If the Churches of God (COGs) are so wrong, why did I become a Worldwide Church of God (WCG) member in the first place? The answer, if we wish to analyze it from every angle, is somewhat complex, but it all comes down to one bottom line, one fundamental reason: I was tricked by dishonest literature.
It’s clear that Ronald Weinland committed fraud: He was convicted of 5 counts of felony Income Tax Evasion and sent to prison for 42 months; in addition, he must pay what he owes with penalties. He was legally convicted by a jury of his peers, but members of his cult, the Church of God, Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG), believe that it was persecution not prosecution. Objectively, he committed a crime, the evidence was against him and his sentence was just (if a bit lenient).
The question here is why do the members of the PKG give Ronald Weinland the benefit of the doubt, even though he committed fraud and, thus, violated the precept that a minister should have a “good reputation of those who are without” — non members — meaning that it is inappropriate that he should be a minister (/ apostle / prophet / evangelist / [____] General)? This question arises other places. For example, there is a southern conservative that was voted out of office because he embraced the evidence that global warming is being caused by human beings. This became too much for his constituents because it threatened a way of life! People would have to examine how they live and make new choices about how they acted. Moreover, it would threaten their social status. This is consistent with the sociology we find within the Armstrongist churches of God.
Thus it is that Herbert Armstrong could be a total fraud — making false prophecies as a false prophet as he did for decades and preach the thoroughly debunked stupid idea of British Israelism — and people in the WCG would defend his ‘honor’ vociferously because they just ‘knew’ he had brought them the ‘truth’. Some of knew and now know that he committed incest with his daughter for the first ten years of his ministry, and that is just fine because he brought them the ‘truth’. They can know that he plagiarized all of his major doctrines from G. G. Rupert — including the Feasts — and still accept that he was ‘personally taught by Jesus Christ’. Some even knew of his practices which would have gotten him into the same sort of trouble with the Internal Revenue Service as Ronald Weinland, if only he had been caught spending church funds on his family sailing on a yacht on the Mediterranean. It’s all good because if members admitted the truth, they would have to give up following him, lose their status in their little WCG social club and lose access to the Feast where they could booze it up with their fellow alcoholics. It would be too much to change in their lives and would have been an unacceptable disruption to their dysfunctional chaos.
Garner Ted Armstrong was a total fraud: He was a sodden boozing alcoholic, womanizer who committed date rape, gambler and the illegitimate father to several children who grew up fatherless. Yet he has been seen as a sympathetic character:
I have never made any secret of my admiration for Garner Ted’s good qualities. But, in a restrictive religious environment, living under what was often called the ultimate honor system, his behavior should raise some very disturbing questions for devout Armstrongites past and present.
We were taught in the WCG to take every word a minister utters as if it had come directly from Jesus Christ. It’s kind of like the old trust exercise where participants are expected to fall backwards, knowing their fellow members in the class will catch them. How can a practicing serial adulterer be a trustworthy vessel for carrying and transmitting the words of Jesus? And yet, not only was his father, HWA, complicit, but also, as age set in, his son, GTA, was arguably the most effective and convincing speaker in the WCG. Didn’t we all hang on his every word, “knowing” them to be inspired? So, if the primary characters are acting, in no way validated by Jesus Christ, all the supposed end time gospel efforts supported by impoverished tithe payers would be nothing more than a sophisticated scam. (They were!)
Think about this. Hypothetically, what if you were God? We know now, that this just can’t be, but what if you, as God, had actually chosen a father and son team to warn the world that the end was coming in 1975? What if you watched both as they totally botched the commission by giving in to their prurient appetites, failing to live the life they were preaching, lying and cheating to get the gospel out, participating in incest and adultery, drunkenness, and gambling along the way, and lying to cover it all up? If you were God, you simply couldn’t make it appear that these types of people were your messengers, so you would need to make them appear as false messengers (which they actually were, they had nothing to do with God or anything supernatural). Even if you had scheduled the end for 1975, you would need to postpone it, and start from scratch, using a whole new group to do the job. I no longer believe in any of the major details of the Armstrong prophecy mold. Those are every bit the farce as are the incest and adultery. However, in the dubious and remote event that that mold ever had a scintilla of truth behind it, a Godly scuttling for plan B is the only thing that makes any sense. Truly, the Armstrongs embodied the phrase “Judas priest”. And, those taught by them are unfit messengers as well, and now dying off just like the Israelites wandering aimlessly in circles in the desert for 40 years.
Other disturbing questions should be raised concerning his illegitimate children: He abandoned them. Should we give GTA a free pass because he was charismatic and a fun guy to be around? The children (not to mention the A.C. coeds he raped who became minister’s wives) are very much diminished by this view.
Banned! has recently blogged, “Rod Meredith: Why is He Incapable Of Loving Servant Leadership?” It is because Roderick Meredith is a fraud. He doesn’t seem to be particularly converted but certainly does have the properties of a power grubbing sociopath. Living Church of God members have responded that he is a great and godly man who has spread the gospel to the world and has given the church growth. This is delusional nonsense that’s totally wrong at several levels. He’s been a false prophet for decades and has displayed aggressive tendencies consistent with the Warrior Gene in his DNA. He may be a controlling despot, but that doesn’t mean that LCG members are about to accept the fact that he has committed major sin since he was baptized. Why? Because they would lose significant portions of their dysfunctional lives and have to make changes.
David Pack is a fraud: He predicted several years back that three of the leaders of the ‘major’ [Armstrongist] churches of God would die and the people in those churches would come flocking to him. It never happened. But people are amazed at his apparent skills of leadership and building a church headquarters facility, replete with a Steuben Crystal piece in his office. The city of Wadsworth has also been sucked in. Nevertheless, reports of the misery (not to mention YouTube posts) illustrate the hubris of the man who is unsympathetic to any of the needs of those in his congregation. Heaven help you if you MUST go to the bathroom during his sermon!!!! People just live with it (with a bit of grumbling) but are still certain that he’s going to get them into the luxury suites in Petra when they leave for the Place of Safety. Good luck with that: The preponderance of the evidence more than suggests that going there under his domination would be fatal.
Then we have Gerald Flurry… a total fraud and complete failure as ‘that prophet’ — the incarnation of Jesus Christ in this age. His online DUI suggests differently as does his failed prophecies. Redfox over at Living Armstrongism has blog after blog detailing the stupidity of the Philadelphia Church of God. The latest is the PCG compared with the 14 points of Fascism. It is one of the most factual ignored blogs within the anti-Armstrongist movement.
After awhile some people may conclude that, yes, certainly the leaders of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia sects are nothing but frauds, but that perhaps the time of giving the followers sympathy has long passed.
By the time you read this, The Beard Auction at the Cherokee County Showbarn at 611 SE Loop 456, Jacksonville, Texas, selling off remnants of the possessions of Garner Ted Armstrong will have already started — in fact it may be over with. It’s being held today on the Sabbath, naturally. Some faithful and loyal Armstrongists may consider it an ox in the ditch situation. You never know when GTA’s hunting rifles will be necessary to shoot the ox, or, if you are lucky, a nice deer. There are miscellaneous picked over items left as an eclectic array of examples of the tastes of a former He-Haw entertainer. Think country and western. Mostly.
We wonder who’s going to get the money.
This is not the focus of this post. We want you to consider the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association website. Don’t these people know that Garner Ted Armstrong is, like, dead? After all, the WCG scurried around to find new presenters for the World Tomorrow Telecast after Herbert Armstrong died, because they thought it would be weird and creepy to continue with a dead host. Apparently, they never saw reruns of Alfred Hitchcock Presents or Rod Serling opening The Twilight Zone.
Nevertheless, don’t you think that having a whole evangelistic website featuring Garner Ted Armstrong as if he was still alive and active more than a little bit weird and creepy? Like, they’re selling off the remnant of his stuff today. He’s history. His prophecies failed. His alcoholic boozing, womanizing and gambling are over with. What’s with the hero worship?
There’s nothing like living in the past, especially if you’re talking about a celebrity [of sorts]. The WCG was a personality cult, after all. It only benefited the ‘stock holders’, though as is obvious from looking at the auction items. We paid for all that stuff, just like we paid for Herbert Armstrong’s divorce to the tune of $5 million — after he had written “How to Have a Happy Marriage”.
The question is, at what point do people accept the facts and move on with their lives?
Or do they have to live in the past, reliving the glories which never were until they die and their stuff is auctioned off?
Herbert Armstrong was the master of self-deception. Not only that, but he trained us all to be adept at self-deception. And self-deception is exactly why people stay with the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia.
Watch this TEDx Event Presentation by Dr. Cortney S. Warren in her talk, “Honest Lies: The Psychology of Self-Deception”:
At the core, we lie to ourselves because we don’t have enough psychological strength to admit the truth and deal with the consequences that will follow. That said, understanding our self-deception is the most effective way to live a fulfilling life. For when we admit what we really are, we have the opportunity to change.
There are core strategies which we use to practice self-deception:
- Denial: Refusing to believe something is true, even though it is;
- Rationalization: Creating a reason to excuse ourselves;
- Projection: Taking an undesirable aspect of ourselves and ascribing it to someone else;
- Cognitive Distortions: Irrational ways in which we think;
- Polarizing Thinking: Thinking in extremes;
- Emotional Reasoning: Thinking that our feelings accurately reflect reality;
- Overgeneralization: Taking a single negative event as an infinite spiral of defeat.
From an existential perspective, we deceive ourselves to avoid the ‘Givens’ of life, the fundamental realities of “being human” that we must face:
- Death — we’re all going to die;
- Ultimate Aloneness — we were born as a single person housed in a solitary physical body;
- Meaninglessness — our lives are inherently meaningless unless we give them meaning;
- Freedom — we are responsible for ourselves because we have the freedom of choice.
To avoid these realities, we frequently lie to ourselves:
- Deferring responsibility for choices;
- Believing in ‘specialness’ so that there is a unique protection from harm;
- Compromising to meet cultural norms.
Self-deception leads to massive amounts of pain and regret. To avoid being honest, we frequently make choices with harmful consequences to ourselves and others — we may use drugs, alcohol, eat, shop, gamble, steal, lie, leave people or pass our emotional baggage down to those we love the most. Or, we may choose not to change even when we are miserable or causing profound harm to those around us. Looking back at life with regret is incredibly painful, because you can’t change your choices in the past.
When we don’t take full responsibility for who we are, we hurt ourselves and everyone around us.
The way to change is:
- self-awareness — become observers of ourselves;
- examine the contribution to the conflict in our lives;
- admit to insecurity and confront the choice.
Not changing when confronted with the truth is a choice. Although we cannot control the many circumstances we encounter in life, we are responsible for our reactions to all of them.
Confronting our self-deception is a lifelong journey. We change and the world offers us new opportunities to understand ourselves. There is always more to learn.
It is now time for those who embrace the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia to be honest with themselves.
Here are just a few of the truths Armstrongists need to face:
Herbert Armstrong was not an apostle;
Herbert Armstrong was a false prophet;
Herbert Armstrong committed incest with his daughter for ten years at the beginning of his ministry and, therefore,
Herbert Armstrong was not actually converted, and,
Herbert Armstrong was never qualified to be a minister;
Herbert Armstrong is dead;
Herbert Armstrong knowingly allowed his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, to be second in command as the top evangelist, even though GTA was an adulterer, alcoholic boozer and a gambler;
There is no place of safety and there never will be (and Petra is an absolutely terrible place to try to survive);
British Israelism, as the key to prophecy, has been thoroughly debunked and no prophecy based on it will come true… ever — it’s extra Biblical;
The True History of The True Church was nothing of the kind, plagiarized from Ellen G. White and thoroughly, provably wrong, particularly about Waldensians supposedly keeping the Sabbath and Holydays (they considered themselves to be good Catholics);
The leaders of the major sects of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia have proved themselves inept and to be false prophets;
Jesus isn’t returning in your life time;
There may be tribulation, but the Great Tribulation won’t happen in your life time;
The Bible commands “from such turn away”;
There is no such thing as a Christian narcissist;
Armstrongism is a religion of physical rituals, not of spiritual content;
If you are an alcoholic, you must stop drinking or you will not just die badly, you may seriously injure and kill others;
If you are diabetic, you cannot drink alcohol;
If you are diabetic, you need to manage your condition because it’s not just going to ‘go away’;
Anointing for your chronic diseases will not make them go away;
There is not and never was any such thing as ‘second tithe’;
If you are a farmer and you try to keep the seventh year land Sabbath, you will either go broke, have to borrow money or lose your land because you simply won’t get double income in your sixth year because, just like the Feasts, the land Sabbath was given only to ancient Israelites in the land of Israel — the land ‘the Lord gaveth thee’ — under the Old Covenant only — a physical covenant for a physical people devoid of the Holy Spirit given promises of physical prosperity only;
The United States and British Commonwealth are not lost tribes of Israel, and, more importantly, none of the doom, devastation, destruction is going to occur because of their supposed sins against an ancient religion which was never given to them;
Your ministers are in it for the money and the ego trip — they are totally selfish and don’t really care about you;
Your ministers and leaders know nothing of morals and ethics;
Your ministers are terrible at counseling;
Your ministers are liars;
Your ministers don’t actually know how the Bible was put together, or if they do, they are lying about it;
You still can’t put new wine in old wineskins, even though that’s what Armstrongism is all about;
You don’t really know what other members of your sect really believe, even though you think you’ve known them for decades;
There is no loyalty — you can incur someone’s wrath and be disfellowshipped at any time;
Your family isn’t really safe;
You are wasting your money;
You are wasting your time;
You don’t really believe in science, you believe in magic;
By allowing someone else to define right and wrong for you, you’ve become a sociopath with a flexible adapted conscience;
No one is exactly what they seem;
It’s all quite insane.
Once you get through and eliminate these lies of your self-deception, you will still have a long way to go.
The only way to be free of your self-delusion is to stop feeding it by severing contact with those in the cult who are holding your mind hostage.
Garner Ted Armstrong’s recent television performance on “Hee Haw” prompted one entertainment critic to remark, “Now I know how bleak the future of the unskilled really must be.” The performance inspired one former fan to design a bumper sticker which reads “Garner Ted Armstrong: Hee Haw, Hee Haw, Hee Haw.” Mr. Armstrong’s crooning debut was probably not helped by the fact that while taping the show a marshall served him with the papers for a $5 million lawsuit, being brought against him by William Hinson.
The $5 million Hinson lawsuit was filed in Tennessee against Garner Ted Armstrong and Tony Hammer. It will not be the last lawsuit against the Armstrong organization. There are at least three others in preparation-one, a $50 million class action suit, will soon be filed against the entire organization. –AMBASSADOR WHISPERS
You can read the book HERE.[whohit]http://hwarmstrong.com/wordpress/[/whohit]
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, …