AR10 November 19, 1979
During the last six months, we who live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area have been treated to weekly and often daily newspaper accounts of the continuing chaos in the Rader-Armstrong church. Many of you who do not live in Southern California are probably unaware of much of what has transpired since our last newsletter. So here is a brief rundown of the most significant happenings since we last wrote to you.
The big news was really not much of a surprise. We predicted it in 1976, in our very first issue: Stan Rader was ordained an evangelist. The well-executed sequence of events went as follows:
First Roderick C. Meredith was removed as director of the WCG’s ministry. Then all WCG evangelists were stripped of their rank. The hierarchical structure of the ministry was reorganized with Joseph Tkach, a preaching elder, and Kevin Dean, formerly a steward on the church airplane, elevated to top positions under HWA. (Both Tkach and Dean are proven Rader loyalists.) The board of trustees was purged of anti-Rader trustees (Meredith and Luker). (Raymond McNair remained, as he is now in the Rader camp.)
In his September 20 co-worker letter, Herbert Armstrong hinted that his life might soon be coming to an end (an amazing admission for HWA). Within days, it was announced that Rader had been ordained an evangelist along with Joseph Tkach and Ellis LaRavia, a staunch Rader supporter who was at one time in charge of the landscaping department. Kevin Dean was ordained a local elder. Since then, Leroy Neff, another proven Rader loyalist, has also been elevated to evangelist rank. The Rader ordination shocked many WCG ministers. A few, including Fred Coulter, have resigned over it.
Is Stanley Rader qualified to be an evangelist? Most WCC ministers privately concede that Rader is virtually a biblical illiterate. A few months ago one newsman asked Rader if he would begin to obey the Lord (Mark 6:8) and go forth with neither scrip or money in his purse. Rader, misinterpreting both the question and the scripture, answered that the church was wealthy and did not have to worry about money. Recently, one writer asked him if the church intended to follow Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek” with regard to the attorney general’s suit. Rader answered that the Bible also taught “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” During the sermon at this year’s Feast of Tabernacles, Rader is reputed to have asked the congregation to turn to “the book of Nebuchadnezzar” and then, of course, could not find the nonexistent book in his own Bible. We suspect the story is apocryphal, but the fact that it is told repeatedly by WCG ministers shows their attitude toward Rader’s ministerial credentials.
As we go to press, we have learned that Roderick Meredith has been given a six month “leave of absence” in Hawaii. Few believe he will ever return to any significant position in the WCG. Perhaps he will not return at all.
The Paper War Continues
The state of California’s lawsuit against the Worldwide Church of God continues to be mired in pre-trial maneuverings. A trial date has yet to be set and, as of this writing, Stanley Rader has yet to complete his deposition as ordered by the attorney general. Here is a synopsis of the main lawsuit-related incidents of the last six months.
May 23: The state Commission on Judicial Performance announced that it had investigated Judge Jerry Pacht’s handling of the state’s case against the church and had dismissed all allegations of impropriety against him. Rader had charged that Judge Pacht and the attorney general had acted improperly by not giving the church four hours’ notice of the hearing that resulted in the state’s action against the WCG. The commission, however, replied: “After carefully examining all facets of the complaint, the, commission concluded that allegations of improper conduct are unwarranted and without foundation.” Both Judge Jerry Pacht and attorney Hillel Chodos, who represents the plaintiffs against the church, are members of the commission. For this reason, said Jack Frankel, executive officer of the commission, the group went to special lengths in their two-month investigation. Also, neither Pacht nor Chodos took any part in the investigation of the complaint.
June 6: A lengthy article by Russell Chandler appeared in the Los Angeles Times, which revealed that as long as seven years before the attorney general filed the suit against the WCG, some officials within the church were alarmed about the organization’s lax, accounting procedures, lavish spending, and other financial practices. The article was based on internal WCG documents “made available to the Times.” One document was a by William Tate, who was a WGG member, a CPA, and a former vice-president of the Xerox Corporation. Another authored by James Johnson, a CPA who was an employee of both the college and the Rader-Cornwall accounting firm, stated: “I am shocked at the material misrepresentations we have made in regard to our reporting to the body of Christ [the church], not to mention creditors and other third parties who have been defrauded.” Other memos quoted were by financial adviser Hod Pomeroy, financial vice-president Ray Wright, and church accountant Jack Kessler.
June 11: The attorney general’s office announced it was not going forward with challenges to sureties posted by WCG members in March for the purpose of avoiding the imposition of a receivership on the church. Deputy Attorney General Lauren Brainard said the attorney general’s office withdrew its objection to the sureties as it did not wish to occupy one or two months of court time on the relatively unimportant aspect of the case. Also, said Brainard, it was highly unlikely that the state would attempt to take possession of the posted sureties in the event that church assets became improperly depleted.
July 4: In a special Fourth of July address to the church, Stanley Rader declared: “Events of the last few days have conclusively demonstrated that state officials have lied, cheated, and stolen in furtherance of their crazed assertion of raw power, and have violated every constitutional guarantee of religious freedom in the process. Last Friday, we received, pursuant to a court order, a list of 819 documents belonging to the church which the state has in its possession. These documents were stolen from the church by the state and/or others….”
July 6: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Johnson heard arguments on why/why not Herbert Armstrong should appear for a deposition. Allan Browne, attorney for the church, argued that Armstrong could provide written answers to questions rather than sworn oral testimony at a deposition. Part of Browne’s argument was that Armstrong was in failing health. But Deputy State Attorney General Jams Cordi said that “the defendants have blown hot and cold on Armstrong’s physical condition.” The attorney general has asserted all along that Herbert Armstrong is not in good health and therefore not fully in control of the church.
July 14: The Pasadena Star-News reported that the National Council of Churches was coming to the defense of the WCG by volunteering an amicus curiae brief to the California Supreme Court. (The WGG has not refused the NCC’s assistance in spite of the fact that the WCG has-over the years condemned the NCC as being “Satanic.”)
August 2: The Pasadena Star-News reported that the WCG had filed a lawsuit against Earl and Shirley Timmons, two plaintiffs in the suit against the WCG, charging that they had wrongful possession of “confidential and ecclesiastical” church reports and documents. But Shirley Timmons explained: “When I was subpoenaed for my deposition, they wanted all my documents, and Mr. Chodos got it denied by a judge. It [the new suit] is just another method of harassment. I could give them a copy and there would be many left. I got a copy of a copy. The materials they want are what everybody has. I really believe it is harassment.”
August 8: Superior Court Judge Thomas T. Johnson ruled that Rader would have to resume his deposition August 27. (Rader has yet to appear for this deposition, as he has repeatedly won delays through appeals.) In doing so the judge was not sympathetic with arguments that Rader should not give a deposition because his testimony might serve as a basis for possible future criminal proceedings by the state. Rader’s attorney Ellis Horvitz argued that Rader should not be compelled to answer pre-trial questions posed by the attorney general because, in his opinion, Rader undoubtedly will not answer on the basis of the Fifth Amendment and because the state is searching for information on which to base criminal proceedings. Judge Johnson also denied the motion of attorney Ralph Helge that be and accountant Henry Cornwall not be required to give depositions.
August 30: Superior Court judge Thomas Johnson took under submission arguments concerning the attorney general’s request for certain church financial documents. Though the hearing was a rather routine one, the WCG bused hundreds of supporters to the court building, where they staged a demonstration. (This has been the case at virtually every hearing so far. Not only do the demonstrators carry signs, but on one such occasion a number wore 1776-type revolutionary uniforms complete with drums and muskets!)
September 4: The WCG filed a suit in Pasadena Superior court seeking to prohibit individuals who are no longer affiliated with the church from turning over church documents to the attorney general.
September 5: Judge Johnson ruled in favor of the attorney general by requiring the church and others to turn over all requested documents.
September 18: A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union said the ACLU was opposed to the state of California’s action against the WCG. Ms. Nina Krout, assistant legal director for the ACLU Washington office said that the state of California in effect “established a religion” when it took control of assets and the management of the WCG. Also supporting this contention of the ACLU is Americans United, the Alliance for Preservation of Religious Liberty, the Institute for the Study of American Religion, and the Berkeley Area Interfaith Council. Ironically, it wasn’t long ago that leading WCG ministers and Herbert Armstrong himself condemned the ACLU as being a “communist front.” Now the WCG seems quite pleased with their support.
September 22: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas Johnson refused to grant a church request that Rader’s deposition again be postponed. The deposition was scheduled for October 22. During the hearing, church lawyer Ralph Helge vociferously objected to Deputy Attorney General Jim Cordi’s characterization of Rader’s world travels as ‘business trips.” Helge argued that Rader was “preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ,” not “conducting business.” Judge Johnson, however, ended the heated exchange by reminding the attorneys that such remarks were not desired by the court.
October 1: The U. S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused to hear an appeal by the Worldwide Church of God, which attempted to get a ruling that tactics used by the state of California against the church represented a violation of First Amendment rights.
October 10: Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Norman Dowds upheld the California attorney general’s right to investigate the WCG’s financial affairs. The decision came in response to a suit filed in April by a group of WCG members who argued it was unconstitutional to use taxpayers’ money to investigate a church. Judge Dowds held that the challenged Corporations Code section clearly empowers the attorney general (without getting into questions of doctrine) to see how nonprofit corporations are complying with the trusts they set up. The judge quoted a 1939 U.S. Supreme Court decision: “Nothing we have said is intended even remotely to imply that, under the cloak of religion, persons may with impunity, commit frauds upon the public…. Even the exercise of religion may be at some slight inconvenience in order that the state may protect its citizens from injury.”
October 11: The Los Angeles Times reported that the WCG had filed a $5 million lawsuit against three former WCG officials – David L. Antion, C. Wayne Cole, and Robert Kuhn – and their attorney, Mitchell Levy. The suit claim that between 1974 and 1978 the three church officials confiscated nearly 300 private memos and documents belonging to the church and that since May 21, 1979, the papers have been in their attorney’s possession. The suit asks that the documents be returned and that the court award $5 million in punitive and exemplary damages and costs.
The Times also reported that another suit was filed by the WCG against C. Wayne Cole and his wife. The suit alleges that the church had loaned the Coles $30,000 toward the purchase of their Glendora, California, home, but that the Coles had failed to sign a promissory note and second deed of trust as they had promised to do. The suit claims that on January 8, Mrs. Cole filed a homestead declaration on the property. The church is seeking to have the homestead made subject off the alleged debt.
October 15: The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, left intact a California Court ruling that Stanley Rader must submit to questioning. Rader had claimed that to do so would violate his and his church’s First Amendment rights.
October 18: The Pasadena Star-News carried a story that quoted Rader as saying, “I would never cite the Fifth Amendment. ” In April, Rader had given testimony in a deposition, but on the second day of questioning he declined to answer more questions when Deputy Attorney General Lauren Brainard advised him of his right to remain silent. Months of legal haggling followed, resulting in Rader being ordered by the court to resume the depositions.
Brainard said Rader is not a criminal defendant at this time and that at the April deposition he had been advised “that he had the right to refuse to answer any question that may tend to incriminate him…. It was my understanding at the time that he was clearly invoking the Fifth Amendment right of a criminal defendant to remain silent.” Brainard stated that during the April questioning, Rader “virtually answered no questions.”
October 22: Rader was to have appeared for a resumption of his deposition. Instead, a broadly smiling Rader announced to followers picketing the attorney general’s Los Angeles office that he had just won another delay. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had intervened at the last minute to, in effect, allow more time for all of Rader’s other appeals to be heard before resuming questioning. In describing the scene outside the attorney general’s office, the Pasadena Star-News reported, “As he has on similar occasions, he [Rader] responded with his familiar greeting, ‘God is on his throne. He has heard our prayers.'”
Rader currently has before the courts at least five petitions. These petitions seek to block the deposition of Herbert Armstrong; appeal a court order to produce documents for the state; seek to enjoin the state from using church documents obtained by third parties; seek to dismiss actions against church attorney Ralph Helge and accountant Henry Cornwall; seek to overturn a superior court order preventing Rader’s attorneys from taking depositions from former church members whose information led to the state’s suit against the church leaders. If all the appeals fail, will Rader answer the questions put to him? Rader’s attorney, Allan Browne replied, “Yes, if they are proper questions.”
Deputy Attorney General Brainard summed up the state’s position on this when he said, “We want to ask Rader about the use of the assets of the church, college, and foundation. We want to determine to what extent be has personally benefited from his association with these charities and the extent to which that benefit was authorized or revealed to the board of directors and members of these organizations. A person in a fiduciary capacity with these organizations has an obligation to account for his use of these assets.”
November 13: The Los Angeles Times reported that a total of 15 different religious and civil rights groups have so far come to support the WCG in its fight against the state. Included among the 15 are the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Unification Church of Rev. Moon.
The attorney general’s suit is far from being the WCG’s only legal problem. A $70 million libel suit against the Armstrong organization was filed in July by Leona A. McNair. Mrs. McNair is the former wife of Raymond McNair, the deputy chancellor of Ambassador College. According to the suit, the charges center around remarks made about her in the church’s Pastor’s Report.
Ambassador Report contacted Mrs. McNair requesting details of the suit but was told that she has been deeply hurt by the allegedly libelous statements made against her and does not wish to give the matter further publicity.
The WCG’s lawyers, it seems, are on their way to becoming experts in libel cases. The WCG is involved in a number both as defendant and plaintiff. For instance, earlier this year the WCG initiated a libel suit against the London Free Press of Ontario, Canada; Kenneth Browning, a former WCG member; and George Manassas, a former WCG minister. The suit resulted from a series of articles about the church in the London Free Press. The WCG officially discontinued the suit in May. Ken Brown told the Report, “Their accusations were ludicrous – like something out of National Lampoon. We viewed the whole thing as harassment by the church, intended simply to make us ‘eat legal fees.’ They dropped the matter as soon as they saw we were willing to put up a fight.”
The WCG has also brought a suit against the Pasadena Star-News. Our friends at the paper tell us that the suit has had a “chilling effect” on their coverage of WCG stories.
The following article appeared September 5 in the Regional News Section of the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Leader-Telegram. We thought you’d find it interesting.
By Tim Zgonina
BARRON – What do people expect when they join a church?
George McElroy was looking for the “true church” when he became a member of the Worldwide Church of God nearly 10 years ago. What he found has left him-wishing he’d never heard of the organization.
McElroy, 65, lives on a 160-acre farm in the town of Maple Grove south of Barron. He was divorced almost 20 years ago, and although he has three children, he lives alone.
McElroy was affiliated with the Pentecostal and Lutheran denominations in the past, but was not a regular churchgoer and got most of his religious experience personally from his Bible.
Then, in 1963, he began listening to nighttime broadcasts of “The World Tomorrow” from stations in Little Rock, Ark., and Waterloo, Iowa.
McElroy said he was impressed with what he heard and began corresponding with church officials. “That’s what I was looking for, what was the true church,” he said.
McElroy said the church’s founder, Herbert Armstrong, “had more information than anyone. He was answering my questions.” But, McElroy added that now he feels, at the same time, the church “was programming my mind. We were told if we disobeyed Herbert Armstrong, it was like disobeying God.”
McElroy was sent the church’s magazine, “The Plain Truth,” and subsequently, pamphlets and booklets containing the church’s views on current issues and the fate of the world.
That was in the beginning, he said. Before he and the church were through, McElroy said, he was led to believe American society would crumble in 1972 and that to secure safety, he should tithe to the church. McElroy ended up deeding his entire farm and all his property, donating some $8,000 in cash and delivering several head of livestock to church officials.
That wasn’t what he expected when he tuned in those first radio broadcasts, he said.
What he was looking for was an organization in which he could study the Bible.
Could learn bible
“I decided here was a place that I could learn about the Bible and it’s not going to cost me anything,” McElroy said.
So he signed up for a correspondence Bible study program and sent for literature the church printed on religion, ethics and other topics.
Things became more complicated.
“They have answers for everything,” he said. “If you ask about their doctrine, they send you more pamphlets.”
The mailings, Bible course and church convocations he attended dealt largely with tithing laws, McElroy said, and chruch members were told the importance of contributing to the church. “I wanted to be in the inner circle, pleasing to God,” he noted. Money was not directly solicited, but he said of the church, “They program your mind and get out of the Bible what they want to get out of it.”
McElroy said he was led to believe the Bible forecasted the destruction of the United States in January 1972. “They used the Bible to form and shape our minds that this whole thing was going belly up.”
McElroy said the church preached the United States would be overrun by Germany, and that in turn, the Soviet Union would dominate the world. The faithful of the church would be given a place of safety at Petra in Jordan, and later, would return to claim the world for God.
Attends church retreat
Then, he said, he attended the church’s religious retreat, called the Feast of Tabernacles, in Missouri in 1969.
There, he said, church members were told they could bequeath their property to the church or its training school for ministers, Ambassador College in Pasadena, Calif. “These guys are really schooled in public speaking. They can make your hair stand on end,” he said.
McElroy said he talked with a church legal representative there, and on Nov. 1, 1969, made out a will disinheriting his own descendents and leaving all his property to the college. Later, on Dec. 15, 1969, he signed a quitclaim deed giving his land to the college but reserving his own right to live on the farm.
McElroy said he inferred that to be saved in the coming destruction, he had to tithe. When the time passed, McElroy began reconsidering the church, especially its tithing laws.
He explained that church members who lived in cities were required to tithe 10 percent of their gross income to the church, while farmers were to give 10 percent of their net income, but also the first born of their livestock. In addition, another 10 percent was to be set aside by everyone for expenses at the annual Feast of Tabernacles and whatever money remained unspent was to be turned over to the church. Another 10 percent was to be donated every three years for other funds.
Couldn’t get ahead
“You can never get ahead being in a church like that, and they told us we could never get ahead if we didn’t,” he said.
McElroy said he tithed some $8,000 over the years of his association with the church. He also gave three beef cattle which he was told to raise and fatten and then butcher before turning over to church officials.
He said he complied with the tithing laws until one day, he heard a passage of the Bible pertaining to tithing read, and he understood it to mean farmers were only to donate 10 percent of their first-born stock, not all of them.
McElroy said he asked a church minister for an explanation, but was not given an answer about the two different interpretations. “That’s what pulled the trigger,” he said.
So in 1972, McElroy asked for his land and money back, claiming he had been told when he signed the deed he could change his mind and reclaim his property.
The church refused, and in December of that year, removed him from membership.
Nothing happened until June 1978, when McElroy complained he had been misled into deeding his property to the college and church, that undue influence – in the teachings of the church and its pamphlets – had been used against him, and that he had been led to believe he could cancel the agreement conveying his property to the church.
The case came to trial in Barron County Circuit Court in August and a jury did find that undue influence had been used by the church to obtain McElroy’s property.
The church argued McElroy knew what he was doing and under stood the agreement when he deeded over his land, and that too much time had passed for the claim to be valid. Church attorneys also claimed First Amendment protection.
The court has yet to decide how the property will be disposed. McElroy’s attorney said the church could yet appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, McElroy is still living on his farm, and he still maintains his faith in the Bible, although his he is disenchanted with the church.
“They weren’t ambassadors of God. They were just out here trying to manipulate people,” he said. The Worldwide Church of God is a California corporation, founded in 1947. Before that, since 1934, it was called the Radio Church of God. Ambassador College was founded In 1947.
Church attorneys were not available for comment.
This news item appeared in the Charleston Gazette, September 15. It reminds us of something Jesus said (Matt. 23:14, K.J.V.): “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses… therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”
Two years ago, West Virginia courts prevented “The World Tomorrow” radio-TV empire from inheriting the home and money of four aged, senile sisters who had lived together 20 years.
Herbert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God appealed to the state Supreme Court in 1977, but lost. His petition said:
The four old sisters lived in a Follansbee house they had bought with “a brown paper bag containing $16,920 in cash.” One sister also put $23,400 in a Chester savings account, jointly in the name of a niece as survivor.
The elderly foursome all died in a three-year period. One had written a will leaving everything to the youngest sister for her lifetime, then to the Armstrong revival ministry.
After the final sister died, the Bible prophecy sect claimed the home and the savings account. Nieces and nephews resisted, saying the four old women had lived together in a common trust, so one’s will couldn’t give away the assets of all four.
A Brooke County trial jury gave the inheritance to the nieces and nephews. Armstrong’s appeal to the high court was rejected.
Before leaving the subject of lawsuits, we’d like to bring your attention to this Associated Press article which appeared in many U.S. newspapers August 16:
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A jury awarded more than $2 million in damages Wednesday to a 22-year-old woman who claimed the Church of Scientology defrauded her by failing to fulfill promises of improving her life.
The jury deliberated 18 hours over two days before reaching its unanimous decision.
In her suit, Julie C. Titchbourne of Portland alleged she suffered emotional distress as a result of her experience with the church in 1975-76.
She had sought $2 million in punitive damages, $500,000 for alleged anguish and suffering and $3,000 reimbursement for course fees.
After the jury award, Mrs. Titchbourne said she planned to use part of the money to study engineering in college.
Named as defendants were the Church of Scientology of Portland; the Scientology Mission of Davis in Portland; and the Delphian Foundation, an organization the church says is separate although staffed by scientologists.
The jury ruled the defendants committed fraud, awarding Mrs. Titchbourne punitive damages of $1.9 million and compensatory damages of $153,000.
In a statement, the church criticized the decision, saying: “This decision is a blow to all of those who cherish the right to practice their religion free from the harassment of psychiatrists and deprogrammers who have appointed themselves self-styled inquisitors.”
Earlier, Circuit Court Judge Robert P. Jones said nine jurors would have to agree to make an award.
He told the jurors that if they decided the church’s promises were of a religious nature, and sincerely advertised as such, the church is protected by the state and federal constitutions. He said such protection prevents challenging the truth or falsity of a religious belief. Mrs. Titchbourne claimed the church courses she took failed to live up to promises to help her with her college classwork, develop her creativity and raise her IQ test scores.
WCG Financial Report Released
For the first time in its turbulent 46-year history, the WCG has published its audited financial report complete with footnotes (The Worldwide News, Sept. 10, 1979). The financial report was compiled by the internationally respected firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. Though Treasurer Stanley Rader admitted that only “selected footnote information” was included (why wasn’t everything included?), nevertheless it appears to represent an honest effort by the church to show the public how church money is spent. We sincerely hope Stan Rader makes this a yearly occurrence, because for years the WCG’s public financial disclosures have been vague, sporadic, incomplete, and misleading.
Before discussing some of the salient material contained in the WCG’s just published 1978 financial report, we would like to lead up to it by detailing what few things the church has disclosed in past years concerning its finances.
For decades it was Herbert Armstrong’s practice to deluge members with miscellaneous bits and pieces of irrelevant and often contradictory financial data at Bible studies and sabbath services. And once a year at the Feast of Tabernacles he read excerpts from the church’s financial statements after commanding members not to write anything down. But in spite of his seeming candor, he never gave the trusting membership any professionally audited financial statements to examine. Those were considered top secret – none of the members’ business!
But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, news of extravagant spending and misuse of church funds by the church leadership began to surface. In 1974, stung by charges of financial hanky-panky from leading ministers who left the church, the WCG published its income statement-for the first time in its history (The Worldwide News, March 18, 1974). However, the customary balance sheet and statement of changes in financial position were omitted, and almost all of the footnotes were strangely missing.
Meanwhile, almost monthly Herbert begged members and coworkers to send generous offerings to the church. By 1976 there were rumors that the church was in serious financial difficulty. Stan Rader, then the WCG’s vice-president for financial affairs and chief adviser, immediately denied the persistent rumors. He told the Pasadena Star-News on March 14, 1976 that “the college and church are not in financial difficulty…. the church is stronger than ever before in terms of its human, financial and physical resources….” Yet, paradoxically, the very next day, March 15, Herbert Armstrong wrote an urgent letter to his supporters:
“I had to take you co-workers and brethren into my confidence and tell you we are close to one of those occasional financial crises…. I have to lay the problem frankly and candidly before you and ask you for SPECIAL efforts and for a VERY SPECIAL financial SACRIFICE for God’s Work – a special and generous offering ABOVE regular tithes and offerings” (emphasis HWA’s).
It was constant contradictions like this that caused everything Herbert Armstrong and Stan Rader said concerning church finances to be suspect.
It was not until 1978 that the WCG again published any detailed financial information. In June it published the percentage increase in donations from 1950 to 1977 (The Good News, June 19, 1978). In September it printed a 1977 income statement (The Good News, Sept. 25, 1978), but we explained in a newsletter that we questioned its accuracy because (1) Rader said the figures printed were “excerpted from the financial statements” and (2) certain WCG accountants told us privately that the categories and figures were combined, juggled, and/or renamed to cover up certain church expenditures.
In October, the WCG printed some confusing first-quarter figures (The Good News, Oct. 9, 1978) to counteract claims by Garner Ted Armstrong’s church that WCG income had taken a nose-dive. (These claims later proved to be valid.) In November, the 1977 balance sheet was reprinted (The Good News, Nov. 6, 1978). Now, before we discuss the 1978 financial report, we would like to piece together the church-college-AICF net income figures taken (as printed) from the above-quoted sources:
From the above table one can see rather plainly that in 1978 the church-college-AICF combined spent $4,927,000 more than it made in net income. But why? Why is the church which once boasted that its income increased 30% every year now faced with deficit spending? The 1978 financial report reveals one key reason for this shortfall of funds: Quest magazine and Everest House Publishers! The income statement shows that Quest/78 magazine and Everest House Publishers produced $3,870,000 in revenues but consumed an incredible $7,826,000 in expenses! That means that of the organization’s $4.9 million income deficit, $3.9 million is directly attributable to Quest/78 magazine and Everest House Publishers. And guess what? Herbert Armstrong admits in a member letter (Nov. 22, 1978) that the church will have to subsidize Quest to the tune of $1,410,000 in 1979, $903,000 in 1980, and $95,000 in 1981. He hopes Quest will show a modest $334,000 profit in 1982 (if the church isn’t bankrupt by then).
The Contribution of Quest and Everest House
But what have Quest and Everest House Publishers done for the Worldwide Church of God? Herbert Armstrong brags that “Quest is now recognized as the very TOP magazine in QUALITY in this country” and that “it is now beginning to add considerable prestige to the Worldwide Church of God” (Nov. 22, 1978). But has Quest advanced the “one true gospel message” Herbert alone claims to preach? No, not at all: His gospel message is not even allowed in the pages of Quest, nor are articles by him. In fact, Quest’s philosophy is diametrically opposite to that of Herbert’s magazine, The Plain Truth According to Robert Shnayerson, Quest’s editor, Quest is “a new magazine for closet optimists, people who suspect the world is NOT going to hell.” While Quest “takes a sophisticated stand against fashionable despair and disengagements” and trumpets man’s excellence, The Plain Truth concentrates on showing how has failed, why the end is near, and why Christ must rescue a dying and corrupt world. While Quest discusses “new life-styles,” The Plain Truth says the Christian life-style is the only way. In fact The Plain Truth stresses the Ten Commandments, whereas Quest took God’s name in vain in its first issue. Now we have heard that Quest is sponsoring a lottery. Yet Herbert Armstrong wrote in his booklet Pagan Holidays -or God’s HoIy Days–Which? (a standard church publication for 22 years) that “lotteries and gambling are of the devil” (p. 43).
Everest House’s first contributions weren’t much better. Its first books contained accounts of homosexual acts, the occult, sadism, sex perversion, how to let your mind go via the use of Zen, financial advice for gay couples, etc. ad nauseam. (See our Aug. 22, 1978 newsletter.)
Other Revelations from the 1978 Financial Report
The footnotes of the 1978 financial report provide a wealth of information on the financial dealings of the top WCG corporate officers. Footnote 6 reveals that the “church entered into an agreement to lease a jet aircraft from Mid-Atlantic Leasing Co. through Excelsior Investment Corp., both of which are partnerships in which Mr. Rader held a one-third interest. Total payments made to Excelsior Investment Corp. over the 8½-year term of the lease were $4,785,000, representing principal payments of $3,113,000 and interest of $1,672,000…. The aircraft is included in the combined balance sheet at a cost of $3,808,000, less depreciation of $1,537,000.” Later in the same footnote, we discovered: “Since 1969, the Church and the Foundation have retained the services of Worldwide Advertising, Inc., an entity in which Henry F. Cornwall…has a substantial beneficial interest.”
Footnote 7 explains that “on July 30, 1976, the Church entered into an employment agreement with Mr. Armstrong. The agreement has a duration of seven years and provides Mr. Armstrong with an annual basic compensation of $200,000.” Mr. Rader is said to have also received a similar 7-year agreement in 1976 worth $175,000/year. “The agreement also provided that, at the completion of the seven-year employment period or Mr. Armstrong’s total disability or retirement, Mr. Rader will become a consultant to the Church for a 20-year period at an annual salary of $100,000.”
Now you, the reader, can guess why Herbert Armstrong resisted making the church college financial report available to church members’ curious eyes in previous years. However, had he done so, he might have diffused much of the distrust that developed over the years due to his secretiveness.
The 1978 income statement showed that the organization made $607,000 on performing arts and cultural events but spent $1,598,000 for support of these events. Also, of the 1978 expenditures, 19.2% went for evangelism, media, publishing, and editorial; 11.4% went to Quest and Everest House; and only 8.2% went for academic and student services. The fact that more than a tithe of the church’s money went for Quest and Everest House makes one wonder what Rader’s and HWA’s true priorities really are.
Quest and Kennedy
Aside from the admitted fact that Quest is costing the WCG a lot of money, one can only speculate as to what its real purpose is. A recent issue, for instance, featured an article on politician Ted Kennedy. Quest received numerous letters criticizing the Ted Kennedy piece, including one which said, “Teddy’s quests are stale and the antithesis of what your magazine seems to be about.”
In the July-August issue the editor of Quest responded to such criticism by writing, “Senator Kennedy appeared on our May cover because the article inside was entitled ‘Playing Politics, Democratic-Style,’ and in that particular game he is generally considered the No. 1 player. Some readers feel that Quest/79 should avoid politicians, but the editors believe that quests for political power fit into the magazine’s focus on achievement….” Maybe someone should send the editors of Quest a copy of Herbert Armstrong’s frequently published article., “How Would Jesus Vote for President?” (Herbert Armstrong teaches that it is a sin to vote.)
Hang in There, Herbert!
Is Herbert Armstrong senile? Is he in control of his faculties? The answer to these questions is hinted at in Herbert’s own writings. For instance, in the June 18, 1979, Pastor’s Report HWA wrote, “In all this world’s history God has never started an important Work, or Special Activity through a chosen human, and then, after that Special accomplishment is well-advanced, allowed His chosen human leader to be overthrown by Satan – or in any way to turn false! Yet those promoted high within that Work or special activity for God, have been allowed to turn false, against God’s chosen leader” (emphasis his).
In the same article (pp. 2-3) he goes on to say that some ministers were in serious danger of becoming the “Laodicean era” of God’s church; yet he claim “they are yielding completely to Satan’s will!” We ask, how can God’s churches be led by Satan?
On page four, he discusses his younger years. Oblivious to the fact that he was a high-school dropout, Herbert writes, “I had not neglected education and did possess the equivalent of post graduate degrees.”
He then goes on to discuss his alleged “conversion,” saying, “I did not ‘put on’ any new sanctimonious appearance, I was just natural – myself….” But wait a minute! Didn’t Paul write in Rm. 13:14 that the convert should “put on” Jesus Christ? And didn’t the apostle Paul also write in I Cor. 2:14 that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them…”?
On page 5 Herbert, defending Stanley Rader, writes, “WHY, I ask again, WHY do some ministers and even some brethren lay members, think EVIL of Stanley Rader? Could it be because he is ‘worldly-wise’ and therefore able to give the Work a help none of us can give?” Yet the apostle James wrote, “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God!’ (James 4:4).
It should be obvious to everyone that Herbert is slipping, but perhaps these mental lapses are not entirely his am fault. Not long ago, in a phone call to Ambassador Report, Garner Ted revealed to us that his father was taking many drugs. He described them as very potent petrochemical-based pharmaceuticals which he said he had even helped administer before his departure. All drugs have side effects. Many cloud the mind. Perhaps this is the reason behind the many odd statements emanating with HWA’s signature or by-line.
GTA Productions Update
We recently talked to minister Ledru Woodbury who, not long ago, left the WCG, taking approximately 60 members with him. Some of these people formed their own church and incorporated under the name Church of God of Fruita. Mr. Woodbury, who has been retained as the group’s minister (at no salary, incidentally), approached the Church of God International (COGI) with the idea of merging with them. He quickly became disillusioned, however, when he was informed that to do so, the church he ministered to would have to divest itself of its autonomy. Mr. Woodbury told us, “I was very disappointed. It [COGI] is already just a Garner Ted production. In another few years it will be another Worldwide Church of God.”
Mr. Woodbury is now ministering to a number of small, sabbatarian congregations in Colorado, and he tells us he has a taped sermon program for those who are interested in his ministry. His address is: 1241 Twenty Road, Fruita, Colorado 81521.
The comment about Ted’s COGI becoming another WCG is something we’ve heard from a number who’ve attended GTA’s services. It doesn’t surprise us. Ted has repeatedly stated that he’s preaching the same things now that he always has. With GTA again doing television programs, it shouldn’t take him long to build up another following.
One thing he is doing differently than in the past is recognizing that there may be Christians in churches other than his own. He has even responded favorably to overtures from the Church of God, Seventh Day (which Herbert calls the “Sardis” church). That church ran an interview with GTA in its magazine, The Bible Advocate, in March. It was rather enlightening. Copies of that free magazine can be obtained by writing to The Bible Advocate, P.O. Box 33677, Denver, Colorado 80233.
One final GTA item. A few months ago one of our readers wrote us: “Someone who knows GTA well told me that you wrote him a letter of apology for various things written about him in your magazine. If this is true I would like to have a copy of the letter….”
The story is not true. Why should we apologize? We’ve been very careful to publish only the truth. The one who should apologize is Garner Ted, for the part he played in devastating thousands of lives. If we printed lies, he should have had the guts to take us to court.
What in the World?!
Before Garner Ted Armstrong was banished from the WCG there were some in the church who felt once he was gone, the WCG would somehow be morally purified. But now, many are complaining to us that this has not happened. For instance, one headquarters minister we know has tape recorded his conversations with members about their sex lives. He even has typed transcripts on file. Why this is necessary we don’t know.
Another headquarters minister collects pornographic photographs. This was thoroughly investigated by the Report and through an unusual set of circumstances we were actually able to see some of his extensive collection. It includes obscene photos of naked women – some were of church women whose faces we recognized – and naked men and young boys in homosexual-type poses. We can only wonder how this minister, known for his conservative moral views, obtained photos of naked women who attend his church. We can also only wonder what his interest is in photos of naked boys.
Homosexuality is, of course, not a rare thing in this world. Yet we were somewhat surprised when a Christian man wrote to us recently saying that his local WCG ministers gave a sex questionnaire to his congregation’s teenagers (boys and girls, aged 12 to 19). Among the questions was one which asked if the youngsters wanted to hear about homosexuality. The man who wrote us, believing that the subject of sex is best confined to the home, has since left the WCG in disgust.
While on the subject of aberrations, we would like to comment on a remarkable phenomenon occurring with increased regularity. The WCG has always had its “colorful” characters. Yet during the last year or so it seem it has attracted a disproportionate number of individuals who can, at best, be described as coming from society’s lunatic fringe. This is not to imply that the WCG intentionally desires this. Indeed, HWA would, himself, undoubtedly be pn the warpath if he knew fully about the situation. But still, one can only wonder about some of “the crazies” loose at headquarters.
For instance, there is hardly a week that goes by that some WCG member or employee doesn’t call us saying he or she has found some fanatical flyer, letter, or pamphlet on his desk at work or in his mailbox. These seem to come from a variety of individuals, committees, and groups with different axes to grind.
Some are pro-Ted and anti-Rader. Some are pro-HWA and anti-Rader. Some are pro-Rader/HWA and anti-Ted, and on and on they go. Most, unfortunately, have one thing in common; they are anonymous. Perhaps some fear they will be fired if they reveal their authorship. More likely the author(s) have enough sense left to realize they will be netted and institutionalized, if detected.
One strange flyer was signed by a group calling itself “Masturbators Anonymous.” The (satirical?) headline read, “Masturbating Your Way to Radiant Health.” (The flyer claimed to be an advertisement for a publication with that title.) The flyer began “As we all know, there are seven laws to radiant health, a good sex life, being one of those divine, immutable laws. But you can’t experience a scintillating sex life without understanding the plain truth about masturbation!!” The flyer then goes on to discuss the publication’s contents: “Did God create masturbation for man – not the animals? Why don’t animals have hands?… Were Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed for masturbating on the sabbath? Can you masturbate with a bad attitude and still be blessed on the sabbath? If it can be shown from the Bible that masturbation is not work but pleasure, then is it OK to do it on Saturday?”
Then there were two ads which appeared in the June 8 Pasadena Star-News:
“Personal to the Worldwide Church of God: The prophets of old could have more than one wife. If it was not adultery then, why is it adultery now? God does not change… or does he?
[signed] The desire of women, 666.”
“To the Worldwide Church of God: The beast is HERE which has two horns like a lamb and speaks like a dragon. Who can know the secret of the image but the god that women love?”
If any of our readers can make sense out of any of this, please tell us. We certainly can’t figure it out.
Trials, Tragedies, and Tithes
Much of what is now occurring in the WCG is very tragic. The chaos is apparently causing many to lose their mental balance. We have received numerous letters telling of divorces, wife-beatings, mate abandonment, and child kidnappings in families where the church’s problems have caused severe domestic stress. Unfortunately, some WCG ministers have been either unqualified or unwilling to properly minister to families (by advocating tolerance, kindness, etc.) where one mate is not a WCG member.
Another tragedy is that the WCG’s current financial difficulties have prompted some of its more fanatical ministers to offer financial advice to members, which, when applied, will leave many poor people even poorer. Mandatory tithing is once again being vigorously taught as required for salvation (“Non-tithing is stealing,” writes HWA). Some WCG employees have even been “leaned on” to pay “back tithes.” One such employee was Plain Truth managing editor Brian Knowles, who received a phone call from Rader’s secretary, Virginia Kineston, after missing two tithe payments. He paid up promptly. Ironically, Brian had an article recently in The Plain Truth titled, “Is Yours A Fear Religion?”
Where Are They Now?
Readers regularly write us asking, What happened to Al Carrozzo, the minister who “blew the whistle” on Garner Ted in 1973? Mr. Carrozzo, who wrote two important articles for the Report in 1977, is a very successful building contractor and lives with his wife and family in Vacaville, California.
Mr. Carrozzo, a sabbatarian, still spends a good deal of time in counseling those with spiritual problem and occasionally gives sermons. We recently contacted him and discovered that he is now involved in much more than only business and religious matters.
He told us, “I’ve become alarmed at the accelerated rate Americans are loosing personal freedoms. It seems that free enterprise is constantly being bombarded by so called ‘liberal elements’ in society. If the trend continues, I personally feel our children and grandchildren will be living in a closed society with little or no freedom. Our country is great because our founding fathers were men of integrity who developed a system of government intended to provide freedom for men and women of integrity. I think freedom and responsibility go together.”
Mr. Carrozzo went an to say that he feels American family life is disintegrating, the welfare system is growing out of control, and government is much too large. To promulgate what he believes are the solutions to these problems, he intends to found an organization, tentatively called “The Liberty Foundation.” He has plans to begin a 15-minute radio program and eventually start a college. He has put together a paper entitled ”The Goals and Purposes of the Liberty Foundation.” Those who are interested may contact Mr. Carrozzo by writing to him at P.O. Box 129, Vacaville, CA 95688.
Another individual many ask about is ex-WCG minister Richard Plache. Like a number of former Worldwiders, Mr. Plache is now a charismatic Christian. He is often a guest speaker at various churches around the country, and he writes for World Insight, a charismatic publication edited by Ken Storey.
World Insight has a number of ex-WCG members on its staff. Tom Hall, formerly with Ambassador’s television department and now a professional radio announcer in Los Angeles, is a contributor. Gary Alexander, once one of The Plain Truth’s most prolific writers, is also a contributor. David Ord, a WCG minister in England until 1975, is assistant editor.
One very unusual publication put out by World Insight is a booklet called “The Worldwide Church of God in Prophecy.” World Insight’s address is P.O. Box 35, Pasadena, CA 91102.
In August of this year, the publishers of Ambassador Report were invited to the premier showing of a remarkable documentary film. Produced by a group of very talented and zealous Christians, the documentary, “Cult Explosion,” is well worth seeing. It contains interviews with former members of many cults with commentary by experts in religion and psychology.
Among the interviewees were a number of former Armstrongites: Mr. & Mrs. Gary Alexander, Suzy Hunter (the daughter of Mrs. Karan Armstrong) and her husband Keith Hunter (now an executive with Full Gospel Christian Businessmen’s Fellowship International). Mrs. Hunter not only appeared in this film, but has been an eloquent anti-Armstrongism spokesperson on television. Here is what Stan Rader said on television about Mrs. Hunter’s new-found love of God and disenchantment with Armstrongism:
“I see her turning her back on a heritage that maybe has made her good, if she is any good at all. I’d say the heritage that she has received here is what has made her good, that part of her that is good. We’re all made up of good and bad. I’d say, the good part is what she got here and the bad part she picked up from someplace else.”
For those who are interested, the 55-minute film can be rented from Creative Ministries, 925 Sherlock Drive, Burbank, CA 91501.
Looking for a Church?
Probably the most frequently asked question put to us by disenchanted WGG members is: “Where should I go to church?” Although some of us have attended services with a variety of different churches since leaving Worldwide, none of the Report’s publishers are members of a denomination or church group at this time. But everyone has different needs. Churches can provide people with a sense of community, an opportunity for fellowship, new friends, educational opportunities and often meaningful worship services. Many individuals who have joined main-stream churches after leaving the WCG tell us they are very happy with what they’ve found.
Without advocating any one group and, as always, without trying to give our “endorsement” to anyone, we would like to mention some literature that may prove helpful to anyone searching for a religious affiliation.
As all of you know, often in the past we’ve mentioned the Foundation for Biblical Research (P.O. Box 928, Pasadena, CA 91102). That organization has published an article entitled “The Biblical Principles of Fellowship.” If you’re facing the question of where to worship, it may prove useful. (Incidentally, the Foundation has also published a new booklet called The Tithing Fallacy, which is having a tremendous impact on many in the WCG.)
Another organization that has helped present and former Worldwiders is the Concordant Publishing Concern (15570 W. Knochaven Road, Canyon County, CA 91351). They publish a wide variety of books and booklets on the Bible and have been of tremendous help to many of us. Concordant’s spokesman, Dean Hough, told us that they have a free, introductory packet of material available to those who request it. It comes with a complete catalog and price list of all their literature.
Of course, not everyone wants to be a part of a church organization. We received a little tract entitled, “What Do You Mean… Nondenominational?” which put forth some very good arguments for nondenominationality. We are not offering the tract, but it had this return address on it: The Church of S.W. Denver, 9800 West Wesley Court, Lakewood, Colorado. Perhaps they can supply copies.
Some months ago, ex-WCG minister Richard Forkun sent us a research paper he wrote that thoroughly debunked many of Herbert Armstrong’s most cherished anti-Christian dogmas. It covers such subjects as Sunday-keeping, Christmas observance, Christian fellowship, etc. Mr. Forkun asked us to publish it, feeling it could be of real help to many burdened by the dogmas fostered by the WCG. We agreed that the paper was, at least, interesting and perhaps of potential value to many. We have decided, however, not to run it as an article in the Report because of its length and because we thought it beyond the scope of our purpose.
Nevertheless, because some of you may be in need of help in this area, we will send a copy of the five-page paper to anyone requesting it. We do ask, however, that you send 50¢ per requested copy to cover photocopying and postage, as we do not believe it proper to apply Report funds toward non-Report projects.
Over the years we have mentioned a number of books of special interest to WCG and ex-WCG members. These have included William Hinson’s Broadway to Armegeddon, Marion McNair’s Armstrongism: Religion or Rip-off? and the sociological classic The True Believer by Eric Hoffer. Here are three other books we think many can benefit from:
1. All God’s Children by Carroll Stoner and Jo Anne Parke. Chilton published the hardback, and Penguin has now published a paperback edition. Although it does not deal specifically with Worldwide, it is the best book we know of for helping concerned friends and relatives of cult members. It is well-documented and offers much sound advice for dealing reasonably with the cult member who will not listen to reason.
2. Religion may Be Hazardous to Your Health by Eli S. Chesen, M.D. The hardcover edition was published by Peter H. Wyden, Inc.; the paperback edition is by Collier Books. This book does not attack religion but offers “a psychiatric guide to the uses and abuses of God, prayer, and the church or synagogue.” This book is now out of print and finding a copy may take some work. But the effort will be worth it
3. The Art of Clear Thinking by Rudolf Flesch is a psychology classic. A paperback edition is published by Barnes and Noble. Of special value is chapter 9, “How Not to Be Bamboozled” (something everyone needs to read before following Herbert Armstrong). Chapter 5 and 6 on language and translation are especially valuable for those who study the Bible.
Been Watching TV Lately?
Some of our readers have been calling us, wondering if one of us perhaps had something to do with certain fictional television shows they’ve seen of late. The answer is yes, but please don’t ask us for details.
There have been a few shows on lately that we hope you’ve seen. If not, catch them when they are rerun. Here they are: “Mode of Death” (written by Abrey Solomon and Steve Greenburg, based on a story by Deborah Klugman) on “Quincy”; “Charlatan” (by Michael Vitters) on “Lou Grant,” and “The Miracle Man” (by Robert James) which has already been rerun once on “Hawaii Five-O.” All relate to religious rip-offs. Also, there will be a feature movie called “Religion” coming out in the near future. Produced by Norman Lear and starring Martin Mall and Fred Willard, this comedy will be one which ex-Worldwiders will find particularly entertaining
Before closing, we would like to apologize for not getting out a newsletter since June 1, but we’ve been very busy. We would have liked to maintain our bimonthly status, but that has not been possible because of our personal responsibilities. For this reason, we have changed our publishing schedule over to a quarterly plan. This should help us in being more consistent.
Some have written us recently, asking if they had been dropped from our mailing list. No, our policy is to send the Report to whoever requests it. However, we do appreciate your financial support in getting the Report published. Incidentally, all funds we receive go only toward the Report. None are used in starting private lawsuits or for contributions to religious organizations of any kind. Every newsletter we have ever put out, including this one, has left us “in the red.” It has only been through your generosity that we have been able to repeatedly get back “in the black” and continue publishing.
To all those who’ve helped, our thanks. And before we forget, our season’s greetings and New Year’s best wishes to all of you.
Ambassador Report is published quarterly as finances allow. Publishers are: Robert Gerringer, Bill Hughes, Mary E. Jones, John Trechak, Leonard Zola and Margaret Zola.
Editor: John Trechak.
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