The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong :
Traveling In Style

By JohnO

Madonna, Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Bill Cosby, and other notables all own one of these particular expensive items. But, each of these above mentioned stars gets about $20 million a movie - Madonna makes far more with royalties - and many take home a goodly share of the movie proceeds. They are rich people, so they can well meet the expense of special purchases, and all have one of these very expensive items. Each of these stars can afford one of these luxury items because they make so much of their abundant money from the proceeds of their work. So, each of them can afford their own Grumman Gulfstream corporate, luxury jet. The last price I heard was that the latest Grumman Gulfstream - the G-V - cost about $50 million.

Apostle Herbie also owned a Grumman Gulfstream - usually called the G-II, and later upgraded - but there is one HUGE difference between the movie stars and Herbert W. Armstrong. Movie stars actually work for their living.

Even at a cost of a few million dollars less than the price of the latest G-V, mentioned above, paying multiple megabucks for someone's personal jet is a huge drain and a wanton extravagance for any small religious organization. Not to mention the huge financial depletion and unnecessary hardship it places on all the tithepayers and contributors to this organization. Members went without, their children were deprived, futures were wrecked, retirements were squashed, and a good chunk of that income was a total waste, because Apostle Herbert W. Armstrong wanted his own personal jet in which to travel, tour the world, give away multiple millions, buy "Doctorates" and other undeserved honors, throw banquets for himself, and lead the type of promiscuous lifestyle that was abundantly condemned from his pulpit and those of his lackeys.

It appears that the lowly G-II was no longer acceptable to Herbert W. Armstrong, as the years progressed. The Apostle extraordinaire found it necessary to have an update. Certainly, no one could ever expect "God's Apostle" to travel commercial and mix with the ungodly rabble. If God would use a jet, then so would His Apostle. And so, at a cost of multiple millions stiffed to the financially strapped and struggling tithepayers, a new G-III was eventually purchased. After all, we cannot expect God's one and only Holy and anointed Apostle to travel in a second hand jet - can we? Someone as reverend as an apostle certainly deserves a new jet every so often, otherwise - what would the visited dignitaries think? What would the sex therapists in Roumania say? How would the corrupt dictators (and recipients of the Steuben Crystal) react if Apostle Herbert W. Armstrong were to visit them twice (bearing gifts and money) in the same worn out, old G-II. Certainly, a new jet had to be justified. After all, GOD LOVES QUALITY.

Being a licensed pilot myself, having gotten my flying experience in the Air Force - and more years ago than I care to remember, I can well relate to aircraft, their operation, their maintenance requirements, their general cost of operation, their hanger fees, and the FAA rules that govern the use of such expensive "toys." To simply own such a toy - even if you NEVER fly it - has been estimated to cost in hanger fees, keeping two captain-rank pilots at ready, maintenance, upkeep, and FAA inspections, approximately a million dollars a year. When you fly it, the price naturally skyrockets.

Over the years, the price of jet fuel has gone through the roof. Jet fuel is a specially distilled and volatile brew known as aviation kerosene. Since the cost of jet fuel would have cut into the regular tithe money of Worldwide Church of God, the decision was then made to take this jet fuel cost out of the third tithe account. At that time, many field ministers were instructed to tell the widows who needed assistance: "Go get yourself on welfare. That's what it's for." The third tithe money was needed for the apostolic travels and Herbert W. Armstrong's personal crusades. After all, which was more important? Feeding widows and children, or spreading the gospel?

When Al Portune (the biz manager at the time) complained that jet fuel should NOT be purchased from 3-T and that this charitable money was now being taken from the needy widows, Al found himself (among other reasons) looking for another job. The 3-T money was all quickly dumped into the general fund, so nobody knew what was 3-T money or what was not, and no one knew how many megabucks were now being spent on Herbert W. Armstrong's jet fuel. The apostolic junkets and jaunts were paid at the expense of the needs of the widows and children, and while the latter disadvantaged folks went without, the former cultmasters gorged themselves, drank profusely, and feasted in the opulent style on their known diet of caviar and Dom Perignon. And they all flew around in the luxury of the Grumman Gulfstream.

Special friends were invited to join in these "trips" for God's work. Sure, there were the women, the privileged few, and those who had the habitual brown noses. But the crew noticed all these antics. They were shocked at the conduct of people who were supposed to be "religious." One co-pilot resigned, and told a friend of mine in Maui (also a pilot), that the G-II was nothing more than a "Flying Whorehouse."

Most of the G-II trips were done quietly, and the members were ignorant of the extravagance of these trips. Middle East trips were common, and as was told to me personally, they all went to the exotic places at the exact time of the year when the odor of young boys was the "most favorable."

The Gulfstreams are power-driven by two high powered and very expensive Rolls Royce jet engines. When one engine quit on take off at one time, because a bird flew into the intake cowling, they had to abandon another "gospel" mission for a few days, while Rolls Royce flew in another engine from England, installed it, tested it, and gave the G-II a clean bill of health. We can only imagine what that incident cost the third tither.

Because the Gulfstreams are - what is called - a "full height" corporate jet, the diameter of the fuselage is much larger than the standard business aircraft. The headroom inside is over six feet, not that it applied to Apostle Herbert W. Armstrong, but the added diameter also contributed to the added mass of the aircraft. This means that those high powered Rolls engines - necessary to move the added weight - consumed more than the normal amount of jet fuel. This machine was an expensive baby to operate. I remember, more than once, that Herbert W. Armstrong included in his co-worker letters about the urgent need for us-members to NOT forget the widows and orphans with our continued third tithes and offerings.

At one stage, the powers-to-be thot it might be a good idea to abandon the Grumman G-II aircraft and purchase a Boeing 707. At least, that's what Les Mac told me one time in Hawaii. In this way, the "Flying Whorehouse" could be enlarged, and Herbert W. Armstrong could entertain his Japanese diet sons and other foreign dignitary whores with his wanton excessiveness, and play his version of some tune on the installed Steinway. Of course, the Steinway piano had to be made in Germany and not the USA, as the craftsmanship was reportedly much finer in the shadow of the Black Forest. Naturally a "gospel" trip would be necessary to Berlin (to convert the new nazis) and acquire the Deutsch Steinway, and hire a team of experts to install it into the 707.

However, finances killed the idea eventually, as it was reported that the fuel flow of the Boeing 707 was exorbitant, and the cost of overall maintenance was prohibitive. Apparently there was not enough third tithe coming in. Anyhow it was an idea that would have allowed a larger contingent of partying and many more freeloading guests to have access to the lavish accoutrements that were purchased by the thousands of hard working tithepayers. But the whole idea eventually had to be scrapped. I understand that the Apostle thundered, exploded, and then predictably sulked.

So, Herbert W. Armstrong went back to his "lowly" G-II, soon to be upgraded. He had a few modifications added, however. While he sipped his Harvey's Bristol Cream and flew (bragging in his co-worker letters) above the weather turbulence and looking down on the lo-flying 747's, he often reported the altitude and airspeed during his apostolic journeys. While any non-lazy individual could simply get off his ass, walk to the flight deck and basically ask the Captain or First Officer what was their altitude and airspeed, this task obviously proved to be too much of an effort for God's hard working apostle. Sipping the finest alcoholic beverages can be soooooooo incredibly tiring.

So Herbert W. Armstrong had two instruments installed in the cabin wall so he could monitor the airspeed and altitude at all times without getting off his butt. This installation procedure may sound simple, but it's a little more complex, and a lot more expensive than just the cost of the instruments. Both these instruments work off a device, external to the fuselage, that is called a pitot tube. This looks like a half inch diameter (or so) rod that points forward and into the oncoming airstream. It has a hole in the front that measures dynamic pressure (the airspeed), and slits on the side that measure the static pressure (or altitude). Pressure lines had to be run off this device to feed Herbert W. Armstrong's instrument needs, and the other instrument pressure lines must then all be re-compensated for the reduction of their own airflow as a result. This is a serious and expensive alteration. Electrical wires then must be run to these instruments for lighting so the apostle can read these dials at night. Naturally, we couldn't expect God's anointed to use a mere flashlight. I wonder how many widows and their children could have been fed for a year or so for the cost of this modification?

So these gospel preaching tours and apostolic emissary visits were all done in the Apostle's luxury corporate aircraft - paid for by tithepayers; maintained by the general fund - paid for by tithepayers; run on jet fuel - paid for by third tithepayers; housed, serviced, and licensed by funds - paid for by tithepayers; to give Steuben Crystal to corrupt dictators - paid for by tithepayers; and give millions to dictators for their favorite charities (namely themselves) - paid for by tithepayers; and pleasure trips for all sorts of aberrant behavior - paid for by tithepayers; and all sorts of bizarre medical (and other) therapy - paid for by tithepayers. And so, is it any doubt that God's work consistently needed more money to accomplish the "Great Commission" which God gave His one and only apostle at this end time? The countless millions Worldwide Church of God poured into the Grumman Gulfstream and its operation alone, would have feed the average African country for the next ten years.

Garner Teddy LaStud also wished to avail himself of the use of the G-II. So, and thanks to all the tithepayers, Garner Ted Armstrong went to "Captain School" back East - at church expense - to train for the AT (airline transport) rating required to fly the G-II. He also checked out - with Grumman - on this aircraft, but since FAA rules require that two pilots must be on the flight deck in this instance, Teddy had to fly with another AT rated pilot. Naturally, this burden restricted his solo movements, but in order to fly the Gulfstream, he had to comply.

And it all didn't stop with dead Herbert W. Armstrong. If you have any doubts as to the continuing opulence and shameful waste of money that continued with the JWT administration, then please check out the details in the chronicles of Joey, Part VII, under AR 50, "Transportation Requirements,"  It appears that Joey's travels were a duplicate of dead Herbie's. "But remember, brethren, keep that third tithe coming . . . for the widows, of course."

But, this is not all. We've only covered the Grumman Gulfstream. ONE aircraft. There was a time where there was much more than just the Gulfstream. There was also the twin jet, French made, Falcon - which was GTA's toy, and the Cessna, twin jet, Citation - which was everyone's toy, but mainly Garner Ted Armstrong's "other" toy, and the light aircraft, namely a Cessna 184 that was housed at Big Sandy's airstrip for the benefit of the privileged. This was, of course, after they didn't use the Beechcraft King Air any more. Many an upper crust ass-kisser was able to get their licenses with the Cessna 182 using the Big Sandy airstrip - both VFR and IFR ratings - having been trained by the resident, well paid for by the tithepayers, and licensed FAA instructor, Benny Sharp. Remember, Big Sandy was the Worldwide Church of God "country club," and Garner Ted Armstrong's private playground. Teddy had his own home there (one of them), his own aircraft toys, his own airstrip, could write his own hours and job description . . . Boy, Wadda life!

Despite the fact that the later Worldwide Church of God was supposedly reduced to just the one corporate jet, I find it difficult to believe that with their increased income, that those "Joey" loyalist cultmasters didn't have more jet power stacked away somewhere for their convenience. Anyhow, the membership would never have known if the top cultmasters kept it quiet. Herbert W. Armstrong and Garner Ted Armstrong liked to brag.

But Garner Ted Armstrong, in his heyday was an unhappy camper. Poor boy! He only had the one TWIN jet Falcon for his overseas jaunts. This luxury thing wasn't as powerful or as long range as the G-II, so Teddy felt underprivileged, and believed that he needed an upgrade. Certainly, we couldn't expect God's favorite evangelist to travel in anything less than the best? Could we? After all, the twin jet Falcon couldn't even cross the Atlantic in one hop. That really was a bear. There was all the inconvenience of having to stop off at Reykjavik in Iceland for refueling before Garner Ted Armstrong could proceed to London and all points beyond with his "gospel" preaching. A hold-over in Iceland is something that absolutely could not be tolerated, as nothing - repeat nothing - must delay the preaching of God's message. The end could come at any moment, and time's a-wasting by having to stop off to refuel. The Atlantic had to be flown non-stop. This was a gospel necessity. A new jet was definitely needed.

However, Stan Rader had a few things to say t buying a new Falcon Tri-Star, Model 50, three engine, corporate jet, as Garner Ted Armstrong had requisitioned. This new (several multiple megabucks) jet would come complete with two captains, and at least one stewardess. Teddy was known to have "consorted" with the previous stewardess in his earlier Falcon. (Editor's Note: See THIS LINK for more info on the stewardess.) So, it was time for a change. The initial cost must also take into account, the hanger space, the upkeep, the maintenance, the jet fuel, and FAA inspections, and contingency accidents. Certainly, this too would result in expenditures of millions each year. It was all set to go as a new purchase - for the work, of course. That is, until Stan Rader said: "No."

I understand that there was quite a fracas that followed. The outcome led to Garner Ted Armstrong's leaving (among other things), but Teddy never quite got over the fact that he couldn't have his new "toy," as God's work - it was reported by Garner Ted Armstrong's lackeys - would certainly suffer as a result of "Stan Rader's non-conversion." By this time, Papa Herbie was so inebriated and/or indifferent, he didn't seem to even care if his fly were open in public. Rader had Herbert W. Armstrong's ear, and at the time, that's really all that mattered to the biz of religion in the Worldwide Church of God.

The Cessna twin jet Citation also figured into the picture. At one time, Herbie and Teddy were on the same flight and coming into Big Sandy. Benny Sharp (fortunately or unfortunately) was at the controls. An impellor blade in the starboard engine broke away from the main turbine, sending it into the compression elbows of the jet, the engine came to the whining and grinding halt, and the Citation yawed violently to the right. With one engine, Sharp brought the Citation down and onto the Big Sandy runway, but the flight could have been a disaster.

Why they ever bought that Citation, I'll never know. Certainly, it had some advantages. One of the biggest is that it didn't require, in those days, the necessity of having a second licensed and rated pilot in the right seat. So Garner Ted Armstrong could fly this thing solo, and go wherever he wanted. He could launch out to find his favorite location, and all pleasure-joints beyond. Although the initial cost of this machine was only about $3-4 million in those days (PLUS all the upkeep, housing, maintenance, jet fuel, etc.), it was smaller than the Falcon or G-II, and it had much the same characteristics of a small Lear Jet. It could handle the smaller airstrips, as its take off and landing rolls were shorter. This made it ideal for some of Garner Ted Armstrong's shorter trips, like to Orr, MN and the SEP. Teddy loved to thunder over the camp and buzz the compound to let everyone know he had "arrived." Anyhow, it was another jet to the collection, and another of Garner Ted Armstrong's toys.

When Rader took away the Falcon and Garner Ted Armstrong's idea for the upgrade, he also took away the Citation. Pooooooor Teddy. He'd now lost all his toys - except for the twin Cessna he'd purchased by "borrowing" money from the church fund for a down payment. It's still unknown if he ever paid back the down. Anyhow, Rader didn't get his hands on Teddy's newest toy, even if it was only a lowly "prop-job." Garner Ted Armstrong still had his freedom, but his international gospel jaunting days were finished. Rader forbad Teddy to use the G-II.

As I said before, I highly suspect that the new echelon of cultmasters at Worldwide Church of God have their own jets stashed somewhere. If the IRS ever wises up to them and their profits from all the newly acquired loot (college campuses, equipment, treasures, real estate, etc.), then they're ready to leave the country at anytime. And it's also no doubt that the breakaway cultmasters in the Worldwide Church of God+ cults would love to get their hands on their own private jets - IF only they had the income. Since, for the most part, they're losing credibility, their shrinking income doesn't permit such an extravagance.

Many preachers in the new JESUS CULTS movements have their own jets now. Like with Herbie, it appears beneath these preachers-for-profit to mingle with the average folks at an airport, and really do some showing of brotherly love. They mostly prefer to travel isolated, with their own class, and let the plebs scramble for tickets and take the tourist passage. So if we think that Worldwide Church of God is unique to this type of financial abuse, then please think again. The chances are that there are many disciples of the same darkness with the same greed, desire for ego gratification, and those who are just as money hungry. After all, most modern Christianity is still just a biz.

It's sad and pathetic to see Herbie (and now the Joey brood) traveling in the lap of luxury while the honest, trusting membership pour money into these cultmaster's "pleasure pits." These bombastic wastrels blow the tithepayers money away with trips to faraway places, and spend the life savings of decent people whose only sin was to trust liars. It's heartbreaking to know that while the tithepayers gullibly feed their needed money to these cults (Worldwide Church of God & WCG+), these rich cultmaster criminals are enjoying themselves, by sipping their Mai-Tais, and stretching out on warm, white, sandy beaches while they oil their bodies in the sun.

Meanwhile, the hirelings and the MERCHANTS OF MISERY, many of whom also desire such opulence for themselves one day in the future, continue to lecture the membership of the imminence and horrors of a German attack. I've had reports on these sermons. They really DO happen. Those hirelings continue to warn an uninformed membership about the threat of "meat hooks" that will impale and skewer anyone who defies the Worldwide Church of God, its teachings, or who is disloyal to the church leadership. And while children weep in fear within the congregation as they listen to the dire warnings about their parents who will be "meat hooked" and slowly lowered into some crushing, German torture machine, the parents themselves fear for their eternity as the hireling describes the grinding of human bodies as the living carcasses of the disloyal are lowered into those pulverizing torture spokes, and the whole family is forced to watch the agonizing death cries. Remember, the warning goes: (1) Loyalty, (2) Tithes, and (3) Obedience to Worldwide Church of God, which is actually submission to God. Otherwise? The tribulation, meat hooks, and those German torture machines. Many still believe it.

But, luxuriating far from the tribulation and the Germans, are the cultmasters who really know how to enjoy life. They fly to remote spots, stay at the finest hotels (check out the AR's), enjoy the finest cuisine, drink the finest beverages, and recuperate (detox) at the most expensive European and US spas. Of course, all this is necessary, because GOD LOVES QUALITY.

Incidentally, whatever happened to that G-III? Was it sold? How much? Who got all those profits? Then again, who got most of the profits from everything?

Always remember - praise the Lord, and . . . thank God for third tithe.

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