Best of the Letters from 2014
January 6, 2014
After a taxing ordeal and being marked in the PCG (which split up our family from 2010 to present day), we went for two weeks to the RCG. Two weeks was all it took!! The second week David Pack gave a sermon via CD about the ten virgins of Matthew 25. At the end of the sermon with raised voice he was promoting how this work was going to build a campus and maybe someday they would have a plane like Herbert Armstrong so he could take the gospel around the world. Then he yelled, "Don't leave your money to your children as an inheritance; give it to the church!"
I watched as my husband closed his notebook. When we contacted the local minister that we would not be returning, he tried desperately to explain that this was "a strong sermon for newcomers and we should not be hasty to leave. After all, this was 'meat' we had not heard before." Even though those people were truly excited about this "growing work," we explained that this was not new to us. We had been supporting the work, building a campus and auditorium, youth camps, a magazine and a broadcast; we had heard all of this before in the PCG--same thing, different place. We had poured our hearts and lives into "the work." How many works, auditoriums, and campuses must there be before Christ returns?!! We had already given thousands of dollars to the "work" in Edmond. It was like a slap in the face. While the Flurrys and Turgeons are living in relative luxury surrounded by the comfort of family, what inheritance would our scattered children have? We had been giving it all to the "work." Now a different guy wanted to lay claim to it professing to be the "one." That was the day that I said, "Wait a minute...what is the common factor here?" --Former PCG and two-time attendees of RCG (enough is enough)
Your Site Helped Me Exit all Churches of God:
January 15, 2014
Dear people at ESN, I would like to thank you very much for your Web site which has helped me more than I can say in helping me exit all "churches of God." I feel a true sense of freedom now that I could never had imagined whilst stuck in the organisations that I first joined in 1964, which was then called the Radio Church of God. I was a young lady of 24 then, and have spent the main part of my life in the WCG and offshoots (GCG [LCG], UCG, PCG and RCG) until I discovered your site last August. It was your site which finally woke me up to the real truth about all these groups, for which I am truly grateful, and I am going forward now in leaps and bounds, thanks to you. --Western Australia
January 18, 2014
I have occasionally attended COGWA (Church of God, A Worldwide Association) since it began and wanted to give some observations.
COGWA is an organization that supposedly formed very quickly, as most of it's ministers and members were once part of the United Church of God (UCG-AIA). I listened online to the first messages that were given about 3 years ago. This was their official start, but the future leaders of COGWA had been scheming in secret for months. I won't take the time to go into the reasons that it formed or the "sermons," but I knew that COGWA was in for problems from the start.
My understanding is that COGWA took 2/3 of the paid ministry from UCG, but only 1/3 of its members. I have talked with several members and I don't know if some of them really understand why they left. Many of the members just played follow the leader. Some didn't want to be cut off from the local minister, family, friends, and activities. One big problem is that if the local paid UCG minister didn't leave and take members with him, there isn't a local COGWA group in their area. Even Chicago doesn't have a local group listed on their website. Members in the area where I have attended are driving up to 200 miles round-trip to services, all to meet with a group that is about 1/3 the size of their previous UCG congregation.
It appears that 80% or more of COGWA's operational expenses are going to salaries, expense accounts, and perks. They must reduce their paid ministerial crew if they have dreams of accomplishing any kind of outreach. They sure aren't doing any real big work! They are finally putting out an e-magazine called Discern: A Magazine of Life, Hope & Truth. This has been done by organizations that are 1/10 of the size of COGWA. I think they boasted about 9500 members worldwide at the Feast in 2013. The Feast statistics showed that at least 1/2 or more of the attendance at the Feast was outside of the U.S.A. If the brethren in these areas are impoverished, this could be another reason that COGWA is struggling to do a major work. Not enough tithe payers.
I believe that COGWA is a "politically correct church of God" that is scared of being sued for hate speech. The sermons and Bible studies that are made available all have to be gone over by at least one doctrinal committee before anyone is allowed to hear them--even members.
COGWA invented themselves as a ponderous, bureaucratic organization right from the start. They say they want to preach the Gospel, but they get in their own way so much and make everything so labor intensive.
It's okay though, they don't have anything new to say that the old-WCG and most of it's splinters haven't already been saying for decades, most of which has almost no impact in today's world.
With all this being said I see a bleak outlook for COGWA. Most of the members I know have gone backwards spiritually since attending there. They also have the primary issues of bad health, financial worries, and marriage problems. They changed organizations, but made no attempts to change their lifestyles or their heart. Most have burned their bridges with UCG, and aren't humble enough to go back there. In my opinion both of these organizations are a waste of my time! --E.
Comment: Also read: Why the Church of God, a Worldwide Association Will Splinter and Come to Nothing (2-2-11 letter to ESN) and Info on COGWA at end of our UCG-AIA article.
January 20, 2014
David Hulme's COG, An International Community has crumbled. A lot of his ministers have left and formed another splinter group in Pasadena which they named Church of God, Family Church. It's doubtful Hulme had more than about 3000 with him. He has been going downhill for years. Hulme's group is very secretive, so it's hard to find out much information. You have to have a password to look on their website--as if we really need a password to God! --Former member of WCG, PCG & RCG
Comment: COG, An International Community publishes Vision: Insights and New Horizons and Foundations (online Bible study course).
Glad I'm Not Alone in What I Went Through:
January 29, 2014
I came into the WWCG in 1982 and left in 2000. Your article on how HWA recruited people could have been written by me. It was almost identical to how I came into the WWCG. I lost money and relationships. I can't get back all those years that were spent going to this "church" thinking it was the one true church. What a waste. Glad I found your web site and found out I'm not alone in what I went through. --D.
Never Knew Anything About the Wide Goings On in WCG:
February 3, 2014
I would be pleased to receive the PDF book, The Broadway to Armageddon. I read the PT since 1957. I was age 13. I joined the WCG in 1975, and my attendance declined gradually in 1992 until I left in 1993. I live in Northern Ireland. Perhaps we were "isolated" but I never knew anything about the wide goings on that I read on ESN site. All we had was The Worldwide News, but I can see so many similarities in problems, etc. A member said to me, "There is no spontaneous warmth in the ministry," and I agreed. My own two children who grew up there frankly today couldn't give a monkey's *** and are totally non church. I often wonder where all the children are today. I was the YES [Youth Educational Services] "appointed" leader and that meant weekly half hour lessons after the two-hour service--too much for children. Thank you for the book. --Northern Ireland
Astounded at WAT [WCG/Armstrong/Tkach organization] and SDA Parallels:
February 13, 2014
As a former SDA, I am simply astounded at the parallels of WAT [WCG/Armstrong/Tkach] and SDA. You came out of such a small group, but are doing a much better job of analyzing than former SDAs have done--much more discernment about the maneuvering with CGI [Grace Communion International], it seems to me. They did the same deceitful negotiations to dodge the cult bullet.
Have you ever researched and written about SDA? If not, I hope you will. --M. B.
Comment: "WAT" is covered in OIU Newsletter #1, Pt. 1 and OIU #2, Pt. 1, 2 & 3.
Christians Being Blown by Every Wind of Doctrine:
February 14, 2014
I am requesting David Robinson's book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web.
I was unfortunate enough to read Herbert Armstrong's The United States and Britain in Prophecy, where I was riveted by Armstrong's key to Bible prophecy and convicted of the sin of Sabbath breaking. Needless to say, these convictions were transitory and unsustainable in the light of evidence, and I eventually returned to the true Gospel. I never actually joined the WCG, yet I was for awhile oppressed by Armstrong's works-based teachings until I could discover the truth. During this time, I was unaware of what other doctrines Armstrong taught, and when I discovered what he taught concerning the nature of God [see footnote #9 in MOA 6, Pt. 5], I was repulsed. However, I was also interested in the doctrinal shift occurring in the WCG and I optimistically attended services under their new policies. I believed that God was doing a good work in their organization.
Nevertheless, I was left with an empty feeling because of their apparent decision to sit on the fence concerning many important non-essential issues. They seemed to just use the label "non-essential" to sweep any doctrinal issue, wherein they still entertained a minority view, under the rug. I have wondered whether this once fundamentalist cult was now becoming liberal. While Armstrong seemed to teach that the Sabbath commandment was related to God's resting on the literal 7th day since he created the heavens and the earth, Tkach now seemed to accept the day-age theory. I feel that it is better to be an ultra-dispensationalist who has his mind made up on every issue than to be mystified and confused about every issue that isn't essential. Being misguided about minor things (and who isn't?) is far better than being blown by every wind of doctrine. Most of WCG's literature offers no answers but only more questions. I have also followed Hank Hanegraaff, who was introduced to me by his own Plain Truth column, and had similar issues with his vague teachings. There was nothing at all refreshing about his eschatology, which was simply garden variety amillennialism.
There are certain things about the seeker-sensitive movement that don't sit right with me. Mega-churches with zillions of Bible studies with more involvement in my private life than I am comfortable with, modern music where you can't hear the lyrics and singing in tune is difficult, hymns that go on forever with the last stanza and never get over with, vague motivational preaching with rarely a clear presentation of the Gospel, are just some of the impressions I come away with. And then I hear of the spiritual disciplines that detract from Christian liberty. The church is a mess, and WCG (GCI) is not a better example.
And now I hear that Herbert Armstrong doesn't even qualify as a sincere but misguided teacher. His incest and secret doctor visits have to be considered rank hypocrisy and lawlessness that clearly contradicts Herbert's own teaching. --J. C.
Comment: Many Christians today are being deceived and led away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ into another (or new) gospel taught by false teachers / false prophets. See our section: Expose` on Worldwide Church of God (GCI"), especially the OIU Newsletters, and Discernment & Research on our Links.
Sick, Angry and Disillusioned at What I Found Out About Herbert Armstrong:
February 25, 2014
Hi. I just heard a couple days ago about the allegations against Herbert Armstrong, the man who was always considered beyond reproach. I feel sick inside at not only the gross immorality, but the blatant hypocrisy too. I would like to discover what the truth really is, if that is possible. Many people I know still think he was such a wonderful man, but the things I have lately read about the cover up and lies for his sexually perverted son (GTA), the unfair and hypocritical treatment of others, his own sexual deviance, the way he lived in lavish wealth while the people supporting him did without, etc., just makes me feel sick and angry and very disillusioned. I was one of those who did without, felt very sad and deprived, felt so very oppressed and suffocated and controlled and uncared about, who was always harshly judged, and lived in fear of ever "leaving the church," was even kicked out because the WCG didn't need any imperfect sinners, and if my deep depression caused me to kill myself, oh well. No love or support or encouragement was offered, only condemnation, etc. But I still felt like I was the hideous failure. Anyway, If you can please email to me that PDF file of the Tangled Web book, I would appreciate it. Thanks.
It has been a long time coming, but I am slowly seeing more and more of the fallacious and arrogant and self-righteous thinking that was so prevalent in the WCG offshoots. --Child survivor of WCG
March 3, 2014
I thought the following [from OIU 6, Pt. 1] was quite insightful on your part:
"...those who read the Ambassador Report (since 1994) were tossed into deeper mystification and complexity by Carl Jungian apprentice and Editor, John Trechak.
"[UPDATE: In the beginning Trechak and the team he worked with appeared to have a very noble goal. But after awhile, the message in his AR became mixed, causing people to become bitter instead of being on the road to healing. Later reports were referring readers off to agnostic, aberrant, meta-physical, humanistic, and anti-Bible sources through comments, letters, addresses and book titles. John Trechak died September 2, 1999. The AR is now posted on an atheist website.]"
I remember my brother John drifting into Jung and assorted areas off the beaten track that made me concerned for him. He was a courageous and caring person--quite brilliant actually--who never escaped the deleterious effects of the Armstrong corruptions he wrote about.
I look forward to future visits to your website.
Sincerely, Andrew Trechak
God Used Your Website to Open My Eyes:
March 18, 2014
Dear ESN, I want to tell you what an invaluable service you are providing. I feel that God has used your website to help open my eyes to the errors of Armstrongism. And for that I am thankful. I was raised in WCG so leaving that mindset was a long and arduous process. Oh, the battle stories I have to tell! I will follow up at a later time. I was wondering if you could provide me with the following PDF's: Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, Armstrongism: Religion Or Rip-Off, The Broadway to Armageddon. Thank you so much and may God richly bless your service! --Raised in WCG
Joining LCG Totally Changed Husband-to-Be For the Worse:
March 24, 2014
I came across your site today and was instantly interested. My best friend and the man I was to marry broke up with me last year because of his recent connection with the Living Church of God. Joining this organization totally changed him for the worse, and he was told that he must cut his losses (i.e. ditch me), be baptized and repent. He has been mind controlled by them into believing they are the "one true church of God" and that he cannot be part of LCG if he marries me. He is now the shell of the man he used to be. --Impacted by LCG
Exploitation in the Name of God:
March 26, 20114
Just wanted to drop a quick note of encouragement. I really appreciate the website you have set up. I read a lot of the write ups about the Worldwide Church of God and their exploitation in the name of God. That organization is not the only one though. I have seen it first hand in many of the Baptist churches regarding giving of your time and finances to further God's Kingdom.
The last pastor at the local First Baptist Church commanded a six figure income and a five year contract so he could not be fired. Mind you this all takes place in a very low income area where the average income is $35,000 to $40,000. He almost bankrupted them with his elaborate shows and exotic trips. He's somewhere in Florida now doing the same thing there, but this is not the only instance of this type exploitation of immature Christ followers. Sadly it is rampant within the Southern Baptist Convention churches. Being a Baptist preacher is a very lucrative and quite cushy profession. There are a few exceptions that really do want to do right by God, but I have not found many. They twist Scripture to further their warped agenda.
The latest report that I've gotten is now people are being told to tithe 10% to the church for their monthly budget and then are to give additional money to fund building projects on the campus. This extra money was very specifically stated as being above and beyond the normal tithe. Sure does resemble the same organization you all are writing about.
I just got a book in the mail today from Christian Biblical Church of God written by Fred Coulter and did not know why I got it. Neither my wife nor I requested the book. So I did a search for the author and found a link to your website. Once I got to your website I found it very interesting and encouraging in the sense that I see a very real similarity with Baptist churches.
We have a small group that meets at my home once a month for a real Bible study and we all have had issues with today's churches always asking for money only to see them just waste it on their own personal agendas that don't have real results. We don't affiliate with any denomination, just simply Christ followers.
Anyway, thanks again for your great website. Take care and God bless. --B.
March 26, 2014
I thought you might find this humorous.
In 2009 I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps after four years of service. I was transferred to the Marine Corps Reserves and later I was offered a chance to temporarily go back on active duty to serve in a 100% support role (administrative clerk processing paperwork and serving as an executive assistant to a Commanding General). The position would not require me to go overseas. After counseling with the local LCG minister he replied with the following e-mail:
Hi, Mr. [John Doe]
I have been thinking about your situation. I hope you have sought ministerial counsel. I wonder if your job, although they tell you it is not a combat role, is the kind of job that, should no one be found to do it, they would need to take someone out of a combat job to fill it. In effect, you would be supporting a war effort. We are not to do violence to any man. Also, should you end up in a combat zone, the enemy will not know you are in a non-combat role. You would be the enemy, and subject to their efforts to kill you.
Best wishes. Maybe something else will come along.
I nearly doubled over with laughter that this grown man truly believed that supporting "the war effort" was offensive to God when in fact a portion of the tax dollars everyone pays "supports the war effort."
Also, I was with LCG for about three years and lied about my occupation to stay (I believed and still do believe that military service is not a sin).
I left two years ago.
Feel free to use this however you wish as long as it helps to expose them.
Thanks again. --Ex LCG
Thank You For Helping So Many Of Us:
April 4, 2014
ESN, thank you for all the work you have done over the years to help so many of us with a WCG background. --Ambassador College graduate
No Mercy, Love, or Hospitality in Christian Churches of God:
April 5, 2014
Dear friends, how happy I am to get in touch with you. I was a former member, baptized into Armstrongism in 1990. Four years ago I met via the internet Christian Churches of God (Wade Cox). But there never was a good communication via personal email and no human mercy, Christian love, solidarity or hospitality in Christ. I'm taking good note of your web page and I am very glad to have found you by these mechanical means. We remain in contact. A brotherly embrace. --Spain
I Was Told to Leave WCG and Never Come Back:
April 14, 2014
I want to thank you for making this website possible. I just happened to stumble across it and I was surprised to see it. I can't believe the things that "The Church" taught us was wrong, yet all the while they were doing the exact same things, but it was OK for them.
My mother was a member of WWCG for many years and my siblings and I were raised in "The Church." I was a teenager when Earl Roemer, the minister, came in one Saturday morning. He got out of his car, walked up to me and told me I was "no longer welcome in the church." He told me that I was to leave and never come back. My mother tried to talk to him about it and was told to not interfere. At the time, I had been in trouble with the local police. (Not anything serious, but I guess that doesn't matter to them.) If anything, "The Church" should have asked my mother if they could help, instead of what they did. As for myself, that was the absolute best thing they could have done, because it not only got me out of there, but it also opened my mother's eyes. She finally saw the truth about them. My mother quit going to HWA's "only true Church," and then when GTA opened his CGI [Church of God International], she started there. But, since the leaves don't fall far from the tree, she soon realized that GTA was not any better. My mother was a widow raising 7 children on her own, with only my father's Social Security checks as income. I have no idea how she was able to raise us and give support to WCG.
I still have dreams about that "church" and it's been almost 40 years since they threw me out. I just can't get them completely out of my head. Every time I see a picture of Herbert Armstrong, it just makes me want to puke. I can't stand to see his picture. I know it's wrong, but, I was glad to hear of his death. And then in 2003, I jumped for joy when GTA died. I know I'm not the only one that has felt that way. God bless each one of us that had to go through the healing of what they did!!
It also hurt me to read that so many of the children of the past ministers and former members had committed suicide. I also went through those thoughts, but thank God, it just wasn't my time to go. Thankfully, though, I no longer have those thoughts.
Thank you for opening the eyes of other former survivors, so that they can see the truth themselves. --Randy Willis, MO (Child survivor of WCG)
April 17, 2014
I was reading about Michael Snyder in your OIU newsletter #3, p. 2 and how he did an "about face." The article you link to, "The Marketing of Religion" which covers what Snyder was doing with United Church of God-AIA in 1998 was very interesting. Snyder has no conscience--first helping WCG to mainstream, then leaving WCG, calling it a "cult," then disappearing, then showing up as giving the UCG Council of Elders "marketing" advice on how to fine-tune their image and recruiting methods. I believe he was not only a hypocrite, but one of WCG's "change agents." --Former member of WCG
June 26, 2014
I want to let you know that David Pack is still predicting a huge "inrush" of members, when his "unprophecy" about three splinter leaders dying together in fire is fulfilled. All eyes are now on this August, since it didn't happen last year on schedule. August is also when the ministry will gather for their yearly conference. I wonder what "new understanding" will be revealed this year? Will any of the members come back to reality, when the "prophecy which is not really a prophecy" fails again? I'm not holding my breath. --[name withheld]
Splinter Groups' Continued Unwillingness to Answer Direct Questions:
June 26, 2014
While I grew up in the WCG for 6 years of my childhood, then a couple more years in a less intrusive offshoot, then came to a knowledge of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I never, ever forgot what it was like in that cult. At age 50 I am still dealing with it. But God is good, that's all I can say.
One thing I'm amazed at even at this late date is the splinter groups' continued unwillingness to answer a direct question. Just for inquiry, I contacted several of them that supposedly have "congregations" near where I live, and I was able to get almost ZERO info from them. Most of them responded, but wouldn't answer anything. They wouldn't tell me where and when they meet, they wouldn't tell me how "large" (or tiny) the congregations were, nor what to expect at a service.
I also decided to email the Restored Church of God and asked them quite forthright: "What must a person do to be saved?" I got a long email instructing me to send away for their literature so I could be familiar with their church's teachings. I emailed back and asked again and I got the same response: "Send away for our literature."
Ok, so the "one true church" that only uses the Bible (supposedly) as their source couldn't respond in the same manner Paul responded to the jailer in Acts 16: 30-31 ["Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."]
I responded one more time to them and reminded them of this passage. I received no further responses from them.
I still have some off and on debates with people on Facebook who are still in the splinters. Most of them resort to one accusation after another.
I have no other way to end this note except to say: Peace to all. --Child survivor of WCG
Almost Got Roped into Restored Church of God:
July 2, 2014
It must have been God intervening. I was very close to getting roped into the Restored Church of God, when I opened a link to your website!
I'm a "recovered Roman Catholic." I left them over 35 years ago. I study the Bible daily, have tried numerous organized Christian Churches; even looked into Messianic Christianity.
The bottom line is that I feel a strong calling to find a "real" church, or Christian religion, for my kids and my own sake. Can you help? --Florida [name withheld]
Reply: I'm really glad to hear that you avoided going into RCG. ... I don't know of any particular church in your area to refer you to that your family can attend. However, we often recommend the ministry of Aaron Budjen ... He's not a Messianic Jew, but strongly distinguishes between the old and new csovenants and is very familiar with a Judaic and historic frame of reference. All of his messages may be downloaded free from his radio archives (the ones on "Atonement and Propitiation" are especially good but so are many others). ... The late J. Vernon McGee of Thru the Bible Radio Network is also good and goes through the entire Bible in 5 years. (We link to both.)
Realize there are many groups in society today that will say they are "following Jesus Christ's teachings" (or are the "true church") but whose purpose is to exploit you financially and control your life. I would continue to pray for the Lord to guide you, along with visiting as many churches as you can, before you make up your mind. Especially pray that you will not end up in some church that is following any kind of error.
Thanks so Much for Your Help:
(2nd email from person above)
July 2, 2014
Thanks so much for your help! I'm sure I'll find the right mix, but your advice really helps. Best regards, --Florida [name withheld]
Cannot Stress Enough the Impact WCG Had on My Life:
July 17, 2014
I am a WCG child survivor. From birth to 16 years of age I was made to attend all services. I was never allowed friends outside of the group. I cannot stress enough the impact that WCG had on my life. I dread interaction with anyone, even my family. It haunts me. The worst thing is I cannot tell anyone why I feel helpless; disabled. I love and believe in God. I do not believe that God wants me to feel the way I do. Twenty-two years later, I am still trying to recover from the hurt my so called "church" imposed on me. --Child survivor of WCG
Rose Colored Memories of the "Good Old Days" in WCG:
July 17, 2014
The WCG really messed up so many people's lives. Then you have others who have rose colored memories of "the good old days." --Former WCG member
Comment: Read: Doctrines of Destruction (one testimony out of many that reveals what the "good old days" were really like).
Dumbfounded That Everything Was So Clear!
August 3, 20114
I am so thankful to have stumbled upon your website. I was a member of WWCG over 20 years ago and left for my own personal reasons. ...
During the past 8 months, I attended the Living Church Of God (only once) and spoke with a few friends who attended the other splinter groups. I also attended the SDA church for 3 months and left because I can not agree with Ellen White's false prophecy when reading the "Great Controversy." I even attended the Messianic congregations searching for the truth. I contacted the Restored Church of God and connected with the local minister who stated that their church is the "only true church of God." It seems as though, every splinter groups of WWCG professes that they are the "only true church of God" and mucking at each other's church. (Doesn't the Bible teach that by the fruits we will know the tree?) I had isolated myself on Saturdays feeling almost doomed because I could not find the right place to worship.
The last few weeks I've been reading your website and found it interesting, but this afternoon I read Mr. Charles Halff's article: Should the Sabbath Be Observed Today? I was dumbfound that everything was so clear! I could not tell you how much I appreciate your work at ESN. At last, I feel "I am truly free" --U. C.
God Led Me To You!
August 10, 2014
Dear ESN, I came across your site today and could not stop reading it but I don't know what to do. My father started following Armstrong in the `70s when I was a preteen. I recall suddenly not celebrating birthdays or holidays, we were not allowed to go anywhere on Saturdays, and followed the O.T. food laws. My father ended up switching to the Christian Identity Movement which he still believes to this day. I left that group in the early 1990s and have been struggling with depression for years. Each time I go to church something triggers me. I cry every day. I found a church that I could handle for a while but the pastor told me I was not allowing him to be my shepherd. This upset me greatly and I have isolated myself for 3 months now. Do you know of any support group in [state removed]? I really need help. Thank you very much. --Child Survivor of WCG [name withheld]
Your Website Has Helped Me So Much!
August 12, 2014
I was so blessed to find your website a few weeks ago. Every change I get, I am on it reading more and more.
My mother joined WCG in 1967 (I was 12 years old). I spent my teen years thinking that I would never graduate from high school (I was class of 1972). We would surely be in the place of safety by then! I bought into the teachings of WCG hook, line and sinker.
Well, graduate I did, and went on to Ambassador College, Pasadena. My class was not just the "cream of the crop," we were the "cream of the cream." Talk about feeling special!!! I dropped out after two years and got married to a man who was graduating that year.
To condense the story, he was eventually ordained a local elder by Earl Williams, then hired full time some years later. We were sent to [various areas]. Our marriage was doing a slow nose dive, and I was beginning to dislike and distrust the "church." I quit attending services around 2000 and we got divorced in 2003. He remains a pastor in [one of the offshoots].
When I met my current husband in 2006 and began explaining my former life to him, he was dumbfounded. He had never heard of Herbert Armstrong and all the accoutrements surround him. As I tried to logically explain what I had believed and why, his questions back to me made me see just how illogical it was. (He is a very intelligent man.)
In 2008 we began attending a mainline Christian church, and I am so happy to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ! For the first time in my 60 years, I have a close personal relationship with my Lord and Savior!! I sometimes stumble in my understanding of Christianity, because my mind seems to default still to what I learned as a child. This is where your website has helped me so much. I read and reread your article on Law and Grace. It is nice to have it explained by someone who understands what I used to believe, and tell me the difference!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I will be coming back to this site over and over again. --Child survivor of WCG/former member of HWA offshoot [name withheld]
In the Right Circumstances, We are Willing to Believe the Truly Preposterous:
August 14, 2014
I was in the WWCG, a teen in the 1970s. I attended "feasts" in Big Sandy.
I was recently in Pasadena, and saw the campus (that place which ate up the family's meager fortune) with its otherworldly-weird concert hall so incongruous with everything else.
During my high school years in 1970, we had half the garage taken up with cans of expensive survival food, were sending in three tithes and offerings, and conversations before and after "Sabbath Services" included discussions of the then new 747 airliners taking us to the "Place of Safety." My poll of fellow high-schoolers at one of those crazy "feasts" was that they were very conflicted and very angry to operate in the real world. My layman's assessment of Herbert's and Garner's mental health and desperation was and remains that they were a genuine mess.
HWA's grip on reality was beyond repair, and by then he'd managed to turn those kids into whimpering whipped dogs, anything but ready for adulthood.
This was an out-of-control situation that drifted quietly into a thousand little miseries. It could have devolved into one big one, like Jonestown.
By coincidence, my parents retired to Tyler, Texas, in about 1981. This became the place where GTA went to regroup (having no marketable skills, assumedly) so they got a ringside local seat to GTA's antics aimed at those who wanted to come back for more. My brother used to see him in the local restaurants that the local oil barons supported and reported that GTA never disappointed with his personal excesses and comic hypocrisy.
My own conclusion is that we, as regular people leading regular lives, are, in the right circumstances, willing to believe the truly preposterous. I take pride, myself, that even as a little kid I saw immediately that HWA was a genuine sociopath and scoundrel, and I developed many techniques to steel myself through and his various minions' verbose, hate-filled screeds. --California
My Remark About GTA Saved Me From WCG:
August 22, 2014
For some years I was hooked by Armstrongism and had visits from two ministers. I had practically arranged to be baptised into this cult and become a student of Ambassador College, when one of the ministers asked me: "What do you think of Garner Ted?" I replied that I enjoyed the radio broadcasts but felt that he came across like "an egotistical know-it-all." The reaction was startling. The two ministers got up, gave me a curt goodbye and stiffly stalked out of the house. This was a couple of months before Garner Ted was put out of the WCG by his father. They never contacted me again. I had donated large sums--tithed my gross income--over the years as a co-worker and I regret the loss of this money, amounting into the thousands, but realise that my remark might well have saved me from becoming much more a part of that cult. So things could have been worse. --D. M.
Saw Things in RCG That Concerned Me:
September 12, 2014
I am (most recently) a former RCG member that saw things that concerned me but I maintained my silence about those things as I did not want to upset those around me. Once I was more certain about my concerns, I left. Upon reading more of your site I am stunned by the amount of information which I can validate about others' suspicions. Just know, that the information allotted is not even 1/3 of the whole. --Former RCG member
You're Doing an Excellent Service:
September 16, 2014
After 17 years in WCG, resigning, and spending a few more in Global Church of God, I am extremely interested in reading the materials you have available and passing them along to family and survivor friends. You're doing an excellent service to many confused, disillusioned and saddened people. Thank you. Please send the scanned PDF versions of the following books: ARMSTRONGISM: RELIGION OR RIP-OFF? (An Exposé of the Armstrong Modus Operandi) by Marion J. McNair; HERBERT ARMSTRONG'S TANGLED WEB (An Insider's View of the Worldwide Church of God) by David Robinson; THE BROADWAY TO ARMAGEDDON by William B. Hinson. Thanks, --B. T.
September 17, 2014
I have been doing some research into COGWA (a split from UCG) since I know some people who are well involved. COGWA seems to want to show an "air of respectability," if you will, which in a way makes them more dangerous than Flurry or Pack. It is very easy for people to get sucked in.
On their "Foundation Outreach International" site, if you look down on each project, you will see that the volunteers need to cover these costs. Most church missionaries have these costs covered by their church or else fundraise to get the funds. It looks to me like just a cover to make COGWA look like a normal church.
Something else I noticed is this charity is mentioned as "humanitarian." That is not a word that Christians use when they do good in the world. It is to firstly send the gospel to the hurting. "Humanitarian" is usually used in the secular sense.
All their board directors are COGWA members; i. e., Jim Franks, president of COGWA, Doug Horchak, employed by COGWA, Steve McNeely, COGWA elder in Texas, Cliff Demarest, writer for COGWA.
They are a very crafty group. --Former member of WCG
Reply: Church of God, a Worldwide Association's website has the potential to draw in the unwary and undiscerning. They are involved in an outreach program called Foundation Outreach International, spouted as being "dedicated to a world of good," and which reaches into Jordon, the Philippines, Zambia, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. Their website asks people to "get involved" in this project by sending donations and submitting an online volunteer application.
No one would suspect that a false religious organization, which holds to Herbert Armstrong dogma, is behind FOI unless they dug deeper.
Another link from COGWA's site is "Life, Hope & Truth" which is for those who are "looking for understanding about the purpose of life ... for reliable truth about God, the Bible" (similar words that HWA would use). Along with posting articles, a Verse of the Day (with explanatory commentary where one is then led to an article), newsletters, etc., this page offers a "FREE subscription" to Discern ("life changing insights"), the email magazine for COGWA.
The articles on COGWA's websites have a link inside them to booklets which end up being all based on Herbert Armstrong philosophy and doctrines. Many of their articles and booklets soon reveal their distaste for mainstream Christians that don't hold to their (HWA) views.
Instead of having a Bible Correspondence Course like HWA mailed out (refer to: How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit People?), COGWA has "Foundation Institute Center for Biblical Education" ("Do you love God's truth? Do you want a deeper understanding of the Bible?"), an in-depth study in the form of classes which go for a year and which are called "Education Seminars." At the end of these seminars, one receives a "Certificate of Completion." This certificate, however, is worthless, as the site states in small print: "Foundation Institute Center for Biblical Education is not accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is not recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the U.S. Department of Education, or any other state, agency or accrediting body as a licensed degree-granting institution."
Following are some of the "Fundamental Beliefs" of COGWA from their website (and which show their HWA views of a false gospel):
Belief in a "God family" currently consisting of only the Father and the Son; Jesus not the Eternal Son of God; the Holy Spirit is only the "power of God"; our potential is to partake of God’s divine nature as children in His family; we do not have an immortal soul; our purpose is to be added to the God family; belief in a spiritual resurrection instead of a bodily resurrection; if we are seeking eternal life, we must "strive to obey the Ten Commandments"; baptism by immersion and laying on of hands makes us part of the spiritual body of Christ, the true Church of God; we must keep the 7th day Sabbath (the "identifying sign" and "perpetual covenant between God and His people"); "true Christians" will observe the seventh day Sabbath; we must keep the annual O.T. festivals or holy days (which "reveal God’s plan of salvation for mankind"); observance of clean and unclean meats; tithing (includes the festival tithe); not to serve in the military (it would "create problems keeping the Sabbath and holy days"); the biblical name of the church is the Church of God; belief in a second resurrection to physical life and a third resurrection to the Lake of Fire (annihilation).
September 24, 2014
I got involved in the organization of Armstrong in 1981 when he was 15 years old and started reading the magazine "The Plain Truth." But it was not until 1984 when I realized that there was a church [Worldwide Church of God] behind it and understood its doctrines. I came to believe that I was being called by God to follow Herbert Armstrong, which I did until 1995 when Joseph Tkach dissolved the Armstrong church.
Then I attended regularly the United Church of God, An International Association, until 2010. That's when this "church" was divided again, and led to the formation of COGWA [Church of God, a Worldwide Association]. I realized that all these groups were nothing more than fundamentalist sects that enslave the souls of men and deny Jesus Christ. Since then, the ESN website has been very helpful for my life. --Spanish speaking former member [name withheld]
Superior, Critical and Judgmental Attitudes Were Instilled in Members:
October 17, 2014
I have read so much on the internet about Herbert Armstrong committing incest with his younger daughter, Dorothy. Is there any documented proof that this really happened? I believe it did, but how can I prove to someone else that it happened?
The more time I spend with my friend in the United Church of God the more I am convinced that I made the right choice to get out of the WWCG. I spent thirty some years of my life in that "church." I see the judgmental, unforgiving, critical attitude that is common in many members, including my friend. It is sad, but I know where it is coming from. I will never forget ministers, Garner Ted for one, sneering, scoffing and ridiculing evangelical Christians from the pulpit. It was this type of thing that instilled superior, critical and judgmental attitudes in the members. When I stepped away from that, it all came so clear to me and I am so sad that my friend is still in their clutches. We will never be close because of this. My friend believes I am lost now because I don't keep the seventh day Sabbath, the holy days, or the laws of clean and unclean meats.
Thanks so much for all of the work you do! I find your articles about overcoming spiritual abuse so comforting. --[name withheld]
Becoming Fully Aware of What the Bible Really Teaches:
November 24, 2014
I have after many years now come to the glory and truth that we are no longer under the old covenant and Moses' law, having been been justified by the grace of God in the faith and belief of Jesus Christ as our Saviour (New Covenant).
I have been reading the article: Must We Keep the Law for Salvation? It's just great and really sincere with the answers. There is so much more I need to read up on this site to become fully aware to what the Bible really teaches. Thanks again for your help! --Exiter from France
PDF Books Reveal Hidden Backgrounds of WCG:
December 1, 2014
Thank you very much for your quick reply and the PDF books. They seem to be very interesting and will help me to learn more about the hidden backgrounds of the WCG. Having been a former prospective member of WCG in the 1980s, I am very interested to read them. Best regards, --F. M.
One of the Best Christmas Presents Ever:
December 8, 2014
My family was sucked into the WCG in 1971 while I was the age of 8. We left in April 1977 to join an offshoot (they lasted only until 1980) with others we knew from our congregation, formed by a handful of "disgruntled families."
But I've gotta tell my annual "One of the Best Christmas Presents Ever" story again:
It was mid December, 1976. I was 13, my brother was 8, and it was our last year in the WCG. A few months earlier a family that we were close to, also in the WCG, had gotten their son and daughter a big Lego set. My mother was very close to their mother (and they remained close all these years since). Now my mother knew how much my brother and I loved that Lego set and really would have loved one ourselves. Well, another December rolled around and Christmas was not talked about as always. It was still a "non-negotiable" even though my parents were on bad terms with the WCG and it's militaristic ministers and deacons. But we had been talking about the Lego set for months, and my mom promised that she was looking for a sale on it. But even back then, Lego sets generally didn't go on sale. Well, one day close to Christmas, my mother just said "TO H*** WITH IT!!!" We weren't supposed to get gifts around Christmas, maybe afterward, but definitely not this close before! While we were at school, Mom went to a nearby toy store called "Kids Town" and bought the biggest Lego set they sold. It was $30 bucks back then which would probably be about $120 today. We came home from school and couldn't believe it when we saw the brand new set on the living room floor. My brother and I were ecstatic! We played with that set for hours after school each day for months! Eventually we added to it over the next couple years.
I'm happy to report, we did begin to celebrate Christmas while still in the offshoot, but it didn't sit well with most of those people there. Gladly, most of them eventually embraced the "pagan holiday" in the years that followed.
It's somewhat ironic, one of the best Christmas presents I ever received was during the final Christmas where it was still officially forbidden. But that was just the beginning. The following December we got a small tree and a few gifts for Christmas then gradually added the following Christmases. I wish everyone reading this a very blessed Christmas! --R. L.
A Disgrace for Men to Masquerade as Angels of Light:
December 10, 2014
Hello, I'd like to request all of your PDF books related to HWA. I was reading one of his books on keeping the Sabbath last night that I downloaded from the Internet. I noticed that he spoke with a very strong rhetoric. Immediately, I searched him and found your website. I'm interested in reading more about him.
He had made a big deal about Jesus saying "the Sabbath was MADE for man" but neglected to finish the scripture and say that man was NOT made for the Sabbath. He took a lot of scriptures out of context and that raised a red flag for me. He also spoke authoritatively but I wondered how anyone could write a book on Sabbath keeping and not reference Paul's Galatian letter which spoke directly to those who tried the "Jesus +" strategy; i.e. Jesus + the law or Jesus + circumcision, etc.
I think it is a disgrace to the body of Christ for men to masquerade as Angels of Light and denounce others as doing the same. His ministry seems very hypocritical and even the overtones of his book were very hypocritical. I would appreciate any documents that you could send me so that I can learn more about him. Thank you and God bless you. --A. R.
December 17, 2014
Thank you for your wonderful website. --Exiter from Holland