If anyone looks closely enough at the characteristics of any two people, then some parallels will always be found. However, throughout this world, parallels in actual character flaws always find a lot less similarity than a comparable evaluation of peoples’ overall, general, or normal characteristics. While we all have faults, it’s decidedly odd that two remotely located people on this planet could ever have the exact, same collection of repulsive similarities in character deficiency . . . unless of course, the dark spiritual energy behind each individual was identical.
My voyage into a religious cult three years after graduating from high school in 1962. Note: Beware of those who claim to be owners of “the truth.” I call my story The Royal Blue Satin Dress….a dress given to me by my friend and high school classmate.
The truth is I was an unwilling participant at Ambassador College. I had a very good job before coming to AC. I was an office manager for a Union Office in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio for three years. I worked alone and had many, as well as varied responsibilities. At eighteen I had my own bank account and loved my challenging job. Alas, under pressure from the local minister in my area and pressure from my father, an obedient me ended up where I did not belong, back in school in 1965-1968.
My education, motivation, personality and good fortune had already provided me with what I wanted, a sound, secure working position. I found out I could depend on a job and upon myself early on. Prior to coming to Ambassador College, I was not looking for a husband. I did not want to be a minister’s wife. Silly me, that was exactly what their three college campus locations were about. I did not yet get the picture. Orders were to go, control was final and I was under their manipulation. I was older when I came to AC and had zero romantic interests. That would not have been allowed anyway until it was approved by someone in authority. I saw others with boyfriends though.
One girl in my local church dated every young man that walked through the door and hung out with them as well. As far as I could go with romance was a crush on a singer. I was twenty 21 when I came to AC and 24 when I left. I came into the cult group at age nineteen. I had no prior training in Biblical studies. I did not date in high school, a restricted home life taught me not to question that policy. No proms or ball games for me, no after school events, no parties. No, there would be none of that, instead it would be school, home, clean, do dishes, feed the farm animals, bring in hay, weed the garden and then repeat that. Thank you very much. I was already well on the road to becoming the invisible girl.
One year after graduation and while I was working, my father found “The Truth.” He praised the Lord and handed this new found church his wallet. This cult needed a Skull and Cross Bones Warning pasted on it. The magazine this “Truth Cult” published was The Plain Truth Magazine. Their radio broadcast was called The World Tomorrow Broadcast, the deceptive ones at the microphone were Herbert W. Armstrong and his son Garner Ted Armstrong. I blindly entered the cult alongside my father. Smack down time, life was going to get really ugly, more restrictive and difficult than it had been already. Immediately the brain washing is done, now with no brain, you do as you are TOLD. I was told I would give up my three year (great) job and I would be sent to Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas. There is where they produce the young minds filled with mush who spread THE UNHOLY WORD. I was unaware of that fact and truth at that time.
I was scared and sickened to go, but just to imagine God saw me, I thought maybe I was special, perhaps an honor? Maybe? It never worked like that before, but this is supposed to be the ONLY true church (according to my father) and it comes already equipped with an Apostle whose lineage is undeniable, he is the ONE…passed down and ordained by God from Biblical days, oh my, from the beginning; through fragmented churches, scattered remnants of God’s truly CALLED ones. Besides, these holy men were in charge of my life, guiding me, they were doing that for my benefit with all sincerity and on top of that they had direct orders and truth from God. I was going to be special, all the dull days of my previous life would be worth it, right? All is well, surely it will end well and the experience will have some sort of terrific blessing.
There was another even grander opportunity for me, the challenge to dig my own cave with a spoon in Petra. Yep, I heard that “truth” in a sermon one Holy Sabbath Day in Cincinnati, right here in River City, the year was 1963. The cult members would somehow be transported to Petra “the rock” the Apostle would stay in a hotel, the rest of us common folks would dig ourselves a cave with a spoon. I was thinking to myself, please don’t forget to take your spoon! The portly Apostle (who was a degenerate predator, always protected and surrounded by YES men.) He would be transported to Petra on one of his private jets, with his private pilot at the controls.
The flock of dumb sheep paid 30% of our gross salary for the Apostle’s grandiose lifestyle. His closest partners in crime did just fine too, lavish homes on faculty row. These homes existed for the elite on the three campus locations. The richest and finest appeared to be in Pasadena, CA. I never saw the ones in England. The Apostle owned lots of homes, that sat empty, filled with fine art and furnishings like unto an oil tycoon. Upon reflection, I honestly do not know how we escaped becoming Kool-Aid drinkers. We must have been worth more to them alive. Death would cut off the money flow, otherwise I could picture some us receiving a good old Biblical stoning or poison laced Kool-Aid, drink up flock!
I do think that act of insanity (a poison drink) was on the menu, we just somehow escaped that little ditty. The self-appointed Apostle did not have a death wish, that was the saving grace more than likely. He wanted to live forever, he said in a bulletin he was getting younger. That was to prepare the sheep for his marrying a much younger woman. He let his wife die, when simple surgery would have saved her. He blamed her death on our sins. After the Apostle and his yes men would make good their escape from the coming holocaust and I listened closely, I did not hear that the Apostle would be coming back to get us when the HOLOCAUST began.
Once ensconced safely in his fine hotel, I am thinking that the jets would be grounded somewhere, maybe Israel and the dumb sheep would have to wait for a miracle, such as the parting of the red sea to get ourselves out of harm’s way. I did hear one bright minister mention eagles. As long as that eagle has a hidden pocket under one of those feathers for my spoon to dig my cave with and a seat belt, I guess I would be good to go. Yikes, what a site. I bet the environmentalists would find a way to protect the eagles who were flying the wacky cultists out of the USA. I can see it now, thousands of humans tumbling from the sky, shot right off the eagle’s backs. Fly away birds! Go fly free! This is not credible at all, but relieved of your brain, fairy tales seem to have a message. This craziness was preached in sermons on Saturdays. The world would be ending in terror, flames, plagues horrors too awful to contemplate.
The sermons worked the sheep in the audience into a dry mouthed, bunch of bug eyed, terrified, mind numbed robots. Petra was to be “the rock, the place of safety for the chosen ones. The END of days would be 1972. We would remain in Petra for three years while the rest of the world screamed in agony tortured by flames, rodents, boils, hot hail raining down on earth. If I get that cave dug out, will I get manna to go with that or are hot lunches being served ONLY at the Philadelphia Hotel housing The Apostle and gang.
These gentlemen, the Apostle and his son have long since expired, no trip to Petra for them. Their ill-gotten gains were unable to pass through to portal with them. Although the fine art and gold doubloons could not go with them to their final resting place, these guys had one fine time while exploiting and plundering their flock of sheep. They were womanizers along with many of those they ordained into the ministry.
Those stories have probably already been written. They read like a cheap pornographic novel. I was a willing sacrifice and just too brain washed to know it. The perfect empty vessel. Wow! Silly me, I actually thought AC just might provide me with a social life involving (perhaps) communication with a decent young gentleman, surely I was old enough to engage in talk, legal age of 21. God had better hurry up with this plan for my life, it is now 1965, if I am going to complete boot camp, learn more unholy doctrine, plus kick up my heels a time or two, we must hurry. We need to get this show on the road, the end of days is just seven years away. Hurry!
To be continued…
King Herbert Marries.
After the king’s first wife died, he thought of himself and his beastly urges, saying to himself: ‘I am in need of a queen for my urges are many and my need are unfulfilled’. One day while walking among his sheep, the king spotted a women whom caused desire in his loins. And the king courted the women and the women the king, for he had riches and she had none. The future queen accompanied the king on many trips to different lands. One morning, the king found all that he had wished for came to pass. The king began to pave the way for the people to accept his impending marriage. He began relating how God allowed the first queen to die, because she could not have kept up such a grueling pace, could not have remained a companion and wife to him in this new phase of his kingship. He took the women half his age in marriage, and the pretty became the second queen who would sit with him at many banquets in other lands.
Wealth of a Nation.
Over time the king and all the kingdoms leaders demanded supreme respect, because they had the most gold and silver. As long as their empirical selves and power base was not shaken, the king could do as he pleased. While the governors of the land did what they wanted and ripped off everyone, the king kept the people happy with wonderful scenarios of a coming world kingdom. Day after day he served up to the people a dose of mush, brainwashing the people into thinking that the land of milk and honey was soon to materialize.
The king thought that the people would continue to fear him and that they would never break the laws of the land, and thus the civil and ruling authorities would be safe from any rebellion or coup and could continue their criminal activities against the people. It was the perfect setup. And for this, the governors were allowed any gold or silver that they could shake from the general masses of people in the name of God and king. Both the governors and the king lived happily together, as each needed the other. For the king had a legislative board to pass laws that suited his purpose and had those who were willing to crackdown and brutally enforce such legislation at the point of a sword. As wealth is an instrument of power, force is the instrument of policy.
Disenchantment in the Kingdom.
And it came to pass that many of the people became more and more disenchanted with the lifestyles of those who ruled over them. They came to see the hypocrisy of the king and that of his henchmen. The king could now no longer placate the mesmerized masses that formerly rocked together with arms raised and eyes closed in a hypnotic stupor within the court of the king! The lavish quarters of the king, expensive chariots, luxurious homes, costly clothes, and the finest cuisine caused the people to grumble. For the people lived in squalor and drove chariots that would lose their wheels, their clothes tattered and worn, and their food was of the lowest quality. The king had even forbidden the use of shamans when illness was to strike a family member, yet the king was exempt when he himself was afflicted.
Divorce and Scandal.
After some time, the king became increasingly disenchanted with his marriage. The mighty ruler had grown disgusted with his queen, and it was his belief there had been a plot to remove him from his kingship and place him into a mental institution. But what could he do to save face?
The king had wanted it to appear that the queen was committing a lawless offense so he could invoke the scripture of old which said: “If the unbeliever depart, let him (her) depart….” As king he could change the laws of the land on a whimper. And change the law he did! The king disallowed the women of the kingdom the one luxury that they had to hold onto their self esteem. The king outlawed the painting of faces! An old custom that the king made legal in order to please the queen before they married!
So it came to pass that the court of the law was to grant the king and his queen a decree of divorce. The queen had disclosed to the court that the king had boasted of an incestuous relationship with his daughter from the first queen. The court not wishing the king to suffer, forbade the telling of the incest to the people of the kingdom. But not all wished to protect the king, for there was found within the kingdom a governor who spoke truth. A man who had moral direction.
there was a king who ruled unjustly over his self-made kingdom. The king had a son who lacked moral fortitude and dignity. These self proclaimed teachers taught the great people how to honor and worship the God that was said to be looking over the domain of this mighty empire.
King Herbert was a greedy man, very much fond of money, who cared about nothing but the wealth he could extort from the citizens of his kingdom. His son the prince who was more popular than the king, had a reputation of stealing the citizens daughters and wives and use them for his own personal sexual gratification.
Two Wrong Choices.
Eventually the innocent citizens were to be forced into an inescapable predicament by the two men who rule over them. A choice must be made. The choice of continuing to follow the king or to forgo him and follow his son the prince. The people are trapped in a prison, but treated as an honored guest as they are courted by the two competitors.
They ask themselves ‘Shall I remain being a servant of the kings house, or should I chose the kings son Prince Ted as my protector and mentor?’ As the war between father and son escalated it seemed that the kingdom was going to be split apart! Prince Ted declared that his father the king had lost his way and no longer followed the precepts of the god he proclaimed for all the years behind him.
One side said the prince had no right to rule for his sexual sins were many. The other side proclaimed the king had grown senile and increasingly corrupt. Brother was pitted against brother, a father against his own daughter, a son against his whole family. The kingdom was hopelessly divided. Was there not another way? Was there no one among all the governors or citizens that the people could chose from that might lead them into the ways of righteousness? The solution for unification was not to be found, for the people had little moral direction.
In time the people made their wretched decision and the domain in which they all had dwelt was torn asunder. Those who followed the senile king and those who wished to intercourse with the son went their own way with weeping and bitterness. The kingdom was divided. Would it stand?
After some years, the governors who ruled over the districts grumbled among themselves. King Herbert it had been said, took a child decades earlier saying ‘For God has given her to me. Hence forth she will be mine to use as I wish’. This was a point of contention among the governors and much was made of it until they considered that the king held the purse strings that provided themselves with subsistence. Once again, the lack of moral direction stood out as testimony against them. For they once again forsook their God and embraced the ways of a evil man. For they also had little moral direction in which to steer the kingdom.
In the princes kingdom, King Ted (as some have called him) and those who thought of themselves as being on the correct side of the argument, embraced the new founded empire. It was to be blessed by the God of their realm they were told and it was declared all over the land ‘God is pleased’.
Over time the new king changed some of the doctrines that his father held so affectionately. Once again, some did not think that he should change the former kings doctrines as to the God of the new nation. The controversy was soon to be overshadowed by a outrage of epic proportion. One that would oust the king and replace him! But that is another story….A story of greed, lust and sexual sins unworthy of one who calls himself a leader of men!
King Herbert sought to increase his kingdom and its wealth. But how shall he be able to increase that which he has not? One day a Fairy came to Herbert and said:
‘Oh mighty King, I have that which you seek. Give me the first born children of your citizens and I shall have them serve you. You shall become wealthy beyond measure! Tell your servants that their children will be placed into the hands of the almighty God for His service. Then you shall spin the people and turn which is not yours into gold’.
And the king agreed to the terms of the deal. The Fairy sprinkled Herbert with pixie dust and all that he asked for was granted.
This pleased the king and he gave a decree to all those of the kingdom saying:
‘Your children are mine, the gold and the silver are mine, thus saith the Lord’.
The people blind with loyalty obeyed and dedicated their first born children to the God of the land. All those of the land seemed pleased with the kings decree and felt that their God shall richly bless them and repay them for their sacrifice. However, little did they realize that their sacrifice was a confirmation of a vow, one their king gave…one which the people were unaware of. The children were to be handed over to Moloch, not the God of the land.
Becoming God as God is God.
The king was greatly delighted to see all the glittering treasure pour out from his spinning wheel. Beyond his wildest dreams cash was dropped at his door. Investing wisely, the king saw his empire greatly increase in size and scope. It was time to travel and feast. For the workers are many and the fortune is great. And as the king enjoyed his good fortune, a fortune made secure by the Fairy and the vow he gave, great fanfare, glorious cheers and pompous declaration began to be heard all over the land. Some began to call the king “Apostle” and others called him the new “Elijah” that was to come. Indeed, there was never before such a man as this one the people thought. For he is a prophet of God!
The king had a particularly cruel method for financing his kingdom. He cleverly developed a tithing system which had never existed before in all of history. The people of the kingdom were told that God required them to give as much as 30% their income, plus generous offerings seven times per year to the kingdom. Threats of being cursed by the God of the kingdom if one did not comply. For what was to became of the gold and silver no one knew the full truth of the matter. It was by faith they were to live!
Social Problems in the Kingdom.
After a time, social problem developed in the kingdom. Children were left in the forests in droves or orphaned on the streets. There was little money in circulation within the kingdom for the king had become greedy beyond measure and hoarded much. Even the widows mite was not enough for him.
Some of the governors in their district began removing children from their parents using force in order to insure that they are raised “properly”. Others told their district citizens to abandon their crippled children and allow heathens who followed not the “god” of the kingdom, to raise the little beasts, for these had little to none to offer. The nation was in disarray for the governors began to push loyalty to the limit by harshly ruling over the people of the kingdom.
This produced a domino effect. Husbands domineered their wives. Parents would likewise treat their children sternly with strict discipline. The people of the kingdom had learned this behavior from their leaders. Those they looked up to for guidance. And they felt justified in their evil behavior toward others. The vortex was beginning to churn!
Read entire story HERE
(or: The Sex ACTS of the Apostle)
by John B
Caution!! This page is “R” Rated
(Just like the Bible)
Do not read any further if you are offended with street language.
Remember Waterhouse saying that there would be
additions to the Book of Acts? Well, here is a start
1. Brethren, I would not have you be ignorant of the travails of the end time, for it came to pass in those days that a child was born, of Quaker stock (which is not to say, chicken stock).
2. And his name was called Herbert (for he had no W), and would be a strong-arm man. He was filled with vanity, exceedingly so, and consumed with lust. He desired much lucre, and power, and women (but lo he was ugly).
3. Young Herbert pursued many adventures, so many that no man can know, nor can any man understand, for he was filled with a lying spirit.
4. When he came of age he labored in an occupation, which is to say advertising, for his talent as a liar was much admired. He was betrothed to Loma, who did not know him, nor what she was getting into.
5. But famine spread across the land, called the Great Depression, and Herbert became destitute. Loma gave birth to Richard (who was called Dick), and Ted (who was obsessed with his dick), and two girl-children.
6. And Herbert had a vision, of a great golden mansion, a house with many rooms, and at his feet a pile of gold, and silver, and Steuben, and onyx, and all manner of cash. And the angel said unto him,
7. Get thee up, Herbert, and go forth, and preach, and all these things shall be yours. And Herbert said, Lo! Goddamn, why did I not think of that before?
8. And he girded up his loins, and went forth, and preached.
1. In those days the land was covered with darkness, for all women were exceedingly oppressed, and there was no judge to hear their cry.
2. And it came to pass in the second year of his ministry, that Herbert fell upon his daughter, the fruit of his loins, and lay with her. And fucked her. And no man raised a cry, for they said, Truly, this is a man of God.
3. But Loma knew, yet Herbert did not heed, and continued for ten years. And his daughter was sorely vexed.
4. But Herbert preached the Sabbath, and the holy days, and baptized many. But he faced much opposition, for the prophets of the church of God (called 7th Day) murmured among themselves, saying, See, he thinks his calling is higher than ours.
5. And they were right. But Herbert cared not, and divided them, and tore asunder that which they had labored to build, drawing many to follow him. And the church of God (called 7th Day) was in a shambles.
6. But when the word was spread abroad that Herbert had fucked his daughter, he fled to a far province, called California, and his family followed. And he cursed the church of God (called 7th Day), and said, Behold, their works are dead! Follow me. And he left behind deacons, to collect the tithes, but the deacons said among themselves, Verily, why should we give him these tithes? See how he has abandoned the body of Christ. And they kept the money for themselves.
7. And Herbert called them thieves.
8. There was war in the east, for a man called Adolf (who was also filled with lust and greed) said to himself, Surely I have a destiny to destroy the Jews. And he made a great slaughter.
9. And Herbert admired him, and prophesied, saying, Surely this man shall triumph! The end must be near. And he made many prophecies, but none came to pass.
1. In the ten and third year of his ministry, Herbert discovered a great city, called Pasadena (which in the Hebrew tongue means nothing), and in it were many great mansions on a street called Orange Grove. And Herbert’s eyes were filled with lust.
2. And he acquired a mansion (for he was a great con man, and a liar), and built a college, which he called Ambassador. And he preached a new doctrine, for his prophecies concerning the war did not come to pass, yet he still admired Adolf, and emulated him in all things.
3. And he started with four students, including Herman, who was called Ho, and was truly a ho. And the college started small, like a grain of mustard seed, and flourished.
4. And more students came, and Herbert acquired another mansion, and another mansion, and he preached continually, proclaiming himself as God’s only true prophet. And many heeded his voice, and the lucre began to accumulate.
5. And Herman, who was called Ho, and was truly a ho, and also admired Adolf (and was of the same race as Adolf, and was exceedingly proud), began to call himself a historian, and a scholar, but he was neither.
6. Among the students came another, called Rod, of the house of Merrydeath, who some said was sly. And Rod became obsessed with his rod, and considered the matter. And when he was ordained, he preached about the rod of iron, and all other rods, and condemned queers exceedingly.
7. And the church of God (called Radio) began to spread, like a vine, until it encompassed the whole land. And many believed, and gave all in tithes and offerings, and many were sore vexed, and many died.
8. And Herbert’s son Dick was sent into all the land, to witness, and to raise up new congregations, and he raised up many.
9. Herbert sent forth many epistles, called coworker epistles, and the work continued to grow. And Herbert was well fed, but he was not contented.
10. In the twenty and second year of his ministry, Herbert received a messenger, a bearer of bad news, and Herbert was grieved, for his son Dick was dead. The chariot upon which Dick had ridden had struck another chariot, because the charioteer was a man called Billingsley, who was a wimp and a fool.
11. And Herbert prayed, crying with a loud voice, and said, Hear me O Lord, thou hast given me this son, as thou gavest Isaac to Abraham. Now raise him up again to life, that he may follow in my path.
12. But God said from his throne, Fuck off, little man.
13. And Dick was still dead.
1. And the word was spread abroad, unto all nations, and all languages, so that the church of God (called Radio) became increased in gold and silver and treasures.
2. And the ministers went among the flock, fleecing them, preaching that which seemed good unto them, for there was no law in America to prevent them, thanks to the separation of church and state.
3. And many thousands heeded the call, and gave, and attended local congregations, and gave, and prayed, and gave, and served, and gave. And the giving came from all nations, for the voice of Herbert was heard in all lands, and he preached fear and destruction and obedience, and a great terror filled the hearts of those who heard his cry, and did believe.
4. And Herbert published his ministry in many media, which is to say the World Tomorrow, the Plain Truth, and many tablets called booklets. Many believed, and certainly they trembled.
5. Herbert ruled as a king, from his throne, and when the talents waned he sent out more epistles, mouthing threats, and more talents were received. But he was not content.
6. In the thirty and third year of Herbert’s ministry, Loma suffered a great affliction, because she could not shit. Herbert drove away the physicians, and anointed her, but she was not healed. And she lingered near death for many days, and still she could not shit, and her spirit left her.
1. Herbert began to travel abroad, to consort with kings and princes of all lands. For he said, Verily, I must fulfill the commission to preach the gospel unto every soul.
2. And he surrounded himself with thieves, and liars, and scoundrels of every sort. One was called Raider (which in the tongue of the elect means one who raids), who was a thief, and did not believe, but was an opportunist.
3. And Raider traveled with Herbert, and consumed the tithes. Their travels cost many talents, and spread across the earth, into every land, and they witnessed many wonders. And there were whores, and concubines, and sluts of every kind, and no thing they desired was withheld from them.
4. In a far land of the east Herbert found himself a concubine, of the land of the Filipinos, and desired that she return with him to Pasadena, where he lavished upon her very expensive gifts, and spent many hours in her bed.
5. But the brethren knew nothing of it.
6. And during the wanderings of Herbert his son Ted looked about and said unto himself, Am I not the equal of my father? Am I not more youthful and more becoming? And he began to usurp his father’s throne, and to take command. He gazed upon the maidens in the college called Ambassador, and did lust after them.
7. And he did fuck many, and also the wives of many ministers. And he was a hypocrite.
8. Alas, the word did spread, about Ted, that he did fuck many maidens, and wives of many ministers, and Herbert was called home. And he was wroth. But as the prophet Jeremy could have said, but did not, blood runneth thicker than water, and Herbert did protect Ted, and assuaged him, and sent him into the wilderness of Montana to repent, whereupon Ted enjoyed a blessed vacation, and did hunt and killed many deer and moose.
9. And the council of elders took exception to Raider, and complained to Herbert. But Herbert rebuked them, and made his jowls shake with a great shaking, and did squeal like a pig. And he said unto them, You want me to send him away because you like him not. BUT I DO LIKE HIM! And the ministers were stung, and fell silent. And Raider continued to squander the tithes and consumed many talents upon his lusts.
1. In those days Herbert was increased in years, but he did not cease in his travels. He went forth and preached in many lands, saying, The world is sore troubled, and will surely perish, unless some great hand from somewhere should intervene.
2. But he preached not Christ, nor did he declare the way unto salvation, nor preached the gospel. He went unto Jerusalem, and Egypt, and Gog, and Magog, and Egg Nog, lavishing upon them gifts, and cash, and receiving many whores, and became increased in vanity.
3. And it came to pass in those days that a man called Robinson did write a book, and a man called Tuit did file a suit, and the governor of the province called California did pay heed. He sent forth magistrates, and deputies, and did seize the church (called Worldwide), and occupied it, and said, Lo, this man Herbert is a thief, and a liar, and a charlatan, and we must inquire of him as to how the talents are spent.
4. But the congregations rose up and rebelled, for they were told by the ministers that this was of Satan, and persecution, and they believed. They resisted the magistrates and deputies, and cried aloud with a loud voice, and said, Free us O Lord!
5. And Mike Wallace came forth and communed with Raider, and noised it abroad. And Raider was wroth, and fucked it up, and said unto Mike Wallace, Get thee out of the house of God, or I shall prevail upon the District Attorney, for thou art too close to the truth!
6. But there was a document in the land, called the Constitution, and it was the law in the land. And it came to pass that many churches, and congregations, and cults did ally themselves with the Worldwide, and the governor of the province called California withdrew, and said, Behold, this cause is lost, and Herbert escaped justice.
7. But he was wroth, and squealed like a pig, and shook his jowls with a great shaking, and disfellowshipped many. And began to preach about two trees, which meaning none could interpret, (for it had no meaning), and from that day forward did preach nothing else, for he had nothing else to preach. And he put the church back on the track, which is to say, back in the hole.
8. In the sixty and second year of his ministry, when he was ninety and three years of age, Herbert did finally die. And he was unrepentant of his deeds, and very proud and exceedingly filled with vanity.
9. And there were many more acts of this apostle which have not been told, but truly, are they not written down in the web site called The Painful Truth? Amen.
Blast from the past…
The gospel of Herbert W. Armstrong was hard to define because it was ever-changing and never compiled into a written statement of doctrine (when it was tried in the 1970s by his son, it was considered the work of Satan). To point out all the heretical doctrines and inconsistencies would fill volumes. Essentially, it was this: extreme legalism. The Worldwide Church of God lexicon was filled with official and unofficial legalistic restraint: no jury duty, no taking of oaths, no voting (our allegiance was not to this world), no mixed racial dating or marriages, no college (except the church’s Ambassador College, of course – its God’s college), no makeup (it’s for whores), no dating outside the church, no divorce (the remarried had to split up for many years), no military service, almost no doctors (broken bones were OK), almost no medicine, no vaccinations, no birth control pills (they were medicine), no TV or radio on the Sabbath (news was OK-it was watching end-time events) no smoking, no pork or pork ingredients of any kind, white sugar or bread was discouraged (forbidden by some ministers), honey was the food of choice – it had healing powers, no long hair or sideburns on men, no wearing anything fashionable (fashion was dictated by “queers”) on men, and the supreme no; no questions. Alcohol, however, was encouraged as long as you could remember what you were not supposed to do and money was not diverted from three tithes and seven or more annual offerings, with special offerings for dire circumstances (which arose regularly).
The end result was broken and isolated families, needless suffering from denial of medical care, and mental anguish of a generation of youths who could never measure up in a performance based religious system. Fortunately, the tomorrow Herbert W. Armstrong promised to millions began to die the day he did.
In the decade following his death in 1986, the emperor was gradually shown by rebellious heirs to have no clothes; he was slowly exposed by those who grew up inside the system since birth. To those remnant faithful who would not expose the lie for themselves for fear of the answer, it was a rude awakening to realize that Herbert W. Armstrong’s vision of the wonderful world tomorrow was nothing more than eclectic musings of a high school dropout who failed in his first career of advertising, but succeeded gloriously in controlling the lives of his followers through an authoritarian grip. If he was honestly self-deluded in thinking the purpose of man was to become one of many Gods and his mission was to single-handedly warn the world of impending nuclear Armageddon lest they repent and follow God through his church; or if he was a manipulative, deviant, evil person bent on mind control of his “sheep” is a moot point. The damage was done and today, generations of followers lay in the rubble of his cult theology. I am one of them.
Thirty-four of my thirty-seven years were spent under the delusion that the Worldwide Church of God was the only acceptable path to God and the fear of losing out on eternal life if I violated its tenants. I was robbed of being a normal American kid doing the little things that enrich mainstream childhood’s: Friday night football games, Christmas with relatives, dating girls outside “the church,” birthday parties, Valentines Day, being accepted at school because I was very different due to a weird religion. I simply accepted it without question because my grandparents and family believed it, therefore it must be so. Any alternative to God’s true church was not even thought of; that was just the way things were.
A Worldwide Church of God Portrait
As a child, I was told in church sermons and through publications I was required to read that in the coming tribulation, children would be taken from their parents by the Germans (leaders of an emerging beast power in Europe) and we would watch mom and dad swing from meat hooks for following God through Herbert W. Armstrong if they were not obedient enough to God to escape. The decadent, godless USA would be a wasteland by the tens nations of Europe led by the nasty Germans. My classmates would be nuked and my school vaporized. It scared the hell out of me (except for the destruction of the school, which was kinda neat). I would never attend high school, never marry and never have to worry about mortgage payments because Christ would return and make the world one big Ambassador College campus (the church school) with church members as the professors of righteousness. This would all happen by 1975, the late fifties church booklet 1975 in Prophecy extolled, unless the U.S. and Great Britain woke up, repented and modeled themselves on the Worldwide Church of God paradigm.
Luckily, we members were the chosen ones that would escape the horrors of Armageddon if, and only if, we qualified by demonstrating obedience to God. We alone, through Herbert W. Armstrong, knew the keys to prophecy because God has called us, the weak (i.e., losers) from this world to confound the wise. HWA revealed that time was not to be wasted on converting anyone -the unconverted were not lost – they would come to spiritual understanding at a later date since they would be humbled via the Germans and the Beast power (The United States of Europe). Most would then realize that their evil ways, like keeping Christmas or birthdays or eating pork was actually worshipping Satan, not God. Our job as members was to pray and pay with three tithes on our income so that others would remember when the goose-stepping thugs reached their door and we were safe in caves in Petra waiting for Christ and living a squeaky clean obedient life that Herbert W. Armstrong had warned them. Of course, they weren’t going to listen, but it was his duty to provide the warning because that was the mission of “the work.” He didn’t want to do it, but God called him and he was fearful of turning his back on a divine mission. So he was forced to live in opulence – like having a private jet, a collection of artwork and jewels – and flying around the world giving gifts and church money to world leaders like Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos for a five minute photo opportunity. High living was a requirement of a twentieth century apostle; world leaders would not take an average guy seriously. Obviously, HWA was simply a victim of the wealth God required of him.
Despite the admonishment not to worry over converting our neighbors like those crazy Jehovah’s Witnesses, tens of millions a year were spent each year on radio and TV time to warn of a pending nuclear war – the end times- and protection for those who qualified for God’s soon coming kingdom through obedience to clearly defined regulations ranging from hair length to approved sexual positions. Money was proudly never asked for publicly; that is what churches of this world did. The rank and file supported Herbert’s arms, like Moses, with cash to proclaim the gospel with their tithes. Members may be losers of the world, but spiritual winners were made by humble, unquestioned obedience to the local minister and realizing one cannot out give God (e.g., give all your money). To give your money was an honor not afforded most of the world at this time.
Obedience did have its rewards. By sweeping the floor of the rented hall and setting up chairs, one might become noticed and obtain the rank of Deacon. In the early sixties, this meant the ability to wear black armbands with D*E*A*C*O*N spelled in white letters to announce your position. Since relatives were distanced by membership in the church and socializing with the unconverted was frowned upon, the church was usually a member’s total social life. Of course, if one was never a Spokesman Club president, worry not. The real prizes were waiting in the hereafter: a king or priest in the wonderful world tomorrow. As first fruits, the obedient Worldwide Church of God faithful would get the first tier of spiritual prizes to be doled out to those who met the requirements (a city, a country, or even a plant in the wonderful world tomorrow). Of course, avoidance of agonizing death with meat hooks at the hands of the Germans should have been reward enough.
The fact that relatives and coworkers thought you were a religious nut was proof they were not “called” and God had not opened their eyes to understand the constantly changing “new truth” God revealed to Herbert W. Armstrong. New truth was defined as when he changed his mind about something – such as if women should wear makeup – that it was simply God revealing new understanding. Sometimes, the new truth was revealed to him to be not as true as originally thought and the old truth was revealed to be truer than the new truth and it was then the new truth was actually the old truth. If this was confusing, it was proof of being unconverted or having a problem with church government. The fact he was willing to change all the time was proof that God was leading him and he was not deceived like all the other ministries who taught one thing and stuck to it. It was all quite plain when he explained it; hence the name of the magazine, The Plain Truth, which had upwards of six million copies given away each month (if you count the illiterate African tribesmen who used it for insulation for the village huts and giveaway copies at supermarkets). HWA, in turn, revealed these truths to us via “the broadcast,” the Plain Truth magazine and countless coworker letters reminding of God’s wrath on those who robbed him of multiple tithes and offerings to carry out the work. The truth was indeed plain, if we just looked into the bible and read what it said for our self with a little help from Herbert W. Armstrong; God was reproducing himself through creating man and we were destined to be part of the God family. If we qualified, all would become God as God is God, only some Gods would be greater than others depending on our earthly performance and when we joined the line. First come, first served. All Gods are equal, just that some would be more equal than others, so work hard for a free gift of eternal life. George Orwell would be proud of the plain truth.
God’s pyramid system of government was key to up-righting the moral decay of this not so a wonderful world of today. The church chain of command was very militaristic despite the ban on military service. God was first, then Christ was head of the Church, who was head of HWA, who was head of the evangelists, who was head of ministers, who was head of deacons, who was head of husbands, who was head of wives, who was head of children. At the bottom of the ladder were the children, who were mirrors of the spiritual health of the family. Child rearing was the way to display to one’s spiritual conversion.
A typical Worldwide Church of God dad, in an ill-fitting polyester suit (the only one he owned), briskly walked into services each Sabbath with vinyl briefcase full of bibles in hand, ready to begin fellowshipping with the other brief casing men. Mom, loaded down with pallets and kids hanging off each arm, trailed behind. Kids sat almost motionless beside the parents during the two-hour church service. If children were emotionless robots who obeyed through sheer terror, dad must be doing it God’s way. He was a Godly man. Mom did the actual correction under dad’s direction, taking the kids in and out of services while dad sat taking copious notes on top of the briefcase sitting on his lap. He used to tape record every sermon until it was discovered tapes could be used by Satan to attack the church for what it said. Dad would intervene only if mom let the situation get out of control, with a glaring eye toward the kids and to mom for letting it happen. She would immediately leave for the mothers room with kids in tow. Dad would straighten both out later.
Kids, we were told, were innately carnal and by destroying anything resembling personality through generous corporal punishment for even little offenses, God’s holy character would be instilled by Dad and peace and harmony abounds. Life would mimic the scene depicted on the church seal, kids would play with lions and everybody would eat unprocessed foods. Happy. Happy. Happy. Mom had a little more leeway than the kids, but not much. Help meets were there to help dad, who knew how to govern God’s way. Hippies were ample evidence that the world was doing it all wrong and society was going to hell in a handbasket. An unchecked carnal kid was a sure bet to graduate to hippiedom and may cost dearly in the upcoming white throne judgment. A good kid, might, upon recommendation of the minister, be accepted to Ambassador, God’s Westpoint, and emerge part of the minister class or wife of a minister. At least, they would return to the local church area to give sermonettes and struggle during the week at a lousy sales job (sales were the usual avenues for a BS graduate in theology).
Children were not the only way to display spirituality, and health was another. Doctors and medicine were taboo until the 1970s, when lawsuits caused the church to make unspoken rules rather than church dogma. Processed foods were out, but natural foods were in. Booklets like the Seven Laws of Radiant Health (written by the medical expert: a man with a doctorate from Ambassador) promoted things like the exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays were highly beneficial. Vaccinations were discouraged, God, not man would protect those who placed their faith in him. State law said differently and my mother, under the council of knowledgeable church members, rubbed lemon juice over my polio vaccination in the parking lot of the doctor’s office to counteract the effect of the medicine. Operations other than setting broken bones were demonstrating a lack of faith in God. Illness was also the result of sin in some way. There was spiritual sin and physical sin; disease was physical sin. If you were sick, God would heal without doctors if the proper faith was present and for those who were weak, go ahead and submit to the evils of modern medicine. Combining the two: making your sick children follow God by choosing not to place your faith in doctors was the biggest demonstration of faith. If the child died, and many did, it was the result of a lack of faith on the parents or the other church members as a whole because it was their job for collective prayer.
Race relations were also clearly understood by Herbert W. Armstrong. God was the creator of the races and separate was the way they were created. In the wonderful world tomorrow, the races would be separated again to live happy on their very own continent. In the meanwhile, dating someone of another race was verboten. In the early to mid sixties, congregations had roped-off sections for the blacks, presumably to make sure that intermixing was at a minimum and providing practice for ruling in the world tomorrow.
The annual Feast of Tabernacles in Big Sandy, Texas during the 1960s was the perfect example of a proving ground for the world tomorrow. Ten thousand people camped for eight days. Old station wagons loaded with kids, tents, liquor and ubiquitous brief cases. Here, God did things orderly and orderly it was. Men who held no power in the world were given titles for a week, creating hundreds of little Hilters doing it Gods way. Captain of a Thousand. Captain of a Hundred. The Captain of Ten. Each had a nicely lettered sign above his campsite telling the world of his power over men despite a loser status in the world headed by Satan. Decisions of Solomaic proportions were made; who swept the dirt streets each day, policing the campgrounds, making sure lights were off at ten and keeping track of anyone who stayed in their tent during the seventeen two-hour services held over the eight days. Ordinary rank and file men watched the leader captains and returned to their homes practicing God’s government on wives, children and pets after each feast. This would prepare them to rule in the world tomorrow as part of the God Family and maybe earn a planet to call their own!
This is only a brief glimpse, the tip of the iceberg of the Worldwide Church of God experience and mind set. Doctrine, policy and customs of the Worldwide Church of God were erratic and unwritten, which makes describing it extremely difficult. Each person that grew up in the Worldwide Church of God has memories and experiences, large and small, that formed a spiritual concept of themselves and their relationship with God. However, the effect the legalism had on shaping the core identity of a person is profound and concrete.
How the Worldwide Church of God Affected Me
The very things that set me apart from “the world” were both a source of embarrassment and a badge of honor: conviction of the Worldwide Church of God as the one true church, unwavering Sabbath attendance in meeting halls that ranged from dance halls to Masonic Lodges (why build churches when the end is nigh?), faithful viewing “the broadcast,” reading all church publications, God’s annual holy days in lieu of pagan holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.), being among the select to escape the coming tribulation and nuclear destruction of “unconverted” mankind in the end times, fleeing to a “place of safety” in 1972 (to avoid the meat hooks) and the return of Christ in the 1975. The biggest enlightenment was my understanding of the plan of God; that God was calling first fruits (us Worldwide Church of Goders) to qualify for his soon coming Kingdom by overcoming our human nature in this life. I repeatedly tried and failed on all accounts (apparently others did too because that is why Christ did not return in 1975- Herbert W. Armstrong said the church was not ready – it was our fault).
I did all the things a good Worldwide Church of God member was supposed to do: one year of Ambassador College (I quit only because they closed it in 1978), bought Envoys (the AC yearbook) every year and placed on a coffee table even though I knew no one there, married within the church, became a Spokesman’s Club graduate (a Worldwide Church of God version of Toastmasters), meticulous tithing (often 30% of gross income) and offerings, and generous helping of self-loathing at Passover. I was a quintessential Worldwide Church of God “Christian.” I was taught to look down upon those that were not called in benevolent pity. But inside, I knew I was a fake because I didn’t get it like everyone else around me. Cognitive dissonance arose from being told eternal life is a free gift from God but we must “make it” through obedience to a rigid set of laws derived from a Worldwide Church of God interpretation of scripture. I tried and tried to obey and constantly failed. I finally gave up trying because God could not continue to forgive someone who did not grow in grace and knowledge and because he did not bear fruit like those who did obey. The obedient were seemingly all around me in the Worldwide Church of God. If I obeyed, God would bless. If bad things happened, it was a test of faith by Satan. God punishes the ones he loves, therefore if bad things happen, I was blessed by God. But the fact that it was happening showed there was a weakness or a lack of faith. It all came down to me; the system seemingly worked and I was the problem or so I thought.
There were answers for everything as long as you did not look too deeply. I knew them all and every world event fit nicely into God’s end time plan, just as Herbert W. Armstrong had discovered in growing in grace and knowledge of new truth. Smug superiority resulted from knowing “the truth,” yet fear from knowing I never measured up to the standards everyone else did with apparent ease. I lived in comfortable misery knowing all the answers and realizing I was never worthy of the prize because I was a fake, a person who had been given the gift, but would die for eternity because he would never “overcome” personal battles with sin out of a lack of faith.
Fate dealt me a double punch. My personal and religious world came apart at the same time in 1993. A diagnosis of cancer shattered my world at the same time that mine and everyone else’s Worldwide Church of God world was dismantled from the inside out under the pretense of nothing has really changed. Cancer was finally God’s way of dealing with me for being a hearer, not a doer of the word, or so I thought. Then, suddenly, came intellectual freedom of facing death and realizing my own mortality in an unexpected way.
Something awoke inside me. Most people find religion when faced with catastrophic illness. I lost it. I was suddenly free of the hold the Worldwide Church of God had on me for my entire life. The cancer experience taught me that the people of “the world” were often more compassionate, more understanding, more accepting and more loving than most Worldwide Church of God members who had decades of overcoming and growing in grace and knowledge of God’s law. The problem was not with me, it was the toxic system I was in.
I was suddenly able to accept my mortality. I was not afraid to die anymore; death would no longer become the answering to God for why I failed to overcome human nature. Realization that a supreme being accepts and understands those who seek him and those who don’t, equally, suddenly hit me broadside.
I had always been afraid to leave because leaving Worldwide Church of God meant leaving God and that meant eternal death. Those who left where spiritual lepers that were avoided or simply became non-persons. I only wish I been asked to leave the Worldwide Church of God when leaving meant something. I quit as everyone else either awoke to find the emperor had no clothes or joined a splinter group who was convinced he still reined in regal garments. I left and suddenly, the world was a kinder, gentler place inside my soul.
Life After the Worldwide Church of God
For me to now embrace Christ without questioning everything seems no different from accepting the Worldwide Church of God lock, stock and barrel. To become overly “Jesusy” after being “WCGsy” seems like substituting one drug for another. That road has been traveled and will not be taken again. I will think long and hard before I leap into anything new.
Do not misinterpret. The deity or the sacrifice of Christ as savior is not rejected. I want to accept Christ as my personal savior. I simply do not know, nor do I think I ever will, have absolute proof of which view of the spiritual world is valid because they all funnel through the interpretations of fallible men. The wonderful difference now is the freedom to question without fear of rejection from God. I know that a supreme being loves me as a fallible human adrift in life. It’s OK not to know life’s answers. Simpletons are those who are convinced of their infallibility, while experts are those who realize they don’t really know much at all.
Previously, to even question sent waves of panic and anxiety coursing through the core of my soul. Those who question or have doubts do not measure up. I must therefore keep up the pretense of “getting it” or “being on track” with doctrines and teachings of “God’s true church” and “the work,” or will be exposed as a sham. Not worthy of God’s love. I must “make it into the kingdom” by obedience to God’s laws as understood by the Worldwide Church of God. When I failed to obey unrealistic standards, it was my fault because I was not close enough to God or rebellious to his government. Ironically, as hard as I tried to force myself, I never felt very religious despite hours of trying to pray and falling asleep instead. Instead of trying harder, I simply quit all together and confirmed what I felt I was: a failure. Guilt bred guilt.
Herbert W. Armstrong seared an innocent belief in man-oriented religious systems for me. A supreme being surely must understand the spiritual warping as the result of 35 years of Worldwide Church of God indoctrination. He must make allowances for those who are spiritually dysfunctional and intellectually honest when they confront the unanswerable questions of the meaning of existence and come up blank. If he doesn’t, I am in big trouble.
Why did he leave all mankind in the dark? If he had a simple message for mankind, why did he not make it clear to all what was expected and why we are here in a manner that would not be subject to interpretation and manipulation by religious despots such as Herbert W. Armstrong? Why obscure it behind ancient texts? Why not just write it in the sky each day or appear to each of us personally with his infinite ability to know every hair on our head? Why doesn’t God have a web page? Something as important as the meaning of life should not be encoded for an elite few to understand. If this is the case, I am pretty ticked at God for not making it clear to everybody.
I sincerely want to have a relationship with God. I want to feel spiritually secure in the knowledge of whom I am and why I take up space on the planet earth. It would be nice to absolutely know Christ is the vehicle for access to God and just invoke his name and everything is taken care of. I can say the words, but they are devoid of meaning for me. It is just a name when I say it. I am numb. Am I lost forever because of it?
No longer is hope held to find any answers to the ultimate questions. Never again will total, unwavering loyalties be given to a religious organization. On a sojourn without a clue to my destination, comfort lies in knowing that I no longer lay deluded in a toxic system such as the Worldwide Church of God. Love my neighbor as myself and share the burdens and joys of my fellow man. Be nice and think of others. Beyond that, what can God expect? Will punishments occur for only following this simple creed that Jesus said was the greatest commandment? I think not. My personal conviction is that in our existence after death, the higher power will reveal it to us and we will wonder why we ever made such a fuss about it in the first place. Of course, I could be wrong and a vengeful God will destroy me for all eternity. I will take the chance.
Two and a half years out of chemotherapy, my cancer is apparently gone for good. I am forging new, post-Worldwide Church of God, life full of pagan holidays and a new zest for life. I have not given up on Church entirely. Organized religion is to foster companionship with others in a social setting and as a vehicle to help my fellow man. Whether anyone believes as I is now irrelevant to me, although I enjoy discussing any theory or possibility of knowing the unknowable. The difference is that I no longer feel threatened or intimidated by not knowing. Had I grown up in a traditional Christian environment, this may not be the case. At least I can thank Herbert W. Armstrong for that (I am no longer afraid of the Germans or meat hooks either). Luckily, HWA’s tomorrow never came and a loving creator who accepts us unconditionally is now a possibility in my world of tomorrow. I now look forward to the spiritual recovery from a lifetime of cult teaching that formed my core identity. Tomorrow is quite wonderful after all.