Letters From Those Impacted by
WCG, HWA & Offshoots
Best of the Letters from 2009
Husband Falls for Restored Church of God Lies:
April 21, 2009
My husband has joined up with David C. Pack's Restored Church of God. He is being treated like a long lost son, and he has totally fallen for Pack's self-centered bragging. If Pack is claiming huge numbers coming to him, he is an outright liar. There are just a few members in this state. I know there used to be more, but evidently they left. My sibling and I have been trying to show him how wrong he is, but to no avail. He is convinced at this time that Pack must be the end time Apostle. I do think that Pack is cleverly replacing Herbert Armstrong with himself. How else can he claim to be restoring what HWA already supposedly restored? He also claims to be doing the "Work" that HWA claimed to be finished. Pack has written a two volume autobiography now in which he brags repeatedly about how qualified he is. All he has proven to the discerning person is that he can copy and twist everything that HWA already copied and twisted. I only hope that my husband will catch the man in a lie before our marriage is over. I cannot stand by long and have us go into bankruptcy to support this liar and satanic impostor.
Thanks again for all you do. The danger is still out there. The enemy is still active. --Former member of WCG
June 11, 2009
I have just finished reading the whole of Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web by David Robinson. I thank you wholeheartedly for sending me it in PDF. The book was a real eye-opener. It would have been wonderful had I got my hands on that book when I first became involved with WCG.
I found Mr. Robinson's book incredibly informative. In spite of what he suffered at the hands of spiritual abusers, I did not find his comments at all bitter. I found them to be overwhelmingly objective. No mean feat itself, as anyone knows who has been an exiter of WCG, or any of its offshoots. It is difficult to be objective about any kind of manipulator, tormentor or bully--even if their behaviour has been aimed at another and not at us personally. As Mr. Robinson was the victim of manipulation and spiritual abuse personally, his objectivity is all the more admirable. This is bearing in mind that bullies of any kind themselves are the most subjective of people as were those who laboured to hurt David Robinson.
My wife and I--indeed almost if not all our friends who had been members of WCG--had come into personal contact with people like Gerald Waterhouse and HWA. We had contact with people like Stanley Rader if only by satellite telecasting and his writings. Actually, I hadn't long joined WCG when I first heard Rader speak and I was impressed with him as I was impressed with his book, Against the Gates of Hell. I can remember him saying in a Feast of Tabernacles telecast, that he did not love his enemies. "I do not hate them," he went on to say, "but I do not love them." He was referring to those who denigrated him. I can also remember him saying how much he loved Herbert Armstrong and, as we say in Scotland, "bummed him up" (meaning, "praised him to the skies").
It was either during my first Feast of Tabernacle attendance or my second that we had all been given a free copy of Against the Gates of Hell. As I was a young aspiring writer at the time, I rather enjoyed the book. It appealed to my own intellectual leanings at that time. It would all have been a different story had I also been given a copy of David Robinson's book!
Over here in Britain, we were kept ignorant of those things that were tearing WCG apart. People I knew who had worked in the printing at Bricket Wood, prior to returning to Scotland, told me of behaviour there that shocked me. I was told that there were plenty of people who worked in the printing who weren't converted--converted meaning members of WCG; that was one and the same thing in my neophyte frame of mind. I wondered why they were allowed to work there. But as we were reading so much in WCG publications, fed to us from the United States, stating that HWA had things back on the track, I wasn't too bothered. I can even remember a picture of HWA inside a cartoon of a train engine, I think wearing a driver's hat (drawn in), with a caption showing how he had the church back on the track.
Actually, a thing I hadn't noticed until the "changes" in WCG was how all members used the term "church" to refer only to WCG and no other. Soon after the changes, when we were allowed to think more for ourselves, I personally started to use the term "Worldwide" when referring to WCG, to make clear that I no longer saw it as God's only church. But old habits die hard and I often slipped into the term "church." I notice Worldwiders still use the term "church" applying to themselves alone. Even some exiters still do--force of habit!
I can remember Gerald Waterhouse. I was afraid of some of the thoughts I used to have about him. I thought I was being critical of a messenger of God. This was in spite of how just prior to or during the "changes" it struck me that there are only two kinds of criticism--viz., false (therefore, unfair) and true (therefore, fair) criticism. If Waterhouse or Herbert Armstrong were above criticism, I realized, it meant that they were infallible. If they were infallible, then they were on a par with God which I knew to be ridiculous in the extreme.
Thank you. Your work is a blessing. --Former WCG member in Britain [name withheld]
UPDATE: Read: My Image of Herbert Armstrong Has Been Completely Blown Apart (2012 letter to ESN)
June 30, 2009
My sisters and I were the third generation in our family, on both sides, to attend WCG, so the control goes way back.
After the WCG changes, my family joined United Church of God. But when I was about five, my father stopped going to services, staying home with my little sister instead. The ministers blamed my mother for his absence. Later when they divorced, it was again her fault that she couldn't keep him. With no husband, my mother could no longer be the stay-at-home mom that she once was. The UCG ministers oversaw every job application she sent in. At times they even prevented her from having well-paying jobs. Finally, she found a job at a hospital under multiple bosses who also attended UCG. Her job made any piecework conversation public knowledge at services. The small amount of money she gained from her job mostly went for tithing. I remember nights where a single box of macaroni and cheese was dinner for four.
Around this time, I broke my back in an accident that UCG claimed was my fault. The ministers suggested that I did not need medical help--not even the back brace. For two months they pestered me daily to be anointed, but offered little information as to what that entailed. After bringing me to tears one day, my mother finally told them to leave and that I did not require their services. With this final statement, ministers and members alike gave us the cold-shoulder when we went to services. I fully believe that God intervened at this time to bring us out of there. Various car and health problems prevented our departure on Saturdays. When we finally left UCG, family members--including both sets of grandparents--had to sneak around the UCG to see us. Mother lost her job at the hospital, but finally got one elsewhere.
I still believe in God, but since have come to enjoy His actual teachings.
Thank you. --Child survivor
July 2, 2009
A few years ago I met this guy at my church. Come to find out he learned that I was once in a cult called the Worldwide Church of God and they were trying to whitewash themselves to mainstream Christianity to make themselves more palatable. I was telling him one way was by putting out this video/DVD, "Called To Be Free," by Living Hope Ministries. [Read ESN critique of the Video/DVD] My new friend Jim piped up, "Not Living Hope Ministries?" I asked Jim, "Why did you say it like that?" Jim went on to tell me that he was a Reverend of a small Christian church in Utah before he moved to Florida. He said that Living Hope approached him to buy his church property and take over his congregation. He refused and finally found a true Christian pastor to take over the congregation. I asked Jim why he did not sell to Living Hope? Jim informed me that the leaders of Living Hope Ministries left the Mormon church but they still practice some cult-like ideas and still hold on to a few Mormon ideas. So the way I see it is, you have one misguided group producing a movie for another misguided group who is trying to brainwash the world that everything is fine. How messed up is that? --[name withheld]
July 22, 2009
I tore 80 % of the cartilage in my left knee on a 30 mile bike ride at S.E.P. [Summer Education Program] and didn't receive any medical help. Afterwards two friends tried making me involve myself in sports and got very angry with me when I refused because of the pain I was in. I remember the ridicule and disbelief of our counselors. I also remember others and their pain. S.E.P was probably one of the worst experiences that I had had as a child in the WCG. --Child survivor of WCG
Church of God in Wales Another WCG Splinter Group:
August 8, 2009
My parents are involved with The Church of God in Wales after leaving Ronald Weinland's The Church of God-PKG in late 2005 or early 2006. They somehow managed to hook up with them while looking for somewhere to go when they left COG-PKG. They have services in their living room listening through their computer. Often it will be a HWA sermon tape instead of the minister giving a sermon. John Bowels is the head guy in the UK, and the one that is "in charge" over on this continent is John Pippy who lives in Canada (his wife's name is Eileen). COG in Wales adheres to the no makeup rule, no pants worn to services by the women and, of course, all the other Armstrong requirements. My mom always says to me, "Oh, but you would love so and so." Well that might be and they might be nice people but I don't want anything to do with what would be expected of me in order to be around these people. Just wanted you to know that they are another splinter preaching Armstrong. --[name withheld]
Christian Rock Band Rescinds and Says They Do Not Recommend WCG:
August 24, 2009
I wanted to let you know about something exciting. The leader (I will call him "R") of a contemporary Christian band [name withheld] had written a nice article about the WCG and their video Called to be Free. My teenage son saw this and emailed "R" and explained why he felt that the WCG was not as repentant as they appeared to be (he also went over many of your articles on WCG). After much correspondence with him, "R" also asked a counter-cult apologetic expert [name withheld]. This apologetic expert gave "R" a detailed response with problem areas the organization still needs to work on and told him that a fair amount of false teaching still exists fairly unchecked, especially at the local level, and we should not send new believers to the church. "R" has rescinded his recommendations about the WCG and now states that his band is "not recommending the Worldwide Church of God as a good church to attend at this time." I am so relieved. I am going to write to "R" and thank him for investigating this and being open-minded. I've met the guy five times (my kids love his concerts), and he's really nice. In fact, my kids were saved at his concerts. I had told my son that all we could do was provide the information and pray that the Lord lead him in the right direction. I'm so grateful He did! --Exiter of WCG [name withheld]
Update: Read 11-11 letter below: Met Christian Rock Band Leader that Rescinded on WCG
August 29, 2009
I have had a look at Pack's Autobiography Vol. 1. ("The Authorized Biography of David C. Pack") From the size of it, including the considerable amount of pictures of himself and his achievements, he is trying to outdo HWA in that as well. It is a huge book, at least as big as a Bible, and that is just Vol. 1! The sheer size of it shows what an egomaniac he is.
Pack (61 years old this year) begins with lengthy details of his family and how they came to America very early in its history. It is like he is trying to prove some kind of royal bloodline. He also tries to prove that he was picked out by God for some kind of greatness. He makes a big point of how young he was when "called" (17) and how many years of "intensive" training he had. The impression is that he is even better prepared than HWA was. The Preface points out that Pack was "personally trained by Mr. Armstrong during the last 15 years of his life" and because of this "unusual training" and "unique training" God was able to use him to restore HWA's doctrines ("God's final Work"). I noticed how many times he liked to use the word, extraordinary; i. e.: "extraordinary life," "extraordinary insight," "extraordinary worldwide ministry," "extraordinary setback," "training of an extraordinary nature," "chosen for extraordinary and difficult responsibility," "extraordinary blessing," "extraordinary knowledge," etc. It is supposed to have taken him several years to decide to write this autobiography because "he did not want to focus on himself."
Vol. 1 ends in the 1990s after filling a mind-boggling 608 pages! --Impacted by Armstrongism
September 8, 2009
I believe the WCG is guilty of sensitivity training, especially when they made their new changes. Below is an excerpt from "Sensitivity Training - New Age Psychology in the Church" by M. H. Reynolds:
"How to Spot Sensitivity Training Sessions: ... The following methods are given only because they are perhaps the most frequently used and readily observable procedures:
1. One or more people in the group, known technically as trainers, or change agents or facilitators, will give the impression that they are merely stimulating free expression or openness, but will actually by manipulating the group, without their knowledge, if possible.
2. Most sensitivity training sessions stress agreement upon certain ground rules, which actually become the first foundation of sensitivity training, since individuals hesitate to break rules which they themselves agreed to at the outset. Such rules may simply be agreeing to stay until the session is ended; agreeing to be open and honest in all conversations; agreeing not to talk during non-verbal exercises; and in some cases, the rules go so far as to agree not to object to language normally thought objectionable in the group.
3. You will probably be asked to speak of or write out your greatest problems or faults or hang-ups so the group can make suggestions as to how you can overcome these things. You, in turn, may be encouraged to criticize others in the group if you feel they are not fully open or honest in confessing their faults.
4. Non-verbal exercises may be used where individuals are asked to convey their feelings by some means other than words. This may involve the use of the eyes, facial expression, or body movement, including touching each other's hands, faces, or bodies in an effort to communicate feeling.
5. Periods of silence and meditation with eyes either closed or open are frequently used when the discussions seem to be developing in the wrong way or when the trainer desires to make an abrupt change in the procedures.
6. Marathon sessions are frequently used to break down "inhibitions" and encourage participants to express "their true feelings" under the stress of physical fatigue and lack of sleep.
The history of sensitivity training in the churches: The National Council of Churches has been deeply involved in sensitivity training programs almost from the very beginning. ... The World Council of Churches is also deeply involved in, and has been a showcase for, sensitivity training. ... Many liberal religious leaders have become experts in the field of sensitivity training, and are busily engaged in training others to become change agents in the church and in society."
Comment: "Change-agent for Christ" is another term that has been used and is New Age terminology. Also read 2001 letter: WCG Getting Others to Buy into the Changes.
Dave Pack Now Saying He is the Joshua of Zechariah 3:
September 24, 2009
Dave Pack is now teaching that he is the Joshua of Zechariah 3. He is sounding more like Gerald Flurry and less like Christ. --Former member of RCG
September 28, 2009
My husband first wrote an e-mail to LCG, asking if they had a church in our town, and when and where it was so we could join them in a worship service. He was then asked to sign up for a Bible study through using a link online. He agreed, asking again where they met.
It was not until about a month or two later that he learned where they met. After one visit to the Living Church of God, my husband was super excited. He shared some of their beliefs with me and it looked like our lives were heading down a path I was absolutely not interested in going.
I believe this group preyed on his love of the Lord, and did not give him all of the facts upfront. So after a sense of total fear, I got on the Internet and immediately found your site. I was able to produce enough documentation to show him that he is determined to not go back.
For this, I cannot thank you all enough. Every letter writer, every one who shared their experiences, every one who gave information on mind control: Bless you! Not only is he not joining, he is never going back!! Praise God! I also called the [name withheld] where they were meeting and gave them your website, just so they would be aware of who this group was.
He was not told where they were meeting until after he completed this Bible study online. That was the first sign. Also, he was told that others might have a problem with this religion because "God would harden their hearts." It was like they were readying him for the reaction he was sure to get from the world around him. Also, he mentioned to me some responses he got when talking to these people, and it sounded scripted, like they were taught how to answer such questions.
I just can't believe all the hate, all the pointing to what's wrong with everything; all of the making people question everything.
So glad it's over. Whew!
Sincerely, --A fortunate non member of LCG; never going to be one
LCG Services Were Held in Funeral Home:
September 29, 2009
We attended services at the LCG once. I didn't like it, and I don't think my husband did either. There was something "dark" and "foreboding" about it. If that wasn't bad enough, services were held in a funeral home. --Not a member
October 4, 2009
For the past few months I've logged on to ESN to read the stories of people who got caught up in the whole "churches of God" movement. While many of these stories are very sad and depressing, I also think they speak of a sense of victory as well because these people were brave enough to stand up against the lies and deceptions that were dished out to them by the Armstrongs and the other false teachers and their cultist organizations. Even though many of these people have been kicked, beaten and bruised by these bully organizations, Jesus has given many of them the strength to get back on their feet and shake off the shackles of Armstrongism and embrace Jesus Christ our Savior. Our Precious Lord has led these people out of the hell of the churches of God and brought them into His presence to give them real peace and understanding, to offer His unconditional love, grace and mercy which endures forever. I've also noticed while reading through your letters that many people searching for the "true church" have rejected the churches of God and have saved themselves physically, mentally, financially and spiritually after reading how these "churches" control and manipulate their members.
Some of these offshoot organizations of the Worldwide Church of God--I'm sorry, I stand corrected, the "Phony Church of God"--are very dangerous, and the leaders of these groups are roaring lions devouring the people (looking to find God / spiritual answers). They prey upon these poor people, especially the most vulnerable, namely the children and the elderly. I feel sorry for the children born into these groups because they will go through a life of hell especially when they start school. They will have few or no friends; they will be mocked and made fun of. Most of these poor children will go through life rejected by their peers, they will have low self esteem, and be lonely and depressed. That is no way for a child to grow up--in other words, they will be stripped of their childhood. This is a crime. I also feel bad for the elderly in these groups. Many of them won't leave because groups like the PCG, LCG, RCG and so on have these poor folks living in such fear they think that if they leave they will end up in the lake of fire. As long as these phony churches can keep the fear going, it gives them a guaranteed income. The worst part is that once these old folks die off these "churches" will continue to instill the fear into and to prey on the children, so when they become adults they can continue to fleece the next generation of the flock.
To my understanding many of these "churches" are losing members. The older ones are dying off and some of the younger ones are getting wise to the whole scam and are leaving. It seems these Armstrong groups are getting desperate for new blood but very few are answering the call. Thank God for sites like ESN. I guess ol' Herbie Armstrong never dreamed of a day when someone from the comfort of their home would be able to do some research on his pathetic organization and then reject his evil little works by typing in his name on a computer and clicking a mouse. Too bad the Internet didn't exist in the 50s. Herbert Armstrong's "church" would not have expanded, and it could have died off back then, saving thousands of people from the grief and misery that he and the current leaders put them through. So perhaps the Internet and sites like ESN will be the final nail in the coffins of the "churches of God." I also hope that people looking for Christ stay away from these so-called "churches," and that current members find the real Jesus through prayer and Bible study and get out and develop a right and close relationship with our Lord without fear and intimidation.
Thank you ESN for your great work and may Jesus Christ our Lord and real Savior bless you. --T. C.
Met Christian Rock Band Leader That Rescinded on WCG:
November 11, 2009
I wrote you on August 24 about "R", the leader of a contemporary Christian band [name withheld] that rescinded on WCG after my teenage son emailed him. Well, I wanted to tell you how we just attended one of "R's" concerts and I was able to talk with him in person. We had a nice conversation. He certainly agreed with me that HWA was the worst heretic to walk this earth since Joseph Smith! I told him that the WCG members will admit that they do not know where "HWA went" after his death. I told him that the WCG member that my son was later emailing said, "HWA was a man" (which, of course, led to our agreement that he was not simply a man, but a heretic). I told "R" that it was the duty of the WCG leadership [when they made their changes] to ensure that the members understood who and what HWA truly was. He wholeheartedly agreed. He said that he had gotten emails from other WCG members saying that their congregations were reformed. He said that his pulling out his endorsement of the "Called to be Free" video led to quite a firestorm, but he seemed to feel he made the right decision. I told him that my mate and I would have stayed in to help with the WCG reforms, but we noticed their refusal to come clean about HWA. I told him how disturbing it was when members were told that "God was revealing new light' and we were being given "new truth" instead of admitting that the "new truth" was mainstream Christianity all along! I told him that Evangelicals make the mistake of thinking that the true gospel (turning from your sins and asking Jesus into your heart and accepting Him as your personal Savior) had been preached to the members and that they repented and accepted Jesus during that disastrous Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. sermon in January 1995 (which was full of cognitive dissonance). No. Tkach, Sr. announced the new doctrines and we were to simply accept them. He could have told us that little green men lived on the moon, show a few scriptures, say that HWA would endorse their changes, and the members would simply accept it. There was no "repentance", but only "acceptance" of the new party line. I remember them telling us that "If HWA were alive, he would wholeheartedly accept the changes because he would OBEY THE GOVERNMENT." I am certain that members today have more freedom than they did (in spite of still being mind-controlled). But it is proven that cults "re-invent themselves" when a new leadership takes over. --Exiter of WCG [name withheld]
December 1, 2009
A point that helped me from ever coming into WCG was made in a tract by Church of God (7th Day) that I read back around 1970. That point I've never forgotten. That collection they took up on their Holy Days isn't Biblical. I looked into the meaning of the phase "Offering made by fire." There's over 60 references to it to get a grasp of its meaning. In English it is oblivious, even more so in Hebrew. Leviticus 23 "offering by fire" are sacrifices, not done on the 1st and last day, but on all 7-8 days of Unleavened Bread and Feast of Tabernacles. The offerings were public, not private offerings.
Blue Letter Bible has a web site available to anyone with net connection:
H801: burnt-offering, offering made by fire, fire offering.
Note what it takes to make an offering by fire: A Levite Priest was to administer it, and it was an altar with a fire in it.
This was something very different from what HWA instituted. HWA collected the money and spent it where he wished. --J. G.
You Have Some of the Best Articles I've Seen:
December 23, 2009
I want to thank you for your website. It has some of the best articles I've seen and I even found it clearer than Rick Ross's website. I hope your website is maintained and more links direct to it. Thank you. -- Anonymous