishing to do their own thinking on the issues raised in these articles could find Stephen J. Patterson's The God of Jesus (Trinity, 1998) a worthwhile starting point. Paul Kroll could learn a lot!

Armstrong's Asian Legacy: One of the lesser known COG entities is the US based Legacy Institute, an organization led by Leon Sexton ("elder and long-time Thailand expert"). Legacy specializes in spreading the COG gospel in parts of Asia. An indication of what that entails can be found in the July 27 supporter letter. Legacy states that it "is not a church, nor is it affiliated with any human church organization". Huh? Are there any non-human church organizations out there? 


Tina's suggestion for ACCM: Advanced Courses in Cult Manipulation 

Spanking avoids real issues: In response to Steve Dalton's question, on why parents in WCG and Company spank their children, I think he gives too much credit to the spankers. Spanking in these groups is punishment for a child whose behavior makes the parent (and in turn the "group") look bad. So, instead of correcting and/or addressing what is behind the behavior, parents just punish, i.e. spank. The same thing happens to the adults.  Let them step out of line and dare to question a doctrine, a leadership decision, or the way song service is to be conducted, then they, too, will be punished, i.e. corrected in front of the group, shunned or any other wonderful ways those in power find to "spank" the offenders. The real issue is never addressed, because one of the main objective of WCG and its splinters is APPEARANCE. So, if you decide to make them look bad, watch out here comes the paddle! 


Dave weighs in: (1) ... a guy named Don [wrote]: "Mr. Armstrong was the end time Elijah! He restored ALL things. He turned the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers." 

Amazing. Last time I checked, HWA kicked his own son out, and they never spoke again. Must of slipped Don's mind. Furthermore, Jesus already told us that the prophecy which Don so generously applies to HWA was one which applies to John the Baptist. But then again, why let Jesus' opinion get in the way, when we can have our own?

The truth is, HWA was an egomaniac who used a religion of his own invention, and the sheer force of his mean-spirited personality, to get rich at both the financial and spiritual expense of others. He wasn't the first person to claim that HE was God's special messenger. And he won't be the last. One of these days, people will wake up to the fact that there has only ever been ONE special messenger. But then again, people crucified Him, because they didn't like the message. 

(2) Garner Ted Armstrong is now heading up his third church, having been ousted from the previous two for the same problem: Immorality. Maybe he'll live long enough to be a three time loser. Maybe not. Yet there are those who continue to follow him around. I have all the sympathy in the world for people who were deceived by the Armstrongs. But anyone who is still following Garner Ted? Sorry, at some point stupidity is without excuse. How loud does God have to yell before you start listening?

(3) I'm not a huge fan of the current WCG hierarchy, but I will give them this: They destroyed everything HWA built -- at least got most of it to splinter elsewhere and fight each other. They did it mostly by telling people they didn't have to tithe, and telling the Truth about most of HWA's false teachings. Now if they would just go all the way and fess up about a bunch of other stuff.


Philadelphians? Bob Thiel places considerable emphasis on the LCG being of the Philadelphia era while arguing that other COGs are Laodicean primarily because they reject the hierarchical fuhrer principle in the church (see his article What Is a Philadelphian? for his entire argument). I find, however, that one of the most compelling biblical signs differentiating between those who might be of the Philadelphian and the Laodicean eras to be what they say about themselves. Those that constantly pat themselves on the back and state that they are spiritually rich, like the LCG often does, sound remarkably like what Christ inspired to be written, ironically, not about the Philadelphian era but rather about the Laodicean era in Rev 3:17 "You say I am rich; I have acquired wealth [HWA?] and do not need a thing. But you [LCG?] do not realize that you are wretched and pitiful, poor, blind and naked."


The Wheatley Epistle: (1) Judging by the tone of Don Wheatley's letter I would have to conclude this: If this is an example of the kind of people who will inhabit the kingdom of God, I hope I go to hell.

Bill Hohmann

(2) So Donald Raymond Wheatley has returned. And he has discovered your site. Poor you! ... four or five years ago I had a site I called "Re-examining Herbert W. Armstrong" (I discontinued the web site in 1999). Wheatley sent me some letters that were real beauties... He seems to have a fixation on second generation WCGers...


(3) Donald Raymond Wheatley has a long and rich history.  He used to post to the Ekklesia list... and it appears he hasn't much changed.

On the bright side, at least he knows how to spell.


(4) Please post this... none of [Don Wheatley's] "suggestions" were couched as suggestions, but as orders.  He tried to be careful, but I think there's an implied threat here.  

John B

MD: we are in receipt of a further communication from Mr. Wheatley, this one a little less strident in tone. However no further material from this gentleman will be posted on AW.

03 September. ICG'S STRANGE SILENCE.  Mail: An Armstrongite writes, cruel chastisement

ACCM - the possibilities are endless: More reader suggestions for the ACCM acronym.

Ambassador Campus Comedy Magic 

Ambassador College for Confused Minds

Amazing Collection of Controlled Minions

Art, Culture, Cash, oh - and Ministry

Ted is not amused: Word is out that those at the top in the GTA sect (Intercontinental COG) are spitting tacks because news of The Glorious Leader's incapacitation and hospitalization was leaked. Butts have apparently been kicked! Why the problem? Why weren't the faithful ICGers informed, if only to pray for The Great Man?

To date, nothing has appeared on the GTAEA website, and Chris Cumming, the fellow who has the responsibility for emailing out news to supporters, has been noticeable by his silence. According to one report, ICG members were only told this previous Sabbath that "Mr. Armstrong" was unwell. 


Pleasantries: Hi Gav, so you are the infamous Whistler. And now ol' Whistle-brain has his very own website.

Looking at your picture, you look too stupid to be able to manage a website all by yourself. Does your 5-year old nephew really manage it?

I see you're still Armstrong-bashing. I guess for someone whose brain went south, the deep deep South, at birth, what can you expect? Right?

When Whistle-head turns a certain direction in the wind you hear this deep low frequency whistling-sound as the air rushes through his ears traversing a large empty cavity. So tada! You now know how he got the name -- Whistler! Right, Whistle-brain?

Well, I better quit flattering you, and cut out all these pleasantries and get to the reason I am writing to you and all your fellow psycho readers.

Mr. Armstrong was the end time Elijah! He restored ALL things. He turned the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers. (But he must of missed a few bad apples that frequent your website.) I would suggest that you and your cohorts in rebellion get back on track and repent of all your Armstrong bashing because Armstrong bashing may one day prove to be very injurious to your health, especially your spiritual health.

Each swipe you take at Mr. Armstrong is just one more nail in your coffin. So get back behind Mr. Armstrong and support him 100% while there is still time!

Recess is over! All you 2nd generation cut-ups have "made faces" at your former teachers and trampled all over the symbols of authority in your past. Now get it out of your system and repent and get back to doing the job we were all called to do!

Your old pal,


(Don Wheatley)

MD: Well Don, I must admit that at first I wondered if you were for real, so I did a bit of checking. I'm told you're likely to believe every word you wrote, and have been venting on this subject on one of the boards.

I've reproduced your letter in full. It can speak for itself - any response on my part would be superfluous. One necessary correction though, seeing you dragged The Whistler into this. Regular readers here know that The Whistler is someone entirely different to myself, and that we hold quite different views on several matters.

Thank you for illustrating so very clearly the true spirit of Armstrongism. 

Punitive practices: Abusive spanking, as it is practiced in the WCG and it's spin-offs, is a common practice in nearly all extremist sectarian groups. But why do they do it? Is it just for control purposes or is there some other reason for this cruel chastisement? I believe the main reason for this cruelty is the sectarian desire for "purity". Most sects came into being because they believed the mother church wasn't pure enough in morals or doctrine. So the founders and their disciples left "Babylon" to set up a "New Jerusalem" where righteousness would prevail. However, to maintain the new "purity", the leaders had to institute strict measures to keep the hoi polloi in line. These measures restricted the membership from associating with members of other churches, (can't go back to Babel!) and added new burdens in the form of new "sin lists" and "must-do's". This is when the extreme discipline comes down. Everybody wants "purity", but not everybody, or rather nobody is capable of maintaining it for long. So, punitive measure must be used on anyone who crosses the line. For the adults, this can mean anything from verbal rebuke to disfellowshipping. For the poor kids, it almost always meant a overly severe spanking. Since most normal children, while growing up, desire to see how far they can go for the best and worst of reasons, the uptight cult parents will almost always whip them for any act that seems "rebellious". The kids will become doormats or be "provoked to anger" (Eph 6:2) by this rigid approach to child-rearing.

Steve Dalton

02 September. SPARE THE ROD, ACCM.  Mail: Joe the weather man

Beat your kids: There are still COG sects which teach the divine right of parents to beat their children. The UK based Northwest COG is a sterling example - cult members even recently delivered a pro-spanking message to 10 Downing Street. And then there's the High Priest of Spanking, Rod (!) Meredith, who even ascribes a spanking fetish to God Himself! ("We are going to be spanked by the Great God…") Now, for all you recidivist child abusers - oops - we mean Godly chastisers, there's a new product you'll want to order in bulk! The following information comes from the British Ship-of-Fools website:

... now a good beating goes biblical with the all-new Rod of Correction. Each 50cms x 4cms stick – available for the thumpingly-low price of $2 from Kingdom Identity Ministries, a white supremacist site in Arkansas – "teaches children good old-fashioned discipline".

Imprinted with the classic "beater's charter" from Proverbs 13:24 – "He who spares the rod hates his son" – and other unbeatable references from the Good Book. Buy the rod and leave six of the best (relevant Bible verses) on impressionable young bottoms.

A former Bricket Wood AC staff member once related how the campus woodwork shop used to mass produce wooden paddles to be lustily administered to the posteriors of little children during the Feast of Tabernacles. Then there's this personal account which was published on the ESN site:

It was 1973 in Jekyll Island, FL at "the feast" so I couldn't have been any older than 2 years old... on 3 days out of the 7, we endured two services a day. Each service ran between 2 and a half to 3 hours or more in length. Unsuccessful in quieting me inside the service, [my mother] led me to another tent which she explained was the "spank tent" for unruly children. In fact, it was a tent solely designated for the spanking of children... I cannot explain how horrific a feeling that was; my own mother taking me to a "torture chamber" for children, condoned by "the church," put there by "the church." ... I only remember dreading those services and wondering what if I would be killed someday for being too loud. Young children have bizarre thoughts like that. Of course, common folks (those outside the church) often praised us kids for our impeccable behavior! Sure we were good!!! We didn't want to go to "the tent!"

No wonder the up and coming generation up and went!

ACCM: Thank you to those who contributed suggestions for the true meaning of ACCM. And the nominations are:

Asinine Corrupt Crooked Men

Asinine Cretinous Crappy Mélange

Another Cunning Cash Machine

Ambassador's College of Coping Mechanisms

Armstrong's Cronies Covet Money

All Cash Contributed Mine.  


Toughing it out in Palm Springs: As quoted in your 01 September edition, Joe writes about the ministerial conference in Palm Springs, "Though the temperatures (and the humidity) have been high, the joy of the Spirit and the camaraderie have been even higher."  How high were the temperatures really?  I headed over to and found that during the period August 25-28 the average temperature is 106F (41.1C) but this year it never got above 102F (38.9C).  So they didn't give themselves a very high target for joy and camaraderie.  They would have done better in London England earlier in the same month.  The humidity got up to 77% but was usually below 50%.  People who live in a part of the world where that is considered high are really spoiled.



Spending up big in Palm Springs: Joe Tkach mentions the Palm Springs ministerial conference in his latest weekly letter.

Our U.S. district superintendents and international regional directors are currently attending their annual conference in Palm Springs, California (August 25-28). Professors Ray Anderson and Doug McConnell from Fuller Theological Seminary addressed the group on Monday and Tuesday. Dr. Anderson discussed the resurrection of Jesus as a hermeneutical criterion in doctrine, with particular reference to discussions on female ordination. Dr. McConnell discussed elements of relational evangelism.

Today, Wednesday, I led discussions about new developments and growth in our congregations around the world. Afterward, the U.S. and international groups broke into their respective groups for discussion on various topics, including governance, doctrinal, business and administrative matters. The breakout sessions will continue on Thursday.

And could it be that Kaiser Joe is feeling a bit defensive about criticism of the expenses involved in this ministerial junket?

Palm Springs has proven to be a cost effective venue for this conference due to August being the low point of the off-season here; temperatures are typically in the 100s. Though the temperatures (and the humidity) have been high, the joy of the Spirit and the camaraderie have been even higher. These annual conferences help promote unity, cooperation and synergy between all our regions and congregations.

Presumably "the joy of the Spirit" refers to something other than the liquid refreshments available at the bar, though with those high temperatures, the mention of "camaraderie", and the well-earned reputation of some WCG ministers for knocking back the booze, you might be forgiven for wondering.

A Taste for the Arts: From the Pasadena Star News, August 28 (excerpts):

A folk dance troupe from Los Angeles submitted a plan Wednesday to manage the Ambassador Auditorium in the event a third party raises enough money to buy the world-renowned hall from the Worldwide Church of God.

Under the proposal, AVAZ International Dance Theatre would help reopen the auditorium within 12 months under an administrative committee made up of four local dance and music companies, including AVAZ. Estimates are the auditorium would sell for $22 million.

The committee would be responsible for scheduling performances and making the auditorium self-sufficient within five years.

The church is in negotiations with the city of Pasadena to develop much of its 46-acre grounds into residential housing and has said that the auditorium would be razed if the community did not step forward to save it...

Bernard Schnippert, director of finance and planning for the church, said Wednesday he was aware that the proposal had been sent but that he hadn't had a chance to read it... And while the church is open to constructive ideas on how to revive the auditorium, he said the development plan that the church has submitted to the city of Pasadena is the most viable option.

ACCM? What does that acronym really stand for?

Perhaps... A Completely Christless Mess

Submit your suggestion.

Denominationally discredited? The value of Higher Education was arguably ratcheted down a notch recently when WCG re-launched its own "denominationally accredited" institution of higher learning - now with its own website - Ambassador College of Christian Ministry. ACCM will issue its own Associate of Christian Ministry and Master of Pastoral Studies "degrees". Both will be worthless outside the collapsing ghetto walls of the WCG. We suggest those applying remit their fees in monopoly money.

Joey speaks from the heart (of his wallet): This moving "PS" was attached to Joe Tkach's September member letter.

Friends, please remember that your donations are vital to our denomination as we await the sale of the Pasadena campus and the full implementation of the new financial model. I know it is tempting to think primarily locally, but if we value our ability to remain a cohesive worldwide fellowship, we must have patience just a little longer. Your donations are so important and so critical to this transition period. Please pray for God’s help as we move toward these milestones. 

Not a bad try Joe. How about this re-write from MD to help clarify things a bit more?

Suckers, your financial assistance is vital to my personal ownership of WCG as I await the sale of the Pasadena campus (which YOU financed through your tithes and offerings). A new financial model is a long way off, and any bleating about accountability will be totally ignored. I know it is tempting to think that you should have some sort of voice in this process, but WISE UP, it aint gonna happen! I fully expect you to keep swallowing the "wait a little longer" line and cough up the dough so I can maintain the lifestyle that my good buddies and I have become accustomed to. God help you to pray and pay as we move to add yet more mill-stones to your necks.

And Spanky says "Amen": Rod Meredith, highly esteemed leader of the Living Church of God, has similar visions of elusive greenbacks tormenting him. Excerpts from his August 20 letter:

Because of our growing sins, God is now guiding world events so that Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States will soon undergo the most powerful corrective punishment ever experienced in human history! ... we know—and know that we know—that God will accomplish His purpose. And that He will use and bless us enormously if we give our lives to Him wholeheartedly and zealously. Right now, because of the current financial straits of our people here in America and Canada, financial circumstances for this Work are very "tight" indeed. I would be remiss in my duty if I did not let all of you faithful brethren and co-workers know this. Thousands of you have your hearts in this Work. I know this and thank God for it. I do not want to take advantage of any one of you or God will deal with me. But I must ask all of you who are able to please give generously at this time. The need is urgent! The end-time Work of the living Christ needs your help now.

Brethren, I seldom have to put it this way. But serious cutbacks will have to be made in this Work unless you respond with extra generosity and zeal for God and His Work. May He bless and guide all of us through this crisis. And may He bless all of you who truly stand with us at this time!

Here at MD we were deeply moved by Rod's plea. We'll be sending a generous $2 donation by carrier pigeon just as soon as we hear that Rod will sell his house and take a 20% cut in salary in order to set a fine example of Christian sacrifice from the top.

America Listen! Regurgitated? Once upon a time Garner Ted Armstrong barnstormed the country with a "personal appearance campaign" called America Listen! In the same apparent mold is UCG minister Larry Greider's new book: America - Renewal or Ruin? Larry is promoting his book on a website, although in his "about the author" section he fails to mention his WCG/UCG credentials. In another section Greider interviews himself:

Who is your target audience? Greider: Conservative American’s [Hey, Larry, no apostrophe bud!] who want renewal to Godly virtues and values.

"Godly" apparently means "Newt Gingrick" [there ya go again Larry... it's Gingrich! Heck dude, even I know that, and I'm a New Zealander!] and Pat Buchanan-type values, as both get honorable mention on the same page. America - Renewal or Ruin? is published (or perhaps more accurately, self-published) through 1st Books, and costs $17.75 (paperback) or $28.50 (hardback). The foreword is written by former UCG president Les McCullough, and Victor Kubik fairly falls over himself in lavish praise...

Larry Greider writes great book America: Renewal or Ruin -- Will it Survive the 21st Century? This insightful analysis shows why America is great, but also what forces working in our nation to undermine and threaten its existence... I bought the's wonderful.

"Great... insightful... wonderful". Um, maybe so Vic, but whether you should trust the acumen and credibility of a guy who still doesn't seem to have mastered Spellchecker 101 is, of course, another matter. 


Don't blame the Pope: Mr. Heym said, "the apostolic Church kept the 7th Day Sabbath (see Acts and Heb 4:9) and was a Quartodeciman Church (see Polycrates' letter to Victor)." I think there can be no dispute that the Church originally continued to observe the 7th Day Sabbath and other Jewish customs mandated by the Law of Moses, including the Quartodeciman Passover.  However, the there can also be no dispute that the apostolic Church decreed that the Law of Moses was not to be imposed on Gentile converts, and the Gospels frequently tell anecdotes of Jesus setting aside numerous commandments of the Torah, including the Sabbath.  We also have notices both in the New Testament and in various early Christian documents that the apostolic Church adopted a custom of meeting for worship on Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. You can't blame the Bishop of Rome for the move from the Sabbath to Sunday -- that was a development the apostles and their disciples themselves set in motion in the first century, basing themselves on Christ's own teachings and example.

As for Polycrates' letter to Pope St. Victor, it doesn't prove that the apostolic Church universally observed a Quartodeciman Passover, but does testify that Quartodecimanism is rooted in apostolic tradition -- notably, that of St. John.  However, ample historical evidence shows that many Churches -- in time, most Churches -- were not Quartodeciman, and they too were able to point to apostolic tradition for their custom -- that of St. Peter.  However, the Quartodeciman Controversy was a dispute over how and when to observe the Christian Paschal Feast -- everyone agreed that it was good for the Church to celebrate it, but local customs varied on the manner and time of the celebration.  Since it was essentially a disciplinary matter rather than a doctrinal one, there is no doctrinal truth statement the Church had ever said that the Church later rescinded.

Jared Olar

MD: No further correspondence on this matter at present.

Unbelievable! This web site is unbelievable! I have never seen so much hate towards ministers and churches of God! The person that wrote about a place of safety [AW41, Aug. 28] has to be ignorant of the Bible! the Bible does talk about a place of safety... look it up! When I came across this web-site I was greatly saddened to see all the bitterness. Love your neighbor as yourself! has obviously been forgotten!

MD: At issue is what the term "place of safety" means (and in the COG context, how the concept has been abused). In case you missed it while you were hyperventilating, the comments you object to were in fact written by a COG minister. Loving your neighbor as yourself includes warning your neighbors about religious carpetbaggers who seek to prey upon them.

Tetragramaton tease:  We wonder that a church of JOE-HOVAH has not been established in Pasadena.  

MD: It could pelley well have been established had it seemed feazellible

Letter policy: When MD was first launched there were only a few correspondents willing to put their names to published emails. Since then 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.

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