Exit and Support Network

I Still Carry the Pain of
Herbert Armstrong's Teachings

I'm not sure how much to say, but thank you for your website about Herbert W. Armstrong. That man and his "church" placed its mark on our family that may affect generations to come.

My parents joined the Worldwide Church of God somewhere about 1963 or so. I wasn't born yet. But somehow I feel like I still carry the pain of my father who believed so wholeheartedly in Armstrong and his teachings and was summarily disfellowshipped from the WCG around 1978 or so when he listened to some sermon tapes from Garner Ted Armstrong. That "church" was my parents' whole life. All their friends were there and all of their hopes. When they were kicked out none of their former "friends" would even acknowledge them when they saw each other.

My dad sold his farm based on the teaching that the whole area would become a desert as the end times approached. He was a farmer without a farm for thirty years until his passing.

I was raised without a church to go to, but we kept the holy days at home and went to the Feast of Tabernacles usually with the Church of God International.1

I'm no longer keeping the Sabbath or any of the Holy Days. Nor am I an avid student of the Bible. But I feel like that "church" is haunting me still.

My dad would have been too proud to talk about it. But he and the family made a lot of sacrifices to devote themselves to that organization. They were poor, frankly, and the tithing didn't always come easy. My dad was pretty much convinced that every trip to the Feast was a testing time for God to find out if you were really committed (owing to all the inconveniences, spontaneous automotive problems, etc.).

What's most important for me to tell you is that your website helps me understand the process my dad and mom went through--that got them into "the church."

My dad used to say that Herbert Armstrong would say on his radio show, "Don't believe me; believe your Bible." And that's what my dad really liked. To be followed by the extremely painful revelation that this was only a manipulation.2

It was so hard for me to step out of that upbringing...the specialness. Even though my parents weren't with the Worldwide I was still taught about God's chosen people. And now I never feel satisfied unless I feel like I have some kind of special knowledge or special relationship with God.

It is vanity--as my dad recognized later in his life.

The positive side of this story is that my parents retained their faith in God and went on to establish a deeper understanding and greater closeness with Jesus through their own personal struggles.

It is so interesting for me to read about HWA, because I never was really part of his "church" and yet as I read it, it's so familiar. I haven't talked about my experience growing up half in this organization because either I'm talking to people who don't really understand (weren't in "the church") or people who weren't tolerant enough to hear me talk about leaving the teachings altogether. I'm not ostensibly against the Sabbath, but I no longer keep it either. I have placed Christianity on the sidelines. For me, Jesus holds a special place in my heart, and yet I do not feel accepted among Christians or even by Jesus or God.

These are private matters but I've felt compelled to share some of this with you. It weighs heavy on my heart these days as my dad passed away last October and I miss him dearly.

Thank you for listening.

By Darrell - Child survivor of WCG
July 10, 2005

Footnotes by ESN:

1 The Church of God International was originally founded by Garner Ted Armstrong in 1978. Today the COGI continues to teach and proclaim the dogma of Herbert W. Armstrong. Their TV program is called "Armor of God."

2 Read: How Mind Manipulation is Used For Influence and Control

Back to Stories and Testimonies From Child Survivors