Some revealing quotations from
Garner Ted Armstrong’s book:
In less than an hour after my mother’s death, my father was talking to about six or eight of us in his family room. He began saying , “I don’t suppose I should think about marrying again right away…” I felt a feeling of disgust grow to outrage, and boil up inside of me into a white hot anger at his words. for him to sit there, discussing marrying again even before my mother’s body had been removed from that upstairs bedroom was a shattering blow to the pedestal I had placed him on in my mind.
So far as I recall, this was the first time my father ever set eyes on Ms. Ramona Martin. He was immediately attracted to her, and began to ask her to accompany him as his hostess on many trips to come. She became to him like a traveling secretary, confidant, aide and hostess, and as the months passed, much more.
As he began to pave the way for the membership to accept his impending marriage, he began relating how God allowed my mother to die, because she could not have kept up such a grueling pace, could not have remained a companion and wife to him in this new phase of his idea of the great commission.
Personally , I did not think then , and do not think now , that a part of the commission of Christ is to bring speeches about the seven laws of success to the local Kiwanis or Rotarian club in New Delhi. Nor do I believe that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, to be preached in Jesus’ name, is about the eventual intervention of a strong hand from someplace. I realize some people thought this sentiment to be disloyal. However, I voiced my objections up front to my father on numerous occasions.
In another rather ridiculous side issue, but most important point in my ouster, I had asked Dr. Ward to serve as president of the college in Big Sandy until Mr. Ronald Dart obtained his doctrinal degree. The preceding commencement, my father had sat in the front row with his wife Ramona, listening to my commencement address, and then watching Dr. Ward announce each graduate’s name, shake his or her hand, and give them their diplomas.
Following the commencement exercises, he chatted with Dr. Ward briefly. How shocked I was to read in his letter demanding I disappear, that he was furious at me for appointing a man he didn’t even know to the presidency of the college.
On one occasion, a young handsome black man, named Mike Lord, was giving special music in Pasadena. My father was backstage, waiting to give a sermon. When he heard the name of the singer announced, he raged to those there that his son had appointed a black man to become president of the college. They had to quiet him down, explain to him that the man’s name was not Ward but Lord.
I shall not relate all the details leading to my father’s divorce. However, it is important to realize that we are talking about a man who regarded divorce right alongside the unpardonable sin; a man who had written powerful booklets, articles, preached powerful sermons, against divorce for more than fifty years! Thousands of prospective members were turned away from Worldwide Church of God membership because they had been divorced and had remarried, but were unwilling to put away the second marriage, as church doctrine, enforced solely by my father, then demanded.
A little background is necessary in order to understand the impending divorce in its proper context.
Back in 1956, my father had excommunicated my sister Beverly from the church for refusing to take off her makeup, a newly established taboo. From the early ’30’s until 1955 or 1956, there was no proscription against makeup. However, because most in the church tended to be hyper-conservative, only comparatively few women used it.
From 1956 until about 1974 or 1975, the use of makeup by women in the church was forbidden.
One Monday morning , after I had just returned from a large scale campaign in Seattle, Washington, a personal aide came into my office to inform me that my father had changed the makeup doctrine while I was away.
I was not privy to his plans. I found he had been discussing his problems with others. It seems Ramona had come to him, explaining how, when she was at his side at banquets overseas, together with my sister Beverly, who was now traveling with my father (some twenty years after his excommunicating her) and others of his company, she would wear makeup. All the women about my father, including the wife of his top financial advisor, wore makeup, as did the wives of foreign dignitaries, Japanese ambassadors and so on.
Ramona explained how strange it felt to her to have to take her makeup off only when sitting beside him in church, but to wear it all the rest of the time.
My father decided to review the booklet he had written back in the mid ’50’s. He called a group of ministers together for lunch, talked it over, went back to his office and wrote an official letter changing the doctrine all within about two to three hours! How strange it was to have my father write a lengthy story in the WWN after my ouster, about how I changed the makeup doctrine while he wasn’t looking, how I had become a liberal and was watering down doctrine!
Now to the point: my father became increasingly disenchanted with his marriage.
Shortly after his return to Pasadena, my sister Dottie was again a guest in his home. In a discussion with him about his disgust with Ramona, his belief there had been a plot to put him in a mental institution, my sister said, “Well dad, why don’t you just divorce her?”
He retorted, “I am working it out where she will divorce me!”
He gave my sister to believe that if he changed the makeup ruling back again, she would balk and refuse to take it off. He knew the marriage was already in a shambles. He believed he had been used, betrayed, was in fear of a plot against him. Yet he wanted it to appear she was committing spiritual offenses, refusing to submit to church government, so he could invoke the scripture which says: “If the unbeliever depart, let him (her) depart….”
Almost immediately, his article appeared labeling makeup as a great sin and alleging I had been the one to change it.
As a result of his blast against me in his publications, I sent him the following letter on April 25, 1979.
“You continually say I threatened you. But you never say what it was I threatened you with. For my part, Dad, I intended leaving that personal, family problem behind in your study! I never imagined you would play the dangerous game of brinkmanship, really carrying out your threat to destroy me by telling the brethren and the world that I had threatened to destroy you.
Actions speak louder than words. From the time of my ouster, it is very clear just who has been trying to destroy whom.”