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Issue 45 - December 2003

Covering developments and advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups
This month's entries: 
Dec.1  Dec.4  Dec.5  Dec.7  Dec.8  Dec.15  Dec.19  Dec.25

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24 December. FRANK SCHNEE, CULT DOLLARS DROP, CHIPPER'S WORDLESS WORD, NARCISSISM, A PERNICIOUS MANUAL, ROD & GERRY.  Mail: Making a buck, Darth Rader, another canon roar, as bad as the Pharisees, mystery feast.

As mentioned earlier, this will be the last update for December.  AW is taking a break during January.  We'll be back in the first week of February. 

Another pioneer passes: Frank Schnee died December 12 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Schnee was the WCG's German-language director from 1962 until 1987.

WCG funds continue to shrink: From Controller Kelly in the latest WN:

Our regular donation income for November came in at $1.66 million. Compared to last year’s donations of $1.77 million, we were down just over six percent... Because of year-end expenses incurred before establishing our line of credit to fund the campus maintenance and sales, we have now dipped into the reserve fund by about $1.7 million... We pray God’s grace, love and blessings in your life during the coming year. Next time I’ll give you a financial overview of church finances for 2003.

Well, we all look forward to that Ron. Even nicer would be a fully audited annual report. You know Ron, the sort all other churches, including UCG and LCG, provide publicly.

Blah blah blah: Mark Armstrong has produced another imitation WorldNet Daily-type rant for the dubious edification of the remaining ICG faithful. Perhaps stuff like this only makes sense if you don't boil the drinking water in Texas. A quick check through all his "A Word from Mr. Armstrong" raves since ascending the family throne shows however that the Prince of the House of Herb has yet to actually quote anything from the Bible.

But maybe it doesn't matter. Dead Ted is still being wheeled out each week on WGN. How effective is WGN in spreading Armstrongism? Ask Spanky:

The television Superstation WGN which carries our program is now greatly increasing its power. We are happy to report that WGN intends to increase its audience by 20 percent. The executives at WGN intend to increase from 54 million households to 60 million by January, and boost WGN's viewership to 65 million by July! Over the past four years WGN has been a real boon to this Work [LCG]. Its nationwide coverage has generated tens of thousands of new subscribers for the Tomorrow's World magazine, and has brought scores of new members to the Church, who had no previous experience with the Church of God until they saw the Tomorrow's World telecast. WGN has also drawn hundreds of members who had previous Church of God connections with other fellowships. (December 15 co-worker letter)

This past Saturday the GTAEA re-aired Teddy's "Xmas special" (paganism, winter solstice... bah, humbug!) so the golden voice is still calling those lonely dollars home.

New articles: Bill Fairchild has a new article on Mike Minton's Painful Truth site with the provocative title Religion and other mental illnesses. MD columnist Douglas Becker is also back with an All2True piece called Narcissism. Douglas introduces the article with these words:

Anyone who wants to serve their cult master well must understand the workings of the personality disorder, narcissism, roughly defined as not having any empathy. And it is all about serving your cult master--make no mistake. You must abandon your friends, family, coworkers and actively serve with all your might, talents, experience, skills and belongings to provide support for the End Time Apostle and those who "hold up his hands". Your service will insure the most important thing in this world for all ages: Validating his ego. Nothing is more important. Rank comes first. Everything else comes second. You must contribute to his conspicuous consumption for the sake of God's Work.

What the Worldwide Church of God desperately needs is an organized reform movement from within

An Insult to Christian Freedom: If you're a current member of the Worldwide Church of God you really should check out the new Church Administration Manual. Even better, do what we did and print that sucker off, then go through it with a highlighter. You can find it in PDF form on the WCG website. When AW returns in February we'll be looking at this document in quite some detail. Suffice it to say for now that, despite what Joey wrote in his book (and Mike Feazell claimed later in his potboiler) there appears to have been no move away from the extreme hierarchic, top-down, dictatorial structure. In fact quite the opposite: the führer type leadership model seems to be even more deeply entrenched following the release of this manual. 

What the Worldwide Church of God desperately needs is an organized reform movement from within with the courage to confront issues like these. It's all very well to turn up the heat from the outside (as AW and others attempt to), but it's a poor substitute for members who prove their commitment by standing up to the arrogant bullying tactics of sect functionaries (who seem to stupidly measure loyalty by how eagerly members and ministers jump to Joe's agenda.) Unlike the earlier reforms - which left the despotic power structure largely intact - this movement needs to come from the bottom up; the grassroots. More on this in February.

And finally...  This special seasonal offering comes from our own poet-laureate, the highly esteemed Seamus. It is typical of The Bard that he directs our attention at this time of year to those more needy. And who could be more needy than those who strive to lord it over us in the Lord. 

Spare a Thought

Spare a thought for Uncle Rod who gets no Xmas cheer
And likewise Uncle Gerry receives no seasonal beer

Will Feast of Tabernacles stocks suffice to see them through
Or will empty cellars give them shocks and fill them full of rue?

For those who keep us "chastened" are worthy of reward
And they should get some funds to "Christmas" stocks afford

Come ye of empathetic vein and give a helping hand
Bestow a large donation that perhaps was never planned

Write a check for charity's sake and send it soon away
Our heroes can't be sober at all on Christmas Day

A little wine is good for stomach and also general health
Let's give our boys a hand and let them spend some wealth

Woe to those who will not tithe or with their money part
They are for perdition bent and of the hardest heart

Beware the "IDES OF FLURRY", a terrible time in store
Cough up now, all ye who stall, and give them ever more

Your dollars are not wasted by those so ever short
Great liquors oft are tasted, in fact as well as port

Whether of season, in or out, our champions must be fed
Champagne of finest note in which they dunk their bread

For they are worthy of the best and nothing is denied
An increment all double they would have us provide

And if our conscience is all mean, let's give a holiday toast
To Uncles Rod and Gerry, but then in hell we roast?

Happy holidays to all AW readers.


And the beat goes on: At one time, I thought Norman Edwards' "Servant's News" was the last vestige of light in the midst of the dark world of COG "church" BUSINESS organizations that sprang out of Herbert Armstrong's bowels. Then, Norm too started asking for money. He never did that until recently. What a disappointment! Will it ever end? ...

Peter said, "Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you." II Pet. 2:3. Peter used the Greek term for "conducting business for the purpose of making a profit". The Bible  prohibits making a living off of preaching: Micah 3:10-11. Jesus said, "FREELY you have received, FREELY give". Matt. 10:8. I'm not saying that we should "muzzle the ox who's treading out the grain", but the "ox" always received more than his fair share of the "grain". Paul went on to say, in that particular scripture, that, nonetheless, he did not use this right, but preached the gospel WITHOUT CHARGE. I Cor. 9:18. The "ministers" seemed to have never missed a financial beat when they rebelled against Joey Jr.

And the beat goes on.


Enron in the making: Congratulations on deciding to take a few weeks off. I, as I'm sure others do, look forward to your renewed efforts in February.

Relative to the psychopathic comments by Gerald Flurry about the state of California somehow "attacking God" in the 1979 Receivership, following are a few facts to consider:

1) If HWA and the WCG leadership had avoided the "appearance of evil" as is often taught from an apocryphal rendering of I Thess. 5:22, it would have likely avoided the entire Receivership. As the California Attorney General said at the time, the state's legal process was simply trying to ensure that "charitable, tax-exempt funds are spent as prescribed in a nonprofit organization's articles of incorporation."

That the WCG strayed from its governing articles of incorporation is not in dispute. Many sources and incidences confirm that fact (not the least of which include the famous corporate minutes that have multiple thousands of fictitious members "present" at the Church's offices on Grove Street to approve a name change from the Radio Church of God to WCG).

Imagine yourself as Judge Title in 1978 when several WCG members come to you through respectable attorneys to lay out the insanity that the Church was engulfed in at the time (E.g., the ugly and defamatory corporate demise of GTA, the waste of multiple millions of dollars in the transfer of Big Sandy to Pasadena and then the closure of Pasadena legitimate academic operations--with thousands of dollars in Federal grant money to students flushed down with it, etc. etc.). Then you have a very old and apparently physically ill leader who has never been publicly known for conciliatory and rational long-term behavior. If you were Judge Title, what would you think of this physically-incapacitated (but still respected by many WCG members--including some of those who brought the charges and only wanted accountability) leader who has now reasserted absolute control from his death bed (by his own admission) and has instituted what amounts to a bloody purge campaign based on his own personal Cultural Revolution of "getting the church back on track"?

Then throw in Stanley R. Rader, who holds multiple senior executive offices, titles and responsibilities intermingled throughout the WCG organization and its related subsidiaries. For example, Rader is general counsel for the WCG, who is represented by a law firm headed by Rader out of Beverly Hills. Rader is executive vice president of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF) and Rader-colleague Henry Cornwall is a high-standing corporate officer. Both control, spend and track multiple millions of dollars of funds for AICF and WCG. The accounting firm of Rader, Cornwall et al., audits the WCG's books. Rader subsequently serves as Treasurer of WCG, a multi-million California corporation. Rader also sets up and owns Worldwide Advertising, which is basically a media-buying service for HWA's television program. Worldwide Advertising collects commission (the traditional agency standard at the time was about 15%) and time and materials on the WCG's annual advertising media buys for print and television (which buys in any given years range from $8-$17 million). Rader sets up and owns the company that initially purchases the jets and other aircraft for the WCG. Rader is part of a "law firm" called Rader, Helge and Gerson with offices on Lake Avenue in Pasadena that supposedly is also the WCG’s legal department. And the list goes on and on (by the way, anyone with a lot of time on their hands and who have access to Lexis/Nexis or U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) search rights might conduct a search sometime for all the U.S. corporations that Stanley R. Rader was an officer, partner and/or director of--the results are pretty interesting). WCG employees delivering veloxes of HWA's Wall Street Journal ads with insertion orders to Worldwide Advertising were shocked to find that no "Worldwide Advertising" offices existed. When they arrived at the prestigious Wilshire Avenue address listed, they found no mention of Worldwide Advertising on the office building's marquee. Upon inquiring, they would be directed to the law offices of Rader, whereupon they would stare at wonderment at the fact that virtually the ENTIRE FLOOR was made up of offices for Rader, Cornwall, Kessler & Palazzo, the "Law Offices of Stanley R. Rader," Rader-related accounting operations, and on and on (interestingly, during this time Rader was vehemently insisting that he was not a partner in any law firm by his name). One of the law offices had a couple of media buyers who worked as "Worldwide Advertising."

So you have what “appears” to be "Enron in the making." No financial accountability to members exists, the leader who had seemed to be moving the WCG toward respectability is gruesomely sacked, the executives who allocate and spend the corporation's donations also audit themselves and pronounce themselves fiscally fit, and you have an individual who claims he recently died as the head executive officer. Is that at least the "appearance" of evil or

Ironically, the WCG's records were immaculate, thanks to the professional guidance of people like Jack Bickett. The use of the money was easily deemed as at least potentially insane, but it was accounted for in a professional manner according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) at the time. The WCG's accounting record was so good that auditors could find entries as small as the money spent to buy golf balls for the disgraced former monarch of Belgium. One must wonder what the poor WCG employees in the WCG’s general ledger department of its accounting operations ever thought (they would have seen it all as the records came through).

Whether justified or not, Rader—not the WCG—was the target of the initial legal machinations, and Rader skillfully found the WCG to be a useful body shield to protect himself. The State of California made the singular legal mistake of exploiting a corporate accountability statute in an extreme manner to act, which DID frighteningly threaten key religious freedoms in the United States. The amicus curiae briefs filed by other religious and civil rights organizations were basically only presented because their own interests were threatened. If the WCG had disappeared for other reasons, they likely wouldn't have cared. (Case in point: The Worldwide News had to PAY for reprint rights for some statements of support by other religious organizations in order to include them in the WN--hardly a friendly sign of "we're all in this together" sort of bit).

So was Flurry's flawed assertion somehow correct that California "attacked God" when the state went after the WCG and thus decades later spawned raging fires across Southern California? 

2) So far as "preaching the Gospel" during this time, Flurry might be surprised to know that the over-riding strategic focus of WCG media buys in 1978-1981 was to prove to members that HWA WASN'T DEAD. Left-over contracts for GTA's program were honored, but the WCG’s TV department quickly packed up their portable studio and headed over to Tucson, where a hall was rented and HWA was videotaped giving quasi-sermons on basic topics that were cut up into 27-minute "programs" with standard literature offers (incidentally, the highly innovative portable studio was built by WCG TV employees--then organized into a separate organization called Ambassador Television Production (ATP)--and was built inside of a standard airline shipping container). New media buys during this time focused on geographic areas where there were large numbers of WCG members. WCG members in those areas were strongly encouraged to watch the program, with the desired effect that they would "know" that their apostle still had a beating heart and give the illusion that all was well. "Cost-per-response" (CPR) and other quantitative methods to evaluate the success of "targeted" media buys were tossed out of the window during this time. Cost wasn't an issue. The very real threat was that WCG members might abandon the WCG for GTA's new church, which never happened (HWA was afraid of that for the rest of his life). Media buys changed dramatically after 1980 and the success of Turner's new satellite network (WTBS), which allowed incredible amounts of people to be reached at a very low cost. When the Receivership was over, the WCG/ATP studio was revamped yet again (one wonders how the current WCG will ever sell that Pasadena campus facility, given that it has dozens of miles of cable crammed throughout).

3) A postscript: the Receivership was well-timed.  When it occurred, all of the paid ministers and senior staff had been summoned to Tucson for direct indoctrination in the HWA Cultural Revolution by the man himself. One must wonder what the hell Joseph Tkach was doing in Pasadena when he was supposed to be in Tucson as a full-time paid minister. But for that one fact, how different would things be today? If Ellis LaRavia had stayed behind to oversee the WCG/AC facilities in his role as director, would he be Pastor General today? Maybe Flurry ought to get on his divine Elijah hotline and pose that particular question.

4) So far HWA’s cars went, the WCG maintained at least two (sometimes three) luxury Cadillac limousines that HWA used in Pasadena (he liked to ride in the front seat with the driver if he didn’t have anyone with him). If HWA wasn’t using them, the AICF used them to pick up Auditorium performers from LAX (or later to haul Tkach’s assistants around). The limos were kept in the Hall of Administration private underground parking facility, which had direct elevator access to the HWA (later JWT) executive offices. 

Gospel friction: ... here are a few comments in response to Dennis Diehl's recent essay on the authorship and composition of the canonical Gospels:

Dennis wrote: "Mark is traditionally thought to be a writer for Peter but the source of this, Eusebius in the Fourth Century quoting Papias in the second century is hardly compelling."

That is incorrect. We don't have to depend entirely on Eusebius for this tradition. There were a few other early Church Fathers who mention Mark as the author of the Gospel traditionally attributed to him. For example, St. Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 180 A.D.), the anonymous author of the Muratorian canon (roughly contemporary with St. Irenaeus), Clement of Alexandria (circa 200 A.D.), Origen (circa 250 A.D.), and so on.

Papias, who apparently wrote circa 110 A.D., is the earliest known Christian to mention this tradition, and he attributes this information to John the Presbyter, whom he says was a disciple of Jesus Christ. (This John was almost certainly the Apostle John.) Dennis attempts to poison the well regarding Eusebius' quotation of Papias, but I am unaware of any serious specialist in this field who doubts that he quoted Papias accurately here.

The simple fact of the matter is that there has never been any other tradition of authorship of the four canonical Gospels but the one everyone is familiar with. People in a position to know the truth told us this information, whereas modern scholars 1,900 years later can only spin theories. On balance I rather trust the earliest sources of information on this matter over modern authors and theorists.

Oh, and regarding Randel Helms' book ... "Who Wrote the Gospels?"... It's a fun book to read, and contains some useful insights. But in my judgment, Helms didn't make his case at all. The novel suggestion that the author of Luke was a woman is definitely eyebrow-raising. Reminds me a little of a certain recent speculation about a woman allegedly in Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper." It definitely makes for entertaining dinner party conversation, but I don't think it quite passes muster as serious historical scholarship.

Jared Olar

Blind pigs and acorns: I first started attending WCG in fall of 1991, in the Detroit area. I met my husband at the Feast of Tabernacles in 1992, we were married in 1993, and we have a son who just turned 2 this past Tuesday. We've been married 10 years now, since I was 20 and he was 26.

We left WCG several years ago. They were going from error to error. They had been right about Xmas and Easter and Catholicism and the like (well, mostly right). Instead of carefully researching and holding to what was actually true, they tossed out everything Armstrong taught. I believe Armstrong was a heretic, but he was right about SOME things...after all, even a blind pig can come up with an acorn every now and again.

I guess you could say I'm now an independent Baptist/fundamentalist. I firmly believe that the Authorized King James is the true Word of God in English. My husband and I do not keep Xmas, Easter, and the like, due to their pagan origins...

I hadn't known until a few MONTHS ago that HWA was guilty of incest. Boy, someone for the Catholic priests to look up to! :/ I don't think of HWA as a saint let alone an apostle. In my opinion he was as bad as the Pharisees.

I think your site is interesting so far. I'm going to keep exploring it. Kinda disturbing that I could have fallen for such nonsense. Well, I know better now!

Alexandra Spears

So sorry: I just wanted to drop you a short note to say that I feel very sorry for you and I hope that one day God will be able open your mind and pour out his Spirit upon you so you can understand revealed knowledge from the creator of the vast universe and the great plan for mankind, unless of course you've already thrown it away.

MD: How very solicitous... 

Missing month: Just wanted you to know that I will miss AW during January but you deserve a break. Appreciate your efforts and also your kindness to me and others.


Winter feast?  Just a quick note before your break. I've just recently learned of UCG's "Winter Feast" and that this has been an ongoing practice. It is on Dec. 24th and the ministry refer to it as a "Winter Feast" or "Festival." I don't believe that many members of UCG realize that most of their leadership were those that Tkach looked to in helping justify the changes being made ten years ago. Some, if not most, taught the changes until a large number of WCG members balked and began to abandon ship.

Following the path of the gradual, behind-closed-doors changes that UCG has made in their teachings, shows that they are heading in the same direction as WCG, only at a much slower pace (hopefully not to the same extent). Greater and more evident changes will probably be made as the older members pass away (they make up the majority of UCG membership). One major concern of UCG is the age of their ministry. It is usually a topic of their COE meetings, where they are desperate to protect their retirement funds. 

I don't disagree with some of the changes UCG has made, in fact I applaud them. I just don't like the deception that no changes are being made. If it is truth, shout it out loud, don't hide it. There are probably very few out there who don't realize by now that there are needed changes to many of Armstrong's teachings. The only actual truth he taught, he obtained from other churches. Of course, this thought brings to mind the fallacy that all of these truths were divinely revealed directly to him, which knocks the foundation out from under all of these splinter groups. 

I've come into contact with several members of splinter groups looking for solid Biblical backing for some of the former teachings, only to find that its major backing was "thus saith Armstrong." This is why UCG has sought scholarly backing from outside the Bible to continue with some of the teachings. Many ex-WCGers have come to realize, and I believe that Herman Hoeh has acknowledged that he would set forth the proof of a teaching according to Armstrong's desired results. A good example of this was the sudden change of the timing for Pentecost. I have found that at least 18 different dates for Pentecost can be said to have Biblical backing. Many of these differences in timing can be seen in various issues of The Journal, which is also a good source showing the devastating effects of Armstrongism.

Oh well, this wasn't such a quick note after all (sorry). Thank you and enjoy your break!


MD: A UCG member responds: "In my years of being in UCG and going to this activity, I have NEVER heard anyone call it a "Winter Feast" or a "Winter Festival". It is called the Winter Family Tournament. It is basically like the old YOU basketball tournaments... The activity is 4 days long, it is not just on December 24 or 25. Xmas is but one day in a 4 day activity. It is held over that time because most church members have time off work and it gets us away from all the Xmas garbage. It is not an alternative to Xmas or the Feast of Tabernacles."

19 December. CHRISTMAS MINUS THE BUBBLY, MD'S SUMMER HOL'S, TKACH'S BOOK OF RULES, SEE.  Mail: Eyewitness writers, Spanky babble, Holy Herb, "Common sense" racism

Party hearty! Visitors to the Pasadena Campus were able to witness a "flurry" of activity in the Hall of Ad as the WCG prepared for its Christmas party. Cases of wine and champagne were seen stacked in the building (which might come as news to the sober celebrators, who never actually saw a drop). Huge Christmas floral decorations and elaborate buffet tables were being set up. Christmas decorations were seen all over the building. Obviously no expense was spared for this event! That scraping, creaking, clanking sound you can hear is Herb turning over in his grave.

Summer break: It might be snowing up North, but Down Under it's Summertime, and The Missing Dimension is taking a break in January. There'll be a final upload for 2003 on December 24. When MD returns in February there are likely to be a few changes phasing in, some obvious, some not. We look forward to again covering developments in the WCG and related groups, and continuing to advocate for accountability at all levels. 

Holiday reading? A little light vacation reading for those so inclined: the new WCG Church Administration Manual for U.S. congregations is now posted. This is a fairly large PDF file and may take a while to download. 

Anything in there about the tenure and compensation package for the Pastor General?

SN Editor thinks big: Norman Edwards, editor and publisher of Servants' News, has been thinking about something he calls a "Sabbatarian Educational Environment". The idea seems to be some kind of indoctrination camp for the children of fundamentalist Sabbath keepers. In Norm's words: "a place for Sabbatarian young people to go to learn job skills, fellowship with each other and establish a Godly foundation for the rest of their life."

I would like to inform you of an outstanding opportunity to purchase a "ready to go" campus for the Sabbatarian Educational Environment. The Christian group that bought the old Air Force base near Port Austin has decided to sell it. We had rented the campus for a Feast of Tabernacles site in the year 2000 and know the property quite well.

They had completely outfitted it for a Bible Teaching Center, but never had enough students to keep it going. They were teaching advanced theology. Most of their students were older adults-who have a very difficult time getting away from jobs, children and other responsibilities.

By contrast, there is a great need for a place for Sabbatarian young people to go to learn job skills, fellowship with each other and establish a Godly foundation for the rest of their life.

A well rounded education:  Some idea of what SEE might be like can be gleaned from Norm's shopping list for teachers. No book-learnin' intellectuals needed here! Sabbatarian youth don't need theology or critical thinking - not when there's ducts to clean and refrigerators to repair... and what on earth does "wildlife control" mean?

1 Architecture Teacher
1 Art Teacher
1 Auto Mechanics Teacher
1 Ballet Teacher
6 Bible Teacher
1 Business Psychology Teacher
1 Computer Teacher
1 Creation Science Teacher
1 Duct Cleaning Teacher
1 Elementary Education Teacher
1 Evangelism Teacher
2 Farming Teacher
1 Floor-care Business Teacher
1 Greek Teacher
1 Health Sciences Teacher
1 Hebrew Teacher
2 History Teacher
2 Industrial Arts Teacher
1 Internet Development Teacher
1 Math Teacher
1 Paralegal Teacher
1 Photography Teacher
1 Physical Education Teacher
1 Plumbing Teacher
1 Political Science Teacher
1 Real Estate Teacher
1 Refrigeration Repair Teacher
1 Small Business Teacher
1 Technical Teacher
1 Wildlife Control Teacher

The trouble is, there's no money for "SEE". So what to do?

If there is a wealthy or famous person whom you think might be interested, you might consider sending them a letter-see the sample copy at the very end of this message.

Excited? Here's Norm's fill-in-the-gaps letter to appeal to the vanity of the rich and famous:

### Your name and mailing address

### Name
### Mailing Address
### Rest of Mailing Address

Dear #####,

[###alter this paragraph as appropriate, mentioning specific accomplishments of the person.] I admire your success as a #####. I think you have been an inspiration and an encouragement to many people.

I am writing to tell you about a way that you could help a group of Christian young people also become successful. I am not asking you to contribute to another scholarship fund, but to be instrumental in establishing a unique school that has no equivalent in the U.S.A., today.

There is a written plan for the school, teachers willing to teach, students ready to attend and more than one potential campus available. The people are willing to work in sparse conditions for minimal wages. In time, the program should become self-supporting.

What is needed now is about $300,000 to get the school started and several hundred thousand more over the next few years to assure its continuance. You could become personally involved and a role model for it, if you desired. The organizers are most concerned about serving this group of young people-and will accept whatever means God provides to do it. They would be glad to name the school after a person who makes it possible.

I have decided to write this letter to you on my own, in the hope that you might be interested in helping. The entire school is a volunteer effort so far.

I wanted to keep this short. If you would like a little or a lot more information, please respond.

As you have succeeded in [#####mention their successes####], we hope you will help these Christian young people succeed also.

#### your name.

Naming rights seems a winning strategy. Let's see: The Michael Jackson Duct Cleaning and Youth Plumbing Academy? Pamela Anderson's Baywatch Creation Science and Floor Care Business School? The possibilities are endless...


Who Wrote The Gospels?

by Randel Helms

"An exhaustively researched and well-written challenge to the conventional and complacent belief that the Gospels were written by the saint for which each is named"


Eyewitness accounts? No: There is more than enough evidence to show that the Gospels are anything but eyewitness accounts of the events of Jesus life.

It seems odd that if they were such, then Matthew would not use 607 of Mark's 661 verses verbatim. Luke uses about 360 of Marks 607 verses as well. One would think that if Luke knew Paul so well and Paul knew Peter so well, there might be some original information here but it is not so. The fact that Paul wrote and died before any Gospels were written and his lack of any mention of any of the Gospel stories indicate Paul never knew much of them, or cared little about Jesus life experiences. Knowing that Paul's Christ was visionary - and whenever he relates getting information from Jesus, for example, the Lord's Supper, he means in vision - goes a long way in understanding this problem and theological reality. 

Mark is traditionally thought to be a writer for Peter but the source of this, Eusebius in the Fourth Century quoting Papias in the second century is hardly compelling. Eusebius, sometimes called the "Ecclesiastical Liar " was the apologist for early literalist Christianity under Constantine, who after the Council of Nicea went home and murdered his children and wife for refusal to convert. All internal indications are that Mark was not familiar with Jewish customs and culture and many of his miscues are corrected and eliminated by Matthew who was. 

Both Matthew and Luke seem to share about 206 verses not found in Mark which leads to the conclusion that they both had a similar other source (sometimes called Q) for their additional information. 

We also need to ask why it is that with twelve disciples trained personally by Jesus, where is their testimony? They appear only as characters in the Gospel accounts and for the most part simply disappear into history with a few generic admonitions to go into all the world and preach. The fact that the vast majority of these disciples never wrote anything accepted by the literalist church is annoying and suspect. The fact that Jesus never wrote anything personally or taught anything original to Christianity is also suspect. 

At any rate, it is not the purpose of this MD forum to prove or debate theology. The Gospels were not written by the men whose names have been attached to them decades later. The book of Acts is an apologetic endeavoring to link the Gospels to Paul and done so poorly. In Galatians for example, Paul says after his visionary experience he did NOT go to Jerusalem, did NOT meet with any Apostles and DID go immediately to Arabia etc... Luke contradicts this by saying he did immediately meet with the Apostles and got their blessing to preach. Paul never cared one  whit
(Gal 2:6) whether anyone approved of his preaching or Apostleship. He was called from the womb (Gal 1:15) and not by any fall off his...donkey. His advice to Gentiles after allegedly agreeing to the tenets of Acts 15 shows his disagreeable spirit. This material cannot be harmonized. 

I will simply say that the information is out there for those who are willing to look at the material. You don't have to ask either your Church or your local pastor anymore, as most wouldn't know anyway, why these things are so. 

Dennis Diehl 

MD: Dennis served for many years as a pastor in the Worldwide Church of God.

The Sadaam of Charlotte? How interesting to see Dr. Meredith's letter which declared: "America has utterly failed to properly deal with the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein."

Given the capture of Mr. Hussein over the weekend, it seems Dr. Meredith is now in the camp of U.S. Presidential candidate Howard Dean. Is he turning peacenik liberal on us here???

Richard Burkard

Herbolatry: ... it's just insane how Gerald Flurry thinks the whole world revolves around HWA!!!

The articles I'll quote from can be read entirely online at Click on "The Trumpet" icon to go the the current issue. All emphasis are his.

Flurry ­ "The DISCIPLES knew that Christ referred to John the Baptist. AND CHRIST'S DISCIPLES TODAY KNOW WHO THIS MODERN DAY JOHN, OR ELIJAH, WAS! They must know who he was or they could not do God's work! His name was Herbert W. Armstrong. His headquarters was Pasadena, California.

"ONLY Mr. Armstrong preached the true gospel around the world, for the first time in almost 2,000 years!"

He claims Herbie taught the truth about God's family and being born into that family. What he doesn't say is how he separated hundreds of families because of his stupid D&R rules (doing his own thing later), and caused families IN the church to keep contact to a minimum with those OUTside the church (including extended family members)... Sorry Gerry, but Herbie did NOT fulfill that prophecy! Rupert and Lill probably have done more to help kids, than HWA ever did!

Flurry ­ "Here is the earth-shaking point. Mr. Armstrong was the modern-day Elijah. And, as pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, he preached God's precious truth to this world from Pasadena, California.

"In an overt attack against Mr. Armstrong, the state of California, through the attorney general's office, launched a massive lawsuit against the WCG in 1979. On Jan. 3, that office initiated a sudden, armed (me - armed, really!?!) assault on the Pasadena headquarters in an attempt to claim ownership of the Church's property and assets as well as it's continuing income. . . . . Completely false, outrageous and baseless allegations of financial mismanagement were made ­ despite financial and all other required records having been regularly and voluntarily filed. . . 

"California is the only state that ever attacked Mr. Armstrong and his work. Actually, it attacked a lot more than that. California really ATTACKED THE LIVING GOD!

"When meeting out punishment, God begins at his sanctuary. The Church Mr. Armstrong founded no longer follows most of the doctrines he taught! In principal, God begins where His own sinning Church is, especially their headquarters in Pasadena. And in general, that principle applies to the state where God's sinning headquarters is. So it is fitting that God begins the worst part of his punishing America in California. The headquarters of God's own sinning, Laodicean Church is there.

"Is there a connection to what is happening in California and God's work through Herbert W. Armstrong? The whole world must come to see that there is!

"Is God cursing California?"

Then he quotes Deut. 28:15-20 ­ Curses, curses! He then says God is either allowing or sending the California fires.

Flurry ­ "Is God now intensely cursing California for its attack against the living God's work under Herbert W. Armstrong? . . . Is God now taking vengeance against that state for what it did to his work? Yes, He is! And California is only the beginning."

Craig Winters writes on page 3 ­ "And as we wait, we muse on the constellation of curses that have devestated great swaths of the once Golden State of the West ­ all since the death of a venerable old man of God, Herbert W. Armstrong.

"There has to be a reason for all this"

(There is. How about some insane individuals that intentionally, or carelessly started some of the fires in the first place!?!)

Pages 24 - 27 have articles written by Herbie that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 1980 telling of his and the church's "innocence".

Page 25 is a classic! You gotta read the whole thing! 

"All I have in the world today is my home in Tuscon, Arizona, bought 3 1/2 years ago with a small down payment and a 20-year loan secured by a mortgage, the use of a 3 year old car and a checking account in the bank. My wife owns a car, some clothes and some jewelry that I bought with personal funds (our tithes and offerings), after taxes and tithes and Church offerings. I own the clothes on my back ­ THAT IS ALL!"

(What!?! No food to eat? No Dom Perigom? No furniture? No GIII? All this, and more, bought and paid for by US, as in you and me! And just what was the make and model of that 3 year old car? A Pinto, or a Rolls?)

"For 53 years now, I have lived a life devoted to the principle of "GIVE" ­ but those who "GET" do still accuse falsely and persecute those who GIVE! . . . "

In Gerry's and Herbie's words, this should reach the "widest audience possible", so here it is.


Purity without malice: What do Herbert Armstrong, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Muhammad Ali, Rudyard Kipling, and the nation of Israel have in common? All are on record opposing race mixing. And so are many other notable individuals. It is not a "vile position" to maintain nor is it a "delectation of the weak-minded." Racial bigotry and hatred are horrible indeed, but a race, any race, wishing to maintain its purity without malice toward other races should be applauded. It is just common sense to want to maintain purity. Herbert was wrong about a lot of things, but I think he was correct on this issue. 


MD: Ethnologists know that the idea of "pure race" is a deceitful fiction. Purity without malice today, lebensraum tomorrow, concentration camp blueprints to follow. 


Testosterone overload: The following posting from Raymond McNair's wife circulated last week on some of the news groups.

My husband is doing just fine...thanks to the Great God we serve.

His last blood test, this past Wednesday, showed the testosterone count has dropped to 56 from 5,000. This is tremendous!! As I believe I had mentioned, the normal count should be 5 (five), but my husband's was over 5,000. From September 18th to December 3rd, the count has dropped dramatically in such a short time.

We are very thankful to you for your concern and your prayers.

Warm regards and love,
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond McNair

Not Packin' them in: How big is Big Dave's Restored Church of God? David Pack is cagey on releasing information, so this brief mention quoted on the COGwriter site is interesting:

"I visited their feast site and was told that there were less than 150 in Niagara and less than 140 in Afton, OK. Also maybe 30 in the UK, a handful in Australia and even less in the Philippines and Mexico."

Not so much a "little flock" as half a leg of mutton.

UCG council COGitates: Minutes from the recent UCG Council of Elders meetings provide a fascinating insight into how that body works. The morning of Sunday December 7 was a case in point. The lads peered into the abyss momentarily and attempted to address some major issues associated with "preaching the gospel". The very full minutes capture the tone as the discussion ebbed and flowed. To its credit the Sanhedrin attempted to get a firm grip on some very slippery fish. Whether they actually caught any is less certain, but it seems everybody at least got wet in the process!

Poverty - how to reverse it!  Wouldn't you love to know how to reverse poverty? Wonder no longer. Allie Dart, spouse of the more famous Ronald L., reveals all in the December issue of Richard Nickels' COG News. Who would have guessed that this perennial problem that afflicts so many could be solved in less than 750 words! 

We have President Lyndon B. Johnson to thank for perpetuating poverty with his “War on Poverty.”

Profound, huh! Mind you, readers in Canada, Australia, Ireland, Britain etc. may be a bit puzzled. Allie goes on to give some hot tips, the sort your grandmother gives you when you mention that you're going to have to take a third part-time job to cover your college fees. And then...

But teaching only physical principles falls far short of what a Christian parent should do. To give yourself and your children a competitive edge against poverty, call 1-888-BIBLE44 and order Ronald L. Dart’s free booklet titled, The Lost Keys to Financial Security. Read it from cover to cover. Explain these keys to your children often. Proactively teaching these things to your children can mean the difference between poverty and wealth for them and their children.

Aw shucks. It was an advertorial for hubby all along. D'ya reckon Ron mentions tithing?

This report from a special correspondent adds a little further color.

The newspapers and the television news covered the open houses on the Pasadena campus this past weekend. One news station reported that over 3,000 people went through the homes.

According to keen-eyed observers, there were many former church members also getting a look at the homes. Some were particularly interested the house once lived in by a prominent member of the current administration. Some  wanted to know which room the family allegedly locked one of their foster kids in. It has been widely known that they had locks on the outside door of the girl's bedroom. She reportedly used to get so angry she would knock holes in the walls.

Church members reported seeing Bernie walking through his old home and one of the newspapers reported that also.

Others were appalled at what the church did in remodeling the house Rick VanPelt used to live in. It was totally redone several years ago by an assistant who fancied herself as an interior decorator. She ruined the home, in the opinion of many visitors, with horrible additions. One visitor said that it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to undo the damage.

A lot of people were interested in buying HWA's house, but it was not one of the homes listed this time. 

Not-Quite-Mansions for sale: From the Pasadena Star News:

Some came to shop; others simply wanted look around. Either way, it was a good day to be a real estate agent.

Five homes, each valued in excess of $1 million, in one of Pasadena's most exclusive neighborhoods went on the market Saturday. Hundreds turned out for the rare chance to tour the historic houses, which sit on a stretch of Orange Grove Boulevard once referred to enviously as Millionaire's Row.

"I love the houses, absolutely love them,' said Gordon Martin... But Martin was put off by the conditions inside the houses, and is also a little worried about what the Worldwide Church of God might build behind them... Whether or not Martin bites, it doesn't appear the church is going to have a hard time finding buyers. Offers have already come from people who want to buy all five houses at once, said Diane Hardie-Aurit, an agent with the church's real estate broker, Dickson Podley of Pasadena.

The bids will be evaluated after the home tour finishes up today, she said.

Invitations to the tour were sent to 3,000 people, everyone from local luminaries to historians to high- performance real estate brokers. Glossy brochures giving a short history of each house, along with flattering photographs, were distributed generously. Candles, fresh flowers and spicy air fresheners set the mood.

Luxury cars from Rusnak Motors dressed the driveways when guests first arrived. The BMWs and Mercedes were later replaced by antique automobiles more reflective of the turn-of-the-20th-century architecture.

The real estate wasn't the only thing on display. For Worldwide Church of God officials, who been under fire by critics of the Ambassador development plan, the home tour was a chance to showcase a piece of Pasadena's history that they have helped preserve...

The steady stream of visitors Saturday was a testament to the excitement these houses generate among architectural buffs and preservationists, though some, like Martin, were disappointed by what they found inside.

"The interior design seems to be quite lacking,' said Ed Mazzarino, who is restoring his home, built in 1886, across the street. Nevertheless, he was glad the properties were going to be resold as single-family homes.

Church finance and planning director Bernard Schnippert said about $350,000 was spent to get the houses ready for sale, but that the brokers advised the church "to leave the interiors to the buyers.'

Most of the houses have been vacant for years. Some had been homes for church officials, others were made into dormitories for students. "There is nothing sadder than an empty building,' Schnippert said as he toured the Dray house, where he lived for several years in the 1990s.

Built in 1911 by an unknown architect, the Colonial Revival is priced at $1.29 million that includes a partially updated plumbing system and a new central air conditioning unit.

Next door is the Haben house, designed by the late Los Angeles architect Arthur Acker in the Italian Revival-style. The 1910 house can be yours for $1.19 million unless you are out-bid.

The two-story Montgomery house is a Craftsman originally designed by Joseph Blick in 1909 and then extensively remodeled in 1918 by architect Louis DuPuget Millar. Its four bedrooms, four bathrooms, open-beam ceilings and custom herringbone wood floors will cost you at least $1.25 million security system included.

The oldest home is the Sherk house, built in 1892. Again, architect Joseph Blick had the indignity of having his design revised, this time by Edward Kent in 1908. The $1.09 million, Dutch Colonial has a pool and a koi pond as well as a two-car carport.

The most impressive of the homes by everyone's measure is the Scofield house, designed by noted architect Frederick Roehrig. The Prairie-style home has the feel of an early Frank Lloyd Wright. Built in 1909, the mansion is listed for $1.8 million.

And from the LA Times:

The offer was irresistible: Five adjacent historic homes on Pasadena's oldest street were on the market Saturday for the first time in decades. Lured by this unusual opportunity, throngs of people descended on the homes. Some were standing outside the properties at 9 a.m., waiting for real estate agents to open the doors.

Yet, many emerged with starkly different views of the properties, which had been shuttered for the last several years by their owner, the Worldwide Church of God. Some visitors saw an opportunity; others envisioned a money pit.

Asked what it would take to prompt an offer, Steve Herren, of Pasadena, wasted no time in replying: "tonight's Lotto."

The five homes were built between 1892 and 1911, and none lacked curb appeal. The least expensive was listed at nearly $1.1 million, with the priciest at $1.8 million; the Tournament of Roses Parade can be viewed from their front lawns...

The homes sit on "Millionaire's Row" on Orange Grove Boulevard. They aren't quite mansions — there are much larger and gaudier homes in the area. But they are billed as the last grouping of original homes on the street and include two Colonials, an Italian Revival, a Craftsman and a sprawling four-bedroom, four-bath Prairie home.

The glitch is that many will probably require thousands of dollars of work on the inside, where paint needs to be stripped, wallpaper replaced and hardwood floors refinished.

"It kind of makes you seasick," said one woman as she toured the Craftsman, which was decorated in several unsettling shades of green.

Not that a few home-improvement issues seemed to matter. Prompted by hundreds of invitations sent to top-producing real estate agents across town, a cavalcade of luxury cars rolled up to the homes.

"I've already had offers," said Diane Hardie-Aurit, an agent for Dickson Podley Realtors, which is handling the sale. "Even from people who hadn't seen them. One was a rock star. He wanted in Thursday."

There were even people who wanted to buy all five, she said...

"The saddest part of this is that they're empty. There's nothing sadder than an empty building," said Bernard Schnippert, the director of finance and planning for the church, who once lived in one of the homes. "I get a great deal of pleasure knowing that someone will make this their home."

The old Ambassador College campus is mostly deserted these days, but is still well tended to and resembles a botanical garden with its rolling lawns, old trees, fountains, koi ponds and numerous historic structures...

The fuss over the five homes was partially inspired by the fact they were designed by notable architects of their day and incorporated all sorts of unique features and cubbyholes.

The largest is the 4,921-square-foot Scofield House, which is reminiscent of a Frank Lloyd Wright structure. It includes a dramatic entranceway that opens onto the main staircase to the second floor. The house has two other stairways, including one built for the exclusive use of the help.

The homes had been shuttered for several years and agents had to give them a heavy dousing of air freshener before the public was allowed in. It was also the first chance for longtime neighbors to see the interiors, which one agent described as "1960s contractor, fix-up, decorator run amok."

The Dray House, a white Colonial, looked fit for the Cleaver family — although the house's innards had issues.

"You've got to gut it," Todd Turner told his wife, Rashmi, as they toured the kitchen, which included cabinets and a refrigerator the color of a Granny Smith apple. The wallpaper was white and blue...

"My clients want a project," said Emmanuel "Long" Gealogo, a real estate agent... "They want a piece of history," Gealogo added, as he walked to his Ferrari, excited about all the possibilities.

Herbal apartheid: Guess who wrote this?

Regarding other races and nationalities, "Thou shalt make no covenant with them ... neither shalt thou make marriages with them" (Deut.7:2-3). America made herself the ally of godless, heathen Russia. America is falling victim today to the Communist propaganda of MIXING THE RACES, contrary to God's commands! God Himself scattered the races at the tower of Babel. God decreed they shall remain SEGREGATED until the end of this world, and the coming of Christ.

Communism stands for amalgamation of the races, until there will be but one race again. They disseminate this propaganda among the Negroes of America. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt has fallen under this delusion, and other public leaders have started a trend in America which makes segregation, which GOD COMMANDS, appear to be sinful and evil, and which makes a mixing of races, which GOD CONDEMNS, appear to be Christian and good! This has nothing to do with race superiority or racial DISCRIMINATION. God condemns racial discrimination, but COMMANDS racial segregation. There's a vast difference! Today people confuse the two as though they were the same!

Scary fact #1: Herbert Armstrong wrote these words (surprise!) for the official church publication, The Good News, in a November 1957 article, Why AMERICA (and the rest of the West) is Cursed!  Scary fact #2: The "apostle" maintained this same vile position through the subsequent decades until his death in 1986. 

Scary fact #3: This stuff is still circulating for the delectation of the weak-minded, and was proudly exhumed as a trophy on the unofficial UCG Yahoo board just this last week.

Heartsick Herb: Herb Armstrong's member letters are a testament of love from a deeply spiritual man infused with the gracious Spirit from above. NOT! Here's one from 1958. The Apostle needed the plebs to cough up for a "Tabernacle" to be erected for the FOT. Here's the full text. Enjoy!





Publishers of
March 20, 1958

Dear Brethren of God's Church:

Some of you have responded nobly, generously, with a willing heart, and to the limit of your ability, to my last letter and plea that the Church of God come to life, and YET save the Tabernacle, so that it may proceed immediately and be ready for this fall. God will richly bless you. I am personally grateful, from the heart!

But most or you have not responded at all! The whole result, brethren, makes me simply heartsick!

We are, of course, a "LITTLE FLOCK," as Jesus called His Church. We are as Jesus foretold of the "Philadelphia" era of His Church, not strong--having only a LITTLE strength. Yet there are now more than 5,000 of us who are adult members--and we are commissioned of Christ, thru HIS POWER, to do a truly MIGHTY WORK!

But out of more than 5,000 members, only 381 of us have responded with any pledge at all! Doesn't that make YOU heartsick, too? BRETHREN! Where are your HEARTS? Certainly, for many of you, NOT IN GOD'S WORK--NOT IN HELPING BUILD THIS HOUSE FOR GOD! Jesus said: Where your treasure is, THERE will your hearts be also. Only 381 of us seem to have our hearts in obeying God that we may have a PLACE to assemble for His Festivals!

Now I know that some few are not able to give anything at all toward this larger Tabernacle. Some few, on state or county-paid old age pensions are not legally allowed to contribute any of that meagre income to God's Church. There are enough others of us who can, and who already have more than made up for that, by making pledges of far larger than average amounts. The 381 of us who have responded with a willing heart have pledged a total of $6,053.78, or $16 per month per person, on the average. BUT THAT IS LESS THAN HALF THE AMOUNT NEEDED!

I know, too, that SOME of you have already been giving, for the regular Gospel work of the Church, right up to the last dime you are able to give, in addition to tithes. Some of you are not able to stretch it any further. Some few, too, are out of work. These things we know. But these are only a FEW of our more than 5,000 adult members--and THAT we know, too! If I were temporarily out of work, I would have faith that, with my own energized efforts and strong purpose, God would soon provide employment--and I would write in and explain and pledge a modest amount to begin IF, and WHEN I find that employment.

You've read of how God's Church in the wilderness under Moses needed a Tabernacle, and Moses sent out a proclamation for the people to GIVE of their means to build it. They had their HEARTS in it. They gave so generously Moses had to send out another proclamation asking them to STOP contributing--far MORE than enough had flowed in!

Later, King David saw the need of a House for GOD in Jerusalem. But because David had been a man of war and shed blood, God did not allow David to build it, but decreed it should be built by his son Solomon. Then David assembled all the princes of Israel and of the tribes, and the captains of the companies of hundreds, etc., in Jerusalem. Then David revealed the plans for the great Temple to all the people, and how God had decreed that Solomon was to build it. In the presence of this vast assembly, David gave Solomon the plans (like today's blue-prints) for the entire building, which had been designed by GOD, and given to David.

David told the people he had prepared for this great tabernacle or Temple with ALL HIS MIGHT (I Chron. 29:2-3)--just as I myself have for the Tabernacle God needs TODAY. "Moreover," continued David, "because I have set my affection to the House of my God, I have given of mine own proper good, of gold and silver which I have given to the House of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy House..." then enumerating the vast amount he, personally had given.

Then David asked of the PEOPLE of God's Church of that day: "WHO, then, is willing to consecrate HIS service this day unto the Eternal?" And the people proved that their HEARTS WERE IN IT--the amount they gave, measured in dollars, was equivalent to four hundred and fifteen and a half MILLIONS of dollars! (I Chron. 29:5-8).

And then "THE PEOPLE REJOICED, for that they had offered WILLINGLY, because with perfect heart they offered WILLINGLY to the Eternal: and David the King also rejoiced with great joy" (Verse 9).

Brethren, WHY CAN'T WE, TODAY, BE AS WILLING OF HEART, AND REJOICE AS MUCH? We have God's HOLY SPIRIT to help and guide and lead us--they did not. We live in a far more prosperous time and country than they. But we have not been willing to GIVE to God, proportionately, as they!

Now consider the FACTS! There are some 5,000 of us who are adult members of God's Church today. And we have contributed, by pledge, only an average of $1.25 per month per member! Some of our ministers, in setting you an example, have contributed from $30 to $100 per month each--which is a pretty good portion of their salaries, especially after income taxes, tithes, and regular offerings for the GOSPEL WORK, which must come out first. A few others have pledged $50 to $200 per month each. Mrs. Armstrong and I, since writing you that letter, have found a way to cut other living expenses still more and increase still further our own pledge.

Do you see what this MEANS? lt means that LESS THAN ONE-THIRTEENTH OF OUR FIVE THOUSAND MEMBERS HAVE MADE ANY PLEDGE AT ALL! Twelve out of thirteen of you have made none whatsoever!

BRETHREN! When an average of $3 per adult member per month would build that Tabernacle, and we can only muster about one-third of that, CAN WE SAY OUR HEARTS ARE IN THE TRUE CHURCH OF GOD? I say SHAME ON US! I wonder what GOD thinks of us! What will be our excuse, when we face Christ in the JUDGMENT? Can God look down on us today, and say: "This is my beloved Church, in whom I am well pleased!"??? As one embittered and angry enemy of God's Church and His Law says of us--I wonder, are we in GRACE, or in DISgrace?

True, I know that some FEW of you could not possibly by sacrifice or stretching your offerings to the limit contribute even  $3 per month additional for the Tabernacle. Some FEW, that is!  But that is not true of 12 out of every 13 of us! That is not true of more than 1 out of each 13! And now, since only 381 of us have pledged $6,000 per month, SURELY eleven out of twelve of the rest of you could manage to tighten your belts a little more--just as 381 of us have done, and pledge AT LEAST $3 per month! And I am convinced that there are many more of you who ARE ABLE, if you'll permit God to make your hearts willing, to contribute amounts like the 381 already have pledged. Here's a sample of the way the amounts pledged run: From one, $5 per month; from the next pledge opened and counted, $10.83; then $10; $50; $20; $75; $2; $50; $5; $5; $15; $100; $10; $5; $10; $200; $10; $10; $6 per month, etc., etc. Those were taken in order, just as their letters were opened and counted. Not all averaged that large, however--there were some of $1. The average was $16 per month. But if 381 of us can do that much, I am convinced that MOST of the rest of us can do just as well, on the average--IF OUR HEARTS ARE WILLING!

Some of you sent in a special offering for the Tabernacle, but seemed to feel unwilling to make a PLEDGE. Brethren, do you realize that I, as your Pastor, and President of the corporation that is The Church of God, must sign a contract--which is the same as a pledge--to pay many THOUSANDS of dollars every month, before the construction company will even start to erect the Tabernacle? We have to do business with the world in the conduct of God's work, and that's the way business is done. Should YOU, then, not hold up my hands, and stand back of me in this, and make YOUR pledge, too, that the business office of the Church may be ABLE to make these monthly payments? I made it plain that any pledge you make is CONDITIONED ON YOUR CONTINUED ABILITY! If you are thrown out of work--if for any reason your income stops or is so reduced you are no longer ABLE to contribute the pledged amount, then YOUR OBLIGATION CEASES. Brethren, THERE IS NO RIGHT REASON IN GOD'S SIGHT WHY YOU SHOULD NOT BACK ME UP--there is no right reason to DELAY this Tabernacle!

So now I'm going to tell you what I have done. The decision had to be made last week. So I called the representative of the construction company we are dealing with on long distance telephone. I made, on sheer faith IN GOD to move on the hearts of the rest of you brethren, a new and altered proposal. Instead of binding us to monthly payments of $15,000 per month, I now proposed payments of $12,000 per month between now and the Festival next October, with a $65,000 payment now at the start, and $18,000 per month payments beginning with November, and with a $30,000 payment which we must raise during the Festival for the month of October. We have enough cash in the bank, set aside for this Tabernacle fund, to pay this initial $65,000 down payment, and leave us a $25,000 cash reserve, as a guarantee in case the full amount does not come in during any future months. And I might add, the architect's fees are all completely PAID IN FULL, already. The plans are completed. That part of the cost of the Tabernacle is already fully paid.

While this proposal must be finally approved by the president of the construction company in Nebraska, the representative who is handling this for us felt sure it would be acceptable; so, I gave them the "green light" to go ahead immediately, so that the new Tabernacle will be built, completed, and ready for us before this coming Feast of Tabernacles!

Time is short. We have not many years to use this Tabernacle. Perhaps 12 or 13 more.

I have been encouraged to make this new proposal partly because actually more money is coming in from members for the Building Fund than is being pledged. But I KNOW it is GOD'S WILL to go ahead. God commands us to assemble at the place where HE has chosen to place His name, and KEEP the Feast of Tabernacles! We cannot do this without a place in which to assemble. The Bible shows it is always God's will to provide a BUILDING for such things, just as He did under Moses and under David and Solomon.

Solomon's Temple was the most extravagantly COSTLY building ever constructed on earth! It was decorated with solid gold, silver, precious stones, choicest marble, finest woods. And GOD HIMSELF planned it, designed it, and gave the plans to David! It was His will!

Today, we are constructing this Tabernacle of the LEAST costly method and material of construction known, planned to cut down every possible dollar of cost. It will not even be insulated on the inside--no inside finish at all--just the hollow shell of the aluminized steel walls and ceilings--even eliminating the cost of supporting structural beams, made possible by this new type of construction. And still, we who are SO MANY in number as to make necessary so large a building, have only been willing to pledge SO LITTLE as to make impossible its construction, UNLESS GOD NOW MAKES MORE HEARTS WILLING!

Time is short. We have not many years to use this Tabernacle. Perhaps 12 or 13 more. That's WHY we are building it at the very LEAST possible cost! THAT'S WHY we must not delay another year!

I'm going to RELY on YOU rushing the largest pledge you are ABLE to make, entirely over and above your tithes and regular offerings, BY RETURN MAIL! WE DARE NOT FAIL! 

Brethren, LET'S NOW WAKE UP!--I mean all but the 381 who already have made pledges, and the few others UNABLE to make one. LET'S NOT LET THIS STIGMA REMAIN AGAINST GOD'S CHURCH ANOTHER WEEK! I'm praying and asking God to lay this burden so heavily on your hearts you'll now LEAP to action. Last Sabbath I spoke very strongly about this to our local Pasadena Church. The next two days local members DID spring to action and make, or increase pledges, in the amount of an additional thousand dollars a month. If our Pasadena brethren could do it--SO CAN THE REST OF YOU! PRAY ABOUT IT! LET GOD HAVE HIS WAY IN YOUR HEART!

I'm going to RELY on YOU rushing the largest pledge you are ABLE to make, entirely over and above your tithes and regular offerings, BY RETURN MAIL! WE DARE NOT FAIL! The few here in Pasadena whom I have told of the decision to go ahead with the Tabernacle, RIGHT NOW, have virtually shouted and jumped up and down for JOY! I hope you will, too--and that you will now RESPOND--up to your ability--and PRAY that God will increase our abilities, and PROSPER us, and make US ABLE! GOD BLESS YOU!

With love, in Jesus' name,

Herbert W. Armstrong

The letter was posted on the ezboard WCG Alumni forum, with the sender under the impression that this was the first recorded fundraising epistle for what became the Ambassador Auditorium. It seems more likely the Big Sandy Tabernacle was the object of the Herbal frenzy. Anyone able to confirm this?

Related link: Herb's moving 1967 letter blaming church members for Loma's death and comparing them to... well, maybe you should read the letter.


In storage: From the latest AW: "A former WCG employee told me recently that the footprints and signatures had been broken up and removed. If that's true, I wonder why..."

Not true. The footprints were removed for storage in the achieves. It seems that many splinter group members were starting to make pilgrimages to the campus just to see those footprints. For some reason they seem to equate them to the same significance as the footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. They were removed during Legacy's tenure on campus.

Betty Bates: (1) Betty Bates married Gene Michel who was involved in the financial part of WCG. Gene was an early AC student, coming sometime in the early 50s along with his brother... Bernel, of AC PE Dept fame. They were from St Louis, MO.

This is the question of the hour... will The Journal publish any more of the manuscripts of David Jon Hill? What cool stuff he wrote the first time around. RIP, DJH!!

Keith Speaks

MD: The Journal is due to publish the second part at the end of this month.

(2) A few comments on some recent content on your website. First, you wondered about Betty Bates. She married Gene Michel decades ago. He was one of the PT management (circulation manager I think), but I don’t know if she is still alive. Second, you were commenting on the Canadian Board of the WCG which you perceive to be a rubber stamp. I know at least two of the board members and I can say that it may be true of the one, but that I highly doubt it of the other.

Finally, there are occasional comments posted about “the Jesus myth”, but these tra-la-la ever-on-one-note remarks do not seem to at any time be accompanied by evidence. The consensus among historians is that Jesus was a real man, and even some leading non-Messianic rabbis are now claiming that their greatest rabbi ever was Yeshua-ben-Yosef of Nazareth. If any people have a reason to convince the world that Jesus is a myth it is the Jews. 

I don’t recall any historians disputing that the Church was formed in Jerusalem in the decade of the 30s, just after when Jesus was supposed to have died. They generally seem to agree that its growth was rapid, even explosive. These followers were from the same region as Jesus and were alive when he was supposed to have been alive. Does it make any sense that they would have taken up the cause if Jesus is imaginary? 

Then, of course, we have to weigh the documentary attestations to his existence - the gospels. The evidence, both internal and external, is that they are the testimony of eye-witnesses, excepting Luke’s (which is based on interviews with eye-witnesses).

Gordon Feil

MD: The comment about the rubber-stamp board was mainly with reference to the US body. Greg Albrecht himself is on record as using this term in an address to EMNR, presumably trying to head off potential criticism by fessing up.

Doubtless there are one or two fine individuals on the Canadian board. However, having been willingly co-opted by Tkach, they leave themselves open to criticism as quislings, regardless of whatever virtues they might personally possess. Presumably there were admirable individuals in the puppet government appointed by the Nazis in Vichy France too.

Planet Meredith: Briefly (for once) having too much time on my hands, I wandered into the Meredith-related site, where I rummaged through RCM's co-worker letters for the first time.

I used to think that at least some of the WCG's editorial content was borderline psychotic in the disconnects and alternative realities it attempted to create and purport as fact, but the material over RCM's signature certainly "raised the bar" in that regard. 

The well-known WCG-bred hysteria and ability to serve up unrelated economic and political facts were in obvious abundance. After reading parts of around five of RCM's letters, I had to wonder what world he really lives in, because the world he (or whomever wrote those "letters") lives in doesn't match the one with which I'm familiar. To wit: 

RCM: "America has utterly failed to properly deal with the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein."

Fact: Following 9/11, America invaded and basically conquered two separate nations halfway around the world that it believed were involved in the terrorist attacks... what other nation on earth today possesses the power to do that? America's defense budget alone (upwards of half a trillion dollars) dwarfs the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most nations, and the U.S. defense budget is barely 3% of its own GDP. If Meredith truly believes that his theological hobby group is the "spearhead" of a mystically-powered "warning message," then perhaps he should consider that his entire annual budget wouldn't last from morning through lunch in the American military infrastructure.

RCM: "Many nations are now declaring their intentions to hold a major part of their resources in the Euro." 

Fact: This is blatant rubbish. Add up the financial reserves of Japan and Taiwan (government and private industries) alone that are held in U.S. dollars against the European reserves. Even a casual review of America's financial resources and performance on the Bureau of Economic Analysis Web site ( demolishes most--if not all--of the economic claims RCM makes throughout his letters.

RCM: In a 1999 letter, RCM quotes in part an "inspiring" passage from HWA that was written in the 1930s about how the world won't heed HWA's warning message. 

Fact: I guess that was a good thing, because if you read the whole HWA passage that RCM lifted the quote from, you would read several bits about Mussolini going to do several "prophesied" things that never came to pass, including invading and conquering Palestine.

Also, RCM mentioned the statement that "Nero fiddled while Rome burned." Uh, Rod, the violin wasn't invented until the 16th century.

RCM: "A powerful European Union is in the making--soon to replace America as the world's leading power."

Fact: "The hard truth is that this international order, simply to exist, will continue to depend heavily on American power. So, the legitimacy of this 'European project' of creating a rule-based world order will remain umbilically linked to America's standing in the world." (Mark Leonard, The Observer, U.K.)

This could go on and on ad infinitum. MIT doctorate and scholar Gerald Schroeder (in his book The Science of God) makes the point that organized religion has discredited much of the Bible's perceived credibility and reputation (especially outside of America) by insisting that the Bible says something it that actually doesn't. With that said, perhaps Rod, Gerry and other ex-WCG prophets/apostles/whatevers might consider Friedrich Nietzsche:

"He who fights monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.

"And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

MD: Nero's musical diversion while Rome burned seems to be a matter of debate. Apparently he must have strummed a lyre, if the story has any truth. 

Herr Doktor Tkach: As I am reading your December 8 column, I note that Joey's name is preceded by the title of Dr. I am curious as to where and when he achieved this rank. Do you have this information?

MD: Just follow the link in the item. Joe has "a Doctor of Ministry degree from Azusa Pacific University May 2000."


What does this mean? The Canadian WCG has redesigned their website. Amongst the features now on display is a page profiling Joe Tkach.

Dr. Tkach assumed the role of pastor general in 1995 by executive appointment... [We looked for the word "nepotism", but it wasn't there.]

Married in 1980, Dr. Tkach and his wife, Tammy, have a son... and a daughter... [No mention of his first, failed marriage.]

And then there's the real cruncher. Joe is responding to the query: "How my involvement in the board contributes to the strength of our denomination."

If we are to be a healthy organization that is sensitive to the lead of the Holy Spirit, it is vital that we model biblical governance and leadership. I am calling for leadership that is in stark contrast to our former history of autocratic governance. The ground is level at the foot of the cross and it is incumbent upon all of us to use our gifts, talents and treasures to edify the church. [emphasis added]

Uhh... somebody slap me quick. Or, even better, slap Joe. It seems we agree on something! Listen up Joe, its easy. You fire the non-elected rubber-stamp board. You call a fully representative general conference to elect a new, legitimate board. You resign! 

Spanky loses New Zealand: A recent report on the COGwriter site states: "the Tomorrow's World telecast is breaking response records in the US and New Zealand!" Stirring stuff, but what could the reason be for the revival in Kiwi interest? 

After viewing the show on Prime Television on Sunday morning, the answer quickly became apparent. Dickie Ames was strutting his stuff on a sumptuous wood-paneled set featuring an imitation State Department map of the world as a backdrop. Not a particularly accurate one though. India seemed to have shriveled somewhat. But, inescapably to any audience in Godzone, New Zealand was completely missing!

The local free-phone number must have been inundated by irate 10 year olds who flicked across to Prime while channel-surfing for the Cartoon Network - only to be confronted by Dickie, winner of the MD Donald Rumsfeld look-alike contest, posing beneath his mutilated map. 

For the edification of our many Northern Hemisphere readers in general, and the High Priesthood in Charlotte NC in particular, we are happy to provide an accurate, fair and impartial map of the world, with New Zealand in its rightful place!


Erasing the past: The 360 views of the Pasadena campus were very interesting. One bit I noticed was the Ambassador Gate shot (the original entrance of the college back when a public street--which was never formally "closed"--ran past in front of it). If one scrolls down in front of the gate after they load the link, you can make out the footprints of HWA and three of the original students (Richard Armstrong was not in town at that time). If memory serves, it was Betty Bates, Herman Hoeh and Raymond Cole. They and Armstrong left their shoe prints and signed the then-wet concrete ala Mann's Chinese Theater-style some decades ago.

A former WCG employee told me recently that the footprints and signatures had been broken up and removed. If that's true, I wonder why... 

MD: Whatever happened to Betty Bates?

07 December GRANDFATHER DUGGER, ONLINE CAMPUS SHRINE, WHISTLER COLUMN.  Mail: Holier than thou, Mel's Passion

Deferring the future: The December issue of the Bible Advocate features a thoughtful article by Peter Youngs, apparently a grandson of COG7 patriarch Andrew Dugger, offering an interesting perspective on the perennial problem of "prediction addiction" in the Church of God tradition.

The early twentieth century Church of God (Seventh Day) was convinced that they were personally witnessing the end, as were the Millerites the century before. Evangelists carrying the "third angel's message" attracted many and were largely responsible for some years of quick Church growth.

Both my father and grandfather preached this end-time message. Grandfather Dugger, fresh out of college in 1910, pointed to events in Europe and announced the end was imminent. In 1914 the British allowed Jews to return to Palestine, and the "war to end all wars" began. This was IT. Then the League of Nations was formed, and world government arrived.

My mother was born in 1928. From earliest memory, she heard end-time prophecies and so did not believe she would grow to adulthood. By her own testimony, she did not plan or anticipate a full life in the here and now. World War II came, increasing the predictions of Christ's return. In 1948 the Jewish state was born and became the tree bud insuring that "this generation will by no means pass till all these things are fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34).

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I was convinced by the predominant preaching of the day that I would not see manhood. Thus, I did not plan my life. Why should I, if it is a vapor that will soon be gone?

Many with a WCG background would recognize this form of myopia. However, following a horrific accident, Youngs was forced to revaluate his perspective on life. He makes some telling comments:

...God confronted me with my life: time wasted in thinking so much about what must be coming and neglecting the present... I saw that eternity is not just the great past and the forever future with a gap between. It is a continuous stream of life that never fails... I am a man who had to see failure in my past and have the hope for my future badly shaken so that I could see the present life I had so long neglected.

The entire article is currently available online at

Where Egrets Dare: The Muslims have Mecca, the Mormons have Salt Lake City, and Roman Catholicism has St. Peters. COGdom has Ambassador Campus - at least till Joe Tkach manages to finally sell the Temple of Dagon - and the former college grounds are still regarded by some as a "sacred space". Now you can take a virtual tour, circa 2000.

Whistler's return: We received the following announcement from "the Whistler" today:

Just a note to let you and the MD readers know that I've posted my newest Whistler article, entitled "The #1 Prayer Request in the U.S.A." 

You can find the website at Click on article #26.

Do Muslims, Jews and Christians Worship the Same God?


The Vietnam years: After reading about the treatment of the 1Ws at Ambassador College, I couldn't help but reminisce about my own experience of visiting A.C. in Pasadena for the first time during the Vietnam War. I was in my sailor uniform and took the bus from San Diego to Pasadena. It was amazing to "stumble" onto the Ambassador grounds. It was like finding an oasis in the desert. I was greeted by a student on a golf cart. He introduced himself and offered to give me a tour riding on the cart. I accepted. I later approached the Hall of Administration (I think that's what it was called at that time), and was greeted by three girls, one was working at the reception desk, and  the other two were visiting with her. They were all very cordial. I asked to see Herbert Armstrong, and I wanted to be baptized. All of them smiled, and the one behind the reception desk said that he was out of town, and if I would care to leave my name and address that they would have someone get in touch with me. It was all a very wonderful experience, and totally different from the environment that I was used to in Vietnam and the Navy. I cried on the bus on the way back to San Diego.

When I first started attending church in San Diego, I would wear my uniform. Everyone there was very warm and friendly to those of us who were in the military. One Christian lady, her name was Mrs. Cook, would invite all of us to her house for a meal, practically every Sabbath. She was a very fine lady who had two daughters. One of them ended up going to A.C. The other married one of the military guys, a Marine. I think he had to spend some time in prison before getting his C.O. status. I remember many who got their COs without any problem. Others were not so lucky.

Anyhow, the bottom line is, those of us in San Diego were treated quite well by the average church members. I don't know how it was with 1Ws, but given the track record of the COGs, I'm sure that it did happen. The different classes has been the greatest downfall of the WCG. I remember meeting other A.C. girls as the years went by, and most of them did have an air of superiority, a "touch me not" attitude. Though I guess if you were GTA, you had the privilege of looking, touching, feeling, tasting, smelling, or whatever your "heart" desired. It's a real shame what Herbie and his "ministers" (most who are now in UCG) did to ruin the simplicity and innocence of so many because of their corruption, greed, and "holier and better than thou" attitude.


The truth will make you mad: Just a short comment on J. Tkach's feeling that The Passion Of Christ is one of the finest and most accurate portrayals of Gospel events. 

I realize that most if not all Evangelicals are required to assume the accuracy, inerrancy and historicity of the Gospels accounts. Most Christians do not know that the Gospels were written AFTER the Apostle Paul had written his accounts of a mystical Christ, seen and known to him ONLY in vision. Paul never knew the earthly Jesus or his miraculous Gospel history. Paul knows nothing of his alleged Virgin Birth, miracles, healings, or earthly teachings. If he did, he missed scores of chances to remind his audience of them in his writings, but did not mention them. NOT ONCE. 

For example, when Paul said that "sometimes we know not how we ought to pray" he missed a great opportunity to remind the Church of Jesus' Lord's Prayer teaching. He did not, because he did not know of it. Just as he knew precious little else about the earthly Jesus, nor did he care. These kinds of missed opportunities to remind the Church of Jesus life and teachings are myriad through his writings. Paul simply taught the only Jesus he ever met...the Cosmic or Hallucinatory Christ of his own mind. The conflicting , embellished and pirated Gospel accounts of Jesus taken from other god/men mythologies did not come on the scene until after Paul's death.

Even the most cursory look at how "Matthew" uses his "..and thus it was fulfilled" technique of reaching back into OT texts to find a meaning for Jesus, will reveal Matthew's gross over-reaching to wrest out of the OT what it was never meant to convey. A simple look at how Matthew justified his "virgin birth" account will show his gross misapplication of OT accounts. His turning one donkey, "even on the colt , the foal of a donkey (Zach9:9), into two animals and thus having Jesus ride into the city on BOTH of THEM at the same time (Matt. 21:1-5) is another terrible example of his lack of expertise, understanding of the context, and over-reaching. No other Gospel tries as hard as Matthew to link Jesus to a prophetic past. Any Jewish scholar will tell you that whoever the writer of Matthew was, he did not know how to read what Christians call the Old Testament. The list could go on and on....and does.

A scripture can never mean what it never meant, but Matthew misquoted and misapplied older texts to make his point in ways that would get any first year theology student flunked out of seminary. 

The point here is that the WCG has become enamored with reinventing the Evangelical and Fundamentalist wheel of the Gospels being literally true, harmonious and inerrant... without knowing that we now have at our disposal information and understanding about the Bible, it's origins and intent unheard of in even the recent past. They, like many, are a generation behind in facing the cold hard facts about the "Gospel Truth", we all grew up with and assumed was how it really was and is. It's really true..."the truth will make you free...but first, it's really going to make you mad." (Yes, I know this is a paraphrase of the original...:)

Dennis Diehl

PS. I did read somewhere that the guy who played Jesus in Mel's movie was twice struck by lightning during production. Joe didn't mention that... 

05 December. JOE JOINS THE PASSION FASHION, THAT TREE, THE EIGHTH DAY, HELPING BERNIE.  Mail: Herb's philanthropy lives on.

Joe meets Mel: Joe Tkach, Pastor Generalissimo of the WCG, got to press the flesh with schismatic Catholic Mel Gibson following a preview screening of The Passion of Christ. Despite the controversy surrounding the film, the PG was fulsome in his praise.

This film project is something that Mel Gibson has been contemplating for 12 years. His Roman Catholic background has given him an appreciation for the mystical and he found this production to be a life-changing experience. I was able to meet him briefly after he spoke to the group invited to preview the film. This event was hosted by Icon Film Producers, as well as the National Association of Evangelicals, and Mission America. The film is receiving the highest endorsement from them because it is one of the finest works that has ever been done on the last 12 hours of Christ’s human life...

Many see this film as an unprecedented opportunity for evangelism because it makes it so easy for anyone to share the gospel message in a non-confrontational manner...  I found the movie to be unbiased and stunning in its presentation. While some of the visual metaphors will not register on the minds of the unbelievers, it will be impossible to miss the heart of the gospel. It is the most accurate portrayal that “Hollywood” has ever done, and it undoubtedly will receive an “R” rating simply because the brutal scourging and crucifixion is realistically portrayed.

Not, we suspect, as brutal as the historical misrepresentation. 

Joe lights up our lives: More on the WCG Xmas Tree. We had an email today from a Pasadena resident who'd have given her eye teeth for a digital camera when passing by the Hall of Ad late last evening. There was was fabulous Xmas tree togged out in lights for all to see and radiating Joy to the World. Impressive! Cult Gestapo were nowhere in evidence. All we need now is some brave soul willing to snap a shot.

LGD: Bob Thiel isn't the only person with material online about the Last Great Day. Over in England, temporary home of the Rugby World Cup, longtime minister James McBride has produced an article, God's End Game, which appears in the September/October issue of CGOM's New Horizons magazine. 

Aw shucks! The Missing Dimension has won an award - for our Real Estate section! We were surprised too, but it seems Bernie, generous guy that he is, must have passed our name along to the nice folk who run, who in turn advised us of our good fortune. It's swell to know our efforts to help sell campus property are so greatly appreciated! (we did kinda outdo ourselves in the last upload for November.) At least, that's our best theory (other than guessing that the 123 webmaster has a wicked sense of humor!) In any case here's what we were told:

Your web site has won our Top Local Site award for providing outstanding local Real Estate content and/or services... The award is simply yours to show off on your site---so go ahead, you've earned it!

We'd like to thank all those people who helped make this possible: especially Bernie, Ron & Joe. And we'd like to assure Bernie's team that we'll continue being just as helpful as humanly possible! 


The Herbal Endowment: By chance I happened to be... on the University of Southern California Web site, and wondered if the Herbert W. Armstrong position in Constitutional Law was still around. A quick little search revealed that, yep, it's still there. To wit: 

Originally a self-serving S.R. Rader project (as he was quickly losing overt control over Armstrong at the time), the Church must have made one hell of a contribution to endow a full professorship that has now been around for more than two decades. But then, from a tithe administration perspective, I guess it was a binary solution set: leave the dough for Joe Sr. to buy an ailing and leaky BAC 1-11 jet, or endow a chair at a major university that might actually benefit humanity? At least Rader didn't endow a Roderick C. Meredith chair in spanking at Pasadena City College. Good grief.

I did a little net present value analysis to try and reverse-engineer the original donation. If one assumes that the original professorship included a base salary of $80,000-$120,000 annually, plus benefits, then the original WCG contribution would have to be in the $1 million to $1.6 million range, assuming that the USC financial professionals were able to invest the endowment contribution to secure at least a 8-11% rate of return and thus pay the salary and benefits of the professor.

Maybe the Church just bought the naming rights...


Here comes Santa Claus: News today from a reader passing through The Manic Kingdom: the Xmas tree is now up in the Hall of Administration! We're told it's quite a work of art! Who will be the first reader to provide a picture of this symbol of seasonal goodwill so we can all ooh and coo in admiration?

A sense of guilt, dear Joe, should also lead us to make things right. You, for example, could long ago have dismantled the abusive Byzantine hierarchical system inherited from Herb.

Guilt free tyranny: Joe Tkach addresses the issue of guilt in his December epistle to the membership.

Guilt plays a central role in human life. It is one of the primary motivations for decent behavior, and it is also one the greatest causes of depression, anxiety and even suicide. From the beginning of human history, people have struggled with how to cope with their guilt... One of the great gifts of the real God through his Son Jesus Christ is that of completely resolving our guilt for us —giving us the free gift of a clean conscience... Good behavior cannot take away a guilty conscience. The guilt of past sins plagues us to one degree or another for the rest of our lives—unless we trust God to remove that plague from us.

It is natural for us to feel a sense of guilt when our actions cause others harm. And it is that guilty conscience that should lead us to our Redeemer for healing and cleansing.

Sage words. However, while good behavior might not take away guilt, it is certainly an indication that changes have been made beyond cheap lip service. A sense of guilt, dear Joe, should also lead us to make things right. You, for example, could long ago have dismantled the abusive Byzantine hierarchal system inherited from Herb. No structural reform means no healing or cleansing and no clean conscience. You're arguably still waist deep in the stinky slop and as guilty as hell. Time to bring forth some of that "decent behavior" and do what you promised long ago. 

Joe concludes with a predictable (and guilt-inducing!) appeal for bucks:

As 2003 comes to an end, I want to remind you that your giving provides for more than the expenses of your congregation and pastor, including pastoral development, training and expenses, legal services, meeting halls, insurance and accounting (and pastoral salary if your pastor is employed by the church, which includes health care and life insurance). It also provides needed support for our international missions, our regional youth programs, and our national publications and literature. 

Original WCG: Oh dear! In the true spirit of Armstrongism, both moderators have resigned from the most conservative "pro-HWA" forum on the Internet, Original WCG.

Exactly what the problem was about isn't immediately clear, but Henrik Blunck ("senior moderator") and Frank Olive (who only took up duties a day or so ago) both apparently "spat the dummy" and left. Moderators however, like WCG evangelists of old, are easily replaced and the forum owner has already anointed their successors. Frankly (no pun intended) we'll miss Henrik, who gets our nomination for most thoroughly "deaconish" COG moderator ever.

Treatment of 1Ws: A recent posting on the JLF forum drew attention to the treatment by the church of those young men who followed the church's teaching about military service during the Vietnam years. We approached the author, who rewrote the item especially for AW. It has been condensed for length and slightly edited.

The case of the mistreatment of 1-Ws at Ambassador College is an excellent study in how Armstrongism actually worked in practice.  Many have asserted that HWA was not an autocratic, egotistical Pharisee but that his close minions implemented a system that HWA would never have approved.  I reject that theory.  I believe his close minions, in fact, implemented the Armstrongite ideology with great fidelity.   One result was the mistreatment of 1-Ws...  Nobody can really be held accountable for direct, proactive persecution of 1-Ws at Big Sandy.  What someone can be held accountable for is the creation of a system that behaved in a dysfunctional and destructive way towards many.

To begin with, as a population, 1-Ws were generally dedicated and zealous church youth.  They were willing to go against the grain of society in order to abide by WCG belief concerning military service.  They did so at the risk of going to prison.  Some did go to prison but most were permitted to do alternative service.  This set of circumstances alone exposed them to challenges most WCG members never had to deal with.  Most of the 1-Ws I knew at AC had college degrees, either from Ambassador College or some secular college or university.

So we have idealistic young men who feel fortunate enough to get a job at AC Big Sandy on the 1-W program.   Their first experience was to be greeted by a very threatening, malevolent official in the Festival Administration Building .   The theme of the official’s introduction to AC was that “If you date an AC girl, you will be fired with extreme prejudice and that means you will go to prison.”   This idea was delivered repeatedly during a session of about 20 minutes with fierce frowns and the body language of aggression.  One 1-W asked if any of his abilities or education would be employed in any way and he was told that there would be nothing but “back breaking work” for him.  He was also informed that he could date AC graduates who were living in the Big Sandy area but this official personally “could not understand why an AC graduate would ever want to date somebody like you.”  The attitude of this official was one of unmixed hostility. All this from someone the 1-W had never met before and who did not know him.  This was the standard welcome for 1-Ws who were not AC graduates. 

AC Big Sandy was a layered, class society.  Roughly the hierarchy was, from top to bottom: Leading Ministers, high ranking college administrators, lesser ministers, lesser administrators, teaching faculty, non-teaching faculty, students, lay members and finally 1-Ws... It was Armstrongism in practice – like a living organism displaying its pathological behavior.

So here are some data points.  See what conclusion you would draw:

The first day on the job, a 1-W was instructed to set up chairs for an assembly in the Imperial Gym basketball court.  The son of a leading man on campus was there shooting baskets and became very angry at the 1-W for interfering with his solitary play.  He told the 1-W: “You are not an AC student and I don’t have to do anything you tell me.”  While the 1-W tried to set up the chairs, the teenager, an Imperial Student, would dribble by and pretend to throw the ball into the face of the 1-W who had a couple of folding chairs in each hand.   Ironically, this was the son of the official who delivered the first day’s introduction to new 1-Ws. (It was not unusual for some Imperial students to flex their muscles by trying to order 1-Ws around.  Typically, this obtrusive attitude was correlated to the position occupied by their parents in the AC hierarchy. In one case, the daughter of one of the current editors of the Plain Truth brusquely ordered some 1-Ws to move a huge and heavy cabinet containing band equipment so that there would be more room for a student party.  Only by an appeal to full-time AC custodial staff was this extraordinary request avoided.)

Fast forward a few months.   A minister flies into the AC Big Sandy Airport with two daughters who are AC students.  A 1-W is nearby cleaning the hangar floor and the minister says he must go to a meeting and he asks the 1-W to take his daughters to their dorms.  The 1-W is expected to get the luggage out of the minister’s car and put it in his own car.  No help is offered by the minister or his daughters.  That is servants work after all.  The daughters are aloof, arrogant and rebuff any attempts at simple conversation on the ride over.  When the 1-W arrives at the dorm of one of the girls she gets out of the car and silently walks in, head held high.  The 1-W dutifully gets her luggage out of the car and carries it up to the dorm after her like a porter.  The girl never says thank you or acknowledges the 1-W.   (She is now the wife of one of the current regional directors in the WCG and my last contact with her (1993) indicated that she is just as arrogant now.)

Another case.  A 1-W is cleaning a dorm.  A student is in the room and exits.  As the student exits he turns out the lights...  It is small events like this, in great volume, that accumulate to a loss of human dignity... Again, some 1-Ws walk into a restaurant in Longview after a Holy Day.  There are some AC students already there.  They see the 1-Ws and point and laugh at them in public...

In another case, an AC coed becomes engaged to a 1-W.  When one of the “leading men” in the senior class (now a UCG minister) hears of it, he displays open disgust, witnessed by many.  She continues to be a student but she is dropped from student mailing lists and ostracized.

A 1-W asked a student (now a minister in the WCG) if he knew what a 1-W was.  Surprisingly, the student had no idea that being a 1-W had to do with standing up for your convictions regarding military service.  The student thought that the 1-W program was a government sponsored program for people who were unfit and incompetent and elsewhere unemployable.  He reacted with great surprise when he was told what a 1-W actually was.  How many other students thought that the 1-W program was a social rehabilitation program? ...

Armstrongism was and is an oppressive, class system and if you are on the ocean bottom, the downward pressure will be enormous

During the Feast of Tabernacles, the kitchen in the Big Sandy Field House is frenetic.  A 1-W is sent back to mop the floor.  He mops it but it is walked on by kitchen personnel leaving dirty water everywhere to dry to a film.  His boss decides to fire the 1-W.  This very likely will result in the 1-W going to prison.  (Typically, Draft Boards take such firings as an indication of insincerity of belief.  The threat of prison is was a principle means of oppression in this setting.)  The boss knows the Draconian outcome but it is only through the earnest entreaty of a regular employee that the 1-W is spared.  This during that wonderful time called the Feast of Tabernacles when all are supposed to be thinking about the “Wonderful World Tomorrow”.

This could go on.  The cases are many.  I could probably catalog twenty more similar events that I know of or have witnessed.  The fact that is documented here is that Armstrongism was and is an oppressive, class system and if you are on the ocean bottom, the downward pressure will be enormous, this in spite of all the self-righteous lip service given to the Philadelphian WCG as the “church of brotherly love.”  Most 1-Ws I knew were invisible on the AC campus. They were non-entities.  They were marginalized.  Most 1-Ws I knew had no AC students as friends, knew no faculty members, knew no ministers.  It is not easy to generalize, however, because some 1-Ws were treated much better than others.  In particular, 1-Ws who were AC graduates or who were well connected in the WCG were accorded much better treatment.

1-Ws did, however, have a great utility in the Armstrongite universe.  Imagine that you are an AC student.  You have been told that you are special, chosen and far above the Great Unwashed in the church.  To underpin this, the guy who is cleaning out your restroom is a graduate with a technical degree from a major University (a school that most AC students could not remotely get admitted to).  You can imagine the message. “This is what all those people from universities and colleges “in the world” are good for.  They clean out our restrooms.” This is pretty heady stuff for a student who is constantly being fed the idea that he or she is a man or woman of great destiny and special to God – a student at God’s college.   It was excellent training to look down on lay members no matter what their accomplishments. We have to consider that this is where the ministers of the WCG and the Armstrongite splinter groups come from.  And we wonder why we have so many problems with this elite corps. 

Ask a good Armstrongite who knew AC about 1-Ws and he will tell you that they were a bunch of ingrates.  After all, they could have been sent to Vietnam .  Plus they were not worthy enough to get into AC so they could get a 1-D deferment (a divinity student deferment).  The pathological reasoning is that since these young men could have had it worse and had no merit as people, that this gave the Ambassador College community the right to treat them as badly as it wanted.  How about that for genuine Christianity?  Actually, many of the arch-conservative, super-patriots that seemed to infest the upper ranks of AC regarded 1-Ws as little more than draft dodgers and this is where much of the oppression originated...

Nobody will be able to document a formal policy that would underpin what I have written here.  The mistreatment of 1-Ws cannot be blamed directly on the Ambassador College Big Sandy Administration and the WCG ministry of that time.  I would imagine that their attitude towards 1-Ws, if they had one at all, was one of indifference. But their culpability is to be found in the creation and nurturing of a system that behaved in this way on its own.  This was the natural outcome of Armstrongism.


Hymns Ancient & Modern: (1) The person who wrote about the lyrics to hymns taken from the Psalms is correct -- you CAN use them yourself, if you want to. Dwight Armstrong usually did not write the lyrics to his hymns, he borrowed them -- quite legally -- from existing metrical hymnals, some of which are hundreds of years old and not copyrighted. I have held the hymnals in my own hands, and have photocopies of the original versions. In some cases, he or his wife Karen did adapt a few words to make them less archaic or more accurate. The lyrics I used vary slightly from Mr. Armstrongs’s, because I used the originals word for word when I could. I certainly did not mean to claim credit for the words, especially among a group of people who know them so well. In the hymnbook, the exact source is 
credited clearly.

There are a bunch of my hymns in the new UCG supplement which duplicate Dwight Armstrong’s efforts. I wrote them at a time when we could not get permission from WCG to use the Dwight Armstrong hymns. Now that UCG does have permission, the songs seem redundant. I did not submit them for consideration; other people did. I asked that the hymnal committee (a fine bunch of folks, of which I was a part) not use those hymns, but I was overruled.

Mark Graham, part-time hymn writer

(2) Gavin: "Perhaps somebody can confirm the report that Dwight Armstrong freely adapted his psalm-based hymns from a much earlier source", you challenge us (December 1, Mailbag). That report came to us from Little Joe himself, soon after his graduation from dauphin to Emperor, in a sermon that was recorded and played in all WCG congregations. (There were more congregations then than there are now, and they were larger.) He named the book, but I forget what it was. I believe he said it was from the 1890's. He also said he believed the music was Dwight's original. Can other readers provide more details?

Lots of hymns have been written based on Psalm 8. In two books of the Maranatha series (1993 "Red" and 1997 "Green"), the Scripture Indices list five of them.


01 December. FIVE YEARS OF LCG, PAPAL VISIT TO OZ, LATEST JOURNAL, TWO TED TRIBUTES. Mail: Hymns, Cotton Mather, stunned, Hoeh

A Spanky Anniversary: Bob Thiel has reminded readers on his site that five long years have passed since the board of the Global Church of God attempted unsuccessfully to rein in Rod Meredith. Not a man to take any reigning lightly - unless it's him wielding the scepter - Roderick revolted, GCG imploded and a new COG was set up, the Living Church of God, delivering much more Meredith than anyone deserves to suffer, and unfettered by the modest system of checks and balances GCG had.

A fifth anniversary is traditionally marked with a gift of wood. Considering Rod's proclivity for spanking-talk, maybe a nice wooden spoon would be an appropriate gesture...

Frequent flyer heads Down Under: He might be un-elected. He might be un-mandated. He might be un-successful in growing the church. But no matter, there's apparently un-limited FREE TRAVEL with the job his dad passed down to him, and Joey Tkach seems keen to collect those frequent flyer points! In February WCG President and Pastor General Joe Junior is heading Down Under for the Aussie Summer (obviously too chilly to head back to England at that time of year). There'll be a conference of ministers, and we'll be fascinated to see if The Beloved Leader tries to heavy the conservative Aussies into fully implementing the radical Sundaytarian happy-clappy ethos being foisted on American congregations. 

Journal released: The November 28 issue of The Journal is now available. Amongst the stories: a tribute to David Jon Hill by Brian Knowles. An excerpt:

From the time he left the employ of the WCG to the day he died, Jon Hill struggled. He struggled successfully against the demon of alcoholism. For slightly more than 20 years he remained sober. He once said he wanted to live to be 87, because then he could say he’d lived longer sober than drunk. Jon didn’t make it. God had other plans. But during the last years of his life Jon and his recovering-alcoholic wife, Lin, did what they could to help others. For five years they ran a halfway house for alcoholics in Washington. They had to give that up because Lin herself was becoming so ill that she needed full-time care. Lin had five potentially fatal diseases. On July 26, 2003, she succumbed to one of them.

Jon and a small number of close family members and friends held a “celebration of life” ceremony to honor Lin in her passing. Then Jon packed his meager belongings into his van and moved in with his son Jonathan and his wife, Bonnie (members of the United Church of God).

In his prime, David Jon Hill was an evangelist, an Ambassador College board and faculty member, a church pastor, an editor-writer, a vice president and publishing-division head and a friend and mentor to many, including myself. He helped make the WCG what it was at its peak. He was a major figure in the history of the church that so many of us once called our spiritual home. At the end of his life he owned a 1990 van, an old Olympia portable typewriter and the clothes on his back. His income was $428 a month from social security. He was looking forward to becoming a great-grandfather in December.

On Aug. 23 Jon wrote Ken Westby, Robert Kuhn and me: “Word of many of my past acquaintances’ deaths have come my way—I’m a survivor who will be 71 in September and a great-grandpa in December—if I live that long.” Jon made the birthday but not the birth.

Elsewhere in the issue: undeterred by the prospect of polluting his pristine puddle of cultic COGism in the Laodicean pages of The Journal, Bob Thiel bounces back with yet another article on the minutiae of LCG dogma - attempting to prove just how much better LCG understands the "Last Great Day" compared with the lukewarm and deceived Laodiceans in a certain larger, more successful COG. And "Soapy Sam" Bacchiocchi writes about the heresy of inerrancy.

Then, of course, there's the usual selection of astonishingly improbable advertisements...

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

Two tributes: Two recent tributes to GTA have been published. One is a lengthy letter to The Journal by Al Carrozzo, the author of the influential 1970s Ambassador Report article The Profligate Son. Time obviously mellows past passions, as Carrozzo provides a surprisingly generous and compassionate eulogy for the fallen evangelist. 

I remember Ted’s kindness and concern. I was properly impressed with his generosity and humility at the time. But most of all I remember his love of God and man and the giant capacity he had to forgive those who did him harm... I was Ted’s brother and friend. I loved him profoundly and lastingly.

On the other hand, former PT writer and renegade publisher Willie Dankenbring has paid his own "tribute" to Ted with an article (PDF format) in his Prophecy Flash newsletter (or as some prefer to call it, the "Prophecy Flush"). It's basically a potted (or perhaps re-potted) history of Teddy's indiscretions, along with plugs for Willie's longsuffering integrity, mixed with protestations of admiration for the former church leader.

Seemingly, all his life, during his ministry, from the early 1950’s till the ‘90s, allegations of sexual misconduct, and even rape, were made against Ted Armstrong. How horrible it all was! How could such a man continue in the ministry of the great God who ABHORS sexual immorality, and even more, HYPOCRISY and the subsequent COVER UPS!

Nevertheless, everyone knows Ted was a gifted speaker and orator, and many felt he was himself a victim, as well as a victimizer. One can only wonder how he survived growing up under the iron-fisted rule of his totalitarian father, Herbert Armstrong, who had his own hypocrisies and hidden sins, which included adultery and womanizing (though nowhere near to the same extent as that of his son!)...

It is said that those who become victimizers of others were often victims in their own childhoods. Ted later wrote a horrible booklet entitled “The Plain Truth about Child Rearing” – probably one of the worse, most ungodly booklets ever written, teaching parents to spank even tiny infants, and attributed their crying to incipient “rebellion” and “carnality.” Was he himself treated this way as a young child?

We couldn't help noticing that Willie seems a bit confused about his competition these days. He refers to David Hulme as leader of the United Church of God (last we heard it's called the Church of God, an International Community) and Roy Holladay as boss of something called the United Church of God, an Association (that's actually an International Association). It hardly inspires confidence in his grasp of fine details


Whose Hymns? When I got the supplement to the current UCG hymnal...I said whoa...there's a song I knew from the old days. Sure enough a song in the old grey WCG hymnal called How Majestic the Eternal, written by D. Armstrong now appears as How Excellent in All the Earth by Mark Graham. The title author and tune are changed but the wording is almost identical.

When I queried Roy Holladay about this, he answered that there was no infringement (I guess he learned that from HWA). - that both songs are taken from Psalms 8. I guess I can do this myself from any hymn taken from Psalms, make a few adjustments, and claim credit.

MD: Perhaps somebody can confirm the report that Dwight Armstrong freely adapted his psalm-based hymns from a much earlier source. Originality is apparently pretty scarce in the Armstrong family gene pool. So yep, go right ahead, grab what credit you can!

Thanksgiving: During the 28 years (1968-1996) I spent in the WCG the only holiday I felt comfortable spending with my "unconverted" relatives was Thanksgiving. I suppose that it was only fitting that I did so as the Puritans were also a doomsday cult. Using the Bible as their authority, they destroyed much of the native population through massacre, enslavement, and biological warfare (smallpox contaminated blankets). They had no regard for those who disagreed with them, but claimed to come to New England because of religious persecution in Europe. That numerous atrocities were committed by the Bible believing Puritans is indisputable. Perhaps the worst occurred in 1636 when ". . . no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." So said Cotton Mather, as he urged the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.

If there is a hero in the Thanksgiving story it would have to be the Indian we know as Squanto. This truly remarkable man kept the Pilgrims from becoming extinct during their first years in the New World. I do not know if this "heathen" claimed to be a Christian or not, but he displayed a humanity unknown by the Puritan elite. I know there are instances of Indian cruelty, and that there were such men as Roger Williams who decried at their own peril the treatment of the native population. It was not a case of "good Indian, bad white man." There was plenty of blame to go around. But it does seem ironic that the only day I would observe with my entire family was bequeathed to us by a cult of intolerant elitists claiming to be the only true expositors of Biblical knowledge.


Shock proof: I should be shock-proof by now, but seeing the amount of tithe money these people spent on decorating their homes just stunned me. Don't they have any consciences? ... I could become a real cynic watching this bunch.

I must take exception with Biker Bob's fond recollection of GTA as a heroic "rebel."  I still deeply resent having defended him in the 1970s to "unconverted" family and friends who simply didn't realize that the poor man was under attack from the media, who were Satan's unwitting dupes. There wasn't much to suggest that he ever grew up, either.  Right to the end he had the gall to rant and rave about this "sin sick" society. Oh please! 

Kathleen Kakacek

Herman Hoeh: I appreciate Richard Burkard's letter regarding Herman Hoeh. Rich may well be right and Herman Hoeh's actions may well have been motivated simply by humility. I can't read his heart only God can, but I do think it is necessary at times to weigh people's actions. Hoeh made statements around this same time period leading Dr. Winnail and others to believe he still believed in 7th day Sabbath observance. 

But all that can be swept off the table given Herman Hoeh's actions or lack of them in Pasadena after this incident in Big Sandy. Dr. Winnail found out that Hoeh sat in on a meeting in which Joe Tkach Jr. ranted and raved about firing Dr. Winnail. Hoeh sat silently, according to others present in the meeting, unwilling to offer one word in Dr. Winnail's defense...


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