Garner Ted Armstrong, bigger-than-life TV and radio evangelist, offers absolute answers to a world full of confusing and difficult questions. He offers free advice, free literature and assurance that his way of life is Christ’s way of life. His Madison Avenue approach to religion has made him one of the most successful in the business of mail-order salvation.
But while being one of the most successful, Ted Armstrong is also one of the most controversial. In early 1972, Herbert W. Armstrong (Ted’s legendary father; founder, pastor general and self-proclaimed apostle of God’s “only true church “) was forced to put Ted out of his church and wrote that Ted was “in the bonds of Satan.” However, during all this Ted’s “problem” was never specifically defined, and all rumors regarding his alleged sexual impropriety and excessive life-style were staunchly denied. For six long months Ted’s golden voice was not heard on the church’s radio broadcast, and no new television programs were filmed. Although old broadcasts of HWA were aired across the country the church’s income plummeted. The old legend did not have the drawing power of his son. Shortly thereafter, a fully “repentant” GTA was reinstated into his father’s church with all of his former rights and privileges.
Most adherents to the religious teachings of HWA and GTA dismiss the allegations of GTA’s sexual misconduct as vicious rumors spawned by Satan in an attempt to thwart the work of God. Others find it interesting and even sensational, but might ask why should anyone delve into a man’s personal life and expose what he does in private. Still others will take the attitude of “What does it prove, anyway?”
Perhaps in different circumstances these arguments might be valid, but because Garner Ted Armstrong has presented himself as a shining light, a messenger of truth, and a preacher of purity, it is important to know if he is truly what he says or merely a Master showman. Does he practice what he preaches? Does he apply the same standards in his own life that he (as a self-styled representative of God) requires from others?
This article intends to profile Ted Armstrong and will give an insight into the man and how he operates. It is not intended to be a bitter diatribe against him, but rather an examination of the facts to determine if he, in the flesh, is equal to the illusion created by his media image.
Garner Ted Armstrong was born on February 9, 1930, in Portland, Oregon – the fourth and youngest child of Herbert and Loma Armstrong. According to his father, “Ted… was born as a result of an almost incredible miracle of healing only three weeks before his birth!” (The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong, p. 377, 1967 edition). The miracle? Loma had been “healed” of her anemic condition which had been aggravated by the family’s poor diet. Her healing or recovery was helped by a few nourishing meals provided by Herbert’s parents (Ibid., p. 374). Herbert attributed this to “an almost incredible miracle” and dedicated his newborn son to God “for Him to use as He had need” (Ibid., p. 377).
The years 1930-33 were lean ones for the Armstrongs. Herbert began his public ministry in late 1930 but preached only occasionally. He continued doing odd jobs to support his family until early 1933.
During this time HWA’s work had taken him to Astoria, Oregon, but his wife and children remained in Salem. Early in July 1932, Ted became seriously ill with pneumonia, and Herbert rushed home to anoint the child. Not only did Ted have pneumonia but “…he had been, to that time [he was all of 2 years and 5 months], dumb-unable to talk… He would point to whatever he wanted… grunting ‘Ugh! Ugh!'” (Ibid., p. 449). Sometime between the age of six months and a year, Ted had fallen out of his crib and had landed on his head. Herbert and Loma had attributed his inability to speak to this fall. When Herbert anointed Ted, he not only asked God to heal his son’s pneumonia, but also asked God to restore Ted’s power of speech. Supposedly Ted recovered immediately and began to say a few words by the next day. Again Herbert claimed a great miracle and commented about it in his autobiography.
“Words have been pouring like a torrent out of his mouth ever since…. God gave him his voice by an unusual divine miracle” (p. 450).
According to HWA, had it not been for this miracle, we could never hear Garner Ted’s voice today.
In late February 1933 (Ted had just turned three), Herbert became the minister of a small group known as the Church of God, Oregon Conference. From this time on HWA launched himself into his ministry with fervor. Not only was he ministering to the small church in Salem, but in October 1933, he made his first radio broadcast. Several months later, in early 1934, the first Plain Truth magazine (at that time a simple mimeographed paper) was published.
So Ted’s formative years were spent in the fledgling years of his father’s evangelical work. Both of his parents were extremely busy and had very little time to spend with their children.
Still, Herbert expected strict obedience to his authority and often punished his children severely if he caught them disobeying one of his directives. At a very early age Ted developed an inordinate fear of his father which he carried with him most of his life. Evidently, Herbert didn’t realize this until late 1971, as he explained to a group of ministers in Pasadena.
“But Ted and I had the most frank talk we have ever had about… a month or five weeks ago over in Big Sandy [Texas]. It took up most of the morning. And Ted began clear back to the time he was a little boy. He said, ‘Dad, all my life I’ve been afraid of you, and I’ve tried to avoid you.’
“‘Why Ted, I didn’t know that,’ [I replied]. It hadn’t been apparent…. And Ted, from the time he was a little boy, got to thinking I was unfair and cruel, and he learned… not to fear me in the way he should-the way we should fear God but to be actually frightened-physical fear. And I never knew that until four or five weeks ago” (Herbert Armstrong, Ministerial Conference, January 1972).
Ted graduated from high school in Eugene, Oregon, in 1947. This same year Herbert decided to move his religious headquarters to Pasadena, California, to take advantage of the broadcasting facilities available in the area. Ted moved to California with the rest of his family.
Eventually the fear of his father and the embarrassment of his religion turned to loathing. In a fit of rebellion, Ted left home and joined the U.S. Navy in May of 1948, to escape his father’s authority. He enlisted for three years, but a compulsory wartime extension lengthened his hitch an extra year. In early 1952, he received an honorable discharge and returned to Pasadena.
Although Ted did not immediately accept his father’s religious philosophies, he was not adverse to working in his father’s mail processing office. Before long he was elevated to the position of office manager. In the fall of 1952, he enrolled at Ambassador College.
In December of that same year Ted accompanied his parents to Gladewater, Texas. While HWA was finalizing a land transaction with Roy Hammer, Ted was busy “courting” Hammer’s daughter, Shirley. After the land deal had been finalized, the Armstrongs returned to Pasadena. Shortly thereafter, the Armstrongs made a hasty trip back to Texas to arrange Ted and Shirley’s marriage. They were married on March 8, 1953. In September of that same year, Herbert announced in church that God had performed another great miracle. Ted and Shirley were the proud parents of a healthy, “premature” baby boy. (Several ministers who were around at the time have related the embarrassment they felt concerning this especially in light of the fact that this six month “premie” was a 7 lb. fully-developed baby.)
Ted continued his studies at AC. Before the end of the spring, 1953, term he underwent a “spiritual conversion” and was baptized as a member of his father’s church. He continued as office manager during his college career and began to carve his niche in the microcosm of his father’s religious organization. In January 1955, Ted was ordained to the ministry.
Ted quickly started climbing to the top of his father’s organization. He began writing articles for the Good News and Plain Truth magazines. He also shared the “World Tomorrow” microphone with his father, his brother Richard and two other ministers-Roderick C. Meredith and Herman Hoeh. Before long his golden voice and glib manner of speech forced the other speakers to devote their energies elsewhere. No one could match Ted’s charisma and media appeal.
Although Ted had his own style, his message was the same as those who had come before him. And often especially in regard to prophecy-his conclusions and analysis were either falacious or inaccurate. For example, he preached for years that according to Bible prophecy Great Britain would never be allowed into the European Common Market. His written prophecies were no more accurate. Notice:
“Two years ago, Mr. Herman Hoeh showed in this magazine how God’s word prophesied disease epidemics would strike the United States in two short years! Those epidemics are beginning now! And they will grow much worse! God prophesies that finally, within the next fifteen years, fully one third of our whole population will die of disease and famine!” (The Plain Truth, Dec. 1957, p. 23.)
About a year later, in an article entitled “Nationwide Epidemics Are Spreading,” he placed great prophetic significance on a story about a child who had died from an attack by fire ants.
“No light ‘interesting’ news item, this-but a real, down to earth PLAGUE that is growing WORSE AND WORSE!… Jesus said certain specific things HAD TO HAPPEN prior to the ‘end of the age'” (The Plain Truth, Nov. 1958, p. 4).
But like the prediction that the WCG would “flee to a place of safety” in 1972 and many other inaccurate and false prophecies, these worldwide plagues and epidemics also failed to materialize as Garner Ted said they would.
By January 1958, Ted was being recognized as a leader in the organization. His father appointed him vice-president of both the college and the church. In late summer 1958 after his brother Richard died as a result of injuries sustained in a tragic auto accident-Ted was given more responsibility. But much of Ted’s new authority was in name only. He still lived in the shadow of his father and several others who held responsible positions. His inability to operate independently from his father and others in command continued to plague him for years.
For approximately ten years this power structure (HWA as president and GTA as vice-president) remained fairly constant. As well as his executive duties, Ted taught a few college courses, carried on as one of the two voices of the “World Tomorrow” broadcast, wrote numerous articles and booklets and acquired his M.A. and Ph.D. from Ambassador College. By the late 1960s the organization had begun to expand its media coverage, and Ted took on the added responsibility of making a weekly television show.
Then in 1968, HWA drastically altered the organization’s hierarchy by appointing seven additional vice-presidents. At the same time he made Ted executive vice-president. Ted, however, had no real authority over the other vice-presidents because Herbert had given them direct access to his office-they could by-pass Ted whenever they deemed it necessary (which was often). Still, at least on the surface, the status quo was maintained until the summer of 1971.
Ted’s Problem. By this time, word of Ted’s sexual improprieties had begun to filter through the ministry. For at least a year, Ted had been having an affair with his stewardess. Of course, this was not his first affair-Ted had had numerous adulterous relationships with many other women-but this relationship was different. Herbert could not dismiss it as another one of Ted’s passing flirtations. Ted was ready to leave his wife.
“I went in to my father and went ‘blah’ and had a great big written thing and told him I was getting a divorce and that I was leaving and that this was going to happen. And when I left, I left with a trailer full of my goods and never intended to come back…” (GTA Pasadena ministerial meeting. March 7, 1974, tape 2, side 2, ref. 6454).
Herbert Armstrong could not afford to ignore this attitude, especially in light of the church’s doctrines on divorce (see the article “Home-Breaking-Armstrong Style”). Ted had determined that he was no longer bound to his wife and was free to marry another.
“…I had already in my own mind convinced myself I wasn’t even bound to my wife… I was in my mind divorcing her. I left with a trailer full of clothing and a stupid little girl…” (GTA, Big Sandy ministerial meeting, March 4, 1974, tape 5, side 2, ref. #052).
In July of 1971, Herbert was forced to relieve Ted of his duties and send him on a leave of absence, ostensibly for “health reasons” (see article “Profligate Son”). In a letter dated September 26, 1971, Herbert informed the church membership that Ted would not be speaking during the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles. However, Ted prevailed upon his father to let him speak. According to schedule, Ted spoke to members gathered at feast sites in Big Sandy, Mt. Pocono, Jekyll Island and Squaw Valley.
During Ted’s stay in Squaw Valley, his “problem” reared its head again. After preaching a stirring sermon, Ted took off to spend the night with his stewardess. The next day he flew to his next stop in Penticton, but word had already gotten out to his father and the other executives. They intercepted him there. Ted was again relieved of his executive duties. In a letter to the church, Herbert covered up Ted’s adultery once again, and stated that he had sent Ted on a much needed vacation.
This charade continued for several months. Ted did take an extended vacation, but by January 1972, he had returned to Pasadena and participated in a ministerial conference. His return was short lived.
On the night of January 30, 1972, HWA, Stan Rader (legal counsel for the organization), and several leading evangelists confronted Ted in his home about his affairs with his stewardess and others. On that night, it became painfully obvious to those present that Garner Ted had been using his natural glibness for a lot more than just sermons and broadcasts. On that night, Garner Ted Armstrong acknowledged that he was involved in extensive, extra-marital sexual conquests. Finally HWA was forced to disfellowship his son and send him into exile.
At this time, Herbert forced Ted to end his longstanding relationship with the woman who had been his stewardess. Ted and Shirley were sent to Ted’s A-frame in Colorado in an effort to get them to put their lives back together. Ted’s stewardess was transferred, under an assumed name, to work in the WCG’s New Zealand office.
Again Herbert Armstrong was forced to offer an explanation to the church. In a letter to the ministry which was read to all church members-Herbert stated that Ted had a “personal emotional problem” and was in the “bonds of Satan.” Herbert stated that he had been forced to put Ted out of the church, and that he had taken away his ministerial authority. Ted could be allowed back into the church but never as a minister. No word was said about his adultery.
Qualifications. Shortly after this, Herbert Armstrong commissioned David L. Antion (WCG evangelist and GTA’s brother-in-law) to research and write a paper regarding the biblical qualifications of a minister. In a nine-page memo dated April 24, 1972, Antion argued the question of whether or not a man can “sin as to disqualify himself from the ministry even though he might repent and be reinstated in the Church as a member” (Antion Qualifications Memorandum, p. 1). Antion then listed the character requirements of a minister of the Church of God.
“Timothy 3:1-7….’A bishop must be blameless.’ The word ‘blameless’ means ‘irreproachable’ or ‘above reproach. The Amplified Version says, ‘Must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach.’ The Phillips translation says, ‘Must be of blameless reputation.’
“Here is what the Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words has to say about this word. It literally means ‘that he cannot be laid hold of, hence, not open to censure, irreproachable.’
“There is an entirely different Greek word used in Titus 1:67. It is also translated ‘blameless’ but it has a slightly different meaning. It ‘signifies that which cannot be called to account, i.e., with nothing laid to one’s charge (as a result of public investigation). It implies not merely acquittal, but the absence of even a charge or accusation against a person. This is to be the case with elders.’ (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 131.)
“Hence a minister must give no cause-nor can a reason for accusation be found in his conduct.
“The reason for this qualification is important. A minister represents the Church. If his conduct can be attacked-if his life and character are liable to investigation and accusation through misconduct-the whole Church of God can be accused!”
On page three he also stated:
“Though a minister does not get his authority from the people-he still must have a good report of the people. And it should be as much a good report from the outside as it is within the church when it comes to his sincerity, integrity, and moral life….
“It is made clear that there is an active devil. He is waiting for the Church to appoint a man to the office of the ministry whose reputation is questionable…. The only defense here is that a man be chosen who is ABOVE REPROACH-one with a good report from without-honest, moral, faithful, etc .
“These qualifications are not some lofty set of standards…. they are the minimal character requirements for God’s ministers…. it is insistent and imperative that God’s ministers have these as the minimum requirements.” [The report then cited and expounded over 20 scriptural references.]
Antion concluded his paper, touching briefly on the case of King David, and showed that the issue was qualifications, not whether or not a man repented and was forgiven.
“David did commit adultery. Though God winked at his taking a number of wives which he married and to whom he performed all the functions of a husband-support, children. conjugal dues-his greatest sin was the taking of the wife of Uriah and the murder of not only Uriah but of several men along with him. In the light of this colossal sin many of us ask, ‘How can David be a man of God-a man after God’s own heart?’
“But here is what we know from the scriptures. First, David did repent bitterly of this sin – i.e., he never did it again! Second, he repented permanently the first time it was brought to his attention by a true servant of God. He did not argue or excuse himself in anyway or justify his sin by new doctrine or any other excuse….
“God’s servants are His human leaders of the people. Their example of leadership, their character, their lives should be of the highest qualifications. If the leaders fall below what is expected even of their followers then disrespect ensues-loss of confidence occurs-people look for other more sterling leadership.
“To date in the Church of God-no minister has ever been restored to office who has disqualified himself and was once removed from it. This list includes [ministers’ names deleted]….
“The same basic principle has applied generally to deacons….
“Again, the question is not one of repentance and forgiveness. It is a question of qualification and what the word of God says about returning to the highest office of all-the ministry of Jesus Christ” (Ibid.. pp. 8 and 9).
Crisis Management. Of course, Herbert decided to ignore the evidence presented by David Antion because that was not what he wanted to hear. He needed a way to solve the crisis in “the Work.” 1972 had not started off well, and it was progressively getting worse. When the church didn’t “flee” to a place of safety many members lost their apocalyptic zeal. Then Ted was banished soon after, leaving many in a state of confusion and low morale. Also, because Ted was “out of the church,” he was no longer making broadcasts. All this added up to a significant drop in income. Herbert needed Ted back in order to get “the Work” back on its financial feet.
In late May 1972 (only one month after David Antion had submitted his paper on qualifications), Herbert met with Ted. Several days later (June 7, 1972) Albert Portune, Sr., David Antion, Ron Dart and Stan Rader accompanied Herbert back to the A-frame in Colorado and discussed the situation with Ted. The men returned to Pasadena, and the board voted to reinstate Ted in the church and allowed him to make broadcasts once again. Soon after this meeting, he was awarded full reinstatement to the ministry, and he returned to his former executive duties.
After all the problems, how did they manage to ignore the issue of Ted’s qualifications? Easy-Herbert asserted that his son was above the pronouncements of scripture. Albert Portune explained the situation at a meeting in Kansas City several years later.
“But let me tell you what the answer is to that and what Mr. Herbert Armstrong has legislated…. Ted is above the scripture. These are his [HWA’s] words. I sat there and lived through them. Ted was divinely called. He [HWA] proves that by the fact that Ted could not speak for two years and was given a voice… that Ted has these gifts and all of these other factors… therefore Ted is above the scripture. We can’t judge Ted like we judge any other minister. We can’t judge Ted by Timothy and Titus. You have to judge Ted only by divine calling. Then he has vague references to vague scriptures back to Hosea…” (Kansas City meeting, Sept. 22, 1974, tape 3, side I, ref. #066).
So, Ted was reinstated to his former positions with all the rights and privileges thereof. For several months it appeared that everything was back to normal.
Cat’s Out of the Bag. The cover-up, however, had not been complete. By the fall of 1973, many field ministers were aware of Ted’s adulterous behavior. Although most remained silent on the matter, a few considered it a matter of conscience to tell their congregations. John Mitchell, minister of the Shreveport, Louisiana church, started the ball rolling over the Thanksgiving weekend in late November 1973. That situation was momentarily smoothed over, but by early 1974, practically the whole ministry was in an uproar.
Not only were there questions regarding Ted’s qualifications, but other doctrinal issues were coming to the fore. Among these were divorce and remarriage, healing, tithing, binding and loosing and some administrative problems. Suddenly the ministry wanted immediate answers from headquarters. Most were unhappy about the lack of communication coming from Pasadena, and were concerned about the extent of Ted’s problem and the ensuing cover-up.
The Meeting in Richmond. In February 1974, Albert Portune, Sr. and David Antion flew to Richmond, Virginia to meet with many of the ministers in the eastern United States. After a brief discussion about their feelings on the matter, Antion and Portune spent several hours laboriously answering ministers’ questions. At this meeting most wanted the rumors about Ted verified or denied. They were not vindictive. They just wanted to know.
One minister asked that Antion and Portune discuss the personal problems Ted was having.
“Not because as a human being I think it’s important but because, unfortunately for him, his personal problems have caused a lot of other people personal problems… Now it has been rumored that he committed adultery… Would you say that was true?” (Richmond ministerial meeting, tape 2, side I, ref. #170.)
Both Antion and Portune answered in the affirmative (tape 2, side I, ref. #175).
The minister then asked:
“He [GTA] had admitted apparently to certain of the evangelists and regional directors in private that he had illicit relations with one individual. The rumors have hit at an all-time high of 200. Now what is the balance?” (Tape 2, side 1, ref. #182.)
Al Portune, Sr. replied to the ministers:
“…I don’t know how many times, I just don’t know. But whether it’s 25 or whether it’s 225, I don’t know. Somewhere between those two points” (tape 2, side 1, ref. # 198).
The minister still wanted to make sure and asked:
“Didn’t he [GTA] state, himself, to the evangelists that it [Ted’s sexual misconduct] was 200 times?” (Tape 2, side 1, ref. #201.)
This time David Antion fielded the question:
“I don’t remember that-I personally don’t remember the number. He [Ted] just said that there’ve been dozens of times or, you know, many times, or some big figure. I know it impressed us all with the fact that he could remember dates and places and situations and so on.
“I would say here that a lot of it was not outright adultery a lot of it was flirtation, a lot of it was necking, making a pass and so forth….
“He needs to feel attractive. He likes to know that he’s handsome. He likes to know the girls will go for him and all that. And I think there’s a psychological need, personally, when I analyze it, rather than just a great need for just sex, you know” (tape 2, side 1, ref. #210).
At this same ministerial meeting A1 Portune, Sr. was asked another pointed question concerning Garner Ted’s life-style:
“I’d like to know: Is it an absolute fact that it’s [Garner Ted’s sexual misconduct] continued over about a 19- or approximately 20-year period on a somewhat regular basis as various affairs and so on have happened? Without naming names… an evangelist… said that he understands there have been 38 different women that he [Ted] had involved himself with?” (Tape 2, side I, ref. #351.)
Al Portune’s frank response was:
“It’s probably true. I’ve been very, very close to Ted on a friendly, person-to-person basis for many years. I worked for him as his personal assistant way back when. And he has told me things about his life before marriage when he was in the service, and I think that’s where it really began, and in his own words he said, to me he said, ‘it has continued and it has never stopped’-meaning up to the time when he was having his problem. So it is over all the period of his adult life” (Albert Portune, Richmond ministerial meetings, tape 2, side 1, ref. #356).
Portune and Antion also discussed the circumstances surrounding Ted’s reinstatement to the ministry in 1972 and the meeting at the A-frame in Colorado in early June of that year. One minister specifically asked if repentance was talked about.
Albert Portune answered:
“He [Ted] sat there in that chair. He called himself every dirty name that he could think of…. He constantly does that. He still does that today….
“The subject of repentance in that way-in the sense that he was conscious of the need for being sorry and the fact that he was evidencing to me from tears and through reproachments to himself and not being worthy to so much as lift up his eyes….
“All he could think about was just that empty microphone back there, and because of his dirty rotten sins he wasn’t there doing his job… if God would just give him the chance and that type of thing…. That was the context of his repentance” (tape 2, side I, ref. #240).
David Antion interjected at this point:
“Of course, one of our problems was that we went out to Colorado totally cold. There was not a word on the plane. Not-and I’m telling you-not a word as to what we would say when we got there. There was no stated purpose. In fact, I really didn’t quite know why we were going….
“Mr. Armstrong didn’t say what we were going for. We got over there and were supposed to talk to GTA. I assumed… we’re going to go out, and Mr. Armstrong is going to start talking to GTA, and he’s going to start asking him some questions… ‘Ted, how’s your marriage? Are you really repentant? Are you sorry that you did this? Are you sorry the way you’ve acted? What do you have to say for yourself?’
“That kind of thing did not happen. We kind of talked around, and it was obvious by GTA’s mannerisms that he was meek and he was… conciliatory and he was humble….
“We started talking about the work, and he started talking about himself-thinking about the empty microphone…. Then he said, ‘Well, how are things?’, and I think Al said something about ‘Well, things aren’t very good with the work. Things are pretty bad.’…
“Then Ted said, ‘Well, how’s the broadcasting going?’… Well, the mail was down… Mr. Portune said, ‘Well, I think you need to come back… I think you’re the man God has anointed to do it.’
“And then GTA started crying, and he said that he wanted to be back so bad…. He made all kinds of promises…. It was a moving situation.
“Mr. Armstrong was taken by it… and I mean to tell you, within two hours from that point Mr. Armstrong was saying, ‘Ted. when can you come back?’ Stan Rader said, ‘We can get daily television.’ We started saying, ‘We can get campaigns, we can get advertising.’ And that’s the way it was.
“Mr. Armstrong said, ‘How soon can you come back?’ and GTA was ready to come back….
“Ron Dart said, ‘Oh, that’s great, now we can get going.’ Then everybody started talking….
“I thought, ‘Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second.’ I had already turned the qualifications memo in. Mr. Armstrong must have read it… ” (tape 2, side 1, ref. #250-297; ref. #339).
Peyton Place. In late March 1974, a very disillusioned David Antion wrote a personal letter to Ted Armstrong. Below is a portion of Antion’s letter. (Letters of the alphabet have been substituted for some of the names.)
“March 29, 1974
” . You were right when you said it just about killed me to find out about the things that happened in ’71= 72. 1 didn’t want to know. I knew nothing up until that time. I didn’t go searching or asking.
“In August of 1971, S told M about the situation with G…. When I heard what was happening, I went straight to the study-fell on my knees and bawled like a baby.
“I knew nothing else at the time. Not until November or December of 1971 did I find out about anything more than G. It was Jon Hill who first told me that there were other girls. He seemed quite surprised that I didn’t know this. In fact, he was quite shocked that I should be shocked.
“Then it was Rod Meredith who implied to me about others and seemed to be hinting at M being one of them.
“I went home and in conversation with M asked her if you [Ted] had ever made passes at her. It was shattering. But it was in the past-before M and I were engaged-and had been repented of.
“During those months there was the usual witch hunt of those who kept bringing up more and more names and incidents. I know it hurt [evangelist’s name withheld] too for I saw him break down and cry when he heard. Then in February or March-perhaps April-of 1972, when everything seemed to be over, J and… [her husband] came to California for a visit…
“One night when I came home from work, M started telling me about what J had told her. J told how she thought you [Ted] were in love with her. She [J] told about the passes you made at her and said she felt she was in love with you also. In fact it was J who first spotted and became suspicious of your relationship with G at SEP [Summer Education Program]. J went into quite a bit of detail with M and from what I gather seemed to enjoy doing so….
“J was thinking recently. M told her about what happened in the past during M’s college days. J was surprised at that. Then M shattered J who was thinking you were in love with her. M told her that you did not love her any more than you loved the others. This, according to M, really seemed to infuriate J who seemed to want to believe that she was special.”
Ted was infuriated by the letter. How could Antion have had the audacity to put this down in writing? Ted ordered Dave to destroy his copy, which he did. However, in his rage, Ted carelessly left his copy on his desk at the television studio long enough for an enterprising employee to make a copy.
Soon after, David Antion began to assume a low-profile existence at the college. He maintains his ministerial status and teaches a few classes at AC, but he judiciously avoids certain issues like qualifications for the ministry because it is economically expedient for him to remain on the Armstrong payroll, drive his Mercedes, and live in a quarter-million dollar home that church tithes built.
Sweet Irony. There can be no denying that Ted’s personal problem-so long hidden from public view-is adultery. Ted has even admitted this himself.
“I know of about five or six or eight or ten [WCG ministers] who have committed adultery…. You want some leveling done here today? I am not the first case!” (Big Sandy ministerial meeting, March 4, 1974, tape 5, side 1, ref. #082.)
He flagrantly broke the WCG’s doctrine on sexual conduct; yet he still had the gall to stand up and preach highly volatile sermons against our “decadent society,” wife swapping, adultery, etc. And while he so dogmatically enforced “God’s laws” regarding sex, and quietly stood by while hundreds of happy marriages were broken up due to “spiritual adultery” (see the article “Home-Breaking-Armstrong Style”), Ted was out doing the real thing with WCG ministers’ wives, AC coeds, his secretaries, etc. This is tragic behavior for anyone, but inexcusable for a man who claims to be a minister of Jesus Christ.
So What? Evidently, the criteria used to judge Ted’s performance as a minister and church member is not the same as that used for the rest of the church and ministry. Obviously, if Ted were any other than the son of Herbert W. Armstrong, he would have been disfellowshipped and publicly marked long ago.
Unfortunately, sincere, trusting people continue to listen to this hypocrite. They do not listen to him because they have refuted David Antion’s research on biblical qualifications for the ministry, or because they have tested those who say they are apostles and are not (Rev. 2:2). They listen because he is Garner Ted Armstrong, son of the legendary apostle of God’s “only true church.” To question his authority borders on blasphemy. Some people desperately cling to such illusions. In the real world though, illusions are not enough, and while Garner Ted Armstrong could be anybody’s Hollywood matinee idol, he is not qualified to be anyone’s minister.
-Margaret D. Zola