HWA's Financial Requests by Decade
Part 2, 1960 - 1986
Part 1 covered about 40 of HWA's pleas for offerings between 1934 and 1959 along with supplemental information that he provided in his Autobiography and in the Good News magazine (refer to Feb. 20 post). This post covers roughly 30 more examples. This data was compiled to help resolve my own questions about HWA's sincerity.
July 24, 1960: "I have just had an urgent long-distance telephone call from Pasadena Headquarters. The SPECIAL offerings for the Building Fund are dropping off alarmingly..." "The NEED is imperative—desperate." "If we do only our own part—what is expected of us—God's Word brands us as UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS. And the unprofitable servants are to be cast into the lake of FIRE!"
January 15, 1962: “I know we can do better than this! WE SIMPLY HAVE TO DO BETTER! Just barely more than HALF of you members have responded-- almost HALF of you have failed to pledge a single dollar! … MANY OF YOU WHO ARE ABLE AND OUGHT TO PLEDGE HAVE FAILED OR REFUSED!
Brethren, do you realize this is the work of ALMIGHTY GOD? Do you realize HE is holding you accountable, according to your ability? It is not yet too late--but if you become a spiritual slacker, there is a Lake of Fire looming ahead, and I say to you in all sincerity and love, and by authority of Jesus Christ, you had better begin to fear and TREMBLE! This is EXPECTED of you, and if we don't do MORE than expected, we are UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS, and Jesus Christ says that the unprofitable servants are to be thrown into the Lake of Fire!”
December 9, 1962: "GREETINGS in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Once again I have to write you about a SERIOUS EMERGENCY. It is MOST URGENT!
I am writing this Sunday morning. Friday evening, just before the Sabbath came on, I stopped in the office of our head bookkeeper a moment. I was startled—almost horrified—to learn that the special offerings for the PROPERTY FUND had suddenly dropped off alarmingly..."
BRETHREN! God's Work is growing. The regular operating expenditures automatically keep increasing 30% a year. The income keeps increasing 30% a year—but that goes for OPERATIONAL EXPENDITURES—and for PREACHING THE GOSPEL TO THE WORLD! It does not provide for these imperative new building operations. WE MUST PROVIDE FOR THESE BY THIS SPECIAL BUILDING FUND. That means extra special offerings, OVER AND ABOVE tithes and regular offerings for operational expenses and the Gospel Work."
June 30, 1963: “Right now there is VERY SPECIAL AND URGENT NEED! This need, of course, is continuous. But when one of these letters is a little overdue, then thousands of Co-Workers seem to assume there is no need, and wait until my letter comes before sending in their offerings. PLEASE DON'T WAIT for these letters--because the NEED for the Work is CONTINUOUS!
July 31, 1963: “Time is running out on us. Only a few more years remain to finish God's Work!
…Co-Workers, we still are in the slack, difficult summer months. I have to ask you to PRAY--and PRAY MORE EARNESTLY AND DILIGENTLY for this Work and its finances! We can never slacken our efforts! The need is very great RIGHT NOW--and will continue to be until the work is DONE!”
January 13, 1964: “… This reminds me that I MUST NOW ASK CO-WORKERS TO RENEW FOR ANOTHER YEAR your statements of intention for your SPECIAL offerings (apart from regular tithes and offerings for the Gospel Work) for the SPECIAL BUILDING FUND. We must not only keep this going from year to year for the next five to seven years -- but we MUST INCREASE IT BY AT LEAST 30% EACH YEAR, TO MEET THE 30% ANNUAL INCREASE IN THE GROWTH OF THIS ENTIRE WORK!
For this reason I need, especially to call for extra effort from all Co-Workers to be as liberal as your ability allows in regular offerings for the broadcast and Gospel work -- and there is now SPECIAL URGENT NEED for loans of larger sums from those few of you who have such funds you are not using right now -- may need in the future and therefore feel unable to GIVE such sums to the Work at this time. It is a very great help when you let such sums...”
February 1, 1965: “This is SERIOUS. This is URGENT! We face an EMERGENCY, and I have to ask you to read carefully every word, take this matter seriously…”
A little over two years ago I bound this Work to a year of austerity -- cutting every expenditure to the bone… This situation has become DESPERATE! The WHOLE WORK OF GOD depends on it!”
Yet you Co-Workers have been dropping off in the EXTRA SPECIAL and ADDITIONAL OFFERINGS FOR THE BUILDING FUND until it is half of what it was -- and hardly a third of what it MUST BE if the WORK OF GOD is to keep on forging ahead!”
… and we need a BIG INCREASE over what they were, for this coming year or 18 months. THE VERY FUTURE OF THE WHOLE WORK DEPENDS ON THIS!”
March 1, 1965: “ I have just received an S.O.S. message from our Business Office at Pasadena Headquarters. It has an U R G E N T !! in capital letters, underscored three times, with two exclamation points, saying receipt of tithes and offerings has fallen "way down," followed by another U R G E N T !! and asking me to write immediately another Co-Worker Letter.”
February 25, 1966: “Once again, I have to send out the call for the LOAN of larger sums if you happen to have such an amount which you feel you cannot, at this time, at least, give. Many Co-Workers have sent in such sums, so this money may be at CHRIST'S disposal, working where HE works, and with His blessing, DOING GOOD -- until they find they need it -- or part of it. Of course many of these are later changed to straight contributions. But IF, or when, you find you must ask for part or all of it back, this Work is prepared to send it to you immediately. A special reserve is maintained to guarantee this.”
Loss or potential loss of family member’s justification for more donations from members?
The next letter was written just 6 weeks before Loma died of intestinal blockage. For some reason, Loma's condition appeared to be less important to HWA than condemning those that may have been offended about his repeated requests for money.
March 2, 1967: "... Many professing to be Church MEMBERS say, when a Co-Worker letter arrives, in a grumbling, complaining disgust: "Oh, that's another of Mr. Armstrong's REQUESTS for MONEY," and many don't even read the letter! “
Are YOU one of those? If so, LET ME BURN YOUR EARS before the Almighty GOD burns YOU in the Lake of FIRE! If that has been YOUR attitude -- if YOU are only on the GETTING side, and SHUN helping, and giving to the cause of GOD, then I say to you ON AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST, if you don't REPENT and QUICKLY, and change that hostile, despicable, detestable attitude, you DO NOT BELONG in GOD'S CHURCH! You are some of the ROTTEN, PUTRID, spiritual WASTE that has been PLUGGED UP INSIDE OF THE SPIRITUAL BODY OF CHRIST'S WIFE, just as physical waste is plugged up in my dear wife's body! And the living Jesus is just as able to EXPEL YOU from the spiritual Body of HIS WIFE as He is to expel this physical waste from my wife's body!
And if THAT doesn't make your ears tingle, and AWAKEN you, then Jesus Christ says to YOU through me, YOU are in danger of the Lake of FIRE!
… You KNOW that we are on a SEVEN YEAR (or longer) building program, that began less than four years ago, and has three or more years yet to go. And yet, YOU BRETHREN, who call yourselves God’s PEOPLE have dwindled down to about HALF the amount of SPECIAL OFFERINGS for the BUILDING FUND you were sending in a year ago—though there are 30 percent more of us!
THINK OF IT! How ASHAMED God must be with His Church!…
LISTEN, Brethren—and listen HARD! Learn a LESSON that may save you from the Lake of Fire. Learn a basic TRUTH about how you are to develop character and GROW spiritually to INHERIT GOD’S KINGDOM! Learn a GREAT TRUTH! Learn what may mean your ETERNITY!
Read this two or three times! UNDERSTAND IT!
Some of you do not GO FORWARD spiritually with Christ, UNLESS I or YOUR LOCAL PASTOR, or SOMEONE PUSHES YOU! But our PUSHING will never get you into God’s Kingdom. Our PUSHING will never get you to the PLACE OF SAFETY for the Great Tribulation about five years from now…”
If one thinks this had been out of character for HWA due to emotional distress over the potential loss of his wife, consider how he also had turned the pending death of another family member into justification to blaming the brethren for the sad condition of the church and a need to donate more money back in 1958 (when income was growing at 35%). Following is a portion of the letter written when his son Dick Armstrong, was near death after a car accident.
July 17, 1958: “In the midst of this great abundant HARVEST of precious lives for eternity, OUR CO-WORKERS HAVE BEEN LETTING DOWN and becoming neglectful, this past month. Not all of you--many of you have stood loyally by us, at great sacrifice--but many others have become careless and neglected to send in tithes and offerings as you could, and should. In June our Co-Workers responded to my appeal nobly, but in July it seemed like a reaction, and there is NOT ENOUGH MONEY TO CARRY ON GOD'S GREAT WORK AT TOP EFFICIENCY! Our business department is in a terrible financial bind.
Co-Workers, WILL YOU NOT ONLY PRAY FOR MY SON'S MIRACULOUS AND SPEEDY RECOVERY--but also for the financial salvation of this WORK OF GOD? I believe God allowed this terrible thing to happen for that very purpose. I am asking God to see that it reaches your heart, and touches it so that those of you who have been neglectful will AROUSE TO UNSELFISH AND GENEROUS ACTION for the work! I know that this has proved a heart-shaking and tremendous prod on all our staff at Pasadena.
In November 1984, things were not much different. Dwight Armstrong died while HWA was out of the country. HWA did not bother to change his travel plans in order to attend his brothers funeral but he did take the time to remind folks to help make up for the typical drop in income that occurred during December (ref. 11/18/84 Co-Worker letter).
Dec. 29, 1967: “This is one of the most IMPORTANT, URGENT letters I have ever written you. I hope you will read carefully, prayerfully, every word...
The financial need is CRUCIAL right now -- MORE THAN ANY TIME IN RECENT YEARS! It is MOST URGENT! We are actually having to take steps to MATERIALLY REDUCE OUR BUDGET FOR 1968! This should never BE!”
“GOD'S WORK NEEDS YOUR EARNEST, PREVAILING, BELIEVING PRAYERS! It needs more large LOANS than ever before! It needs a BIG financial LIFT…. It is MOST SERIOUS! There is no time to lose. I must RUSH this to you.”
Note: In 1968, the church income grew 35% and in 1969 it grew another 31%. Apparently was not enough to avoid another financial crisis.
Sep. 9, 1968 : "MANY who DO have the ability [to give]… are GUILTY BEFORE GOD of shirking—of letting the SATANIC attitude of GET fill their minds… The only reward later, will be DEATH in the LAKE OF FIRE!"
Oct. 29, 1968: “Co-Workers—Brethren in Christ—WE ARE ON THE FINAL "GUN-LAP." The "chips are down!" We must give this great work a mighty additional PUSH! The time is short—and it is VITAL. IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW! Soon our money will not help us!
Here is what GOD says soon will happen: As the DAY OF THE LORD approaches…
Never was the need so urgent. Never were sizeable loans more needed—if you have cash not now being used, but which you are not free to GIVE. If you are not able to GIVE it outright at this time, it will help greatly if you PUT IT TO WORK, as a loan, WHERE THE LIVING CHRIST IS WORKING, AND DIRECTING, AND BLESSING!”
Note: All the remaining HWA examples provided below were during the years that Mr. Armstrong purchased 2 business jets (1969), constructed fancy buildings in Pasadena, amassed a large bank account, and was spending 3rd tithe on fancy homes, rare art, and jet fuel. Over a 17 year period, WCG owned the following planes:
February 27, 1969: “This CRISIS we face has been precipitated by TWO factors:
The second one I also wrote you about last month. It is the large amount of loans from Co-Workers that have accumulated on our books. It is absolutely VITAL to the future of the Work, if our financial integrity is to remain high and unquestioned, that we either make a reduction in these, by more and more Co-Workers following my personal example in cancelling the loan, and turning it into an outright donation.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS HELD BACK GOD'S TRUTH, AND PERSECUTED JESUS! Are some of us, who have accepted His draft to become HIS Co-Worker doing the same today?”
March 30, 1970: “But now I have to come to you with the frank statement that drastic action must be taken. About ten days ago I took drastic action — but it was not enough. I started at the top. I made a 20% cut in salary of all top-salaried officials, including evangelist-rank ministers, and a 15% cut in all pastor-rank ministers... I put our airplanes up for immediate sale.
However, this very recession has slowed purchase of planes to a standstill and selling may be difficult. But that still is not enough. The BIG immediate need is extra cash funds — NOW — IMMEDIATE!
The first is, that I am calling for a full day of FASTING AND PRAYER FOR THIS WORK FOR THIS SABBATH, April 4th. That, Brethren, can do more to help this situation than anything else — IF we really take this seriously to heart, and PUT OUR HEARTS INTO OUR PRAYERS in real earnest, and in FAITH BELIEVING!
The second I ask of all who can and are willing. This was suggested this afternoon by Mr. Stanley Rader, our legal counsel and financial adviser. It is that those in position to do so, if willing to do your part for God's Work in this immediate crisis, go to your local bank and borrow whatever you are able — from $100 to $1,000. Some will be able to borrow no more than $100.
Mr. Rader said he would go to his bank and borrow $5,000 to start this plan going. I felt I was the one to set the example, so immediately this afternoon I beat him to it.”
November 2, 1972: "… This Work… is geared to a pattern that demands constant INCREASE. IT CANNOT HOLD EVEN. It either goes on forward, or it goes backward! We MUST… GET THIS GREAT WORK BACK ON THE PATTERN OF A 30% annual INCREASE in power and scope… Brethren, we have to face a VERY SOBERING AND SERIOUS SITUATION. Unless drastic CHANGES take place, we are going to have to reduce many vital phases of the Work, and eliminate others. That means seeing the Work… start going BACKWARD for the first time in 40 years! … Brethren… WE DARE NOT LET THAT HAPPEN! … Brethren, I KNOW the CAUSE of our present situation. WE AS A CHURCH HAVE BEEN LETTING DOWN… That means that NOT ONLY God’s WORK is in danger—MANY of YOU BRETHREN are in MORTAL DANGER! I say to you candidly, I know that some, if not MANY of you are in REAL DANGER of the LAKE OF FIRE! … Let’s not dodge the real issue—let’s not deny the REAL CAUSE—Let’s not PASS THE BUCK! Our own personal, individual SALVATION is at stake… Jesus Christ, has shown me THE REAL CAUSE—not merely of the present situation, BUT OF THE DIMINISHING INCREASE IN INCOME—and—consequently IN THE ENTIRE SCOPE AND POWER OF THE WORK these past three and four years!… I know that the ETERNAL LIVES of many—perhaps more than HALF… are at STAKE…"
February 27, 1973: “ Unless you stand back of me and Jesus Christ, the HEAD of this great Work, loyally and generously we will be heading into a serious financial crisis in another 30 days.”
March 18, 1974: “ I wrote you before that the attempted overthrow of GOD’s work a few weeks ago, would undoubtedly cause a temporary slump in the income for this MOST IMPOPRTANT WORK ON EATH. It has, and I need to ask all loyal Brethren and Co-Workers to make an EXTRA sacrifice right now…”
November 18, 1974: “IMPORTANT! If you seek the TRUE VALUES -- the things WORTHWHILE -- what else can be as IMPORTANT as your part in THAT? THAT is "the WORK." Yes, what an AWESOME Work to be PRIVILEDGED to have a part in!
…And it DIRELY NEEDS your most intensive supplications and prayers -- and even financial SACRIFICE NOW, as never before.”
October 8, 1975: “We need INCREASED FINANCIAL SUPPORT! IT IS URGENT!”
March 15, 1976: “But I must also say to you who share this financial responsibility with me, that we have once again, as we have at intervals in the past, come to the point where I have to lay the problem frankly and candidly before you and ask you for SPECIAL efforts and for a VERY SPECIAL financial SACRIFICE for God's Work--a special and generous offering ABOVE regular tithes and offerings.”
March 22, 1977: “This is by far the MOST IMPORTANT WORK BEING DONE ON EARTH. It needs your EARNEST PRAYERS--and your most generous financial support-- that is YOUR PART--and you have a part the same as I. Time is getting shorter. Pray HARDER MORE OFTEN! GIVE more generously and more often. WE are being judged NOW and shall be REWARDED according to our works.”
October 23, 1978: “So, from here on in, let us fasten our eyes on JESUS CHRIST-- and on the ultimate GOAL, or finishing line. We are running for the GREATEST STAKES in the UNIVERSE! Remember God's way is LOVE-- the GIVING WAY, while Satan's way is "GETTING."
Let's rededicate our lives to GIVING of ourselves! ONLY ONE THING MATTERS from here on in! Lay aside the worldly interests, the pleasures of this life--jettison all those off--and keep our eyes on the ONE GOAL!
..We broke records at the Feast in attendance, and in offerings, as well as in SPIRIT. But we have a ONE MILLION DOLLAR BANK LOAN due to be paid back TODAY! … we are still about 1 1/2 million dollars behind in the year's budget.”
January 23, 1980: “Overall, THISIS A TRULY GREAT WORLDWIDE WORK! The work is BOOMING! But the time is GWOING SHORT! There is still much to do—and it will take more money!”
We must be willing to SACRIFICE TILL IT HURTS”
December 19, 1980: “Now I am ready to start this expanded campaign. IT WILL COST MORE MONEY! That is YOUR PART!”
March 19, 1981: “Brethren, NEVER were your prayers so URGENTLY NECESSARY--both for YOU and the Work--and for me! My life has been threatened--but by faith in God it shall be spared until my work is complete. I now have to ask you to sacrifice and send in special EXTRA generous offerings more than ever before. Time is short. Soon there shall be a FAMINE of hearing the Word of God (Amos 8:11). “
July 14, 1981: “As of the first of this month the income for the work in the U.S. was up some 22 percent… But in the last 30 days—since we entered the summer months—there has been a significant DROP. Now the month to date shows an increase of only 13.5 percent… THAT IS ALARMING!”
July 16, 1982: “NOTHING ELSE MATTERS NOW. We must sacrifice and devote our all… in these closing days.”
Note: The next quote is from a letter written just about 6 weeks before Mr. Armstrong passed away.
Nov 25, 1985: “BUT WE SERIOUSLY AND URGENTLY NEED INCREASED INCOME! I now need you to work harder, more energetically and at greater sacrifice in prayers and extra financial offerings than ever before! A few years ago I wrote you a warning that we must prepare to tighten our belts, and reduce our living standards! This whole nation is going to have to learn to do that! I ask you, brethren, in Jesus' name, to put whatever you are able into God's Work in this crisis hour.”
Early on while researching HWA, it became clear that many individuals were of the opinion that that Mr. Armstrong had been sincere early on in his ministry and then became corrupt after his wife had died in 1967. They believed that Loma had been the positive influence that he had needed. Initially, this made sense. However, after reading HWA's own words from 1934 on, it became clear that HWA was actually quite consistent from the beginning of the Radio Church of God to the end of his life. He was quite bold about his training, his purpose, his role, his prophetic knowledge… and in his demands for money.
HWA's requests for donations were unrelated to the rate of growth in church income. In 1958 (one of the best years for income growth), HWA's demands for more donations were quite similar to his requests in 1972 (which was a year with a low rate of growth). In 1958, 17 out of HWA’s 21 Co-Worker letters described how urgently money was needed, how the income had "fallen off", how the income was "in a slump", and how the work was "in a SERIOUS EMERGENCY CRISIS RIGHT NOW". All of these superlatives were offered even though the income was up 35% for that year! It would seem impossible to conclude that HWA had been sincere when writing these letters.
Mr. Armstrong's consistent, guilt-laden demands for money extending over his entire 50-year career, coincident with an escalating personal standard of living that reached absurd levels, does not tend reflect well on his integrity. At a minimum, Mr. Armstrong's claims of pending financial ruin while simultaneously purchasing luxury homes, going on extended first-class vacations, and amassing a personal art collection gave his critics reason to conclude that he was greedy for gain.
Some may even conclude that 2 Peter 2:3 is applicable.
"And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." (KJV)
Looking back, at a minimum, we certainly had been taken advantage of. Unfortunately; HWA wasn’t the first, nor will he be the last, to do so in the name of religion.
Part One can be found HERE