Exit and Support Network

My Memories of How Abusive Worldwide Was

There is so much info on this site that brings back so many memories. It is almost too much. My life began in Worldwide Church of God at the age of 11. One of my first memories, other than a few nightmares about being "left behind," was Herbert standing up at a feast and announcing the "miraculous" birth of Shirley1 and Garner Ted Armstrong's firstborn. Imagine that! A perfect child born after six months into the pregnancy! Years later, I found out what a lie this was. Most did not know that Shirley was engaged to Richard Armstrong and that Ted came home from the services and took his brother's fiancé out and got her pregnant. Ole dad made them get married. It was within a year or so that Dick died after a head-on automobile collision.2

My ex was one of the first back in 1973 who stood up in the WCG and told the people why we were leaving. He tried to "go the proper routes," but found out fast that that was the best way to get "disfellowshipped, and marked." Then people were commanded to have nothing to do with you. What followed was a comedy of events, starting with a two hour phone call from Garner Ted Armstrong. He offered us a year's sabbatical in Hawaii and all the money we needed if only he would stand up in services and admit that what he had said was a lie (or a huge mistake). Thankfully, my ex had enough character not to.

Some of the events that followed were hysterical and sad at the same time. Sadly, there were at least two members who committed suicide when they found out what was going on. They just could not handle it. Even Richard Rice3 called, and when my ex told him everything, he said, "Well, if these things are true, that means I have been believing in lies all these years! I just can't handle that!" He's still in the mess. There is so much more that I could add--including our "bugged" phone for about three years, people spying on us, etc. A friend in Tennessee had his front window shot out by an irate member.

On the two hour phone conversation, GTA told my ex that he could not help the way he was--he was prophesied to be that way! He quoted some Scripture in Malachi (I think). My ex had me listen on our extension as a witness as to what was said. It was really amazing. Lots more went on--most of which now I can laugh about to some degree.

Notice, I keep referring to my "ex." Unfortunately, it seems that many of the male species who went through Ambassador College under the GTA era, could not let go of the "boss" attitude. It literally killed our marriage. It is hard for these guys to let go of that "I am right!" attitude.

I am so thankful for freedom! It took me about three years to get my own mind back and to get all the dirty cobwebs out! I still have family in Worldwide [name changed in 2009 to Grace Community International]. I don't call those men ministers anymore--they don't minister--they preach and demand still. I see many Worldwiders--funny how all these little offshoots refuse to have anything to do with each other. Fear does strange things to people. I am so thankful for the fact that I have a heavenly Father--not "just" a god who is waiting to smash us for even eating pork! Apparently WCG never read Timothy--or most of the N.T. for that matter.

A lot of people were horribly hurt while in Worldwide. I still cringe when I think about the horrible public beating Guy Carnes4 (one of GTA's cronies) gave Darryl Henson and another student for taking food from the redwood building kitchen. No one knew these people were so poor that they didn't have food at home. It was a humiliating, abusive experience for these two.

I remember one other family. She was a "spiritual" widow with five or six kids. Stan Rader5 and others found out her ex was in the services. They contacted the branch he was in, got child support from them sent to Pasadena, and then sent the Mrs. a pittance. Her kids found this out from their dad on his deathbed. It has literally almost killed two of his sons. They are so full of anger toward Worldwide over this, they can hardly exist and both suffer severe health problems as a result. Back then, "spiritual widows" were treated like dirt and were not allowed to work. They were to be ready on demand to do whatever task the minister had for them to do. They were literally slaves and had nothing! These people are going to have a lot to answer for one day. I hope I don't sound bitter. I am not. I get angry at the abuse so many suffered, but I have put it all behind me. I am thankful for the friends I had and still have from my days at Imperial. I wonder, too, if I would be as interested in the Bible if I had not had the experiences I did. I'm sorry so many were so abused. That is a sad legacy for the Worldwide.

Well, sorry this is so long. I'm sure you have received many longer and sadder! Thank you for having a site such as this. Hope it is doing a lot of good for those who have been so hurt. I still have family in Worldwide. How I pray, though, that our Father opens their mind--the sooner the better!

By Grace - Child survivor of WCG
January 30, 2003

Footnotes by ESN:

1 Shirley Armstrong died on October 17, 2014 at the age of 79. She attempted suicide at least twice in the early 1970s.

2 Richard Armstrong, son of Herbert Armstrong, died of shock in July 1958, due to neglect of medical attention after a tragic car accident.

3 Richard Rice died suddenly July 27, 2003 of a massive heart attack.

4 Guy Carnes was principal of Imperial School at Big Sandy, Texas. He later became one of the three founders of Church of God International (GTA). He died of cancer on 11/2/99 at the age of 72.

5 Stan Rader died of acute pancreatic cancer on July 2, 2002 at the age of 71.


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