"Daughter Of Babylon,
The True History of
The Worldwide Church of God"
by Bruce Renehan
In 1993, I finished the first edition of DAUGHTER OF BABYLON with the hope that it might help a few people sort out the confusion and anguish that had been created in them by their membership in the Worldwide Church of God. How can I be so certain that there are so many people who have been confused by the Worldwide Church of God? Because I too was a dedicated member of that group for a very long time. I too had been convinced that I had been called into God's one and only true church through the reading of Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong's literature. I too traveled down the same path of self-denial and ritualism that thousands of other well-meaning people had trod.
By the time that I began to counsel for baptism, I had been so convicted by the Armstrong publications that I would hardly have hesitated to endanger my life for the beliefs of the church.
I received permission to attend church services in 1969 while I was in the Navy and stationed near Oakland, California. No one could attend church services without first gaining permission from church ministers. The Armstrongs had appeared so sophisticated in their writings about the church that I felt unworthy to enter such an elite environment. I did not know what to expect but reality was a bit of a let down. When I actually witnessed church services, I had an instinctual feeling that something was odd about most of the church members. They looked abused. I even made comments about it to someone. "Oh well, God just calls the weak of the world, the cream of the crud," was the automatic response of one member. The sermon that day was delivered by church evangelist Rod Meredith. Nearly 20 years later I was invited to have lunch with Rod and his wife in Glendora, California. I told him that he was the first Worldwide minister that I had ever heard preach and about the way the appearance of church members struck me on my first attendance of church services. His response was verbatim, "Oh well, God just calls the weak of the world, the cream of the crud." Deja vu!
In January of 1970, I had been transferred from the USS Sperry to Dental Technicians' school in San Diego. It was there that I confronted my superior officers with the first demand made on me by the church. I asked to be discharged on the grounds of conscientious objection. Because of the Armstrong's teachings, I refused to participate in any war effort. They gave me the ultimatum of withdrawing my request or being sent to dangerous assignment in Viet Nam where my convictions against the war would be tested. Acting in faith, I chose to pursue my discharge and then faced the hard struggle of proving my sincerity. I was finally discharged in April after several interrogations with the commanding officers of the Naval Training Center. I have to say that that was a very unpleasant and distasteful thing for me to experience. I actually enjoyed being in the Navy and I worried about what my family would think about me making such a radical decision. War protesters were not appreciated where I was raised. Maybe that is why I chose not to return home to Texas.
Instead, the following November, I was hired to work for the Worldwide Church of God at their headquarters in Pasadena, California. I worked for the church for seven of the twenty-three years that I was a member. Working for the church was disappointing also. There were constant conflicts with people who were supposed to be converted and gracious. For years, I blamed myself for never being the ideal Christian that I had always been told I should be. At times, I was obsessed with perfectionism but I never could display the "perfect righteous character" that ministers assured us was supposed to happen. It bothered me that there was always the stigma of being judged as "unconverted" hanging over me. Finally, I began to wonder if I were the only one who felt that way. To test my theory, I started asking other members questions about their proof of conversion. I was shocked. People would evade answering me or just stammer while groping for an answer. Their expressions told me that they were riddled with the guilt of being untrue to themselves. It is amazing how the appearance of guilt can be mistaken for humility.
That is part of the reason why this book had to be written.
Requests for the first edition of my book have come from all over the world. Many have written to thank me for my research. I have even sent copies of the book to Worldwide ministers (including an autographed copy to one of the two ministers who disfellowshipped me). More than one copy has gone to church headquarters.
Two years since first publication, I have continued to broaden my perspective about mainstream living and shed the narrow-minded prejudice that I had been indoctrinated to believe by the Worldwide system of control. I now hold a degree in liberal arts and am pursuing a second degree in psychology at California State University in Bakersfield.
It is an exhilarating experience to accept the mental and emotional freedom created simply by confronting the fears that had been implanted by Herbert Armstrong and his ministers. I hope that you will find my book to be the first step in your own personal liberation from an unnecessary bondage.
It has taken me nearly 25 years to get to the point where I can sort out the unique and baffling elements of the Worldwide Church of God (hereinafter referred to as Worldwide Church of God) as founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, and as now led by Joseph W. Tkach. To summarize these elements I will use a metaphor of a "stained glass window."
If the Worldwide Church of God is looked upon as a stained glass window, then Herbert Armstrong's self-portrait as God's only end-time apostle must dominate the picture. The church grew and was nurtured on the unorthodox teachings and prophetic speculations of this man. Armstrong taught that his church was the only true church; that it was raised up by God through him to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world as a witness; that he was specially commissioned by God to restore Bible truths lost to the world for 1900 years; that world tribulation would come by 1972; that his commission would be fulfilled by then; that the church would flee to a place of safety (many thought this place would be Petra in Jordan); that Christ would return; that we would rule with Him for 1000 years in the Kingdom of God. There is no doubt that these prophecies electrified the air of our Sabbath services for many years. But then a problem arose!
The problem was this. Herbert Armstrong died in 1986, and none of this had come to pass. The portrait of him began to shatter and crumble down piece by piece. At this point I realized I had been so caught up in the movement, trying so hard to make it work and to make it rational, that I didn't care anymore whether our "truths" were valid or not. I simply wanted to be part of the group.
Upon Armstrong's death, I began to experience involuntary withdrawal pangs. I began to question the ability of the Worldwide Church of God, as now led by Joseph W. Tkach (Armstrong's hand-picked successor), to preach the gospel. How could they continue undaunted after Armstrong had left everyone in so much suspense about their lives and futures? How could Tkach's new ministry preach Armstrong's gospel without openly denying the fact that Armstrong's ministry had failed?
Tkach and his associates claimed that portions of Armstrong's ministry were valid and other portions were not. This began to destroy their own credibility, since any authority they had been given surely came from Herbert Armstrong.
So to continue with the metaphor, they decided to take the pieces of Armstrong's picture from the shards of glass and subtly attempted to put them back together into a portrait of Jesus Christ. All along they hoped that no one would notice what they were doing until the portrait was completed and they could emerge as Protestant ministers.
One of the first paradoxes of Tkach's new church was created when he decided to preach a gospel ABOUT Jesus Christ. Armstrong had always preached what he called the gospel OF Jesus Christ (that is, the imminent establishment of the government of God's "Wonderful World Tomorrow," or the millennium).
Armstrong said that any other gospel except his was a false gospel. He taught that the gospel ABOUT Christ had started by the time the apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians and that was why Paul pronounced a curse on anyone who would preach "another gospel." Armstrong felt that modern Protestant churches preached this false gospel about Christ, and thus they were churches of Satan the devil and under Paul's biblical curse. He also felt these churches were the harlot daughters of the Babylonian Mystery system (Revelation 17).
So, what were Worldwide Church of God members left to think? It appeared the "new truths" of Joseph Tkach were the "old errors" of Protestantism condemned strongly by Armstrong!
Yet, the new truth of Tkach had begun to make more sense than what Armstrong had ever said, because, of course, Armstrong's ministry was a failure.
Because of this confusion, I was drawn to study the history of the organization in order to answer a central question: Is the Worldwide Church of God TRULY God's One True Church? I had to study it for myself to determine if this "one true church" was really of God, or of something else. At this writing, Tkach has succeeded in abolishing nearly every doctrine that the Worldwide Church of God was founded upon. Many old members have left the WCG. Some have started their own churches. Tkach continues boldly forging ahead in stripping the Armstrong belief system down before a bewildered membership. Those of us who have watched Tkach's systematic destruction of the Armstrong legacy wonder if there is a method to his madness or if he is fiddling while Rome burns. The church's annual income continues to drop severely. Yet, Tkach continues to displease church members by announcing radical new doctrinal shifts that he has difficulty explaining. Nor does Tkach apologize for destroying the security blankets that members felt were the biblical revelations God had given to Herbert Armstrong. He often blames the membership for stupidly believing the founder's teachings.
In this book, I will show you why Armstrong's ministry was destined for failure. This will make it obvious why Tkach's administration is failing now.
Early in Tkach's ministry, he gave the analogy that Herbert Armstrong had built a foundation in his lifetime and that Tkach's job was to build upon it. In reality, what he has done is demolish Armstrong's foundation and not build anything worthwhile upon it. Not noticing that he is without a foundation, Tkach continues to build higher and higher.
I feel that both the foundation of Armstrong and the building of Tkach were futile efforts in that both are constructed on top of the sand of falsehood.
The reader will eventually discover from the following material how I came to a definite conclusion about the Worldwide Church of God, past and present, and hence will understand the meaning of my title, Daughter of Babylon-The True History of the Worldwide Church of God.
Go to the "Painful Truth" page.