June 1992 (AR50)
The WCG's Decline Continues
Under the direction of Pastor General and Apostle Joseph W. Tkach, the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) continues to experience the doctrinal changes, the policy shifts, and the declining influence that began with the death of church founder Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) in 1986. Significant WCG news items of the last 18 months include the following:
Increasingly, some WCG ministers are teaching that Herbert W. Armstrong was a type of false prophet who really didn't understand the true gospel. Even Tkach is admitting that Armstrong had taught many errors. Notice what Tkach wrote in his March 25, 1991 co-worker letter:
Many long-time members and co-workers will remember that there was a time when we were preaching, based on our interpretation of Bible prophecy, that "America has won her last war!" We were sincere, and we thought we understood the prophecies correctly. Our goal was to warn people that they needed to awaken from spiritual lethargy and turn to God. But, brethren, we were wrong - not about the need to turn to God, certainly - but about using specific prophetic interpretations as the means of getting people to do so.
What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God, that is, the redemption of humanity, the reconciliation of all mankind to God from its state of alienation from him (Luke 4:18-19). That reconciliation is possible only through the Son of God, Jesus Christ....
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The WCG's income continues downward. The church's total revenue for 1990 was $211,563,000 - a drop of $214,000 compared with the previous year's revenue. But in 1990 church expenses actually exceeded revenue by $10,592,000 according to the church's Worldwide News (WN, 9/2/91, financial statement, p. 7). Now Tkach has announced that WCG income for 1991 was 3.8 percent below the total for 1990 (Tkach co-worker letter of Jan. 27, 1992). The current year has produced no substantial rise in the WCG's revenue levels. Insiders at Ambassador College in Texas say there have been numerous cutbacks there in recent months. The Plain Truth magazine, which once had a circulation of over 8 million, is now reported to be under the 2.7 million circulation mark reported as recently as last fall (WN, 9/2/91, financial statement, p. 5). Long gone are the days when the WCG's income grew by 30% per year.
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After a ten-year relationship with Arthur Andersen & Co., the WCG has a new external accounting firm: Coopers & Lybrand, another one of "The Big Six" (WN, 4/29/91, p. 8). No reason for the switch has been made public.
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The WCG has taken its $15 million advertising account out of the hands of the giant BBDO advertising agency and has given the account to Dick Janik & Associates, a small Los Angeles-based media buying service. To handle the new business, Janik had to hire six new employees (Los Angeles Times, 2/5/91, p. D6).
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The Plain Truth magazine has a new editor. He is evangelist Greg Albrecht. Former Plain Truth editor Herman L. Hoeh will now be a kind of super editor over all WCG literature including magazines, the Bible Correspondence Course, form letters, and booklets (WN, 12/23/91, p. 1). Insiders view old-timer Hoeh as the last conservative brake on the WCG's ongoing transformation. As such, many younger WCG ministers and executives are looking forward to the day when Hoeh retires.
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Former Ambassador College Dean of Students and WCG pastor Richard F. Plache has rejoined the WCG after being released from prison in 1991. In 1988 Plache was convicted on 18 counts of mail fraud and SEC violations (see AR 41). Plache remains married, lives in the San Diego area, and has recently worked as a writer on contract for the WCG's Plain Truth magazine. His future employment plans are unclear.
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The McNair v. Worldwide Church of God libel case (see ARs 10, 29, 34, 35, 37, 40, 41, and 48) continues into its 14th year. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on the WCG's behalf (Pasadena Star-News, 11/5/91, p. A3). Then, in their latest round in court, WCG lawyers (about a dozen of them) argued that the case should be thrown out because Leona McNair had supposedly been a WCG minister. She told the press, however, that the WCG's claim that it had allowed a woman to be a minister was ludicrous. "You never dared open your mouth," she said. "I just served a lot of tea." Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David A. Horowitz denied the church's motion (Pasadena Star-News, 3/20/92, p. A6) and the new trial is currently scheduled to begin July 6.
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We are sorry to report that Beverly Gott, the eldest daughter of WCG founder Herbert W. Armstrong, recently passed away at age 73. She died of cancer. Insiders say that, although she was neither a WCG member nor employee, she had been receiving financial support from the WCG for many years.
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Other prominent WCG figures who recently passed away include WCG ministers Walter M. Dickinson, 70, and T. Vincent Panella, 63, who both died of cancer (WN, 3/25/91, p. 3). The WCG's leading black minister, Harold L. Jackson, 80, died in mid-December. He was a member of the WCG's Council of Elders (WN, 12/23/91, p. 1).
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© 1992 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
The WCG continues to modify its doctrines to make them more palatable to the majority of mainstream Christians. For instance, the WCG is now officially teaching a modified type of Trinity doctrine. An official WCG doctrinal position written by K. J. Stavrinides states:
The Worldwide Church of God teaches the full divinity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit - the biblical foundation of all Trinitarian discussions....
The Worldwide Church of God has made all biblical truths an indispensable part of its teaching, including the doctrine that God is One - but not the specific way in which God is One (which is entirely a philosophical matter). It teaches the full divinity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit - but it does not enter the debate of whether God is an essential, a personal, or a supra-personal being, in the way these terms are used by theologians.
There is no mention of God being a "Family" as HWA had taught. Although the WCG is still quietly teaching that the Holy Spirit is a divine power and not a divine person (WN, 12/23/91, p. 1), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago was so impressed with the WCG's new openness that in early 1991 it invited a number of WCG leaders to the seminary to meet with its faculty and graduate students.
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Many mainstream Christian groups are applauding the WCG's drive to become part of the Christian majority. Christian Research Journal (Summer 1991, p. 34) wrote how "The Worldwide Church of God continues its march toward Christian orthodoxy." Michael Snyder, a professional PR man who frequently represents the WCG, has announced that the WCG has discontinued distribution of HWA's Mystery of the Ages, The Incredible Human Potential, and The United States and Britain in Prophecy (ibid.).
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The WCG's march toward mainstream acceptability can be seen in many subtle shifts in church policy. For example, not long ago a Jewish cleric named Wexler was given a considerable amount of air time on The World Tomorrow, with program host David Albert praising him as "a remarkable rabbi!" Even the WCG's attitude toward traditional church architecture is changing. Whereas the WCG ministry once routinely referred to church steeples as "phallic symbols," the February 1992 Plain Truth (p. 7) showed a picture of a Gothic-style cathedral along with the caption, "Church architecture, a symbol of the civilizing power and influence of Christianity in a materialistic world."
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The WCG used to view unfavorably the practice of cremating, as opposed to burying, dead bodies. No more. WCG insiders report that cremation is regularly being allowed - particularly for cases of widows dying while on third tithe support (there are a few). Cremation saves the church money.
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According to the Worldwide News (3/11/91, p. 1), actordirector Sam Wanamaker was chosen as the recipient of the Ambassador Foundation's fourth annual Ambassador Award for Excellence. With substantial financial assistance from the WCG, Wanamaker is spearheading the drive to rebuild Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. The original Globe was shut down in 1642 when Britain's Puritans under Oliver Cromwell closed all playhouses in London (Los Angeles Times, 12/18/90, Calendar section, p. 1).
In presenting the award to Wanamaker, Tkach said:
As we near the dawn of a new century, it is important to do everything in our power to build a better world.... For nearly two decades the Ambassador Foundation - with the sponsorship of the Worldwide Church of God - has sought to promote understanding and to reduce tension throughout the world.
Ambassador alumni who took classes years ago with church founder HWA can vividly recall when he taught that building a better world now was emphatically not the purpose of the end-time church. Being "a watchman" was. Tkach has now changed all that.
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Many who studied theology at Ambassador during the sixties can recall how certain leading church clerics then saw Prince Charles as the end-time "profane, wicked prince of Israel" described in Ezek. 21:25. While many of the tabloids now seem to agree with the WCG's old assessment of Charles' character, today's WCG has a decidedly different official view of the heir to the British throne. WCG writer John R. Schroeder states:
A prince with principles
Prince Charles is a sincere believer in higher values.
In the conclusion to his book on architecture, A Vision of Britain, he wrote: "What is the point of being the most technologically advanced society if, at the same time, we lose our soul...."
The prince's words are a carefully phrased call to live a new way of life. Jesus Christ spoke similar words....
When he becomes king, Charles will take on the title "Defender of the Faith." While this title applies specifically to his relationship to the Church of England, he is already making his stand for the sacred over the secular.
He is worried by the prominence of materialism and the dwindling concern for nature, community and creativity. His stand for Shakespeare is just one example of responsible royal concern for the people whose sovereign he will become.
Yes, as that Cole Porter song goes, "Brush up your Shakespeare...."
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Even though a number of WCG executives now privately celebrate Christmas in a secular way, the WCG is still teaching its members that Christmas is not to be observed religiously. Nevertheless, the WCG's leadership seems to be mellowing a bit toward the idea of celebrating Christmas. Two letters published without editor's comment in the Worldwide News (11/25/91, p. 3 and 12/23/91, p. 3) reveal this new spirit of moderation:
I have recently read your editorial in the November-December Plain Truth magazine regarding "Is Christmas Christian?"... your belief that it's time for Christians to reconsider the yearly practice that taints the worship of Christ with the pagan "birthday of the invincible sun" is totally ludicrous. As long as we keep in our hearts the true meaning of Christmas, God will be glorified because we honor and remember the birth of his Son.
I am dismayed when I hear Church children use the word pagan. Nothing will distress a teacher more than a 6-year-old telling her that her most sacred holiday of the year is pagan. We have never used that word around our children. I tell our children that... it would not be kind to make fun of what others do, just as we don't want people to make fun of what we do.
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In a recent editorial (WN, 5/5/92, pp. 1,7), Tkach explained to his followers that "It should not become a spiritual issue if we miss eating unleavened bread a day or two during the Festival [of Unleavened Bread]."
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The ongoing changes in the WCG, of course, are prompting many to leave. Pastor John Rittenbaugh (tel. 704-544-2016) recently exited with five local elders and about 200 members. He now has congregations in Charlotte, NC; Washington, D.C.; Anaheim, CA; and Chicago, IL.
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One of our readers, Mr. M. Thompson (P.O. Box 276, Richmond, NSW 2753, Australia) recently sent an open letter to the regional director of the WCG in Australia. The letter discussed a number of reasons why Thompson sees an evil conspiracy operating within the WCG hierarchy. Ironically, Thompson was disfellowshipped for believing something Joseph W. Tkach, himself, had preached in Sydney on Dec. 26, 1987:
And I tell you now that... we are living in the day when the Laodicean spirit is beginning to take root within God's Church. And it won't be long before the Laodicean spirit and the Laodicean Church and the Philadelphian Church are going to be side by side. And from outward appearance you won't be able to tell....
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With the WCG changing so many of its fundamental teachings, naturally many church publications are out of date. For example, as the Pastor General's Report of May 21, 1991 reported: "The current 32-lesson [Bible Correspondence] course, which is replete with dated explanations of our teachings and doctrines, has been revised as an interim course of 12 lessons...."
The 12-lesson interim course will be in effect until the fall of 1992. Then, according to the Pastor General's Report, there will be another new Bible Correspondence Course. It will be interesting to see how many new teachings that one contains.
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"God's Church Isn't What It Used to Be" - title of an article published in the Nov./Dec. 1990 Good News magazine (now defunct).
The New, Loving WCG
At the end of 1991, many religious news writers concluded that the top religion stories of the year involved sexual issues. The Los Angeles Times on Dec. 28 (p. F16) carried a Religious News Service article that began:
Disputes over human sexuality rippled through religious bodies in 1991, leading even liberal denominations to wonder how far they could go in modifying traditional standards in light of contemporary practices. The issue of homosexuality was especially divisive, turning up as a key factor in a threatened schism in the Episcopal Church and seriously undermining the ecumenical movement as Orthodox groups suspended activities in the National Council of Churches. Debates on sexuality in many churches this year were like hot coals dropping on a raging fire.
And so, too, it was with the WCG. Space limitations and the sensibilities of some of our readers prohibit us from running most of the letters we have received relating to sexual matters. However, two letters we recently received will show the kinds of concerns being raised in WCG circles.
Thanks for the recent AR. It's always interesting, although as time goes on I cease to be shocked by anything anymore, especially concerning what goes on in the hierarchies of religious organizations.
Considering that one of the main themes of this recent issue was homosexuality (the morality of which is as debatable as it may be), I wish now that I had written you sooner. I wanted to relate one of my experiences at the college [Ambassador] which wouldn't weigh so heavily of and by itself were it not for the fact that a friend of mine living here in Japan (and a fellow "ex-AC grad," as we like to refer to ourselves) mentioned that he had an experience eerily almost identical to mine.
I had requested personal counseling with [WCG Elder] Fred Stevens of Accounting who was then my Ambassador Club Director. After our discussion at his office, in which he included many anecdotes of his many close contacts with HWA (apparently he was one of the few who had direct access to him in his later years), he invited me to take a stroll with him around campus a few times. As he shared many things with me and I with him, I began to feel that here I had a true friend and a close brother. After strolling around awhile, he invited me to come to his apartment. I gladly accepted the invitation. There we continued to talk in his living room, and the conversation came to how we should all love each other, and be ready to help each other, talk to each other about anything (including sexual matters) without inhibitions, etc. I found myself opening up to him as well about a few intimate matters.
Well, eventually I needed to get back to campus, but as I rose to leave, he came close to me and kept talking about how we really should be closer to one another, etc. and began to embrace me. That's fine - I don't mind hugging my good buddies once in a while, but I gotta tell you - this hug was a doozy. As well as lasting long past the usual accepted length (whatever that is), he pressed his crotch up against mine and began caressing me to the point where it was getting very embarrassing for me.
And you see, at the same time I was chastising myself for feeling embarrassed about it. After all, Fred Stevens was a minister and couldn't possibly have any deviant sexual motives, so why was it so awkward for me?
As this "embrace" began dragging on for many minutes, I finally couldn't stand it any longer and broke away, saying I had to hurry back to the dorm.
The next (and last) time I talked with Fred Stevens was in the Auditorium a few days later, but the feeling was completely different. I approached him as before, but now he was changed, somehow. I mean the atmosphere was colder. He greeted me, yes, but certainly not as the man I had felt so close to the other day. He had nothing to say to me. You can imagine how confused I was.
Now looking back, I wonder if, since I didn't give him what he wanted - I shudder to even imagine what that could be - he had no use for my friendship.
What really shocked me was when my friend Darryl recently told me that he had had a "close encounter" with Stevens that compares almost word for word with mine described above. Uncanny, isn't it?
(signed) Mike Savoia
A number of young men have stated that they have had private encounters with minister Stevens that were almost identical. Suspecting that Elder Stevens could explain these incidents as perhaps some new type of "laying on of hands," we phoned him on May 7. Unfortunately, as soon as we asked him what the WCG's current position was on homosexuality, he declined to continue the conversation any further.
At AR we continue to hear cases of WCG ministers who use their authority as a pretext for becoming intimate with members counseling on spiritual matters. This type of abuse of trust is not found only in the WCG, but is a problem rampant in many denominations. In the Los Angeles Times (March 31, 1990, p. F14), David Briggs of Associated Press wrote:
An increasing number of complaints by laymen and research indicating that up to a quarter of the clergy may have committed some form of sexual misconduct have led churches to address the issue, according to some church leaders and ethicists.... [A survey] showed up to a quarter of clergy engaged in misconduct that included such acts as kissing and hugs that were more than friendly embraces....
"By authority of their position, ministers have a lot of power and a lot of sway over people coming to them seeking help," [Rev. Emilie M. Townes of the St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, MO] said. "If the minister's always right, anything he or she asks of them must not be out of line."... "Sexual involvement by clergy is tantamount to family incest," said the Rev. Susan Moss, a member of the Interfaith Task Force on Sexual Exploitation by Clergy in Minnesota. "The dynamics are the same: Parishioners come to church expecting that clergy will help provide a nurturing, caring environment, a safe place to grow in faith. When that trust is betrayed, the whole congregation becomes the victim."
As long-time AR readers are well aware, there is extensive documentation of the sexual excesses and abuses of authority by leading WCG ministers over the years. For that reason undoubtedly, a new parenting program instituted in at least one WCG congregation is being viewed with great suspicion. One of our Wisconsin readers wrote us:
Last Saturday, the 7th of December, the local WCG congregation in Wausau had a meeting concerning the new program there called: "Little Pals."
The way it works is this: The adults each have a "little pal" (i.e., a child from another family), as their own "little pal." For example, my WCG-member brother-in-law has another family's young son (maybe 9 or 10 years old) as his "little pal." My sister-in-law has another family's daughter as her "little pal." Both their "little pals" have mothers and fathers and siblings in WCG. My mother-in-law who is in the church has a "little pal" girl who has a mother and sister in WCG (but whose father is not a member).
I asked her if it was the case that men get boys as their "little pals" (yes) and women get girls (yes). This isn't just for "spiritual orphans" either. I asked if this was to be just at services that they sit with each other, she said she thought so, but commented that the Deacon and his wife had the family of one of their "little pals" over to their home for a meal. She also told me that one of the functions of having a "little pal" would be to exchange Feast of Tabernacles gifts with them.
Having a "little pal" seems to be a great invitation for any "closet" or otherwise pedophile to get away with his/her vile acts with the WCG's blessing, and none (i.e., innocent parents of innocent children) could be the wiser.
It is also another substitution for an extended family that would normally come with grandparents and aunts, uncles and counsins in families outside the isolated cult atmosphere. It will encourage the commune type relationship of one cultist to another.
How many congregations are involved in the "Little Pals" program is unclear. The program at this point does not appear to be nationwide. But one has to wonder why WCG headquarters would allow any of its local ministers to initiate such a plan.
Many innocent people find it difficult to believe that some individuals could possibly use a Christian organization as a means of furthering personal homosexual goals. Nevertheless, such a misuse of Christian fellowship is increasingly common. One of our readers recently sent us a collection of classified ads that have appeared in "adult" publications in California. Most contained graphic language so offensive we cannot reproduce them here. Nevertheless, what we found most shocking were the ads run by supposedly Christian groups: "Affirmation" - a gay and lesbian Mormon organization, "SDA Kinship International" - supposedly "the oldest and largest support group for Gay/Lesbian Adventists," "Sovereignty" - gay and lesbian Jehovah's Witnesses of San Francisco and Sacramento, and other organizations of homosexuals who are supposedly Christian.
Even more shocking is a letter we recently received from an Alabama man who puts out a Bible Correspondence Course. This Bible teacher, who claims to be "a servant of God," privately advocates nudism, child pornography, and erotic love between adults and children. He has difficulty understanding why police agencies are monitoring his activities and why AR refuses to publish his address or promote his Bible course.
The bottom line is this: We should not assume that because someone is religious, or is even a minister, they should automatically be allowed to be physically intimate with us or to be trusted with our children.
Joseph W. Tkach -
God's New Rep on Planet Earth
by John Trechak
Anyone who has followed The Worldwide News regularly in the years since Joseph W. Tkach took over the Worldwide Church of God will have noticed that a considerable amount of that church newspaper's space is devoted to the idolization of Tkach. In photo after photo we see "The Apostle" - face perpetually tanned, figure maintained by careful dieting, body swathed in a wide variety of very casual to very formal outfits, and demeanor relaxed from his daily Jacuzzi sessions with friends. We see Tkach, the serious executive, lecturing employees. We see Tkach, the wise counsellor, listening attentively to the words of celebrities. We see Tkach, the indignant cleric, pounding pulpit lecterns before WCG congregations around the world. We see Tkach, the father figure, holding babies and gently stroking the hair of little children. And we see Tkach, the master politician, jovially shaking hands with long lines of adoring WCG followers at each local church he visits.
Among loyal WCG members, there seems to be not the slightest suspicion that what they are being media fed about Tkach is anything other than truly sincere, spontaneous spirituality. Yet, to those with even a little training and experience in advertising, public relations, and the modern media, it is immediately obvious that the Tkach organization has spent considerable time, money, and effort to create its idol, and that all of Tkach's public appearances are carefully staged.
For a number of years we have heard stories about some of the gimmicks the Tkach team uses to prop up the Tkach image. For instance, at most stops Tkach will actually spend an entire hour or more shaking hands with congregation members. But before each local performance, we've been told, Tkach requires a list of the names of the area's biggest contributors, with personal data on each, so that he may give them special attention in the receiving line. We at AR are not naive. Nevertheless, when one of our WCG headquarters sources recently provided us with copies of internal WCG documents showing the idol-enhancing machinations and excesses of the Tkach team, even we were surprised at the lengths to which the Tkach organization will go to control the minds of its members and to pamper its guru.
The documents comprise official instructions from Tkach's headquarters tour coordinators to WCG advance men. We had originally planned to put full-size photos of the documents in this issue. But because of their large print and excessive white space, doing so would have required using too many AR pages. Instead, we are publishing the complete contents of the leaked documents, but in smaller type. There are no editings, deletions, or additions. Emphasis is theirs:
For Mr. Tkach and his traveling party:
1) Reserve three (3) WHITE LINCOLN TOWN CARS. If Lincoln Towncars are not available, fullsize sedans will suffice. White Towncars are best; our second choice is black.
2) Look at each vehicle we are to use. Be sure each is clean inside and out. Many times the vehicles need to have a smoke smell removed before use. Be sure the interior of each car is in good condition and not a wild color.
3) The lead Towncar (the one used for Mr. Tkach) needs to have each tire over inflated by four pounds.
For Mr. Jay Brothers (Steward) supply the following:
1) Please reserve a FULL-SIZE VAN FOR LUGGAGE.
2) Be sure the following requests are met:
A) Provide a chauffeur to drive the van to and from the hotel.
B) It should have only two seats (one for the chauffeur and one for Mr. Brothers). Be sure there are no seats in the back, only an empty bed.
If the television crew is coming, please reserve a Mini-Van:
Be sure the following requests are met:
A) Provide a chauffeur to drive the van during the entire stay. Please provide a complete map of the city with the airport, hotel and meeting hall marked for easy reference.
B) It is best if the van has windows all the way around, for filming purposes. Take the last seat out of the back of the van for equipment storage.
C) The television crew may be traveling commercially and will therefore arrive at a different time than Mr. Tkach. If this is the case, you need to be sure the vehicle is available for them when they arrive.
The captains will make their own transportation arrangements.
If touring is approved for Sunday, please reserve the following:
1) An EXECUTIVE 40-PASSENGER BUS.
2) It should be a very nice bus with high-back seats, restroom facilities, etc. Do not get a school bus, but rather a very nice executive touring bus.
3) Provide the following items in the bus for Sunday's touring activities:
A) 7UP, regular and Diet Coke in glass bottles
B) Perrier mineral water in glass bottles
C) Various salted and unsalted nuts
D) Orange juice
4) If the bus trip is longer than 45 minutes, provide the following items in addition to those items listed above:
A) One large platter of various cheeses and crackers
B) One large platter of sliced fresh fruit with dip
C) One large vegetable platter with dip
1) Please carefully research to find the FINEST HOTELS in your area. Take time to visit each of these hotels. If at all possible, look at the actual suites we will be using. Take note of the interior and exterior condition of the hotel, quality of service, decor, etc. If it is difficult to make a decision, it might be helpful to make up a list of pros and cons for each hotel. We would like the very best your city has to offer. Keep in mind that quality is of the utmost importance. Before making a commitment, call me for further instructions.
2) If possible, we would like to have king size beds in all rooms. If they are not available, queen size will suffice.
3) Be sure to get a confirmation number from the hotel and have them send you a confirmation receipt.
Please call the hotel, one or two days prior to Mr. Tkach's arrival, to confirm that all rooms are as close to each other as possible. If the television crew is coming, confirm that one one-bedroom suite is as close to the front lobby and elevator as possible - for equipment and hauling.
4) All hotel charges will be paid by Mr. Michael Rasmussen on the day of departure.
Please personally inspect the following rooms:
5) One two-bedroom suite for Mr. Tkach (PRESIDENTIAL OR EQUIVALENT). It should have two (2) separate bedrooms with a separate living room area, dining room, air conditioning and a refrigerator. We would also like to have a jacuzzi-type tub in the master bedroom if possible. Please be sure this suite is the very finest. (If this suite has three bedrooms, please be sure to let me know.)
For security reasons, do not use Mr. Tkach's name in making the reservation or in any hotel listing. The only exception to this would be our private in-house rooming list which you will distribute at the airport upon BAC 1-11 arrival.
6) Another two-bedroom suite. It should have two (2) separate bedrooms with a separate living room area and air conditioning. This suite should be located on the same floor as close as possible to Mr. Tkach's suite.
7) Two (2) one-bedroom suites. They should each have a bedroom with a separate living room area and air conditioning. These suites should also be located as close as possible to Mr. Tkach's suite.
8) Four (4) deluxe rooms for the flight crew. Each should have a bedroom with a king or queen size bed and air conditioning.
Try to obtain rooms that are not right next to an elevator, ice machine or anything else that might cause a disturbance throughout the night.
If the television crew is coming please inspect the following (in addition to the rooms listed above):
9) One (1) one-bedroom suite. It should have a bedroom with a separate living room area and air conditioning. It needs to be as close to the front lobby and an elevator as possible (for equipment hauling).
10) Two (2) deluxe rooms with king or queen size bed and air conditioning.
Please supply the following in Mr. Tkach's suite:
A) One large platter of fresh fruit
B) One small platter of fresh sliced vegetables and dip
C) One small platter of various cheeses and crackers
D) Two quarts or liters of spring water in glass bottles (room temperature), EVIAN if available
E) Perrier (two large glass bottles)
F) Two six-packs Coke Classic in glass bottles
G) Four six-packs Diet Coke in glass bottles
H) Six containers of PLAIN NON FAT yogurt
I) Six containers of "Spicy V-8" and six containers of regular V-8
IT MAY BE NECESSARY TO HAVE THE HOTEL PROVIDE AN ADDITIONAL REFRIGERATOR IN MR. TKACH'S SUITE.
Please supply the following in the second two-bedroom suite:
A) Four quarts or liters of spring water in glass bottles (room temperature), EVIAN if available
B) Perrier (twelve 8-ounce glass bottles)
Please supply the following in all one-bedroom suites and deluxe rooms:
A) Two quarts or liters of spring water in glass bottles (room temperature), EVIAN if available
B) Perrier (four 8-ounce glass bottles)
C) Six spicy and six regular V-8 containers (one-bedroom suites only)
D) One six-pack of Diet Coke in glass bottles
Important Note - If television crew is coming: Due to allergies, please be sure there are no flowers of any kind in Mr. Bergstrom's room.
Mr. Michael Rasmussen's American Express card is to be used for reserving hotel rooms, and banquet rooms. I will also be sending a cash advance made out in your name. Please use this to pay for any charges that are not covered by the American Express card.
It will be necessary for you to keep detailed records of how this money is spent. Please keep all receipts, marking them with the date, amount spent and a brief description of the item or service being paid. These receipts, along with the balance in money, should be sent to Pasadena as soon after the trip as possible.
If you need additional funds, call me, and I will immediately have another check drafted and mailed to you. If there is not sufficient time for this, another alternative is for you to use money out of your local account and then send in the receipts. A reimbursement check will be sent to you.
Send all receipts and balance of advance of:
Mr. Derrick Coker
Worldwide Church of God
P.O. Box 385
Pasadena, CA 91102
1) Due to airport security, we ask that only the coordinating pastor, his family, chauffeurs and photographers meet Mr. Tkach at the airport.
2) Please be at the airport a minimum of one-half hour before the BAC 1-11's scheduled arrival. There is always the possibility of early arrival due to winds.
3) Assign two (and only two) photographers to take pictures for possible use in "THE WORLDWIDE NEWS." Photographs should capture all the highlights of the visit (five to seven rolls each). Refer to the information sheet sent to the pastor from Headquarters.
Please give all undeveloped film to Mr. Rasmussen before the BAC 1-11 departure.
4) Once you have returned your completed questionnaire I will call you with the name of the airport handling agent for your area. After you have his name and phone number, please make the necessary arrangements for all vehicles to drive onto the tarmac alongside BAC 1 -11 during arrival and departure. Due to security and safety policies at some airports, this will not be allowed. If this is the case in your area, have the vehicles and chauffeurs as close as the airport officials will allow.
5) Please purchase 14 small tourist lapel pins which are representative of your area for everyone in the traveling party. It can be the name of your state, stage flag, etc. Try to keep the pins smaller than 3/4 inch in diameter. These pins should be in the envelopes which will be distributed at the airport upon Mr. Tkach's arrival.
Sequence of Events
Friday - Late Afternoon:
1) Mr. Tkach and his party arrive at the airport and are met by the coordinating minister and family, photographers and chauffeurs. The coordinating minister will distribute envelopes containing hotel keys, rooming list and lapel pin.
2) Chauffeurs then drive Mr. Tkach and his party from the airport to their hotel.
Free, until hotel departure for Sabbath services.
1) Chauffeurs pick up Mr. Tkach and his party at their hotel and drive them to services.
2) Arrive at hall 20 minutes before services [and] are directed to the hospitality room. The hospitality room is for Mr. Tkach, his party, coordinating minister and those serving.
3) Two minutes before services Mr. Tkach and his party are escorted from the hospitality room to their seats in the front row.
4) 1:00 p.m. Services begin.
5) 3:00 p.m. Services conclude.
6) After Services, Mr. Tkach shakes hands with the brethren and ministry.
7) After shaking hands, Mr. Tkach is directed to the ministers' meeting.
8) The meeting normally lasts one hour. Mr. Tkach speaks for 45 minutes and then will conduct a 15 minute question-and-answer session.
9) After the meeting Mr. Tkach and his party will be driven back to their hotel (if the meeting is not in the hotel).
10) That evening Mr. Tkach will host a buffet dinner at his hotel for all ministers and their wives as well as all deacons, deaconesses and spouses. The buffet dinner will be held in one of the hotel's banquet rooms. The banquet will be coordinated by Mr. Jay Brothers (BAC 1-11 Steward).
11) 9:00-10:00 The dinner will conclude. Remainder of the evening is free.
1) Mr. Brothers will pick up the luggage of the traveling party.
2) 10:00 a.m. Depart hotel in an executive bus for touring (if approved by Mr. Tkach).
3) After touring, the chauffeur will drive Mr. Tkach and his party to the airport.
That's Show Biz, Folks!
Editor: We showed the above Tkach tour guidelines to friends in Hollywood working in the entertainment industry and familiar with its customs. One television talk show executive told us, "Very few celebrities stage their appearances this meticulously, and with the exception of a few superstars like Michael Jackson, Madonna, or Prince, very few entertainers - even among the very neurotic - would expect to be pampered to such a degree." Indeed, those we talked to said they could think of only one celebrity who exceeded Tkach in degree of required pampering and in concern for personal image - the Pope.
Counter-Cult Organizations and Materials
Today, there are so many organizations battling the cults and so many books on the cult phenomenon, it is difficult for AR to keep track of all of them. We list below a number that some readers may find of interest. Appearance on the following list does not imply that we endorse all the views of such authors or groups, or that they endorse ours. Nevertheless, we have found the following anti-cult books, journals, and organizations noteworthy.
How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower by David A. Reed (Baker Book House, 1989) is a book not directly about rescuing someone from the WCG, but about rescuing members of the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs). Nevertheless, because there are so many similarities between the JWs and the WCG, many who have relatives or friends in the WCG can benefit from Reed's book. Mr. Reed, currently affiliated with the Baptist denomination, is a former JW elder and presiding minister who has written extensively about the JWs. His newsletter Comments from the Friends is devoted to exposing JW doctrinal errors and to helping both current and former JWs. Those interested in obtaining copies of How to Rescue Your Loved One from the Watchtower ($9.95 per copy) and back issues of Comments from the Friends ($1.50 per copy) should write to Comments from the Friends, P.O. Box 840, Stoughton, MA 02072.
Another organization that is working with JWs is Bethel Ministries of Manhattan Beach, California. As with David Reed's ministry, this organization is aimed at helping current and former JWs. Nevertheless, it has materials that are relevant to the WCG. For instance, a number of articles in recent issues of the Bethel Ministries newsletter, edited by Randall Watters, were particularly relevant to the WCG phenomenon: "Deprogramming and Exit Counselling - Are They for Christians?" (Jan./Feb. 1990), "When Prophecies Fail - A Sociological Perspective on Failed Expectations in the Watchtower Society" (May/June 1990), and "Understanding Watchtower Phobias" (July/Aug. 1990) all contained much of relevance to understanding the WCG as well as the JWs. Those interested in obtaining more information about their publications should write to: Bethel Ministries, P.O. Box 3818, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.
Psychiatry and the Cults - An Annotated Bibliography by John A. Saliba (638 pages, $60 plus postage and handling). The publisher of this large work has not supplied us with a review copy so we are unable to comment as to the quality of its contents. Those who would like information about this book should contact Garland Publishing, 136 Madison Ave., Dept. G.K., New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-686-7492).
Cultic Studies Journal ($15 per year) is published semiannually by American Family Foundation, Box 336, Weston, MA 02193 (tel. 617-893-0930). We have not yet been provided a review copy of this academic journal, but those who are interested may be able to get details by writing to the publisher.
Religion Analysis Service, Inc., P.O. Box 806, Brainerd, MN 56401-0806 (tel. 800-562-9153) is an evangelical Christian organization that distributes "books and tracks exposing cults and unscriptural teachings." Those interested in knowing what they have available should request a copy of their catalog.
Watchman Expositor is a cult expose periodical published by the Watchman Fellowship, Inc., P.O. Box 13251, Arlington, TX 76094-0251. In the last few years they have done a number of articles relating to Armstrongism. Their vol. 7, no. 3 edition, for instance, carried an article (p. 5) on the WCG's old "born again" doctrine. And their vol. 8, no. 2 issue contained an excellent article about a number of central WCG teachings. Their vol. 8, no. 5-sp issue contained a very thorough history of the WCG and an analysis of the recent WCG doctrinal changes. The article was entitled "What in the Worldwide Church of God is Going On?" Also of special interest is The Watchman Expositor's "1992 Cult Catalog" which lists many WCG splinter groups as cults.
The spring 1991 edition of Christian Research Journal contained an article about the WCG written by Bill Alnore. Those interested in receiving a copy should write to the journal at P.O. Box 500, San Juan, Capistrano, CA 92693.
What About Those Dangerous Religious Groups? is a concise booklet on the cult phenomenon. It is particularly helpful in giving relevant Bible passages that highlight the spiritual characteristics of "dangerous" religious groups. For a free copy write to Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, MI 49555-0001.
Deo Gloria Outreach is a Christian organization dedicated to informing both the Christian and secular public of the growing challenge posed by pseudo-Christian and quasi-religious cults. Although based in Britain, the organization also appears to be active now on the continent, as well. Services offered include printed materials and personal counselling. For more information, write Deo Gloria Outreach, Selsdon House, 212-220 Addington Road, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 8LD, England (tel. 01-651-6430).
Fundamentalists Anonymous (FA) is a national network of support groups for individuals who have been psychologically harmed by involvement with various so-called "fundamentalist" religious groups. FA was founded by Richard Yao who got his Masters degree from Yale Divinity School and his J.D. from New York University Law School. Those who would like to know exactly what FA is all about (AR has few details) should write to: Fundamentalists Anonymous, P.O. Box 20324, Greeley Square Station, New York, NY 10001 (tel. 212-696-0420).
Tithing: God's Command or Man's Demand? by Tony Badillo has been referred to in past issues of AR. We still feel it is the most thorough book on the tithing doctrine we've ever seen. We recommend it to those who have become hooked on the WCG's teachings on that subject. Xavier Press informs us that they still have copies available for $9.50 each. For more information about the tithing book and other WCG-related literature published by Xavier, send two first class postage stamps to: Xavier Press, P.O. Box 45411, Dallas, TX 75245.
Many AR readers tell us that they continue to benefit from the writings of Ernest L. Martin, once the head of the theology department of Ambassador College. We found two recent articles by Martin to be of special interest: "How Churches Disobey the Commands of God Today" and "Who Has Real Authority in Christianity?" Readers may obtain a free copy of each by writing to Academy for Scriptural Knowledge, P.O. Box 25000, Portland, OR 97225 (tel. 503-292-4353).
The question of whether Christians are biblically required to keep the Old Testament sabbaths is one that continues to be debated in WCG circles. For instance, Garner Ted Armstrong of the WCG offshoot Church of God International (P.O. Box 2525, Tyler, Texas 75710) recently announced that his organization was publishing a new booklet on the subject (they answer the question in the affirmative).
Another concise work on the subject was recently written by Sir Anthony Buzzard whose conclusion is quite different than that of Armstrong. Buzzard's booklet, which we recommend highly, is titled "The Law, The Sabbath and New Testament Christianity." It is available for $2 by writing to Restoration Fellowship; Box 100,000; Morrow; GA 30260. (Note: This is their new address.) Be sure to also ask for a list of their other thought-provoking publications.
The Association for Christian Development (ACD, Kenneth Westby, Director) is an organization many ex-WCG members have found personally beneficial. The November 1990 issue of ACD's newsletter began a series of articles we found particularly interesting. Written by Kenneth Westby, the series discusses recent scientific evidence pointing to a seven-day cycle extant in nature as a building block of plant and animal life. Discoveries seem to provide "a biological explanation for the mystery of the week." Also of interest is a pair of articles recently published on the so-called "Near Death Experience." Those who would like to receive ACD's newsletter should write to: Association for Christian Development, 4449 S. Star Lake Rd., Auburn, WA 98001 (tel. 206-859-1017).
The Faithful Word group, which publishes studies about HWA's statements of doctrine as contrasted with Tkach's revised teachings, apparently has a new address. We've been told it's The Faithful Word, 117 W. Harrison Bldg., Suite 600-F191, Chicago, IL 60605.
MacGregor Ministries News & Views published two concise articles on the WCG in their April-June, 1991 issue: "The Betrayal of Ann (the testimony of a former member of the Worldwide Church of God)" and "Why the Worldwide Church of God is a Cult." Those interested should write to: MacGregor Ministries, Box 73, Balfour, British Columbia, VOG 1CO, Canada.
The subject of thought control and brainwashing comes up repeatedly among those studying the cult phenomenon. One of our readers has brought to our attention a work that thoroughly explains these diabolical methods: The Rape of the Mind by Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D. (The World Publishing Company, New York, 1956). It can be found in many university libraries. Our reader points out how pages 126-140 of Meerloo's book seem particularly relevant to the methods used by numerous WCG ministers.
The incredible proliferation of religious cults in the U.S. during the last twenty years has, quite understandably, led to a proliferation of counter-cult organizations. Today there are literally hundreds of organizations that, like Ambassador Report, monitor the activities of various cults. In 1987 Cornerstone Press published a Directory of Cult Research Organizations listing many countercult ministries and other cult research organizations. The Cornerstone directory has now been updated to include over 500 Christian countercult ministries and over 140 secular cult research groups. It is the best listing available on the subject. The new directory retails for $7.50 per copy (including postage) and may be ordered by writing to Cornerstone Press, 939 West Wilson, Suite 202-C, Chicago, IL 60640 (tel. 312- 989-2080).
Of the many counter-cult organizations in the United States none has been more active than the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), headquartered in Chicago. CAN publishes a monthly newsletter containing news reports on the cults, puts out numerous factsheets on the various cults, and provides advice to those with friends or relatives in the various cult groups. CAN's national headquarters is at 2421 West Pratt Blvd., Suite 1173, Chicago, IL 60645 (tel. 312-267-7777). Cynthia S. Kisser is the Executive Director. Two of the many regional CAN offices that have been most helpful to AR are the Los Angeles area office (Prescilla Coates, Director), 1917 Hampton Lane, Glendale, CA 91201 (tel. 818-845-4354) and the New York City office (Larry Zilliox, Investigator), 67 Irving Pl., 3rd Fl. South Entrance, New York, NY 10003 (tel. 212-777-7137). For the address and phone number of the CAN chapter or office nearest you, write to the CAN national headquarters in Chicago.
Dankenbring's Prophecy Flash!
One of our readers recently wrote us:
In AR you mention a lot of religious organizations that seem to me to be worse than the [WCG]. Don't you realize you are encouraging people to get hooked on such groups? For example, you have mentioned William Dankenbring's Prophecy Flash! Yet Watchman Fellowship has included his organization on their list of cults. You surely must have noticed how Dankenbring can be very dogmatic and "sets dates" for prophecies. Many [WCG] ministers say Dankenbring is insane. When will you fellows get around to revealing the skeletons in his closet?
It is true that occasionally some of our readers will get "hooked" on some author or group we mention in AR. Let's not assume, however, that such an interest is always a negative thing. Frequently, individuals leaving the WCG utilize such groups as a source for important information or as a stepping stone in their spiritual growth. And sometimes our readers find organizations with which they feel genuinely compatible.
It has never been our goal to make AR into a countercult cult. While we have valuable information to offer regarding the WCG and some of its offshots, we do not pretend to have all "the truth." We mention many organizations knowing full well that they have flaws at times. So do we. But very frequently organizations which may be weak in one area are strong in another and, therefore, have much to offer. While some well-meaning Christian organizations seem to throw the "cult" label upon any religious organization that does not hold to some of their own religious beliefs (e.g., the divinity of Jesus, Trinitarianism, Sunday worship, etc.), that is not how AR uses the term "cult" (see AR 44, pp.2-8). There are a number of plausible definitions for the term "cult" (or "destructive cult"). But we have used the term to refer only to groups that (1) promote isolation from nonmember friends and family, (2) promote nonthinking or uncritical thinking, (3) require absolute obedience to a person or persons who claim to represent God, and (4) encourage unrestrained giving of time and/or money to the group's leadership. Dankenbring's small ministry has none of those characteristics.
It is true that Dankenbring has been very outspoken, has taken a number of positions that seem extreme, and has "set dates" regarding some Bible prophecies. Yet, we should remember that a number of Old Testament prophets did the same kinds of things. Is Dankenbring insane? No, and it is really unfair for WCG ministers to so quickly dismiss his ministry in that way.
We at AR have known Dankenbring quite a few years. While some of his articles may have a certain dogmatic ring to them, he has always treated us with the utmost cordiality and openness. He works as an administrator for a large metropolitan high school, is a part-time publishing entrepreneur, is a family man (married 27 years, three kids, never divorced), was an eagle scout, is a devout Sabbath-keeping Christian, and is a dedicated Bible researcher and writer who regularly turns out more articles than the entire WCG editorial staff. As for skeletons in his closet - we honestly don't know of any. Yes, some of his articles are a little on the wild side. But perhaps that is why so many find them interesting. Prophecy Flash! is available from Triumph Publishing, P.O. Box 292, Altadena, CA 91003.
Questions for the Editor
Q. I am convinced that Mr. Tkach should not have taken the title of "Apostle" even though the designation was used in the early church. Now I am wondering about the title "Pastor General." Where did that come from? I don't find it in my Bible.
A. No, and it's not in anyone else's Bible either. Where exactly Herbert W. Armstrong got it is hard to tell. But it is interesting that "The Black Pope," the head of the Catholic Church's Jesuit Order, has a similar title: "The Father General" (see Malachi Martin, The Jesuits, Simon and Schuster, 1987, p. 31). According to former WCG minister David Robinson, HWA's top advisor, Stanley Rader, was very knowledgeable about Catholic history and organization to which he looked as a model for WCG hierarchical organization. Another HWA subordinate highly knowledgeable of Catholic organization and history was Herman Hoeh who remains as the WCG's chief editor and doctrinal advisor. These facts have led to speculation that it was Rader or Hoeh, or both, who were behind HWA's adoption of the title "Pastor General" (and later "Apostle") and behind HWA's drive to mold the WCG's hierarchy after that of the Roman Catholic Church.
Q. Even though you have reported how Mr. Tkach's parents came from Czechoslovakia, the church members continue to be told that Mr. Tkach's ancestors were Russian. I am very confused as to why he would want to be thought of as Russian. On page one of the April 10 Los Angeles Times there was a very large article about how the Los Angeles area has become a haven for the so-called Russian Mafia. The Times reported how this large criminal network has branches now in Chicago, New York, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Because many of the Russian Mafia's members are former KGB men, some U.S. government officials are saying it is the most vicious and technologically advanced crime syndicate they have ever encountered. Do you have any evidence that Mr. Tkach has ties to these new Russian gangsters? Why does Mr. Tkach say he is Russian?
A. We've seen no evidence that Tkach is currently in contact with the crime ring you describe. As for Tkach's perception that he is of Russian decent: Because of the eastern European Pan-Slavic movement of Czarist days, many Rusyns - that is Carpathian area people who were of the Russian Orthodox faith - viewed themselves as Russian, even though they lived in eastern Czeckoslovakia (a hybrid nation formed only in 1918 remember). Like many Rusyns or Rusnaks who came to the U.S. before WWII, the father of Tkach Sr. apparently saw himself as Russian. His son, Tkach Sr., has simply continued to view his roots the way his father did in spite of evidence to the contrary. The loss of a clear understanding of their historical identity is quite common among many, if not most, Americans of Rusyn origin. See Paul Robert Magocsi, Our People - Carpatho-Rusyns and Their Descendants in North America. For information write to Carpatho-Rusyn American, 132 Hawthorne St., Pittsburgh, PA 15218. Incidentally, the latter publication profiled Tkach in their Fall, 1990 issue.
Q. What is the "Dracula Complex" referred to on page 11 of your March 1988 issue?
A. It's a term we coined to refer to certain strange behavior patterns of the WCG ministry. Over the years we have noticed that whenever the WCG ministry is confronted by (1) blunt talk about Jesus or the Holy Spirit operating in the lives of non-WCG Christians, or (2) the glare of media exposure about the sins of WCG leaders, WCG ministers usually react like the blood-sucking Count Dracula did in the movies when he was (a) shown a crucifix, or (b) exposed to sunlight. Like the revulsed Count who would hide his face in his black, silk cape, WCG ministers are adamant in their refusal to honestly confront certain truths. And most especially, like Dracula - whose image was never reflected from a mirror - most WCG ministers refuse to allow well meant criticism to penetrate their consciousness. It's a type of mind control reflex or denial.
Actual examples are legion: AR issues or AR letters mailed to WCG ministers are almost always refused. (Some have even come back marked "Return to Satan!") Requests for interviews are routinely denied. Some WCG lawyers are unable to talk to AR writers directly and can only communicate via a non-WCG colleague. On one occasion a panic-stricken WCG executive literally ran out of a building when the Report's editor turned to cordially chat with him in a bank line. What strange forces possess such people we're not sure. But "Dracula Complex" seems a pretty fair description of the phenomenon.
Many Big Sandy Ambassador College alumni of the early seventies will remember the story-telling skills of alumnus Peter M. Leschak. Now living in Side Lake, Minnesota, Leschak is a freelance photographer and writer whose work has appeared in many national magazines, including Harpers, The New York Times Book Review, New Age Journal, and Outdoor Life. His collection of essays, Letters From Side Lake, is published by Harper and Row. "Apocalypse Then - The Mind of a Messiah Watcher," an article about his experience with WCG prophecies, appeared in the July 1990 issue of Magical Blend (P.O. Box 11303, San Francisco, CA 94101, $3.95 per copy).
Harry Sneider, the former AC athletic coach who has also trained a long list of world class athletes, including race car driver Danny Sullivan, Olympic jumpers Dwight Stones and James Butts, water skier Wayne Grimditch, cyclist Mark Gorski, and bodybuilders Mike Mentzer and Lou Ferrigno, now claims a doctorate in physical fitness from Pacific Western University. Along with his wife, Sarah, and his three teenagers, Sneider is currently promoting "aerobic resistive rebounding" - a low-impact, home exercise system that utilizes minitrampolines, hand-held weights, and various aerobic principles. Articles about Sneider's inspiring life and exercise methods have appeared in the Pasadena Star-News (July 2, 1990, p. C-1) and in the re-spected weight training magazine Ironman (May 1991, p. 68). Those who would like information about Sneider's training methods should contact him at Sneider's Family Fitness, 115 Loralyn Dr., Arcadia, CA 91006 (tel. 818-355-8964).
Pasadena alumnus Larry Taylor wrote us a while back about a couple of alumni names he has seen in the media. William R. Fairchild, once a systems programmer at AC Pasadena, had a technical article published in the March 1990 issue of Mainframe Journal. Its title was "MVS/XA I/O Subsystem and DASD Event Traces." Fairchild, at the time the article appeared, was with Landmark Systems Corporation.
Taylor also wrote us about Bob Nesler:
Remember Bob Nesler? He was an AC student, sometimes doing animation for the TV department. He was the only person that I know who managed to get kicked out of AC twice. His editorial cartoons even got the Portfolio shut down once.
I recently saw his name in the animation credits for the cartoon series, "Garfield," on CBS Saturday morning. There was even an on screen gag with his name, Nelser, showing.
I would like to hear more about the AC graduates and WCG veterans.
It seems to me that "God's Little Spider" a.k.a. Joseph Tkach is playing both ends against the middle. To the general public, Worldwide is saying, "Look, we've changed. Aren't we a whole lot more conventional? We're merely just another denomination of Christianity, aren't we? How can anyone even think of calling us a cult?" Is this not Tkach's goal? Theoretically this approach should attract more members.
But to the WCG membership, the impression that is given is this message: "We're making only a few minor changes. We still keep the Sabbath and the holy days. We still have God's spirit. Don't worry about the changes - don't even notice them. God is still in command."
Is this not duplicity of the worst kind? The loyal membership is simply not being told the truth.
Recent WCG Exiter
Ambassador Report and other publications have catalogued about 100 false prophecies uttered by HWA, and God has not allowed any of them to come to pass, showing the world that HWA is not a minister of God, and also declaring that he is a wicked one. I use the present tense, as HWA is still alive in the minds of many, whereas God commands that the false prophet must be put to death (Deut. 18:20-22).
Prophecy aside, the fact that HWA lived the satanic way of get identifies just whose "apostle" he was!....
I do know of one person (but only one) who holds a grudge against Mr. Joe Tkach Jr. In spite of this grudge, and in spite of his being a close friend of mine, he had only one thing negative to say about Joe Jr. Since I feel that he still holds a grudge, I doubt if he can be objective; so I will not reveal his name.
Other than this one comment, I have heard only positive things about Mr. Joe Jr. I doubt that his ex-wife Jill would confirm the story you printed about what happened on the way to Prescott. I have never known Joe Jr. to exhibit such a temper.
The story about the affair between Dean Blackwell and Elaine originated with Rod Meredith. I do not consider him sane. He denies reality.
Current WCG Member
Editor: Friends of the long-time WCG evangelist say that Roderick C. Meredith resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora, is in good health, and sounds rational. Because he remains on the WCG payroll, Meredith refuses to be interviewed in the pages of AR. Sources indicate, however, that due to the mellowing influence of his colleague Dennis Luker, the self-styled "conservative" has greatly moderated his once highly critical attitude toward homosexuals. Meredith remains loyal to the Tkach organization and hopes that one day he will again be allowed to give sermons.
I am surprised at how few people speak of the blessings they have received since leaving the WCG.
I was the Chief Photographer for the Plain Truth and Ambassador College for four years and had 17 years in the WCG. My job was to make the pictures I took look like whatever HWA said was true (even when what he said was not true). Believe me, pictures can lie.
I went through a divorce with no help from the church. One minister tells me I am bound, another says I'm free, etc. I lost my wife and four children to the church. So you see I, too, can make this a "woe is me" letter. Instead I'm going to say hallelujah! I now understand I Tim. 2:5 that there is no one on earth between me and the Father - I have a straight line through Jesus to the Father. Also I cannot lose my salvation or be disfellowshipped from the Father by anyone or anything on earth (Rom. 8:38, 39). If I need healing now I don't have to call anyone. I go direct [to God] and I have received a lot of healing the past couple of years.
I retired at the age of 55. Five years late. AC would not retire me God's way (Num. 8:25). 1 am now 67 years old and still participate in all the sports I did at the age of 50 thanks to miracle healing.
Life is a joy to me now in spite of the fact that my family is still in the WCG. I put the problem in God's hands and I am sure He will open their eyes and mind as He did mine when they are ready to listen. Thank God that we are no longer in bondage (Rom. 8:15).
Eugene I. Smyda
Panama City, Florida
I took your advice in AR45 and phoned 1-800-CONCERT - Ambassador Auditorium rushed me their pompous brochure airmail (98 cents postage). The same day I phoned the Church at 1-800-423-4444 and ordered "What Do You Mean Salvation?" (still available!) and still haven't gotten it (must be 4th class mail - after all it's only "gospel")....
Did you notice in one WN on "Tips for Managing Your Finances in Recession" they recommend members fix their cars with junk parts from the auto junk yards? A lot of members are already driving unsafe cars and this would endanger them even further. Why doesn't the famous Ambassador garage, which Waterhouse used to say was so spotless clean in his slide show, use junk parts on Tkach's limos?
I was born poor. My family is poor. I was a strict Catholic until 12 when I learned Satanism. And by 14 was living a biker lifestyle, plus I was a homosexual. I found Jesus, or he found me, at 16 and I have been serving him since. In 1984 1 was convicted of murder, which I did not do, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison where I serve Christ. I have six years in now. I am Orthodox Christian and study comparative religions, Cults, Greek, and Hebrew. I am writing a book (for the last 2-1/2 years) on religions in which I have had experience.... All the ARs you have ever sent me are in our Chapel Library for my brothers to read. Thank you for sending them.
David Maynard, #85 B 2434
Sing Sing Prison
Ossining, NY 10562
I am thankful for your recent April letter even though it made me heartsick and brought tears to my eyes. AR has helped me more than anything else except the Bible and Ernest Martin to get over the bitterness I felt from being brainwashed in the WCG for 10 years. I left that cult in 1975. 1 am now 76 years old, have had no personal contact with others of like beliefs. It's been a hard and lonely life and except for AR and Ernest Martin's material, I probably would have committed suicide. Reduced to poverty, only a third grade education, no children, I left a good husband because they told me my marriage was not legal in the sight of God because of his living ex-wife (though they had been divorced 10 years). He is now dead.... A social security check of $372 a month is all I have to live on.
I can't seem to come up with the right words to express how thankful I am for all the ARs you've sent me.
M. E. Robinette
308 N.W. Murray, #502
Lee's Summit, Missouri 64081
My father, age 76, became a member of WCG about three years ago. He now seems to be unable to make a decision without asking the advice of the minister. He is also triple tithing which concerns me since he has a small fixed income and I think he is doing without medical care to pay the tithe. He was always a man of strong opinions but now he seems to be a follower. I'm also worried that he's giving the church his principal since he is talking about the church "taking care of him." What can I do to get him away from their influence? I feel I'm losing contact with him. Also, what about going to Jordan? He talks of this.
Editor: While the WCG does not now officially teach that its membership will eventually flee to Petra in Jordan, many WCG members apparently still cling to that teaching. As with so many doctrines, what many WCG members believe is now out of step with what WCG headquarters is preaching.
As for getting your father out from under their influence, be sure to read AR44. You might also want to consider using an exit counselor. While their fees sometime seem high, in the long run they are often very cost effective.
My husband became affiliated with the Worldwide Church of God about three years ago. Since that time, I have noticed gradual changes in his behavior and personality. Some of his ideologies have become downright bizarre. I want my husband back and I'm preparing to do whatever it takes to get him back.
Just received the Nov. '91 issue of AR. You emphasized the many marriages broken by the church. I wonder if anyone knows just how many have been kept from getting married at all by this church. Not being even allowed to date or marry outside the church and, of course, with ministerial meddling, as you called it, I know of many who were kept single for many years and some who simply never did get an opportunity. Seems this church was like the Pope preventing his nuns and priests from marrying and then condemning the church for all the problems with masturbation and homosexuality that resulted. The WCG would always blame the church people for anything that went wrong, never the leaders or the doctrines of the church.
In regard to the third tithe, the church is trying as it were to be a nation (an Israel with a welfare system). But the New Testament Church was a church, not a nation. We already have social security and welfare benefits provided by our nation. Why the people of the church see a need for their own welfare system one must wonder. But, of course, tithing in the Bible was never on money, only on food. So the con game continues.
The November issue of AR was indeed a good one. I only wish there were a way to get more people aware of the Report. The most interesting or significant comment of this issue to me was that question you ask on page six: "What spirit is behind all this?" It is interesting that in the words and preaching of Christ those most condemned were the religious leaders of his day. The church under the greatest condemnation in all of Paul's writing was the Galatian Jewish church of his day. And the church most closely akin to the Galatian church today is the WCG.
The spirit behind all this, you stated, was the spirit of forceful control. WCG evangelist Dean Blackwell once stated that the demons followed Satan much like the Nazis followed Hitler. They felt they must obey the orders! And they felt they must obey - sadly, the wrong person. Dean said there was a reason why the first commandment was the first - how we must have no other gods before God, the true God. When we do, whether it be our mates or our religious leaders or the government, or whomever or whatever, it always leads to problems. How right Dean was in so many things yet he also fell under Herbert's spell and domination, it seems. And so the church has put itself in the place of God in the lives of the church people with the sad results that we see.
I think there has been no other person that has had such an effect on my life for better or for worse than Dean Blackwell. His preachings were no less than profound. His insight into spiritual matters seemed profound. His speaking ability was profound. His wisdom was profound. His abilities were profound. Just like GTA? Just like HWA? Just like... Satan?
And so it seemed with many of the ministers of the church. Such ability to speak. And much truth. But truth mixed with error and false doctrines of men. And it is interesting to note the ones God chose in the Bible to be his major preachers were just the opposite of the WCG preachers. Moses of the Old Testament could not speak at all and had to have his brother do it after he whispered the words to him. Paul described himself as the worst in speaking ability. The reasons given by Paul were that God did not want men glorified or looked to with admiration. This was to be directed to God only, not man. Christ said his church leaders were to be as servants not rulers. Herbert twisted that verse also to read that those who served were to be the rulers (just the opposite of the intent of Christ). And so the church continues to play God in the lives of the people of this church to their hurt. But God will judge them and the results will become apparent.
Well, Christ said many would come in his name and deceive many and Paul warned of false doctrines to come. No one likes to think it is they who are deceived. But Jesus, himself, wondered if, when he returned, he would even find the faith upon the earth. Except in a few, I don't think he will.
J. Van Orman
Your April 3rd letter to us folks who haven't been contributing sure explains why we haven't gotten a Report since November. Sorry to have to hear that you, too, are looking for work now. We have read in the papers that California is having it worse than other parts of the country economy-wise. Then after we got your short renewal letter we heard about more earthquakes and then the L.A. riot. Hope you folks are all okay.
We also heard from friends in Pasadena that a little while back the home where AR has its files was burglarized. Did AR's files get stolen again?
Editor: It's true that some months back the home where our files are stored was burglarized and ransacked. Even though all the stolen items were not recovered, the burglars were finally apprehended and it doesn't appear that the incident had anything to do with AR (unlike our 1977 burglary). Quite amazingly, though the house was thoroughly ransacked and searched for valuables, the rooms where AR's files are located were somehow overlooked.
As for California, yes, things could be better. The Los Angeles Times has reported that unemployment here is actually six times greater than what the government has been admitting. We have somehow survived in spite of the economy, the earthquakes, and the riots. But getting out this issue of AR (#50) has not been easy. Right now we have enough information on file for about four complete issues. But the funds are just not available to publish everything we can document. The last issue of AR (#49, Nov. 1991) was the largest and most difficult one we've done in years. Yet, it produced significantly fewer contributions than usual.
We will continue to publish Ambassador Report, but the rate at which we get new issues into print depends to a great extent on the level of support we receive from our readers.
Our thanks to all of you who are encouraging our efforts.
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