Arrogance

While the actor Johnny Depp was still a bachelor, a single man asked him if he could give advice on dating and Johnny Depp’s response was something like:

Don’t ask me, I don’t know, I’m as screwed up as everybody else.

It’s a good honest answer of the sort we wish we could get from the leaders and ministers of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong: Herbert Armstrong never gave such answers himself — being a “know it all” kind of End Time Apostle — and his followers since have followed in the same rut he established decades ago in the last century, being full of instant answers backed by booklets, literature, magazines and websites of every stripe answering every kind of question and even answering quite a few that were never asked, projecting full confidence that their answers are all true, useful, scientific and unassailable.

The Cult of Herbert Armstrong is full of itself, puffed up in full arrogance, confident in its overweening ego, that the only truth is here with them and you dare not go anywhere else because, if you do, disasters will surely follow, you will be in deep trouble, you will have terrible problems, living in want and fear with no one to rescue you: You will be sorry, because you should have listened! The entire venue is designed to put you in fear so you will submit to the superiority of those who dominate and manipulate you. These self-made Gurus are experts in every subject — at least every subject of any importance. They are the only ones with wisdom and knowledge of any use.

These arrogant Gurus suck you in with something you’ve never thought of, attracting you with curiosity, snaring you initially with something you agree and believe in, gaining your trust with something familiar and then leading you down the primrose path of kook insanity.

Here is an analogy which may help you understand the process:

The world is NOT Flat!!!! We can prove that the earth is absolutely NOT Flat!!!! Brethren (gaining your trust by sucking you into the conspiracy of the brotherhood), you KNOW what I am saying is true!!!! You KNOW I have the truth!!!! You all know (making you part of a collective) the Earth is not flat!!!! People who tell you the earth is flat are WRONG!!!! They know it is wrong, yet they continue to spread this terrible lie!!! I can prove the world is not flat!! You know what I say is true!!! Haven’t you wondered about this truth???!!!? Have you proved it for yourself???!!!?? Write for our free booklets, The Earth is NOT Flat and Seven Proofs the Earth is not Flat! You need this information, never brought to you before!! For 1900 years, this truth has been hidden — a few have known — but now you can know!!! There is no obligation, no one will call on you — it is all free of charge.

Now you know the world is not flat, but did you know that the sun revolves around the earth???!!!??? You may not have thought about it, but you see it every day: The sun comes up over the horizon of the round earth and runs its course in the heavens and sets in the West!!! You’ve never heard this truth before! Scientists are trying to cover this up! But don’t believe me, believe your Bible! The Earth is round and it is in the center of the Universe because God has chosen us to make us gods! I am the only one with this truth! You can become God as God is God, but only if you believe in the truth of key to Godhood, which is that the sun revolves around the earth!!!! Be sure to write for our free booklet, You can become God because the Sun Revolves Around the Earth!

This is all delivered with confidence to the point of arrogance so you will believe that he believes and in believing he believes, you will believe.

Johnny Depp said:

I think everybody’s nuts.

There may be some truth to that.

Consider the absolute arrogance of a man who belongs to an organization and then begins to think that he, and he alone, has been touched by God with an understanding that no one else has, and his mission is now to go forth to preach this new truth to everyone, no matter how silly and stupid it is. Often, this “revelation” is accompanied by a psychotic break, leading to the manic phase of the bipolar disease cycle. This self-styled Guru will insist that he was humbled — a recounting of his initial depression — where he was nothing but “burned out junk”, but when the manic phase kicks in, he will be able to recount the “joy” that his God has renewed him and given him a spirit of understanding that others do not have. And then we are off and running.

Even as unqualified as our new Guru may be, steeped in arrogant incompetence, he manages to dig himself deeper into his pit of arrogance studying without any real understanding of subjects he’s undertaken in his pursuit of his new “truth”. He’s already lost his business / job. He is mentally incapacitated. Yet he is self-deluded that he’s been given brilliance given to him by the endorphins stimulated by sleep deprivation in his manic mode. He has “up” times and he has “down” times. Sometimes the “down” times leave him in such a state of depression he can’t even get out of bed, or, if he does, he won’t be up until mid afternoon. He can disappear and be unavailable for weeks at a time, shunning human contact or at least severely limiting it. After months of this, he finally emerges fully engaged in arrogant narcissism to take on the world as some new savior just emerging from his cocoon. He then thunders his message to the world. Or if he’s like Robert Thiel, he does significant squeaking.

The problem is that arrogance is infectious, like a virus that mutates as it is transmitted from person to person. Once caught, the arrogance does its damage and often becomes chronic. Now when it is transmitted from Guru to simple follower it is transmogrified to be an arrogance that the follower now knows special secret knowledge — but much less than the Guru. This sort of infection makes the follower proud, but it also propels him or her to infect others, but in the process, the followers do not gain infected followers for themselves, but direct the newly diseased to the Guru.

Moreover, the Guru, finding a modest success in infecting others through his arrogance and making them arrogant themselves, but still subservient to him as “Patient Zero”, he trains some of a small cadre of followers in his special laboratory of infectious virtual mental disease to be special carriers of the virus of arrogance. These manifest the disease with different symptoms: They are special and seize arrogant power over the followers of the Guru while remaining in his domain of disease. They lord it over the followers as being superior by virtue of the fact that they know more crap than the follower simpletons do and the followers are impressed with the advanced qualities of the leaders as being superior to them.

It should be noted that this sort of arrogance of ignorance is widely spread. According to the Watchers of Deniers, scientific literacy has reached ever plunging lows showing that United States Adults and Students believe:

  1. Sound travels faster than light (14%);
  2. Disagree that the center of the earth is very hot (20%);
  3. Disagree that the Earth goes around the Sun once a year (33%);
  4. Disagree that astrology is not at all scientific (41%);
  5. Think antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria (45%);
  6. Think that ordinary tomatoes do not have genes but genetically  modified tomatoes do (49%).

According to the article — to be much more clear — one-third of of American Adults / Students believe the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Really.

They believe.

33%

We’re stunned.

Very disturbing.

Imagine if you must, how much damage an arrogant Guru can do?

Imagine if you must, how much damage an arrogant Guru can do by inducing his followers to believe in British Israelism as the Key to Prophecy — managing to get all of the prophecies wrong — but having the followers believe that he is the End Time Elijah, which we must point out, that Elijah was a prophet, so no matter how you slice it, Herbert Armstrong actually was a false prophet.

There is, however, a built in mechanism to defend the arrogance of the leader, authorities and followers against being inoculated with the truth: Bald face arrogant lies. The Fragmentation of a Sect: Schism in the Worldwide Church of God by Dr. David V. Barrett quotes Richard Nichols, Herbert Armstrong and Richard T. Rittenbaugh to show how this works:

The offshoots deal with the problem of Armstrong’s failed prophecies in different ways. Richard C. Nickles, of Giving and Sharing Ministry, quotes Armstrong himself from an early World Tomorrow radio broadcast:

A terrible famine is coming on the United States, that is going to ruin us as a nation inside of less than twenty more years. Alright, I stuck my neck out right there. You just wait twenty years and see whether I told you the truth. God says, if a man tells you what’s going to happen, wait and see. If it doesn’t happen, he was not speaking the word of God, he’s speaking out of his own mind. If it happens, you know God sent him.

Nickels comments, “The twenty years is long past! Herbert Armstrong labeled himself a false prophet.”

But Richard T. Ritenbaugh, of the Church of the Great God, comes to a different conclusion. Although he accepts that Armstrong “made many predictions during his ministry, and many of them have not come to pass. Some were plain wrong. Some were vague. Some were specific,” he then argues:

So what are all those predictions Herbert Armstrong made? Rather than call them prophecies (which they were not) and him a false prophet (which he was not), his predictions were more correctly speculations, theories based on true but insufficient and unclear evidence. Speculation is not sin.

It is if you sign it “In Jesus’ Name”.

Richard T. Rittenbaugh.

Liar.

What a Dick.

At minimum, a religious leader that makes wild prognostications [make that read: Prophecies] which do not come to pass, simply cannot be trusted to get anything right [make that read: Is a false prophet]. Read 1975 in Prophecy again [published in 1956] and if you aren’t embarrassed to have believed it at some point, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

It is arrogance that moves the leaders to declare that white is black, black is white, lies are truth, truth is lies, love is hate, hate is love, poverty is prosperity, prosperity is poverty, speculation isn’t prophecies and that failed prophecies don’t make a man a false prophet, but it gets worse, because if it were just the arrogance of the leaders, the membership would bolt like scared rabbits.

It is arrogance that keeps the members in place, even after their leader is proved to be wrong, a false prophet, crazy and even a convicted felon. Members of Ronald Weinland’s Church of God – Preaching the Kingdom of God (PKG) continue to not just follow him but continue to give him their money so his wife can go travelling, buy underwear from Victoria Secret and have all those diamonds she sports, even as he sits in prison for Income Tax Evasion as a convicted felon. He isn’t going anywhere for the next three years and neither are his followers. They believe in him. They lap up all the crap he spews at them. They won’t leave. They continue to defend him, even though his absolute set dates (multiple and progressive) for the return of Jesus Christ come and go, come and go and still, no Jesus. The next date is coming up less than 50 days from now. It too, will come and go, but the PKG membership will stay because of their infernal arrogance. They will not admit they are wrong. They will not change. They don’t stop following their false prophet proved wrong again and again. That takes a LOT of arrogance.

1956

History has repeated itself: You just wait twenty years and see whether I told you the truth. God says, if a man tells you what’s going to happen, wait and see. If it doesn’t happen, he was not speaking the word of God, he’s speaking out of his own mind. If it happens, you know God sent him. The only thing that is different is the time period. Ronald Weinland said essentially the same thing. He’s proved himself a false prophet. Since the other Cult of Herbert Armstrong sects have been making the same prophecies (but most don’t set specific dates — it’s always 5 to 7 years away), they too are false prophets. Ronald Weinland is just one who’s the worst one caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Roderick Meredith has been able to be a false prophet for 60 years — a record hardly anyone in the CoHA sects can rival, but he keeps going on and on and on (he may die shortly, so if he does before this article is published, I apologize, but, after all, I didn’t prophesy it, one way or another).

The arrogance of the leaders and the membership is asinine, but one man, Dixon Cartwright, has put together The Journal which manages to keep the arrogance alive and prosper in one place. He knows that most of the stuff in the rag is pure drivel, but he publishes it anyway. He gives nearly everyone to have a dialog, even though it should be obvious they are spewing. The Journal actively supports and promotes arrogance in its own way, to keep the arrogance alive, thereby giving the arrogant advertisers opportunity to promote their emphatic empathy entropy and the writers an opportunity to have arguments which are totally meaningless given that the assumptions upon which they are based are quite daft. There is month after month, page after page publications of stupidity disguised as arrogant confidence.

No one is about to give up the arrogance. It holds everything and everybody in place. It is the glue that holds the cultists together, except they aren’t glued together, they are screwed together — but they are too bull headed to admit there’s anything wrong with their wrong headed religion. It can’t work and it doesn’t, but they aren’t about to admit it because of their arrogance, so the dysfunctional disease continues unabated. A few escape, but often it takes quite a lot at the personal level to prompt them to leave when they get to the point they just can’t stand it any more.

And after they do leave, they look back at the arrogant “friends” and “family” they left behind, with their glorious erstwhile leaders, and see, even if not perceive, the great arrogance of the cult which held them prisoners for so long.

There are over 7 billion people on planet earth. Each one of us is just a small part of a giant crowd. Very few rise to the level of being noticed — but what if, what if, you had something that distinguished you as special? Suppose you had secret knowledge? Suppose that you were one of just a small few that was selected of God to have truth that no one else has? Suppose that you could feel different, special, superior? Suppose that you are so very special that you have the entitlement to be arrogant? Suppose you will become a king, priest, god, to lord over all your former critics, enemies and those who don’t even notice you, let alone pay any attention to you? You can now ignore science. You can now ignore the experts. You can now ignore anyone who disagrees with you. You can remain confident that you are better than anyone else (except your Guru and his appointees) and no one can tell you anything. You are right and everyone else is wrong. You are better. You are superior. Soon, the whole world will see how special you are. You will be validated. You are a winner!

This is really heady stuff. It is the stuff of arrogance. It is for losers.

If you need to know, the earth is not flat and the earth revolves around the sun.

The rest you should be able to figure out for yourself if you’re not too arrogant.

Image

Michael

Michael stood alone in the middle of the foyer of the Seattle Masonic Hall, people swirling around and past him without interacting with him, a solitary island in the midst of a sea of people. I noticed he was new and that apparently, no one was interested in getting to know him. It made me feel sad. I went over and introduced myself to him and began learning about him. Over the next few weeks and months, I had him over to dinner with my family several times and we even went and worked out together at the gym. I learned about this “good guy” and he had a lot of depth that most people would not expect.

Michael shared with me his story about how he entered into the Marines at the age of 30. It was a matter of honor that his mates referred to him as “the Old Man” because they respected the fact that he stayed in there with them even though they were mostly a decade younger than he. He wanted to be a Marine. His father was a Marine.

Before the Passover I had broken my toes and at the Passover Service it was Michael who was to wash my feet. He looked me in the eye and said, “I ain’t gonna mess with no broken toes,” whereupon he washed my one foot without the broken toes. I washed his feet.

It was during the Days of Unleavened Bread that he showed up in our apartment complex in the parking lot. My wife and I looked at each other in dismay at him on the heavy duty motorcycle he had ridden on. He was all excited about it. He was a sincere believer who was going to take his brother out in the woods and talk to him about his new faith. We didn’t say anything and hoped for the best.

It was shortly after this that we learned that he was on his way on his motorcycle to prepare to go out to the woods when he got clipped on his head with the mirror of a semi. It removed the top of his head and he ended up in a coma in the hospital. His face had not been affected so it looked like he was in a peaceful sleep.

Each day for nearly 40 days, I would go down to the hospital after work in the afternoon and would sit with him and talk to him because I had heard that those in a coma often heard those talking to him. I would describe the Spring afternoon and the sun shining. At the last, I was not able to get to the hospital and he had changed doctors. He died shortly afterward from the trauma. I believe it was about 40 days.

What I did not know is that Michael had shared our friendship with his family: His dad, mom, sisters and brothers. I was the only one from the church in to see him at the hospital. I had talked with his family when they were there and we got to know one another as best strangers could under such circumstances.

Because Michael was a Marine as was his father, he was given a funeral with full honors with Marines in dress uniforms giving the gun salute with rifles.

Afterward, I prepared an obituary for the Worldwide News. I learned that I had to give it to the minister. It was a paragraph and told part of his story of being in the Marine Corps.

It turns out that I gave it to Dennis Luker after services on the Sabbath. He told me that he had met the family and when they told him about me, he said to them, “Oh, he’s so quiet!”. This produced laughter from Michael’s family and they instantly knew that Dennis Luker knew neither Michael nor me. He was attempting to cash in on an opportunity by pretending to be someone and something he wasn’t and got caught at it.

Eventually, the obituary made it to the Worldwide News. It was a sentence long. It was a brief sentence at that. Michael _____ died…. That was about it. Name, no rank, no serial number. It was crisply impersonally efficient.

During my brief discussion with Dennis Luker, he did something odd: He stroked my stomach as if it were a bowling ball. It was weird and creepy. Very weird and creepy. Very very weird and creepy. I just stood there and allowed him to do it. After all, this was God’s Evangelist of the Worldwide Church of God — the very Work of God. Many of us had been conditioned to be subjected to authority without question — to accept what was truly unacceptable, because the Very God of the Universe would support them even if they were wrong.

I vaguely felt as if I had been raped.

The important thing here is for the alpha male Corporate Executive to assert his superior dominance over an underling to maintain Corporate Order and insure the proper image for the Corporate Executive in the hierarchy of the Corporate “monkey tree” where all the executives are striving to be “top banana”.

The Magic Lantern

Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers by Robert Jackall covers the ground occupied by the Armstrongist Worldwide Church of God and their Church Corporate spinoffs — not specifically, but in practice, since all the participants follow the same thinking and practices of those in the Corporate 200. Chapter 7, The Magic Lantern, covers the aspects of image creation for the purposes of public relations:

The need for symbolic dexterity, particularly the ability to fashion, quickly and readily, appropriate legitimations for what must be done, intensifies as one ascends the corporate ladder. Since the success of large commercial bureaucracies depends to a great extent on the goodwill of the consuming public, ambitious managers recognize that great organizational premiums are placed on the ability to explain expedient action convincingly. Public opinion, of course, constitutes one of the only effective checks on the bureaucratic impulse to translate all moral issues into practical concerns. Managers not only face the highly specific and usually ideological standpoints of one or another “special-interest” group but, even more fearsome, the vague, ill-formed diffuse, highly volatile, and often irrational public opinion that is both the target of special-interest groups and the lifeblood of the news media. Those imbued with the bureaucratic ethos thus make every effort to mold public opinion to allow the continued uninterrupted operation of business. Moreover, since public opinion inevitably affects to some extent managers’ own conceptions of their work and of themselves, public goodwill, even that which managers themselves create, becomes an important part of managers’ own valued self-images. In this sense, both moral issues and social identities become issues of public relations.

Dennis Luker had been in the Corporate World before his induction into the Church Corporate and had obviously learned the lesson of being a triumph of image over substance. An examination of his Master’s Thesis yielded a window into this world, confined by the strictures of the lessons of being a Regional Pastor: It was not anything like the Master’s Thesis next to it on the shelf, Dr. C. Paul Meredith’s Satan’s Great Deception, which could be described as having intense spiritual content, but instead dealt with the purely physical aspects of deciding whether or not a visiting minister was to stay in the home of the Regional Pastor or at a motel nearby and making sure that the car was washed before sunset on Friday. People forget the mechanisms driving the engine of the Armstrongist Churches of God are the tactics of modern corporations, not the “Spirit led” assemblies of Christian ministers, disciples and apostles of the distant past: It’s business. Businesses are for the purpose of making a profit. To do this, the end justifies the means — the end being making profit, both in money and membership (used as a tool to sustain the ego of the narcissistic leader(s)).

This creates a new virtual world which is nowhere near the one the rank and file live in. Robert Jackall explains:

In fact, bureaucratic contexts typically bring together men and women who initially have little in common with each other except the impersonal frameworks of their organizations. Indeed, the enduring genius of the organization form is that it allows individuals to retain bewilderingly diverse private motives and meanings for action as long as they adhere publicly to agreed-upon rules. Even the personal relationships that men and women in bureaucracies do subsequently fashion together are, for the most part, governed by the explicit or implicit organizational rules, procedures, and protocol. As a result, bureaucratic work causes people to bracket, while at work, the moralities that they might hold outside the workplace or that they might adhere to privately and to follow instead of the prevailing morality of their organizations situation. As a former vice-president of a large firm says: “What is right in the corporation is not what is right in a man’s home or in his church. What is right in the corporation is what they guy above you wants from you. That’s what morality is in the corporation.”

This explains well why Roderick Meredith and Dennis Luker tolerated the behavior of Garner Ted Armstrong without saying one word or leaving: They were loyal to the corporation and their morality revolved around what Herbert Armstrong wanted from them. A good part of that was the image making part of the coverups to insure that the Corporation continued and prospered. In this world, what mattered was not the good of the members, but the good of those in the “middle management” and above, specified by rank. Dennis Luker would favor those in congregations who were wealthy — especially those were millionaires. His own children, in fact, married the children of a millionaire in his congregation. He could be close “friends” who could further his agenda, pursuing his career in the Armstrongist Churches of God along with the salary and the hoped for retirement it would bring. In fact, many have commented about his sermons over the years filled with his concerns about this very topic. Many times, those who were “different” or “lowly” may not have had such favor in his eyes, but he was able to maintain a calm demeanor which belied his true feelings, making it seem that he was personable and a concerned pastor.

Moral Mazes includes a comments from executives relevant to truth:

Everyone out there is constructing reality. We and our clients have perceptions too. Who is telling the truth? Is there anyone out there who has the time and inclination to sit down and truly evaluate the many situations.

That’s a good question, especially considering “The Present Truth” of many of the leaders of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong.

Truth? What is truth? I don’t know anyone in this business who talks about the “truth”.

That’s actually true: Perceptions are transformed so people believe they have the truth. Anyone who has seen the many “prognostications” of Herbert Armstrong and others should eventually come to the conclusion that they don’t have anything even close to what we could call “truth”. There is no reason to trust such people. They have proved their lack of integrity.

It should be noted that the chapter after The Magic Lantern is Invitations to Jeopardy.

In the end, we should all observe the aphorism of G’Kar in Babylon 5: “Let me pass on to you the one thing I’ve learned about this place. No one here is exactly what he appears.”

In fact, in the world of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong, nothing is exactly as it appears, including the smarmy image of those who portray a deeply caring persona.

Anyway, those who are wise will make it quite irrelevant by leaving the entirely dysfunctional environment where there is no real benefit to sacrifice resources and sanity to the Corporate Executive image makers conducting little more than a PR campaign for ego and money: It’s not worth it.

For those of you in the process of leaving the Cult of Herbert Armstrong, a piece of advice: Set boundaries.

Swindlers

Herbert Armstrong’s Crime Syndicate

Mr. Davis stood there with Mr. MacFarland discussing the repairs Mr. MacFarland had made for Mr. Davis. Mr. MacFarland was a remarkable man, since he was blind from action in a foreign war, but was still a top flight mechanic. He was remarkable in other ways. For example, he was giving his wife grief because she could not park the car. She said, “Fine, you park it!” not expecting he could respond. He got out of the passenger’s seat, measured off the distances between the auto and the two other cars in relationship to the parking space between them, got in the driver’s seat and proceeded to park the car perfectly. She certainly didn’t have much response to that. Our illustrious Mr. Davis handed Mr. MacFarland three one dollar bills and thanked Mr. MacFarland for the excellent work he did, and Mr. MacFarland thanked him for the $30 dollars owed, thinking it was three ten dollar bills. He was blind you know.

Swindlers have been an endemic epidemic within the Cult of Herbert Armstrong since the 1950s: It isn’t just the leaders and ministers, it’s the members. One estimation is that about one-third of any given micronanocult of Herbert Armstrong may be swindlers. Dr. Robert Hare and Dr. Paul Babiak give us a clue in Snakes in Suits: Psychopaths are attracted to unstable environments that lack controls for process — and even lack process. A group that is in stages of development or drastic change are particularly vulnerable, since swindlers take advantage of the lack of standards by which “right” and “wrong” within the group are measured. They marginalize what rules there are through doubt and casting aspersions, making people within the group vulnerable to their inevitable psychopath games.

A girl named Cara, a member’s daughter, came home one day with the rest of the family from Sabbath Services and proceeded to tell them about her best friend in church: Marta was 12 years old and her father had been committing incest with her. The family also found out that Jan, Cara’s other best friend, had a father who was a psychopath with an interesting story. Barto had come into the church from the Philippines and promoted the idea he was a doctor, but because of United States rules, he could not be certified — or so he said: The real truth is that he was a swindler with a con game who had no medical training at all. Barto became best friends with Dr. Johansen, a church member who was a real licensed practicing physician. Barto proceeded to dupe Dr. Johansen into promoting him as a physician. The end result of this game was that the real doctor, Dr. Johansen, lost his license, his practice and was disgraced while the psychopath Barto dumped Dr. Johansen to leave him fend for himself after Dr. Johansen was ruined, lost his license and his practice — forced to change careers. Barto remarried. His daughter, Jan, and Cara, the daughter of the family in view here, went to meet with the psychopath’s wife, Jan’s stepmother, who just happened to have schizophrenia. They knocked on the door and from inside a voice said, “You are here to kill me! No wait, that’s not reality!” The three girls, Cara, Mara and Jan, often went off together to Nordstrom’s to shoplift expensive scarves. They never got caught.

Recently, the elder pedophile who had a penchant for young boys in the church died and had his funeral, which brought up the memory of the leading lady in the church who informed the father of the young son what the man who was his YOU teacher had been doing. She related at the Night to Be Much Observed that the leading ladies in the church tried to bring the matter to the Headquarters at Pasadena but were rebuffed. The best they could do is “keep an eye on him” during services and particularly on the Holydays.

Many are familiar with the stalkers in the cult who declared to their obsession, “You are mine!” after their obsession was married to someone else. Imagine the embarrassment of a married man returning from his honeymoon having the lurker in the church spring from behind a column where she hid herself to declare this.

There have been all manner of scams, swindles and cons, not just by the Takers who are leaders in the church with their ministers, but the members as well. The cult is a dangerous environment and that is because of what Dr. Phil in his book, “Life Code” describes as the BAITERS:

  • Backstabers
  • Abusers
  • Imposters
  • Takers
  • Exploiters
  • Reckless

Though virtually invisible to most naive sheep members, these BAITERS lurk in the background like the crows at the neglected Ambassador College before it was sold to Harvest Rock. They are dark evil beings at what may be thought of at the fringes of the cult, but are very active and very much a part of it — it’s just that people don’t recognize them.

Last time, we examined the Evil Eight properties of these BAITERS:

  1. They see the world through a lens of arrogant entitlement and frequently treat people as targets
  2. They lack empathy
  3. They are incapable of feeling remorse / guilt and don’t learn from situation to situation
  4. They are irresponsible, self-destructive and disregard the well-being of others
  5. They thrive on drama and crisis
  6. They brag about outsmarting other people
  7. They have a pattern of short-term relationships
  8. They live in a fantasy world marked by delusion

This time we will examine the Nefarious 15 “tactics,” behaviors, or strategies BAITERs will use to “get to you,” hurt you, and take what is yours:

  1. They infiltrate your life, seducing with promises and flattery
  2. They define you as a conspiratorial confidant
  3. They are way too focused on getting your approval — as though their very existence depends on your accepting them
  4. They are always gathering data and “building a file” on you. Everything they do, every interaction, is for a purpose
  5. They consistently misdirect and maintain a mystery about who they really are; they answer questions that weren’t asked; they obfuscate
  6. When confronted with problems, they always blame others
  7. They lie, either by misstatement or by omission; they understand that lies with a kernel of truth are the most powerful
  8. They are frauds; they cheat, and they steal property, information, and credit for other people’s work and claim false competencies to gain trust and reliance
  9. They isolate their victims and foster dependency to obligate you and gain leverage and power
  10. When in a position of power and authority, they abuse it with self-dealing and egomaniacal conduct
  11. They ID your sensitivities and hot buttons to gain leverage
  12. They have “selective memory” and are revisionist historians; they reframe reality
  13. They are two-faced; they spread lies and gossip — pretending to be your friend and ally to give you a false sense of security while being disloyal
  14. Because they are paranoid, they “get you” before you [can] “get them”
  15. They are masters of passive-aggressive sabotage

Our pilgrimage would be incomplete if we did not mention the methodology used by Herbert Armstrong — the one still in use today by all the cult leaders: To reduce the prospective members to think of themselves as worthless.

Those of us who were in the cult in the 1950s and 1960s remember well this indoctrination. As we came to “the truth” (which was nothing of the sort), we were taught that nothing we knew was worth anything, nothing we ever did amounted to anything and we were convinced that we were so worthless that we had to start from the very beginning to rebuild from the ground up.

Herbert Armstrong, of course, knew everything that was worth knowing — he was the Apostle and no one could trump him! He was the one that God chose who was the only one through whom any truth could be revealed — from the top down. No one could tell him anything, and if they tried… well, he had a temper and he was used to getting his way. He was the top dog and he was the only one who had the quality to take the message of Corporate Christ to the leaders of this world (by using vague stupid references to the two trees which meant absolutely nothing). He was the only one who could go to evil despots and dictators to present them with Steuben Crystal from tithed blood money. All the rest of us were pathetic nothings who needed to know our place in the hierarchy, which was pretty much to supply this egoist with $2 Billion to $4 Billion to provide for his excessive personal life style. He was so close to God, no one dare oppose him.

By the put down and treatment with contempt, the people fell into line, devoid of what might be laughingly called self-esteem.

This was doubly bad because the children of the church members were treated the same way: They needed to know their place among the gods — playing less than any insignificant role as less than anyone else, save for the domestic companions of the family. As serfs and slaves to the serfs and slaves, having absolutely no rights, knowing nothing and having not one shred of power in their insignificance, they were prepped for a future slavery of underachievement, discouraged from ever aspiring to the dreams and goals of their schoolmate peers. Many of them thought that this dysfunctional family life was the norm and everyone lived this way, not realizing that it was a profound aberration designed to keep them captive to a slave mentality system of the peasants.

You are nothing.

You will be god.

Be satisfied with that.

Or you’re out.

There’s nothing like intimidation on the worthless to keep them in the prison especially designed by the swindlers of the cult.

The Cult of Herbert Armstrong employs all of these methods. They are evil. They corrupt.

And again, there is not one reason in this world you should give them the benefit of the doubt. None. They are not worth your time, let alone your money and other resources.

To be clear: Herbert Armstrong was a failed ad copy writer with barely an eighth grade education with delusions of greatness, plying lies, deceptions and fantasies as reality upon duped naive sheep type followers. He had no real worth. The only thing he really understood was “quality” things, possessions; and his great swelling ego making him above and beyond those of accomplishment, talent and achievement who could have been great, but were ruined by his selfish meddling. He was a swindler — a BAITER.

And all his followers now making themselves leaders are also BAITERs.

This is the time to understand who these people are, understand how they work and guard against them, lest they take who you are and destroy it.

Abandon the swindlers and don’t let them claim ascendancy.

Sacrifice

 

Here is all I have; I give it to you!
Here is all I have; I give it to you!

Herbert Armstrong was certainly a proponent of sacrifice.

Perhaps it is because he read the Scripture in Romans 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

 Many of us are familiar with the ministers standing up at the Feast seven times in a year just before the offering is to be taken:

Give until it hurts!

The expectation has always been from the beginning that we all give our all to “The Work” because God demands it of us and that the Apostle (sometimes with another title with the word ‘General’ in it) is the one to whom we give the money in God’s (or Jesus’) Name. If the children of your family need to be sacrificed, who are you to question the needs of God’s Work? You need to give your effort to The Work. Something has to give somewhere, so if you are short time, you take it from your family; if you are short money, take it from your family. Your needs to even survive pale to insignificance to saving this world. You must bribe God for your salvation, but even more, you need to give everything you have for spreading the Gospel to prove that you love the Leader set here by God / Jesus. If you starve, so much the better: Consider yourself a martyr; if your family starves, they are martyrs too.

But it goes so far beyond money: It is also time, expertise, labor and any other free resource that can be exploited and enslaved — it doesn’t belong to you, it is for the Apostle (Evangelist, Prophet, …’General’).

There is a problem, however: Some of you are Laodiceans and hold back a part, like Ananias and Sapphira!

Many of today’s End Time Apostles / Prophets have called you on this. David Pack, Ronald Weinland, Gerald Flurry, to name a few, are not pleased with half-hearted participation! They demand more! For example, some of them, like David Pack insist that you gouge your unconverted spouse for the money. You should leave your inheritance of real property to the church and not your worthless family who will just waste it on such things as having a place to live, clothes to wear and food to eat. The Work needs a new campus! You need to give to that building fund! The Work needs a new studio for TV and Internet work! The Work needs an extra million dollars this year (and the UCG isn’t the only one) to preach the gospel in Islam Countries, like Saudi Arabia! You must sacrifice. This is all explained by The Supreme Commander of The Supreme  Cult. Please note that there are Five Tithes on your income before you even get one penny before taxes!

Note what the leaders have said in the past, like what Garner Ted Armstrong said that we give to God (well, not actually, we give to some guy in an expensive suit) and that is where our responsibility ends: After that, it’s God’s responsibility — He will take care of it and we need not worry our little heads about whether or not The End Time Apostle uses the money frivolously! Or maybe we are supposed to check up on it — there seem to be different readings on accountability.

Nevertheless, we are to GIVE, freely, thankfully, because God just loves a cheerful giver! No grumbling. Just because those leaders in your church have taken everything away from you and have all the good stuff you want and even more than you could have imagined, doesn’t mean that you have to ruin it all by having an ATTITUDE! Heavens no! Some day, if you have just the right faith and you have done absolutely everything you should do quite perfectly and you have the right attitude and wait in patience, willing to suffer loss quietly, then you certain just might have a glorious inheritance! Maybe! You could inherit the Kingdom. No promises though, since you have to give to just the RIGHT cult! See, if David Pack and the Restored Church of God is the absolutely only place of salvation and you are in the Living Church of God with Roderick Meredith (should he live so long), you lose big time. You have to be in exactly the right cult to make this work! You can’t just join any old church and be sure of salvation. On the other hand, if Gerald Flurry with his Philadelphia Church of God (the name sounds right!) and you are with James Russell in the Church of God in Truth, you will be sure out of luck! You may be bowing down to the Meredithites instead of the Russellites! God is definitely a respecter of persons! You need to get it right or repent and then get it right!

God looks at your attitude, which, at the moment is a pretty awkward position. You need to be on the straight path with the narrow gate or else you are on the broad road to perdition with a whole lot of company. It’s all rigged, of course, since all of the Armstrongists are wrong at the core, so you can’t possibly pick the right one!

Give Me the Money!

As the decades roll by, realities crop up and the First Love of sacrificing all you have gets to be not just tedious, but progressively more difficult: You don’t have enough money to cover your expenses; you don’t have enough vacation to cover all the Feasts; you don’t have enough time to give; you don’t have enough energy for yet another cult function.

And then you find out where the money has been going.

And it gets to be ever more difficult to justify your sacrifice.

Laodocean!

That’s what your cult leader accuses you of. He makes you feel guilty. He tells you that holding back is a sin of selfishness. He implies that you don’t have gratitude toward God who gave you everything! He threatens you by saying that you will not continue to receive God’s blessings (not that you’ve been noticing them lately). He then tells you that if you don’t give, you will be under a curse.

This is known in some circles as extortion.

In some limited legal circles it is considered a crime.

Certainly, in the case of Ronald Weinland and his silent witness wife, it was considered a crime by the Internal Revenue Service that they didn’t pay Income Tax on $3.5 million of undeclared personal income from member monetary sacrifice. Weinland spent the money on luxury BMWs for himself, his daughter and his son. He went to Las Vegas to an expensive hotel to hold his ministerial conference. Laura had expensive jewelry designed for her to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the sacrifice that the members of his church made for him: Personal luxury living, having nothing to do with “Preaching the Gospel” whatever that might mean. In this case, the Gospel was in the form of books written to predict what was to happen in 2008, which never did, making him an obvious false prophet. No matter, his cult followers continue to sacrifice for him. Heck, the widow lady across the street attending his church got a lien on her house to pay for his $300,000 bail money. You just can’t sacrifice enough for your leader.

Herbert Armstrong was wont to do the same thing, back in the day. The Kessler Letter refers to the incidents where Herbert Armstrong routinely grabbed $50,000 personal spending money before each trip. The Ambassador Report mentions the trip to Monaco where he rented a yacht for his family to sail around the Mediterranean. If this were done today and it came to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, it is likely the Justice Department would have had Herbert Armstrong convicted of felony Income Tax Evasion too. We’ll never know. The internal mechanisms for cover up at the time were too sophisticated for anyone to actually get caught.

Web Cult Criminal

Others of the Armstrong cults have other various means to absorb all that their members can sacrifice. Currently, the United Church of God, an International Association, is promoting their “million dollar faith initiative” to extract an extra $1 million this year not in the budget to go preach the gospel to Islam nations. It won’t have any real impact in preaching the “gospel” (of British Israelism) to the Arabs, but it does wonders for member’s morale!

Davy Pack is having a high time building a multi-million dollar campus in Wadsworth, Ohio these days. The members are encouraged to sacrifice as much as they have, as much as they can wheedle from their spouse and in the happy fortune that member with money dies, Davy is to get the inheritance money (don’t leave it to the kids — not providing for your own cult makes you worse than an infidel).

Who knows how much money Gerald Flurry still owes on Ambassador College out there in the wilds of Oklahoma. It’s millions for sure. Members should sacrifice to be able to make payments. Perhaps one day after Gerald Flurry dies, the campus will be sold, just as Ambassador College in Pasadena was, with buildings being razed for some commercial enterprise, although none of us can think of what sort of enterprise would want property out in Oklahoma unless oil was discovered underground.

With over 700 subcults from which to choose, those people with borderline personality have a cornucopia of a plethora of unworthy causes to make their sacrifice, to pretty much engage in practices guaranteed to reduce their quality of life for a very long time to come.

The point of all of this is not to point out that the Armstrongists are charlatans and thieves — they are that — it is to uncover something much more sinister.

In The Last Days, we examined the disturbing chaotic immorality embedded within Armstrongism. Even though the venue seemed benign, behind the scenes lay an horrific hypocrisy of unacceptable cover ups perpetrated within the Armstrongist Community: Armstrongism is rife with moral ambiguity which systematically destroys people and families within the cult environment.

There can be no claim for self-righteous right-wing pandering pseudo Republicans (who don’t vote or supposedly participate in governmental involvements — even to refusing jury duty, let alone military service) to say that they are for God’s Law and support Law and Order. The truth be told, and we’ve told the Painful Truth over and over — that the founders, leaders, administrators and ministers live a privileged life above and apart from the masses where crimes are committed and covered up, immorality abounds and everyone seems to have lost their moral compass, if, indeed, they ever had one. There can be no real trust and there is absolutely no justice. This self-absorbed community of ego, power, privilege and money built on the sacrifice of those treated with contempt has absolutely no socially redeeming qualities.

Moreover, if we accept the somewhat skewed view of Charles Darwin with evolution being “the survival of the fittest”, we have a dead end religious evolution in which the dinosaurs left over from the devastating mass extinction event of the death of Herbert Armstrong are slowly dying off, having not adapted well to the world around them, attempting to do the same useless things they have always done without realizing that they will never get anywhere near the same results with a depleted environment long subjected to entropy. The rule is to change and adapt, or you die. They are not changing or adapting. They don’t even repent of the evil and wicked they do as a matter of course.

Note this letter to the Exit and Support Network entitled, “Nothing Less Than Hoodlums and Gangsters (February 12, 2012):

Much thanks for your work. The fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 were very disturbing for me as I “unbelievably” came to learn that the WWCG and its splinter groups are nothing less than hoodlums and gangsters. This is sad but what is more sad for me is that I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior and this knowledge was diminished gradually as a result of all the indoctrinations of The Restored Church of God headed by David C. Pack.

I am repulsed that these men, in these splinters, continue in the shadow of Herbert Armstrong. Yet, I am more confused and saddened that their members don’t see what seems so obvious–that they are caught up in a religious cult where they sacrifice the God-given gift of their intellect. And for what? I have spent much time deliberating why these so called ministers and “apostles” would continue as they do. I could take the easy road and say that they themselves are/have been deceived by HWA. But, nay, not all! Surely they have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof: from such turn away.” (II Tim. 3:5).

I remember asking one of the members why is it that Mr. Pack has such a nice and large home and nice vehicles. The member said to me, “he has to because no one will follow or listen to him if he does not have them. You know how people are.” I could not believe my ears because if David Pack truly believes that he is God’s appointed then surely he would not depend upon his worldly possessions to entice new membership. But then again, that’s what their business is all about–to attract, allure, persuade… Tragic.

Surely, these men have not a clue as to what it really is to present their bodies a living sacrifice and that they be not conformed to this world and the ways of this world. (Romans 12:1-2)

Finally, I have just read the critique of Mystery of the Ages, chapter two. All I can is gangsters, gangsters!!

I pray that you all be increased with right knowledge and wisdom from above. Thank you again.

With my warmest regards, –Impacted by Restored Church of God

Those of us at The Painful Truth approve this message.

So those of you who are still addicted to making sacrifice for Armstrongist cults, understand that your efforts are futile: The leaders will waste your money, you will live a diminished life and, in the end, there will be nothing left to show for it.

Meanwhile, you will find that with being surrounded so long with immorality under the covers, you will eventually be so warped that you cannot even determine right from wrong.

And that is the real sacrifice you have made.

 

The Last Days

 

Apocalypse

II Timothy 3:1 says —

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

In Apostolic Incest, Jon said:

“Why would the Armstrong crowd care about incest? Incest to them is nothing to sneeze about. It is normal to them. They approve of it and by endorsing the old pervert they endorse his ways. All of them.

Moms and dads, don’t forget to have the elders of the church babysit your kids. They might not be the same ever again but heck, you need a break!

Soon the feast of booze will be upon us. The members of the so called churches will imitate Herbert and drink themselves silly. Those who run the hotels will be busy cleaning out the empty bottles and cans. Maids and janitors will be busy indeed. Cleaning up puke, spilled drinks off carpets, but hopefully they can make a little more money doing their mundane jobs and return these bottles and cans for the deposit.

The feast is a bore, the sermons painfully repetitive. The fun starts at family day where your children can mix with a selection of ministerial brats and the local pervert can have his way when your not looking. Again, your children may not be the same, but it is your church. You own your decisions lock, stock and barrel.”

Jon’s comment might seem a little over the top: After all, from the external view, the Armstrongist Churches of God seem benign, if not warm and cuddly — well, cuddly might seem to be stretching it a bit with Roderick Meredith and the Living Church of God, but if you look at say, United’s Muppet type videos for the kids, it could seem like you have finally found a church home. That is sort of a point of view because the ACoGs don’t seem to have many church buildings nor do they seem to have much presence in the community, because they are now TV based and Internet based church groups renting places for their services and various rare occasions. The point is that they don’t seem that extreme and bizarre on the surface. Be sure you don’t scratch because what lies just beyond the surface is ugly and often deadly.

One could argue that many events lay in the past with Herbert Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God, but the tie to those times is far too tight with today because the same people, Roderick Meredith, Dennis Luker and some of the minor leaguers like Jim Franks, John Rittenbaugh, David Pack, Gerald Flurry and Ronald Weinland are still running things and the same problems keep cropping up over and over and over and over.

Back in the days of the WCG in Seattle / Bellevue, Washington while Dennis Luker was in charge as Regional Pastor, there was a lot going on. Chuck Harris was showing his pistol to folks under his suit coat in the holster after Sabbath services and trying very hard to date and marry Brenda James. At the same time, an elder and his wife in the church were pursuing The Tracker — an outdoors survivalist type of guy — with great enthusiasm, even mentioning him in Sabbath services. Glenn White was also tapped into this. It seems as if The Tracker was sort of an extension of the last days mania where people were stocking up for the Great Tribulation and the horrible things to come (while living in faith, we suppose). The elder spent a lot of  “outside time” with The Tracker. His son was spending a lot of “outside time” with Chuck Harris and so was another teen of a prominent and respected family in the church.

A number of things all seemed to happen at the same time. I remember the nice summer afternoon when my wife and I went down to the Seattle Center by the fountain from the World’s Fair and met the elder and his wife. We had a pleasant chat for a few minutes and headed off to the cat show. What none of us knew at the time is that the two teens who had been BFF with Chuck had been with a drug dealer the night before. The drug dealer wanted more than money and when he proceeded to attempt to seduce them, one of the teens whipped out the gun and shot the dealer dead. Subsequently, the elder’s teenage son went to prison and so did his friend, who wanted to be with Chuck Harris in prison where he had been sentenced after shooting Brenda James and several other people in the church. Chuck Harris was black and Brenda was white and the WCG was still in racist mode and would not permit them to marry. What Dennis Luker failed to fathom was that Chuck was already married to a woman in Canada who showed up rather unexpectedly.

Meanwhile, my daughter was BFFs with two other girls in the same congregation. One of them was the daughter of a psychopath and routinely took my daughter and the other girl on shoplifting tours of places like Nordstroms to take expensive items like scarves from the store. Her other friend shocked our daughter by revealing that her father had been committing incest with her and had raped her for years. These and many other events have scarred my daughter so horribly that she is terrified of attending any Armstrongist church again, even though it has been decades past: She just couldn’t stomach it. The sermons about demons didn’t help much and neither did the graphic descriptions of death, destruction, dystopia of the soon to come last days.

Somewhat earlier, a brilliant young teen with an unwed mother in the church experienced the benefits of having a WCG parent by ending up in a Juvenile Hall and being raped there by the other teens. He had done nothing, but his mother just wanted him to learn to stay in line. The situation ended up so bad that the State of Washington gave guardian custody rights to a single man in the church.

After dinner at the Night to Be Much Observed, the host sat with me and told me about the elder in the church who was a pedophile favoring young boys. He taught the Sabbath School. She told me the leading women in the church reported him to the local ministry. When they did not respond, they reported it to headquarters. Headquarters and Herbert Armstrong did nothing. She told me that the only thing left to them was to “watch” him on the Sabbath and the Holydays. I wondered what moves he may have tried to put on my son.

By this time, nearly everyone is familiar with the UCG stalking case where the ministry, supported by Dennis Luker, defended the protagonist instead of following Scripture and putting him out of the church. The couple had to pursue getting a court to issue a restraining order. What many people did not know is that there were other stalkers in United. One weird and creepy woman stalked a young man up until he married and left on his honeymoon. When he returned, she confronted him and told him (and this should sound so very familiar to people who have been stalked), “You are mine!”. A single woman in the Midwest had a man stalk her, also under the watchful eye of Dennis Luker, and he had the gall to sign her up secretly with an insurance agent for life insurance, with his wife and him as the beneficiary! We are all familiar with the Philadelphia Church of God under Gerald Flurry where young women are pushed into a relationship with weird creepy older bachelors.

We are also familiar with Terry Ratzmann and the Living Church of God in 2005 when he entered into Sabbath Services and shot the minister and several members. Attending church could very well be hazardous to your health (not that the other stories here diminish from that concept). Roderick Meredith’s little group isn’t particularly impressive in the realm of the fruit of the spirit and neither is the apologist Robert Thiel.

The positioning of the “leadership” in the hierarchy makes the following scenario believable:

The minister in Topeka has committed murder.

Do we think he can get away with it?

Yes, I think so.

Good! What can we do to cover it all up?

Byker Bob had an interesting comment in the last PT blog entry:

“I think this issue is simply too mind boggling for stalwart Armstrongites to even consider, let alone believe and react accordingly. The greater majority chalks it all up as persecution, and considers Satan to be the author.

The period of incest coincides with the time period when Herbert alleges that God was revealing to him the restored truths, which are the backbone of Armstrongism. Anyone who reads the Bible knows that the God described in its pages did not work directly through individuals involved in ongoing and systemic sin. Sin whores up the spiritual channel, so to speak. God does convert evil, kind of like spiritual karate, and turns it against itself, ultimately producing good, but in every case of perennial sin in the Bible, it had to be cleared up and corrected before God worked with and through different individuals as His spokespersons. Even the most diehard Armstrongite would recognize that basic truth, which is why there is such a wall of denial. To acknowledge ten years of this type of sin, they’d have to question and ultimately reject the so-called restored truths.

BTW, incest is an example of “mala in se”, an act considered so totally evil by all society, that a perpetrator is automatically reduced to non-person status, and anything that person had to say, or any good activities throughout his or her life are totally invalidated.”

BB

Herbert Armstrong was the source of this mess: His actions were so totally evil that by the standards of all society, that he would be automatically reduced to non-person status, and anything that he had to say, or any good activities throughout his life would be totally invalidated. Yet here we are. He is thought to be a great man. People idolize him. They call him, “Mr. Armstrong”. They say (in excusing his behavior): “But he brought us the truth!”. The reality was that Armstrong was responsible for warping and twisting the thinking of his followers — and worse, his ministers — so badly that they accept the weirdness and the risk of attending church in a completely dysfunctional environment fraught with danger. It might not seem so, but lurking behind those smiles and quality wool suits, there is a darkness that would never accept a message from any Holy Spirit.

Here we are, just days away from Ronald Weinland of the CoG-PKG being sentenced for 5 felony convictions of Income Tax Evasion by the Justice Department.

We also have other history, such as the minister who ended up in John Rittenbaugh’s Church of the Great God. The man was originally in the WCG where, as was related to me by Rex Sexton in the United Church of God, an International Association over lunch at Azteca, he raped 16 teenage daughters and 8 of their mothers. The man went from the WCG to Global under Roderick Meredith where he eventually was fired and he went with John Rittenbaugh and the Church of the Great God. In 2003, at the Feast of Tabernacles in Redmond, Oregon, I talked with John Cafourek — who, incidentally, has a degree and certification in counselling — who told me that he was the first one to report this man to headquarters in Pasadena. Their response to Mr. Cafourek? “Oh, but he gives such great sermons!” We’ll wait while you roll your eyes.

The reason I met with Rex Sexton in Azteca was to present to him my “Ministerial Guide to Mental Disorders” and discuss it with him: I knew that there was a dearth of material from which to draw and there were many problems in the Armstrongist Churches of God in this regard. (Later, I sent information and a link to the leader of every major church of God about the solution to the problem of alcoholism in the church — Rational Recovery — which was also ignored and rejected, particularly by Gerald Flurry.) He proceeded to tell me about a woman in his congregation who was married and had a job with a governmental agency. Once a month, she received her paycheck and disappeared for three or four days: She went binge drinking and sleeping around with other guys; then she would go back to work, to start the whole cycle over again. I’m not certain why he told me this in front of the other patrons and the wait staff.

Part of the reason I presented my Guide was because I knew of the terrible problems with mental illness in the church, not just among the members, but the ministers as well. One of these ministers wrote an article in the Good News about The Bible Keys to Mental Health. I knew that he had a mental illness when I met him — people in the church told me that he was just not coming to grips with his problems with mental illness, which is certainly clear in the Good News article. If you read it and know something about the issues, the advice to just be positive conveniently sidesteps the potential danger of not having the disease treated. Scripture claims that those with the Holy Spirit have the power of a sound mind. If that is true, there is something very wrong with the Armstrongist Churches of God. Do you really want to have mentally ill ministers giving you sermons and then advise you about mental health, when they have unresolved issues themselves and their advice (of non treatment from mental health professionals) could lead to your death?

It’s hard to write this: It brings such pain. If it were just history, I wouldn’t mention it, but it never really gets any better. The only thing that happens is that there are fewer opportunities for the sociopath and psychopath ministers and members who do such things — but make no mistake, they still go on and that’s the point! The injustices go on and on and there is no real advocate. Joyce, whose husband is the Living Church of God, related the tragedy that her husband has become a terror in following Roderick Meredith: She wanted to know what she should do? Their long term marriage was falling apart. The only real advice I could give her was to try to find what she needed in “Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships” by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias. Though the book as a resource is not specific to Armstrongism, you will certainly find that it has all the elements of it and does a good job on how to escape and recover from such cults as Armstrongism.

So while it may seem like Jon was over the top in his comment, the truth lies in the horror that many people face in the mean spirited practices of the ministry and membership of the Armstrongist cult. As a side note, the man whose father was the publisher of a sacred names newspaper who also debated with Herbert Armstrong in the 1940s, told me that he had an inside memo from Squaw Valley, telling the Church to clean up the bottles and cans of booze the members had left around. Jon’s comment, “Those who run the hotels will be busy cleaning out the empty bottles and cans. Maids and janitors will be busy indeed. Cleaning up puke, spilled drinks off carpets, but hopefully they can make a little more money doing their mundane jobs and return these bottles and cans for the deposit.”, may be sarcasm, but it is on spot. Armstrongism has a history and that history has taken us into the new millennium — but certainly not the millennium the Armstrongists were promised, and they should all think really hard about that.

If there is one thing we should have learned is that people in the WCG absolutely did not know one another. We may have been told, “We are family,” but it simply was not true — it was all artificial. When the WCG began changing the doctrines and when it all came to a head, people went their separate ways: People who sat together in services for decades simply did not know what their “brethren” in the church really believed. When it was all said and done, people were spun off in all sorts of directions and certainly did not speak the same things.

The reason that everyone stayed together as long as they did should be evident: It was, as Herbert Armstrong said, the Worldwide Church of Gossip. People were addicted to curiosity to find out what was going on. Many think it was because they had a social connection, but it is clear that they wanted to get the goods on their church “neighbor”. That yellow sheet journalism experiment, The Journal, continues the stupidity with Dixon Cartwright knowingly maintaining a newspaper filled with strange articles, with stranger advertising, written by extremely strange people, all in an effort to make the entire Armstrongist community seem genteel and civilized when it is nothing of the kind. People are addicted to infotainment involving perceived celebrities at the center of their eschatology with a slavish dedication to watch church news so they can be counted worthy of attention of their associates in the church. If people left, they would sorely miss the continuing soap opera of “as the church turns”. They just can’t leave — they are slaves of their passion to get all the news of the other church people that can fit in their minuscule minds. It’s like a small town, best described by Bob Hope: People are so narrow, their ears overlap.

If you are disfellowshipped, you will learn instantly that you really didn’t have any friends in the Armstrong community, particularly if you brought to light something the cult wanted to keep hidden. It could be worse than that: In some of the extreme Armstrongist cults, people have found themselves stalked or worse. Many have had repeated phone calls late at night with those who hang up immediately when they answer. Some have had to contact the police and the FBI. A few are threatened in other ways, such as being threatened with lawsuits or other forms of extortion. If you leave, it depends, but under some circumstances, you might just want to drop off the grid when you leave.

Indeed perilous times have come.

So yes, we do seem to be in the last days.

The last days of Armstrongism.

And we’re just fine with that.