Yes, friends, it is true! The Painful Truth has been used by Armstrongism to select a new leader! This is a first! A real triumph indeed!
It all began with our blog entry, obituary, where we outlined the qualifications for selecting a new leader within the ranks of a sect of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong. It turns out that the leadership in the Living Church of God has been terribly anxious about the decline of their Fearless Leader, Roderick Meredith. Apparently — and the details are sketchy, especially because the whole process was kept a secret by the LCG Council of Elders — the leadership took the qualifications from our article, did a search among their own and came up with a fully qualified dictator to take the place of Fearless Leader.
Bob Dixon commented on the qualifications presented at The Painful Truth:
I must give [the Painful Truth author] highest regard for this profound job application. What [the Painful Truth author] has done as well as I have ever seen, is roll out a beauty, that will only attract, and fully describes, a total ass by any imagination, for the job.
To understand our triumph, you must first remember the words of the recently retired former United council chairman, Robert Dick:
If you do things the same way, under the same circumstances, you will attain the same results.
He also commented:
When peer pressure reigns it is hard to remember your principles, but consider one thing: When most of your accomplishments have been forgotten the principles you lived by will still be remembered.
With aphorisms like that, you have to wonder why the UCG hasn’t been more of a success. After all, if you follow the right processes, you should — in theory — achieve the best results. Isn’t that what “The Seven Laws of Success” are all about?
Nevertheless, the Living Church of God, an International Association [oops! scratch that last part — it’s so easy to get lost in the alphabet soup of the CoHAM], has followed process, matched up the qualifications and come up with a pretty much unknown, Gerald Weston. It seems that he’s going to move in to the Homequarters area and get started early — before Meredith kicks the bucket — to take over the reigns of the Government of the Corporation of God. Roderick Meredith will become the Evangelist Emeritus. This is all secret, mind you, since the Council of Elders doesn’t want this information to get out to the general membership.
We know that Gerald Weston had responsibility in Canada for some time and that is why we were able to come up with this artist’s conception:
Our congratulations to the new Fearless Leader. We’re pretty sure that there are still plenty of maidens, rope and train tracks along with mortgages to foreclose on hapless fatherless and widows to make them homeless fatherless and widows to make the move to the United States worthwhile.
Nevertheless, critics have pointed out that Gerald Weston lives currently in England as the European Regional Director. That would mean that he has had direct responsibility for the LCG church in Potsylvania. Perhaps, when he gets to Charlotte, North Carolina, he will have Boris and Natasha establish a Feast site in Potsylvania.
Ames, it seems, is suffering health problems and Meredith, himself weighed down with the infirmities of age, has felt the need to designate a new successor. If you were expecting the elevation of Jim Meredith or one of the second-stringers on the Tomorrow’s World telecast you’d be disappointed. The Weston decision was rubber stamped at a recent meeting of LCG’s Council of Elders and the dauphin is reportedly now in the process of relocating to the sect HQ in Charlotte, NC.
A shudder should be running up the collective LCG spine. Weston is, according to Gary, well known as a conservative hardliner in a church that is already somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun.
If Weston ascends to the Throne of Roderick what can we expect?
First, every new broom sweeps clean. While heavily emphasizing continuity, you can be sure that Gerry the Unready will want to make his mark swiftly. Already the soon to be announced dauphin will have his little list conveniently tucked into a jacket pocket. Those who are offside with the boss-in-waiting should be afraid, very afraid.
Second, LCG has a surfeit – a veritable glut – of ministers with an abundant sense of self entitlement, many of whom will consider themselves far more suitable for the task. Weston will not ascend to the pontificate without cost. Initially things may seem fine on the surface, but the currents of ambition run deep in hierarchical organizations as we’ve seen demonstrated again and again. Expect a blood-letting without months, perhaps weeks of the transition (and you couldn’t entirely rule out days and hours).
There are even suggestions that Weston may be enthroned before Meredith shucks off this mortal coil, leaving the former Presiding Evangelist in an emeritus role. In Rome they locked away Benedict so he couldn’t interfere in his successor’s pontificate. Somehow, given Meredith’s personality and history, this doesn’t seem even remotely likely.
Mind you, there’s many a slip between the announcement of an heir and the actual placement of the crown on their sacred bonce. But isn’t it nice to know that the soap opera, with a longevity greater than The Simpsons, still hasn’t completely played itself out? Fun times ahead!
So it is possible following process may be wasted effort for the LCG. Nevertheless, using our guidelines for the process is excellent practice. By following it, Living can come up with yet another shrewd, calculating, cold, conservative, hard liner continuing to preach British Israelism for yet another four decades of false prophecies until they go through this all again.
Herbert Armstrong was a science fiction writer: His genre was a special kind of science fiction known as alternative history science fiction. This manifested itself in a number of ways. The first was his science fiction history of the world where there were lost tribes of Israel which migrated and became the United States and British Commonwealth. This never happened, but it makes for interesting science fiction to explore the possibilities should such an unlikely event ever happened. The second was his science fiction history where Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler won World War II. This never happened, of course, but if a few minor events in history had happened differently, the alternative history could have been a reality. For Herbert Armstrong it was a reality, for he lived in an alternative universe where the Nazis had won World War II. He wanted this delusion so badly that he never gave up on it even though his prophecies based on his distorted perceptions, mainly derived from the writings of G. G. Rupert, were proven wrong time and again. He would have been delighted if Hitler actually had won because it would have ‘validated’ him as being a viable prophet.
For those not familiar with alternative history science fiction, here is a video which explains it using the book written by a well know science fiction writer, Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle:
This frightening and dystopian science fiction has been ‘fleshed out’ in an original Amazon Prime series, The Man in the High Castle:
It portrays the United States divided up into three parts: The West Coast, occupied by the Japanese, the East Coast, occupied by the German Nazis and the middle of the country as the Neutral Zone.
It’s difficult to say how Herbert Armstrong would have fared if this science fiction alternative history actually came to pass. It would be a world to his liking, if only he could have positive attention from the Nazis and had his own ‘8 Japanese Sons’ of the occupied west coast. Remember that Herbert Armstrong predicted during World War II that Germany would win, which gave him some difficulties for a time as The World Tomorrow was suspended by the United States Government (it was subversive for war time), but if the Germans had actually taken over, he might have been given credit (and a free pass) for predicting the downfall of the United States. Herbert Armstrong wanted it to happen really, really bad! Elements of the Third Reich would have agreed with him: Homophobia, enforcement of laws, racism, sexism — all perfect for a man like him. It’s clear from the Amazon Prime series, alcohol would have been readily available, which would be perfect for the alcoholic Herbert Armstrong. As unlikely as it might seem, Herbert Armstrong might actually have ended up a multimillionaire, friend of the Nazis and maybe a personal friend of Adolph Hitler, particularly if he used his skills to promote the Third Reich and betray the freedom of the people. He might actually have been good at it. Heaven knows that he was successful in his advertising campaigns to promote his alternative science fiction to the few who found resonance with his delusions.
Who knows what could have been with just a tweak or two in history?
It might be noted that Herbert Armstrong was in much the same path as another science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote his own alternative science fiction history and turned it into a religion.
This science fiction alternative history would not be complete without mentioning the Third Reich of Roderick Meredith: The First Reich was the Radio / Worldwide Church of God, the Second Reich was the Global Church of God, and, of course, the Third Reich is the Living Church of God. Those who know his history would find him a credible candidate for Nazi occupation — he’d fit right in.
The truth is, Herbert Armstrong and Roderick Meredith have lived in an alternative universe unconnected to our own. Let’s be grateful for that.
We’ve had quite enough with men lusting to be in the high castle.
But the series’ greatest masterstroke is that the vast majority of its characters, including our heroes, don’t really seem to care about the evils being done right under their noses until they’re forcibly confronted with said evils. High Castle forces viewers to see what’s human in Nazis, right down to Adolf Hitler himself.
In so doing, it suggests that all of us live in societies where we find at least something, no matter how small, completely unacceptable. And yet we do nothing, because it is more comfortable to stay put. This is the series’ deepest, richest theme, and when the material supports it, it pushes the show into another realm entirely.
It’s clear that Ronald Weinland committed fraud: He was convicted of 5 counts of felony Income Tax Evasion and sent to prison for 42 months; in addition, he must pay what he owes with penalties. He was legally convicted by a jury of his peers, but members of his cult, the Church of God, Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG), believe that it was persecution not prosecution. Objectively, he committed a crime, the evidence was against him and his sentence was just (if a bit lenient).
The question here is why do the members of the PKG give Ronald Weinland the benefit of the doubt, even though he committed fraud and, thus, violated the precept that a minister should have a “good reputation of those who are without” — non members — meaning that it is inappropriate that he should be a minister (/ apostle / prophet / evangelist / [____] General)? This question arises other places. For example, there is a southern conservative that was voted out of office because he embraced the evidence that global warming is being caused by human beings. This became too much for his constituents because it threatened a way of life! People would have to examine how they live and make new choices about how they acted. Moreover, it would threaten their social status. This is consistent with the sociology we find within the Armstrongist churches of God.
Thus it is that Herbert Armstrong could be a total fraud — making false prophecies as a false prophet as he did for decades and preach the thoroughly debunked stupid idea of British Israelism — and people in the WCG would defend his ‘honor’ vociferously because they just ‘knew’ he had brought them the ‘truth’. Some of knew and now know that he committed incest with his daughter for the first ten years of his ministry, and that is just fine because he brought them the ‘truth’. They can know that he plagiarized all of his major doctrines from G. G. Rupert — including the Feasts — and still accept that he was ‘personally taught by Jesus Christ’. Some even knew of his practices which would have gotten him into the same sort of trouble with the Internal Revenue Service as Ronald Weinland, if only he had been caught spending church funds on his family sailing on a yacht on the Mediterranean. It’s all good because if members admitted the truth, they would have to give up following him, lose their status in their little WCG social club and lose access to the Feast where they could booze it up with their fellow alcoholics. It would be too much to change in their lives and would have been an unacceptable disruption to their dysfunctional chaos.
I have never made any secret of my admiration for Garner Ted’s good qualities. But, in a restrictive religious environment, living under what was often called the ultimate honor system, his behavior should raise some very disturbing questions for devout Armstrongites past and present.
We were taught in the WCG to take every word a minister utters as if it had come directly from Jesus Christ. It’s kind of like the old trust exercise where participants are expected to fall backwards, knowing their fellow members in the class will catch them. How can a practicing serial adulterer be a trustworthy vessel for carrying and transmitting the words of Jesus? And yet, not only was his father, HWA, complicit, but also, as age set in, his son, GTA, was arguably the most effective and convincing speaker in the WCG. Didn’t we all hang on his every word, “knowing” them to be inspired? So, if the primary characters are acting, in no way validated by Jesus Christ, all the supposed end time gospel efforts supported by impoverished tithe payers would be nothing more than a sophisticated scam. (They were!)
Think about this. Hypothetically, what if you were God? We know now, that this just can’t be, but what if you, as God, had actually chosen a father and son team to warn the world that the end was coming in 1975? What if you watched both as they totally botched the commission by giving in to their prurient appetites, failing to live the life they were preaching, lying and cheating to get the gospel out, participating in incest and adultery, drunkenness, and gambling along the way, and lying to cover it all up? If you were God, you simply couldn’t make it appear that these types of people were your messengers, so you would need to make them appear as false messengers (which they actually were, they had nothing to do with God or anything supernatural). Even if you had scheduled the end for 1975, you would need to postpone it, and start from scratch, using a whole new group to do the job. I no longer believe in any of the major details of the Armstrong prophecy mold. Those are every bit the farce as are the incest and adultery. However, in the dubious and remote event that that mold ever had a scintilla of truth behind it, a Godly scuttling for plan B is the only thing that makes any sense. Truly, the Armstrongs embodied the phrase “Judas priest”. And, those taught by them are unfit messengers as well, and now dying off just like the Israelites wandering aimlessly in circles in the desert for 40 years.
Other disturbing questions should be raised concerning his illegitimate children: He abandoned them. Should we give GTA a free pass because he was charismatic and a fun guy to be around? The children (not to mention the A.C. coeds he raped who became minister’s wives) are very much diminished by this view.
David Pack is a fraud: He predicted several years back that three of the leaders of the ‘major’ [Armstrongist] churches of God would die and the people in those churches would come flocking to him. It never happened. But people are amazed at his apparent skills of leadership and building a church headquarters facility, replete with a Steuben Crystal piece in his office. The city of Wadsworth has also been sucked in. Nevertheless, reports of the misery (not to mention YouTube posts) illustrate the hubris of the man who is unsympathetic to any of the needs of those in his congregation. Heaven help you if you MUST go to the bathroom during his sermon!!!! People just live with it (with a bit of grumbling) but are still certain that he’s going to get them into the luxury suites in Petra when they leave for the Place of Safety. Good luck with that: The preponderance of the evidence more than suggests that going there under his domination would be fatal.
Then we have Gerald Flurry… a total fraud and complete failure as ‘that prophet’ — the incarnation of Jesus Christ in this age. His online DUI suggests differently as does his failed prophecies. Redfox over at Living Armstrongism has blog after blog detailing the stupidity of the Philadelphia Church of God. The latest is the PCG compared with the 14 points of Fascism. It is one of the most factual ignored blogs within the anti-Armstrongist movement.
After awhile some people may conclude that, yes, certainly the leaders of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia sects are nothing but frauds, but that perhaps the time of giving the followers sympathy has long passed.