Armstrongism and Alcoholism
by Bob G.
I'm one of those 70's Armstrongites who later became alcoholic. I Never even began drinking until I turned 22, and never drank in connection with any implied "permission" due to the drinking habits of anyone in the church. However, since I joined AA almost 11 years ago, I have discovered why I drank, and there is a connection.
For one thing, I never really knew a lot about the drinking habits of Worldwide Church of God members or leaders. Even if I had, there is no way to justify my past drinking behavior based on the actions of anyone else.
I have learned, the number one reason I drank excessively, was due to resentment. Interest in, and following of Worldwide Church of God dogma was a symptom of my rebellious nature, just as drinking came to be. I was angry over the concepts taught by the Worldwide Church of God.
Much of my resentment was brought about by the tenets of a church who placed themselves apart from the religious mainstream, and often, from society in general. A religious sect which resented, even railed against those whom they claimed ignored, even deplored the word of God. A sect which claimed virtually everyone in the world was deceived, and led me to believe I was a victim of the faith I was raised in. A faith that, though not perfect, still kept me from manifesting the drinking behavior found in some members of my own family for many years.
However, I was not a hard-core Armstrongist. I never directly affiliated myself with their congregations. But I did collect and read almost all of their literature, and subscribed to their publications, and had a friend whom I discussed these things with often. Based on the numbers I read, I was not very unusual in this regard.
Once I drifted from the faith portion of religion, I became bitter, still believing I had been deceived and victimized, and still believing I lived in a world where the truth was scorned.
Manifesting this bitterness, I began to drink, and to smoke marijuana. I drank to drown the discomfort of my attitude toward society and religion, both. I scoffed at religion. Addiction followed close behind.
I see this attitude paralleled in many former affiliates of the Worldwide Church of God. Yes, many of us are individualists. Though intelligent and talented, we are often rebellious, and even misfits in some sense of the word. That, however, does not make us "bad" or "evil".
I write this letter to warn that hatred and resentment of a religion flawed by corruption can be dangerous. Attitudes that the world is out to deceive and take advantage of us are not productive, and can often be damaging to one's mental health, resulting in substance abuse.
Give it up, guys. God is not vengeful, nor is he dead. Choose your own conception of God. Your life experience and concepts about God as good as anyone else's. Even the concept of God that Herbert W. Armstrong assembled. There is no truth or dignity in living or dying with an addiction problem.
But I have to point out that recovery from alcoholism is something one rarely finds alone. Sharing the problems and relating to stories of other alcoholics, then seeking relief, along with a sincere desire for release from the problem does indeed produce astounding results. It's free, and speaking for others like me, AA will gladly help anyone who wants to find the love that Herbert W. Armstrong and his organization stripped away from his message. Love which ought to have been the essence of the message in the first place.
I prefer not to use my full name, but if anyone would like to contact me regarding this topic, you may reach me at email@example.com
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