AR24 April, 1983
HWA - Still "No Show"
In our January 1983 issue we reported that Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), the founder of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and Ambassador College, had been ordered by the Arizona Supreme Court to appear for a deposition in regard to the divorce suit he has initiated against his wife Ramona. But as of this writing, that deposition has yet to be taken.
While Armstrong's attorneys have argued that HWA's physical condition could not tolerate the stress of a deposition, during January and February HWA traveled widely in the Far East. During that period he met with King Bhumibol of Thailand, President Marcos of the Philippines, and Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan. All three leaders gave him awards and honors. After months of haggling, HWA's attorneys and Tucson attorney Louis Deckter, who represents Ramona, reached what appeared to be an agreement as to when and where HWA's deposition would be taken. It was to take place on February 25 in Allan Browne's Beverly Hills office.
On that date, as agreed, HWA made his appearance. But the planned questioning by Deckter never took place. Deckter, because Arizona law requires an Arizona-licensed court reporter, brought along an Arizona-licensed court reporter. But Browne, in a devilishly clever move, had his own California-licensed court reporter brought in and insisted that his reporter be used. With HWA sitting on the sidelines, the "lawyers engaged in scuffling and exchanged obscenities" (The Arizona Republic, March 19). Then, over strong objections by Deckter, Browne proceeded with his own questioning of HWA. Browne later said, "I asked him questions which disproves her [Ramona's] case entirely." Within a few days, Judge Robert Hooker ordered Herbert to appear in Tucson, March 21, to answer questions.
But before that could happen, lawyers representing HWA were back in court trying to get Judge Hooker disqualified. At a March 14 hearing before Judge G. Thomas Meehan, attorney David Wolfe claimed that Judge Hooker showed bias against HWA's lawyer Ralph Helge, a key witness in the case, by referring to him with the Spanish slang word "chingadero." (On the surface, it appeared to us that this was not such an implausible argument as one of Helge's colleagues has referred to Helge as "the most confused and confusing individual I have ever known.") However, quoting from The Arizona Daily Star of March 15:
"Judge G. Thomas Meehan denied the motion, but not before several other profanities were aired in lawyers' efforts to find an appropriate English definition of the word. Hooker testified that his use of the word didn't refer to Helge, wasn't meant to offend him and was merely a nonprofane Southwestern slang term....
"Mrs. Armstrong says Helge witnessed the consummation of the prenuptial agreements. Helge joined in the action yesterday in asking Meehan to disqualify Hooker from the case. In a related matter, Helge is attempting to prevent Jack A. Ettinger and Louis L. Deckter, Mrs. Armstrong's attorneys, from subpoenaing church records. Hooker has not yet ruled on that.
"Hooker made the controversial remark when he learned that Helge had drafted a legal document related to the appeal of a previous ruling in the case. He said that Helge 'means trouble' and then used 'chingadero' in a subsequent phrase. 'I think it's obvious from the context that he's saying I'm not a very nice fellow,' Helge said to Meehan. Donna Alcantara, chief court interpreter, testified that the term can have numerous definitions, depending on how it was used. Among them are 'screwed up' and a similar more profane phrase. What Hooker meant is obscured more because his use was incorrect grammatically, she said. However, the term generally refers to things, not persons.
"Hooker, when called to testify, said his use of the term didn't refer to Helge but to the fact that a lawyer who is not an attorney of record in the divorce suit had drafted the document. Hooker said the case has been slowed and complicated by bad feelings and a lack of communication between lawyers on each side, and that Helge's intrusion into the legal matters is 'made to order for messing things up.' He translated his use of 'chingadero' as Southwestern slang for 'screw it up, foul it up, mess it up' He also said Armstrong's lawyers laughed when he used the term.
"In denying the motion, Meehan ruled that Helge had no standing to ask for Hooker's disqualification and that Wolfe had failed to prove that Hooker had shown bias toward either of the Armstrongs."
After that rebuff, church attorneys then attempted to have Judge Hooker's order blocked by going over his head to Lawrence Howard, chief judge of the Arizona State Court of Appeals (on March 17), and then to Chief Justice William A. Holohan of the Arizona Supreme Court (on March 18). Both judges backed up Hooker's order that HWA appear on March 21. But on March 21 Herbert still did not appear! David Wolfe, one of HWA's lawyers, claimed that he was in Jerusalem where he had developed "another heart-related health problem" (Pasadena StarNews, March 22). A few days later HWA flew back to Pasadena where he started to preside over the headquarters church's Passover service. Not far into the service, however, he asked one of his subordinates to take charge as he told the congregation he was too weak to continue. The next day, the suspicions of many were fueled when HWA showed up for services and gave a one-and-a-half-hour-long sermon.
As of this writing, the Armstrong divorce trial is still scheduled to begin April 25. But there may very well be a trial postponement. Church lawyers have brought theft charges against Ramona and have gotten an indictment against her, although she has not yet been arrested. And while Judge Hooker has again ordered HWA to appear in Tucson for questioning (on April 19), HWA's lawyers, for the third time, are attempting to get Judge Hooker disqualified.
One lawyer who has been following the Armstrong case said, "To the casual observer it may seem that Herbert's attorneys are putting one over on the Arizona judges. But I really suspect the judges are simply giving Herbert all the rope he needs to hang himself." That hanging may well be in the form of a huge award for Ramona. In the meantime, we are likely to witness quite a few more "chingaderos."
© 1983 Ambassador Report. Published quarterly, as finances allow.
John Trechak, Editor, Mary E. Jones, Associate Editor Connie Gerringer, Circulation Manager
Founding Publishers: Robert Gerringer, Bill Hughes, Mary E. Jones, John Trechak, Len Zola, and Margaret Zola.
The Sinking Ship
A WCG member recently told me that his "local elder," subsequent to his visit to AC on "refresher," informed him that the ministers were shown films on WW II concentration camps in order to impress on them the horrors of the soon-coming Great Tribulation. The message being passed around, privately, is that WCG members should expect the "end of the Work" by mid-year, presumably because of a more precise calculation of their prophetical timetable - but, coincidentally, also due to HWA's persecution by the courts. Could you provide a comment on this situation?
Editor. We would love to check this out directly with an official WCG spokesperson. But they are apparently too frightened to communicate with us in any way. Our mail indicates, however, that your information is correct. Note the following:
For Dec. 11 Herbert Armstrong sent a tape to each church to be played to the members. He said in the tape that the tribulation is near and most of the members would have to go through it because they were not obedient to him (sending money in). The money coming in to the WCG is low...
Here is the latest figure of how many church members there still are in the WCG and how many have left. Don Lawson, the minister of the Pittsburgh church, announced on Jan. 22 that 24,000 people have left the church while 52,000 remain as of this date. Now there are sermons on unity and zeal.
I understand that the "Petra doctrine" was forcefully promoted by Gerald Waterhouse at the Feast of Tabernacles in Malta. Apparently it's the tribulation for those who are unfaithful to HWA - no matter what! One man, on hearing him for the first time in 15 years or so, was made almost physically ill. The jackboot is still worn by the ministry here, with big grown men and women in fear for their spiritual lives. GTA continues to be the bogeyman!
We have just been told by Mr. HWA that the world is soon coming to an end. I have the feeling that this might be a diversionary tactic due to the huge [divorce] settlement Ramona wants. My hushand believes every word that he says and therefore is very burdened with all of this.
Editor: Prov. 28:1 says: "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion" (RSV).
Executive Exodus Updated
With thousands of members continuing the exodus out of the WCG, it is not surprising that many ministers have also been leaving the church's ministry. Many readers have asked that we update the "Executive Exodus" list found in our 92-page 1977 issue. We have found that very difficult to do, however, because the WCG has just not made that information readily available to us and appears to be somewhat secretive about who is, or is not, still a minister. Nevertheless, we have attempted to bring the "Executive Exodus," at least as far as ordained men, up to date.
The following list does not include nonordained personnel such as Robert Kuhn, Joe Bauer, Gary Prather, Bill Evans, Jim Thornhill, Herbert's brother Dwight Armstrong, etc. who have left the Armstrong organization. Nor does the list contain the name of Don Wineinger, who committed suicide after killing his wife in 1978, nor the names of a few such as Charles Dorothy, who left the WCG ministry and church, only to return later to employment by the college. Two or three names that appear on the list are men who may occasionally attend WCG services, even though they have resigned from the ministry or been removed for one reason or another. The list will undoubtedly require numerous additions and perhaps a deletion or two to be completely accurate. We will try to correct any such problems (including inaccurate spellings) in future issues.
WCG historians will note that of the 253 names listed below, about six left the WCG ministry before 1972. About forty left in 1974, and another forty or fifty left by 1977. The remainder (of the 253 names listed below) have left since HWA started putting the church "back on the track" by adopting the "Primacy of Peter" doctrine and declaring himself "The Apostle." As you know, it's often the men closest to the throne, so to speak, who know what's really going on in an organization and aren't deceived by the organization's propaganda. So the number of top men leaving in an organization is often an accurate indicator of the organization's health. Interestingly, 8 of the original 16 evangelists listed in the Nov. 26, 1973 Worldwide News have defected from the WCG, as have 7 of the 11 U.S. Area Coordinators listed in the June 1976 Worldwide News special supplement. In total, it appears about 20% of all WCG- ordained ministers are no longer working for the WCG - quite an indictment of the current WCG leadership. Here then is the updated ministerial "Executive Exodus" list:
Don Abraham, Cliff Ackerson, Dennis Adams, Richard Aitkins, Mike Allamby, Bruce Anderson, Leif Anderson, Terry Anderson, David Antion, Garner Ted Armstrong, Gary Arvidson, Elbert Atlas, Charles Barrett, Jim Barrett, Larry Bathurst, Oliver Batte, Cecil Battles, Dan Biedler, John Biedler, David Bierer, Lowell Blackwell, Martin Bode, Chuck Boehme, Jeff Booth, Etienne Bourdin, Bob Boyce, Fred Boyce, Larry Boyts, Arch Bradley, Fred Brogaard, Frank Bruce, Randell Bryson, Harry Buck, Desmond Burke, Eugene Burke, Glenn Burzenski, Rod Carries, Chris Carpenter, Al Carrozzo, Loren Chamberlain, Ben Chapman, Barry Chase, John Cheetham, Bryce Clark, Howard Clark, Joseph Clayton, Harold Clement, C. Wayne Cole, Raymond Cole, Harold Cormany, Fred Coulter, Virgil Cox, Arthur Craig, Gerald Croswell, Hollis Crotts, Keith Crouch, Brent Curtis, Kerry Daniels, Ronald Dart, Leroy Dawson, Don Deakins, Chuck Dickerson, James Doak, Ken Farrow, Tom Fish, Paul Flatt, Richard Forkun, Carl Fowler, Al Foy, Carl Franklin, Wayne Freeman, Gunar Freibergs, Chris French, Carl Fritz, John Gambrell, Bud Garland, Ted Gerringer, Sam Gillespie, Richard Gipe, Roger Gipe, Bill Glover, Pat Glynn, Ted Gould, Rodney Gowan, Ray Grubb, Carl Gustafson, Tom Hall, Buck Hammer, Tony Hammer, Dale Hampton, Tom Harrison, Dale Haynes, Clement Hendrickson, David Jon Hill, William Hinson, Bob Hoops, Joe Horchak, Keith Hoyt, Art Hulet, John Hull, Charles Hunting, Paul Hunting, Elliot Hurwitt, Colin Jackson, Bronson James, Earl Janes, Ray Jantzen, Robert Jenness, Mel Jennings, Russell Johnson, John Judy, Mike Justus, Tom Justus, George Kemnitz, Bruce Kent, John Khouri, Richard Kilbury, Ken Kneebone, Mike Kneebone, Paul Kneebone, Brian Knowles, Carl Koellner, Jim Kunz, Bob Lay, Helmut Levsen, Wayne Luginbill, Kevin Lulham, Hilbert Maasch, Herbert Magoon, Jim Malone, Roger Malone, Allen Manteufel, Ernest Martin, Jack Martin, Steve Martin, Ted Mattson, Sylvester Mayhill, Bill McDowell, Elmer McElroy, Kerry McGuinness, Bob McKibben, Sherwin McMichael, Marion McNair, Ron McNeil, Paul Meek, George Menassas, Carl Miller, Elliott Miller, Larry Miller, Bob Mitchell, John Mitchell, Julius Mize, Art Mokarow, Bill Moore, Tony Morrell, Ben Morrison, Bruce Nedrow, Billy Nettles, Charles Nichol, Martin Nichol, James Nirschl, Carl O'Beim, Bob Oberlander, Dave Odor,
Charles Oehlman, David Ord, John Ouvrier, Jack Pakozdi, George Panteleeff, Gary Pavlo, Ted Phillips, Wayne Phillips, John Pinkston, Richard Plache, Reg Platt, Les Pope, Bill Porter, Gary Porter, Albert Portune Sr., Albert Portune Jr., John Portune, Richard Prince, John Pruner, Don Prunkard, Glenn Purdy, Dennis Pyle, Jack Pyle, Ray Pyle, Stan Rader, Jim Redus, Daryl Reedy, John Reedy, Dennis Roberts, David Robinson, John Robinson, Mark Robinson, Bob Roufs, Paul Royer, Enrique Ruiz, Mark Salyer, Don Samples, Artie Satterfield, Dale Schurter, Don Schwaab, Charles Scott, Walter Scull, Ivan Sell, Walter Sharp, Wayne Shiflet, Paul Shumway, Adrian Smith, Don Smith, Ed Smith, Larry Smith, Jack Smock, Tom Steinback, Dave Stevenson, Eldon Stewart, Les Stocker, John Strain, Ken Stranberg, Stan Suchocki, Bill Sutton, Carl Tarver, Doug Taylor, Gordon Terblanche, Ted Tupper, Mel Turner, Gordon Upshaw, Ron Upshaw, Bruce Vance, E.B. Vance, Larry Van Zant, Harry Walker Sr., Harry Walker Jr., Darryll Watson, Stan Watts, Sebrian Wesley, Ken Westby, Peter Whitting, Dick Wiedenheft, Milo Wilcox, Arthur Williams, Ernest Williams, Tom Williams, Virgil Williams, Carl Wilmer, Ledru Woodbury, Lyndel Wornat, Jim Young, Paul Zapf, Richard Zimmerman.
Garner Ted Armstrong - an Insight
The January 8, 1983 issue of The Houston Chronicle (p. 25) contained an excellent in-depth interview of Garner Ted Armstrong by Burke Watson. It's the most insightful piece we've seen on GTA in some time. Here are a few excerpts:
"The 52-year-old son of Herbert W. Armstrong says there is virtually no direct communication between them. He portrays his father, who is 90, as a victim of manipulation by his own underlings. He also warns of a major power struggle that he believes is brewing within the elder Armstrong's widespread organization among those who wish to succeed him. 'He would be so outraged at that suggestion, he'd go crazy' Ted Armstrong said recently from the Tyler headquarters of Church of God International, which he founded in 1978. 'And yet I definitely do feel that he is a victim of those surrounding him.'
"Armstrong said his father's empire, based in Pasadena, Calif., has become too large and complex for its founder to make all of the major decisions and keep up with daily affairs. 'He voices that privately to my sisters and brothers [in-law?] all the time,' he said. 'Obviously, there are hundreds of things going on in an organizational structure that large, of which he knows nothing.'...
"'My feeling is that since my dad has not chosen to appoint a successor - but has left it up to a ministerial board of some sort to decide who his successor would be he has created a scenario for another round of political infighting and grasping for power, and that the transition is going to be perhaps quite rocky and maybe even ugly,' he said....
"To ask Armstrong about the state of his father's church is to invite second-hand tales of sinister people and activities almost like those of a cult, but he stops short of calling it that. Still, he relates stories such as that of a WCG pastor and his wife barging into the home of a married couple in their congregation, searching through bureau drawers for cosmetics and berating them on matters of cleanliness and discipline. 'We had a family call us and describe that very event,' he said. 'I don't think my dad knows that's happening. I think his policies allow that to happen, but I don't think he knows about it.'
"Armstrong said the Worldwide Church of God is still healthy, but only as long as his father is. He said he believes his father still has command of his mental faculties, although his advanced age is taking its predictable toll physically. His father suffered from congestive heart failure, he said, in the late 1970s....
"The only news of his father that Garner Ted gets is passed to him either through family members or close observers of the WCG. 'It's funny, you know,' Armstrong said. 'I don't know what's going on in his mind. Just the other day he had a family dinner, to which both my sisters went, and their children, and twice before they started dinner he looked down and said, "I wish Ted were here." He doesn't contact me. He's making those statements continually, and every few months a rumor will run rampant through the WCG that I'm about to be back with him, but never any communication from him.'
"Even if his father invited him back into the WCG, Armstrong said, there would have to be extensive talks about how the newer church would mesh with the old. 'It should not be assumed that he would make such a call,' he said. 'He won't. If he were to make such a call, the words "come back" would be at great issue. If he said, "Ted, I would like to talk to you" or "Ted, come to see me'" you know, I'd be on the next plane. But the idea of abandoning something that has put down some pretty permanent roots, and is an ongoing, viable corporation, is absolutely unthinkable. I think there would have to be some serious talk about a very smooth method. I could see a scenario where the WCG would use the services of the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association as its evangelistic arm.' But there would remain the question of compatibility between the two organizations. Armstrong said that, after he left the WCG, it took a 'screeching, 90-degree turn to the right.'...
"'Power, ultimately, means getting some other human being to do what you want him to do,' Armstrong said. 'And money is power. But power for the sheer sake of power, over people's lives, is a goal in a lot of people's minds.'"
One Ambassador College alumnus wrote:
When Herbert Armstrong finally kicks the bucket, who will be the man to step into his size fourteen, or whatever, shoes? Will it be Ellis ("the Playboy") LaRavia? Or "Buffie" McNair? Or will it be Rod ("of mine anger") Meredith - the one-time Golden Gloves champ who now seems to pack as much spiritual punch as a Sunset Boulevard pimp? Or "The King of Petra" Gerald Waterhouse? Or will it be Joe ("the Mad Russian") Tkach? Or perhaps the wire-tapping, pistolpacking Dean boys? Frankly, I don't care! When I look at the charlatans and dimwits "The Apostle "has surrounded himself with, I say it's time to bring back Garner Ted!
Ted has his faults, and I don't doubt for a moment the stories the Report has done on him in the past. Nor do I believe he would be a perfect leader. But of those names thrown about as possible successors to HWA, he is the only one who I believe could save the situation.
I say this not as a CGI member - I am not. Nor am I a WCG member. I left years ago and have no desire to rejoin. But I am an Ambassador College graduate, and as silly as it may sound to some, I still have a warm spot in my heart both for that institution and for the people I knew there. Unless Ted returns, I am convinced Ambassador College will not survive, let alone improve. The clowns that will be left after HWA dies will destroy it.
Just compare the utter paranoia that now grips the WCG with the atmosphere in the CGI. I know many non-CGI Ambassador alumni who have visited Ted in Tyler and found him very cordial. But if you've left the WCG, just try visiting Ambassador! Or try getting a subscription to The Worldwide News if you're not a WCG member. (The CGI even sends their newspaper to some noncontributors.) Or try visiting a WCG service if you've been disfellowshipped. Contrast that with the fact that even Ambassador Report's publishers were welcome at the CGI's sabbath service in Arcadia, Calif. when Ted was out there a few years ago. I'm even told that CGI members are not threatened with expulsion if they read literature from Ernest Martin or the Report. Just let a WCG member try that one!
For all his problems, I think GTA has got to be given credit for leading his organization in a far more healthy manner than his father has led his own. But even more important, Ted has proven himself in one absolutely crucial test of character flunked by each and every one of his father's current subordinates - Ted has had the guts to stand up to him.
Yes, I say bring back GTA What do you think about this?
Editor. You've brought up some interesting points. Within the last few years both David Antion and David Robinson (both of whom have essentially maintained their independence from CGI since leaving Worldwide) have pointed out to us that GTA has been HWA's number one victim. Considering how many have lost their families and lives by following HWA, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But we are convinced that GTA has been one of HWA's victims.
Indeed, when one realizes the moral climate and psychological pressures to which he was subjected as a child, it is not difficult to see how some of Ted's weaknesses developed. The current situation is most ironic in that from 1972 onward, when GTA's sins were in the public spotlight continually, Ted knew of his father's horrendously immoral past but said nothing. Yet in 1978, when HWA threw Ted out of the WCG, HWA claimed Ted was insubordinate! When you consider how much Ted's been subjected to, you have to give him credit for his restraint and for being able to find the means whereby he can still show his father any respect whatsoever, which he does.
As for GTA coming back. Well, we think that like the nation of ancient Israel, the WCG and Ambassador College would be better off without a king. (Read the 8th chapter of I Samuel.) But the members of that church demand that a king rule over them. With that as a given, you may well be right. Those folks would probably be better off under GTA than under the fanatics that now surround and influence HWA. But Ted's return may never take place. GTA was in California for the week of Feb. 20 when HWA arrived back in the United States. HWA was informed that Ted was in town. Did he want to talk to his son? "No," the elder Armstrong said, "the time is not right."
Apparently, one obstacle remains for the time to be right. The whole WCG kingdom would be Ted's if he would do but one thing - "fall down and worship" HWA. Much to his credit, Ted has refused to do this - even as Jesus, in Matt. 4:8-9, refused to fall down and worship the devil. It has been five years since GTA has talked to his father face to face. Ted has told friends that ever since that last occasion - when he told his father he knew of his horrendous 10 years of incest sins - he has had the strange feeling they would never again see each other. Perhaps that's one Garner Ted Armstrong prophecy that will come true.
The WCG's continuing war with Ramona Armstrong is not its only legal worry. Leona McNair's lawsuit is progressing through discovery. (She is being represented by the Los Angeles firm of Greene, O'Reilly, Agnew & Broillet.) Recently Gary Bagley brought a suit against the WCG in regard to his 1979 extortion conviction, believing that HWA, who refused to appear at the trial, withheld relevant information. The case was thrown out on a demurrer, but his attorney, Richard Andrews of San Bernardino, says they are considering an appeal.
Then there is John Halbert, a former WCG member, who alleges the WCG is using certain government property around the U.S. for church services. He claims that this is in violation of federal law (see Brandon v. Board of Education of Guilderland, 487 F. Supp. 1219 (1980)). He has obtained the assistance of the ACLU and asks that any readers with information to help further corroborate his position contact him by writing to: John Halbert, 1003 E. Harry St., Tempe, Arizona 85281.
Of even more interest, especially to Ambassador College alumni, is a letter we received from Mr. Ed Holdren of Austin, Texas, who was a student at Ambassador College, Big Sandy, from 1966 to 1969. Like many others who have gone to Ambassador College, he has discovered that there is really no substitute for an accredited degree obtained from a legitimate educational institution. Mr. Holdren wrote us:
Last summer I decided to return to college. I contacted the University of Texas here in Austin to see if there was a chance that they would now accept my Ambassador College hours. The Registrar was quick to inform me that UT still refuses to accept AC hours. He did say, however, that if AC was accredited now, he would accept most of my hours.
I anxiously contacted the State Coordinating Board to see if AC had finally obtained accreditation. A Dr. Stanton Calvert told me that he and a team of officials had just recently (in May '82) traveled to Big Sandy to resume ongoing talks on ACs accreditation. The state officials were quite dismayed when AC suddenly and flatly admitted they no longer want, nor are seeking, accreditation. Ambassador College broke its promise, then admitted it!
Mr. Holdren's experience is no different than that of thousands of other Ambassador College alumni who were repeatedly told by college administrators that AC was on the way toward getting fully accredited. Those same alumni later were chagrined to discover that the college's administration was not willing to fulfill accreditation requirements or simply changed its mind. The college's position on seeking accreditation has flip-flopped so many times over the years it is difficult to believe the college's board was ever sincere in any of its pro-accreditation statements.
Holdren believes he and many other alumni have been wronged, and he is looking for a legal remedy to the situation. He has already obtained the services of a top attorney, but he says he could use the assistance of other Ambassador College alumni, faculty, and students in building a thorough case. If you wish to help, if you have information of relevance, or if you'd simply like to wish him good luck, he may be contacted by writing: Mr. Ed Holdren, 4412 Dovehill Drive, Austin, Texas 78744.
Emmett Hoctor - Super Activist
Of the many anti-Armstrong activists we have known over the years, few have equaled the zeal of Emmett Hoctor (16403 Main St., La Platte, Nebraska 68123). Hoctor, a former WCG member, has an MA degree in history, has written an expose on the history of Omaha's annexation of South Omaha, and is currently working on a novel with certain WCG overtones. In years past he also wrote a number of interesting papers about the WCG. (Many of these have, unfortunately, been lost. So if any of you have copies, Mr. Hoctor would appreciate hearing from you.)
But Mr. Hoctor's activism does not end with his writing. For years he has pressured radio and TV stations in the Midwest to drop the Armstrong program. But, he says, "I've come to see that stations care very little about the effects their programs have on the public. They are primarily interested in making money. So unless a legal threat exists, or a massive campaign with economic portent, stations don't really mind doing business with the Armstrongs."
In recent months Hoctor has shifted his emphasis away from pressuring stations and has focused on informing church groups of the dangers of Armstrongism. He has already contacted almost 200 churches in the Omaha, Nebraska area. Says Hoctor, "I just get out the phone book and go down the list of churches in the Yellow Pages. I simply call the pastor of the church and ask him if he knows much about Herbert Armstrong. I then proceed to tell him of my experiences. I've found that the more 'liberal' churches tend to be less interested. But some of the more fundamentalist denominations, such as the Baptists, Church of Christ, and Assemblies of God, are fertile ground. Their pastors are usually quite concerned about the cult problem. Many not only ask for copies of Ambassador Report but promise to inform their congregations about what I've told them."
We are sorry to report the suicide-death of Phillip Apartian, son of Evangelist Dibar Apartian, the head of the WCG's French-language operations. Phillip killed himself on the front lawn of a Pasadena home March 31 after apparently calling the police. As the police arrived on the scene, he shot himself in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun. Friends say the nineteen-year-old had been suffering from depression.
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For many years the one characteristic separating the WCG from other major cults seemed to be that its main proselytizing thrust was not aimed at children. Now that may be changing. The March 7 Worldwide News announced that the WCG's magazine Youth 83 goes to 100,000 young subscribers, 75% of whom are not affiliated in any way with the WCG. According to its managing editor, Dexter Faulkner, "Mr. Armstrong has always visualized the magazine as a junior Plain Truth."
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The March 21 Worldwide News announced that the government of Czechoslovakia has again granted the WCG permission to hold Feast of Tabernacles activities in the city of Brno. While that country's government is communist and therefore pro-atheistic, it obviously does not mind putting ideology aside when it results in bringing in badly needed Western currency. Besides, in the May 1983 Plain Truth magazine, a glowing article about life in Czechoslovakia was published. Ironically, it is the Catholic Church that is being persecuted now in that country (Los Angeles Times, April 7, p.2).
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Readers who got our large 1977 issue will recall how we led the battle to prevent the WCG from appropriating, without cost, the $2.5 million Vista Del Arroyo federal building in Pasadena. Shortly thereafter the WCG dropped its request for the property and the federal government instead decided to turn over the building to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The controversy surrounding the property continues, however. In a major article by Claire Spiegel, the Los Angeles Times (March 28, p.1) reported that with $10 million appropriated by Congress (under somewhat unusual circumstances) for the rehabilitation of the building, only one justice has agreed to make use of the facility. The other justices are refusing to move in, with some claiming the appropriation was a terrible waste of taxpayers' money. The acquisition of the building and the appropriation drive was spearheaded by Judge Richard Chambers of Tucson, Arizona, who appears to be at the center of the controversy.
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Nevada State Senator Bill Hernstadt has come up with a creative solution to the cult-explosion problem. On Feb. 3 he introduced a bill in the Nevada legislature that would allow civil actions against cults which failed to make good on promises of inner peace and other psychological benefits after demanding contributions. The bill - which would force cult organizers to pay triple damages if found guilty - is not likely to pass (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Feb. 5). Could you imagine what would happen if politicians were also held legally responsible to make good on promises?
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Just days before Herbert Armstrong arrived in the Philippines for a meeting with President Marcos, the President's wife, Imelda, was embroiled in a controversy with the Catholic Church. It seems that Mrs. Marcos was the organizer of an international film festival in Manila which, according to Catholic authorities, featured uncensored torrid sex films. On January 28 Mrs. Marcos sloughed off the criticism by saying, "I am sorry that cheap pornography has affected some fragile senses, but this is just part of growing up."
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With former evangelist and CPA Stan Rader no longer acting as church treasurer, the WCG has reverted back to its old bad habit of releasing unaudited, incomplete, and overly abbreviated financial statements - though treasurer Leroy Neff does promise that Arthur Andersen & Co. will provide a combined worldwide audit of the entire "Work" for 1982. In the Feb. 21, 1983 Worldwide News it was revealed that the church/college worldwide took in $117.5 million and spent $116.1 million, with receipts up 10.2% and expenditures up 14.4%. However, the percentage change figures given in the table don't match those stated in the accompanying article, and the 1981 figures include only grants to the AICF, which makes it impossible to compare these numbers with those given last year by the WCG.
All considered, it is not difficult to see why the WCG is not among those charitable and religious groups listed in the semi-annual listing of major charities put out by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (1515 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22209). That list is called "Give But Give Wisely" and is available for $1.00. Also of interest are that organization's free publications: "Tips for Charitable Giving" and "CBBB Standards for Charitable Solicitations."
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While all divorces are, in a sense, very tragic, the Armstrong divorce suit is having one positive result. Many are beginning to see that Herbert Armstrong is not all that he claims. Many Bible students wonder, for instance, why HWA does not simply follow the admonition given by Jesus in Luke 12:11-12. After all, while the true apostles did not bribe their way in to see judges, magistrates, and kings, neither did they hire lawyers to get them out of such appearances.
Of course, neither do we read of them suing their wives for divorce. Isn't it ironic that Garner Ted Armstrong, for all his personal problems, is still married to "the wife of his youth" while HWA, the self-vaunted "conservative" has not only (according to such authorities as Dave Robinson) embraced the most libertine conduct (geisha girls, oral sex, masturbation, dildos, etc.), but is now attempting to put away the wife he once said God gave him. Not surprisingly, many are shocked by his conduct. Ron Dart, of the CGI, seemed to echo the attitude of many when he recently stated that he just can't see himself ever going back to the WCG because Herbert Armstrong "has gotten far, far too liberal."
Groups of Interest
The ministers have been pressuring members to increase their offerings to help Mr. HWA - even to sending in their small change. Are there any other churches that observe all the Holy Days and the Sabbath, other than the WCG or CGI?
Editor: Yes. For a listing of quite a few, see the Directory of Sabbath-observing Groups, published by The Bible Sabbath Association, Fairview, Oklahoma 73737.
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Mr. Dean Hough, of the Concordant Publishing Concern, recently informed us that his organization has formed a fellowship group called the "Saviour of All Fellowship." Supporters of universal reconciliation, who would like information about the fellowship, its newsletter, or its proposed membership directory, should write to: Saviour of All Fellowship, P.O. Box 2056, Canyon County, CA 91351.
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I know that in the AR you list religiously oriented groups that the readers might find to he of interest There is one that I have found to he of value: The Society of Jewish Science, 825 Round Swamp Rd, Old Bethpage, NY 11804. I would especially recommend their book Peace of Mind ($6 postpaid).
-Harry Eisenberg, New York City
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Mr. Fred Coulter, disassociated from the Biblical Church of God as of last November, has now formed another church called The Christian Biblical Church of God. The address is P.O. Box 1245, Hollister, CA 95023.
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Every so often we get letters from readers asking the whereabouts of Larry Gilbert Johnson, the founder of L.I.B.R.A. and the Congregation of Yah. We have never been too enthusiastic about Mr. Johnson's ministry, so we really haven't made much of an effort to follow his career. But we have been informed by Mr. Michael Grifone, one of his associates, that L.I.B.R.A. is now headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, where Mr. Johnson is currently researching in the area of astrology and reincarnation. He has also, apparently, produced a new solar calendar. Mr. Grifone has been critical of our anti-polygamy comments and the way we covered Johnson's use of guinea pigs in what he calls "living prophecies" (Ambassador Report, Oct. '81, p. 10). Mr. Grifone feels we distorted Johnson's position by quoting out of context, and he has offered to supply the entire newsletter quoted to anyone requesting it. His address is: Michael Grifone, P.O. Box 274, Station A, Ottawa, KIN 8V2, Canada.
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One Ambassador Report reader, who was seriously disappointed by his association with one religious group mentioned in Ambassador Report, wrote us: "I feel that if you print names of groups that, in effect, cause a certain number to respond and maybe get 'taken' by them, you should also print letters that give a warning."
Another reader wrote: "I have always enjoyed reading your literature, but I've wished that you would be a little more careful about leading people to spin-offs. By publishing names of new groups starting up, former WCG members are going to turn to them instead of the Christian churches and Christian ministers who are knowledgeable of the cults."
Very briefly, (1) we are not "members" of any of the groups we have mentioned, (2) groups are mentioned because many find their mere existence of interest, and (3) some organizations, such as the FBR, have much of value to offer. Certain other groups we've mentioned could well be described as plain wacky. But even some of those have at least something of interest to offer, and (4) we do not have the resources nor the inclination to do significant research on groups other than the WCG. After all, as implied by the title of this publication (and as alumni of that institution), Ambassador College (and its supporting church) is where our editorial focus lies. If, after leaving the WCG, you have joined another group and again were disappointed by a cult-like situation, perhaps you should ask yourself what it is exactly that you are searching for. Besides, if we published only information in line with our own viewpoints, how valuable would the AR be? Wouldn't we become as propagandistic as The Plain Truth magazine?
An Important Bibliography
In our Dec. 1, 1980 issue we reported that Mr. John Nugent of Laguna Beach, California was compiling an extensive bibliography of information about the WCG. Unfortunately, that bibliography was never completed as Mr. Nugent found the task to be far more taxing than anticipated. However, we are now very happy to report that such a bibliography is soon to be completed by Mr. John Buchner, a researcher in Australia.
Mr. Buchner is compiling an extensive bibliography about the WCG as part of the requirements for a higher degree. His bibliography, which incorporates Mr. Nugent's previous work, will be completed by mid-year and will be made available to the public in book form. This bibliography should prove an invaluable tool for anyone doing serious research on Herbert Armstrong, the WCG, and related groups. The price of each copy will be $10.00 (U.S.) postpaid. Those interested should write to: Mr. John Buchner, P.O. Box 170, Gordon, N.S.W. 2072, Australia.
Please keep in mind that it will be a few months before the book comes off the press and is mailed. Readers may also find the following request by Mr. Buchner of interest:
I am collecting a research library of all materials produced by the Armstrongs. A later project is to produce a comprehensive index to the Plain Truth, Good News, etc. from 1934 to 1983. This would form the basis of a content analysis for over 50 years. My speciality in mass communication involves the analysis of audio-visual and print materials in connection with societal and ideological issues, as well as theology. My files are complete from 1964 onwards, with a small number of earlier issues. I probably will commence this project in 1984. My request is that you bear in mind this project and alert any colleagues who may be able to contribute material or partial indexes already attempted.
Literature of Interest
"An Analysis of Garner Ted Armstrong's The Real Jesus" by Robert Paul Howard: This is a thorough, scholarly, and well-documented research paper. As this work was not intended for mass commercial distribution, but to fulfill academic requirements (Mr. Howard is working toward a master's degree in religion), only a limited number of copies are being made available to the public. A copy of this 69-page work can be obtained for $5.00, including postage, by writing to: Robert Paul Howard, 171 Cleves Ave., Cleves, Ohio 45002.
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The TSL Publishing House is planning to send an open letter to HWA. They ask that we "print a request in the AR, that some of the readers may send us names of friends, loved ones, or others in the WCG so that we may send them the open letter." Write to: TSL Publishing House, P.O. Box 18122, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118.
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Teamwork - a new religious newsletter published by the Banfield Church of God, 6975 Murray Rd., Jackson, Mississippi 49201.
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When Your Money Fails... The 666 System Is Here by Mary Stewart Relfe - This book, which draws connections between the Beast of Revelation and modem banking, the multinationals, and the rise of the computer, is popular among many Christian fundamentalist groups. (We've also noticed that certain WCG breakoffs have appropriated this book's teachings, without giving their source any credit.) It is $4.95 at Christian bookstores, and $6.50 when ordered from Ministries, Inc., P.O. Box 4038, Montgomery, Alabama 36104.
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"Is Nisan 15th the First Day of Unleavened Bread?" by Glenn Young - this paper has been making the rounds in WCG circles and got the author booted out of that church. The paper is available for $1.00 by writing to the author at Rt. 1, Box 298B, Glenwood, Ark. 71943.
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WCG followers in Australia may be interested in knowing that the WCG has filed quite a few revealing documents (financial statements, incorporation papers, etc.) with the Office of the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, 21 Turbot St., Brisbane 4001. The documents are available for public inspection.
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"Are You in a Cult?" - in this excellent little article author Albert James Dager shows 26 characteristics of a cult. The WCG has 25 of them and is pretty close to having all 26. We strongly recommend this article for anyone having any association with the WCG. It is available free by writing to: Media Spotlight, P.O. Box 1288, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
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One of our readers, Mr. Jonathan Ross (1362 Kingfisher, No. 16, Sunnyvale,CA 94087) has informed us that he is doing a good deal of research on the early history of the "Adventist Family" of churches (sabbatarian groups). He has free literature available for AR readers interested in this subject. One paper he sent us, called "The Church of God History and the Second Advent Movement," is quite interesting.
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David Robinson, the author of Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, has asked that we remind readers he is still sending his book to libraries. As a result, many WCG members are finding out the truth about HWA. If you would like to help in this project, send $1.50 per book to help cover postage and handling (up to two books will be sent to each library) and the name and address of each library to which the book(s) should be sent. Write to: David Robinson, c/o John Hadden Publishers, P.O. Box 35982, Tulsa, OK 74135.
Mr. Robinson told us, "It's inevitable that when HWA dies he will be exposed for what he really is. Nothing will remain hidden; those following him now will eventually see the true Herbert Armstrong. In the meantime, let's make the facts available to all who will listen."
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Focus Journal, 207 E. 85th Street, Suite 450, New York, NY 10028 - this is a new quarterly periodical by and for former cult members. It is $15 per year ($20 overseas). They are looking for articles by former cult members.
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The Citizen's Freedom Foundation (National Office, P.O. Box 86, Hannacroix, New York 12087) is one of the leading anti-cult organizations in the country. They put out a monthly newsletter ($15 per year, $20 overseas). Their March 1983 issue had an excellent article about the Worldwide Church of God written by Brenda Denzler.
Denzler's Project Continues
Many thanks to you for running my letter in the last issue of the AR. I have received a number of interesting responses, some offers of financial assistance, and some rather unusual responses as well. One person, however, suggested I make an official questionnaire for people to respond to. This seems a good idea to me and will perhaps help those who are inclined to respond to know just what to say. In fact if someone isn't fond of writing, I would welcome cassette taped responses to the questions I pose on the questionnaire. This short letter is to encourage all those who are giving some thought to responding to write to me for a questionnaire. This is not necessary, but perhaps will stimulate thought or give it a form that is easier to write down or speak. I would appreciate receiving a stamped, self-addressed envelope with requests.
600 Old Main
Newton, KS 67114
Editor: Some years ago two of Ambassador Report's editors were having lunch at the Salt Shaker restaurant in Pasadena when a news reporter for one of the area's major papers walked up and asked if he could join them. When he sat down, he made an unforgettable comment. He said, "You know, it's kind of funny, but some of the very nicest people I have ever known are people who were members of the Worldwide Church of God" - and left. His comment was the result of years of experience covering the WCG in the Pasadena area. His comment echoes our own feelings.
Over the years the Report has received many hundreds, if not thousands, of letters telling remarkable stories about the WCG and of personal tragedy and triumphs. A fellow writer who recently visited us read a few letters we had recently received and commented, "You get some of the world's most interesting mail." That's true. But sadly, many of these letters cannot be printed because of the space and financial limitations we are under.
That is why we hope that many of you will help Mrs. Denzler with her project (see our last issue for more details). She is an excellent writer and has the required enthusiasm to finish the project. We believe her book will help many people.
Your work is truly important For all the large churches in our nation and the billions they collect for their physical structures, work such as yours is sadly neglected. To bring to light evil and corruption is a basic scriptural assignment (Matt. 24:4).
It seems from reading the letters that a large number of those you disabuse of Armstrongism turn to a sort of wishy-washy humanism. Tell me, if you can, what happens (in a religious sense, that is) to those in the WCG who have left because of your revelations. Do they join a mainstream church, a fundamentalist church, or no church?
Editor: We have been asked this question many times, but we really cannot give a precise or documented answer. However, from our mail and what we've observed in Pasadena, it seems that most who leave the WCG do not go back into mainstream religion. About a third that leave join another Sabbatarian church such as the CGI. About a third seem to become de facto agnostics, that is, they maintain no formalized set of religious beliefs. (This does not necessarily mean they have adopted some type of "wicked" outlook, as many in this category still seem to be quite upright in lifestyle. Also, this may be only a temporary phase, as many later seem to regain an interest in theological questions.) And the remaining third seem to be best categorized as "non-denominational" Christians. This latter category would include those who support organizations such as the Foundation for Biblical Research or the Concordant Publishing Concern. Of the thousands who have left the WCG, we've heard of only three who have rejoined the Catholic Church, one or two the Jewish faith, one has become a Methodist, one a Presbyterian, two Congregationalist, and four or five have turned to Eastern religions. We have heard of only about three or four who have aligned themselves with the Humanist movement. These figures are, of course, only very approximate estimations, but they should give you some idea as to what former WCG people believe now.
Since resigning from Herbie's personal church, I have had the privilege to actually begin to comprehend scripture, at least somewhat. However, I think we must give Herbie credit for being an excellent salesman, and even creating salesmen in his own image. For such are false teachers, and no marvel, even Satan himself is transformed into a false "light" messenger. A messenger is one sent forth, just as an apostle is one sent forth, as Herbie is so fond of laying on the "brethren."
I realize that to be able to report Herbert's apparent human faults (of which I was once taught that he had none) is totally correct for you to do, in light of II Thes. 3:6. However, "cattle" cannot read and seldom ever understand what scripture plainly states. I was at one time "cattle" and lived in fear absolute, not of God's word, but Herbie and his "Levite kingdom, " who feed his flock every Saturday. They all look hollow-eyed, at times. I have often wondered about that. I met Ted once, and he looked hollow-eyed too. Jon Hill stalked around like "big daddy" at one of Herbert's "holy day" meetings and mentioned that the "holy" men had to cut their lunch break short to discuss "your marital problems," you clods. Well, some clods don't have those problems now, especially some who committed suicide.
If only Herbert and his "Levites" didn't close the minds of their believers! Those believers have so much "faith" in his trashy writings and teachings, it now seems absolutely unbelievable to me. There is only one way Herbie is able to do it. He is preaching for god, all right, but it is not the God and Father of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1.3). Paul is quite clear on the matter, as to who the god of this world really is. I am not casting stones, I am only repeating what Holy Writ can and does tell us.
I must admit: I found your address by "accident" in a magazine article on a newsstand and it was not the "blind truth." Personally, I don't care what Herbert says or even does. I do care, however, for the "sheep" and "cattle" he rides upon. How you are able to read and listen and find out what you write about without vomiting (maybe you do) is a mystery. I mean, how much can your stomach take of Herbie's lifestyle?
If someone wants to live as he evidently does, that's OK, but even Caesar gave his subjects some freedom to read things other than what he, Caesar, penned. How could we, who are free of Herbert and his kingdom, have been so stupid? (just read Eph. 6:12-13.)
I actually pity Herbert and his teachers. I really do. They crucify Christ in all their sermons and stupid writings, especially in their baptizings (I Cor. 1: 17). I did not intend to get into scripture in this letter, but Herbert uses it at every whim or "bright light" that pops into his totally deceived mind. Let us give him credit though. He truly is a fantastic "salesman."
-Oscar Murray, Ohio
Editor. You aren't the only one who has commented on Herbert's sales ability. Advertising man George J. Abrams praised HWA's advertising abilities in his book How I Made A Million Dollars With Ideas (p. 186).
My husband who belongs to the WCG has been out of work for six weeks. He draws a $90.00 per week unemployment check, and $30.00 of that goes to HWA, the widows' fund, and the vacation fund, so my $118.00 check is all I have, which doesn't cover much.
I am not much into scripture quoting. This tithing business, however, deserves some attention. It is such a universally perpetrated con, and I have never come across anyone exposing it. Do you know of anyone who has dealt with this, especially the "proof texts"? I have not as yet been able to respond adequately to those who question me. Perhaps the reason was that I was responding to people who receive tithes and are inherently somewhat closed minded! I feel somewhat negative about paying such a large amount of money without knowing a little more about the product.
Editor: We have repeatedly recommended The Tithing Fallacy put out (free of charge) by The Foundation for Biblical Research, P.O. Box 928, Pasadena, CA 91102. We have seen only one paper that ever attempted to refute their booklet - an unpublished paper by Ron Dart of the pro-tithing Church of God, International. (With all due respect to Mr. Dart, we did not feel his paper substantiated his position.) We're still convinced that The Tithing Fallacy is the best, most thoroughly researched work we've ever seen on that subject, and we strongly recommend it.
Whatever happened to Mr. Sherwin McMichael? He was a minister when I first entered the church about 16 years ago. I can't believe how that man dominated our lives - even to the point of deciding who we were to live with. I was a single girl at the time and didn't want to share my apartment with a particular girl, but was told that if I didn't they'd kick me out of the church. The year spent trying to cope was a disaster and I ended up moving out - with Mr. McMichael's permission of course. Thank God those days are over.
Editor. Mr. McMichael has been thrown out of the WCG (they claimed he had a problem with "demons"). We understand he is now working as a salesman. We heard that, disillusioned with HWA he recently told another exminister. "Herbert Armstrong really fooled us, didn't he?"
I was fascinated by your mention of HWA's prosthetic dildo! I'm afraid I'm rather naive and don't know what one is, but don't you think that a prophetic dildo would be more to the point?
Editor. For an in-depth explanation of prosthetics, see the "California Living" section of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Jan. 9, 1983, p. 11 or a detailed, medically up-to-date sex manual that discusses mechanical solutions to male erectile difficulties.
It was brought to my attention that you have publications concerning an evil organization called the "Worldwide Church of God" of Herbert W. Armstrong. I have been married to my wife for 20 years. Over the last two years she has become involved with this organization, which is turning our peaceful life into hell.
My lovely wife (a most faithful Christian) was baptized into HWA's cult in 1960. Well, they just booted her out for asking too many questions! I'm so mad I can spit! Send me everything you can and put me on your mailing list please.
God forgive that lying, conniving, little monster who has so grossly misrepresented God's great truth and has caused indescribable heartache and suffering to so many little people! A dear sweet friend of mine has been totally blind for four years because she believed she could not take her insulin! And she is still in the WCG. The only peace I have now about the organization and all of its leaders is to believe that God is allowing it and them to go their mile and finally He surely will deal with all the evil being perpetrated under the guise of "the truth."
I praise and thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for your newsletters and John Tuit's book for being a big part in bringing my oldest son out of the WCG. He is still struggling, but I feel sure that our Lord has everything under control. God bless each of you for your endless efforts in bringing out the truths about WCG and Herbert Armstrong.
My son has been disfellowshipped for marrying a very wonderful girl whom our Lord sent at just the right time. (In January 1982 his first wife was killed in a train-auto accident) This fine, young woman, an old love from high school and college came in and helped with the three young children. Did the WCG people come to the rescue? No! The minister had the gall to ask my son how much insurance he had on his deceased wife. He never asked him if he needed help with the children or if he needed funds - nothing.
We left many behind whom we had considered friends - some of whom know better than to believe what they are being taught. It seems they prefer to believe a lie. Others are quite sincere and believe anything they are told even if the "truth" changes from week to week.
Editor: You might be interested in reading II Thes. 2:11.
I've tried The Plain Truth. Now I want the real truth. Please do not use my name as I have relatives in top positions in the WCG.
Although many fine people do attend the WCG and keep on supporting it, it's all sort of crazy - like people hooked on alcohol, tobacco, and tranquilizers.
I received your letter some days ago and was pleased that your efforts are alerting so many to the awfulness of this predatory barbarian to whom they have given too much, too long and too often. I wonder about the future of those in this cult and the damage which will be done to their minds with the constant bombardment of archaic habits and retarding influences.
It is a curious thing the control one man can exercise over others to the extent of whether they go in or go out, whether or what they eat, or drink, or whatever they do, whether in thought or action, they do it all to the glory of, in this case, Mr. H. It is distressing to recall I was once a devout member - now it all seems terribly alien and imbecilic.
I also wonder what the end of all this will be. What is the answer to this complex experience? What you are doing at the AR has helped me and others tremendously. So stay the course!
Keep up the good work. I guess if I would have had cancer and been cured I would still want to keep up the current goings on in the field of cancer research. It's the same with Herbert and his organization. I have been cured of this cancer called Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God, but I still want to keep abreast of the latest goings on in the field of their tragic endeavors in modern religion, for better or worse.
Mr. Trechak, I have been told that, besides being a writer, you have had some experience in the music field. So I wonder if you could answer the following: (1) It is rumored in church circles that Led Zepplin's "Stairway to Heaven" was originally conceived of by someone with parents in the WCG and that it is a put-down of the church. Have you heard this? (2) Elton John's "Border Song" seems to he about people leaving the WCG. Is it? (3) A friend told me that Garner Ted Armstrong has formed a band called "The Bozo Band " My friend says they sing funny. Do you have any details on this?
Editor. (1) I've heard the "Stairway to Heaven" story many times, but have never seen any evidence that it is true. By the way, radio station executives claim that "Stairway to Heaven" is the country's most requested song. (2) "Border Song" does have some funny WCG parallels, but I don't think that was intentional. The words are by Bernie Taupin, who was never a WCG member. (3) What your friend probably heard was "Intro Outro" by The Bonzo Dog Band, a popular British rock group of the late '60s. That song paradies a number of famous personalities, including GTA, who was well-known in Britain at that time. Regardless of false rumors apparently spread by certain WCG ministers who claim Ted is planning to go into show business, GTA has not formed a group called "The Bozo Band" - at least as far as we know.
I always enjoy your publications. As you well know, I am in constant need of prolonged belly laughing. Your chronicle on the misadventures of Herbert and his merry men (and women) fulfills that need in every way. I guess there's no one quite like old Herbert. He, on a positive note, makes an insane world seem very sane indeed.
-Joe Nazarini, California
Editor: Mr. Nazarini, after graduating from Ambassador, going through a painful divorce, and making the break from the WCG, spent time in Africa with the Peace Corp, earned an accredited Master's degree, has remarried, and currently works as a director for a retirement home, besides teaching at California State University in Los Angeles. He has also said, "If I didn't laugh, I'd cry" - something we, too, try to remember.
Your reply to Allan Browne was a delight to read! With all your smarts, how in ---- did you ever get mixed up with the WCG in the first place?
Editor: I was once very young and foolish. I am also reminded of this scene from the movie Casablanca:
RENAULT (Claude Rains): And what in Heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
RICK (Humphrey Bogart): My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
RENAULT: Waters? What waters? We are in the desert.
RICK: I was misinformed.
I have never before written to an obscure publication which exposes an obscure religious cult, so I hope I get my 20 cents' (the price of the stamp) worth.
"Brilliant" is a much-too-common word - even more common than"sick" or "senile" - but brilliant is the word that to me seems apt regarding your reply to the legal firm representing Herbert W. Armstrong and/or (are they one and the same?) the Worldwide Church of God. Don't let this go to your head, because pride goes before obnoxiousness, but I felt it was almost as good as Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal. (I want you to know I am behind you 100 percent, but don't print my name because I don't want to take a chance of being awakened suddenly late at night.)
The world does seem rife (that's a snub-nosed rifle or a female mate of one) with lawyers with nothing more to do than chase ambulances or file harassment or nuisance lawsuits on behalf of self-proclaimed apostles. Perhaps they would spend more time defending the fatherless and the widow, if only it paid more.
However, I do not believe: (a) The only good lawyer is a dead lawyer. (b) If all legal briefs were thrown into the ocean, it would be so much better for people and so much worse for the fish. It just seems that way!
I'm sure there are good and bad in all professions (except maybe the world's oldest). Please forgive my cynicism. It only happens to me during a full moon. When I read about HWA meeting with Ariawongssgatayana, "the 18th Supreme Patriarch of Thai Buddhism," I thought I was reading Mad magazine!
Far be it from me to criticize such a high-quality publication as the AR but I would like to point out one very minor mistake. On page 6 (January 1983 issue), next to last paragraph, the sentence appears: "Oh yes, he'll need a few of his servants and a few top myrmidons around to keep the facade in tact." This sentence should have been followed with [sic] to indicate your error, or better yet "in tact" (two words) should have been "intact" (one word), which is correct. I know these things because I used to be Asst. Managing Editor of the Plain Truth. (But I've repented! You'll notice in this letter I've used no words in CAPS and only a few in italics! I still have a problem with exclamation marks at the end of sentences, though!)
If you have a booklet entitled, 'Just What Do You Mean ... Myrmidons?" I could use a few. Mynnidons, that is, not booklets.
I know you don't need my recommendation, but I do want to thank you and your staff for their work, effort and research in producing the AR over the years. I'm sure you have helped many people. You've done good for somebody from New Jersey!
Your work probably will never be completed. Religious fanatics, too sincere and too trusting, are ever with us. It seems part of the human condition. I'm sure much more mercy will be extended to the deceived (the deceivees?) than to the deceivers. Enough preaching. There shall he weeping and gnashing of teeth, and in general a big ruckus (paraphrase of the Revised Republican version).
I will write to you again as soon as I can soak the cancellation marks out of some more stamps, and never end a preposition with a sentence.
-Anonymous and Forgotten
(like everyone else who worked on the PT staff)
P. S. Did you know that the digits in your box number (4068) add up to 18? 18 can he divided by three sixes. Did I say three sixes? 666!
Editor: 4068 is also evenly divisible by 1, 2,3, 4,9, and 12, but we try not to let it go to our heads.
It will be interesting to see how the Herbert versus Ramona Armstrong legal battle turns out and whether Herbert Armstrong will present himself for the deposition. It is understandable that he is so reluctant to appear, as it would he a situation where he is not the almighty authority or the magnanimous benefactor, and this would make him feel like a fish out of water. Imagine God's apostle being questioned in this manner! Herbert Armstrong has virtually required some of his followers to commit acts of civil disobedience which would result in their imprisonment, yet he won't even appear in a court of law concerning a matter which he himself has initiated.
Editor: There are undoubtedly many questions HWA would not want to answer. But his unbounded arrogance may very well be the main reason he is being so uncooperative with the courts. One respected evangelist who has personally know HWA for well over twenty years described him to us this way: "Mr. Armstrong is the most lawless human being you will ever encounter. He has absolutely utter contempt for all constituted authority and law. He may preach humility, respect for law and obedience to authority, but that's for the other guy. He makes the rules; he doesn't obey them. He is completely self-centered, a law unto himself." What a total contrast to the example set by Jesus and his true apostles!
I am always very touched by the Letters section of your Report. It's always so sad to read the horrible things that people have had to endure because of one disgusting, old man. I also find myself growing happy at the same time because I realize that these people have escaped from that environment and built happier lives.
My mother was in the WCG for 12 years and Ambassador Report helped her find out the truth about that organization. She, like many others, took the original Report to church and started asking too many unanswerable questions of her minister. She was quickly kicked out.
Unfortunately, the experience was a very shattering one for her (as it is for many people). Although it's been eight years, sometimes I wonder if she has yet recovered from the experience of losing friends and self-esteem which comes from finding out the truth about HWA and the WCG.
Self-esteem is a very important ingredient not only in leaving the church, but also in becoming a member. It has been commented on so often that WCG members aren't stupid and in fact they're very nice, intelligent people - so how did they get trapped? I believe that many of them have so little confidence in themselves, so little self-esteem that they allow themselves to be manipulated by a "father" figure who tells them what's right and totally directs their lives for them (at the same time telling them that they're learning how to direct their lives - thus saving face).
It's very important for ex-WCGers to look at themselves and understand that they're "OK " They can run their own lives and can have a personal relationship with God. God created all of us and must love us enough to care about each one of us for our own sakes. I see so many ex-WCGers who become cynical and bitter, instead of trying to build their lives anew and become better and happier people. It's just as easy to try to look at the good things in life and concentrate on them as it is to look at the bad all the time.
One thing that helps is to understand that you weren't the only person deceived by Herbert. And in that way the AR is very important. Many seem to say that the AR is too negative. But I don't see it that way. I see Ambassador Report as a positive force to help people understand that others have gone through what they also have gone through. Others have made mistakes, and others have rebuilt their lives and made them better than ever before. And even more than that, the AR has helped people escape suicide, illness, and even death by helping them leave the WCG. For this I know many thousands thank you as I do.
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Should We Continue Publishing?
Our thanks to all of you who, taking a suggestion made in our Dec. 15 letter, placed ads in newspapers to help promote Ambassador Report. Unfortunately, many found they could place the ads with their local paper only if they omitted any request to send money to cover our costs. Thus, as we feared, we have been swamped with requests for back issues of the Report, but we have had very few send in anything to cover the expenses involved. This has really drained us of resources. So, at least for now, we would prefer that readers not continue to promote free giveaways. We simply cannot afford it.
In the more than seven years we have been publishing we have sent the Report to thousands who have never sent us a penny., Many subscribers have written us saying they've appreciated our work so much that someday they hoped they could send in a contribution. Well, this might be a good time to do it. We are really struggling to stay afloat.
This issue will not be our last, if we can help it. But we have been forced to ask ourselves, should we continue publishing? Is this kind of sacrifice on our part really worth it? We think the next few months will provide some interesting news to report. We do hope we will be able to continue on.
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