AR30 December, 1984
Why Ambassador Report?
Ambassador Report is published by and for alumni, students, faculty, and friends of Ambassador College. It has grown out of the increasing need for a response to the misinformation contained in many official Ambassador College and Worldwide Church of God publications.
Ambassador Report has the following purposes:
- It assesses the foundational philosophies of Ambassador College and their effect on Ambassador College students. In short, it examines the "Ambassador Experience."
- It brings to light many of Ambassador College's biggest problems that have been too long covered up.
- It presents solutions to Ambassador College's problems and encourages drastically needed changes at Ambassador College and, to a degree, in the church that directly influences it.
- It is dedicated to prodding the leadership of Ambassador College and the Worldwide Church of God, which supports and controls it, to change the practices and policies that are bringing worldwide discredit to Ambassador College.
We welcome and encourage suggestions from our readers regardless of political, religious, or philosophical persuasion, and we warmly welcome all contributions to our efforts.
Long-time readers of Ambassador Report will recall that the above statement appeared at the beginning of our earliest issues. It outlined our purpose then and outlines our purpose now. Ambassador Report is a nondenominational Christian service. While we do provide information about a number of religious organizations, it is not our goal to encourage readers to join or support any particular sect or group. However, if you are in any way associated with Ambassador College or the Worldwide Church of God, we believe we can provide you with valuable information, often available nowhere else.
Our New Address
Please take note that Ambassador Report has a new mailing address: P.O. Box 60068, Pasadena, CA 91106. Mail sent to our old box number (4068) will still reach us, as our new box number is still at the same post office (zip 91106). For the convenience of our postal clerks, however, please send all mail for Ambassador Report to our new box number.
Our Mailing List
The Ambassador Report mailing list is not available for sale or rental. Unless we are given permission by a reader to do so, we will not divulge the name of any subscriber. It is our policy that no one should be added to our mailing list unless he or she personally requests a subscription. We do not want the Report sent repeatedly to those who don't care to receive it. However, as we want our services to be known by all who may benefit, we will send our flyer (starts next page) to individuals whose names and addresses are supplied to us. If you have friends or relatives who may benefit from the Report, send us their names and addresses. We'll send them an introductory flyer and/or sample Report. Of course, your name will be kept strictly confidential.
Our Subscription Policy
We believe Ambassador Report has provided and continues to provide a valuable service. It is, nevertheless, a fact that we have never published an issue that did not leave us owing money. It is only because of the generosity of our readers that we have, each time, been able to pay off enough of our debts to warrant further publishing. While such limitations have perhaps encouraged our humility, we wish we could do more - especially in the area of advertising - to make our publications better known to those who really need them.
We have given serious thought to putting a $20 or $30 per year subscription price or suggested donation on the Report. If each of our readers contributed that much per year, we could actually expand our efforts to include a bit of promotion and advertising. Unfortunately, such a plan would undoubtedly discourage some from giving more, while at the same time, hundreds of our poorer readers would simply not be able to continue to subscribe. It would probably shock you to realize how many of our readers are living below the poverty line, not just because of retirement on fixed incomes, but because of years of being bled white by the Armstrong organization. For that reason (and for a number of other business and legal considerations) we do not want to put a subscription price on the Report.
However, as a means of conserving our very limited financial resources, we have decided on one policy change. We will no longer provide free photocopies of back issues to the hundreds who yearly request them. We had done so for quite some time. However, increasingly this service is proving too costly. Beginning in 1985, we will require a donation (see the last page of this issue) before supplying photocopies of back issues. We will, however, continue to provide a copy of our most recent issue and our new flyer (which begins on the next page) free of charge to all who ask our help. We don't think this is an unreasonable policy, and we hope long-time readers will appreciate why it is necessary.
Our New Flyer
Over the years, many former WCG members have written asking us to publish some type of hand-out that could be used to warn others about Armstrongism. What has been needed is some type of article or flyer short enough to be economically photocopied, yet large enough to adequately explain what the Armstrong church is really all about.
Well, we have finally been able to put together something we hope will fill that need. Following this article is a three-page flyer that we believe our readers can easily photocopy and use to advantage. It explains in a concise manner the real facts about The Plain Truth magazine, Herbert Armstrong, and his Worldwide Church of God. It then lists all the Ambassador Report literature published to date, along with a brief description of each, plus other organizations and literature of value in understanding the Armstrong phenomenon. Those who wish to personally provide others with the facts on the WCG (and help Ambassador Report at the same time) will find this a valuable tool.
©1985 Ambassador Report. Published quarterly, as finances allow, as a Christian service.
John Trechak, Editor& Publisher Mary E. Jones, Associate Editor
Founding Publishers: Robert Gerringer, Bill Hughes, Mary E. Jones, John Trechak, Len Zola, and Margaret Zola.
What's Behind The Plain Truth Magazine?
And Who Is Herbert W. Armstrong?
If you live in the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, or Western Europe, you have probably seen, during the last few years, one magazine that has been turning up on newsstands, in shops, and in waiting rooms with ever increasing frequency. It's called The Plain Truth. And with a circulation of over seven million, it's one of the fastest growing magazines in the world today.
You may have noticed how the free, full-color Plain Truth reports on world trends, seems to promote traditional family values, and offers readers generous amounts of free literature. You may also be aware that The Plain Truth is published by a church called the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). What you probably don't know, however, is that The Plain Truth is the WCG's primary tool for gaining new converts. And you are also probably unaware of what the WCG really does teach. That's because the WCG goes to some lengths to conceal many of its beliefs from all, except those who have been systematically led through their indoctrination program that only begins with The Plain Truth.
What Is the Worldwide Church of God?
The Worldwide Church of God (originally named the Radio Church of God) was founded in the early 1930s by former advertising man Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA). Today the WCG has a membership of approximately 75,000. The church is headquartered in Pasadena, California, and in 1984 took in over $130 million. The church has its own college - Ambassador College (AC, unaccredited) - with campuses in Pasadena, California, and Big Sandy, Texas (near Dallas). The church also funds an organization called the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, which funnels church money to a number of cultural projects and supports a concert series as a means of enhancing the WCG's public image. Besides The Plain Truth and numerous booklets, the WCG also publishes The Good News, a more doctrinally open magazine for contributors, and the Worldwide News, a newspaper strictly for initiated WCG members.
The WCG's Doctrines
"The gospel had not been preached until God raised me up to preach it.... That gospel you never heard from any preacher except one from this church. You never heard it from Billy Graham. You never heard it from any Protestant preacher. You never heard it from any Catholic priest."
- Herbert W. Armstrong, sermon, July 24, 1976
Here, in brief, are the WCG's most important doctrines and practices: Herbert W. Armstrong is revered by the WCG members as "God's Holy Apostle." HWA claims that he is the only one (along with his ministers) who has preached the true Gospel in 1900 years. The WCG is "the only true church," all others are taught to be of Satan (WCG: A True History of the True Church). The United States and British Commonwealth are the true Israel of Bible prophecy and will soon (the predicted date has been reset a number of times) be destroyed by a resurrected Holy Roman Empire (HWA: The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy). Those in the WCG will be miraculously spared (HWA: "There Is a Way of Escape"). WCG members must give 10% of their gross income to the WCG, use another 10% for keeping the church's feasts, give an additional 10% every third year, and make "freewill offerings" besides (HWA: Ending Your Financial Worries). Christmas, New Year's, Easter, Halloween, and birthdays are all pagan and are not to be observed. The WCG observes the Saturday sabbath and the Old Testament feast days (WCG: Pagan Holidays -Or God's Holy Days - Which? and HWA: Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?). According to HWA, Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and rose on a Saturday (HWA: The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday). The Old Testament dietary laws are to be observed (HWA: "Is All Animal Flesh Good Food?"). Women are not to wear makeup (HWA: Truth About Makeup). Husbands are to "rule over" their wives. Corporal punishment of children is encouraged. WCG members may divorce nonmember mates. It's okay to drink alcohol. Generally, the WCG is anti-medicine and pro-faith healing (The Good News, Oct.-Nov. '81). The local WCG congregations usually meet in rented halls. The phone numbers of WCG ministers are almost always unlisted. WCG members are not to serve in the military or to vote in elections (HWA: "How Would Jesus Vote for President?"). WCG members must put their church above all else in their lives - including family and friends. The WCG's organization is strictly hierarchical. WCG members who openly question church doctrines or church leadership are "disfellowshipped" (excommunicated and shunned). The WCG is non- trinitarian and teaches that man's purpose is to eventually become God (HWA: Why Were You Born?).
What Is Ambassador College?
Founded by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1947, Ambassador College, with campuses in California and Texas, has in the past published much of the WCG's literature. The bulk of the WCG's wealth is in the college's name, and the church's world headquarters are located on its California campus. After almost forty years of existence, the college is still unaccredited. While the college is often made to appear autonomous, it is actually completely controlled by the church and can be accurately described as merely an extension of the WCG.
"Apostle" Herbert W. Armstrong
HWA was born in 1892 to parents of Quaker faith. He was a high school drop out and for many years thereafter, an advertising man (The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong). According to The Good News (Aug. 1969, p. 4), he was baptized by a Baptist preacher, and he was ordained by lay members of the Oregon Conference of the Church of God (Autobiography, pp. 365-366). He was never a seminary or Bible college student. He founded the Radio (later renamed Worldwide) Church of God in 1934. He plagiarized writings of the Seventh-Day Adventists, the British Israel movement, and other religious groups and claimed "his" new writings were "revealed truth from God" (AR2, p. 48). In the late 1930s, the Church of God (7th Day) - which had been paying HWA a salary - cut him off for insubordination and teaching heresies. He left Oregon for California in the 1940s (according to some Armstrongologists, because his many failed prophecies and lifestyle had caught up with him in Oregon). He founded Ambassador College in 1947 to train young people to assist him in his work.
By about 1970, "The World Tomorrow" - a radio and television program done by HWA and his son, Garner Ted Armstrong - was one of the biggest buyers of air time in the world. Until the early 1970s HWA taught against divorce, even to the point of requiring new WCG converts who had previously divorced and remarried to separate from their current mates and live celebate. But in 1974 he changed the WCG's divorce doctrine to allow divorce (other doctrines have also been changed over the years as circumstances required). In 1977 HWA married Ramona Martin, a divorcee more than forty years his junior and a secretary he had "dated" for three years prior to their marriage. In 1978 HWA, in an organizational power struggle, disfellowshipped his son Garner Ted Armstrong, who then started his own church - The Church of God, International, in Tyler, Texas. They have not had any dealings with each other since then.
HWA's extravagant lifestyle is well-known. He has his own customized, private jet with personal crew and servants. A few years ago, he had five expensive homes filled with rare works of art. His accountant, Jack Kessler, wrote in 1981 that HWA gave himself a salary of $500,000 per year. He has a number of Swiss bank accounts. HWA regularly mingles with the rich and powerful. These have included: Jacob Rothschild of England; King Leopold of Belgium; Marcos of the Philippines; Sadat and Mubarak of Egypt; Meir, Dayan, Begin, etc. of Israel; seven prime ministers and the emperor of Japan; Strauss of West Germany; Otto von Hapsburg of Austria; and numerous leaders behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1984, after three years of court battles and millions in lawyers' fees, HWA divorced his wife. In recent years, it has been revealed that HWA has had a long history of sexual perversion and that for 10 years he had maintained a sexual relationship with his youngest daughter (Robinson, ARs 14, 21, 27, 28, etc.). In spite of all this, the Armstrong church continues to gain new members and grow in power and influence (Christianity Today, Oct 19, 1984, p. 51).
Ambassador Report Publications
In 1975 a small group of ex-WCG Ambassador College alumni decided it was time that the truth about Armstrong's Ambassador College and Worldwide Church of God be made known, especially to those financially supporting those organizations. This small group of alumni formed an organization called Ambassador Review (now called Ambassador Report, P.O. Box 60068, Pasadena, California 91106). Since 1976 they have produced over 30 highly revealing publications about the Armstrong movement.
The entire Ambassador Report collection represents, undoubtedly, the most thoroughly researched, frank, and shocking look at the inner-workings of Herbert Armstrong's corporations and related groups. The series is exciting, eye-opening reading, especially if read in chronological order. With the exception of the most recent issues, the entire series is officially out-of-print. However, for a reasonable donation (used to help finance further publishing - for details see below), you may obtain quality black and white photocopies of any and all back issues that may be needed. Here in chronological order is a list of what has been published along with a partial description of the contents of each issue. Keep in mind that most issues contain, in addition, many smaller articles and numerous testimonial letters that are often equally interesting:
AR Intro: Ambassador Review's early 1976 introductory letter and the article "An Open Letter to GTA: Was Richard Plache Properly Roasted?" (9 pages).
"The Gerringer Letter": Bob Gerringer's 1975 open letter to WCG evangelist Charles Hunting, explaining why he and his wife Connie left the WCG (28 pages).
"The '39 Article": "Did Christ Reorganize the Church" by HWA. Published in 1939, the article attacks the very organizational methods HWA later adopted (10 pages).
AR 1: Ambassador Review, June '76. Expose articles on HWA, his failed prophecies, WCG tithing, AC's norraccreditation and mail censorship, the AICF, "The WCG Talmud," etc. (51 pages, illustrated).
AR 2: Ambassador Report, 1977. As described by one leading newspaper - "It may be the most devastating expose of a religious group ever published." 30 articles on all facets of the WCG. Includes: "In Bed With Garner Ted," "Bobby Fischer Speaks Out," "What the Armstrongs Say About Other Churches," "Home-breaking - Armstrong Style," "Fleecing the Flock," "Herbert Armstrong's Religious Roots," "Modern Moloch - Human Sacrifice in the Armstrong Church," and much more (90 pages, illustrated, originally in color, now only b/w photocopies available).
AR 3: Ambassador Report, March-April '78. Articles on the WCG's response to the 1977 issue, AC picketer arrested, Bobby Fischer sues the Report, power struggle in WCG (10 pages).
(Note: the following Ambassador Report issues are all in 8=x14 inch newsletter format.)
AR 4: June '78. Fischer lawsuit fizzles out, Bagley trial is scheduled, Ambassador Report's files are stolen, AC Coalition for Student Rights, WCG political infighting (6 pages).
AR 5: Aug. '78. GTA ousted, Church of God International formed, Everest House's occult books, "Cheeky Church Boss' Royal Boast" (10 pages).
AR 6: Sept.-Oct.'78. "Ex-Jewish Convert May Inherit Church's Wealth," Tucson homes of HWA and WCG attorney- accountant Rader, AC Bricket Wood campus sold, AC Big Sandy campus up for sale, spying continues at AC Pasadena (12 pages).
AR 7: Jan. '79. State of California sues WCG, AC is raided "Rhubarb in God's House," Rader testifies (12 pages).
AR 8: March '79. HWA at medical clinic, sit-ins at AC, WCG battles state in court, Rader on "Sixty Minutes" (15 pages).
AR 9: June '79. Receivership update, details of Rader's Mike Wallace interview, "Want Your Tithes Returned?", "Planning to Sue?", Bagley trial ends (18 pages).
AR 10: Nov. '79. Rader ordained, state's lawsuit continues, Wisconsin farmer fights to recover farm from WCG, WCG financial report, "The Weirdos," documentary film mentions WCG, self-education (13 pages).
AR 11: March' 80. State lawsuit update, HWA visits Communist China, Plain Truth staff purged, severance pay legal fight, more churches, starting your own church (14 pages).
AR 12: June '80. Distribution of Robinson book blocked by WCG, U.S. Supreme Court denies WCG pleas, WCG turns to politicians for help, the Corporate Sole, new doctrines (16 pages).
AR 13: Sept. '80. Petris Bill passed in Sacramento, Robinson book released, Rader extends peace bid to Attorney General Deukmejian, WCG tragedies in the news (6 pages).
AR 14: Dec. '80. Rader outmaneuvers California, $1 million offering to Egypt, WCG hires thief, perversions depicted on Ambassador stage, HWA incest allegations riot denied, HWA demons, HWA-Simon Magus parallels (18 pages).
AR 15: March '81. GTA almost returns, Big Sandy to reopen, editors quit Quest magazine, the Council of Elders founded, Tuit book published (20 pages).
AR 16: July '81. GTA rebuffed, Rader ousted, Ramona Armstrong returns to HWA, Rader hospitalized, Rader and Kuhn sue George Lucas over "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Gerald Waterhouse, "The Prophets of the Partial Truth" (16 pages).
AR 17: Oct. '81. GTA strikes out, GTA starts new business, Rader to "clean up Hollywood," Robinson suit settled, the phony survey, HWA off his noodle - his new anti-medicine statements (14 pages).
AR 18: Dec. '81. "Do You Want to Look Like a Whore?" HWA's revived anti-makeup doctrine, HWA's personal medical program, AC book censorship, "The Cult of Armstrong?", Markam's cult paper, how to help friends and relatives in WCG, the Menge mystery (16 pages).
AR 19: March '82. New allegations by church accountant Jack Kessler, HWA on Petra, WCG's mystery religion connections (12 pages).
AR 20: June '82. HWA files for divorce, WCG lawyer Helge rebukes Kessler, "Plain Truth - or Just Plain Trash?", Basil Wolverton honored, same old GTA (16 pages).
AR 21: Sept. '82. HWA & Ramona battle it out, "Apostle Kinky" meets Margaret Thatcher, "Kinky Churchman Fools [Prince] Charles" (6 pages).
AR 22: Dec. '82. "How much is Ambassador Report accomplishing?" (2 pages).
AR 23: Jan. '83. HWA decrepit - AR editor John Trechak's response to letter from WCG lawyer Allan Browne, WCG paranoia, Stan Rader - scapegoat (10 pages).
AR 24: April '83. HWA still "no-show" as divorce battle continues, "Executive Exodus Updated" - list of 253 ministers who have left WCG, "GTA - an Insight" (10 pages).
AR 25: July '83. HWA trapped into depositions, controversial lawyer Helge, USC gets WCG money, "The Reunion" (10 pages).
AR 26: Oct. '83. Trial delayed as HWA pays, HWA's tricky answers, criminal charges against Ramona, HWA's tithes come up short, "Bobby Fischer - Where Are You?" (12 pages).
AR 27: April '84. More Armstrong divorce-case testimony, HWA's shocking marriage arrangement, "HWA Confesses to Incest!", Cecil Battles' followers wait for UFOs, Gary Alexander in prison (14 pages).
AR 28: July '84. HWA gets his divorce, religion and the courts, GTA - problems and insights, Dwight Armstrong ill, "A Letter from Germany" (12 pages).
AR 29: Oct. '84. Ex-WCG member Leona McNair is awarded $1.26 million in suit against WCG, "The End of the Work?" (10 pages).
AR 30: Dec. '84. "Why Ambassador Report?" and this flyer (4 pages).
High quality b/w photocopies of the above issues are available by writing to the publisher. AR 2 is available for a donation of $15, AR 1 for a donation of $10, "The Gerringer Letter" for a donation of $5, AR 22 for a donation of $1, and AR 30 is free. All other publications listed above are available for a donation of $2.50 each. Write:
P.O. Box 60068
Pasadena, CA 91106
As of this writing (Dec. 1984), Ambassador Report newsletters are still being published quarterly. Those interested in subscribing should write to the above address. There is no charge to be put on the mailing list. Keep in mind, however, that the AR relies on the contributions of its readers to continue publishing.
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The Ambassador Report collection represents the most thorough and extensive source of information on the Armstrong movement. Nevertheless, in the last decade a number of excellent books have also appeared on the subject. Here are the most important:
Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web by David Robinson, 1980, 285 pages, $8, John Hadden Publishers, P.O. Box 35982, Tulsa, OK 74135.
Armstrongism: Religion or Rip-Off? by Marion J. McNair, 1977, 339 pages, out-of-print, but quality facsimile editions are available for $20 from Emissary Publications, P.O. Box 642, South Pasadena, CA 91030.
The Armstrong Empire by Joseph Hopkins, 1974, 304 pages, out-of-print, but quality facsimile editions are available for $20 from Emissary Publications (above).
The Truth Shall Make You Free by John Tuit, 1981, 307 pages, $8, The Truth Foundation, 17 W. End Ave., Stamford, NY 12167.
Armstrongism Bibliography by J. L. F. Buchner, 1984, 130 pages. This is a listing of virtually all books, sections of books, articles, news reports, pamphlets, etc. about, by, and related to HWA, the WCG, and its offshoots. $10 (plus $2 for the 1984 supplement) from J. L. F. Buchner, P.O. Box 108, Milperra, N.S.W. 2214 Australia.
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In addition to the above, a number of organizations publish materials that challenge the more extreme of Armstrong's doctrines. The most important of these organizations are: Foundation for Biblical Research, P.O. Box 499, Pasadena, CA 91102; World Insight Magazine, P.O. Box 35, Pasadena, CA 91102; Concordant Publishing Concern, 15570 W. Knochaven Dr., Canyon Country, CA 91351; The Church of God Within, P.O. Box 11074, Dallas, TX 75223; Reality Report Press, 2442 N.W. Market St., Suite 193, Seattle, WA 98107; and Reunion News, 190 Tythe Barn Lane, Whitlocks End, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands, B901PF, England. Write to them for details.
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"He who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him" (Prov. 18:17, RSV).
"Beware of false prophets.... You will know them by their fruits.... Every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit" (Matt. 7:15-18, RSV).
"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them" (Eph. 5:11, RSV).
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