AR 49 November 1991
Joseph W. Tkach -
God's New Rep on Planet Earth
by John Trechak
Editor: Part VI of this serialized article covers a very tragic aspect of the Joseph Tkach story - the effect his teachings and policies have had, and are having, on the family lives of not only his followers, but upon the family lives of thousands who wish they had never heard of Tkach or his Worldwide Church of God. It should be pointed out to those Just starting on this series, however, that because Part VI builds upon what was covered in Parts I through V, those parts should be read first so that what follows may be understood in proper context.
Joseph W. Tkach - the Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), Chancellor of Ambassador College, and the Chairman of the Ambassador Foundation - is viewed by many of his followers as a God-led visionary who is leading "God's People" into the 21st century. Since the death of WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong in 1986, Tkach has instituted a string of doctrinal changes (for instance, making medicine, makeup, birthdays, and interracial marriage permissible). Because of those changes, many of Tkach's followers say the WCG is now a kinder, gentler church. Unquestionably, Tkach has made the WCG a more liberal and modern organization. But is it really kinder and gentler?
The WCG continually publishes articles in its magazines and devotes whole segments of The World Tomorrow telecast to extolling the virtues of the traditional family (both nuclear and extended ).57 Yet, Tkach's reign (not just since 1986. but even from 1979 when he first started running the WCG's Church Administration Department) has been incredibly brutal toward the family relations of thousands - especially toward families where one mate is not a WCG member. An avalanche of letters to the Report indicates that Tkach's teachings and policies have devastated thousands of families and have led to untold numbers of separations, divorces, child custody battles, child kidnappings, the inadequate support of children from homes broken apart, the estrangement of children from parents and grandparents, plus the psychological problems and social ills that flow from family breakups and intra-family warfare. Let's look at some specific ways in which Tkach and his organization are hurting families around the world.
Dumping on Outsiders
One of the legacies of the Tkach administration is a policy AR has come to refer to as "dumping on outsiders." As with most cults, the WCG expects its members to put loyalty to the WCG's leaders far above any loyalty they may have toward country, community, or family. Members demonstrate their loyalty by obedience to the WCG's ministry and by exorbitantly contributing time and money to the WCG, thus leaving less for their family and usually none for community service.58 Membership in the WCG is usually so consuming that it is quite common for WCG members to be completely estranged from relatives - even parents or children - who are not WCG members themselves.
But what happens when a WCG member runs into serious financial difficulties such as prolonged unemployment, the death of a breadwinner mate, or homelessness? That's when the "dumping on outsiders" policy becomes operative. In the majority of cases the WCG will not provide needy members with meaningful financial assistance. Instead, the WCG ministry will simply dump the member's problems (and often the member himself) onto community agencies or, more likely, onto the doorstep of the member's non-WCG relatives.
That's not the way the church is supposed to work. For decades the WCG has taught that the faithful are required to pay the church a tithe, or 10%, of their gross income every three years (actually every third and sixth year in a cycle of seven) in addition to regular tithes and offerings. According to WCG teaching, this "third tithe" is supposedly a kind of insurance or welfare fund:
Why did God command a third tithe anyway? God instituted the third tithe for a very real and important use. Without it many in God's Church would go hungry and homeless.... God has commanded a third tithe for the support of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow who have no visible means of support (The Good News, Nov. 1962, p. 7).
In recent years some ministers have routinely called the third tithe fund "welfare income." For instance, in one of his reports in the Worldwide News (Sept. 10, 1990, p. 3) church treasurer Leroy Neff wrote:
Welfare income: This is often called the third tithe fund. It is for the widows, the fatherless and for the genuine emergency needs of members. Whatever is left over is used to pay field ministerial expenses. This year we have received 1.8 percent more than last year.59
In reality few WCG members living in poverty or in need of financial assistance during a crisis are given back any of the money they put into the third tithe insurance fund.60 Some WCG ministers even get irked if a needy member brings up the subject of third tithe assistance. A case in point is that of South Dakotan Harold W. Strong who was a WCG member for 17 years. A few years after being baptized Harold started to go blind. Unable to work, having lost everything, and being unable even to heat his home in winter, he asked his local minister what he should do. The minister told him to go on welfare; third tithe assistance from the church was not even mentioned. So for years Harold subsisted on a meager $140 per month from welfare (and, later, some SSI and social security). During all that time the church never offered him any third tithe assistance whatsoever. By 1977 Harold was completely blind. And because he had by then been a WCG member for 15 years, he began to question why he should not be eligible to receive third tithe assistance. As a result of his questioning, Harold was suspended from the church for nine months.61
According to recent WCG exiters, when the WCG ministry does offer needy members assistance, it is usually only for very small amounts of money and it is almost always in the form of a loan. Even then the WCG's policy is to never offer financial help until the needy member has exhausted all government assistance and all possible help from non-WCG relatives. According to former WCG deacon Herbert Zacharios of Wisconsin, enforcement of the policy started with Tkach:
©1991 Ambassador Report. Published irregularly (as finances allow) as a Christian service. ISSN 0882-2123
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
We attended the Feast of Tabernacles for our last time at Biloxi, Mississippi in 1979. During a service one of the speakers reported how two men had been raised in rank to evangelist - Stanley Rader and Joseph Tkach.... The speaker told how Tkach had taken it upon himself to go through the rolls of those receiving third tithe and remove everyone who was eligible for social security and/or welfare and/or anyone who had a living relative - in or out of the church - who could be responsible for their care.62
The outsiders dumped on by the WCG often find the needy member's situation quite bleak. I've heard of a number of cases where a member had no contact with his or her family for more than a decade and during all that time contributed very generously to the WCG. But, when the member was diagnosed as terminally ill with cancer or some other dreaded disease, the WCG's ministry refused to provide any financial assistance. Instead, the member was ordered to move in with non-WCG relatives and have them provide care until death ended their ordeal.
The WCG practice of disfellowshipping (excommunicating or ordering the shunning of) members the WCG ministry wishes to punish continues to wreck havoc in the lives of thousands.63 While the practice can be linked to certain Bible passages, numerous former WCG ministers say the WCG's doctrine is far harsher than what the Bible actually prescribes.64 Furthermore, we have seen over the years that in the process of discarding unwanted members, WCG ministers quite often have told ugly falsehoods about the ones being put out in order to justify their actions.65
Because being disfellowshipped often means being cut off from family relations or losing friends still in the WCG, the psychological impact of being disfellowshipped is often utterly devastating. Quoting William Martin, professor of the sociology of religion at Rice University, reporter Bill Marvel wrote in The Dallas Morning News (Aug 2, 1990, p. E1):
...the Worldwide Church of God has resorted to disfellowshipping frequently. (The late Herbert W. Armstrong, the church's longtime leader, even disfellowshipped his son, Garner Ted Armstrong.) Those who fall - or are driven outside - church boundaries often find themselves in a no-man's land in which they become non-persons, cut off from friends and family. "It's part of the biblical pattern that you're not supposed to eat or even talk with persons who have been disfellowshipped," Martin said. "They are literally dead. It means losing society. It's a tremendous loss."66
The idea that disfellowshipping is a kind of spiritual death or execution has not been lost on the WCG's leaders. In his column in the Worldwide News (Sept. 17, 1985) managing editor Dexter H. Faulkner wrote:
I just heard the saddest news a person could hear. Three families my wife and I were very close to have all died.
We labored together, we suffered trials together, we bore children together, we laughed together, for twenty years. We had one thing in common - we were all members of God's Church. But now they have been disfellowshipped.
I tried to analyze what brought about our friends' tragic demises. Did they underestimate the enemy?
Hundreds of letters to AR over the years have shown the accuracy of Professor William Martin's view that disfellowshipping is often extremely traumatic. For instance, one California woman wrote us:
I was in the Worldwide Church of God since I was a kid (for 20 years). I was put out about one and a half years ago. I've had emotional scarring, have suffered terror, insomnia, panic, etc. since being cut off from them. I haven't had anyone to help me. I'm in and out of mental wards. Can you send me some materials?...
In the above situation the woman was able to get consolation by reading AR. Back issues helped her to realize she had not been imagining the WCG's many failings. I recommended she contact a Christian psychologist and one of our readers who had gone through similar problems. They were able to help her regain her confidence. She also received emotional reassurance from a mainstream Christian support group. She was eventually able to overcome the trauma of leaving the WCG. As the following letter shows, however, everyone is not so fortunate:
We had a funeral for our oldest daughter (age 33-1/2) last week. Her husband was still in that church but she had left. God only knows how she suffered. She could no longer take the stress and killed herself with car fumes. She left us three beautiful grandchildren, but her husband will not let us see them now. We are "bad" because we left that cult. That's the story of our life involved in the Armstrong church. The pain is so intense, I don't know how we will make it. Please pray for us.
[Name withheld by request]
It is truly disappointing that while Tkach and his PR people are making every effort to give the impression that the WCG is becoming a more humane church, the old disfellowshipping policies remain in full force.67 Those thrown out of the WCG are still being told that for normal fellowship "privileges" to be granted, they must demonstrate "unconditional surrender to the government of God's Church" - i.e. if you don't lick the ministers' boots you can't come back in.
The Home Breakers
The WCG has always been a cult ready, willing, and able to break up marriages.68 One of the key tools used to do so has always been the WCG's divorce and remarriage (or "D and R") doctrine. The old version of the D and R teaching was described by WCG evangelist Herman L. Hoeh as follows:
Of prospective Church members - those applying for baptism - somewhere near one in three or four have been divorced. Many have remarried. To qualify to be baptized and accepted into God's Church MANY were required by the Church, knowing God's teaching against adultery in Matthew 5:32 and 19:18, to separate from a second marriage - in many cases a happy marriage with children.69
Thus the prospective member who was a D and R case was immediately put into a hellish Catch 22: Either to divorce one's present mate, live celibate, and perhaps also be permanently separated from one's children in order to achieve salvation - or to save one's marriage and thereby be consigned to hell fire. Naturally, many who decided to preserve their marriage had the joy of that relationship greatly diminished by doubts as to their spiritual future. And many who decided to put salvation, as they perceived it, above family were later to be tormented by unfulfilled physical needs and profound loneliness.70
To help guarantee that separated D and R couples would not weaken and backslide into forbidden liaisons, WCG clerics would often require that separated mates move to states distant from one another. When both mates, however, were WCG members it was inevitable that they would occasionally spot each other at one of the church's annual feasts or yearly conventions.
I very distinctly recall seeing one such accidental meeting at the WCG's Squaw Valley convention in 1969. Moments before a service was to begin, with everyone scurrying to their seats, a separated D and R couple accidentally saw each other. Obviously still very much in love, they instinctively and passionately ran toward each other to embrace. But almost instantly, as though some powerful dark force descended between them, the would-be embrace became a mere holding of hands as the two looked into each other's eyes, trembling and sobbing. In anguish with tears streaming down their faces, they then quickly turned from each other to take their places at opposite ends of the auditorium. I have seen very few real-life scenes as poingant. Incidentally, the sermon that day focused on the importance of obeying church authority.
Not surprisingly, the old D and R doctrine cost the WCG prospective members and, of course, considerable income. In 1974 the WCG came up with a new D and R teaching. In the same 1982 WN article quoted above, Herman L. Hoeh wrote how the WCG's leaders scuttled the old D and R doctrine (that a first marriage was bound by God until death) and how church members since 1974 have been allowed to divorce and remarry under two new circumstances:
(1) If the believing Church member has been newly converted and the mate refuses to live with him or her because of the religion, and (2) if both had been in the Church, but one falls away, or turns bitter against the Church or refuses to live as husband and wife with the still loyal member.
In this second case the embittered one is to be officially considered a nonmember or unbeliever. "A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace" (I Corinthians 7:15). And the member may divorce.
The current D and R teaching as outlined by Hoeh71 gives the WCG ministry broad power over the marriages of its members and over the marital circumstances of many non-members. A non-member spouse who expresses disapproval of the way the member spouse spends his or her time and money or the way children are being raised can be viewed as "not living as husband and wife" or as having "departed the marriage" and the member spouse will be given ministerial permission - or even encouragement - to divorce. The member spouse who is looking for an excuse to get a new mate is also given new power. Such members can easily create marital stress - unconsciously or even purposely - and then use the non-member's angry reactions as "proof" that the nonmember spouse has, in essence, departed the marriage.72
A repeated scenario has been that the member going off regularly to church services and conventions without his or her spouse meets someone of the opposite sex with whom they feel more comfortable. The non-member spouse either accidentally discovers, or is informed directly of this new "friend" and no longer is as amorous towards the member mate. The member mate then goes to the ministry, claiming the non-member is no longer living as a true spouse, gets permission to divorce, and after divorcing goes off into the sunset with the new-found WCG devotee. (To make matters worse, many wives deserted this way then find that their tithe-paying ex-husband has little money left over for spousal or child support.)
What Do You Mean "Unbeliever"?
The WCG's current teaching on D and R has had some very bizzare ramifications. For example, note the following indignant excerpt from a Sept. 25, 1989 letter to Church of God, International (CGI) members from CGI president Garner Ted Armstrong (emphasis his):
When you have had to experience divorce up close, you understand the terrible emotional and mental duress; the weeks, months and even years of sleepless nights, countless tears, with one's stomach tied in knots, loss of appetite; where practically everything in your life seemingly revolves around the terrible conflict and trauma of divorce!
Sadly, we have had to hear of cases where the parent organization, the Worldwide Church, has "ruled" that when divorce occurs within their ranks, but when one of the parties is a member of the Church of God, International, that party is viewed by the WCG as "an unbeliever"! They then invoke Paul's statement "If the unbeliever depart, let him depart," and rule that the member remaining within the WCG is FREE TO MARRY!
"Unbeliever?" But HOW can a member of God's church who believes in the whole Bible; knows the truth about [long list of doctrines WCG and CGI once held in common]... attends church every Sabbath, and is a loyal and faithful member of God's true church - yes, HOW could any pharisaical "holier than thou" so-called "religious leader" label such a one an UNBELIEVER?
This is nothing short of utter BLASPHEMY! Jesus Christ of Nazareth warned very sternly of those who would dare to attribute to the very power of God's Holy Spirit the works of Satan! He said such inferences were perilously close to the UNPARDONABLE SIN!
We in God's Church (the Church of God, International) have NEVER inferred that the members of the WCG are "unbelievers."
This thinly-disguised "excuse" to permit DIVORCE is heinous beyond my ability to describe! Thank God it is not I who am called to judge; Almighty God will judge such acts and deeds, and those who are committing them; those who are aiding and abetting in perpetrating divorce will have to answer to One far more powerful than I!
GTA is entirely correct in pointing out the incredible pain inflicted on thousands by the WCG's current D and R doctrine. He is also correct in suggesting that many sabbatarian church people do not agree with the WCG's current position on D and R. Notice the following article excerpt which appeared in the La Crosse Tribune of Wisconsin, Feb. 11, 1984 about Ambassador College graduate and University of Wisconsin alumnus Dennis Hallingstad:
A 34-year-old Sparta man was ordered jailed for 30 days after bursting into a Monroe County courtroom Friday afternoon and reading Bible verses, apparently to protest a hearing in his divorce case.
Dennis Hallingstad, who claims the divorce is illegal because it violates his religious freedom under the Constitution, was ordered jailed by reserve Judge Richard Harvey of Racine for contempt of court.
Hallingstad then ran from the courtroom and was arrested a few minutes later in the restroom of a nearby hospital. He then was strapped to a stretcher and wheeled into a makeshift courtroom at the Monroe County Sheriff's Department so that the divorce case could continue.
But the hearing was again disrupted when Hallingstad, who had appeared to be in a deep sleep, began screaming that the judge was an agent of Satan and should repent of his sinful ways. Hallingstad said God was using him to speak to the world.
"I want the news media to know what's happening in this country. I want them to know the judge is of the devil," Hallingstad shouted.
Harvey ordered Hallingstad placed in secure detention at St. Francis Medical Center in La Crosse. The judge then granted the divorce to Hallingstad's wife, Janice, saying it was the most difficult case he has handled in nearly 50 years of law practice.
"I've had nothing but turmoil in the case since it started," said Harvey, who was named to the case after other judges either disqualified themselves or refused to take the case.
Hallingstad filed lawsuits in Monroe County last year against Circuit Judge James Rice, Mrs. Hallingstad, a friend and a court commissioner in an attempt to block the divorce.
He said Jesus Christ does not recognize divorces and that it is therefore a violation of his religious freedom for a court to dissolve a marriage. He also has asked state Rep. John Medinger, D-La Crosse, to introduce a bill making divorces illegal in Wisconsin.
In addition, he recently filed a lawsuit in La Crosse County Circuit Court asking for $50 million in damages against the Worldwide Church of God, which he claims is a cult that has gained control of the minds of his wife and 6-month-old son, Gregory....
According to court documents, Hallingstad married his wife in 1977 and convinced her to join the Worldwide Church of God, a California-based group that is headed by its elderly spiritual leader, Herbert W. Armstrong.
Hallingstad said in a recent La Crosse Tribune interview that he was kicked out of the local branch of the church early last year after questioning church leaders' interpretation of the Bible and criticizing Armstrong for getting a divorce....
The Mechanics of "D&R" Mayhem
In an October 1984 sermon given in Buffalo, New York, leading WCG minister Harold Jackson stated that in 1982 (the year in which Hoeh wrote his definitive WN article about D and R), there were 265 divorces among the WCG's members. in 1983, he said, there were 235. Although current statistics are unavailable, every indication is that there are now more divorces annually among WCG members.
Those not familiar with the WCG's overbearing ministry might assume that divorce in the WCG is like divorce anywhere else where people simply get lawyers and go to court. Unfortunately, like just about everything else of significance in a WCG member's life, divorce requires ministerial involvement. To get authorization to divorce a mate, the complaining mate must reveal virtually all details - no matter how private or intimate - about the marriage (including all premarital sexual activities). Local ministers make thorough written reports on such matters and those reports are then forwarded to WCG headquarters where an all male "D and R committee" reviews them and decides the fate of the distant couple.
As head of Church Administration in January 1986, Tkach instructed the entire WCG ministry about:
the importance of doing a thorough job on these writeups.... No divorce and remarriage decisions are to be made at the local level... remember that all divorce and remarriage cases should be written up and sent to Pasadena regardless of how clear-cut or simple the case may seem.... Be specific about key dates involved in the courtship, marriage ceremony, divorce, separations, fornication, etc.....73
Not only does the WCG's "D and R committee" in far away Pasadena intrude into all the intimacies of the couple's relationship, in recent years the WCG's huge staff of legal personnel have also gotten into the act. I've seen numerous documents - including letters from WCG attorney Ralph Helge himself - revealing that WCG lawyers have provided substantial financial assistance to WCG members divorcing their non-member mates. This often seems to be the case where the nonmember is also an outspoken critic of the WCG. In such cases, the WCGs lawyers seem to revel in being able to financially break the critic's back.
One New York businessman wrote to me about the effects his divorce from a Worldwider had on him and his business:
I guess the last four and a half years have really taken their toll on my sanity. The legal battles of my divorce have finally, drained my last drop of blood. My business closed three months ago in bankruptcy, over $100,000 in debt. The creditors and state are currently hovering over the carcass picking it clean. I'm currently unemployed.... The divorce was finally completed last month with my ex on her fourth or fifth attorney - I lost count.... Her second attorney was the one paid $8,000 by Helge. And then she turned around and filed a fee application with the court for me to pay an additional $13,000 including $625 for the psychiatrist she called as a witness!....
I'll probably still have to pay $2500 [in fees] - can't discharge that kind of debt. And I still have to pay past sales taxes, employees' taxes, income taxes, etc. (about $30,000) if they don't raise enough auctioning off what has been my life of the last 10 years!
The involvement of WCG lawyers in divorces of WCG members is not limited to providing financial assistance to members out to divorce and/or harm mates critical of the church. WCG lawyers have been known to assist members in the kidnapping of children - that is, in surreptitiously whisking away children from the custody and care of the non-WCG mate.
In one of the cases for which I have documentation, a wife who was a WCG member went back to her native Germany with her children for a visit. (The main purpose of the trip, to which her member husband did not openly object, had to do with family finances and social security.) Although her marriage had not been all she had hoped for, her Oregonian husband had never brought up the idea of a formal separation or divorce. However, while the wife was in Germany, the couple's WCG minister in Oregon privately suggested to the husband that he divorce his wife. (Incidentally, throughout this period the wife remained a church-attending WCG member!) Then, while the two were still apart, WCG lawyer Larry Darden secretly wrote the husband:
As you know, our firm serves as general counsel for the Worldwide Church of God. Mr. Helge has discussed your letter with me and asked that I write to you on his behalf....
(1) Contact your wife in Germany and arrange for a voluntary transfer of the children to you - either permanently or for a visit.
In order to protect yourself in that regard you should be able to send non-transferable, non-refundable tickets for the trip naming your children as the only possible users and Portland as the only destination. I understand that TWA or other large airlines can arrange tickets in that manner for you.
On arrival of the children in Oregon you might consider contacting an attorney in Portland to assist you in filing for divorce or separation and for custody of the children....
(3) If your wife will not voluntarily release the children, you might choose to fly to Germany, after obtaining the appropriate passports or visas for the children, and bring the children back with you. As your wife is gone much of the time you should have little difficulty in that regard....
As you have equal right to custody with your wife until after a court has awarded custody during a divorce or separation proceeding, it would be to your advantage financially and strategically to avoid making custody a court issue in Germany or Oregon until after the children are with you in Oregon.
The attempted kidnapping did not prove successful for the husband. But the WCG-lawyer-counselled kidnapping attempt caused the woman's oldest son to develop severe emotional problems. The attempted kidnapping also resulted in the wife having to be hospitalized for severe trauma and damaged nerves in her right arm with the possibility of permanent paralysis. The legal and emotional warfare waged against the impoverished woman by her husband and his WCG ministers and lawyers continued for over five years. Although the two finally divorced with the wife getting child custody, many of her emotional wounds remain to this day.
Over the years, the evidence has continued to mount of WCG ministers encouraging the kidnapping of children away from "unconverted" mates and former mates. For example, as I reported in AR32 (p. 6):
In 1979, Ambassador Report was contacted by Dr. Galal Badr, a college professor at George Mason University in Virginia. Badr told us how he had been married to a WCG member, had gone through a divorce, and had been granted custody of their young daughter Abigail. Badr told us, however, that his daughter and his ex-wife, Marianna (a one-time school teacher from Philadelphia, maiden name - Dowhan) had disappeared, and a WCG minister, who hinted he knew of their whereabouts, had told him, "If you don't cooperate, you'll never see your daughter again." Badr refused to "cooperate" and true to the minister's prediction, he has not seen or heard from his daughter (or ex- wife) since then....
In late 1979, Dr. Badr wrote to WCG headquarters asking their assistance in locating his missing daughter. It was some time before he even received a response. Finally on July 3, 1980, WCG lawyer Ralph Helge wrote Dr. Badr that "the Church" would not intervene in his case because, "Any other position would demand that the Church become an investigator and fact finder in thousands of cases."
In recent court proceedings WCG-member relatives of Badr's ex-wife took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer when asked questions about the missing teenager and her fugitive mother.
Abigail would now be 18 years old. Dr. Badr recently told me, "It has been more than 13 years since I last saw my daughter's face, her brown hair, her green eyes, or heard her voice. I don't know if she is well or even alive. Your readers who have children of their own will perhaps have some idea of the kind of sadness I feel inside. What has caused Marianna to subject me to such cruelty, and in the process make herself a fugitive from the law, I cannot understand."74
Child kidnappings are not the only means used by WCG ministers and lawyers to inflict emotional trauma upon uncooperative non-WCG mates. Floridian Carl Youngquist was married to a woman who joined the WCG. Although raised a Lutheran, Carl, himself, attended WCG services for a short period but lost interest. Before long, Youngquist noticed a profound change in his wife's personality. Eventually he became fed up with her obsession with the WCG and with her insistence on educating their three children at home. In late 1987 he filed for divorce and asked for custody of their three children.
Youngquist's parents, devout Christians who had helped raise their son's children, wrote AR about what happened next:
About six weeks after our son filed for divorce and for custody of the children, she charged him, on the advice of someone in the WCG, with sexually abusing their adopted five-year-old daughter.
The divorce hearing was held in December 1988 in West Palm Beach. We found out, through our lawyer, that the WCG was paying her lawyer directly from Pasadena. Besides her first lawyer, she had a second lawyer retained by the church. He objected to every question Carl's attorney asked about the church. For that reason the divorce hearing took two days rather than one.
At the divorce hearing Carl's ex was accompanied by an entourage from the church. In the hallway we saw them all laughing and having a gay old time. The so-called minister and treasurer testified but answered no questions regarding the church.
In May of 1987 the state of Florida dismissed the civil suit (alleging sexual abuse) because of insufficient evidence. But then the state filed criminal charges for which, if he had been found guilty, he could have received 25 years in prison! Because of the criminal charges against our son, his ex-wife "as awarded temporary [now permanent] custody of the children and he was ordered to pay $131 weekly in child support - prompt payment of which she enforces through repeated legal actions.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Youngquist
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Richard G. Lubin, Carl's defense lawyer, was convinced of his client's innocence and refused all offers of a plea bargain.75 Florida prosecutors were unable to make out a case and all charges against Carl were dropped in December 1990.76 By then, however, Carl and his parents had paid out over $100,000 in legal fees. Although permitted to occasionally see the three children, Carl and his parents say the youngsters have become emotionally distant, even cold, toward them. The years of bitter court battles have left all those involved emotionally scarred.
Who's On Top?
The D and R doctrine is not the only way the WCG ministry undermines the marriages of thousands. If one reads official WCG publications dealing with marital relations, one finds promulgated what might be called a traditional Christian marriage ideal: Husbands are to faithfully love their wives, provide for and protect them and their children, be strong family leaders, yet show kindness, compassion, understanding, patience, etc. Wives are to faithfully love their husbands, be devoted homemakers and domestic managers, raise children in the faith, be understanding, patient, etc. Most people would probably find the public WCG model for the ideal family to their liking.77
Yet, the way the WCG message is actually read by many husbands transmogrifies the WCG marital ideal into one of male-centered, insensitive tyranny over a presumably inferior and subjugated serf. Furthermore, with many WCG clerics the more equitable marital model advocated in WCG publications is completely ignored and the overt message from the pulpit and in private counseling is one of unrestrained male domination.78 Notice what one of our readers in Kansas wrote in this regard:
Thank God that Jesus Christ came and liberated women (as well as men)... and gave women the respect and consideration that God intended from the beginning. In the WCG our minister for several years preached about [women being] the less intelligent half of the human race. He felt God gave to men HIGHER talents and "smarts." He spoke to his own wife as if she was his servant or slave and he was the tyrant king.
We had a really good marriage until we were in the WCG a few years. My husband then became insensitive, treating me like I was dumb! He expected me to be subject to his every demand - regardless of how I felt and regardless of what I thought was proper. It was just like what the ministers demanded of their congregations - we were to do as they said even if it was wrong! The marriage became based on an attitude of dictatorship and tyranny, not on the idea that we were two capable human beings seeking to be Christians.
The ministry took us back to Old Testament days. Maybe this is why some of the ministers thought it was okay to have extra-marital affairs - because King David did, didn't he?
Not surprisingly, the WCG is an organization rife with the double standard. There are congregations in which the presiding cleric routinely puts down women for the most trivial of "flaws" - poor choice of clothing styles or makeup, "excessive" voicing of opinion, lack of deference toward males, etc. Yet some of those same ministers will expect the wives in their congregations to be "understanding" toward their husbands' "problems" with adultery or even incest.79
Excessive male dominance is the usual pattern found in WCG families that are dysfunctional. Ironically, however, when some ministers feel it is to the WCG's advantage, they are quite willing to support a wife bent on being the dominant mate in a marriage. Note the following letter written to AR:
I was suspended from the WCG Jan. 12,1989 by David Register and his mostly silent assistant Ken Sparks. My wife, a diehard WCGer has become extremely self-righteous since finding out about the WCG. She has also become dominant and uncontrollable in family affairs. She involved the ministry early on and they took her side! They won't listen to me or to our children from her previous marriage. (Her first husband left her because of the same problem when they were both Catholics.) The ministers just back her up!
Situations such as the above are particularly vexing to husbands who, themselves, were taught to be dominant leaders. Men who've perhaps had a fundamentalist Christian upbringing or who have been military officers or business managers often seem to have little tolerance for a wife suddenly "wearing the pants" with full approval and encouragement from some 25-year-old Ambassador College-trained Tkach hireling. And so, even though such men are often very much in love with their wives, divorce becomes inevitable.80
The Love Bashers
In addition to tampering with members' marital relations and using the D and R doctrine to break up existing marriages, the WCG ministry frequently destroys budding relationships and future marriages through heavy-handed ministerial match-making and match-breaking. For decades, WCG ministers have considered it their God-given prerogative to encourage (read "coerce") certain individuals to marry. Conversely, they have also thought it their God-given prerogative to use their considerable psychological influence to discourage (read "destroy") certain budding relationships.
Obviously, there is an important counseling role to be played by any proper ministry as regards those contemplating marriage and even as regards young people just dating. But in the case of the WCG, with its highly authoritative - and often outrageously rakish-ministry, marriage counseling has frequently been nothing but inane -and often self-serving - intermeddling with the legitimately private lives and intense emotions of trusting, child-like Christians.
I personally know of dozens of marriages ruined by WCG ministerial match-making/breaking. But let me just quote from one recent letter to AR:
I would like to tell you that I [recently] married a woman I have loved for the past 27 years. I met her when I first got into the WCG in the 1960s. We first dated back in the spring and summer of 1964 but [WCG evangelist] Dean Blackwell broke us up because he wanted her to go to Ambassador College. Unfortunately, she only attended for two years, then worked for the college. At age 23 Ol' Joe Tkach played matchmaker and advised (or whatever it is they do to so many people) that she marry a man she had known for only three months. He turned out to be an alcoholic and sex pervert - basically a closet homosexual. She went through 20 years of sheer hell.
Because of the church, I, myself, married on the rebound in 1965. That marriage lasted only a few years after we left the church back in 1974.
I cannot begin to warn people enough about how this organization has hurt, manipulated, controlled, and ruined the lives of thousands of innocent, unsuspecting victims. Our personal story could fill a book.
What Spirit Is Behind All This?
When we look at the WCG organization with its proclivity for thwarting budding relationships, mismatching mates, interfering in marriages, breaking up families, and separating children from parents and grandparents, we need to ask ourselves what is the spirit that infuses and motivates Tkach's so-called church?
Some years ago I heard Professor Lon Sobel, an internationally renowned legal scholar, lecture on the subject of entertainment business litigation strategies. He made an insightful comment that had relevance far beyond the subject upon which he lectured. He cautioned his audience of young litigators that whenever they were involved in legal battles with corporate giants, it was imperative they understand the attitudes, values, and psychological bent ("spirit," if you will) of the individual or group of individuals at the very top of that organization. He explained that it is the mindset of those at the very top that will permeate an entire corporation (and, in turn, affect the course of the litigation). That important principle is well understood by not just great trial lawyers, but by many psychologists and sociologists as well.81
What happens in the WCG and in the lives of its members is most often not the result of doctrines or policies derived from a sincere search for transcendent truths, but is almost always the result of policies that flow from the idiosyncrasies, prejudices, projections, and psychological bent of its top leader and his inner circle. And, as I have emphasized since our first issue, we can best understand the spirit underlying the WCG if we look at the private lives of those key individuals.
In this regard, let me quote from an insightful letter written by former WCG member/deacon N. C. Gilbert82 to WCG minister Randall R. Kobernat on Dec. 30, 1984:
Mr. Kobernat, I do not [condone] incest or rape. In addition to physically, people can be raped mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. And, I might add, Mr. Armstrong's own daughter will only answer, "I am not at liberty to discuss it" when asked if the incest charges against her father are true or false. I realize that happened a long time ago, and could/should be repented of and forgotten; but the attitude and spirit of forceful control (TOTAL authority) is still in the [WCG] organization. Mr. Kobernat, if I said I was a minister (or apostle) of God and was committing incest, do you think Rev. 2:2 would apply to me? Dr. Joyce Brothers writes that people who commit such perverse acts do it, in most cases, to show their power and control over others. Christian ethics, love, mercy, etc. seem to be taking second place to obedience and control. It reminds me of the children's game "Simon Says." Either you do exactly what "Simon" says, or you are out! Is Christ a part of such?
Since 1976 virtually every issue of AR has focused on the issue of the WCG's spirit of forceful and totalitarian authority over the minds of its members. I have also reported extensively on HWA's long-time incestuous abuse of his youngest daughter. I will not reiterate those sad facts in this article. Nor will I devote space here to Garner Ted Armstrong's promiscuous past. Those matters have been covered in detail in past issues of the Report.83 However, as one of AR's readers wrote me, "You have written extensively about the private lives of HWA and GTA. You have a duty to now report what you know about Mr. Tkach and his associates."
Joe Tkach Jr.
After Joe Tkach Sr., the most visible WCG figure is Joe Tkach Jr. Although less visible than his father in WCG publications, Junior is actually running much of the WCG.84 As one WCG insider revealed to AR: "Basically, right now, Joe Tkach Jr. and Michael Feazell are running the church. Mr. Tkach Sr. trusts no one else!"
Junior's official title is Director of Church Administration U.S.A.85 Those who remember him as a student at the WCG's Imperial School in Pasadena during the late 1960s and then at Ambasssador College from which he was graduated in 1973, say he was not a brilliant student. Indeed, some classmates considered him "a goof ball."
After graduation he was a ministerial trainee in California, Indiana, and Arizona. Ordained in 1976, he was also cut from the WCG payroll that same year. Between 1976 and 1986, Junior took a few extension classes in psychology from Arizona State University, worked as a social service worker, earned an MBA from the small Western International University in Phoenix, and then worked for Intel Corp. for a couple of years. Since being lured back to employment in the WCG, his father has had him raised to evangelist rank.
Divorced from his first wife, Jill, in 1978,86 Junior remarried in 1980. Those familiar with Junior's first marriage say it was a tumultuous relationship. Friends of Jill say Junior was an habitual wife beater and Jill, now a born-again Christian, has told friends that Tkach Sr., himself, even struck her on two occasions. The following letter from a former member of Junior's Arizona flock reveals something of Junior's character and personality:
I knew both Joe Tkach Jr. and Jill, his first wife, in a personal way [because my wife and I spent considerable time traveling with them on church business].... It certainly came as no surprise when we were apprised of Jill divorcing this "Hitler"! Certainly I could not blame her for such overdue action. I say this not from hearsay, second-hand scuttlebutt, or rumor, but because my wife (who still clings to the cult) and I witnessed his outrages first hand.
On one occasion, Mr. T. invited my wife and I to ride along on their trip to Prescott, Arizona where he was to give a Sabbath sermon. Jill was driving while Mr. T. Jr. was in the back seat preparing his sermon. Jill missed the turn-off to Prescott from the Phoenix to Flagstaff freeway. She had driven about 10 miles past the turn-off when we realized that she had gone by the Prescott exit. Mr. T. Jr. blew his top, to say the least! He cussed and swore at Jill from that point, 10 miles past the turn-off all the way to Prescott, about 60 miles from the freeway as I recall. He called her every vulgar name in the book: "an S.O.B.," "a stupid imbecile," "a F---ing bitch,"; and he said "God D--- you!"- except he said whole words, not just the starting letters. He just kept screaming the epithets at her. While he continued to scream out those deplorable rantings and ravings, I wondered if I should tell him to shut up. But I knew that if I did I would be disfellowshipped on the spot. After searching for years to find what I most ignorantly assumed to be "God's One True Church," and being taught never to question, much less upbraid, one of "God's ministers," I bit my tongue and felt embarrassed that a fellow human being would react so disgustingly to such a trivial mistake.
It's interesting that the moment we pulled into the church parking lot, Mr. T. Jr.'s personality did a 180 degree somersault. He smiled and greeted the deacons in the parking lot, apologized for being late, gave his sermon, and acted as though none of the turmoil in the car had ever happened. Mind you, he had carried on in the car ranting and raving for over one hour straight! Jill was left in tears by his tongue lashing. I remember thinking at the time - if he would mistreat his wife so horribly in our presence, how far would he go in brutalizing her in private?
Some time previous to the above incident, we were visiting his home when my wife asked him a question about [erotic] fantasies. He told her that fantasizing was perfectly normal, that he himself did this, and that he even encouraged his wife to fantasize about other men!87
I recall he said that he hated his Dad and that his father was a "little dictator" who had never shown him any love. The picture he painted of his father was nothing like the picture painted of Mr. T. Sr. in the Worldwide News where he is supposedly a family man who loves children. However, the description given by Mr. T. Sr. in the 7/17/89 WN of people in the WCG jockeying for position does fit perfectly my recollection of Mr. T. Jr. When Mr. T. Sr. became transformed from being a "little dictator" - as his son had described him - into being a "big dictator," he dangled a one-quarter to one-half million dollar carrot in front of his son's nose. That is what caused Mr. T. Jr. to want to gravitate to Pasadena in 1986. At his going away party, he told my wife that he had really changed. Well, I have to wonder. Someone who has, doesn't have to boast about it.
A considerable amount of evidence accumulated by AR indicates Junior has really not changed at all, but has only gotten better at concealing his leopard spots.88 Tkach Sr., however, doesn't seem to mind.
In his rise from lowly local elder to "God's Apostle," Tkach Sr. has had a number of mentors. The first was evangelist Dean Blackwell, Tkach's superior in Chicago during his early years in the church. For many WCG members, Blackwell's reputation centers around his mellifluous voice and his pulpit fulminations against sexual immorality. For many WCG ministers, however, Blackwell's reputation is that of, as one of his former colleagues put it, "a hypocrite with the personal morals of an alley cat and the brains of a chicken."89
Former WCG member Robert Skaggs90 told the Report:
Dean Blackwell was absolutely idolized by women in the Chicago church. He, in turn, took advantage of many. He had a basement office with a couch. That is where many of his escapades would take place. He used to ask various church women to come over to his house to do his wife's housework for her. He had the nerve to ask my wife to come over like that. I told my wife, "Let Mr. Blackwell's wife do her own housework!"...
Around 1963, a deaconess caught Blackwell in bed with the wife of [a WCG local elder]. When she told me what she had seen I called evangelist Rod Meredith at church headquarters in Pasadena. I thought Blackwell would be removed or, at least, reprimanded. Instead, Meredith had one of the Chicago ministers come to me and say if I wanted to continue attending services I would have to be rebaptized!
In other words, Skaggs was not-so-subtly told that when it came to the personal morals of top ministers he was to mind his own business. His experience in this regard reflected a WCG policy unknown to most lowly members. As Mary Ellen Dahlgren, former executive secretary to Herbert W. Armstrong and Stanley R. Rader, told the Report, "the official, although unwritten rule, was that adultery by ministers ranked preaching elder and lower was to be punished, but adultery by ministers ranked pastor and above was to be covered up."
Under Blackwell, Tkach learned firsthand about the WCG's double standard and about church politics. When Blackwell seduced Tkach's own wife in the early 1960s, Tkach's silence was rewarded when Blackwell got him ordained.91 Blackwell also put Tkach in charge of the Chicago congregation's third tithe "poor fund." As Blackwell's "bag man," Tkach gained a knowledge of how to distribute favors for selfish gain. With that experience he was later able to land a similar position of grass roots influence when transferred to WCG headquarters in Pasadena.92
Once Tkach became the WCG's Pastor General, many assumed that because Blackwell had slept with Tkach's wife, Tkach would get his revenge by firing him. Not so. Although Tkach did get satisfaction from being able to dominate and humiliate Blackwell by transferring him to the Philippines for a time, after a spell Tkach allowed his old mentor to come back to the U.S. In return for keeping his mouth shut about much of Tkach's past, Blackwell remains on full WCG salary as one of Tkach's "doctrinal advisors."
Herman L. Hoeh
For over forty years Herman L. Hoeh - evangelist, doctrinal theoretician, Ambassador College professor, WCG board member, and Plain Truth editor - has been one of the most influential men in the WCG hierarchy. He has also been one of Tkach's most important mentors. From 1976 to 1979 Tkach assisted Hoeh in pastoring the "Pasadena Auditorium A.M." congregation. The teacher-student relationship that developed provided Tkach with the insights and advice he needed to gain control of the WCG's Church Administration Department beginning in 1979.93
"Dr." Hoeh, as he is often referred to because of his Ph.D. from still unaccredited AC, is an individual not lacking in IQ or political skill.94 In spite of certain well-known eccentricities,95 most Worldwiders view Hoeh as a mild-mannered gentleman and scholar. But there is another side to Hoeh - one very much at odds with his conservative straight image.
I first became aware of Hoeh's double life in mid-1977. We had just published AR2, our large "In Bed With Garner Ted" issue, and the revelations it contained were prompting many headquarters personnel to resign from the WCG. One such individual was Ron Lepeska, a gifted photographer and graphics artist who had been employed at church headquarters for a number of years.
One day, Ron received a phone call from Hoeh. "I understand you've left the church," said Hoeh. As Ron answered in the affirmative, his racing thoughts were that Hoeh had phoned in his capacity as a WCG minister and was about to counsel him to rejoin the church. Instead, Hoeh responded, "That's good. I've got a job for you." He explained to Ron that he had an extensive collection of photographic "art" - with some photos having cost him $200 apiece - but that a handful of photos had slight defects which required a bit of "touching up." While surprised at Hoeh's indifference toward his new non-member status, Ron agreed to assist the evangelist.
Later, after Hoeh dropped off twenty or so photographs, Ron was flabbergasted at what he saw. Ron - who had become sympathic to AR's goals and was even then designing AR's new letterhead - phoned Report co-founder Len Zola. Shortly thereafter Len and I visited Ron's home to see the photos for ourselves. We discovered that most of the photos were clearly homoerotic. About half were of naked young boys with exposed genitals and naked buttocks. A few shots combined black leather and Nazi motifs. Most surprising, however, were three full-frontal nudity photos of very pregnant women - all of whose faces we recognized from WCG church services!
How, and from whom, Hoeh obtained his photos is unclear. It is interesting, however, that for years we have heard stories about WCG headquarters in Pasadena having its own secret group of nudism afficionados. We know, too, that Hoeh is a skilled amateur photographer who in the past has talked of leaving the ministry to become a professional photographer.96
The photos of naked boys in Hoeh's collection raises the question of whether Hoeh - in spite of his church's teachings - is latently bisexual or gay. At least one former Ambassador College instructor thinks Hoeh is. He told me:
Back in 1969, when I showed up to teach at Ambassador, there was to be a formal faculty reception. Herman Hoeh, aware that I didn't own a tuxedo, offered to loan me one of his. He invited me to his home and in his bedroom told me to disrobe so I could try on a tux. I did as he said only to discover the tux didn't fit me. It was only years later, after I was married and knew more about the ways of the world, that I pieced the puzzle together. Hoeh - who had sat on the bed leering at me - should have known all along his tux wouldn't fit me. He is five inches taller than I am! But then, he did get a chance to leer, didn't he.
What exactly is Hoeh's state of mind at present is difficult to say. Observers note that in recent years his obsession with Buddhism, Buddhist monks, reincarnation, and the nation of Thailand97 has steadily increased. Insiders say Mrs. Hoeh has not taken well to her husband's continuing weirdness. One of our readers recently observed her aimlessly wandering about a supermarket with a dazed look, talking to nonexistent companions. In the meantime, Tkach keeps Hoeh on as editor of the Plain Truth. The two men remain close friends.
Men With Boys
Let me interrupt myself at this juncture to make an observation. In the past, homosexual attraction in the WCG hierarchy has gone largely unnoticed by the WCG's membership. As one former WCG member who is gay told me, "Straights just don't know what to look for. They assume that if a man is married, occasionally takes a woman to dinner, or doesn't behave effeminately, he could not possibly be gay. Ha!"
Heterosexuals, too, most often do not realize how complex, sophisticated, and formalized homosexual relations can become. To illustrate the latter, let me quote briefly from a Eugene O'Connor essay about homosexuality in ancient Greece - a time and place often idealized in modem homosexual literature:
Indeed, a whole body of homoerotic literature grew up around the themes of male beauty and how one ought to woo and win a boy.
The customary social pattern was this: a boy in his teens or, at any rate, a younger man (called an eromenos, or "beloved") was sought out by an older male (called an erastes, or "lover"), who might be already married. Women in classical Athens were kept in virtual seclusion from everyone but their immediate families and their domestic activities were relegated to certain "female" parts of the house [cf. Tit. 2:5]. As it consequence, boys and young men - partly by virtue of their being seen, whether in the gymnasium, in the streets, or at it sacrifice (its in the Lysis) - became natural love-objects.
The adult man acted the role of the aggressive pursuer, who openly courted a younger male. So eager were men's affections, in fact, that boys had to be regularly escorted by tutors [cf. Gal. 3:24-25] to keep from being molested. In no case was a boy to be seen as the aggressor; essentially playing the female role in a society in which well-bred women were largely absent from public life, the boy would, while displaying his beauty and charms, withhold them at first, yielding to the man only after a period of courtship.
Strict rules of conduct bound both parties: adult males could face prosecution for seducing free-born youths, while Athenian boys and young men could be censured for soliciting sexual favors for money. That would make them in effect equal to courtesans, who were hired companions and lacked citizen status.
This erastes-eromenos (lover-beloved) relationship, although it was sexual and in many ways comparable to typical male-female relations, with the man assuming the dominant role, was meant ideally to be an educative one. The older man instilled in the younger - in essence, "made him pregnant with" - a respect for the requisite masculine virtues of courage and honor. Plato acknowledges the educative value of male-male relations when, for example, he has Alcibiades in the Symposium recount how his passion for Socrates (here humorously cast in the role of the beloved boy) has filled him with the pang of philosophy, and when Socrates in the Phaedrus describes how the soul of the pederast (literally, "a lover of youths") who is blessed with philosophy will grow wings after a certain cycle of reincarnations.98
Some have seen a similar type of tutorial under-culture developing in the WCG's higher echelons. (One oft-photocopied letter supposedly from one WCG executive/minister to another alleges just that and in considerable detail.99) Indeed, I personally recall from my years at Ambassador how certain church "scholars" were very aware of the sociology of ancient Greek homosexuality.
Stanley R. Rader
Another important Tkach mentor was Stanley R. Rader,100 the Jewish CPA-attorney who, for many years, was HWA's chief advisor. As detailed in Part II of this series,101 Rader hand picked Tkach to run the WCG's Church Administration Department in 1979. Until HWA removed Rader from power in 1981, Tkach took his orders from Rader. To do justice to Rader would require a whole book. For purposes of this article, however, I will mention only a few items.
There are few WCG members who are not aware of the many stories that have circulated over the years alleging that Rader is bisexual. Interest in Rader's private life peaked around 1980. In that year, former WCG minister David R. Robinson published his book Herbert W. Armstrong's Tangled Web which repeated a number of widely circulated accusations concerning Rader.102 One was that Rader's accounting partner, Henry Cornwall, was also Rader's homosexual partner. Another was that there were in existence photographs of church founder HWA having sex with young boys. (Copies of the photos were widely believed to be in Rader's possession.) Additionally, Robinson revealed how Rader had been unreceptive to any suggestion that the WCG maintain a position of staunch opposition to homosexuality.
According to Robinson's account, HWA, Rader, and Cornwall all had opportunity to deny the allegations to his face but never did. And, although the WCG sued Robinson over the book (for invasion of privacy), and although lawyer Rader is known for his litigiousness, the accuracy of Robinson's allegations concerning Rader's sexual preferences was never brought into issue. Finally, after just a few months of pleadings, the WCG quietly dropped the suit. In 1981, when author John Tuit published the same allegations against Rader in The Truth Shall Make You Free, the WCG did not even bother to threaten a lawsuit.
HWA stripped Rader of power in 1981 (while giving him a $250,000 bonus). But it is important to note that Rader was removed only because he represented a threat to HWA.103 HWA never objected to Rader's personal lifestyle. Nor did Rader object to HWA's. As for Tkach, he never objected to the lifestyles of either HWA or Rader.
During the last decade Rader has continued to live in Pasadena where he is often seen about town in the company of his doting wife. Friends say he spends considerable time reading fine literature, maintains contacts with numerous world leaders, and is "Of Counsel" with the Los Angeles law firm of Morgan, Wenzel, and McNichols. His clients include notorious cult leader Tony Alamo104 (original name Bernie Lazar Hoffman) who, in recent years, has been charged with felony child abuse, admits to having stolen his late wife's body from an Arkansas mausoleum, and in 1991 was arrested by FBI agents after allegedly threatening to kidnap and hang a federal judge.105
While Rader no longer attends WCG services - his wife has said, "my husband is too charismatic; it would disrupt the church" - he remains a WCG member. Tkach has not seen fit to disfellowship him. And, not long ago, when asked if Rader was still receiving a paycheck from the Ambassador Foundation Tkach replied, "I don't know."
Of the many colorful characters one finds in the WCG hierarchy, few are as odd as evangelist Gerald Waterhouse. A native of West Texas and a 1956 graduate of Ambassador College, Waterhouse has spent the last 25 years repeatedly circling the globe as the WCG's most long-winded evangelist.106 While also promulgating such oddball notions as "the place of final training," the mystical meaning of "Big Sandy," and the importance of Christians remaining "dumb,"107 Waterhouse's chief function until 1986 was to promote the glorification of Herbert W. Armstrong.
Since church founder Armstrong's death in early 1986, Waterhouse's four-hour-long sermons108 -given before five or six different audiences per week - have been aimed at accomplishing one thing: the glorification of Joseph W. Tkach. Toward that end, Waterhouse has been quite willing to disseminate scores of outlandish untruths about his latest idol. Some, such as Waterhouse's claim that Tkach was a fearless WWII warrior, have been explored in detail earlier in this series.109
One of Tkach's more humorous traits Is his love of "showing off." The pages of the WCG's newspaper give him many opportunities to show off his friends in photographs and in article comments. The photo on the left of Tkach and Joe Locke In matching outfits appeared on page one of the Feb. 15,1988 WN. The photo of Tkach followed by Locke and "Mrs." Ellen Escat appeared on page three of the July 6, 1987 WN.
In spite of the many lies Waterhouse spreads, Tkach continues to allow Waterhouse to preach around the world. He is not alarmed by Waterhouse's continued promulgation of outlandish untruths. Nor is Tkach alarmed by Waterhouse's preference for a hotel-hopping lifestyle,110 his boast of never having kissed a woman other than his mother,111 his taste for leather, his love of wearing nylon undergarments,112 his having been counseled by fellow WCG ministers regarding "homosexual tendencies," or the perception of many WCG ministers that Waterhouse is "mentally unstable." As long as Waterhouse continues to promote Tkach worship, he's okay with Tkach.
Dennis Van Deventer
Another Worldwide minister who has, like Waterhouse, carried Tkach worship to insane heights is Dennis Van Deventer. As explained in Part I,113 Van Deventer was the minister who from the pulpit "had been so vivid in describing how Tkach single-handedly decimated much of the Japanese air force that some church members had become physically shaken by the bloody accounts of Tkach's ravaging." Not only does Tkach tolerate such nonsensical fiction about himself, he seems to revel in being the object of worship.
One close friend cautioned Tkach not long ago that when Van Deventer speaks about "the Apostle" it is as though he is talking about God. To this observation Tkach flippantly suggested that compared to the poor way Herbert Armstrong had run the church perhaps he really is like God!
So confident is Tkach of Van Deventer, Tkach has put him in charge of the church's headquarters security force - no small responsibility considering the amount of intrigue that occurs there. Van Deventer is also said to be one of those with whom Tkach likes to share his back yard Jacuzzi - the place where, I'm told, the WCG's most important decisions are made. And Tkach can often be seen on late night walks with Van Deventer - a practice regarding which some have warned Tkach of potential image problems. For while Van Deventer is currently married and behaves in the "hard-nosed S.O.B. style" expected of supposedly macho managers in the WCG, his critics say he is overly interested in other males. It is also well-known at headquarters that while he was a student at the church's college in Texas, Van Deventer was expelled for performing a homosexual act upon a male employee of the church.
All of the above has led many to ask: Is Tkach gay?
Joe, Are You Gay?
The question of whether Tkach is gay - or, more precisely, bisexual - may sound outlandish at first considering that Tkach's 30 year marriage has resulted in three grown children and considering Tkach's church condemned homosexuality very strongly in the past. But while most of the general WCG membership has been mesmerized by the WCG's PR team into believing that Tkach is a dedicated family man who, because of his wife's mental illness, has been forced to become "a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake" (Matt. 19:12), insiders know better. One minister who has known Tkach for over two decades and who has had hundreds of intimate discussions with him over the years, told me bluntly, "Mr. Tkach has not had sex with his wife for over 22 years. And, let's face it, you either use it or lose it. We shouldn't criticize Mr. Tkach because he has needs."
For some years, many insiders assumed that those needs were being met solely by Tkach's executive secretary "Mrs." Ellen Escat.114 Increasingly, however, some insiders are saying that although Tkach can function with women, he actually prefers male companionship.115 So widespread has this perception become that stories about the personal preferences of Tkach and some in his inner circle have become quite widespread. 116
For example, Ambassador College graduate Ralph DiFiori recently wrote the Report:
In the summer of 1987 I was with Mr. Tkach and his assistant Joseph Locke. We were at an international site [Rome, Italy] and I stayed with Mr. Locke. In a casual conversation with Mr. Locke, he confided in me that Mr. Tkach doesn't like to be alone at night.117 While he sleeps alone, he likes Locke's company until he's ready to go to sleep. It startled me because we were always told Mr. Tkach was a fearless leader. Another interesting thing Locke mentioned, which I found very amusing, was that Mr. Tkach enjoyed watching professional wrestling on TV. So [we have] a modern apostle who enjoys Hulkamania. Now that's something. I can easily guess what other stuff they enjoy, but who am I to judge?
Locke, in his mid-forties, has never been married, shows little romantic interest in women, but shows considerable concern for the welfare of young boys, and lives with two young men across the street from Tkach. Besides being an officer of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation and an almost constant companion of Tkach on tour, he is Principal Supervisor of Imperial School (a church-sponsored elementary school) in Pasadena. According to one outraged parent, it was while employed in the latter capacity that he once118 disciplined a teenage boy by whipping him - after first requiring him to strip naked.119
Those who are convinced Tkach is a closet homosexual-bisexual point to a variety of facts to make their argument. Some examples:
Former WCG minister Elmer McElroy was one of Tkach's closest friends from Chicago. He was the driver of Tkach's big black car in the incident described in Part I of this series.120 Elmer's ex-wife has stated she knew that while Elmer was a WCG minister he was having affairs with men in the church. Just days after the big black car incident, in fact, Elmer left the WCG and "came out of the closet." He now resides back in Chicago living openly with his gay partner. Critics of Tkach say he knew all along that Elmer was gay. But that even while he and Elmer were putting Bible-believing Christians out of the WCG, Tkach was "covering" for his friend Elmer.
When Dennis Pebworth, a former WCG member, died of AIDS121 in 1987, Tkach attended his funeral and displayed great emotion on the occasion. Some WCG conservatives were surprised to hear of Tkach's attendance and behavior because until that time no top WCG leader would have dared pay his respects at the funeral of an ex-member who was a known homosexual.122
Another Tkach relationship that has disturbed some church conservatives is Tkach's long-time relationship with J. Michael Feazell. Feazell, now one of Van Deventer's close friends, is Tkach's chief ghostwriter. Officially, he is assistant to the Plain Truth's publisher (Tkach). He is also an evangelist and a member of the WCG's board of trustees.123 That someone so young (he's only 40) should quietly have been given so much authority galls some WCG old-timers - especially when, as one minister told me, "Mike is an incredible cry baby." One former Plain Truth writer told me, "Feazell is very effeminate. Mr. Herbert Armstrong would never have allowed him to be ordained an evangelist.124 I am not saying that Feazell (who is now married) is gay, but how did Feazell get so much power? According to ministerial sources, Feazell virtually lived full time with Tkach (and Tkach's then confined, schizophrenic wife) for ten years beginning when he was 18 years old. And just as Herman Hoeh became mentor to Tkach in the 1970s, Tkach became mentor to the young Feazell. The two have remained trusting mutual admirers ever since.
Tkach has a number of idiosyncrasies that get him into trouble with his more conservative associates. One quirk is that, unlike church founder HWA, who was more formal, Tkach is very "touchy-feely" with men in public. I personally thought this criticism quite silly until someone pointed out to me how there are hundreds of photos - many already published in the Worldwide News - of Tkach giving male friends a little touch here and a little squeeze there (or of male friends doing the same to him).125 I would prefer not to read too much into such gestures, but as one individual noted, "Mr. Armstrong would not have been so publicly affectionate with other males." Another individual told me, "Sexual harassment was a big topic in the news recently. A lot of people think it's the kind of thing that must involve a male boss and a female employee and that it must involve dirty talk. But a male employee who is frequently touched by a male superior can't help but feel a little bit odd about it. After all, what's the purpose of it? Is he sending out signals, or what?"
A far more significant observation about Tkach's psycho-sexual bent revolves around his actual direction of church teaching about homosexuality. The WCG's official position used to be one of absolute opposition. For almost two decades that position was exemplified in Dr. Roderick C. Meredith's article "The Shocking Truth About 'Queer' Men!" But around 1979, right about the time Stanley Rader and Joe Tkach became evangelists and really took over control of the WCG, many noticed a major shift in the WCG's official position on homosexuality. Plain Truth articles attacking the gay lifestyle became almost nonexistent.126 Meredith's article became first more difficult to obtain and then "out of print." If one wrote the church asking what its position was on homosexuality, after much delay one might get the church's new official paper on the topic, "Is It True Some Are 'Born That Way'?" - a sociological-psychological study by Donald D. Schroeder (whose by-line, for some reason, is now deleted from reprints). While the paper certainly is not pro-gay (and contains some excellent points), it clearly lacks the strong, masculine language found in the "classic Meredith" article. Today, Tkach strictly forbids Meredith's article from being distributed. Many see in this a desire by Tkach to avoid offending gay friends.
Even more disappointing to some is the defensive way Tkach has responded to the well-intentioned criticism of his private life. When stories about Tkach being bisexual inundated church headquarters around February 1990, many thought Tkach would forcefully rebut such accusations by restating the WCG's historical opposition to homosexuality. Instead, Tkach's own sermons and editorials began emphasizing the importance of forgiving sins.127 Tkach also ordered the (now defunct) Good News magazine to publish a very odd article by WCG minister Dennis Luker. In "Hope for HomosexuaIs"128 Luker called for greater understanding of homosexuals, stated that homosexuality was not the worst of sins, and reiterated Tkach's position that the WCG would not bar those with AIDS from attending WCG church services.
Taken on its own, Luker's article may not seem very startling. But what is shocking is the contrast between the very liberal tolerance Luker advocates toward homosexuals and homosexual problems as compared with the very rigid and harsh approach toward heterosexual sins and sinners exemplified by WCG policies for decades. Then again, maybe we shouldn't be shocked. The double standard has been at the heart of the WCG since it began. Sins by those at the top of the WCG - whether adultery, incest, or homosexuality - are to be gently forgiven.129 However, sins committed by lowly members - even when less serious - are to be dealt with harshly.
Luker's article has been viewed by some conservative WCG observors as but one more indication of the dilution of moral values taking place in both the WCG and in many other churches. Greater tolerance of homosexuality within the ministry is clearly the current trend in America's major denominations.130 Many see the WCG as simply going with that trend. So much so it has been speculated that there is an "international gay conspiracy" at work. While I find such a suggestion a bit over-dramatic (assigning supposed conspirators a level of skill and stealth I doubt they possess), reliable sources have told me that a number of major denominations have powerful gay cliques in their hierarchies. For instance, a number of former JWs say there are such cliques in the hierarchy of the JW organization. The Watchtower, an official JW publication has even admitted, "Shocking as it is, even some who have been prominent in Jehovah's organization have succumbed to immoral practices, including homosexuality, wife swapping, and child molesting."131 The WCG is no different.
We are living in times when a very large percentage of the population (even in the Christian community) seems to feel it is wrong to condemn any sexual conduct as long as it is "between consenting adults." Clearly, such was not the view of the Apostle Paul who saw a direct connection between personal philosophy and personal sexuality (Rm. 1:21-32). Nor is such the view of many (perhaps even most) psychologists today who frequently see a direct connection between neurosis (caused by childhood trauma and/or misguided personal philosophy) and sexual dysfunction and/or deviant behavior.132
I personally believe that while the sex life of almost all citizens should be a completely private matter, the personal immorality of elected - and spiritual - leaders is of too great import for all of us and therefore should not be ignored.133
Again, is Tkach gay? Frankly, if we evaluate the information being put forth by his critics we must concede there is no hard evidence. In a criminal trial, where guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, defendant Tkach would probably make out okay. But even without hard evidence, there is still a substantial body of circumstantial evidence available. And in a civil trial, where liability would be found by a preponderance of the total evidence, Tkach would probably not fare too well.
Nevertheless, whatever one concludes about Tkach's personal conduct behind closed doors, when one looks at the totality of the evidence regarding the upper echelons of the WCG, it is very obvious that Tkach's WCG is ethically, morally, and spiritually little different now than the "worldly" churches it has so long condemned.
Editor. Part VII of this serialized article will appear in the next issue of Ambassador Report.
57. In virtually every issue, the Plain Truth magazine features such articles as "Saving Bad Marriages, Making Good Ones Better" (3/90), and "Building Strong Marriages -Why Marriages Succeed, Why Marriages Fail" (4/90). The Plain Truth even has a monthly section called "Today's Family." Topics covered in the last few years have included: "Marital Abuse... In the Name of God" (8/89), "The Family Makes a Comeback" (1/90), "Can Love Die?"(3/90), "Letting Go [of Grown Children]" (11-12/90), "Keeping the [Romantic] Flame Burning" (1/91), and "The Abuse of the Elderly" (3/91). Finally, there's the WCG's ever popular booklet How to Have a Happy Marriage, written by six WCG authors who ostensibly have all the answers on this important topic.
58. Of course there are exceptions. But generally speaking the WCG has always dissuaded members from giving of their time and money - what's left of it after the WCG's requirements - to community or charitable causes. This reality stands in stark contrast to the WCG's vigorously self-publicized support of various charities through its Ambassador International Cultural Foundation activities.
59. It is significant that nowhere did Neff actually state how much third tithe the WCG actually took in. And I have not seen that information published in any WCG source. In Arthur Anderson's Audited Financial Report on the WCG for 1989 (WN, July 16, 1990) church assistance to needy members in 1989 was given as $7,709,000. But as I pointed out in the Dec. 1989 issue (p. 6), my calculations show that such a figure represents, at best, only about a third of what the WCG should be giving to its poor members if its own doctrines were being adhered to. That Neff and Arthur Anderson would omit such important information from their reports strongly suggests the WCG's leaders are involved in a major coverup with regard to its welfare fund.
60. In fact there doesn't seem to even be an actual third tithe fund. Financial statements by Arthur Anderson published in the Worldwide News never show a separate third tithe accounting. Third tithe contributions from members apparently continue to be co-mingled with the WCG's general purpose revenues. (We can only wonder about the legality of such a procedure.) Nevertheless, as Leroy Neff's statement about "welfare income" indicates, the WCG's leaders are certainly aware of what third tithe contributions are supposed to represent.
61. If you have read AR over the years, you have a good idea why Mr. Strong wasn't offered any church assistance. While Mr. Strong was suffering financially, millions of dollars every year were being diverted from the third tithe fund to pay ministers' salaries. Many more thousands of dollars were being siphoned off to pay for expensive artwork, furniture, carpets, and drapes in the leading ministers' homes, while Apostle Armstrong winged his way all over the world using third tithe to pay for jet fuel. With these kinds of financial abuses unchecked for decades, is it any wonder that there wasn't enough church assistance to go around for noninfluential members like blind Harold Strong?
62. Fortner WCG minister David Robinson says the policy described did not really originate with Tkach, but that it was not enforced previous to Tkach's rapid ascension in 1979. Before then WCG ministers, out of compassion, often ignored the official policy and provided help to the needy as they saw fit. Tkach has zealously squelched such soft-heartedness in the ministry.
63. The broad outlines of the WCG's doctrine can be seen in Herbert Armstrong's article "God Commands That We Avoid Certain Ones!" (Worldwide News, Feb. 25, 1980). Then in "When One Is Disfellowshipped - Which Family Comes First?" (Good News, April 1980, p. 4) Armstrong made it clear that when family members were disfellowshipped, relatives who remained in the WCG's good graces were to avoid their disfellowshipped family members. Armstrong reasoned that by being in the WCG a member was in the "God Family" and that that relationship had to take precedence over relationships that were merely "physical."
It is interesting that while HWA, himself, did not seem to differentiate between "disfellowshipping," "marking," or "putting out" a member (evidenced in the last few paragraphs of HWA's Feb. 25, 1980 WN article), the WCG today seems to have a multitiered approach. "Disfellowshipping" can be merely refusing to allow a member to participate in church services or it can mean prohibiting current members from having any contact with the disfellowshipped individual. "Suspension" often seems to refer to a temporary disfellowshipping. "Marking" usually means revealing the disfellowshipped member's "sins" publicly as from the pulpit. Additionally, the WCG now seems to have added an "inactive member" category for those who have just drifted away from the church, but have not tried to criticize it or draw away members. Current members are apparently allowed social contact with "inactive members."
64. Bible passages the WCG uses to condone its disfellowshipping practices include Matt. 10:36-37, Rom. 16:17, 1 Cor. 1: 10, 11 Thes. 3:6, 14-15, and II John 10. Among those who have pointed out the flaws in the WCG's interpretations of those passages are evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong of the Church of God, International and Dr. Ernest L. Martin of the Academy for Scriptural Knowledge (P.O. Box 25000, Portland, OR 97225).
It should be further noted that nowhere in scripture does one find that "disfellowshipping" or "marking" can only be done by ministers. I recently read copies of letters titled "Notice of Disqualification and Disfellowship From the 'Real' Body of Chirst" sent by former WCG member Gary J. Kelley of Wyoming to his former WCG ministers Chuck Zimmerman and David Grey. In the letters, Kelley described the intellectual and spiritual limitations of the two men and to Zimmerman, Kelley wrote:
I blame you for the destruction of my marriage because you barged into my home and told my wife that I was spiritually leaving her and that it was okay to divorce me. I blame you for embarrassing and humiliating me in front of my wife (now my ex-wife) and children when you were invited for counseling, and for allowing my wife to defraud me and my daughter to disgrace me. I blame you for creating untold mental and physical suffering in me as well as dozens of other church members....
65. See the Dec. 30, 1984 letter of N.C. Gilbert to WCG minister Randall R. Kobernat. Copies are available from Mr. Gilbert, 7087 Washington Ave., Lantana, Florida 33462.
66. After the Dallas newspaper article appeared, writer Bill Marvel was contacted by a WCG spokesman who claimed that the WCG very rarely disfellowships anyone. Yet, just a few weeks later The Birmingham News (10/28/90, p. A-1) ran a lengthy article about the WCG disfellowshipping members in Alabama and stated that many members loyal to HWA's teachings were being disfellowshipped. One member, 90-year-old Marvin Ragsdale, was put out for letting 66-year-old R. D. Bailey, a disfellowshipped member and neighbor, mow his lawn and take him to the hospital for treatment (Ragsdale had been struck by lighting a few weeks before). Ragsdale said he was not about to forsake a friend and neighbor just because he questioned some church teachings.
67. The WCG is not the only church that practices disfellowshipping. The Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) have a very tragic legacy of destroying individuals and families in the same way. One of our readers, Richard Rawe (Box 443, Soap Lake, WA 98851), has put together extensive documentation about the thousands who have been absolutely devastated by the JWs' disfellowshipping practices. In this regard the parallels between the JWs and the WCG are truly amazing.
68. Mal. 2:16 (Moffat) quotes God as saying "I detest divorce and cruelty to a wife." While the WCG will quote this verse in its writings, the WCG's leadership seems never to have been able to grasp the spirit of what it really means.
69. Herman L. Hoeh, "Divorce and Remarriage: How - and When - Did the Worldwide Church of God Come to Its Teaching on This Important Subject?"; The Worldwide News; May 10, 1982; emphasis his. It is difficult to read Hoeh's article without noticing a certain indifference toward the joys of romantic male-female love.
Presumably, a D and R person who wanted to be a WCG member and still remain married could do so if the mate from the first marriage was simply "bumped off" - not an impossibility considering the hatred some feel for their ex-wives or ex-husbands. Fortunately, we have never heard of someone actually committing murder in such a circumstance. Some "D and R" members, however, were known to jokingly question whether murder was a solution to their dilemma.
70. Being celibate in the WCG has always been more demanding than celibacy in any other denomination. HWA strictly forbade masturbation and, according to many ex-WCG ministers interviewed, HWA required his ministers to always ask prospective members, "Do you masturbate?" Yet, "Apostle" Armstrong, himself, loved to masturbate. So much so, he even kept a diary - called the "flog log" by some ministerial associates - recording the dates and details of such episodes. See David Robinson, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, John Hadden Press, Tulsa, OK 1980, p. 86.
71. Although Hoeh's statement was published in 1982, the WCG's position on authorizing the divorce of a member from an "unbelieving mate" remains the same. See current WCG form letter LO54-0190, paragraph five.
72. Just as the WCG teaching on disfellowshipping is parallel to that of the JWs (see footnote 67), the WCG's position on divorce and remarriage is strangely similar to that of the JWs. For that reason, non-WCG individuals who fear they will be divorced by their WCG-member mates may be given important insights from an article published last year in Bethel Ministries Newsletter. The article was titled "Families Broken Apart by Jehovah's Witnesses: Can They be Restored?" and appeared in the Mar./Apr. 1990 issue of Bethel Ministries Newsletter (Hope Chapel, 2420 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254).
73. Pastor General's Report, Jan. 17, 1986, pp. 3-4.
74. Dr. Badr has asked that any readers who have information about his missing daughter please write him at P.O. Box 2579, Reston, VA 22090 or phone him at (703) 860-2838.
75. The Palm Beach Post, Dec. 13, 1989, p. 1B.
76. When Assistant State Attorney Douglas C. Fulton nolle prossed case no. W. Div. 88-8167-CF, he gave as grounds: (1) "The [child's] mother and legal counsel have interfered in the discovery process to the extent that they have unduly delayed the case." (2) "There is testimony by the child in the transcript of the competency hearing which suggests that the child's testimony is not reliable." (3) A licensed clinical social worker and expert in child sexual abuse "is going to testify on behalf of the defendant. Based upon interviews with the [child] and members of the [child's] family, she does not believe that the [child] was sexually abused by the defendant." And, (4) "The child has made statements about sexual abuse while in the custody of her natural mother."
77. Readers should not assume that the author of this article has confidence in the WCG's published formula for marital success. Although there is much that may be said positively about "traditional" roles in "traditional" families (George F. Gilder has done so eloquently in his book Sexual Suicide), I am convinced that the WCG's simplistic approach - with its emphasis on wifely "obedience" - is not only inadequate, it very often is a major cause of marital discord in WCG families.
We live in an age where women have more control over the procreative process, where brain power is more important for survival than muscle power, where women are as educated - and frequently are more educated - than men, and where a family's economic survival now usually requires both mates to work outside the home. In such an environment, attempts to find marital happiness by slavishly conforming to the WCG's "government from-the-top-down" formula invariably proves disappointing at best. I say this based on 25 years of observing the WCG scene and based on thousands of letters about marriage problems written to AR over the last 15 years. I am convinced that for any marriage to succeed today requires substantial effort, understanding, tolerance, communication, cooperation, and compromise by both wife and husband. A lot of husbands who think that simplistic and mindless "obedience" - as advocated by many WCG clerics - is the magical key to marital happiness are in for major disappointments.
78. Some WCG ministers (I'm told broadcaster David Albert is one) carry this theme to such extremes they actually require their wives to briskly respond "Yes Sir!" upon any command. (Some have even gone beyond that by requiring a "Yes Lord!"!) Others have ridden this theme into the bedroom by teaching that the only "correct" way to make love is with the husband ON TOP!
79. I personally recall how some years ago I stayed with a WCG family while on WCG business in the Midwest. The family's older daughter was openly very hostile toward her father; he seemed disturbed and perpetually guilt ridden; his wife appeared emotionally beaten and bewildered; their younger daughter seemed confused. I mentioned to a WCG executive that I was concerned about the family's emotional state. He replied, "Well, you know that Mr. has been having sex with his older daughter don't you? Everyone in the local church knows about it." The local pastor, I discovered, knew about it too, but did not consider the man's attitude bad enough to warrant his disfellowshipment. While this took place before Tkach's ascension to power, I'm told such abhorrent situations are still tolerated in some WCG congregations.
80. Some of the most bitterly fought divorce wars I ever followed derived from situations of exactly this type. In a number of cases "macho" husbands made it very clear that by interfering in their marriages WCG ministers were putting themselves in physical danger. In fear of getting a bloodied nose or much worse, such ministers of Tkach have sometimes sheepishly ordered WCG women to relinquish custody of their children to their divorcing husbands. My impression of such passion-charged divorces is that in the end no one gets a clear victory. Husbands, although retaining custody of their children, are often not only left without a woman's help in raising the children, but are left with a significant amount of feeling for their former mates of whom their children serve as a constant reminder. I have also gotten the impression from such situations that the ex-wives are left with much guilt for having "abandoned" their children. Furthermore, those who remarry within the WCG do not seem to easily forget the passion exhibited by their ex-husbands especially in comparison to the WCGers they now find themselves sleeping with.
There are circumstances when divorce, unfortunately, may be necessary. Christians who are struggling with the doctrinal question of whether divorce is a proper alternative in a difficult marriage will find Ralph Woodrow's book Divorce and Remarriage of help. (For details write Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 124, Riverside, CA 92502.) On the other-hand, many psychologists now say that far too many people see divorce as a solution to their problems when in fact divorce frequently makes an individual's problems even worse. For insights on the latter, see The Case Against Divorce by Diane Medved (Ivy Books, 1990). Readers contemplating a divorce might also want to consider what it will really be like by reading The Wife-in-Law Trap by Ann Crytser (Pocket Star Books, 1990).
81. See Eric Berrie, M.D., The Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups, Ballantine Books, 1963.
82. See footnote 65 above.
83. Those interested in obtaining back issues of AR should write for our "Ambassador Report Publications" listing of the contents of all back issues.
84. Tkach Sr. is more and more becoming a mere figurehead as was HWA in his later years when the WCG was actually run by men such as Stanley Rader and his partner, Henry Cornwall.
85. Tkach Jr. was born in Chicago, Dec. 23, 1951. His official, although extremely brief, biography appeared in the Worldwide News, Aug. 31, 1987, p. 7.
86. Maricopa County, Arizona, case no. DR 87172.
87. This advice, mind you, came from a man who has done a considerable amount of marriage counselling over the years and even went on to teach psychology at Ambassador College.
88. Space does not permit a detailed biography of Tkach Jr. at this time. A major serialized article - like the one on Tkach Sr. - is planned for future issues of AR.
89. The statement was made by author and Texas historian David R. Robinson.
Incidentally, Dean Blackwell should not be confused with his brother Lowell Blackwell who enjoyed wearing female undergarments and was put out of the WCG ministry for allowing his wife-swapping activities to become too well-known. For the official WCG biography of Blackwell, see the article "When a minister needs relief Dean Blackwell pitches in," WN, May 27, 1991, p. 5.
90. Mr. Skaggs was in the WCG from 1961 to 1971. He currently resides in Underwood, Indiana.
91. See AR43, p. 4.
92. See AR42, p. 3.
93. See AR42, p. 4, footnote 42.
94. See AR31, p. 4 for a detailed list of some of Hoeh's more "positive" traits.
95. Among WCG executives, anecdotes about Hoeh's pet goat are legion. So are stories about his obsession with "natural eating habits." Former WCG minister Howard Clark and his wife Beverly recall how, on a High Sierra camping trip with a number of leading WCG ministers, the group had finished a meal of grilled trout. Hoeh - who believes God intends man to utilize all the nourishment He provides - gathered up the twenty or so discarded fish heads and devoured them gills, eyeballs, and all. "The man," says Clark, "has absolutely hellacious stomach acids." I talked to some non-WCG business executives who described Hoeh's formal banquet gastronomical eccentricities in terms far less charitable.
96. Sexologists I interviewed stated that Nazi and black leather motifs are common in homosexual B and D pornography. An erotic fascination with pregnant women, I'm told, is common to certain types of deviants. And "voyeurs" are frequently amateur photographers who ban together in porno camera clubs. See "In Search of Bettie Page," LA Weekly, Oct. 11-17, 1991, p. 22.
97. Hoeh's connections with Thailand have troubled some WCG conservatives who, quite correctly, see that nation as steeped in the worst kinds of sexual practices. In Travels (Ballantine Books, 1988, pp. 122-3), Michael Crichton, the distinguished author, film director, and M.D., has described one of Bangkok's many government-protected child whorehouses: "There is a guard, and a central courtyard. In the courtyard are parking stalls, with curtains in front of each stall. 'That's for the cars; you pull the curtain so people can't read the license numbers,' Ed [the tour guide] says. 'Politicans, really important people come to this place....'" Some WCG observers say it was Bangkok's sexual debauchery that attracted HWA to that country in his later years. The WCG's Ambassador Foundation continues to pour WCG tithe money into that deeply-troubled land.
98. The quote is taken from the Introduction to On Homosexuality: Lysis, Phaedrus, and Symposium by Plato; translated by Benjamin Jowett, with selected retranslations, notes, and introduction by Eugene O'Connor; Prometheus Books, 1991. Copies may be obtained for $7.45 each by writing to Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228.
99. One minister told me that the letter, with numerous names blacked out as by a censor, has been distributed throughout the WCG by "conservatives." While he identified who he is sure are the original sender and recipient, I have not been able to get either Pasadena minister to comment. In the meantime, an unofficial spokesman for Tkach told me the letter was most likely created by someone in the Garner Ted Armstrong organization. A spokesman for that church, however, flatly denied the allegation.
100. Rader is apparently one of broadcaster Mike Wallace's favorite villains. At the opening of the CBS special "Mike Wallace Then and Now" which aired on Sept. 26, 1990, there were clips from Mike Wallace interviews of such notorious celebrities as Malcolm X, John Ehrlichman, the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos, and the Ayatollah Kohmeni. Included in the sequence was a clip of Rader yelling at Wallace: "You're contemptible!"
101. AR42, p. 3.
102. See Robinson, pp. 249-252.
103. AR15, p. 3.
104. Reported in the Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise (Valencia, California), September 30, 1987.
105. Los Angeles Times, March 8, 199 1, p. A28; July 13, 1991, p. B3; New York Times, July 6, 1991, p. A10.
106. A short biography of Gerald Waterhouse appeared in the Worldwide News, Feb. 25, 1991, p. 4.
107. See AR16, p. 6.
108. There seems to be some doubt as to whether Waterhouse's sermons should really be considered four hours in length. One AR reader, Bernard Solleveld of Winnipeg, wrote us, "I remember sitting through a four hour sermon that Waterhouse preached. I had a tape recorder with me and filled a tape on both sides. Later when I played it back I discovered that Waterhouse had really preached four one hour sermons. That is, he had preached the same one hour sermon four times!
109. See AR41, p. 6; AR43, p. 3.
110. Worldwide News, April 27,1987, p. 4.
111. Robinson, p. 228.
112. Worldwide News, Feb. 25, 1991, p. 4, column 2.
113. AR41, p. 8.
114. The details of "Mrs." Ellen Escat's involvement with Tkach were covered in Part III of this series. See AR43, our December 1989 issue, pp. 4-5.
115. While for a number of years many insiders assumed Tkach planned to divorce his wife to marry Escat, in recent months he has told friends that even if he could get away with divorcing his wife, he still would not marry his secretary. Such statements plus the widespread stories about Tkach's personal preferences have apparently left Ellen Escat very depressed. Sources at headquarters have told the Report that she is drinking heavily (to the point of having been visibly drunk at some public functions) and that her liquor bills - charged to the WCG - have, of late, been astronomical. I am not condemning. I am sympathetic and have told her so in two notes.
The fact is Tkach has made a real public show of affection for "Mrs." Escat (holding hands in public, allowing repeated references to her and even photographs in the Worldwide News). But because of the widespread stories at WCG headquarters that Tkach is bisexual, there is much speculation that Escat is simply being used as a "front."
Similar speculations have appeared in the press concerning Elizabeth Taylor's relationship with the late Malcolm Forbes (see the Los Angeles Times, 3/22/90, p. E1) and about Eva Gabor's relationship with entertainer-businessman Merv Griffin (see the Washington Post, 4/12/91, p. B 1; People Weekly, 4/29/91, pp. 34-37). Both men in later life are said to have developed a sexual preference for males, with women friends serving merely as publicity "fronts."
116. The question has been raised by numerous religious leaders outside the WCG, as well. See "Ministerial Letter" of 10/17/90 by Pastor John W. Trescott (The Church of God, 900 W. Alabama, OK 73005); and William Dankenbring's Prophecy Flash! (Box 292, Altadena, CA 91003), 12/30/90, p.4; 10/30/90, p.4; 7/31/90, p. 11.
117. Internal WCG documents obtained by the Report clearly show that when Tkach travels he always requires a hotel suite with two double beds. Interesting, indeed, considering that Mrs. Tkach never travels with her husband.
118. One that we know of, that is.
119. In a separate letter to Ambassador Report, Mr. DiFiori wrote about Locke: "Members would be astonished (though they'd never believe it) that his assistant (a nice man, I have nothing against him, he gave me $50 for some fun) got up that morning and left for the day's activities doing no prayer or Bible study. I was shocked myself. Mr. Tkach was nice enough to me in Rome. Can't complain there. But he does have an explosive temper that surfaces whenever something irks him."
120. See AR41, p. 6.
121. It's interesting that since Pebworth's death the WCG has quietly begun contributing Ambassador International Cultural Foundation money to a Pasadena-area hospice. (In itself odd because the WCG in years past was never pro-hospital in its medical teachings.) Ostensibly, the money was for a hospice devoted to cancer patients (WN, April 2, 1990, p. 6). But when I personally contacted the hospice, I was informed that a large percentage of their patients were actually dying of AIDS.
122. Lest anyone misinterpret what I am saying - I am not suggesting it was wrong for Tkach to show sympathy at the death of a good friend (or to give money to a hospice for dying AIDS victims). Quite the contrary.
Dennis was a charming, intelligent man, and a talented jazz pianist. But as I recall from a personal conversation I had with him shortly before I left the WCG, he did little to hide his homosexuality. And it is for that reason, I suspect, that some church conservatives read so much into Tkach's attendance at his funeral.
123. About the only information that WCG members have been given about Feazell - the most influential WCG leader after Tkach Sr. - is a few paragraphs in the Worldwide News, Nov. 5, 1990, p. 3.
124. Maybe so. But this view erroneously assumes that HWA was really not tolerant of behaviors and affectations usually associated with homosexuals (see the Phillips translation of Rm. 1:27- "...receiving ...in their own personalities the consequences of their own perversity"). HWA's true feelings, however, were evident from his often - admitted friendship with Bill Tilden, the 1930s Hollywood-based tennis star. "Never change a winning game; always change a losing game" was a piece of advice Tilden gave HWA who frequently quoted the maxim in public. HWA's mostly unsophisticated audiences were apparently oblivious to the well-known fact that in the 1940s Tilden was publicly disgraced by two convictions on morals charges and by revelations of his obsessive homosexual interest in young boys. See Irving Wallace, et.al., The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People, Dell, 1976, pp. 661-3. Yet HWA was always very candid about his great admiration for Tilden.
125. Excluding published photos of mere hand shaking, photos of Tkach hugging, touching, or squeezing men (or being hugged, touched, or squeezed by men) include those in the Worldwide News, 1/26187, p. 1; 3/9/87, p. 4; 5/11/87, p. 5; 8/17/87, pp. 4-5; 8/31/87, p. 3; 5/30/88, p. 5; 6/27/88, pp. 1, 3; 8/8/88, p. 5; 10/31/88, p. 3; 1/23/89, p. 3; 2/6/89, p. 1; 2/20/89, p. 1; 8/11/89, p. 5; 3/19/90, p. 3; 4/2/90, p. 3; 5/7/90, p. 3; 8/13/90, p. 4 (seven shots on just one page!); 9/10/90, p. 3; 1/14/91, p. 3; 2/25/91, p. 3; 3/11/91, p. 3; 4/15/91, p. 3; 4/29/91, p. 3; 5/27/91, pp. 3, 6; 6/10/91, p. 6; 6/24/91, p. 3; 7/8/91, p. 3; 7/22/91, p. 3; and 8/19/91, p. 3.
126. The Church of God, International responded very forcefully to this shift in 1980 when CGI president Gainer Ted Armstrong (son of the WCG's founder) produced a powerful broadcast titled "Is Homosexuality a Sin?" Cassette copies of that broadcast are still available from CGI, P.O. Box 2530, Tyler, TX 75710.
127. See, for instance, Tkach's editorial "Prejudice in God's Church?" which appeared in the July-Aug. 1990 Plain Truth.
128. The article appeared in the Good News, May-June 1990, pp. 24-26.
129. According to a March 9,1989, letter from WCG spokesman Ronald B. Nelson, the WCG's official position is that ministers who commit such acts are always disqualified from the WCG ministry.
130. See "Door Open For Ordination of Gays," Atlanta Journal, 3/16/91, p. E7; "Presbyterian Group Urges Ordination of Homosexuals," Chicago Tribune, 2/28/91, p. 3A; "Milestone In [Lutheran] Church: Gay Clergy Ordained," N. Y. Times, 1/22/90, p, A 10; "Lesbian Ordained Episcopal Priest," N.Y. Times, 1/27/90, p. Al.
131. The Watchtower, January 1, 1986, p. 13.
132. See Alexander Lowen, M.D., Love and Orgasm, Collier Books, 1965; and Arthur Janov, Ph.D., The Primal Scream, Perigree Books, 1970 (particularly chapter 17 which deals with homosexuality and bisexuality).
133. Regarding the propriety of publishing facts about the private sex lives of WCG leaders, see my editorial in the 1977 Ambassador Report, p. 1. I would additionally refer my Christian readers to I Tim. 3:2 and Eph. 5:11 (RSV). As for my friends in the legal community, I would remind them of conflict of laws fundamentals. In the Report, I prefer to apply the reporting principles of the jurisdiction being reported upon. That is, I report on the private lives of WCG leaders in the same way they frequently have reported (and not always as carefully) on the private lives of members from their pulpits (see McNair v. Worldwide Church of God, 197 Cal. App. 3d 363).
Incidentally, each and every WCG figure referred to critically in this article was given an opportunity to be interviewed. None responded to my letters. Nevertheless, should any of them wish to respond to my published comments about them, space will be made available in a future issue.
Journey From Eden
Ambassador Report occasionally receives complaints from a few readers who feel AR, and all other religion-related publications for that matter, should never mention anything having to do with sex - and especially not in a frank manner. While we can understand the sensitivities of some who were perhaps raised in a more prudish or discreet era, the fact is we live in an age where it is quite common to see the sex lives of powerful and famous people alluded to, and often discussed in detail, in the media. A few weeks ago we watched the televised U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings focusing on Judge Clarence Thomas's private life. As for frankness, it would be very difficult for AR to outdo The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People (200 of them!) by Irving Wallace, Amy Wallace, David Wallechinsky, and Sylvia Wall (Dell, 1981) - a book which not long ago was a national best seller. Finally, AR does not even come close to the kind of frankness about sex that is found in the Bible.
It is strange but true, nevertheless, that most people who have read the Bible for years are unaware of the huge number of sexual references it contains (over 600!). One reason for such ignorance is that because of extensive use of euphemisms, most translations do not reveal what would have been plain sexual language to readers in the ancient world. Another reason for the lack of awareness is that most Bible students know very little about the history and customs of biblical times. For these reasons many students of scripture will undoubtedly find a new book we've come across to be particularly helpful toward gaining a better understanding of the Bible.
Journey From Eden by Kevin James Aaron is an in-depth, well-documented account of everything about sex we were not told in Sunday School (or in Professor Rod Meredith's classes at Ambassador) and were afraid to ask. It is a complete history of the sexual practices, customs, creeds, and ceremonies among the people by whom, and about whom, the Bible was written. The 212-page quality paperback, which includes nearly 600 biblical references and an extensive bibliography, is well researched and written in a very readable style. Journey From Eden is available to AR readers for $5.95 from Cathedral Publications, P.O. Box 888, Cathedral City, CA 92235.
Referring to AR, May '91, p. 4, "HWA Remembered (Part IV)." I believe that HWA said - on tape - that he actually visited Salvadore Allende three days before he was overthrown. Of course, that was long ago and history is subject to change in WCG hands.
You noted on page 4 [of AR48] that HWA met with Ceausescu in October 1971. I was on that trip along with Saintly Radar and Osumo Ghoto, our "born again" Japanese fixer. Fortunately perhaps for Ceausescu the meeting never took place. Could this be the reason he remained in office years after the cancelled meeting with HWA contrary to the fate suffered by Selassie, Marcos, et al? I jest.
(Former WCG executive)
Editor: Thanks for the correction. The Feb. 10, 1986 WN, from which we got our information leaves the impression HWA actually met the Romanian dictator. However, the actual wording was "October 1971 - Invited by Romanian President Nicolai Ceausescu, Mr. Armstrong travels for the first time to a communist country." The 1986 article listed many leaders HWA met with during his lifetime. It is interesting that in 1986, before Ceausescu was overthrown and executed, the WCG wanted HWA's name associated with the Romanian dictator. Yet HWA's meetings with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (by 1986, ousted in disgrace) and Indira Ghandi (assassinated in 1984) were not mentioned in the article.
I am recovering from an operation which was connected with my illness-SLE Lupus. I agree with your 3/25/91 letter and the reason for it. There are costs involved and I have always sent what I could. The situation in which I find myself is due to an illness which was beyond my control. I did have a good paying job when I was in the WCG and I was unmarried. However, while in that church I almost died from this illness because they forbade doctors and medicine. I have been so badly injured by the effects of Lupus attacks that I can no longer work and can barely do housework. My hands and feet are badly crippled and I have extensive damage to kidneys, heart, stomach, etc. The WCG took my money but then when I was ill and close to dying, my "unconverted" office friends came to my rental and found me in a coma and took me to the hospital. The WCG minister (Al Dennis) was so angry with me for "allowing" myself to be put in the hospital I was told not to come back to church until I repented. Well, I was so scared about losing my salvation I begged them to let me return after three full months that my illness required me to recover at home. The doctor would not release me to go back to work and my insurance ran out so I asked the church if they could help me from the third tithe fund I had paid into for years, but I was told I must apply for welfare instead. But I did not. I found out since that the third tithe fund was not to help people like me, but was the ministers' slush fund. My mother helped me and then I met my husband.
Well, there is much more to my story, but I won't go on. I am out of the WCG since 1983 and married now but with the cost of my illness and living expenses, there are few dollars left. My husband had also been in Worldwide and came out with no savings at all. We had to start from scratch and have only bare necessities. My hands are cramping so must close for now.
Thanks for sending your releases to me and my son. His marriage has been broken and his children alienated because of his wife's absolute commitment to the WCG. We have been struggling in court for the last five years over child custody and a property settlement and the end isn't yet in sight. He is a college grad and his wife (ex) has a master's degree in education, but her mind and life are completely under the control of the WCG cult.
(50 years, Church of the Brethren)
I no longer believe any of the doctrines or other garbage funneled into my mind while in Worldwide. Now, instead of being depressed about religion, I'm depressed about marriage. Although I love my husband, I deeply resent the fact that he sided with the organization that caused me so much emotional, mental, and spiritual pain - to the point that I felt that if I didn't get out, I would quite possibly lose my mind. Instead of blaming them for causing this reaction, he seemed to blame me for not being able to take it. Any trust I had in him has been damaged beyond repair. The strange thing is he seems unable to understand why we aren't close anymore. I've told him quite plainly my feelings, but he seems to beat the words out of his mind almost as soon as they are out of my mouth.
[Name withheld by request]
I was a WCG member until July 1986, when upon examination of irrefutable evidence I decided to get out. Subsequently, I attended several groups which brought skepticism from my WCG wife's family members that I was in the "bonds of Satan." Upon enough pressure from family, my wife departed and will not return nor talk about it.
The bottom line is that the ministers encouraged her to do so, of which I find no biblical basis. Her family cut me off like I did not exist and instead of trying to help mend the marriage they have broken it up. Their recognition of me and response to attempted communication is far from Christian.
Justification of divorce has become commonplace in the WCG in order to remove those who do not fit their mold, who use their brains, or won't get down and worship the ministers. Whatever happened to love and the marital guidelines of the Bible? I feel for the numerous AR readers who have endured similar circumstances and the destruction of the family. I dearly loved my wife and little boy and pray for them and for your newsletter to possibly save some from this ongoing process of breaking homes apart.
N. Milton Dove
Joe Tkach is someone I once knew quite well, but what he did to our family is a story which many think should be told.... By signing one paper in Pasadena, Joe Tkach set my children up for abduction by mind control experts. It could be proven.
Regarding ex-husbands who are still in the WCG and not giving proper child support money because they are tithing in preference to supporting their kids, I have this very problem with my ex-husband who I threw out of the house in 1982 because of his incestuous abuse of our daughter. I finally divorced him in 1985. He was out of the WCG for a while and so was I over the whole divorce matter. Finally I was readmitted (in another city) and then later he was readmitted. When I asked the ministers in the two cities to collaborate in helping me to get proper child support money from him, they collaborated to throw me out! After I was disfellowshipped, I sued my ex in family court and the court awarded me child support....
It all goes to show how we women are brainwashed by our husbands in the WCG to accept everything they say. I wouldn't put up with incest and adultery but I did put up with his inadequate child support for five years (1982-1987) before I decided to fight.... To be blunt, the WCG is promulgating the doctrine that children of mothers not in the WCG are worthless and are to be thrown away by their fathers who remain IN!
I became a member of this lot (I can't call them a church) as a 17 year old so that I could marry my husband (he was a long-time member). Without going into all the story, 21 years down the line with many, many years of doubt and being told I doubted because of lack of conversion and spiritual contact to God and also by not being brought up as a "decent church girl" (this I've always been told by my mother-in-law) and 20 years of marriage to a very dominant and cruel man, I decided that for the safety of my four sons and for my mental stability, I'd have to end the marriage. Very sad, I know.... I had to get a court order to have him removed from the house - it was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life....
Now I have to start all over again - new life, new friends, new thoughts and new understandings. The boys and I are making it slowly, but we are all much more relaxed and happy. I have full custody of them. He didn't want them - too much trouble, he said.
I recently was given some copies of AR. They have been very helpful to me since I have been disfellowshipped from the WCG this last year. They explain a lot of things that I was feeling about the church. I had never seen an AR before and didn't know about the things written about. My husband would not allow me to read anything sent from ex-members or talk to any friends who left the church. Reading these issues now helps me know that God is not part of that church.
I'm now in the middle of a divorce suit. My husband, who I let take our three children for a month last August (he was to bring them back for school), kept them and filed for divorce, asking for custody, and $300 a month support from me (I'm not even able to work). The church is supporting him in this. Two WCG ministers, David H. Treybeg from Spokane and Graernme L. Marshall from Calgary, have been down-right rude and nasty, which surprised me. They told me if I would not stay with my husband I have deserted him and God and that I deserve nothing and must leave my children alone. They are doing everything they can to keep my children from me, making them scared of me and not trusting of me because of church teachings....
It is not easy to leave the church, lose your family and have friends all turn on you. Even my own mother and sister, who are members, turned on me.... I am worried about my children and how to help them. They are very confused right now.
These [young WCG] girls are being lured into marrying someone in the church. It turns out to be a big joke and a big nightmare.... I have watched the WCG for over 20 years. They have torn families apart, taking everything the families had. They did that to my late husband. We hardly had a roof over our heads by the time he got his eyes opened to the truth about five years before he died. But by then it was too late. My four children and I lived a hellish life.... There was a case up here where the husband would throw tantrum fits. The ministers still let him stay in the church. They told the wife, "just give him time." She finally filed for divorce. He came in, killed her, then himself. Young couple. Very sad.... Please warn the young [WCG] girls about the trap they are getting into.
I'm one of HWA's victims. I was thrown out in 1981, my wife divorced me in 1982 with the church's blessing. I was labeled "unconverted" because I had a mind that still worked, therefore the marriage was not "bound" and she was free to divorce me. This was done under the guidance and direction of "Preacher" Dave Pack of the Rochester, New York church.
Harry R. Williams
I was a school teacher in a small town on the northeast coast of Newfoundland in 1955. One Sunday night I tuned into WWVA, Wheeling and heard the powerful voice of HWA saying "The World Tomorrow." I married that year and in time we had eight children. We moved to Toronto in 1964. Everything went reasonably well until the seventies when the church allowed divorce. Then my wife got ideas and soon we were divorced and now she's remarried.
I have seen a lot of changes over the years and am beginning to reevaluate my life at 71.
Herbert H. Matthews
I don't know what it's going to take for God to straighten some of these so-called Christian men out. They think because they know the scriptures they can live their life any way they please. I never dreamed after 26 years of marriage, and at 66, I would have to start my life all over.
My brother and his family's involvement with WCG has brought such pain and sorrow to my elderly parents, not to mention the rest of the family. God's way is not a way that brings pain, destruction and separation of family units but seeks to keep His family in harmony and love for each other. I am deeply saddened that the last years of my parents' lives are being spent with the effects this cult has placed on our family. It is our prayer our family will be united once again.
I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your efforts. May the Lord uphold you.
In our May issue (AR48), I mentioned how this edition (AR49) was to have appeared in September. Long-time readers, however, will have read that statement with a grin, knowing how often in the past I have had problems meeting deadlines. The reason is simple. When Ambassador Report began a decade and a half ago, we had a team of over a dozen researchers, writers, and editors. With the passing years, however, most of those involved with the Report have had to drop their involvement due to career and family responsibilities. Today, I, alone, am personally responsible for virtually all of the editorial and daily routine operations of AR. It gets to be a bit much at times and so it is not easy to always meet deadlines. I thank all of you for your patience.
This issue, although a bit long, is actually only about half of what I had prepared for publication. With the economy in recession, contributions to AR have been below expectations and so this issue represents the most that I can afford to publish right now. I will try to get out the next issue very early in 1992. Every so often I get letters from readers asking if AR has ceased publication. I have no intention of stopping the Report, at least not without giving all of you a very long advance notice. So I hope that those of you who believe in what AR is doing will continue to support our efforts.
Finally, with the year end approaching, I want to wish all of you (even those who don't "believe in" Christmas) a safe and happy holiday season and a very healthy, prosperous, and spiritually fulfilling 1992.
Editor & Publisher
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