fraud

fraud
fraud

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.

Fraud.

Free pass.

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.

auction

At Auction: Deer heads, shot by Garner Ted Armstrong using our tithe money
At Auction: Deer heads, shot by Garner Ted Armstrong using our tithe money

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?

Self-Deception

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:

  1. Denial: Refusing to believe something is true, even though it is;
  2. Rationalization: Creating a reason to excuse ourselves;
  3. Projection: Taking an undesirable aspect of ourselves and ascribing it to someone else;
  4. Cognitive Distortions: Irrational ways in which we think;
  5. Polarizing Thinking: Thinking in extremes;
  6. Emotional Reasoning: Thinking that our feelings accurately reflect reality;
  7. 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:

  1. Death — we’re all going to die;
  2. Ultimate Aloneness — we were born as a single person housed in a solitary physical body;
  3. Meaninglessness — our lives are inherently meaningless unless we give them meaning;
  4. 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:

  1. self-awareness — become observers of ourselves;
  2. examine the contribution to the conflict in our lives;
  3. 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.

Isolation
Isolation

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.

"Broadway to Armageddon"

William Hinson


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

_________________

21b

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You can read the book HERE.[whohit]http://hwarmstrong.com/wordpress/[/whohit]

 

 

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, …

WCG History. "GTA. PROPHET OF DOOM"

Roger Neville Williams

Extracted from Penthouse Magazine April 1977


  Garner Ted Armstrong is a media superstar, but his message is a real bummer. We’re about to blow ourselves up, sayeth the prophet, and, God help us, Garner Ted has discovered the profit of fear.

He’s heard and seen by more Americans each week than Walter Cronkite. His magazine has more subscribers than Newsweek. He calls himself a news commentator but preaches prophecy. His radio, television and printed message is one of impending apocalypse, and his church, which is entirely based on the belief that Jesus Christ will descend from the clouds during our lifetime and ruthlessly organize a world government, rakes in more money to its central coffers every year than most big corporations do.

He’s Garner Ted Armstrong, and you heard him if you’ve ever driven across country at night, his booming golden voice is heard on “The World Tomorrow” on WOAI San Antonio, then he fades and comes in loud and clear on KLAC Los Angeles. He signs off, and you pick him up starting over again on WREC Memphis or won New York or KSL Salt Lake or WRVA Richmond or any of the hundreds of other radio stations that carry his half-hour “The World Tomorrow” broadcast six nights a week. He’s the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Fear, spreading his warning of the Coming End across the airwaves to 50 million people every week and telling of The Wonderful World Tomorrow that will follow the nuclear obliteration mankind is about to bring upon itself.
He’s the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse…Fear

After the smoke clears, he says, the survivors will find heaven on earth, with Jesus sitting on the throne of David in Jerusalem, reigning over the millennium and running a sort of United Nations in Christ, brooking no opposition, and smiting down those who resist His coming. Or, in the words of one of Garner Ted’s aides: “The good news is that Christ is coming back. The bad news is that he’s pissed off.” And Garner Ted Armstrong and the 100,000 followers of his Worldwide Church of God (WCG) believe it.

Much more tangible, and believable, than The World Tomorrow is the world today of Garner Ted Armstrong and the apocalyptic empire over which he presides. The Worldwide Church of God, which sponsors “The World Tomorrow” radio programs; is headquartered in Pasadena, California, on the campus of Ambassador College, a small liberal-arts institution of 800 students of which Garner Ted Armstrong’ is president. Ambassador College takes up fifty prime acres on both sides of the Pasadena Freeway. Although it is not a Bible college, it is church affiliated and offers a religious correspondence course that more than 500,000 people have completed. There is a hand lettered sign in the student union, announcing “a student project to raise $10,000 to put ‘The World Tomorrow’ on another radio station.”

The college is a Garden of Allah surrounded by quiet streets and manicured lawns and very expensive homes, including Garner Ted’s large, ranch style affair, which is easily worth $150,000. Date palms, Royal palms, Australian gum myrtle, Norfolk pines, live oaks, and sycamores grace the hill sides. Ducks and swans meander on the greensward. There are waterfalls, fountains,’ reflecting pools, and streams stocked with fish. A sumptuous sunken garden separates the modern chemistry and fine-arts buildings. The college recently won an award designating it “The Most Beautiful College Campus in America”.

Dominating this small Eden is the Hall of Administration tanned and of the WCG. It is a honeycomb of white marble with four story atriums; expensive chromium wall sculptures; and, in the lobby, a solid silver, foot high replica of the Mayflower purchased from Harrods’s of London. Garner Ted Armstrong’s radio studio is on the top floor, behind a thick oak door marked “Private.” Inside, behind double glass separating it from the well equipped control room, is the desk where herald-cum-newsman Armstrong sits and makes his six-day-a-week “The World Tomorrow” broadcast tapes, surrounded by dozens of pictures of himself in action: there’s Garner Ted, mike in hand, with the Apollo astronauts; Garner Ted, windblown, reporting from the Golan Heights; Garner Ted, in Hawaiian shirt, standing before a nuclear power plant, his eyes gazing earnestly into the television lens.

Next door are the head offices of the WCG, an executive suite so lavish in its appointments that by comparison the boardrooms of most of the country’s top corporations look simple. Corporations are usually cost conscious; this church is not. The walls are of paneled hardwoods, the huge desks of rich walnut, the long sofas of red velvet, and everything else in leather or wool. No plastic, vinyl, acrylic, or Formica is anywhere in evidence.

“The good news is that Christ is coming back.  The bad news is that he’s pissed off.”

This is not surprising, considering Armstrong’s $50 million annual budget to do with as he, his father, and his executives see fit. Most of the $50 million is collected from WCG members, who must minimally tithe but give in some cases as much as 30 percent of their income. The rest of it comes from some 300,000 “coworkers” who voluntarily contribute to The Work of the WCG, which is to spread the Gospel, or “Good News”. Ironically, no appeal for funds or donations is ever made on “The World Tomorrow” broadcasts or in the magazine Plain Truth, and all literature is given away free. But the money rolls in from believers around the world. Enough money to buy airtime on 500 domestic and foreign radio stations and 131 television stations. Enough money to support the plush Ambassador College as well as a second campus of bright, modern buildings at Big Sandy, Texas, east of Dallas, where courses in agriculture and mass communications are featured. Enough money for two jets, a Dassault Falcon, and a Grumman G2, the largest private aircraft made.

There is also enough money for the opulent Ambassador Auditorium, an $11 million, 1,200 seat performing arts center that has been acclaimed by visiting artists as the finest small concert hall in the world. It operates under the aegis of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF), of which Garner Ted Armstrong is president, and which is “Made Possible By Gifts From The World Wide Church of God”, as the gold plated inscription explains.

The decor includes seventy foot interior walls of rosewood and teak, twentyfour karat gold leaf on the staircase soffits, and Persian rose onyx walls in the foyer’ which reflect a 6,000 pound chandelier The exterior walls are black marble, set off by a white colonnade that is topped by an ornate cornice of gold tile. It is a modern Temple of Solomon. Proceeds from the concert series, underwritten by the AICF go to United Way, UNICEF, the March of Dimes, the NAACP, Tel Aviv University, and toward cosponsoring, with Hebrew University, ongoing archaeological excavations at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where students from Ambassador College dig down through 3,000 years of history, looking for the Throne of David. Where Jesus is going to sit.

What in God’s name is a Christian fundamentalist radio preacher doing in the business of high culture, arranging benefits for Israel and helping to support Jewish archaeological digs? What is a religious fundamentalist doing in the news business, producing a mass audience news magazine and sophisticated color documentaries in his fortyfive man, ultramodern television studio? Who is Garner Ted Armstrong, and why is he engaged in telling fully one quarter of the American people — in the biggest media blitz run by one man the world has known — that we’re about to blow ourselves up?

First of all, Garner Ted Armstrong is the son of Herbert W. Armstrong, who conceived the idea of radio preaching in 1934. Although Garner Ted Armstrong is currently the best known of the two Armstrongs, Herbert’s twenty five years of “The World Tomorrow” broadcasts once made his name a household word to inveterate radio listeners across the country. By 1960 Garner Ted had taken over responsibility for “The World Tomorrow”, the world’s oldest and longest running radio show. But it was his father, now eightyfour, who put the Armstrong Empire together.

Herbert Armstrong is a portly, plump jawed gentleman with a kindly smile who, despite his years, travels incessantly He retains the title of college chancellor and pastor general of the WCG. Herbert was a successful Chicago advertising man during the early 1900s, until hard times cost him his job and he returned to his rural home near Eugene, Oregon. His family quickly sank into hopeless poverty, while his wife became interested in one of the local Jesus sects and began telling him that modern Christianity had it all wrong and totally misrepresented what the Bible really said. “The Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday”, she informed him. She had found the way. “This was the worst news I have ever heard! My wife gone into religious fanaticism!” Herbert recalls in his autobiography to prove his wife wrong, he began studying the Bible diligently and, as if it had been opium, got hooked himself. “It was humiliating to have to admit my wife had been right and I had been wrong. It was shocking to learn that all these churches were wrong” he writes. He decided to switch from advertising to God, ultimately getting the God account and becoming one of the Almighty’s most effective advertisers.

Herbert Armstrong became a minister of a small Pentecostal sect and “these simple, Bible loving people, looking to me for leadership.”’ In 1931, says Armstrong, “Christ ordained me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in all the world as a witness to all nations”, which is no small calling. And so he went on the air and published the first edition of his magazine The Plain Truth. “On that tiny powered radio station KORE in Eugene, Oregon — and in that infant, mimeographed Plain Truth — was going out an astonishing Message! Just as the public, 1,900 years before, had been astonished at Christ’s Gospel, so were those who began to hear this SAME Gospel in 1934. It was utterly different from what had been palmed off as “Christianity” he writes. One man, after three and one-half years of per-son al Bible study, had overnight eradicated 2,000 years of biblical interpretation and orthodox Christian doctrine. Astonishing! But the people in his alienated and confused listening audience liked hearing the inside dope on what Jesus and the Old Testament prophets really had to say, from one who knew, or who said he knew. So they kept sending him money, and during the war he went on the air over a 150,000 watt Mexican border station and in 1947 moved his Radio Church of God, as it was then called, to Pasadena. He founded Ambassador College and went for the big time: nationwide radio ministry.

Today, retired from broadcasting, Armstrong Sr. still trots the globe as “an Ambassador for World Peace without Portfolio representing the Government of God”. In the words of an aide. He is a sort of elder statesman to America’s millions of religious fanatics. He addresses large audiences and public figures in dozens of countries, speaking about love and understanding and human potential.

During the past few years, Herbert Armstrong has met with the leaders of Japan, Jordan, Monaco, The Netherlands, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Iran, South Africa, Kenya, and on and on and on. The man is tireless. However, should he show up in Washington, D.C., few people in the government would know who he is — except for Ellsworth Bunker, former ambassador to South Vietnam.

Bunker invited Herbert to visit Vietnam in 1971. “To give millions of readers true UNDERSTANDING of the Plain Truth about THE VIETNAM WAR, I flew personally to Saigon” (in his Grumman G2), wrote Herbert. In the pages of Plain Truth, he explained that if the United States did not stop Communist “aggressions and invasions at South Vietnam, it would be too late. They would have gained such a grip on conquering the whole world, we would be unable to stop them before they invaded the United States.” His peripatetic aide, Stanley Rader, wrote in the same issue: “Better to have to lose 54,000 U.S. soldiers’ lives than 70 million lives of civilins, women and children as well as soldiers and probably end up SLAVES to the Communists”.

Herbert’s son, Garner Ted, concentrates less on anti-communism, although “he’s anti-Communist like you wouldn’t believe”, as his PR man describes him. He takes a plague-on-both-your-houses approach to the two super nations, whose mad arms race, he is convinced, will end life on this planet as we know it, forcing Jesus to intervene. Garner Ted Armstrong is now in charge of the administration of all the Armstrong institutions. Besides being president of Ambassador College and president of the Cultural Foundation, he is executive vice-president of the Worldwide Church of God, editor in chief of The Plain Truth, and executive producer of GTA-TV–that’s Garner Ted Armstrong Television. And of course he is the honey throated herald whose radio broadcast message that we are living through “the last days” reaches more Americans every day than any of the network news shows.

He doesn’t look the part: he is strikingly handsome, smooth, dapper, a natty dresser in well-tailored suits and bright ties that enhance a strikingly youthful countenance belying his forty-seven years. The silver haired, silver-tongued talker is fast becoming an American institution, with far more spiritual clout than that of almost any other religious leader. He is late night companionship to thousands of truckers, the voice of the morning to millions of farmers, the living room preacher to a subculture of lonely, frightened, disoriented Americans. He is even better known in Canada, where the airwaves are saturated with his television and radio broadcasts. Carried over 150,000-watt Radio Luxembourg, the most powerful commercial station in the world, his voice is well known to millions of Europeans.

GTA, as he’s known around Pasadena, is no “born again” preacher who waves his’ arms in emotional frenzy and asks audiences to “receive Christ as your personal savior”. In fact, he says he doesn’t believe in proselytizing but merely “warning” and “bearing witness of the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God on Earth.” He never really wanted to be a minister, he says, but has “a call from God” to do what he’s doing. He is intensely media shy “He doesn’t feel he’s a public figure–he doesn’t belong to the public”, says Tom Hall, Garner Ted’s PR man in Pasadena, explaining why Armstrong seldom grants interviews. Whatever he is or represents, he is definitely not a mindless crackpot Christer.

After duty as a seaman aboard an aircraft carrier in the Korean War, and “after I got tired of slopping around and wasting my money on cigarettes and beer”, he says, “I decided to look for a new kind of life”. So he took a Ph.D. in theology at Ambassador College — where else? — and adopted his father’s rigid biblical literalism. Later his father ordained him (Herbert, remember, insists he was ordained by Jesus Christ himself). Little Garner Ted was entirely mute until he was two and one-half, and his father believes it was a direct answer to his prayers, a “miracle from God”, that cured his son of his speech problem. “And he’s been talking ever since”, says Herbert. As God’s mouthpiece while the end of the world gets nearer, GTA draws a comfortable salary of $50,000 a year, enjoys his Falcon jet, which he pilots himself (he’s also qualified to fly the church’s several prop aircraft), and gets into the back country of Colorado several times a year for hunting and fishing. He drives a 1970 Cadillac and a remodeled 1930 Model-A. He is lead guitarist and vocalist in a Country and Western band; a devoted basketball, chess, and bridge player; and an artist in oils. He speaks fluent Spanish, reads stacks of Western novels, and writes most of the free booklets that are promoted on “The World Tomorrow” radio program. He concludes every broadcast with “Write for the free booklet… [title]. It’s absolutely free. Write to Garner Ted Armstrong, Pasadena, California.”

These free “booklets” which are read by millions, contain the beliefs of the WCG and Garner Ted Armstrong. There is the Four Horseman series, on famine, pestilence, and war. There are pamphlets on over-population, crime, racial conflict, political corruption, and pollution, all of them telling people what they already know, that the world’s a mess. There are booklets entitled Is Sex Sin? Why Were You Born? and Does God Exist? Some, like The Modern Romans: The Decline of Western Civilization, are respectable pieces of historical scholarship and current political analysis. Militarism is denounced: “The principal contribution of modern science and technology has been the production of constantly more terrifying weapons of mass destruction”, writes Garner Ted. “Our peoples today stand on the brink of disaster greater than Rome’s”. The American parallels to Rome’s decay are exhaustively outlined, from “welfares”, to “sodomy and legalized homosexuality”, to the “collapse of the home”, to the “mad craze for pleasure” He cites “the ascendancy of the cults which takes place in times of confusion” such as the latter days of Rome and draws comparisons with the modern Western obsessions with Buddhism, Indian gurus, Sun Myung Moon, and so on. However he fails to make the connection with the cult of Garner Ted Armstrong, which is also prospering in these times of confusion. Nor, of course, does he count himself among the “false prophets” that the Bible says will proliferate just before the End.

He writes of the Last Days in which, he says, we live: “We have appraised the major facets of modern Civilization — this world’s Education system, its Science and Technology, its Commerce and Industry, its systems of Government, its Social Order, and its Religions, and we have found them all WRONG–all EVIL–all DECADENT. They are ready to die. But the ETERNAL GOD will soon usher in the UTOPIAN world of peace and happiness. World famous scientists now say frankly that the only HOPE for SURVIVAL on earth is a supreme, world ruling government, controlling all military power. They admit that this is impossible for man to accomplish.”

Few people would argue that the world just may be going down the tubes. But Garner Ted Armstrong and his “gospel machine” as he likes to call it, have answers. Here lies his phenomenal success. The “answers” are found in the free booklet and his handbook of doom and human salvation, The Wonderful World Tomorrow: What It Will Be Like. Garner Ted explains in great detail exactly how the whole world will be saved at the last possible moment. “The nations will be engaged in a climactic BATTLE of coming World War III, with one battlefront at Jerusalem, and then Christ will return!” The warring nations will turn their nuclear weapons on Jesus and his host of angels, including the resurrected apostles and the prophets and kings of the Old Testament, but will be “put down by FORCE — divine supernatural force.”

The Bible predicts, says Garner Ted Armstrong, that Jesus will come exactly “when delay would result in blasting all life from this planet.” They quote Matthew, chapter 24: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved [“no human flesh left alive” in the King James version], but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”

Asks Robert Kuhn, GTA’s second hand man for the entire vast apocalyptic organization, “When before in history has man had the potential to blow himself up? That possibility has only emerged since the advent of the hydrogen nuclear bomb. That’s why we believe this is ‘the time of the end’ that the Bible talks about”, However, according to this prophecy, it sounds like Jesus and his Sword of Iron will be doing a little zapping of his own when and if he arrives.

But if you’re converted to God’s way and repent, you will survive and be made a divine member of the elect and get to participate in the government of the New Jerusalem; ruling over the mere mortals who have yet to come around. “The most ABLE, the most RIGHTEOUS, those best fitted for office will be placed in all offices of responsibility and power,” says Garner Ted. “We know that King David of ancient Israel resurrected, will be King over the twelve great nations composed of literal descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel. We know the Twelve Apostles will each be a King, sitting on a throne, over ONE of those great nations…. Mortal man has proved he is incapable of governing himself, so there will be no elections, no political parties. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will function as a topflight TEAM with Abraham as ‘Chairman’ of the TEAM, next under Christ in the coming World Government of God!” He believes Daniel, Moses, and Elijah will be among the “chief executive personnel under Christ”. Noah will head a “vast project of the RELOCATION OF THE RACES and NATIONS”, and “Job will be Director of worldwide URBAN RENEWAL”, rebuilding the waste places and the destroyed cities. Under the New Covenant, for an entire millennium, there will be no crime, no wars, no hunger, no hatreds, and no sex, for men and women “will be made equal.

Don’t worry about America. The Armstrongs believe that America and Britain have joined the Jews as “the chosen people”. They believe the progenitors of “the British race” are two of the lost tribes of Israel, those of Manasseh and Ephraim, which were descended from Joseph and carry the “Birthright of Abraham” Thus the Americans (only of British ancestry?), in addition to the Jews, are the true Israelites, the chosen of God. Confused? Well, there’s the free booklet The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.

The free booklets and most of the more than 2 million monthly copies of The Plain Truth are sent out of an elaborate mail processing center, which last year mailed 60 million pieces of literature. (The rest of The Plain Truth magazine, published in four languages, is printed and mailed from plants in England and Australia.) At the center a battery of WATS telephone operators receive 40,000 calls a month – average caller’s age, thirty-five – and forty-five full-time computer terminal keyboard operators process requests for material and Plain Truth subscriptions through the WCG’s IBM 370 computer, which takes up a whole building and has 2 million names on file. The ultramodern center, which employs 150 people, receives 45,8,00 inquiries a week and answers them all. Since thousands of the letters contain cash and check donations, admission to the mail receiving area is only by punching the combination in a solid state lock. “This is the backup for Ted Armstrong”, says center director Richard Rice, rising from his Danish leather swivel chair. “If GTA can’t reach people personally, he’ll lose credibility.” And if the people can’t reach GTA, they can’t send dollars.

The Plain Truth: A Magazine of Understanding is for millions of Americans their only news magazine. Highschool students in working-class districts from Montreal to Portland receive The Plain Truth free of charge and rely on it for information about current events. Its theological message is veiled by news reports and slick cover stories, such as “Sadat Jolts the Kremlin” and “The Passing of Europe’s Old Guard” and “Angola Falls to Reds–What It Means for the West.” One series profiled the Soviet-bloc countries, and the reporting was as objective and informative as that in Time magazine, which The Plain Truth with its colored border resembles. “The Plain Truth,” says Garner Ted, “analyzes world news and human experience in light of Bible understanding -something no other magazine does.”

But aside from its news reports, The Plain Truth is largely a right-wing propaganda outlet. Articles rail against “the twisted ideology”’ of the women’s movement, stating that the letters Ms. should stand for “Marxist sisters”. It denounces pornography as “an ideal weapon employed by our enemies to weaken Western civilization”. Garner Ted has looked like a liberal when he’s taken stands against “the death of the oceans” or “aerosol Armageddon” or the American SST. But in his column and occasional articles that appear in each issue, he is happier campaigning against European unity, which he believes threatens United States interests and is the fulfillment of the prophesied resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. He bewails America’s “isolationist attitudes” and fears that the CIA exposés will weaken our country and the CIA. He vehemently and consistently supported the Vietnam War, right up to the fall of Saigon, fearing at the end that his big “World Tomorrow Campaign”’ planned for Bangkok would be eclipsed by invading North Vietnamese troops. And despite his strong, if abstract, denunciations of world militarism, he whole heartedly supports a strong American military machine: “What doesn’t make sense to me, as a minister, an evangelist, a news commentator, and an observer is this: Knowing we won’t trust God, I can’t understand why we want to tear down our military.”

Ironically, Garner Ted Armstrong’s forty-eight-page monthly was among the first mass publications in this country to deal with the question of pollution. The issue of man’s desecration of his environment was raised in eloquent and gripping terms as early as 1966 but was presented not to urge that man do something about it, but only to show that until Jesus gets here, we’re going to continue to make a mess out of things. The Plain Truth, especially in its mindless inconsistency, offers little hope, but neither does the rest of the news media with its heavy load of bad news. The Garner Ted Armstrong folks have the answer to that: a second magazine called GN: The Good News, a strictly religious monthly magazine with 400,000 subscribers. (The two magazines are currently merging into one called Plain Truth.)

The least religious, most secular, part of the Armstrong empire is GTA-TV, a weekly half-hour series of expertly produced color programs dealing with everything from Yasir Arafat (“Portrait of a Hero”) to the American Farmer (“Caught in the Middle”) to juvenile crime (“Can We Prevent It?”). The U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations recently requested the transcript, for use in its hearings, of Garner Ted’s documentary “Nuclear Power: Risk or Remedy?” The program takes no sides on nuclear energy but concisely examines the complex arguments for and against. GTA-TV technicians last year built a $300,000 “video pod”, a self-contained mobile television studio that fits into the luggage compartment of commercial jets. The only one of its kind, it was shipped to Egypt to be used for televising an interview by Garner Ted with Anwar Sadat, and then to Brussels, where he interviewed the Belgian prime minister and NATO Secretary General Joseph Luns, for a program entitled “NATO: Who Needs It?” The video pod is also used for televising Garner Ted Armstrong’s religious “campaigns” around the country. These, in addition to the documentaries, are shown every week on ninety-seven American television stations.

But it is “The World Tomorrow” that reaches the largest number of people–no less than 50 million a week–and produces among its listeners a reaction the New York Times has called “a combination of fascination and puzzlement”. The Times quoted one Pasadena resident: “He makes so much sense when he’s talking, but afterward it’s hard to remember exactly what he said”. In one recent program Garner Ted touched in his rambling, repetitious, adjective-laced fashion on the Jewish Holocaust, Eric Von Daniken, the pollution of Los Angeles, Zero Population Growth, and the beauty of butterflies, and, after twenty-five minutes of nearly incoherent syntax, ended with the question “Are we living in a biblically prophesied age?” He then intoned in his John Cameron Swazy voice, “Write for the free booklet, ‘Is This The END TIME?’”

The man who wrote this well researched, fearful little publication based on the Bible’s prediction of “the time of the end”, when “the Lord shall lay waste the earth and make it desolate”, is Robert Kuhn, GTA’s Jewish vice-president in charge of just about every-thing. Kuhn, thirty-two, has a PhD in neurophysiology and other degrees from UCLA and Johns Hopkins. Hardly your run-of-the-mill Jesus freak.

The Bible is a record of God’s word, not a dogmatic list of orders and demands”, says Kuhn in his executive office full of original surrealist paintings. Declaiming in the tones of a New York intellectual, Kuhn explains that the Worldwide Church of God does not believe in life after death (“when you’re dead, you’re dead”), does not believe in evolution (neither do 45 million other American evangelicals), and does not believe in the Trinity. Nor do the 100,000 members of the WCG, who attend church on Saturday, celebrate Easter or Christmas. Extra and premarital sex is proscribed but not alcohol. “Make no mistake about it”, says Kuhn. “This is the End Time. It is the most cataclysmic time in human history, and man’s 6,000 year age will soon come to a tumultuous climax. But Christ’s return at the last possible moment will prevent global catastrophe”. Kuhn, dedicated to “preparing the way for His second arrival”, says, “This is not just the ranting of another wild-eyed sect.” He insists Christ will come during the lifetime of this generation and expects to see the whole show himself. Perhaps GTA TV will secure exclusive worldwide rights to broadcast the Return live.

“The Worldwide Church of God is not even in the same camp as Christianity”, says the Reverend Larry Falk, one of the established church’s many critics who regard Garner Ted as an egomaniacal charlatan. Presbyterian minister Tom Green in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, says of the Armstrongs: “It was all I could do to keep from puking after one of my parishioners bent my ear for an hour on the virtues of Garner Ted. I tried to diagram one of his scriptural addresses once and ended up with my left thumb in my anal cavity and a pencil stuck in my ear. He makes no sense. He takes biblical passages and changes words to make the scripture say what he wants. Figuring out what he’s saying on ‘The World Tomorrow’ is like trying to catch a greased pig when you’re bow-legged”.

Green says, “Garner Ted is certainly meeting a need. But is it a sick need or healthy need? Does he enable people to function in a way that celebrates who they are as human beings? Certainly not. He keeps people at their physical level of dependence, like a bunch of pithed frogs”, Green believes that the “God is Dead” period of the sixties is now being replaced by fundamentalist sects representing the befuddled masses who never caught up with modern theology. “Organized religion has failed the masses”, says Green. “The established church keeps calling the American people to account in the now, but the people say, ‘This life is so crummy, the next one has to be better, so let’s concentrate on what’s coming’” Here lies Garner Ted Armstrong’s strength, not to mention Jimmy Carter’s.

It’s not been entirely smooth sailing for the Armstrong operation. In 1972 Garner Ted was ousted from the church, the college, and the radio broadcasts for several months by his father for “personal and emotional problems”, Herbert Armstrong told the congregations of the WCG that his son was “in the bonds of Satan”, The New York Times reported at the time that a source said Garner Ted had written his father, confessing “I have sinned against my wife, the children, and the church”. He was eventually reinstated to his positions of responsibility and leadership after “the process of repentance was complete”, in the words of his father Two years later, thirty-five ministers broke away from the WCG and formed a splinter group, citing the Armstrongs’ domination of the church. Said Walter Sharp of Texas, “What the split actually boiled down to is the realization by many of us that the World Wide Church has a totalitarian system of government”, Several thousand dissidents left the church and went over to the new group. But despite the setbacks, which the Armstrongs refuse to acknowledge, membership in the WCG is growing at the rate of 10,000 a year.

“Figuring out what Armstrong’s saying; according to one critic, “is like trying to catch a greased pig when you’re bow-legged.”

Martin E. Marty, professor of the history of modern Christianity at the University of Chicago, says of the Armstrong phenomenon: “Like the Seventh Day Adventists and Moody Bible people who also preach Pre-Millennialism, the Armstrongs believe things have got to get worse before they get better. Their message does what religions always do: give meaning to life and a sense of belonging. Apocalyptic sects like this tend to appear at moments in history when other explanations give out, at moments when things aren’t right. Sects like Armstrong’s probably drain off discontent into harmless channels among people who might be more dangerous without Armstrong’s alternative view of history to grasp onto. This kind of religion makes elites out of the ignorant and the poor.”

Mainly, this kind of religion is making elites out of the Armstrongs and the executive strata of the WCG, Ambassador College, and the AICF The Armstrong folks are undaunted by their detractors and are charging full-scale into the future, the coming chaos notwithstanding. Last May, in Chicago, Garner Ted Armstrong, the most prolific broadcaster of our time, offered the invocation at a luncheon of the National Association of Broadcasters and told 2,500 media executives: “We plan to make ‘The World Tomorrow’ the number-one religious broadcast in the nation. We plan to have the program on 2,000 stations by 1980.” Armstrong is also aiming at a circulation for The Plain Truth of 10 million.

Herbert Armstrong is continuing to expand the Cultural Foundation’s nondenominational activities. In order that the wealthy WCG may become a patron of the literary arts, the foundation is starting a new, commercial monthly, Quest 77, which they call “The Magazine of Human Potential”. “We think good writers should have a place to appear besides Playboy and Penthouse”, says Kuhn. To edit the magazine, Kuhn hired Robert Shnayerson, former editor in chief of Harper’s magazine. The Ambassador Auditorium’s concert season and the new magazine are both hugely ambitious undertakings. Together they lend prestige and mainstream respectability to the Armstrong cause.

Religious quacks or sincere believers? It’s not easy to say, but sincerity seems to be the signal trait of the cleancut, all-American innocents one sees on the Ambassador College campus. And sincerity is certainly to be read on the faces of the two Armstrongs and the staff of their $50 million-a-year organization.

Keith Thomas, one of the WCG’s ordained ministers, looks out over Manhattan from his office on the twenty-eighth floor of One Penn Plaza and speaks of the Armstrongs reaching 100 million people a week through all its media–radio, television, and its myriad publications. Says Thomas, gazing at the twin monoliths of the World Trade Center in lower New York, “We are living in the last days. Things are focused on a collision course. Either God intervenes, or the world is going to be a cinder. Our commission is to take this message to the world”. PR man Tom Hall says it once more: “This generation will see the return Of Jesus Christ. The drama being worked out here below is such that when He returns, no one will question why He came”.

Any questions? Write for the free booklet . . .