The following excerpts and condensations represent only a small portion of the letters we received during the past year. The original copies are on file with the Report. The names of the correspondents have been omitted to protect their privacy. A number of letters refer to Ambassador Review, the predecessor of Ambassador Report. They are included because of their relevance to this publication.
The Cover Set the Theme
The cover set the theme - the roaring lion devouring the innocent ones, trampling Christ under foot, and there can be no doubt you've told it the way it is. Hope you boys and girls are wearing your bulletproof vests. They wouldn't even need John 16:2 for an excuse!
I certainly enjoyed the first edition of Ambassador Review and am looking forward to receiving the second edition with great anticipation. Prior to receiving the first edition, I had done considerable personal research on the Pasadena situation, and 80% to 90% of the material contained was no surprise to me and fully corroborated my findings. The remainder of the material contained was shocking, to say the least, but through continued interim research it has also proven to be factual.
After working at Ambassador College and supporting it with close to 26% of my income for over 15 years, I must say that while I love the people there, there is less and less regard for the truth at Ambassador College. Expediency reigns supreme in the college and the church that supports it....
No college can long exist to serve the public which attempts to hide and suppress truth in a Hitlerian fashion. No college that muzzles faculty members as does Ambassador College can be recapturing true values. Please, Ambassador Review, I beg you as a [WCG] member in good standing to do all you can to help wake up or remove the leaders at Ambassador who are ruining Ambassador College. Please do all you can to help make it a shining light to the community - an institution dedicated to serving mankind.
Although I am quite loyal to the WCG, I nonetheless find your magazine of interest. This is mainly because I am in the habit of thinking for myself.
I really felt compelled to send a letter to WASC [Western Association of Schools and Colleges]. I am a senior here at AC [Ambassador College] and I care a great deal about this school. The church and the college are my life - not just a passing thing.
Although I detect a bit of bitterness in the June 1976 Ambassador Review, I still consider it a worthy contribution in stimulating the Worldwide Church. If only you had remained members! [Editor's Note: Many on the Report staff are members.] This church needs all the thinking people it can get. Like any loyal member, I am concerned with building, not tearing down the institution. And I personally feel that academic and religious freedom would be a step in the right direction. I look forward to your next issue. Thank you for an interesting magazine.
Ambassador College Student,
Editor: Readers may wish to write WASC at the following address: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Sr. Colleges, Mills College, Oakland, CA 94613.
We have, within the last few days, been handed a copy of the Ambassador Review. WOW! After reading it, we are sick to realize how misguided we've been all these years.
We have talked to two ministers and have been deeply hurt by their lack of concern for our "salvation." They refused to help us with our questions. One said we were crazy, that we were only looking for a way out, which is not true. They have both warned us to keep our mouths SHUT.
I can't tell you how happy I am that someone is doing something about the Armstrongs. I have been a member of the WCG for the last 24 years, and I regret every nickel I ever gave them.
I feel badly because I worked for a man-god for over 10 years. Five of those years I was a local elder. I finally got my mind back. I found I didn't need the flying tit - you didn't put me on your list of those who have left mother Herbert!
It has been said you check your brain at the door when you go into Worldwide. This I believe.
We were baptized members of the WCG since 1953, and for 22 years we devoted our whole lives to it. I was a deacon and sacrificed family, time and money to the point of losing my health and nearly lost my home before my closest friend left the church and had us listen to a couple of Dr. Martin's tapes. We cut ourselves free just two weeks after signing a "loyalty to the Armstrong" list. It was just like coming out of a dark dungeon into the light.
Editor. Readers may wish to write to Dr. Ernest Martin at the following address: Foundation for Biblical Research, P. O. Box 928, Pasadena, CA 91102. Phone (213) 793-1144.
There was an article in the first issue of Ambassador Review which shocked me very much. As I understood the letter and paragraphs in the magazine, the purpose was to point out and help clear up wrong practices and thus help it (the college) keep going. It was not shown that it was to support another religious sect, and the article about the Catholic Church being the right and only one was entirely out of line, I thought. I hope nothing like it will be in future issues.
Editor: A few have written to us saying they were confused by the article you refer to. The author attempted to demonstrate that if Herbert Armstrong's arguments for proving the Worldwide Church of Cod is the one true church are taken seriously, they would much more logically point to the Roman Catholic church as the true church than to the WCG. The article was written in a satirical manner to point out the discrepancies in the WCG's reasoning.
Well, some of your information did not prove too factual, like that about D. J. Hill, did it? Also there is a rumor going around that Messrs. Portune and Plache are coming back into the fold. It would be nice to be kept up to date.
Editor: You're right. In fact, Mr. Trevor Higgins wrote informing us that he is still in the WCG. Our apologies to him for accidentally including his name in the "Executive Exodus" list in our 1976 issue.
As for the names you mentioned and others that have come to our attention, let us explain. We have discovered that in many cases it is virtually impossible to know whether some individuals are in or out of the WCG. For instance, in 1976 Richard Plache not only resigned from the WCG, but he also condemned it openly in the Los Angeles Times and began working for the Foundation for Biblical Research. Now, we hear he is again attending WCG Sabbath services, although apparently he is not on their payroll or preaching. We find this all a bit confusing as he also occasionally attends Sunday services at a local Protestant church. We're not criticizing him for any of this. We're simply pointing out that it is difficult to know whether some are actively supporting the Armstrong cult or not.
Al Portune has told us he is not planning to return to the Armstrong sect, church rumors and announcements notwithstanding.
Jon Hill has repeatedly by public conduct and private comment indicated that he is no longer an Armstrong "true believer." Yet, his name still appears in The Plain Truth staff box, and we have no reason to believe he is not being paid for his services.
In this issue we have updated the "Executive Exodus," adding a few names we previously neglected and deleting any which were in any way questionable.
Lost House and Job
I became ensnared in the Armstrong spider web in 1964 and became one of the leading men in the local church, and I still can't believe all the double standards of the leadership in their empire.
The nine years of life in the WCG were the most miserable years in my life, also the most costly. Money wise, tithes cost me about $10,000. I also lost my new home because I couldn't pay Armstrong and make house payments too. So I blindly followed the teachings of the Armstrongs and lost my home. I also lost my job that I had been in for 10½ years because of all the time I had to be absent because of the commands of the church. My family and I lived in poverty for the rest of the time we were in the church. I finally started asking questions and couldn't get any answers from the church in 1971 and made my escape in 1973. Life has been getting better every day since.
After spending 15 years and over $25,000 in donations, we are grateful to have retained our sanity, our marriage, and close relations with our children and family. Not all ex-members were so fortunate....
I have been reading the literature you sent me. I admire the stand you are taking. Keep it up. You may never know just how many you have helped. It really hurts to think that the money you so carefully scraped up and sent in [to the WCG] was used so uselessly. Many times I went without necessities "just to help the church." Now I am in my eightieth year, and if they knew I was reading your literature, they would disfellowship me without mercy.
My wife and I were involved for about 8 years with the Worldwide Church of God and during this time sent them $100 to $150 per month. We are now trying to extricate ourselves from the large debt incurred doing this and feel any small amount we are able to send to try and correct the terrible burden so many people suffer under would be a right and proper thing to do
Costs a Lot to Run a Church
I would like to tell you of just one of my experiences with the WCG. About two years ago when I found out about the Armstrongs and read about tithing, I quit tithing but continued to give freewill offerings. The minister who had just moved here from Atlanta (Mr. Wooten) found out I was no longer tithing (obviously from a computer readout) and told me in no uncertain terms that since I was not tithing I should not occupy a seat [in church] . He said it costs a lot of money to run a church. This, after I had contributed over $50,000 in the 12 years I was in the WCG. Not only this, but all literature from the WCG (Plain Truth, etc.) was immediately stopped.
I am 84 years old and I am a cripple, walking with two canes. I fell off a house roof onto a cement pavement, breaking and damaging my right hip. I have been rather emotional in regards to the church. I had built up a nest egg for my retirement. Armstrong had me believing that the end was near and he made appeal after appeal for funds for the work of God. I kept giving him extra each time, a thousand or two each time, until my savings were gone. I had 720 shares of Tsoro Oil stock which was a fast growing company. I was pretty well fixed for my retirement. I signed this over to the Worldwide Church to be used in God's work.
Knowing what I know now, I think you will find this stock in Armstrong's or Rader's portfolio. I never even received thanks for it. There was no receipt, only papers for me to sign and send back. I know I have been a sucker, for I have given the Worldwide Church over $50,000.
The following are my notes taken on a sermon given by Mr. John Pruner, pastor of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, church on November 13, 1971. Although we were subsequently asked to destroy our sermon notes, this was one set I felt I had to keep. Mr. Pruner made it very clear that we, as church members, did not have to contribute offerings strictly according to the percentages given in the sermon, but it was strongly suggested by headquarters that we do:
"Am I Handling My Finances God's Way?"
A. What does God Require From My Income?
1. First tithe - 10% of gross income --Lev. 27:30.
2. Second tithe - 10% of gross income - Deut. 12:5. Never borrow.
3. Third tithe - 10% of gross income - Deut. 26:12-15.
4. Regular offerings - should be 3% of gross income - Mal. 3:8.
5. Holy Day Offerings - should be 4% of gross income -- Deut. 16:16
6. Emergency Fund - send this directly to headquarters (no percentage given) - Deut. 15.
7. Fourth Year Fruit From Trees - Lev. 19:23, 25.
8. Firstfruits - Deut. 18:3-5. Don't give firstfruits to ministers, but estimate the value and send the money to headquarters.
9. Firstborn Male of Cattle - send money to headquarters.
10. Firstborn child - buy back with an offering sent to headquarters.
B. What Should We Voluntarily Contribute to God's Work?
1. Building Fund - 4% of gross income
2. Tithe of Tithe - 10% of second tithe
3. Loans to the Work
4. Gifts to the church
5. Special Emergency Gifts when the Work is in trouble
6. Library Fund
7. Recreational Fund
8. Spokesman Club Dues
9. Social Fund
A friend received his Ambassador Review copy and let us read it. It's great! Hope it does some good. We thought we had so many friends in the WCG, but you guessed it, we didn't. Herbert W. Armstrong managed in 11 years to get all the money he could get out of us. So now in retirement we have no nest egg, only a lot of regrets. But I think now we've discovered we have a Savior, and it isn't HWA!
In the beginning of "AICF" [Ambassador International Cultural Foundation] , I donated $750.00, which included a subscription to Human Potential. Also, there were requests for donations to support "Personal Campaigns" by headquarters in the Jacksonville area. To this I donated $300.00. As you know, neither the Human Potential magazine or the Jacksonville campaigns became a reality. The above are two of many such rip-offs.
I was captivated by the Armstrongs' broadcasts in 1959 and came to believe their claim that they were the one and only true church of God. At their insistence, I resigned my Air Force Reserve majority commission and pension rights, and later gave up my job with the Navy at a missile plant because the church frowned on work in the armament industry. This entailed loss of civil service pension rights. I leased 80 acres of land, went to work farming for a living, and gave myself over completely to serving one who led me to believe he was a true apostle of God. I served diligently and was later made a deacon in the local church.
In 1972 in a private conversation with a newly assigned minister, Bruce Vance, I mentioned that among other lesser doctrinal errors, they were keeping the Feast of Pentecost on the wrong day - that it should be on Sunday instead of Monday. He disfellowshipped me on the spot and later "marked" me to keep others from having any contact with me. No considerations whatever were made for my sacrifices for the church and many years of faithful service. He just completely cut me off. At no time had I ever been disrespectful or incorrect in my contact with him. When the church itself, a couple of years later, admitted their error and changed the day of observing Pentecost, they never came to apologize or to ask me back.
Nearly a Suicide
Our son nearly committed suicide three times, and we finally were forced to help him get some help through the state mental health department. He had been an honor student, selected for the National Honor Society, in music, an officer in several high school clubs, winner of speech and other contests in 4-H clubs, etc. He ranked in the 99 percentile on college aptitude tests, and he won a full scholarship to an Oklahoma university where he went for one year.
Our son gave up the fully paid scholarship to go to Ambassador College to learn "true knowledge." He was the first member of our family to be a member of the WCG, and he felt they were sincere in their seeking truth.
He had an inheritance to use for college purposes or vocational training. The ministers told him he had to pay 10% of it as a tithe to the church. Another 10% was to be used for church conventions (feasts), and another 10% every three years had to be paid out of his inheritance for third tithes. I objected, for the money was not income, increase from labor or investments. The money was a gift/inheritance to be used for educational or vocational needs.... But they told my son to give it and he gave it.
What did the minister tell me as a result of my bringing the question to him and disagreeing with his instruction? He said I was the same as being in defiance to God himself, and that we needed to do what the ministers said, right or wrong, because Herbert W. Armstrong set the rules and he was God's only personal representative speaking the truth in this age since the original apostles. They told me I had never had an answered prayer and never heard any truth until I had come to the WCG. (Now we were beginning to hear what the WCG really taught which they refused to tell us before we started to go to their church.) They taught that it was our duty to follow the instructions of the ministry, regardless if it was right or wrong. The duty of the laymember was to obey and not question, and the responsibility of God was to remove the man from office if he was teaching wrong. We were told if we went contrary to what they said, we would lose our only chance at eternal life and burn in hell because now was our chance to have salvation, for they were the only true church and the only true ministers following Jesus Christ.
At first our son was happy to be in [Ambassador] College. It was sort of a big family all loving one another and feeling superior to the "ignorant blind" who did not know all those super things. He became arrogant. When he had problems, he would call home to discuss them, but when the "ministers or seniors" would tell him different answers, he naturally followed their counsel. He was being taught that he knew nothing right from his childhood training and that all his former education was wrong. He was told that nothing he had learned through his earlier years could be right because he had not been a member of the WCG and his parents had not been members. He had gone to a "harlot church" where no truth could have been gotten.
So our son rejected all the Bible he had (previously) heard read, especially from the New Testament, and when trials started coming two years later he had nothing to lean upon, having rejected all he had before he went to AC at age 19.... Mental confusion, mental disillusionment was the result!
Ambassador College, we found, was not interested in developing the true potential of the students, except as they could serve the needs of the WCG. When they found out his talents were not such as to serve the church, they asked him to leave after two years to do something else or go to some other college. But his credit hours did not fit into any of his previously chosen fields (and wouldn't have been accepted at any other college anyway), and now his college money was almost gone.
Having no education or vocational training to get a decent job, having all his money used on first, second, and third tithes, he had nothing left to start over on. Also, at that time, if you did not "make it into the ministry," you were considered a failure and "lost your chance" at really amounting to anything. An inferiority complex ensued, and he became more and more a mental case.
They also taught that a man should hate himself, consider himself as dung!... Our son tried several things, but one blank wall came to another blank wall and one mental/emotional attitude led to another until he came to a complete dead end, suicidal, no hope situation in his own mind... Our son had a third mental breakdown before he could start upward to restoration. He hopes in a few more years to be back to where he was before he went to Ambassador College.
the mother of an Ambassador College student
(state not for publication)
My two eldest sons are both members of the Armstrong group, and the first literature you sent out was confiscated by them. Perhaps they informed you not to send any more. That is not so. Enclosed is $20. Please send the first material again and any that you have published since. Our family has suffered much because of this cult, and our eldest boy suffered mental and emotional derangement for two years. He was in torment and depression constantly, and we are still paying off the hospital bills. However, he did not leave the group. Our second son has started down the same trail, but our two youngest sons have seen what happened to their brothers and are very wary. What we can't understand is why they can't realize what they are doing to their lives. They seem to be totally brainwashed. Is there some way we can help them?
What really got the ball rolling for me was a book my wife brought home after she started back to work in mid-November of last year. In fact there were three of them. I had always thought that the identification of the United States and Great Britain was a sign that Herbert W. was a prophet, since I had always had a question in my mind about the greatness of these countries, which had to have a biblical explanation. That fateful night, she came in with Allen's Judah's Sceptre and Joseph's Birthright (1902), Rutherford's Britain-Israel and another by Gayer - all of which predated Armstrong. Then I knew he was a liar and a thief as well, since he did not footnote a single reference....
Separated Five Years
My husband and I were separated by the church for about five years from January 1961 to the winter of 1966. It was then decided we were married after all. Our separation caused a great financial hardship on us and necessitated my seeking employment at the age of 54. My husband's health was not good, and he suffered a heart injury around the fall of 1965. They [the WCG] let me nurse him, but as soon as he was on his feet I had to leave. At first I was allowed to be his housekeeper but later this was changed because "it caused a stumbling block to others." This separation caused severe mental and physical problems which are still with us to some degree. We are slowly overcoming the fear with which we were brainwashed from 1952 to 1974.
In 1971 my husband went on social security, and the minister said we had to tithe on the checks. It was the last half year of our "Third Tithe" year, and it took all of his monthly social security check to meet the three tithes. Living on my salary alone meant we borrowed money and while at it we borrowed $300 extra to send in to headquarters when the call came from there asking for help - beg, borrow (and they should have added "steal") whatever we could. We sold some property and tithed on it, though it was sold at a loss and the money used to purchase it had already been tithed on. My husband took a cash retirement settlement, from the state instead of getting monthly checks. Reason? 1972 - only the church needed money. He also tithed on this cash settlement, though it had already been tithed on each month he was working. Altogether, we gave about $30,000 to the Armstrong syndicate.
Incidentally, we did not leave the organization for any of the above reasons, but because when we stopped "taking their word for it" and really studied the Bible, we found so much error in their doctrines. After questioning some subjects, word came back to us that people in the church were being warned, "Steer clear of the .....'s. They are on shaky ground." Even the deacons and deaconess (with whom I had been close) turned their backs on us before and after services and would give no explanation when I asked why. Our Bible says Christ is love, and such treatment was entirely unscriptural. This was the final straw and we left.
As a direct result of the erroneous "Divorce and Remarriage" edict of the perfect, prestigious, prescient Pasadena prophet, Herbert W. Armstrong, I lived (?) alone from 1963 onward. Though divorced, I could not remarry. This momentous decision was given me personally by Raymond C. Cole and James L. Friddle, at that time two of HWA's top men.
Later, to add insult to injury, in the fall of 1964, I was ordered by James L. Lichtenstein, then HWA's personal rep. in our area, to quit my job. I was a civil servant at the local Air Force base. I did so, thus walking away from a well-paying job and security, giving up fifteen years of creditable Federal Civil Service, a liberal sick and annual leave system, and a good retirement. HWA's Worldwide Church of God justified this edict by stating that members' employment with any phase of the Department of Defense conflicted with their policy that no one was to serve their country in the military service. This was also expected to "avoid trouble for the church" in the future.
In the ensuing years I first worked for a fellow WCG member as a farmhand for 2½ years and at various part-time or seasonal low-paying jobs. Now I am at the age where when I approach a prospective employer, hat and application in hand, they very subtly reach for the 11-foot pole.
In retrospect, I personally learned two things of great value in my thirteen years as a member of the WCG: (1) How to live poor. (2) Why one should never bend over for any individual or group.
What has always disturbed me about Armstrongism is the way children were treated. I can still hear their pitiful cries as they were abused by their own parents. Future zombies, mental and physical wrecks, sadists and criminals are bound to come out of it. I was in Pasadena only nine months and I believe I went into shock almost immediately.
The first week I was there, in 1969, a young man and an older man who had to leave their wives committed suicide.
When my son was about 14 or 15 years old, I was invited to one of the Ladies' evenings of the Spokesmen's Club, and Mr. Robin Jones was the minister there. He came to me just before we went home and told me to tell my son Paul to get his hair cut. Actually, it wasn't long, just slightly longer at the back.... I told Mr. Jones that Paul said if he had it any shorter they would laugh at him at school. Do you know what Mr. Jones said to me? He said if he did not have it cut, my son, as young as he was, was to be thrown out of his home! I was really upset and worried.... I thank God that I didn't do as that so-called minister of God told me to do.
You see... I lost my husband when Paul was 6½ years old, and I can tell you he was bewildered and very uncertain and worried about losing me as I was all he had left.
Dr. Martin helped us both through a very difficult time in our lives, and I owe much to his kindness to us.
The minister was elated that we asked him to come visit us. We had a son who was attending Ambassador College and felt they were a sincere group of people.... Many of my questions the minister evaded. He said we'd learn the answers later....
The first thing the minister did was ask if we were a divorce-and-remarriage situation. I had been, 20 years before, married to another man who had been a fornicator and left me and our three children.
The minister said that since I'd been remarried... he would have to know all the exact pre-divorce details. Because, if certain things were true, then before my husband and I could be baptised, we would have to separate.
The minister said I must come in for a conference to tell my story and that I must have someone that could testify that the facts were true. MY husband was very enraged that the ministers would put me through this ordeal. I had to go back and tell them everything that happened 25 years or so before.... they quizzed me about all the extremely personal morbid details. Finally they decided that my husband and I did not have to get a divorce to be in the church. But I had to get a man who could confirm my testimony to write what he knew.... He was a "friend" of my ex-husband who had run around with him from early childhood and knew all his past activities.
My husband and I, married around 20 years or so at that time, were one of the lucky ones, as were our children. But the grief and sorrow of some who had been forced to divorce because of some foolish childhood marriage was always around.... The children were torn from parents who loved them and who loved one another. These distraught people would talk to me again and again. I could sympathize because it almost happened to us! I did not think it was scriptural. It seemed a cruel misinterpretation of the Scriptures. But I tried not to judge what they were doing because at that time I was still in ignorance....
Another example was... a nice lady with two children. She said her husband had briefly been married (about a month) to a girl when very young.... Because of this they were told they had to separate and no longer be man and wife.... the children were shifted between husband and wife. At church, the ministers recommended that they merely talk to one another and try to avoid this as much as possible because it would only hurt them worse.
Eventually this woman moved to another town with the children to try to make the separation more endurable. They suggested that the woman try to find another husband, but the man was forever barred from remarrying as long as his first wife lived....
Later, in 1974, the WCG changed the policy and decided to no longer do this. But it was too late for those that had been forced to divorce and marry someone else.
Just received Ambassador Review and it's just great. I wish it had been in existence before we ever heard of "god Armstrong." I'm sure my life would have been so different. To obey "god Armstrong" has cost me my health and has caused disharmony with my husband (where-to-fore we had a very happy marriage - but now it's almost hell). Also, my family has disowned me.
I used to listen to Garner Ted Armstrong speak of his happy marriage and "How to Have a Happy Marriage" until I was almost green with envy. And then one of Armstrong's ex-ministers told me that Shirley (GTA's wife) had attempted suicide at least twice, because of her unhappy marriage and GTA's adultery. I can't for the life of me see how GTA and HWA can lie down at night and go to sleep knowing how they have conned the people out of so much, not to mention the deception. My heart aches for them with grief.
We were members of the WCG and dropped out five years ago because I didn't agree with their teachings. My husband and I fought like dogs and cats over it. They told my husband he might just have to put me away. Shortly after that we left the WCG and have learned much since....
I was a member of the WCG from February 1968 until December 1975. Today I am separated from my wife, and she has my youngest daughter and I have the three oldest children. She was baptized at the same time I was, and she blames "The Organization" for our separation and for wrecking our children's lives as well as our own.
I feel the biggest problem was that I gave a large amount of tithes and offerings, which in turn kept us at a poor level of living for seven years. Since I left "the Church," I have almost doubled my income and do not pay tithes and have a better life except for the longing and pain I have to go through because my wife of 18 years is no longer with us.
In early December I called on the manager of radio station WGL, the oldest station in Ft. Wayne. I had a talk with him and accused the WCG of taking money under false pretenses. I also left him my copy of Ambassador Review. I have since learned that their contract with the Worldwide Church has been canceled. Would you please send me an additional copy of Ambassador Review? I will personally call upon the manager of another radio station carrying the GTA broadcast and also leave a copy of Ambassador Review with him....
I am fighting for the lives of these pitiful victims of this vicious cult and remember that four of the slaves are my children and grandchildren whom I love dearly.... I am aiding the Citizens Freedom Foundation and the Committee Engaged in Freeing Minds in their struggle to expose all the cults (right now the emphasis is on "Rev." Moon). However, as soon as they finish Moon off (and even now they are listing the WCG as a cult to be exposed), they will start on the others.
Editor: Readers who wish to write to these two organizations should write to: Citizens Freedom Foundation, Box 256, Chula Vista, CA 92012; and Ad Hoc National Committee Engaged in Freeing Minds, Box 5084, Arlington, TX 76011.
What Made Us Do It?
Even literature critical of the WCG unsettles, embarrasses, reminds me too much. From my point of view the "Ambassador experience" was a debacle, and my loud counsel to all of you who are expending the present portion of your very finite lifespans pursuing it is, Stop.
While an expose of the Armstrong operation's malfeasance will probably serve the end of reducing the number of their loyal adherents, a survey of the "Ambassador experience" surely ought not to scant consideration of the broad philosophical and psychological curiosities inherent in it. My correspondence with fellow apostates from the WCG frequently revolves around the question: What made us do it?
Indeed, not the least disturbing rumination on the "experience" is that we had or have the proclivity to it. A basic lack of reasonable humility (giving us the sense of God's scrutiny), a fear of error (leading to a surrender of personal autonomy), and a disgusting dilettantism and lack of patience, among many other things, brought us to affiliate with this man whose character is like ours in kind but different in degree by several orders of magnitude. Perhaps it is the fact that we see in Herbert Armstrong a caricature of ourselves that leads us, one fine day, to recoil from him.
I should be pleased if you would publish this as it speaks to a need to examine not just Armstrong but the climate in which he thrives - it examines the "cause rather than the effect," so to speak....
Your editorial policy on the matter seems obscure, but I have nothing to fear from exposure of these views in association with my name.
R. Stephen Estes, "B.A."
A.C., Big Sandy, Texas (1973)
After twelve years of the WCG. I'm left financially drained, spiritually empty.... my home broken up by divorce, and alienated from my former friends. Can such an organization be of God? I think not and pray the day of reckoning may soon come for the Armstrongs.
I just received your letter and was very happy with the news of the forthcoming, larger issue of Ambassador Review. Exposing the corruption of the WCG is not a pleasant nor an easy task (especially since many or perhaps most of its members will refuse to believe the truth about their so-called "Mother"), but surely it is a necessary one. The Administration led by the Armstrongs is great in coverup and in "telling it like it isn't." I noticed recently there has been an increased effort to encourage - inspire - or otherwise induce members to tithe and contribute more generously. Letters were solicited to show the blessings of tithing. Circular reasoning is called upon to "prove" their point. When a tithe payer is blessed, it is attributed to tithing. When a tithe payer is not blessed, it is blamed on a bad attitude or lack of faith. For fourteen years, my family and I faithfully paid our tithes: First, Second, Third [tithes] , Tithe of a Tithe, gave offerings to the point of sacrifice, borrowed money to give when requested and our attitude was only the desire to give more, if possible, for the "Work." But where were the blessings? I lost jobs to keep "holy days," forfeited a career, and nearly "gave" myself and family into bankruptcy. The blessings surely must have been spirit and invisible, as we never saw them.
Members of the WCG call their beliefs "The Truth." We called the WCG "the True Church" and Mr. Herbert Armstrong was called "God's apostle." It was painful to learn that the WCG was not true, not a church, and not of God, at least not any more so than any other group or organization which may have made similar claims. We who left the WCG were accused of "abandoning ship," but the truth is, and Worldwide members should be made aware, that the Armstrongs and the hierarchial administration abandoned them long ago. The Bible was replaced by church literature and Armstrong (or Headquarters) interpretation, the apostles were replaced by HWA, and the church, the work, and great commission were elevated in priority and importance above even God Himself.
When "coming in" to the Worldwide Church, most of us felt the intense desire to share with all our loved ones what we thought to be a wonderful new truth. Now we who have been privileged to have been released from the bondage of the Worldwide Corruption (WCG) have the same intense desire to share a new and better truth with our Worldwide family and friends. Our aim is to help, not hurt, and forgive rather than condemn. I would sincerely urge all Worldwide Church members to carefully consider the evidence presented in Ambassador Review and to not be afraid to ask questions and demand answers. I am reminded of the words of scripture that say, My (God's) people are destroyed for lack of knowledge and were willingly ignorant (not knowing). To question the Armstrong system is not synonymous with questioning God. May we all have hearts responsive to God, eyes open to His true light, and ears that yearn for the pure expression of the very mind of God and always on guard against the deceit of men.
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