I was devastated when you appeared to be gone for good around about
April/May 2006; I just did a half-hearted Google search for "painful
truth" and lo and behold, you reappeared! I am so relieved!
My father was in the Cult from 1968 till his death earlier this year;
my mother put her foot down and refused to have anything to do with
Herbie or any of his works, so my sister and I were spared untold
suffering that other survivors of Worldwide Church of God have endured. It is so important
to keep The Painful Truth on the 'net, to give comfort and a place to
"vent" to those who even now are emerging from the fog of Armstrongism.
Consider yourself bookmarked!
10541 W. Everett Cir.
West Allis, WI 53214
(Feel free to use my name/address)
Colleen, it's letters like yours that we live for.
The people responsible for knocking us off the web were unsuccessful at
silencing us, but did damage our ability to be found quickly by search
engines. Even though we're back, our "searchability" has not been
fully restored, and that takes time. Thanks for not giving up.
Spread the word to anyone you know that we are still here.
Ed or Mike:
I have never visited your web site until today. I am curious.
For all the griping and groaning I read, was anyone chained,
flogged and ordered by a local judge to attend the Worldwide
Church of God? Does anyone have whip marks from scourgings
applied by ministers who are now labeled as taskmasters? It
sounds as if the former members who contact you simply made a
wrong choice, and the way they are able to make themselves feel
better is by expressing a good verbal lashing towards everyone
Letters from former members read like something out of the dark
side of a fairy tale gone bad and the characters in the story
are throwing a wide variety of temper tantrums and apparently no
one is listening because the verbal fits continue. No one forces
anyone to do anything. Members chose to join and now they are
crying and refuse to move on. Herbert Armstrong made many
mistakes, but where is the personal accountability from members
who were like little children and willfully followed? If someone
can say they attended for years, were the doors locked and no
one was allowed to leave? Yes, I was abused, but I allowed it. I
attended for years and didn't leave because it was my choice. I
don't now sit around and mope about bygone days from the 60's to
the 80s under the heavy hand of Herbert W. Armstrong. I mean come on, if it was 3
to 5 years ago, it would be one thing, but we are speaking of
when I didn't have gray hair.
Your website reminds me of a place where people can go and punch
a figurative Herbert Armstrong figurine because they just
flunked Anger Management 101. Grow up people. The world is
leaving you behind. We are no longer living under the rule of
Herbert W. and Garner Ted Armstrong. Maybe a bit of counseling
by a professional is in order. If anyone is angry, kick
yourselves in the butt instead of a man who died 20 years ago.
It doesn't say much for anyone if they were in Worldwide for a
number of years and somehow couldn't leave. Was anyone held
prisoner? Didn't everyone have a choice of whether to attend or
not? Former members who feel ripped off, attended on their own
free will, but now want to take their anger out on a dead man
who can't defend himself. The days of slavery are over the last
time I checked, yet a number of brethren blame Worldwide
for their inability to stand up for themselves. If you felt like
a prisoner, all you had to do was open the exit door with your
hands and free yourself.
For me to stay in Worldwide was my fault and no one else's. I
definitely feel that many former members of "Weirdwide" were
people with low self-esteem. We were like little children who
had to be told what to do. Now, we are throwing temper tantrums
and refuse to take responsibility for ourselves. Everyone needs
to grow up and move on. I know this is like telling Mt. Everest
to get out of the way, but how long are brethren going to
continue to give Herbert Armstrong the finger?
A bit of advise on your homepage. Why don't you
have your webmaster design a hand with the middle finger
pointing straight up. This way you will relay your attitude
towards God and it is also a way of showing how you feel about
the days of Herbert W. Armstrong. You never know, you may find that whipping the
bird is exactly what former members need. You can provide
jackets, caps, coffee mugs and bumper stickers that say: "Hey,
Herb! Stick it."
Richard! Great to hear from you.
If indeed you are visiting us for the first time, that is wonderful
news, as it means people are starting to find us again. Your
letter is most welcome.
You make a few excellent points.
People do indeed need to get on with their lives, take responsibility,
and as much as possible, put the past behind them. You apparently
have done that, as have I and most of those I know who escaped the
Worldwide. If you've been reading our articles (as your
letter suggests), then you've been reading material that in many cases
was written as many as nine years ago. I think you miss the boat
by assuming that the people who wrote those pieces have not been
moving forward, but have remained stagnant in their misery. Bad
assumption. Much of what you read here can be viewed as
therapeutic prose. By confronting what happened to us, we got
better simply by writing about it. But most important of all, what
we wrote serves as a witness to what happened, and what is STILL
HAPPENING in the Worldwide Church of God spinoffs.
It's sort of like warning a neighborhood
that a sex offender is living nearby, and even though the original
offender may have died, his sons are also sex offenders and are still
very much alive. People are still being harmed, and as long as
that is the case, silence on our part would be negligent.
You seem to be telling us to "GET
OVER IT". Certainly you aren't the first one to say that, nor
likely the last. Your questions, which may seem logical to you,
have been answered repeatedly on the pages of this site, so I won't bore
you with a response. Just keep reading and you will see for
As for giving Herb the finger...when does
he cease to deserve it? People still give Hitler the finger 60
years later, and Nero and Caligula 2000 years later. The finger,
once deserved, is always deserved. There is no statute of
limitations on the bird.
Jackets? Caps? Coffee mugs?
Damn, that's a GREAT idea! Do you have any marketing skills?
Maybe we should get together and discuss it!
Ed, Mike or whoever you are:
I was curious as to what sarcastic response you
would post after receiving my letter yesterday. True to form, you
respond like a kid who is a bit of a brat and justifies why he is.
I really don't think there is anyone who can
touch a nerve with you when telling you to grow up. Are you a
teenager or is puberty sitting in? You can't move on but live in a
little world of your own making which is small, yet the
justification for what you do appeases anyone with a bad attitude
and it is what makes you tick.
By the way, just because I visited your site,
doesn't mean it will happen again. I notice the number of hits you
have received is not exactly something to brag about. Your site has
to rank pretty low compared to popular ones, yet I am sure you will
say, "Ah, but it's higher than a lot of others".
To be blunt, take off your diaper, quit sucking
your thumb and be a man. Your mind is like a little kid that tries
to find how to get into trouble. I have a pacifier from one of my
granddaughters if you need one to suck on.
Perhaps you should change the name of your site
to "The Pain In The Butt Truth" because this is what you are.
Ghastly, guy, move on.
As far as the mug and jacket idea is concerned.
It takes a real dweed to take something like this seriously and what
I said was more of an insult towards the lamebrain format you have
than anything else. Of course I don't believe you were serious, but
simply a smart ass.
Oh, by the way. You don't have to write back and
tell me my letter has been posted. I fired you and your crew for
what you are doing. I have better things to do than to waste my time
by the endless diatribe you post. Grow up and be a man instead of a
little kid that can't stop pouting about a past that you chose to be
a part of.
Well, shit, you just can't be nice
to some people, I guess. You thought my reply was sarcastic?
I thought it was rather upbeat. I gave you the benefit of the
doubt and treated you with respect. And now look at your latest
Any time we get a letter condemning
us in strong terms from a "former Worldwider", red flags go up
immediately. You gave no personal history except to claim to be an ex-member. Of course, those still active in the splinter
cults might consider themselves ex-members of Worldwide Church of God, and I suspect that is
what you are. More to the point, you're probably a low-level
minister or self-important deacon (you even said "ghastly"! That's
pure Garner Ted-ism.) Your idea of Christian "love" is to attack
anyone who dares disagree with you. The simmering rage in
your second letter pretty much proves that The Painful Truth really IS telling the painful truth. If you really were abused
between the 60s and the 80s, then why are you mad at US? Makes no
sense. Something is rotten about your story.
You wrote: By the way, just because I visited
your site, doesn't mean it will happen again.
Well, you've been here once at
least. When I read your first letter I almost asked if you had
actually read any articles or someone else just told you what we talk
about here. I suspected the latter, but I gave you the benefit of
the doubt. Now I'm quite certain you didn't read anything at all,
and certainly you haven't come here to find out what we are about.
Clearly, YOU DON'T HAVE AN OPEN MIND! But
you're welcome to stay or leave, as you see fit. If you stay,
hopefully you'll read something that will help you deal with whatever is
eating you up inside, because you obviously are not possessed of any of
the fruits of the spirit.
I breathlessly anticipate your
Hi, John B-
When I read a letter like Richard's I have to wonder
what manner of reasoning
was used by the writer to counsel the victim to blame himself for
ripped off. Richard is not the first to raise the question in my
unfortunately, will he be the last.
We are lucky that the American style of jurisprudence doesn't follow
logic Richard applies. How is it that our courts don't immediately
set about to
discover why victims of crimes should be seeking justice and
don't our judges simply say that victims "should just get over it"?
Why is there
even a word in our language describing what victims are? Why is so
and money spent on fault-finding if it is so simple to dismiss crime
I suspect that people with Richard's mindset are merely revealing
just how well
the brainwashing works in a Bible-based cult like the Worldwide
Church of God. Christianity is all about
finding fault in oneself. It starts out by having one repent of sin
(missing the mark).
Then for the rest of the stay in the cult one has to keep blaming
self for not praying
enough, not fasting enough, not studying enough, not loving enough
being unfit to be alive except for the pity of some make-believe
is the very foundation of poor self-esteem. Cult members are always
on themselves. People with pride of life don't become Christians.
It's a big study, of
Anyways, I submit that folks like Richard are still
suffering from low self-esteem
and are seeking others to stand along side themselves by accepting
the terrible things that happened at the hands of evil, lying men
like the Armstrongs.
Boy that makes sense. We were nothing but a rotten piles of junk in
the cult and now
that were out we'll absolve the criminals and take all the blame on
ourselves to make
it all better. What's wrong with this picture?
Richard says we all "attended on their own free will." I submit that
free will can only
operate when the subjects have all the relevant information. That,
of course, is denied
one in the cult since to allow the free exchange of information is
anathema to the
cult masters. In short, we were NOT operating under free will, it
only seemed that
way as a result of ministerial indoctrination. I remember one of my
inviting any one us to leave the room we were using. Of course, that
only made us
want to stay even more. (He eventually did walk out the door 12
years before me!)
In addition the article you wrote, Richard should also read
article, "No One
Held a Gun to Your Head".
If he finds it boring then he really has no interest in learning.
He counsels that we should just "kick yourselves in the butt." Well,
my own sense of
self worth and pride of having excaped tells me that is the route to
than even Christianity allows. It also makes me wonder about the
Richard. Is he a mouthpiece for the Worldwide Church of God? He
certainly is giving aid and comfort to
criminals. (They do, of course, operate with Constitutional
I wonder what sense of justice Richard experiences when he kicks his
And I also wonder if he would have written his letter had he been
The boy definitely has issues! I
wonder if the next letter will contain death threats?
I just read that letter from "DICK" and am sending in a
response. You can use my name if needed. Here goes.
You wrote ~ Herbert Armstrong made many mistakes,
but where is the personal accountability from members who were like
little children and willfully followed? If someone can say they
attended for years, were the doors locked and no one was allowed to
I DID NOT JOIN on my own. I was a toddler brought in when my
parents joined. Just like you, they were seeking a better life here
and here after as well. With the manipulation tactics that
"Headquarters" used , including Herbert and Tkach and CO., it was
easy for someone to follow without question and to stay. Is it the
fault of the lay members in the catholic church for the pedophilia
that has been going on for years? When they got a new priest who
was sent after the "leaders" moved him to a new location, they were
unaware as to why, but still followed his "preaching" from the
pulpit. Back to your ridiculous statement. All I knew was
Worldwide Church of God and
their teachings. So for ones like me who grew up in the teachings
not that hard to see why we stayed. As for my parents when they
realized what was going on they left and have not looked back
since. Other then having to swallow their pride and repenting to
family and friends for their decisions based upon supposed teachings
by a "Prophet". It comes down to this: It is one thing to be wrong
in ones teachings but when those teachings ARE WRONG and You know it
and you just use it to gain money then it is disgusting. It is
STEALING, it is EXTORTION!!!!!!!!! It was abuse physically and
spiritually of exponential proportions. Once I saw through their
ridiculous religion I "fled" to a place of safety. One way away
from the Worldwide Church of God!!!!! Unfortunately, since it is in a religious format,
it gets undue protection from the constitution. We aren't here to
bitch and moan, but to get our experiences out there to show others
that you can leave and the "BAD" things they tell you will happen,
I challenge you to study the articles then and now. ;
The gentleman identifying himself as Richard Markland seems typical
of a subgroup of the A-COGs who like to refer to themselves as
"non-aligned". Unlike typical splinter group members, such people
will often post on the various Worldwide Church of God-related forums. Basically, they
use some of the same phrases as many of we former members use, such
as "I left the group", or "I have moved on with my life". They
eschew the cultic aspects of Worldwide Church of God, and often admit that it was a
personality cult with many of the practices being extra-biblical,
based on Herbert W. Armstrong's personal and often arbitrary opinions and Pope-like
edicts Individual non-aligneds may or may not believe in tithing,
British Israelism, or setting dates for the end, however they
still observe the Old Testament sabbath and Holy Days, keep the
Armstrongized version of the kosher laws, and believe in soul
sleep followed by eternal life or extinguishment of the soul in the
Lake of Fire. It seems very confusing sometimes, because while they
hate to be referred to as "Armstrongites', they always fall back on
the specific exegetics which were used by Herbert W. Armstrong, and strongly disagree
with exegetics provided on the same topics by more thoroughly
educated and better informed theologians.
As with Richard, the ones I've encountered may protest when someone
bashes either of the Armstrongs, and may express wonderment that the
Tkach's don't get subjected to equal amounts of bashing. "Non-aligneds" may admit
that Herbert W. Armstrong was wrong in many ways, and sinned like other humans, but
will follow that up with statements about not throwing out the baby
with the bathwater. "Truth is still truth" is another remark they
might make. They often meet in small study groups (although they
resent having these referred to as "Livingroom Church of God"), and
at least one whom I've encountered claims to be able to recognize
when someone has the Holy Spirit, and that person refuses to study
with anyone thought not to be filled with it.
You were spot on when you picked up on the "ghastly" connection, as
there are a sizeable number of non-aligneds who passed through
Garner Ted's organization, but left for reasons of conscience when
GTA proved himself unable to resolve his chronic sexual addiction.
Ron Dart offers a package of services and resources specifically
tailored to non-aligned COGgers, including his broadcast, study
papers, and CEM feast sites.
I used to think in terms of 1) people who have left old school
Worldwide Church of God and
are in recovery, 2) those who have gone "New Covenant" with the
Tkach's, or 3) those who are in the various major splinter groups,
such as UCG, LCG, and PCG. But, as I've learned, that doesn't
always tell the full story. Just when you think you fully
understand the Worldwide Church of God problem and the general ways in which people have
dealt with it, a formerly unheard of permutation surfaces. I've
also encountered some who have become Jews, some who have become
Messianic Jews, sacred namers, and yet others who really jumped from
the frying pan into the campfire by becoming part of the militia
movement. Armstrongism, the gift that just keeps on giving!
I'd say you've identified the guy quite
correctly. His immature rage at this website is completely
illogical under any other circumstances. He's definitely a
coward, because he hasn't bothered to read any of the mail that he
generated (if he had, he wouldn't have been able to keep quiet).
I'm also quite certain that he never bothered to read anything on
this site. He knows nothing of what we are about and isn't
interested in finding out. No doubt someone told him that we
bash Armstrong and that's all he needed to know. Just goes to
show that cults will never go away, because the Richard Marklands of
this world NEED them.
Ed post this to your Painful truth blog!
For years I thought I was the only one that had been screwed over.
life should have been different. But wait a minute! Do we really
is the destiny of our lives. You make a lot of cense for the funny
we all had to endure. I like using the one of how I first got kick
out of school
for the refusal to make a bunny rabbit out of a shoe box. I was back
in class the next day after my parents explained to the principle
the dogma over Easter. I
was six years old and had given up Christmas and my birthday the
The first crisis was the Christmas of 1957 at the age of five. My
grandparents on my dads side gave me a coloring book about Bugs
and all the other wonderful characters from WB. It was wrapped
in red paper with Santa Claus printing. They knew better because
had introduced my father to GTA-ism. I was under my first trial of
I locked up refusing to thank them for the really
neat book. This had to be a trick. The embarrassment set my father
into a rage which led to a series of disciplinarian cowboy belt
Each trip to the bedroom made me more resolute that it
had to be a trial from GOD. I was not about to give in and have my
sole dammed forever. So after a few hours of getting the tar whipped
of me I won. Dads arm was so sore that he had to give up.
He was going to have to buy a new belt to hold up his pants. I was
saved from the devil. OH NO I was a rebellious son and would amount
good. For years my grand parents and Dad felt that I was a
ungrateful worthless son. Just before he died I told him how it
really was. But he did not know how to apologize, just like the
the church. I even made him watch the video of GTA stating
that he was allowed to participate in Easter during public school.
BOY HOWDY do these guys have some answering to me when I get to the
For good or bad the church did keep me aware of global news. This
left me with ability to figure out what is around the corner. And a
ant can derail a train if he strikes at the right moment. That is
history through the ages. But I do not want to become a martyr. So I
remain a silent soldier hoping I die a peaceful death after a long
peaceful life. Lord knows I have earned it.
Amazing story, Richard. Thanks
for writing. (Oh, by the way, Ed isn't here any more.)
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