AR 38 April, 1987
Tkach Rewrites HWA's Healing Doctrine
Joseph W. Tkach, coronated as the successor to Apostle Herbert Armstrong (HWA) little more than a year ago, has just made the most monumental change in church doctrine in the Worldwide Church of God's 53-year history. Declaring that Christ had revealed "additional new truth to His church," Tkach, "on the authority of Jesus Christ" established a new healing doctrine that is the exact opposite of what HWA had taught for over five decades (The Worldwide News, Mar. 23, 1987).
While we commend Mr. Tkach for his courage and honesty in changing one of the WCG's flawed dogmas, we take issue with his statement that the WCG's revised healing doctrine is "new truth." While it is possible that Mr. Tkach only recently discovered this "new truth," the early New Testament church certainly understood the proper roles of physicians and divine healing, and the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches have had an essentially correct understanding of doctors and divine healing for decades. And as early as 1974 all of Mr. Tkach's "new truth" was discussed heatedly in the WCG's doctrinal committees and was known to hundreds of ministers and church personnel, some of whom were fired for insisting the church recognize this "new truth" along with the real truth about Pentecost, tithing, and divorce. In fact, David Antion, the WCG's director of church administration and the field ministry in the early '70s, wrote a widely circulated paper in 1975 containing the same material Tkach's article on healing "revealed." Also, in 1974, the Foundation for Biblical Research released a detailed booklet (Healing, Medicine, Physicians) that explains the same "new truth" Tkach discovered plus much more, and it is estimated that 20,000 WCG members and former members read it.
We realize Mr. Tkach couldn't afford to say it from a church politics standpoint, but, instead of implying that Christ had just revealed new, additional truth on healing to the WCG, he should have admitted the following: HWA taught heresy on the subject for over 50 years and, even when told of the suffering and death caused by the major flaws in his teaching, HWA absolutely refused to consider any changes to his doctrine. The many ministers who knew better were unable to reverse this heresy until now.
A lot of our newer readers must be asking: "So the church modified their healing doctrine. Who cares?" To answer that, let us first explain what the WCG taught on healing and then show how that teaching affected human lives. David Antion's doctrinal committee paper of 1975 ("A Study and Summary of the Doctrine of Healing") summed up the old WCG position well. His paper noted seven tenets underlying the old doctrine:
(1) It is God's will to heal each and every disease or sickness and He makes this promise in the Bible. (See Psa. 103:3; Heb. 13:8; Mal. 4:6; James 5:14.)
(2) Healing is the forgiveness of sin. Therefore since only God can forgive sin, only God can heal. Healing cannot come by any other means.
(3) One of God's names is "God, our Healer" (Ex. 15:26). Since it is part of God's name that He heals, it is idolatry to trust (and by extension "use") any other means to cure sickness. (See II Kings 1 and II Chron. 16.)
(4) Healing is the forgiveness of sins through the stripes of Christ. Therefore not to trust God for healing is to reject the sacrifice of Christ and to make oneself unworthy to take the Passover!
(5) Faith - it is according to your faith that you will be healed (Matt. 9:29).
(6) We must repent of physical sins just as we would repent of spiritual sins in order to receive forgiveness. (See John 5:14.)
(7) It is sin to administer or to accept drugs since Rev. 21:8 says that "sorcerers" (Greek pharmakos) will have their part in the lake of fire.
Herbert Armstrong stated the following in Does God Heal Today?, his authoritative booklet on the subject written in 1952:
Here's God's instruction to you, today, if you are ill. If we are to live by every Word of God, we should obey this Scripture. God does not say call your family physician.... He does not say, call the doctors and let them give medicines and drugs, and God will cause the medicines and drugs and dope to cure you. Yet that seems to be the way many professing Christians believe, because it's what they practice. Instead God says call God's ministers. And let them pray, anointing with oil... (p. 19).
But what if that alone didn't work? The little booklet answered that one too:
Don't pay any attention to how you feel, or what you see, after you have called upon God for healing. Just know you are to have it - and that's that! (p. 20.)
Garner Ted Armstrong was even more fanatical in a Good News article (June 1964, pp. 4, 22):
To rely on any foods, supplements, medicines, drugs, knives, or even on fasting, for healing (and none of these can, ever have, or ever will heal!) is to break the commandment against idolatry!
The effects of these now-admitted heresies were devastating to the church members who adhered to them. Over the years we have received hundreds of letters from members who saw loved ones die in agony or suffer needlessly because they feared to consult physicians or take medicine. One Oregon reader wrote:
We watched a person in the WCG waste to death rather than go to a physician. Another young person died of appendicitis rather than going to see a doctor. I sit here in continual pain and hemorrhaging because years ago I was "afraid" to visit a physician, and today I can't afford it.
Herbert W. Armstrong's own wife Loma died without proper medical treatment and suffered needlessly due to the stupidity of his heretical teachings on healing. Yet during the last decade of his life HWA surrounded himself with physicians, nurses, medical advisers and every form of medication available in a futile effort to preserve his physical life, all the while refusing to change his healing doctrine for the church (see our issues of Dec. 31, 1981, p. 2; and Jan. 1983). Members refused vaccinations and didn't carry health insurance. Strangely, though, while members avoided aspirin, they swallowed vitamin pills by the millions.
©1987 Ambassador Report. Published quarterly, as finances allow, as a Christian service. ISSNO882-2123
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.
In his recent major article on healing, Tkach writes: "Jesus was deeply compassionate, empathizing with the suffering of humanity. He 'was moved with compassion' toward the multitudes and healed their sick." When you read the above paragraphs, you can't help wonder which Jesus Herbert Armstrong and his cohorts have been praying to and following all these years. How, in God's name, could these arrogant men (HWA, Garner Ted Armstrong, and evangelists Hoeh, Meredith, McNair, etc.) claim to follow a compassionate Jesus and still harden their hearts to the cries of the sick and afflicted? How? - especially when for over 12 years the truth on healing and physicians has been at their fingertips. Oh, they knew better! Of course they did. But pride, arrogance, and a big paycheck had a higher value than did other people's lives. Perhaps with Mr. Tkach in charge the church's hardline approach to dealing with its members will soften, and mercy and compassion will be the new watchwords.
Whatever the case, church members will benefit from the WCG's new understanding of healing. Tkach's material, no doubt influenced by the research of David Antion and the Foundation for Biblical Research (FBR), points out, as did both Antion and the FBR, that Luke was a beloved physician in the New Testament and that "God nowhere in His Word commanded Christians to avoid doctors, to avoid checkups, to avoid medicines, inoculations, or any surgical operation." He goes on to say: "God is our protector and deliverer. Yet does He expect us to avoid calling the police if we hear a prowler in our yard?" Antion, in 1975, wrote: "Is healing totally the prerogative of God? We know that one of God's names is 'God our Healer'... He is our Protector, Provider, our Banner. But we use police protection, security guards, protective helmets, goggles, and seatbelts. We buy insurance. We don't think that this violates or is committing idolatry."
In a real slap at HWA's old teaching Tkach states:
A person can even refuse to seek medical attention because of vanity - a desire to appear somehow more spiritual.... But fear, vanity or self-righteousness is not faith. To die "in faith" without seeking medical attention because of fear, vanity, or self-righteousness would be nothing more than self-delusion.... God does not expect us to just sit down and leave everything up to Him. He has given us minds and He expects us to use them.... Physicians are only mortal men and can only work with the laws God designed to speed, enhance or aid recovery. God has never condemned that. As healing is not a "test of righteousness," neither is going to a physician a "test of righteousness." It does not show lack of faith in God's ability to heal and does not prevent God from performing a miracle....
Let's realize that one kind of medical procedure is not intrinsically more righteous or less sinful than another.... Special diets or supplements are just as physical as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. One is not more spiritual than another, though some may have more side effects than others (The Worldwide News, Mar. 23, 1987).
Let us rejoice with Mr. Tkach and the WCG over this new enlightenment and hope more new truths will be acknowledged in areas that directly affect people's lives.
The TV Evangelist Wars - Not Enough Sheep to Go Around?
1987 has not been a good year for American TV evangelism. For months now the U.S. news media has reported with unrelenting intensity on various TV preachers who have been hit with accusations of immorality, fraud, and financial irresponsibility.
First there was evangelist Oral Roberts who early in the year told his television audience that God would "call him home" (that is, take his life) if they did not send him $4.5 million by March 31. That fund-raising tactic got Roberts a lot of flak from the press, but it also brought in $3.2 million. As Roberts' deadline drew near, however, he was still $1.3 million short of what he claimed God was demanding. So he told his flock that he would go into a room high up on the "Prayer Tower" at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa to fast and pray, presumably so God would spare his life. That exercise, although carried out briefly, proved redundant when a Florida dog-racing promoter, who candidly admitted he thought Roberts needed psychiatric help, came forward with the $1.3 million ransom needed to stay Roberts' execution. (One can only wonder how many people were disappointed by the dog-racer's generosity.)
Roberts' dramatics hurt the image of TV evangelism, but that image was tarnished ever further when it became known that Tammy Faye Bakker, wife of Pentecostal preacher Jim Bakker and co-host of the religious "Jim and Tammy Show," was admitted to a drug-rehabilitation clinic because of a serious drug-abuse problem. To make matters worse, shortly afterward, her preacher husband resigned from their religious organization, the PTL (for "Praise The Lord") Club, because of accusations of personal immorality. Then, almost daily, those vague charges were fleshed out with more and more lurid details from the news media.
First Bakker claimed he had only once, in 1980, committed an indiscretion in an attempt to get his wife jealous during a low point in their marriage. (It later came out that this low point was when Tammy became romantically involved with a country-western singer.) Bakker tried to portray his fling as a 15-minute episode during which he was so nervous he was unable to perform. But when the "victim," Jessica Hahn, a tall, slender, 27-year-old came forward with her side of the story, Bakker changed his. He attempted to portray Hahn, who was a 21-year-old church secretary at the time of the incident, as an experienced woman who "knew all the tricks." But Hahn later countered that the supposedly 15-minute fiasco had really been an hour-and-a-half session in which she was drugged, forced to perform oral sex on Bakker, and then was turned over to another evangelist for more sex.
While Bakker, in seclusion at his Palm Springs-area home, has tried to give the impression that his moral failings were limited to one incident only, The Nation (April 4, 1987, pp. 419-420) insinuated that local police knew that Bakker "used to put on a blond wig and consort with hookers." To further complicate the Bakker scandal, the preacher claimed that as a result of his affair with Hahn, he fell into the trap of paying blackmail in a futile cover-up attempt. But as more facts surfaced, it became clear that this "blackmail" was really a legal settlement arranged through lawyers to ward off a lawsuit by Hahn.
One would have thought that because of the nature of the Bakker scandal, other TV preachers would have avoided all contact with it. Not so, however. With the exception of TV evangelist Pat Robertson, who is running for the United States Presidency, almost all of the top TV religious personalities have gotten into the act. Smiling Robert Schuller and Oral Roberts, down from his tower, have allowed themselves to be interviewed repeatedly on the matter and have come out with statements in Bakker's defense. And evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who some accused of being behind Bakker's public humiliation - and for ulterior motives - was quick to publicly condemn Bakker for, not only his personal lifestyle, but for the style of his ministry. (It's not the first time Swaggart has publicly condemned other preachers. Marvin Gorman, a New Orleans evangelist who says he once had an affair but repented, claims Swaggart hounded him out of the ministry with unfounded accusations of multiple adulteries. Gorman is now suing Swaggart for $90 million.) It is interesting that Bakker's PTL network dropped Swaggart's programs last year after Swaggart began endorsing author David Hunt, whose book The Seduction of Christianity strongly criticizes many evangelists, including some who are friends of Bakker.
Most prominent, however, among those interjecting themselves into Bakker's affairs is Rev. Jerry Falwell, who has stepped into the fray to become the new chairman of PTL. Oddly, however, Falwell is a Baptist and PTL is Pentecostal. Because the two denominations have not seen eye to eye on many doctrinal matters, Falwell's move has made many of his own followers wonder about the purity of his own motives. While "The Jim and Tammy Show" (now with a new name and new hosts) is ranked only 13th in the ratings among religious programs, the PTL organization has a $129 million per year income and substantial real estate holdings, including a 2,300-acre theme park, Heritage U.S.A., which draws 6 million visitors per year. (To supplement her income, Tammy Faye sold recordings - 15 albums-worth of her singing religious songs - and had her own line of cosmetics, jewelry, and panty hose. We're not sure if Falwell will be involved in the marketing of these products.) But more significant, perhaps, is PTL's ownership of a cable television network. In the Los Angeles Times (April 11, 1987, Part II, p. 3), reporters Russell Chandler and John Dart pointed out that "Falwell is the only top electronic preacher who doesn't have a satellite network and thus has to syndicate his programs." Of course, with Falwell now the chairman of PTL, that may change.
In writing about the "pulpit wars," the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Time, and other publications have all commented that much of the current chaos in the electronic ministry seems to be due to too many preachers trying to share too few viewers. While television evangelism is big business (about $1.3 billion per year), the number of viewers interested in a religious product is not unlimited. In recent years, many TV ministries have experienced lower ratings and declining revenues. Here is what Todd Mason and Scott Ticer wrote in the April 6 issue of Business Week:
The concept of evangelists in need of white knights is a jarring one, but broadcast evangelism always owed as much to Adam Smith as to the Apostles. From the early days of radio, evangelists paid up front for airtime and relied on salesmanship to raise the necessary contributions. These days, though, too many evangelists are chasing too few faithful. "The evangelists have done something even Coke couldn't do," asserts Arthur C. Borden, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, an accrediting organization. "They have saturated the market."
That market is huge - about $1.3 billion. No longer confined to Sunday mornings, groups like PTL and Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network use satellites to feed all-day programming to cable systems and independent broadcasters. Bakker's PTL had revenues of $129 million last year. CBN revenues probably top $200 million.
These empires rest on a very small audience by commercial-television standards. A 1985 study by the University of Pennsylvania determined that only five million Americans watch an hour or more of religion per week. The typical viewer is a blue-collar woman at least 50 years old. The growing flock of evangelists is carving this limited audience into ever-smaller pieces. Even top-rated Robert Schuller, the mellow heir to Norman Vincent Peale's positive thinking, is sagging in the A.C. Nielsen ratings. Last year, Schuller's revenues fell $6 million short of his target of $42 million, according to his producer, Michael C. Nason. "We had to cut our budget last year. We're not getting the revenues."
Despite these problems, the demand for airtime keeps building. Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA could fill every morning with religious programming, says President David T. Lane. "There is that much demand, but we won't do it. It's overkill." Meanwhile, evangelists must contend with competing programming, such as the ubiquitous homeshopping shows.
Newsweek (April 6, p. 20) gave this insight:
[Television preachers] tend to come from the same background as their audiences: rural, relatively low income, often somewhat alienated from mainline America. The viewers, says the Rev. William Fore, executive director of communication for the National Council of Churches, "feel they are on the short end of things," and they find order and promise in the televangelists' messages. The preachers, he believes, begin their careers wanting to establish true ministries but fall victims to their own success and a kind of Faustian bargain: to expand, they need ever more viewers, ever more air time and ever more money to buy it. In time, the money becomes an end in itself and the appeals more blatant. Falwell has encouraged his followers to use their savings and even borrow to send him money. Swaggart warns that if he can't buy air time, "then people will die and go to hell by the thousands."
No matter how bad the allegations against Jim and Tammy Bakker, our guess is that within a couple of years they will be back on the air. Most people who support such organizations are either very forgiving or very blind to reality. Long-time readers of the Report know that Garner Ted Armstrong's past makes Jim Bakker seem like an angel. Yet GTA's TV program continues on the air. And even though the documented private life of Herbert W. Armstrong made even GTA seem like a saint, Herbert Armstrong was never taken off the air, and the program he started is thriving as never before. It's a strange world, isn't it?
World Tomorrow Rises in the TV Ratings
How does the WCG's "World Tomorrow" fit into the TV religious picture? Amazingly, just one year ago "The World Tomorrow" was not even among the top fifteen religious programs on TV. But after HWA's death, a change in the program's format boosted it in the ratings. Today "The World Tomorrow" is ranked number four among TV religious programs by both the Nielsen and Arbitron rating organizations (Los Angeles Times, Mar. 25, 1987, p. 29). (See page 4 for a chart showing how television's top religious programs are currently ranked.)
"The World Tomorrow" program's high ranking among religious shows doesn't mean it commands a very large viewing audience when compared to other popular TV programs. For instance, "The Cosby Show" was seen in 28.4 million homes for the week ending March 23, according to Nielsen's ratings. This means the Cosby show's audience was 50 times larger than "The World Tomorrow" program's for that period. And even the 66th-rated show was seen in 8 million homes. Looked at another way, "The World Tomorrow," on 236 TV stations, is drawing between 2,300 to 4,500 viewers per station on average - not a very impressive number when you consider many of these stations are in major metropolitan areas with millions of potential viewers.
WCG contributors perhaps ought to ask themselves if church officials are making wise use of their tithe dollars by pouring millions of dollars into TV programs in hopes of capturing some of the 5 million Americans who watch at least one hour a week of religious shows, when over 230 million Americans are not even tuned in. U.S. News & World Report (April 6,1987, p. 63) reported that "evidence suggests that the big television ministries direct fewer of their dollars to humanitarian and missionary programs than do the traditional churches." This statement certainly applies to the WCG.
The WCG takes in more money every year than any of the big televangelists, including Bakker's PTL Club. Yet even though there are between 10,000 to 30,000 homeless people within a 10-mile radius of Ambassador College campus in Pasadena, the WCG virtually ignores the homeless and instead pours millions into concerts for the rich and TV programs talking about the end of the world and the sad state of humankind. And like Bakker and the other televangelists, the WCG's leaders wallow in wealth, live in quarter-million-dollar homes, and dine in the finest restaurants. One cannot help but wonder what good it does the homeless to hear (if they have access to a TV set) that "the end is near" and "billions live in misery." But the WCG has always been a church full of people who like to preach at others from a safe distance rather than have to deal one on one with the poor, blind, and naked of this world.
WCG Teenagers on Trial for Murder
Fourteen-year-old Brooks Wilson Trew of Lake Forest, Washington will go on trial July 19 for the murder of Kevin W. Wisman, a 28-year-old North Seattle resident. Wisman was shot to death on the morning of July 13, 1986 and his body was discovered the following day by a friend. Police discovered Trew's wallet at the scene of the crime, and after an investigation Trew, then 13, and a friend, David Richard Mills, age 14, were charged with premeditated murder. The parents of both Trew and Mills are long-time WCG members and the two boys became acquainted through church activities.
Mills has already gone on trial and in December was found guilty of first-degree murder. According to court testimony from Mills, he and Trew planned the murder as a way of getting revenge against Wisman for having previously lured them into sexual acts. On the evening of July 12, the two youths, accompanied by an unnamed 11-year-old boy, went to Wisman's apartment. As before, Wisman provided them with alcohol and sexual acts were performed. According to statements the boys made to police, as Wisman then lay face down intoxicated on his bed, the two teenagers massaged his back. It is alleged that Trew quietly pulled out a .22 caliber revolver, put it to the back of Wisman's neck and killed him with a single shot. The three boys then fled the scene.
According to the Seattle Times of July 22, 1986, Mills had been a friend of WCG member Charles Evino Harris, who in 1985 was convicted of murdering two women, crippling a third, and attempting to murder a fourth individual during a shooting spree (see our June, 1985; October, 1985; and January, 1986 issues). During Harris' trial, Mills' father testified how he and his wife once "thought it would be nice if our sons could get together [with Harris] on a weekend or something, sort of like a big brother, spend some time teaching him things." However, according to testimony given by the unnamed and youngest of the three boys, teenager Mills once talked of how Harris had actually taught him guerrilla warfare and how to kill people.
Accomplice Mills, who has already been sentenced, was tried as a juvenile. Under Washington state law those convicted in juvenile court must be released by their 21st birthday. Accused triggerman Trew, however, will be tried as an adult. David Compton, one of Trew's defense lawyers, presented testimony to the effect that Trew is a troubled youth obsessed with war and death - a Rambo fan who is desperately in need of help. But Judge Norman Quinn, in ruling that Trew be tried as an adult, said that no one has given him a clear idea of how long it would take to cure Trew of his emotional problems, and should Trew reach 19 and still be resistive to treatment, he would regret having kept the case in juvenile court. Mills and Trew are the youngest individuals ever charged with first-degree murder in King County, Washington. And Mills is the youngest person in King County ever convicted of that crime.
HWA Remembered (Part II)
During the '50s and '60s "The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong" ran serially in the Plain Truth magazine. Then in 1967, the episodes covering HWA's life to 1934 were combined to form one 510-page book, The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, Volume I. (This volume was revised and reprinted in 1973, but after a few years the WCG ceased sending copies of it to the public.) Volume II has never appeared, but some months after HWA's death in 1986, the WCG issued another revision of Volume I of the Autobiography.
The new edition opens with HWA's personal crest (some wonder about its symbology) and contains many previously unpublished photographs of HWA as a young man. Some reveal an arrogance typical of HWA in later years, but never before seen in photographs published in official church publications. The new Autobiography is worth looking at, but how truthful is the text? In the past, Garner Ted Armstrong has referred to his father's 1967 Autobiography as "two-thirds fiction." We suspect the new version may be no better. Here is what one of our readers wrote us after reading the new Autobiography, Volume I:
Many times HWA said he would never dignify accusations with a reply. But he did! With reference to page 8 of your April 1984 issue of Ambassador Report: "That was the year  HWA began abusing his own daughter. Is it any wonder he hasn't slept well since?" Note pages 546-547 of the new edition of his Autobiography: "The year and three months (Dec. 1931-Feb. 1933) spent in Astoria, averaging perhaps less than five hours sleep per night - with one ordeal of three days and three nights with no sleep - had left me in a condition which made it difficult to get to sleep at night."
I checked the September 1960 PT, page 5, and did not find that explanation in the original version. He inserted it in the first chapter not covered in the old Vol. I, at a time frame of late March 1933.
TOP TV RELIGIOUS PROGRAMS
No. TV Stations
Robert Schuller, "Hour of Power"
Jimmy Swaggert, weekly program
Oral Roberts, "Expert a Miracle"
"The World Tomorrow" - Worldwide
Richard DeHaan, "The Day of Discovery"
Jerry Falwell, "Old Time Gospel Hour"
Kenneth Copeland, "Believer's Voice"
D. James Kennedy, "D. James Kennedy"
"Insight" - Paulist Productions
Pat Robertson, "The 700 Club"
Also among the top 15 programs: George Vandeman, "It Is Written," of Newbury Park, Calif., and Fred Price, "Ever Increasing Faith," of Los Angeles.
Chart from the Los Angeles Times, Part 1, Mar. 28, 1987, p. 29. These figures were ranked from the "sweeps" period of last November.
There are many, many sentences omitted in the new version, sometimes whole paragraphs and sections. In their place are a few new paragraphs. For instance, he omits some of the references to his having visited Baptist ministers.
On page 426 of the new edition, he omits the fact that it was Taylor, an ex-SDA minister, later a "pentecostal" minister who wrote articles against the Sabbath (pages 410-411 old 1967 edition, also omitted), who first suggested that HWA be ordained (page 398, old edition). On page 427, new edition, he omits the fact that he was ordained so that he could join Taylor in the campaign at Eugene (p. 399, old edition).
He deleted references to the "Sardis church," as well as references to the work GTA is doing.
It is interesting to note that the persecution he writes about did not start until 1933, and then it seemed to be universal. The ministers of the Church of God knew he was not one of them.
On page 567, he writes that Elder Dugger had invited him to join their church, but "I never did formally join it." The word "formally" is new.
Not new, but interesting, is the comment on page 635, "All of us at Eugene church... severed all connection and effort at cooperation with those who had proved themselves willing to serve Satan and their own personal greed, and to injure the very work of God!" This was in August 1937, when HWA's ministerial credentials were revoked. He must have known it was due to his no longer being the husband of one wife, as his god had given him his daughter....
The new 610-page Autobiography is available for free by writing to the Worldwide Church of God, 300 W. Green St., Pasadena, CA 91123 or by calling their toll free number: 800-423-4444.
Former WCG writer Robert Gentet (Pasadena, 1962) now lives with his family in Wichita, Kansas and works for Boeing Airplane Co. His wife, Margie (Eaton, Pasadena, 1962-63) is an architect. They have two daughters: Rochelle is studying at Wichita State University, and Renee is majoring in chemical engineering at Trinity University in San Antonio. Besides working for Boeing, Mr. Gentet also writes about science and religion for World Insight magazine. Old friends can write him at 653 Harding St., Wichita, KS 67208.
After 20 years in the WCG, David Summerfield (Big Sandy, 1970) was "marked" in 1982. David writes us that since leaving the church he has "lost many 'friends' but has gained Christ and new friends. I no longer tithe but do help the needy and am blessed far beyond what I was in the church. There is life after the WCG but it is not always easy. If we trust God and follow His lead, He will restore what we gave up and abundantly more." David is married to the former Julie Buchholtz and is a foreman for a successful South Bend, Indiana building contractor.
Claude Michael Murphy (Big Sandy, 1969) and his wife Lois (Holman, Big Sandy, 1968-69) left the WCG in 1975 after "reading the Bible without WCG materials and finding that the WCG was not preaching the truth at all." Mike is currently a licensed engineer for the state of Oklahoma. Religion still plays an important role in the Murphys' lives. Over the past few years, Mike has found spiritual rewards in teaching himself to read the New Testament in Greek. The family regularly attends Eastland Hills Baptist Church, and the Murphys' teenage son hopes to someday become a minister.
A few months after graduating from AC-Pasadena in 1969, Paul Lay was told by WCG minister Richard Plache that he was demon possessed. Paul wrote us that "for about 12 hours Mr. Plache had me scared out of my wits thinking that I might have a demon. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I didn't have a demon and that if there was a demon causing problems, it was in the church organization."
Soon after this episode, Paul flew back to his parents' home in Des Moines and entered Iowa State University Since graduation, Paul has been working as a Social Security disability examiner in Des Moines. While working on a claim at a local hospital in 1976, he met medical records clerk Theresa Janssons, whom he later married.
Since leaving the WCG, Paul has been actively involved in several different churches including the Church of God (7th Day), the Bible Church of God (7th Day), the Assembly of Yahweh, and the Living Word Ministry. Recently, however, Paul has found spiritual fulfillment in his close association with several like-minded friends who meet occasionally to discuss religion. As a hobby, Paul writes songs based on the Bible.
Not everyone who has left the WCG is still "religious." After graduating from Ambassador (Pasadena) in 1973, Larry A. Taylor worked for the WCG for a time. But after reading Humanist magazine, he became more interested in humanism and is currently active in the humanist movement. (There are about 4,000 active humanists in the United States, but they are divided into a number of special or single interest groups.)
Taylor, who is a member of the Pomona, California chapter of the American Humanists, attended a 1986 De Benneville Pines retreat for Humanists and Mensans (those with I.Q.s in the top 1% of the population). The Religion section of the Whittier, California Daily News of September 20, 1986 had an article on Taylor and the retreat and quoted Taylor as saying:
"If people were taught real science, we'd have less problems with creationism, astrology, and pseudo-scientific things.... People don't understand science as a method. They think it's a bag of facts. But it is a method of arriving at new facts and new understanding.... We adopt as a philosophy that human beings take responsibility for themselves. We do not appeal to the supernatural for our predicaments."
Taylor is married to Beverly Serbell of Whittier, California (where they now reside) and is currently employed in computer operations for a major bank.
In our last issue we mentioned Ambassador alumnus Jeff Calkins, who became a lawyer after graduating from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Another Ambassador graduate who went on to study law at Loyola of Los Angeles is Nancy Wagner (Pasadena, 1976). She graduated from Loyola and passed the bar in 1984. She currently works in the legal department of KNBC-TV in Burbank, California.
That famous television station is where a number of popular television programs (including the Johnny Carson Show) are taped. Also working at that station is John Portune, the former WCG minister and AC faculty member who many regard as one of the best minds ever to teach at Ambassador. He is currently an electrical technician at KNBC. Apparently turned off with the American religious scene, Portune has been quoted as saying, "We need more religions about as much as we need new whorehouses."
Quite a number of Ambassador alumni are currently in teaching careers. For instance, Michael C. Kusheba (Big Sandy, 1971) now teaches data processing at Kilgore College in Texas. He told us he has fond memories of AC students and wishes that his current students possessed a little of the dedication of the students he knew at Ambassador.
Many former AC alumni will remember Calvin Tormanen who taught chemistry at Big Sandy from 1975 to 1977 and at Pasadena from 1977 to 1978. Since 1981, he has been an associate professor of chemistry at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Tormanen and his wife Susan were members between 1971 and 1979. As well as being an AC veteran, Tormanen is an army veteran who served as a rifleman in the 199th First Infantry Brigade in Vietnam. Tormanen is thankful that he has come through both these experiences relatively unscathed and is now able to live a full and happy life.
Orlin Grabbe (Pasadena, 1970) for a time worked as an assistant to WCG evangelist David Jon Hill and taught theology classes at Ambassador. In the early '70s, however, he decided to move on to other things. After studies at California State University, Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkeley, he went on to Harvard University where he earned a Ph.D. in economics. He is currently a professor at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Orlin's brother, Lester Grabbe (Bricket Wood, 1968) went on to earn a doctorate in theology from the Claremont School of Theology. He taught religion for some time at Ambassador but was found to be "too intellectual." He is currently a professor at the University of Hull in England.
Another brother, Crockett Grabbe, earned degrees at the University of Texas and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. He is now a professor of physics at the University of Iowa. As a church member in his precollege days, Crockett wanted to go to Ambassador College. His application, however, was rejected because he was considered "overweight." "That," says Crockett, "was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me."
Ambassador alumni David Price (Bricket Wood, 1968) and his wife Sheila (Tremlett, Pasadena, 1970) call London, England home, but their careers regularly put them on the continent. After Ambassador, both of the Prices went on to get university degrees. David received his M.A. in European Studies from London University. After working for a Fleet Street news magazine and for the B.B.C. newsroom, in 1980 he became Information Officer for the European Commission's scientific research programs in Brussels. He left the Commission as an official in 1982 and became a freelance journalist. (He says he much prefers the independence of freelancing over being part of a bureaucracy.) David is currently editor of I'M (Information Market) newsletter, an English and French publication that encourages the use of database and other online computer information systems. (David writes that Report readers who would like a free copy should write to I'M, 177 Route d'Esch, L-1535 Luxembourg.) While his work as a journalist is demanding, David still finds time to pursue his studies toward a doctorate, and he has given seminars and lectured at both London University and Oxford University.
After Ambassador, Sheila earned a joint degree in French and history at London University and later earned an M.A. at the London School of Economics. She went on to do research and teach at South Bank Polytechnic in London where she lectured in French on French politics. In recent years, while working on a London School of Economics Ph.D. in international labor history, she has lived and studied much of the time in Paris. She is currently lecturing at the University of Kent.
David writes, "Since 1980, travelling to and from Brussels, London, and Paris has been a way of life for us." Despite their busy schedules, however, the Prices still try to stay in touch with Ambassador alumni friends.
New Ambassador Alumni Association Formed
Go to virtually any normal college or university in the United States and you will discover an affiliated alumni association. Most institutions of higher learning encourage, and even sponsor, such associations knowing that they promote institutional pride, provide a reservoir of knowledge that can assist the institution in an advisory capacity, and provide their members with a means of maintaining friendships begun in their student years.
Until now, there has been no viable Ambassador College alumni organization. Some years ago, AC attempted to start one, but, perhaps fearing that the "innies" would be contaminated by contact with the "outies" (yes, Ambassador alumni both in and out of the WCG have adopted belly-button symbology to describe their church status), the association did not admit non-WCG member alumni. The WCG-assisted organization folded almost as soon as it was formed.
In the last few years we have received numerous letters from Ambassador College alumni who have suggested that Ambassador Report start an Ambassador College alumni association. We thought the idea was a good one, but we were never quite in a position to get the project rolling on our own.
Now, however, through the efforts of a dedicated group of Ambassador alumni, a legitimate Ambassador College alumni association has been formed. Membership is open to all who were ever students, faculty members, administrators, or on the staff at any of the Ambassador campuses. The organization is not tied to any religious group (or to the Report, for that matter), and is intended as a completely secular organization open to all alumni regardless of personal religious or nonreligious affiliations. So far AC and the WCG have had no involvement with the new organization, but association spokesman Bob Boyce says he would welcome any reasonable WCG involvement church leaders would feel appropriate. The new organization has already achieved nonprofit tax status. Thus all donations are tax deductible.
The association's working committee is composed of Bob and Judy Boyce of Longview, Texas (214-759-0835); Jack and Pat Martin of Dallas, Texas (214-867-5619); Paul and Mary Jo Flatt of Atlanta, Georgia (404-422-5040); Curtis and Melba Borman of Longview, Texas (214-663-2018); Jeff and Linda Booth of Amarillo, Texas (806-353-4400); Tony and Natalie Hammer of Dallas, Texas (214-520-8704); Bob and Sandy Haworth of Tyler, Texas (214-839-7104); Charles Groce of Tyler, Texas (214-561-2525); David and Molly Antion of Pasadena, California (818-577-7870); Jack and Ruthann Pyle of Manchester, Missouri (314-394-5839); Bob Ellsworth of Pasadena, California (818-449-4902); Wayne and Cheryl Freeman of Longview, Texas (214-759-6644); and Dennis and Joye Pyle of Overland Park, Kansas (913-362-8185).
"The Alumni Association," as it is officially called, is currently planning to host an Ambassador College alumni reunion "for all classes since the inception of the institution." The reunion is scheduled to take place at the fabulous Loews Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas (really a resort within a hotel) on the evening of Saturday, July 4, with a business networking social to follow the next morning. We understand that David Antion will M.C. the Saturday evening activities. Bob Boyce, who is coordinating the event, told the Report that the reunion will provide an opportunity for many old friends to get together in a truly beautiful environment and, for those interested, an opportunity to help chart the association's future course.
The association is very young and its future activities will depend on the needs and desires of those who wish to be involved. Some ideas that are being tossed around are a possible reunion of alumni to be hosted in the Pasadena, California area in 1988, other reunions in other parts of the U.S. and even abroad, and perhaps some type of newsletter or yearly update on alumni. (The Dallas reunion will have a printed program and, we are told, they are accepting paid-for advertisements. Write to them for details.)
We think The Alumni Association may serve a real need for thousands of Ambassador alumni around the world, and we encourage all those who may be even a little interested in its possibilities to either call one of the working committee members listed above, or write to:
The Alumni Association
P.O. Box 9342
Longview, Texas 75608.
They have put together a fine package of information on their organization and the Dallas reunion, and they tell us they will send a free package to anyone requesting it or to any names and addresses provided.
The Concordant Publishing Concern
In our last issue, Clyde Walters of Pasadena mentioned a Christian organization that many of our readers tell us has helped them greatly. The Concordant Publishing Concern, founded in 1909, is a small nondenominational teaching and translating ministry. Their address is: 15570 Knochaven Road, Canyon Country, CA 91351 (telephone: 805-252- 2112). Though it is not associated with any church, there are a few small independent congregations and Bible study groups in the United States and Canada as well as other parts of the world that have an informal association with it. The Concern's ministry, however, is primarily to individual believers, including a good number of former Worldwide Church of God members. Though they publish literature on nearly all major biblical subjects, the Concordant Publishing Concern is best known for its Concordant Literal New Testament With Keyword Concordance and its bimonthly expository magazine, Unsearchable Riches.
Jim Coram, now 41, became the president of the concern a couple of years ago. But when he was in his early 20s, he was a member of the Columbus, Ohio congregation of the WCG. He met his wife-to-be, Suella Grimm, through the WCG in 1972. Shortly after their marriage the following year, they resigned from the WCG, and before long became interested in the teachings and work of the Concordant ministry. Due to the fact that they had resigned from the "true church," strange childbirth "curses" were summarily pronounced upon them shortly after they married. Nonetheless, Jim and Sue have one child, a healthy and bright 12-year-old son, Marc.
Mr. Coram is presently working on a book entitled His Achievement Are We. The following is an excerpt from that theological work:
Believing the Scriptures
by Jim Coram
Through the Scriptures we enjoy fellowship with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We want to know Him, "the only true God," and the One Whom He commissions, "Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). If we wish to believe the testimony of the scriptures, however, we must first know what they say.
Subsequently, we will need to learn to discriminate between their words and our mere inferences from them, and to apply them to the right time and people, besides judging their sense and apprehending their figures. But before any of these endeavors can begin, we must first know what they say.
Through definitive passages, concerning all subjects of consequence, the sacred writings provide their own internal evidence which establishes the significance of their vocabulary terms and grammatical forms.
It is to be regretted that those who cannot concur with our findings nearly always appeal to "scholars" and "authorities." We do well to consult others, and it is not wrong to agree with them. But the least suggestion that truth concerning any certain subject is practically established because either the "majority" or a certain class or movement find accord among themselves concerning it, is only a manifestation of foolishness if not conceit.
Most have little inclination and no idea how to discover the meaning of scriptural terms for themselves. Few seem to realize that translations, for all their likenesses, frequently vary in many important particulars. They do not merely differ in the way the passage is expressed, but they differ concerning the essential ideas which the passage contains. Their differences are frequently substantial, not merely incidental. It is evident, then, that even scholars are often confused, or that they are at least quite inconsistent in the application of their knowledge.
Who are we to believe - those who boast the loudest of their credentials or those of their mentors? Are we to entrust our faith to those who are the most vociferous and adamant - who insist that they and theirs alone are "orthodox," "evangelical," "conservative," "spirit-filled," or perhaps even the "true church" or "apostolic"? Through such shibboleths, those who appeal to such things are only removing all doubt that they are entirely out of sympathy with the apostle Paul's words, "Let no one be boasting in men" (I Cor. 3:21).
The meaning of any certain word may not always be vital, but the principle involved of founding all upon God's Word, apart from human learning and theology, is always vital and must be sustained at all hazards.
The scriptures are our only authority. There are helps (and hindrances), but no "authorities." Expositions represent fallible human endeavors to grasp God's truth as revealed in His word, and are neither authoritative nor inspired. The opinions of the founders of evangelical movements, however great or godly, are no more authoritative than those of other believers, are equally amenable to the tribunal of Holy Writ, and must stand or fall by its verdicts. To set up the teaching of any man, or set of men, as an "authority" is a return to Romanism.
When considering the meaning of a word in the Concordant Version, or in any version, most presume that the meaning intended is that of the common definition (including its usual connotations) which prevails in ordinary English usage. As a rule, they already know this definition without consulting a dictionary. But even if they do refer to some type of lexical aid, most still presume that the primary or most popular English definition which is given in such a work is the idea the translator had in mind. But this is not always the case, and it is never the way to engage in discovering the meaning of a scriptural expression.
In preparing a version, even a comparatively literal one, consideration must be given to idiom, and in many cases concessions must be made due to a lack of correspondence between the original and the receptor langauge. Though it should not be the primary consideration, good diction must be preserved as well. This is essential if a version (or "translation") is to be useful to the great majority of its readers.
In the nature of the case, on the whole, all translations must be imperfect representations of the original. Yet even the worst are accurate in many particulars. They contain much that is true, even though a high percentage of their renderings are either poor or positively false. Understanding the words, phrases and grammar of the original, based upon the knowledge gained from its own definitive passages, is the only sound (or possible) basis for faithful translation. This is the Concordant method (and, it is the only Concordant method). To the degree that we follow it, our renderings are correct. Others follow it to a great degree themselves. If they did not, all their renderings would be wrong instead of only some of them.
A "word" is simply a speech form that denominates or describes a particular object or action. Within any certain period of time, those words which come into common use during such a period (or already exist at its beginning) cannot possibly denote more than one idea, even if they should soon find themselves being employed in a multiplicity of special applications. Otherwise, communication (much less translation), except for perhaps a few well-placed grunts, would be impossible and vanish from the face of the earth.
In the majority of cases, the words which comprise a statement are not used definitively. Their declarations may be vital, but that has nothing to do with whether or not they are definitive. For example, the words of Roman 3:24 are of the greatest importance to us, for they lie at the heart of the gospel: "Being justified gratuitously in His grace, through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus." But what does it mean to be justified? What does it mean for something to occur gratuitously? What significance is there to the fact that this gratuitous justification occurs in God's grace? Neither the passage nor its context will inform us.
We must learn the force of each of these terms from other places. For example, "justify" appears definitively in passages such as Deuteronomy 25:1 and Luke 7:29; "gratuitously" is illuminated through John 15:25 and II Thessalonians 3:8, even as "grace" in Romans 4:4 and 11:6.
It is through such passages as these latter ones that we determine the meaning of these key expressions. We then carry the knowledge we have gained concerning the meaning of these words into our considerations of Romans 3:2 4. Before we read it, we already know what each of these terms mean, and only wish to note their particular usage in the passage at hand. There is no other way to be certain of the meaning of a word whenever it appears (as is usually the case) in a passage that is less than definitive. In many passages it is possible to assign any one of several ideas to a term and still express a conceivable thought through the clause in which it is found. But this is only to speculate, it is not to know. We are not to guess, we are to believe. Yet we cannot know what to believe if we do not know what has been said.
The best of tools still require competent workmen, if good work is to be produced. Likewise, the most accurate translations of the scriptures must be used intelligently and skillfully. There is much to consider beyond the matter of translation. But an accurate translation will prove to be very useful to all its thoughful readers and is simply indispensable to the careful student.
The Concordant Publishing Concern has recently put out a tape entitled "The Meaning of God's Words." The tape is normally $3.50, but Report readers who write to Concordant at the address above may obtain the tape, a copy of Unsearchable Riches, and a listing of available materials for only $2.00. Those interested in theological study may find this an economical way to acquaint themselves with this unique ministry.
My husband and I were faithful sheep for nearly 18 years, but upon reaching our late 70s, we were no longer able to physically or financially participate in WCG activities. When we began to absent ourselves from activities and services, it soon became apparent that we were no longer welcome. When we did attend, the minister would reach across in front of me to shake hands with the "faithful." Members would turn away when I approached. This was a challenge and was welcomed by me. I began to vocally air my opinions.
There came a day when a minister phoned for permission to hunt on our property. I refused him. Next came the "witness of three." Each member in his turn paid us a visit. They sat at our table and ate our food... while all the time they were getting information to take back to the preacher. Another phone call came for permission to hunt and another "no" was given. The preacher then said, I understand that you do not approve of the way the church operates." I told him I did not care one way or the other what the church did... he then asked me if I was familiar with Matt. 18:16-18. Next Sabbath we were officially disfellowshipped.
Only one couple stood by us. Others hid when they saw us in a store. One lady we know phones and asks if we've received the latest AR. If we have, I will discuss it at length with her over our party lines. She phoned me... and in the course of the conversation she said they were the lowest they had ever been financially, but that they had heard a sermon on offerings and tithing. She said, "How can you give the 10th dime if you only have nine?" She says there is little communication between WCG members and that everyone is afraid to say anything. She knows how great we feet being free from that bondage.
When we came into this church, my husband had an excellent reputation as a barber and hair stylist. Unfortunately, his boss's business was open Tuesday through Saturday, and when Saturday was cut out of his work schedule, it left only a four-day work week. He could cut only so many people's hair in four days, and his boss and a co-worker did all they could to make him miserable. Since we were instructed to tithe ten to twenty percent (plus), it wasn't long until we were late on rent, utilities, and bills. The assistant pastor told us to "tighten our belts." Three moves later (that is, the last time we were asked to leave our home), we began to question why God takes from the poor. It became obvious we couldn't afford to tithe.
When my husband couldn't get by working only four days, his alternative was to open his own shop. Things seemed to work smoothly... but, we had unforeseen setbacks. In 1984, we couldn't come up with our taxes. We counselled with the ministers [and were told to] "hang in there." They made it obvious that they were disgusted with our financial problems, and we were told, "You'd better do something quick!"
We wrote to Ambassador College for further help and asked them if God made provisions for the poor. When our minister found out, he was fit to he tied. We received no answer from headquarters so we called them. They gave us smooth talk, but no real answers. This was the real beginning of our woes with the minister, assistant minister and several members. We felt like two unwanted, unloved, rejected-by-God nothings! We tried to fight the depression, but... unfortunately even my best friend became convinced that we had deep spiritual problems.
My husband was under so much stress. We were unable to pay our taxes, we were forced to go out of business, and yet we kept on tithing! We observed the Feast of Tabernacles in 1984. During this time, we opened our home to a church family that turned out to he wolves in sheeps' clothing. We knew this family had problems and we wanted to help them if we could. It wasn't any secret by then that we weren't in good standing with the ministers. This man went back and told the ministers that we were going to start our own church - an out and out lie! We were upset, hut not idiotic enough to do that!
Well, after we sold the shop, my husband couldn't find a decent job.... He searched the Bible for answers regarding the provisions God gave for the poor. He came across Lev. 25:35-36 and we were able to cross-reference Mal. 3:9-10 with Proverbs 3:9, Deut. 18:20-22, Jeremiah 14:14 and Jeremiah 28:9. We also found a booklet published by HWA in 1956 titled "1975 in Prophecy." This began to open our eyes and we realized God was still with us and that this church was a false church!
Editor: We contacted this couple recently and were pleased to learn that since leaving the WCG their situation has greatly improved.
A young woman I know was asked to turn over her property to the WCG. The woman's first husband had been killed in a traffic accident and the property was intended for their young son. After her first husband's death, the woman remarried a WCG member who sent all his money to headquarters and lived off her salary. When the church insisted she turn over her property to them (or to her second husband who would have then turned it over to the church), she refused. As a consequence, she was declared unwelcome. She ended up leaving both the church and her second husband.
Editor: We are in the process of compiling a file on how the WCG's legal department "assists" members with their wills and in signing over their estates to the church. We would appreciate hearing from any readers with information in this area.
Since my husband joined the WCG, my situation has proceeded downhill all the way. My husband started throwing out all "impure" foods, from canned vegetables to boxed foods, cereals and frozen foods. He even went so far as to throw out medications. He stopped giving me money. He insisted upon doing the food shopping himself. He stopped our credit cards, gas credit, and turned off the electricity. He beat me twice and finally the judge made him leave the house. He still hasn't given me a dime and I have three little children to support! Yet in one eight month period, he gave the WCG aver $3,000! The Children's Protection Service got involved and when my husband was questioned about not giving us support, he denied everything.
Editor: This letter is unfortunately typical of dozens we have received this past year from women all across the U.S. It appears that in the evolving WCG, supporting the ministry is considered more important than supporting one's own children.
My husband has become involved with the WCG. He has not joined it yet, but it has already done enough damage to our marriage that it will never be the same again. If I can do anything at all to turn him around, I will. Maybe he will read the AR and start thinking for himself again. We have been married for 25 years, have children and grandchildren, and I am not willing to give up on this marriage just because some organization has him brainwashed. I will continue to fight to save our marriage until I see there is no hope left...
I thought I was going nuts and thought maybe I was wrong because I felt so strongly against this. Then I read some of the letters in your report. I find I'm not alone. If I can just show him that he is wrong in believing some of these so-called "truths"! He has changed from a very loving, caring man into a very sad, frightened, unfeeling human being. For some reason, he is not able to see this. If I could just have the man I married back again!
I will begin by saying I attended the WCG for 25 years (baptized 17 years ago). I am now out of it and picking up the pieces of my life.... At 19, I was very anxious to get married as [we were taught] there were only two years until the time to flee to Petra. That was also the year that my husband borrowed money to give to the church while I begged him for more money to feed us. From day one we struggled. Also, he was the head of the household so he could demand full course meals three times a day with meat at lunch and dinner - no matter what.
Everytime he lost his job it was my fault because I was so security minded and God had to punish us. I suffered for 16 years, but fortunately I was blessed with wonderful children and my love for them kept me going. My husband and I are now separated and getting a divorce. Thankfully, I guess because I did most of the child-rearing, our children no longer want to go to WCG services.... My husband is bitter towards me and holds the threat over me that if I interfere in any way [with what he teaches the children when he has them], that he will have me "marked." Much of my family is in the WCG so I have to be careful not to say anything.
I am trying to deprogram myself from the mind-control and teachings of the WCG... Sometimes when the pressure is too much I read the articles in the AR and it helps me to be so thankful that I am out and starting the climb up to a better life. I have lived with guilt for one thing or another for so long that it is difficult to rid myself of it. How can that possibly be the way God wants us to live?
One day I happened to notice in my husbands Sabbath notes a complete lesson or sermon on how important it is to have foreplay with your mate during sex. It made me sick!... I made a promise that when HWA came into our bedroom that was where it would end.... My husband has been a member for almost a year and it's been a year of hell and misery for our marriage and our family. I have fought this cult in every way.... I don't understand why anyone would let an organization like this run their life.... Well, I've had it up to here, and I will not stand quietly by and accept this garbage.
My wife is still a member and the WCG keeps hounding her for money and she doesn't know any better than to give it to them. Just recently she pledged $300 to send to Hawaii in the amount of $25 per month for a year. I don't know what the money is for, but I think it is for the Y.O.U. program. She won't talk to me about the WCG and she doesn't want me to talk to her about the Bible, so my home is a lonely place.... My wife will only listen to what her ministers say and will no longer read anything that does not come from the WCG. She is afraid she will he deceived if she reads anything that is not approved by their ministry.
I left the WCG about six years ago after being a member for 15 years. It is so good to be out of that dictatorial bondage and to be able to study the sacred scriptures myself. I have learned much and am growing spiritually. I am at peace with God and rejoicing in His grace free from fear.
I am very interested in keeping up with all the changes and developments in the WCG as several of our children and their families are yet entrapped in this organization - after all these years. I can see the terrible eroding effects it is having upon their lives and I also know of the terrible after-effects that this organization can have upon a person, even years after they have come out of it. In the case of my daughter, it has left deep emotional and mental disturbances.
Thanks be to God, my one daughter and her family are now out of Armstrong's Satanic control and the letters in your recent report should help to withdraw my other daughter and her family. Meanwhile, I am not communicating with that daughter and her family at all since I made it very plain that while they are prepared to give honor to Armstrong in preference to their own mother they can just forget I exist.
I believe... that family is beginning to feel hurt at my ignoring them. So once again the saying that to some, "one has to be cruel to be kind" may be proving fruitful. I have not replied to their Mother's Day card and gifts, but instead have cut out and sent them the letter in your report telling of the Deacon and Deaconess who woke up to the fact that they were following the instructions of a mere man.
Editor: We can well understand your strong feelings on the WCG. But if your children are thoughtful enough to send you a Mother's Day card, wouldn't it be better to "disagree without being disagreeable"?
I realize that the AR is not meant to be a sounding hoard whereby ex-WCG ministers should confess their shortcomings, but it seems odd to me that out of the hundreds of them there hasn't been even one that I can think of that publicly apologized for the wrong-doing they have done toward their fellow man. Or do they still feel as they did when they were in "power" - that they are beyond reproach?
Editor: We've known of a few who have expressed remorse over their involvement with the WCG. For instance, note the following letter.
Many thanks for your efforts. It's hard to believe the destruction we ministers wreaked on some very lovely people who have sacrificed so much for a handful of wind. Keep plugging, maybe you can pry a few more from the wreckage.
(Former WCG evangelist)
People are still dying over Herbert Armstrong's doctrine that members cannot see doctors. A local elder's wife died here recently. She had refused to see a doctor up to her last breath. She literally starved to death. She was buried and her husband was on his way to the Feast of Tabernacles that same afternoon.
Editor: Hopefully, with the WCG's new healing doctrine we may see fewer of these needless tragedies.
Brenda Denzler honed in on a trend which has nagged at my mind for months. Before my exit, I was shocked at the attitude communicated "from the top down" that death was to be embraced. Sorrow or normal grief over a death was heretical, putting a member's "conversion" in grave (no pun intended) doubt. Gerald Waterhouse (is there no stopping that man?) mentioned in a tape last spring that there were only two ways to live through the Tribulation - death or Petra. Given Petra with Gerald, death probably would be better, come to think of it... What are the implications of a philosophy like this? Suicide, mass murder, and ever-present fear seem very likely possibilities.
After reading your last report I feel better in knowing I was right in what I saw and felt about the WCG. I once thought it was just me. Most of all in the WCG there is the fear to question anything. Be dumb, blind, and ignorant or be put out. The capacity for logic is not there, and if you have it, you will be told that "many ways seem right to man but such are the ways of death." Love and concern have diminished. You may even be reprimanded for using the word "love" in a prayer! Sincere desires to improve the church will get you disfellowshipped. Tunnel vision is what you are required to have. No thoughts, no ideas, no feelings, no expressions, and most of all - no answers to questions. Divorce is being promoted heavily; counselling of man and wife with a minister is often refused. The minister here uses EXTREME emotional outbursts. Men I know of in the church are afraid to speak to him for fear of being put out of the church.
Thanks very much for sending me your AR. Having been associated with the Radio-Worldwide Church of God since 1957, and having been the first "mixed," black-white family in "the church," I can attest to the validity of the things that you write in the AR.
Getting out of that church was the hardest thing I have ever done. I still have feelings that I have lost my salvation through leaving. I am getting letters from some in the church who wish they had the nerve to leave like I did. I simply couldn't afford second and third tithes!
I don't know how I would have made it without your reports. I felt like God had left me. I found out about the AR from others that were kicked out of the WCG. I felt like there was no place to go. Your reports gave me courage to go on and find a new life. Now I know God is there when I need him. I feel closer to him than I have for years. HWA used to teach that there was no going back once you joined the WCG or you would be lost forever. The fear of this nearly made me lose my mind.... I am happy now. I study the Bible and am close to God.
Our old friends in the WCG keep "coming out." It's just a matter of time until they call us. It's like we're the alumni and our group keeps getting larger and larger. It gives us a good feeling to know where we're going and that God's will is being done in our lives now more than ever.
I would deeply like to thank you for the Ambassador Report. Just to know there are others who faced the same disillusionment and confusion that I once faced is a great comfort.
I would like to mention that I have phoned and asked the WCG several times why World War III hasn't started yet. Herbert said on national TV that WWIII would start "in our lifetime." I assume "our" included Herbert's lifetime. So far, no response, but at least a couple of the operators on their toll-free number might think about it.
Editor: The WCG's toll-free number is 800-423-4444.
I sincerely believe that much could be done to prevent the WCG from disrupting or shattering lives if a concerted effort were made by your readers to complain to every radio and TV station and every store which is spreading WCG propaganda (via broadcasts, telecasts, or PT in their own area). Personal experiences or tragic letters printed in current or former ARs from members or former members, etc., could help convince radio and TV stations and stores that they want nothing to do with such a cult. There is great power in numbers and there are large numbers of former WCG members who would like to spare others the unpleasant experiences which they themselves have endured. If they desire enough to spare them, they will act! Previous issues of the AR have shown how the statements of one or two people have made a store reject the PT. The last issue showed how people in Winnipeg have hampered the PT distribution effort. In one way or another, the propaganda could be stopped if those who know what the WCG is got involved.
The WCG is constantly losing members, so their resources would constantly decrease if their attempts to gain new members through the PT and broadcasts or telecasts were hampered. Listen, all of you who have suffered at the hands of the WCG. Think of all the heartaches, the traumas, the shattered lives, the family breakups, the suicides! Help protect unsuspecting future victims from suffering likewise at the hands of the WCG! If you really care, ACT!
A Few Words From the Editor
Longtime readers of Ambassador Report know that we have never made it a practice to spur our readers on to greater and greater contributions to the Report. Nor have we ever suggested that our readers should "sacrifice" for the Report. Such tactics not only repulse us, but we know how financially devastated many have been by their involvement with Worldwide, and we know too how many of our elderly readers have great difficulty just surviving on meager fixed incomes (and such individuals should disregard the following).
I wonder sometimes, however, if our reticence about our financial needs hasn't been a mistake. Our last two issues have left us significantly in debt. That is especially disappointing considering how many have written us saying they greatly appreciated those two issues. Unfortunately, a lot of those letters of thanks were not unlike the one that said, "Keep up the good work! Ambassador Report has been a tremendous blessing to my life and I am sure it is helping many hundreds of people around the world. I'm sorry I can't contribute, but I know God will bless all of you some day in His Kingdom."
That's all very fine, but it somehow just doesn't help us pay the Report's bills. Frankly, I suspect that most of our readers really have no idea how much effort and money it takes to put out a medium-sized, fully typeset, carefully edited newsletter such as Ambassador Report. That may be because we can all go to any newsstand and purchase many high quality, slick, full-sized magazines for two to five dollars an issue. I suspect, however, that many do not realize that the price of such publications is kept artificially low by extremely high volume printing, which drastically cuts the per unit cost, and advertising, which provides most of the revenue for most magazines (and which consumers eventually pay for through increased prices on advertised products). Ambassador Report has neither of these significant marketing advantages. But because of the standards that we adhere to, we still have many of the same expenses that the "big boys" have: office supplies, reproduction fees, long distance phone calls, investigative research fees, legal expenses, travel bills for distant interviews, photocopying costs, tape duplicating, photography (when we can afford it), typesetting, printing, mail processing expenses, post box fees, bulk mailing fees, postage, and on and on it goes.
In order to economize, we do not rent office space, but work out of our own homes. We have no one on salary. And we always shop around for the best prices on those things we need. Nevertheless, just getting one more issue out has often meant very real sacrifices on our part.
Our next issue has been some time in the making and will be one of the most important we've done in some time (and for that reason it may be a bit delayed). That issue won't be published at all, however, without the financial assistance of our readership. If you like Ambassador Report and want to see it continue, please show your appreciation by financially supporting our efforts. Your contribution will make a difference.
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