Childrearing "God's Way"

Blast from the Past, by Bill Fairchild

You asked if any of us know about children of cult members who died needlessly due to lack of proper medical care. I know of three anecdotes to pass on which are related to your topic, but do not exemplify exactly what you are seeking.

(1) In the late 1960s I was a member in the Greensboro, NC congregation. I remember once hearing that a married couple who were members in the Charlotte, NC congregation had a child that died. I cannot now remember their names or the reason why the child died. I suspect they were sincerely following Herbie’s INSANE orders. I remember talking to the father shortly thereafter, and he told me if it hadn’t been for God’s mercy and help during their ordeal that he and his wife could never have made it through. I can only say now that I hope it was due to God’s mercy that their child died for some reason other than the completely evil and INSANE teaching we all used to hold so dear about divine healing. I just don’t know.

(2) In 1976 a young ministerial trainee and his sweet young European bride were assigned to my congregation in Washington, DC. She was pregnant with their first child, and this happy and hopeful couple had decided to have a home delivery, as we all tried to do unless Satan’s evil system forced us to use one of its evil hospitals filled with all those satanic medical practitioners. It was “God’s natural way” of doing things. Their baby was a breech birth, there were complications, the child’s head got stuck inside for a long time, the child had brain damage, and then was finally fully delivered. A few days later the little baby died. Our whole congregation was in tears, and I still am now as I think about this long-forgotten, very sad memory. I love these people too much to use their names without their permission. I ate dinner with them in their home in Europe in 1994 and met their two teen-age sons whom they had adopted since their tragedy many years before. This was not a case of a child’s having medical attention withheld, but rather of a medically related decision’s being made, based on the false teaching of divine healing, that later resulted in a tragedy. Once their poor little baby was born there was nothing that anyone could do except cry and ache.

(3) In 1980 my first wife and I attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Rapid City, South Dakota. “Dr.” Herman L. Hoeh was there as the highest-ranking visiting speaker. One day after services he held some kind of seminar for whoever wanted to attend. My wife attended while I drove around town doing something else. She told me later about the great wisdom spewing forth from the mouth of this “evangelist” who had received his “doctor of theology” decree from a “college” founded by a high school dropout (Herbert W. HARMstrong).

Another of the people at the seminar was a man from somewhere in the Midwest who was a fellow cult member along with his wife. They had an infant child that had suddenly stopped breathing in its crib more than once. This is apparently what leads to “sudden infant death syndrome”, which is a fancy way of saying “crib death”, which is a common way of saying suddenly and mysteriously dies. For some reason an infant may stop breathing and, if no speedy intervention occurs, the infant will quickly die. This couple either had spent or was seriously considering spending about $20,000 to install some sophisticated medical equipment in their home to monitor their infant’s breathing. They were, of course, in great emotional torment over their child’s condition and the very burdensome strain on their finances this extra expense would cause.

Hoeh’s world-shaking wisdom, based on his tremendous compassion and milk of human kindness, was why don’t you just let your child die, save all that money, and you will see him again in the resurrection? This produced a great and immediate outcry from the other minister present at this seminar, whose name was Art Docken. I really know nothing about Art Docken personally other than this one anecdote, but he disagreed vociferously with Hoeh’s brilliant diagnosis. I came away from this Feast actually hoping that somebody would go shoot that bastard Hoeh and all others like him.

I don’t know what became of this distraught couple and their little baby, but I hope they had the brains to leave that sick, stupid cult immediately. I didn’t “grow” enough spiritually to do the same until 1996, much to my shame. I helped Herbie buy quite a few bottles of Dom Perignon over the years, and also bankrolled his son Garner Stud at the Las Vegas tables on more than one weekend gambling, drinking, and whoring junket.


The Worldwide Church of God’s (WCG) rise from country-bumpkin church to eminence as a super-media cult is a fascinating financial success story. Starting in 1934 with a handful of backwoods country folk and barely enough money to subsist on, Herbert Armstrong proceeded to build a powerful fundamentalist church that garners more money per year than Billy Graham’s and Oral Roberts’ organizations combined.

In the early years the going was rough and the rewards few and far between. Herbert’s efforts to build a large, stable church met one defeat after another, according to his autobiography. As soon as he gathered a group of followers in a city and turned his evangelizing efforts to another area, the first group fell apart. When he turned a group over to another minister whom he supposed he could trust, he claimed the minister suddenly became disloyal to him and turned the members of the group against him.

Partly because of these frustrations, Herbert decided to found a college to train men for the ministry who would remain loyal to him and his church. He reasoned that if he took young, impressionable minds and taught them the Bible according to his viewpoint, they would believe exactly like him, remain loyal to him, and enthusiastically assist him in proclaiming his unique gospel message. He was absolutely right.

During the 1950s his college-Ambassador College (AC)-produced a number of young, zealous, unswervingly loyal assistants made over into his image who adopted his teachings unquestioningly on practically everything. These men began to share Herbert’s dreams and preach his message with fervency, but they were also haunted by his main fear: that of having loyal, tithe-paying church members-in whom they had invested time and money-leave the church over doctrines or follow some other religious leader or a disaffected member.

As AC and the local churches fathered by Herbert grew, the WCG leaders realized that they must never allow questioning of the church’s basic doctrines and policies or criticism of the Armstrongs and the ministry, lest the church be split into small warring factions, as had happened several times in the early history of Herbert’s church. Thus they attempted to cow the members into submission to their authority with intimidating statements that went something like: “To doubt is to be damned”; “Questioning doctrines is of the Devil”; “If you don’t obey God’s true servants and his apostle Herbert Armstrong, you will eventually be thrown into hell fire and burned up for all eternity!”

Still the WCG leadership realized that all members couldn’t be intimidated by words. The leadership sensed it had to also possess the ability to detect and take effective action against any who dared threaten the corporate entity. So, feeling a need to preserve Herbert’s church at all costs-but lacking a basic appreciation of their fellow man-the WCG leaders initiated a variety of malignant spying practices throughout the church and Ambassador College to insure that they would keep absolute control of the lives and minds of the AC students, faculty members, and church members. These methods, without exception, work at cross purposes with man’s inalienable rights while showing little love for those unsuspecting people subjected to them.

Keeping Tabs on Fellow Students. When new students first set foot on the campus of Ambassador College-called “God’s College”-they were embarking on an experience that was destined to change their beliefs, their values, and even their appearance. They were to be made over in the Armstrong image. The 1968-69 Student Handbook, describes what AC intended to do to the student:

“You are about to embark upon a most important phase of your life. At Ambassador College you will become conditioned for a new profession and a new social behavior to correspond to that profession” (p. 11, emphasis ours).

The WCG leaders weren’t kidding when they wrote about reconditioning each student. The college officials in the 1950s and 60s took it upon themselves to manage every aspect of a student’s life. They told Joe and Jane Student when to get up in the morning, how to make their beds, how long to pray, how to dress, whom they could date, how many times per year they could date an individual, which social functions they must attend, and when to go to bed. College officials did their level best to get to know each and every student: what was going on in each student’s mind, what his deepest problems and hangups were, his past sex problems, etc.

But the college administrators didn’t stop with this. They went so far as to encourage AC students and employees to spy and report on each other, especially if someone deviated even slightly from the strict policies of the WCG, which controls AC. They also appointed dormitory monitors to keep a watchful eye on the students. The monitors filled out and submitted special cards to the dean’s office on students’ attitudes, social life, prayer habits, spiritual condition, and study habits. The Student Handbook (1968-69) discussed a monitor’s responsibilities:

“Each dormitory is staffed with a House Monitor, a Monitor for each floor or apartment, and assistants in each room…. These students are dedicated to the ideals of the college and to serving you…. It is your responsibility as a Monitor to get to know ALL the students; to help and encourage them insofar as you are qualified, and be able to refer them to the proper channel for guidance; to see that the students are obeying college rules… to write a weekly report which is due at the Dean of Students’ Office at 8:00 A.M. every Monday; to check sign out cards and record violations; to turn in special monitor reports on individuals who have significant problems or who have made special progress. (p. 52).

AC administrators required female students to sign out and sign in when they left their dorm and returned. They had to list their destination and the name of their male escort. The administration publicly claimed these cards were filled out only so a student could be found in case of an emergency. Yet the cards were eventually turned in to the dean’s office for evaluation, enabling the college to keep tabs on who dated who and how often. If a student insisted on ignoring AC’s dating rules, he could be dismissed for displaying a “bad attitude” and for failing to obey God’s “servants.”

College students and employees, as well as WCG members, were encouraged in college forums and assemblies to divulge their deepest problems to WCG ministers, who often doubled as AC administrators. Those who didn’t get the hint to voluntarily become a “known quantity” to the administration were sometimes called in, often because other students had reported them for such “sins” as listening to rock music, holding hands with the opposite sex, sleeping too late, not dating enough, or perhaps for not attending Friday night Bible study at the college.

When students counseled for baptism, they were encouraged-often by two ministers at a time-to reveal their innermost sins or problems to the ministry. Hesitancy to reveal everything (headquarters ministers often already had copies of local ministers’ “visit cards” loaded with information on the individual) was invariably met with a psychological assault against the individual’s personality. The attack always focused on the individual’s declared or undeclared “vanity,” and information already in the files was introduced in a roundabout manner so as to make the minister appear almost omniscient. The student quickly became a “known quantity” to the administration. Facts gleaned in these counseling sessions were committed to memory and often reduced to writing, only to emerge again in “manpower meetings.”

AC’s Manpower Committee. As the student body burgeoned, it became tougher for the college directors to get to know each student. So a “manpower committee” was instituted in 1961 to discuss graduating students’ merits and demerits to enable the AC/WCG leaders to decide whom to employ. These meetings allowed 15 to 30 college faculty members and department heads to assemble and discuss intimate, confidential material that each one of them had garnered on individual students from counseling sessions, dorm reports, etc. Often the characteristics that seemed to carry the most weight were a person’s dating habits, nationality, physique, past emotional or sexual problems, or the “spiritual” condition of his family. (Be sure to read “The Manpower Papers.”)

What was said about a student in manpower meetings often determined whether or not he would be hired by the WCG or AC. Many a student was denied the job he had his heart set on because of certain evidence that was uncovered from his past life and discussed in these meetings. In the late 1960s, however, those who survived the close scrutiny of the manpower committee had to face yet another test.

Lie Detector Tests. In late 1968 some money and a few other items were stolen from AC’s men’s dormitories. The following week, in a sermon and later in a student assembly, Herbert Armstrong sternly commanded the guilty party to step forward, pronouncing a curse on any guilty person who didn’t. Not a soul dared.

Obviously infuriated that no one would confess, Herbert Armstrong authorized administering a lie detector test to all of AC’s male students. An AC graduate recounted his gruesome experience:

“Each student was notified when to come over to the second floor of what is now the Library Annex for his examination. One day I received a note in my mailbox informing me I had to take the exam the following day at 3 p.m. The thought went racing through my mind: ‘If I flunk the test, I’ll be kicked out of God’s college, and I’m innocent. Psychologists say the lie detector test is accurate only 85% to 90% of the time. What if it is wrong and says I’m guilty?’ I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind, but I was still nervous. At last 3 p.m. arrived, and I stepped into the building on time-anxious to get it over with. Because the testing was behind schedule, however, I had to wait another 30 minutes, and I sweated every minute of it.

“Finally a security guard summoned me into the examination room. I was seated in a chair and had devices attached to me. I felt like I was being put into the electric chair to be executed. I was asked a set of questions over and over for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, it was over. Still shaken, I went back to my dorm thanking God that the machine had told the truth. This was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. It was as though I was guilty until proven innocent.”

Unfortunately, some were never proven innocent. One barrel-chested weightlifter type failed the polygraph exam three times. This person did not fail because he was lying or because he had stolen anything. He failed because he had extremely high blood pressure, and the trauma of the test only exacerbated his bona fide medical condition. Nonetheless, he was never given a position of “responsible” employment by the church or college, in spite of the fact that he had given many thousands of dollars in tithes and offerings. Extreme as this abuse may sound, another individual was actually expelled from college after taking the lie detector test. Notice what was written about him in the “manpower notes” taken at manpower meetings:

“He was recently given a lie detector’s test which shows him to be a liar and a thief, but since the test is not infallible, and he staunchly maintains his innocence, we cannot be sure that he is a thief and liar. The lie detector only records conscious thought, however, and he was grilled for more than eight hours…” (vol. III, p. 68, emphasis ours).

Shortly after his dismissal from the WCG and AC, the former Dean of Students (who presided over the 1968-69 polygraph period) related that hidden cameras were employed during this time. He mentioned that video tape equipment caught students smoking cigarettes and even masturbating. Two-way mirrors were utilized at the institution to catch students “stealing” milk and beer. Special identifying dyes that would not show up on one’s hands until a few minutes after contact with the object that was coated with the dye were also used in student surveillance.

Keeping Tabs on Church Members. The WCG officials applied their “big brother” tactics not only at AC but also in their churches worldwide via Ambassador College trained ministers inculcated with a dorm-monitor mentality. Ministers were instructed, primarily by Rod Meredith, to visit each and every church member regularly and check up on their “spiritual” condition and their family lives. David Jon Hill, in a visiting program meeting on Dec. 16, 1962, explained how a minister should prepare to visit a WCG member:

“Plan the procedure of your visit before you arrive at your destination. Discuss with your second man a little of the background-what you know about the problems of the household, etc.”

Following a visit with a member or prospective member, the minister was required to fill out a “visit card” on each household or person he visited and mail it to AC in Pasadena for filing. Rod Meredith went so far as to tell prospective ministerial trainees in a 1970 speech class that they should never visit a member and then go to their car and fill out a visit card on the member in front of his home, but rather they should drive out of sight around the comer before filling out the card. Notice Meredith’s explicit instructions to ministers regarding how to report a visit:

“Enclosed is a supply of the new Visiting Cards…. Ideally, the cards should be filled out immediately after the visit in your car. Perhaps down the street and around the corner…. Think carefully and describe the highlights of the visit, the problems and attitudes…. If deep problems and complications arise, you may wish to type an additional ‘Problem Report’ on any one person or family occasionally…. Normally two carbons of these should be made and sent to Headquarters- one for us and one for the District Superintendent…” (ministerial letter, 12/24/65, pp. 2-3).

Surprisingly, the normally staid, placid WCG membership became extremely irritated by constant ministerial “pry and spy” visits. The visits raised such a furor that a four-page article by Garner Ted Armstrong was written to all members rebuking-you guessed it-the members for their attitudes, not the ministry. The article, titled “The Visiting Program… or Gestapo… Which?” opened with the question, “Are Christ’s servants on the Visiting Program brethren, or spies? Are they sent to ‘check up’ on you, to ‘watch’ you-or to serve and help you?” (The Good News, May 1964, p. 3.) Garner Ted admitted that some families would not answer the door when WCG ministers dropped by and others were “secretive with the men on the Visiting Program.” He confessed that disrespect for the visiting program was a “serious problem” and asked the members what they had to hide-all but implying that the ministers were indeed searching for something.

Deacons Spied Too. The AC graduates that became ordained WCG ministers took the “watchdog” attitude that permeated AC with them into local churches all over the world. They bequeathed this heinous “watch your brother” system to the deacons under them. One New Jersey deacon, a long-time WCG member, explained how deacons were used for spying:

“A few years after becoming a member of the Worldwide Church of God I was ordained a deacon. At the time I thought it was about the greatest event of my life, but sad to say I found out in later years that it only drove me deeper into a very misguided and somewhat corrupt organization.

“…Shortly after my ordination I was informally told by my minister and some of the local elders that part of my responsibility was to keep them informed about the behavior of the members that I came in contact with. My minister directly told me that I and other deacons were his eyes and ears since he could not possibly keep in contact with all of his people all of the time.

“Some of the things we were to watch out for were bad attitudes, lack of study and prayer, not keeping the Sabbath or for that matter any disagreement with Worldwide Church policies or doctrines. One of the worst offenses anyone could commit was to bad-mouth a minister or anyone in authority, especially Herbert W. or Garner Ted Armstrong.

“Many of the local elders and deacons would carry a notebook and jot down anything they saw that was not in accordance with WCG teachings. This information was then passed on to the minister for his evaluation and action.

“My wife was also told by a local elder that as a deacon’s wife she also should circulate about the congregation and if per chance anything was picked up along these lines to let her husband know about it…

“With the information that I gathered and passed on via telephone or verbally, I myself caused many a visit to be paid on members by a minister or local elder… As you no doubt know, attendance of members at services was checked each week by us, and if some were delinquent too often, a visit was made by a minister….

“It was not uncommon for a husband or wife to turn his or her spouse in for some infringement of church policy or doctrine, and if the crime was bad enough, a visit from a Minister would follow….

“I was guilty of many of the things mentioned, and I can only say that I look back in disgust and regret to what I had allowed myself and family to become. I only hope that those I affected will forgive me even if they don’t know I prayerfully asked for forgiveness….”

The Spying Methods Change. In the early 1970s, to save money, the WCG ministry was instructed to visit people only if they requested it. Garner Ted Armstrong discontinued the manpower meetings because ” ‘the manpower’ committee meetings have become more and more a waste of time for the majority of those attending, and only partially useful in practical placement of personnel.” He explained that “it will be no handicap whatever for various departments to obtain useful information about prospective employees….” Garner Ted also announced that he had had the Dean’s extensive file of student dorm report cards burned, and he banned the dorm report-card system. In addition he threw the AC coeds a sop when he stated that a woman didn’t have to report who her male escort was on the dorm sign-out cards.

Just when the casual AC observer began to think AC’s nosy, “I am my brother’s keeper whether he likes it or not” attitude was mellowing, the AC directors, unknown to outsiders, were already busily utilizing new, more sophisticated methods of monitoring the behavior of their unsuspecting students and brethren.

Tithe Checks. In early 1968 Rod Meredith toured AC’s new data processing center. Discovering to his pleasant surprise that the computer listed every contribution donated by an individual, he ordered Dan Porter from that day forward to check the tithe and donation records of all prospective ministers and of all ministers due to be elevated in rank. The ministry was notified of this new policy in a March 1, 1968, ministerial letter from Rod Meredith.

AC’s computer soon proved to be everyone’s favorite new toy. Though it didn’t address the ministers with the “Mister” they were accustomed to, it gave them something the holy spirit never did-insight into the real attitudes of the “dumb sheep” (HWA’s term for the WCG members) that they “watched” over.

As time passed, the ministry consulted their new-found crystal ball more and more frequently. The tithing records of whole church areas were subsequently checked via the computer.

Curtailment of Freedom of Speech and Religion at AC. Freedom of speech and religion has always been restricted at AC. While a student can belong to another church, he is quickly reported by the “system” if he discusses personal beliefs that differ with those of the WCG. Some have even been kicked out of college for talking too frequently about their beliefs.

In late 1973 and early 1974, college officials and members actively spied on the private lives of AC employees and WCG members. One official memorandum (document AR-147) reported that “on Sunday cars with Ambassador College parking stickers were seen parked at Dr. Martin’s [a former AC faculty member] home.” Then the memo stated the name of one person whose car was parked there. The memorandum also stated that “films were taken by a member in San Marino… of people entering [the] YMCA [for a religious meeting]. We should be getting duplicates of film later on.”

In mid-1974, Jim Reed, a member of AC’s data processing department, went to a religious meeting not sanctioned by AC. Spies reported it, and the next day he discovered a note attached to his apartment door. The note was from his supervisor, telling him not to bother reporting for work the next day. Several other AC employees and students were dismissed for religious beliefs they espoused or for attending non-WCG religious meetings. Numerous affidavits to this effect are currently on file with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco and can be summoned under the Freedom of Information Act by interested parties.

An affidavit on file with the General Services Administration in San Francisco (dated May 12, 1976) delineates an eyewitness account verifying spying by church officials:

“It was then that… a ‘close aide’ of Garner Ted Armstrong was dispatched with the knowledge and approval of G. T. Armstrong to see if I or any other AC employees were attending Dr. Martin’s lectures. On February 8, 1975… [the aide] parked his van across the street from the lecture hall. Then a photographer in the back went to work. He peaked out through curtains covering the side window, and began snapping picture after picture of those entering the lecture hall. My wife, young son, and I… passed directly in front of the camera. On other occasions, both before and after the above incident… [the aide] and various accomplices ‘staked out’ Dr. Martin’s lectures.”

Several AC/WCG employees and ministers even related to this writer that they strongly suspected their phones were being bugged. They have good reason to suspect it. According to the U.S. Attorney General’s office, “eavesdropping” on telephone conversations is not illegal, since it implies the consent of one of the parties of the conversation and/or the owner of the phone. Ambassador College, as registered owner of the institution’s pervasive Centrex system, has implied consent to eavesdrop on any conversation on any phone paid for by the college-and that includes all the Centrex phones in the homes of college and church executives. Technically this practice-if the college should choose to employ it-is beyond prosecution.

Ambassador Report has also discovered that both Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong have electronic eavesdropping devices in their fourth-floor office suites that enable them to secretly listen in on classroom lectures. More than one faculty member has been dismissed from the college under somewhat questionable rationale. The verification of such a listening device lends credence to the worst of suspicions.

The Ministerial Masters. Both the Armstrongs live their lives in continual danger-the danger of discovery. Any unplanned emergence of the truth about their personal lives and practices could severely cripple their capacity to generate more financial resources. They have never minimized the danger of this possibility and are continually on guard to protect their own manufactured facade, as well as their church’s. The fact that the Armstrongs and their hierarchy are accountable to individual members-who in many cases have given their life’s savings to the church-is viciously contested and constantly downplayed by the Worldwide Church of God, Inc. There is, however, little danger that the members would attempt to expose their shenanigans to the national press because members are basically unaware of how the church is run and what the personal lives of its leaders are like.

The Armstrongs do fear, though, that high-ranking executives who know “what’s going on” will quit in disgust and leak “negative information” to the press-as several have already done. Anticipating this eventuality, the Armstrongs have initiated executive spying.

The Spy Orders. Ambassador Report has in its possession documents that absolutely verify the use of covert spying by members of the WCG administration against other top executives of that same organization. The first paragraph of one such document, AR-531, makes it clear that Garner Ted personally ordered the probing:

“Mr. GTA asked me to inquire of ministers attending the Cincinnati campaign concerning the recent regional meetings held in Cincinnati and Richmond. The following is the result…. The meetings were conducted by David Antion and Ed Smith… Several said they felt that there was a ‘powerful spirit’ working in the meetings. The following statements are reported to have been made by DAVID L. ANTION during the meetings on Monday, February 25: 1. The church governmental structure is all wrong….”

The informant went on to note telephone calls, classify the nature of these calls, and even the manner in which information was introduced in the meetings, carefully detailing inferences, implications, and emotional content. The report went on to monitor another meeting, noting and recording the names of those present and the length of the meeting. The report was terminated after a similar analysis of a third meeting.

A second report that was given to our staff, AR-313, is in the handwriting of a ranking executive/evangelist of the WCG. The executive recorded a large amount of defamatory information on a fellow evangelist in the church and submitted it personally to Herbert Armstrong. It begins:

“Dear Mr. Armstrong,

“X and others have recently brought to my attention certain information (facts) which is of such a nature that it must be brought to your and Mr. Ted Armstrong’s immediate attention…. we would be derelict in our duty if we didn’t inform you of the material in this report without further delay….”

The exhaustive, 19-page report claimed to present “incriminating” quotes from the mouth of a certain disliked evangelist and included testimony of over two dozen other executives. Every single one of the statements was levied against this minister behind his back! (Which scripture in the Bible justifies this treacherous treatment? Is this the way Christ intended his ministers to behave toward one another?) Almost no attempt was made to establish the context of the evangelist’s purported statements. Not only was the report biased, but the man was not given a chance to answer the charges against him-or even told that charges against him existed. The report even described his affection toward his children in a negative tone. It went on to accuse him of assaulting an individual at a sports event and in general took every opportunity to attack the man’s motives for certain internal judgments he had made on his job.

In promoting surreptitious monitoring of its executives, the institution is behaving like a shark that turns on its tail and begins to devour itself.

Thousands of loyal members have been forced out of the church by the suffocating Armstrong belief that God gave them the sole right to supervise and limit the flow of ideas into the minds of their members. The Armstrongs have on many occasions censored the views their students and members can be exposed to-especially concerning Bible doctrines. They feel they should choose the persons or groups their followers should associate with. In doing this they do not present themselves as the servants they purport to be (“minister” means “servant” in the New Testament). Instead they present themselves as ministerial masters. Anyone who opposes or differs with them is said to be against God and for Satan, and immediately the organization moves to rid itself of that individual-no matter how much he has given to the organization in time, service, and money. Such individuals are expendable pawns in a chess game to be used or sacrificed according to the Armstrongs’ whims.

The Armstrongs have played the corporate game well, succeeding where most fail. In fact, there has been nothing in the confines of organized religion they have been unable to accomplish-so long as they were not asked to love their fellow man. In that respect, however, they have failed miserably.

It’s a disgrace that the Armstrongs and certain leaders in the WCG have passed themselves off as God’s humble servants and preached about loyalty, love, and service while they were engaged in spying on church members, monitoring their lives, prying into their secret sins, and gossiping about, recording, and filing juicy tidbits they uncovered.

The Worldwide Church of God would be a refreshingly different church if its leading ministers would adhere to one biblical statement they seem to forget while spying on their employees and members: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Galatians 5:14). But those who ignore that verse had better heed the following one: “But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.”


How Herbert W. Armstrong bought his "Professorship" from USC

Here are two letters that will explain how Herbert W. Armstrong bought his professorship from USC with a grant to their Law Center. Even after finding out what a character this guy was, USC didn’t care. They just wanted that money.



June 13, 1983
The President and
The Board of Trustees
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The April 18th issue of The Worldwide News, official organ of Herbert Armstrong and his Worldwide Church, has extensive coverage of the March 31st ceremonies at USC announcing the new Herbert W. Armstrong Professorship of Constitutional Law. There is a picture of you, President Zumberge, together with Herbert Armstrong. There are three paragraphs of quotes from your speech which lauded Armstrong in the customary manner of those who receive huge sums of money from his treasury. But I am wondering, ladies and gentlemen, if you were fully informed of Herbert Armstrong’s history before concluding negotiations for the honor you have conferred upon him.

I know nothing of the others for whom professorships have been named in the past. But assuming they are honorable people, I do wonder if you have been fair to them to associate Herbert Armstrong with them in such a manner. The burden of this name and its association, I expect, will become heavier and heavier to bear.

Herbert Armstrong has been remarkably clever at erecting a beautiful facade, but behind that false front lies a very ugly reality. For instance, his well-publicized court case, which broke into the news in 1979, was never settled in the courts. Rather, Armstrong sought and obtained passage of a bill in the California legislature which emasculated the laws operating against him. He obtained a political solution to a legal matter. Is this consistent with the principles of constitutional law? And while he was advocating strict observance of the principles of the First Amendment in California, he took the exact opposite position in Tulsa, Oklahoma in another highly publicized case. Here, Armstrong tried with his might to muzzle the press to prevent publishing of important facts about himself. He had his lawyers go all out to stop publication of the book, “Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web”, even to using prior restraint! This move failed, but not for lack of money or effort on his part.

Herbert Armstrong is known to many as a man who is a law unto himself. Supporting evidence is include with this letter. It seems to many of us who know him best, and I know what I am talking about after thirty years with this “whited sepulcher,” that Armstrong and constitutional law mix about as well as oil and water. He is for such law as long as that law does not get in his way. But when it does, it is the law which must give way-not Herbert Armstrong.

Further evidence of the nature of this man is the designation he assigns to universities such as your own when he speaks to his followers. To them, he explains that all schools, except his own little college in Pasadena, are instruments of Satan the Devil, and are of this present evil world. (One can but wonder, if he believes what he preaches, why he would want to be memorialized in your institution. To him the Catholic Church is the prime instrument of Satan, and others, such as the Methodist Church, are daughters of Rome and slated for utter destruction when the wrath of God falls. He hold out the same fate for the United States Constitution, and our whole nation. As a mater of fact, he prophesied during World War II that Hitler would win, and conquer Britain and America. He preached this doctrine until the war was almost over. One can but wonder how many additional lives were lost in our war effort because of this poison injected into the minds of thousands.

It is because of fear inducing doctrines he teaches that people send him over a hundred million dollars a year. Thousands of his faithful are people are poorly positioned in life-pensioners, widows, and the underemployed. He teaches that without paying him their money they will be denied the hereafter, and as a result, money flows to him in a torrent. He calls this “God’s money.”

I do not know how strong your school of medicine is at USC, but it might be worth knowing that Herbert Armstrong has taught his followers for many years that use of medicine is totally wrong, and is a trick of the devil to destroy men’s faith in God and his healing. Many people have suffered and died in his church in an attempt to follow his ideas in this matter. Might there not be a dichotomy her as well? I personally have seen some of those people needlessly die under the most awful conditions.

Another of the messy loose ends in the Armstrong organization is his teaching to his followers that they must be prepared to leave the country en masse at a signal from him. The destination is a desert region called Petra in the southwestern corner of the kingdom of Jordan, where they are to await the return of Christ. Thousands of his followers are to this very day anxiously awaiting his signal for the exodus. He even encourages his most ardent ministers to proclaim him The Apostle, Moses, Elijah, Zerubabbel, John the Baptist, and the principal of the two witnesses of Revelation, all rolled into one. Also, his ministers have been encouraged to preach that he will never die, even though he is 90-years old (yet if appearance counts, he ages as do other men). While we are living in an era when moral turpitude seems to be a phrase from the past, nevertheless, Herbert Armstrong’s conduct in this area is legendary. Included in the legend is even a ten-year incestuous relationship with his youngest daughter.

Armstrong himself is wont to say, “Where there is so much smoke, there has to be some fire.” The truth is that a bonfire is raging. After he is gone, who is going to continue the defense of his name? Will it be those now surrounding him who have all suffered many indignities at his hand? Will they do as the successors of Stalin did when their feared and hated leader died: revile him before the world? What then of your Herbert W. Armstrong Professorship?


David Robinson




University of Southern California

Office of the Dean
Mr. David Robinson
9006 South Hudson
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74155
June 24, 1983

Dear Mr. Robinson,

President Zumberge has asked me to respond to your letter of June 13, 1983, concerning the Armstrong Professorship.

As you know, the professorship was established by a grant from the Ambassador Foundation to the Law Center. At the Foundation’s request, the professorship was named for the Chairman and Founder of the Foundation. It is customary to name professorships for the institution or persons who provide the funds to establish the professorship’s endowment.

Mr. Armstrong’s career, like the careers of many other noteworthy person, has of course not been free from controversy. We take the occasion of the establishment of a professorship to mark the undeniable contributions of the person for whom the chair is named. Mr. Armstrong is a recognized religious leader and philanthropist.


Scott H. Bice, Dean


Fire When Ready – RCG Waters Down the Sabbath!

We’ve all seen our share of imaginative proof-texting: part of a verse quoted, a passage taken out of context, a meaning dependent on a particular translation… So, it would be no surprise to see a verse pushed forward into a different context. As HWA used to claim, the Bible is a puzzle. The problem is that too many pieces fit together the wrong way, and someone threw away the box with the completed picture on it.

In the anonymous RCG article, How to Make the Sabbath a Delight, there are a few points that may be challenged, but I’d like to look at just one. Specifically, its interpretation of Ex. 35:3, “Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings (NIV)”. This verse follows a command not to work on the Sabbath; following this verse is a request for an offering of materials to build the Tabernacle. After that, everyone goes off to search their stuff for things to donate.

Referring to the zeal shown by Israel in offering materials, the writer of the article tells us it becomes clear that the verse quoted refers to “industrial fires”. So on the Sabbath, in your house, you can light a candle, light up the barbecue, but don’t fire up your backyard Bessemer convertor. (That may have been a big problem for Sabbath-keepers in China in the 1950s during the Great Leap Forward Backward.)

Since the verse doesn’t mention cooking, the article states that cooking on the Sabbath is okay (but the preparation work should have been done on Friday). In my WCG days, I remember old-timers saying how there used to be sermons on food preparation so that no cooking would necessary on the Sabbath.

If only it was so obvious for observant Jews. The first recorded stoning for Sabbath violation (Num. 15) was for gathering wood (Moffatt “wood for fuel”) and Jewish commentators presume it was intended for kindling a fire. For the traditional two candles lit before the Sabbath, I recall reading that they must be lit at least 18 minutes before sunset. There are discussions in the Talmud on such issues as raking fires that were still burning after sunset, and warming up food that was cooked before the Sabbath. Modern Orthodox Jews have disagreed over such matters as turning on an electric light: is flipping the switch “work” and is lighting the bulb the same as kindling a fire? And can one reheat food in a microwave oven? I guess they didn’t work it out that the verse referred to industrial fires.

It would have been simpler if the article just said not to light a match or lighter – a Biblical reason not to smoke on the Sabbath! As much as I have come to dislike the expression “watering down”, I would say that is what the writer is doing to the Sabbath! Maybe that is why the article is anonymous… As HWA would say, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Holding fast…

A few times I’ve heard and read GTA making fun of Ramadan, the lunar month during which observant Muslims fast during the day. The humor he used to diminish their daylight abstinence was his imagining a nighttime feeding frenzy following the fast.

Ramadan 2013 starts on July 9, during the Hebrew month of Av. Unlike he Hebrew lunar calendar, the Muslim lunar calendar continually cycles 12 lunar months, and is not tied to the agricultural seasons.

While doing some research through the Talmud, I found that most Biblical fasts, according to Jewish sages, are daytime-only. Not all were the full “even until even” as the fast on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). In fact, Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av, a fast to mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples) were considered the only “sunset until nightfall (of the following day)” fasts; other fast days were considered to be “before dawn until nightfall”. So along with the fast days during Ramadan, Biblical “ordinary” fast days are also only during daylight hours.

In one sermon, GTA was on a roll about Pharisaic legalism. Commenting on the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who fasted twice each week, GTA remarked that it probably meant skipping a couple of meals and eating at sunset, “like Ramadan.”  Although the remark related to a parable, Pharisees normally did fast twice each week, on Mondays and Thursdays. The Didache (“Teaching of the Apostles”, ca 100 CE) instructed Christians to be different and fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. These “ordinary” fasts would have been daytime only.

Another small point: I seem to remember reading in a WCG publication many years ago that “a fast day can’t occur on a feast day” so the Day of Atonement can’t fall on the weekly Sabbath, as it is considered a feast day. However, Jewish sources say the Day of Atonement was the only fast permitted to be on the Sabbath. Other fixed fast days (such as Tisha B’Av) had to be moved to another day of the week. Personal fasting on the Sabbath, festivals, and Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a lunar month) was also prohibited. There were, however, rare exceptions when fasting on Sabbath was allowed, if the need was urgent. As we know, COGs occasionally have urgent exceptions – The Work facing crises, attacks by Satan, …