OIU Volume One
OUTSIDER'S INSIDE UPDATE™
Volume ONE ... a newsletter of understanding ... Fall `94
Published by the Exit & Support Network™
All Rights Reserved ©
VOLUME ONE contents:
- As the Whirlwide Turns™, Part One: (current events and strategies that have been implemented by the WCG in efforts to de-cult the look of the WCG and answers to why it is happening)
- So What's it All About? (Why a different story was told to the outside than what was truly taking place inside the church)
- What makes a cult a cult?
- The CRI story (Christian Research Institute)
- Network Affiliates from Afar (letters)
- Therapeutically Speaking (issues regarding psychological and emotional effects from cults)
- News To You
- Waterhouse Alert!
- A Church in Decline?
- From Our Mailbag
The past six months have been anything but quiet. The WCG Exit & Support Network™ has been feverishly committed to aiding the victims of the WCG on a full-time basis. Many readers were direct recipients of the help and support the Network provided. What's keeping us so busy?
- 314 mailings, many were complete exit packages.
- An average of six phone calls daily.
- Attendance at five significant conferences.
- Ex-member out-reach.
- International networking.
- Compiling data regarding WCG, other cults, and therapeutic cult issues.
- Coordination of affiliates in Canada and Australia.
- Organizing COP-AID (Coalition of People Against Intentional Deception)
- Extensive research on WCG history, current events and future agenda.
- Awareness Campaign: counteracting duplicity; manipulation; and gross deception in the WCG as well as in Christian cult watching community regarding the WCG.
Space will not allow a full report on the above; however, readers who wish to be more informed with the current events are invited to contact the Network.
The need for the Network has proven itself time and time again. There are over 3,000 cults in the U.S. alone, more than 600 of them are Bible-based. Recent statistics given at the 1994 Evangelical Ministries for New Religions (EMNR), counter-cult conference, estimated twenty million people involved with cults in some capacity in the U.S. alone. Their tactics may differ, but their agenda is the same. The Bible-based cults hide under the Constitution, rip off with tax-benefits, violate human rights and strip the FREEDOM from every recruit. Under the heading of religion, the goal of power and money is achieved through MIND CONTROL (brainwashing /hypnosis), coercion, manipulation, reverse psychology tactics, exploitation, control, fear, and abuse in every form. This violation and abuse of Human Rights is allowed in our permissive society while the passive populace does nothing. The cults of today are BIG business. Religion, unfortunately, serves as a safe umbrella and vehicle toward attainment of deceitful goals while God searching, well-meaning vulnerable people get manipulated by the money-hungry sharks.
Upcoming issues of the OIU will detail some of the debilitating effects of cult involvement. As many well know, the healing process can take years. Others may be haunted by cult after-effects throughout their lives.
It is naïve to think that the "cults" are going to "go away." They are here to stay and are growing by leaps and bounds while they employ the most sophisticated techniques and maneuvers available to further their agenda. Education is the only key to surviving this wicked phenomenon. Those who have been victimized and psychologically tortured by cults such as the WCG, stand as the most credible witnesses. Awareness and warning the public is the only hope of rerouting the next likely candidates from buying into the FREE LITERATURE, which in turn, for many, cost their entire lives.
As the Network strives to help those questioning or exiting while it maintains an awareness outreach, it is hoped that all who are able, participate in the endeavor of making the Network... work. As many will attest, the most therapeutic thing one can do is to help the next victim. The Network is for the WCG victim! At present, the Network has two affiliates, one in Canada, the other in Australia--and many are needed in the U.S. alone.
Those watching the turn of events within the WCG throughout the past several years have been witness to what many term an explicit, well-orchestrated propaganda campaign involving multiple uses of Mind Control and manipulation of business strategies. The cry of, "What is going on?!" has permeated the media, secular and Christian cult watchers, affiliated outsiders, and most importantly, the membership. The Adventism theme of Prophecy and Apocalypse NOW certainly is not the diet for the Council of Churches, but as the Evangelicals, Catholics and some New Age sects can attest to, the Trinitarian card is.
This several part series, As The Whirlwide Turns, will update readers on the current events and strategies that have been implemented by the WCG in efforts to de-cult the look of the WCG to gear up for big business in the '90's and the new millennium. Analyzing the current trends objectively renders much difficulty for most onlookers. Many aspects must be considered through research and understanding:
- Comprehensive history of Herbert W. Armstrong, prior to the Radio Church of God
- HWA's affiliation with other religious denominations, organizations and pertinent individuals who influenced the thinking of HWA and enhanced the overall agenda of the WCG
- The inception of the Radio Church of God in Oregon
- The Anglo Saxon--British-Israelism--Lost Ten Tribes movement (Identity Movement), which was the substructure and foundation for Armstrongism throughout the decades
- The growth and development of the church throughout the 1940's and 1950's
- The doctrinal messages and Gospel: "One World Government/Kingdom"
- The introduction of Stanley Rader and Ralph Helge in the late 1950's around the same era as the sudden death of Richard Armstrong due to shock because of neglect of medical assistance following a car accident.
- The intense growth of the 1960's
- The multitude of HWA international trips visiting distinguished dignitaries, with his chief advisor Stanley Rader
- The massive building construction paid by the membership
- The Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF) and the Ambassador Auditorium (God's House turned big business)
- The entire story of the 1970's: Garner Ted, major doctrinal disputes, ministerial defections from party line, membership rebellion, Christian cult watchers scrutiny on the church, international exposure on alleged frauds, sexual improprieties, gross opulence and fund misapplication, and deceptions
- The court battles and receivership story
- The reasons behind the freeing of the receivership What the Human Potential/QUEST magazine stood for
- The Systematic Theology Project
- The early to mid 1980s push with prophecy, British-Israelism, doctrinal enhancements, Holy-Day plan of Salvation, and legalism
- The truth about the Human Potential and Mystery of the Ages, supposedly authored by HWA
- HWA's true state of health and capabilities the last ten years of his life
- HWA's past "sins" and his failed marriage to the forty-year-old secretary of Stanley Rader
- The Tkach hard-line government following HWA's death
- The image changing campaign and PR with the outside evangelical community and Christian media starting in 1987
- The formulation of a new doctrinal package, which appears to the outside Christian community to coincide with the mainline acceptable orthodox belief (Trinity, Born Again, Salvation by Grace, Kingdom is here NOW, no Baptism required for Salvation, NO one true church, Sabbath and Holy Days not required, just practiced, are some of the supposed changes.) The message to the Christian cult-watcher is very different than what is being instructed to the membership. The inner church has no idea of the depth of supposed changes being reported to the outside, nor do they comprehend the supposed strategic changes. There has been no significant support material to clarify supposed changes for the members.)
- The doctrinal committee consisting of popular, publishing evangelicals and theologians. The double-talk, duplicity and diabolical doctrinal messages administered to the inside members
- The major current recruiting campaign consisting of new ad strategies, personal evangelism, Open Houses, community services (similar to the Moonies) Plain Truth format change, World Tomorrow telecast removed from the TV, accreditation of Ambassador College to Ambassador University (the college business), etc.
- The training programs and support materials to enhance the success of recruiting by personal evangelism and Open House engagements.
- The opening up of new markets with registrations in countries previously refused.
- Understanding of the Global Church of God, in relationship to the WCG.
- Knowledge of the present leaders and their backgrounds. Understanding of the WCG ten-year goal plan and how it fits into the "global" perspective and united world agenda.
All victims learn lessons. The lessons learned from the negative WCG involvement can be turned into positive experiences. Everyone has strengths! Our individual strengths, pulled together, can make a great difference in combating the corruption and fraud played out in the name of Jesus Christ.
Compiling the necessary research in the above areas is no easy task; the reason for this will be revealed throughout this series. As many exit the WCG, confused and dazed and groping for the true light, it is their hope to find peace and understanding about their involvement with the WCG. For most, that is an impossible task unless the shattered pieces of the past are revealed, reviewed and accepted. The thousands of God-searching people, who paid dearly with their entire lives to a government throughout the past sixty years, deserve to know, what in the Worldwide is going on? Knowing tidbits about what is currently going on is limited knowledge when not accompanied with answers to why it is happening.
The WCG/Armstrong/Tkach organization (hence forth noted as the WAT) is a big story. It's tentacles encircled many lives in various degrees. The total picture can only be understood by close evaluation of all the components. Part One of this series will summarize the past few years.
Christian Research Institute (CRI) in Irvine, CA previously held a pristine reputation under the direction of Walter Martin. Following the sudden death of Mr. Martin on June 26, 1989, CRI management was assumed by Hank Hanegraaff. CRI sponsors a radio show, called Bible Answer Man. On their international broadcast in early May the CRI stated that the "WCG has repented and has come around to affirming the Trinity." They go on to say,
"This is cause for rejoicing of all of God's people, and we are thoroughly persuaded, that contrary to the speculations of some, this is not some public relations maneuver, not some sort of window dressing or attempt to deceive people or dissuade their detractors. This is TRUE repentance, true submission to the word of God."
Anyone who has been affiliated with the WAT in the past ten years would term the CRI statement as bizarre and totally ungrounded. As members were oblivious to changes that were being reported to the Christian community (previously known as Satan's deceivers) in 1990, select leaders of the WAT were secretly meeting with several publishers and writers in the counter-cult arena. The purpose of these visits was to demonstrate to the "Christian heavyweights" that the WCG was changing its ways. The propaganda maneuver worked in some arenas and it wasn't long before Ruth Tucker, author of Another Gospel, was snugly positioned on the WAT Doctrinal committee along with a featured article in The Plain Truth magazine. Several others, such as CRI, joined Ruth Tucker as the authorities for setting up the parameters for the WAT doctrinal changes. As the CRI strategic maneuvers continued with those outside of the WAT walls, the members were unaware of the magnitude of doctrinal changes being reported. As members exit the WAT, they find themselves astonished that publications such as Christian Research Journal and Christianity Today have written articles over the past couple of years indicating that the church was moving toward orthodoxy and the Trinity, when in fact, the membership was being taught the direct opposite at that time!
Since the WACO occurrence, a mixed bag of changes have been expedited; however, any "changes" that have occurred were doctrinally accompanied by confusing explanations, duplicity, contradictions, cover-ups, misrepresentations, denial of facts and, of course, disfellowshipments due to questioning the ministry. Meanwhile, the old teachings and legalism, which outsiders consider to be Armstrongism, continued to be the mainstay of the WAT diet.
As a small handful of WAT leaders diligently worked the Christian Counter-cult crowd with reports of doctrinal changes, the Tkach team vehemently esteemed [and still do] Herbert Armstrong as God's true instrument and an author of change to the membership.
So why did the WAT leaders tell the outside a different story than what was truly taking place inside the church? And what was the reason for these "changes" anyway?
Ex-members regain critical thinking skills, which allow them to discern the truth from the deception. Many pursue investigations on the organization and uncover the hard-core facts behind the front of a religion and church. One only has to research the 1970's era to uncover the magnitude of corruption within the church at that time, which led to international attention and exposé. Hundreds of newspapers picked up the negative PR that permeated the airways. The WCG became the main focus for Christian cult watchers. Countless Christian writers challenged the church in every degree doctrinally, while secular cult experts appropriately labeled the WCG one of the more destructive cults in America due to the methods employed by the WCG to gain control of the group and individuals. Yes, the exposure of the fraudulent agenda of the 1970's took its toll on the recruiting of the 1980s. HWA always said, "Never change anything that works," and the reality is, it wasn't working anymore.
Shortly after the WAT leaders started the de-culting campaign by fostering relationship building with the enemies of the past, including "Church of God, Seventh Day," negative publicity came to a halt and was replaced with positive affirmations regarding orthodox changes in Worldwide. Some have termed this propaganda as ingenious. All the WAT had to do was face their enemies of yesteryear, convince them that WCG was making changes, and shake hands. In turn, the enemies of the past start their own PR campaign selling the new WCG in a positive light. [A no lose situation for the wealthy leadership.] The easy strategy consists of cashing in on the negative PR that cost the church financially and replace it with all the FREE PR that the Christian cult watcher will offer. Meanwhile, the coalition of cult watchers who are defending the WCG, are left feeling great about themselves because they think the leadership is changing the doctrinal plan due to their personal efforts.
No one would deny that the WAT organization was/is quite skilled in appealing to vanity. Sadly, the WAT targets (like CRI and Ruth Tucker) are not mentally, intellectually or emotionally prepared to take on the deceptive tactics that the well-trained present day leadership represents. In turn, due to ignorance, many well-meaning cult educators are guilty of printing positive remarks about the WAT without having done an investigation or thorough research other then taking the hearsay from organizations like CRI. Much damage has been done to the victims of the WCG; even more importantly, it would appear that the WCG propaganda program is working, so therefore the damage to new possible recruits is even more significant. Why? In the past many seekers were able to learn about the WCG's position in the religion market prior to making a commitment, due to the reporting in the Christian media.
Why did the WAT organization play the "we've changed" game to begin with? Many theories have been posed:
- The Catholic/Evangelical/Protestant churches and Council of Churches helped to bail the WCG out of the Receivership in 1980, so in turn, the leaders from all parties perhaps cut a deal something like this, "We'll bail you out of this mess, but you better slant your doctrinal package to our side within ten years."
- The WCG decides to get politically correct and prepares for the universal religion movement that is presently taking shape in conjunction with the "global" agenda and the proposed "united new world"--which by the way, was the WCG's gospel (and still is intermittently), "to bring on one world government!"
- The WAT leaders monitor the trends in religion and cults to date and align with a more acceptable, vogue package for recruiting purposes. For instance, the International Church of Christ (formerly known as the Boston Church of Christ) has grown immensely these past few years through "personal evangelism and discipleship methods."
- The WAT decides to follow the strategies of big cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons and build a solid corporate business empire. [Both these groups also recruit big numbers through personal evangelism.]
- The Plain Truth, October issue, pg. 29 states, "One in Three Are Christian," "More than a third of the world is Christian, making Christianity the religion with the largest number of adherents in the world." In a business sense, that is a large chunk of the market. If "Trinitarian" Christianity were that popular, it would make sense to align with what IS working. Or, last but not least, maybe the "dark skeletons" of the past have come to haunt the "One true church" for all the damage created by the proponents of the British-Israelism/Identity Movement (Lost Ten Tribes).
Whatever the precipitating reason for the de-culting maneuver and propaganda campaign is, rest assured the goal is power and money. While the "select coalition" fights on the WCG's behalf by nit-picking doctrines, the leaders capitalize on the distraction while moving fast and steadily implementing growth and recruiting campaigns throughout the world.
There have been no respectable training programs for doctrinal changes other than contradicting statements. But many dollars have been poured into in-depth training programs involving Personal Evangelism and Open Houses. As Joseph Tkach stated in his major speech of the year, at the `94 Feast of Tabernacles, "The homosexuals have now come out of the closet; it's time we Christians come out of the closet, too." That is exactly what the WAT plan is all about. Out of the closet and onto the street, it's recruiting time. The membership has been inundated with literature and sermons on evangelizing. They have been introduced to videos and training programs geared toward learning how to "talk it up," (love-bomb). Joseph Tkach states that Jesus "wants us to do our part." "Our part" means to serve God by bringing new people into the church. The last two years have demonstrated heavy devotion toward the evangelism training program. The so-called, "changes" offer an evangelism package.
It is highly doubtful that the WAT could pull off a massive recruiting campaign through evangelism/Open Houses with a belief system consisting of the old beliefs: Identity Movement, You're going to be a God someday and own your own planet, You won't see physical death, but be changed in a twinkling of an eye, Salvation by works and legalism to boot, just to name a few things.
What the "select coalition" (outside Christian cult watchers/publishers/writers) didn't understand as they squabbled over doctrinal words on paper with the architects of the Church Administration Dept. (CHAD) [which never includes Joseph Tkach in person], is that the WAT has always been about power and money, not God and doctrine.
The strategy is well organized. The "mixed bag" of doctrinal confusion (change), has opened new doors for the old WCG.
- The church has registered in several countries during the past six months that have, in the past, flatly refused their presence.
- Ambassador College received accreditation in July `94 and is now to be called Ambassador University per Joseph Tkach. This was the main reason why several ministers were attending liberal colleges and receiving degrees in Theology. The college business has spawned several necessary changes.
- National Open Houses have been running throughout the past two years. The October issue of The Plain Truth states: "Join Us For Get-Acquainted, Open-House Services." "During the month of November, many of our congregations will be holding special open-house services for Plain Truth readers like yourself. People who want to know God, the Bible and the Christian way of life." "More details coming next month on an open house near you---in the meantime, for an overview of the church's activities, request your free copy of --Introducing the Worldwide Church of God--"
- Community service is now a focus, whereas in the past it was, for the most part, forbidden, or at least shunned.
All these new recruiting adventures required strategic implementation of programs, which involved much training of members for the purposes of evangelism, plus manipulation of the previous doctrinal package to something more appealing and believable. Other recruiting strategies include: removing The World Tomorrow television program and replacing it with concentrated ads molded after the "Mormon strategy," having The Plain Truth magazine's artwork emulate the Jehovah's Witnesses style while the written text format targets to the despondent, searching audience; Reader's Digest major ad campaigns restarting with the high draw lure of the "Spirit World," beefing up community services and fund-raising events in local churches--even Canadian members are going door to door passing out Plain Truth advertising flyers. Also, the management of the membership has taken an about face with its new approach for getting results through people. In the past the "go-getters or mavericks" in the church were squelched; however, now they are picked for special mover and shaker committees to get the job done. The new target markets and recruiting methods offers a list too extensive for this OIU; however, readers should note that the WAT's strategic maneuvers include a heavy push toward the youth. The YOUTH magazine is filled with recruiting lures and pamphlet requests. It is also the magazine of choice being shipped to Doctors' offices and libraries, colleges, and public schools throughout the country. The YOUTH magazine format has fooled many who refused The Plain Truth in the recent past. Even the magazine artwork is geared toward recruiting. Professionals in the field of hypnosis and mind control state that the magazine appears to use colors, which are considered to be the luring hues (orange, red, green, yellow, on dark background), and when these colors are meshed into a "grid type" of art, it is almost impossible to resist.
(See `94 PT's, March, April, May/June, Oct. and notice the format of YOUTH `94: Jan/Feb., Mar/April, May/June.) Interestingly, the PT pre Feast, September issue is more upbeat with happy faces denoting the theme, "come to our church."
The WAT had to change if it was to survive this rapidly changing world. That in itself is OK. The issue is, what is the truth and real agenda behind this organization? Many cults have restructured their strategies in the past ten years including the Mormons, Unification Church (Moonies), and The Family. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses pursued moderate changes. Cults periodically attempt to mainstream or clean up their image in effort to gain respectability for new recruiting purposes. [UPDATE: WCG changed their name to Grace Communion International in April 2009]
Throughout the years the WCG used the "commanded tithes" to grow toward a multi-million dollar annual revenue organization, in addition to its assets in real-estate, aircraft, investments, and other businesses such as travel agencies, insurance, Ambassador Foundation, and the newly accredited Ambassador University. Unfortunately, while the "church" was expanding in opulence and the leaders were living like kings, the impoverished membership was highly exploited by an authoritarian and totalitarian government that demanded complete control on its people. Lives were lost, families were destroyed and individuals were spiritually, psychologically and financially abused! Thousands were manipulated through deception, coercion and fear into believing that they had better be obedient to the "one true church" or their end would be the "Lake of Fire." Many spent over thirty years devoted to an addictive system of beliefs and behaviors as instructed by the leaders with the understanding that, "If you break the Law, the Law will break you." As the WAT reconstructs its sales package and places new recruiting demands on its members, it continues to esteem Herbert Armstrong as a true servant of God who brought great truth through the foundation of the Bible.
It is a fact that billions of dollars have been paid into the WCG's false gospel while an "empire" was built. The main WCG attraction was "British-Israelism" (which is part of the same Aryan belief system shared by many of the Right-wing Christian racist organizations such as the Skin Heads and Ku Klux Klan). As the message to the Christian public takes on a mainstream orthodox appeal laced with a verbalization about Jesus, the membership remains in a state of confusion and cognitive dissonance. Many are experiencing a "trancing out" due to the double speak, dialectics, and combined agendas of the past and present. Also, not only is there a lack of education toward spiritual understanding of any supposed doctrinal changes, Joseph Tkach has not denounced most of the previous church teachings to the membership. While he has stated the church was wrong on a few matters and is updating booklets, he has also positioned the blame for misinterpretation of beliefs onto the membership. The current message is: It is not a matter of understanding doctrine that will earn salvation, if you don't "get it" that's okay as long as you stay in God's Church! Members have been told specifically that they are still under the Law. As Joseph Tkach stated to the membership in a worldwide satellite transmission on Sept. 19, 1994:
"You see Christ gave Matthew 5 to magnify the LAW--to make it more binding. No one is saying or accusing, or as I have been accused of, that I am doing away with the LAW, that we are no longer required to keep the LAW. But, I want everyone to know worldwide that I do not keep the LAW to be saved. I keep the LAW because I am saved. I serve God because I am saved. I conduct myself in a certain manner or way because I am saved. I do all the things that are pleasing to God because I am saved and I do have the Spirit of God." (Tkach goes on to say) "But if you trace it back from Acts 5 vs. 32, 'God gives his spirit to those who obey,' that means we have earned it! We have the right to receive the spirit of God because we obey God. We worked for it!"
Herman Hoeh, an original Armstrongite, evangelist and present Executive Editor of The Plain Truth magazine, points out in his tape, Unfinished Business, "The church will continue to change its point of view." Meanwhile, the WCG mega printing presses crank out booklets to support the current belief claims. The WWN, July `94 issue article, Booklet staff keeps pace with updates, says, "Edits will also reflect growth in understanding of the characteristic language used by Old Testament prophets as well as a view of prophesied events." It goes on to say, "Economic factors, growth in understanding and changing audiences mean that our literature collection will never stay static." [UPDATE: Herman Hoeh died 11-21-04]
This ought to keep the cult watchers busy!
This brings us back to the question, what is the real agenda here? Those who research, scrutinize, and investigate the total picture, know that the de-culting strategy is just part of the long-range plan. The "changes" employed will meet the criteria for obtaining the goal. Power and money is the objective. The objective cannot be met without a major recruiting campaign, which will add members, who in turn, will pay the "commanded tithes" and offerings. The income will be enhanced by fund-raising efforts and evangelistic recruiting.
So, has the church changed? Yes, but it is the same church, different pew--or better-said, same candy, different wrapper.
Has the Law... changed? Has the authoritarian, "top down" government...changed? Has the secrecy and withholding of information...changed? Has the legalism ...changed? Has the "God inspired" Tkach interpretation of the Bible ...changed? Has the "one true church" belief... changed? Has the theme of God's Government... changed?
Read ANIMAL FARM by George ORWELL!
From the book Captive Hearts Captive Minds, Madeleine Tobias states the definition of cult, adopted at a 1985 conference of scholars and policy makers:
CULT: A group or movement exhibiting great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethical manipulative or coercive techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it), designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual detriment of members, their families, or the community.
Three characteristics that help distinguish a cult from other groups are:
- Members are expected to be excessively zealous and unquestioning in their commitment to the identity of the leadership of the group. They must replace their own beliefs and values with those of the group.
- Members are manipulated and exploited, and may give up their education, careers, and families to work excessive long hours at group-directed tasks such as selling a quota of candy, [fruit], or books; fund-raising; recruiting and proselytizing.
- Harm or the threat of harm may come to members, their families and/or society due to inadequate medical care, poor nutrition, psychological and physical abuse, sleep deprivation, criminal activities and so forth.
The following are other characteristics provided by a clinical psychologist who has been researching cults and thought-reform programs since the 1950's.
are authoritarian in their power structure.
tend to be totalitarian in their control of the behavior of their members.
tend to have double sets of ethics (one for the leader and another for the members; one for those inside the group, and other for dealing with outsiders).
leaders are self-appointed and claim to have a special mission in life.
leaders tend to be charismatic, determined, and domineering.
leaders center the veneration of members upon themselves.
appear to be innovative and exclusive.
basically have only two purposes: recruiting new members and fund-raising.
The select coalition of Christian-counter cult publishers and writers have done a great disservice toward the well being of searching Christians by giving approval to "a church" that has carried the reputation as destructive, without having done their homework. CRI (Christian Research Institute) has ignored the pleas for help by exiting members, and fostered the de-culting propaganda by positioning itself as the authority on cult vs. non-cult. The WAT leaders diligently strive to get removed from the hundreds of cult references and use every sales/propaganda tactic available to them. Meanwhile, the word Trinity becomes a vogue term as its definition joins the category of abused and distorted terminology increasingly employed by cults to get the job done. Those who have made judgments about the WCG based on the leaders' words have positioned themselves as participating parties towards any deception and personal destruction of its members.
[UPDATE: Christian Research Institute is also known as Christian Research International. They re-located to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2005, with an affiliate (CRI Canada) in Calgary, Alberta.]
As the Christian Research Institute continues to extend its ministry by capitalizing on the reputation of the late Walter Martin, President Hank Hanegraaff apparently does not have the credentials to fill Mr. Martin's shoes.
CRI's positive stand on the new Worldwide became increasingly noted by newly exited members. Many reached out to the leadership of CRI countering the claims they were making and voiced their accounts of the personal abuse they experienced within the church. Frustrations multiplied as their calls for help were ignored. Some exiting members reported that CRI directed them to return to the church for counseling and that the church had changed.
Paul Carden, CRI International Outreach, met with Mike Feazell and Joe Tkach, Jr. late in April of this year. The morning of his visit, Paul Carden contacted the Network requesting questions to relay to the WAT leaders. The Network was shocked that there was no preparation done by CRI for such an important issue and complied with their request.
Paul Carden admitted that he had not reviewed any Worldwide News publications, listened to any sermon tapes, visited any areas as a guest, interviewed any recent ex-members or current members, reviewed any Pastor General's Reports or Pastor General's letters, or completed a study on the history of the WAT in regards to the documented corruption of the past. He stated he had a few booklets that the church had sent to him. Only a few days later, on May 5, 1994, Paul Carden broadcast on the Radio Answer Man that the WCG was a true Trinitarian, fully repented church, and certainly not window-dressing their doctrines to gain respectability.
Many remain shocked that noted counter-cult ministries would align with an organization that has been responsible for the ruin of thousands of lives in the past sixty years and flip their opinions following a few meetings with the same organizational leaders who were part of that destruction.
The answer to this phenomenon may lie in the pages of the "CRI Accountability Report" compiled by twenty-four past employees of CRI. President Hank Hanegraaff and several others on the executive board are being sued in court for the following:
- Civil R.I.C.O. ACT violations (Soliciting and misappropriating charitable contributions-mail fraud and wire fraud.)
- Illegal seizures of Fax Wire communications
- Violation of Constitution and First Amendment Rights
- Wrongful termination
- Occupational Safety Hazards
- Writ of Mandate for Reinstatement with Back pay and Skelly-Type Hearing
- Injunctive and Declaratory
- Replevin for Return of Personal Property
- Slander and Defamation of Character
Full details are disclosed in the Group for CRI Accountability ($5.00), and the Court Report ($1.00). Order by contacting Mr. Robert Bowman, 1452 Ridge Court, Lithonia, GA 30058. This thick report will provide much insight into the deceptions of leaders thriving under the guise of religion. Many will find the documented experiences enlightening. Particularly interesting, is this excerpt from Mr. Perry Robinson's letter. Mr. Robinson had witnessed the unjustified lifting of the cult label from other noted destructive cults as was recently done with the Worldwide Church of God [now known as Grace Communion International]. Mr. Robinson documents the following:
"It has also been my experience that CRI leadership has covered up evidence against such groups as SET FREE and had under the table dealings with the said group. I personally witnessed over 500 pieces of mail bypass Accounts Receivable/Correspondence Processing and go directly to 'Hank's office' via Jane Huckaby. Some of the letters from SET FREE I knew to be false. When I tried to log the letters in the back of CRI where all mail for up to 2 yrs is kept, the letters were nowhere to be found. I asked Jane Huckaby about this, and she told me personally that Hank had had a phone conversation with Phil Agular where Agular had taped Hank without knowing it. Hank had, according to Huckaby, said many compromising things that Agular had taped. Those letters were never to be seen again to my knowledge.
"Other incidents include dealings with different groups like YWAM, where evidence was ignored just because Hank was assured by leaders of YWAM that they were not teaching heresy any longer. So, Hank pulled all negative info on them..." (Emphases in bold is ours)
It will be interesting to learn what inspired Hank Hanegraaff to make such critical, intentional decisions!
[UPDATE: Read exposé report on Christian Research Institute] [offsite article]
An informative message, "Deceptive Groups Claiming to be Christian," may be ordered from Texe Marrs: Power of Prophecy, 1708 Patterson Rd., Austin, Texas 78733; phone 1-800-234-9673. [Update 2014: This is not an endorsement of everything espoused by this ministry.]
Individuals interested in voicing their opinion or thoughts about the duplicity and deceptions personally experienced or witnessed and would like to write letters to the counter-cult organizations, may contact the Network for the COP-AID information package and address listing. [NOTE: This is no longer available through snail mail. ESN material is now posted on our website.] Included will be additional interesting facts and documentation regarding the select coalition working with the WAT leaders.
Part Two of this series will define the "changes" and clarify differences stated to the Christian public/media and the membership. Also, what is the story behind WCG and British-Israelism/Identity Movement? Stay tuned! [UPDATE: To learn more about this, read this part in ESN's Letter to author Janis Hutchinson.
Hello from Canada:
"Nothing has changed!" At least that is what the local pastor said when I questioned him about the changes that have occurred within the WCG. As the ministers and members battle with some new terminology, the theme of THE LAW and God's government prevails in the sermons. Stress continues as Regional Minister Frank Brown insists that members DO NOT go over their minister's head in contacting Pasadena with questions. Likewise, Mr. Brown refuses to answer questions from non-members and instead directs them to Pasadena.
While The Plain Truth offers a new recruiting format with more Christian articles and less prophecy/social scare attractions, the famous "four horseman of the apocalypse" can be seen trotting across the TV screen during the highest rated supper hour news. Another popular ad seems to be, The Spirit World and Inside the Book of Revelation. This continuation of the same old recruiting strategy remains popular in Canada as many people received The Plain Truth and were avid followers of Armstrongism. These same people are now being invited to join the Church with open arms (love-bombing to boot). Evangelism and advertising efforts seem to be taking hold under the same old Armstrongism theme. Yes, Herbert Armstrong is highly esteemed by the ministry as the guiding light to the present. (Representative of a pillar of cloud, if you will.)
Apparently the plans for the first North American WCG building have fallen through. Mr. Brown told the membership it was due to escalating costs of construction.
Many have left the local Canadian churches and are on the road to recovery. A great time was had by 40 ex-members as we met for a picnic in August. Many shared their positive experiences following their exit form the WCG. --Brent and Debbie Leeson
[The Network is not surprised to hear that the plans for the first North American church building fell through. This same idea was put forth in the seventies in effort to gather new enthusiasm from the members. This more recent proposal was issued simultaneously to announcing the removal of World Tomorrow telecasts from the big screen. The prospect of building new church facilities appears to be a little carrot on a big stick and many have become discouraged over what they term, "another deception." As the WCG maneuvers recruiting and ad strategies, the new church buildings promise offers great distraction. Recently, members have told the Network that ministers are pushing the members to sign up for the new discount rate phone fund-raiser with UniDial Long Distance Service. The church now claims these proceeds will go toward "new church buildings." [Exiters from the 1970's say..."Don't hold your breath!"]
Aye from Australia:
As you may have guessed, many members react to the changes by saying, "What changes? Nothing's been changed except a few ways of explaining things." While some are thrilled that the WCG is shedding past embarrassing doctrinal baggage, others are fleeing to Gerald Flurry, Rod Meredith, or Garner Ted. A few have dropped out in a more idiosyncratic way. ....
Sermons continue to exercise control on the members by drilling obedience to the Law and loyalty to Mr. Tkach while they continue to trumpet the "one true church theme." Excommunication continues for members (widows included) who raise serious questions or elicit "bad attitudes" for questioning the minister about the teachings of the church. Of the cases I have known, no effort has been made to emotionally or spiritually restore these rejected people. Sadly, confusion has been so significant that some disfellowshipped members have committed suicide. Members are being taught that failure to follow Mr. Tkach and obey and support the ministry is the sure road to spiritual death. When I personally told a minister of my agony over such abuses, I was told that the policy was for HQ to lead such erring ministers by example! How can the ministers be more tolerant if they receive the same treatment from HQ as they inflict on or upon the members?
Adding to the confusion are Dr. Stavrinides' tapes explaining his version of the Trinity. These tapes are reportedly leaving members so baffled they find it simpler not to question them and just get on with the day at hand. What appears to be happening is that many are left feeling inferior in spiritual understanding and possibly lacking God's Spirit for discernment. It's another form of repression.
[UPDATE: Kyriacos Stavrinides later became a Greek professor at Azusa Pacific University, which is considered to be a theologically liberal institution and a member of Willow Creek Association. Also read: Footnote #3 and #4 for more info about Stavrinides in "Letters to Janis Hutchinson."]
As Flurry's group appears to be slowing in growth and Church of God International with Garner Ted increases its mailing of tapes to WCGers, Meredith's Global Church has gained perhaps 100 or so members. [UPDATE: GTA (now deceased) later founded Intercontinental Church of God and Rod Meredith left Global and founded Living Church of God.] The pro-Armstrong factions seem to be gaining interest in the Global Church of God also. At least one local pastor is widely known to be encouraging defectors to go to Meredith if they must leave at all.
All this spiritual confusion makes sense after corresponding with Mark Kellner, writer for Christianity Today. He wrote to me stating he has met with the Joe Jr. team and that the church was no longer a cult. He stated he has taken the "leader's word at face value and trusted them." If this is an example of what is available for Christian guidance for cult members, God help us all! --Neil Godfry
Dear Neil, Many ex-members shockingly learn that they are disfellowshipped for no reason following their quiet departure from the church. Several called into Pasadena, only to learn that they were listed as DF'ed and labeled as "joined Flurry" or "luring members away" Victims have expressed that this was an overt lie and abusive toward them, following their many years of dedication.
As you may have guessed, the Dr. Stavrinides' Trinity tapes created no small stir in the U.S. either. For a topic so sensitive as the TRINITY, many were startled over the confusion and contradictions the tapes seem to generate. Equally exhausting was the very difficult to understand Greek dialect of Dr. Stavrinides.
We recommend a study in the techniques utilized in cults under the heading of Mind Control and Programming. Psychotherapist David Neswald from Encino, CA specializes in this field and has worked with hundreds of ex-cult patients from around the world. In The California Therapist magazine, Vol. 3, Issue No. 5, pg. 47-50, Mr. Neswald, lists over twenty types of cult programming techniques.
Two significant programs listed are:
- Scrambling Programs: These programs intend to confuse, disorganize and/or block the patient's alter system, emerging memories, thought processes, and /or incoming information. [also read footnote #28 in OIU 4, pt. 5]
- Flooding Programs: Such programs are enacted by the cult in order to interfere with therapeutic progress/process by overwhelming the patient. This is achieved by triggering the patient [or member] to have a flood of painful and frightening cognitive and/or somatic memories enter consciousness simultaneously, thereby significantly increasing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), symptomotology and suppressing the functionality of the patient. A wide variety of triggers may be utilized.
Another topic for research is "dialectical materialism" (double-speak; i.e. the combining of opposites. Whenever a person or people can be seduced into simultaneously accepting, two opposing beliefs as true, they are, by that, rendered docile, passive and indifferent to the advances of their enemy. The goal is to neutralize the people. This concept is known as Psychological Warfare or "brainwashing." Totalitarian governments of all sizes use these techniques to gain control of their people. Karl Marx was very fond of this technique!
Education + Investigation = Emancipation
"People who are ignorant will always look for a dictator
so they won't have to think for themselves!"
UPDATE: In 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name to Grace Communion International in the United States. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) Church Multiplication Ministries is a ministry of GCI.
The OUTSIDERS' Inside UPDATE is published as a Christian service for those
researching and investigating the reasons behind the events
of the Worldwide Church of God demise.
All rights reserved. ©