AR 4 June 6, 1978
We had hoped to send you another full Ambassador Report by now, but unfortunately our financial situation has made it impossible to publish a May/June issue. Nevertheless, we thought you'd like to know bit about what's been happening. Here are some of the latest developments.
The Bobby Fischer lawsuit has, for all practical purposes, died. Mr. Fischer has refused to testify against the Report, disobeying a court order to appear for questioning. As press coverage of the case increased- all negative to the WCG- and as Bobby's cooperation with his attorneys declined, Rader and Helge's plan to stop the Report via Fischer exploded in their faces. They attempted to bail out by persuading the court to grant them permission to drop Fischer as a client. This "double-cross" apparently convinced Bobby that he indeed was being "used."
Fischer lashed back in a letter he recently distributed to AC employees and WCG members. In it, he accused the Rader-Helge law firm of lying and conspiring against his best legal interests. Bobby also contended that Rader and Helge were taking their orders from a "Satanical Secret World Government."
In response to Fischer's letter, the Pasadena Star News, April 5, quoted Ralph Helge as saying: "If Fischer is making a very wide distribution of this letter, we are forced, compelled and pushed into protecting our reputations from damages. If the distribution is broad, we may determine that we have to take action against him."
It's quite an ironic twist that the men who ran to Fischer's aid and "donated" their legal services would now threaten legal action against their former client.
Regarding the Gary Bagley trial, we have very little of real substance yet to report. You will recall that on December 15, just before the taping of the Gene Kelley Special in "God's House," Gary Bagley was arrested on trumped-up extortion charges while picketing Ambassador College with a sign that stated Garner Ted Armstrong is an adulterer. (Mr. Bagley's wife had been one of Ted's victims.) The arrest put an end to Bagley's picketing and spared Rader's AICF and the city of Pasadena no small degree of embarrassment.
Outraged by the arrest, Mr. Bagley was eager for the opportunity to prove his, innocence. When plea bargaining was suggested he refused all offers ("Innocent men don't bargain!"). Then when he enthusiastically appeared in court March 28, as scheduled, he was shocked to discover that the Judge was postponing the trial to May 22. It would have been rescheduled to an earlier date, but WCG attorney Helge claimed that that would have interfered with his spring vacation. (WCG officials are always on vacation, it seems.)
Then on May 22 the trial was again postponed to June 9 because the judge needed more time to consider lengthy arguments by Helge that the subpoenas of Herbert W. Armstrong, Stanley Rader, Roderick Meredith, Dibar Apartian, and David Antion should be quashed on grounds of religious freedom and privacy. All five, plus Helge, had been served subpoenas the previous week by AR publishers Bob Gerringer and Len Zola. Marshals have repeatedly attempted to locate Garner Ted Armstrong to subpoena him also, but he is nowhere to be found and has apparently left the state. Maybe he's on vacation too.
Just hours after being served, Stanley Rader and Herbert Armstrong were back in Arizona and now claim that they are no longer legal residents of California and therefore will not appear in court. Herbert Armstrong also claims that he has no information of relevance to the case. Yet, oddly, his name appears as one of those bringing the charges against the defendant!
What will transpire on June 9 is anyone's guess, but whatever happens it appears that the organization's plan to stop Bagley's picketing has backfired. As one Armstrong official said privately, "We can't drop the charges now. If we do, Bagley will sue the pants off of us for false arrest!"
You'll be reading about this trial in the papers, so as HWA used to say- "Watch!"
Some of you have asked about rumors that we had been burglarized. Yes, it's true. The apartment door of Bill Hughes, our business manager, was found kicked in one evening and the apartment completely ransacked. The contents of every drawer, every box, and every closet had been emptied onto the floor.
Strangely, nothing of purely monetary value was taken. A color television, a stereo, and cash were untouched. The only items missing were Ambassador Report research documents and about 200 related tape recordings. Fortunately, we had duplicate copies of everything safely stored elsewhere. In spite of the fact that it's been months since the break-in, the Pasadena Police Department has turned up no concrete evidence in the case. We, however, know who was responsible for the break-in.
By now, many of you will have heard that Ambassador College has officially closed its doors as a four-year liberal arts college. Here are some of the incredible details:
In November 1977, a small group of students formed the AC Coalition for Student Rights, an activist group, demanding immediate compliance with accreditation standards and increased student rights at AC. In handbills passed around campus, they accused President Garner Ted Armstrong and his administration of stalling on implementing the academic and administrative changes necessary for accreditation. GTA publicly lashed out at this group, ridiculing and condemning their proposals. A February 6, 1978, Ambassador Portfolio editorial belittled the coalition.
On February 11, GTA preached a scathing sermon about one of the most "important" issues in Christianity- men's hair and sideburn length. Referring to AC's male students, he stated, "I may be willing to say that if 50% of the ear lobe is visible behind some of these curely locks, that I might be satisfied with that." The Coalition .for Student Rights responded immediately by distributing more leaflets on campus. They wrote: "Mature Christians should be concerned with the weightier matters of the law- love, justice, mercy, truth- like the apostles. Only immature Christians cling to pharisaical dress codes, hair length and sideburn standards, etc." They accused the Portfolio of misrepresenting the coalition's goals and reminded everyone that the Portfolio was censored by the college's administration.
By this time it was obvious from GTA's speeches that he was extremely angered that students would dare challenge his pontifical authority and imply his orders were not an exact reflection of God's mind. In a letter to administrative personnel dated March 10, 1978, Ted passionately- but not too accurately- described conditions at AC. He wrote: "Ambassador College is at a crossroads. Deep seated emotions boil up within various dissident elements.... An anonymous 'student coalition' makes obnoxious demands; theft is prevalent; violence against students; an attempted rape; burglaries and the like sully each academic year. Entirely too many of our young men seem determined to appear slovenly, as sloppy as they possibly can, with ugly unsightly wisps of teenage facial hair...." (Perhaps these "surly young thugs," as Ted referred to them, couldn't afford new clothes after paying AC's high tuition costs and 20% of their income to the WCG in tithes.) Ted went on to say, "We are still actively pursuing regional accreditation." (The fact is, if Garner Ted had pursued accreditation with the same vigor he had pursued women over the years, Ambassador would have been accredited long ago!)
Two weeks later it was announced that AC would not accept the Vista del Arroyo Hotel property from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare afterall. This was a major victory for Ambassador Report, as for two years we had fought AC's bid for the right to acquire this property. Interviewed by the Pasadena Star News, Rader readily admitted the reason for the last-minute decision. He said, "Essentially, we did not want to buy a lawsuit. That's what it comes down to."
For once, Rader made a truthful public statement. Ambassador Report had prepared for and was about to begin legal action to block the transfer just as the announcement was made. But that announcement wasn't the last one.
On April 7, Garner Ted dropped his biggest bomb by announcing that AC would leave Pasadena for good and move to Big Sandy. Pandemonium reigned. Students sat stunned. A few rejoiced; many cried. The faculty, as a whole was enraged, especially when they found that the college's board of trustees had not even been consulted by GTA before the announcement. Many were whispering that Ted, exhausted by the Coalition's pursuit, had finally blown a fuse. Others felt this was just one more indication Ted was actively trying to destroy his father's work. (Ted had previously closed the Big Sandy and Bricket Wood campuses, Ambassador Press, Imperial Schools; killed the Good News magazine; demoted and exiled most of the evangelists who supported his father; and watered down many of his dad's doctrinal teachings. Meanwhile certain faculty members scurried down to Big Sandy, hoping to grab the best homes available before their fellow teachers arrived. Many instructors were cursing the fact that just one year ago they had been forced to sell their Big Sandy homes and transfer to Pasadena. Now they would have to sell their Pasadena homes and move back to the "sticks."
And what was Ted's brilliant reason for moving to Big Sandy one year after closing the Big Sandy campus? "We will solve once and for all our identity problem. We can say, 'There is the church in Pasadena. And in Texas there is the college.'" As usual, this was just so much B.S.
Within days hundreds of flyers dotted AC's campus, again compliments of the Coalition for Student Rights. Their leaflet, entitled "Are You Fed Up With Administrative B.S.?" opened with the statement: "In a November 29, 1946, Co-Workers' Bulletin, HWA promised that AC would 'soon' be accredited. In 1968, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978, GTA promised that full accreditation was just around the corner, and that he was actively seeking it! How long will this propaganda treadmill of empty promises continue?" The worst, however, was yet to come.
Herbert Armstrong, huffing, puffing and behaving like a wounded, enraged bull, came roaring back onto the scene. Though everyone had assumed he had one foot in the coffin, he appeared as strong as ever and was on the warpath. HWA stripped Ted of his executive powers and announced he was reassuming total control of AC and the WCG. On May 11, another bombshell was dropped when HWA announced that AC would indeed close its doors for good. Many faculty and students openly voiced their bitterness, frustration, confusion, and anger, white a number, still in a state of shock at seeing AC flushed down the drain, exhibited quiet resignation at the closure, claiming it was probably God's will. But Bob Gerringer, in a CBS-TV news interview, said the college was just a "political football being tossed around" in the Rader-GTA power struggle.
Then to add insult to injury, in a May 21, 1978, letter to the church, HWA blasted his wayward son, accusing him of not agreeing of with THE WAY in which Christ was building the college and the Work through me." He added: "You began changing WAYS and personnel over to your WAY.... You kept many things from me." With his son totally disgraced, HWA announced that Stanley Rader, who had been ousted by GTA in a power struggle only a few months before, was being reappointed to the boards of directors of the church and college. After all this, would you believe Rader had the audacity to deny that there was a power struggle taking place? He did! (L.A. Times, May 13, 1978.)
But this was not the end. Unbelievably, HWA, who many claim is becoming increasingly senile and easily swayed by whomever he happens to be with, reinstated his son Ted as the church's gospel spokesman. This occurred just days after he had declared Ted a virtual Judas for going totally contrary to Christ's way. (An informed source mentioned that Ted had been removed because of excessive gambling losses in Las Vegas but that Ted convinced his dad to reinstate him after describing some of Rader's personal activities.)
With total confusion prevalent at headquarters, doctrinal chaos is breaking out in the church like measles. On March 11, Herman Hoeh, long considered HWA's "doctrinal oracle," proclaimed that a new study paper by Robert Kuhn (a "converted" Jew) and Lester Grabbe (Ph.D. in theology, Claremont University) had been accepted by GTA as new truth. Their paper proved HWA was wrong concerning the date the Jews kept the passover. Hoeh told his congregation that Herbert had not been allowed to see this paper because he had a weak heart and the excitement that could be caused by reading such a paper- which HWA would consider heresy- would overwhelm his weak heart. Hoeh called the new teaching "a revelation that God has given" and remarked that from now on HWA would mainly function as "a father figure." As far as we know, HWA is still unaware of this paper and Hoeh's conclusions. However, reliable sources indicated that HWA just recently condemned the mammoth Kuhn-Grabbe-GTA "Systematic Theology Project" that GTA had given to the whole ministry in January as the official codification of all WCG doctrine.
The choas at "headquarters" is not the WCG's only problem. The Melbourne, Australia, church is reportedly in turmoil, and most of the members of both the Belgium church and a Toronto-area chruch recently defected. And while neglecting to mention how many had dropped out, GTA admitted that in 1977 less than 1,000 men, women and children were added to the church's attendance rolls. In January, 1978, only 20 were added. WCG growth has virtually stopped!
Now just as we go to press, Rader has announced that AC will, after all, open again in the fall, but only as a one-year "Bible school," offering an unaccredited and worthless 30-unit certificate in Armstrong theology. One surviving faculty member said the certificate would be worth about as much as the degree the Wizard of Oz gave the scarecrow. As a sure indication of the anticipated quality of education, Rader said he will personally teach a course in ethics! AC will also have a two- or three-year graduate school of theology for those interested in a career in this rapidly disintegrating religious fraud.
The AC administration turned a deaf ear to students who had pleaded with the college to allow them to complete their degrees. However when WCG officials discovered that closing AC would make it impossible to obtain a tax writeoff on AC's buildings the decision was made to let an amputated version of AC remain. Meanwhile, the college is again, apparently, negotiating with the Morman Chruch, hoping to sell the Big Sandy campus to that organization. Of course, it goes without saying that the Armstrongs' latest idiocies have completely destroyed Ambassador's chances of ever being accredited.
It had been our hope that somehow Ambassador College would be transformed into a legitimate institution. Nevertheless we suspected all along that the Armstrongs were quite willing to destroy the college rather than see it wrested from their control. You will recall that on the cover of our very first issue (the Review) we even asked the question: "Ambassador College- will it survive?"
It is obvious to us now that Ambassador cannot be legitimatized. It is also obvious that the majority of ministers and members still in the WCG are brainwashed beyond human hope. We'd like to help them, but we aren't naive, nor are we ignorant of Christ's admonition: "Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." (Matt. 15:19)
What, then, would we like to accomplish? Two things: (1) the complete exposing of the Armstrong cult to the general public, and (2) the liquidation of all Armstrong organization properties through litigation (being prepared now) with the resulting funds distributed to the victims of Armstrongism. Whether or not the AR will be able to continue on to these goals, however, remains to be seen.
As of right now, Ambassador Report is well over $7,000 in debt. To many, this would be a trifling amount, but in our position it is a substantial burden. Unless we can find a way to eliminate that financial barrier, it will be impossible for us to publish another issue of Ambassador Report. No matter what happens, we will, of course, continue to send what literature we've already published to those requesting it. We will also attempt to find other means to disseminate to the public the information accumulated in our files. But unless we substantially reduce our liabilities, we will simply not be able to continue publishing new Reports.
It is also becoming increasingly obvious to us that even if a way can be found for us to continue publishing, we will have to limit our mailings only to those who have, during 1978, assisted us financially.
There are quite a few who have been more than generous in financially supporting our efforts. To those people we can only express our sincere gratitude. (We wish we could do so to each of you personally.) But frankly, the majority of those on our mailing list have not so much as sent us a note of thanks.
We are not complaining! Most who have gone through the "Ambassador experience" want nothing more than to simply forget the whole thing. They sympathize with our efforts but apparently don't want to be reminded of the past. We understand completely. And that is one more reason we will not be sending future AR's to anyone unless they specifically request that we do so.
We intend to continue our efforts to expose the Armstrong cult, but for the good of our families and ourselves we must put a limit on our own degree of sacrifice. Unless the financial means can be found, the AR will no longer serve as the vehicle for disseminating the results of our investigations. We do sincerely hope, though, that we will be able to continue publishing the Report.
To those of you who have helped us in the past and to those of you who are helping us now, our sincere thanks.
On behalf of the Publishers,
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