Herbert Armstrong Trapped
Lately things have not been going too well for Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), the founder of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and president of Ambassador College. As we reported in past issues, ever since the 90-year-old "Apostle of the Twentieth Century" began divorce proceedings against Ramona, his 44-year-old estranged wife, his many lawyers have not lacked for work. But all of Armstrong's lawyers have availed him very little in the last three months, as virtually every court decision has gone against him.
On April 8, Superior Court Judge J. Richard Hannah in Tucson rejected a third attempt by Armstrong's attorneys to disqualify Judge Robert J. Hooker from hearing the Armstrong divorce case. Hooker bad previously ordered Armstrong, after many months of delays, to appear for a deposition on April 19. HWA finally appeared in Tucson for questioning, but in a two-hour session declined to answer most of the questions put to him. The next day, Judge Hooker ordered HWA to answer all deposition questions about his financial ties with his church and about his relationship with his estranged wife. The HWA deposition continued on into a second week before it was completed.
The transcripts of HWA's Tucson deposition have not yet been made public, but the experience apparently shook up HWA considerably. Allan Browne complained that during the questioning HWA was so upset that, while his nurse was standing by with oxygen, he had "to take nitroglycerin at least a half-dozen times."
The Armstrong deposition will undoubtedly provide information that church observers have sought for some time. But the questioning of HWA was not without limitations. Said Browne, "Her [Ramona's] lawyer tried to get into personal relations prior to marriage. But the judge said any intimate details were not to be disclosed" (Pasadena Star-News, April 23,1983). While only fair, that ruling has disappointed some WCG members and former members who had hoped that the new disclosures would include details of the premarital relationship between HWA and Ramona. Since the mid-seventies there have been those at the church's headquarters in Pasadena who have claimed that prior to her marriage to HWA, Ramona had conceived an illegitimate child by the church leader. (Marion McNair alluded to this in his 1977 book on Armstrongism.) One church employee has claimed to have seen the child's birth certificate. And some have claimed that the child was born handicapped and put into an institution in Italy. We have yet to see any proof that this widespread rumor is true. And when we asked one of Ramona's lawyers about an AP story (April 20) that mentioned HWA's "support of a disabled daughter," we were told tersely: "There were no children of the marriage."
Nevertheless, the Armstrong divorce suit is resulting in much information being made public. So far, we personally have read through over 3,000 pages of court documents in the case (we quote the more interesting sections below), and we fully expect that before the trial is over there will be many thousands more pages of information. Clearly, this is something HWA did not want to happen. From the court record, notice this exchange during the deposition of Ramona Armstrong (she is the witness, Deckter is her lawyer, and Maltz represents HWA):
MR. DECKTER: In the category of persons, dissidents, contacting you for purposes of using information or the litigation against either the church or Mr. Armstrong?
MR. MALTZ: Right.
A [Ramona] It's always been no comment.
Q [Maltz] Okay. And would that be the same answer with respect to reporters and members of the media who have tried to contact you?
A To this point, yes.
Q When you say to this point, do I detect -
MR. DECKTER: Do not answer the question whatever it is.
Q - an intention or contemplation that you are going to go public with what transpires in this case?
MR. DECKTER: Do not answer the question.
THE WITNESS: I decline to answer that question.
MR. MALTZ: Okay.
MR. DECKTER: It's a subject of compromise and settlement.
MR. MALTZ: It's also called other things.
MR. DECKTER: No, it isn't....
Q You are saying under oath that you don't know that there are any people out there who would like to delve into these proceedings for the sole purpose of embarrassing Mr. Armstrong and/or the Worldwide Church of God?
A You would have to ask those people out there.
Q But weren't these dissidents and disaffected people a fact of life for you and Mr. Armstrong when you were living together?
MR. DECKTER: Mr. Maltz, I am going to object to the form of the question. You are asking: One, are there people who would be interested, and by the same token you are asking would it be for the sole purpose of hurting someone. We have told you that the legitimate press has made inquiry. There is probably a newsworthy aspect both to this divorce and to the information they would like. And people may just want to know the truth about this church and Mr. Armstrong....
Yes, many want to know the facts! Especially many who have, for years, been sending money to the church. After all, it's even their money that will pay for much (if not all) of the massive legal costs in this divorce. In a sworn statement about HWA's expenses, signed by Aaron Dean, we find this suspicious footnote regarding HWA's attorney fees paid to date:
Undetermined liability to Worldwide Church of God for attorney fees and costs advanced pursuant to religious corporation indemnification statute...
One can only wonder who it was that persuaded HWA to seek a divorce from Ramona. For it is obvious HWA never expected her to put up the fight that she has. Apparently, he thought she would simply acquiesce to his wishes and sort of disappear into the Arizona desert to live in solitude, never to be heard from again. Notice this excerpt from a statement by HWA's attorneys:
On April 16, 1982, Herbert W. Armstrong, as petitioner, filed a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" against Ramona Armstrong,
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respondent, seeking a judicial decree dissolving the marriage of the parties on the ground that it was irretrievably broken. Mr. Armstrong further alleged that "there are no agreements between the parties regarding a division of the community, joint tenancy, or other property held in common, nor as to spousal maintenance" and, therefore, it was requested that the court equitably distribute the parties' commonly held property. (Petition, Para. 4)
Notwithstanding the simplicity of Mr. Armstrong's Petition, on April 23, 1982, Ramona Armstrong filed a "Response, Counterpetition, and Petition for Order to Show Cause" wherein she alleged, inter alia, that she and Mr. Armstrong had entered into various oral agreements prior to their marriage regarding financial benefits to be awarded her in consideration of her agreement to enter into the marriage....
Ramona Armstrong's utilization of these alleged "promises" and "agreements" as an extortion attempt ... is demonstrated by conduct undertaken and apparently authorized by her with respect to her attempt to relitigate these issues in the Los Angeles Superior Court. Thus, Jack C. Warner, Esq., her counsel in that proceeding had, on two separate occasions subsequent to the filing and service of the complaint, sent to Mr. Armstrong unsolicited Western Union telegrams requesting a private meeting "to discuss the immediate settlement of the captioned litigation in a manner that is... economically feasible to you...." In his second telegram dated October 1, 1982, Mr. Warner apparently sought to coerce such a settlement by threatening adverse publicity....
It is thus difficult to conceive of a more improper motive for attempting to assert these promises as a basis for a financial "pay-off" than that expressed by Ramona Armstrong's own counsel. Her motive is clear - generate, or threaten to generate, as much adverse, inflammatory publicity as possible in the hope that Mr. Armstrong will settle the dissolution proceeding in a manner which is financially beneficial to her. Indeed, this intent is further confirmed by Ramona Armstrong's refusal to authorize her counsel to stipulate that all depositions and court files in the instant proceeding be sealed....
Yes, if HWA would have his way, these proceedings would be done in secret. Fortunately, that has not been allowed. The two telegrams mentioned above are most interesting. Ambassador Report has been able to obtain copies of both. Here are their contents:
Dear Mr. Armstrong:
I do not know if you have been given a copy of the complaint served on Mr. Tkach at his home Wednesday evening, and upon you and the rest of the defendants at 300 West Green on Thursday, and upon Mr. Helge at his office.
Nevertheless, it is my desire to meet with you personally, just yourself and myself on neutral territory, to discuss the immediate settlement of the captioned litigation in a manner that is both economically feasible to you and fair to Mrs. Armstrong.
Both Mrs. Armstrong as well as other litigants have told me that your advisors have sealed you off in a fashion that does not allow you to obtain a correct picture of the problems with which you were confronted. They say that the facts are "pre-massaged" before they reach you so that your decisions and responses to them are the product of a distorted picture.
To avoid any such possibility, a one-on-one meeting by the two of us would, I think, prove most fruitful. I think there would be a good chance that positive solutions could result that would relieve you from what must be very heavy burdens.
I would appreciate a telephone call from you immediately upon your receipt of this message in order that we might set up an immediate meeting and possibly resolve the existing litigation so that you can get on with more productive matters. I'm sure you will wish to tape record any telephone conversations, as will I, so that neither of us will ever be misconstrued. On the other hand, I would expect that you would not wish any of our face-to-face discussion to be recorded or used by anybody at any time for any purpose, in litigation or otherwise, since the same will be for the purposes of compromise and settlement only. If you are in agreement, we can make a telephone record of that fact, also.
I'm sending duplicate copies of this telegram to your cook and your chauffeur with a request that they be delivered to you personally so that I know that the same will have reached you and not have been mislaid or diverted by others.
I'm prepared to meet with you Sunday or Monday, and I imagine that it would be of assistance to you if it was possible that all matters could be wrapped up before you get deeply involved in the Feasts next week.
I would appreciate a phone jingle from you personally, even if you wish the litigation pursued, so that I'm confident that you've received this invitation. Thank you.
Dear Mr. Armstrong:
The trouble with written epistles is that they never go away. There are too many of them floating around already that are proving to your extreme disadvantage. Their eternal existence prevents a problem from being quietly put to rest and forgotten forever. What happens is that such writings are always resurrected by others in aid of their causes in the future. Rather, I would like you to view firsthand what has already been caused to happen to you and your work over your purported signature and that of Mr. Helge's, as secretary, in the different state corporation filing offices. I feel certain you are unaware that recent amendments have stripped you of your power "in the event of his inability to act," whatever that means. I'm more than willing to come to 210 [S. Orange Grove Ave.] or have lunch with you at Perino's in order that we might examine your signatures and view these things together.
A personal interview of Mrs. Armstrong has been promised Mr. Russ Chandler immediately upon his return from vacation in a few days. We are also entering into negotiations for the worldwide pocketbook rights to Mrs. Armstrong's story and a 7-part TV miniseries. The recent letter to the editor in Playboy magazine and the lengthy article in the LA Daily Journal have opened up the commercial feasibility of an in-depth Playboy interview and the sale of her film rights.
Mrs. Armstrong is being forced to these unfortunate lengths by her financial plight. She does not look forward to the public disclosure of her most intimate personal life, but her present circumstances leave her no real choice as she had no other source of future financial security. Equally regretful to her is the prospect that her first person accounts will also destroy your credibility, good name, and life's work. The details of the opulent lifestyle to which she was introduced, internal maneuverings for power, corporate and tax machinations, personal habits, lifetime contracts for associates and family members, gifts and grants to others, extravagant salary schedules, etc. are truly stranger than fiction. Yet, their real world truth is proved all too frequently by indisputable written documentation.
The work's financial erosion has certainly already begun. The evaporation of its income can only accelerate. I personally viewed the rapid demise of A. A. Allen's empire through a similar chain of events - the failure to quickly and quietly put to rest personal domestic problems, coupled with the behind-the-scenes jockeying for power by certain advisors. Unless these things are settled promptly, boldly and quietly, they will just as surely destroy your work as they did his.
This is because I cannot ethically communicate directly with you after their appearance. Certain of your advisors might wish to discourage your having the information your eye should see. Thus, time is of the essence. Please meet with me somewhere immediately.
Very truly yours,
Jack C. Warner
Of course some of these comments raise a host of questions. If Warner's assessment is based on valid evidence, it would appear that there is indeed a battle raging for control of the WCG's assets and that very shortly they may be taken out from under HWA's control by the very men with whom he has surrounded himself.
At the same time, it is clear that Ramona, herself, is making a bid for control of much (if not all) of those assets. In our Sept. 30, 1982, issue we reported that Ramona had launched a lawsuit in California against the WCG and the key men surrounding HWA. Since then, those defendants have launched their own suit against Ramona in U.S. District Court in Arizona. Ramona has responded to that suit with counterclaims. In her Answer, Counterclaim, and Third-Party Complaint filed in Arizona in that legal battle (which is separate from her divorce proceeding), there are a number of statements made that show, not only her expectations, but the incredible intrigue going on in the WCG hierarchy. Here are a few excerpts:
RAMONA ARMSTRONG alleges that Plaintiff WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD and the reputed assignor corporations are not operated as genuine bona fide corporations, and she alleges that such corporate forms should be disregarded as the same are in fact the alter egos of HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG who has created, perpetuated, maintained, operated, controlled and dominated, as corporate guises to shield his own personal business endeavors, and that it would be inequitable to observe such corporate forms in this action.... Defendant alleges that the individually named Defendants, whatever their relationship to Mr. Armstrong's corporate entity might be, are but a rubber stamp for his orders and directions, and that they possess and exercise no independent decision-making power of their own as is required by the law of true bona fide corporate directors.
...Defendant admits that her husband claims numerous different titles, including those of "chancellor" and "president" of the property known as "Ambassador College," which property he uses as the headquarters for his evangelical business. Defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to which of her husband's many different business or personal bank accounts he may have used to pay for her household furnishings, or whether any of his business entities may have made any assignment to any other such entity, and she therefore denies such allegations.
Defendant is without specific knowledge or information concerning the exact number of her husband's "congregations," "ordained ministers," contributors, or church goers, but she does know that they are far fewer than he habitually claims....
HERBERT W. ARMSTRONG has been engaged for many years in allegedly nonprofit religious business enterprises carried on under several different names and under the guise of many different separate corporations organized in numerous states of the union. These corporations, Third-Party Defendants Black and White Corporations 1-150, and Counterdefendant Worldwide Church of God, were created, perpetuated and maintained, and have been operated, controlled and dominated, by him for the purpose of clothing in a corporate guise his own personal business activities. He has and continues to utilize these corporate forms to shield from the public, his followers, and his wife, the wealth he has accumulated through the years and which he continues to freely use, spend and enjoy for his personal benefit in whatever manner he may desire. He is and has been utilizing such corporate forms sued herein as a means to perpetuate fraud, injustice and inequity against the Plaintiff by accumulating his wealth thereunder and having the full personal use, control, and enjoyment thereof, while at the same time ostensibly avoiding the creation of a marital estate. There is such a unity of interest between Herbert W. Armstrong and the corporate Counterdefendant and Third-Party Defendants that the fiction of the separate existence thereof should in justice and equity be disregarded....
Herbert W. Armstrong and Worldwide Church of God entered into a pre-marital agreement with her, which agreement was thereafter ratified, confirmed and executed, both in writing and by the conduct of the parties, that in consideration of the marriage of Ramona Armstrong to Herbert W. Armstrong they would make her financially secure, would purchase for her a home and furniture in Tucson, Arizona where she desired to live and raise her son, would enable her to live in such locality, would guarantee to her life-time employment at a salary of $50,000.00 per year in the same fashion as they had allegedly done for one of the daughters of Herbert W. Armstrong and for his previous wife, would cause Ramona Armstrong to receive a $25,000.00 per annum life-time benefit upon her husband's death, disability or retirement, would see to it that his entire estate would be left to her upon his death, would provide her with a standard of living equal to what Herbert W. Armstrong had always enjoyed, and, that she would never be deprived of such things by divorce or otherwise.... and they reportedly caused to be prepared and executed the Will of Herbert W. Armstrong, leaving to Ramona Armstrong all of his property upon his death....
In pursuit of their goal, the Counterdefendants and Third-Party Defendants have solicited from the public and alleged "church-members" donations of money and property amounting to many millions of dollars during the course of the marriage, and which they specifically requested the donors thereof to pay directly to Herbert W. Armstrong and not to Counterdefendant Worldwide Church of God. It is the belief of Ramona Armstrong that her husband caused such vast sums to be deposited to numerous different bank accounts in many different names located in many different parts of the United States and the world to make difficult the ascertainment of the true extent of his estate and of his marital community....
By such means they have attempted to establish legal control over the assets comprising the separate and community estates of Herbert W. Armstrong. They have done this so that they might continue to utilize and enjoy the same for themselves, both during his lifetime and upon his death, in violation of the contract rights and expectancies of Ramona Armstrong described in the First Claim for Relief contained herein. In quest of their goal they have persuaded him to amend over his signature, but probably without his real knowledge, understanding or consent, the Articles of Incorporation of his multiple corporations, which entities have identical, overlapping or confusingly similar names, and which amendments have one thing in common, to wit: they all contemplate the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, the dissolution of his corporations or the control of them by the Counterdefendants and Mr. Armstrong's co-Third-Party Defendants and the devolution of his assets and property to the designee of such persons in such a manner as will benefit the individual Counterdefendants and Third-Party Defendants personally and deprive Ramona Armstrong of her rightful share thereof.
So, in essence, we see Ramona is claiming that HWA is using all of his various corporations to deposit the millions of dollars sent directly to him - money which Ramona feels should be part hers after HWA divorces her. An important part of Ramona's case centers around the marriage and divorce teachings of HWA himself. Notice this exchange during the deposition of Ramona Armstrong:
Q (By Mr. Maltz, HWA's lawyer) Other than those three areas of writings that your attorney just mentioned, does there exist any written evidence of an alleged agreement between you and Mr. Armstrong not to divorce each other?
A Not to my knowledge.
Q Was the agreement not to divorce in full force and effect in your mind at the time of your marriage?
A Yes, it was.
Q Therefore, it's a safe conclusion that it was made prior to the marriage?
Q How much prior to the marriage was the agreement not to divorce made?
A From the very first that he asked me to marry him.
Q When was that?
A It was three years prior to the marriage.
Q And what did he say to you and what did you say to him by way of promises which amounts in your belief to an agreement never to divorce?
A That marriage is binding, not to be dissolved.
Q This is what he said to you?
A That's what we both said to each other. He was my spiritual leader as well as my future husband.
Q Would you have married him if he had not said to you that he believed that marriage was binding and not to be dissolved?
A No, I would not have.
Q What if anything did you promise him in return?
A That I in turn would not divorce him.
Q As best you can recollect, what were his precise words on the question of marriage being binding and not dissolved? What did he say to you as best and precisely as you can quote him?
A To be precise you would have to read through the literature that he has written to the membership and in all of his publications because that was exactly the same thing he said to me verbally.
Q Well, what is your recollection without looking through all the literature, because I can't do it now, of what he said to you, the precise words?
A That marriage is a holy thing; that it is binding in heaven as well as on earth and that when the agreement is made, then it is not to be dissolved.
Ralph Helge - The Controversial Counsel
The Armstrong divorce case, as we have shown in past issues, has been beset by delay after delay. And some of the excuses used to hold up the litigation have been nothing short of ludicrous. For instance, at one point HWA's lawyers - without giving a reason - petitioned the judge to force Ramona Armstrong to change her name. Ramona's lawyers responded:
It is respondent's belief that this request is made solely for the purpose of adding to the mountainous accumulation of pleadings and other assorted papers which have characterized this proceeding. Perhaps it is petitioner's intention to bury respondent's counsel under this mountainous pile of papers. Respondent's counsel asks this court to admonish petitioner's counsel for making such ludicrous requests and to allow the respondent to proceed in this litigation so that we can some time in the near future see an end to this litigation.
The care with which Judge Hooker has handled such matters can be seen from the following exchange, taken from the court records:
COURT: The petitioner [HWA] filed a motion under... A.R.S. 25-325(C) for an order of this Court that the respondent's former name [Ramona Martin] be restored to her. I don't recall having seen an opposition. Was there an opposition filed, and does the respondent oppose it?
MR. DECKTER: The respondent [Ramona] opposes it, Your Honor.
THE COURT: I looked at the Rule. I didn't find any authority for it at all, not under the statute. As I recall, 25-325(D) states that upon request, a wife whose marriage is dissolved or declared invalid, Court shall order her maiden name or a former name restored specifically limited to upon request by a wife. Let me check. It's been amended, and subsection (C) now states: Upon request by a party - by a party at anytime prior to the signing of the decree of dissolution or annulment by the Court, the Court shall order that party's requested former name be restored. So, again, I think it limits it to a request being made by the party who wants their former name restored, and I would imagine that that amendment was done to eliminate specifically only request by a wife, 'cause it's common now that many, uh, men also assume or take a part - take as part of their name a wife's name, and this gives them latitude to do that, but it requires under the rule that that request may be - may - that that request be made by the party whose former name is sought to be restored.
Anybody else want to be heard on that?
MR. WOLFE: Perhaps one matter, and that is that Mr. Armstrong is out of the country as of last week and will be out of the country for a month.
THE COURT: I don't care, the order stands. I expect him to be back. We're going to get this matter litigated, and we're going to do it no longer at the parties' convenience in this matter, so far as I have any control over it, which may very well be limited, but the matter's going to get done, and it's going to get litigated, and it's going to get tried as expeditiously as possible, without any further extraneous delays, which means I have to continue to assert myself in the case more vigorously than I have, and it'll be ordered that the motion filed on February 8, 1983, requesting that Ramona Armstrong's former name be restored, that motion having been filed by petitioner [HWA], is denied.
Another reason for the delays is a certain confusion that seems to have injected itself into the matter as regards who is actually in charge of representing whom on HWA's side. The Arizona law firm of Wolfe and Ostapuk are supposedly the chief lawyers representing HWA in the divorce. Yet Allan Browne, of the California firm of Ervin, Cohen, and Jessup, has been doing most of the speaking in court on behalf of HWA. But to further complicate matters, HWA's personal lawyer, Ralph Helge - who is not a party to the suit and is not a lawyer of record in this litigation, but is a witness in the case - has apparently interjected himself into every facet of the proceedings. (Recall that Helge is listed as one of the defendants in Ramona Armstrong's countersuit against the WCG corporation. She claims he has been part of a conspiracy to gain control of the WCG's assets through his influence over the aging HWA.)
Note the following exchanges taken from the court records (the first one was referred to in our last issue):
MR. ETTINGER: ...we stipulated to $50,000 being the bond - being the amount of the bond. When he showed me the bond, immediately, he said that Mr. Helge had prepared it and wanted certain wording in it, and one was that it must be heard -
THE COURT: That was a mistake right there. I could have told you there would have been problems the minute you mentioned his name, he's gonna do something to chingadero.
MR. OSTAPUK: Actually, Judge, I wasn't present at -
THE COURT: - you're obviously a competent counsel, and your firm is what's been commonly referred to as the lead firm, whatever that means, in the case, although I have my suspicions as to who really is lead counsel in the case, who is making the decisions....
WOLFE: ...that Mr. Armstrong and his personal counsel at this point do not choose to take advantage or accept that ruling as far as this case is concerned at this point, I don't know.
THE COURT: By whom are you referring to as his personal counsel?
MR. WOLFE: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Mr. Helge?
MR. WOLFE: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Like I say, he's interjected himself into the case pretty extensively....
But, amazingly, while Helge has intertwined himself with every facet of this divorce case, he has made every effort to absent himself when he himself was subpoenaed. But Judge Hooker was not impressed by Helge's arguments. Notice this March 15 ruling by Hooker:
With regard to the motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum of Mr. Helge, which has heretofore been argued and taken under advisement, it's ordered denying that motion. I note, in that respect, that Mr. Helge has been present at many hearings and has participated in those hearings. The one thing that I do note is that he continually consults with counsel in hearings and passes notes to counsel. I note that he participated in the litigation of this matter and has specifically caused matters to be filed in this case specifically, but not limited to, the matter regarding the supersedeas bond; he has been present at depositions; that as it has been indicated by counsel of record in this case, on February 25, 1983, Mr. Helge was being associated as counsel of record for the purpose of deposition of Mr. Armstrong only, and that as alleged in matters filed in this Court and testimony that he is a material witness in the case, and there has been testimony in regard to this litigation that he is not only the attorney for the Worldwide Church of God, but also the attorney for Mr. Armstrong. It's my feeling that Mr. Helge has inextricably intertwined himself and his client, Worldwide Church of God, in this litigation.
True to form, a few days later Helge sent the following letter to William E. Druke, the Presiding Judge of Pima County Superior Court:
Dear Judge Druke:
This will introduce myself as the person who appeared specially in order to file a Motion to Quash a purported appearance and a pre-emptory disqualification under Rule 42(f)1. The court administrator set the Motion for hearing on April 25, 1983.
On Tuesday, March 23, 1983, I received, through my office, a phone call from the Honorable Judge Hooker's clerk or secretary to the effect that he had changed the date of hearing on the Motion to Quash to March 25, and apparently also set it for hearing before himself.
Apparently Judge Hooker overlooked my application under 42(f)1 although it was attached to my Motion to Quash. Am I correct in assuming that you will advise him that he was without jurisdiction to change the date of hearing or to hear the Motion to Quash and will advise the parties as to the recommended court? It is my understanding that under rule 42(f)1(F) the matter is to be assigned to another Judge for hearing.
Regretably Messrs. Ettinger and Deckter have stated, in the past, that they would not stipulate as to any matters. Therefore, pursuant to Rule 42(f)1(F) I hereby tender to you and the attorneys for the parties the following names of Judges to whom I feel the matter could be assigned. It is my understanding that these men have a good reputation in the community for judicial demeanor. Also I feel they would be impartial and lack any bias or prejudice in regards to any of the parties. They are:
Judge Richard N. Roylston, Division 7
Judge Robert O. Roylston, Division 3
Commissioner William N. Sherrill, Division B
Any one of them would be acceptable to me and the order of their names is purely alphabetical.
Thank you for any consideration you may give this matter.
- Ralph Helge
In response, Judge Druke ordered:
The court having received a letter from Mr. Ralph K. Helge regarding his Notice of Change of Judge filed pursuant to Civil Rule 42(f), and,
The court having reviewed the file and finding that Mr. Helge is not a party in the lawsuit, but is a witness subpoenaed to appear in the matter, and,
The court having reviewed Civil Rule 42(f) and finding that it is limited to parties, and is not, therefore, available to witnesses, such as Mr. Helge,
IT IS ORDERED denying Mr. Helge's Notice of Change of Judge and the matters set for hearing before Judge Hooker on 28 March 1983 shall proceed as scheduled.
But why would Helge go to such lengths to avoid being deposed in a case in which he has so obviously enmeshed himself? Recall that Helge was served with a subpoena duces tecum, a subpoena requiring him to bring certain documents. In this case, those documents include financial records. With that in mind, note the following statements made by Ramona's attorneys:
Mr. Helge has been present at nearly all of the hearings and motions in the matter of Armstrong v. Armstrong, and there is no reason to believe that he will not be present for future hearings and motions. Therefore, his contention that he is being "put out" by having to come to Tucson for his deposition is without merit. While his contentions that he is in fact a domiciliary and resident of the State of California might be true, he was served in Arizona and should be required to abide by that proper service of process. To require the respondent to apply California law in the State of Arizona would not only be improper but it would require respondent's counsel to deny the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the Arizona Courts.
As to Mr. Helge's contention that respondent's counsel might make inquiry into the ownership of the funds [funds Helge claims are the church's, not HWA's] deposited into checking account number 1303-2693 at the Valley National Bank of Arizona, this is also without merit. The Valley National Bank of Arizona custodian of records, Ms. Donna Porter, was deposed by respondent's counsel. Ms. Porter was asked specifically whether that particular account was a trust account, a business account, a corporation account, and she answered that they were not. Further, she was asked if that particular account was a personal checking account to Herbert W. Armstrong, and she stated that yes, in fact, it was.
It is Mr. Helge's assertion that the funds in that account are funds belonging to the Worldwide Church of God....
In attempting to get out of being deposed, Helge resorted, in part, to arguments revolving around First Amendment religious guarantees. Helge has resorted to similar arguments many times in the past in many different cases. One almost gets the impression that Helge feels the WCG can do anything it wants simply because it is a religious corporation. And that everyone else's rights are secondary to the WCG's rights because it is somehow specially protected by the First Amendment. Yet, in the past the courts have not upheld Helge's unique interpretation of the First Amendment. Ramona's lawyers quoted the important decision in the case of Ambassador College v. Goetzke:
In affirming the District Court, the Court of Appeals showed why Ambassador College's assertion that submitting to the discovery would violate their freedom of association guaranteed under the United States Constitution was invalid. The court distinguished cases where First Amendment freedoms were found to be in danger of violation or impinged in some way. All such cases involved the government as a party. In Ambassador College V. Goetzke, supra, as in the case before the Court, there is no governmental body that is a party to the suit.
In finding that discovery was proper as to matters upon which the interrogatories were trying to delve, the Court cited General Counsel on Finance and Administration of the United Methodist Church v. Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, 439 U.S. 1355 (1978). There it was stated that freedom of association and freedom of religion arguments were not applicable to purely secular disputes between third parties and a particular defendant. Further, the Court pointed out that in order to raise a claim of First Amendment rights, there must be some sort of a "chilling" effect which could result. The court stated that the information was relevant as it could lead to information regarding whether the Worldwide Church of God had engaged in a pattern of improper conduct. It was concluded that the information would not have the effect of "chilling" membership in the church.
In light of the ruling in Ambassador College v. Goetzke, supra, Mr. Helge's argument that respondent would be violating the First Amendment rights of himself and his client, the Worldwide Church of God, is clearly and wholly without merit. Any information which respondent seeks would not "chill" the membership of the church and, in any event, the only result in Mr. Helge's disclosing the information respondent seeks would be the possibility that there is some improper conduct on the part of the Worldwide Church of God. Mr. Helge cannot avoid the taking of his deposition merely by trying to cloak his desire in the guise of an inappropriate claim of Constitutional guarantees and rights.
The Beverly Hills Episode
In our last issue, dated April 1983, we reported briefly on the Feb. 25 fiasco that took place at Allan Browne's Beverly Hills office. Because of the many rumors extant in church circles regarding Ralph Helge, some have asked that we provide more details of that encounter. Here is a brief excerpt, from the court records, of the confrontation that took place that day. Unfortunately, due to space limitations we have had to delete most of the dialog, but the essentials of the bitter dispute can be readily seen. (Recall that Ettinger and Deckter represent Ramona, and Browne represents HWA. Mr. Erwin was the court reporter brought in from Arizona.) We begin midway into the fracas:
MR. DECKTER: Separately, it should be noted and that only in the case of Armstrong versus Armstrong has there been a stipulation filed in Superior Court in Arizona to take the deposition of Mr. Armstrong here in California.
There was no stipulation that it be taken under the California Rules of Civil Procedure, under the California Civil Code or under California law.
We have to comply with Arizona law for the use of this deposition in Arizona. We have not filed any objection to the form, manner or means of taking this deposition in Arizona. We have no right to object to the use of Mr. Erwin nor does Mr. Armstrong.
MR. BROWNE: Counsel, I think we both stated our positions and as I have said, I would like not to have the whole morning used up by colloquy. We do not stipulate to Mr. Erwin. We made our position clear on that. Without prejudice to the rights of either party, I suggest that we go forward.
MR. DECKTER: Let's call Judge Hooker.
MR. BROWNE: No, Judge Hooker does not control this proceeding in California....
MR. ETTINGER: We will take the deposition in Tucson. We will get an order of the Court.
MR. BROWNE: Counsel, let's not argue that.
MR. ETTINGER: We did this as a courtesy. We did not have to do this. The Arizona Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals has ruled that he had to appear for deposition in Tucson.
MR. HELGE: Okay -
MR. ETTINGER: Mr. Helge, you are not even attorney of record now.
MR. BROWNE: Just a minute. Don't shout It's not necessary.
MR. ETTINGER: I know. I know it's not necessary. But it appears to me that no matter what is stipulated - and by the way, lead counsel is not present at this deposition, Mr. Wolfe, who is the lead counsel, at this deposition. Make a record of that, that he was not present and at this deposition.
MR. BROWNE: Shall we go on to the point - I do want to deal with the production of documents.
MR. ETTINGER: Are we going to continue the deposition based on Arizona law?
MR. BROWNE: Counsel, I don't want to argue. Do you want to take the deposition of Mr. Armstrong or not?
MR. ETTINGER: Pursuant to Arizona rules.
MR. BROWNE: My reporter is not going to leave. Now, do you want to call off the deposition or do you want -
MR. ETTINGER: I'm not calling - we are ready to proceed. It's you that have not complied with the rules. You have not filed an objection to this reporter timely. You have never - the stipulation was an Arizona stipulation. It was to be done pursuant to Arizona rules, not California rules.
But it's typical of your delay.
MR. DECKTER: I suggest -
MR. ETTINGER: Why don't you read Rule 28?
MR. DECKTER: If you're going to make an objection to Mr. Erwin taking this deposition, make it orally before Judge Hooker, now -
MR. BROWNE: Counsel, just listen to me.
MR. DECKTER: Let's call Hooker. Call Hooker.
MR. BROWNE: My counsel - my certified, shorthand reporter will not leave the room. Now, do you want to take the deposition or not?
MR. DECKTER: I want to contact Hooker now.
MR. BROWNE: Call him.
MR. ETTINGER: Let's get Judge Hooker.
MR. DECKTER: Call him.
MR. BROWNE: Call him. Use that phone over there. If you can get him on the line.
MR. DECKTER: How do we get your front desk?
MR. BROWNE: What? Just dial nine and then just one.
MR. ETTINGER: All right.
MR. BROWNE: And call the Court.
MR. DECKTER: We don't have the number right here unless you have the -
MR. ETTINGER: Do you have an Arizona - Okay. Let's get long distance.
(Discussion off the record)
MR. ETTINGER: And, Mr. Helge, you sent me those letters saying that we were interfering with the privacy of the Church. You asshole.
MR. HELGE: Just a minute! You will not talk to me like that, and if you do I'll knock you on your ass!
MR. ETTINGER: Just try it!
(A scuffle ensued in the room)
MR. BROWNE: Jack, stop it. My God! Conduct yourself.
MR. ETTINGER: You keep writing me letters like that -
MR. BROWNE: Jack, let's - don't talk to Mr. Helge and he won't talk to you. Come on. This is ridiculous. Act like a professional person.
MR. ETTINGER: I am a professional.
MR. BROWNE: Don't talk to Ralph Helge and he won't talk to you. Okay. Let's go.
(Messrs. Browne and Helge leave the room)
The letter Ettinger was referring to was one of a number Helge wrote to Ettinger threatening him with a lawsuit. (Apparently lawyers get just as upset as the rest of us when they receive intimidating letters from other lawyers.) Here is the way Helge later tried to explain away his un-Christian conduct to Judge Hooker:
Before Mr. Armstrong entered the room, the attorneys had agreed to go off the record. Jack Ettinger was strutting up and down beside the table. He kept taunting me as to whether or not I had commenced a lawsuit against him. He began to use vile language describing the letters I had written him on the Church's behalf hoping to restrain him from invading its privacy and committing other constitutional transgressions. I advised him that I was contemplating and preparing such a lawsuit on my client's behalf.
Before long Browne was back in the room, saying he wanted to bring in HWA (who was in the next room) and get on with the deposition. But before they could go ahead, Helge again interjected his presence, causing Ramona's lawyers to again state their objections:
MR. DECKTER: At this time we would note the presence of Mr. Ralph K. Helge in the room.
Whether it has been made a matter of record or not prior to this time with our reporters being active, we've been informed by Mr. Browne that he proposes to have not only two reporters but further that he wishes the presence of Mr. Ralph K. Helge at the time and during the course of the deposition of Mr. Armstrong.
As previously noted, in several of the depositions which have taken place at the offices of Miller & Pitt in Tucson, Arizona, a record has been made that Mr. Helge has been designated both orally and by responses to interrogatories and further by subpoena duces tecum in the Arizona matter that Mr. Helge is and remains a material witness in the action of Armstrong versus. Armstrong; that on several occasions Mr. Helge has been requested that if he so desired he could enter an appearance as an attorney of record.
We have been informed that Mr. Browne wishes to create a new kind of attorney, that is, a special appearance for purposes of deposition only and that he proposes that Mr. Helge personally be so designated.
I am not familiar with any statute, rule or procedure that allows for a special appearance by an attorney or by a party, other than for jurisdictional purposes on specific kinds of civil motions.
The designated hitter or the designation as a special appearance for deposition only appears to be in violation of the previous notice both to Mr. Browne, Mr. Maltz and Mr. Wolfe, the remaining attorneys of record. That the rule, that is, the Civil Rule, noting the exclusion of witnesses from deposition has been specifically invoked as to Mr. Helge so that he would remain outside the presence of witnesses' testimony, so that his testimony and recollections would be his alone and not as refreshed or as contradicted by other witnesses in this matter.
To now especially designate him for purposes of a single deposition would appear to be a clear violation and a purposeful impediment to the taking of the deposition of Mr. Armstrong now being thrown up by Mr. Browne.
As Mr. Browne is aware, Mr. Helge not only had been noticed as a witness and has been requested [on] numerous occasions to enter a general appearance as an attorney of record if that was his desire; but further was subpoenaed while present in Pima County, oh, some month ago or better, that on his own and in proper subpoena which was heard before Judge Hooker several weeks ago, not as an attorney for Mr. Armstrong, not as an attorney of record in this matter but as an individual who was appearing simply on behalf of the Worldwide Church of God.
Specifically, and on numerous occasions, Mr. Helge has made statements on those behalf and has filed both affidavits and declarations in the case of Armstrong versus Armstrong specifically disclaiming representation of Mr. Armstrong and appearing solely as an interested person on behalf of the Worldwide Church of God.
The heated arguing then resumed with Ettinger and Deckter storming out of the building in protest. Then, with opposing counsel not present for cross examination, Browne (as reported in our last issue) brought in HWA. Here is the court record of what then transpired:
Q (BROWNE) Mr. Armstrong, I am going to ask you a few questions, just so that the record is clear as far as we are concerned, even though the other lawyers have left, and this way we will have your testimony under oath and we can present it to the judge, or some other court at a future time if it becomes necessary.
Let me ask you a few of these questions, if I may.
First of all, at any time prior to the marriage or during the marriage with Ramona Armstrong, did you ever tell her or promise her, in words or in substance, that when you died you would leave your entire estate to her? Did you ever make a promise to her like that?
A No, I did not make such a promise. No.
Q Did you ever make any promise to Ramona Armstrong, either prior to the marriage or during the marriage, that if you were to become disabled or died, you or the church would give her, for the rest of her life, $25,000 a year?
A Definitely not.
Q Did you at any time prior to the marriage or during the marriage make a promise to her that she would have a lifetime employment contract with you or the church for $50,000 a year for the rest of her life?
A Absolutely not.
Q Did you ever make a promise to Ramona Armstrong, prior to the marriage or during the marriage, that you would never divorce her?
A No. I did not.
Q Prior to the marriage or during the marriage, did you ever promise Ramona Armstrong that the house in Tucson and all the furnishings would belong to her and her alone?
A I did not, definitely.
Q Mr. Armstrong, can you tell me whether you believe that the marriage is irretrievably broken at this point?
A Legally it is, yes. It is already spiritually broken.
Q Fine. There are irreconcilable differences at this point between yourself and Ramona?
A There are.
Q Mr. Armstrong, is there any reasonable prospect of reconciliation at this point?
A Absolutely none.
MR. BROWNE: I have no further questions at this time. Let us transcribe the deposition and provide it to Mr. Armstrong.
It is noteworthy that HWA has lost all recollection of the WCG's official marriage ceremony - a marriage ceremony which not only condemned divorce, but even categorically denied God could allow a legitimate marriage to be dissolved. And, ironically, it was not only HWA who often officiated at weddings using that ceremony, it was HWA who authored it! We wonder if HWA's lawyer will attempt to excuse this lapse of memory because of some type of senility problem.
At the pseudo-deposition in Beverly Hills, HWA had it easy. But in the more than one week of questioning he was later subjected to in Tucson, Herbert found out what it was like to be really grilled. In a letter to the WCG membership, dated April 24, 1983, HWA wrote:
For the past week I have been in Tucson, Arizona, in an inquisition, legally called a deposition. It is becoming evident that the case is being turned into another legal battle aimed to destroy the Church of the living God....
Brethren, God has been with me this week. We're not really struggling against PEOPLE - whether lawyers or what - but against the spiritual POWERS of darkness and evil - Satan and his demons - the invisible actual rulers of this world....
Sacrifice for the Work as never before....
Then in the "P.S. - IMPORTANT NOTICE" he directed his followers to discontinue sending contributions to his Arizona address. Perhaps anticipating major losses in the Arizona courts, Armstrong's big money-processing operations have been moved across the state lines back to California, where HWA has instructed his followers to send their tithes. Of course, the checks are still not to be made out to the Worldwide Church of God, but to - you guessed it - Herbert W. Armstrong, personally.
As of this writing, the Armstrong divorce case is scheduled to go to trial July 18. We suspect it will not be a short trial. We have notified many of our friends in the news media of the trial date, and there should be reasonably good coverage of the event. And, of course, assuming the trial is completed by then, our next issue will cover the trial, in-depth.
USC Strokes HWA for Church Bucks
While his lawyers have been fighting in Arizona to thwart his estranged wife from dismantling his financial empire and image, HWA has been happily pursuing his usual ego-expansion trips. The April 5 Worldwide News (WN) reported that HWA had returned from a 13-day trip to the Middle East, where officials in Jordan received his special attention. The May 30 WN reported HWA in Oxford, England. According to that publication, "The Ambassador Foundation sponsors the Mainland China Fellowship, held by Zhao Renwei, an economist from the People's Republic of China." While in England, HWA met with Leopold de Rothschild, Edmond de Rothschild, and other British leaders and royalty. This is not a difficult thing to do if you spread a little money around. For instance AP reported that in June over "500 wealthy Americans attended the champagne supper and ball during a four-day visit designed to raise money for two of Prince Charles' pet projects...."
But for sheer absurdity, it would be difficult to beat the April 18 WN report of HWA receiving honors at the University of Southern California's Law Center. The WN article began:
In a ceremony to establish the Herbert W. Armstrong Professorship of Constitutional Law, James H. Zumberge, president of the University of Southern California, and Scott H. Bice, dean of the USC Law Center, honored Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong, March 31.
In the ceremony, which also included the establishment of another professorship for the Law Center, Dr. Zumberge lauded the pastor general. "Peoples throughout the nation, indeed throughout the entire world, are familiar with the ministry and accomplishments of Herbert W. Armstrong," Dr. Zumberge began. "Mr. Armstrong is well-known to many as an... ambassador of world peace," the university president continued. "He has met privately with such leaders as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain, Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, Presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, and the king of Thailand, all in an effort to further world peace and religious liberty. Mr. Armstrong has long admired the commitment to religious liberty evidenced by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution," the president said. "And he has been an outspoken defender of constitutional liberty. Thus when the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation agreed to fund a professorship in Mr. Armstrong's honor, it was Mr. Armstrong's personal wish that the professorship be in constitutional law."
Present at the ceremony were "U.S. Federal judges, attorneys and law scholars from the USC Law Center." But while HWA was giving away more of his church's money to obtain yet another ego stroke, some were absolutely flabbergasted at USC's fling with HWA. One such critic is author David Robinson, who quickly dispatched the following open letter to the president and trustees of USC:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The April 18th issue of The Worldwide News, official organ of Herbert Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God, has extensive coverage of the March 31st ceremonies at USC announcing the new Herbert W. Armstrong Professorship of Constitutional Law. There is a large picture of you, President Zumberge, together with Herbert Armstrong. There are three paragraphs of quotes from your speech which lauded Armstrong in the customary manner of those who receive huge sums of money from his treasury. But I am wondering, ladies and gentlemen, if you were fully informed of Herbert Armstrong's history before concluding negotiations for the honor you have conferred upon him.
I know nothing of the others for whom professorships have been named in the past. But assuming they are honorable people, I do wonder if you have been fair to them to associate Herbert Armstrong with them in such a manner. The burden of this name and its association, I expect, will become heavier and heavier to bear.
Herbert Armstrong has been remarkably clever at erecting a beautiful facade, but behind that false front lies a very ugly reality. For instance, his well-publicized court case, which broke into the news in 1979, was never settled in the courts. Rather, Armstrong sought and obtained passage of a bill in the California legislature which emasculated the laws operating against him. He obtained a political solution to a legal matter. Is this consistent with the principles of constitutional law? And while he was advocating strict observance of the principles of the First Amendment in California, he took the exact opposite position in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in another highly publicized case. Here, Armstrong tried with his might to muzzle the press to prevent publishing of important facts about himself. He had his lawyers go all out to stop publication of the book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, even to using prior restraint! This move failed, but not for lack of money or effort on his part.
Herbert Armstrong is known to many as a man who is a law unto himself. Supporting evidence is included with this letter. It seems to many of us who know him best, and I know what I am talking about after thirty years with this "whited sepulchre," that Armstrong and constitutional law mix about as well as oil and water. He is for such law as long as that law does not get in his way. But when it does, it is the law which must give way - not Herbert Armstrong!
Further evidence of the nature of this man is the designation he assigns to universities such as your own when he speaks to his followers. To them, he explains that all schools, except his own little college in Pasadena, are instruments of Satan the devil and are of this present evil world. (One can but wonder, if he believes what he preaches, why he would want to be memorialized in your institution.) To him the Catholic Church is the prime instrument of Satan, and others, such as the Methodist Church, are daughters of Rome and slated for utter destruction when the wrath of God falls. He holds out the same fate for the United States Constitution and our whole nation. As a matter of fact, he prophesied during World War II that Hitler would win and conquer Britain and America. He preached this doctrine until the war was almost over. One can but wonder how many additional lives were lost in our war effort because of this poison injected into the minds of thousands.
It is because of fear-inducing doctrines he teaches that people send him over a hundred million dollars a year. Thousands of his faithful are people poorly positioned in life - pensioners, widows, and the underemployed. He teaches that without paying him their money they will be denied the hearafter, and as a result, money flows to him in a torrent. He calls this "God's money!"
I do not know how strong your school of medicine is at USC, but it might be worth knowing that Herbert Armstrong has taught his followers for many years that use of medicine is totally wrong and is a trick of the devil to destroy men's faith in God and his healing. Many people have suffered and died in his church in an attempt to follow his ideas in this matter. Might there not be a dichotomy here as well? I personally have seen some of those people needlessly die under the most awful conditions.
Another of the messy loose ends in the Armstrong organization is his teaching to his followers that they must be prepared to leave the country en masse at a signal from him. The destination is a desert region called Petra in the southwestem corner of the kingdom of Jordan, where they are to await the return of Christ. Thousands of his followers are to this very day anxiously awaiting his signal for the exodus. He even encourages his most ardent ministers to proclaim him The Apostle, Moses, Elijah, Zerubbabel, John the Baptist, and the principal of the two witnesses of Revelation, all rolled into one. Also, his ministers have been encouraged to preach that he will never die, even though he is 90 years old (yet if appearance courts, he ages as do other men). While we are living in an era when moral turpitude seems to be a phrase from the past, nevertheless, Herbert Armstrong's conduct in this area is legendary. Included in the legend is even a ten-year incestuous relationship with his younger daughter.
Armstrong himself is wont to say, "Where there is so much smoke there has to be some fire." The truth is that a bonfire is raging. After he is gone, who is going to continue the defense of his name? Will it be those now surrounding him who have all suffered many indignities at his hand? Will they do as the successors of Stalin did when their feared and hated leader died - revile him before the world? What then of your Herbert W. Armstrong Professorship?
We can't help but be amused every time we hear that HWA has bought himself another honor under the guise of giving to charity - especially in light of Jesus' profound teachings in the Beatitudes. Notice Jesus' immortal words:
Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matt. 6:2-4, RSV).
As HWA schemes to amass the accolades of kings and dignitaries, he forgets the words of the apostles James and John, which he quoted frequently in the decades before the 1970s:
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4, RSV).
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him (I John 2:15), RSV).
Supreme Court Rules Against WCG - Again
On April 18, the U. S. Supreme Court upheld a California appellate court ruling which said that a trial court should inquire into WCG doctrines and apply those doctrines relevant to a case involving former WCG minister Richard Gipe. In 1979, because of doctrinal differences, Gipe was fired from his position as minister of a Garden Grove, California congregation. The WCG then denied Gipe his $3,269 severance pay because he refused to turn over certain property the headquarters organization claimed as its own. Gipe filed a complaint with the California Labor Commission, which granted him the $3,269. But subsequently, a state trial judge ruled that the courts should not have become involved in the dispute. Gipe appealed that decision and won a reversal. Then the California Supreme Court and the U. S. Supreme Court both rebuffed the WCG's attempts at reversing the California appellate court's ruling. As usual, Ralph Helge saw the decision as another violation of the WCG's First Amendment rights.
Of the many groups we have reported on over the years, there have been few as interesting as the Reunion, a new organization based in Britain. Composed of former members of the WCG in that country, this organization was formed as a means for ex-WCG members to maintain contact with old friends and as a means of helping others who are troubled in the WCG.
The Reunion had its first meeting on April 2, 1983, at the International Students House in London. In attendance were 21 delegates, who decided upon a set of goals and policies for the new organization. The points agreed upon were: (1) That the Reunion will be purely social with no religious preaching whatsoever; (2) That its main purpose will be to provide a communications network - as a tool for fellowship, friendship, good works, helping friends and WCG members in crisis, etc.; (3) It was decided that, in order to help facilitate the above, the Reunion would attempt to maintain a continuously updated directory of names, addresses, and telephone numbers of ex-WCG members; (4) Reunion meetings would be organized as often as desired by the members; (5) The chairman is to be Mae Kachere, who will also edit Reunion News, the group's quarterly newsletter; (6) The Reunion's next gathering will be in September; and (7) Peter Griffiths will serve as the organization's communications secretary.
One of Mr. Griffiths' responsibilities will be the compilation of the directory of ex-WCG members. He would appreciate hearing from any who wish to be listed, and he would also like the names and addresses of any former WCG members you may know of. Mr. Griffiths would like nothing better than to be flooded with names and addresses, and he says that if he could locate an inexpensive, small computer, he would consider purchasing one to help expedite the directory project.
We believe the Reunion has the potential of accomplishing much good. And we not only wish them the best of luck, but would love to see similar groups organized in other parts of the world. If any readers would be interested in forming their own "reunion" let us know and we will mention it in the Report. In the meantime, contact this British organization as they may well have a suggestion or two.
Of their April meeting in London, Mr. Griffiths writes, "There was a wonderful atmosphere of friendliness and unity amongst the people who had all been through the same experience." The next Reunion meeting will take place in Bedford, England on September 17, 1983. Those wishing more information or a copy of the quarterly Reunion News should write (and it might be a good idea to include a dollar or so to cover return postage): Mr. Peter N. Griffiths, 190 Tythe Barn Lane, Whitlocks End, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands, B90 1PF, England.
Since publishing the updated ministerial Executive Exodus list in our last issue, a few readers have written us that we omitted a few names. Durrell Brown, Eli Hofer, Bob Porter, and Burt Wyland should have been on the list. We expect that during the next year or so many more will be making their exit from the WCG. We would appreciate it if readers would inform us of any Executive Exodus additions as they occur.
Attention: Big Sandy Alumni
In our last issue we reported on Ed Holdren's desire to get a legal solution to the problem of Ambassador College's reneging on promises of achieving accreditation. Since that issue Mr. Holdren has informed us that he is expanding his lawsuit to include co-plaintiffs. Mr. Holdren is trying to locate 200 Big Sandy alumni to join his suit. He writes:
It would be what's called a "class action lawsuit." It would take a bare minimum of 200 [Big Sandy] alumni to qualify as a class action, and each person would need to chip in $25. This would be the $5,000 the law firm needs just to cover travel, depositions, research and general clerical expenses. From that point, they agree to work on a percent-of-the-take basis. By the way, I will keep the money in a separate bank account and make available any and all accounting of the funds dispersed upon request of those who join. If I can't enlist enough people to qualify for a class action suit, we could try a different avenue, or I would just return to the donors the amount they donated, minus any expenses I just had to pay the lawyers.
Those interested should write to: Mr. Ed Holdren, 4412 Dovehill Drive, Austin, Texas 78744.
GTA Article Demolishes HWA
HWA's malevolent treatment of his son, Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA), has apparently taken an even nastier turn, with HWA now refusing to communicate with members of Ted's family. In April, HWA's servants even refused to accept a registered letter to HWA from Shirl, Ted's wife. While some speculate that HWA is being "shielded" by those around him, we suspect HWA knows full well of the treatment being given GTA. Perhaps The International News for March had something to do with the latest escalation in the feud. In that issue's lead article, "Did Peter Have the Primacy?", GTA absolutely blasted HWA's claim to being the church's "chief apostle." Not only that, GTA, very pointedly, went on to observe:
Never did Jesus indicate His true church was to become a powerful, influential, politically oriented organization which would become part of this world; having concourse with this world's government and governmental leaders, becoming a large, visible church, capable of influencing legislation, wielding political power through numbers and financial resources!
Groups of Interest
Fellowship for the Restoration of Biblical Faith
Box 100, Oregon, IL 61061 (U.S.A.)
(In England: c/o John Cunningham, 91 Hughenden Rd., Marshalswick, St. Albans, Herts., England.)
This organization puts out theological study papers by Anthony F. Buzzard. Mr. Buzzard, who currently lectures in theology at Oregon Bible College, has a degree from Oxford, has done work in theology at Jerusalem and London universities, and is a former member of the WCG. Bible students may wish to request his "Introducing the Restoration Fellowship" letter, which outlines his background, the fellowship's goals, and the study papers that are now available to the public.
* * *
I am attending Rainbow Fellowship Church of God in Huntington Beach. We are currently considering a church in the San Gabriel Valley area. We occasionally hold Bible studies here in my home. If anyone would be interested in attending a Seventh Day Pentecostal Assembly, please let me know. I also have an on-going rest home and a Bible ministry here in Pasadena. I have spoken in a number of churches for my business and find a real need and desire to know and he informed about Herbert Armstrong and his danger.
For your information, the Seventh Day Church of God, P.O. Box 804, Caldwell, ID 83605, holds a Feast of Tabernacles near Tacoma, Washington. We have attended before and find it very enjoyable. The camp is operated on a free-will offering basis.
Also the Seventh Day Pentecostal Assn. Camp will be held in Turner, Ore. the first week in August. Contact Elder Billy Watts, 214 "D" St., Springfield, OR 97477. This camp is also supported by freewill offering. The grounds and quarters are kind of Spartan, but there are a lot of good fellowship meetings. Last year I met a number of people who knew Mr. Armstrong back in the 20s and 30s. Don't let anyone tell you he just went bad in recent years. According to them, he had a temper and ego problem all along. But his wife was a restraining factor.
Christian Casualty Insurance Agency, Inc.
1241 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106
Regarding your article on page ten of last month's report on "Should We Continue Publishing?" I say INDEED! The April issue is a very fine report about a sad situation that's allowed to continue. I had been duped by HWA and the WCG from 1966 to 1982. I increasingly became "fed up" with the half information that they gave in "announcements" and with the contradictory interpretations on scriptures. One "pastor" would say that a scripture means thus and such. I in turn made a notation in my Bible, and low and behold a few years later another "minister" would say something entirely different about the same scripture! When I queried the "minister," afterwards he would either say he never heard the other meaning or he would say, "That is new to me."
I did not like or care for it when HWA, a cantankerous octogenarian curmudgeon, married Ramona Martin, a young spring chicken - RIDICULOUS! Even more ridiculous was the divorce! Why? Because HWA has preached against divorce for over fifty years. Then he has the audacity to write in the April 1982 Co-Worker letter.- "This determination SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A PRECEDENT TO ENCOURAGE OR JUSTIFY OTHER DIVORCES IN THE CHURCH." In other words, do as I say, NOT as I do. A wedding "spiritually bound" by God five years ago ended upon the rocks. That was when I quit the WCG.
I thought you might he interested in the following item that appeared on May 12 in a Gladewater, Texas paper:
Gladewater High School's 1983 graduating class will be the last one to hold Commencement at old Bear Stadium. After that it will be put in mothballs until such time as the school board makes a decision concerning its future.
School administrative officials were deluged with telephone calls of protest Tuesday morning after it was announced that plans were being made to hold Commencement at Ambassador College. The plans were changed.
I have a question for you concerning the Worldwide Church of God, which I have been attending for twelve years. Why, all of a sudden, were tape recordings prohibited at services?
Editor: Our guess is that HWA does not want anyone to be able to document what is being said in services.
Because of makeup I was recently put into a "nonmember" category, which means that I have never been converted and do not have God's Holy Spirit according to the WCG minister in.... But I can attend with my husband as long as I wear absolutely "no makeup."
The church recently cancelled its Women's Club program without giving a logical explanation. Do you know the reason?
Editor: Not really. Our guess is that this is just another way for the "Apostle" to punish those "rebellious" women who might want to wear makeup.
I wish I could have come in contact with Ambassador Report years ago. My wife and I would almost surely still be together. It's too late for us, but perhaps others can still be saved. Keep up the good work.
Thanks again for all your investigative work on the WCG and Mr. Armstrong. I was "snowed" by HWA for more than 20 years, starting at age 13, but God delivered me from HWA's clutches before I went insane. That's no exaggeration. I did suffer a series of mental breakdowns which were, in part, due to the Armstrong cult.
...bleak for us was the news in your latest Report about the suicide death of Phillip Apartian, who had been suffering from depression. Although we didn't personally know Phillip, we can't help thinking about our own son, age 24, who still is very much with the WCG and who likewise has been suffering from depression. His depression has driven him to two suicide attempts in the last two years! The first time was after taking "vivren" (not sure of the spelling), a caffein-type stimulant, and some form of alcohol, we believe, wine. He ended up at Harbor General Hospital for treatment. The most recent attempt was after consuming sleeping pills and "Southern Comfort. " This put him in U. C. Irvine Medical Center for detoxification and psychiatric evaluation. After the first attempt, he refused psychiatric counseling on any extended basis - we feel due to the WCG cult influence. After the last attempt, a psychiatrist from U. C. Irvine ended up calling for background information, and our son was told by his local minister that any further suicide attempts would result in disfellowship for a period of at least six months!
My wife and I definitely feel that the WCG has not helped our son to become a better person or an upstanding citizen of good character, but has instead introduced him to alcohol (the hard stuff - not beer), to wayward lifestyles, and to poor hygiene habits.
When our son left home in 1979 after completing one year at Ambassador College, he told us he was leaving "Egypt" and going to his "promised land" to live with his "fellow brethren in the Lord" where he could become a "whole person " and develop to his "full potential " He further stated that he would then be unincumbered by me, the "Pharaoh," and could become much more zealous in the furthering of "The Great Work." As my wife and I view it, our son has in reality "gone to the dogs!" His health, car, clothes and other personal effects are all in a very degenerate, rundown condition, due to, in large measure, his sacrificial tithing to Pasadena, which undoubtedly is now helping to pay for attorneys' fees and other legal expenses for both Herbert and Ramona!
Though late in responding, I would like to say that your latest Report has been the most incisive yet. I can understand that you wish to set this aside and get on with your lives, but I would like to see you continue your work until at least that time when the WCG changes its leadership. If you find that you cannot continue with the burden, then I would like to say thank you for making a difference.
Yes, we would like to get on with our lives. And we look forward to the day when we can put all of this behind us.
Nevertheless, it does look like the WCG is in for some really major upheavals in the next year or so. And many - especially those with loved ones in the WCG - have written us that the Report is their only source of accurate information as to what is happening in that organization. We are going to do our best to continue getting out the facts on Herbert Armstrong.
We thank all of you who wrote in the last three months to encourage us. And we especially thank those who, knowing of our needs, contributed a little extra to our efforts. Without your help this issue would not have been possible.
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