This week's letter from a minister's daughter resurrects an issue that was raised sometime back when Jeff Diehl, also a minister's son, conducted a running gun battle in the email folder about life in the WCG. It seems that these two PKs (Preacher's Kids) were blissfully oblivious to how the "other side" lived, and can't understand why their dads are suddenly taking so much heat.
It must be tough to be a preacher's kid. (No, I'm serious.) Imagine it -- your dad is the top dog in the local kennel, the one everyone is groveling before, and everyone knows that you're his kid. They also expect you to be the most obedient of all the kids, and perhaps want their own kids to hang out with you. This puts you under terrific pressure; you can't just be a kid, you have to be an example! And your own parents are probably expecting it of you as well.
The good news is that, if you screw up, no one will report you to Dad. They wouldn't dare. But the gossip!
That's one side of it. There is, apparently, another.
Jeff Diehl complained that his dad was gone all the time, and dirty, smelly people were always coming to his house late at night to whine about their petty problems. The church people, Jeff said, were greedy!
We all perceive life through the prism of our own situation, so I can't really fault Jeff for his point of view, or Jenny for hers. They were totally sheltered from the grim realities of life outside the temple. Their parents were well-paid, well-dressed, enjoyed fleet cars and expense accounts, and didn't have to pay second tithe. They occasionally got to travel to distant feast sites, sometimes in foreign countries; they slept in the finest condos, ate in the finest restaurants, and life wasn't so bad. Like other church kids, they were denied social life outside the cult, but still, it wasn't so bad. Why would anybody complain?
I wonder how many of them ever spent the night in a member's home (no, not the local elder, the guy who set up the chairs)? Did they ever ride in a member's car? Did they ever wonder why it jerked and jumped and sometimes wouldn't start after it died at a stop light? Did they ever eat at a member's table? Were they confused as to why there was only one or two entrees -- like macaroni? Did they ever play with the toys of member children? Did they wonder why they looked so tattered, so used, so old?
Jenny seems to think the Internet is part of the problem -- people can sit back in the obscurity of their bedrooms and fire anonymous arrows at her dad, whom she perceives as a truly wonderful man. No confrontations, no verbal showdowns, just anonymous sniping from afar. And it isn't right.
I can't get too angry at Jenny; I did get a little miffed at Jeff, but I can't hold it against him. His dad turned out to be a pretty nice guy, even though he refused to apologize for the damage he wrought as a henchman in Hitler's -- er, Herbert's SS. Whatever damage he caused, today he is doing a good work, and that's to his credit.
But how many other Jeffs and Jennys are out there? Mark Armstrong comes to mind. Now in his fifties, Mark is also a PK, in fact, probably the leading PK in the Armstrong empire. Mark was understandably saddened when his "precious" father (his words), Garner Ted Armstrong, died. He simply couldn't understand why God allowed his "precious father" to die. Apparently he was unaware that lots of people die well before they reach 70, and his "precious father" was well past 70. I guess Mark was also totally sheltered -- he didn't even know that, sometimes, when people get old, they die.
It's commendable that PKs love their parents, even if the rest of us don't (love their parents). They see a side of them that is denied to the rest of us. I have no doubt that many of the ministers who were/are so brutal to their flocks do have a good side, a human side, which their children are privy to. It's too bad they don't display that goodness to the people they rule. If they did, they could make life so much more pleasant for so many people...
...and they wouldn't need to be afraid of the Internet.
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