AR16 July 15, 1981
Our apologies to all of you for the lateness of this newsletter. But we have simply been unable to get this second-quarter issue out on time. We have received quite a few letters asking about the many incredible rumors now circulating in church circles about the Armstrongs, Stan Rader, and their internecine squabbles. Here is a brief rundown on what has been happening:
Unknown at the time to many of his followers, Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA), in late spring of this year, wrote to his father in an attempt at reconciliation. The letter was delivered to Herbert Armstrong (HWA) by Ted's sister, Dorothy Mattson, who has hoped for a reconciliation of the divided Armstrong clan. (One can only speculate as to her true motivations in this. It is interesting that although GTA avails himself of his sister's assistance, he has privately referred to both his sisters - Dorothy and Beverly - as "totally unconverted.")
It was GTA's hope that a reconciliation with his father could be worked out. To his dismay, however, no such result was forthcoming. Herbert, on a number of occasions, revealed the contents of GTA's private letter to church congregations. Then, to add insult, HWA wrote GTA a personal letter vilifying him and pointing out how he had to put him out of the church three times in past years for his "physical sins." (In the past these sins were described to the public as "spiritual.") Devastated by his father's cold response, Ted contacted the NBC-TV network's Tom Snyder talk show. He was scheduled to be interviewed, July 8, and many GTA followers hoped Ted had finally learned his lesson and would stop trying to get back into the WCG. Many hoped he would finally publicly make the accusations he has for months been making privately about his father, namely, that HWA is guilty of incest and would be "certified insane" by almost any psychiatrist in the country.
But true to form, GTA cancelled out of his appearance on the Tom Snyder show. Some have accused him of again going back to his soft pedaling in an attempt to get back into the WCG. Others feel he just doesn't have the guts to speak out on his father's sins.
What many do not realize, however, is just how close GTA came to being asked back into the WCG. Some insiders have stated that HWA was, in fact, quite pleased to receive Ted's letter. But being the sly politician that he is, HWA did not just simply state his desire to see Ted readmitted to the WCG. Instead, he took the matter to the WCG's council of elders to test the waters. It was there that Herbert discovered that anti-GTA feelings now run very deep in the WCG and that bringing Ted back at this juncture could again not only divide the WCG, but cause a widespread revolt by the church's ministry. While privately hoping for and planning on Ted's eventual return (Herbert has recently contacted Ted's wife through relative Buck Hammer and has had a lengthy phone conversation with her), HWA has had no choice but to swim with the tide and adopt a publicly anti-Ted stance.
It is a humiliation GTA will not easily forget. To some of his closest friends, Ted has been quite open about his desire to return to the WCG to "get vindicated," get on "more TV stations," and "get a plane again." But the council of elders knows that if Ted does return, it could well mean curtains for them. Some of those almost sure to be demoted, if not let go altogether, include Roderick Meredith, Raymond McNair, Bob Fahey, Dibar Apartian, and Herman Hoeh. Virtually every area of the church and college would see a major shakeup. Naturally, those in charge have a lot to lose and little to gain if Ted returns.
Garner Ted Armstrong isn't the only one having trouble with Herbert Armstrong and the council of elders. Plain Truth (PT) readers will notice that Evangelist Stanley Rader's name has been removed from the staff box of the PT, and he no longer has a regular column in that publication. His presence is now also lacking in the Worldwide News.
Quest magazine, for years a pet project of Stan's, has finally been put up for sale. An ad appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal announcing the availability for sale of that magazine, and Herbert has been actively seeking buyers. There are real doubts, however, whether that magazine can be sold. It has been a money loser from the start. And what is really being put up for sale is a lot of liabilities (for instance, unearned subscriptions) and precious few assets (Quest does not have its own building or press). What then can a prospective buyer expect to buy? The name Quest? Herbert may find that the only way to sell Quest is to literally pay someone to take it off his hands.
The Quest situation is just one of Stan Rader's recent disappointments. As we go to press, we have learned that Herbert Armstrong is searching for a way to remove Stan Rader as head of AICF. Not only that, there have been discussions among council of elders members as to whether Stan Rader should be disfellowshipped. While HWA insists that "Stan has been contained," some close to Herbert believe that only with Stan disfellowshipped will the church be safe from what many view as his evil influence on HWA. What seems to be lacking is a way to perform the disfellowshipment without causing embarrassment to HWA. Some are suggesting that possible reasons for the action could be Stan's irregular attendance at Sabbath services, his alleged nonconventional tithing practices, and his reluctance to depend on divine healing during illness. But whatever excuse is chosen, it should be obvious to all that the real motivation behind such an action is the incredible jealousy and fear many have of Stan's prodigious talents.
Whatever their true motivations, it appears that Herbert is being swayed by the anti-Rader sentiments of those now surrounding him. HWA has increasingly been making caustic comments about Stanley. When daughter Dorothy recently asked HWA for a loan, HWA (according to Dorothy) responded that he is now broke, owing the IRS $100,000 in back taxes. HWA unfairly put the blame for his back taxes on Stan, his accountant and counselor.
But what has apparently infuriated Herbert the most is his belief that Stan has been in some sort of scheme with his wife Ramona to have him committed to a nursing home. Herbert has told a number of his associates that he has heard a tape recording (surreptitiously taped) of a conversation between his wife Ramona and Stanley, in which the idea of committing Herbert was discussed. Of course, in all fairness to Mr. Rader, it should be pointed out that HWA is almost 89 and ailing, and such an idea may very well have been contemplated for HWA's own welfare. It should also be remembered that even though HWA is apparently convinced of this "collusion" against him, it would not be impossible for someone his age and in his condition to be imagining things. For instance, some insiders have commented that HWA increasingly seem to be suffering from some type of hallucinatory problem. He is known to suffer from bizzare night visions such as of the devil being in his house, and he has been known to wake up from his sleep screaming wildly.
One news reporter mentioned to us how, when questioned, Stanley would not clearly refute the story of the nursing home discussion. But with all of the above problems in mind, we thought it best to write to Kevin Dean - once a trusted Rader aide and now the reputed bearer of the Rader-Ramona tape - and ask for a copy of it along with a statement on the circumstances in which it was obtained. Unfortunately, after two months, Mr. Dean has still not responded in any way to our request.
It was the tape-recorded conversation that was apparently the cause of the temporary separation between HWA and Ramona mentioned in our last newsletter. (The possibility of being committed to an Arizona nursing home is also one reason HWA, on Ralph Helge's legal advice, has thought it best not to return to Arizona.) For a time, the rumors surrounding the Armstrongs' separation were flying so thick and fast in Pasadena that we thought it best to write directly to Ramona Armstrong to request an interview. Unfortunately, she has not responded at all to our letter and has passed up one more opportunity to discount the accusations being made by both GTA and numerous ministers still in the WCG. It is interesting that not only have numerous ministers been commenting on her in private but a number of WCG ministers have announced from the pulpit that HWA was about to divorce Ramona. (Some used the words marriage "annulment.") At least one (without giving specifics) referred to "unfaithfulness" as the cause.
But while WCG ministers were making their announcements, the Armstrongs made other plans. Ramona has since rejoined Herbert, has accompanied him on trips, and now all talk of a divorce must be viewed as nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of the anti-Rader forces in the church's hierarchy.
Not surprisingly, while much of the above chaos at headquarters was at its peak, Stan Rader was not present to guide the church's apostle through the troubled times. Instead, he was in communist China for a lengthy visit, talking to some of that country's leaders as a representative of HWA. In June, Stan returned to Southern California to attend his son's graduation from USC Law School. (His son Stephen graduated first in his class and will be working as a law clerk for 9th Circuit Federal Judge J. Clifford Wallace.)
The reception Stan received upon his return to California was not what he expected. In the short time that he was gone, he went from being a hero lauded for his "extraordinary service to the church" to being talked of as almost an outcast. Much of the blame for this must go to Herbert Armstrong. Herbert has been telling his lieutenants that Stan is no longer "his" lawyer. Instead says Herbert, "Ralph Helge is my lawyer." Stan was ordered earlier to vacate his campus office, which he promptly did. But, claims Herbert to friends, when the office was vacated, a $600,000 painting became missing - insinuating, without proof, that somehow Mr. Rader was responsible. The few Rader loyalists still on campus insist that HWA should follow the biblical admonition of Matt. 18:15 and talk over his differences privately with Mr. Rader and not make wild accusations. The HWA-Rader rift is not a unique situation. Many who have served HWA faithfully over the years have found themselves rewarded in a similar fashion.
Considering all that HWA has been putting him through, it is not surprising that Rader's health is suffering. On June 29 Stanley was admitted to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena for treatment of two ulcers. According to Rader's publicist, Jim Mahoney of the Mahoney-Wasserman and Associates public relations firm, Rader did not undergo surgury but was suffering from "massive hemorrhaging" due to two stomach ulcers.
Rader was released from the hospital June 30. Unfortunately, Stan's hospital stay was not all it could have been. Stanley mentioned to one friend how disappointed he was when Herbert Armstrong neither paid him a visit nor phoned, but merely sent a bouquet of flowers with a card. The card contained no word of sympathy, no phrase of encouragement - simply the name Herbert Armstrong. Of all the bouquets he received, said Stanley sadly, Herbert's was "the first to die."
While Rader's rapid recovery could easily have been due to a miracle, many of his critics charged that his illness was not all that serious. Further, his use of a PR firm made some suspect the whole incident was merely a publicity stunt done to upstage Herbert Armstrong. We believe this accusation is unfounded. Stan has been suffering from an ulcer condition for some time, and individuals close to him have stated that he has looked very ill for weeks. We at the Report, of course, are very glad to hear of his speedy recovery and wish him continued good health.
Just one week after Stan Rader was released from Huntington Memorial Hospital, he was again making headlines nationwide, this time because of a movie.
"Raiders of the lost Ark" is one of this summer's most financially successful movies, grossing over $46 million in its first 24 days of release. Its executive producers are George Lucas (who did "Star Wars") and Howard Kazanjian. It was produced by Frank Marshall, directed by Steven Spielberg (who did "Jaws"), with screenplay credits going to Lawrence Kasdan. The original idea for "The Raiders" was said to have come from a collaboration between Philip Kaufman and George Lucas. But now Stanley Rader has come forward and claimed that the idea was originally his and Robert Kuhn's and that Lucas and company stole their idea to make "The Raiders of the lost Ark."
Rader is now suing (naturally). He describes his suit as "the biggest lawsuit of its kind in motion-picture history" (naturally). The suit alleges willful and malicious breach of contract, misappropriation of a literary title, deprivation of screen credit, and emotional distress. Named as plaintiffs are Stan Rader, Robert Kuhn, Henry Cornwall, and Farland I. Myers, senior vice-president of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Hollywood.
Ironically, not too long ago Kuhn and Rader were at each other's throats. During the California attorney general's investigation of the WCG, Kuhn cooperated extensively with the so-called dissidents who were attempting to remove both Herbert Armstrong and Stanley Rader from church leadership (see chapt. 11 of John Tuit's book). Kuhn was disfellowshipped in 1979 and has not been reinstated in the church since. Yet now Stan Rader and Kuhn are united together in their lawsuit. This, in spite of the church doctrine prohibiting the "yoking together" of the converted and the unconverted in a business proposition and the doctrine prohibiting even social contact with the disfellowshipped. Apparently, these doctrines do not apply when millions of dollars are at stake.
At a July 8 news conference called by Rader, the CPA-lawyer-evangelist did not attempt to dispel the rumor that he was the principal author of the story in question, but merely admitted that he did have some assistance from "a young archaeologist by the name of Dr. Robert Kuhn." On the other hand, the Rader-Kuhn suit does give Kuhn the primary creative credit for their version of the "Ark" tale. The Pasadena Star-News (July 8) wrote:
"According to the scenario alleged by the plaintiffs, Kuhn began work more than 10 years ago on 'a fictionalized account of the 20th Century discovery of the lost Ark of the Covenant.' By early 1977, his efforts had yielded a screenplay, in which Rader reputedly was given partial interest in exchange for his promise that he would work to find an outlet for its distribution.
"In turn, the suit asserts, Rader assigned interests in his share to Cornwall and Myers for their help in marketing the work. Myers allegedly then began discussions of the screenplay with Ben Benjamin, an artists' agent for International Creative Management whose clients include Sir Laurence Olivier, Jacqueline Bisset and Burt Lancaster.
"After confirming the 'enormous commercial potential' of the work, according to the suit, Benjamin purportedly urged Kuhn to turn the screenplay into a novel because it would give the unknown Kuhn 'greater negotiating strength.' Shortly after receipt of Kuhn's novelization two years later, it is alleged, Benjamin said there was no interest in its development.
"The suit claims that at that time, Lucas, Spielberg or LucasFilm, Ltd., had access to all literary properties submitted to Benjamin and ICM. Those defendants, it asserts, and others later involved with the 'Raiders' film, misappropriated Kuhn's 'ideas, sequences, characterizations, plot elements and subject matter' and are being unjustly enriched at his and the other defendants' expense."
The defendants have all denied the allegations. Paramount and ICM told the Los Angeles Times the charges are false. Lucas' Los Angeles lawyer, Thomas Pollock, called the allegations "ridiculous." A spokesman for LucasFilm, Ltd., told the Los Angeles Times (July 9, 1981, part 2, p. 1), "We know very well that 'Raiders' is an original story idea by Lucas and Kaufman. There is no doubt in our minds about that If someone came up with an idea independently, that is pure coincidence, but we don't even think they came up with the idea."
Ben Benjamin - who, incidentally, being an agent would have gotten a substantial percentage of Kuhn's fees had he sold Kuhn's screenplay for him - told the Star-News that he did recall seeing a story "outline" once from Kuhn, but never a novel. In denying the lawsuit's allegations, Benjamin further stated that he did not personally know Spielberg or Lucas and that he did not even know what Lucas looked like.
There is, apparently, some similarity between the movie "Raiders" and Kuhn's screenplay. According to the July 9 Los Angeles Herald Examiner:
"Allegedly, Kuhn's hero is an American archaeologist, a 40-year-old university professor, who is 'something of a rogue,' and the primary female character is his 'lost love,' whom he hasn't seen for a decade. In 'Raiders,' Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones, a dashing professor of archaeology, who seeks out a former girlfriend, played by Karen Allen, to assist him in his search for the Ark."
But if newspaper reports are to be believed, it is not this similarity that has Kuhn and Rader upset. It is the admitted differences between the movie and their screenplay. (Plagiarism is not one of the charges in their suit.) According to the Los Angeles Herald Examiner (July 9, p. B3):
"Charging that the blockbuster adventure movie is spiritually bankrupt, Rader said that if his suit is successful, he will establish a non-profit organization to refurbish the tarnished image of the Ark of the Covenant, the missing chest that according to biblical lore contains the broken tablets of the Ten Commandments....
"Charging that the hit movie is 'a parody of our material designed primarily to exploit the public at this time,' Rader said that if his suit is successful, 'we feel that a very substantial portion of the profits from the film must be contributed by us to a non-profit organization which will make every effort to undo the damage that this film has done and continues to do to minds of young people everywhere.'
"In their 29-page complaint, the plaintiffs further argued: 'Because (the) defendants have distributed their entertaining but shallow version to a broad segment of the public, plaintiff Kuhn's efforts have been frivolously pre-empted. Because the Ark had indeed been lost in the public's mind as well as in history, the first exposure of the Ark, including the place and manner in which it was found and opened, the use to which it was put and its spiritual overtones, stamps an indelible imprint on undiscriminating minds, a mental image almost impossible to alter.
"'Any subsequent efforts to present to the public at large a biblically accurate version, such as had been created by plaintiff Kuhn, will be severely impaired,' the complaint continues. 'It is as if plaintiff Kuhn had composed a biblically based choral work (such as a Psalm set to newly composed popular music) and before its premiere, its leitmotiv had been appropriated for a catchy jingle and used to promote the leading candy or soda pop in a national, saturation media blitz.'"
It is interesting that Rader's suit attempts to link Kuhn's admittedly fictional screenplay to biblical truth. Yet note what the Examiner wrote about Kuhn's plot:
"As described in the complaint, Kuhn's 'Ark' differs from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' in several respects: Kuhn's tale was intended as a religiously inspiring story that told of the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem in the '80s, during the midst of the apocalyptic battles pitting Russians and neo-Nazis against a combined army of Israelis, Arabs and Americans. In 'Raiders,' the Ark is unearthed in Egypt in 1936 by an American racing against the Nazis."
But wait a minute! This is not what Herbert Armstrong teaches! HWA teaches that a united Europe - not Germany and Russia - will war against the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Libyans, while also conquering the U.S. and Britain. (See "Middle East in Prophecy," reprint #550, 1972, and "Bible Correspondence Course" #36, 1965 for the details.) Russia will be supposedly watching on the sidelines. HWA (and virtually all Christianity) says Christ - not the Old Testament Ark - intervenes to save humanity. The Rader-Kuhn screenplay is supposed to express biblical truth; yet their interpretation of prophecy is very, very different from that of their religious mentor, apostle Herbert Armstrong. It is also very different from that of the vast majority of Christian churches.
In addition, reasonable men cannot help but ask: "If the Rader-Kuhn screenplay is indeed noticeably different than the Lucas movie, as Rader claims it is, what exactly is the legal basis for their claim? Do Lucas and Spielberg not have the right to fictionalize, just a Kuhn and Rader say they have done?"
Rader's lawsuit and statements clearly imply that the Lucas film sullied his and Kuhn's interpretation of prophecy. Yet, does not the Rader-Kuhn screenplay sully Herbert Armstrong's interpretation of prophecy?
What is the real reason behind this lawsuit? Significantly, the Examiner wrote:
"W. Jack Kessler, an attorney for Rader, raised the possibility that Rader might consider a pretrial settlement. (Traditionally movie companies insure themselves against suits claiming copyright infrigement, and often, the merits of the case notwithstanding, an insurance company will propose a pretrial settlement rather than defend the suit in court.)
"Explaining that a pretrial settlement 'would be just as much vindication in some respects' as winning the suit, Kessler added, 'obviously there will be sequels and an important part of any pretrial settlement might be participation in the sequels."
In other words, while Rader claims Lucas' movie has "tarnished the image of the Ark of the Covenant" and has caused great harm to many people, his legal associate, Kessler, says they would be quite happy to share in the profits from the movie and its sequels.
Perhaps the most succinct statement on the lawsuit came from Thomas Pollock, an attorney for Lucas. He said, "Every time you have a successful movie, there'll be people who come forward who claim it's theirs. As far as I'm concerned, they're insects coming out of the woodwork."
WATERHOUSE TN THE NEWS
A couple of months ago, one of our readers sent us a copy of an opinion piece that appeared in the Toronto Star an April 4. Written by religion editor Tom Harper, it was titled, "Mindless faith-a golden calf for lazy multitudes.'' Aside from the fact
that it is one of the best thought-out articles on religion that we've seen in a long time, we found it particularly interesting because it was inspired by WCG evangelist Gerald Waterhouse.
Apparently, someone sent Harper tape recordings of a number of Gerald Waterhouse sermons. Waterhouse - now, generally regarded as the WCG's number one preacher - has been quoted in our pages before, so we will not dwell on the contents of his aberrant sermons. However, we think you'll find these excerpts from Harpur's piece of interest:
Blaise Pascal once wrote: "The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of."
Pascal, a French theologian and mathematician (1623 to 1662), knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are aspects of reality, dimensions of this fantastic cosmos, which are apprehended in other ways than by pure reason alone.
But, in his religious insight and convictions he never for one moment committed the error (nor even contemplated it) which is the hallmark of much of the popular religion of our day.
I refer to what can only be called "the flight from reason" - the denigration of the proper use of one's mind and the erection in its place of a false god, a blind, unquestioning "faith."
The Bible (both Old and New Testaments) insists that true love of God or, to use a more modern term, "the Ground of all Being," must be "with all one's mind and heart and strength." St. Paul speaks of having a "reason for the hope that is in you."
All-out attack. Yet, you only have to spend one Sunday morning in front of your television set to realize that much of what passes for religious truth today is not only an insult to intelligence, it bases its claims on an all-out attack on intellect and the educated mind.
What is most alarming about this is the extent to which people, confused or lonely, or lacking either a sense of meaning or of belonging, eagerly assent. Too weary - or too lazy - to wrestle with doubts or obvious complexities, they throw themselves willy-nilly into the sect, cult or "ism" which seems most likely (according to its claims) to give the quickest answer to their needs.
What is wanted, it seems, is sheer magic, not the demand for the total involvement of every human faculty....
But, this week's mail brought an even clearer example of the anti-rationalism now at work under the guise of faith. A source in the United States provided The Star with more than half a dozen tapes of sermons by Gerald Waterhouse, the leading preacher in Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God.
Direct quotes. Here are some direct quotes from Waterhouse sermons preached to vast gatherings of the faithful in Abilene:
"I hope none of you are intellectuals. I hope you are dumb, dumb enough to believe in God's church... intellectuality always reasons around God's plan of government.
"Using your reason to question Herbert W. Armstrong is disobedience. To reason is to fall into Satan's trap. Don't follow your feelings either; be obedient"...
The Waterhouse tapes supply an answer to the question of how it is a man who has been as thoroughly discredited as HWA has been can still take out full page advertisements in Toronto newspapers, be heard on approximately 100 radio stations in Canada - not to mention his TV appearances - and keep at least a committed core of his shrinking flock.
Waterhouse alludes time and time again to his leader's current difficulties, but his tone is bullying and his message one of unqualified threat. To question HWA is to rebel against God: and, rebellion against God means "burning forever in the lake of fire."
Thus he thunders: "God still backs Herbert Armstrong. I don't care if he's 99 percent wrong on a point, God always backs His government: He backs it right or wrong."
Murmur of agreement. Instead of shouts of protest from the audience at such an arrant flight from reason, you can actually hear murmurs of agreement.
Waterhouse goes further: "Criticism of HWA and of Stanley Rader is 'criticism of Jesus Christ and the Plan for the end times. It's the closest thing to the unpardonable sin' ..."
Surely if tapes such as these, not to mention videotapes of a dozen other current cult leaders and TV pop-religion superstars, are kept in a time capsule and opened by our descendants a century from now they will wonder what kind of Middle Ages mentality was rampant.
The 1980s may go down in history books of the future as the totally inexplicable Age of Unreason.
During the last decade, no area of the WCG has experienced more personnel changes than the editorial of The Plain Truth (PT). While for a number of years drawing some of the best minds in the WCG, the PT has never been able to hold onto its most talented people. The church's constantly changing doctrines and policies, political infighting, firings, resignations, and reorganizations have resulted in a PT many journalists routinely describe privately as "a rag." No wonder one major library journal now classifies the PT under the indexing designation of "mysticism. Considering the PT's sinking standards, that designation is probably an overly kind one.
Recently, Ambassador Report was given an opinion paper dealing with the PT's editorial policies and research methods. The paper is the result of a joint effort by a number of former PT editors, some with 10 to 25 years of membership in the WCG. All have first-hand knowledge of the facts presented.
We found the paper fascinating. Rather than redo it as an AR article, we've decided to run it as is. We think readers will find it gives an in-depth look at the real, behind-the-scenes Plain Truth. We welcome any comments our readers might have concerning this paper presented on pages 7-10.
The Prophets of the Partial Truth
For over 30 years Plain Truth readers have marveled at how the PT speaks authoritatively on every subject from prophecy, science, education, child rearing, nutrition, and agriculture to history, politics, psychology, and economics. Many believe that the PT writers not only understand the Bible but also are highly qualified experts in their respective fields.
Printed on glossy paper and filled with dazzling color photos and artwork, the PT is one of the Worldwide Church of God's (WCG) main instruments for preaching to the world. Yet members and the general public know virtually nothing about the qualifications and backgrounds of its writers and researchers. Before an intelligent reader agrees with the dogmatic pronouncements of any publication - such as the PT - purporting to give the reader the truth on a subject, he should ask certain basic questions:
- Who is writing?
- Does he (or she) know what he is writing about?
- What are his credentials?
- Are his opinions based on careful study along with observation and experience, or have they been hastily and carelessly formed?
- Is the author a specialist in his field, or is he a generalist or self-appointed expert who loves to give advice in every field?
- What are his or her motives for writing what he writes-to sincerely record personal beliefs and observations or to parrot the party line in the party journal?
We feel it is necessary to answer these basic questions regarding the PT prophets - the men who authoritatively purport to have answers to almost every problem in the present and who claim to be able to predict the future. There are three reasons why we feel this is important to do: First, numerous specialists in their fields have stated that PT writers are often careless and uncritical in their use of materials and overhasty in jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Second, many PT readers have told us that the PT's solutions - when put into practice - have proved disastrous and ruined lives. And lastly, it can be documented that almost none of the PT's prophecies and predictions have ever materialized.
To understand what the PT really is, let us first look at some of the personalities behind the bylines. The quasi- editor-in-chief (called "senior editor for copy") is once again the nearly forgotten Evangelist Herman Hoeh, a product of unaccredited Ambassador College (AC). He used to be (and the past tense is intended) the key oracle in the WCG. Nobody could rival him in effectively neutralizing political and intellectual opponents, in working round the clock for days on end, in masterfully manipulating Herbert Armstrong (HWA), and, above all, in finding or fabricating sources to "prove" HWA's doctrines
Hoeh's infallible reputation, however, began to evaporate some years ago when it was learned that he had purchased a large number of books - ostensibly for the AC Library - with his personal tithe money in the late 1960s. At the end of the year Hoeh asked for an annual tithe and offering receipt for book purchases made that year. For members to decide how to use their own tithes was contrary to Hoeh's own articles on tithing, in which he preached that one must give his tithes to God's church to avoid being under a curse.
Then it came to light that obvious plagiarisms and historical fabrications in his obscure two-volume work, the Compendium of World History, had caused him to quietly drop it from circulation. (He had received his two doctorate degrees for writing the two volumes.) Next it was discovered that he had radically altered several church doctrinal committee research papers included in the Study Paper on Tithing, which was sent out to the whole WCG ministry as an objective look at the arguments for and against the church's tithing doctrine. And recently, documented evidence that he falsified a portion of his own academic record appeared (See Ambassador Report, 6-1-79, p. 12.)
The latest reports suggest that old Herman is now moving very carefully and keeping a low profile, hoping he will not repeat his political blunder of 1978 when he began to move in the direction of Garner Ted Armstrong's theological views. It nearly cost him position and membership in the WCG when Herbert Armstrong learned that Hoeh had criticized his teachings on the Passover and had dared to imply that HWA would probably best function as a "father figure."
Dexter Faulkner, an Ambassador graduate, one-time News Bureau employee, and former PT correspondent in Washington, D.C., is the PT's titular managing editor. Until 1975 he was essentially a PT nonentity. Even though he was given the title of correspondent, he had difficulty getting anything published during the years he served as a correspondent. But Dexter is perhaps the most politically astute person in the whole editorial department, and he has captured both Herbert Armstrong's and Stan Rader's attention by being unquestionably loyal and saying the right thing at the right time - no mean feat, considering the politically charged environment at WCG headquarters.
Dexter is popular with the church leadership because he knows when to salute and snap out a firm "Yes, sir!" and because he's not an intellectual. His nonintellectuality was once aptly demonstrated in former Managing Editor Brian Knowles' office. Brian was explaining a point that Dexter was having trouble grasping. When the point finally registered, Dexter lept to his feet, plopped himself enthusiastically on the edge of Brian's desk, slapped his hand down hard on the desk top, and exclaimed: "You've just raped my mind! You MADE me think!!"
Hoeh and Faulkner regularly receive articles on a vast array of subjects from three Ambassador-educated writers who have only unaccredited degrees: Evangelist Raymond McNair, Evangelist Rod Meredith, and Clayton Steep, former editorial assistant and proofreader for the French-language PT. However, the key responsibility for article research rests with the News Bureau, which has a vast number of filing cabinets filled with news items cut out of various news sources. But here we face a disturbing and depressing picture.
News Editor Gene Hogberg, possessing only Ambassador College's unaccredited theology degree, is neither professionally trained nor educated to run a news office. Nevertheless, with his revelations from WCG theology and his obsession that the U.S. and Britain are modern Israel (in Bible prophecy), he has pronounced himself an instant expert on history, political science, and international relations. He particularly enjoys vacationing in European countries for a few days around the time of the WCG's Feast of Tabernacles, sampling the local cuisine, and then coming home triumphantly to tell his readers the "plain truth" about those nations and their problems. But his main fixation is Germany where, for years, he has been trying to show Herbert's prophecies being fulfilled- especially those about the Beast of Revelation 13.
Herbert Armstrong believed since the late 1960s that Franz Joseph Strauss would very likely one day ascend to the German Chancellorship or beyond and that in this capacity would become the future "Beast" of Revelation, whom Herbert says will make war on the U.S. and, with the help of his Western European allies, will destroy the U.S. in a nuclear war. Understandably, every four years when the West Germans elect a Chancellor, emotions run high in the News Bureau. Last year was no exception when Hogberg again devoted special coverage to the candidacy of Strauss, subtly hinting he might win this time. But alas, God again proved the PT prophets wrong; Strauss lost. But then there's always the next election.
Gene Hogberg commands a quartet of unqualified and ill-prepared, but highly paid, news "analysts." Mostly Ambassador College educated, they work and think in a cozy environment of dogmatism, bias, and distortion, beset from year to year by perpetual power struggles between the various ideological factions within the church.
Two longtime News Bureau writers are Keith Stump and Don Schroeder, both noncontroversial, likable, Ambassador College-educated researcher-writers who churn out article after article on such diverse topics as venereal disease, children's toys, the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire, the rock of Gibraltar, pollution, the U.S. navy's strength, and evolution. Their articles all parrot the conservative right-wing fundamentalist Armstrong ideology so expertly that it's difficult to tell whether they or the senior Armstrong wrote the articles.
Perhaps the most talented and qualified writer in editorial is an aspiring young law student at the Roman Catholic Church's Loyola University, Jeff Calkins, who holds an accredited master's degree in political science from California State University, Los Angeles. (All this in spite of Herbert Armstrong's orders that AC graduates should not seek advanced degrees at the "world's" institutions - see The Worldwide News,5/18/81, 1, p. 3.) His contributions cover matters of great prophetic importance such as weather conditions and movie reviews, but he feels qualified to write in almost every field of human knowledge: finance, education, science, history, city planning, and others. An independent intellectual, a rarity in the church after it purged itself of almost all of its intellectuals, he has let it be known that he admires church attorney Stan Rader's manipulative skills. His admiration was rewarded when he was picked to co-author articles with Stan during the church's legal fight with the State of California.
Despite his advanced academic training and abstruse use of the English language, he still adheres to the church's arbitrary and primitive scissor-and-clipping mentality of news reporting. Ever since he had more articles published in one issue of the PT than did Herbert Armstrong, rumors have persisted that certain Rader supporters considered having Jeff replace Hogberg as head news editor, since Hogberg is viewed as a closet Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA) loyalist. However, if GTA returns to the fold, Jeff could be out for so openly cozying up to Rader. But by then he may have his law degree.
A longtime contributor to PT research is deacon Werner Jebens, former member of the defunct German department. His main responsibility is clipping anything from classified ads in the local newspapers to European news articles in kinky soft-porn publications shipped in from West Germany. Many wonder why News Bureau funds are expended for such low-class German soft-porn magazines such as Quick and Neue Revue. When German news quotes are used in the PT, they are usually lifted from more reputable publications, such as Der Spiegel. Hence a good deal of money is wasted on journalistic material that never comes to bear except in personal fantasies. For years PT writers and certain executive personnel regularly dropped by to sneak a look at the News Bureau's collection of sex magazines and clippings of nude couples posing in various erotic positions, but this material has now been hidden.
Considering the broad range of subjects covered in the PT, it is no exaggeration to say it would take a very large book to properly cover all of the inadequacies found in that publication. So for now, let us look at just one problem area - the PT's articles on Bible prophecy, and specifically those centering on modern Germany. It is a well-documented fact that HWA has been an embarrassing failure as a prophet for almost 50 years. When he began preaching in the early 1930s, he uncritically adopted the popular apocalyptic notions widespread among the country folk with whom he associated in the Pacific Northwest. It was from the development and embellishment of such sentiments that he began to attribute to various nations - such as Germany - a role in imminent prophesied end-time events. Between' 1934 and 1941, he began preaching a basic end-time prophetic framework that he still adheres to today with minor modifications. It includes the following aspects:
(1) Pestilence, drought, famine, weather upsets, and war will afflict the earth with increasing intensity.
(2) There will be a revival of the Holy Roman Empire, consisting of 10 powerful European dictators who give their armed power to the "Beast," who is a devil-controlled super strongman-emperor.
(3) The pope will be the catalyst behind the formation of a modern Catholic Roman Empire.
(4) Britain and the U.S. - who constitute the main part of modern-day Israel - will be invaded and conquered by the Beast power unless they repent and turn to God. (It is HWA's main duty to warn these two nations of their fate.)
To illustrate how each of the aspects of his prophetic framework were occurring day by day, HWA hunted through the news sources of his day, selecting all the apocalyptic - sounding quotes that tended to support his "inspired" prophetic framework. These quotes were coupled with scriptures to give his readers the "true" prophetic understanding of world events. Here are some of the results of his inspired research, excerpted from The Plain Truth:
*The flu epidemic at the time of World War I was "the worst pestilence in history"; 10 million died in Russia recently in "the most colossal famine the world ever saw"-"All these (Mat. 24:8) are the beginning of sorrows" (June-July 1934, p. 4).
*"We have been in the Tribulation since 1929 in the United States and since 1928 in Europe" (June-July 1934, p. 4).
*The present time of trouble will continue "until the year 1936." "And at, or quickly after that time, we may expect to see the heavenly signs of the sun and moon becoming dark, the stars falling - and... the sign of the coming of the Son of man in heaven" (June-July 1934, p. 5).
Here we have "God's apostle" claiming to be giving the world God's last warning message just before Christ's coming, and yet "God's apostle" evidently didn't even know what the Great Tribulation was and that it was not occurring between 1928 and 1936. If he can't discern the difference between hard times and the Great Tribulation - a time prophesied to be so bad that all mankind would perish if Jesus didn't intervene - how can he claim to be God's "Watchman" who warns the world of coming end-time events? Here are a few more of HWA's predictions:
*This year, 1935, is destined to witness an event foretold in the Bible 2,400 years ago: "the great drought." The year 1935 is destined to see the final fulfillment of "God's great army of a nation of bugs" prophesied in Joel 1:4,6-7. The "time of God's wrath-the last plagues-is at hand" (March 1935, pp. 1-2).
*"The present time of trouble and distress will continue until the Resurrection" (March 1935, p. 7).
*Mussolini is the "beast" (Feb. 1938, p. 3).
*Zechariah 8:10 foretold a time when there would be "no hire for man or beast." This description of the great Depression was prophesied to occur just before Jesus' second coming. "Never before has there been unemployment to match that since 1929" (Mar. 1938, p. 3). [HWA was basing these conclusions on the premise that 1929 marked the beginning of the Great Tribulation.]
*"More millionaires committed suicide between 1929 and 1934 than in all previous years combined!" This was prophesied in James 5:1-8 (Mar. 1938, p. 6).
*Soon "France will be induced to bury the hatchet with Germany and join a new kind of alliance purporting to guarantee permanent peace in Europe" (Mar. 1938, p. 6). [In this March 1938 PT article HWA prophesied that Germany and France were on the verge of forming a new alliance; yet by June 1940 France had been buried by a German blitzkrieg, much to HWA's consternation-Editor.]
*Bible prophecy shows that the Catholic Church, through its pope, "must officially rule over this coming Empire," but Mussolini and the 10 dictators shall eventually destroy the church (Mar. 1938. p. 8).
*"Mussolini's soon-appearing reborn Roman Empire is the 'beast' power, and Mussolini undoubtedly is the 'beast'!!" Revelation 17 shows the Beast will be associated with a great fallen church called a "whore" - the Catholic church (Jan. 1939, p. 3).
*"Many have thought Hitler is proving to be the number one man in Europe," but Mussolini will finally emerge "as number one man over all!" (Jan. 1939, p. 4.)
*Mussolini will capture Egypt, conquer one half of Jerusalem, and fight Christ at his second coming (Jan. 1939, p. 4).
*"It appears certain, from these prophecies, that Benito Mussolini is the...'BEAST' of Rev. 19:19-20..." (Feb. 1939, P. 1).
*"Britain shall be invaded and conquered." "Turkey will cause British defeat. But God will rescue and restore the British and cause Turkey utterly to be wiped out" (Nov. - Dec. 1940, pp. 2, 7).
*"Bible prophecy does indicate that Hitler must be a victor in his present Russian invasion!" Then Hitler will be "free to turn the entire might of his forces against Britain - and America!" (Sept.- Oct. 1941, p. 7.)
*"Unless America quickly wakes up, repents, turns to God... the punishment we are already suffering... shall continue until there is invasion, defeat - and utter slavery!" (Mar.- Apr. 1942, p. 11.)
Of course, you know the rest of the story: America did NOT "wake up" or "repent," as HWA defined waking up and repenting, but instead America emerged from World War II as the richest, most powerful nation the world has ever known. But that fact didn't stop HWA from implying God had postponed all his prophecies so HWA's "Work of God" could warn the whole world. (Since God must have known that HWA's "Work" only covered part of the U.S. at this time, one wonders how God could have been so "forgetful" as to have almost allowed Armageddon to occur before having HWA's church warn the whole world. As it was, HWA would have us believe, God had to stop the whole sequence of end-time events and postpone them for a half century because he forgot that HWA hadn't warned the world with his radio broadcasts.)
In 1947 HWA founded Ambassador College and got young impressionable students to help him clip news stories that lent credence to his mangled prophetic framework. He, at that time, decided that Germany, not Italy, would be the leader of the ten-nation Beast/Roman Empire and that the Germans were the modern-day Assyrians, who were supposedly prophesied to invade and conquer Israel - which, to HWA, means the U.S. & Britain, not the Israelis. (HWA originally said the people of "Gomer" were the modern - day Germans-PT June-July 1934, p. 6 - but Herman Hoeh assured HWA that Germany was Assyria.) HWA even offered the public a booklet, Germany in Prophecy, but the booklet was never published. Why? Because, as Hoeh privately admitted, its main contention was not supported by the historical evidence. Publicly, however, Hoeh claimed all the evidence was in German documents that hadn't been translated into English. (German minister Frank Schnee, meanwhile, was telling his congregations that all the evidence was in English documents.)
By the 1960s, however, proof that Germany was Assyria seemed almost irrelevant anyway, because the News Bureau was churning out a stream of "News Reports" and articles about hidden Nazis clandestinely plotting a third world war. Now taking for granted that a German leader would be the "Beast," the PT and News Bureau wrote dozens of articles and reports on German industrial might, Hitler being alive and hiding in South America (this idea was taken from Police Gazette), Nazis working underground, the right-wing German political party (the NPD), how Germans yearned for a strong-man leader, and how Franz Joseph Strauss. head of one of Germany's four main political parties, could be the coming man of the hour, etc. Between 1963 and 1969 alone, the WCG published 9 major articles on Strauss, HWA confided that he thought it likely that Strauss would be the "Beast," and he persuaded Strauss to visit Ambassador College in 1969.
Now, twelve years later, the News Bureau and PT staff writers are still trying to bend reality to prove HWA's German fantasies right. Still, Hogberg, Hoeh, and the others have yet to furnish a clear reason - backed up by documentation - why they insist on picking on Germany and on Strauss in particular.
Aside from numerous theological problems, there are many other gaping holes in HWA's theories about a German strongman "Beast" uniting ten European nations and suddenly destroying the U.S. and Britain through a surprise nuclear attack. First, any such German leader would have to contend with a mountain of constitutional restrictions and legal and bureaucratic red tape if he wanted to unite Europe's armies under his control. This could not happen overnight by any means. Second, he would have to obtain control of nuclear weapons - which the Germans do not have. He could attempt to steal nuclear weapons from the American forces in Germany, but even that wouldn't help because each U.S. nuclear warhead has been provided with half a dozen security locks to prevent unauthorized field commanders from activating the weapons. These security locks respond only to commands beamed in by satellite, and the mother keys are in the hands of the Pentagon (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, Tactical Nuclear Weapons: European Perspectives, 1978, p. 129). A fair representation of the reality involving the seizure of nuclear weapons in Europe should include this kind of "news behind the news."
But, to continue the fantasy, suppose the German "Beast" does do the impossible and activates the warheads. He would still have to figure out a way to deliver them - no easy task since the Germans and Europeans have no intercontinental ballistic missiles or long-range bombers capable of reaching the U.S. And even with an all-out effort to develop such capabilities, which the U.S. and Britain would never allow, it would take many years for this to become operational. Of course, while all of this complex maneuvering is occurring, the News Bureau must assume Britain, the Soviet Union, and the U.S. - with its spy satellites - are sitting by in idle amusement, taking bets on whether the Germans will try to knock out Washington, D.C. or New York first and perhaps Moscow or London second. Perhaps the Germans could convince France to fire its nuclear-tipped missiles at the U.S. from its nuclear submarines, but since France's nuclear subs are outnumbered 5 to 1 by the U.S. fleet, France would itself risk getting blown off the map by the greatly superior U.S. fleet or by U.S. bombers and missiles, not to mention the Soviet missiles. So we see that HWA's and the News Bureau's scenario cannot occur.
Of course, if God suddenly unleashes 50 massive earthquakes and 50 volcanoes against the U.S. and Britain and strikes half their people with the black plague, you would have a different set of circumstances. But if the News Bureau really expects that such supernatural events will allow a German-led United States of Europe to conquer the U.S. and Britain without tempting the Russians to respond, why bother covering each German election in detail, the Pope's every move, the Europeans' belated attempts to unite their governments, economies, and currencies, etc.? If God or some all-powerful Devil is going to interfere supernaturally, there is no reason (other than keeping the tithe-payers perpetually perturbed) to monitor each of these news occurrences to try to show prophecy somehow inching forward year by year to ultimate fulfillment.
To simply say a German strongman will somehow obtain nuclear warheads overnight or by a miracle is to really prove nothing. The opposite - that it could not happen - is an equally valid view that ought to be given the same consideration in PT articles. At the very least, intellectual honesty would require a juxtaposition of the real circumstances with WCG prophetic expectations. Then the reader could decide how credible or vague the implications of the PT articles really were.
In the last few years, the News Bureau has toyed with the idea that the European Beast might be Otto von Habsburg, a member of the Habsburg dynasty. But this would mean that the "Beast" would be an Israelite, not an Assyrian, because the Habsburgs are Swiss in origin (H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, 1971, p. 661). They originally came from the German-speaking two-thirds of Switzerland that Hoeh has said was not descended from the Assyrians but from the Israelite tribe of Gad.
The Underlying Problems
The PT prophets have made a living by bending and/or ignoring the plain facts that theaten to dissolve their prophetic scheme. But it's inexcusable for anyone writing on European affairs to omit the type of facts and details pointed out in preceding paragraphs.
It is the News Bureau's very method of "research" that prompts the PT's one-sided reporting. The News Bureau personnel comb through U.S. News & World Report, Time, Newsweek, several newspapers, a number of highly regarded U.S. and foreign magazines, AP, UPI, and Reuters news-wire releases, and a few obscure sources, randomly selecting and clipping stories that tend to buttress church teachings and HWA's prophetic framework. From these carefully chosen clippings, they pen articles supposedly showing that world events are progressing as HWA's prophetic scheme predicted they would. Yet there is really no clear empirical step-by-step chain of news events that can be causally linked to HWA's prophetic pronouncements. Even as HWA misunderstood when the Great Tribulation was, so the PT prophets are grasping at straws by trying to tack random U.S. and European news events onto HWA's prophetic skeleton.
Throughout the pages of the PT, the old adage that "a little learning is a dangerous thing" is aptly demonstrated. The world order is vastly more complex than a group of intellectually dishonest fanatics make it out to be. But they are only following the style of their leader HWA, who dropped out of Des Moines high school in 1910 and learned how to write clever advertisements for a living. Unfortunately, Hoeh, Hogberg, Calkins, and Co. have adopted HWA's sensationalized style and simplistic methods of research, and like HWA, they almost never acknowledge any of the sources for the ideas they routinely plagiarize. Nevertheless, they are less dogmatic than HWA, and they now refrain from writing feature stories on rabid squirrels or collecting reams of material on U.S. fire ants taking over the nation - as some PT writers did in the 1950s and 1960s.
We would not object, per se, to the PT prophets telling readers to watch Germany, Strauss, Otto von Habsburg, or anyone else for that matter. However, if the PT writers were honest, they would take an objective and intellectually open approach. In order to do this, they and the WCG leadership would have to begin to do basic critical research in several areas:
(1) They must show by some valid method of research which of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation have both a historical and modern fulfillment This has never really been done.
(2) If certain prophecies are shown to have a modern fulfillment, they then must present convincing documentation
to construct a new prophetic framework to replace HWA's discredited one.
(3) They must do honest and credible research to irrevocably establish the identity of Assyria, Israel. and Babylon when mentioned in prophecies of the Bible.
If the PT prophets and WCG ministry solved these issues, then they could honestly state that they were writing about Germany, for example, because they had documented proof that Germany was Assyria and that the Bible prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were referring specifically to 20th-century Germany.
Today, however, the WCG's prophetic understanding is in chaos. HWA's old basic prophetic framework - the basis of all the PT articles coming out today - has not been printed and distributed by the church for many years, so even longtime members only vaguely understand why the PT constantly picks on Germany, Strauss, and the Common Market, etc., instead of, say, Iraq, Greece, or Syria and their leaders. (The church's prophetic beliefs were set forth in detail in Who Is the Beast? - discontinued just before Strauss visited AC in 1969 - and in the older version of the Bible Correspondence Course, numbers 31 and 32.)
How Can the PT Change?
The prophecy errors outlined above are merely one area of PT inadequacy. The PT's editors must begin to realize that when they palm themselves off as instant experts on marriage problems, agriculture, education, child psychology, finance, politics, health, nutrition, science, moral issues, etc., they have an obligation to the public to have their facts straight. They are not just discussing idle abstract theories that harm no one. They are instructing human beings in vital areas that can and do change many aspects of their lives. In the past, hastily conceived articles on these subjects have cost people their health, wealth, marriages, businesses, financial stability, occupations, and in some cases their lives. Those who don the mantle of "PT prophet" must, therefore, begin to take their responsibility seriously by:
7 presenting all sides of the issues raised
7 doing unbiased research
7 consulting, quoting, and acknowledging more credible sources
7 stating who they are and what their qualifications are for writing on a specific subject
7 becoming more knowledgeable in the area in which they choose to write
7 avoiding the temptation to write as "experts" on every subject under the sun
7 refraining from speaking for or in the name of God when presenting their own ideas, biases, conclusions, or the party line.
If the PT prophets would follow these reasonable guidelines, then, and only then, would they begin to give their readers something resembling the plain truth.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Tony Hammer, former WCG pastor and brother-in-law of Garner Ted, is a personnel manager for a Dallas-based corporation. We hear former WCG pastor Art Mokarow has a TV program in Palm Springs, Calif., and does sales training and consulting work. Elbert Atlas, another one-time WCG pastor, is in management with Occidental Life Insurance Co. He was recently nominated by the insurance industry for a minority achievement award.
After 16 years in the WCG, including three as a deacon and eleven as a full-time minister, Ken R. Kneebone of New Brunswick, Canada, is now with the international firm of Robert McAlpine Ltd. in the Maritimes. He works as a senior estimator involved with cost-control management at an $80 million potash mining operation.
Al Knauf, formerly the chairman of the Department of Natural Sciences and math at Ambassador College in Big Sandy, is now the Dallas Schools' Program Specialist in Field Ecology at the Dallas Museum of Natural History. He also teaches a special advanced course in ecology for talented high school seniors. Mr. Knauf recently wrote of his work: "We use the entire state as our laboratory - studying the oceans, mountains, forests, and deserts as part of the instructional program. It's great to be free of all that oppression and turmoil and doing a job that's so enjoyable. The 'world' still has some fine, intelligent, moral, and responsible young people. I can testify to that."
Dan Truhitte, a featured singer with Garner Ted Armstrong's personal appearance tours in the early '70s, has had nothing to do with the Armstrongs for over seven years now. An extremely talented singer-dancer-actor, Truhitte has performed in numerous films, off-Broadway shows, and nightclub acts, and some years ago was a principal in MGM's "Hallelujah Hollywood" show in Las Vegas. The Los Angeles Times reported on April 26 that Mr. Truhitte "today produces dinner theater programs and runs a voice academy in Sacramento, where he grew up."
NEW GROUPS AND GROUPS NEW TO US
Jesus Loves the Lost
2601 Northwood Avenue
P.O. Box 707
Easton, PA 18042
Union Life Ministries
P.O. Box 2877
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
This organization publishes a free bimonthly Christian magazine called Union Life. Their July-August issue contains an article by Richard Plache, former WCG pastor.
In our last newsletter we mentioned the Church of God of Augusta, P.O. Box 184, Augusta, Kansas 67010. Evangelist Patrick Laham of that church has since written to us asking that we mention that his church publishes a booklet entitled "Is Herbert W. Armstrong God's Prophet?" The booklet points up many of the prophetic failures of HWA and company. Evangelist Laham said that copies will be sent free to all who request them. Also, that church's new phone numbers are: 316-775-6054 and 316-775-7911.
In May of this year we received a very cordial letter from Mr. James McBride of the Church of God International organization in Britain (P.O. Box 2525, Lincoln, England) . Here is an excerpt from that letter we believe you will find as enlightening as we did:
So far our operation is minuscule, but we are slowly getting things moving. Our relationship with Tyler is very loose - in fact the Board of Trustees is entirely English, our main attachment being the Tyler literature.
WCG has an iron grip on the 1,800 or so membership in U.K., though it's very much contained in a velvet glove. Yet there's a constant drain of members - e.g., Chris Carpenter, Peter Butler (U.K. PT editor), Gordon Graham (press manager), Dan Medlicott, various deacons, etc. Their [the WCG] income, I gather, is well maintained, but little of it seems to go into evangelistic effort. I know, too, of several rather shaky top people. However, the majority who quit just don't want anything that has the remotest Armstrong connections!
Our main thrust is towards new people, and we're preparing an ad campaign following the launch of a newsletter. We are standing firm on salvation by grace - untrammelled by legalism, yet taking a stand on festivals, Sabbath, and our main traditional teachings (on soul, eschatology, creationism, etc.) as part of a general way of life and teaching - something that a Christian grows toward with time. We also stand on local autonomy and see ourselves (at Lincoln) as co-ordinators and perhaps, initially, as guides and as exercising leadership in a Christian way.
But we have a long way to go - as they say, "nowhere to go but up"! But with 55 million in a sardine can there's a lot of scope. I'm convinced most "active Christians" are simply in need of education in Bible teaching and are not hand-in-hand with Satan! This we will try to supply by our ads, newsletter, and talks to church groups.
There are a group of about 15 of us who meet each 2-4 Sabbaths for study and help and supper afterwards. We share your mailings. They keep us current. We would not go back to WCG as it is now. We have grown so. The teachings of Heb. 5 and Heb. 6:1 etc. tell us they teach milk and basic things, and we need to leave these 6 or 7 doctrines after the foundation is laid to go on to maturity (meat).
Little Rock, Ark.
We left the church at Colorado Springs in 1978 with about 20 other disillusioned members . We now have a church pastored by Jack Hines, the Church of God of Colorado Springs. We still believe in the truths once preached by Mr. Armstrong and are going on from there.
Colorado Springs, Co
Whatever became of Larry Gilbert Johnson's Laodicean Era "Congregation of Yah" after his move to Beebe, Arkansas?
The last we heard, this group was close to bankruptcy. But we have not heard anything else for almost a year now. Frankly, we have not made a real effort to follow the antics of the so-called Laodicean Era church. Reports occasionally reach us as to the bizarre rituals practiced by this cult. We have also heard reports of violence associated with their headquarters group, and we have been contacted by representatives of police organizations in two states asking for information on them. Mr. Johnson and his wives have put out newsletters he describes as "war bulletins," but we really do not want to encourage anyone to get on their mailing list.
In our March 24, 1980, newsletter we mentioned a church organization called Liberty Ministries International, founded by Tom Williams, a former WCG minister. One of our readers sent us a newsclipping from The Richmond News Leader of May 20, 1981. Here is an excerpt from that article:
A federal grand jury is investigating a company here that allegedly is selling materials that the firm contends will enable taxpayers to get tax breaks by becoming ministers of their own religions.
The company, Liberty Ministries International Inc. with offices at 8629 Mayland Drive. was incorporated in October 1979 by Thomas K. Williams, Linda S. Williams and William M. Morris, according to State Corporation Commission records.
Williams, the president of the company, refused last month to discuss the investigation. He said he believed the company is being harassed by Internal Revenue Service agents but cut off further questioning by saying his attorneys had advised him not to talk to reporters.
Sources with some knowledge of the investigation said authorities have information that the company might have sold as many as 2,000 of its tax "packages."
A Richmond woman said she joined the organization briefly after she learned of it when "somebody said something to somebody else."
She dropped out of the organization last year and was reluctant to discuss details of her involvement. However, the woman, who asked that her name not be used, gave a general description of how two of the tax plans worked.
After making a $3,000 "donation" to Liberty Ministries, the company provided basic tax advice, financial counseling and books that can be purchased in many bookstores, she said.
In one of the plans, she was told she could get the tax breaks by organizing a church. She would take a "vow of poverty" and turn over all her assets to her "church."
Although she would control the assets as a director of the church and live much as she had before she formed it, she could deduct all her personal expenses from her taxable income because the expenes would go for a religious or charitable purpose.
Another plan was based on a tax law provison that permits taxpayers to contribute up to 50 percent of their income for religious or charitable purposes and deduct that amount from their taxable income.
In this case, the charitable purpose would be operation of the home as a church.
One person who with his wife set up such a church encountered additional problems when IRS agents went to this home in the 7800 block Hermitage Road to question the couple about it.
As a former member of the Worldwide Church of God, I am always eager to get your report of some more of the strange antics of Herbert and Stan. I have been giving half-hearted support to Garner Ted and his CGI for the past year. In your latest Report, you stated that GTA had increased his salary up to $60,000.00. I have just received a membership letter from Ron Dart saying that your story was not even "fragmented" from a partial truth but was "made from whole cloth.'' Money and the misuse of it was a major reason for me leaving the WCG, so this is a rather important point with me. May I ask you to comment on:
(1) Where did you get your information?
(2) Do you still stand by your story that it is in fact true?
I've found your information to be pretty accurate in the past, yet it's hard for me to believe Ron Dart to be a liar.
Editor: We too would not want to think Ron Dart is lying, nor do we believe he is. Ironically, however, our source of information on GTA's increased income was a CGI representative who insisted the information came directly from Ron Dart!
While no one from CGI has contacted us about a retraction (we have always been willing to run retractions on any statement in the AR shown to be in error), we have been informed that Ron Dart claims GTA's salary is still only $42,000 per year.
Since we would not want to believe either Mr. Dart or our CGI source is lying, could it be our source did not hear Mr. Dart correctly, or that Mr. Dart did not clearly explain what he meant? Or could it be that GTA now gets a separate income in addition to the regular $42,000 (plus perquisites) he receives from CGI? Perhaps he gets a second salary from the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association?
We frankly don't know. But it is interesting that the GTA Evangelistic Association is separately incorporated from, and legally independent of, CGI. And the GTA Evangelistic Association has only three trustees: Garner Ted Armstrong, Benny L. Sharp, and Ron Dart. At least that is the information given us by the Texas Secretary of State's office. If any of our readers would like to obtain a copy of the Articles of Incorporation, they should write to the Secretary of State of Texas, P.O. Box 13701, Austin, TX, 78711. Or call directly: (512) 475-3551.
I was shocked to hear from a friend that he read in a book how Roderick Meredith, the Armstrong minister, believes it's okay to regularly take a teenage daughter's panties off and beat her. This sounds very abnormal. Is this true?
Editor: That allegation is made on p. 208 of The Truth Shall Make You Free by John Tuit ($8 postpaid from The Truth Foundation, 11 Laurel Court, Freehold Township, NJ 07728). We don't know what Mr. Meredith's position is these days, but for many years he strongly advocated corporal punishment as a child-rearing method.
I think you should tell your readers about Emissary Publications, run by Des and Karen Griffin [Anderson; she graduated from A.C. in 1965]. They have a mail-order book business, offering some 150 books and tapes on subjects ranging from history and economics to politics and secret societies. Some of the titles offered are reprints of rare historical books.
Des Griffin has written two marvelous books outlining world history, explaining who's running the "show" from behind the scenes: Fourth Reich of the Rich is $6 and Descent into Slavery? is $7. Both have received Worldwide acclaim. They also offer a free catalog.
Here is what Mr. Griffin said in a 1979 letter about his business: "Emissary Publications was formed to meet a need - the need to make people aware of what is really happening on the world scene, and WHY! We don't have an 'axe to grind.' Our sole aim is to give readers the opportunity to see an over-all view of world affairs.... We are uncompromisingly opposed to all those forces of evil - whether they be government agencies, private corporations or foundations, secret societies, Church organizations or deluded individuals - who seek the overthrow of our nation and its absorption into a hybrid socialist blob euphemistically called THE NEW WORLD ORDER. We are dedicated to a diligent, unswerving search for new truth and understanding about the world in which we live.''
I think Emissary Publications has a lot to offer. The address is P.O. Box 642, South Pasadena, CA 91030. Phone (213) 794-3400.
Have you noted that HWA, white voting himself (in a "ja" type vote approval situation) and Rader another salary raise, plus a $250,000 bonus for Rader also asked his "dumb sheep'' to sacrifice, tighten their belts, and send more money. Apparently, these two gents couldn't make ends meet on their previous salaries and expense accounts.
Quest/81's March and April issues, as seen on newsstands, have ads for Easter eggs from Czechoslovakia and for Easter hams, white one may also learn Tendai Buddhism and read about "Yoga and Prayer," as advertised respectively by Tendai Buddhist Information Center and "Christian Classics."
The members here in the Washington, D.C., church have no idea at all as to what's going on out west in Pasadena and Tucson. Surely the distance involved must have a dampening effect on any "shock waves" caused by the upheavals which keep occurring month after month. Oh, by the way, Sherwin McMichael's wife Beverly still attends services here as of two weeks ago, that I know of so he's still around here in the area doing what I can't tell you.
I'd like for all AR readers to know there is a ministry that I am involved with personally that ministers to those who are involved in the cults and the occult. They have tracts and tapes on most of the major cults and occult groups. The WCG has been added to their list recently. One tape available that should be very helpful is entitled "Can a Christian Have a Demon?" Price $3. To obtain tracts and tapes, or for any other questions you may have, write: Don and Phyl Tobias, Greater Love Ministries, Box 2008, Falls church VA 22042.
Because of Armstrongism and religious terrorism that is extant in this day and age, a fellow co-worker recently spent a few months in a mental institution. Please continue your efforts. It promotes mental health.
My wife and I returned to England after being in Australia for three and one-half years. My wife was still attending the WCG meetings in Australia, though I had left some six yeas ago, but I'd attend occasionally with my wife. However, since returning to England there's been a great "purge" out there. That is, those not 100 percent behind HWA are to be disfellowshipped. As we're planning to return to Australia soon, it means I certainly won't be able to attend or my wife as she's not a baptized member (though she's happy to attend because of her friends in the WCG) and believes much as I do. Quite a few have been disfellowshipped as a consequence, but I don't know who they are as yet.
-Keith & Susan (Delabut) Holmes
39 Garrison Lane
Chessington, Surrey, England KT9 2LJ
Editor: The following is a copy of a letter one Plain Truth reader recently sent to Garner Ted Armstrong. We frankly get a kick out of the way the Armstrong's have, for years, made musical tastes a litmus test for measuring righteousness and mental balance. Nevertheless, the subject is one which apparently raises the blood presure of just about everyone.
Incidentally readers might find it interesting to know that Dwight Armstrong, the WCG's hymn composer and HWA's brother, is an ardent admirer of the compositions of both J. S. Bach and Debussy.
Dear Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong,
We read your comment in The International News, Jan.-Feb. 1981 as reported by Ambassador Report) on HWA's diatribe against John Lennon. Your father's remarks are indeed tasteless and perhaps nothing more than an expression of his boundless jealousy of Lennon's worldwide recognition. To HWA's intellectual rubbish, John Lennon answers in these Lyrics:
"He's just a nowhere-man, sitting in a nowhere-land, making lots of nowhere-plans - for nobody." What could be more descriptive of HWA's alienation, frustration, and desperation?
That the Beatles' music in orchestral form is enjoyable is well-perceived. However, when you say that the works of Debussy or Bach could not stand a comparison, we trust that such a statement was not inspired by knowledge. We challenge you to specifically name any one of their works unfit for comparison, and explain why.
Such a general, untested, or unchallenged remark may be suitable for a sermon in church where no questions are asked. In the real world, in contrast, such a remark only serves to perpetuate a tradition of loose and thoughtless statements that have come to haunt both you and your father in the last several years.
Keep up the good work. My husband and I are an ex-deacon and deaconess of 20 years in the church who left two years ago. Our two married daughters are still devoted followers, and we worry about their safety, our grand-children's safety, as well as their husbands'. We feel sad when we read your closing letters because we know from experience it's only too true. Normally I don't write "letters to the editor" but just wanted you to know you are appreciated. Keep printing - more often if possible.
I am still a member of the WCG, but I'm not a "blind sheep." I work at the college (AC), and although I love my job, I see the rank corruption which surrounds this place at all times. I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, "Every organization a simply a shadow of its leader." How true. How true. As long as HWA continues his life of hypocrisy, this place will reflect that lack of character which he maintains. And it's so sad because with such unbelievable facilities, all the wonderful people I've worked with over the years and all the untapped talent I've seen pass this way, we could have a thriving organization if there was a little more sanity reflected in the leadership. But of course, we must remember that it's "worldly" to learn how to run an organization properly.
I have been intending for years to write to you and thank you for the great service you have done in exposing the "great work" of fleecing the flock centered in Pasadena. I was a dedicated member of the WCG for eighteen years and a Local Local Church Elder (not in "our" employ) for the last fourteen of those years. Actually I was a Loco Local Elder (not in "our" good graces) the last five of those years.
In the Santa Barbara church both local elders and three of the four deacons quit the church. Of course these voids were filled quickly with new souls willing to sell their own mothers for a little "authority."
In the past I have always read my friend's copy of the AR, but when this issue came I just realized how valuable and enjoyable it is . And now I wish to support your efforts hoping you can continue the AR so that the "Plain Truth'' may be available to those who care to know it.
Also after investing eighteen years of my youth and the usual amount of tithes and offerings in the outfit, I would like to, shall we say, check up on my investment once in a while. I don't feel that a few good laughs is too much to ask in return for that size investment.
It is amazing how fast one can be deprogrammed with a bit of the right information. For over a decade my life was almost totally controlled by ideas that came from the mind of a psychotic old man who claimed to be God's only apostle for this era. Preposterous! I still blush to think how ignorant and naive we all were and many still are. Eric Hoffer's book, The True Believer, should be required reading.
It is strange to ponder that last year's only apostle and the elect's hope for the future - the one going to save them from the horribles to come - has this year turned out to be public enemy #1. I can now see us as being very scared, docile children being led through a haze of one of the grimmest of fairy tales . (The old troll waiting at the end of the road in the cave with his ruling clothes on.) The whole thing is a nightmare.
I received my copy of David Robinson's book. I thought he gave a most complete profile of the intellectual con man.
Thanks for telling me about Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web. I have the book. It is unreal to think one man can do so much harm in the name of Jesus. Because of Armstrong God has never had his hand on this cult and never will.
Thanks again for your report. There is comfort in knowing I'm not alone in this experience. I find the reports and letters helpful after 12 years in the WCG. I decided to read all the "dissident reports," books, etc., to prove to myself and try to understand why so many ministers, educated at Ambassador, and all the others had left what I really believed was the only true church of God.
I feel so sick at heart that I was helping to support that system now. As soon as "word got out" that I had the Robinson book and the Ambassador Report (which my sister had sent me), well anyway I might as well have been in Siberia with the plague - my so-called friends of the past years just vanished over night.
The only good from this experience has been to be exposed to some of Dr. Martin's teachings and hopefully to direct my thoughts to Christ and not Headquarters and HWA. It's a shame the Tuit book couldn't have had more attention and been published earlier. Anyway thanks and keep up the reporting.
So glad you are still publishing your newsletter in spite of your financial difficulties. Thanks to your hard work we are now living life as God meant it to be lived in fellowship with all mankind.
[News] of former members is always interesting. I, too, have been greatly blessed. From being almost broke when I left I now own and operate a 20-unit apartment complex and have bought my own home. Blessings upon blessings flow to us when we are free from bondage and have God for our partner - free to worship Him in the true spirit to serve mankind with love.
Since leaving the WCG, we haven't been financially stable. It has taken us all this time (approximately one year) to gather our senses. I don't know about anyone else that has left the WCG, but speaking for myself, I have had to go through quite a lot emotionally, mentally, and physically. But I am not sorry because I have a lot more love, a lot more understanding, and a lot more faith. I am sorry for those who are struggling in and out of the WCG and will do anything I can to help.
July 19: Just as we were about to finish typing this newsletter, we learned that HWA and GTA, through a new exchange of letters, have evidently ironed out most of their personal differences. A number of public statements in sermons and articles will now be made alternately by the two to prepare their followers for the planned reunion of their two church organizations.
Herbert Armstrong is already saying that some of the accusations leveled against Ted in the last three years were false. Of course, as in past years, HWA is not admitting he lied but is claiming he was led astray by lieutenants who gave him false information about Ted. One guess as to who HWA's new fall guy will turn out to be.
One final note. Recent increases in printing costs, postage, etc., combined with an increased number of subscription requests and a drop in contributions, have put the AR in a bit of a squeeze. We had been planning to skip our third quarter issue and simply put out one in December. However, if events continue to develop in the above story, we will try to put out at least a short newsletter in September.
Our thanks to those of you who have assisted us financially and to those who have sent us news clippings and other information for use in the Report. Your assistance does make this publication possible.
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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