OIU Volume One - Pt. 2 of 2
OUTSIDER'S INSIDE UPDATE™
Volume ONE ... a newsletter of understanding ... Fall `94
Published by the Exit & Support Network™
All Rights Reserved ©
Each OIU will address particular issues regarding psychological and emotional effects from cults. Although cults vary in degree regarding the methods applied toward their victims, the devastating effects are similar.
The healing process is individual and essential. One does not exit a controlling, coercive, deceptive and abusive environment without experiencing post cult trauma in some capacity. It is virtually impossible to healthily readjust to the outside world without having an understanding of the cultic life one had experienced. There are some who live the "stuffed turkey" syndrome. That is when one exits and represses the whole experience by flatly refusing to sort out the facts or accepts that he/she too, may have been severely harmed.
[UPDATE: Where Do the Feelings Go? (covers processing painful thoughts; includes a section on: "How Do I Go About Writing and What Do I Write About?")]
In addition to having to deal with pre-cult problems, cult victims must first work through the posttraumatic stress and emotional disabilities caused directly from the cult.
- Evaluating your involvement. Why were you recruited? What attracted you to the group? What was going on in your life at that time?
- Evaluating the group. Intellectually and theologically
- Scrutinize the group's ethics. Where does the MONEY really go? Learn the methods of thought reform / mind control used by the cult. Investigate the group's practices of deception, manipulation, persuasive techniques, etc. Research the group's history and its leaders.
- Personal Recovery. Recognizing post-cult effects such as depression, anger, floating, fear phobias, isolation, loneliness, loss of self-worth, physical ailments and lacking feeling. Starting a help-yourself program and/or counseling.
- Sorting out spiritual issues. Recognizing spiritual abuse and tactics used by cults to distort the Bible to support their agendas. Reconnecting spiritually regaining trust.
- Cult education. How does the cult you were in compare to the thousands of others? Understanding the cult phenomenon is the only protection from re-recruitment into another cult.
[Read: Recovering After a Deceptive, Abusive Group (From editor of OIU Newsletters)]
Many have stated that exiting a cult was the most difficult task they have had to endure throughout their life. Confronting the obstacles of exiting takes great courage and real faith. However, exiting is only part of the process toward freedom. Healing from the victimization completes the process. As one so aptly stated, "I left the Worldwide, but the Worldwide didn't leave me!" Unless the healing process is challenged, one can find that five years later, they are still enduring confusion, anger outbursts, anxiety or cult related phobias among many other things.
Upcoming OIU issues will cover these specific issues and more.
Post-cult: dependencies, de-doctrinating self, mental and spiritual healing, disassociation, dealing with phobias induced by the cults, kids in the cults and leaving loved ones behind.
Cult tactics: Propaganda, hypnosis, degrading of self, programming recruits/members, control/coercion, manipulative factors such as denigration of critical thinking, group pressure, isolation, dissociative exercises, guilt induction, deception, triggers, thought stopping techniques, etc.
Recommended reading: SEE OUR BOOKLIST
"Ambassador College is now fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools!" says Joseph Tkach. "We are grateful for the members' prayers, and support..." [We are told thirty percent of college costs are actually being funded by members' dollars.] As of July 1, Ambassador College changed it name to Ambassador University, "a term that is a more appropriate description of the range and diversity of programs and opportunities that are provided by Ambassador," (Joseph Tkach in his June 30, 1994 letter to "Fellow Laborers with Christ.")
* Cult watchers were quite surprised about the new college business. As one ministry stated, "I guess that's why they have been sending some of their ministers to liberal schools for theology degrees." Accreditation means following a particular criteria for acceptability, especially regarding belief systems. Future updates will elaborate on this.
* One insider stated that "54" countries were represented in the student body. That would explain increased Green Card immigration information in The Worldwide News.
* Some Ambassador College Alumni have been approached to donate to the Alumni Association. The accreditation people were not pleased that the college did not have an alumni base to support it. "We need at least 80% donations so it will good for the accreditation, even if it is only $1.00 from each person, it will still look good," said the collector to the graduates. One AC graduate says, "That's a scam!"
* The Worldwide News, July 26, `94 printed the following statements. "Will graduates before the Class of 1995 gain any retroactive benefit from accreditation?" "(When graduates apply to graduate schools or for jobs, they should use the name Ambassador University. Accreditation should not be raised unless others raise it. Then merely state that Ambassador University is accredited, not when it was accredited.)"
The article goes onto say.... What school would be listed if a replacement diploma were needed? "Replacement diplomas would read Ambassador University and have Mr. Tkach's signature. Only someone who has actually lost the original diploma and really needed a replacement should request one, however." (The cost is $25.00) While some AC graduates may be thrilled about this accreditation and find this article helpful, others view it as another moneymaking ploy that has nothing to do with spreading the Gospel. Also, the article appears to be very deceptive.
Accreditation has also opened doors to government grants, which in turn adds more disposable income to the tax-free church. Students began receiving Pell grants this year. "These funds allow the college to redirect to other areas, money normally set aside for student financial aid." (WWN) Many hope this doesn't mean more "personal home improvements" for evangelists!
The Tithe of the Tithe (10% of 2nd tithe) collected from members pre-feast supposedly to defray the costs of the hall rentals at feast time, has apparently been applied to many other expenses. The WWN, April 5, 1994 prints a correction on page 12 clarifying some discrepancies by saying, "The tithe-of-the-tithe fund pays the expenses of all of the Church's festivals, not only the Feast of Tabernacles. In addition, this fund supplies the second tithe allotment for ministers employed by the Church."
This is a very upsetting issue for those who paid many dollars into the WCG tithing system, because they feel they have been deceived regarding the allocation of their money. It is well known that the ministers travel first class and have the finest accommodations at each feast. Why, people wonder, were they pushed into paying for the luxuries of the ministers when they themselves went without? The law states that money collected must be applied toward the stated purpose. Application in any other degree, especially without warning constitutes fraud! Is this the reason a clarification and correction was made?
The famous South African born well traveled evangelist of the past several decades, was apparently retrieved from retirement in 1993 and has been doing a tour of local churches in the U.S. and Philippines. A more recent sermon called, "What is Jesus Doing At This Time?" has been circulated to churches and has caused quite a reaction from several circles. Among the ninety minutes of awesome Gerald Waterhouse "insight," he tells the members that God has stripped away the things that enable Satan to identify the church and bring on persecution. Waterhouse elaborates that God has put the church in the mainstream of religion for a reason and that is the way Christ has always worked--by hiding. "God had Joseph take Jesus and hide him in Egypt from King Herod," He's weaving His people in and out of Satan's tactics [orthodox Christianity] to get us where we ought to be." "So, God used the method of hiding Jesus until it was time. Now the WCG is his [Christ's] body. So, it's up to Christ to hide his body, until it is ready to do the job for which it has been raised up. To get us where we ought to be. So God has trimmed off a lot of those things that make us look like a cult or sect."
Many members and a few counter-cult watchers were shocked by this tape, which was approved and mailed by headquarters (HQ) to churches. Several contacted HQ and voiced their concern. As expected, they were told that Gerald Waterhouse is no longer employed by the WCG and that HQ had nothing to do with the circulation of this very revealing tape. So, as HQ passes the buck with denial, the Waterhouse message remains ingrained in the minds of WCG members. The damage is done! Why, others wonder, hasn't Waterhouse been publicly disfellowshipped and his sermon openly denounced if it was, in fact, true that Waterhouse was acting independently?
[UPDATE 2002: Gerald Waterhouse later left WCG and joined United Church of God-AIA in 1995. He died September 4, 2002 at age 76 after a long illness (swollen prostate, collapsed bladder and extreme toxemia).]
[UPDATE 2002: Read: My Memories of Gerald Waterhouse]
Pastors and Evangelists on the move. It was reported in the WWN that Evangelist Larry Salyer was retired; however, the PGR, May 25, `94, told the ministers that Larry Salyer was disfellowshipped, but not to read the announcement to the membership. The fact is Mr. Salyer has joined brother evangelists Carl and Raymond McNair in the Global Church of God [later known as Living Church of God], along with Wesley Webster and his Guyana church. Much disinformation about David Hulme has surfaced these past few months. One says, "He's still with the WCG," the other says, "He's joined his father with Flurry." One thing is for certain, his name has been deleted from the contributing writers section on The Plain Truth in the October issue.
[UPDATE 2003: David Hulme left UCG-AIA in 1998 and formed "Church of God, An International Community," Pasadena, California, a group which publishes a quarterly entitled, Vision--Journal for a New World. He proclaims most of Herbert Armstrong's former teachings in his literature. (Hulme, along with seven other evangelists, were offered severance pay [hush money] from WCG).]
[UPDATE 2004: Carl McNair died April 14, 2004 of bone cancer. He was a minister in Living Church of God. Raymond McNair (Raymond F. McNair) is with Church of God, 21st Century, which claims to "serve the affiliated churches of God." He continues to teach Herbert Armstrong's dogma.]
Do You Know Where Your Children Are? If you don't, the WCG probably does. In conjunction with the evangelistic/Open House-recruiting strategy, the WCG has targeted the youth of the country. Other cults, such as the Moonies, International Church of Christ and Jehovah's Witnesses do a big business with the younger population and WCG has made it very clear to the membership that they intend to keep the youth in the church. Some youth target tactics include:
- Youth Educational Services (YES) is now called, "Pre-teens." Many new programs have been implemented in local churches along with an increase in youth participation in services.
- Youth `94 magazine has taken the place of The Plain Truth in libraries, doctor offices and schools. Yes, schools! People from all over the country have noticed the FREE magazine positioned right in the public schools' libraries. Librarians, office executives, and principals are all shocked to learn that it is really the "Plain Truth people" inside the cover.
- Youth `94 is also offering many publications to its young readers. The same slick "mail for our booklets FREE of charge" slogan permeates the pages.
What's all the YOUTH fuss about? One WCG minister relayed to members that surveys indicate a child's direction is set by eleven years of age, "so the church has to hook them by that time."
Opening New Markets. As the WCG incorporates and receives registrations in the Philippines, Mexico, Portugal, Italy (and other Trinitarian countries), it also expands its membership into the U.S. Spanish speaking territories. It seems two new Spanish-speaking churches have just been started in the heart of Florida these past few months. The new to the U.S. brethren are very delighted with all the WCG promises and show great enthusiasm with new fund-raising for WCG ventures. Many are very thankful God landed them safely on the U.S. shore to specifically respond to God's calling into His church! As new country registrations continue to increase, the WCG reminds its readers that, "registration brings benefits at banks and post offices, and allows purchases in Church's name." (WWN, March `94) It is still unclear whether registrations are in the name of the WCG, or under the Ambassador University, or Ambassador Foundation.
God changed his mind about the Gospel and his "calling" system, but the tithing commands will never change! Space will not permit a thorough review of the 1993 Audited Financial Report, but does allow us to question the following:
- Who are the 77 individuals who formerly were longtime employees that currently receive discretionary assistance? (third-tithe assistance) And why are they receiving it?
- What are the "Selected Worldwide Affiliated Organizations," that consume so much of the impoverished members' money?
- The audit states, on page 13, "The church is currently making discretionary payments to certain former employees of approximately $1,732,000 annually. These discretionary payments are provided based upon the employee's needs and, accordingly, could be discontinued in the future. No amounts have been accrued in the accompanying combined financial statements for future payments relating to these arrangements."
What does this mean exactly? This statement is disturbing to many because there is great concern about high-level ministers who leave the WCG being offered a written contract with on-going sums of money to insure silence. It certainly answers the question, "Why don't more former ministers go public about the years of deceit and reported corruption and abuses?" Do the new open door policies mean the secrecy will end? Will the membership start to get the real facts about the money allocations?
Anyone interested in their own copy of the Financial Report prepared by Coopers & Lybrand may write to the church Financial Affairs office headed by Steven Andrews CFO.
One more thing: The 1993 report also indicates "Members of the Church practice tithing (which is the donation of ten percent of one's [gross] income for the Church's unrestricted use). The majority of the Church's revenue consists of such unrestricted donations."
Those members who have been financially destroyed due to the three tier tithing "command" will also find this statement amusing, "Members who are financially able contribute an additional ten percent of their annual [gross] income to the Church Assistance Fund. This is commonly referred to as third tithe." [emphasis --editor.] This offers the public a very different tone than the Pay -Stay- and Decay result from obeying the commands of Jesus as directed by Joseph Tkach.
Exiting members state that ministers are increasing the pressure on the tithing issues. Apparently the tithing talk on the local levels is much harsher than the way Glen Nice (member assistance coordinator in church administration) states it in his article, "Sensible Ways to Secure Your Money and Your Future." "The first law of success in any endeavor is pleasing God. In the case of finances, honor to God is shown by tithing. God tells us the whole world is His (Psalm 50:10-12) and Jesus sanctioned the practice of tithing (Matt 23:23). If you have question about tithing or are a little confused as to what is expected of you, you should discuss it with you minister." (WWN, Aug. `94) [Good Luck!!!]
Glen Nice also quotes Karl Marx: "A democracy is not a form of government to survive. For it will only succeed until its citizens discover they can vote themselves money from the treasury, then they will bankrupt it."
Some have reported that WCG is in decline. This certainly would make sense seeing that many have left the church while others have incorporated a "wait and see" attitude about tithing. However, many questions arise from the 1990 WCG transition. Would the Tkach team have instituted a change without feeling secure that their financial structure was protected? The WCG income was about $70 million in 1978 and according to Mike Hollman, director of data processing during the 70's, there were only about 45,000 baptized members in the computer. Between 1979 and 1990, very little recruiting occurred. (Pastor General Report (PGR), May `94, in speaking about the telecast responses stated, "Between 1986 and 1991--the percentage of those who progressed to membership was extremely low.") Economic depression was also prevalent between 1977 through 1982. The financial strain continued throughout the last six years. One must wonder, how has the WCG managed to increase its income to $200 million, plus, in twelve short years and during a decade when recruiting was down and the economy was depressed? Where did the money come from? Could it be from the "Selected Affiliated Organizations?" What was the contingency plan in case fifty percent of the membership defected after aligning with the Armstrong beast power? (Catholic/Protestant Christianity). What portion of the Church revenue consists of tithing from members and how much is the church supported by other means??? [NOTE: Read: Myth 1 and 2 - the greatest of them all for more information on this. It also covers how Tkach, Jr. and Albrecht found it necessary to enhance the exaggeration of inflated church membership numbers making the latest account higher than all other false statistical statements. (This will show the millions WCG was pulling in compared to other top evangelists of the time.) (Also, see this part in OIU 2, Pt. 1 about "discrepancies with the growth picture starting around 1978.")]
The May PGR stated the following answer to the question, "What does the Church mean when it says it 'cannot afford" a 30-minute telecast anymore?" Reply, "Compared to the cost of television commercials, a broadcast is far more expensive. Also, a church with hundreds of congregations and thousands of members must set priorities on expenditures. When we say we cannot afford a 30-minute telecast, we mean that we do not want to spend a large amount of money on a 30-minute telecast while we ignore other basic needs, like local buildings for our church congregations, or financial considerations for ministers and employees, including such things as a retirement plan. Moreover, ads are a much less expensive way of bringing people into contact with the Church."
As the WCG removes The World Tomorrow telecast, it increases its spot ads. The ads frequently air in key time slots throughout the U.S. and Canada. So while much disinformation spouts out from the WCG - HQ regarding money woes, the facts remain that there is plenty of money to implement the new recruiting/evangelistic training programs and Open Houses.
What did Jesus have in mind when he said, "I will build my church"?
L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, shares this thought:
"If you want to get rich, start a religion!"
--Ambassador College received a Federal Communications, Commission (FCC) license, March 23, 1994, to broadcast on its own radio station.
--The church IBM 370 mainframe was decommissioned on March 11th, only to be replaced by a new AS/400 computer. The new computer system effectively allows sharing of information with their offices around the world. For a more thorough understanding on the way the WCG uses its computers to track its members, order the Mike Hollman (former head of Data Processing) testimony, "Armstrongism: An Insider's View," Watchman Fellowship, P.O. Box 13340, Arlington, TX 76094-0340.
--As the WCG enhances recruiting strategy through its PR campaign with community services, evangelism, Open Houses, newspaper photo op, fairs (distributes the YOUTH `94 magazine), it also modifies some of the inside church behavior that has not been so appealing to newcomers--members can now clap during special music and women are allowed to wear pants!
--A new Let's Talk video program is being used by Church pastors in efforts to improve marital skills within the church. It has been reported that a church survey indicated that seventy percent of Ambassador College graduates' marriages end in divorce. These shattering statistics certainly show "God's way of life and government from the top down, as stated by the WCG," doesn't work!
Thank you for all your letters and for taking the time to share your feelings with us. Limited space allows just a sampling.
I found the information to be very helpful and enlightening! However, I would like to suggest including information about how WCG lacked the Godly love it purported to have and especially how racist WCG is. After all, it wasn't over doctrinal issues that I left the WCG--it was over the lack of love and the racism. After leaving, I found out how flaky the doctrines were in the WCG. I am an African American and I would dare say that most African Americans leave the WCG because of the racism, not because of some change in doctrine. During my time in the WCG, virtually no one wanted to talk about the racial problems. I believe if gathered testimonies from African American, Hispanic, and Asian ex-WCG members as to their experiences as far as race is concerned, they would make credible testimonies to illustrate another destructive facet of the WCG. - Virginia
[I believe you're right! How about others writing us about their experiences. -ESN]
I was in the WCG from 1969 until 1981. I was one who waited for the church to flee in 1972 and for Jesus to return in 1975. I listened very intently to Raymond Cole, Rod Meredith, Brice Clark, Wayne Cole, Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted and Ron Dart. Now, what does one do? Quite a number of people left the church when I did. Not one is attending any church. No one knows what to do. If you have any information on cults, please send me some. I will pass it on to the other former WCG members in my area. The deacons that came out when we did don't seem to know anymore then the rest of us. I will be anxious to hear from you. - W. Virginia
[UPDATES: More on Ronald Dart is covered in our OIU Newsletter 4, Pt. 4. Raymond C. Cole died 9-25-01 of a stroke; C. Wayne Cole entered GTA's Church of God International in 1979, but left soon after and went into the real estate business. "My Story" by C. Wayne Cole, 5-19-79; CD/audio tape with ESN.]
My family and I have left the WCG. Please forward any information that might help us recover from the experience. - Virginia
It is very refreshing to read about people like yourself and your husband who are involved in helping those who have exited and are exiting the WCG. My wife was in for 25 years and I for six years. It's been a great challenge to come out of this "faith" and control. It's been much more difficult for my wife than me, but difficult nevertheless. It does shake a person's stability. It's caused us to do some homework in comparative religion study and watch, with a critical eye, everything said by people preaching the gospel. We both would like to hear about your group and what you do to assist people regaining confidence in themselves and God. We have a need to learn how others handle this particular problem. - Wisconsin
Thank you once again for all the information you sent me. I enjoyed talking to you over the phone. You were a lot of help to me. If I never meet you and your family in this life, I'm sure we'll meet in the Kingdom of Heaven. - North Carolina
My husband and I recently left WCG after being members for seven years. I hope to never get involved with organized religion again. I also hope to never be so foolish as to put an organization or a man between me and God again. It's a funny feeling, though, to think you had all the answers and then to find out you don't have any of them. I have to wonder at the gall of people who mislead others in the name of God. Don't they fear the Day of Judgment when they will have to give account? Well my prayers are with all the ex-members of the WCG. I hope we can all finally begin to have a real relationship with God. - Virginia[Well said! Refer to Chap. 5, Captive Hearts Captive Minds for a thorough understanding of the characteristics of cult leaders!]
I left the WCG last year. I have gone through so many emotions of disbelief, denial, confusion, anger, sadness, etc. I had been in WCG for twenty years. I was a "spiritual widow." Neither my husband nor children were in the WCG and they do not understand what I am going through. They don't want to talk about it, but I need to talk about it. For twenty years, the WCG was my life. It controlled how I thought and reacted to everything around me. I never, ever thought that I would someday be leaving it. I never really made friends outside of the WCG and now that I have left, all of my friends in the WCG have shunned me. I am at a point now where I am not certain what I should believe spiritually. I feel that I can't trust anyone, nor my own gut feelings. I certainly have been wrong before! I also have the feeling that I no longer belong anywhere; that my foundations have crumbled. Where do we go from here? - Texas
The sound of your service is probably much needed. I think it is fairly well established by many (though not enough) that the WCG and many of its clones are cults. Perhaps not a David Koresh or a Jim Jones cult, but nevertheless, psychologically and certainly financially destructive and abusive. Cults are dangerous in very subtle ways. Their radioactive fallout too often has a very dangerous life span. "Toxic faith" is what one source calls it. While I feel I owe absolutely nothing to the WCG, I still feel I owe something to the brethren, despite the fact many either have or would condemn us--"you've lost God's Spirit"; "you're going into the 'Lake of Fire,'" etc. I'm sure you've heard them all. It hurts to care for such people who we once thought of as friends and brethren and to be condemned and shunned by them. I've only tried to help them. But does God really want me to try to help others who want to be deceived and abused doctrinally and financially? Can anyone truly help those who want to remain mind-controlled? Do I really owe them anything, other than prayers for their eventual deliverance? - Ohio
I dropped out of WCG after being unable to live up to their high standards. I alienated all my relatives and friends since being in the church. I can't seem to make friends outside, as no one wants to listen to things related to the WCG. I am very lonely and don't fit in anywhere. Please send information. - Texas
Man in WCG Molested My Son:
I was kicked out of WCG several years ago. I was shunned. A man in the church had molested my son. I was scolded for calling the police. My husband divorced me (WCG member). I have not been able to get over the 22 years of the WCG. I need help and I need help from others. - California[Also read: Stepfather was a Sexual Abuser in the WCG While a Deacon (8-9-05 letter to ESN. This also has links to similar letters.)]
To Our Readers
Reading the thoughts of others is very helpful toward the understanding that you are not alone. Knowing that others are enduring the challenge of healing offers support during the trying times. Space will not permit us to include all your letters, but we will continue to print or quote your words in upcoming issues. The OIU will never list names unless specified to do so.
Please continue to write to the Network and keep us updated on your progress. Equally important as sharing your anger and frustrations, is the awareness that life really does get better. Share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions on how your life improved after the WCG experience. Through the OIU we can collectively reach out to one another.
Yes, a WCG Network is long past due. The isolated efforts of ex-members throughout the years could have had a far-reaching impact had they had the opportunity to support each other with their altruistic endeavors of helping the victims. A one-man band will eventually burn out, or turn its efforts inward. This Network belongs to the WCG victims. The success of it will depend on the input of ex-members and their willingness to take a stand on the platform of their precious knowledge and experience.
I have often been labeled high energy and dedicated to the cause. I will agree with that statement. However, the pace that I have maintained these past eight months is far stronger than one human being should endure. A heartfelt thank-you goes to those individuals who have connected with the Network and have participated in making it work. I would like very much to recognize those people, but will only print names upon approval.
I also thank those who have covered their postage and printing costs for all the supplies we have mailed. The financial contribution on our household has been significant. We hope that those who have benefited from our personal labors and sacrifices, but have not contributed, will consider covering the costs of the materials they have received. The exit packages and additional support materials have been instrumental in helping victims de-doctrinate and psychologically heal. As one exiter put it, "You saved me years of work and thousands of dollars."
It is our aim to issue an OIU regularly. We look forward to your input and hope you will participate in the writing of the: OUTSIDER'S INSIDE UPDATE
The Gang at the ESN
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.
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