AR11 March 24, 1980
After many months of legal maneuvering, Stanley Rader exhausted all postponement appeals and was required to appear at a deposition on February 21. The deposition, however, proved unproductive. Rader, who was accompanied by a battery of lawyers, answered practically no questions. He then refused to appear for a continuation of the proceedings the following morning. He also failed to produce the documents he was ordered to produce before or at the deposition.
According to Lauren Brainard, the deputy attorney general now in charge of the case, the Attorney General's office will now attempt to get a contempt-of-court ruling against Rader.
As for the state's lawsuit against the Worldwide Church of God, some experts are now predicting that with the pre-trial delays that are still being thrown up, it is quite likely the case will not go to trial until 1981.
THE Worldwide Church of God WINS A FEW
Numerous Worldwide Church of God (Worldwide Church of God) ministers have repeatedly insinuated that the state of California's actions against the church constitute a persecution by a conspiratorial group of men in government. It is therefore noteworthy that the state has not won all its legal battles.
For instance, a lawsuit by the state against the Rader, Cornwall, Kessler, Palazzo accounting firm was dismissed recently in Los Angeles Superior Court for failure to show sufficient cause of action against the firm. The suit was dismissed "with prejudice," meaning the state cannot again bring the suit against the accounting firm.
The Worldwide Church of God, in a sense, also won a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court where, on December 10, the court ruled in favor of WCG member Thomas Byars in a case involving holy-day observance. Since joining the WCG, school-teacher Byars has taken a number of days off from work each year to observe the church's feasts. The school system attempted to dismiss Mr. Byars over his absences, but Mr. Byars fought back in the courts. The Supreme Court decision added weight to former court rulings that have defined the 1964 Civil Rights Act and an important 1972 amendment to that law.
HERBERT ARMSTRONG VISITS COMMUNIST CHINA
During early December of 1979 Herbert Armstrong, like thousands of American tourists before him, visited Communist China. But unlike other tourists, he unloaded gifts worth a reported $500,000 and gave three short speeches.
In one speech to top Chinese officials he said: "I'm tremendously impressed with what I have seen [in China]. Here I've seen, in what parts I have seen already, three-fourths [sic] or one-fourth of the whole world's population as far as I can see living now at peace. But the other three-fourths of the world is living in a state of turbulence,. and of fear, and of trouble, and full of evils. "
He then went on to say: "...the only hope of the world will be in a single one-world government with one military force and one government over all the nations on earth." The speech contained no reference to Jesus Christ, repentance, or the Bible.
Garner Ted Armstrong, obviously alluding to his father's China trip, wrote in his January 16 Now publication: "What a pity the Chinese people cannot be warned by a true servant of Jesus Christ not to become involved in an alliance against Israel-not to send their forces into the Mideast!"
During the China trip Stanley Rader also gave a speech. According to the December 6 Pasadena Star-News, Rader's topic was U.S. Constitutional law. The Star-News printed this excerpt from evangelist Rader's address: "The first amendment is in its most elemental terms a right to revolt, not just as an individual, but with group political force."
It is ironic that on December 6, the day the Armstrong party left China, the Chinese government "ordered the closure of Beijing's [Peking's] poster-filled 'Democracy Wall,’ the main public forum for free expression in China, on the grounds that it had become 'an anarchistic phenomenon’" (Los Angeles Times, December 7, 1979).
HERBERT ARMSTRONG EXPOSED!
After Garner Ted Armstrong was banished from the WCG in 1978 for "conduct unbecoming a minister, " he remarked on one occasion, "Whatever I've been guilty of, my father's been guilty of in spades!" He didn't publicly give any details, and many thought the oft-quoted, cryptic remark to be a rather poor attempt at self-justification.
It now appears, however, that for once, Garner Ted was telling the truth. An extensive expose soon to be published paints Herbert Armstrong in as unfavorable a light as anything ever written about his son. The book is Herbert Armstrong and Get Versus Give by David Robinson, a highly respected former WCG minister and longtime confidant of Herbert Armstrong.
We understand that in spite of a certain sympathy on Robinson's part toward Garner Ted Armstrong ("When you realize the full magnitude of Herbert Armstrong's personal moral problems, it's no wonder Ted developed some of the weaknesses that he did."), Robinson has turned a deaf ear to repeated requests from GTA's wife, Shirley, that he not publish this expose. Robinson told the Report, "I don't care what anyone says or what anyone threatens. I may not be a great writer, but what I've written is 100% true, and this story needs to be told."
We hope that the whole story will be told and that between now and its publishing date nothing will be omitted. We've seen a copy of the book's manuscript and some sections are, quite frankly, very shocking. We will have more to say about it in future Reports. Those who would like to obtain a copy of the book can do so by writing to: John Hadden Publishers, P.O. Box 35982, Tulsa, OK 74135.
The cost per copy is $10.00, including postage. The book should be available by the end of April. We were told that only a limited number are being printed so it would perhaps be advisable to order early if you are really interested.
A REMARKABLE ARTICLE GIVES NEW INSIGHTS
During the last two years there have been a number of really fine articles on the WCG published in some of our nation's top publications. We recently saw one that we thought was especially noteworthy. It appeared in the March issue of The Atlantic and was entitled "Father, Son and Mammon: How Evangelism Pays." The author is William C. Martin, who teaches at Rice University.
The article covers much of what we've reported on in the last three years (the author is on our mailing list). It does also, however, offer a number of additional insights. For instance:
"What almost no one, including Garner Ted, recognized was that, should the church cease to exist, its assets, now worth an estimated $80 million, could be transferred into a non-profit foundation matching AICF's description. Such a transfer was made possible by a 1968 amendment to the church's Articles of Incorporation. According to the document, signed by Herbert W. Armstrong and Albert Portune, then secretary of the WCG, the board of directors and 5051 members of the church met at 363 Grove Street in Pasadena and voted in favor of the amendment in question. But Herbert Armstrong has never permitted voting on any matter pertaining to the church, the building at 363 Grove Street will hold no more than 400 people, and Portune, in a television interview, declared that no such meeting occurred. When I asked Rader about the document, he explained that 'it was probably a sabbath and each minister in the area read the proposed amendment to the members at the service that day, and since there was no voice of dissent, they were recorded as affirmative votes.' Reference to a foundation, he said, was just 'legal boilerplate.' That may have been the case when the document was written, but when I have shown it to present and former church members, they have grasped its implications immediately . I am confident they have not been entirely lost on Stanley Rader" (pp. 60-61).
"In fact, Mr. Armstrong's travels do not appear to have reaped much of a harvest. Rather, he seems to be playing a kind of religious tag; if he has his picture taken with a nation's leader, he somehow imagines he has preached the gospel to yet another land of lost and dying sinners. Garner Ted is particularly skeptical about the efficacy of this aspect of his father's apostolate. 'Never in the history of human endeavor,' he says, 'has so much money been spent by so few for so little. Those trips are just glorified autograph-hunting tours - window-dressing, like AICF and Quest. My father has gone on and on about the great good these trips were doing, but it might come down to a thousand dollars a word for some lecture on the "Seven Laws of Success" to the Civitan Club of New Delhi or the Rotarians of Nairobi. Dad has boasted about how he does not mention the name of Jesus Christ on these visits. If that is the case, why bother?'" (p. 63.)
"Though my sample was neither large nor scientifically selected, my conversations with a dozen or so present and former ministers of the WCG confirm the picture of them as thoroughly compromised men. One, who came to my hotel room late at night to avoid being seen in my company, said of himself and his colleagues, 'We have lost our health, our wealth, our self-respect, our courage, our manhood. Armstrong didn't think it all out and say, 'These are the moves I'll make and these are the stops I'll pull,' but one thing led to another and this is the result.'
"By surrendering their autonomy so completely, these men and women have not only vandalized the image of God in themselves but have almost certainly diminished their capacity to cope effectively with the inevitable loss of their leader" (pp. 64-65).
"What does Herbert Armstrong want? A year ago, he told Wayne Cole he wanted to appoint a board of directors that would take control after his death, working as an administrative team until a clear leader emerged. Though susceptible of deteriorating into a power struggle, this approach would probably have the best chance of accomplishing, in a more or less orderly fashion, what Max Weber called 'the routinization of charisma.' In fact, however, the elder Armstrong has moved in precisely the opposite direction, restructuring the ministry to transform what was once an elaborate hierarchy into a system in which each local minister is answerable directly to, and only to, Herbert W. Armstrong, Pastor General. As has been his custom for almost half a century, he legitimates the arrangement by proclaiming it to be the purest form of the Government of God. Those who continue to regard Mr. Armstrong as God's Only Apostle for our Time will accept his claim and follow him to the end. But when the end comes, as it must, the WCG is certain to experience devastating trauma" (P. 65).
For those who would like to see the entire article, we recommend that you check first with your local public library. If they don't have it, you can order a copy for $1.50 from The Atlantic, Subscription Dept., 8 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116.
CHURCH'S FINANCIAL POWER ERODING
Herbert Armstrong still boasts how his "work" is growing: "This is a truly great worldwide work! The Work is booming! " (letter to brethren and co-workers, Jan. 23, 1980.) But he's also not bashful about continually pleading for more money: "We must now be willing to sacrifice till it hurts!" (Ibid.) The fact is Herbert's work is actually sliding backward at an ever increasing pace!
In our November 19, 1979, newsletter, we included an analysis of the latest audited financial reports of the WCG, AC, and the AICF for the year ended Dec. 31, 1978 (The Worldwide News, Sept. 10, 1979). We reported that they took in $63,467,000 but spent $68,394,000-a 7.8% deficit. But what we didn't reveal was that their income's purchasing power since Jan. 1, 1973, has suffered a steep and serious decline. In 1978 they garnered $63,467,000, but that amount was worth only $39,087,864 in 1972 U.S. dollars.
In 1972, they pulled in $54,262,700 (The Worldwide News, Mar. 18, 1974). This 1972 income is actually 38.8% higher than their 1978 income adjusted back to 1972 dollars.
Another startling fact: They would have taken in $86,470,097 in 1978 had their 1972 income just stayed even with inflation-that is, if their real growth rate (after being adjusted for inflation) remained right at zero, they should still have grossed $86,470,097. But they didn't. Their income was only $63,467,000.
Indeed, this long-term drop in revenue is a reflection of deep problems in the Armstrong organization: declining membership and/or members giving a smaller percentage of their disposable income than before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. real weekly take-home pay (adjusted for inflation) up through the-year 1978 was higher than it was in 1967. This means that, in general, each WCG member's take-home pay should have increased at about the same rate as did inflation. Therefore, even with no increase in membership, the Armstrong organization's 1972 income should have increased at the same rate as inflation and topped $86,000,000 at the end of 1978. But it didn't. It fell almost 30% short of this level.
In 1972 $ In 1978 $ 1972 receipts = $54,262,700
1978 receipts = $63,467,000
(Calculations based on consumer price index data from U.S. Dept. of Labor and on compound interest and present value tables.)
Not only is diminished purchasing power crippling the Armstrong group's attempts to recruit new members, but other electronic media preachers are seizing an increasing share of the lucrative U.S. religious market. The incomes of these apostles of the airwaves are fast gaining ground on the WCG's large income. For instance, Los Angeles Times religious writer Russell Chandler estimates that in 1979 Oral Roberts grossed $60 million, Pat Robertson (700 Club) $58 million, Jim Bakker (PTL Club) $51 million, Jerry Falwell $50 million, Billy Graham Assn. $30 million, Rex Humbard $25 million, and Jimmy Swaggart $20 million (Feb. 25, 1980, p. 3). And remember, many of these evangelistic organizations do not even have local congregation ministers being supported through their budgets. In other words, their media impact is far greater than the WCG's.
For decades Herbert claimed his work had grown at 30% per year and bragged that this was proof positive that God was backing his evangelistic efforts fully. But his work's real purchasing power over the last six years has plummeted by more than 30%. Does this mean - by his method of reasoning - that God has withdrawn his blessing from Herbert and forsaken Herbert's work?
It seem likely that Herbert's church lost even more ground in 1979 and will report less than $60 million gross income-largely due to the massive lawsuit pending against the church and the unstemmed tide of ministerial and member defections.
PLAIN TRUTH STAFF PURGED
For more than a year it had been rumored that many of the members of the editorial department - specifically The Plain Truth staff-were closet dissidents. It was alleged that they were committing the unpardonable sins of not tithing and not attending sabbath services. To make matters worse, The Plain Truth was headed by Managing Editor Brian Knowles, who had written a paper disproving the WCG'S sacrosanct tithing doctrine. So it was no surprise when, after years of plotting, the WCG's right-wing succeeded in getting Brian Knowles axed, along with his entire staff. The news came around Thanksgiving, 1979. (Ironically the PT had previously been purged just before Thanksgiving in 1974 and 1976.) Herman Hoeh is once again the senior editor, and Dexter Faulkner has been given the title of managing editor. Gone are Brian Knowles, Lawson Briggs, Bob Ginskey, Ron Beideck, Pam (Antion) Hart, and Linda Martens. (Greg Smith resigned before the purge, and George Ritter, Carole Ritter, and Paul Graunke all resigned earlier in the year.) But there are still a few more closet liberals in hiding, and their time will came sooner or later. Interestingly enough, almost 85% of those who ever worked for the editorial department have become "dissidents." The reason is obvious: If you are truly qualified to analyze, edit, and write - and if you have a conscience - you will also be sensitive to the gaping holes in Armstrong theology and the gross hypocrisy that permeates the church hierarchy.
MORE LEGAL BATTLES
WCG officials informed the departing Plain Truth staff members that they would not be receiving severance pay - which, according to published church policy, was one week's pay for each year worked. Lawson Briggs, Ron Beideck, and Bob Ginskey complained about this arbitrary and discriminatory treatment to the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The church, after being challenged by the state labor commissioner, initially, agreed to pay half of the amount claimed by Lawson Briggs and the full amount claimed by Ron Beideck and Bob Ginskey, although the church denied it had any legal obligation to give departing employees severance pay unless it deemed the person spiritually deserving.
In addition, Ginskey, Briggs, and Beideck, along with Dan Cafourek (an accountant) Ted Gould (a minister and longtime WCG/AC personnel director), George Myers (a carpenter), and others are taking legal action against the church to obtain their annuity pay. (In June 1978, Ted Gould alleges that the church initiated an annuity program to make cash payments to laid-off employees who had put in 10 years of service to the church/college but who were not at retirement age. Later in 1978 the standard was lowered to seven years of employment.) Their legal action is still pending.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of these various claims against the WCG over severance pay, retirement pay, etc. Many WCG/AC employees have been laid off in the last few years and especially in the last few months. If all of these individuals were to be paid the severance pay and retirement benefits many believe they are entitled to, it could perhaps amount to more than a million dollars.
It's no wonder then that just six days after Messrs. Gould, Beideck, Ginskey, and Briggs filed their initial complaints, Herbert Armstrong issued this declaration, "To All Department Managers and All Employees:"
"As of this date, I am suspending all employment, compensation, and benefit policies contained in the Employee Relations Policy Manual, pending study of same. These were all proposed without my knowledge or authority,
"The same applies to all Employee Benefit Manuals.
"These policies were never authorized or approved by me or the Board of Directors, and were only discovered by me today. No one has ever been authorized to set policies in either the Church or College except myself and the Board of Directors."
This unilateral declaration has, of course, proven very unpopular with many WCG employees. WCG employees let go now will apparently not be eligible for the same benefits as those kicked out of "God's Work" before Herbert's unilateral declaration. Of course those individuals will not mind as they will have been allowed to serve "the Apostle" a little longer. (Ha!)
The Worldwide Church of God, which itself is the result of a splitoff from the Church of God, Seventh Day, has seen a number of its leading ministers and members leave and form competing "churches of God": Church of God (Shreveport Conference) - John Mitchell; the 20th Century Church of God - Al Carrozzo; the Associated Churches of God - Westby and Kemnitz; the Church of God, The Eternal - Raymond Cole; the Church of God - Carl O'Beirn; the Church of God Seventh Era - Larry Gilbert Johnson; the Church of God, International - Garner Ted Armstrong; etc. (All of these churches cling to the biblically unprovable doctrine that the name of a Christian church must have the words "church of God" in its name.) Now there are a few more "churches of God."
One is the Biblical Church of God, founded by former WCG minister Fred Coulter (Box 744, Monterey, CA 93940). He offers interested individuals a cassette tape ministry and a magazine named The Bible Answers. His contributing editors consisted of: Lawson Briggs (former WCG editor and writer, and a WCG/AC employee for 25 years), Carl Franklin (former WCG minister), Jean Franklin, George Johnson (former Plain Truth and Good News writer), and Velma Johnson.
Another apparently new Church of God is the Church of God, Kelowna, P.O. Box 2362, Station R, Kelowna, BC, Canada, VIX 6A5. We're not sure who heads this group, but we have seen some of the literature they publish. We found one piece, dealing with Herbert Armstrong's early religious credentials, particularly interesting.
Another newly formed church is The Family Church of God, 3124 Yukon Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. This congregation of about 45 members is headed by former WCG minister Rick Gipe. They do not have literature available, but Mr. Gipe tells us that anyone in his area who wishes to fellowship with this group or counsel with him may do so by calling him at 714-926-6417.
Incidentally, Mr. Gipe told us he is another ex-WCG employee who is involved in a legal battle with the WCG over thousands of dollars worth of annuity benefits and severance pay. Like the similar cases covered earlier, this one could have important ramifications for many former WCG ministers and other employees.
Another church we were recently made aware of is the United Church of God, P.O. Box 45, Lake Winola, PA 18615. This Sabbatarian church is headed by former WCG minister (left in 1974) Richard Wiedenheft and publishes Focus on Truth, a monthly theological newsletter. Mr. Wiedenheft recently wrote to us and sent along an extensive catalog of sermons on cassette available from the United Cassette Library, P.O. Box 1413, Scranton, PA 18501. These two organizations have ties with the Association for Christian Fellowship, formerly the Associated Churches of God.
STARTING YOUR OWN CHURCH
With the WCG's disintegration causing such a proliferation of new churches, it was only a matter of time before some ex-Worldwiders started an organization offering just about everyone the opportunity of starting their own church.
Yes, that's right! You too can be ordained and have your very own church (and obtain the many tax-exemption benefits claimed by those in the "ministry"). "It's easy, " says Tom Williams, former WCG minister, former Associated Churches of God minister, former insurance and diet-plan salesman, and now president of Liberty Ministries International (LMI).
LMI offers seminars and literature about their program and publishes Liberty Line, a quarterly edited by Gary Alexander. As many of you probably know, Mr. Alexander was formerly a contributor to The Plain Truth and his name currently appears as a contributor in the staff boxes of both Ken Storey's World Insight and Garner Ted Armstrong's Twentieth Century Watch. Liberty Line's subscription price is $12 per year ($15 in Canada, $18 foreign), and their address is P.O. Box 11105, Richmond, VA 23230.
Quite a number of former WCG members have already signed up with LMI and started their own church. But one individual who was wooed by the LMI group told us: "I just don't think it's worth the $3,000 they wanted me to fork over. After all, Kerby Hensley's Universal Life Church, Inc. of Modesto [601 Third St., Modesto, CA 95351] will ordain anyone a minister for $2. And for $5 they will ordain you an abbe, abbot, arch-priest, deacon, arch-deacon, bishop, cardinal, elder, friar, guru, dadji or lam, etc. For an additional $25 they will give you a church charter. Hensley doesn't offer all the legal advice IM does, but Hensley does have a longer record of avoiding successful prosecution by the IRS.
Hensley does not require that you have a degree in theology to be ordained, but he can provide that too. For $20 you can obtain a Doctor of Divinity degree. Or, for $100 you can obtain a Ph.D. in religion-but for this degree you must pass an exam consisting of twenty true-false questions. This degree, by the way, is fully accredited by the International Accrediting Association (another Hensley organization, of course).
A lengthy article in the March 13 Los Angeles Times (Section V) reported there are many organizations now offering quick ordinations and advice on how to start your own church. Of course, there are numerous tax advantages for those who do so. The IRS, however, warns that to be a legitimate church in their eyes the organization cannot be operated to further the private interests of its founder or of other individuals. It is because of this very point that the IRS has been investigating the WCG during the past year.
THE INSTITUTE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE AMERICAN FAMILY
Not every minister who leaves the WCG starts a church. For instance, Howard Clark (see our March 14, 1979, issue) has gone on to help found and is now president of an organization called the Institute for the Preservation of the American Family.
Clark told the Report: "We're a small, struggling organization, but we're not another WCG-spinoff scam. We're dedicated to serving real people who have real problems. We have board members with no previous Armstrong ties, and we have enlisted the aid of numerous highly educated, certified and licensed professionals. The institute is properly incorporated and contributions to us are tax deductible."
The institute's services include personal counselling, aptitude testing, vocational guidance, alcohol abuse rehabilitation, and assistance for battered wives and chronic teenage offenders. Another service involves personal help for the handicapped and catastrophically afflicted. As many of you know, Clark himself has had thirty years of personal experience in this area due to a devastating spinal cord injury received in the Korean war.
Over the years we've known Mr. Clark to be an individual of warmth and compassion who has sincerely attempted to apply Christianity, not just preach it. If any of our readers would like to know more about this institute or if any have a problem (especially one related to WCG-withdrawal), Mr. Clark can be contacted by phone at 916-534-9943 or by writing to the Institute for the Preservation of the American Family, P.O. Box 1214, Paradise, CA 95965.
The Garner Ted Armstrong Organization has had some major defections in the last few months. First there was Albert J. Portune, who decided to separate from that group after being denied a place on CGI's doctrinal committee. He was not given a position on the committee, apparently because some of his doctrinal beliefs were considered "too Dr. Ernest Martinish."
Within the last two months Jack Martin, who had been the CGI's publications director, was fired. That was followed by Allan Heath, the CGI's publications editor, and C. Wayne Cole, the CGI's director of ministerial administration, both resigning. According to a CGI spokesman, all three left over the issue of church " governance." Ronald Dart, now clearly GTA's right-hand man, has stated he now expects and hopes GTA will begin to exercise greater "leadership" in the church.
Other recent CGI defections include David Bierer, Gordon Muir, and John Tuit - who you may recall was one of the original six plaintiffs in the state of California suit against the WCG.
Mr. Tuit wrote us explaining how he was quite disillusioned with Garner Ted Armstrong and how he and a small group in New Jersey hope to establish a local "Church of God" congregation in that state. Mr. Tuit believes very strongly that local congregations should maintain their autonomy but hopes that some sort of dialogue can be established between the many "churches of God" that have left the Armstrong autocracies. He hopes that such cooperation could result in a joint evangelistic effort via the media. Any who wish to contact Mr. Tuit may do so by calling him at 201-431-5276 or by writing to: John Tuit, 11 Laurel Court, Freehold, NJ 07728.
The CGI defections of the last few months have had an important effect on the GTA organization - its income has suffered a severe drop. Many in the CGI are withholding their tithes until such times as they can have more confidence in GTA. Another CGI income factor is the strong disagreement among many CGI ministers as to whether "tithing" is a required biblical law. According to Allan Heath, the biggest problem facing the CGI is the widespread reading of Dr. Martin's literature, especially The Tithing Fallacy booklet. It will be interesting to see what the CGI's doctrinal committee, now headed by David Antion (GTA's brother-in-law), finally decides on tithing and other doctrinal matters.
The CGI's problems have caused many of its top men to wonder how long it will be before Teddy crys his way back to Papa. Herbert has written that he has dreamed of Ted repenting and coming back to the fold. Ted, also, has had the subject of reconciliation with the WCG on his mind. In his February 12 member letter GTA wrote:
"Reconciliation would be unthinkable under the present [WCG] regime, in any case - and, further, if any talk of 'reconciliation' should ever be joined, one of the first requirements would have to be the blanket understanding that each member of the Church of God, International, would automatically be welcomed back as a member in good standing of any such merger, or reconciliation! Thousands of brethren have speculated about 'Ted returning to his father, and leaving us high and dry.' That simply will never happen!"
Another fear among CGI members is that GTA will tire of the restraints put on him by the CGI's board of trustees and will then leave the CGI, taking its top contributors to form a more autocratic organization. It very likely would be called "The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association." The idea has apparently already been considered.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
David Ord, whose name still appears in the staff box of World Insight (P.O. Box 35, Pasadena, CA 91102; see our last issue), has moved to Illinois where he is now assistant editor of a religious publication called Union Life (656 Taft Ave., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137). Although Mr. Ord's association with World Insight continues, Richard Plache seems to be taking on a greater share of the writing for that publication.
We found a recent World Insight letter by Mr. Plache rather remarkable. In it, on the subject of self-righteousness, Plache writes:
"One might ask, 'What's so bad about doing good - even if it is humanly motivated and accomplished solely by human effort?' It is only by understanding the answer to this question that we can really come to see why human goodness is, in reality, the worst possible expression of sin or lawlessness."
We find this concept a little difficult to comprehend, but in the same letter Mr. Plache does admit:
"One might say that I have become a God-Watcher' - just hanging around to see what God is going to do next. He always seems to have some new and unexpected trick 'up His sleeve.' Never try to second guess Him. If your experience is anything like mine, you are probably batting .000."
The WCG's February 25 Worldwide News contained a list of ministers officially disfellowshipped by the WCG in recent months. We have reported a number of these already, but we thought you'd like to see the entire list anyway. Here it is: Charles Barrett, David Bierer, Bobby Boyce, Henry Buck, Rod Carnes, Lor Chamberlain, Fred Coulter, Hollis Crotts, Brent Curtis, Richard Gipe, John Hammer, Robert Hoops, Joe Horchak, Bronson James, Charles Oehlman, John Ouvrier, George Panteleeff, Ted Phillips, Bill Porter, Jack Pyle, Ray Pyle, David Robinson, and Doug Taylor.
Authur Mokarow, formerly a popular minister and executive in the WCG, is now only a nominal WCG member. He was terminated by the church after it became clear he was not a Rader loyalist. Mr. Mokarow is now in the process of moving to Palm Springs where he has his owm local television talk show. The program is called "Tapping Your Potential."
Dr. Charles V. Dorothy, considered one of the WCG's top minds, has been dropped from the WCG payroll and is now seeking employment outside the Armstrong sphere of influence. He has not been disfellowshipped, however, nor have his ministerial credentials been revoked. His wife, Dr. Jo Anne Dorothy, received her chiropractic credentials some months ago and is now practicing in the Pasadena area.
Roderick C. Meredith, in exile in Hawaii (see our last newsletter), says he hopes he will be allowed to return to Pasadena soon. ("There are strong forces at work in the church," he commented to one member.) Those who would like to contact him may write to him at 927 Hahaione St., Honolulu, HI 96825 or call 808-395-5095. He says he has been ordered not to speak to fellow ministers. But nothing was ever mentioned about not talking to WCG members and others, so that's okay.
In our last issue we reported how "all WCG evangelists were stripped of their rank. " This is true, but we should clarify what was meant.
The evangelists were not stripped of their titles. All are still called "evangelists." But in a series of directives, Herbert Armstrong ordered that all ministers are now directly responsible to him and to him only. For instance, the preaching elders are not to take orders from the pastors who are not to take orders from the evangelists. In other words there is no church hierarchy, but only one boss, supposedly.
Does this mean then that ministerial titles will henceforth refer to ministerial function? Apostle Herbert says no. His interpretation of Ephesians 4:11 still does not include anything so obvious. What then does "evangelist" mean? And how do ministers report directly to HWA? Don't they still have to go through Stanley Rader to get to him? Perhaps HWA or evangelist Rader will clarify these points in the future.
Just as we went to press with our last issue we were very saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Tom Lampitt of Hertfordshire, England. Mr. Lampitt, a well-known figure in British civil aviation, was killed last September 26 when a Super King Air he was flying crashed in Nantes, France.
When Ambassador's Bricket Wood campus was sold, Mr. Lampitt, an ex-WCG member, worked hard to get the money refunded to the many poor people in Britain who had contributed to the college. (We understand a few did eventually receive something back.) Mr. Lampitt also helped Ambassador Report on a number of occasions and was the one most responsible for our first Ambassador Report being distributed in Britain. Our sincere, though belated, condolences to his widow Barbara, his two children, and his many close friends in Britain.
...We have information from the State of Minnesota that contributions and tithes sent to Tucson, to Herbert Armstrong personally, are not tax deductible. We wonder how Herbie or Stanley are getting around this. It was announced in church that they were tax deductible.
Editor: Obviously, gifts given to private individuals are not tax deductible. It will be interesting to see how the WCG handles this matter. We understand the IRS is keeping a close eye on the situation.
Is Herbert Armstrong in great fear of Stanley Rader? The word is "blackmail." From what GTA said in Portland on 3/24/79, from what CWC [C. Wayne Cole] said on 6/23/79 in Portland, and from what CWC and GTA said on the tapes of 5/19/79 "My Side of the Story," the message is food and clear that HWA is being blackmailed by S. Rader. Hence his strange behavior. Can you confirm this?...
C. Wayne Cole's message of 5/19/79 "My Side of the Story'' is obtainable through The Church of God, International, Box 2525, Tyler, Texas 75710. The message is on cassette tapes (2). GTA's remarks at the end are quite interesting. He speaks of his father's great fear of S. Rader.
Editor: We have no proof whatsoever of any blackmail activities by Mr. Rader. Mr. Rader himself has characterized such Garner Ted Armstrong statevents as "complete nonsense."
[I recently saw] Garner Ted's financial statements published in the Nov.-Dec. 1979 Internews. Last year at the beginning of the Church of God, International, he published his salary. This year he has all of the salaries in one lump sum so no one knows how much he makes, plus he has executive entertainment, ministerial expense, and personal allowances. Plus the members loaned him money, interest free, for an engine for his airplane, or rather he. took the liberty to borrow the money.
As a former member, no answer was given when asked why Mr. Al Portune left International. Neither did anyone know why Garner Ted's secretary quit.
In a previous Report one reader's letter mentioned "I.D.E.A.L." of Houston, Texas (P.O. Box 38191) with a reference to Rader and HWA being tied to the CIA. I wrote to the address but the letter was returned -- "not here.'' Do you know where ''I.D.E.A.L.'' can be contacted and what they represent?
Editor: We were once shown a tract put out by this organization but have no information as to what has become of it.
For your information I enclose a copy of a letter I received from the publisher of the book, Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright, written in 1902 by J. H. Allen. This is the book that survived 18 editions, is still in print, and was apparently plagiarized by Herbert Armstrong in order to write his U.S. and British Commonwealth in Prophecy.
Editor: We are not promulgators of or believers in the British-Israel theory. However, for those who may be interested in this subject, Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright may be obtained for $5 from: Destiny Publishers, 43 Grove St., Merrimac, Mass. 01860.
What really got me started to wise up was your Ambassador Report. I'd sure love to thank the person who paid for my issue and who had my name put on your mailing list.
I stopped attending services in April 1979, and it wasn't three weeks till they'd removed my name from their [mailing list for] letters, magazines, etc.... After 16 years of running here and there and sending Herbert and Garner Stud over $25,000, it's all over but the memories - lots of good ones - but also lots of scars and mental battering from those warped jerks they call ministers.
I don't know how I got on your mailing list, but I want off. I cannot think of anyone any lower than you people. Anyone who devotes his life to hate and trying to destroy another person is so small that he can hardly be noticed. I don't appreciate what you are doing. Take my name off your list.
Editor: This letter is typical of many we have received from WCG ministers whom we have sent literature to at the behest of some of our concerned readers. When a reader requests that we send a WCG minister our publication, and always when a check is enclosed to cover the expenses, we feel obligated to send the requested literature. However, the above letter is very typical of the attitude of those ministers still in the church.
Our advice? Forget them! This may sound cold, even heartless, but these men are there because they want to be. The ministers in the WCG know about the Report, and they know how to get it. So, to those readers who may be concerned for the spiritual welfare of some former minister, all we can say is you are wasting your time. Forget them.
Let's face it. If most of these men were to stand up and preach what they know to be true, they'd be fired. And then what would they do? Very few have occupational skills outside of the religious field. And, of course, most of them really enjoy the adoration they receive from their sheep.
We'll continue to help any WCG minister who asks our assistance. But we suspect that the really conscientious ones, the ones with guts, have already left. So as for the "ministers" that remain, we'd prefer not to waste our time.
Thanks for putting me on the mailing list for Ambassador Report. It is incredible the events transpiring in the WCG and all the off-shoots of the parent organization.
I sincerely believe one must remove from the spirit of these organizations before clarity and sanity returns. The spiritual, financial, and moral corruption at every level of these organizations has reinforced my convinction that my wife and I did the right thing in withdrawing from all of them.
As long as money talks (and I'm sure it always will) and as long as people are so willing to continue to pour money into the coffers, there will always be those ministers who are witting to take the bucks .
-Former WCG minister
I enjoy your Report very much. However, I am wondering why in all the material I have read, I never have heard it mentioned how much alcohol was consumed and how many wild parties were given, and how people were urged to drink in the WCG. I knew many people who were alcoholics when I left the church. Any comment?
Editor: You're right. Alcoholism is a major problem in the WCG and even among many who have left. Obviously the WCG does not preach that excessive drinking is okay. But that problem is still very prevalent in that organization.
One Pasadena-area doctor who treats many WCG people has commented that hypoglycemia - an illness often associated with alcohol abuse - is a malady so common among his WCG patients as to be of almost epidemic proportions. Perhaps the reason for this is because the WCG's overall world view is so pessimistic and its doctrines are so stifling that, for relief, members turn to the one vice most tolerated by the church's ministry. In the WCG you can get disfellowshipped very quickly for asking certain Bible questions, but rarely for having "one too many."
There are many excellent books available on the subject of alcoholism. One we have found interesting is Find Your Natural High by John A. Marshall and published by Happy Eye Enterprises, 1460 Grandview, Glendale, CA 91201. The cost is $5.95 plus 59¢ postage.
An excellent book on the subject of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar or hyperinsulinism) and on health in general is Body, Mind and Sugar by E. M. Abrahamson, published by Avon. Copies can be obtained from Publishers Central Bureau, Dept. 017, One Champion Avenue, Avenel, New Jersey 07131. The price is $2.95 plus $1.95 for shipping.
Gerald Waterhouse spoke here a couple weeks ago. He sounded to me like a maniac ranting and raving long and loud. Has he been saying the same thing for 25 years? About Petra? His mind is Petra-fied!
Our minister... has told some [married] couples in our... church to stop sleeping together. One member hasn't slept with his unconverted wife for three years on this advice. The Bible says this is fraud one to another. The Bible says no man shall put asunder a married couple. No wonder there is so much divorce, adultery, and wife swapping in -------'s area. He can't possibly be a minister of Jesus Christ.
The marriage in question is on the verge of divorce, an attempt has been made to kidnap the child, and the wife has had her life threatened by WCG friends of her husband. Her only fault is not being interested in the WCG.
-New York State
Editor: We have been receiving many letters lately from WCG members attesting to the incredible stresses put on their lives by the troubles in the church and in particular by WCG ministerial involvement in their lives. Divorce in the WCG is rampant. we have read numerous letters from separated parents who have had their children kidnapped by estranged mates who are members of the church. There have even been a number of homicides in church families, apparently resulting from quarrels over church-related matters. One individual recently wrote that when she and her husband left the WCG, they received threatening phone calls and both narrowly escaped separate attempts on their lives.
One cannot help but ask: What are the fruits of this church?
When I asked the minister to "memberize" me to the WCG, he asked me if I planned to continue with my nursing program. I said yes and he asked me if I would work on the Sabbath. I said yes and he told me as a member of the WCG I wouldn't be allowed to do so. I told him that the Bible says it's lawful to do good on the Sabbath and Jesus healed on the Sabbath and that what I did on the Sabbath was between me and God. Then he told me that to listen to GTA on the radio was no different than having the devil over for dinner and I'd have to stop. I told him it was none of his business. He told me with my attitude he couldn't let me join the WCG. I told him with his attitude I wouldn't want to. I don't like being hustled and bullied.
I was so glad to receive the Ambassador Report.... I am one of Armstrong's first converts. Armstrong stayed with Elmer Fisher and with my husband and me at the time he started to preach at the Firbutte school and at the Jeans school.
I caught on to what he was doing after he moved to Pasadena. I quit sending him money so one of his ministers took me off the mailing list.... I can't see why so many stick with him.
I sent in over $40,000 [to the WCG] and now I find myself cut off from the church (I guess because I quit tithing to them).
I think you're foolish for trying to destroy God's church, but I'd like to find all the answers for myself. Please send me your publication Ambassador Report.
We were totally in the dark prior to January . Then we began to see that something was wrong. I had refused in the past to even took at your publication. The leaders in the WCG had me thinking that I was opening myself up for demon possession if I looked at your work. Whew! Have I come out of the dark ages!
This past week a friend of ours showed us a 1977 issue of Ambassador Report. It was like having a giant puzzle falling into place all at once! After reading through the articles, we were both heart-sick to learn of the pain and suffering so many well-meaning brethren have experienced by being a part of the "true church of God!" Sadly, we lost a child in our family by not taking him to the hospital as we should have done.
I received your long and interesting newsletter last week. It was a revealing, accurate account of the latest. We know since we have been teceiving the Pasadena Star-News for seven months. We have a pile of clippings!...
My wife came close to dying several times white in the WCG because of their healing practices which meant no drugs, not even aspirin. Since she's a diabetic, insulin (a hormone, not a drug) is required.. Some ministers told her that she should not take insulin. Also some members. It was a matter of faith, they said. On the annual day of atonement, she didn't eat or drink and consequently ended up in the hospital. Finally one compassionate minister told her that she should drink juices on that day. He didn't know what to think, mentioning that some people were exempt from fasts. This minister told my wife, after he recovered from his surprise of her going without food and insulin on Atonement day, that God is love. Truly, that sums up many good things. (By the way, this fine minister was later forced to resign after many months of harassment by members and perhaps higher-ups in the WCG.)
Again thanks for your help. We hope to recover some of the money lost to this cult organization. Perhaps indirectly we may have because my wife was notified that she won $1,000 in a sweepstakes.... We feel free to do things. We are happier these days since leaving Armstrongism. We hope some of our former friends (they won't have anything to do with us) will soon see the light, for Christ is the only way.
You are welcome to print this letter in your newsletter and have permission to publish our names.
-Mr. & Mrs. Phil Strandvold,
Sometime ago I sent you a note requesting my name be removed from your mailing list. I realize now this was a mistake. Even though I do not care for some of the news, I know I must be informed. We cannot live with our heads in the sand!
As you know, I have been photocopying the AR and distrbuting it through newspaper advertisements, etc. The response has been most encouraging. We have formed an association called: Association for Religious Research, P.O. Box 23, Cleveland, 4163, Queensland, Australia.
The purpose of our organization is to make information on the WCG controversy available to the interested public.
Editor: If any of our readers wish to make photocopies of our Ambassador Report newsletter for distribution, we hope you will feel free to do so. Our limited resources do not make it possible for us to print and distribute as many as we would like. Those who make copies and distribute them (to WCG members especially) are performing a real service. We've received many letters from thankful individuals who've written how much their lives have been helped as a result of receiving an Ambassador Report copy from some unknown sender.
On March 8, the Pasadena Star-News carried a news item "Worldwide Church Gets New Support" by Dan Meyers in Washington, D.C. Here are a few important excerpts:
"The National Council of the Churches of Christ, representing 32 religious groups followed by 40 million Americans, has joined a Supreme Court battle on the side of the Pasadena-based Worldwide Church of God. At issue, according to a 'friend of the court' brief filed Friday, are 'not just the rights of the Worldwide Church of God and its members... but those of every religious body and every American....
"The Worldwide Church of God has lost attempts in lower courts to block the state from obtaining its records. Its Supreme Court appeal was filed Monday.... Attorney Laurence Tribe, who represents the Worldwide Church of God, said that the appeal for a Supreme Court review of the state's demand for the church's papers is the last legal recourse the church has to keep its records private ......
Then on March 20 this Associated Press article appeared:
"A group of religious leaders, representing major Protestant and Jewish organizations, backed legislation Wednesday to repeal a new law giving the state attorney general power to inspect church records. The churchmen were backed by Brent Barnhart, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"At a Capitol news conference, the group announced support for SB1493 introduced by Sen. Nicholas Petris, D-Oakland, which would repeal a law effective since Jan. 1 giving the state attorney general power to examine church records when he determines there are 'reasonable grounds.' The new law was part of a massive rewrite of the statute concerning non-profit corporations, which was passed by the Legislature last year with the backing of the State Bar. Bernhart said the provision about church inspections attracted little notice.
"It was under the former law that records of the Pasadena-based Worldwide Church of God were placed in receivership by the Los Angeles Superior Court in January 1979 in a state investigation of alleged misuse of church funds by church leaders. The church has the case before the 9th U .S. Circuit Court of Appeals claiming an unconstitutional violation of freedom of religion.
"The attorney general brought suit against the church and church leaders, claiming church funds are a charitable trust governed by state law and which the attorney general must protect. It is not certain whether the new state law or its repeal would have an effect on the state's case against the Worldwide Church of God since the attorney general's action was based on the former law."
We will monitor this development and Report on it in future issues.
Our thanks to all of you who are helping to make possible our continued publishing.
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.
Next Issue (AR12)
Back to Index