The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

Suicide Mail

10/31/99

Ed,

You are doing a section on suicide. I was reading somewhere there was a man in Indiana was apparently called into the church before the divorce and remarriage thing was changed.

This is how the story goes. He was listening to the radio and heard Mr. Armstrong on the radio. (I am not sure if it was Ted or Herbert.) He sent away for free literature and seemed to think it seemed like the truth. Eventually he asked for a visit from a minister and one of the routine questions was were you married before. I guess he was married once briefly in his teens (never no children from his first marriage) He was happily married to a woman in his second marriage and had three children. He was told in order to be a member he would have to separate from his wife and family and live in an apartment separately. He was not only into force celibacy imagine the financial strain of the the triple tithing and supporting his family and himself in two separate households. The point is he was supposed to eventually have hung himself with a rope. Try to check it out and see if this story is true. Someone in your reading audience may know about it. It would be an interesting story for the Painful Truth. I wonder if the divorce and remarriage caused many suicides.

There is one more point I would like to make. If the church said they did things by the examples of the apostles where is there one example of Paul or the other apostles forcing married couples to live apart if they had been married before? I am sure at least Paul had to come across one at some point.

If Jesus said his burden was light why wasn't it made light in the Worldwide Church of God. Or maybe we weren't following the things Christ taught. If we weren't following the things Christ taught then we couldn't have been God's True Church.

Doris

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Hi Ed, There was a high-profile ministerial suicide in San Francisco in, I believe, 1995. I didn't know the man personally, though, and the name escapes me at the moment.

Ralph

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It was around 1992-93, in Louisiana, Ed.

There was this family that had twin boys. They had both left and began chasing women and other teen stuff.

While in college, one of the kids wanted to come back to church. He asked the "local elder," who denied him admission.

A few days later, he jumped from the tallest dorm on campus (NE Louisiana University in Monroe, La.). We all knew that the church had driven him to suicide. I used to visit his twin brother after the suicide. The kid was loony after that (he and his brother were obviously close).

Their parents aren't that saner...

For a second suicide, you could list my (almost) suicide in 1997. I still have to battle suicidal tendencies and depression.

I have Mark Flynn and other hireling/tares to thank for that....

Rodney

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Hi Ed,

His name was (name withheld). I didn't know much about him. He was an older man probably in his mid 50's I think. I don't know why he committed suicide. The only thing I remember about him was a comment Mr. N. made ( not from the pulpit) that he went over there after the suicide and found "lottery tickets" in his apartment. Mr. N. acted as if having those lottery tickets was a "bad thing". That was the impression I got from the comment he made at that time.

That's all for now.

Name Withheld

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An AC Pasadena student, committed suicide by jumping off of the Arroyo Park bridge in the spring of 1974. He was a freshman, and therefore presumably 18 or 19.

His suicide occurred at the height of the 1974 ministerial upheaval of that year, which was over GTA's conduct, among other things. He walked to the bridge sometime after attending a class which (name withheld, but he ruled with a rod of iron) taught as a substitute teacher that same day. Mr. (rodofiron) spent an hour describing the horrors of the "coming great tribulation." I was there. It was pretty scary at that time and place. I don't know how much, if any, this contributed to name withheld's decision. I am only giving the facts as I know them, and not attempting to place blame or responsibility.

I do not personally know of any other suicides by AC students while they were attending Ambassador, during a school year.

Jim

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11/3/99:

Morning again Dana:

RE: The Suicide Page and your request for any info.

A thought occurred to me a while ago about a murder/suicide that happened several years ago when I was still in the Worldwide Church of God cult. You'll have to track down the details, as I have no records now, but I'll give you what I remember.

I believe it happened in the Seattle (or nearby), Washington church, and the problem was with the pastor. It was sometime in 1977-1978. Sorry I can't be more definite, but that's 20 years ago. I do not even remember his name now. Worldwide Church of God and its teachings had literally torn he, his wife and family apart, and reduced their finances to rubble. His ministry was a mess, he was depressed, he was drinking, and his marriage was coming to pieces. As I understand it, he and his wife sought counseling with a local Doctor of Psychology.

In one session, the doctor had to leave the room for a couple of minutes, and the pastor pulled a gun, shot his wife dead, and then killed himself.

They desperately tried to hush this at headquarters, and GTA put out an immediate bulletin that said: "Get the financial pressure off the ministers."

I couldn't get employment in my field in Hawaii in those days and we'd spent all our savings (over $10,000) just keeping alive and pastoring the church - like good loyalists. Worldwide Church of God paid us virtually nothing. In response to GTA's memo, Les Mac (McCullough) sent me a check for $2,400 saying: "We didn't want your personal finances to take a beating." Wow!!! Thanks Les.

This was all spawned by the Washington murder/suicide and it must still be on record. You may be able to track it down with the help of the folks on the site. But that's all I have. Sorry it couldn't be more. But I do believe I'd recognize his name if ever I heard it. Keep in touch.

I'm also copying Ed on this one. He may remember the details better.

Blessings 2 U.

John

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Ed,

I was talking to my Mother-in-law, another escapee from the cult, who used to attend the Springfield, MO church for years. She remembered a woman who committed suicide after a divorce and remarriage situation that left her with no husband or children. I knew the woman casually and she was a little strange but considering what the church had done to her I could understand why. She apparently drove her car into a garage, closed the door and left it running and then laid down by the tail pipe in a sleeping bag until she died. They found her body some weeks later.

Another suicide occurred there as well. The sister of one of the Deacons jumped from a bridge and drowned. The Deacon later stopped attending. I'm just relating situations and not giving names to protect the victims and their families. Just chalk up two more from the Springfield area.

Michael

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Dear Ed,

This is a note I sent to Douglas. It may or may not have value for anyone else:

Dear Douglas,

I'm sorry it is taking so long for me to write back to you. But, dog gone it! You always have to stick at least one provocative thought into your messages. I have been trying to think of how to answer you for days, but I just don't seem to be able to express myself on this one. It is so hard for me when it comes to suicide by members and former members of our old church. Of the five people I knew that committed suicide in our church area, five of them were so-called "second-generation " Christians. Not one of them had any emotional baggage that they had acquired in years prior to attending church. Four of them shot themselves, and one was found hanging by his neck in his bedroom. Two deaths were brother and sister. One was my former roommate. Two were son's of very dear friends.

I read what you had to say, but I can't seem to stop thinking about it. Sure, the church may have prevented many suicides, but why did they feel so badly about their existence that they wanted to destroy themselves in the first place? The more I think about it, the more I believe that our church really did play a huge role in the destruction of these precious human beings. I just haven't found a suitable trail of logic to follow on the issue, that is why I have asked for everyone's help.

Suicide is still our worst and best kept secret. All the survivors just suffer in silence with their guilt, shame and remorse. When my roommate died, our minister said to me, "she did the most cowardly and selfish thing a human being could ever do." But none of us were there when she did it. NOBODY knows why she did it. Depression, early menopause and others were offered as hopeful explanations that would keep her out of the lake of fire. My hairdresser asked me why I didn't think she was going to the lake of fire. "By the grace of God," I answered. She repeated it quietly while she was thinking it over, "By the grace of God...huh." But this was a long time ago, before the concept of "grace" had become popular, and my words were being received as if spoken by some mainstream religious freak who believed God was capable of deciding to rescue someone whose last human act was a sin. How STUPID of me!

If you have any more thoughts on the subject, please continue to share them. I value your input very much.

Sincerely,

Dana

mmessmer@olypen.com

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Dear Ed,

I grew up in the wwcg in the Midwest during the sixties. Please let me express my admiration for your site which so accurately reflects life in the wwcg. It is a living testament to the suffering of so many and hopefully this testament will help with the healing of many.

I have not been connected with the wwcg for 25 years, but one of the things that I think of often are those who committed suicide in the wwcg during the time that I attended with my family.

As you know, Ed, many things were hidden from members and that has always made it hard to distinguish truth from fiction. For this reason, I am giving you this information as testament to these people (just as your site is a testament to the hardships and worse experienced by wwcg members.

In Wichita, KS, to the best of my knowledge the following suicides occurred to men both in their late 20's during the late 1960's (1966-1969):

1. T. was a very kind and outgoing person who was totally committed to the wwcg and it's work. His brother was an AC student, and his mother a well known and faithful local congregation member. The rumor was that T. became so discouraged with the local ministry attacking his self worth, that eventually he felt worthless and not up to "God's" calling. T. was a wonderful human being that in a different environment would not only have flourished but have been a beloved member of any community. The ministry never discussed his suicide, but his mother's beloved position in the church and Mrs. H's terrible bitterness over the events that lead up to T.'s suicide were well known.

2. C. was a very fragile individual who truly believed that the wwcg would not only lead him to salvation, but a wonderful life. As is as clear now as it was then, the wwcg ministry had no skills whatsoever in dealing with psychological or basic life problems. C.s' suicide was announced from the pulpit as a case of "demonism". His consorting with demons was described in detail. Whether anyone (wwcg or otherwise) ever witnessed any of this "demonism" this was never questioned. Thinking of the many times that C. rode with my family to church, the only the qualities of sincerity and commitment to helping other people come to mind.

There were other rumors of suicide in the Wichita wwcg, but these are two that were well known.

(Comment: Maybe the ex member who thinks that Roger Foster was such a "good sort" should call and ask Roger if he remembers T. and C.).

My very best regards.

Ronald

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11/7/99:

Ed:

Reading the section about suicides on your web site brought back a painful memory of a suicide of a church acquaintance of mine in the spring of 1995. His name was (withheld) and he was in his late 30's or early 40's and attended the Cincinnati West congregation. He was a tennis instructor and a fine, proper, upstanding young man.

He waited for years to find the right woman to marry. In late '94, he met a lovely young lady from the Cincinnati West congregation that had been divorced (I believe). I saw him and his fianc,e once during the 1st day of unleavened bread services. They were very happy and very much in love.

Greg A. came to Cincinnati to speak during the last day of unleavened bread. It may have been something that was said there (that was when all of the changes were being forced down the throats of the membership), that made him become depressed to the point that he took his own life.

Needless to say, we were all shocked, because he looked to be the happiest that he had ever been. Of course his fianc,e was devastated.

Please add him to your web site, and please withhold my name and email address.

Thanks again for all that you are doing to expose the dirty, under-handed secrets, lies, and destruction of Worldwide Church of God.

 

bar

12/11/99:

Hi

I had read your article and loved it. You asked if I would mind you forwarding my last letter to Ed. That's fine.

Really appreciated your story about life in the Bethlehem church. I hope it will help a lot of people. As a survivor of AC in the early 1980s, I can tell you about the creme of the creme that became the ministers. In 4 years I knew 2 or 3 of those candidates who had hearts of gold and were gifted speakers and counselors. The rest fell into 2 more categories. Horrible ego-driven jerks with political or family connections, and horrible ego-driven jerks who were good at shmoozing themselves into those connections.

What made your story so interesting to me was how I went through a lot of inner battles with myself while attending AC that were similar to the ones you discussed when aging out of YOU. It goes like this. Here is this "one true" church, with its special unique beliefs. If you buy everything we say, you are called, special, and will reign with Jesus Christ for 1,000 years. If you don't, then you will rot away spiritually, possibly going through all the horrors of the tribulation. Talk about pressure!

Looking back, what really got to me was when "counseling for baptism" with Dr Dave Albert. I was struggling with a lot of doubts, especially trying to figure out if the Bible is really inspired anyway. Everyone was quoting me that scripture in Timothy. Use a SCRIPTURE to prove the Bible? Well that just didn't work for me, as did a lot of other stuff I saw going around. He told me several times I must have had a severe drug problem in high school, otherwise I would have had no problems believing. He reminded me that at age 18 he fully believed all of it with enthusiasm. Let me tell you to I have never tried any drugs to this day. Never been drunk either. But his and others' prejudice against any of us who grew up in California was a real pain in the butt. No matter what we did or said. We were openly called laid back and flaky, and it was supposed to be OK with the faculty, many who came from the Midwest. Please don't get me wrong. I have many friends from the Midwest. Most of my own relatives are from Kansas. I just feel that anyone like Dr. Albert, with his many years as a field minister, AC faulty member, as well having a PHD in Psychology should have had a little more spiritual insight than he did.

Please feel free to pass this on to Ed. I am a long time reader of his web site and I appreciate the work he, you and others are doing for a lot of us. If Ed gets this, I would like to know if he would like to have any more details. In the meantime, please take care.

Jombie

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Thought I'd give you an update on how the response has been to the article "Do or Die." About 15 people have responded so far, and most of them want to remain anonymous to you and the rest of the PT readers.

Without exception, the responses come from people of all ages who have either suffered from the legalistic fear tactics of the Worldwide Church of God or from those who had children who were affected by the local ministries in "God's one true church." Each person could relate to some or most of the specific examples of what I described that occurred in the Bethlehem area. Emails were sent to me from a broad range of areas throughout the US, but especially from people in the Northeast.

The painful decision making process described towards the end of "Do or Die" seems to be what caused readers to respond. It seems that aging out of YOU, looking for a career, and deciding what participation, if any, young people would have in the Worldwide Church of God as adults were the most painful experiences and decisions they had to make. Some adults (who had grown up in the Worldwide Church of God) indicated that the decision of whether they should continue in the Worldwide Church of God or not remained a burdensome dilemma well into adulthood. A few are still suffering from having a guilty conscience to this day.

Those readers who have not yet responded and would like to but have been afraid of revealing their identity or having their emails posted should understand that confidentiality will be kept in any instance that is desired.

It has been helpful to me personally to receive comments from your readers, Ed. There are thousands of people out there who have had similar experiences to mine. Thanks for posting Do or Die on the PT.

Best,

Sharon L.


1/7/01

 I didn't see Ron Howe's suicide mentioned...?

I will never look at the Golden Gate bridge again without remembering that he jumped off of it; a grand symbol of all the pain so many of us went through, you know... Anyway, he died in like, 1995 or '96. He was the pastor of Pasadena AM in the 80s. His friend Ann called me up & told me, sobbing; they were friends...

 Regards, TC


11/30/01

I would like to try to fill in some of the gaps for the suicides that took place in the Bethlehem/Wilkes Barre areas. May I ask that a space for each of the eight be placed in your list so that each of them may be accounted for individually?

My friend C1 is the one who died when he was 19 in 1992. He overdosed on his medication the evening of Nov. 30/beginning of Dec. 1. and took all of his pills with a gallon of water at a park nearby his home. He was said to have clinical depression. He left a note for his parents that included his reasons as being: a financial burden to his parents due to his emotional/mental condition, and; the state of the world we live in. All this information is according to my memory of my conversation with his father on the day of the funeral. C1 was a very sweet guy with never a negative word about anyone. He is terribly missed. (Wilkes Barre Congregation)

In 1993/1994, C2 died from a self-inflicted knife wound. According to the conversation I had with her brother approximately one week after the incident, she plunged the knife inward and upward into her chest in her parent's kitchen. Her brother,  found her. Her father was quite an overbearing and sometimes nasty man. C2 was married to a man outside of "the church" for a year before her parent's were aware of it. She subsequently moved in with her husband for several years before her husband divorced her. She killed herself shortly thereafter. I didn't go to the funeral but heard from a friend that church members were postulating which resurrection C2 would be making since she committed the sin of killing herself. (Bethlehem Congregation)

Around 1986, a girl killed herself. I don't remember her name and I don't think she was just 17. I thought she was a bit older maybe 19 or 20. She was C2's best friend and killed herself with a gunshot to the head while in her own apartment (in the bedroom). C2 was in another part of the apartment when the shot went off. (Bethlehem Congregation)

Towards the end of 1999, a girl my age whom I grew up with jumped off of a bridge near or in Scranton, PA. Her name was J and she was around 28. Her body was never found. Friends say that she never did recover from her divorce. She was married to a guy in her church area who was in Y.O.U. during the same time. They were together for many years. I wasn't very close to her but I always thought highly of her.

These are the stories of the people I knew to the best of my recollection.

Kind regards,

N.

 

 

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