On March 18, 1975, a star was born. In the appropriately plush setting of Perino’s Restaurant in Los Angeles, Stanley R. Rader (Financial Director and Chief Counsel for the Worldwide Church of God), Robert L. Kuhn (Assistant to Rader) and Herbert W. Armstrong (Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God) unveiled and christened their “prima donna”-the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (A. I. C. F.).
The A.I.C.F. -.self-slated to become the greatest show on earth-modestly accepted its place next to the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. The founders declared their journal, HUMAN POTENTIAL (as yet unpublished), to be one of the most prestigious magazines on the face of the earth. In the “rehearsal” issue, HUMAN POTENTIAL announced itself as “The Most Important New Publication For The Last Quarter of The 20th Century”-quite a mouthful from a religious organization that had always prided itself in mustard seed beginnings.
Rader and Kuhn, the main promoters of the Foundation, summarized their purposes and goals in a succinct statement:
“…In establishing the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, we seek to bring the finest cultural events and artists to the greater Los Angeles community, as well as to join with the community in supporting leading charitable, humanitarian, educational and cultural organizations. The Foundation will underwrite all costs of the concerts, thereby enabling all funds generated from the sale of subscription tickets to be donated to participating organizations and institutions. (The foundation itself is being initially funded by the Worldwide Church of God which believes that the performing arts are the highest expression of the human spirit and that the support of charitable and humanitarian activities fulfills its biblical obligations.)”
The founding concepts were incredible: a superb concert series liberally sprinkled with artists such as Horowitz, Menuhin, Sutherland and Pavarotti; all box-office proceeds to be donated to charitable and humanitarian causes; and all expenses to be borne by an eclectic, fundamentalist sect that for nearly forty years had preached isolation from this present Satanic “world”.
Noting all this, Ruth Asheton Taylor, a Los Angeles television reporter, aptly concluded her A.I.C.F. interview with the prophetic remark, “It’s almost too good to be true.”
This report intends to examine the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation beneath this polished veneer. What were the inner details of its founding? Who are the men who control this operation which draws so heavily upon Worldwide Church of God funding? Who really benefits from the Foundation?
To clearly understand the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, one must first look back to past events which spawned the organization. In the late sixties Herbert W. Armstrong and Stanley R. Rader began the international excursions which now occupy most of their time. Osamu Gotoh, a third member of the touring team, proved himself invaluable in “opening doors” to heads of state. Gotoh’s close friendship with many Japanese officials, including Prince Mikasa (brother of Emperor Hirohito), enabled them to make important contacts in Japan. These led to invitations to visit other countries, and a network of international contacts naturally grew.
Although Herbert W. Armstrong was a high school drop out, he was introduced to these world leaders as a leader in the field of education and chancellor of three [now two] utopian colleges. The Ambassador College ENVOY, a lavish full-color yearbook showcasing the school’s fabulous architecture and manicured landscaping, was often given to officials in order to enhance Armstrong’s image. To gain even more prestige, Herbert Armstrong was also introduced as publisher of the PLAIN TRUTH, a top quality, glossy magazine with a circulation of three million. Most leaders who granted Mr. Armstrong a visit could expect a full-color cover of themselves-a fact which engendered many of the early invitations. During these chats with foreign officials, Armstrong and his entourage discussed the Worldwide Church of God as little as possible. This arrangement proved adequate for several years
But in 1974, doctrinal and organizational disputes rocked the Church structure causing a substantial drop in membership and income. Numerous cut-backs and extensive streamlining became necessary to meet the budgetary crunch. At this time the publishing of the PLAIN TRUTH became a hotly contested issue among the corporate leadership. Garner Ted Armstrong, Herbert’s son and heir apparent to the apostolic throne, wanted a complete change from the glossy magazine format to a plain newsprint tabloid which would represent substantial monetary savings to “the Work”. His idea was met with stiff opposition by others near the top of the hierarchy but it was adopted, nonetheless.
“Ted’s Rag”, as the tabloid was appropriately dubbed by its editorial staff, began to present difficulties for the foreign outreach of “the Work”, especially in Japan. Osamu Gotoh flatly stated that the Japanese people would not accept a newsprint substitute of a real magazine. Furthermore, Herbert needed an appropriate publication that he could proudly present to government officials overseas.
A second difficulty was developing concurrently in 1974. During this time Armstrong had been stepping up his international odysseys, and his contacts were snowballing. The “doors” were opening as fast as Gotoh and Rader could arrange them. As Herbert Armstrong moved up into the diplomatic big leagues, he began assuming additional titles: “Ambassador for World Peace”, “Ambassador Without Portfolio”, “Builder of Bridges” and “Spiritual Kissinger”. Outgrowing his previous credentials, Armstrong candidly admitted in a letter to his ministers: “One thing has been a serious handicap, and caused me and my touring team no little embarrassment. We have had to say that we represent either Ambassador College, or Worldwide Church of God.” (MINISTERIAL BULLETIN, June 3, 1975). It became obvious that H.W.A. needed a more elegant calling card to go with his new hat size.
As if this were not enough, a third problem arose. After the April, 1974 inaugural concerts at Ambassador Auditorium-featuring the Vienna Symphony at a cost of $500,000 plus-the concert stage had remained silent. As time passed, the “finest concert hall in the world” seemed to be turning into an extravagant white elephant.
In order to solve this triple dilemma caused by the “Rag”, Herbert’s identity crisis and an empty jewel box, heads came together. Before long, Stanley Rader and Robert Kuhn conceived a plan that would not only help solve these problems, but would also score a massive political coup in the organization. They would organize and control a completely new entity in the Armstrong Empire-one that would be completely separate from the Church and College in all areas but financing; hence, also facilitating a monolithic consolidation of power around Rader and Kuhn. Since the Church was already funding numerous educational and cultural projects such as the Temple excavation in Jerusalem, anthropological expeditions for King Leopold III of Belgium, the International Cultural Center for Youth in Israel, and other humanitarian projects in Thailand, Nepal, etc., the idea of a cultural foundation which would take these programs under its wing seemed perfect. Herbert Armstrong could now represent a prestigious organization “dedicated to serving humanity worldwide” without suffering any of the old embarrassments caused by representing a small church and college. And in order to allay any lingering feelings the Los Angeles cultural community harbored regarding Armstrong’s “incredibly costly, secluded, elitist folly” (LOS ANGELES TIMES CALENDAR, March 10, 1974), Rader and Kuhn envisioned a star-studded concert series intended to put Ambassador Auditorium squarely in the public spotlight.
This “cultural foundation” concept practically sold itself to Herbert Armstrong. The concert series nicely appealed to his obsession of “showing up” the Los Angeles Music Center, and required little persuasion for its adoption. To “sell the ‘old man'” on the idea of a new magazine, Robert Kuhn hastily produced a dummy issue which was presented to Herbert for approval. It, too, was enthusiastically accepted since it contained an article by H.W.A. and even borrowed from the title Armstrong was using in his PLAIN TRUTH series, “The Incredible Human Potential”.
Rader and Kuhn had scored a major victory in reorganizing the Worldwide corporate structure. A whole new division of “the Work” was created practically overnight. They now possessed their own “empire within an empire”.
H.W.A.’s approval of the package represented the final step, and Rader and Kuhn now approached the task of designing the details of the foundation. To placate Armstrong’s desire that the “House for God” not be “commercialized”, the idea of combining charity with the concert series evolved. Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws for the Foundation were filed in Sacramento; it all became “official”.
Once the Foundation was sufficiently developed on the drawing-board, the time came to bring the Rader-Kuhn brainchild under the hard scrutiny of its potential supporters.
THE SELLING OF THE A.I.C.F.
Rader and Kuhn were faced with a two-sided marketing assignment. Two distinct groups of prospective contributors had to be “sold” on the idea of the A.I.C.F., its accompanying concert series and the HUMAN POTENTIAL journal. Both “factions” were essential for the Foundation’s success. Simply stated, there was the “outside” world and the “inside” world (i.e., those outside the Worldwide Church of God who would be wealthy enough to afford the exhorbitant ticket prices; and those who were members of the Church who would pay for all A.I.C.F. expenses with little chance of ever attending a concert).
A massive promotional campaign was quickly launched to market the concert series to the elite “outside” group. Costly 64-page brochures were produced and mailed to leading citizens in the Southland describing the specific artists in each concert series, the onyx auditorium and the various beneficiaries such as United Way, March of Dimes, UNICEF and other smaller charities. Full-page ads began to appear regularly in the LOS ANGELES TIMES and other local papers. Articles followed which explained the “unique” fusing of charity with the performing arts. Paid announcements were broadcast over classical radio stations which led to the A.I.C.F.’s eventual sponsoring of a daily music program on radio station KFAC. The “saturation bombing” of the Los Angeles cultural community had commenced.
During this initial campaign, mention of the Worldwide Church of God was judiciously avoided. Permits filed with the City and County of Los Angeles for the solicitation drives and the information cards accompanying all A.I.C.F. literature listed Ambassador College as the financial source for the Foundation. This seemed ludicrous to those who knew that the College also totally depends on the Church for funds. The cheap camouflage was easily recognized.
Special cocktail receptions were hosted at the Rader residence in Beverly Hills for the key people associated directly with the performing arts and the media. These lavish affairs became a frequent occurrence in 1975, with the A.I.C.F. (Worldwide Church of God) picking up the tab. As inside sources have revealed, these gala affairs more often than not provided no real promotional value for the Foundation, but merely served as ego and status builders for Stanley Rader.
It soon became clear that the announced desire to bring the finest in the performing arts to the “general” Los Angeles community rang hollow. In truth, the concert series was designed to cater to those individuals possessing the rank of “General” or higher on the social ladder.
Simultaneous to this “out”-reach, the “in”-reach to the Worldwide Church of God membership progressed with a sales pitch diametrically opposite to that received by the public. While the “outside world” received a promotional blitz totally devoid of religious connotations, the Church members were being fed letters and sermons which announced the A.I.C.F. as “a great now phase of the Work”, “a necessary adjunct to this new worldwide dimension of getting Christ’s TRUE Gospel to the nations through heads of government.” Convincing pipe-dreams designed to further assure members that the A.I.C.F. would benefit the “Work of God” stated that concert box-office proceeds would finance projects previously funded by the Church, and that subscription fees for HUMAN POTENTIAL would cover the expenses of the concert series!
Amazingly, this double-pronged approach seemed to be working. Ticket sales were slow, but that was to he expected until the new concept caught fire among concert goers. Church members accepted the A.I.C.F., the concert series and HUMAN POTENTIAL-faithfully praying and paying for yet another “arm of God’s Work”. As long as neither side knew what the other had been “sold”, the inaugural season of A.I.C.F. appeared destined for success.
But Murphy’s Law prevailed. The dike that separated the two fronts began to leak.
SHALOM ENDS HERE
Realizing that the $24 million concert hall was owned by the Worldwide Church of God, that all concert expenses were to be absorbed by the Church, and that the Church was also bankrolling HUMAN POTENTIAL, many L.A. citizens began to question the true motivation behind the A.I.C.F. The lofty platitutes published by the Foundation, indeed, seemed “too good to he true”.
On August 8, 1975, Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, Director of the West Coast Lubavitch Movement, conducted a news conference at the Los Angeles Press Club, in which he leveled serious charges against the A.I.C.F. This sparked what became labeled “the Jewish controversy”. The Foundation’s real goal, Rabbi Cunin stated, was the; exploitation of the Jewish community with the ultimate goal of proselyting Jews. He had researched the A.I.C.F. literature distributed within the Worldwide Church of God ranks and discovered the glaring contradiction to what the rest of the community had been told. The statements, “new phase of God’s Work” and “taking Christ’s Gospel to the world”, were clear proof to him that the pablum about charity and culture merely represented a cosmetic front for religious activities.
He was particularly incensed by the fact that “counterfeit Jews”, in the persons of Stanley Rader and Robert Kuhn, had been used to promote the concert series in the Jewish community. Though both are baptized members of the Worldwide Church of God, they had been introduced as Jews in good standing by Yitzhak Sover, who at that time was in charge of the Government Office of Tourism at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles. Sover provided the entrée enabling Rader and Kuhn to persuade many Jewish organizations to ally themselves with the Foundation.
An additional fact that should prove even more alarming to Worldwide Church of God members is that Robert Kuhn is also a member of the Reform Jewish Temple in Pasadena. It was confirmed directly with the Temple that Kuhn is undeniably a member. How Robert rationalizes his dual membership in an organization that accepts Jesus Christ and in another that rejects Him is anybody’s guess.
Rabbi Cunin next waged an all-out campaign alerting the Jewish community to the “danger”. With the help of Joseph Cummins, editor of B’NAI B’RITH MESSENGER, he was able to fan the sparks into a raging conflagration of controversy throughout the Jewish community.
Three days after Rabbi Cunin’s press conference, Russell Chandler, LOS ANGELES TIMES Religion editor, spread the doubts surrounding the A.I.C.F. to the entire Southland community in an article entitled, “Church Group Looking to Culture to Provide a New Image”. Chandler, who maintains extensive files on the Worldwide Church of God and receives copies of all internal and external publications, presented the public with a comprehensive, well researched “look on the inside”. Statements from confidential issues of the MINISTERIAL BULLETIN written by the Armstrongs were quoted for all to see. The A.I.C.F. was indicted by its own words as a grandiose scheme to provide a more prestigious facade for the Rader-Armstrong religious corporation.
Under attack from two sides, Rader and Kuhn hastily mapped out new strategies hoping to realign public opinion before any fatal blow was dealt to their fledgling empire.
THE CHAMELEON EFFECT
Like a gilded chameleon, changing colors to match its immediate environment, the A.I.C.F. made swift changes to counter the allegations resulting from Rabbi Cunin’s efforts and Chandler’s exposé. The immediate concern was to salvage as much support as possible from the Jewish community since it could make or break the concert series.
Letters of clarification and apology were hastily composed by Stanley Rader, Robert Kuhn and C. Wayne Cole (then head of Church Administration) and sent to key Jewish individuals in a futile attempt to calm the turmoil. Statements on “official” church policy regarding proselytizing were emphasized to mollify Rabbi Cunin’s allegations of “missionary” activity by the Foundation. The Worldwide Church of God’s position was compared to that of traditional Judaism-“not proselytizing, but not turning away a sincere seeker.” They neglected to explain why the Church is one of the largest media buyers in the world for its religious program; why in the MINISTERIAL BULLETIN the success of various “personal appearance campaigns” by its evangelists is measured in the number of new people attending Worldwide Church of God services; or why the ministry of the Worldwide Church of God commonly refers to new people requesting their first visit as “prospective members”. Wayne Cole also stated in a letter to Rabbi Maurice Lamm that the phrases “doing the Work”, “Christ’s message” and “spreading the Gospel”, were defined by the Worldwide Church of God as “the concept of government and whether man’s government can survive without God.” Apparently, Mr. Cole recently suffered acute amnesia because in the May, 1976 issue of GOOD NEWS he exclaimed, “God’s Church preaches Christ! We preach Him crucified, buried, and resurrected…we preach Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords who will soon arrive to bring all human governments under His rule…. That is our great goal as a Church.”
Following the letters, Herbert Armstrong published a two-page disclaimer in the GOOD NEWS (October, 1975) publicly stating the independence of the A.I.C.F. from the Church. Garner Ted Armstrong made similar statements directly contradicting those he had made only two months previous.
Arthur A. Ferdig, General Manager for HUMAN POTENTIAL and long-time Managing Editor of the PLAIN TRUTH was chosen as the whipping boy for all the “misunderstandings” within the Jewish community. One of his statements concerning the “new arm of the Work” had been quoted by Rabbi Cunin and Russell Chandler in support of allegations. This gave Rader the opportunity to remark in a radio news spot, “…he is not ordained in the Church, therefore it is very difficult to understand how his article did appear with the comments that it contained….”. Stanley Rader really played a long shot hoping that no one would ask why he, an unordained man himself, was acting as spokesman for the Church and Foundation.
Robert Kuhn displayed his protean ability in answering the charge of “image budding” alleged in Chandler’s article during an interview on the Hilly Rose radio talk show. By avoiding any reference to Herbert Armstrong’s “no little embarrassment” remark, Kuhn sidestepped all the real issues with glib excursions totally off the subject. He flatly denied that the Church was trying to change its image through culture. He stated that the concert series was the fulfillment of Herbert Armstrong’s life-long dream of providing concerts to the public and added that the charitable aspect was developed because Mr. Armstrong did not want the Auditorium “commercialized” by outright ticket sales.
Although Rader and Kuhn played down this period of hostile publicity as much as possible, it nevertheless had a devastating effect on the concert box-office when combined with the prohibitive ticket pricing ($35-$100). Even the practice of “papering the house” with complimentary tickets did not bring the attendance figures for many performances above the fiasco level. Not until February 1, 1976, halfway through the season, did Rader and Kuhn swallow their pride and publicly announce the lowering of ticket prices to realistic levels-all for “humanitarian” reasons, of course.
Kuhn can be rightfully credited with achieving an uneasy détente between the Southland community and the A.I.C.F. He has managed to rearrange the rhetoric of the Foundation and effect the changes necessary to at least get the concert series functioning. And, in spite of the rough terrain the A.I.C.F. has encountered, it is surviving. Any other organization would have been ruined by the monumental expenses and meager revenues that the A.I.C.F. has on its balance sheet. The difference is that the Foundation has the Worldwide Church of God as its financial “lender” and terms of no interest and no payback ever required.
WILL THE “REAL” A.I.C.F. PLEASE STAND UP?
So, what is the real A.I.C.F.? Is it a front for a new move by the Worldwide Church of God to convert Jews as Rabbi Cunin charged? Is it an attempt by the Armstrong’s to give their church a cultural face-lift by improving its image in the public eye as Russell Chandler stated? Both have drawn reasonable conclusions from their research, but they are only partially correct. Although the Church can always use more tithe-paying members, the A.I.C.F. approached the Jewish Community primarily to convert Jewish dollars into ticket sales. And the main image-building was intended not for the Church. but for Herbert Armstrong and Stanley Rader’s own self-aggrandizement. Their ever-expanding egos had been constricted by the Church/College image, but the A.I.C.F. enables them to now take their rightful place among the “great” of the world without the Church and College tagging along.
The “real” A.I.C.F. is a grand exercise in pompous duplicity. It permeates the Foundation’s advertising, its organizational structure, and even the founding ideals of culture and charity.
Examine the Board of Directors of the Foundation. On the surface, it appears to be comprised of twelve men with a majority of the members having no religious affiliation with the Worldwide Church of God. This seems to corroborate the claims by Rader and Kuhn that the A.I.C.F. is completely independent of the Church. But from inside sources comes the information that not one meeting of the Board has been held so far-at least no meeting that included any member other than Rader, Kuhn and the Armstrongs. Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws of the Foundation have conveniently defined a quorum for an A.I.C.F. Director’s meeting to be only 30% of the Board membership! Is it a coincidence that it should take only four out of the twelve Directors to constitute a quorum, and that there are only four who are members of the Worldwide Church of God? The “plain truth” is that the other eight Directors merely assume cameo positions in the organization. Since each is a prominent member of the fine arts community their names obviously lend prestige to the Foundation. Doubly shocking is the fact that several of these eight were not even informed of their Board membership prior to the publishing of the first A.I.C.F. brochure which listed them as members of the Board of Directors.
Both Herbert Armstrong and son Garner Ted have their customary limelight titles, but they really have very little to do with the planning and operation of the A.I.C.F. These honors go to none other than, you guessed it, Stanley Rader and Robert Kuhn. In fact, the most appropriate description for Stan is the “Cardinal Richelieu of the Work”. Herbert and Ted wear the royal robes seen by the public while Stan manipulates the kingdom from behind the scenes. Rader’s power over the ranks has multiplied in recent years as H.W.A. has become more and more dependent on him. Not only does Rader control financial affairs, but his political tentacles have reached out to embrace almost every department in the organization from Church Administration to College internal affairs. Robert L. Kuhn, the sometimes personal assistant to Garner Ted Armstrong, handles the day to day A.I.C.F. operations and generates most of the prolific platitudes printed in the Foundation’s literature. In reality, these four men are the Board of Directors, Carlo Maria Giulini and Arthur Rubinstein notwithstanding.
Another individual worthy of note is Henry F. Cornwall, long-time friend and business associate of Stan Rader. He holds the office of Secretary-Treasurer within the Foundation. His position in the entire Worldwide Church of God empire is even more covert than Rader’s, but sources within the organization have revealed that Cornwall wields incredible power in the area of fiscal affairs. Cornwall, a Certified Public Accountant, has kept the financial records of the Church and College for years and reportedly acts as the sole “independent” auditor of the corporate conglomerate. From their office suite in Century City, Cornwall and Rader discretely exercise almost absolute control over the purse strings. It is they who authorize the ultra-extravagant expenditures by the A.I.C.F. using Church monies.
“[Stanley R.] Rader and [Robert L.] Kuhn were presented as two wonderful, fine, Jewish men who are working for this non-sectarian foundation that is going to help mainly Jewish causes.”
“Rader and Kuhn presented themselves as full-fledged Jews. This is what they told Joseph Cummins of the B’NAl B’RITH MESSENGER; this is what they told everybody, ‘They’re two fine Jews.’ They were introduced as such at lavish cocktail parties organized for Jewish community leaders.”
“You see, they had claimed that Rader and Kuhn had never converted [to the Worldwide Church of God], and I finally found evidence to the contrary.”
“A Rabbi kept telling us, ‘He [Kuhn] comes to my Temple-he is a member of my Temple.’ Kuhn is a member of a Reform Temple and his kids go to Sunday school there.”
“It bothers me that they had tried to falsely represent themselves as good Jews dedicated to causes within the Jewish community. It also bothers me that they denied ‘converting’ Jewish kids to the church.”
“Yitzhak Sover-he was one of the main persons pushing this [A.I.C.F. concert series] in the Jewish community. He was one of the people who tried to sell the bill of goods to all Jewish organizations in greater Los Angeles.”
“Sover no longer works for the Israeli Ministry of Tourism which he directed in L.A. He now works fulltime for A.I.C.F. There was a big turmoil in the Jewish community over this whole affair, and after all the charges cleared, and the dust settled, we found out that Sover had gone over to work for A.I.C.F.”
“Here’s a letter … they were using Rabbi Dolgin’s [in Jerusalem] name. There’s another fellow in Israel. He was also working with Rader and Kuhn. He is the one who was using Rabbi Dolgin’s name…he duped Rabbi Dolgin into agreement with a telephone call in the middle of the night saying, ‘Rabbi Dolgin, I can make some money for Shaare Zedek Hospital.’
‘How can you do it?’
‘Oh, by some concerts in California. Can I use your name?’
This was done without telling him what it was. Then I called Rabbi Dolgin in Israel, and this is the letter he sent. In it he states that his name is in no way involved with A.I.C.F. sponsorship; the government of Israel is not engaged in supporting concerts in Pasadena.”
“The editor of the MESSENGER, Joseph Jonah Cummins, the oldest, most prestigious, and largest circulation Jewish paper in the West, firmly refused further advertisement from the A.I.C.F. Furthermore, he took a strong editorial position against Jewish involvement with the concerts. This was done after a thorough investigation of the evidence.”
“They [A.I.C.F.] spent a fortune, thousands of dollars to pay these papers. Not only that, but for ISRAEL TODAY they paid to print that paper in excess of fifty-thousand copies to be distributed free in Jewish neighborhoods door-to-door. This gave the paper a chance to increase its circulation and at the same time spread the word about the concerts in Jewish homes. This is fact. All these things can be backed up.”
[Referring to the statement: “The controversy seems to have been limited to the B’NAI B’RITH MESSENGER and only a small segment of fundamentalist Jews.” (MINISTERIAL BULLETIN, October 21, 1975)] -“Obviously the guy who wrote this is badly mistaken, to say the least. He must have read the MESSENGER article (August 22, 1975) which contained letters from the leaders of all three factions which comprise the entire spectrum of Jewry. The heads of the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements in the Western United States all came out with strong letters taking issue against the A.I.C.F. and urging their memberships not to participate.”
“It’s a fact that all major Jewish organizations have stopped the use of their names in A.I.C.F. advertisements.”
“The statement, ‘It has had little effect upon our ticket sales.’ (MINISTERIAL BULLETIN, October 21, 1976), is the biggest lie there ever was. Many people phoned me, thanking me and saying they would not support the concerts and would pass the word. Others who had bought tickets already, told me they would be demanding their money back.”
“Now they have changed their entire image. They now say it [A.I.C.F.] has nothing to do with ‘the Work’ or anything like that.”
“All I know is that there’s money being spent. There’s a lot of money being spent and obviously nobody wants to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I don’t think anyone realizes their motivation. They come on like sugar daddies.”
“Put it this way, I have accomplished my mission. The danger for the Jewish people is over at this point because they know what’s what.”
“I doubt whether any members of the Jewish community are willing to get involved now.”
“What bothers me is that they’re taking money from poor people [Worldwide Church of God members]. That’s what really bothers me.”
“Money talks. That’s the whole story.”
The “real” sincerity of the Foundation’s rhetoric concerning culture and humanitarianism requires a took at the Church’s past position on these subjects. This is reasonable since the Worldwide Church of God created and supports the A.I.C.F., and Stan Rader himself has stated quite clearly in the MINISTERIAL BULLETIN (March 9, 1976) that the A.I.C.F.
will support a project “as long as there is nothing about the project that is inconsistent with the basic unalterable, underlying principle of the Church…”. Using this statement as a touchstone, the past principles of the Church regarding the “world’s” fine arts and charities create serious contradictions with the founding principles of the A.I.C.F.
For many years the Armstrongs and the Worldwide Church of God ministry have attacked this “evil, Satanic world” in publications and sermons. Countless harangues warning members of the necessity of remaining “separate” from the world’s influences were preached. In the area of music, not only was rock music maligned, but even the great composers, such as Beethoven, Bach, and Debussy, were often described as being under demonic influence. Drama, another art form to receive the Armstrong taboo, was compared to deceit or an attempt to escape reality and was forbidden on the Ambassador College campuses because anyone indulging in serious acting opened himself to “outside influences”. But, when the greener pastures of cultural stardom beckoned to Herbert, the “chameleon effect” again came into play.
Perhaps the most blatant hypocrisy is the Foundation’s great concern for supporting outside charities which “do those good works which the Church feels biblically enjoined to support” (MINISTERIAL BULLETIN, October 21, 1975). The fact is the Worldwide Church of God had for thirty years dogmatized that the best investment for your money was in “the Work”. Members were strongly discouraged from donating to outside humanitarian causes. They were told that the world will always have its poor and a dollar sent to “preach the gospel” produced far more good. An excellent case in point is a “co-worker” letter written by Herbert Armstrong dated February 27, 1970. There he discouraged Church members from sending their money in response to urgent media appeals to aid the starving victims of the Biafran famine. Herbert did not want “his”money spent on such humanitarian ventures:
“THE APPEAL WAS TO TREAT THE EFFECT, NOT THE CAUSE! … THIS WORK OF GOD is DOING SOMETHING BIG AND IMPORTANT TO STOP THE CAUSE-to PREVENT MORE BIAFRANS from starving…. YOU are having A PART in spreading Christ’s Gospel…. Right HERE is the MOST IMPORTANT WORK ON EARTH TODAY…. GIVE generously as you are able…. The way to DO SOMETHING about the starving and dying in Biafra, India, Egypt, and other such areas suffering evils, is to DEAL WITH THE CAUSE, not the effect-to HELP IN THIS GREAT WORK OF THE LIVING CHRIST!”
One final contradiction-while from a P.R. standpoint the may feel “biblically enjoined” to support charity, it certainly does not feel enjoined to follow the biblical principle Christ, Himself, outlined.
“Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, for you then will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to a beggar, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do-blowing trumpets in the assembly halls and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you in earnestness, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” (Matt. 6:1-2, LIVING NEW TESTAMENT)
When this contradiction was cited to a Church minister at the recent ministerial conference, he exclaimed, “Well, I never thought of it that way before!”
Continuing the discussion of the “real” A.I.C.F.-How has the A.I.C.F. really fared’? Has it fulfilled its stated goals?
One area in which to measure the degree of success is the concert series. The goal of bringing the finest talent was easily achieved since the A.I.C.F. thrives on the motto “money is no object”. There was little negotiation in performers’ fees. What was demanded was paid, and top dollar was the order of the day in contracting the series. The secondary goal of enticing the general Los Angeles populace to attend these concerts was not as successful. That story was related earlier in this article.
TAKE YOUR PICK
(Statements by Worldwide Church of God leadership)
The amount of money received through the solicitation drive would serve as an ideal guage for the effecitveness of the A.I.S.F.’s humanitarian endeavors. Its goal for this season was $1.3 million, but at press time full disclosure of the revenues collected by the Foundation have not been reported by Rader or Cornwall. By law, they have until the beginning of July, 1976, to file a complete financial statement with the City and County of Los Angeles. However, an interim statement was filed in November, 1975, indicating receipt of $310,000. While the Foundation loudly proclaims that 100% of all funds collected go to charity it is not very specific about whose charity. Only $96,000 of the reported total was distributed to “outside” charities. The remaining $214,000 benefitted the projects previously funded by the Worldwide Church of God. This amount is nearly 70% of the total receipts reported as of last November. Five months later on January 1, 1976, Robert Kuhn confided to Charles Hunting and Richard Plache over dinner at Chez Paul Restaurant that 85% of the revenues collected go to the Work’s “charities” while only 15% of the revenues collected by A.I.C.F. left the organization to be distributed to bona fide outside charities. There’s nothing like practicing the old adage, “Charity begins at home”.
The third major area to measure the success of the Foundation is the growth of its journal. HUMAN POTENTIAL. Unfortunately, the magazine has been the most lackluster performer in the Rader-Kuhn cultural circus. Now over a year old, HUMAN POTENTIAL is yet to come out as a regular issue, and the entire project has been turned over to J. Walter Thompson, the mammoth ad agency, for the purpose of overhauling the journal’s approach. The Thompson people had flatly told Stan that any attempt to market the “rehearsal issue” would be suicide. The present number of subscriptions confirms their assessment-only 15,000 to 20,000 subscriptions have been received, the vast majority being from members of the Worldwide Church of God. Rader and Kuhn had projected a circulation of 100,000 to 300,000 after the first year. No letters explaining the delay in publication have been sent to subscribers. The apparent reason for the “neglect” was voiced in a recent HUMAN POTENTIAL staff meeting: “We don’t have to worry, they’re Church members.”
It should be abundantly evident by now that the “real” Ambassador International Cultural Foundation is the antithesis of its much publicized, idealized front. The A.I.C.F. steering committee of Rader, Cornwall and Kuhn have cared little about the “incredible potential of the human spirit” as they employ basic Machiavellian techniques in managing the Foundation, its public image and the staff. They have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of suspicion, trauma and insecurity within the A.I.C.F. organization. Their goal is to achieve financial self-sufficiency for their Foundation as quickly as possible so that it can operate independently of the Church and its inherent financial fluctuations and doctrinal “brushfires”. Of course, should the A.I.C.F. ever need another major infusion of Church capital, that option would be kept open.
The timetable for fiscal independence has been pushed back due to promotional difficulties. Most of the artistic community has been turned off by the “nouveau riche” pomposity with which the A.I.C.F. carries itself. But valuable lessons are being learned, and the Foundation can afford to make mistakes. It has tapped into the $60 million annual reservoir of the Worldwide Church of God. Exactly how much is being transferred to the A.I.C.F. is next to impossible to confirm since Rader and Cornwall keep the books. The next section will briefly scan some of the more glaring expenditures of the Foundation as it takes the Church on a multi-million dollar sleigh ride.
FLEECING THE FLOCK
In a promotional letter for the A.I.C.F. the following statement appeared: “The Foundation’s conceptual approach is the personification of generosity: everyone gains.”-that is everyone but the Worldwide Church of God members who foot the bills.
The Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, in the final analysis, is nothing but a renegade Robin Hood-it steals from the poor to give to the rich. While the average lower-middle class Church member is sacrificing “till it hurts” in response to yet another H.W.A. “crisis letter”, his dollars are subsidizing symphonic concerts and champagne receptions for Beverly Hills aristocrats whose savings account interest probably eclipses the annual income of most Church members. This premeditated rape of the contributor by an organization claiming to represent humanitarianism is nothing less than obscene! The tragicomic sham prompted one famous conductor to say he would have no association with the Foundation because the money came from poor people who had no say in its use, and because of the extravagant and unwise expenditure of those funds.
Vladimir Horowitz, tour de force of the entire concert season, performed two recitals for the tidy sum of $80,000-that works out to be $333.00 per minute. It was reported that Arthur Rubinstein was more than slightly miffed upon discovering that Horowitz received such an astronomical fee while he had “donated” his recital in exchange for a $50,000 contribution by the Church to the International Cultural Center for Youth. Another noteworthy artist, Joan Sutherland, received $10,000 for her performance. Her husband, Richard Bonynge, also received $10,000 for accompanying her. Most of the other performers were paid on the high end of the scale for normal fees. In some cases, extra remuneration was provided by sending a performer several first class plane tickets-roundtrip from New York or London to Los Angeles when in fact the performer was coming alone and from a point much closer. These extra tickets were easily cashed in. In addition, the A.I.C.F. is by no means limiting itself to sponsoring concerts in Pasadena. Several are being planned for Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.
Live concerts are not the sole beneficiaries of A.I.C.F. monies. The Foundation also heavily supports programming on KFAC, a prominent Los Angeles classical radio station. With the recent addition of “Luncheon at the Music Center” under its sponsorship, A.I.C.F. has become by far the largest sponsor on KFAC, ahead of Pacific Gas Company and General Electric. It now supports 18 plus hours of air time every week. (Rumor has it that Rader and Cornwall have been thinking about purchasing the entire radio station and have made overtures as such to the general manager.)
Probably the single most exhorbitant event coming out of the A.I.C.F.-Worldwide Church of God checkbook occurred during the first week in November, 1975. At the Cinerama Dome Theater in Hollywood, the Foundation underwrote the movie premier of “Paper Tiger”, starring David Niven. In attendance that night were scores of stars including: Fred Astair, Glen Campbell, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Ann Miller and Dana Andrews. The A.I.C.F. picked up the tab for all tickets to the premier at $100 each. Rader also donated $25,000 from A.I.C.F. to the Motion Picture and Television Actors Relief Fund. Since the packed theater seated 929, Worldwide Church of God tithe payers received a total bill of at least $17,900, not including the post-premiere supper party at Chasen’s. As if this were not enough, Stan also hosted a similar premier for the movie in London.
Lest anyone think Stan Rader only enjoys entertaining on the town, let it be known that he loves to have his friends over to his Beverly Hills home often for catered parties. No need to ask who foots the bill. Stan has developed many acquaintances in the local diplomatic community this way, and the A.I.C.F. is reportedly gaining a reputation among the consular corps as one of the most popular party-givers.
Since Church money is being expended for all these non-church activities, one would assume that financial problems are nonexistant in the Worldwide Church of God. But, to read Herbert Armstrong’s letters to the co-workers and members would leave the impression that the Church is continually on the brink of bankruptcy, forever needing to be rescued by another “supreme sacrifice” by the contributors.
Garner Ted Armstrong recently declared that there would he no “sacred cows” in the Work. Any department not directly involved with “getting the Gospel to the world” would be liquidated to “streamline the Work”. But while massive cutbacks and widespread terminations are under way, Robert Kuhn and a new A.I.C.F. publicity director are busily planning a “bigger and better” concert series for next season. Either Ted has been unable to locate a sacrificial altar large enough for the “Golden Calf”, or he is afraid to lock horns with Stan Rader over the A.I.C.F. Inside sources have disclosed that the latter is the case. Ted and Stan hold roughly equal amounts of power in the organization, and neither wants to risk a head-on confrontation. For the time being each seems content to stay on his side of the corporate line.
STRAIGHT TALK (To the ministry and tithe-paying membership of the Worldwide Church of God)
Now that you have an outline of what the A.I.C.F. is all about, perhaps you should ask yourself some hard questions. Can you honestly say you do not share in the responsibility for the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation? You are paying for it, and dearly. Your tithes have made it all possible.
“But what can I do”, you’re probably thinking. “How the money is spent is not my responsibility. They will have to answer to God for their actions.” You have all the canned rationalizations to fall back upon. But you do have a responsibility to the God you worship, to yourself and to the Armstrongs (if you really have any Christian concern). Your responsibility to God does not end with the signing of your tithe check. You must demand that your contributions be spent on the job of preaching Christ, not Horowitz. Of course, you can always try to convince yourself that your dollars are spent to “preach the Gospel” while another person’s donations go to support movie premiers and lavish parties for the diplomatic corps.
Do you seriously believe Stanley R. Rader, Henry F. Cornwall and Robert L. Kuhn care about your welfare? Not one is ordained, and Cornwall is not even a member of the Worldwide Church of God. Both Rader and Kuhn cloak their membership in the Church-Kuhn is a member of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Rader’s main object of worship seems to he himself. Robert Kuhn has reportedly said, “Even if this weren’t God’s work-where else could you have more fun?” How does it feel to know that these three men are funneling millions of your dollars into their “cultural” empire to be spent as they chose?
Unless you awake from your fear-induced trance and protest even to the point of withholding your contributions, it is only a matter of time before the Rader-Cornwall-Kuhn cabal achieves its goal of financial self-sufficiency and casts off the Church as a depleted host. Nothing short of a massive “tithe-strike” can stop the A.I.C.F. Ted Armstrong cannot stop it. He is not strong enough corporately or intestinally to oppose both Rader and Cornwall; and Herbert is wrapped around Stan’s little finger.
It is now up to YOU, the tithe payer, to stop the leeching of the Church! You have only yourself to blame each passing week as yet another part of your family’s welfare and sustenance is needlessly sacrificed to provide FUN FOR A FEW!
-Leonard W. Zola