*UPDATE* The situation that made answering this question anonymously a necessity has passed.
I hate doing this, but I have to answer this anonymously. I am a diagnosed sociopath and according to Quora statistics, many of you have seen and liked my answers, questions and blog posts.I am probably among the most fortunate of my particular set in that I had a great family. My Father was a very even keeled man who never finished high school because he figured he knew everything he needed to know at 13. He was a “been here” in our little community, a branch of a family tree that had roots in our small town going back six generations. My Mother was a loud, social butterfly who formed the hub of the local rumor mill. Both of my parents were socially active; Moose lodge, VFW, County Fair, Grange Hall; these were the places I grew up.I was the weird kid in school, the guy who didn’t “get it.” There was a very good reason for that, I wasn’t attached to anything. If you watch people as they go about their normal lives, and I have spent my entire life doing so, you will realize that there is a social mandate at work and it shows up very early in our children; that’s why neuro-typical kids pretty much all act the same. As they grow they become more complex but are little more than collections of well known stereotypes.The general call and response of daily life was largely lost on me as a child. I have no talent for rote memory, because I have no desire to learn anything that demands rote memory. Even at 5 and 6 years old I had dozens of songs and television shows and movies memorized, but I didn’t care about the “times tables” or “presidents” or anything else that demanded memorization by benefit of it’s existence. But after a long while I learned to do it because I was laughed at, called stupid and ugly (I never understood the correlation, so I put it down to limited vocabulary) and generally bullied by my peers.Then I learned something wonderful, something so amazing that it changed my life forever; I learned that people don’t want to hear the truth, they want to hear what is expected. So, I learned how to lie to people so I wouldn’t be abused any more. I learned this early, I couldn’t have been more than six or seven.So there is one of the first questions people ask about sociopaths answered. Why do they lie and manipulate? Because people punish you when you tell them the truth.
We’ve already covered the fact that members of the Armstrongist churches are sociopaths previously.
Armstrongist leaders MUST lie because people don’t want the truth.
It’s as simple as that. If you are currently in an Armstrongist cult, you do not want the truth and if the leaders and / or ministers told you the truth, not only would you not like them, you’d leave them.
How do we know this?
The scientific method.
David Hulme found this out the hard way awhile back. He hinted that he was going to eliminate British Israelism and excise it from Church of God, an International Community. Almost immediately, some of his leading ministers rebelled and split off, forming an ACoG of their own. David Hulme was a onetime World Tomorrow presenter and founding president of the United Church of God (which he subsequently abandoned) to form the CoGaIC. He had a semi-successful sect of the Armstrongist cult and even had a printed copy of his magazine, Vision. He’s had to stop printing it and now it is just an online website. It’s amazing how fast things can go to hell in a handbasket after only 16 years. If only he had continued lying to his ministers and members about the viability of British Israelism, he’d still be in good stead –because Armstrongists hate truth, and if you have the audacity to tell them the truth, they will hate you, make fun of you, oppose you and leave you.
The other Armstrongists have realized this. Roderick Meredith at the Living Church of God even has a course at Living University for British Israelism. More and more, ACoGs have realized that British Israelism is the fundamental core of their religion and are finding more and more ways to promote the idea.
It’s all a lie of course. British Israelism is bunk. In keeping with the sociopaths in Armstrongism, though, the sects of the cult promote it. Armstrongist leaders MUST lie. They must lie because people don’t really like the truth.
So all you Armstrongists out there, watching the insanity of your headquarters / home office as it disintegrates and the leaders become more and more egocentric and eccentric, just remember: You are responsible for all of it because you don’t want the truth.
Armstrongism is a cult, after all and you shouldn’t expect anything but lies if you can’t handle the truth.
From where I’ve been sitting – with cool breezes, sunny blue skies and mountain greenery – I’d say Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction for an early spring in 2016 was correct. Now I don’t live in western Pennsylvania, so your call may be different.
Even so, Phil’s accuracy rating is given as 39%. (Several websites quote this figure; for example, see Livescience.com). Speaking as a one-day wonder has-been in the WxChallenge (a weather forecasting competition) I’d say Phil’s score as a general forecaster is not very good. But, in his position as (to quote a character in Ground Hog Day) “seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators” he’s going well. Certainly Phil the Punxsutawney Prophet scores higher than the Des Moines Doomsayer, HWA.
In the pages the Painful Truth, some 300 false prophecies of HWA and his minions are listed. And that doesn’t include those of prophecies of splinter leaders who followed in his wake. But – how many of his predictions actually have come to pass?
In the words of HWA’s grandson, he was touted as an insightful prophetic wonder. From memory, I think he was credited with about three or four good calls. To begin with, the USA never had a direct military conflict with Russia. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and limit that to the now defunct USSR, and give him a point.
Germany reunited. Well, the majority of it was, but if HWA’s WWII prophecies had come to pass, Germany wouldn’t have any need to reunite. But, give him another point.
Trouble in the Middle East – ignoring his early claim that the modern nation of Israel wasn’t going to happen, give another point. And give him a bonus point for the “prophecy” of the Six-Day War, which he wasn’t expecting to happen in 1967. And let’s ignore the Radio Jerusalem contract.
So we’ll give HWA four points for the accuracy of his undated predictions. Out of 300, that makes his accuracy rating less than 2%. Maybe he was better than that, but nowhere near Phil’s score.
Of course, Phil makes specific weather predictions. In the standard repertoire of titles in the splinters, one may find a booklet, article or sermon with a title like God Controls the Weather. The tone used by different COGs varies from God using weather favors or disasters for specific reasons, to God micromanaging the climate down to every drop of rain that falls (whether a flower grows or not).
The best splinter “predictions” for weather events – apart from generalized future events – have been in hindsight: why things occurred. So we are told Katrina hit New Orleans because it was a wicked city, drought in California was because legalizing same-sex marriage, and so on. And I’m not going near the different takes on Global Climate Change. They seem to forget that prophets such as Elijah warmed specifically what would happen before it happened.
So perhaps God actually has Phil’s ear – he made a prediction that came to pass, and not an excuse for something that already happened.
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:
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:
They see the world through a lens of arrogant entitlement and frequently treat people as targets
They lack empathy
They are incapable of feeling remorse / guilt and don’t learn from situation to situation
They are irresponsible, self-destructive and disregard the well-being of others
They thrive on drama and crisis
They brag about outsmarting other people
They have a pattern of short-term relationships
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:
They infiltrate your life, seducing with promises and flattery
They define you as a conspiratorial confidant
They are way too focused on getting your approval — as though their very existence depends on your accepting them
They are always gathering data and “building a file” on you. Everything they do, every interaction, is for a purpose
They consistently misdirect and maintain a mystery about who they really are; they answer questions that weren’t asked; they obfuscate
When confronted with problems, they always blame others
They lie, either by misstatement or by omission; they understand that lies with a kernel of truth are the most powerful
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
They isolate their victims and foster dependency to obligate you and gain leverage and power
When in a position of power and authority, they abuse it with self-dealing and egomaniacal conduct
They ID your sensitivities and hot buttons to gain leverage
They have “selective memory” and are revisionist historians; they reframe reality
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
Because they are paranoid, they “get you” before you [can] “get them”
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.
– Social isolation as a result of having been cut off from all contact with the outside world
– Difficulty in finding the way back into a normal social surroundings
– Depression as a result of the loss of ones own identity
– Recurring nightmares
– And the list goes on …
PTRS usually arises in that aftermath of:
– having left a religious sect or cult
– being excommunication by a religious sect or cult
– end of a religious sect or cult
– rescued from a religious sect or cult
– being unwilling forced into a religious sect or cult as a child or spouse
Discovering that someone suffers from PTRS is often very difficult. In almost all cases the individuals can hid their experiences behind a world of indifference. Most people avoid contact with religious sects and are therefore immune to the idea that they can be so harmful, it’s what I call public indifference. You could almost say they feel ashamed to have been part of an religious sect, raped by it, and they just don’t want to talk about it. It’s difficult for a victim of this abuse to “Out themselves” since society cannot imagine that it’s possible to suffer in anyway as a result of bad religious practice. Religious sects and cults do damage to people, it’s a fact that nobody want to believe.
The buried emotional state of mind of a PTRS victim results in some very strange behavior that is often misunderstood by family, friends, and the world in general. The outing process is difficult, often with an imagined stigma, that isn’t all to imagined but very real. You get labeled, therefore you begin to hid even more behind a facade of underlying emotions. These can often span throughout the whole of a life span. Younger victims can have lasting side effect right up till their deaths.
It takes a lot of persuasion for a PTRS victim to connect back into the main stream of daily life. Detoxification is a form of deprogramming that requires a willpower that would seem for others as super human. Most give up, since the effort is simply to big. The result is a return to another religious group in most cases a little less extreme. The sheltering effect is returned and the stigma not so hard to bare. For those who do discover the can make the jump back the experience is almost intoxicating, a new found self, a world of freedom and hope for a self defined life.
It goes without saying that although there are no statistics with respect to suicide rates of victims of PTRS, the number of deaths whether mental or physical are there. For an outsider to pick up on the trauma that is brewing under the surface that is so well hidden, very difficult and almost impossible for an untrained eye. We live in a world where shutting out anything thing that isn’t in the norm is the norm. Discussion seems useless since for most the idea of being tricked into joining a sect or cult is out of the question. How can anyone fall for this trap? Therefore discussion is out of the question. Faced with a world of indifference the victim of PTRS is now even more isolated then before. Breaking the isolation is the most important step to escaping to a more balanced way of life, a way of accepting the past and putting an end to it. Only then can a Victim truly live a normal life and avoid the depressions that can lead to suicide.
I’m not sure how help groups would function with this problem. The programing by religious sects is often very difficult to decode. The brain is not easy to wash clean from years of indoctrinated programming. The coding is so deep in some instances that it would be nearly a miracle (if you believe in miracles) for someone to walk away without having permanent side effects. I would go so fare as to call it a form of Programmed Brain Damage, or PBD.
Since we are in life designed to be influenced by ones self and by others the question is, who is to be taken account of for the influences we experience? Is it the person who’s been misguided, or the persons who are misguiding? Our brains are hard-wired to accept new programing, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to evolve through life. This in itself is proof enough that nothing is static in our world and that we can influence change in more ways then one. Religions can use this instinctive human drive to grab at anything that will provide a victim with a satisfactory answers to their basic instinctive need to understand why we are. Religions plug in on and transfer their idea directly into the victims mind, burring it deep inside, with roots that grow deeper the longer the exposure.
It’s is strange but educating people about the dangers of cults and sects is of little priority in our world. Religions get to much freedom to act without any form of self control that truly puts the facts on the table. We’ve simply rule out any form of self critic with respect to the abuse of peoples rights when it comes to sects, cults and religions. Without allowing for critic there is no way that you can make any of these organization accountable for their actions today. There is not real policing of religion, it’s taboo to question.
So in the coming years the explosion of religious extremes in America will continue, and many more children and adults will suffer from PTRS should they leave the closed surrounding of a religious sect or cult. As long as America and the rest of the world tolerates the spreading of lies under the disguise of religious freedom, we shouldn’t wonder why there is so much social unrest and division within the populations of the world.
“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.”
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.