An American Horror Story

A great many people have little enthusiasm for being free and autonomous. Such a prospect terrifies them! Most want to “have a place,” to be a piece of the “in” swarm, to be in the place where the “activity” is. They need to hitch their wagon to a “cause,” to a religious or political master – a idea that will in any event, loan a feeling of direction to their generally hopeless reality. Thus, many are ready to end up as “genuine adherents” to a political or religious cult!

Introduction

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In the mid 195O’s and nearing retirement, Garnet and his wife happened to stumble on to The World Tomorrow radio program. They were awed. It was by all accounts what they were searching for. They would soon  be baptized into the Radio Church of God. A cult who’s tentacles maintained a diabolical grip on its adherents, bringing forth satanic human destruction strewn in the wake of Herbert Armstrong in his underhanded desire for acclaim, fortune and cruel influence.


Are you frustrated? Is your life in turmoil? Is your marriage a disaster? Are your finances in shambles? Are you turned off by the sham of popular religion? Are you nauseated by the phoniness that dominates today’s society? Are you seeking for answers? Are you now ready to get yourself involved in truly purposeful and worthwhile endeavor?

If your answer is, Yes, look out! You’re in dangerous territory. Your immediate decisions and actions could be extremely hazardous to your wealth, not to mention your future spiritual well-being

You are a prime candidate for suckerdom!

FATAL ATTRACTION

If you presently find yourself in the position described above (and don’t we all at one time or another in our lives?), you may possibly find yourself attracted to the television program that is presently at the top of the religious program charts: I refer to The World Tomorrow program.

Watch out! It could be a fatal attraction!

It is easy to see why this slick, well produced program would attract the attention of many people who are concerned about the present state of our nation, The World Tomorrow appears to offer solutions to the great questions of the day. If you call (toll free, of course) the sponsors or the program, the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) headquartered at Ambassador College, in Pasadena, California, they will graciously send you a free subscription to their monthly publication, The Plain Truth magazine. Upon request, they will also send you (“free” of course) vast collection of glossy publication on a multitude of religious and other topics, topics that will stimulate your mental processes and encourage you to seek the “answers” that are presently lacking in you life.

These “answers,” naturally, are only available from one source -”God’s one true church,” which conveniently happens to be the Worldwide Church of God.

Beware ‘Ambassadors’ bearing “free” gifts!

CO-WORKERS AND THE “GREAT COMMISSION”

Many recipients of this “free” material, impressed by its quality and apparent truthfulness, begin to feel guilty for not having paid for it.

They decide to “help out” by sending in a check.

By return they receive a letter of thanks addressing them as “co-worker’s in THE Great Work of God.” If they continue to contribute money, they receive lengthy “co-worker letters” extolling the alleged virtues of “the Work” and telling of the grandiose plans being implemented to “spread the gospel” still further afield.

With each passing “co-worker letter” it is heavily implied that the Great Creator God of Heaven and Earth has Personally led you into direct contact with His “one true church.” You should now “obviously” want to join the “select of the elect” (WCG), attend church services, and play your God ordained part in the fulfillment of the “great commission.” Obviously!

The ploy is subtle. It’s very attractive, It appeals to the ego. It seems to be logical and make sense, gives you a sense of “worth,” Who, after all, would be spiritually dumb enough to turn down the Creator’s direct and Personal invitation to become one of His “elect” and have “a part in His great end time Work”? Few indeed!

After all, who wishes to commit spiritual suicide?

AN ADDED BONUS

Stop! There’s more. As an added bonus, you are personally guaranteed that, in “the glorious and wonderful World Tomorrow,” you PERSONALLY will have a direct part in straightening out this sin sick world. Who could ask for anything more?

Heady stuff, this exclusivist religion!

TRUE BELIEVERS

Let’s face it! There is a great emptiness – a yawning void – in the hearts and lives of most people. This vacuum cries out to be filled!

But there is a problem! Most people have little interest in being free and independent. Such a prospect frightens them! Most have a burning desire to “belong,” to be part of the “in” crowd, to be where the “action” is. They want to hitch heir wagon to a “cause,” or to a religious or political guru – a leader who will at least lend a sense of purpose to their otherwise miserable existence. As a result, many are ripe to become “true believers” in a political or religious cause!

THE CHURCH WAS THEIR LIFE

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Mr. Garnet Hill of Miami, Florida, was one such true believer. In the early 195O’s and nearing retirement, Garnet and his wife happened to stumble across The World Tomorrow radio program. They were impressed. It seemed to be what they were looking for. They responded, and were later baptized Into the Radio Church of God later to become the Worldwide Church of God).

From the beginning the Hills were totally identified with its alleged purposes and goals. The church was their life!

Like all “good” church members, the aging Garnet Hill and his wife gave at least ten percent of their meager income’ to Worldwide Church of God. Every third year they gave an additional ten percent to the church for the sustenance of the widows and others in dire need, In addition to this horrendous financial burden, the Hills (like all “good” church members) repeatedly gave sacrificially as instructed by their new guru, “God’s one true apostle,” Herbert W. Armstrong. He always said the money was “desperately needed” to do “God’s Work.”

SELLING HIS LAND

In 1970, Garnet Hill (then in his late seventies and with his wife ill with cancer) responded in his usual whole-hearted manner to yet another of Armstrong’s urgent pleas for more money to keep “the Work of God” moving ahead.

In additional to his home, Hill owned six plots of land in Hollywood, Florida, valued at $35,000. In his zeal to comply with Armstrong’s relentless demands, Hill decided to sell the land and give the lion’s share of the proceeds to “the Work.”

The sale of the six plots was left in the hands of Armstrong’s local representative, Brent Curtis, and his assistants. Later, Hill was told that the sale realized $30,000, or $5,000 less than the land’s assessed value. Of this, Hill gave $20,000 to “the work.” He asked for $10,000 for himself, so that he could meet any emergencies that might arise in his old age.

NO RECEIPT

When, after a number of months, he had failed to receive a receipt for his generous donation Hill began to ask Curtis and Armstrong’s other agents in the Miami area for an explanation. Although his queries went unanswered, Hill was accused of being a trouble maker. He was told to “be patient.” He was also told he needed to “repent” of his “bad attitude.”

Hill was then ordered to “keep quiet” about the apparent theft of his $20,000. His reply was that it would be “a sin to cover up sin.”

FOLLOWING CHRIST’S ADMONITION

Four years later, Hill decided to follow Christ’s admonition in Matthew 18:15-17. On February 10, 1981. ins “personal” letter to Herbert W. Armstrong, he took his $20,000 problem to “headquarters” in Pasadena, California. Hill expected, in all good faith, that the problem would be immediately corrected.

On November 9, 1973, Bob G. Seelig of the accounting department at Pasadena “headquarters” had written Mr. Hill. Seelig stated that they had “checked all (their) donation records and other sources of information (and)… there seems to be no knowledge or record here of your donation.”

Three years and three months later, on February 14, 1977, in a letter from “the legal office at God’s work,” and signed by Benton Nesmith, Hill was informed that his funds had been somehow “mis-applied.” Nesmith went on to explain that “we recently succeeded, after a protracted effort, in obtaining $5,000.00 for the church. This represents a portion of the funds from the sale of your lots which were not sent to headquarters…”

[In the words of Neville Gilbert, a close friend of Hill, “the Pasadena crooks had apparently put the ‘heat’ to the Miami crooks, who had in turn come through with 25% of the stolen loot”].

This blatant admission of deceit and fraud was followed by a request that he (Hill) send the church the deeds to his remaining property. Also enclosed was information on how to bypass probate for savings accounts. The church obviously wanted all his savings when he died!

NO LONGER WELCOME

Late in 1981, Hill, now 87, in rapidly failing health and legally blind, received a phone call from Al Kersha, Armstrong’s new head man in Miami. Kersha was angry: “You are not welcome (at services). I am putting you out of the church for talking about it” (the theft). Hill later told friends that Kersha then slammed down the phone with such violence that it hurt his (Hill’s) ear.

Garnet Hill was devastated by his excommunication from Worldwide Church of God. He now found himself alone, with no family or friends. His former “brethren in Christ’ were forbidden to speak with him, for fear of being contaminated by his “sin.”

A few lay members in the Miami Worldwide Church of God congregation tried to give Hill moral support, phone calls etc. but feared to do more for him lest they, too, be excommunicated on orders from the Pasadena Pope.

The Armstrong cult has a diabolical grip on its adherents

NO MERCY AND COMPASSION

During the months following his excommunication Hill, broken, disillusioned, emotionally destitute, and now legally blind, cried out for help. Only one Worldwide Church of God deacon had the courage of his spiritual convictions. He heard Garnet Hill’s cry, and helped him.

TREATED WITH CONTEMPT

It would, perhaps, be logical to assume that “God’s true church” would respond, as Jesus did on similar occasions, with mercy and compassion. Wrong again!

Mr. Hill’s personal letter to “God’s one true apostle,” Herbert W. Armstrong, protesting his excommunication was treated with the same contempt that has consistently characterized the cult that has become known an ‘The Worldly Church of God.”

February 10, 1981

Dear Mr. Armstrong:

I was put out of the Church for TELLING THE TRUTH. I am 87 years old and can hardly see.

In 1970 I received your letter how bad the Church needed money. My wife had cancer, and I didn’t have much cash. But I did own six lots so I gave those to the church. The lots sold for $30,000. I got $10,000 and $20,000 was to go to the church.

I GOT NO RECEIPT.  I ask [ed] Mr. Curtis minister at the time and he said
don’t worry about it.  He kept telling me the same thing. AFTER A LONG TIME I wrote Pasadena about the $20,000.  They NEVER RECEIVED IT.

This is where my troubles started because I started asking what happened to the $20,000.  I WAS TOLD TO KEEP QUIET and told don’t talk about it.  You said it was a SIN TO COVER UP A SIN.  I HAVE BEEN MISTREATED BECAUSE I WOULD NOT COVER UP.

Last Penticost [sic] Mrs. Witte a church member ask me about the problem. I told her I felt terrible about the COVER UP.  She said I don’t believe a word you said.  The next day Mr. Kersha the new local minister called on the phone and said ‘You ARE NOT WELCOME, I am putting you out of the church for going around telling people about it.’  I was standing by the wall.  SHE CAME TO ME.  MR. KERSHA WOULD NOT LET ME TELL HIM TRUTH.  Mrs. Wittle sought me out I did not seek her.

My friends no longer call me. After Mr. Hill was disfellowshiped
Someone must have SPREAD EVIL ABOUT ME.  I am not the one who had done evil.  Mr. Pearson a deacon, later promoted to elder has not liked me because I would not sell him my deceased wife’s rings for $700.  After I had already had them appraised for $1850 at House of Diamonds of Miami.  He got angry with me because I turned them into the church.  Mr. Armstrong I ask you WHO DID THE WRONG? . . . WHY HAVE ALL THE MINISTERS TREATED ME LIKE I WAS THE THIEF? . . . . Mr. Armstrong I am getting along in years and am angry and LONELY since being put out of the Church and TREATED LIKE A THIEF.

I want to know if you approve of the way I have been treated?  Please let me know. God knows the truth.

Mr. Hill’s “personal” letter to Armstrong was answered by Joseph Tkach, an Armstrong assistant, on April 9, 1981. Tkach fully approved of the cult’s mistreatment of Hill.

Dear Mr. Hill:

Your letter was forwarded to me by Mr. Hunsberger of the personal correspondence department. I have REVIEWED OUR FILES and received additional information regarding the background of your situation FROM OTHER PEOPLE IN OUR LEGAL DEPARTMENT AND MAIL PROCESSING CENTER. I feel I understand what happened.

Also, I have verified with Mr. Kersha the circumstances leading up to your being disfellowshipped. After all this review, my conclusion is that Mr. Kersha has performed this duty as God would have him to.

It is regrettable that the sale of your property was mishandled like it was, but you must come to realize that THE PEOPLE INVOLVED HAVE REPENTED of their wrong doing. When God forgives He forgets. YOU MUST LEARN TO DO THE SAME. Mr. Kersha has given you several warnings about talking against the ministry of the church. You shouldn’t have continued to harbor this ill will.

The action of being disfellowshipped is used to show you the gravity of your sin — unwillingness to forgive and forget. Upon PROPER REPENTANCE Mr. Kersha would be very happy to welcome you back to the church — with open arms. It’s my sincere hope that you will be able to return.

AWESOME HUMAN WRECKAGE

Shortly thereafter, 89-year-old Garnet Hill died. He was just one hideous example of the awesome human wreckage strewn in the wake of Herbert W. Armstrong in his diabolical lust for fame, fortune and raw power. There are tens of thousands more!

A few days prior to his death, Garnet Hill received his final letter from “God’s one true church.” No, the letter didn’t inquire about Mr. Hill’s health and spiritual well-being. No, it didn’t offer him spiritual or financial assistance. It asked if Worldwide Church of God was still named in his Will.

Nuff said!

And the moral of this true story? Beware ‘Ambassadors’ bearing gifts. The life you save may be your own!

___________________________________

Mr. Hill’s humble home can be found here.

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2 Replies to “An American Horror Story”

  1. People on the lower level made some egregious, and possibly even criminal errors, and the people above them failed to correct them. This, no less, in a so-called church which one would think was at least trying to exemplify Christ-like standards. Where are the ethics which would protect the members? Seems like the only protective measures were applied to the organization and its officials, and to the detriment of a member whose heart had been in the “right” place (as defined by the church)

    Armstrongism just really sucked! There’s so much proof. How can anyone even think that it could be “God’s True Church”?

    BB

  2. The Catholic church said today it is being persecuted because of all the complaints of child molestation. Hard to believe this is coming from a so called church that the some believe Christ is the head of.

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