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Issue 44 - November 2003

Covering developments and advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups
This month's entries: 
Nov.1  Nov.4  Nov.6  Nov.7  Nov.8  Nov.10  Nov.12  Nov.14  Nov.15  Nov.16  Nov.18  Nov.19  Nov.20  Nov.21  Nov.23  Nov.24  Nov.26  Nov.28

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28 November. WE HELP JOE SELL STUFF!  Mail: Humble Herman, Jon the Rebel

Hire a mini-bus, invite all your ex-member friends and take the free tour next month! 

The Price is Right: In the market for a nice residential property in Pasadena? An anonymous source passed this information on:

Following are the prices for the homes going on sale in December. The open house is scheduled from December 6-7... they may not have them listed officially yet. These prices are from the brochures that were published for the sale.

280 South Orange Grove (The Bella N. Scofield House) Tkach Sr./Feazell residence listed for $1,800,000.00

268 South Orange Grove (The Dr. Henry H. Sherk House) LaRavia/Tkach Jr. residence listed for $1,098,000

260 South Orange Grove (The Hugh E. Montgomery House) Feazell/R.Dick residence listed for $1,250,000

252 South Orange Grove (The Bruce & Mabel Dray House) Schnippert residence listed for $1,290,000

250 South Orange Grove (The Arthur T. Haben House) VanPelt residence listed for $1,198,000

The 260 residence was where the Feazells lived for a while. Prior to their moving in the home was completely remodeled, but the lady of the house reportedly did not like what was done and they had the ENTIRE house redone. Then, we're told, because they were still not satisfied, they had them redo all kinds of things. It was reported by people at accounting that over 2,500,000 was spent to remodel that home to the satisfaction of these lucky tenants! Tithe money well spent!

The 268 residence was also extensively remodeled to suite the extreme tastes of the wife of a wanna-be successor to HWA. Her big project was to remodel the kitchen in French Country style with Subzero refrigerators, Thermador ovens and a professional range/oven.

The listings are through Dickson Podley Realtors, 336 South Lake Ave, Pasadena CA 91101, Diane Hardie-Aurit and Chris Dickson Agents.

We're sure Diane (626) 639-1648 and Chris (626) 233-1100 would appreciate calls from lots of AW readers keen to view these properties! Or hire a mini-bus, invite all your ex-member friends and take the free tour next month! 


The 'umble Mister 'oeh: Hi Gavin -- The letter about Herman Hoeh is a bit curious. My WCG Pastor told a speaking club in early 1995 that Dr. Hoeh was the one who wrote Joseph Tkach Senior's earth-shaking December 1994 sermon about the covenants -- the one published in full in the Worldwide News a couple of weeks later.

Of course, some might argue Dr. Hoeh still lacks courage by not delivering the sermon himself. I would lean, though, on the side of a man with personal humility.

Richard Burkard

PCG info needed: I was wondering if you could possibly send me any more information on the PCG. My girlfriend and her family are part of the [named] congregation and I would like to try and understand the [teachings] and find some hard facts to produce to her and possibly make her look a little closer.

MD: You could start with the PCG page on MD and follow the various links. A PCG member in good standing is highly unlikely to pursue a relationship with an outsider for long, and it's never easy to convince someone who doesn't want to be convinced. Any other suggestions (other than "run like hell!")? 

Rebel figure: There were some of us who attended Ambassador College that needed a rebel figure within the WCG org that we could admire, and believe in. We were always told that you could learn the easy goody two shoes way by just doing as the ministers said, unquestioningly, or find out the hard way by perhaps experiencing a bit of the wrong way, as of course defined myopically by HWA. Because, as he's stated many times in sermons and classes, David Jon Hill was responsible for many of the rules with which we were greeted in the AC Student Handbook, I found him easy to admire. I don't believe that anybody realizes what we've all lost because he has left us prior to being able to complete his memoirs for the Journal.

Instinctively, you just have to know that his insights would be a very significant contribution, having the potential of helping a great number of people make sense of it all. I personally was looking forward to hearing about his post-WCG experiences. My deepest condolences go out to his surviving family, and Jonathan, if you read this, please know that many of us would find it helpful to know more about your Dad's later years.

At the bottom of the Grove Ave. hill, on the Pasadena campus, was a permanent wet spot, from the runoff which was a by-product of the irrigation required to maintain the upper campus in such a lush, showcase condition. It had been there for years, and most of the ministers, faculty, and students had long ago mastered the navigation of this corner, able to easily make the turn without spinning their rear tires. Occasionally, there would be a small chirp, as someone freshly discovered this slippery spot. However, one needn't even have looked when one heard a revving engine, and the churning of tires, which frequently turned into a howl as one of the fleet cars made it up the hill. We knew automatically that it was Jon Hill, who sometimes even glanced around to see if he had an audience beforehand. He didn't mention one of the aspects of his friendship with GTA in his article, but collectively, he and GTA had been known as the "Banana Boat Gang" for one of their youthful escapades. Sadly, we lost both of them this year. My heroes, the closest thing we had to rebels in the WCG!

Biker Bob 

Extra-biblical: Just read Paul Ray's remarks about things "extrabiblical." Nice word. Of course ALL Christians accept extrabiblical doctrines. Probably the most obvious "extrabiblical" Christian doctrine? The Canon of the Bible. Yep, the Bible has no inspired table of contents.

Jared Olar

Royal Place of Safety: Apparently, the Place of Safety is on the grounds of Buckingham Place: 

Making friend wherever they go, George W. Bush and entourage landed their helicopters on the grounds of Buckingham Palace last week and brought the queen's gardener to tears. The equipment and security people trampled trees, bushes and flowers and caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage. According to news reports, "The Queen's own flock of flamingoes, which security staff insisted should be moved in case they flew into the helicopter rotors, are thought to be so traumatised after being taken to a 'place of safety' that they might never return home." 

And I thought it was the Egrets that were supposed to take flight and carry off the Auditorium... 

26 November. DEATH OF JON HILL.  Mail: LCG-PCG spot the difference, the unpredictable Mister Hoeh, machinations?

Jon Hill, RIP: We were saddened to hear of the death of David Jon Hill, a former WCG evangelist, on Monday. The following item appears on The Journal website.

The Journal has learned that longtime Church of God member and former Worldwide Church of God evangelist David Jon Hill died Nov. 23 at his son's home in Shingletown, Calif.

Jonathan Hill discovered the next morning, Nov. 24, that his father had died in his sleep.

"He was content and lived his last few months in the woods in a peaceful and loving home," Jonathan Hill said. "Please let folks know he went just the way he wanted."

Mr. Hill's son and daughter-in-law, Jonathan and Bonnie Hill, receive mail at P.O. Box 319, Shingletown, Calif. 96088, U.S.A.

The Journal began running what was planned to be a series of autobiographical articles by Mr. Hill in the October issue. Three more installments of the series had been planned. Earlier on the evening Mr. Hill died, The Journal received several photos he had chosen to accompany the second installment of his series.

Jon Hill distanced himself from the church following the stresses of the late 1970s, which had taken their toll. He authored a ground-breaking booklet, A Tale of Two Prophets, which circulated only briefly before the cultural revolution of 1978/1979 swept all before it, many years before the pseudo-evangelical "reformation" that launched its own counter-reign of intolerance and neo-legalism.

From what we've heard, Jon Hill lived his post-WCG life with great integrity. We express our condolences to his friends and family.

Jon Hill's recent article can be viewed at Articles/a_hill_of_an_experience.htm


LCG - PCG in a better suit? Bob Thiel posted this on his site in response to your Flurry "Sweep" article. 

"... I know for a fact that PCG has three extra-biblical requirements for membership: Professing that HWA was Elijah, that 'Malachi's Message' is the little book of Revelation 10, and that Gerald Flurry is That Prophet. Even if all those were true (and at the most it is one of those), none of those criteria are biblical."

This sure is ironic, because I know of a Living attendee who had been trying to get baptized by a Living minister. Whoops! Problem is, the minister told this person that in order to be baptized, she would have to prove to the minister that 1) Living had the correct form of church government, and 2) Living was "the only place to be". All out of the Bible, no less. 

Of course, this presented a problem, since, like Bob Thiel's comment about PCG, all of the above requirements are unbiblical! 

Paul Ray

Hooey: Herman Hoeh may have many fine qualities, but courage does not seem to be one of them. When the big blow up occurred in Big Sandy in the mid 90s over the doctrinal changes introduced by Joe Tkach Sr. (especially the 7th day Sabbath), Hoeh was flown in to smooth things over. Dr. Winnail told me he talked with Hoeh regarding his determination to speak out in favor of Christians observing the 7th day Sabbath. 

Winnail expecting some support from his former boss and friend was astounded when Hoeh shook his finger at him. Hoeh apparently did not even have the strength to defend the core doctrine of HWA's WCG, and one that had been used especially by him and others as a club to beat up all other Christians. 

Hoeh's rank cowardice stands in stark contrast to Dr. Winnail's courage. With many others in the ministry shaking in their boots and running for cover Dr. Winnail stood up in front of everyone at Big Sandy and preached in favor of the 7th day Sabbath. In a church filled to the brim with cowards Dr. Winnail was one of the few who would risk everything for what he believed to be right. Winnail practices what he preaches. To this day Dr. Winnail is one of the finest men I have ever met inside or outside the WCG.


MD: Winnail is currently with the Meredith LCG.

Man the lifeboat! Ministers first! Reading your reports about the Worldwide Church of God’s deteriorating financial condition and the diverting of assets to a new entity makes me wonder if their leaders are quietly making the advance financial preparations for a future bankruptcy. Under a bankruptcy scenario, the new entity would already hold the assets while the other old entity (WCG) would hold all the debt for bankruptcy reorganization and/or discharge in liquidation. Does this seem plausible to you? It would certainly explain the very cavalier attitude the church has towards its last remaining loyal members, such as those you’ve mentioned in Glendora, while it simultaneously suffers a slow corporate death.  In fact, one would think the WCG would be extra careful not to alienate its last remaining members, if for no other reason than sheer corporate survival. After all, these are now the core members that choose not to leave and instead support the new WCG. From what I’ve read and learned in the past year about what has transpired in the Worldwide Church, anyone still remaining in the WCG is either: 1) clueless as to the true motives of their leadership; or 2) remain loyal convinced by Herbert Armstrong’s constant threats of eternal damnation (lake of fire) for anyone leaving “God’s Church” in spite of the church’s subsequent doctrinal changes after his death; or 3) knows the true motives of their leadership, and they simply do not care.  

It would be interesting to know if the new entity has already been created for the assets; and which entity has collateralized the line of credit reported in your November 15 edition? It would also be interesting to know if the fixed assets of the church were pledged in the line of credit, or if the line of credit is only collateralized by the accounts receivable (tithes and offerings) of the Church?  In a “planned in advance” bankruptcy scenario, the church would have to transfer the assets to the new entity far in advance of a bankruptcy filing to avoid a fraudulent transfer. The new entity could co-exist with the old entity and would hold the assets for whatever mission outlined by its corporate charter (which may, or may not be religious). The new entity could certainly provide a nice, comfortable living for some people given the asset size.  The old WCG entity is still necessary, even if operating in bankruptcy. Why? Besides continuing to collect the tithes and offerings from its last remaining clueless members, let me remind your readers of the annual effort by WCG legal department to help members in their estate planning to include the WCG in their wills (as if the church didn’t suck enough of the financial life out of its members while alive). Who knows how many members and former members have failed to update their wills to exclude the WCG? The old entity could also provide a nice, comfortable living for some people.  

Of course, when you are dealing with an organization that has little accountability to its members it is very difficult to understand what really, truly is going on.  

Richard Dahms

24 November. PCG PURGE PREDICTED, A COG CAROL.  Mail: Otto & the demon 

Gerry-worship: Many observers regard the Philadelphia Church of God, an Oklahoma-based cult run by Gerald Flurry, as the most disturbing of the major Armstrong splinters. The following insider report was received yesterday.

PCG member alert: It has just been reported that ministers are 'sweeping' through their regional congregations with [the intent to drive] out all rebels, heretics, and their greatest threat: spies! The movement has already started along the eastern seaboard in New Jersey, with next stops in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Ohio. [They are asking]: "Do you believe that Gerald Flurry is That Prophet?" It has been said that each member is being taken one-on-one in a 'counsel session'. Those [who know otherwise] can either fess-up and lose [their] membership status or lie and get to witness the continuing circus. (Those completely deceived can relax.) 

We trust at least some PCG members will be forewarned. The correspondent continues:

A recent sermon given by Gerry was heralded by one member as a "re-introduction" to the greatness of That Prophet, with no biblical importance, but a warning to keep studying the booklets. [Flurry was] proud to be back on television, mentioning that the recent solar flares had happened to try and stop its broadcast...

O Tannenbaum: With news that a festive Xmas tree is to appear in the Hall of Administration, MD columnist Douglas Becker has been moved to improvise new lyrics for an old favorite:

Oh, Christmas Tree,
O Christmas Tree,
To my song do hearken,
Your branches will,
The Admin Hall surely soon Darken.
The Hall will have such cheery light,
From ornaments so shiny bright,
UL approved they'd better be,
'Cause the fire would be the end of thee!
Oh, Christmas Tree,
O, Christmas Tree,
To my song do listen,
Your branches will,
With ersatz snow soon glisten.
Ignore the past of yesteryear,
Of doctrines held so very dear,
Of changes made so very bold,
The Campus sale is getting old.
Oh, Christmas Tree,
O, Christmas Tree,
Just what is your draw?
Offending split-offs far and wide,
Who want to keep God's Law.
But WCG is on the path,
To take a really big financial bath,
They thought they'd pause,
For Santa Claus,
And ignore Moses' Burning Tree.
Douglas Becker

Douglas wonders whether Richard Burkard might sing it for us. We wonder whether UCG might include it in its next revision of the Supplemental Hymnal!


More on WCG exorcisms: I saw an exorcism done at Orr in 1974 on a young boy. It was done by Otto Lochner. It left an impression on me as I was 12 or 13. I remember it was done in a small room and the two ministers asked another camper and me to sit in on the exorcism. Wild stuff!! 


23 NovemberNEW COVENANT NAZISM.  Mail: the unexamined life, dangerous book, exorcising with Larry

Christian Freedom - Glendora style: Another news item from Glendora WCG ("The Friendly Church of the Foothills"), where Neil Earle is reported to be continuing to throw his weight around with the "dumb sheep":

More silliness from the "Earldom": It seems that his lordship is rather perturbed that the over 100 some members that fled from Pelley's church are not fans of weekly or monthly communion services. In the past "the Earl" held communion in a separate building after church services for those that wanted to attend. But no longer, his lordship told members recently that he will no longer be 'advertising' upcoming communion services but rather will have them UNANNOUNCED. So when one shows up to church they will never know for sure if there will be a communion service or not.

Earle is also perturbed that the Pasadena expatriates are not enjoying his new praise and worship song services. After recently lecturing them all for not singing and clapping along with the worship songs, he said he was going to grab them by the neck and remove them from the church if they did not start singing along.

To paraphrase 2 Chronicles 10:14,"My colleague Den made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; Pastor Pelley scourged you with whips, but I will scourge you with scorpions."

Could this be true? The alleged threats of physical assault don't seem to make the "sermon summary" posted on the Glendora website, but you can review notes on the "Eating and Drinking in His Presence" sermon (Nov. 15). 

In the church today, we’ve broken with old traditions. The Glendora church has a communion service four times a year. We now have freedom in the New Covenant. It is a new and mind-opening experience, and there are lots of options in taking a fellowship meal.

But apparently not the option most people want.

Where is the Worldwide Church of God going to land with this ceremony of the Bread and Wine? Somewhere in the middle. How often should Communion be taken? "As often as you do it." The Bible doesn’t specify, but leaves it up to us.

We wonder exactly who Neil is referring to by "us". Not, it seems, the members of the Glendora church.

So, whatever could be the problem here? After all, "Mister" Earle is The Minister, and all those folk who warm the pews are just plain, vanilla-flavored plebs who just don't know what's good for them. Don't these people know their place! How dare they think they can disagree with an important, articulate and ordained man-of-God! Next they'll be wanting to vote and do all that dangerous stuff other Christians do as-of-right in healthy churches. Heavens no, we couldn't possibly have that! We advise Neil to buff up his jack-boots, taking comfort in the knowledge that WCG ministers are so much more important in the grand scheme of things than the mere dime-a-dozen laity! To paraphrase 2 Chronicles 10:14, "My colleague Den made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; Pastor Pelley scourged you with whips, but I will scourge you with scorpions." What those Glendora malcontents obviously need is a good healthy dose of Old Testament chastisement. Maybe next week Neil could arrange a New Covenant Stoning Ceremony where the more enlightened (and suitably docile) brethren could sing a round of cheery praise choruses while they chuck gravel at the independently minded troublemakers...


Cadaver Church of God: I appreciated Jim Baldwin's comments on the Unexamined Life. The Christian perspective and the pursuit of "God's Truth" can take the form of Church hopping and looking for the church that most faithfully follows what the members can READ. The problem is in what it MEANS or WHERE the account comes from and WHY in the first place. If one literally believes Joshua caused the sun to stand still, we know today what he really had to do was stop the Earth from spinning at 1000mph. We then have to suspend belief in the catastrophic consequences of such an account and wonder why NO ONE else on earth in any culture took notice of this or wrote it down. With an instant stop, I suspect one would have noticed. Just saying that nothing is too hard for God is not a reasonable response. We have the same problem with the sun going dark for three hours at Jesus death. 

Here in the Southeast, any man who can read, entertain and in most cases, empty his brain of common sense and reason, can be a "preecher". I think every third male in this part of the country believes he is a minister of some sort. 

An unexamined spiritual life seems to follow the pattern of first starting off in the religion of birth and tribal expectations , and then either staying put to keep everyone "happy" never to question "why am I doing this" or weaving one's way thru the various denominations and sects of Christianity looking for "the truth". In my own experience, I was born into the Presbyterian mind set and at 14 chose to study the WCG material and found it more "biblically correct". (man I was a weird kid!). Eventually, over 26 years that journey took me into and out of the ministry and affiliation with any Christian Church. For others, it might be a birth as a Catholic, a step out to Lutheranism, a short stint as a Methodist and finally a fall into the "True Church" of the Baptist (yeah right), SDA, JW or The People's Temple. Here in my town there is the "Cadaver Church of God" (honest, I ain't kiddin), which I suspect is the real and true "True Church." Actually I suspect some ignorant minister wannabe looked up alternative words for Body, which was overused in the neighborhood, and chose Cadaver... theology not unlike a man who told me Bath-Sheba was so named because David saw her taking a BATH "nekked". (I know you think I'm making this stuff up... trust me!). 

At any rate, that journey is one kind of Christian truth hunt. But it never seems to ask the bigger questions about Biblical errancy, history and intent. Jim seems to understand that there is another journey that most never take. It's a conclusion you arrive at AFTER you have done some or all of the above. It's a fundamental question of just what IS the Bible and where did Christianity REALLY come from? WCG of the 60's seemed to be willing to examine origins. They got holidays right --- more right than they possibly could have imagined. They got Holydays wrong, whose origins are also rooted in Canaanite fertility and agricultural practices. It's just how humans evolve their religious thinking. Israelites were not hunting pigs on the Saturday before "the changes" came down! The Bible god evolves thru the pages of the OT then all but disappears to be replaced by a benevolent Son. A very common theme in the evolution of religion. No one ever gave a good explanation to me either as to why the Apostle Paul never quotes Jesus teachings, life events, birth stories, miracles, healings, trial or literal death stories. The fact is that I found out later that the man who writes most of the NT theology never actually met Jesus or knew him personally by all accounts. Galatians certainly shows he was not about to ask the Disciples about him as it might have interfered with his own plans to preach Christ. Sounds familiar.

Goddess-women had their chance previous to the men, but fell flat on their faces and are the reason we are all under Original Sin, have babies painfully and must say "yes sir" to the men. All god-men were born on December 25th after the three days the sun was motionless at it's low winter point and finally began to rise again. All god-men were born of Virgins, changed water into wine, ended up on crosses at the Spring Equinox and rose again after three days. But sometimes it comes down to asking just where do babies come from and following a different path in one's perspective and understanding. You get a lot of head shaking and finger pointing when you follow this path. 

At any rate, Jim's comments were kind and balanced on this topic of the Unexamined Life. I suspect we take life where it leads and we have many opportunities learn new true things or have the equal chance to stop at any point in the trip and say it's too hard or makes no sense if we continue this way. Frankly, most people never even begin to ask questions of their birth faith and simply want things to stay the same. Same feels good which is why different is not popular. Some love to tell the old old story, and some realize that it is a lot older than we ever imagined. It's all part of a life examined, no matter what the outcome. 

Dennis Diehl

PS...I'm trying to imagine a Xmas Tree in the Hall of Administration... :) 

MD: Yeah, so are we. Anyone able to provide us with a picture of the tree? We'd love to let the rest of the world admire the HQ decorations!

Spit-roasted heretics: I just purchased a copy of David Daniell's new work "The Bible in English", a 900 page history of the translation of the Bible into English.  Daniell, a Shakespearean scholar, previously authored a highly respected biography of William Tyndale. 

In his introduction, on page 7, Daniell makes this observation regarding church government in the early church: "All these early Christian communities ... are more individual and independent than is suggested by the word 'churches'.  The picture of some of the earliest of them, as for example in I Corinthians 12-14, shows little if anything of any organized authoritarian structure, something which the word 'church' tends to suggest today." 

Daniell then claims, on page 9, that Christians were denied access to their sacred writings for a thousand years as a result of church government! "But then, in the growing hierarchy of power that had become the Roman Church, it began to be felt by senior clergy in Rome (though not in the East, dominated by Constantinople), that ordinary people were not capable of understanding a book as complicated as the Bible." 

If the present leadership of LCG and UCG had lived back in those times one wonders if they really would have been in favor of the average church member having unfettered access to the Bible?  They probably would have burned William Tyndale for being a heretic and a rebel.


Larry Walker vs. the demons: In response to Sharon Mooney's note, I did know of an exorcism performed on a young man that attended the Minneapolis North congregation that had several exorcisms performed on him by Larry Walker. I was personally acquainted with the family involved and heard many of the details. We had a pretty serious sermon the next Sabbath which might have been the day after one of the exorcisms, I remember the minister being very fatigued during the sermon. The individual involved was ultimately hospitalized. I heard that he was "possessed" again some time after his release. Some of the details prior to this stem from being at SEP camp at Orr, Minnesota. Never did hear what the outcome was. 


Copycat cult: I just wonder if Greg Albrecht's new Recovering Legalists site is another attempt by WCG to divert attention away from other sites such as Ron Lohr's 

If they can register domain names such as Ambassador Watch, then they would not be above trying to steal people away from Ron Lohr who happens to be one of those dangerous ex-ministers! gasp!

21 November. THE GREAT ASSET HEIST? PAINFUL TRUTH BATON PASSED, SPEAK NOW.  Mail: Hoeh-rides, clergy ranks and functions, the god premise, exorcisms

Has Bernie bagged the bucks?  From an anonymous source:

This past week, Bernie Schnippert reportedly held a meeting with bank officials in the Hall of Administration. Sources say Schnippert wants to set up a separate account, which he will oversee, and that will be used at his discretion. The money going into this account will be all the money received from the sale of the homes and the campus property. That budget will be totally separate from the WCG. The plan is to have a separate Board of Directors for this new entity. If so, there will be two Boards, one for the WCG and another for Schnippert's creation. Bernie has been reported to have said that he will be serving on BOTH Boards.

WCG exec's have repeatedly said that the first thing they would do with the money from the sale is to fund the retirement program. With these changes, the retirement program would now seem to be entirely at Schnippert's discretion.

Some are speculating that he is doing this because the WCG financial situation is in such serious decline, despite the glowing PR reports from Ron Kelly. Church membership and donations are believed to be steadily on the downward trend.

The scary thing about the new program is that since all money garnered through the sales seems destined to go into this account, it seems there will be none going directly into the church retirement program. WCG exec's have repeatedly said that the first thing they would do with the money from the sale is to fund the retirement program. With these changes, the retirement program would now seem to be entirely at Schnippert's discretion.

Meantime all church department managers have been told that absolutely no unnecessary expenditures are to take place from now till March of next year because of the serious situation with church finances. The question that many are asking: will Schnippert spit in the face of the belt-tightening strictures and give his staff pay raises at the end of the year - something he has done many times in the past.

An earlier email poses more disturbing questions for supporters of a church that continually pleads poverty:

Some are even reporting that when they sell the 5 homes on Orange Grove Blvd in December that those proceeds will go directly into [Schnippert's] budget. He and his employees are expected to receive bonuses just as a real Real Estate Agent would receive a commission on each sale. Currently commissions in CA are running around 5-7% of the total sale. With each house bringing in over a million dollars they all stand to receive a hefty bonus.

We would be delighted to post a denial of these reports if they are in error. We hope, for the sake of all concerned, that they are. Our source, however, is both credible and reliable. 

Ed Mentell bows out: The Painful Truth site founded by Ed Mentell Sr. is "under new management". The following announcements appear on the site.

Note: From this day forward, The Painful Truth website will be under new management. I don't have the time to keep the maintenance of the site up to date and so I have passed the "baton" on to a younger person that will be able to better serve those who desire to find out the painful truth about Armstongism, the Worldwide Church of God and religion in general. Good luck on your search for truth. If you find it, at first you probably aren't going to like what you find. Give it some time and you will discover what true freedom is all about. Freedom from the cultmasters. Freedom from those that want to control your mind. Freedom from those that want to control your life. Freedom from those that want your money or your worship and will sell you "god" to get it.
Ed Mentell Sr.


Hello All -- New Editor here. I have some quick info for any who might want it. "Quick" because, I'm obviously trying to get my bearings here. This is a huge undertaking; the mechanics of the website, and also remembering its Good Readers, fans or not.

The quick notes are these: 1. Nothing really big is happening here in terms of layout, etc. Things should be where you always saw them in the past. There will be some problems in converting counters, and I will most likely goof up a link here and there. I ask for your indulgence as I try to bring the site back up to light-speed. It shouldn't be an unbearable task, but may take a while to stamp out bugs. Feel free to write me (same email as before: and tell me of bad links and other technical hangups.

2. There is no real philosophical difference, in direction, this site will or should take. The emphasis is and will be the people who lived through the WCG+ days and those that are currently in the split-offs, our families, our lives, their lives. This site is for you. We/you lived it. Still do. We're still learning about what this all was, and how we were affected (I tried hard NOT to say 'infected', there) by the cult.

There is no real argument I can find with Ed's thoughts here regarding Free Thinkers, and most else. His thoughts will remain, as a FAQ Base for the website. They remain valid. I will have one up at some time in the future, but more important things need to be done first.

3. There's a backlog of input from you Good Readers, that I have now, and I will get these posted up (hopefully) within the next couple weeks. The website is behind in updates -- Ed knows it. I know it...( we all seen it...:) Allow me to get my butt-in-gear-kit together, and things'll start rolling again, ok?

Again -- thanks for your patience in this matter. And all who wish to email, feel free to do so at the usual email addy. For new folks? Read the FAQ page first, ok?

Regards, Editor

We'd like to both wish the new editor well, and pay tribute to Ed's amazing work. Under Ed's guidance The Painful Truth has been an indispensable resource for many of us.

And who is the new editor? We don't know either, but we hope he soon steps out from behind the curtain to take a bow. 

Speak out now: From the November-December Pasadena In Focus

Speak Up on Ambassador College Development Plans

Much of the Ambassador College campus near Old Pasadena may be turned into a neighborhood of 1,431 homes, with a few new shops and services. The property's owner, Worldwide Church of God, has proposed to build 696 new units on the 32-acre west campus at the southwest corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Green Street and 735 new units on the 13-acre east campus south of Green Street between Delacey and Pasadena Avenues. Many of the existing buildings, including the Ambassador Auditorium, are proposed to be removed, but other historic mansions would be converted into homes, offices or visitor service centers.

The city is engaged in an ongoing effort to collect community input on the plan. You're invited to review and give your comments on the project's draft Environmental Impact Report (dEIR) when it is released. As with any major proposed development, the city prepared a detailed analysis evaluating potential impacts the project might have on population and housing, water and utility services, aesthetics, air quality, transportation, natural resources, noise levels, recreation, cultural resources and more.

Copies of this report will be available at city libraries, City Hall and at (click on the Ambassador Campus). You may also purchase a CD-ROM or hard copy of the report at the Permit Center, 175 N. Garfield Ave. Submit comments in writing to Brian League, Senior Project Manager, City of Pasadena Planning and Development Department, 100 North Garfield Ave., Pasadena CA 91109. Also watch for a series of public meetings where you can offer your opinion. For more information, check the web site, send an email to or call 744-7194


Herb's pyramids: With regard to Hoeh's reported comments about the now-accepted Eucharist within monthly WCG communion services, it would seem that Hoeh continues in his role as the chief apologetics officer for whatever quasi-political/theological theme is in vogue at 300 West Green Street. For example, HWA openly said and taught in the 1950s and early 1960s that it was impossible that the Egyptian pyramids would have survived the Genesis Flood (and thus pre-dated the Flood), so Hoeh hit the library stacks to find alternative explanations for the Egyptian dynasties, and thus the Compendium of World History Volume I was born. The alternative explanations that Hoeh researched and was influenced by in preparing that particular work (in fairness, Hoeh did not plagiarize in the manner of HWA and Judah's Scepter, et al) would cause a professional Egyptologist's eyeglasses to fog over. Hence, the volume quietly disappeared from print when HWA finally allowed the pyramids could have predated the Flood.

When HWA initiated his own personal full-blown Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s (known as "Putting the Church Back on Track," Hoeh (despite a brief flirt with the political powers that aligned with Wayne Cole before the Receivership) came to the fore with a host of legacy editorial content from the 1960s, dusted off and freshened up with new headlines and dropheads to match the "new" party line. Hoeh ultimately served as chief editor for the compilation of "Herbert W. Armstrong's Greatest Hits" (also known as "Mystery of the Ages") and the revisionist accounts of HWA's life that appeared in the two volumes of the re-issued and highly edited "Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong."

The apologist position continues today, with the only difference being that JWT calls the shots instead of HWA. When the WCG/Plain Truth recently took a pro-alcohol consumption position on the cover of the Plain Truth, the WCG again looked to Hoeh to publish online a re-write/edit of an older reprint series on alcoholism to assuage the outcries of teetotaling evangelicals. So for Hoeh to publicly embrace the monthly Eucharist bit is no real surprise.

One aspect that one must admire Hoeh for is his seeming mastery of being content in whatever state he finds himself (Phil 4:11). Whether in the screaming banshee profligacy of the Tkachs (complete with the full-size poster of an electric execution chair with the caption "Regular or Extra Crispy?" and the scale model warplanes in Tkach Sr's fourth floor Hall of Ad office--all in full view for visitors and evangelicals) or the legendary cognitive dissonance of the Armstrongs and Meredith ("1972? Who ever said anything about 1972?"), Hoeh maintains an extraordinary serenity through it all.

Gold watch? You mentioned Herman Hoeh! He is still with the WCG cult? I thought Little Joe gave him a gold watch and a RV to hit the road with!!

"Reverend Kscribe"

MD: We understand Herman is retired but still preaches occasionally.

Missing evangelists: I have been told that about 300 people attended Buck Hammer's funeral yesterday (Tuesday). Also, I hear there was a dinner afterward in the Big Sandy church building and that at least 120 attended--many from UCGaia. But I was also informed that Leon Walker, Don Ward, and Les McCullough did not attend the dinner. Is this a situation where these three UCGaia evangelists were too busy to attend? Or is this a case where they won't darken the door of the independent Big Sandy congregation's building? Does anyone know if they hold a grudge against the independent Big Sandy congregation?

Wes White

Ministerial sub-species: The guys running WCG today are so cool. They convince folks into believing the church bosses are doing one thing when they are actually doing another. For example, their article about ministers says, "...we eliminated our former multi-tiered system for titling elders. Whereas we once had local church elders, local elders, preaching elders,
pastor-rank elders, evangelists and an apostle, today we have only one title granted through the ceremony of ordination--that of elder." It sounds like they have eliminated the following six titles and replaced them with only one--just plain elder. In the old days, the WCG had over 100,000 people in the US. To run a church that large, I remember we had:

Local Elder
Preaching Elder
Pastor-Ranked Minister
Associate Pastor
Assistant Pastor
District Superintendent/Area Coordinator
Apostle/Pastor General

But reading their article, you find that Joey and Co. have created a whole bunch of new titles:

Deacon Emeritus
Administrative Elder
Senior Pastor
Associate Pastor
Assistant Pastor
Senior Pastor
Pastor General

It doesn't look to me like they have reduced the types of ministers at all. Just rearranged them and gave them different names. And all this just to run a church which has what? About 25,000 members? It doesn't make much sense to me. But I'm sure it makes all the sense in the world to Joey, Bernie, Mike, and Greg. You gotta love 'em!

Wes White

The unexamined life?  It is instructional to read of the experiences of ex-WCG members as they try to cope with life on the outside of the Gulag. The recent anonymous letter to Greg Albrecht you quoted provides another example of life continuing on but unexamined. And in this case, not only unexamined but held out as the basis for taking on the formidable task of teaching others...

So few ever question how they happened to be in whatever flavor of splintered Christianity they find themselves. They continue along in the same unquestioning mode fostered in the cult. And this mode is so deeply ingrained most are unaware of it. Their thinking patterns are shaped by what is popularly known as "brain washing."

Now our anonymous writer has apparently found the really true church where she and her family have been attending for two years... She says she is teaching her listeners to "scrutinize, question, research." But she, herself, is not willing to do this with her own unexamined god premise. She exited the WCG like so many thousands of others and brought along her basic theological baggage intact as they did. As she assumed it (the basic theology) was all true in the cult, she now is involved in teaching others as they also assume it is true. A classic case of the blind leading the blind. 

She writes that she wants to help her listeners examine the words of popular speakers and authors "to see how well their teachings measure up with biblical Christianity." And just what is that? What has she studied that would qualify her to speak on such a vast subject as Christianity? ...

Our writer discusses recovery from abusive Christianity and compares it to recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. She writes, "you cannot come truly clean until you give them up completely, meaning you you need to break away from the influences that fostered your abuse in the first place." And yet she continues to carry around the basic elements of abuse in the very teachings of the Bible she holds dear. And this is so because she has the added unproved assumption that the  Bible is a worthy guide to follow. Another unexamined premise. All of the abusive practices of the WCG thugs have their foundations in the Bible in either chapter or verse. Think about it.

In closing, she says she has no intention of ever returning to the reformed WCG because she is "free from its influence and its stranglehold forever." 

I don't think so.

Jim Baldwin

MD: I don't believe the writer regards her present affiliation as "the really true church" in any exclusivist sense.

Exorcism: I searched on Google to see just how active the Worldwide Church of God was about performing Exorcisms -- I didn't seem to come across anything. I wonder if there's anyone else out there that had an exorcism performed on them. The minister who did it... had a daughter that died from Leukemia, if I'm not mistaken... there's one former preacher from the [WCG who] emailed me the other day, and he verified personally knowing this minister... I got to writing about it, jotting down my personal memories, and "shame" attached with the experience... if they did this to me as a child/teenager, surely there were others.

Sharon Mooney


Surely this year they'll do the right thing and not restrict their largesse to the already well paid top executives.

Xmas Cheer: Guess what's happening on December 16th from 4.00 -7.00 in the Hall of Administration? It's the WCG staff Christmas party! And yes, there there is expected to be a huge Christmas tree right in the center of it all! The invitations have already been sent out. 

Of course, we're sure this isn't just a cheap way of denying the longsuffering and loyal employees their holiday bonuses by throwing them in a room with cheap plonk and making the usual seasonal grunts about "happy holidays". No. Surely this year they'll do the right thing and not restrict their largesse to the already well paid top executives.

Will Bernie dress up as Santa to hand out the checks, or will that job go to Joe (he already has the beard)? Will Greg come in a tutu as the Xmas fairy? 

Interestingly the WCG leadership still can't bring themselves to call it a "Christmas party" - at least in writing. On the invitation it's called a "holiday party" instead. We wonder what other holiday they might have had in mind?

As for whether the bonuses get paid to everyone, or the bigwigs hog the lot as usual, we'll keep you posted.

Look what Santa's bringing! Santa has brought a special Xmas surprise to the valued ministry of the Worldwide Church of God. The lads get to reapply for their ministerial credentials! 

The Church Administration department has sent a letter to all WCG elders in the United States informing them of our new ordination and licensing procedures and inviting them to submit an application for initial licensing and for re-issuance of their ordination certificate in accordance with our new Church Administration policies and procedures.

Check out the online WN.

Hey, Hoeh... Two reports from a special reporter: Many of the hard-line members who are holding on to the old ways are infuriated by Herman Hoeh after his sermon this past week on Passover/Communion/Eucharist.

Hoeh claims he sees absolutely nothing wrong with participating in Communion once a month or however often the church celebrates it. He said he goes up any time it is offered. These people demand that the old teaching of observing the Jewish Passover is the only legitimate way of keeping the remembrance of Christ's death. Does anyone really know where Hoeh stands on anything?

Glendora Gestapo? Neil Earle is also said to be ticking off people by demanding that they serve and attend regularly in his church. He reportedly expects all members to do what he tells them and is checking up on people's attendance to see who is showing up regularly.

Poor Paul Kroll: Paul Kroll has one of the toughest jobs in the WCG. Anyone writes a "difficult" letter to cult HQ and it's Paul - a former PT writer and journalism teacher at AC, who seems to get lumbered with the job of responding. The man deserves a medal, or at least a raise.

Recently the HWA Critic webmaster attempted to contact sect webmaster Bret Miller over the news that WCG had registered the name He wrote:

This seems awfully suspect to me, and indicates that the WCG hasn't changed at all -- that it still does all it can to shut up its critics and make sure no one has access to opposing points of view. I look forward to your explanation.

Not withstanding that the query was addressed to Bret, it was Paul Kroll that came out swinging:

Thank you for your message to the denominational offices of the Worldwide Church of God. The fact of the matter is that any company, organization or institution can register domain names. Since the name in question was not previously registered by any group, including the one that publishes "Ambassador Watch," we were able to do this. Why shouldn't we be able to register a name (if available) that has the word "Ambassador" in it? After all, the word "Ambassador" was very prominent in the Worldwide Church of God, which was summarized in the name of our college, Ambassador University.

If the "Ambassador Watch" publishers wanted the domain name "Ambassadorwatch," why didn't they register it? Since they apparently were not interested in the name, and it was available, why do you say it wrong for us to register it? Our registering of the domain name in question in no way affects or censures the magazine "Ambassador Watch," as you seem to imply. How could it? No doubt, "Ambassador Watch" will continue to be published by the group responsible for it Your implication that we are somehow attempting to or are able to censor this publication by registering a domain name is illogical.

The HWA Critic webmaster wasn't giving up that easily:

At the bottom of it all, though, is a question about morality. My first reaction was, “Doesn’t the WCG have anything better to do with its time and money than to go around registering domain names like that?” Considering the WCG’s fiscal troubles now, I should think this would have been considered money frivolously spent... Whatever became of wise Christian stewardship? ...

Lastly, there’s the argument that your “registering of the domain name in question in no way affects or
censures the magazine ‘Ambassador Watch,’ as [I] seem to imply. How could it? No doubt, ‘Ambassador Watch’ will continue to be published by the group responsible for it.” To be honest, this was the same argument you gave me when I wrote to you some years ago about the WCG’s copyright issue with the PCG. It didn’t hold then, and it doesn’t hold now...

And I just can’t help but return to the simple question, “Doesn’t the WCG, as a supposedly healthy Christian church, have better things to do with its time and money?”

Would Paul respond? Of course!

I gave you the courtesy of an explanation, and I don't have anything else to add. People will express all kinds of opinions about the words or actions of other people, and they're entitled to hold to what they believe. You've expressed your opinion and it has been duly noted...

HWA Critic's final reply:

I do understand that you are not in any position to comment on the thinking behind superiors' actions, which is what I was indeed asking you to do. It must make your job particularly difficult at times...

If the WCG administration sits scratching its head as to "why so many people seem to hate us now," such silly conduct that seems more in line with "the WCG of old" and not the kinder, gentler WCG everyone desperately wants to put across, coupled with the refusal to justify one's actions, goes a long way toward answering that question.

Which just about sums it up. You can read the full correspondence at


Greg: (1) It is with amusement to see that ol' Greg is trying to help Christians recover from their legalistic mindset. Yes, Greg is the Ann Landers of the WCG... the poster boy of righteousness....the listening ear of concern... 

If one wishes to see the love and concern of Greg, follow this link: 

(2) I took your advice and gave Greg some "feedback" by sharing a small portion of my "exit experience" from the (allegedly "reformed") WCG cult. Thanks for highlighting this opportunity--I sure wouldn't have ever known about it since I never, EVER log onto the PT Ministries website! And as you might suspect, I laughed so hard over this "invitation to share" that I dang near fell off my chair! Anyway, here's my "feedback".... Thanks for all your work (done with exquisite, tasteful humor....) in exposing the phony, non-credible, reform-wannabe's!

Greetings!  FYI, PT Ministries was mentioned (and poked fun of, actually) on a website called "Ambassador Watch", and readers were invited to share our personal story with you about our personal struggles with legalism.  So... here goes!

God didn't just deliver me and my family from legalism, but He rescued us from the tight grip and stranglehold of the Worldwide Church of God cult.  In 1997 my family and I were unfairly dismissed from all of our church responsibilities and 'banished' from attending our local fellowship over a conflict with the pastor that was deemed 'unresolvable'.  At the time, we begged and pleaded with this pastor to come together in prayer with us and resolve the conflict like level-headed, mature adults, but his response to us was, "I don't think prayer will do any good."  To make a long story short, my family (parents & siblings) turned against us and no one else from the church would speak to us (except for one close friend, who ultimately left).  We were humiliated and shamed beyond belief.  Today, this pastor is still employed by the WCG (in another church area) and there has never been any closure to this situation. At the time, my faith was shattered to the point that I didn't know who I was anymore... and this experience was so traumatic that I suffered a nervous breakdown and went through 'withdrawal symptoms' similar to what a recovering drug addict goes through. My husband and I became so antagonistic toward 'organized religion' in general, that we decided we'd never belong to any church fellowship ever again.

Three years later when our kids began asking if we could find a church to belong to, we prayed and asked God for a good referral; a place where His blessing was truly upon the preaching, the worship and the fellowship.  Two weeks later our prayers were answered when some neighbors we think highly of, invited us to their church, which was a 25-minute drive from our home (farther away than the local WCG we'd been kicked out of).  We spent two years at this church getting authentically grounded in the faith, and regaining our trust and respect once again, for church leadership and corporate worship.  At the end of that two years, we transferred our church attendance to a community church in our neighborhood, where we've been ever since (almost 2 years now).  Our current pastor and the people we worship with, are well aware of the WCG movement, and I've given my testimony there as well as some presentations on how to find a healthy church, as well as how to identify and refute false doctrine... and knowing when you should leave a church.  Dr. John MacArthur's radio broadcasts and internet ministry have helped restore my faith, by the grace of God.

During the 3 years when we didn't attend church anyplace, we were judged and criticized by other WCG family members and (former) friends who assumed we were no longer Christians because of not going to church anyplace.  It was (and still is) amazing to observe that although WCG had declared their 'transition from cult to Christianity' and had changed their doctrines (on paper) to be more biblical, that their cultic and legalistic practices were still well in-tact.  It is amazing to observe how legalistic and judgmental some of our family members (in "ordained" positions) still are, here and now, in 2003... in the "new" WCG.

The first time I gave my testimony, there was not a dry eye in the room.  The second time I gave it (in another church), I added humor, and found myself surrounded by numerous people afterward who expressed how shocked they were by my life-long experience in WCG, and how they would pray for my continued recovery from spiritual abuse in the cult.

In closing, I can appreciate why PT ministries would want to continue to operate (let's face it, y'all need jobs and income, etc.), however, I assume you realize that your primary source of credibility would come from unsuspecting souls outside of WCG who don't realize that just a short ten years ago, you yourselves, were preaching toxic faith and legalism!  How funny is that?!  As for me, I'm teaching people how not to swallow everything they hear or read "in the name of God", but instead, to scrutinize, question, research and background-check every unfamiliar (and popular) speaker and author to see how well their teachings measure up with biblical Christianity.  I admonish (new believers, especially) to be cautious  of WCG's claim of transformation from cult to Christianity.  And my advice to recovering cultists (and legalists) is that, just like drugs & alcohol, you cannot come truly CLEAN until you give them up completely, meaning you need to break away from the influences that fostered your abuse in the first place (a.k.a. WCG).  And, in my humble opinion, it makes no difference how "orthodox" or "right with God" that WCG may become, because I have no intentions of ever returning and am free from its influence and its stranglehold FOREVER.

Thank you for letting me share.  And, of course, I know you will never print this letter in your publication!!!

Size - COGs comparing themselves with themselves: I don't want to insult anybody, but sometimes when I read the mailbag I want to laugh. Other times I want to cry. 

Recent mail concerning the sizes and growth patterns of the various COGs are a good case in point. It amazes me that people cling to these statistics and put so much faith in them. Five hundred people at a North American feast site? Three percent growth? Four percent? Seven percent? These figures might be encouraging if we were talking about congregations of any size, but jumping from 500 people to 512 is pathetic. A 25% growth rate is more respectable, but when you leap from 200 to 258 you still aren't going to make the evening news.

This whole scenario of splinter churches competing with one another has a post-apocalyptic air about it, like the ragged survivors on once-great cities competing with one another for global supremacy. The Worldwide Church of God once boasted 30% growth per year, and did so for decades. At its peak, it claimed 100 thousand members worldwide, and took in $230 million annually. And UCG is excited over $18 million? (Maybe they have a point, if their membership is measured in the hundreds!) More than 8000 people attended my first feast in 1963, and even as feast sites became more numerous, few North American sites ever counted fewer than 4000.

Even [WCG] was puny as cults go. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses can each boast millions of members in North America alone, never mind the rest of the word. But we were proud of our 100 thousand, and now it's all fragmented and blown away in the wind. How do these splinter cults imagine that they are going to "carry the gospel" to -- anyone? Herbert Armstrong, before he died, claimed to have finished that job. So why do they bother?

With all respect to the people still enslaved by the remnants of Armstrongism, I think it's time people recognized that they are nothing more than a life-support system for renegade ministers who are either too old or too arrogant to seek honest employment. 

Has anybody noticed how quickly all these guys are dying off? 
And Jesus still hasn't come? 
And none of the prophecies have come to pass? 
And nothing in the news indicates that they will (anytime soon)?

Doesn't that TELL you anything?

John Bowers

19 November. GREG ALBRECHT - WCG'S FUNNY MAN.  Mail: Nose thumbing

"We welcome your comments", says a statement on the RFL site,  "about your struggles with legalism." 

How very considerate!  If you'd like to give Greg some feedback, follow this link.

Dear Greg: You've gotta hand it to Greg Albrecht. Does that guy have a wicked sense of humor or what! Now PTM presents its newest face: Recovering from Legalism. The new "ministry" poses the question: Are you convinced that your obedience and performance has some bearing on your salvation?

Boy, are we glad Greg asked! You see there's this reformed (or perhaps deformed) cult we're aware of called... well let's just say it's based in Southern California. They teach that unless you mindlessly follow their leader's directives, change your worship day on demand and clap 'n stomp, then you're a third class Christian. Moreover, they chuck out people who defy the edicts of their hierarchical ministry and run the whole shebang without any elected office holders! Dear Greg, what word from the Lord do you have to bring succor to these poor deluded folk? We anxiously await your response.

And here's the really funny part. Greg writes the following on RFL: We all need two things in and from a church. We need a church that will nurture and feed us. But we also need a church where we can find a place to be involved and make a contribution. Greg, mate! You're a real hoot!


Antion: Kathleen Kakacek asks the following about David Antion:  "Because he was part of the 1974 exodus, I assumed for many years that he was one of the ministers who left for the sake of conscience."

I can't speak for his conscience, but here is the history of that situation as I remember it:

DLA did indeed leave WCG in 1974 along with Al Portune, Ernest Martin, and those who started the Associated Churches of God.  At that time, DLA was upset that Ted was still in a ministerial position even though Ted did not meet the qualifications of the ministry as taught in Timothy and Titus.  (All of this is recounted in the early issues of the now-defunct Ambassador Report and Ambassador Review.)  However, DLA came back to WCG shortly after leaving.  I never understood why.  A writer for the Ambassdor Report told me around 1978 that DLA needed a steady income so he could finish his graduate work.  During the years 1977 - 79 it was no secret that HWA loved having DLA on the AC faculty.  HWA looked at this as a slap in the face to Ted (DLA's brother in law) who in 1978 had set up CGI.  It was a great arrangement for both:  HWA got to thumb his nose at Ted while DLA got a great salary for not doing much in his last year or two at AC.  DLA didn't leave WCG until the Receivership crisis in 1979. That's when he, Wayne Cole, and Robert Kuhn started the infamous shoving and shouting match in the lobby of the Auditorium by refusing to leave.  

Did DLA leave for conscience sake?  Could be.  But I think he was just upset because WCG decided to fight the Receivership.  He wanted the #2 man (Rader) to be replaced by Wayne Cole.  It is important to note the following regarding so many of the old-timers.  They got mad and left WCG NOT because the system was bad and they disagreed with the system.  They got mad and left because they disagreed with who should be IN CHARGE OF THE SYSTEM!  This is an important distinction.  So many of the old-timers are hierarchicalists simply because they are too old to change.  

One historical footnote that many do not know is that in 1979 Judge Weisman (the Receiver) actually invited Ted onto the AC campus to "interview" him.  In their discussions, they talked about Ted possibly coming back to take over WCG again.  But when the local brethren in Pasadena found out about this and had fits, Weisman had to drop the idea. This was one of the few times WCG allowed the brethren to express themselves so openly.  But the brethren proved to be absolutely right that Ted should not be brought back to run the place.  By putting their collective foot down, Ted's infamous masseuse incident years later became a problem for CGI and not WCG.   HWA should have listened to them more.

Wes White

18 November. FRACTURED COG? HAMMER & VANCE FUNERALS, RAYMOND McNAIR.  Mail: Herb's PR gurus, home improvements

PCG Splinter sites: It's hard keeping up with some of the smaller COG groups, many of which are solo operations by one minister drawing tithes from a very few supporters. It's also hard to gauge the real size of some groups, as anybody can put up a website. With that in mind we were interested to learn that TCOG ("The Church of God" funnily enough), a schism from Flurry's Oklahoma-based cult, now appears to have websites representing two distinct groups. They are: (Don Roth and Gary Liebold) and (Jim Mortensen). We gather there has been a parting of ways and their miniscule flock has been further divided.

Hammer and Vance deaths: The Journal is running announcements about the deaths of Buck Hammer and E. B. Vance on their website. Excerpts:

Buck Hammer of Gladewater, Texas, the man who donated the original property to Herbert W. Armstrong and the Radio Church of God in 1953 that 11 years later became the core of the Texas campus of Ambassador College, died early on Saturday, Nov. 15, after a heart attack... 

Funeral services are scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m. at Croley Funeral Home, Gladewater. Burial will be in Gladewater Memorial Park. 

Memorials may be made to the United Church of God East Texas Building Fund...

Longtime Church of God member E.B. Vance died Saturday, Nov. 15. Mr. Vance was an area coordinator for the Intercontinental Church of God, based near Tyler, Texas, founded by Garner Ted Armstrong, who died Sept. 15. 

Mr. Vance's funeral is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Burks Walker Tippit Funeral Home in Tyler. 

David Antion has written the following about Hammer:

Buck Hammer was among the first deacons to be ordained in the early 1950's. He was also the one who donated the property that later became the first "Tabernacle" or Redwood library building for Ambassador College, Big Sandy. Buck really was a visionary and business entrepreneur. It was his idea to build a lake on the A.C. property. He could foresee that the lake could be built just by damming up a stream on the property and Lake Loma came to be.

He saw that a 9 hole golf course could be built on the same property. He believed in organic farming and was the impetus behind what was affectionately called the "Digester".

Buck Hammer grew up in East Texas and was instrumental (along with Roy and Pearl Hammer -- his parents) in winning the acceptance of the people of the community and fostering their respect of the Church of God, its festivals and practices in the Gladewater, Longview and Big Sandy communities.

McNair update: According to a recent news board posting, citing LCG's Carl McNair, former WCG evangelist Raymond McNair is believed to have developed a tumor at the base of his spine and was told by a surgeon that with an operation he would have a 50/50 chance of winding up paralyzed from the waist down. He elected not to have the operation. Since then the tumor is said to be shrinking and he is experiencing less pain. He is reportedly not aligned at present with any COG sect.

Story withdrawn: An item that appeared in the 16 Nov. AW upload was later withdrawn. It included a link to the latest Church of God News (published by the Hulme sect) and some comments challenging the idea that the COG movement is unrelated to the broader "Protestant" stream of Christianity. It was only after the story had been up a few hours that a re-reading of the lead article indicated that the passage quoted was probably not fully representative of the views in the article. 

The points made in the AW commentary are still valid however. They were: (1) The COG movement is a part of the Adventist family. Adventism is subdivision of Protestantism (William Miller was a Baptist preacher). (2) The COGs use the Protestant canon of the Old and New Testaments - a telling indicator, and not the Septuagint canon of the early church (which is closer to the Roman Catholic canon). (3) The COG movement has never claimed to be a "Restoration" in the same sense the Latter-day Saints do (they claim the true church died out and had to be kick-started again). Instead many COG ministers have simply claimed that the Reformation did not go far enough (i.e. by not introducing COG distinctives). We stated that any attempt to draw a direct link between the COGs and the early Jerusalem church was ludicrous, and that radical reconstructions (such as those attempted by Dugger & Dodd and Hoeh) had never been able to stand up to any kind of scrutiny. 


Wisdom from a Frankfurter: I want to thank the individual providing the information about Herbert's enthusiasm for the writings of Claude Hopkins. It would also be interesting to know if Herb read the writings of Edward Bernays, the father of modern public relations. Authoring such books as "Crystallizing Public Opinion", "Propaganda", and "The Engineering of Consent", Bernays claimed the manipulation of the masses was both natural and necessary. In a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter described Bernays and Ivy Lee as "professional poisoners of the public mind, exploiters of foolishness, fanaticism and self interest." Sounds like a guy Herb could really cozy up to. 


3T Home improvements: Was David Antion ever known to have expressed any remorse for the $40,000 in third tithe that was used to furnish and decorate his home when he was a minister in the WCG?

It strikes me as ludicrous in the extreme that he mentioned in a letter to GTA that Ted had been one of the foremost critics of the misuse of the tithe, when Antion himself was one of the recipients of what, for 1970s dollar values, was a tremendous amount of money from those funds. Does he claim not to have known the source of those funds? See 

Because he was part of the 1974 exodus, I assumed for many years that he was one of the ministers who left for the sake of conscience. Yet one of the things Molly Antion mentions in her article about her fond memories of Ambassador College (Big Sandy, Texas) is that their ouster from WCG initially gave them great concern about whether or not they would be able to keep their beautiful new home (fortunately, they didn't lose it--whew!). See 

Kathleen Kakacek

MD: And Ron Dart was another lucky 3T recipient - we'd love to hear him explain that away.


Buck Hammer dies: Dixon Cartwright sent the following message to those on The Journal email list:

Just to let you know that Buck Hammer died last night, Friday, Nov. 14. He was visiting with his son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Terri, in Gladewater when he became ill. They called an ambulance and he died either on the way to or in a Longview hospital.

Buck Hammer was the brother of Shirley Armstrong and Molly Antion.

No More Tithing, by George W. Greene

"... a serious challenge to the popular teaching that indicates a believer must or should give 10% of their income to their denomination or church in order to show obedience to God. The author carefully reviews every one of the scriptures others use to teach tithing and points out major inconsistencies. The author's presentation is easy to read, easy to follow, and difficult to dismiss."

See the current booklist page

15 November. BORROW & HOPE?  Mail: WCG eats UCG's dust, the name game, CGI trumps Big Two in Jamaica, Flurry's friendly FOT, victimhood

WCG puts it on the tab: The latest financial reshuffle on the good ship WCG has been announced by Ronald Kelly in a letter accompanying the latest Tkach weekly update.

We are now excited to announce that in keeping with our plans and policy of not using member donations to fund either our discretionary assistance program or our property holding and sales costs, the church has obtained a line of credit under very favorable term to cover all these items on a moving forward basis. This move has been made after careful consultations with, and on the advice and aid of, third party financial experts who are familiar with prudent practices on such matters. The line of credit will be drawn upon only as needed and will be repaid when the Pasadena property sale has been completed. This means that member donations will not be used for these three expense funds, but will rather only fund the operations of the church including funding all of our local congregations (by far the largest expense of the denomination), maintaining our international headquarters, our international missions, district supervision, youth activities, regional conferences, etc.

On the whole, this is very good news. However, there are still important decisions that need to be made. A primary requirement for the above-mentioned funding program is that the Worldwide Church of God must present and maintain a balanced budget for 2004. In other words, the expenses for operating the church side of the expense ledger cannot exceed the income received by the church.

Those of you who regularly read this monthly WN financial update know that for the past several years we have spent considerably more than income. We have been able to maintain an appropriate reserve level because we had properties, equipment and furnishing to sell. Next year, we will not have these options and will balance our expense budget to match projected income. Even though we now can plan a balanced budget, it will be necessary, in order to achieve that balance, to carefully evaluate our expenses.

Our department managers have been hard at work preparing budgets to present to the church board of directors later this month or early next month. In order to achieve a balanced budget we are planning to: (1) Slightly reduce the number of Regional Conferences and reduce the number of days for each conference; (2) Two District Superintendents reaching their retirement years will be enrolled in the Discretionary Assistance program and will not be replaced, thus district boundaries will be restructured; (3) Selected church areas, for example two congregations in the same city, might be combined into one (this will only impact a very few congregations); (4) New church circuits will be created allowing some of our pastors to serve two or more congregations in a circuit; (5) We will not be able to maintain the level of financial contributions to international missions, however we will be able to fund our five Mission Development programs; (6) A few employees who have reached a normal retirement age might be enrolled in the Discretionary Assistance Program and, if so, will not be replaced; (7) A small number of pastors are evaluating transferring to other careers and being replaced by either a bivocational pastor or a nearby pastor joining the congregation in a circuit; (8) A few pastors who serve congregations or circuits that are not able to financially meet their expenses will seek part-time employment outside of the ministry as serve as what we call “dual-career” pastors, meaning the church will continue to pay a portion of their salaries plus their fringe benefits allowing them to work part time in another job to supplement their wages.

These budget-reduction plans minimize staff reductions that are so often necessary when corporations downsize. Of course there may be a few reductions in staff as we complete our plans, but the major savings are a result of the points mentioned above. 

Meantime an AW correspondent notes that WCG income appears to have sunk below UCG's (see today's mailbag). In a spirit of helpfulness we'd like to suggest the following additional measures Ron could implement:

(9) All WCG executives to take a 10% salary cut with the exception of Messrs Tkach, Albrecht and Schnippert who, to set an example of Christian sacrifice, should take a 12.5% cut; (10) Pastor General Tkach introduces cuts in executive travel, and restricts his own offshore adventures to 3 per year; (11) No bonuses for WCG executives this year.

Can you see any of these things happening? 


UCG income overtakes WCG: I just noticed that the UCG has surpassed the WCG in income. The UCG is at $18.4 million and rising while the WCG is at $16.8 million and falling. This is a remarkable achievement for the UCG management team and a major embarrassment for the highly paid WCG Board.

MD: Another good reason for Joe to vote himself a hefty salary cut and can Bernie's bonuses.

Beware of imitations: (1) I am amazed to read the news item about Bret Miller registering the name Ambassador Watch. How pathetic can they get? I wonder who else they have tried to copy? I had heard some time ago that they went to Texas and other states to register the name of GTA's church years ago. So I guess I should not be surprised at the deceit! 

(2) Yesterday I wrote an article about the other Ambassador Watch but did not post it until this morning. I was surprised that you mentioned it at the same time as it has been around for a while (it has been listed in many searches).

However, I never actually visited the site until yesterday 11/12/03. I think that it was totally inappropriate for them to use your name. Once or twice, The Journal has used the term "COG writer" in a headline, and it was not about me or the website. Some others have used the term as well. The other Ambassador Watch probably will confuse some looking for your website, but since you are in New Zealand and it is in the US, the situation will probably continue. 

Bob Thiel

MD: Bob is referring to the Ken Story site ( which is different from the domains registered by WCG.

CGI's Jamaican FOT: With all the excitement being generated about approximately 3%, 4% and 7% growth in Feast attendance I thought I would drop you a line about our "cool" Jamaican Church of God, International (CGI) site which had an over 25% (I am being conservative) verifiable growth in Feast attendance over last year.

To make sure I did not blunder, as some alleged the UCG initially did, I checked back my Journal report on the Feast last year and found that I reported approximately 200 persons attending our Feast site in Ocho Rios Jamaica. Well, this year we had 258 in attendance and among this number were only seven Americans including visiting speakers. This is indigenous growth. Though many members are struggling every single member of the church here attended the Feast. We also had five baptisms (Jamaicans) at the Feast. The UCG baptized two persons who are living overseas. The Living Church of God had no baptism.

The UCG had a big "American Feast site" in Jamaica as I describe it as they had over 500 (I believe 512) but under 100 were from Jamaica. LCG had approximately 20 visitors and a total attendance under 100 at its Feast site, from reports reaching me. The CGI is manifesting in Jamaica the trend which has been projected for Christianity generally and is well captured by Phillip Johnson's book "The Next Christianity"--- the future of the growth of the movement is in the developing world, not in the United States and Europe. The Jamaican churches of God's Feast statistics tell a larger story of the strength of the UCG and to a lesser extent the LCG in the United States vis-a-vis CGI's modest size, compared to the buoyant CGI growth in this Third World country of 2.5 million persons and the Big Two's modest growth here.

Perhaps not surprising to readers of Ambassador Watch, the Pastor of the local UCG congregation, actually an ex-CGI leader, remains a close and dear personal friend and was in my room chatting with me at the Feast, but the pastor of the LCG, whom I have known for three decades and who used to give me a ride to services in the old WCG days, has nothing to do with me and has boasted to his members that he participated in my disfellowshipment from the WCG-- for the crime of simply listening to tapes from Garner Ted Armstrong. So the spirit of the American corporate COGs remain the same outside America!

Ian Boyne

PCG's Philadelphian love: Reading the letter regarding the PGC's Feast reminded me of a couple of incidents I heard about at their feast. First, the wife of one of their member who's in the WCG attended with the family in order to keep the peace. She was basically deserted, had to eat by herself, and no one would speak to her because she wasn't part of their church. The second incident involved a woman who was on some sort of medication. She wasn't allowed to attend services because she didn't have the faith to be healed. I guess the motels at this site wouldn't rent to the PCG so the people had to stay about 30 miles away. 

Justifiable grievances: I note that yet another apologist for the WCG has come forth with a paper to make that despicable organization comfortable while that apologist bashes the suffering cast-offs. This time another choosing to hide behind a pseudonym has written without thought. I speak of one "Aristophanes." 

He fails to note that the very basis of legal judgments in our culture of law is that of blame-placing. One person has
either real or perceived wrong and either that person or the state goes into court to seek redress of grievances. So 
there are victims and there are the defendants either criminal or civil who must bear the responsibility for having done wrong. They are either found guilty or acquitted. It doesn't work perfectly but that is the principle behind law. Wronged people are seeking justice from an impartial court. And, of course, the lawyers play out the adversarial part of proceedings within limitations as allowed by the judge.

(Unfortunately, there is little redress in the courts in religious matters and the cult leaders love to have it so. The many suffering folks ruined in life by the cult masters have no closure. And denied this closure, Aristophanes would have them blame themselves for their suffering).

The principle in jurisprudence is behind the therapy sessions where counselors try to help the injured party come to grips with their pains by explaining victimhood and pointing out the abusers. That Aristophanes ignorantly calls "professional laziness" and being part of the "Blame Culture." He would have the suffering person accept the blame as if that would heal the suffering. What school of life did this guy come from, anyways? 

Aristophanes would have the wronged person in his world go and suffer in silence. Thankfully, we don't have that kind of society. His attitude would be better fitting for the North Korean culture or maybe he is actually writing on behalf of his handlers in the WCG cult. It certainly benefits them. All the horrendous problems in the cult were always blamed on the victims--the general membership. They weren't praying enough, fasting enough, loving enough, repenting enough, submissive enough or giving enough. HWA loved dumping on the members. His successors continue the actions. It's damned convenient for them--and for Aristophanes.

And those who defend the cult and its criminal leaders will often tell the suffering to "just get over it" or, "no one held a gun to your head" or, "you're just bitter." I've heard them all. The people who mouth these phrases reveal considerable lack of thought and empathy at best or are supporting the cult leaders at worse.

Let's consider a high-profile case in the news these days. Tell me, Aristophanes, what is Elizabeth Smart to do about her damaged innocence? Just get over it? Should she blame herself for having been taken at force from the supposed safety of her own bedroom? Is she going to be able to deal with the terrible trauma by forgetting about her tormentor and just move on? Is she to deny her victim status? To answer in the affirmative would be madness. No. She will need considerable love, understanding and therapy from professionals who live in a real world, not the one inhabited by the likes of Aristophanes.

If he had his way back in the days of the founding of this great country he would have the colonists sit back and
suffer in silence for the wrongs thrust on them by an inconsiderate regime back in England. Our apologist for wrongs would have us look at the signers of the Declaration of Independence as a bunch of crybabies and whiners for meticulously listing their justifiable grievances. They were placing blame where it belonged and they were no afraid to say so, placing their lives and fortunes on the line.

The case of Sharon at hand is a personal tragedy. And to make other wrong choices after the cult experience is not what I am defending. I am angered by the person I'm addressing in this forum who dismisses the suffering by heaping on more with thoughtless, hurtful, and ill-conceived statements attempting to deny that there are victims. Just how the hell will this approach help the Sharons of the world?

Jim Baldwin
(Not hiding)

MD: Living in the tension between personal responsibility and the need to hold abusers and manipulators to account is never simple. I'll take "a bob each way" and agree with both of you! It's only fair to note that the individual using the pen name Aristophanes has good reasons for doing so and is anything but an apologist for Herb or the WCG.

14 NovemberBRET SPENDS DONOR DOLLARS ON AW NAME.  Mail: The blame game, being nice to Satan, PCG FOT, UCG mail.

Who has registered the name Well, it isn't us!

Worldwide Church of God
300 West Green Street
Pasadena, California 91123
United States

Registered through:
Created on: 04-Sep-02
Expires on: 04-Sep-04
Last Updated on: 12-Jun-03

Administrative Contact:
Miller, Bret 
Worldwide Church of God
300 West Green Street
Pasadena, California 91123
United States
626-304-6000 Fax -- 626-356-0493
Technical Contact:
Miller, Bret 
Worldwide Church of God
300 West Green Street
Pasadena, California 91123
United States
626-304-6000 Fax -- 626-356-0493

WCG has also registered, and Wow guys, we're - um - flattered. We didn't realize you were such big fans!


Freud fraud?  Without in any way diminishing the awful experiences that Sharon Mooney went through, which clearly and understandably had a serious effect on her, I think it's worth drawing attention to the last sentences of her letter:

all of which can be blamed on Herbert Armstrong!? Well that just about clears up everything. 

YES IT DOES. Thank you for your understanding and open mind. I'm glad you see the connection, because all the professional counselors I spoke to did.

And that's the key to it. Unfortunately, this is what all too many counselors and therapists do. It's professional laziness on their part. Their way of helping someone to deal with their (genuine) trauma is to persuade them that none of it is their responsibility -- to shift all of the blame onto someone else. This has become one of the characteristics of late-20th/early-21st century America, and it is rapidly spreading from America to other countries: the Blame Culture. Everything bad that happens to you is someone else's fault. The much-discredited Sigmund Freud was largely responsible for starting all this off, but it's now become big business. If you're now 35, or 48, or 62, and your life is a mess, it's because your mother smacked you for wetting the bed when you were 4 -- or because you read a booklet by Herbert W Armstrong.

Many new religions (and some old ones) have massive faults, and screw people up, and are at times abusive, and the abuse is real. People leave new religious movements ("sects and cults"), for these and other reasons, all the time. Most of them don't have any major hang-ups about their time with the religion. Bits of it were good, and bits of it were bad -- just like most life experiences (including love affairs -- the parallels with joining, being in, and leaving a religion, are quite startling). Most people deal with it, by integrating it into their present lives, or by putting it behind them, and move on with their lives.

It's a very well-identified phenomenon that people who are "helped" by anti-cult groups or by therapists either in leaving a new religion, or after they have left it, have a tendency to become "professional victims", full of bitterness towards the evil cult which has scarred their lives forever. Other ex-members, who had the same experiences but left without such "help", somehow manage to move on; they might have been hurt, they might have been angry about it, but living today and planning tomorrow are more important to them than festering in yesterday.

Yes, HWA will have had an influence on Sharon's life, on her thinking, on her decision-making. So will everyone else she has known, everything she has read, and everything she has witnessed or experienced. To make him solely responsible for all her decisions and her consequent problems is, I'm afraid, therapeutic buck-passing, and of no service to Sharon or to anyone else. To repeat, Sharon had some awful experiences, and has genuinely been badly hurt by them. But to make HWA responsible for the fact that she married a neo-Nazi, and that her husband was a murderer, and that neo-Nazis made telephone threats to her and sent her explosives through the post, is ludicrous. She made her own choices, and some of them turned out to be huge mistakes. She got in with some evil people -- and they bear the responsibility for their actions, not HWA.


Mocking the guy in red: I would like to reply, with my opinion about Mr. Stump's comments about mocking Satan.

I agree that he does not deserve capital letters, respect and the rest of it, but I feel that to actively involve yourself in mocking or ridiculing is, if not dangerous, not Christian. We defeat Satan every time we pray, preach the gospel, love, read the Bible and so forth. 

I read nowhere in the Bible (which I consider fact and a reference book of God's will) that says we should take an active role in scorning the devil. I am not saying that we should pretend that he does not exist or is not powerful, Satan would love us to believe that, but I don't think we should poke a stick at an angry dog.

The reasons I say this are;

1) It does no damage to Satan
2) The Bible teaches us that we should not have hate in our hearts, mocking and scorning represent hate.
3) It is exactly what Satan wants, as you are showing by your actions that you have hate in your heart.

MD: Or maybe it just shows that you have a sense of humor?

Flurry FOT: I spoke with a [PCG] member who told me there was nothing exciting about the Feast. This person stated that Gerry went on & on about the court case 'victory' like it was news... that Habakkuk was all about that case, blah, blah, blah. The person also added that the only way to stay awake was to read the Bible. My question is...."why does anyone stay to feed the beast?"  Oh, and BTW, the end is near!


Unwanted UCG mail:  Just wanted to highlight something that can be done by those who continue to receive unwanted UCG mailings in the US. The website contains instructions regarding the USPS Form 1500 (called a prohibitory order) which allows the receiver of junk mail to block unwanted mail from a particular sender. If they continue to send they could be prosecuted.

Lyle Lange

12 November. LCG FOT STATS, JAMAICAN COOL!  Mail: Herb loves Claude, neo-Nazis, Arnie again, FOT cross-pollination... and a lot more.

LCG - massaging the numbers? You can, they say, prove anything with statistics. We're still confused over UCG's figures. And now here's Charles Bryce's encouraging report to the LCG faithful.

... the final attendance figures are now in for the Feast of Tabernacles 2003. We had a 2.92% increase in total Feast attendance around the world this year over last, in the Living Church of God. Even more encouraging is the 7.24% increase at the US Feast sites.

I'm sure somebody will correct us if we're wrong, but if the US increase was over 7% but the total increase (presumably including the US) was under 3%, doesn't that mean that there must have been a slump in attendance outside the US to drag the statistics down that far?

COG7 abroad: It seems an effort is underway to introduce the Church of God (Seventh Day) into South Africa. A local website has information in three languages (English, Afrikaans and Xhosa). According to the site:

After a presence at the International Ministerial Conference in August 2002, the Church is being established in South Africa, from the West Rand in the greater Johannesburg area.

And on a related note, why not sample a very cool COG7 musical item from Clifford Henry, a member of the Jamaica Conference (Windows Media Player required). This guy is good! Maybe he could team up with Richard Burkard for the next Philadelphia Foundation season! (see Richard's letter in today's mailbag). Can't you just see Gerry loosening his tie and swinging his hips to the rhythm!

Finally, if you've had your fill of the standard-issue uptight Anglo media ministers in expensive suits pontificating on COG programs cloned from the World Tomorrow of yesteryear, then have a listen to this brief clip from the Jamaican COG7 radio show Answers from the Word!


Herb's advertising guru: Under the tag "Perverted Genius" the writer wondered where HWA got his advertising expertise. HWA, by his own and eager admission, was an avid student of marketing great Claude Hopkins (among others), who arguably changed advertising in America forever in the early part of the 20th century (see In his 1980 "Plain Truth Editorial Policy" written in Tucson and privately distributed to Plain Truth writers and editors as part of the obscene WCG Cultural Revolution of "Getting Back on Track," HWA openly spoke of Hopkins' influence on him, especially Hopkins' book "Scientific Advertising" (which is now available for free on the Web: Many late 20th century advertising greats (including David Ogilvy) strongly recommended that any future and present ad copywriter read the book, even though it was published many decades before television, radio and, of course, the Internet. HWA gave his personal copy of Scientific Advertising to Dexter Faulker before HWA's death. The book's margins were heavily annotated in HWA's personal handwriting about how Hopkins' principles could be applied to the "Work."  (Faulkner included a number of HWA's direct comments from the margins in Faulkner's Worldwide News tribute column immediately following HWA's death in 1986.)  Interestingly enough, and to be fair to HWA, many of Armstrong's personal comments lamented how advertising encouraged greed and unfair profit-taking through targeted and heavy-handed promotion. Ironically, as any reader of Hopkins' material and history will find, Hopkins is credited with the origin and application of market research and market surveys, which makes one wonder where HWA got that idea.

Long-time nuisance: Detailed information was not available when I wrote expressing concern for the apparent discrepancy in UCG feast stats. A quick look at the date my letter was posted and the date the United News was made available online would show this, which Brian failed to mention. Past UCG information has shown that the first day of the feast and sometimes the weekly Sabbath most often reflect the highest attendance figures. This year the first and last day fell on the weekly Sabbath. I felt that this is why Roy only mentioned these days in his letter, as they were most likely to reflect the highest attendance days as well. 

I would like to know what the actual attendance figures are for UCG members. I believe that this would be eye-opening for all to see, even the UCG leadership. As many posts from the last few days have shown, several who have attempted to cut all ties with UCG have been unable to do so. This in itself should cast doubt on their mailing stats. I, like Floyd, have been returning their publications (Return To Sender) since June of this year. It has been just over a month since receiving any UCG publications, so maybe this works. 

One reason why MD and its many readers are so quick to note these discrepancies, is because of the "deep-rooted need to deceive" which permeates most, if not all, of the COG splits and their mother, the WCG. I still have family and many friends in UCG and it is a personal concern to me when I see the UCG leadership so easily pull the wool over their eyes. My family still attends mainly due to such long held relationships with some of the members. They serve well in the local church, but give no support to the home office.

Speaking of the latest feast, the change in their teaching concerning the Last Great Day is a good example. They no longer believe that the LGD is the day spoken of in John 7:37. In fact, I was told that I was mathematically ignorant when quoting Lev. 23:36 and calling it the 8th day of the feast. I do not want to start a debate as to whether they are right or wrong, but do want to point out that if they believe they are correct in this, why hide it. If it is truth correcting a past error in teaching, shouldn't they want to shout it out loud, instead of denying any change? Is anyone aware of any sermon during the feast, which explained this new teaching? To hide this along with the other changes is deception. God does not keep His people ignorant of Truth. Ignorance was a tool of those in power during the dark ages and unfortunately, many today still find it a tremendous tool in keeping their power over the people. 

UCG members should be diligent in reading the publications of their own church. The study papers contain bits and pieces of the changes that have been made in doctrine. However, the leaders of UCG are well aware that it is a rare member that takes the time to prove these publications. Those that do, usually do not remain members of UCG and are considered a short-lived nuisance.

Thomas (attempting to be a long-time nuisance)

Seig Herb! To the rude, insensitive person who wrote [about your link my article]:

Per the link you posted regarding the ex-WCG and neo Nazi connection, let me see if I understand this correctly: The "victim", grows up and leaves the WCG...

Thanks to Joseph Tkach I left the church, and never went back... due to his reformation of Armstrong's doctrines, I was one of those fools that believed he was wrong and Armstrong was right -- instead of joining Flurry's group, I struck out on my own. AND THANK GOD I LEFT THE WCG. Too bad I didn't have the sense to leave it years earlier. But we were taught well, that those people who did, had crossed "the point of no return" and had committed the unpardonable sin. Surely Hell, the eternal death, awaited them all!

begins writing to neo-Nazi's in prison...

Where did I get my exposure to Nazism? Why would anyone care to research those people? Except the man himself in Pasadena. Haunting fears implanted in the mind since childhood --- consuming my fears of 'when are the Nazis coming'? When O' Lord? When? When I saw the Berlin Wall break down in 1989, I thought to myself "Surely O' my God, Herbert Armstrong has to be God's one true Apostle, and his prophecy has been fulfilled!" I was braver than most, and confronted my fears. That's how I got tangled up with those people.

decides to abandon her child and move to Germany...marries a 

Sharon abandoned nobody. Sharon made sure her baby back in America had medical coverage and a steady income provided to the sister taking care of the child temporarily, my sister was sent funds from Germany to help on her costs... would you have been happier had I brought her to Germany, a stranger in a strange land, and then myself and my daughter are shipped home in a pine box... would that make you happy and say "Well, haha, at least she didn't abandon her child... praise the Lord." Get off your hypocritical, self-righteous, high-horse and quit judging other people. I guess you'd say those people who willingly drank the cyanide under Jim Jones influence, were merely "thirsty". Letting my daughter stay with her aunt, is not abandonment. It was cleared through the U.S. Government for my sister to have temporary Guardianship. This is nothing unusual at all in this. Of course since you want to see Armstrong in a perfect light, I expect this kind of exaggeration to be made. That's right --- bad single mothers! dirty, dirty, why back in the good ole' days --- they simply took women like that out and stoned them -- fornication and adultery and unwed mothers --- I listened well to the sermons of the WCG, "her sin is in her skirts"... women are a filthy wicked seed in the earth. Abandoned my child... KMA.

neo-Nazi ex-con... finds out the neo-Nazi isn't terribly honest and is having an affair with "Bianca"...asking herself where she went wrong she moves back to the US...gets some hate mail including a mail bomb...

Yup. Neo-Nazis, these people which Herbert Armstrong had the strongest fascination for... as we are all aware, neo-Nazis normally send out candy and flowers to their victims.

gets harassing phone calls...and has to take drugs to settle down...

Let's see what three nervous breakdowns will do to you. *smile*

As Maria Antoinette said "Let them eat cake". So of course you can't see why anyone would have to take sleeping pills to get beyond the nightmares. Oh hey, those 91 stab wounds in that woman's body --- that was nothing --- and a man getting shot in the back with a sawed off shotgun --- yeah, yeah, it wouldn't do anything to disrupt a peaceful life. Judge no one until you've walked a mile in their shoes.

all of which can be blamed on Herbert Armstrong!? Well that just about clears up everything. 

YES IT DOES. Thank you for your understanding and open mind. I'm glad you see the connection, because all the professional counselors I spoke to did.

Sharon Mooney

Give Gerry some free exposure! I noticed the link on the MD site for people to write to [the Canadian Brass] to complain about Flurry's cult. Not only should they do that, but they should also write to the various churches in Edmond OK. and tell them what kind of cult Flurry is leading. Tell them how Flurry is preparing to pack his members off to Petra, how he breaks up marriages and families, how he [uses the] tithe money from members... Since many of the people who may attend some of the concerts in his so-called 'auditorium' are professed Christians, I doubt very much that they would be supporting such a dangerous cult if they knew the lies that it is founded upon.

Here are some links to churches in the area. Link 1, link 2, link 3.  

People should also be contacting the City of Edmond to ask they why they support such a cult by having representatives of the City attend.

Any old Envoys? 


MD: The creator of the site sent us this link without further comment. We wish her good luck with the project.

Shocked!  Did I read this correctly? The Canadian Brass performed at PCG's John Amos Field House in "white sneakers?"

I'm shocked -- SHOCKED! I'd think this group would have to comply with the PCG dress code for FORMAL occasions such as this! Why, isn't a concert of this kind a "Sabbath wear" event? But then again, maybe they were wearing (giggle) "P.F. Flyers?"

By the way (shameless plug), if anyone from the P.F. reads Ambassador Watch, I'm available for concert bookings.

Richard Burkard

MD: And if you accept, Richard, we'll all be sending you email! LOL.

The "L word": I like the site: I keep reading what people say about being a Laodicean - have they forgotten that a Laodicean does not know that they are a Laodicean?

Sharon Eaton

Ex-COG7 member "whaids" in: Jim Baldwin asks if Whaid Rose of CG7 believes we are in the Kingdom of God right now. As one who was in CG7 for five years, I can say, "Yes, Rose believes this as do some other CG7 ministers." In a private  conversation with me, Rose told me he believes in going to heaven after we die. BTW, he is also a Trinitarian. Further, the chairman of the CG7 ministerial council (Melvin Sweet) told me he "can't stand when anyone preaches about the 1000-year rule of Jesus on this earth." How many other CG7 ministers feel this way? 20%? 50%? 80%? I have no idea. But I believe that, as the old-line ministers die out, many times they are replaced by younger ones who believe a lot of Protestantism. One must remember that for several years Summit School of Theology (CG7's ministerial training center) was run by two ministers (Steve Kurtright and Jerry Griffin) who finally 'fessed up that they haven't believed CG7 doctrines for years. They admitted they had been Sunday-keepers for some time. For years, they taught a whole lot of Protestantism to the younger guys who are now ministers.

Wes White

Co-worker Arnie? Yes, Arnold has a connection with Ambassador College. As I understand it, one of the members of the Santa Monica church at the time was Ron Haddad (nor sure about the spelling, emphasis on the first syllable). Haddad ran a gym. So he evangelized Arnold (Mister Olympia Tall Class) and his friend Franco Colombu (Mister Olympia Short Class), who became co-workers. In the 1974-75 school year, some of the students found this out, and used their connections (i.e. Harry Sneider) to get the two invited to give an assembly to the students. Most assemblies were Thursday afternoons, but this one was in the evening. Columbu called himself the world's strongest man, and demonstrated it by bending a construction rod with his bare hands, and blowing up a hot water bottle until it exploded. Schwarzenegger had promised not to take his shirt off, but did anyway, and gave a short posing demonstration, which either completely fascinated you or completely grossed you out.

I don't know where their relationship with the WCG went after that.

MD: Schwarzenegger the co-worker? Now there's a really disturbing thought!

Satan the buffoon: I would like to respond to a recent letter that implied that since I once believed the doctrines that I now "ridicule", I am being in some way condescending and hypocritical.

After all these years, it should come as no surprise to anyone that many, including myself, have abandoned the cultic errors of Armstrongism and have adopted alternate viewpoints. Many of us have apologized for our role (sincere though we may have been at the time) in furthering the errors and abuses of the Armstrong cult--from supporting it with our tithes as members, to preaching and evangelizing as ministers. Many of us have publicly expressed our sorrow and regret on numerous occasions, in the pulpit and elsewhere. But that is not enough. We must also seek to make amends in whatever ways possible. In that regard, those who were ministers and writers bear the greater responsibility. And one way for us to make amends is to endeavor to convey our perspectives in a way that will cause others to stop and reconsider their own views. Indeed, the mere fact that one who was so adamant in his former beliefs now so adamantly repudiates them may, in itself, cause some to open their minds to alternatives.

In so doing, I have attempted to write in a challenging and forceful manner. Contrary to the impression given by my recent critic, I rarely ridicule individuals (except for hypocrites and hirelings--they know who they are), though I sometimes ridicule what I consider to be silly (yes, silly!) viewpoints and behaviors. By definition, ridicule is appropriate for the ridiculous. Ridicule sometimes strikes at the heart of a matter. Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her sincere opinions, but that in no way renders those opinions sacrosanct and off limits to vigorous criticism and even ridicule when warranted. Reason, of course, is a far more effective tool than ridicule, and anyone who has read my various letters and columns knows that ridicule has played a very minor role.

There is one individual, however, whom I will never hesitate to scorn, mock and ridicule--which brings me to another matter that needs addressing: I have received a number of emails taking me to task for daring to suggest (in my "Halloween Hysteria" column) that we should mock Satan. I wrote: "Halloween is a time to mock, ridicule, deride, insult and satirize the forces of evil." In response, one person declared, "How dare you mock the Enemy?" (Why the capital "E"? Does he really deserve that kind of respect?) Others expressed fear that Satan would "get angry" and "retaliate" if we laugh at him. "It's courting danger," another wrote. Yet another--amazingly--labeled it "disrespectful"!

I am appalled but not surprised by such thinking. One would have hoped that in the 21st century, this kind of superstition would be found only in remote jungle areas. But Christianity has always had trouble keeping pace with enlightened thinking. Especially "fringe" Christianity. C.S. Lewis had no problem with the concept of mocking Satan, though, as one of my email correspondents noted, Lewis was an Anglican and thus "not a true Christian." True Christians, I am to conclude, would not dare to insult Satan; it's "disrespectful"; it's "courting danger"; he might "get angry". (Hopefully, we're already making him angry by the way we live!) Such irrational beliefs reveal a superstitious and fearful state of mind--and, for that matter, a decidedly unchristian worldview.

Most Christians understand that Satan's power has been broken (Col. 2:15). He has been decisively defeated. Jesus deposed him at the Cross and secured absolute victory (John 12:31). Satan is no longer an "authority", no longer a "dignitary" (compare Jude 8-9). Yes, there is still a spiritual conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Though deposed, Satan remains an implacable enemy, seeking to make trouble whenever possible (not unlike Saddam Hussein in Iraq). So we must continue to fight. And sometimes mockery makes an effective weapon. This is not foolhardiness, but courage--and defiance!

It's the same sort of defiance shown by Charlie Chaplin, who risked his wealth and his career to produce a political satire mocking Adolf Hitler--the now-famous film "The Great Dictator". In producing this scathing comic assault on Hitler (called "Adenoid Hynkel" in the film), Chaplin chose to stand up and be counted when others warned him against it. Chaplin stared down the gun barrels of the Nazi war machine and laughed in Hitler's face.

Reducing Satan to a buffoon does not mean we underestimate the seriousness of the threat he represents. It merely means we're not afraid to show appropriate scorn and disdain toward a disgraced and dishonorable enemy. It demonstrates our total rejection of his reputed authority and dignity. "Disrespectful"? I should hope so!

Believers need not be timid. They need not fear the spirit world (Luke 10:19). Evil is subordinate to good. Satan cannot make us act against our will. When resisted, Satan flees (James 4:9).

Mockery is not, of course, the primary tactic in our fight. But on certain occasions--like Halloween--it's quite appropriate. Except, apparently, for the timid and superstitious, who fear the old serpent might "get angry".

Keith Stump

Gossip? I have to commend you for your efforts. I don't know how you get all the information you do, but many of us old time former WCG members access your site regularly to get the latest news. When a current member said the Bible condemns gossip, I ask where this was in the ten commandments...the word 'GOSSIP' that is.

MD: This site doesn't set out to air "gossip". Unfortunately, because most COG publications are tightly controlled and "spin-loaded" we are forced to read-between-the-lines, listen to people's personal accounts, and ask questions church leaders would prefer us not to. Official church writers seem to have more in common with ancient cult prostitutes than real journalists - they'll print whatever they're paid to! And worse, they'll censor out anything that might run counter to the direction leaders want to go in. 

UCG number crunching: A last thought [on the numbers reported at UCG festival sites] is that where there are sites from other organizations, or independent groups also meeting nearby, there is more and more a certain amount of mixing across, particularly if you get a day when the service schedules are different. Last year In 2002 in the UK there was a very small independent site nearby (around 25 people) - one morning they did not have their own service, and around half of them attended with us. Likewise there was some mixing the other way. Had this other site been bigger, no doubt it would have been enough to affect the UCG highest total figure - in fact maybe it did, as I am fairly sure from memory that the attendance figure did rise during the week.

Brian Crook

MD: Interesting point, especially when considering highest attendance. One Aussie COGer attended five different venues, for example, and was presumably counted five times.

Flurry FOT: Does any one know or care to state if there were any new revelations from "that profit" at the [PCG Feast] just past?   Family connections that attended have not been forthcoming with what went on this year.  I know that year before last, much was made of the WTC terrorist attack. Thanks for any info.

10 November. LUCIFER AND THE TERMINATOR, LOST CHRISTIANITIES, BRASSED OFF.  Mail: Dan Creed spills the beans, duffers, statistics - gotta love 'em, Herb's letters

The Journal out: The latest issue of The Journal (October 31) has been published. Front and back pages are available online in PDF format. Among the features is a 1970s photograph of California's governor-elect Schwarzenegger posing with Harry Sneider on the AC campus. We should have known that Arnie had to have a WCG connection of some sort... 

In the same issue former Plain Truth editor Brian Knowles takes on a devil of a subject by trying to throw some critical light on the time-honored belief that Lucifer (Isaiah 14) is another name for Satan.

We may conclude, then, that Isaiah 14 tells us nothing about the origin and fall of Satan and that it does not identify Satan as Lucifer. The subject of the chapter is the king of Babylon, whom God is about to punish. The king will join other deceased world leaders in Sheol, the place of the dead.

And we conclude that there'll be some testy letters to The Journal in response!

New additions to MD booklist: Two books have just been added to the MD book page. One is MD columnist Douglas Becker's Assertive Incompetence. While not a "religious" work in any direct sense, it certainly has relevance to the circumstances many WCGers found themselves in while dealing with "narcissistic scoundrels" (to quote Ed Mentel).

And for those who are willing to dig a little deeper into the early history of Christianity, we've also included Bart Ehrman's new book, Lost Christianities. Ehrman, a professor of religion at UNC Chapel Hill, is a respected scholar who doesn't mind upsetting a few apple-carts along the way. Considering that old-time WCG is something of a "lost Christianity" itself, maybe somebody should put a copy of this one under Joey's Xmas tree.

Cult culture: The Philadelphia Foundation, PCG's zombie clone of the AICF, has its own website: The November issue of the Philadelphia Trumpet provides the following information.

Although the AICF’s humanitarian activities stretched from Bombay to Brussels, the Philippines to the Netherlands, Tokyo to Cairo—with projects in Jerusalem, Jordan, London, Nepal and Okinawa—its most notorious achievement was undoubtedly its concert series...

Notorious? Well, some people might agree with that assessment, but somehow we doubt that's what writer Ryan Malone actually meant. Gerry is obviously not paying his writers enough, Ryan needs to be able to afford a decent dictionary. The article continues:

In 1998, a small concert series began—in hopes that it would one day grow to be a grand series in Mr. Armstrong’s tradition — supporting the arts by giving monumental cultural experiences to the area.

Now, just five years later, the Philadelphia Foundation Concert Series (PFCS) is providing cultural excellence in central Oklahoma. In November 2000, the Foundation brought the world-famous Vienna Choir Boys to Edmond for a concert, with other acclaimed artists the following season — thus bringing the Foundation into the public eye for the first time since its inception...

In November 2002, the Choir Boys returned under the sponsorship of the Foundation—an event that also brought the Foundation and its new college home more into the limelight. The other event for that season, in March 2003, featured the internationally acclaimed Russian pianist Valery Kuleshov and German cellist Tess Remy-Schumacher.

Most recently, the Foundation launched its 2003-2004 season with the Edmond debut of the world’s most famous and beloved brass ensemble—the Canadian Brass. On the evening of September 14, the Edmond community was served with a spellbinding performance displaying the group’s versatile musical vocabulary, from George Frideric Handel to Jelly Roll Morton, from Giovanni Gabrieli to Glenn Miller. The ensemble — famous for its personality, charisma and white sneakers — charmed concertgoers with a brilliant array of selections, including a comic “brass” opera by musical comedian and composer Peter Schickele.

It was extremely special to us to have such a world-class group of artists performing for our series—especially as we aim to resurrect the legacy of a concert series unmatched in its own time. It was fitting that the group had also performed for the AICF’s series. Two of its members are still part of the original ensemble that began over 30 years ago; they remember well their performances at Ambassador.

Just as the Trumpet magazine sends a clear, bold message to the world—the Philadelphia Foundation, with its yet relatively small concert series, is aiming to do the same. Though the Foundation’s activities focus on the non-religious and avoid denominational language altogether, it still aims to champion God’s way of life—demonstrating that God’s way is that of serving, giving and sharing. Through the Philadelphia Foundation, we are able to practice this way as we share our beautiful campus grounds and some of the finest performers in music with the community around us.

Would the Canadian Brass and other classical artists still be happy to perform for Flurry if they knew something about the church behind his foundation? To email the Canadian Brass with any concerns you'd like to share, the address is


Controversial book launch: Dan Creed was a WCG minister in the 80's. I had heard that the Dan Creed, who was Ventura's mansion manager, was the same one who had been a minister in the WCG. I thought you might have sources that could confirm or deny this information.

MD: Yes, it seems it is the same guy. The following announcement appears in the November 8 bulletin of the Minneapolis UCG congregation: "Congratulations to Mr. Dan Creed on the completion of his new book that covers the history of the governor’s mansion and events in the Ventura administration. An interview with Diana Pierce will air on KARE 11 this Tuesday evening."

A news report about the forthcoming book can be found at 

The long and the short of sermons: If the UCG ministers are keeping themselves to 50 minute sermons, it could be considered progress, depending upon how far back the minister's tenure goes back in the church. I grew up in the Radio Church of God/WCG in Portland Oregon, and some pastors went an hour overtime nearly every week.  Feast of Tabernacle services were twice a day, all eight days, and each service lasted a minimum of two hours. My guess is that these duffers think they are being progressive if they confine themselves to an hour. 


UCG stats AOK? It's interesting, but somewhat worrying to see both yourselves and your mailbag readers clamoring to try to show wrongdoing in everything published by the corporate COGs.

A case in point is the feast attendance figures for UCG, and the rather unfortunate inability of both yourself, and your correspondents to read what is actually said.

Roy Holladay's October 31st letter is listing United States attendance figures on the actual autumn holydays, including 1st day of Tabernacles (11489) and the Last Great Day (11205). These figures are for the specific Holy days.

However your correspondent 'Thomas', while correctly quoting United News US attendance for 2002 as 11568, omits to note that this figure, across the eleven US sites is the 'Highest daily attendance figures', i.e. each site has taken the highest figure attending services throughout the eight days, and returned that figure. While frequently the first day may have the highest attendance figure, it certainly is not always the case. This is an example of comparing 'Oranges and Apples' - the figures are not for exactly the same thing. 

However when we come to your 8th November comment, referring to the current United News 2003 feast figures we are now comparing figures that are 'Highest daily attendance figures' over the two years.

This time we have the problem that in your zeal to find fault you again are not comparing like with like, but in a different way this time. Thomas had quoted United States attendance for 2002 as 11568 - adding the 2003 United States site figures comes to 11699, a modest increase of just over 1%, which is consistent with Roy Holladay's individual holyday increase, and not some sort of contradiction.

The figures that have dropped, as is quoted from United News, is when United States and Canadian figures are combined. Then there is indeed a decrease of about 1.5% over last year, but this is a different comparison, as openly stated in United News by UCG.

Overall attendance throughout the world has increased from 19231 to 19761, an increase of just over 2.5%. Probably this is a better guideline, because people travel. This year I attended Italy with an attendance of 387. Last year attendance in Italy was 187. Attendance up by over 100%!! - In reality there is little change in Italian numbers, what changed was the increase in the number of visitors (mainly from US), which would be at the expense of other areas.

I compliment you on your positive comments on the 'UCG transparency' with the published audited financial statements - a pity you couldn't believe the Feast attendance figures can likewise be equally open for all to see. 

Brian Crook

MD: While I accept your explanation as quite credible, it does seem unusual that holy day attendance would be less than weekday services, especially considering that the first holy day this year was also a weekly Sabbath.

Perverted genius: It is a well known and easily provable fact that HWA was a plagiarist. But what was the source for his monthly letters that he used to wring the last possible cent out of us true believers? Were these truly the product of his twisted mind? Or did he steal that idea too? After reading excerpts from letters going back to the 1930's (see it is obvious that his letters were all based on a formula that resulted in what may be the most successful fund raising scheme in history. My question... is this: Did the idea and form of his monthly letters come from his own greedy mind, or did he plagiarize them too? Since he was basically an advertising man, my guess is that those letters were a product of his own perverted genius. But I don't know that and would be interested in seeing other fund raising letters of the 1930's for comparison if any are available. Now there are books and web sites devoted to religious fund raising. Were there any such books in the 1930's? Was Herbert truly original in something after all? 


08 NovemberGAIN DRAIN, UCG AUDIT INFO.  Mail:  Millennium, Halloween, UCG junk mail, COG KOG, Laodicea-o-matic

UCG FOT-fall: Despite an earlier presidential encyclical that claimed just the opposite (see AW Nov. 1), UCG has conceded that attendance across the US and Canada dropped this year.

Around the world, attendance figures plus the tapes sent to shut-ins totaled 19,761, about 2.5 percent higher than last year. Attendance in the United States and Canada was actually down about 1.5 percent, but there were increases in some international transfer destinations... (United News, November)

Is this the start of a slide into oblivion? Maybe not, but judging from the rambling, downbeat, repetitive, backward-looking presentations made at some UCG festival sites this year, the trend is unlikely to be arrested in 2004. Where is the Biblical passage that says a minister has to drone on - with frequent self-indulgent relapses into irrelevant anecdotes and explanations of explanations - for 50 minutes plus? 

UCG transparency shames WCG again: On a positive note, the United News has also published audited financial statements for the fiscal year July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003. The statements were audited by the Cincinnati-based independent certified public accounting firm Clark, Schaefer, Hackett & Co. The audit report of the firm is also provided.

Maybe somebody could point this out to the lads in Pasadena. Ron Kelly seems under the impression that it would be quite impossible to provide this level of information as-of-right to the good folk who attend WCG. And should you suggest that it be published openly for public scrutiny, in the way UCG and even LCG do, he seems to come over all wobbly.

Related MD link: Accountability in Action: the true story of one member's battle to prise the dollar details from the vice-like grip of Controller Kelly.


And the answer is... I read the article by Neil Earle linked on AW entitled “Why Not the Lion and the Lamb?” The simple question remains, “Why do we not hear anything about the Millennium, the 1000 year reign of Christ, at our festivals? Why is Isaiah’s picture of the lion, the lamb and the little child no longer on our church seal? Can you answer this?"  Apparently Earle can’t.  Ask a WCG minister a simple question; get a short dissertation quoting various scholarly interpretations but in the end receive no real answer to the simple question.

Gee, what is this world coming to? It use to be you could go to “God’s ministers” with any question on any aspect of life (as long as it didn’t question Armstrong‘s and the minister’s divine authority, lavish lifestyles of the Church executives, etc.) and get an answer. It may have not been the right answer, but at least you got an answer.

Perhaps the non-answer is the answer. After reading Earle’s lukewarm article, it’s easy to see why the Worldwide Church of God is dying a slow corporate death.

Richard Dahms

Cold and un-Christian? This is to Keith Stump: I read your articles for years. By your own admission, you once also believed that Halloween is not appropriate for Christians to observe (correct me if I'm wrong). Now you don't see anything wrong with it. Well, neither do I, and for pretty much the same reasons you stated.

However... It seems awfully condescending of you to now ridicule and otherwise belittle those very people who once read your articles and now still believe them. I don't recall whether you personally ever wrote anti-Halloween articles, but whether you did or not, you were part of that establishment that fiercely condemned the holiday as being satanic. For you to now belittle those believers who have not followed you "into the light" is pretty cold and - well - un-Christian. Don't you think?

Unless... If you have publicly apologized for your role in misleading tens of thousands of Armstrong's followers, and made that apology available to the people you now ridicule, then I withdraw my critique. Have you done that? If not, have you been fitted yet with millstone jewelry?

If the answer to both questions is no, then that's just plain silly!

John Bowers
(no hiding behind initials here)

MD: This site has a reputation for "straight talk". Was the Halloween piece "ridicule"? I didn't read it that way. Keith's contributions on MD are both pertinent and provocative (even when either you or I might disagree with him, as I did over the military service issue). Provocative writing always upsets somebody, but for others it's a shot to the system that kick-starts the thinking processes.

UCG's mailing list: It's interesting to read others' experience in trying to get off UCG's mailing list. After two attempts, I've given up. I like Floyd's idea of returning it to "Sender" but he didn't say if that got him off their list.


The Kingdom of God: I was wondering about that letter by Whaid Rose moaning about Bob Thiel "having nothing better to do in the kingdom of God than to put down other churches." That sounds as if Mr. Rose believes the KOG exists now. Is that a doctrine of the COG7?

Jim Baldwin

MD: You'll have to put that question to someone from COG7, but, as I'm sure you know, most theologians outside COGdom understand the expression to mean not just some future eschatological event, but also a reality that breaks into the present ("For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." Luke 17:21 NASB. cf. English Standard Version). Both strands can be proof-texted from the New Testament.

... according to my Nutty Professor calculations, the chance of a person being an actual Laodicean is proportional to claiming that one is a Philadelphian!

Laodicea-o-matic labeler: (1) Being just a mere substandard Christian, without LCG affiliation (and due to my affiliation with churches other than LCG), I guess that I am probably marked by Mr. Thiel's Laodicean Labeling Machine. In order to find out what my fate (as a Laodicean) was, I went to Revelation to check out what my sentence was (sobbing with despair and fright), and also perhaps to find some sort of way out of my ignorance and into the loving, warm, gentle, Philadelphian glow of the LCG. To my surprise, I found absolute Irony. Rev 3:17 "Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked..."

Obviously, Christ was not referring to actual material wealth... he was referring to the Laodicean's spiritual state. Christ condemned self righteous religious leaders who were assured in themselves that they were the apple of God's eye due to their doctrine, tradition, and exclusivism. Their attitude toward others bought them a one way ticket to damnation, regardless of any outward works. The New Pharisees are the same. They truly do feel that they are spiritually rich and bursting with the Holy Spirit due to doctrine, imagined tradition, and exclusivism, and like the Original Pharisees, they have absolutely no idea of their actual spiritual state. Hmm... according to my Nutty Professor calculations, the chance of a person being an actual Laodicean is proportional to claiming that one is a Philadelphian!

Paul Ray

(2) Thiel in his latest expression of self-pity claims his critics sidestep his points. Actually this is what Thiel does constantly. Here is one question for Thiel: lets see if he has the courage and honesty to answer it.

In order to have an accurate picture of what is happening to a church one needs to have a demographic profile of its members. A church filled with 70 year olds and with no children in its midst is going to die regardless of whether it has the correct doctrines or not.

Therefore, Bob please place on your website a brief demographic description of the membership of the Living Church of God. How many teenagers attend weekly services? How many young adults? How many couples with young children? What is the median age of your membership? Let the facts speak for themselves.

Dr. Richard F. Griffiths

MD: We look forward to Bob's response/riposte on his website. However, here on MD this topic is now closed.

Blame it on Herb: Per the link you posted regarding the ex-WCG and neo Nazi connection, let me see if I understand this correctly: The "victim", grows up and leaves the WCG...begins writing to neo-Nazi's in prison...decides to abandon her child and move to Germany...marries a neo-Nazi ex-con...finds out the neo-Nazi isn't terribly honest and is having an affair with "Bianca"...asking herself where she went wrong she moves back to the US...gets some hate mail including a mail bomb...gets harassing phone calls...and has to take drugs to settle down...all of which can be blamed on Herbert Armstrong!? Well that just about clears up everything.    

By the way,  after viewing your web site...I typed this email during which I broke my finger...went to my neighbor's house to borrow the first aid kit...caught my neighbor's wife having an affair with the mailman and was winged in the cross fire between her gun wielding husband and the new lover....broke my ribs when the drunk paramedic drove the ambulance off a cliff...and am now in counseling because I shake every time I see a'll be hearing from my lawyers.


MD: The link was posted because it was relevant to the shared WCG history most readers have. The title "astonishing stories" was chosen for good reason. As you may know, MD also provides links to fringe groups like COG-FF and COG-EIM. Obviously no endorsement is implied there either...   ;-)

07 November. NO WIN FOR COG7 PRESIDENT, 18 REASONS TO THANK HERB.  Mail: How to Bend the figures, thrifty Bernie.

COG7 leader blasts LCG apologist: Church of God (Seventh Day) president Whaid Rose has expressed frustration with what some have seen as myopic anti-COG7 remarks by LCG apologist Bob Thiel. In a letter to an MD correspondent, Rose wrote:

Thank you for your letter of concern about Bob Thiel's critical comments about our church. He has corresponded with me in the past and his comments were of such that I chose not to continue our dialogue.

It is unfortunate that people such as Bob Thiel can find nothing better to do in the kingdom of God than to put down other churches. Frankly, any attempts to talk with them is a "no win" situation. Therefore, I feel no need to provide a rebuttal. I have asked our missions director, Bill Hicks, to correspond with you on this matter. Perhaps it will prove helpful.

In Christ,
Whaid Rose

Bob, whose recent labeling of Journal writers as "Laodicean Sadducees" drew criticism, has since made similar unflattering references to COG7 on his COGwriter site (they, of course, are pigeonholed as "Sardis"). If the strategy is to somehow make LCG look better by ripping into more benign COG individuals and groups, we'd have to say it isn't working. And Lord knows there's more than enough stinky garbage in LCG's not-so-"Philadelphian" backyard to clean up without bothering about either The Journal or COG7.

18 Truths: There's a lot of ballyhoo about Herbert Armstrong's alleged 18 Restored Truths. Here's a new take on the issue by Scott Murphey which, let's face it, is a darn-site more honest than most of the others... 

I have done my share of Herb-bashing over the years, but here are 18 Truths I have discovered about the WCG that were not so bad after all : 

1. The Absence of Hell. The idea that a loving God would eternally torment someone for some bad choices made during a short tenure on earth is really stupid.

2. The Purpose of Man is to Become God. It sounds a lot more appealing than traditional Christian worldview of remaining a second-tier citizen for eternity. Why not go for the big prize?

3. Having Multiple Gods. Having two (Jesus and God) gods spreads things around a little and makes it more interesting than the mainstream three-in-one approach. That way you can have Jesus the sensitive guy and God the father, the "big cry baby" dude of the Old Testament who smites and smotes. When you pray, you can play one against the other, plus you get a Luke Skywalker "feel the force" Holy Spirit power thing to boot. One is simply a bore.

4. Being the Elect. While thinking you were one of the chosen ones had its definite downside, the good part was you left the people "of the world" the hell alone. No trying to convert them or convince them.

5. The Feast. Having a lot of cash to blow all at once gave blue-collar believers a good time without the debt, and a chance to travel. Too bad the weeklong party was interrupted by going to 16 or more two-hour services.

6. Avoiding Seafood. Forget OT laws, eating a lobster is just plain gross.

7. Nice Architecture. Having nicely designed and maintained surroundings at HQ made rednecks and widows broke, but proud. As urban planning that blended new construction with the historic fabric, the campus got an A+. The fatally flawed size of the auditorium is offset by the world-class acoustics, but the 60s modern Student Center was my favorite new building on campus. The downside was that the closest most of the sheep got was a four-color offset Envoy on the family coffee table.

8. Lunch on Holydays. After giving up a load of cash in the offering, you got to go out to a nice restaurant.

9. My Wife. Sharing a painful WCG past brings us closer. I would have never of met her otherwise.

10. Avoiding Christmas. Not having to get stuff you do not need or want and pretending to be thankful for it was a plus. If I want something, I will just buy it.

11. Cheating on Atonement. Sneaking food or water titillated the senses and made a wonderful little guilty pleasure.

12. Cognitive Dissonance. Relying on church teachings when confronted with the evidence that what you believed was not true was very reassuring. While this is not really a positive attribute, it's really, really important that there are 18 truths listed here.

13. Being on Security. Sitting in the parking lot during services meant you were not inside listening to the sermon.

14. Not Voting. I vote now only because it's a civic duty. It was actually nice not being allowed to vote because it avoided the pain of having to evaluate the crappy options and pick one.

15. No Military Service. Another way to shirk civic duty and maintain a clean conscience.

16. Knowing. Unlike most of the worldly people I knew, I actually knew what I believed and why, although now I know I did not know what I thought I knew, but it was comforting at the time.

17. Eating Matzos. I actually like the egg and onion ones and would have never had tried them otherwise.

18. Being Involved with the Church for 35 Years. If I hadn't, I feel sure I would have been a run-of-the-mill Protestant instead of the freethinking, humanistic Fideist I am today. Thanks Herb.

Scott Murphey

Astonishing stories uncovered by DP: Dateline Pasadena has tracked down an amazing "testimony" by a former WCG member. You can find it at

And while you're at it, did you know that Herbert Armstrong's motive was "money and the easy life, both of which he desired with greed and avarice", that he was a "Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge" and contracted syphilis while holidaying in Europe? Sound credible? Well, maybe there's a curse that goes with the name. Check out the details of a murderer who shared Herb's moniker at The gentleman in question was hanged in 1922. Hmm. No wonder our Herb added a W to his name!


UCG stats: After several attempts to be removed from UCG's mailing list failed, I began writing "REFUSED" on the literature and sending it back. Having your name removed from their membership list is another experience indeed. Even the local minister seemed to be at a loss as to how to get this done. When we started attending UCG, they boasted a membership just under 20,000. After several other groups were reported to be joining UCG, it appeared that they were well on their way to being the largest of the COG groups. However, those numbers given during announcements were obviously inflated, since the numbers given now are significantly lower. You must look for stats on weekly Sabbath attendance. The numbers given at the feast are misleading.

For example, the broadcasts from Bend, OR gave evidence that 25-30% of those attending were not members of UCG. It's heartbreaking to see the bewildered look on the faces of so many dear friends when you expose the deception of those at UCG headquarters (oops, I mean home office).


Comments on Big Bear Bernie: The campus employees will probably never forget the day Bernie told his hard luck story. He was too frugal to pay high gas prices at Big Bear before heading down for work one day, and tried to gain sympathy by saying he had to push his vehicle into the gas station in town because he had run out of gas. This was at a time people were complaining about not getting raises and bonuses or cost of living increases. Bernie was trying to come across as a struggling employee like everyone else. 

He has two SUV's, one small one and one midsize. He does not have the humungous Ford Expedition. He's usually at work Tuesday through Thursday, as those are the Executive hours for all upper management. He also gets to stay in corporate owned church housing in a nicely furnished apartment on campus. Rent free, with free maid service.

The public facade of environmental concern never matched what actually happened on campus. Waste of electricity, gas, water, food, etc was appalling. Pasadena used to have huge trash hauling trucks that went to the Glendale Dump daily in the 60/70's. Members would have been appalled at what was thrown out. 

Big Bear is certainly a 'white' paradise. Both Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear have been popular resort hangouts for the rich and famous for over 70 years. Lake Arrowhead is surrounded by multi-million-dollar homes. Hotels are very expensive to stay in. Big Bear is a more down to earth community, but most certainly Caucasian, with Hispanics and Blacks there usually only as workers and domestics.

06 November. MORE FEAZELLOTRY, SPITTING ON AN ICON, DIGGING UP DUGGER.  Mail: Commuting with Bernie, UCG members-for-life, approaching insanity.

New Sabbath booklet: Remember the "good ol' days" when WCG promoted Which Day is the Christian Sabbath? and openly plagiarized the COG7 booklet Has Time Been Lost? Now WCG turns the clock back, kind of, with a new Sabbath booklet. This one's called The Christian Sabbath: Divine Rest in Jesus Christ. If it sounds like something Samuele Bacchiocchi might have written, don't be fooled. This is a revision of the earlier publication: Finding Peace in Christ (or, more accurately in WCG's case: Finding Christ in Pieces) by that well-known non-WCG member Mike Feazell.

Silence of the lamb: Also busy writing revisionist material is Neil Earle. If you still feel some fondness for the long-banished church seal (with the lion, lamb and child) then Neil is keen to help you see the light. His short article, Why not the Lion and the Lamb?, explains it all. 

...we have to understand what it means to speak of visions. All nations and communities have them. They are exalted depictions of some ideal state that has never yet obtained on earth but are worth preserving for their beauty and call to try harder. The United States has "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," the British have the Arthur legend of the good knights of the Round table of Camelot and Canada has the myth of "the true North strong and free." One could also add the once touted slogan "the Mounties get their man." ...

Is that true, literally? ... To raise such questions is to see how futile it is to try to translate a national dream into a literal reality. The vision is designed to encourage, inspire and move people along.

So, if we understand Neil correctly, the symbolic language of Isaiah has as much relevance to Christians as the myth of Camelot. Whether that's true or not, we'd have to conclude that Glendora's pastor has little poetry in his soul. Oh well, thanks anyway Neil. But will your comments help anyone appreciate the replacement skeletal cross and globe logo?

And speaking of Neil, here's a report from LA that arrived in the AW in-box tonight:

Several people have commented on Neil Earle's sermon this past Saturday in Glendora. They said he was quite upset about reports that have been showing up on the internet about him. They said he even read some of them out loud and made fun of them. Several were questioning why he spent the time responding to the reports in his sermon. They said he claimed not to be bothered by the reports, but commented that - if so - why was he talking about them? Some members of his congregation said they felt he was blaming them for the postings.

Making fun of AW's prose? Surely not! We'd like to offer Neil a chance to give his side of the story. If the earlier reports are inaccurate, lets hear about it! 

Bible Home Instructor: Before Herb there was Andy; i.e. Andrew Dugger, onetime leader of COG7, who led a splinter ministry in Israel for many years. While he is largely a forgotten figure today, there are still some scattered congregations where his influence lives on.

Dugger wrote a book (actually more of an extended tract) called The Bible Home Instructor. It has been saved for posterity largely through the efforts of Richard Nickels, who writes:

In its various editions, The Bible Home Instructor has probably advanced the cause of the Church of God (Seventh Day) more than any other effort. The first edition was published in 1920. It may have been an expansion of an earlier publication, "The Bible Student's Assistant," offered as early as 1871. Distribution of The Bible Home Instructor in the 1920s led to substantial growth in the Church of God. Andrew N. Dugger continued to publish the book until his death in 1975. (Editor's Note, Nickels edition)

A copy of the Instructor can be accessed online courtesy of a New York Duggerite group (be advised, this is proof texting taken to its logical extreme). 


Big Bear Bernie: Under Looking at a map I see that (Saint) Bernard Schnippert has the best part of a 100-mile commute from his home in Big Bear Lake to the Hall of Administration. Not only that, but from what I hear, this is a grueling rush-hour drive which includes, coincidentally, passing through the city of San Bernardino!

Since he drives one of the largest 4-wheel drive 'SUV' vehicles on the market, I estimate it would cost around $9,000 per year in gasoline alone to drive to work! But word has it that he doesn't exactly make it in to work every day - not by a long shot. Apparently he is too "important" for that kind of servile punctuality.

This raises a number of ethical issues: 1. What happened to the traditional concern the WCG had for the environment and conserving natural resources? 2. Given the egalitarian and communal roots of Christianity, why does this "Christian leader" have to distance himself from his multi-cultural Los Angeles congregations upon whom he relies so heavily for 'generous financial contributions' (from many who have less disposable income than he spends on gasoline for his fleet of vehicles - so necessary in his mountain resort town where it is 'White' not just because of snow).

UCG member numbers: We were members of United for almost 2 years from the time they started. We have been away for 7 years now. We haven't been at one service or donated a penny to them since leaving, but we are still receiving their literature, we still get information about Feast, requests for tithe of the tithe, help for youth camps, with our member ID number. We are still considered members and have many friends that are also still members but have left also. This is how they hang on to their "members". They just don't let them go. I wonder how many have died and are still on their membership list? They still want to believe they are "number one."

Path to oblivion: Rich’s comment about God dropping “a nuclear bomb on Roderick Meredith’s head and Bob Thiel and others would reinterpret it as evidence that God is pleased with them” illustrates a powerful tendency of the human mind to seek only positive confirmation for what one believes to be true. This phenomenon seems especially intense in religiously motivated minds (some of the more zealot COG’ers, the Catholic church during the middle ages, radical Islamic terrorists, for example).

All cultures have narratives – comprehensive explanations of reality accepted as true by large numbers of those living within the context of a particular culture. The various COG’s have a narrative as well, and their zealous adherents interpret everything in the light of the parameters of this dogmatic little “box” because that’s what the inventors of the box (HWA and his loyal lieutenants, with a LOT of uncredited help from G. G. Rupert) said that's what they should do.

Ultimately, however, reality does not conform itself to the sincere yet misguided ( i.e. WRONG) pronouncements of religious gurus, in spite of their claims of divine inspiration, or as much as their followers may WANT to believe such pronouncements to be true.

It’s fairly easy to envision a future where the COG will become a completely irrelevant institution having no meaningful impact whatsoever because of it’s organizational arrogance – that is, it’s collective refusal to face well-documented facts (whether scientific, historical or organizational) because such facts cannot be made to fit into it’s faulty view of reality. Rather than openly admit to error and revise the “inspired” narrative to conform to legitimate facts and evidence, it traditionally shifts into denial mode (if it’s corporate history of the past 70 years be any reliable guide), usually hiding behind specially revealed insights from God, attacks from the devil or whatever.

A continual pattern of denial, however, is a sign of approaching insanity, and a historically accurate indicator that an individual, group, culture or religion is on a sure path toward oblivion.

Randy Martens

04 November. UCG MATH, DON THE COMPASSIONATE.  Mail: UCG FOT numbers, supplemental hymns, Petra, Rader, nuking Rod.

Creative accounting? Exactly how UCG's Roy Holladay calculated his increases in FOT attendance (AW Nov. 1) was called into question by a correspondent who took the trouble to check out last year's reported stats.

The November 2002 United News carried attendance figures for sites worldwide. US figures added to 11,568 - based on highest daily attendance figures. The highest figure reported this year - on the first holy day - was 11,489 (-79). The figure for the last holy day was 11,205 (-363). According to the Holladay letter attendance on both days was up on 2002. 

So why the apparent discrepancy? We eagerly await final figures.

Billingsley the exegete: Oh joy! Journal readers are to be treated to yet another "open letter" from COG-FF minister Alton "Don" Billingsley. And - try to contain your excitement - you can read that open letter even before The Journal appears either online or in print: knock yourself out! Says Don: 

I intend to address the three pastoral letters, written by the apostle John to all of you, in this letter. Though I am only a pastor, I feel the same love, concern and compassion for the true people of God as did John in this dire and terrible time that is upon all of us as God’s chosen people, just as it was upon them at the time of his writing.

...I have been told personally by one who was in a position to know, as Mr. Armstrong approached the very end of his life he had such grave concerns for God’s Church, that he cried several times, not knowing whom to name as his replacement... No man with the qualities he desired was to be found. Month by month he had a different name in his mind. When he finally had the name of the one God had chosen as a successor, he died. 

A tearful Herb sobbing into his Harveys Bristol Cream with indecision and frustration? Just imagine! But cheer up, why not take a tithe-break and send a virtual glass of Apostle Herb's favorite tipple to that special COG minister in your life instead?  


Gain or drop? Under the "UCG makes minor gains" posting of Nov. 1; they claim that attendance at the feast was up from last year. Looking at the Nov. 2002 United News, it shows attendance in the U.S. at 11,568. Neither the first nor last day attendance for 2003 is above that figure. The link to the Nov. 2002 United News is

I suppose UCG had some new enlightenment on last year's figures to help show an increase this year. Notice I did not say that they changed the figures. We all know that any differences in UCG statements and teachings are never changes.


New hymnal: United pleasantly surprised Festival Goers with a new "Supplemental Songbook" this year, starting at #87 and adding something like 80 more songs, including, but not restricted to, additional Dwight Armstrong songs, a number from Mark Graham and other UCG attendees, some traditional songs from Protestant songbooks, familiar religious melodies with new words, and familiar words with impossible to sing melodies. 

It seems to be the long term plan that all the songs will be combined into a new song book in a couple more years.  Other Churches of God, such as the Truth on the Web folks, and the Living Church of God continue to use the WCG songbooks with either the red or blue cover.

Fear works wonders: I don't know who wrote that there were never any formal plans to flee to Petra, or whatever, but that was the basis of MANY a sermon in the late '60's and early '70's.  We even watched films on Petra.  There was almost a panicky feeling in the cult around 72---it was getting too close to the time to flee!  ... there was high expectation [at the Fall feast] that the command from HWA could come at any moment. Maybe there was no FORMAL planning, but there was a definite "understanding."  FEAR works wonders in subjects.


Stan the Man: Tonight, CBS Television had a special on it's 75th anniversary. They were showing clips from their historical files. One of the clips was of Stanley Rader getting mad at Mike Wallace during his interview concerning the court receivership back in the late 70's. When you look back on the legacy of Armstrongism it sadly has no legacy to be proud of. It seems to be nothing more than a comedy of errors and stupid events that have left no lasting imprint on humanity that is of any benefit.

The Apple of God's Eye? The total collapse of WCG shortly after HWA's death argues against accepting Bob Thiel's latest contention that HWA's WCG and the LCG are truly based on the Bible.  Christ clearly prophesied what would happen to a church that fails to put into practice his words: "The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Has any church other than WCG collapsed recently in such a spectacular manner?

Not only did HWA fail to put Christ's commands into practice: HWA mocked and insulted other Christians who did.  The heart of the problem is epitomized by Bob Thiel's attitude, an unwillingness to condemn corrupt organizational practices and a willingness to spin everything as an indication that they, LCG, are the apple of God's eye. God could drop a nuclear bomb on Roderick Meredith's head and Bob Thiel and others would reinterpret it as evidence that God is pleased with them.  By acting in this manner Bob Thiel is cheerleading a church filled with sincere people who will soon be in nursing homes over a cliff and into organizational oblivion. How tragic.


01 November. UCG STATS, HALLOWEEN & HANUKKAH Mail: Schmoozers, hungry puppies, angels on the wingtips

UCG makes minor gains: According to an October 31 letter from Roy Holladay, UCG attendance (and those all important offerings!) at US services over the recent festival season showed modest - though not significant - growth. 

Feast of Trumpets: Attendance – 12,718 (4.1% increase). Offering – $644,695 (0.2% increase).
Day of Atonement: Attendance – 12,397 (0% increase). Offering – $627,451 (0.8% increase).
1st Day of Tabernacles: Attendance – 11,489 (0.6% increase). Offering – $536,986 (4.3% increase).
Last Great Day: Attendance – 11,205 (5.4% increase). Offering -- $638,053 (5.4% increase).

Jingle Bells: Now that the annual COG Halloween-debunking season is past, and the evil goblins have all scuttled back to feast on their ill-gotten M&Ms, it's time for a change of focus. The Xmas-bashing season is upon us.

First up to the plate is The Good News with an article entitled 4000 years of Christmas. And it's accompanied by another called The Feast of Hanukkah: Testimony to Bible Prophecy (a "testimony" that might come as a surprise to many Jewish people!) GN writer James Capó mercifully assures readers however that "it is not a festival commanded in the Bible or one that God expects Christians to observe". Whew!

But before leaving the Halloween brouhaha to die down for another year, here's a recent news item from the bowels of Mother Russia.

Halloween has been banned from schools in Moscow after Russian education chiefs ruled it was too pagan.

Officials caved in to Church demands and issued a blanket ban on all Halloween celebrations from carving pumpkin heads to dressing up.

The Moscow Education Department has ordered all schools in the capital to ban any Halloween celebrations, Izvestia newspaper reported.

In a letter sent to school heads and governors teachers were warned that: "The very fact that Halloween activities contain elements such as the cult of death, rejecting death, personification of death and evil spirits produces a destructive effect upon the psychological, moral and spiritual health of students."

A ban had earlier been called for by Russian Orthodox Church leaders who claimed the pagan festival was "satanic".

Holy Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom! Quick, someone grab an ikon and incense!


Boundless stupidity: (1) ".....or does stupidity know no bounds"?

Now that is the most haunting question I have asked myself through the years of watching and experiencing one administrative clown act after another. 

I've listened to J. Tkach Sr. challenge ministers publicly to come behind the stage for a few minutes while "God" turns his head and Joe Sr. took care of it. I winced and wondered. I've sat in "seminars" given by men who couldn't speak, couldn't teach and had little background in the topic they were giving save that they were "in charge" of this or that department. Again, wincing and wondering all the way. I watched dictator types , narcissists, schmoozers and yes men get invited to everything from meetings and discussions I myself might have wished to have had some input in or attend summer camp to spend a summer teaching things that I had both credentials and experience in, but was never asked. And of course, I have seen EVERY congregation I ever "built" reduced to ash. Again, it seemed that dictators, narcissists, schmoozers and yes men got the attention. Like attracting like goes against science, but seems to work in religion. 

After a while it seemed to me that many men who were ministers were not the type who worked well with people or had the temperament to love individuals for who they were, not what they "should become," which was usually "perfect" whatever the heck that meant. (Many also DID have these wonderful behind the scenes qualities and I also resent the generic "all ministers were this or that" label ). 

I recommended to administrators that they give professional personality and temperament tests to potential ministers and perhaps, God forbid, to all active ministers so they can see how they are wired. Of course, "God" forbade. Nothing worse than reading "whatever you do in life, do not work with people and do not be a minister" at the end of the test I when you already have an ego invested in being just that. 

Joe Tkach Sr... had no right and evidently asked no one about appointing a son to any "high" position with as little experience as the son had. I thought we had learned that in the previous administration. Having to appoint someone "I can work with" seemed like very shallow and weak leadership and an omen for those that could not be "worked with."

The administration of the Tkach's has been baffling to me. You did have to go to Imperial Schools to get in. They will deny it, but few if any got into the administration that was not from that good 'ol boy network. They seemed to have NO one with a religious experience different from their own. No one to say, "Ummm, do you know what is so new to you is so very old to most of the members?"

I never understood how these things were allowed to happen. 

First of all, Joe Tkach Sr. (who was evidently a poor choice by HWA as well), had no right and evidently asked no one about appointing a son to any "high" position with as little experience as the son had. I thought we had learned that in the previous administration. Having to appoint someone "I can work with" seemed like very shallow and weak leadership and an omen for those that could not be "worked with."

Secondly, the fact that a unqualified son would accept was puzzling. Why would you want the job? What happened to experience and yet most of the experienced types were loose cannons themselves incapable of the humility and common sense required to lead as equals. 

Thirdly, I never understood why "the church" didn't just put Joe Tkach Sr. or Jr. out or ask them to leave and not attempt to change an entire organization back to an already invented wheel in Christian thinking. It was easier to vote with feet than to simply say, "you have no spiritual right to mess so badly with the minds of sincere people." Tens of thousands had to leave when two or three at the top might have been just fine. They simply should have had the guts to say that THEY did not agree with the church and leave. The fact they stayed and inflicted so much emotional, physical and theological damage on people tells me that they loved the position, the perks and perhaps had an unconscious desire to destroy an organization that they perceived as hurtful to them personally through the years. 

At any rate, the debates will go on and on, and for my own well being I need to withdraw from the past, but the Worldwide Church of God is effectively dead and those who hang on have certainly proven themselves to be the most resilient and theologically adaptive people on the planet. Denial also seems to be a strong trait. 

If I had to guess, I'd say that "stupidity knowing no bounds" seems a bit cruel but what else can explain it? I can't. My mind can't accept a "God" could be so reckless with human hearts. My dad, who always signed his letters to the Tkach"s administration, "M. T. Hall" (Empty Hall) because that's what the Tkaches did to the church, said it well and we'll see.

"They couldn't run a college, they couldn't run a peaceful festival, they couldn't keep a ministry, they couldn't hold onto congregations, they couldn't keep a summer camp open , they can't sell a campus. It will be a hoot to see what kind property managers they are."

This is what stupidity can do to a church congregation, that refuses to confront that nagging inner voice that says..."this isn't right." And I do realize those voices that spoke up were quickly trashed. As for me, I'll take a Forrest Gump over a "God's man of faith and power" anytime.

As to what causes an inept administration to do what it does? I found through my own experience that they suffered from both deafness and blindness, but still retained the incredible ability to speak and spin...

Dennis Diehl
Son of M. T. Hall :) 

(2) This is in response to MAM’s inquiry as to why virtually every decision Joe & Company make seems intended to destroy whatever good will remains within the Pasadena community toward the WCG. I too have wondered the very same thing, racking my brain to understand the frequent incompetence that mark so many of the decisions made there in the Hall of Administration (though by no means is this a trend of recent vintage, as it’s been happening now for decades if people are simply willing to open their eyes and minds to the most obvious of facts).

Perhaps one facet of the overall picture can explain a lot – most of these guys have been ordained ministers within the unique culture of the COG for quite some time now. They’ve become used to communicating to certain kinds of followers – by and large composed of well-meaning yet gullible, unquestioning folk who’ve been conditioned to huddle around their leaders feet like hungry puppies.

As simplistic and naïve as this may sound, it certainly appears to me that these men actually assumed the hardcore people who make up the Pasadena business and political world would respond to their decisions/communiqués in much the same way as a typical Church member of yesteryear would. Even if this kind of insane reasoning occurred only at the subconscious level, it still seems to be very much a part of the mindset out there, judging by the results.

One thing many readers of this site have found by personal experience is that most COG ministers (though, to be fair, not all) are rather ill-prepared for someone to dare question their inspired pronouncements – many of which having often led to disastrous results, the actual historical record being very clear on this point. They’ve become so acclimatized to simple-minded, unthinking acceptance by the membership of just about anything they say or do as one of “God’s ministers.”

In spite of the disintegration of the former WCG into hundreds of competing “Works of God” each claiming divine legitimacy, it seems many of these men still insist on living in their illusory world of fantasy, perhaps having become somewhat addicted to the accustomed adulation given them. Those with a long history in the COG know that many of the pedestals their leaders have been placed upon have ultimately led to situations best described in terms of “delusions of grandeur.”

This unfortunate situation has not only hurt both shepherd and sheep in a spiritual sense, but goes a long way toward explaining (at least in part) the many unwise corporate business decisions we’ve seen in the past, and are now witnessing at present.

Randy Martens

Flying Air Waterhouse: (1) As to the former AC employee's "memories", I also recall those thrilling days of yesteryear. I was living in Detroit in the mid- and late '70's and distinctly remember a visit from Gerald Waterhouse where he entertained us yet again with one of his long-winded yarns about "two witnesses," "the place of final training" and the rest of the end-times mythology (frequently punctuated by "Get the point?") that made him such a popular "draw" whenever he visited a local church area. He seemed to get particular enjoyment speculating on how HWA was going to buy all of those "DC-10's" (not 747's as the former AC employee suggested) that had been grounded because a couple of them had engines that had fallen off in mid-air (or something like that). (Just as an aside: wanna bet if HWA had decided to fly the entire WCG to Petra he would have booked his top level lieutenants on certified El Al or Air Canada flights? As always, can't risk putting WCG's top people on unreliable aircraft! And of course, HWA had his own private jet plane (the AC-111 wasn't it?).

I also recall all that Petra speculation pretty much ended after the Jim Jones catastrophe. The Guyana thing happened in November of 1979. Less than two months later the @#$%^*! hit the fan at HQ when the State of California came in with its lawsuit against HWA and Stanley Rader. At that point the only "fleeing" being planned was HWA's hightailing out of Pasadena to a "place of safety" (a.k.a. Tucson, Arizona) and out of the reach of attorneys for the State of California who would certainly have asked Armstrong a lot of embarrassing questions he didn't want to answer. 

Dennis Embo

(2) I was a little bit saddened to see the comments by the "memories" author regarding the "plans" the Church allegedly had or were supposedly making to flee to Petra in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

There were never any such plans, nor any formal discussion regarding same. There obviously was a lot of prophetic speculation, particularly among the "right-wing" leadership of Meredith, et. al, who were still licking their chops over their pyrrhic "victory" over the liberal, Satan-led forces of evil intelligentsia. Possibly the reason why there were no formal "plans to flee" was because during the 24 months leading up to the receivership, the Church couldn't AFFORD to plan, finance or manage such an undertaking. No other organization--either for-profit or non-profit--could have likely survived the executive mismanagement and aberrations, logistics nightmares and wasted funds that characterized that "lovely" and obscene period in Church history known as "Getting back on track." 

Prior to the time of the Jim Jones tragedy in 1978, the vast bulk of the Church's discretionary financial and management resources was consumed with getting Ambassador College accredited and to financially stabilizing the organization as a result of GTA's mad-rush decision to point-blank merge the Texas and Pasadena campuses in a ridiculously short time (It was aptly called "Operation Shoe Horn"). In the fall of 1977, the Pasadena campus was a disaster, with massive overcrowding and short resources for just about everything. The college was even forced to rent nearby hotel rooms to accommodate students in some kind of housing, and many church offices and employees played "second fiddle" to college needs.

Then, suddenly, GTA announced in the Spring of 1978 that the entire college was moving BACK to Texas, leaving hundreds and hundreds of students, faculty, church employees and whatnot (whether in or out of the Church) in total mass confusion. And then suddenly after that, HWA rose from his deathbed and CLOSED the college, which for many in the area was the height of madness. How many millions of dollars in tithes got wasted and young lives utterly trashed during that time, God only knows. Then a short time later, GTA himself was tossed out of Worldwide, creating even more chaos. At that point, many were probably forced to agree with "gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who once said: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

When the Jonestown tragedy occurred later that year, HWA was careful to write about it and condemn it. Besides, so much attention was turned to cults in general at that time, it was probably a good thing for WCG members, as WCG leaders likely moderated some of their public weirdness anyway. 

The airline bit was a reference to McDonnell Douglas DC-10s (not Boeing 747s), which possessed several design flaws and subsequently suffered a number of airline disasters (for more info, see ). The worst DC-10 accident at the time occurred on May 25, 1979, when an American Airlines DC-10 had an engine separate from a wing during takeoff at Chicago's O'Hare airport. All 271 passengers and crew were killed in the crash. Afterwards over time, several design flaws and maintenance problems were discovered in the DC-10, including major cracks in engine components. In a reference to the design findings (which were widely reported in news accounts at the time), Gerald Waterhouse speculated in sermons that perhaps angels would hold the engines together en route to Petra when the Church fled. Waterhouse's comments were obviously grotesquely irresponsible and should never have been made (along with hundreds of other embarrassing and damaging public comments), but that's another story (hats off to Joe Tkach Sr. for bringing good old Gerald back, together with the insane sermon content).

Finally, if any "planning" for a one-way trip to Petra would have occurred, the project would have been assigned some kind of WCG accounting number to allocate and track resources, and either the accountants of the receivership (who even found the King Leopold golf ball expense because WCG accounting records were well-kept and documented--unlike the WCG's theology) or Arthur Andersen auditors would have found it. Such a project would likely have resulted in a "qualified" audit from Andersen, which was not the case.

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