I Finally Left The Armstrong Cult

The following blog is by Ron Rubottom, a former Armstrongist and editor of the now defunct website “plaintruth.info”


Putting Armstrongism Away.

I am a former wwcg member from approx. 1985 to the nineties. (not exactly sure as confusion seemed to cloud my mind after the death of HWA. My experience is a bit different from many of you that grew up in the church or spent many years there. I should say that I appreciate the work you are doing. It is painful for me to see the allegations about HWA on your site, but even though today is the first inkling I have ever had of much of this, I can see that it is most likely accurate. I had already figured out on my own that he was deluded on certain subjects and greatly enjoyed the prestige and high life of his office but blamed others in my mind for encouraging his human nature. (Those like Gerald Waterhouse with his wild eyed predictions and numerology nonsense and carrying on about the prophetic significance of everything Armstrong) But, until today I did not think that he had consciously deceived us. A sad day.

I, unlike many of the victims testifying here, was raised SDA. In that cult we were taught that their prophetess,  Ellen G White, received direct revelations from God. She wrote 65 books and I grew up in Takoma Park, MD (world headquarters for the adventists) and my father (a second generation SDA) was a florist with his flower shop directly across the street from the Takoma Park SDA church AND directly across the street from the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (world headquarters) AND directly across the street from the Review and Herald publishing company. The world headquarters publishing company of the SDA’s.

I grew up in that flower shop. It had a huge Hallmark card section which brought in all the SDA employees and executives on a regular basis. I was well known and knew many of the leaders of the church. I placed the flowers in front of the podium every Sabbath morning. My dad taught Sabbath school. I was baptized several times. I sang solos in front of hundreds. I attended SDA schools and studied the bible and Ellen White daily. I took it all quite seriously. I read most of EG Whites books and believed all they said. My family and I sat front and center in the Takoma Park church every Sabbath.

I was an intellectual child in spite of my devotion to the “truth”. The sermons were usually incredibly boring and all I had to read were the church hymnal and the Bible. After wearing out the hymnal to escape the boredom I began reading the old testament. The kings and such historical parts were pretty boring to me and the psalms didn’t do anything for me and then I discovered Solomon’s writings. I read about how Solomon choose wisdom and understanding over all else, when offered anything he desired, and was thrilled by that. In my childish innocence, I was about twelve, I bowed my head right there and prayed for the same things. Whether or not there is a God or if he answers prayers, this is a powerful thing.

After that I began reading Isaiah and other latter prophets and trying to figure out what in the world they were talking about! In SDA doctrine we never heard anything about a peaceful world, only heaven and lakes of fire. I began questioning ministers in the church and because of my family’s position I was able to question the higher up’s and talk to Ellen White’s heirs and others the average member did not have access to. I was given the usual double speak and told the the unconditional promises of the old testament and the prophecies of a peaceful just world were the “way it would have been if Israel had obeyed God.” They had convinced me that the Bible was God’s word so they laid the groundwork for my rejection of the church. Eventually the “White Lie” came out. (The facts the Ellen White copied much or all of her writings from earlier protestant writers, how easy it was to get away with before the internet!)

I was through, and extremely angry. I was really pissed off for years, but had not lost my faith in the Bible as the word of God so was easy pickings for WWCG. When I first heard HWA in the 80’s I had to drive to the top of a mountain in WV where I was living to get the station clearly. The reason I did was because what he was saying finally made sense of all the things I had read in Isaiah and elsewhere and never could make any sense of. JW’s were too weird so I couldn’t get it from them. HWA made sense of it and I determined to disprove him because of the deception I had experienced with EG White. I read every scripture he quoted and the context on either side of it to disprove what he was teaching and found that he was teaching scripturally sound doctrine. (I was used to total inexplicable fantasies like most protestant religions use).

The more I tried to prove him wrong, the more I proved him scripturally correct. I was hooked, line and sinker. I dragged my family along and joined the church. Gave them a lot of money just like the rest of you. I am now divorced and I can’t say it is the fault of the church but I am not sure. Our life was significantly altered and it is possible that the church life prevented us from developing a healthy relationship. I generally blame myself but don’t we all, and not necessarily correctly. I guess I am rambling on but it is such a relief to find a group of folks that have some similar experiences.

For years I have wanted to get in touch with former members that were with us through all that but could not find them as I had moved away and left the church. Couldn’t help but wonder what their thoughts and experiences were since the dissolution of the church, the Joseph T debacle and all. Didn’t even know about all this HWA stuff but it makes sense now in retrospect. I have read most every page on your site today and I have noticed that there are multiple “moderators” and some seem to be atheistic or at least agnostic, while others seem to be somewhat still open to scripture being possibly authentic.

I admire the attitude of all here and cannot begin to understand what some of you experienced in the old days before standards were somewhat relaxed as they were in my time in the church. I do have a clue though. Because of all that I have been through I have been compelled to write out my thoughts and beliefs and to publish them online in the delusional imagination that I understood all as I prayed for at 12. I had a site called the plain truth.info for a few years. This exercise taught me a lot and writing out your thoughts and beliefs is a great way to examine your beliefs as I found myself constantly having to correct myself.

To me the conclusions that I derived from this several year exercise has been helpful and comforting. I don’t know if it would be of any interest or profit to anyone but it has been to me and so I include it here just in case.

I could not let go of the belief that the Scripture was inspired, (a teaching I received in the SDA church that led me to leave it) only that I had been fooled again. In the WWCG I had finally been able to understand all the things that drove me crazy in the SDA in the “inspired” word. I realized that HWA was somewhat deceived and that the WWCG was not the “TRUE CHURCH.” I did not, of course know the rest of the story. After Joe Tkach I left in disgust. It’s funny, the teachings of the SDA’s caused me to disbelieve them, AND the teachings of HWA caused me to disbelieve him too.

In my analysis on my plain truth site I first reasoned that belief systems were choices that serve us or not and that none of them are provable. Creationist, atheist, or whatever is you choose, you can’t prove it’s true. It’s just your choice and as an automatic side effect of your choice you MUST discredit/disprove (to your satisfaction) opposing views. I chose the belief that was hammered into me, that scripture was inspired BUT, I had actually been thinking for myself for some time and came to a different view than I have seen expressed anywhere else.

1. “Scripture” means the Hebrew “old testament”. That was what Christ said could not be broken.

2. The “new testament” was canonized by the Catholic church but has been accepted as “the word of God” by virtually all groups, even those (such as the WWCG) that see the Catholic church as the Great Whore. It seems that it never crosses anyone’s mind to question the validity of this document and every word, especially Paul’s, is given reverence as God’s utterances. This is plainly naive.

At best, if we can trust that the works are genuine, the four “gospels” are not “scripture” they are eyewitness accounts and hearsay of the life and acts of Christ as recalled by his companions/disciples. Then we have Acts, purportedly written by Mark which is just a documentary of events. After that until Revelation, we have the “epistles” which are personal letters from the apostles to churches with their advice, admonitions, and sometimes personal opinions and specific instructions or advice to individuals and groups. I can’t imagine that when they wrote these letters to their congregations that they envisioned this “Christianity” that has evolved placing their correspondence on the same level as the prophets of old, and calling it “the word of God”

Then finally comes “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” purported to be dictated to and written down by the beloved apostle John. If we can believe that this is genuine it would be the only part of the “new testament” that qualified as “scripture” as it would be the only part that was received in the manner that we are told the prophets of old did. i.e. a direct dictation session from God, which is the premise that we are asked to accept from the old testament scriptures. Ok, sorry going tangent.

3.I/we learned in wwcg the Biblically correct teaching that Christ hid the truth from the masses. (“why do you speak to them in parables”….”because to you it is given to know the secrets of the KOG but to them it is not given…) so we knew that according to what we believed that evangelism was not Christ’s agenda. There is no need to convince or convert anyone as God’s “church” is just a group chosen to serve mankind in the age to come. So, no pressure I reason. It makes no difference what anyone believes and there is no reason for a church that recruits members and solicits money from them for what?

My conclusions include that all of Christianity is false BS and that God if he exists has no religion and that religion is the curse of the earth and that one possible explanation for our existence is the plan outlined in the Scriptures. It would be the obvious conclusion that I choose that belief because I was taught it as a child. I have rejected much of what I was taught as a child. I think that the reason I hold to this choice of beliefs is because it makes sense that God is creating a family and that the only way he could do it was by allowing, or actually causing, us to experience the consequences of living in a selfish, non-loving world and seeing the horror of living outside of God’s law of love.

I know it’s sophomoric but as Christ pointed out the whole law can be summed up in two commands, love God and love your brother. We don’t need any commandments if we love. Thanks Beatles. When money and power come into the picture is when all people, who are basically good, run a-muck. The love of money and power has consumed so many. (money is power) HWA loved his power and prestige it seems. You always hear (when people visit some third world country where the population is dirt poor) “the people were so sweet and kind and beautiful! I never in my life met such kind, good people. Yes, because they have no access to the “root of all evil” (oh no, I just quoted PAUL!

Thanks for your work and patience.

Ron Rubottom

Why I Hate Religion.

“Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” by spoken-word artist Jefferson Bethke has received more than 10.2 million YouTube views as of Saturday night since it was posted just four days ago, eliciting more than 100,000 YouTube comments and plenty of debate elsewhere on the Internet.


From his YouTube page we read: “In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it‘s core Jesus’ gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can’t do your own list of rules and feel “not good enough” for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don’t represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God!”

Your thoughts?

Religion In America

The conservatives and neoconservatives are rushing to establish a connection between “God and Country”. While there have always been some who tried to do this, there is a more intense desire, it seems, to “prove” that this country was based on Christian principles, in spite of the statement of John Adams that:
“As the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion–as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion, or tranquility of Musselmen…”

There is yet the argument that somehow this government is directly founded on Christian principles. Madison, however, saw that in Christianity or in any religion, trying to govern by the “truth of God” was near impossible. As he wrote in “The Federalist”:

“When the Almighty himself condescends to address mankind in their own language, his meaning, luminous as it must be, is rendered dim and doubtful by the cloudy medium through which it is communicated”.

The problem lay in translation and interpretation, as Jefferson commented in a letter to a friend:

“Differences in opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of censor morum over each other”.

It is not that the founders especially believed in Christianity, or in any other religion, as a direct authority for government, but that they saw religion as an agent by which power could be equally divided in the name of conscience. This need to maintain a “balance of power” among factions in government became recognized as the “Madisonian problem” as Madison agonized over in “Federalist #10”:

“The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular states, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other states: a religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it, must secure the national councils against any danger from that source: a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project”.

We can conclude that Madison certainly never intended for any religion to represent the elimination of property rights. In fact, we can see from both Madison and Jefferson that both men intended that no “national council” could ever seek to overturn the property rights of people in the several states.

The “separation of church and state” which many claim is represented in the First Amendment, designed, according to Madison’s statement, to maintain property rights and discourage national power to override those rights. Both Madison and Jefferson were less involved with the ‘truth” of religion that with its ability to confound and separate people to the point they could not create “conflagrations” of power by using “paper money, abolition of debts, and for an equal division of property”, all of which we seem to have developed a taste for in recent times, not to mention the outright use of “paper money” with no Constitutional authorization.

The founders understood quite well that no person, especially themselves, had the knowledge or authority to speak for God, but they also intended that the government could, in no fashion, interfere with the free exercise of religion, not because they wished the government to be subject to God, but because they knew that no man could ever prove himself to be a representative of God.

As Madison wrote in the famous “Memorial And Remonstrance”:

“The religion then, of every man, must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate”.

While men may be subject to God, the state could never, in any sense, speak for God. None of the statements above show that the founders, in any way, intended for the state to claim power over any person’s conscience. They understood quite clearly that no belief in God could ever be reduced to state-endorsed rules.

While the right to worship God was permitted, it was intended as a counter-measure to the power of the state, but never to be subject to controls other than those chosen by the people themselves as individuals. More than the state, and less than the God in which they believed. Mankind, in the eyes of the founders, consisted of more than rules and laws. Mankind was made in the image of something which he could not define, but had the right to seek and desire.

"The Call"

I don’t think about my childhood much.  It’s not that it was particularly awful or that I suffered irreparable damage it’s just that it feels unimportant.  Almost as if it happened to another person or it was a movie I saw once but can’t quite remember the details.  It somehow does not connect to me anymore, does not inhabit my soul the way childhood does in others.

But I do reflect now and then, dredging up distant memories like faded photographs blurred and distorted with time and age but still recognizable if you look closely enough.  If you squint just right, adjust the light the image will begin to make sense and you will find yourself saying, “Ah, yes, I remember now. I had forgotten.”

Upon recent reflection into the question of spirituality and what that means to me I found myself looking at some of those distant memories.  I can see myself as a young girl, hair brushed and held securely with a barrette, my nicest dress ironed and immaculate, my white socks and patent leather shoes, everything in its proper place nothing allowed to be out of order. I was sitting in a hard metal folding chair with my notebook and bible waiting for our weekly pilgrimage to “God’s House” to get underway.  Two hours of religious instruction in “the way” about to begin.   The ritual of prayer, hymns, and dutiful note taking that was a part of my weekly duties as a good daughter.  This weekly preparation to save my soul from the sinful and dangerous environment in which I lived known to me as “the world” as if it was a separate state or distant and foreign land was somehow going to keep me safe from the devil “having his way with me” as my mother said making it sound so salacious and almost sexually exciting to a newly hormonal young lady.

I was a good student.  I accepted this teaching because it was expected and it was all there was.  One way~one God.  However it never moved me, never swept me up into a feeling of grace, never inspired or delivered me from heartache.  I was told the answers before I was ever allowed to ask the questions.  In fact even the questions were picked for me and those that didn’t fit into the churches dogma were quickly discarded forbidden to further discussion.  I did what I did, believed what I believed out of fear.  Fear of punishment, fear of abandonment, and fear of not pleasing this God that was a jealous and demanding God somehow displeased with the human nature he supposedly created in his infinite and infallible wisdom.  Forever paying the price for the sin of the first man and woman, a debt that Jesus paid but somehow I still carried on my account.  The sin of individual choice, thought, and desire.  It didn’t add up (perhaps why I have always hated mathematics) but I went with it all out of fear.

Until in my seventeenth year of life having been freed from the church going experience since the age of thirteen when I left my mother and moved in with my father I stumbled on a book in the library about the history of witches and paganism.  Being the bad ex-Christian I was at the time I stole this book, which later I lost never to be recovered–my first lesson in karma.  For the first time in my life the words I read caused a physical and emotional response that had no trace of fear.  There was only a feeling of peace as if lost in a foreign land I had suddenly stumbled on a map I could read and understand.  There was in fact a spiritual world that seemed to fit me.  Although I liked the idea of this particular spiritual path I didn’t start to seek any real training or learning until my mid twenties.  I found myself surrounded by other young people who were drawn to Wicca and paganism as I was, but I felt out of place.  These young people dressed in costume flirted with witchcraft but didn’t take it seriously.  They were like children playing dress up, reveling in shocking and disturbing the status quo with their outlandish and heathen behavior.  They were emotionally unstable, personally unreliable, and some even dangerously intrigued by the idea of wielding magic to gain power over others, involved in practices I found to be morally questionable.  I walked away from these people and their playacting disillusioned and disgusted.  If this was Wicca I wanted no part of it.

Don’t get me wrong I still considered myself a Pagan.  I wouldn’t be running back into the arms of Christianity any time soon, but finding no community in which to grow, learn, and practice with that I could trust or even consider real I simply stuck to the central guidelines and forgot about pursuing any deeper commitment to the craft.  I rarely performed any type of ritual, I did not continue my studies, and I avoided most so called witches like the plague being completely disinterested in any drama or Hollywood type practices.  Most of the people I came into contact with became interested in magic because of a movie they’d seen expecting to find a magical outlet that would gift them with some sort of power they could wield over others.  Hogwash.  There is no power to be had over another only the power to enrich and expand oneself.  Those who seek to control, influence, or even “help” others without their consent are in my mind very dangerous and misguided individuals.

For the next ten plus years I existed in spiritual limbo.  I battled (mostly unsuccessfully) my chronic depression, wore my anger and cynicism like a suit of armor, used my humor and indifference as my weapons of choice, and generally just drifted through my life without really ever showing up to the event.  I was deeply sad as if in a state of constant mourning.  I felt completely disconnected from others and myself.  In the distance beyond the fog and shadows in my brain I heard a faint call.  So faint I decided it must surely be my imagination.

god_blast

Imagine my surprise when the call began to get stronger, louder, and more insistent.  It was the same voice that spoke to me all those years ago at the tender age of seventeen.  The same invitation to leave my state of spiritual limbo and show up to life alive, in color, and present.  An invitation to come home only this time my Goddess sent me true guides in the shape of friends.  And so now approaching my fortieth year on this earth I resume a journey long ago abandoned, I exchange my armor of anger and cynicism for a warm cloak big enough to share with fellow travelers.  I keep my humor but turn in my indifference and select instead an open heart in which to house my many souvenirs, and set out to join the dance of life with childlike abandon and wonder, trusting that this time faith will sustain and inspire me instead of chain and punish me.  And I know I am truly blessed to have this time to continue my journey.

WHEN LYING IS OK

by Allen C. Dexter


The ten commandments are supposedly the foundation of Christianity and the other Abrahamic faiths. The reality — not so much. Especially when it comes to manufacturing support from famous people of the past who are no longer around to defend themselves.

The anti-religious writings and comments of our esteemed founding fathers and subsequent presidents, etc. have always been a thorn in the side of religionists. So, if actual history wasn’t on their side, some of them have gone so far as to create fictions out of whole cloth. As in many other moral issue matters, some seem to think that breaking those venerable commandments is perfectly alright if they conclude that the cause is “just.” “Just” meaning the promotion of Christianity or whatever other Abrahamic approach happens to be involved.

A guy named David Barton wrote a whole book on the subject which he had to admit was made up when he was cornered. This is revealed in a website blog currently available: http://yeolecogers.blogspot.com/2010/12/christian-quotes-attributed-to-founding.html.

I have been angrily denounced many times when I have pointed out that this country wasn’t founded by staunch Christians. Christians desperately search for anything to back up their assertion that this is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles and doctrine. Or, as one former associate who has turned to Judaism likes to put it, “judeo-christian,” with emphasis on “judeo.”

My wife had a university professor who was Jewish. He constantly tried to tie anything consequential that happened in history to Jews and Israel. We had a similar mindset in the old WCG. Isn’t chauvinism amazing? More of the “mine doesn’t stink” syndrome.

The most vocal, outstanding and readily available of these founding fathers is Thomas Paine. His great book, Age of Reason, is available on this site. The comments of Jefferson, Washington, etc. are more scattered and harder to ferret out. Don’t expect your pastor to point them out. Nor anyone else with a religious ax to grind.

I wish someone younger with the research time and capability would take up the cause of gathering up what our departed founding fathers really did write and say on the subject and get it out in an organized, documented volume, or volumes. If some of that work has been done and is readily available, please comment on the sources you know about. I am aware of many and have referred to them in other posts, but the blogosphere is loaded with sites I’m constantly discovering.

I especially value online sources. Books are expensive and take up a lot of space. Still, I’ll be happy to pay for documented facts. I’m not giving one cent for Barton’s scam.

Rush Limbaugh can quote him.

I won’t!