May 2005 - Issue 61

Covering developments & advocating accountability in the Worldwide Church of God and related groups. 

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Demons didn't do it: In the wake of the Brookfield shootings, many COG commentators were quick to suggest that Terry Ratzmann had been "demon possessed" just prior to his bloody rampage. Some LCG ministers went as far as suggesting a "high ranking" demon (an understandable statement in a sect obsessed with rank) - perhaps Satan himself.

A more mundane but equally sobering explanation has emerged. The following report was carried by AP.

WAUKESHA, Wis. - The man who opened fire on his fellow church members at a suburban hotel did not have drugs or alcohol in his system when he killed seven and wounded four others before shooting himself to death, according to an autopsy report...

Doctors there revealed Ratzmann had an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's thyroiditis in which antibodies attack the thyroid. Depression is a symptom.

The disorder's symptoms are subtle and can occur over years, said Jay Findling, physician and director of the endocrine/diabetes center at St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee...

Weekly Mailbag

Coming in June

Dennis Embo's book reviewed.

Amazon link

False prophets: The Herbert W. Armstrong quote Tom is searching for is this one:

The 'Day of the Eternal'-a time foretold in more than thirty prophecies-is going to strike between 5 and 10 years from now!... I am not writing foolishly, but very soberly, on authority of the living Christ!" (The Plain Truth, Herbert Armstrong, Feb. 1967, p. 47.).

The above HWA quote is not an isolated quote. From my unpublished writings with the working title “1972 in Prophecy – God’s Practical Joke”, I offer Tom these two additional HWA quotes:

“All signs in the world show that time is getting very VERY SHORT”. (August 29, 1971, Herbert W. Armstrong Co-worker letter).

“Our work could end in the first week of 1972” (October 16, 1970, Herbert W. Armstrong sermon Mount Pocono Feast of Tabernacles).

Armstrong’s minions also preached the same prophetic message. Here are several of their quotes:

“There is a great chance you will die in the next three years. When you die, be brave and die faithfully” (January 18, 1969 F. K. sermon).

“Another age will start within the next 3 to 5 years” (April 7, 1969 Roderick C. Meredith sermon, Special Bible Study).

“When we go to a place of safety, Mr. Armstrong will be about the same age as Moses when he led Israel out of Egypt”. (July 1, 1969 Bible Study).

“The famine of God’s work is going to come in this decade… For 3 ½ years, we will go to a place of safety. This will happen in this decade” (March 7, 1970 Vince Panella sermon). 

Time has shown Herbert W. Armstrong’s fear religion business to be a fraud. Can you imagine being a child in the Worldwide Church of God (Fraud) growing up in that era and hearing these lies preached? How anyone can still believe God inspired the words above unless one believes in a cruel God who enjoys playing practical jokes on people by inspiring his alleged true ministers to say such false words? 

Richard A. Dahms

The whole mess: Gavin, brethrens, sistrens, cisterns, and sisyphi: Wonder what biblical injunctions applies to all this hokum?

RECAP: 1975 In Prophesy (Copyright 1956): "While modern science and industry strive to prepare for us a push-button leisure-luxury-world by 1975, United States Assistant Weather Chief I. R. Tannahill warns us unofficially to really fear "the big drought of 1975." But the indications of prophecy are that this drought will be even more devastating than he foresees, and that it will strike sooner than 1975-probably between 1965 and 1972! This will be the very beginning, as Jesus said, of the Great Tribulation..!" 

Co-Worker Letter June 27, 1966: "...THAT IS ALL GOING TO BE CHANGED! -- and SOON! By SOON, I mean, in all probability (though I'm not setting dates) ten to fifteen years -- OR LESS!" 

Co-Worker Letter January 20, 1981: "...WHAT LIES AHEAD, vital to us in God's Church in the next four to nine years? Bible prophecy does not pinpoint precise dates -- or even the precise year -- of forecasted events. During the late sixties, certain indications led me to envision the possibility -- never the certainty -- that the Work of the Philadelphia era of the Church might be completed by the first week in January, 1972. Never did I remotely believe that could be the time of Christ's return; the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and other prophesied events had to occur after completion of our Work proclaiming Gospel Message, Law of God, repentance and fact of coming Kingdom of God. Nor did I set 1972 as definite date but only a possible date for completion of our commission. Yet some members TOTALLY MISCONSTRUED WHAT I DID SAY, and took it to mean definite date settings for end of this world and coming of Christ for the new World Tomorrow ... I NEVER DID, and do not now set dates -- EVEN AS TO THE YEAR...”

Co-Worker Letter April 21, 1982: "....God prophesied that, because of disobedience, we should LOSE these [Falkland] islands in this end time. All have been lost except these Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong and some other incidental islands. DON'T BE SURPRISED IF THE BRITISH FLEET IS DESTROYED IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS! Gibraltar will come next, and already is in danger...”

The whole mess begs the question: If God chose Brother Herbert as his end-time trumpet, why did He do such a poor job with the musical medium? Indeed is this not a case of prophetic pretense for power and profit?

Nehemiah's wrath? Non-UCG members are now being asked to submit the name of their church and pastor for consideration of attending the feast with UCG in Italy. They also need to explanation why they want to attend the feast with UCG.  

Basil Wolverton: As long as we are talking about Basil Wolverton because of the death of his widow, I just want say that he was really one of the few bright spots in the Worldwide Church of God. And that was his writing and drawing "The Bible Story". I grew up listening to my mother read them to me and looking at his pictures of the heroes of the Bible. It made me have a better understanding of all the great stories in the Old Testament and really made them enjoyable to children. Yes, I know Wolverton's Bible Stories had their flaws. Some times he would inject some of Herbert Armstrong's doctrine into them. And worst of all, he did not cover the Story of Jesus or the acts of the apostles which made his Bible Stories look incomplete. In the last chapter, he claimed he could not cover Jesus' story because he could not picture Jesus "even if he knew what he really looked like", he said. That just did not make sense to me. Had not Jesus appeared many times in the Old Testament? When that happened Wolverton either didn't draw a picture or he showed only Jesus' back or hand. So why could he have not done this with telling Jesus' story in the New Testament? Also, why did he change the title of "The Bible Story" to "The Story of Man"? That was strange too. Can anybody out there answer these questions? Still, compared to some of today's so-called "Bible Stories for Children", which are too sweet and nothing but fluff (many don't even tell the real reason why God destroyed Sodom), Wolverton's was still the best. 

David W. Berryman

Firing Rod's canons: So the Canons in LCG can only be seen by a select few. I'm so glad that I'm out of that loony land of hypocrisy (the cults of Armstrong) there are no words to describe it. How can anyone know that the canons even exist? The head fruitcake... can just fabricate any rules he wants. No one can check to see if he's lying without an official published copy. My advice to LCG members is to walk away from that den of deception. If you do you're not walking away from God, you're walking away from a heartless, shallow, money making organization of men.


In the Kingdom of Rod: I spoke to to an LCG minister this past Sabbath who knows of which he speaks and he said that the statement [by "Rod II in the May 21 mailbag] is not so. He said only rarely would that be the case. I have been in LCG from the start myself and have never experienced this to be true. In some cases though the only way a new person can find out where the church meets is to call a minister and naturally the minister would ask some questions to get to know the person a little. In my experience anyone is welcome to attend services if they are not intent on causing problems, (a different matter altogether)...I hope this will put to rest any other rumors to the contrary. There are many rumors being propagated about LCG that simply are not true, and if people would take the time to find out the truth, and not twist what is said or done there would be no rumors... But, without starting rumors, or keeping them alive, some folks probably could not survive ... 


ID (1): While the details are always subject to updating, the evolution of every life form on this planet, including human beings , is firmly established. Those Evangelicals and Fundamentalists who hold to any literal truth in the first 11 chapters of Genesis are living in the stone age, which of course they don't recognize in more than one way. UCG and others need to believe the literal truth of Genesis 1 though it is not literally true. They are playing to an audience, once again, of the piously convicted yet marginally informed. I would suggest the Good News writers, along with PTM and Greg Albrecht spend a week or two at before they mislead those who need the untrue to be true in spite of good science. Talk Origins is a rich source of scientific realities refuting Behe's ID perspectives. We believe what we need to believe far more often than what is true. 

When I want to contemplate the wonder of it all, I hold and contemplate a 1.8 million year old Homo Erectus (Standing Man for those of you prone to the giggles) cutting tool in my collection from Oldavai Gorge in Africa. It's incredible to hold something that real, held by something on the way to being us.

Dennis Diehl

ID (2): Possibly, the reason Michael Behe isn't highly thought of in the scientific community is because of his research and findings concerning DNA. 




Paranoid Prophet? Would you describe the Philadelphia Church of God as a fear religion? Many people do. It now seems that the climate of fear used to keep the sheep in line has rebounded on the Oklahoma prophet. A correspondent writes:

My husband and I left in 2003. Here's what I was told last week: All churches have been told that there will no longer be access to a 'church library' as several sermons by Gerald Flurry have been uploaded onto the internet. All sermons from HQs will be heard once, then returned immediately after play. [It appears] there will be no sermons sent to shut-ins, but perhaps they don't send enough money anyway.

Several members are aware of Gerald Flurry's great fear for his own life. He is worried that things said in his sermons will be leaked out. So much for plain truth! He is also concerned that recent statements about the Pope and the Vatican will bring him harm. It appears his cowardice may be his biggest least for a prophet of God.

So has Gerry finally gone off the deep end, or is this just a calculated strategy to keep the members firmly under his thumb and off balance? 

Good News - Bad Science: The latest GN magazine features two major articles by that celebrated author of the James ossuary article (GN Jan/Feb 03), Mario Seiglie. This time Mario's attention has shifted from promoting bad archaeology to endorsing bad science ("stealth creationism" to quote someone else's memorable description of "ID"), as UCG swings behind the creationist crusade in Kansas. That's also evidenced by Darris McNeely's WNP "podcast" on the subject and the current Tomorrow TV program entitled "The Collapse of Evolution" - featuring none other than Mario as UCG's own resident expert. 

One of those Good News articles is an interview with Michael Behe, a leading figure in the ID ("Intelligent Design") movement. Behe may be highly regarded by Biblical literalists, but appears to have little credibility in the wider scientific community (see, for example, Behe jumps the shark). Perhaps the GN editors feel an apologetic thrust into Evolution will help raise the magazine's profile (it certainly worked for The Plain Truth back in the sixties and seventies). Maybe; but if you want informed commentary it might be best to try New Scientist instead. The current issue features the latest developments in the study of dinosaurs: Mario could probably learn a lot!

Related links: Creationism part 1 and part 2

Kscribe on Meredith: The Brookfield tragedy brought forth many responses, ranging from a surprisingly insipid article by Mark Kellner in Christianity Today (written from a WCG turned SDA perspective) to, well, Kscribe's Murder in the Church of God - an Internet movie available to download from his website.

Who is Kscribe? Like the CT writer he's a former member, but that's where the resemblance ends. Kscribe isn't exactly subtle, bless him, but this movie does have real impact. It isn't intended to be offensive, but, let's be honest, when you tell the unvarnished truth as you see it, you're going to offend someone. Ken pulls no punches, but he has also done his best to honor those who died in Brookfield. And unlike Mark Kellner, he's not afraid to eyeball the Presiding Evangelist and superglue the buck firmly onto the great man's Teflon desktop. You can be sure that Spanky won't be citing Murder in the Church of God in his own defense, as he did with the Kellner article!

This is a 16MB download - not ideal on a dial-up connection, but you may find it well worth a little patience. The choice of visuals and music is striking. And the message? As bracing as a bucket of iced water.

Related links: Cult Abuse webmaster Douglas Becker has endorsed the Murder in the COG movie in a recent editorial and another full length article



In Rod's Realm: The following email arrived this week.

Read it and weep!

Brian Crook's questions got me digging a little further into the LCG Bylaws and related rules. Apparently there are three sets of documents that govern Living's activities: the Articles of Incorporation (filed with the State of California, where their existence began), the Bylaws (governing business activities), and the Canons of Evangelistic Discipline (the ecclesiastical rules). Apparently it is the Canons that give the Council of Elders their power.

So who gets to see the Canons? No one:

Q: “I read in your Canons that…”
A: No, you did not. The Canons are internal Church regulations and have not been made public, so if you believe you have seen them you have seen either a preliminary draft or a forgery...

That's from a document that is apparently available in the password-protected ministers-only section of the LCG website. No, the Canons are not in that section either, which means even church pastors don't have access to them. My own pastor does not have a paper copy.

Why not? According to the Q&A document, the Canons, Bylaws, and Articles are so full of legalese that the average reader would quickly become confused and jump to false conclusions... So, for the common good, the Canons may be seen only by a select few.

However, the document also tells us what we've all been wondering about: According to the Canons, a 90% majority of the Council of Elders is needed to relieve RCM of his duties. The same majority is required to ratify any major change in doctrine, whatever "major" means.

So how many are on the Council? Right now, 15 -- including RCM, Richard Ames, Dibar Apartian, and John Ogwyn. I assume (without proof) that RCM wouldn't be allowed to vote on his own removal, so he would need two dissenting votes to keep his job.

A copy of the document (not the secret Canons, but the source of the quote above) is available for download as a PDF document. It seems to be genuine, and pretty much sums up the attitude of the LCG hierarchy to any enquiry from the dumb sheep. Read it and weep!



Whirled Blues & Paranoia: While LCG leader Meredith tried vainly (in both senses of the word) to assure Journal readers that he wasn't over-emphasizing prophecy in his March 31 interview, Darris McNeely and the gang were busy creating a new website to indulge the UCG's own penchant for dreaming up Biblical significance for their fantasies about daily newspaper headlines.

The new website carries the World News and Prophecy brand name - up till now an almost forgotten monthly newsletter overshadowed by the much slicker Good News, and produced by UCG for the titillation of premature-apocalypse fans. Be careful when you type the address in your browser though... forget the "www" and you'll end up somewhere else entirely. (At upload time WNP seemed temporarily offline...)

Take that! Ever visited a COG website and had an irrational urge to throw something at the screen? Well, now you can. There's hours of fun (and stress relief) at Just type in the offending URL and wreak havoc! Spill coffee, toss an egg, let your dog loose to "do its thing", attack with UFOs, nuke it or do a Jurassic Park stomp. Isn't technology great!

Faith Networks: The third issue (May 2005) of Faith Networks, an independent COG publication supported by many of the refugees from the "orgs", is now available. It’s 12 pages (PDF) and a modest 413K download. Articles in this issue are by Barbara Cain, Ron Dart, Pam Dewey, Brian Drawbaugh, Bill Jacobs, Jim O'Brien, Fred Patrick, Bill Stough, Guy Swenson and Nancy Vandemark.

Weekly Mailbag

Honor Wolverton: When my family first came into the Radio Church of God, as it was known then, in Portland Oregon, one of the nicest things about it was meeting the Wolvertons. The story about Honor Wolverton that I remember my mom and grandmother laughing over was when Mrs. Wolverton confessed that when ministers visited her home she had to hide her big can of Crisco behind her coffeepot. This was in the days when at least some overly zealous ministers would check cupboards and medicine chests for contraband, such as white sugar or flour, Crisco, aspirin, etc. My little sister was a dedicated collector of MAD magazine monster stickers. My unconverted dad told her that Mr. Wolverton was the artist! She asked him at church if this was true, and he cheerfully admitted it was, but grinned and said “don’t tell anybody!”

Kathleen Kakacek

UCG and impotence: DW is correct that the UCG Presidency is impotent, especially if he removes himself from the Council. Roy Holladay found that out real fast. He knew that Richard Pinelli is a heavy handed authoritarian. He wanted to replace him and tried, but the COE would not permit it. How do I know this? Roy Holladay told me this himself. He also wanted to change the Regional Pastor structure and said that some of the RP's were not qualified to hold their positions. That they had no training in handling problems and conflict and often made the situation worse rather than better. About our Regional Pastor-- Roy's comment was that he got the position by "default", and that he shouldn't be in that position. Anything of any importance that the President wants to do must be approved by the COE.

This is the main reason that the COE replaced Roy Holladay. They knew he saw the need for changes that they did not want to make. They made him impotent in a lot of ways. They continually frustrated his efforts to make changes. He did the right thing when he withdrew from the COE when he became President...he knew it was a conflict of interest. He also knew it was giving up POWER. But it further tipped the COE to the authoritarian side.

The chairman of the COE doesn't have that much power. He sets meetings and has some say over the agenda it is true. It is no surprise to many of us that Bob Dick has been called back as chairman. It is what we expected. I am sure that Jim Franks will play some sort of role... just stayed tuned for that. There is talk that he (or Doug Horchak) may replace Richard Pinelli. Even many of the real hard liners [see] Richard [as] a liability in many ways... It is actually Richard Pinelli with the COE backing that he has had, who has been the real strong man in UCG for the last several years. But that may be about to change. I would watch for Clyde to bring in one of the above to replace Richard. Both of them will be authoritarian, but in a nicer way. And they are smarter and more careful about things they say and do. Then you will have a Prez, the director of MS, both with COE backing, and the chairman of the COE also on the same page. In my opinion there are only 2 "progressives" left on the COE, and one of them is stronger "progressive" than the other one. I am truly surprised that Aaron Dean was able to stay on. I guess there are enough non-salaried elders who are not in the loop of the politics that are being played...who still vote on name recognition keep him on.

I do think the Presidency can be a powerful position if the COE allows it. Especially if the Prez stays on the COE and he is one of the good ol' boys. They will empower him to further their agenda. Clyde seems to have gone from being a "progressive" (in the good ol' boy sense of the word), to more of an authoritarian since he has held the job of chairman. I think it is because the thought of "progressing" into allowing the members more involvement and decision making scared him as it does many of these men. They (at least some of them) talk about involvement but when it comes down to it they cannot let go of their of power...

UCG has definitely become a complete hierarchy, which is not what it was advertised to be at the beginning. Many local congregations started without a minister. Once they got a minister (depending on who they got) many found that it was right back to the "normal, traditional" way of doing things. The talk of Boards and Advisory Councils has all but disappeared, with a concerted effort to get rid of existing ones. Some areas have been told they can only have them if the Pastor wants one.

All I can say is it will be interesting watching!!!

(Name provided)

Helpful suggestions: United may not be burdened with the “one-man” top down type of government but it appears there is a risk of top down “oligarchy” form of government may be appearing. Listed below are some suggestions that the General Council of Elders (GCE) may want to request as standard practice from the Council.

1. Have written applications from the candidates for President made available to all in the GCE for review. This would demonstrate if the best candidate was really considered.
2. International Council members should live outside of the US. Both Mr. Walker and Mr. Meeker live in the US. Both enjoy the experience of traveling internationally regularly but is that the same as living outside the US? Currently there are US pastors who visit Africa who may pastor more people than Mr. Meeker pastors. They are not considered International. It would be nice to have a truly international representative from outside the US. A request for better accounting on the travels may be prudent. Define expectations from on an International visit may cut down on boondoggles.
3. Put in controls that minimize international areas that are being subsidized by the US from being overly influenced on how to vote. 
4. Consider if Council members sleep routinely through meetings that maybe retirement should be considered. 
5. Accounting and policies for fairly distributing reimbursements for expenses to ministers. This will prohibit Ministers getting denied expenses reimbursements because they are out of favor. 

There are probably more that could be listed but this is a good start. 

Herbal prediction (1): The Co-worker letter mentioned by Tom (Ten to fifteen years -- OR LESS!) is also available from 


AW: And yes, it includes the quoted section.

Herbal prediction (2): In response to Tom (5/21/05 Mailbag): When I started attending WCG in 1970 the most talked about subject was the return of Christ in 1975. I couldn't get the booklet "1975 in Prophecy" because it was out of print by then but I did get a copy in 1995. It was written in 1956 and proves that Armstrong preached that the "End" would come by 1975. There are "mini" prophecies in the booklet. For instance, "millions of...Christians will suffer martyrdom before 1975." He uses "soon" and "in a few years" repeatedly. If you're looking for evidence that HWA was a phony here it is


Herbal prediction (3): This is in reference to Tom and his Don Tiger CD. On that CD just type out "1975 in Prophecy" at the search prompt. It will take you to the booklet. There are also CD's available that are actual photos of the old PT's and Good News etc.

Rod II




How can there not be a conflict of interest to have the president remain on the COE? For example, since most of the council members are UCG employees, some might be reluctant to disagree with the president in a council meeting, fearing possible employment consequences. Also, the council is the body that formally evaluates the president's performance -- how can that not be a conflict of interest, even if the president recuses himself from those discussions?

If there is a clear distinction of roles -- the council establishes policy and the president executes it -- then there should be a clear separation between the persons in those roles. A double-minded man is not held up in the NT as a role model. It seems like such a no-brainer -- but I would be astonished if the president were to give up his council seat. Give up power voluntarily? It has only happened once: to his credit, Roy Holladay did it three years ago. But look where it got him. Surely the new CEO wouldn't want to run the same risk. Conclusion: It won't happen again.


Kilough digs in on Council: Despite an expectation that the president of UCG not be a voting member of the Council of Elders, it seems "Nehemiah" will remain nonetheless:

Mr. Kilough, newly appointed president of UCG, introduced a discussion of the president serving as a member of the Council of Elders. Mr. Kilough emphasized his desire to serve the Church in whatever way is most effective. He pointed out that while the presidency will be his singular focus, much of that effort will involve a close working relationship with the Council. He asked the Council for their thoughts and suggestions as to principles he should factor into his decision whether to remain a member of the Council.

Notice: HIS decision, not the council's. Now follows what might be described as a chorus of sycophantic ejaculations:

Mr. Walker commented that the bylaws allow any officer of the Church (including president) to be a member of the Council of Elders. He voiced that Mr. Kilough's decision should be based on experience rather than hypothetical possibilities and suggested that Mr. Kilough remain on the Council for at least a session or two to see how it works out. Mr. Walker expressed his view that Mr. Kilough would be more effective as a voting member of the Council than as an observer. He added that, to lighten his load a bit, Mr. Kilough might be excused from committee work.

Mr. Franks pointed out that on more than one occasion proposed amendments to prevent a president from serving on the Council had failed to pass, indicating that the GCE is not in favor of such a restriction. He also stated that committee work need not be a factor since the committees determine their own workloads and can manage how much additional work they would ask of Mr. Kilough.

Doug Horchak expressed that presidential duties will be better fulfilled by Mr. Kilough's continued presence on the Council. He pointed out that the question is not a conflict of interest but a matter of workload. He encouraged Mr. Kilough to continue on the Council.

Richard Thompson added that it would be best for Mr. Kilough to also be on Council committees so he would be part of discussions that lead to recommendations and decisions.

Mr. Dean pointed out that it is not mandatory for a Council member to be on a committee—but that he thought it would be especially appropriate for Mr. Kilough to be on the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Mr. Kilough thanked the Council for their input and stated that he will take the time necessary to make his decision.

How noble and generous! It seems that UCG does indeed have a pope of its own.

The new Chair of the UCG COE is Robert Dick.

Christian Churches of God. AW is seeking information from readers with first hand experiences of this group (led by Australian Wade Cox). Replies will be kept in confidence. Email can be sent to 

Behind Closed Doors: Ngaire Thomas is a New Zealand grandmother who has just launched a book telling of her 30-year membership in an extreme fundamentalist sect known as Exclusive Brethren. There are parallels with the more rigid COG groups that many AW readers will find disturbingly familiar. The End is very near, the church must be kept spotless from "the world", the Lake of Fire awaits those that veer from the path, an autocratic one-man leadership must be obeyed without question (despite dark rumors of alcoholism and sexual impropriety).

Of course there are major differences too. The Exclusives on their best day are far more controlling than any COG group on its worst day. Founded by John Nelson Darby (credited with creating the "rapture" doctrine) the "Plymouth Brethren" have been described as a British parallel to the Adventist movement that arose on the other side of the Atlantic. They are related to the much less rigid Open Brethren, which counted British Biblical scholar F. F. Bruce as a member.

Ngaire's account not only throws the spotlight on a secretive sect, but is an inspirational story of one family's painful struggle toward freedom, a journey many COG members share with the writer. Perhaps it isn't surprising that the Exclusive Brethren church has indicated that it will take action to suppress the book. A newspaper review (of the privately published first edition) is available here.

Behind Closed Doors is not available on Amazon, but can be ordered online through NZ bookseller Whitcoulls.

Top 20: The latest Alexa rankings provide sobering reading for WCG members. The church's PTM outreach is continuing its slide into irrelevance with the lowest Web rating in 3 months. In early March PTM was listed in the 339,000 band, a modest attainment given the media promotion. On May 21 PTM had dropped dramatically; now in the 535,000 band, and was being outperformed by the warmed-over offerings of the late Garner Ted Armstrong. In contrast, during the same period AW has risen from 563,000 to 299,000. A comprehensive list of COG site rankings is available here.

As of May 21, these are the 20 top COG sites that we monitor.

1. UCG  57k 11. Tomorrow's World (Meredith) 357k
2. LCG (Meredith) 96k 12. GTA (Mark Armstrong) 472k
3. WCG 96k 13. Painful Truth (Mike Minton) 497k
4. Bible Study (Alan Ruth) 147k 14. The Journal 503k
5. Good News (UCG) 178k 15. PTM (Greg Albrecht) 535k
6. Reluctant Messenger 206k 16. ASK (David Sielaff) 539k
7. CGI 209k 17. Key of David (Flurry) 695k
8. Pack cult (RCG) 253k 18. Music for the COG (Jim Ross) 730k
9. Kubik (UCG unofficial) 273k 19. CEM (Ronald Dart) 768k
10. Ambassador Watch 299k 20. Ritenbaugh sect (CGG) 779k


Weekly Mailbag

Joel Meeker: Not that I think my brother needs a defender, but just a note as to how Joel may be qualified for an international position.

  • He spent his first 10 years out of college as a WCG minister in France.

  • He received his belle lettres (Masters) in French from the University of Strasbourg.

  • Upon returning to the States he did his doctoral studies (abd) in French at Washington University (he was studying with the thought of teaching at AU).

  • Presently he acts as the head of the French dept. for UCG which includes visiting members, writing and editing the French language publications, coordinating the FOT for the region, translating, etc.

  • He travels extensively in French Africa -- there at least three months of the year (going to some of the more scary places like Congo, Ivory Coast, etc.).

  • He is one of the church's "lonely planet" travelers -- going to many of the developing nations (India, Philippines, areas in Asia) that less experienced travelers may have more difficulty navigating.

  • He probably is one of the most widely traveled men UCG has and is a very careful student of culture.

  • He still lives in the St. Louis area (where he did his studies and is where the rest of our family resides) because it's just as cost-effective to live there and fly as it is to move back to France and travel from there.

  • He is not without his critics. And yes, he is an American.

A note about me: I have no affiliation, and no plans to affiliate. Since I still have a family connection and care deeply about their lives, your site is one source of many I tap for perspectives on what's happening within the community. Thank you for your contribution.

Jackie Meeker White 

Strine-free COE (1): What was the title of that article in the March-April Good News -- "Australia: An Underappreciated Nation" -- ?!


Strine-free COE (2): I saw this on your site: "...All of this is unlikely to go down well Down Under." Little do you know, sir, is that this will go down well with us Aussies. Few, if any, of the Aussie ministers here have the ability or knowledge to be on it. They are not popular here and the UCG here is leaderless. That is why the Aussies welcome Council of Elders intervention in this train wreck down under. Australia continues to be a mess and a frustration for the global efforts of UCG. The only people that don't know it is the local ruling class. Do not publish my name. Thank you.

AW: No problem. If anyone asks, can we just refer to you as "Korah"? ;-)

Clyde (1): UCG prides itself on the fact that no one will call the shots for the membership again like the old days of WCG yet here we have the new president as his first act calling a fast for the membership without consultation. The only fast I heed is the one God commands once yearly, not some willy-nilly off the cuff command from some guy who wants to see more zeal. Maybe I'll fast and ask God to whisk this character away.

Clyde (2): I am very excited about the future of the UCG under the new leadership. It is so exciting to see what new 'truth' these mighty spiritual men can reveal. For example, I learned an important lesson about fasting in your last post. 

I hate to admit it, but I had a faulty idea of what fasting was used for. In my foolishness, I thought that when a person fasts, they should examine their life for sins. I thought they were suppose to repent of their sins. I would look at Isaiah 58 and read verses 6 and 7.

I now see a better way. Instead of focusing on my sin and seeking the will of God in my life - it is now possible for me just to tell God what He should do. Just skip the part of searching for personal or institutional sins which might be causing God to turn His Face from us - doing that is just too hard and unpleasant. I can just decide what I want and I can use fasting as a tool to force God to deliver zeal or whatever gift I think God should give me. Just reading from Clyde wrote, I can see why he is the leader of a good and strong church, while I am nothing but an insignificant person who reads my Bible.


Clyde (3): I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Clyde Kilough on his recent promotion. Having said that, if Clyde is seriously desirous of being of service to both God and man, he should really end the charade, disband the UCG, and encourage all of the members to go out there and find the truth. 

Byker Bob 

Clyde (4): What most members in UCG ... fail to realize is that the Presidency in UCG is largely ceremonial and impotent. The President can't do anything without the Council's explicit approval; David Hulme learned this the hard way. And last year's [actions] by Dick Pinelli (i.e. ... statements about the West Virginia debacle) validate this -- ... the hard-liners on the Council would never allow [Dick to be sidelined] (at least not until they can be assured of filling the office with one of their own... by the way, rumor has it Doug Horchak is next in line for that position.)

The most powerful office in UCG is the Chairman, the role which Clyde currently fills. The chairman sets the agenda of all Council meetings and therefore *controls what topics will be discussed and deliberated*.

Getting Clyde out of this office is a blow to the progressives and a coup for the authoritarians (which comprise most of the Council). Don't be surprised if you see Jim Franks put into the role of Chairman, where he can do far more damage than if he were President.


AW: Hmm. Rumors about Horchak and Franks seem to have come to grief as events caught up with speculation. I'm far from convinced about Clyde's credentials as a "progressive", and I wonder if someone operating away from Home Office (as the chairman does) really has much power. Anyone able to comment?

Clyde (5): Watch, there will be another split! Place your bets!


Larry: Now let me see if I got this right. Larry Salyer was an integral part of the rebellion that broke off from WCG to form the GCG. A few years later he was instrumental in the breakup of GCG and helped form the CGCF. Shortly
thereafter he forced CGCF's breakup and took a portion of the membership with him into the UCG. Now he has been elected to the Council of Elders within UCG?! I could see this coming a mile away.

I knew Larry when he was put in the backwaters of St. Louis as a local pastor after HWA died. My perception was that he is a politician, interested in power, and seemingly always involved in some conspiracy. Mark my words, in a few years should there be a political upheaval within UCG, I would predict that Larry will be at the center of it.

Anonymous from St. Louis

AW: This letter has been edited for publication.

In Rod's Realm: Just curiosity on my part I suppose, but re JB's comment on LCG bylaws to disfellowship RCM. Just how many are on the Living Council of Elders? If JB is right, and a 90% vote is required, if there are 9 or less on the council, then RCM can only be removed if he votes himself off! Even with a council of 19 he would only need one 'friend' not vote against him, as a vote of 17 to 2 would not be unanimous enough to remove him. Sounds like the 'new and improved' bylaws have made a second removal of RCM impossible. 

JB says the general membership of Living have never received a copy of the final bylaws. Are they available anywhere, or only to members of the Living Council of Elders?

Brian Crook

In Rod's Realm: My minister in LCG told me a couple of weeks ago that anyone new wanting to attend services must first talk with the minister on the phone and then meet person to person before and [be] evaluated before they can even be considered walking through the doors of any LCG service. This was told to me as coming from HQ.

Rod II

Brogaard Interview (1): In her interview on your site, Betty Bogaard stated she would like to correct an editorial oversight in the first chapter of her book when she referred to a Learjet as a Leer Jet. Given Herbert and Ted’s sexual past, I think she got it right the first time.


Brogaard Interview (2): Holly Ruiz and others have reported on the hanky panky that went on between Garner Ted and stewardesses on his church jet. Given that information, I think that Betty Brogaard does NOT need to change the "Leer jets" typo in her book. I think that it is an accurate description! (See the dictionary definition of "leer.")


Brogaard Interview (3): Good for you, Gavin, on the recent interview with Ms Brogaard. I certainly think the world of her and look forward to her next book. I think she and you are both class acts. Both of you keep up the good work... Ya know what the best part is? Neither of you preach. I'll say that again...for those might have missed the essential content: Neither of you preach. Let that be a lesson to all that have an ear.....

Mike Minton

AW: Very kind of you to say so Mike... but could that last statement of yours be construed as, um, preaching? :-P

Though he be dead, yet he liveth: At the website of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, Garner Ted still lives. Looking at the website, one would never know he is dead.

AW: Yep, Ted is still "bringin' in the sheaves" - for Mark and the family.

Eagle Rock deity: The Navajo and Hopi Indians have a demi-god/deity who is known as Kokopelli. He's an Indian archetype of the pied piper. A trickster. A court jester is another way of looking at him. I don't know why that name popped in my mind when I read your article on Dennis Pelly. But the piper leading the flock away... seemed ironic. 


Ten to fifteen years -- OR LESS! I have a CD of HWA works from the 1920's to his death, formatted by Don Tiger. You may remember Don Tiger as the former PCG guy that ran into trouble with the law after meeting Dave Pack. In any event, I recall someone citing the 1966 Co-Worker letter as proof that HWA indeed predicted 1972-1975 as the time to flee, great tribulation, yadda yadda yadda. Later, HWA said he did not set any date. 

Problem: I have a copy of the Co-Worker letter from the Tiger CD, dated June 27, 1966. I don't know if it has been redacted by Tiger, or if HWA actually wrote the parenthetical aside.

Here is the quote from the CD, with Armstrong's idiosyncratic style remaining: "...That is all going to change! -- And SOON! By SOON, I mean, in all probability (though I'm not setting dates) ten to fifteen years -- OR LESS!..." (June 27, 1966 Co-Worker Letter) 

Can you find a copy of the original, or find someone with a copy? Or can you point me to the letter, article, etc. that shows HWA indeed did predict 1972 to 1975 as the definite prophetic end?


AW: I'd put good money on the total authenticity of the quote.

Note to Christina Winkelman: Thanks, that was also the intent of the comments that followed the section you quoted.



Stunning news! The Holy Ghost glue seems to have come unstuck over at Charisma magazine, a publication aimed at the Pentecostal community. This breathless report was passed on to us by Ian Boyne. It also appears on the Charisma website.

POLICE BAFFLED BY WISCONSIN CHURCH SHOOTING: At Press time police still didn’t know what sent a quiet gardener into a shooting spree at his Milwaukee-area church. Authorities say Terry Ratzmann opened fire on the congregation of the Living Church of God during a March 12 worship service, killing seven, including the pastor, Roderick Meredith, and his 17-year-old son, and wounding four others including Meredith’s wife. He then turned the gun on himself, the Associated Press reported. A computer programmer who lived with his mother and adult sister, Ratzmann was a longtime member of the church, which is affiliated with the 7,000-member Worldwide Church of God. Police thought Meredith’s sermon about finances may have set Ratzmann off but later determined that likely was not the motive.

Not that we'd want to contradict any revelations from the Spirit, but we're fairly sure Rod is still in the pink, that Living is no longer associated with WCG, and that, despite plunging membership, WCG still hasn't reached as low as 7000 - yet.

Aussie aspirations crunched: In the second blow to Aussie pride in recent days, another Australian has been rejected by the UCG's hierarchy for a significant leadership role. First Bill Bradford, an adopted Australian hailing from the American South, failed to make the shortlist for president. Now Bill Eddington, chairman of the Australian National Council, has been beaten in a two-horse race for the position of International representative on the COE - by Joel Meeker, an American. According to a report by John Warren, Meeker qualified for the position because he speaks French (!) and does visits in other countries. Exactly how Meeker is expected to present a genuinely international perspective is unclear.

All of this is unlikely to go down well Down Under.

Three other positions were up for grabs, and were contested by Aaron Dean, Jim Franks, Dennis Luker, Richard Pinelli and Larry Salyer. Dean, Franks and Salyer were successful. No decision yet on who will be chairman. John Warren's report appears on The Journal website.



Commentary: I find it hard to imagine a press release from a Christian organization announcing the selection of a new president in which the words "love" and "grace"  never appear. Yet UCG has crafted just such a press release. I agree that Clyde Kilough doesn't have a clue about UCG's most urgent needs.

Stephen Richards
June 4 - The newly appointed president of the UCG requires all members to go without food and drink for a day. Only egos may be fed.

Honor Wolverton dies: Basil Wolverton's wife Honor passed away last week aged 98. Basil, author of The Bible Story, died in 1978. 

Kilough pulls a Spanky: President Nehemiah Kilough has dipped into Rod Meredith's bag of tricks to make a dramatic entrance as Pontifex Maximus in the UCG.

He then announced his first action as president. He announced that he was setting aside June 4 as a day of fasting for God's Church. It will be a fast to stir up the gifts of God--zeal, commitment, courage, and love. We need to study and seek God's face in prayer to answer the question: "what will I do to stir up zeal and urgency in the Church?" 

In his maiden address to the faithful Clyde dressed his language in full dominatrix leather judging from one report appearing on the Web (which included the above section). It's only fair to point out that the writer was impressed by Clyde's motivational performance.

Mr. Kilough began by reading the account of Christ throwing out the moneychangers in John 2:13-17. He focused on the statement that "zeal for Your house has eaten me up." (verse 17). He posed the question, has zeal for the house of God eaten us up? As Jesus was full of must we be. He then asked if we are in awe at where we are. Do we really understand the high calling we have and the fact that we stand at the brink of eternity.

He said, as we face the next decade, it is vital that we all address, the question: has zeal for God's house (the Church) eaten us up? Are we filled with it?

He then mentioned that the Council has been going through a SWOT analysis: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. He pointed out that one of our strengths is that we have a good, strong and stable church. BUT, that one of our threats is that we have a good, strong stable church. He pointed out that when things are "good", we often get lethargic and are fine with the way things are. He pointed out that we must GROW...we can't be satisfied with where we are. We are on the verge of really growing and moving forward and that we now have to be stirred with a great zeal and passion. He said that zeal comes from within through God's Spirit and is a spiritual issue. We must all have zeal for God's work if it is going to grow. He quoted 2 Tim. 1:5 that we need to stir up God's spirit in us.

He asked us to ask ourselves this question: What will I do to stir up zeal and a sense of urgency in God's Church. This is an area we must examine ourselves in.

He then went to Nehemiah and read a number of verses. He pointed out that in Nehemiah's time there were scoffers and critics towards the work (4:2). Likewise today we have scoffers and critics who just point out flaws. He pointed out we must be a part of the solutions...not a scoffer who does nothing. He said we need to MOVE ON from that negativity and not pay any attention to it. He quoted Neh. 4:14 and said we need to be workers and to "fight for our brethren." We must fight to have zeal to help and encourage our brethren.

He then went back to Neh. 3:5 and showed that some did not want to get involved and be a strong part of the work. He encouraged us to all get involved and be enthusiastic towards the work of the Church.

He then went on to say that we need to regularly go back and look at our calling and what Christ did for us. But we also have to focus everyday at increasing our zeal and asking God to take us UP to another level! We need to SEEK his righteousness and kingdom. He said we can't just be trying to recapture a zeal we once had...but to take it to a new and higher level.

New Hopes dashed: Remember the one-time headquarters congregation in Pasadena? In our last exciting episode Pastor Den had moved services to a new location in Eagle Rock, adopted a spiffy new logo, changed services to Sunday and was gushing fulsomely about prospects for growth now the baggage had been dumped.

Today we heard that Pelley's New Hope congregation may need to consider another name change, to Big Disappointment

Dennis Pelley's church appears to be on the skids. He is losing members, which is causing income to drop. As a result of that, his church now has to look for another building to meet in for church. They can no longer afford the rent for the Seventh-day Adventist facility.

Apparently this isn't too different from the current state of affairs for the US church as a whole. Members reportedly continue to drop out at a fast rate. This also means plummeting income, and the potential for ministers to be dropped from the payroll. One Pasadena exec. is believed to have plumbed new depths in petulance by saying that Americans are lazy because they have no interest in the WCG or religion. Presumably that's more comforting than facing the very real management issues at the top of the collapsing food chain. 

Perhaps Den might like to invite Clyde over to give a rehash of his inspirational "zeal" sermon,

Betty Brogaard interview: Betty Brogaard arrived at Ambassador College in 1959 as a freshman student. After graduating she worked as a secretary and receptionist in the administration building, and later in the penthouse offices of Herbert and Ted Armstrong. Her husband, Fred Brogaard, became a pastor-rank minister in the church. The couple left the WCG in 1974. Fred went on to reaffirm his Christian beliefs in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, while Betty grew to reject religion. In 2004 she released a book that documented her journey called Dare to Think for Yourself

Recently Betty kindly agreed to be interviewed by Ambassador Watch, and that interview is now available

Related link: Why Should You Know This (article by Betty on The Painful Truth)



The new AW book page is now available for May. Current review: Truth & Fiction in the Da Vinci Code. New reviews and features coming soon.

A Second Nehemiah? A telling reaction to the Kilough ascendancy comes from LCG's unofficial mouthpiece, Bob Thiel.

I will now comment that, in my opinion, I believe that Clyde Kilough was the best choice of the three remaining candidates. The fact that he apparently recognizes the lack of zeal and other lukewarm characteristics in UCG gives me hope that there remains a small chance that with him as president, that perhaps more will eventually realize that they need to follow Jesus' admonition in Revelation 3:11 to hold fast. Though unless UCG undergoes massive change that I do not believe is likely, this means that the truly zealous ones will have to support the only COG that 1) Puts its primary emphasis on proclaiming the gospel to the world as a witness while 2) teaching all the 18 truths that were restored to the Philadelphia portion of the COG.

Although a more likely scenario might be the movement of LCG members to a more rigorous UCG when their septuagenarian leader in Charlotte passes on to his reward, UCG members might do well to be worried when Bob casts his cloak of approval upon Clyde's shoulders. 

Meanwhile the cynics among us have been wondering (1) how long this "Nehemiah" will last, and (2) how long before new splits appear in UCG as brethren man the lifeboats. Ian Boyne isn't among them. Like Bob Thiel, the Jamaican CGI minister has welcomed Clyde's election: I am heartened by the initial statements attributed to President Kilough. They tell me he understands some of the critical things which the UCG needs at this time and going forward... We need you to succeed. (The full letter is in the mailbag below).

Weekly Mailbag

Building Babel: The recent election of Clyde Kilough of the UCG got me thinking again about Church government and how it is structured. The rally calls of a centralized collective are touted and heard once again.

A business analogy can add insight to the risk of a "unified sole worldwide corporate org Church of God", at least under human leadership. In the real world, if just one corporation were to acquire full control over a product that everyone needs, there is little doubt what will happen, even in the presence of well intended and altruistic managers ... the price will go up and the quality will go down.

Free market economies and democracies put into place anti-trust laws in an attempt to keep monopolies from practicing this kind of inefficiency or at worst, exploitation. Competition amongst corporations forces them, at least to some degree, to keep product prices low and quality high.

In the "real world" of free market Christianity, there is both a subtle and open competition for membership, even amongst Churches that are within the same denomination. Because of this, there is a continual "Brain Drain" of well educated and talented membership by one church to another that offers "brains and talent" more opportunity or serves them better. This natural process, a type of "creative destruction" of the religious order, allows for stale and stagnant churches to fade away, and dynamic and active churches to emerge.

Those who dream of a "Unified COG", with all the factions of the church under one "org umbrella" I believe are misguided. For the United Church of God, to bring all of their associated congregations into a homogenized "singularity" with top down supervision is also a mistake.

Surely the goal of "peace and unity" seems laudable. However, this will eliminate the natural competition, creation and PUSH, that will drive fallible humans to embrace the necessary pain of change for future progress.

Our COG experience shows repeatedly, that if option and choice is kept from the brethren, if only one religious option is allowed, that Church can, and will, oppress its members, and those members will have NO recourse against it. A "One World Church Org" will gravitate to controlling its subjects lives to align it with its governmental rules. That Church government, which in such an arrangement, always ends up as an elitist group of people , becomes the unfettered arbiter and judge of what is "good" for itself and its subjects. Pride always ends up commanding such a church.

These principles show why the Soviet Union collapsed. Soviet leaders were able to lock out competition for people and enterprises. They built walls to keep people from leaving. They locked out new ideas and information. Thus, for a time, they got away with oppressing their citizens.

The Bible actually warns against such "Tower of Babels". A great gift and responsibility that we have been given by God is freedom. Let us take this gift personally and use it wisely, and as we do things collectively with others, never attempt to take that gift from another.

Bill Lussenheide 

Bonnie Prince Clyde (1): Hmm, you are starting off in a rather hasty manner with Clyde. Why not give the man a chance to show what he has for a plan before dismissing him as an authoritarian?

That just seems like the fair thing to do, don't you agree?

Todd Sauve 

Bonnie Prince Clyde (2): I would like to offer my congratulations and good wishes to Clyde Kilough on his election as President of the UCG. As pastor of the CGI in Jamaica, I had asked the approximately 240 brethren who meet weekly here to pray intently that God would choose the most appropriate person to take the Work to the next level. I prayed specifically that the UCG would elect a President who would move it to a more dynamic, energetic level, building a more flexible, member-involved and zealous organization. The UCG, thankfully, avoids the excesses of the independent movement in the COGs but, regrettably, does not allow its ministry, especially in a Third World context, the level of flexibility and contextualization which is necessary to do a truly effective work. There is much that the UCG could learn from the CGI Tyler, Texas leadership. I am heartened by the initial statements attributed to President Kilough. They tell me he understands some of the critical things which the UCG needs at this time and going forward. Also, Clyde Kilough’s letter announcing Roy Holladay’s departure pointed to some of the key issues the UCG faces, which also indicate a clear grasp of the urgent things which need to be tackled in the new presidency.

The UCG has the greatest resources of all of the COGs and, therefore, for those of us zealous to see the Gospel preached to the world in a gripping way, we have no rational choice but to pray that the men in leadership there yield to the Spirit’s prodding. There is much that is commendable about the UCG and it is my fervent hope that the things which are lacking will be supplied under this new presidency. All the best to Clyde Kilough and our brethren in the UCG. We need you to succeed.

Ian Boyne

AW: I am disheartened by the initial statements attributed to President Kilough. They tell me he understands none of the critical things which the UCG needs at this time.

Look-alikes: Picture of Tabor? Nah....that's Andy Gibb of the Beegees! Honest! :-P


Sux sux sux (1): Gavin, you might be interested in this discussion of the recent "616" Oxyrhyncus find (or rather, the recent ability to read a manuscript that has the "616" reading instead of the usual "666" reading):

Apparently the alternate, minority "616" reading is first mentioned by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, about 190 A.D. We also already had an Oxyrhyncus manuscript that showed the "616" reading, so any press reports that this is a new discovery are somewhat misleading.

I thought I'd also point out that the common interpretation of "666" as representing human imperfection, since 6 is one less than 7, God's number of perfect, is really not borne out by the text of Revelation. The Greek language doesn't show that fascinating, tantalizing group of three sixes that we see, because the number of the Beast is represented with Greek letters, not Arabic numerals. So ancient readers of Revelation wouldn't see "666" and start wondering about the significance of three sixes in a row.


Sux sux sux (2): 616 is a well known textual variation of Rev 13:8. Metzger rates it as a "B" meaning that he has a high degree of confidence that 666 is the correct reading. It is a change of one letter to get the different numerical value. Why this difference? Metzger comments:

Perhaps the change [to 616] was intentional, seeing that the Greek form from Neron Caesar written in Hebrew characters is equivalent to 666, whereas the Latin form Nero Caesar is equivalent to 616. (Bruce Metzger A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament)

Note that it is the exact opposite of what the article said, the OLDEST manuscripts say 666 not 616.

Positive Dennis

That poll again: Per your recent poll. You left out one very important selection, namely deism. Deists find themselves somewhere in the middle of things. We are neither on the radical left (extreme atheists) nor the radical right (born again, holy rolling bible thumpers). We view “God” as an absentee landlord, a divine being who wound up his/her/their creation like a watch at the beginning, and have long since left the galaxy. We take wisdom where we can find it, even from the bible at times. And we feel we are responsible, short of time & chance, for our own good or bad fortune. If there is a god out there, we don’t look to them as some talisman to carry around in our pockets and to be massaged or prayed to in time of need. The universe doesn’t care whether we live or die, since we are all eventually bound to be reunited with this god. This life may be only one of many, for all we know. Many of the American Founding Fathers were deists, so we are in good company. The idea that the United States was founded on Christian principles and ideas has been vastly distorted by the bible thumpers. We were founded as a secular nation, not a Christian one. And deistic thought played a large part in that.


AW: Topic closed. 

One True Cult: I'm so over WCG in all its forms, but I still can't get enough of AW. In reading all the contributions to AW, it sounds like we all came from the only true cult. I'm still hooked on acronyms.


Dare: I don't believe I have ever taken the time to thank you for putting my simply written "primer" on your website booklist. I have been mildly criticized by some for not making this little book more of an in-depth revelation of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), but that was not my purpose (even though I do mention a few things that my family and I endured because of WCG ministerial dictators). Dare to Think for Yourself was written primarily for people who have just begun to question beliefs assigned to them by family, church(es) and the world at large. Furthermore, it was not even designed to make atheists or agnostics of believers even though I personally have evolved into a contented atheist.

It was and is my intention to simply encourage everyone who reads Dare... to make sure they look into every aspect of any belief or non-belief system (including atheism) in which they are interested or involved. We all need to be thoroughly convinced that the direction in which a particular group is going and the things they preach are for us and can be proved to our own personal satisfaction. When I became a member of the WCG, I never compared what they taught to other teachings. I simply looked up the bible verses they threw at me in answer to my questions -- and lo and behold! they could prove everything they taught from "holy" scripture. (And, actually, what church can't do that?)

I must admit that being a Christian among other Christian family members, friends and associates is often much easier than being an atheist--but I could never allow religionists to again control me as I did for over half my 68 years.

If anyone is interested, I recently finished a very fine book entitled Atheist Universe by David Mills... Mills is not an ex-Ambassador College student nor WCG member or any of its offshoots--but he is an excellent writer...

You may find this amusing. When I received my first royalties check for Dare... it was in the amount of $66.61 ---SIX-SIX-SIX-- the number of the beast of Revelation. Sometimes I am quite "beastly," but I'm very sure I'm not "the beast."

Betty Brogaard 

Meredith Universe: Someone was asking for information about LCG:

1. Bylaws requiring 90% of council of elders to disfellowship RCM. I do seem to recall the 90% number. Bylaws were a subject of some discussion when RCM was removed from the leadership of Global. One of the issues was the division of powers between the corporate Board of Directors and the ecclesiastical Council of Elders. When Living was formed, a rough draft of "new and improved" bylaws (or at least an outline thereof) was circulated, but the general membership never received a copy of the final bylaws.

2. Open door policy at Sabbath services and feast days. I can't speak for other areas led by other pastors, but my area has a definite open-door policy. If you want to attend, feel free to drop by. You're welcome to come as long as you don't intentionally stir things up. You might have to email the minister for directions, of course -- the congregations and contacts are on the website. But from what I know, our local pastor doesn't conduct an inquisition before divulging the location and time. We'll even let you fill your plate if we have a potluck.


Huguenots: I'm not sure what point the gentleman was trying to make on your site regarding Huguenots and crypto Jews. Becoming a Huguenot was no way for a Jew to avoid persecution under Louis the XIV. Huguenots were persecuted by the Church just like every other non-Catholic faith (including Jews). That is why so many Huguenots ended up in England, The Netherlands and Northern Ireland. Since they were the merchant "class" of France, the Huguenot migration to the UK played a big role in the rise of London as the center of world economic power. The were protestants, similar in beliefs to Puritans.

Jews like the Huguenots voted with their feet and became the "goldsmiths" in London where wealthy people kept their gold, eventually leading to the creation of the first checking accounts (demand deposits) as the goldsmiths accepted "scripts" from one goldsmith to another. A similar merchant banking system developed among Jews trading in commodities in London, Amsterdam, Hanover, Prague, Lyon and Venice. This merchandise trade led eventually to the commodity markets we are now familiar with.

Bill Ferguson

Inquisitions: While I see no reason for Jared and I to go on and on about the subject of Catholic's official murder of Sabbath Keepers, he asked for an example of Sabbath keepers murder by Catholics and I provided it. But it is clear that Jared just admitted he was wrong and Catholics did murder Sabbath keepers. It seems to me that Jared rather approved of the judicial murder of Fischer and the Jews. At the least he did not condemn these murders. Whether there was a direct link of these people to HWA was not the issue Jared raised, nor do I think there was a direct connection between HWA and these people. But then again there is no direct connection between Benedict and Peter either, just as there is no direct link between Tkach and HWA.

I see no advantage to leaving one cult in order to join another.

Positive Dennis

AW: No direct link between HWA and Joe? The link may have many a knot but it's still about as direct as you can get. 

Note to Cicero: Hilarious! (but I'm not sure Phil or Homer would appreciate the humor!) Suggest you publish to a news-board first. Note to Michael Roberg: Not the sort of thing that fits in the mailbag. Try contacting The Journal about placing an ad in the Connections section. Note to Kathy: Have contacted someone about putting your correspondence online, and will link to it when uploaded. Note to Tom Edwards: Please re-read the Letter Policy at the bottom of this page.



Limerick  (by Reg Killingley)

To United's new prez, Mr. Clyde,
A word of advice from the side:
"It's better to rent
Or live in a tent
For you'll come and you'll go like the tide!"

Speaking Frankly

But what about Dave Havir's very public prediction that Jim Franks would wear the triple tiara? We're told - perhaps with tongue in cheek - "Sources indicated that Mr. Havir was secretly pleased that his writings had influenced the selection process, regardless of the outcome."

Blaming the victims?

Another indication of what's ahead? Douglas Becker recollects that, in the "situation with the stalker" ( in a United congregation), Clyde Kilough responded by "condemning the victims in a fiery communication accusing them of a bad attitude". 

The Kilough Presidency: There's a somber mood in some quarters at the election of Clyde Kilough to the highest office in the United Church of God. Judging from the press release (see yesterday's AW) Clyde is determined to do something of a Rehoboam act: could it be that the yoke is going to be weighted down further and the lash applied lustily (1 Kings 12: 12-15)?

The very wording of the announcement indicates that President Kilough is determined to pursue a strict "them and us" policy which would keep the sheep locked in their stall and the clergy in clover. Quotes: "a process that lasted nearly 60 days following formal input solicited from Church elders and Council members". But the members were expected to simply sit tight and wait on the profound deliberations of the hierarchy.

"Our members are ready," he emphasized. "They want to be rallied." Clyde knows best... you will be "rallied" and you will like it!

"...the Church's leadership and ministry need to stir up the membership and those associated with United with increased focus and zeal." Yes, the problem is with you dumb sheep, certainly not us enlightened leading ministers. Prepare to be stirred! Now, where's the whip?

"There are people out there whose lives are waiting to be transformed," Mr. Kilough said. "It's a time for us to rally—a time to revive—as people did in Nehemiah's time." Yes, you lazy, common garden-variety members are just sitting around passively waiting for a spiritual Titan like Clyde to do a Nehemiah! 

He went on to quote from the book of Nehemiah: "Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, 'The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.'" Yup, it seems ol' Clyde sure is into rallying and blowing his own trumpet.

Now really, is this the healer, the good listener, that UCG so desperately needs? 

Pack the sex authority: Readers will be delighted to learn that David C. Pack, Ayatollah (or is that Apostle?), has rewritten the Herbal classic The Missing Dimension in Sex. The Pack version is called Sex - Its Unknown Dimension. An Apostolic announcement dated May 12:

Tomorrow we will post the book SEX – Its Unknown Dimension. This event concludes the four-year process of rewriting all of Mr. Herbert Armstrong’s literature. With this posting, the fullness of the restored truth will once again be available for those who will yet discover it—and those who choose to rediscover it!

"The fullness of the restored truth..." Wow, thanks Big Dave.

Meredith the Unmovable: This response to a recent mailbag question comes from Tom Mahon, a former LCG board member in the UK.

I believe that Dr Meredith can only be removed for gross misconduct. What constitutes gross misconduct might be open to his personal interpretation. If experience is anything to go by, ministers in WCG were never removed from the church, unless they were deemed guilty of gross doctrinal heresy. Adultery, drunkenness or financial impropriety was never seen as a grave enough sin to warrant eviction from the church. The list of ministers who were guilty of such grave sins, and remained in office, is too long to detail here. But what has changed?

However, after the [hijacking] of Global (1998) ... Dr Meredith, in setting up LCG, reverted to the same governmental structure that existed in WCG. This was done to protect him from anyone who might seek to usurp his power base. So it is almost impossible to remove Dr Meredith, no matter what he does. I suspect the same is true of [Pack, Hulme & Flurry] 

Does it not remind you of the quotation: "Under falsehood have we hid ourselves..."?

Tom Mahon

Gross misconduct? How about just gross theology?



It's Bonnie Prince Clyde!

He may have been the least popular choice among the grassroots members, but the UCG has announced the election of Clyde Kilough as its 4th president by the 12-man Council of Elders. Comment follows in the weekend upload, but in the meantime here's the official announcement.

Cincinnati, Ohio – On May 12, 2005, the 12-man Council of Elders of the United Church of God, an International Association, selected Clyde Kilough as the new president of the Church from a final list of three candidates. The selection of Mr. Kilough concluded a process that lasted nearly 60 days following formal input solicited from Church elders and Council members.

Mr. Kilough succeeds Roy Holladay, who served as United's president from 2002 to the present. A long-time Church pastor, Mr. Kilough was elected to the Council in 2001 by the General Conference of Elders. He previously served as the Council's official reporter from 1997 to 1999.

In his remarks to the Council, Mr. Kilough said that the Church's CEO must personally understand the Church's mission and vision and keep it constantly in the forefront of those involved in United's work. "Our members are ready," he emphasized. "They want to be rallied."

He outlined how the Church's leadership and ministry need to stir up the membership and those associated with United with increased focus and zeal. Citing 2 Timothy 1:6, Mr. Kilough reminded those present that "zeal is a spiritual issue." He spoke of us deepening our sense of being an integral part of the Work of the Church of God.

"There are people out there whose lives are waiting to be transformed," Mr. Kilough said. "It's a time for us to rally—a time to revive—as people did in Nehemiah's time."

He went on to quote from the book of Nehemiah: "Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, 'The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.'" (Nehemiah 4:19-20, New King James Version).

Continuing his planned focus as United's new president, Mr. Kilough stressed that: "This spirit has to come from within, not primarily from projects, media thrusts or personnel changes. The Church's core strengths are spiritual, not physical." Concluding his remarks he emphasized: "When our ways please God, He will bless us."

The Council of Elders thanked Mr. Holladay and his wife, Norma, for their three years of leadership and service in strengthening a foundation that will enable broad growth of the United Church of God.

Mr. Kilough was born in 1951 and came into the Church with his parents in 1963. He graduated from Ambassador College, Big Sandy, in 1974 and served congregations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada, from 1974 to 1981. Since then he has served congregations in Arkansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio and California. The Kiloughs currently make their home in Sacramento, California, where Mr. Kilough is pastor of congregations in Sacramento and Reno, Nevada. He and his wife have two children, David and Rebecca, and are excited new grandparents.

In accordance with the by-laws, Mr. Kilough will step down from his prior position as chairman of the Council. The family will move to Cincinnati shortly, where Mr. Kilough will devote his full time to his new position at the Church's home office

Tabor in Vision: Whatever you think of David Hulme and his COG-AIC sect, it's hard to deny that his quarterly magazine, Vision, is the classiest act in the lineup of COG publications. Photography and design is outstanding, and the big format makes it a nice addition to any COG-member's coffee table. Content is, of course, another matter.

The latest issue (Spring 2005) includes a number of interesting features, one of which has to be an interview with James Tabor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (pictured). Tabor is a highly regarded scholar, something of an expert in weird Sabbatarian sects (he's a former WCG member, and was called in as an expert during the Waco Branch Davidian siege), an occasional translator of the Bible, author and a great deal else besides. The High and Hulmerous One Himself (who likes to pose as a bit of a "scholar") put a number of questions to Tabor about the Jewish nature of the earliest Church. The answers are interesting. So far the Spring issue has yet to surface on the Vision website, but if and when it does we'll post a link.

Related item: Flagships of the Fleet

A Wales of a Tale: In the valleys of Wales they produce great choirs, passionate rugby fans and a lyrical language that defies export. Here too the non-conformist chapels of British fundamentalism abounded, a faith that brought comfort to a once marginalized region of Britain. Perhaps not so surprising then that a variety of COGism has found a niche here: the Church of God in Wales, presided over by John Bowles. The Bowles brethren were among the few that shrank from any acknowledgement of Mothers Day this year. Bowles explains:

Some interesting points about Mother's Day. Fortunately we also have an apostle - who made some clear distinctions on this subject: Here in the UK - we were instructed not to celebrate mothers day - as here it is mothering Sunday, and part of Catholic Marian worship. In the USA however, Mr Armstrong realised that mother's day was a totally secular, different day - unassociated with pagan practices - designed simply to honour your parents. He therefore allowed (and even encouraged) mother's day to be kept in America, while banning it here in Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland. Just as well we had an chief apostle to clarify this issue as per Matt 16:19!

666? That august British publication, The Church Times, has reported findings by a Birmingham (UK, not Alabama) academic suggesting that the loopy apocalyptic types have had it all wrong for centuries. The number of the Beast may not be 666 after all. New imaging techniques mean that 616 is a credible alternate reading.



"Officious Vogons": Douglas Adams forged the way, now another Douglas (Becker) has hitchhiked across the galaxy and brought back a cautionary tale about one of the more obscure COGlets. Who could they be? He doesn't say, but they are among the least appealing alien species we've heard of. The Vogons seem like Ewoks in comparison. Steer well clear of this lot! 

Alexa stats head South: Latest statistics from Alexa indicate that of the 34 COG sites we now monitor, only 3 made gains in rankings in the first week of May, another 4 managed to hold their placing, while the remaining 27 lost ground.  Interestingly, the Ritenbaugh sect (CGG) is currently sitting in the 666-thousand band!

Don't mess with Texas: Ian Boyne isn't the only COG personality who can write secular newspaper columns. Way down South in Longview, Texas (or from a Kiwi perspective, way up North) Reg Killingley has a word to share about soiled Spanish roofing tiles... no, really. Well, sort of... 



Dennis Embo's Journey: The God That Prevailed is now available on Amazon. The publisher provides this description:

The God That Prevailed traces the journey of an adopted Catholic of the baby boom generation who joins a religious cult and his incredible thirty-year spiritual odyssey back to Catholicism.

Dennis Gerard Embo, eldest of six adopted children, dreamed of serving as a Catholic missionary priest in central Africa. Not long after entering the seminary in 1970, Embo abandoned Catholicism and became an ardent disciple of an eccentric, West Coast advertising-genius-turned-televangelist by the name of Herbert W. Armstrong. The eventful journey includes Embo’s sometimes-bizarre experiences after pledging unquestioning allegiance to Armstrong’s secretive, heretical sect—the Worldwide Church of God. Only years after the death of Herbert Armstrong did Embo and tens of thousands of other sect members awaken, as if out of a spiritual stupor, to acknowledge the extent of their departure from the historic Christian faith. Thus begins Embo’s pilgrimage with his wife back to the Catholic faith.

Embo’s poignant reunion with his birthmother in 1977 is a critical part of his story. His experiences as an adoptee later brought him to a profound appreciation of Catholicism’s 2,000 year-old proclamation of the Gospel of Life. The God That Prevailed is a thrilling and inspiring spiritual journey.

AW hopes to publish a review next month (when we also hope to re-launch the book page in a new format). The review below is from Dennis Embo's website. The God That Prevailed is 188 pages long and costs $16.95. It has been listed as an "Editor's Choice" by the publisher. 

The grim headline read: “Eight Dead After Shooter Goes on Rampage During Religious Service.”

How could such a tragedy have happened?

Many have tried to answer that question after Terry Ratzmann, a member of a Wisconsin congregation of The Living Church of God, opened fire on his fellow worshipers in the midst of a church service, killing his pastor and six others, and then turned the gun on himself.

Like Terry Ratzmann, Dennis Gerard Embo had also once been an ardent disciple of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, charismatic televangelist and founder of the Worldwide Church of God, off of which splintered The Living Church of God, founded and led by a former lieutenant of Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith.

In his book, The God That Prevailed, Embo tells an amazing story of his Roman Catholic upbringing; how he found Armstrong’s message of immanent end-time global catastrophe so convincing that he quit Catholic seminary to follow him; how he came to pledge unquestioning obedience to Armstrong’s sect, The Worldwide Church of God; his eventual break from the rigors of the sect’s legalistic and cultic practices and beliefs, and his eventual rediscovery of his Catholic heritage.

The God That Prevailed provides important insights into the mindset of people like Terry Ratzmann and his fellow Armstrongites, who chose to reject traditional Christian churches in favor of joining Armstrong’s secretive, fundamentalist sect, and those (like Roderick Meredith) who even today continue to promote Armstrong’s teachings and worldview.

In addition to chronicling his experiences as a devoted disciple of Herbert W. Armstrong and his eventual repudiation of Armstrong’s theology, The God That Prevailed also details Embo’s experiences as the oldest of six adopted children, his search for his birthmother, their poignant reunion in 1977, and how, many years later, those experiences as an adoptee helped bring him to a renewed appreciation of the Catholic faith he had turned his back on as a young man.

WCG UK: From a posting on JLF:

The Worldwide Church of God in the United Kingdom is not showing signs of improvement. Just the opposite. Despite the new HQ, the Plain Truth is now dependant on the kindness of strangers and loyal members as a separate charity. Recently it has gone to every three months instead of every two.

In the March Worldwide News in the UK the membership received the bad news concerning the "holy days". (Through the last year and a half there has been a decidedly marked change in writings in the WN.) The UK has fully kicked out the "days" as being any official part of the church and members who want [to continue observance] (especially a traditional Passover) can request one and receive it as a courtesy. A dismissive, arrogant decision which again had nothing to do with the people.

Weekly Mailbag

The 5th Stooge (1): This time you have gone too far. Out of respect for the Three Stooges, I believe you owe us all a big apology for using their picture to make your point about the UCG final three for President. Larry, Moe and Curly did more to encourage the world than any COG could ever did or could dream of doing. They will be remembered for all Eternity, and if there is a real trinity in heaven, it is Larry, Moe and Curly, the Great One in Three persons... Not counting Shemp, which would mess up the theology, but together could make up the Four Horsemen of the Puckerlips if we wanted to go there theologically:which we don't. Amen. 

M.T. Hall
The Fifth Stooge

The 5th Stooge (2): The three stooges picture is a riot! Accurate too!


Anointing El Presidente (1): When the new or previous president is elected by the all knowing COE I suppose he's going to tell us all, via telephone hook-up want we want to hear. "The Church is growing...the good news is getting out..." yawn - oops excuse me. What about more pragmatic issues, such as social programs to help the poor and needy in the Church. Of course this can't be done... because we have to spend it all on "the preaching of the gospel". How much does the President and all those guys on the COE make anyway? See, enough to support an army of needy Church people.

I'm not going to hold my breath for the president's speech. In fact I have better things to do than listen to a bunch of rehashed, trite archaic religious phrases.

Anointing El Presidente (2): How interesting that Victor Kubik's web site has the news about the UCG Presidential selection process, while the official church web site still did not Thursday night.

As a Council of Elders member, he obviously was there. But surely UCG doesn't want to be considered more secretive than those Roman Catholic Cardinals -- does it??? 

Waiting for the bells to ring,

Meanwhile, in the Meredith Universe: Could you please confirm to me the following information about the LCG (Living Church of God)

1. Bylaws requiring 90% of council of elders to disfellowship RCM
2. Open door policy at Sabbath services and feast days

AW: No, but maybe somebody else can...

Homer: Having been a member of the COG since my teens I realize that some of its members have rather strange and in some cases tragic backgrounds. I have to say though that the biographical statement by Homer Kizer [see AW May 4], one of the individuals involved in the Port Austin affair, is one of the strangest. 


Singles: I'm glad to see the responses from former church singles who attended in Manhattan and other nearby congregations. Hopefully Mike Grovak no longer believes I was hallucinating.

If the ministers actually listened when the singles expressed their feelings about the difficulties they faced in the church, perhaps they wouldn't have alienated so many of them. Instead of listening, the ministers more often than not lost their patience. Not only did they not help resolve the difficulties, they added to them by reprimanding singles for having normal human needs. Annual singles dances, singles Bible studies, cold showers and John Philip Sousa marches were not adequate substitutes for healthy relationships with members of the opposite sex. But ministers always had simple solutions for complex problems, and if the solutions didn't work, you weren't trying, praying, fasting or tithing enough.


Huguenot Passover: Following up on what Steve Dalton sent me (and you) regarding Passover observance of the Huguenots, it seems that a number of Sephardim relocated to Southern France: " The Sephardic and Huguenot areas of settlement overlapped to a noticeable extent."

Conversion to Protestantism was apparently convenient and sometimes sincere: "Protestantism had several factors that would make it more attractive than Catholicism for secret Jews who wanted a Christian outward identity or for Sephardim actually accepting Christianity over a period of decades. . . . [I]n removing many of the trappings of Catholicism (rituals, liturgy, saints, a church hierarchy, etc.), Protestantism returned to a more original Christianity which was closer to Judaism." The citations are taken from SEARCHING FOR CRYPTO-JEWS IN FRANCE: FROM SPANISH JEWS TO FRENCH HUGUENOTS by Abraham D. Lavender, Ph.D.

If conversion by Sephardim was sincere, then the 1st Century practices of the early Christian Church could well have returned in the Huguenot areas.


High five for Jimbo: Concerning the recent comments by Jim Baldwin on atheism and agnosticism, and at the risk of igniting yet another chapter in the Raging Atheist Wars Saga, I agree with him.

While I actually don't see a big deal with folks calling themselves agnostic, it really is just a more socially acceptable term for atheist. Sort of an "atheist-lite" version of the real thing.

When I saw the poll, I first thought: Hey, that's a cool idea! Then I saw the two categories for agnostics and atheists and just mentally put them together in my head.

Yo Jimbo! Good comments!

Mike Minton
Editor, The Painful Truth

Followed by a rap over the knuckles: Jim Baldwin is welcome to argue for Atheism. I can respect that. But I draw the line when he attempts to define Agnosticism out of existence with a godlike wave of his hand. I can assure Jim that my beliefs are every bit as hard-won as his, and don't constitute any kind of intellectual halfway house.

Maybe it's Jim's regrettable history as a ministerial flunky that's the problem. All-or-nothing arrogant dogmatism then and now. C'mon Jim, drop the cheap polemics, embrace a little doubt! To assist Jim in his rehabilitation here's a relevant quote on the Agnostic position from

George Smith, the author of "/Atheism/" divides agnostics into two types:

*Agnostic theists: those who believe that a deity probably exists;
*Agnostic atheists: those who believe that it is very improbable that a deity exists.

Another category of Agnostic is "empirical Agnostics." They believe that God may exist, but that little or nothing can be known about him/her/it/them.

Still another category are "Agnostic Humanists." These individuals are undecided about the existence of God. Further, they do not really consider the question to be particularly important. They have derived their moral and behavioral codes from secular considerations. Their ethical behavior would not be altered if a deity were proven to exist. 

So no Jim, I'm not an Atheist (I probably fit under the "Agnostic Humanist" category, with a dash of "empirical") and I'm not about to be forcibly "baptized" as one by you. 

Nick O'Brevin

AW: Correspondence on this issue has now closed.

Evil twin? To those that never had the pleasure of experiencing Herbert's evil twin, the Wittenburg Door has an excellent video tribute to the other dead Pasadena Apostle, Dr. Gene Scott. 


Inquisitive Petrobrusians? To clarify [an earlier post], I wasn't talking about the head of an Inquisition personally killing anyone. I mean a formal trial presided over by the head of an Inquisition, in which a Sabbath-keeper who confesses that Jesus is the Messiah is convicted of heresy and handed over to the secular authorities for execution. I expect there have been cases like that, but I'm not aware of any.

"As for the sabbath keepers that were killed by the office of the Inquisition, well the Jews for one."

Jews, or so-called "Crypto-Jews," who were executed through the Spanish Inquisition, don't really qualify as Christian Sabbath-keepers. Yes, they were baptized as Catholics, and yes, they allegedly practiced Judaism secretly (whether they really did is another matter -- it seems false denunciations of Crypto-Judaism were not uncommon, out of grudges or a desire to remove a political rival), but they were accused of not believing in Christ at all. They were not accused of merely being Christian Judaisers, but of being apostates who did not even believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

"Andreas Fisher was murdered by Catholics in the 16th century."

True. In May 1529, the Sabbatarian Anabaptist Andreas Fischer and his wife were arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. His wife was put to death by drowning, while he was sentenced to be hanged. But somehow the hanging was
done incorrectly -- he survived and escaped. In 1540 he was apprehended and his death sentence finally was accomplished.

So, those are two Sabbath-keepers who were executed through an Inquisition (I assume their case went before a church court first, and then went to a secular court), though the head of an Inquisition may not have presided in their case. It's probable that some of Fischer's followers eventually met similar fates. Of course, it's important to remember that there is no historical or organizational link of any sort between Fischer and his movement and Armstrongist sects.

"However to be fair to Jared no doubt Protestants killed Catholics as well."

That's true -- folks took their religion pretty seriously back then. Thankfully we've moved beyond such times and ways.

My point in making my challenge is to show that when you check history, you just can't trace any long "Trail of Blood" of Sabbath-keepers through the ages, nor was there any significant numbers of Sabbath-keepers put to death as the result of the various Inquisitions. Indeed, the usual fate of Catholics who were brought before an Inquisition (only baptized Christians fell under the purview of Catholic Inquisitions) was to be required to perform a penance. History provides not a single shred of evidence that Petrobrusians, Henricians, Waldenses, Albigenses, and Lollards were Sabbath-keepers.




Holy Trinity! It's down to three...  UCG still doesn't have a new president. The May 4 teleconference resulted in the COE flushing two contenders, with three "company men" proceeding to the "finals".

Gone, perhaps unsurprisingly, are the two most popular candidates, Aaron Dean and Bill Bradford. Remaining in contention: Clyde Kilough, Les McCullough and Jim Franks. The following information appears on Victor Kubik's website:

May 4, 2005, 12:30 EDT

At its scheduled teleconference this morning, the Council of Elders invited three presidential candidates to come to Cincinnati next week for face-to-face interviews. Today the Council discussed the results of the weighted averages provided by Secretary, Gerald Seelig. (See the text of the article below which will appear in the United News for a detailed description of the process of selecting a new president.) It was the consensus of the Council after deliberation and review of the statistics that three candidates, Jim Franks, Clyde Kilough and Les McCullough, should be invited to continue the interview process which will begin Tuesday, May 10.

Following two days of intensive face-to-face interviews and deliberation on candidate merits, the Council will select the new President on May 12. Attached for reference is an article that will appear shortly in the United News describing the entire process and timeline for selection of the President.

Bob Dick

... The final nominees will gather May 10 in Cincinnati for face-to-face interviews. Two days are set aside for discussion with the candidates and private conferring by the Council about candidates’ merits. It is the Council’s desire to use this time to come to a broad agreement before the actual balloting on May 12. On May 12, according to bylaw requirements the next president will be selected by blind ballot. United’s new president will be introduced to the entire General Conference of Elders the following weekend at their annual meeting and also have the opportunity to address the churches in the United States by telephone hook-up on the Sabbath, May 14.



Yair right! Somebody identifying himself as Yair Davidiy has written in response to this item which we ran several days ago:

BI busters: Mike Burk has provided a link to a Jewish website that systematically deconstructs the British-Israel myth. It is a response to a different variety of BI (termed "Brit-Am"), but still highly relevant to the Armstrong version.

Doesn't seem worth getting a hernia over, but Davidiy takes exception anyway. In a missive to AW entitled "Your insulting reference to Brit-Am" Davidiy protests:

The article in question attacks Brit-Am. I (Yair Davidiy) am the director of Brit-Am and the article in question attributes to us ideas, beliefs, and attitudes that we do not have. I will answer the article point by point in my own time...

[I request that you be so good as to issue our reaction to this article. The article contains outright lies about us. If you neglect to distance yourselves from the article in question we will have to assume that you too are parties to the falsehoods being spread on the Web Site you referred to.]

Rather than leaping to illogical assumptions and flailing about with his "Ezekiel stick", we encourage Davidiy to reread what was actually said. AW quite obviously has no association with the website in question, nor was there an "insulting reference". We simply linked to it, as we link to a lot of websites where views are expressed that are of interest to former WCG members - many of which are most definitely not endorsed. For what it's worth, we think the criticisms of BI are thoroughly trenchant, though AW can offer no comment on the specific strain of BI promoted by Yair Davidiy. If Mr. Davidiy wishes to take issue with the appropriate website, that's fine. If he wishes to publish his statement on his own website that's fine too, but we won't be running what amounts to free advertising (complete with PayPal link!) here. And, needless to say, the above link to the Davidiy site implies absolutely no endorsement by AW of the views contained therein! (For the record, AW regards British Israelism in any form as irredeemably fallacious, totally discredited, and intellectually indefensible.)

Homer gets drafted: Is Homer Kizer a hugely significant figure in the great scheme of things? Here's what he says about himself:

Realization for why I began writing came after being drafted for the task of using typology to open long sealed prophecies. Those opened prophecies also revealed a mission that must be completed. My proclaiming to the world of the endtime good news that all who endure shall be saved (Matt 24:13-14) began on that January day in 2002, but it really began before the foundations of the earth were laid.

Whoa! Homer, we had no idea! And this astonishing disclosure appears under the heading "Just the facts"? Hard to imagine what a piece of Homer's speculative writing would look like...

Grumpy Old Men: The COG Critic blog has taken a swipe at the bloggers on ACD (Brian Knowles, Ken Westby et al.) In particular COG Critic focuses on the extreme right-wing rhetoric which seems to be a major ingredient in the entries.

It's not that these gentlemen don't have a right to a political opinion. They obviously do. But promoting these views in this jaundiced, jingoistic, one-eyed manner on an ostensibly Christian website? It seems a dour, gloomy, narrow, bile-sodden world view. Even recycled Plain Truth editors should be able to distinguish genuine Christianity from Bible-belt politics.

Brian Knowles is quoted as saying: "Sooner or later, everything in American life becomes politicized. In our time, we are increasingly witnessing the politicization of the Christian religion. This trend has dangerous potential." A statement which seems at odds with the highly politicized nature of everything he then goes on to say. 



UCG election looms: The election of a new president for the United Church of God is scheduled for May 4. Meanwhile a "reliable source" has advised AW that plans to stop non-salaried ministers (such as Aaron Dean) from serving on UCG's Council of Elders have been dropped. Good move guys.

So who will be enthroned following the teleconference? In the only poll taken on the issue, AW readers strongly backed Aaron Dean, with Bill Bradford coming in as a clear second choice. That means very little, however. Neither was among the early "favorites". We'll provide news and comment on the outcome once the result is known. [Edited 6 May]

The Journal: The latest Journal is out. Among the various revelations in either the editorial or advertising sections:

From Armstrong to Ratzinger: Dennis Embo's autobiographical account of his WCG experience and subsequent return to Catholicism is now available from the publisher (sadly, it's not listed on either Amazon or B&N - which almost certainly guarantees it rapid but undeserved obscurity.) Bernard Kelly, however, is unlikely to be following Dennis' lead back to Rome, judging from the theme of his latest newsletter - the papacy. It appears to be a rewrite of an essay by Raymond McNair. Anyone interested in a copy should contact the writer.

LCG tremors? There have been indications that all is not well among the Meredith myrmidons. David Pack hinted at that in a recent letter, and now we've heard from other sources that all things may not be as they seem. These difficulties seem to predate the awful events earlier this year in Wisconsin. We'd appreciate hearing from anyone who is able to provide further information - on or off the record.



Kiwi COG site launched: John and Rosemary Morton have been working on a website for some time now, and launched it on Thursday. The key article, "Children of the Promises" deals with their understanding of the identity and relevance of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel in the modern world. The 70 page paper itself took some two years to research and write and the Mortons say it has been peer reviewed by others with an interest in the subject. Rosemary states: "... the theory as promulgated by WCG has been found to be untrue, in our opinion." The site can be found at  

Leaven - a load of hot air? This entry from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition may intrigue those who observe the traditional rigors of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

leaven (lĕv'an) , agent used to raise bread or other flour foods. Physical leavens include water vapor, which is released as steam at high temperatures (as in popovers), and air, which is incorporated by beating. Chemical leaven (baking powder and baking soda) and biological leavens (yeasts and certain bacteria) raise the mixture by the formation of carbon dioxide gas, which is expanded by heat. Some of the earliest leavens were barm, a yeast of fermenting malt liquor, and sourdough, a portion saved from a mass of dough as a starter for the next batch.

Doesn't leave too many choices... but why worry. Just click across to celebrate with JibJab.

A real find! COG researchers have uncovered a truly significant document that helps explain the development of one of Herbert Armstrong's key doctrines, British Israelism. Uncovered after years lying in a dusty attic is the Armstrong family Bible that young Herbert would have known growing up as a child. Click here to discover more... you know you want to!

Boyne on Papa Ratzi: Jamaican CGI minister Ian Boyne shares his views on the new papacy with readers of the Jamaica Gleaner.

Weekly Mailbag

That poll (1): Although it probably would not be practical to list all belief systems/theories as selections in your poll, I suggest that "deist" is significant enough to be included. Or, at least, have an "other" category. Anyway, put me down as "deist."

Bob Gilbert

That poll (2): Thanks for the poll results for "A Look in the Mirror". But I must make a comment to the Agnostics (14%) who obviously haven't read the interview of mine posted on your site. Agnostics say they don't know whether they believe in any gods or not. An atheist lacks belief in gods. So, anyone lacking belief in the gods, for whatever reason is an atheist. Since agnostics lack belief they are really atheists.

The agnostic term is chosen by some because they find it a less derogatory term in a believing society. They see it as sort of an intellectual halfway house. It really isn't the comfortable position they imagine...

I have found that most folks find it easier in life to simply believe, not question. That's human nature. (The 47% COGers on the pole illustrates that). I did that for my quarter century in the Armstrong Gulag. I just believed what I was told like all my fellow fools in captivity. As a minister, I even came to be quite an adept parrot in teaching the party line.

My present position of freedom from religion is that I first started to question everything I held to be true in a philosophical sense that was in my mind. I wasn't born with those things. I had to ask who put them there and why... Sadly, many are not attracted to the freedom and therefore find no motivation to question their assumptions.

Jim Baldwin

AW: I can think of several Agnostics who would gladly argue the toss with you Jim, like the guy who said "Atheists are just fundamentalist Agnostics with no imagination". The statement that Agnostics "are really Atheists" is, um, remarkable...  ;-)

That poll (3): You may have overlooked some important destinations of folks who have left the WCG. I'd recommend a blank for "Other" on subsequent surveys. Some of us have returned to our Jewish roots; I'm not sure that all the new Catholics among us would best identify with your categories (some non-Catholics cannot think of Catholics as Christians), and, perish the thought, might not some have become Buddhists or Muslims or the religion(s) of Thai Temples? Or Others? At any rate, all the best. Much appreciate your consistent willingness to present opposing points of view. 

John D. Schroeder

That poll (4): You left out one very important classification which I'm sure thousands of former WCG and offshoots would better identify with and that is - Independent! I have avoided church affiliations and am more committed to Christianity today than ever. Having left WCG in the purge of 1974 I have found independent study and total dependence on the ONLY promise Christ offered his disciples [the Holy Spirit] has been far more beneficial that leaning on the broken reed of the "ministry".

Howard Colby

Single in NJ: Re: M.A.M.'s life in NYC: I was a single in Union, NJ from 1988 to 1991, with a population of twenty single men ranging from ages 37 to 77, fifteen single men ranging from ages 20 to 36 and five white women, four 
hispanic women, three post-YOU girls, and about ten widows ages 60 to 90. The Book of Ruth was every guys favorite Bible story.

I am a witness to the singles subculture. M.A.M.'s memories are 100% correct. I remember the Mejias keggers, the dance clubs especially on the ship, and the like. Many of the singles did what they could to remove themselves from "the world." But the world can be very inviting. It builds up pressure. And going home to the spouse for tension relief was not on our list of options. I also recall never seeing a pastor-rank minister, a preaching elder, an elder, a local elder, a deacon, or a ministerial trainee--in that hierarchical order--at the real singles events. And it occurred every week with more than 20 people, sometimes with 60-100. I'll never forget the Zuzgo House in 1989, drinking homemade beer with at least 100 people singing songs (not to worry though, Mrs. Zuzgo made the snacks with carob and honey). Good times.


UCG stuff (1): I have read your column (several times) entitled Now or Never, which discussed the leadership void of UCG. Your important thoughts should have initiated a stirring among the UCG membership. Conversations with our UCG minister about the electing of a new UCG president have been ignored. He pretends that the problem does not exist. The membership that pays the freight for these freeloading ministers have not been informed of anything. Even more tragic, most of them will no longer ask the minister about the home office mess.

If the UCG membership that pays for the services of the ministers and home office hierarchy will not have the strength to politely demand accountability for the direction that the organization, then they deserve the incompetence that now exists at the home office and in the ministry. As of now UCG seems to be little more than the salary and benefit administrator for the ministry, most of whom do not have the skills to obtain honest employment.

Sadly it seems your column was a brilliant warning that was wasted. The election of a new UCG president will change nothing. Will UCG become a joke just the "mother whore" organization it split from ten years ago?. The ministry will not care as long as the paychecks keep rolling in, the clueless uninterested membership will not know they have been tricked into compliance with near heresy. It is their own fault.


UCG stuff (2): I'm very curious about the new law, regulation, by-law concerning that the UCG Board which is trying to vote in. I understand that this new law would prohibit non-UCG employees from sitting on in the church board. This would mean, of course, that Aaron Dean would have to "resign" or "leave" the board. Can you update me on this development or, if you are unable, can you point me in the right direction. I came to AC in 1978 from Scotland. So I have been through many a battle.

Carlo Makarewicz

AW: Anyone able to comment?

Dennis is positively skeptical: Yes I bet Jared is correct, no head of the Inquisition ever killed a sabbath keeper, but then again I doubt that the head of the Inquisition ever personally killed anyone. As for the sabbath keepers that were killed by the office of the Inquisition, well the Jews for one. Andreas Fisher was murdered by Catholics in the 16th century. However to be fair to Jared no doubt Protestants killed Catholics as well.

Positive Dennis

Delusional? The assertion that Armstrongites are delusional is demonstrated incontrovertibly by the Armstrongite belief in British-Israelism. I have looked at the website cited by Mike Burk and found it to be enlightening and interesting. The Rabbi who has created the web site develops an argument against British-Israelism from the Bible, classical history and the ancient traditions of nations. While that forms an excellent refutation of British-Israelism, it is also vulnerable to challenge by concocted and unfounded counter-arguments.

For instance, the ancient Irish Chroniclers maintained that the Irish were descended from Gomer. But Hoeh wrote in the Compendium that this ancient record had been altered by Catholic monks who wanted to hide the Semitic and Israelite identity of the Irish. Such specious refutations abound among Armstrongite beliefs.

So here is an argument that requires no library research or deep thinking. Yet it kicks the legs out from under the Armstrongite version of British-Israelism. Ephraim and Manasseh are supposed to be to different tribes, not only culturally but genetically and ethnically, according to orthodox Armstrongism. Therefore, the families comprising these tribes should be distinct, just as the Germans are distinct from the French. Yet the people who formed the nation of Manasseh (that is, the United States) are drawn from all over Northwest Europe. While it is extremely unlikely that the people drawn from such a large region should all be a cohesive ethnic group, someone might convince themselves that somehow, miraculously God preserved the ethnic purity of these people, person by person and family by family. What is impossible to believe is that if some members of the such a family migrated to North America and yet others remained in the European homeland, that the alleged tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh could have distinct and ethnically separate identities.

For example, I am descended from clan McKay in Scotland. Many of my clan brothers live in North America but also many live in Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. But genealogically we know we are all related. So where is the distinction between Ephraim and Manasseh that must be present for Armstrongite British-Israelism to have any validity? The fact is that there is no tribal distinction as Armstrongism asserts. One need only spend some time on ones own genealogy or examine the history of other American families to understand this. The mistaken concept that God separated these people out is easily refuted by existing, written family records.

It is significant that the bulwark of Armstrongism, British-Israelism, deflates so easily. Far more interesting is the reaction of Armstrongites to this. If they happen to collide with this reality, they just dust the truth off themselves and hurry on their way.

David Anderson


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