AR23 January, 1983
Court Documents Reveal:
Herbert Armstrong Decrepit!
In the September 30, 1982 issue of Ambassador Report we gave a brief update on the Tucson, Arizona divorce action filed against Ramona Armstrong by lawyers for Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA), the president of Ambassador College and founder of the Worldwide Church of God. Seven weeks after that issue appeared, we found in our mailbox a rather curious oddity that we must share with you:
Our office represents Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God in various litigation, including the marital dissolution action between Ramona Armstrong and Herbert W. Armstrong. The September 30,1982 issue of the Ambassador Report has recently come to my attention, and said publication has misquoted and distorted my legal position regarding the deposition of Mr Armstrong in the marital dissolution proceeding. Your mischaracterization is obviously defamatory to me and my law firm.
At no time have Mr Armstrong's "lawyers claim[ed] he is too senile and sick to appear in Arizona to answer questions," as inaccurately reported in your Report. Never has there been any representation or intonation by me that Mr. Armstrong is senile, or in any way mentally impaired. Your inaccurate report impunes my integrity, is disruptive of my professional relationship with the Church, and is clearly defamatory.
In order to mitigate damages, we hereby request, and this will constitute a formal demand, that you immediately publish in your Report an apology and an admission that your previously published statements were false and incorrect. Additionally, demand is hereby made that you provide to me the name and address of each individual who constitutes the "source of information" upon which you predicated such statement, as well as a description of any documentation upon which you purportedly relied.
Very truly yours,
Ervin, Cohen & Jessup
Ninth Floor, 9401 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Here is Editor John Trechak's reply:
Notwithstanding the fact that Ambassador Report's staff box clearly indicates myself as editor, and notwithstanding the fact that the same staff box gives honorary mention to the names of three women, your letter of November 17 begins with "Gentlemen." Whatever the reason for your inappropriate salutation, I have taken it upon myself to personally answer your letter, as not only did I write the fifteen words you have objected to, but as the editor of Ambassador Report I take full responsibility for the entirety of this publication's editorial content. Frankly, I would have preferred to answer your objections in a private correspondence. In fact, had you returned my call of November 22, 1 would have done so over the phone. But considering your written request - excuse me, your "formal demand" - that I respond in a public manner, I will hereby comply.
First off, let me just say I really do believe that not only you, but the readers of the Report are entitled to an apology. The matter of your legal position - and more importantly Mr. Armstrong's present condition - were really not given the coverage they deserved. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I hope this response will make up for that oversight. But as to whether or not I have "misquoted" you or "distorted" your legal position - well, that is an entirely different matter. Let's look at the facts.
On April 16, 1982, Herbert W. Armstrong - or perhaps I should say lawyers claiming to represent Herbert W. Armstrong (because I have yet to see real evidence that Mr. Armstrong is fully aware of what is occurring in Tucson) filed for dissolution of his marriage in Superior Court of Pima County, Arizona. Although valid subpoenas were served, by mid-September Mr. Armstrong had not yet appeared for even one hearing or deposition. (And as of this writing, he still has not.)
On September 20, 1982, with the parties not present, a hearing took place before Judge Lillian Fisher. Here is how the court's minute entry describes that proceeding: "Hearing re petitioner's motion for protective order prohibiting the taking of depositions of Herbert W. Armstrong." The minute entry of the court clearly shows that the principal lawyer representing Herbert W. Armstrong "asks the Court to take judicial notice of the frailties of a person who has achieved the age of ninety (90)."
Now this may come as a surprise, Allan, but the Tucson court records say that that lawyer was you! Those records also show that September 20 was not the first or the last time you went to court to argue that your client is both very old and in very frail condition. Don't you remember all the evidence you submitted to buttress your arguments? Well, as your letter demands that I present my sources and documentation, let's review a little more of the court record.
One piece of evidence you submitted was an affidavit from Melvin R. Olinger, Mr. Armstrong's chauffeur. Here is an excerpt from that affidavit:
"I have firsthand personal knowledge of the facts herein stated and could... testify... if called as a witness.
"I am employed by the Worldwide Church of God as Chauffeur to the Pastor General of the Church, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. I have held this position since April, 1970. As a result, I spend many hours with Mr. Armstrong.
"Mr. Armstrong suffered heart failure in August, 1977. Since that time, I have been present on many occasions when he has suffered chest pains and other discomforture. He presently receives certain medications at three regular times a day. When he is away from his home, at the office or when I am accompanying him, I personally am responsible for
©1983 Ambassador Report. Published quarterly, as finances allow.
John Trechak, Editor
Mary E. Jones, Associate Editor
Connie Gerringer, Circulation Manager
Founding Publishers: Robert Gerringer, Bill Hughes, Mary E. Jones, John Trechak, Len Zola, and Margaret Zola.
reminding and assisting him in taking said medications. Sometimes, it has been necessary to even interrupt board or other important meetings for this purpose.
"In addition to his regular medication, Mr. Armstrong also carries with him nitroglycerine capsules which he uses in case he comes under stress or feels pain in his chest or arm. He knows that if he feels such pain, he must take some nitroglycerine and rest until the pain subsides.
"On September 18,1982, during a sermon to the church, Mr. Armstrong raised his voice, gestured actively and spoke with a great deal of energy in regard to certain things he was saying. Afterward, he indicated that he was suffering some discomfort. He had to rest and receive some additional nitroglycerine before I was able to drive him home.
"The foregoing happens virtually any time Mr. Armstrong gets into a stressful or emotional situation, or even if he has more than a certain amount of physical exercise. For example, he is normally able to walk around the reflecting pool by his house (about 50 yards) one time, and then must sit down and rest, or his legs will buckle.
"In recent times, Mr. Armstrong has often had difficulty sleeping and, as a result, seldom feels physically strong and mentally alert enough to accomplish many of his normal tasks until the afternoon. I am personally amazed that Mr. Armstrong is able to accomplish everything he does in view of the physical problems he has.... From my observation, Mr. Armstrong has learned to pace himself as long as he is in his own environment, so that he stays within his strength. If he did not, he could well have another heart attack."
Then, there was the letter from John H. Wineinger, M.D. of the Thomas-Davis Clinic, P.C. Here is an excerpt from his statement to the court:
"I have been treating Mr. Armstrong, who will be 90 on 31 July, 1982. I have been his physician since April of 1977. On August 15, 1977, the patient came into my office after having completed a trip, which I understand was related to his work with his church, the Worldwide Church of God, and he had had what apparently, retrospectively, was an acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure, and was treated in Tokyo, Japan, and had been having a shortness of breath for about six days prior to that visit in August. On examination that day, he had distended neck veins, basilar rales in his chest, an irregular heartbeat, and some peripheral edema. It was my diagnostic impression that he had congestive heart failure incident to myocardial infarction, and I have been treating him since that time both by visiting him in his home and by having him visit in the office.
"Over the ensuing years, by following a dietary program and taking medication to control blood pressure and improve the contractile ability of his heart, he has been able to return to his work as a minister and head of the Worldwide Church of God. In this regard, he has been able to travel in an aircraft and go about his church duties without any evident stress that I am aware of, or that he has given me any history of...
"Knowing that there is a total difference between the physical activity involved in flying and in preaching, as compared to the emotional stress involved in court action, it would be my feeling that being subjected to the cross-examination and interrogation involved in this procedure could very well have a detrimental and adverse effect upon Mr. Armstrong's health and could result in cardiac arrhythmias which could potentially be fatal. It would, therefore, be my recommendation that Mr. Armstrong not be compelled to appear in any of these planned legal proceedings and, if at all possible, that any questions directed to him be put in writing so that he could answer them at his leisure rather than under a high-pressure situation."
And then there was (and this one's my favorite, Allan) the affidavit by Lawrence M. Omasta. Here is an excerpt (and remember you introduced all of this):
"I am employed by the Worldwide Church of God as the Department Manager of Media Services Radio and Television. In this capacity, I have supervision and control over the production, televising and editing of the World Tomorrow television program on which Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong is the main speaker.
"Because the World Tomorrow television program is regularly aired weekly, we attempt to make at least one new telecast each week. The schedule for producing such telecasts, however, is largely dependent upon Mr. Armstrong's personal well-being. Because Mr. Armstrong is 90 years old and has certain infirmities connected with age and the fact that he had major heart failure five years ago, our production schedule must necessarily be extremely flexible.
"As a result of the foregoing, we have no set time for making programs. It depends upon Mr. Armstrong, how he feels at any particular time, and, to a large extent, his drive, energy and determination. Mr. Armstrong comes to the studio depending on just when he feels up to it.
"On many occasions, we have started to video tape a program only to have Mr. Armstrong stop and state that he is unable to finish, that he just doesn't have the energy or sharpness of mind to do so, or that he otherwise doesn't feel up to it.
"One factor which I believe is very helpful to Mr. Armstrong in making telecasts is that this is in our own studios, the environment is familiar and one in which he has total cooperation, he is very comfortable, there are no outsiders there, and only church-member employees and people he has worked with over the years are present. This creates the best possible environment for us to be able to start when he wants, to quit whenever he feels the need not to go on, or to make the different segments at his pace in accordance with how he personally feels.
"The programs as they appear on television are not made straight through. Mr. Armstrong will sometimes stop right in the middle to do a retake of a particular section because of certain physical problems on his part. Those parts are edited accordingly. On one occasion several months ago, Mr. Armstrong began to have shortness of breath during a taping and we have [sic] to call for oxygen to be brought for him. Most programs involve 30 to 40 minutes of actual video tape and most sessions run from 45 to 50 minutes total time from the beginning of the taping until everything that will be used in that program is completed. The actual video tape time used on any program is about 28 minutes with about 2 to 12 minutes being edited out as a result of the foregoing mentioned problems.
"Many times I have been notified by Mr. Armstrong's personal assistant that Mr. Armstrong is working on his notes for a television program, and that I should expect him to come to the television studio at a particular time for the taping of the program, only to have Mr. Armstrong not show up. I have then subsequently been advised that he simply did not feel up to making a program. I often keep a full crew on standby during lunch hour, and sometimes even into the evening on the possibility that Mr. Armstrong will be able to come in and make a program. Recently, Mr. Armstrong came in at 5:20 p.m. on a Friday afternoon for a program taping.
"Some people have observed certain programs of Mr. Armstrong overseas where he spoke to various important groups and leaders and appeared to speak very powerfully. These programs, of course, have been edited to take the best portions. In addition, some of the appearances of Mr. Armstrong where he spoke to various groups have not been shown, even though they were video taped. The reason is because Mr. Armstrong's tiredness and infirmities were apparent in the video tape. On one recent case in Cebu City, Phillipines [sic], his appearance had been advertised, the hall had been rented and advance preparations had been made. However, Mr. Armstrong simply had to cancel out because he did not feel well."
According to an Aaron Dean affidavit you submitted on another occasion, HWA is blind in one eye, has impaired vision in the other, and wears a hearing aid in each ear. And according to the three affidavits quoted above, Allan, your client can't walk more than fifty yards without his knees buckling, has to take drugs at least three times a day, sometimes requires oxygen, "seldom feels... mentally alert enough to accomplish many of his normal tasks until the afternoon," "on many occasions" can't continue speaking into a microphone because "he doesn't have the... sharpness of mind to do so," and if he's simply asked a few direct questions there's a good chance he will fall over dead. Whew! You know you've convinced me. Mr. Armstrong is sick!
And Judge Fisher thought so too, because, even though she somehow felt it necessary for the patient, I mean Petitioner, to show up at some point in the litigation, she ruled that he would be allowed to have not only his lifesaving oxygen readily available, but a physician to assist him through the life-threatening ordeal of answering questions. I think you did a pretty fair job of proving your point, Allan. You didn't get into the matter of his memory lapses (as far back as the late sixties Mr. Armstrong complained of this problem, in the pulpit, before thousands), nor did you mention his not infrequent irrational and highly emotional temper outbursts (even I had the misfortune of witnessing one of these at his home in 1970, and it was pathetic), nor the prosthetic dildo (written about by his accountant Jack Kessler), nor the recently rumored cancer of the left breast, nor the long-rumored colostomy (oh Allan, please tell us it isn't so). Nevertheless, I still think that, while you may not have used those exact words, you still did a pretty fair job via the affidavits of proving HWA is "senile and sick."
And yet in your letter to me it appears you now claim that such was not your legal position. What then was your legal position? Was it that Herbert is not ninety years old? Was it that he does not indeed have serious health problems? If that is the case, then why the continual emphasis in the courtroom on his frailty, infirmities, and old age? And why those affidavits? Let's face it Allan, your Nov. 17 letter to Ambassador Report isn't just vague. Those portions having any specificity whatsoever are anomalous, while the rest might well be described as acutely incoherent. You write that you have been "misquoted" somehow (para. 1). Yet in the fifteen words of mine that you've objected to, neither you nor anyone else is quoted (" ") at all. You write that your integrity has been impugned (para. 2). Yet in those fifteen words no one's integrity was so much as even hinted at. You write that you and your firm have been defamed (para. 1 & 2). Yet, not only were you and your firm never named, in those fifteen words not so much as a negative innuendo was even cast on anyone. Nor did I in any manner whatsoever even address the problem of HWA's psyche, let alone say you argued that Herbert is mentally impaired.
I do believe most reasonable people would deduce from the Omasta and Olinger affidavits you filed that your legal position might indeed have been that Mr. Armstrong is mentally impaired in some way. And when you consider Herbert's background of deviant behavior (the publicly long-alleged incest, London sex toy jaunt, "flog log," etc.), his belief that he is an apostle, and his reoccurring hysterical pronouncements that within a few months certain Western European countries will destroy the United States in a nuclear attack, I doubt we would have much difficulty finding respected psychiatrists who would diagnose your client as being "mentally impaired." (Such a diagnosis would appropriately be considered well-founded and indicative of professional competence.) But I did not represent your legal position as such.
That brings us to the semantics of the phrase "senile and sick," which as best as I can make out from your letter, seems to be your pivotal point of contention. But why that should be so is an enigma to me. Could it be that you are not sure what those words actually mean? "Sick" is a pretty common word, and I just can't believe that's where your problem lies. But, I'll admit, the word "senile" is a little longer, and perhaps that was where you stumbled. So just in case you haven't already researched this yourself, here is the definition of "senile" as given in a number of leading dictionaries:
The American Heritage Dictionary:
senile: adj. 1. Pertaining to, characteristic of, or proceeding from old age. 2. Exhibiting senility. 3. Geol. worn away nearly to the base level, as at the end of an erosion cycle.
Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary:
senile: adj. 1. Pertaining to, proceeding from, or characteristic of old age. 2. Infirm; weak; doting.
Webster's Concise Family Dictionary:
senile: adj. 1. OLD, AGED.
Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary:
senile: Pertaining to or characteristic of old age.
But, maybe to your legal mind, these dictionaries aren't sufficiently erudite or authoritative. If that's the case, consult the most respected, scholarly, authoritative, unabridged-in-any-way, tomes of:
The Oxford Dictionary:
senile: adj. 1. Belonging to, suited for or incident to old age. Now only of diseases, etc.: Peculiar to the aged. 2. Exhibiting the weakness of old age. 3. Phys. Geo. Approaching the end of a cycle of erosion.
I don't see anything inherently pejorative there. Do you? With various publishers there are subtle variations to the basic definition. But the central idea remains that the word "senile" has to do essentially with the aging process and secondarily with the normal weakening associated with old age. Undoubtedly, one can find some dictionaries that will give, as a concomitant or derivative of that secondary factor of weakened physical condition, a tertiary concomitant of weakened mental faculties. That is not surprising because the mental faculties are dependent upon the brain, a physical organ as subject to the aging process as the rest of the body.
But it would be untenable to conclude from this that the word "senile" is the equivalent of "mentally impaired." It is not. Nor is it the equivalent of "senile dementia" (also called "senile psychosis" and "dementia senilus"). That is a psychiatric term that often crops up in legal proceedings dealing with conservatorship (and it's a term you might find useful in the future). While it includes the word "senile" as an adjective, "senile psychosis" has a very specific meaning, and one different from "senile."
If any further proof is required, check Maloy's Medical Dictionary for Lawyers. In the edition I have, "senile" is defined simply as "of, or pertaining to, old age." That's all it says. And even if you look up "senility" (a different, but related word), the only meaning given is (and the emphasis is mine): "Old age or its infirmities. Feebleness of body and mind that sometimes accompanies old age." How could anything be plainer?
Frankly, when you consider (1) your persistant emphasis on Mr. Armstrong's ninety years, (2) your continuous emphasis on his infirmities and frail condition, and (3) the affidavits that you submitted, what one word could more accurately describe the way you have characterized Mr. Armstrong than the word "senile"? I personally don't know of any.
All in all, Allan, your Nov. 17 letter to Ambassador Report raises quite a number of questions, foremost of which is: Why in the world would you ever write a letter like that?
I'm sure you are a very bright, competent and highly ethical attorney. But I wouldn't be surprised that there might be some individuals, who, if they received such a letter, would conclude that they were being confronted by one of those habitual-intimidator smart-ass types so prevalent in your profession. (Have you ever seen where lawyers rank in opinion polls rating public confidence in the professions?) Some might perhaps conclude - from your letter's lack of legitimate grievance or substantiation and its general tone - that such a letter was intended solely to annoy, intimidate, harass, inflict anxiety, or intimate a forthcoming nuisance lawsuit of a frivolous nature that would use the court system to harass and to inflict a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of the recipient.
I prefer, however, not to draw such hasty conclusions. I know how Mr. Stanley Rader, an honored lawyer and evangelist, personally chose you to assist him in his "brilliant" (to quote your client) defense of the WCG in 1979-80. And I have great respect for your law firm.
Pardon me if I digress a little, but I also recall hearing your distinguished late senior partner John Ervin some years ago at the Philosophical Research Society (PRS) in Los Angeles. Dr. Ervin lectured on the Great Mother goddess. And I was amazed at his vast knowledge of religions, psychology, and the occult. (Described by a close friend as "something of a mystic," Dr. Ervin was for many years the vice-president of the PRS and a disciple of astrologer-occultist Manly P. Hall, who remains the society's president.) Dr. Ervin was also ordained to the ministry of the Church of People and was a local pastor of the United Methodist Church. Regarding his love for Jesus, in 1981 he wrote:
"Although Jesus Christ is and has been all my life the central figure and reason for my being, I am devoting all the time I presently can muster to supporting and improving the United Nations, which I regard as the logical extension of what Jesus was teaching."
Even though Dr. Ervin was a graduate of Harvard, an acclaimed expert in international law, a federal tax expert, and, I am told, a counsellor to U.S. presidents, the strengthening of the United Nations remained his great personal goal. In 1978 he was awarded the United Nations Peace Medal. A comment from a letter eulogizing Dr. Ervin written by Robert Muller, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, perhaps best summarizes the life of this great man: "He was an endless fount of ideas, inspiration, and true illuminations."
So you see, Allan, I not only prefer to think the very best of you personally, I have great respect for your lawfirm and am only too happy to acknowledge its influential position in the scheme of things.
But the question still remains - why the letter?
You apparently didn't intend it merely for a laugh, as I first suspected. Because when I called your office to share the joke with you (I used to think I could always spot a good one), your secretary - the one who said you'd be in court all morning, not the one who earlier in the day said you were out of state for the week - confirmed that the letter was indeed "authentic" - intended to be taken at face value. You wouldn't believe the shock!
Could it be you really weren't aware of all that was happening in court on September 20 or during some of those other proceedings? Well, I suppose that can happen. (Have you seen the Schick clinic commercial with that lawyer who admits that for some time he couldn't keep his attention on what was transpiring during trials because his mind was always on cigarettes?)
Or perhaps, you were aware of what was transpiring on Sept. 20, but since then you've forgotten. That, too, can happen to anyone. In the above, I've quoted a number of court documents of which you should have kept copies. Yet your letter's demand for identification of my sources and "documentation" implies you may not have made copies of these court documents, or that your copies were misfiled or simply lost. If that is the case, drop me a note and I'll send you duplicates of my set.
But back to some of those questions raised by your letter. For instance you write: "Our office represents Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God in various litigation." It's an interesting statement in light of Mrs. Ramona Armstrong's claim, in her California suit, that the Worldwide Church of God corporation is nothing more than essentially an "alter ego" of Herbert Armstrong, set up to personally benefit him financially. I'm sure there is nothing illegal about you simultaneously representing both Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God corporation. And I'm sure that as a lawyer you can put forth some kind of justification for doing so. I did notice, however, that Ethical Consideration 5-18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
"A lawyer employed or retained by a corporation or similar entity owes his allegiance to the entity and not to a stockholder, director, officer, employee, representative, or other person connected with the entity. In advising the entity, a lawyer should keep paramount its interests and his professional judgment should not be influenced by the personal desires of any person or organization."
From my layman's point of view, I find it difficult to see how equal representation can be given to both entities simultaneously. (And you may recall, the State brought up a similar point during the State of California versus Worldwide Church of God lawsuit in 1979.) Do the personal interests of Herbert W. Armstrong coincide perfectly with the interests of the Worldwide Church of God corporation?
For instance, you have advocated in a number of cases that Mr. Armstrong not be required to give a deposition. For the sake of argument, let us assume that such was indeed in his own best interest. Isn't it still possible that such was not in the best interest of the Worldwide Church of God corporation? Isn't it also conceivable that at some time in the future - if any of the litigation now in progress brings results disappointing to any of the trustees - that some conscientious board member (let's say Rod Meredith or Raymond McNair, as an example) might question whether your representation was preferential to one client entity over another? Along those lines, have you ever advocated to the board that, because of the responsibility they have to those of us who have contributed to the church, they should obtain legal counsel independent of the influence exercised by house counsel? Of course, if the personal interests of Herbert W. Armstrong do indeed coincide with those of the Worldwide Church of God corporation, then there's no problem in this regard. But that would seem to imply that Mrs. Ramona Armstrong's claim is true.
I know that I've put forth a number of questions that may appear to be rhetorical. They are not. I would not only enjoy seeing your answers to them, but, assuming you could put together something concise and a bit more coherent than your letter of Nov. 17, would love to print your answers right here in Ambassador Report. Not only I, but all the readers of this publication, no doubt, look forward to your next submission.
I'm sorry that my response to your letter has had to be so brief. I will make up for it, you can be sure, when, in the next issue of this newsletter I will cover some of the other evidence you and your associates have submitted about Mr. Armstrong.
In the meantime, thank you for doing your part for Ambassador Report.
With warmest regards,
HWA's Active Schedule
Spend a few hours reading through the testimony and evidence presented by HWA's lawyers in Tucson, and a very clear picture emerges of a sick and senile individual tottering on the brink of oblivion. But glancing through some of the latest issues of The Worldwide News (WN) gives a very different impression.
The Oct. 18,1982 issue of the WN reported how, during the Feast of Tabernacles, HWA spoke live to over 110,000 followers "all over the United States, Hawaii, Alaska, England and ... even in New Zealand." The feat was accomplished via transmissions over three satellites. The Nov. 1 issue of the WN showed a picture of HWA conversing "with Ariawongsagatayana, the 18th Supreme Patriarch of Thai Buddhism." According to the article:
"The meeting, the first between the supreme patriarch and the pastor general, took place in Mr. Armstrong's executive office on the fourth floor of the campus Hall of Administration."
The meeting was described as "warm and friendly."
The Nov. 15 WN reported that HWA was in Bermuda where he met with several of the island's leaders, and the Nov. 29 issue reported HWA in the Netherlands, the Republic of South Africa, and Kenya, where he had a meeting with President Moi. In Kenya, HWA gave President Moi a Steuben crystal depicting a king-fisher bird. In describing that meeting evangelist Frank Brown wrote:
"Since the end of British colonial rule in 1963, Kenya has flourished as one of the more progressive countries in Africa mainly because of the charismatic leadership of the late Mr. Kenyatta. Mr. Armstrong counts Mr. Kenyatta as one of the greatest statesmen in recent years.... President Moi's overall philosophy is called in Swahili nyayo, which roughly means 'following in the footsteps' of Jomo Kenyatta."
HWA's respect for Jomo Kenyatta is interesting in light of the fact that Kenyatta was a chief instigator of the Mau Mau rebellion of the early '50s - an uprising famous for its savagery and terrorism. Kenyatta went on to become the first president of Kenya in 1964. In 1969 he outlawed all opposition parties.
The Dec. 13 WN reported HWA in Greece, where he addressed the Athens Rotary Club, and in Spain, where he spoke to King Juan Carlos I. The Dec. 27 WN reported HWA in Jamaica, where he spoke to government officials.
But HWA doesn't just travel a lot. HWA has arrived - and just how much is evident from a Daniel Cariaga review which appeared in the Oct. 29 Los Angeles Times, part VI, p. 1. The review covered the return of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (acclaimed the world's greatest) to the Los Angeles area - more specifically to Ambassador Auditorium. Wrote Cariaga:
"How the world has changed, one kept calculating Wednesday night, in the 26 years since the Berlin Philharmonic last played here.
"Forget space travel, emerging nations, est and the Cambridge diet; think how Mayor Tom Bradley, Jane Wyman, Herbert W. Armstrong, even you and I, have changed, in that small corridor of history between Nov. 18, 1956, and today....
"Still, the huge coloristic palette from which Karajan and his Berliners drew all these sounds, loud and soft, has to impress. Some in that large audience - which included, by the way, not only Bradley, Wyman, and Armstrong, but also other celebrities from various contemporary worlds - even reveled in them."
Yes, Herbert is a celebrity. And no wonder. For whatever negative side there may be to his theology or personal morals, one cannot help but respect at least two of his attributes: (1) his political astuteness, which rivals Machiavelli's, and (2) his skills as a communicator, which rival those of the greatest advertising men of all time. Because of those two attributes, it is not always easy to obtain accurate data on HWA. Herbert knows how to create an image; he knows how to erect a facade. He's done it for years, and he's good at it. For instance, if you saw the November 15 issue of The Worldwide News, you may have noticed his article (p. 5) "What Are the Secrets of My Youthful Vitality, Energy, Drive and Long Life?" Of course, to most people just the idea of an ailing ninety-year old describing himself as "youthful" brings guffaws. But not so with the typical Worldwider. To them, HWA's statements are the gospel truth.
But HWA can't take all the credit for his success. Court documents show that HWA's medical doctors deserve some of the credit. As we've pointed out frequently over the years, no matter how many times HWA tells his followers that God doesn't want them to rely on medical science (after all, why waste potential tithes on your, or your family's, health?), when HWA gets ill, he gets the very best in medical assistance.
And let's not forget HWA's lawyers. Jesus was very blunt with the lawyers of his day (Luke 11:45-46, RSV):
"One of the lawyers answered him, 'Teacher, in saying this you reproach us also.'
"And he said, 'Woe to you lawyers also! for you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.' "
Herbert, on the other hand, surrounds himself with lawyers! First of all there's Stanley Rader, who received a reported $750,000 bonus in 1981, and - by his own admission - gets well over $200,000 per year as a consultant. (Yet Herbert Armstrong hasn't the sense to ask Mr. Rader's advice. Sources in the church have told us that HWA simply refuses to talk to Mr. Rader!) Then there is Mr. Ralph Helge and his legal staff. And the Tucson law firm of Wolfe & Ostapuk. And the law firm of Miller & Pitt. And the Beverly Hills law firm of Ervin, Cohen & Jessup, with its 41 partners plus associates. And sometimes the law firm of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher with its well over 300 lawyers (one of the most powerful firms in the country). So HWA has not only the best in medical assistance but the very best in legal assistance.
What has all this legal help accomplished? For Herbert, personally, a great deal. But not much, if anything, for those true believers who faithfully send in their tithes and offerings to "God's Work." Many believe that, while HWA has been spared the "ordeal" of answering questions, his followers have been denied the real story of what has been happening to their contributions. And thanks to the lawyers surrounding HWA the full story may never be known.
In an affidavit dated October 20, Ramona Armstrong made this statement:
"I am making this Affidavit to explain for the Court how my husband has ALWAYS avoided the taking of his deposition in approximately 18 different litigations that I know about through the years I have known him. It is my personal observation that he has always successfully prevented his deposition from being taken through the intentional avoidance techniques that I shall describe below. He has NEVER had his deposition taken in any of the multitude of legal suits to which he and his corporations have been parties. His deposition has been sought in many, many legal actions, but he has successfully avoided his examination in every one of them. I know these things from my personal observation, except to the extent that they are qualified below.
"In a Tucson court case, in about 1978, a process server started to hand my husband a Subpoena for his deposition while he was at the Tucson Convention Center on business. His lawyer who was standing next to him grabbed the Subpoena out of the process servor's hands and threw it to the floor. He immediately had a multitude of employees surround my husband so that he could not be reached, and then they rushed him and myself to our waiting limousine, and whisked us to our Tucson home. During the ride he told me again for approximately the 7th or 8th time that he had NEVER given, and WOULDN'T give, a deposition. The next day, although my husband was then and continues to be extremely active and agile both physically and mentally, they took him to a Tucson doctor to try to establish that he wasn't able 'health wise' to give his deposition. Then, he remained secluded in our house for a number of days during which he would not go to the door, take telephone calls until they were first screened by others, etc., for the stated purpose of avoiding the deposition process.
"In connection with the same case, I was present in Pasadena, California when Herbert and I had just left the stage in the Ambassador Auditorium after he had talked nonstop in an emotional and highly charged and physically active manner for an hour and a half. As we left the stage by the side door to the Auditorium and were about to step into our limousine, process service was again attempted upon him. His lawyer pushed the server aside, again, shoved us into the limousine, and we sped away to our Pasadena residence. I do not presently recall if this incident happened before or after the Tucson attempted service, but in any event Herbert said, again, that he had never given a deposition and wouldn't give one.
"The first time I became aware of my husband's custom of avoiding his deposition was in 1975 when we were overseas on one of our many trips, I believe the location being Paris, France. At that time, I was not Herbert's wife, but was his secretary. We were having dinner in a group. I was seated next to my husband while he was discussing with his advisers the prolongation of our trip in order that he might avoid having to testify in a deposition (possibly a trial, but I believe a deposition) which would occur otherwise. Our plans were to return to Pasadena within a day or two of the dinner meeting, but it was then decided, instead, that we would extend our trip an additional two weeks solely for the purpose mentioned. So, we then traveled in our Gulf Stream II jet to Rome. He killed the time with sightseeing, shopping, and some work at his typewriter. As soon as he received word that the time for the proceeding had passed, he gave the orders for us all to return to Pasadena.
"Herbert and his advisors tried to avoid my knowing of the details of these matters, but I personally overheard similar discussions and was personally present on a number of overseas trips that were intentionally prolonged solely to avoid Herbert having to testify by deposition in legal cases. I do not remember the specifics of what countries we were in, the dates, etc., but this was a rather frequent occurrence during the years that I was travelling with him and his advisors.
"When the California Attorney General placed his Church enterprise in receivership, I overheard my husband tell an associate, 'We can move the headquarters to Canada, or Mexico, or anywhere else in the world, so I won't have to appear.' I believe that the State of California was trying to Subpoena him for testimony or deposition and that this is what had prompted his statement. In point of fact, he DID move the entire financial operation to Tucson, Arizona so as to avoid the California procedures. l know this of my own personal knowledge and observation because of the things he said in my presence. It was during this same proceeding that he told our pilot and co-pilot to move our Gulf Stream II out of California 'immediately' [it was hangered at Burbank Airport], and within just a few hours they flew it to Las Vegas, Nevada where it was kept until the receivership was dismissed. My husband paid for the housing of the pilot and co-pilot in a Las Vegas hotel during the whole time. During this same time period it was discussed in my presence in our house in Tucson, many times, by my husband and his associates, how 'fortunate' it was that he and I had purchased our house in Tucson rather than in Palm Springs, California where he had wanted to live [I wanted to live in Tucson and he had promised me before our marriage that I could live in Tucson].
"In summary, I want the court to recognize that my husband's litigation life has paralleled that of Howard Hughes. He is surrounded by his associates, including employed security forces, who he retains to isolate him from litigation processes. He will take any step regardless of expense or effort to avoid giving a deposition. He has boasted to me repeatedly that he has NEVER given his deposition ANYWHERE, and that he 'NEVER will.' Although, he did have a heart attack in 1977, he still, to this very hour, is traveling nation-wide performing in exactly the same manner and with the same vigorousness as he always did before his 1977 heart attack. I saw him on his television show just last Sunday, and he looks exactly the same as he always has year in and year out, healthwise. His sermon was delivered in exactly the same emotionally charged and fervent manner as it always has been and it was obvious that he was suffering not in the least. There has been no change in his physical appearance or abilities as I have observed them to be myself most recently from what they were when I first started traveling with him in 1974. My husband is toying with this Court as he has toyed with courts from both here at home and abroad. He and his associates are trying to take from me what was promised me if I would do what they wanted me to. Now, they are trying desperately to keep him from giving the evidence that is needed for me to defend against the divorce suit he has instituted."
But what is it that Herbert Armstrong is trying to hide? Perhaps it has something to do with accounts at thirteen banks mentioned briefly in the court records. Here are the names of those thirteen banks: (1) Union de Banques Suisses, Switzerland, (2) Bank of Switzerland, New York, (3) Chemical Bank, New York, (4) City Bank, New York, (5) Republic Bank of New York, (6) First National Bank of Chicago, (7) Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, (8) Chase Manhattan Bank, London, (9) Kredit Bank Zurich, Switzerland, (10) Kredit Suisse Zurich, Switzerland, (11) National Westminster Bank, London, (12) Shanghai-Hong Kong Bank, and (13) the Arizona Bank.
It is ironic that had Herbert obeyed Jesus' simple teaching in the Beatitudes against putting away one's wife (Matt. 5:32, Mark 10:11), His admonition to seek reconciliation rather than legal remedies (Matt. 5:25-26), and His admonition to be cooperative when sued (Matt. 5:40), Herbert could have avoided his current legal entanglements. After all, Jesus' message was "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you" (Matt. 5:44). Yet here we have "God's Apostle" putting away the wife he said God gave him and fighting the courts, while his wife Ramona claims she wants to save their marriage. Strange, isn't it?
WCG in the Grip of Paranoia
Hardly a day goes by in which we don't receive at least one or two letters from concerned relations of Worldwiders who are worried that their Armstrong-following loved ones are about to flee the country in some lemming-like panic. Members are being told ever more frequently that the church will probably "flee in 1983" and that many members will be left behind to endure the Great Tribulation because they are not contributing enough. Some have been told to get their passports ready. At least one minister has warned his congregation they should have no pregnancies this year because of the likelihood of their "fleeing." Jan. 3 was set aside as a fast day for the WCG - with members listening to an HWA tape about the Anti-Christ - because the church is heading into the time of its greatest crisis.
Of course, the key to understanding such statements lies in an understanding of Herbert's mind. A study of HWA's writings and personal history clearly shows that his mind is egocentric (and some would no doubt be more specific and say "phallicentiic"). When HWA says "the church" will flee, he's talking mostly about himself. Oh yes, he'll need a few of his servants and a few top myrmidons around to keep the facade in tact. But he's still talking mainly about himself. As we've pointed out before, no matter where he flees to, he'll still require plenty of tithes to maintain his lifestyle, and that means his followers have to stay behind, on their jobs, sending in their money to "headquarters" (wherever that might move to).
The same egocentricity applies to HWA's statements about time running out. Well, maybe it is - for Herbert (and he has "great wrath, because he knoweth his time is short"). Incidentally, here in southern California, popular sportscaster Jim Healy is apparently making good use of an HWA cliche on his afternoon KLAC program. Often when Healy's program needs to wrap up or close a segment he switches on a tape recording of Herbert screaming something like "Time is running out' Time is running out!" It's absolutely hilarious!
Stan Rader - Scapegoat
At no time is the WCG's paranoia more apparent than when the name of Stanley Rader is mentioned. We keep getting reports from around the country of WCG ministers launching into attacks on Mr. Rader. Many are apparently convinced Stanley Rader is somehow behind Ramona Armstrong's lawsuit in California (see our Sept. 30 issue). We, however, have not seen one bit of evidence to substantiate such an allegation. Nor is Mr. Rader representing Mrs. Armstrong in any lawsuit that we know of.
Perhaps one reason Mr. Rader is being made a scapegoat for the WCG's problems is that in 1981 during his last few months as Herbert W. Armstrong's chief advisor, he was increasingly critical of the conduct of a number of HWA's assistants. A letter written from Japan by Stanley Rader to HWA has recently been leaked to various members of the WCG, who in turn passed on a copy to us. The letter shows the kind of problems Mr. Rader was up against in 1981:
February 1, 1981
"I know how terribly shocking and indeed sickening the revelations of the last month have been for you. I know how terribly disappointed you are about Kevin and Aaron Dean. I am equally disappointed, of course, about the Dean boys because I have been their champion, have urged them upon you, and have treated them as would a father his own sons.
"All this has merely been more evidence for us that Satan will not ease up. He knows only too well that the time remaining for him is short. The prophecies of Revelation 20 verse 1 are nearly at hand.
"As I have stated in earlier memoranda, I tried my very best to keep the entire sordid affair from reaching you particularly prior to or during the Manila campaign. I urged Kevin to repent of his horrible sins against the Living God, his Church, and Christ's Apostle. I told him that as far as I was concerned, it would be a closed matter if he had truly repented. I urged him to make amends to those upon whom he had inflicted so much harm - your wife, your sister-in- law, Mrs. Kineston, John Kineston, Joe Kotora, and various and sundry persons.
"Unfortunately, as you learned, he did not repent. Rather he decided to utilize the same evil techniques of lying, inventing and maligning in a desperate effort to preserve his position.
"You were, of course, too wise and too experienced for him. As usual, you let out just enough rope and gave him ample opportunity to hang himself. It was really the Wayne Cole situation all over again, and as we now know, both Ellis and Joe Tkach were very closely in league with Wayne Cole anyway. By the time others came forward with their incontrovertible evidence of the sordid and abominable activities you already knew the whole truth.
"I do know how fearful you are that the entirety of the ministry may well be besmirched if the Church or the public should learn of these transgressions. But I fear more that a cover-up at this time would be the worse of the two evils. Too many people are acutely aware of the situation at all levels in Pasadena - amongst the brethren in the area and even outside the Pasadena Church. They are watching carefully to see how you will handle this situation. They are already asking aloud: 'Will he try to cover up again?'
"Many are aware, and painfully so, of the double standard that you have permitted for the ministry in sexual matters. The members indicated that they will not tolerate such a double standard any longer. For ministers to commit adultery with married women, to seduce virgin Church members, to commit adultery and attempt adultery with unconverted but married and dedicated Church employees, to use 'anointing of the sick' as a deceit to enter their beds and bodies - these things are despicable and abominations. The ministry must be held to a higher standard - the highest standard possible.
"Christ will forgive a minister after repentance (He has paid their penalty with his blood), but once the minister has shown himself as unfit for the ministry - once he has revealed himself as not abiding by God's laws and the standards set forth in I Timothy for a minister, from an organizational standpoint there must be a change which others will interpret as a correction.
"Newspapers in the area have probably already received word of the scandal. It is essential, as you know, to take the remedial steps that you have in mind before the story breaks over our heads. We cannot lie to the press, can we? We must maintain our credibility. I agree with your plan to discipline the Dean boys by sending them to the field under mature Pastors. This will give us the opportunity to salvage them, if possible, and to let the public know that whatever problems we may have had, they were Church matters, subject to Church jurisdiction and that we had no further comment for the press.
"Aaron Dean, of course, was primarily responsible for spreading false and salacious rumors concerning your own wife. Furthermore his lying about his university training in the field of accounting was obviously transparent to you at the time.
"Mr. Kotora's revelations, however, about Aaron's financial dealings which cost Church members in excess of $50,000 clearly revealed Aaron's motivation - to make money. Let us not forget that this whole series of financial dealings took place during the crisis when he should have been occupied as never before with Church affairs.
"Perhaps the listening in on your telephone conversations as described so dramatically by Dr. Kessler is really not so surprising after the Wayne Cole experience of 1978 when your telephone conversations were illegally taped. I am certain that it is simply a question of time before other taped conversations of yours appear. The only question is whether they will be heard this time on '60 Minutes' or some other program.
"With respect to Joe Tkach, I recommended him. Although I did know about his connection with Mr. and Mrs. Timmons (two of the relators in the lawsuit), I did not find out the full details concerning his illegal fencing activities until they surfaced recently while we were preparing our civil rights case. He is obviously not the man I recommended to you and I apologize for my error in judgment.
"Ellis, of course, admitted that he lied to you about his visit to my wife and Virginia in September. As to his other involvement, it was perhaps primarily one of trying to keep Joe, Kevin and Aaron from being discovered for what they were and what they were doing. It was important for them to try to discredit your wife because they knew she was aware of their activities for some time.
"As usual, the Living God intervened and once again we averted another master blow of Satan. We must continue, however, to be vigilant as he will give us no surcease. He knows his number is up unless he can destroy God's Church.
"I do feel a sense of regret, however, that in the process you and Henry quarrelled. Henry is reserved and a 'babe in Christ,' but he is very resolute and forthright when he does speak and act. The few intemperate comments you made to others (comments which you say you did not mean) did get back to Henry from various reliable witnesses and, simply stated, his feelings were hurt. Perhaps you will find a way to restore your prior working relationship. Certainly your apology to him did much to make that possible.
"As for me, you are again right when you say that July 1 is somewhat in the distance and even if my resignation should remain effective, nothing would really be changed. We shall of course discuss this later.
"Joe Kotora, as you have suggested, might well be a good assistant for you in place of Henry but not necessarily in Tucson. He has his family in Pasadena and may not want to move unless you insist.
"In any event, we have completed the most successful campaign yet and you are now even more able to cope with the problems that we will necessarily encounter as we strive together to complete this Great Work."
With love in Jesus' name,
Stanley R. Rader
We would have liked to have gotten Mr. Rader to comment on this letter, but he has refused. (In fact, we understand Mr. Rader refuses to make any public statements about HWA or the WCG.) However, Mr. Rader has not denied the authenticity of this letter. The Report also wrote to Joe Tkach and the Dean brothers asking them to comment on this letter. They too have refused to comment in any way. We did learn, however, that Mr. HWA did punish the Dean brothers in 1981 for the infractions mentioned in this letter. Their punishment was banishment for a few weeks to a Palm Springs hotel (all expenses paid).
Never Lost a Case?
Have you ever heard the myth that the WCG has never lost a court case? It's one that's been told repeatedly to WCG members over the years. Those who've bothered to check up on the facts, however, have discovered that, like a lot of other WCG fairy tales, it just isn't so. Here is an excerpt from an article that appeared in The Atlanta Constitution on Oct. 5, 1982.
"The [U.S. Supreme] court also let stand a decision dismissing a lawsuit seeking the transfer of a house in Fitzgerald to religiously affiliated Ambassador College.
"The owner of the home executed a deed that provided for the home in Ben Hill County to go to the college at her death. However, her daughter contested the deed saying her mother suffered from mental incapacity. The college's refusal to supply certain information about its finances caused the state courts to rule in the daughter's favor. The college, which trains ministers for the Worldwide Church of God, then sued in federal court to have the home returned to the school but lost."
Ralph Helge an Evangelist?
Don't be surprised if lawyer Ralph Helge is ordained an evangelist in 1983. One long-time WCG observer told us: "Helge is probably the church's most important employee, he's extremely loyal to Mr. Armstrong, and a good speaker. All he lacks is ordination. That may come this year. Don't forget, Stan Rader also rose to the evangelist rank all at once."
Helge's loyalty to HWA is so great that recently he even phoned Garner Ted Armstrong in Tyler in an attempt at reconciling GTA to his father. Sources in Tyler say that during the lengthy conversation Helge told GTA he needed to show greater respect for his father. Ted's reply was reportedly that he does show his father respect but there are limits. After all, he told Helge, "he s----ed my sister for ten years!" We do not know what Helge's reply was to that.
WCG members at this past year's Feast of Tabernacles were given a number of special printed instructions. For instance, there was to be no tape recording of sermons. There was to be no applause:
"... for special music, sermonettes or sermons. However, spontaneous applause for announcements of inspiring developments in the Work, special intervention or miracles from God, or a special appearance by Mr. Herbert Armstrong would be appropriate and fitting."
And of course:
"All checks must be made payable to Herbert W. Armstrong or Herbert W. Armstrong, a Corporation Sole."
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Apostle Armstrong has recently been angry at television preacher Gene Scott. Apparently Scott has adopted HWA's British-Israelism doctrine without giving any credit to HWA.
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"True Christianity is not merely a set of beliefs. It is not joining a church. It is not something to be practiced one day a week or at odd intervals."
-Clayton Steep, in the January 1983 Plain Truth
Biblical Church of God Shakeup
In November, the Biblical Church of God (BCG) announced the resignation of its leading spokesman, Fred Coulter. It appears that the board of directors of that church felt Mr. Coulter was centralizing too much power in himself and so the board asserted its authority and asked for his resignation. Some have pointed out that the WCG's legal authority also rests with its board, but that those men, in contrast to the BCG's board, have either never understood their legal responsibility and powers, or have simply lacked the character to stand up to Herbert Armstrong.
We do not have firsthand knowledge of the details of the BCG shakeup. Those who may require more information should write to the parties involved (The Biblical Church of God, P. O. Box 1510, Hollister, CA 95023; Fred Coutler, P.O. Box 1245, Hollister, CA 95023). Over the last few years, we have found Mr. Coulter to be a very personable individual and a good friend of the Report. And we wish him the best of luck in the future. So, too, the BCG, which we hope will be able to resolve whatever difficulties it may be having at this time.
Ambassador Alumni News
Remember when Herbert Armstrong could honestly boast that he was the biggest tithe-payer in the WCG. Well, apparently no more. Sources in Texas say that that honor now goes to Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Gentry of Big Sandy, Texas. In 1975 Mrs. Gentry decided to try her hand at needlework and created "Sue and Sam," rag dolls which she and her husband began to mass produce and sell. Since then their family business has expanded to include a restaurant, gift shop, and a newspaper. Business has boomed to such an extent that now they have 125 employees and must make extensive use of an IBM computer to process orders. Their success story was reported in the September 13 issue of Computer World
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Larry Goodman, former pilot on the Falcon for HWA and later a pilot at the Big Sandy campus for six years, is now a national recruiter for Sales Consultants of Nashville, Tennessee. He recruits sales and sales management personnel for Fortune 500 companies nationwide.
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The October 26, 1982 issue of Globe reported that Dr. Robert Kuhn is now a professor at New York University's Graduate School of Business. He lectures on corporate strategy.
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Former WCG writer Bob Gentet is now living in Kansas. He recently got his M.S. degree in geology and is looking for work in that field or in teaching.
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We are saddened to report the death on October 10 of Donald Ecker, who until the last few years, was a member of the Ambassador College music department. Mr. Ecker, previous to teaching at the Pasadena campus, was a music instructor and accompanist at the Bricket Wood campus in England. His death resulted from head injuries caused by being beaten with a baseball bat during the course of a robbery at his Pasadena home. A television set was reported stolen, and a number of suspects have been arrested and charged with the crime. Many Ambassador alumni, including the editor of this publication, will remember Mr. Ecker as not only a very fine piano instructor but as a kind man who was very devoted to his church. We extend our sympathies to his family and friends.
Groups of Interest
We were recently informed that Gordon R. Terblanche, a long-time WCG minister in South Africa has broken away from the Armstrong organization and is ministering to a group of over fifty in that country. He may be contacted by writing: Gordon R. Terblanche, P.O. Box 20321, Alkantrant 0005, Rep. of South Africa.
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A new sabbath-keeping group, composed mainly of former WCG members, has formed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. More information may be had by writing: David Erman, 825 Firestone, Richardson, Texas 75080.
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The British-Israelism theory is not one that we are particularly enthusiastic about. But for those readers who may be interested in this area of study, there are two organizations that put out materials on this subject: The Covenant People's Advocates, P.O. Box 68, Velma, Oklahoma 73091; and New Beginnings, P.O. Box 228, Waynesville, North Carolina 28786. The latter also puts out material on the "conspiracy of illuminism."
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F.R.E.E., 1807 Columbus Ave., Waco, Texas 76710 - This organization puts out information about the influence of the Council on Foreign Affairs and the Trilateral Commission on U.S. government policy. One flyer, containing a list of top government and business leaders who are members of the two organizations, is particularly informative.
Literature of Interest
The Shofar (P.O. Box 20023, Phoenix, AZ 85036) - a free newsletter edited by Robert C. Williams. Mainly doctrinal in content, the current issue asks the question: "Are you better off today, spiritually, than you were a year ago?" Also, occasionally has news about the WCG.
Divorce & Remarriage - What Does the Bible Really Say? by Ralph Edward Woodrow - one of the very best works we've seen on the subject. Contains a great deal of enlightening information on Biblical interpretation. Highly recommended. Price $3.95. Available at Christian bookstores or write: Ralph Woodrow, P.O. Box 124, Riverside, CA 92502.
World Insight (P.O. Box 35, Pasadena, CA 91102), a newsletter edited by Ken Storey, has come out with a November 1982 issue after some months of non-publication. That issue's lead article is "Are You Fulfilling God's Law" by David Ord. Mr. Ord's first wife, Jan, also writes articles on Christian living. The Jan.-Feb. 1982 issue of Union Life (P.O. Box 2877, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137) contained an article about the breakup of her marriage entitled "The Alternative to Divorce."
The Broadway to Armageddon - a 234-page expose of the WCG, which first appeared in 1977, is still available. The price is $7.95 postpaid. Write the author: William B. Hinson, 8240 Spruce Land, Powell, TN 37849.
On pages 2-3 of the September 30 issue you wrote: 'With The Plain Truth's circulation growing so rapidly, it comes as no surprise that the WCG's membership is also growing. Writing in the August 6, 1982 issue of Christianity Today, Joseph Hopkins reports that the WCGs membership is growing at the rate of 1,000 new members a year. " My question is: Where is it growing? It is not growing in Chicago, New York New Jersey, Houston, Miami St Petersburg, Wheeling, Hampton, Norfolk, Pittshurgh, or Philadelphia! I know people in those areas and they tell me that the growth there is about zero. In fact the minister in Pittsburgh said the people are leaving the church...
In many areas there are no jobs available, and the church members are hit hard because they will not work on Saturday. Some have had their lights and gas turned off and some are losing their furniture...
The church members cannot support their families, let alone Herbert Armstrong. One member was taken to court for not supporting his family. The judge told him if he sent Herbert Armstrong any more money he would go to jail for not supporting his family...
The ninety-five new congregations you mentioned on page 2 were not all for new members. Many members were becoming upset because they had so far to travel to services, and the price of gasoline is so high. So to make things easier, smaller churches were set up closer to where members live.
Editor. We suspect you are right In the future we will be more careful not to accept official WCG statements at face value. We should have known better.
Well, the break has been made. On June 10, 1 was disfellowshipped because I had doubts about the need to keep the Sabbath as a means of salvation. We had anticipated that if our true feelings concerning law and grace (or at least our true doubts) were to become known, we'd be kicked out so we had written a general letter to our 10 or so friends in the local church, telling them goodbye. We had never talked about any of our doubts to anyone, so we knew that our departure would come as quite a surprise to them. To be honest, we sent the minister a copy of the letter. My husband's name was in the letter though I signed it myself. I sent it out just as soon as the minister had left, before he could "mark" us from the pulpit so that our friends wouldn't read our letter. Our minister called on June 11 and asked my husband if he felt the way I did since his name was in the letter. My husband said that he had some questions that he needed to work out, and the minister said he'd just disfellowship him, too. And of course, he had to mark me, since I had signed the letter.
One friend called to find out what had happened. As for the rest one has let us know that they think it best if we discontinue our close friendship, one would like to visit with me still, but is afraid of being "found out," and the others we haven't heard from, nor do we expect to. We feel better and better about it all every day, but I myself do have some days when I wake up from dreaming about friends I have left behind, and I feel depressed - a great sense of loss. We've had a number of ex-church members call and congratulate us on our return to sanity.
I've thought at various times about others' stories, in coming out of the Church, and mentioned to several people that I have had thoughts of writing a book about peoples' experiences, and have been surprised at the positive reception others have given that idea. I would appreciate the input of some of the AR readers. Would a book about the WCG/AC experience be a good idea? What is your own story (or the story of someone you were close to) in the WCG/AC? How did you come out and how was it handled? What did the experience do to you emotionally, spiritually? What have you gained? What have you lost? How would you help someone just beginning to "make the break"? What would you say to someone just beginning to read the PT, order the GN, and take the Correspondence Course? In short how can we who have come out help those who will come out after us - or those who are just going in? Thank you for your help.
600 Old Main
Newton, KS 67114
Editor. Over the years we have run many letters from former WCG members telling of their experiences. Unfortunately, space limitations have forced us to omit many very interesting letters. We would therefore like to encourage readers to put their experiences on paper and send them to Mrs. Denzler. A book composed of such letters would make a real contribution to the lives of many. However, based on our own experiences with letters, let us make a few suggestions: (1) write very legibly, or better yet, type your story, (2) don't just send the first thing that comes into your mind. Once you've written your story, let it rest a while, get others to make suggestions, and then do at least one rewrite to perfect your work, and (3) if at all possible, give permission to have your name published. Mrs. Denzler said she would consider keeping author's names confidential, but some identification would perhaps give the reader more confidence that he is reading truth, not fiction. We wish Mrs. Denzler the very best in this project.
Try a little harder than the last letter. [I] would like a REPORT, not gossip and hearsay!
Please take our name off your mailing list. We don't know what misguided person gave it to you in the first place. If we had wanted "dung" in the house we would go to a farm and get the real thing. We certainly don't want it arriving in the mail!
I am preparing a thesis for a higher degree on religious cults - specifically the relationship between mass media propaganda (eg., Plain Truth, etc) and maintenance of cult membership (e.g., WCG) and find your material most helpful. It would be very helpful to my research to receive input from former WCG members in Australia. My objective is not to expose the Armstrong church as much as to understand the processes which lead up to membership and then maintain it. In addition, I may he able to assist those who are contemplating withdrawing from the WCG. This is a Christian ministry as a service of love to my Worldwide brethren. Interested persons should write to P.O. Box 170, Gordon N.S.W. Australia 2072.
My family and I are amazed at the wealth of information in your expose of the self-exalted ones at Worldwide. However, our contact here in ... is infrequent so could you add our name to your mailing list? Our copies will be read by many other families. When my brother was leaving the WCG he told them he wanted all the facts and to hear both sides of everything, not just what they at Pasadena wanted them to hear. He was told he was like Eve - she wanted to know it all too. Jeff Booth, a former minister, wanted some answers too and met with HWA. The great "Apostle" said to him: "How dare you question me? When you question me you question Jesus Christ!" (How about that?) When asked about the Pentecost fiasco he said God had bound his mistake in heaven for 40 years. Jeff said no, Mr. Armstrong, God doesn't bind errors. (It's no surprise that he was fired four times before the meeting was over.) Here's another dandy. When asked why he didn't give credit to all who had helped him, Mr. Armstrong screamed "No, no, it was all done through me, me. I was in charge! I gave you and everyone else everything on a silver platter. "He flew into a rage when J.H. Allen and G. G. Rupert were mentioned. He also told Jeff he was a nothing, a nobody, unteachable, unconverted, etc. This meeting took place in 1980 so it's really ancient history. At present Jeff and a group of former Worldwide people are meeting together in Amarillo, independent of any organization.
-An AR Reader
In the fall of 1980 you ran in Ambassador Report the news of the death of Shirley [Woodbury], my first wife. Lola Crain - a former WCG member whose maiden name was Lading - saw one of your Ambassador Reports from a friend, and she wrote me a sympathy letter. Lola's husband, James (Gene) Crain, had died at about the same time my wife Shirley had died. Since she asked me to drop by if I was ever in Kansas City and since she was still at that time in the WCG, I went by. She now is Mrs. Lola Woodbury, so thanks from us both for your help!
Kindly send me on a regular basis your publication Ambassador Report. I would be grateful if you could send me as many back copies as possible. I may not be able to pay or contribute anything to your paper because there is no foreign exchange in Guyana. We are not allowed to send out money from this country which is totally bankrupt. We don't even get basic foodstuffs to buy.
I am a longtime member of WCG. It's totally disgusting to see and hear what is going on here in Guyana in the church. Sometimes I wonder if we are heading for another Jim Jones "brew." Members are not thinking. They are not even proving all things as the Bible says.
-Guyana, South America
On January 11, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court order directing Herbert W. Armstrong to return to Tucson to testify in his divorce suit. HWA's lawyer, Allan Browne, claimed that requiring HWA to give testimony might prove fatal. Ramona Armstrong's attorneys, however, have given their assurance that HWA would be merely required to answer questions, "not required to sing and dance." Allan Browne told the court that HWA had planned to make a trip to China, but the court felt that if he can go to China, he can go to Tucson.
In the meantime, because of alleged harassment at her Tucson residence and the fear of violence, Ramona has left Arizona and is living somewhere in Nevada. There is now talk of having HWA extradited from California to compel his appearance in Tucson for testimony.
Again, it seems, we've put together an issue that is longer than originally planned and longer than we can afford We suspect, however, that our readers will find the information in this issue both interesting and valuable. So we're going ahead on faith.
Our thanks to all of you who are still with us in this endeavor.
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