A collection of
and Comments from survivors of Herbert W. Armstrong,
Garner Ted Armstrong, The Worldwide Church of God and it's
Articles Pertaining To Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong and The Worldwide Church of God
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I think you have us confused with somebody else. Thank you, but ... no.
I would like for you to publish my story on your horror stories page. I would like for others to continue to know they are not alone.
My dad was, after his little brother died, an only child. In order to keep him safe and off the streets of NYC, my grandmother bought him a transistor radio. (Why abuela? Why?) She raised him alone with her mother, and he did not have a lot of friends outside his cousins. It was on this radio in 1960 that he first heard THE WORLD TOMORROW! HWA had him hook, line, and sinker. My abuela was very protective of my father, and he was only allowed to do so much. He grew up without a father in the 50's, and he was Puerto Rican. I think it all added up to a large self-esteem/doubt issue. Which the church fed into by telling people they were in "THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH!" That they were GOD'S ANOINTED! It makes you feel special and elite, and my dad ate it up.
My mom was German Dutch from a hard-working family. My grandfather was a heavy drinker and my grandmother and cold person trying to keep things together.
My parents met in 1962. My mom threaten to kill herself if my dad did not marry her, and take her with him to Texas where he was stationed in the Army. She in turn, had to join the church. Thus began our horrible lives.
My parents kinda liked each other at first, but the strain of the cult ruined them. My dad studied the Bible constantly with other young men, and he decided he could no longer work on "The Sabbath". This belief kept us in poverty for years. My mom became ill with a terrible yeast infection, and the minister told her to drink wine. It made her feel better for the next 16 yrs. My mom lived with a half glass of burgundy on the sink for most of my childhood. My parents followed the doctrine to the letter. They had 7 kids in 16 yrs, and beat us all when they thought we needed it. They weren't as bad as a lot of the parents I have hear about. My dad did love us, and he hated spanking us especially the girls.
Due to my dad's "mediation" into the bible, naptime and my mom's drinking problem. My oldest brother preyed on the other kids in our house. He started first with my second oldest brother who fought him off, then he went down the line, like a hunter seeking the weakest link in the pack. My older brother and sister were quiet and obedient. The got it the worst. He molested them for years and years without my parents doing a think. I tried to tell, my sister told. The punished both of them by denying them food. My sister was 7 my brother 12. Who was going to win that one? My sister had to go to the doctor because of ulcers--My mom insisted, but the only doctor we could see was a holistic "crazy" kind of doctor who fed us cayenne pepper, honey, and lemon. What 7 yr old kid has ulcers? We never had lunch on the weekends or summertime. We always had assistance for school lunches. My dad never wasted a single penny on school supplies. Why buy when you can borrow? More money to tithe right? My parents were not out and out cruel, at least not to me. My oldest 3 brother bore the brunt of that. I think they were just to tired to beat the rest of us except for on the occasion that we really sinned like laughing while they were anointing our head with oil. It trickled down into my ears. My protest met deaf ears as my dad whacked the shit out of my ass, then my little brothers, then my little sisters.
My dad was disillusioned by the church during the whole 78-79 split. We got to celebrate birthdays and things were relaxed a little. Then my dad met her. The love of his life. He met her in a bar. Real dreamy isn't it. My mom was trying hard to quit drinking. She really did love us, even though she was half crazy drunk and miserable. Now that I am older, I hurt for her. She was so young, and so overwhelmed with 7 kids and a husband that was so lazy, he loved that he did not have to work on Saturdays. My mom mowed the lawn while he drank beer. My dad wasn't a really mean man. Just one who reveled in being Lord over us all, and not really being cut out to follow through with it. He has a pretty soft heart under all that narcissism.
My dad left my mom for her, and he began living with her. He even brought her over to meet us. Oh, how I hated her. My dad left us with nothing. My mom had to call Catholic Social Services to help us. We were supposed to move back to NJ where she was from, but she backed out. We were out of school so long, the truant officer came by our house. My mom wasn't home. She may have been at work. We were pretty much left to fend for ourselves. I don't even remember where my little sister and brother went, but they were usually with my mom, and we stayed with my older brothers. My dad had our electricity cut off. I remember being 8, and throwing my stuff into black garbage bags because I had no luggage or boxes in the dark and coldÖIt was November. My little sister had just turned two. Even thinking back on this hurts still.
My parents split up, but the manipulation remained. My dad told my mom he would take every kid from her, and he did. He wined and dined us. He told us of eternal life and what would happen if we knew the church and then rejected it. I remember crying because my mom left the church, so she was going to burn in the lake of fire. I was so scared of the end times. I used to flinch in bed every time an airplane flew because it could be the bomb being dropped, and the end times beginning.
The manipulation lasted for 4 yrs before I broke and moved in with my dad. My mom did not speak to me for 3 yrs. There I am alone, manipulated, and my mom hates me. (or so I thought). My step-mom helped my dad manipulate me, but then turned out to not be able to stand me. She critizied and arranged me until I wanted to run away. I went so far as packing several times. Where was I suppose to go? My mom wouldn't talk to me, and I had no one else. I was 13, and so sad. High school was tough. I like most WWCOG kids (actually my dad when with GTA), couldn't do a damn thing after the sun went down on Fridays. Life was not happy. We tried, my little brother, my older sister and me to be happy. We were very close. My family is a mess over this cult. My older sister abuses prescription drugs, and has a hard time keeping a job. My oldest brother has been in and out of jail, and is totally alienated from the family for the abuse we endured at his hands. My older brother is an alcoholic and drug user. My other older brother has recently turned his life around with the help of a loving wife and friends. He also never finished high school. My little brother never finished high school. He is trying to make a life for himself. My dad still lives in la la land. My brothers are still seeking his approval. My little sister escaped most of it. My mom can't apologize enough, but is involved in a splinter group in Alabama.
Life is good for me..I am the only one to graduate from college. I have been married for 15 yrs to a loving man. I have three fantastic boys, and a high paying job in the IT field.
Screw you Armstrongs. I hope if there is an afterlife, you are being tortured in it.
That's a helluva story, Debra! Thanks for having the courage to send it in. Sounds like you have found the key to survival and I am happy for that. You are proof that there is life and happiness after WCG, no matter how horrible it was.
Hi, I am a Sabbatarian Cgristian and have been checking out many 7th day churches. I read alot about the splinter COG groups. Would you please inform me of which Sabbath church do you recommend one to check out. Where or do you attend any church?
Thanks, george Hill email@example.com
Thanks for writing, George. While youíre here, you might want to read a few articles. We donít recommend ANY of the COG splinters! I personally donít attend any church any more and I doubt if any of the other contributors do, though several remain Christian.
In case you are new to the exWCG splinters, here is what they will do if you join them:
Take your money
Isolate you from your family
Take your money
Isolate you from friends and coworkers
Take your money
Demand as much of your time and energy as you cannot spare
Take your money
Make you feel guilty for being alive
Take your money
Completely and utterly ruin your life.
Oh, and if you arenít careful, theyíll take your money.
Really, Iím being only slightly facetious -- everything in that list is true. The bottom line is that they want your money. To them you are a farm animal, also known as a ďcash cowĒ. That is your only value to them. They will take you and use you and wring you out and leave you for dead just as soon as your cash value is exhausted. No kidding, that is no joke.
If you really are looking for a ďgood churchĒ (and not a COG member on a fishing expedition), Iím sure there are some out there, but stay as far as possible away from any group that ever had any ties with Armstrongism. The name Armstrong is the kiss of death, so avoid it, literally, like the plague.
PT, I appreciate your reply- I am not a nenonination memebr of any church- I have visited many, never a COG splinter. When I read the tripple and double tithe thing I saw what you are talking about.
I am still a Sabbatarian- Are you, also, are you a Christian or have you gave that up?
How long were you associated with Armstrongites before you saw the light. The only thiong I have seen worse than them in my studies is the WWCG by Tkach. UNREAL- they distort the bible--I heard you clearly in your writing about Tkach having a 'bad hair day'
Hope to hear back--later, George Hill
Hi, George. Iím
completely burned out on religion of any sort. People who havenít
experienced cults sometimes donít understand that, but itís very
common among exWCG members. I pretty much feel that I put in my
time, and if God really is out there and wants to confront me over
it, thatís his problem, not mine. He can take it or leave it, I no
I was raised under Armstrong from the time I was 4. My mother didnít actually join the church until I was 13, but for a decade before that the house was littered with Herbertís booklets and magazines and he was on the radio at least once every day, and often more when Mom could find him on different stations. I spent 40 years immersed in Armstrong, finally woke up at age 44 and discovered that Mom wasnít as smart as I had always thought she was. Iím 59 now, and the last 15 years have been the best of my life. I guess you could say I was ďborn againĒ (or for the first time) in 1992.
Yes, Tkach is a tyrant, but heís small potatoes compared to Armstrong, and most of these splinters have tyrants who think Armstrong was too easy. My advice? Run!
Best of luck to you.
I again appreciate your reply.ee where you are
coming from. I was once told by an old guy that was in a church (not
Armstrong as I have never known an Armstrongite,or been to an
arstrong church) ,that the danger in loosinig a connection to Jesus
is when one of any denomination makes religion, the study of a
church their priority instead of theology, the study of God only,
they will in one way or the other depart. He said some become
gnostic, atheist and some just warm a pew because of family ties and
programmed behavior. I always remembered his words. I am a srtiver
of the teachings of Jesus. I believe the sermon on the mount and
Mathhew 25:31-46 are for all mankind and iapplicable for any people
anywhere if they've heard of Jesus or not and is the original plan
of the creator- Man has messed everything up. I seek a study group
and check things out, but for several years I study alone for the
most part. I do observe the Sabbath because It was made for man, and
contrary to what some teach, time has never been lost, plus it is
historical that many have died because of man ordering a sunaday
worship. The Sabbath, as with unclean foods are for our betterment-
it has nothing to do with legalism or jews.Both were well before any
jews ever came along. It is reasonable that we don't eat scavengers,
plus I am a vegitarian because in the US and most of the world we
don't need to being inflicting massive suffering on animals. I ain't
an animal rights person, I don't even want an animal in my house,
but I do care for their welfare. Anyway, I hope you are at peace and
thanks for answering my request..George Hill
Peace also to you, George. Thank you.
9/19/07 thought you would like to see this.... T...
thought you would like to see this....
Good one, T. Thank you.
It's been a long time since I've contacted you, nearly four years. I was last in touch with Mike, and hope if this email finds him, he and you (everyone there) is doing well.
Thanks for keeping your site up and running. I just wanted to drop a line to the PT.
Thanks for stopping in, Jeff. Hope things are well with you as well. Last time I talked to Mike he was full of energy and keeping busy.
How's it going? Pretty good here. Some of the folks at the shadows of WCG forum have discovered the painful truth website and really finding the information helpful. They were wondering if we could post the video of GTA on YouTube somehow... have you looked into that at all? Do you know of any issues with doing that? Just thought I'd ask you...
Honestly, I don't. I certainly have no problem with it, but I don't own it and don't know who (if anyone) does.
I used to be a HWA servant, but now I am free..... I do my own thing, without the dictators watching over me...!!! (the nerve, I know) I went through the WCG/GCG/LCG/ICG/WFD, and now out of it all... what a whacky ride.... but we enjoy ourselves so much more, now...... One memory I will hare with you from my childhood WCG days.... I can still clearly remember my parents telling me and my 4yr old sister how they would have to kill us when the Nazis came to make us all eat pork.. we would be poisoned to death with soup, and given sleeping pills so we wouldn't feel any pain.... imagine carrying that around as a 6 yr old... I really got nervous when we had soup for lunch...!!!!
I made this bible study recently in response to the whackos still leading the WCG in response to the idiotic documentary they put out entitled "Called to be Free"... here's 10 minutes of it...
you can see the whole study at google video...
Hmmm. Okay, Todd, your link is posted. Let the viewer beware!
We have recently had some communication with a local member of the WCG in Eastern Canada. Very sad how the members are all deceiced. In our research on the organization we found your web site and are not surprised wtih the many testimonials.
For a better understanding of the spirit that controls this world and the false prophets that deceive the people of this world, we encourage you to study and review the web site www.aworlddeceived.ca especially the article on "Tithing" where we make mention of the Armstrong's and the WCG.
With kind regards.
Andy & Dianne van den Berg
Thank you for linking to our site. In fairness, I should point out that this site actively discourages people from practicing religion in any form; however we also believe that everyone has the right to decide such things for themselves, so your links are posted here.
My dear editor,
I apologize for the lack of proper English text, spelling etc.....I have just stumbled across your website. I am very glad to find that it exists. I don't know if you want to hear another horror story...but here mine is....I am not pointing fingers at anyone...I don't want to do that....this is still too painful for me...and I might go to hell if I point a finger and judge someone now won't I?
My parents joined the church when I was 5. I remember the Christmas before...it was beautiful...the tree glowed in the living room...I remember opening one of many presents...a doll-which actually walked if you held her hand and walked besides it. That was my last happy memory spent with my parents while growing up. After my parents joined the church they both turned into strict authoritative parents--us kids went from calling our parents Mom and Dad to sir and ma'am. we were struck 20 times with a belt one at a time in a closed bathroom for minor infractions...as the church taught and believed in "spare the rod spoil the child". Someone stole 15 cents....it was worth us all getting a turn with the belt. Thou shalt not steal after all......anyway the riches stopped for us kids after we joined the church....my parents went from being generous and loving parents to cold cheapskates, for lack of a better word. I remember not having any clothes....except for a pair of pants and a few shirts. I didn't realize at the time that any extra money my parents had were being tithed.--and since my parents had quite a few children, money didn't go far. I didn't even own a pair of underwear. ...it wasn't until I grew up and left the house that it made sense why we never had money for clothes-boots-underwear-pillows for our beds-and mittens (our mittens were socks with sandwich bags over them, and our boots were sneakers with bread bags over them....all tied on with rubber bands.)
In a way I am glad I grew up so poor....I learned frugality...it taught me survival skill....but this is America after all.............and yet I also remember days of atonement where we all fasted for our sins. I remember being 10 years old and starving so much I was sick...I remember finding an old crusty hotdog roll that must have been left out for at least a week wadded up with some dirty clothes--and I remember eating that...just to make the pain in my stomach go away.
But yet I digress,,,,I have many stories, but I should get to the point here....and here it is: from my formative years me and my brothers and sisters sat in that church for the 2 to 2.5 hrs every Saturday....we didn't talk to many people in the church...we always felt like outcasts...maybe because we wore the same clothes week after week.....I don't know, but we did feel like outcasts...so us kids kept to ourselves. During sermons we played tic-tac toe, connect the dots and hangman. None of us really listened much to what was being preached...but somehow some of there message got thru to us...to me in particular...I truly believed that the church drove me crazy...as a young child i started having nightmares...I dreamt that my brothers and sisters and parents were all dying around me...I could do nothing to save them...for the days of tribulation and the end times were at hand...night after night. I dreamt of their miserable deaths...and me? well I loved my brothers and sisters more than anything....but truly I believed I would see this....I remember praying every night to god in heaven and in Jesus Christ's name to please please let me die first in exchange for my families life...i lived each day straining to hear the trumpets blow...and not knowing what to do if i ever did hear them but to run....and not even stop to put on my shoes, just run!!!!!----so I grew up in fear....and later my parents quit the church when I was in my mid teens but the damage had already been done...now my parents were certainly doomed. I believed that we kids all had a chance if my parents were still in the church but with their quitting and all we would certainly all starve to death and die of thirst at the shores of lake Erie with sores all over us while a big ass scary horseman chased us down to torture us some-more.
Within months of my parents leaving the church I had my first nervous breakdown....where instead of dreaming of the great tribulation I also lived it while awake! Constantly I lived in persecution while the devil sat outside my bedroom window trying to break in.....after a year I came out of it and returned to school...and lived a somewhat normal life, hiding my insecurities from the world...and being as nonreligious as possible therefore blocking that part of my mind out that I couldn't deal with. 15 years later I suffered another devastating nervous breakdown that took everything including my children from me....again,,,this nervous breakdown occurred when I tried to go back to the church....which only served to throw me back into the living hell that I believed in and still believe in....that nervous breakdown lasted 2 years...I have since moved on...I have won my children back from their father. I own my own home. I work...I am a professional...I haven't set foot in another church since....I am still afraid to pray, thinking it will drive me crazy if I do. I am still afraid of the monster that could be lurking outside my bedroom window (whether Satan the devil or one of those horseman from god) I still feel that I am going to watch everyone around me die...I am still miserable.....I am clinically depressed though i receive no treatment for it...a huge part of me is still trying to die....I do not go on dates...I try not to be close to anyone....I am waiting for doomsday...I am waiting for the day of reckoning...I am waiting to watch everyone around me die while I live on in a modern day Hiroshima...I am waiting for god to come down and say ....you and yours just aren't good enough...so good bye...I never loved you....another big part of me thinks maybe it will be okay ...maybe I am forgiven...maybe it's okay not to attend church not to ever be baptized...maybe I'm forgiven because the church destroyed me...so much that I am not allowed in my own mind to think of god but briefly without feeling unsteady in my own head....for fear of another nervous breakdown...I have no church...but I miss my god...I am sad for myself that not only did the worldwide church of god give me so much to dread and be terrified of in this world but they have also taken my ability to worship Jesus and god as I feel that they should be worshipped. They have in a sense taken my god from me...and replaced him with a nightmare...not to be picked up, not to scrutinized but to be shut away in a dark corner of my mind...33 years later I am still traumatized still afraid of the things that go bump in the night.
As WCG horror stories go, yours may be the worst one yet, or close to it. I am very glad that you shared it with us, and I'm sure it was difficult to put all that into words. You said you only recently found our site; may I suggest that you spend a LOT of time reading the stories and articles here? I think many of your anxieties may be relaxed as you learn more about the organization that did this to you, and that, severe as your experiences were, you were not the only one.
What troubles me most is that you are still plagued with nightmares and fears of tribulation. You definitely do need counseling, in my opinion -- not because there is anything wrong with you, but precisely because there is nothing wrong with you and never was. You were guilty of nothing, you deserved no punishment, yet the religion your parents forced on you programmed your mind to believe you did. And you apparently still believe it. Anna, it was ALL A BIG LIE! Please believe that.
Keep checking back here to the Letters page...I fully expect there will be replies from our readers and they may be helpful to you. Feel free to contact us at any time. You and others like you are the very reason this website was created, so take full advantage of what you find here.
I just read Anna's letter and I wanted to comment. Her nightmares of the tribulation and of praying to die as a sacrifice for her family really touched me. My youngest sister had such similar nightmares and thoughts, I can hardly believe it. And, I can also relate to Anna's breakdown, and truly fearing the devil outside the window. I went through a similar phase, afraid to look in the mirror because I was afraid I would see a demon's face instead of my own. Creepy, crazy stuff put in our heads subliminally... I never listened to the sermons much either - but hell if I wasn't similarly affected!
I just want Anna to know that she is not alone, and not crazy, though she's probably felt that way for most of her life. I spent a good chunk of my life feeling like I was crazy because I just couldn't get the whole church thing right... turns out I was the sane one. Hang in there Anna. Reading the articles on the PT have really helped me understand a lot, I am sure it will help you too!
Thanks, Jorie! I knew that letter would get responses.
I read your "notice" page about not sending quotations from the bible so I won't. However, I fail to see the link you make between the "worldwide church of obviously not God" and the good book. What tickles me is that atheists and those like them will undeniably acknowledge an intuitive universal, absolute and timeless truth they say they can definitively extrapolate into yet fail to see any possibility such truth might have an author. oh well...such is the paradox of denying the incomprehensible.
Well, I'm glad we were able to tickle you.
Noted atheists Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have both made the point that the theory of a creator is one valid alternative to the beginning of all things, but point out that said theory leaves us with a larger mystery to solve -- how to account for the creator. To claim that "it" always existed is neither logical nor acceptable, but merely superstition.
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