OIU Volume Two
OUTSIDER'S INSIDE UPDATE™
Volume TWO. A newsletter of understanding ... Winter `95
Published by the Exit & Support Network™
All Rights Reserved ©
VOLUME TWO contents:
- Education: The Key to Cult Recovery, Spiritually and Psychologically
- Negative Programming Prevents Growth
- The Us vs. Them Thinking...Sticks
- As the Whirlwide Turns™...Part Two (The Great Diversion and Distraction; what prevents us from seeing the true story)
- Recapture True History
- All Good Things Come To An End
- The Hidden Agenda
- Getting Politically, Religiously Correct and Ready for the NEW AGE
- God Abandons God's House
- The Reasons Behind the Events
- Myths About Cults
- The Plot was Planned
- Speaking of Global... (Re-Inventing the wheel)
- Operation WAT [WCG/Armstrong/Tkach] (A streamlined outline of the WCG conversion strategy)
- POWER AND MONEY
- What does Achieving World Order have to do with the WCG?
- Another Sad Suicide...Mr. Ronald Howe
- From Our Mailbag
As usual the Exit & Support Network™ has been flying in high gear, tackling everything from exiting emergencies to research trips to doctrine pandemonium.
We no sooner returned from the Evangelical Ministries of New Religions (EMNR) conference on cults in Oct., when we found ourselves soaring to Ohio for the 1994 Cult Awareness Conference. [NOTICE: Since this OIU, CAN is no longer a recommended resource. It was bankrupted by Scientology and is staffed by its operatives. More on CAN is mentioned in this offsite report.] Once again, the national yearly conference was jam packed with excellent professionals from around the globe sharing their years of experience and expertise on a multitude of cult related subjects. Every organization carries its strengths and weaknesses; the yearly conference is certainly an asset of the CAN organization. This was the ESN's second attendance. One of the highlights was meeting hundreds of people who are totally unrelated to the WCG, but can relate experiences as if they have lived through one's own. People from all over the U.S. who have exited from hundreds of other cults, who have in some way, lived though a similar experience, help us to realize we are not alone and we're not personally attacked, but had been caught in the market of deception, control, coercion and manipulation for the gain of power and money.
Attendees had the opportunity to learn, discern and heal from their cultic involvement in every aspect, spiritually and psychologically. When a victim breaks away from a controlling and abusive group, putting his past in perspective is an arduous task that involves critical thinking. The ability to recognize that the cult phenomenon is far bigger then the WCG picture, helps one to release himself from the bonds of WCG, to start the sorting process. Education is imperative to healing and spiritual understanding. The CAN conference is another tool provided to assist the cult victim on his recovery path. In addition to attending these conferences, we held a local television interview about cults, gave a presentation on cults at Yale University, and continued with ESN's research on the WCG. As the WCG spins its strategies into new directions, we methodically piece the past and present together. The year 1994 culminated with another research trip to Washington, DC. Our family enjoyed many of the sights together, as we considered the true meaning of freedom and weighed it against the atrocity of totalitarian governments. Worth mentioning at this time, is what is considered to be the Library of Congress' most valuable book. That book is the Gutenberg Bible, well protected and on special display in the Madison Building. Most strikingly eye-catching, were the words carved on a large bronze plaque, ironically just above the display case that housed the Bible:
"The essence of government is power--
and power lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse."
I will share more about my Washington trips....in the future!
Many lose out on opportunities that would have added to, and expedited their recovery process. The years of tunneled thinking, and us vs. them programming, inhibits our ability to think objectively or expand our knowledge. This problem can prevent the exiter from benefiting from many available resources that aid in cult recovery. And that's a shame! Exiters seem to develop prejudices against certain recovery tools available to them. Due to the sophisticated programming techniques that were used to control the WCG member, the exiter carries the cult inspired negative and inhibiting behavior with him through life. Unless, of course, he has confronted that programmed thinking and worked it out of his system. An example of this would be the intense use of psychology by the WCG ministry. For decades members have been drilled with negativism regarding satanic psychologists, man's way, the Satan inspired medical field, etc., all the while members were being conditioned to react on command like Pavlov's dogs.
If one were to ask what were the most personal significant learning lessons in 1994, my reply would entail this response:
A) The twisting of religion, Christianity and Jesus Christ and utilizing the concepts as a mask and shield for deception, corruption and money hungry organizations, and.....
B) The influencing of our lives and decisions directed by propaganda.
The ESN has had it share of enlightenment in both areas. Human nature shows us that we want to believe what feels comfortable to our psyche. We deny what might confront our pride. Accepting the need for recovery places us in another vulnerable position. It means we must tear down the wrong to build a solid future. That is one reason why so many ex-WCGers turn their back on the past, or jump directly into another belief system without thoroughly understanding it. It is temporarily more comforting to escape reality, transfer our beliefs and ignore the pain of truth, than it is to deal with it and get on with life. If the cult experience taught us anything, it should have been how necessary it is to think for ourselves, keep an open mind, question and take responsibility for our own lives. Unfortunately, many victims exit and neglect to utilize that freedom. The result is stunted spiritual and psychological growth.
Ministries state that their job is to preach the Gospel and sort out spiritual issues. Secular organizations strive to educate victims on cults and their psychological and behavioral effects. Secular does not mean anti-Christian. Many support organizations consider themselves secular in an effort to reach out to all people from many understandings; the goal is total well-being. Both sides are essential to recovery. It is a real loss when one places limitations on his healing because of propaganda, or closed thinking. Exiters must recognize that post-cult behavior reflects the negative training of the past and enhances prejudicial thoughts. Unless we personally take responsibility to cut the umbilical cord to the destructive thinking that dictates our behavior, we will forever be mentally tied to the Worldwide Church of God. That, by the way, would be indicative of the "programmers" pursuit.
The Great Diversion and Distraction
What prevents us from seeing the real story?
Definitions: (American Heritage Dictionary)
Divert: 1. To turn aside from a course or direction; deflect.
Diversion: 1. An act or instance of diverting or turning aside; deviation. 2. Something that distracts the mind and relaxes or entertains. 3. A maneuver that draws the attention of an opponent away from the planned point of action.
Distract: 1. To cause to turn away from the original focus of attention or interest; divert. 2. To pull in conflicting emotional directions; unsettle.
Distraction: 1. The act of distracting or the condition of being distracted. 2. Something that distracts. 3. Extreme mental or emotional disturbance; obsession.
What is important? Is it the EVENT, or the REASON behind the EVENT?
"What I want you to really understand today--so many times we focus in prophetically on the event and not its reason. We get so glued to events which are important, that we don't look into the reason and the reason is the cause of events... "We have to know why!"
This quote is from an October 2, 1978 sermon by Art Mokarow. Mr. Mokarow was a prominent WCG minister quite astute on the topic of "Fascism." Among his many WCG titles in the 1970 era, he was Chief Editor of the unbiblical magazine Successful Living and Director of the Human Potential Center. (These worldly WCG tithe-eater projects represent a small example of the many non-church, Rader/Kuhn creations that... failed.) Some might remember Mr. Mokarow's fine sermons on positive aspects of "Fascism!"
Too few WCGers are aware of the significant era in WCG's history during the 1970's. That is made plain by the gullibility of some current members and on-looking Christian Ministries who are currently gobbling up the new Tkachism as "new truth." Reviewing the WCG 1970's era aids in the process of connecting and analyzing the strategic events unfolding before our eyes. How easy it would be to report only the changes we see; there are some who derive income on doing just that! But the picture is far deeper than the visual tip of the iceberg. As Roosevelt has said many times, "nothing happens without a plan." The Worldwide Church of God/ Armstrong/ Tkach team (the WAT) has never been without a plan and the current events changing Worldwide is no exception.
The last OIU discussed the deception surrounding the changes and WCG's involvement with outside evangelical and Protestant ministries, marketing strategies and the gain of power and money as the underlying objective.
By the early 1970's rumblings about doctrine started to build throughout the ministry. As several ministers became increasingly sickened by the intense control and methods they were instructed to apply to the membership, many started to increase their knowledge of Biblical issues. Month by month these pioneer ministers stepped out with great fear and trepidation to stand up to the evil that was prevailing within the Worldwide Church of God. Many adamantly researched the doctrines, which led to intense investigations on the corruption and duplicity that was occurring at that time. Stan Rader's leadership was being questioned and scrutinized along with his involvement in money matters as the Chief Financial Officer and HWA's right hand man. The corruption was magnified by the behavior of HWA's son, Garner Ted. These ministers stood behind their integrity on behalf of the exploited; they strove to be heard on doctrinal issues, such as the Sabbath, Tithing, Holy Days, God's government and the LAW. For years they cried out for help because they could no longer lie to the members. Some became physically ill due to the stress of having to break up families with the Divorce and Remarriage (D&R) doctrine. Other ministers grew enraged from watching innocent believers die under the Healing doctrine, or from having to bury suicide victims who could no longer live up to the WCG's mandates. Documentation in the form of letters, office memos, HQ correspondence to the ministries, tapes of meetings and phone conversations, books, The Minister's Bulletin, PGR's, testimony accounts and other supporting material, clearly outlines the incredible ruthless events that transpired from the hands of leaders, Herbert W. and Garner Ted Armstrong, along with Stan Rader and the obedient ministers at large.
[UPDATE: Stan Rader died of acute pancreatic cancer July 2, 2002, at the age of 71, and Garner Ted Armstrong died of pneumonia, at age 73, on September 15, 2003.]
The in-house fighting for change and correction resulted with seventy ministers leaving and over 11,000 members exiting. [NOTE: Be sure and read about the very turbulent 1970 era talked about in ESN's letter to author Janis Hutchinson.]
Personal accounts clearly describe the firings, the character assassination, the disfellowshippings and the painful emotional distress the pioneers suffered through. These men used every respectful tactic known to aid in initiating change from the Hitler type of government to a true church of biblical understanding. They were rewarded by being thrown out, ridiculed and labeled as liberal rebels conspiring to take over the church.
Many, under the HWA dictatorship, were teaching lies and persisted on doing so despite the massive communication pointing out their errors. They continued to preach the biblical distortions as it damaged thousands of lives--some to the point of death--knowing full well that much of it was heresy. The HWA team had total control over its membership and it continued to use fear and guilt to twist and manipulate each member that was snarled in its web.
The WCG story played like Star Wars on earth. Exposé blanketed the globe about the corruption and doctrinal distortions. Meanwhile, the members were sheltered by the threat of satanic attacks and threats about annihilation in the Lake of Fire.
The church did not have a clear cut "doctrine package." Herbert W. Armstrong's belief system consisted of a compilation of teachings and beliefs from other religions. His authoritarian tactics were comprised from his extensive history involving right-wing extremist organizations. The belief system and behavioral tactics were rightly called "Armstrongism."
Several ministers started the first of the spin-off churches. Among them was Ernest Martin, head of the Theology Department for Ambassador College. Ernest Martin aided hundreds of exiters through his articulate explanation of the massive errors in the Armstrong teachings. It was also Ernest Martin's research that Dr. Hoeh used without permission to verify the change in Pentecost.
[UPDATE: Ernest L. Martin died January 16, 2002.]
Rebellion against Armstrongism was ignited in the early 1970's by men of integrity. By 1978, the Systematic Theology Project was written.
" This systematic theology is being produced by the Worldwide Church of God to reflect its doctrines, beliefs, practices and traditions. The development of the project is the response to a need sensed by the leadership of the Church. The need was for an up-to-date and accurate statement of our official doctrinal positions and understandings, which would provide a formal record and serve as a communications vehicle both within and without the church."
" As a formal record of the Church's beliefs and teachings, the systematic theology will provide an official source of public information about the doctrines of the WCG."
The above statement prefaces the almost 500 page binder which outlines the proposed doctrinal statement and beliefs. Herbert W. Armstrong rejected the attempt for change and correction by expelling the idea and a few ministers along with it.
The story of the 1970's is a book unto itself. Several agendas were accruing simultaneously. While HWA and Stan Rader globetrotted visiting particular leaders for the purpose of "secret agendas," the battle behind the Pasadena wall escalated. The massive amount of documentation left in the wake of the 1970 era awakens us to the deception perpetrated by the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God. It also highlights the fact that Joseph W. Tkach has not been given "NEW TRUTH," by Jesus Christ, as he so dogmatically claims!
By the end of the 1970 decade, the church was limping due to negative publicity through exposé and books published about HWA and his church. The turmoil persisted through the lawsuits and receivership. Yes! The WCG was hot news in the Christian and secular arena. Meanwhile, through it all, the meager membership were led to believe it was a satanic attack as they continued to offer up every penny they had to prepare for their supreme role as the chosen Kings and Priests in the soon coming Kingdom, that was to be ushered in by the sound of the trumpets. Throughout this era HWA and Rader pursued their extravagant trips and "secret agenda" visits to dignitaries under the pretense of spreading the Gospel.
Getting the church back on track was the order of business following the ouster of Garner Ted Armstrong in 1978. It was at this time that the penetrating publications such as, The Incredible Human Potential and the Mystery of the Ages were launched. What seems today to read like Project Mind Control was really a heavy dose of HWA's rendition of GOD SPEAKING TO HIS PEOPLE! It was no secret to the inner circle that HWA was not managing the church. Stan Rader was the number one answer-man. It is documented by many that HWA was often under heavy influence of alcohol and had frequent episodes of senility. Stan Rader decided that it was time to keep HWA highly visible and pictured on all the publications, which helped cover for lack of personal appearances. On the other hand, it is highly doubtful HWA authored any materials, including the Mystery of the Ages, during his final twenty years of life. Considerable documentation points to the communism/fascism/ Aryan race expert, Herman Hoeh as having the final say on the "belief system," and accompanying dogma.
[UPDATE: Herman Hoeh died November 21, 2004.]
The unraveling of God's Plan of Salvation and all its science fictional trimmings was christened at the 1978 Feast of Tabernacles by HWA, and it became the diet for the membership for the next ten years.
The WCG leadership was determined to get their people back on track. No method of control was considered too harsh. The God's Government routine provided the foundation for the belief system--the pursuit of doctrine clarification was not a priority. The membership anchored to the constant barrage of threats, fear and abuse instead. The leadership learned many lessons by their mistakes in the 1970's, henceforth; safeguards were built in to prevent uprisings in the future. Those safeguards consisted of the wearing away of individual identities, wills and self-worth. The Bible was the tool used in a distorted way to prove that each individual was only garbage in God's eye. What follows is a quote that represents the locked in mental programming forced on the unsuspecting spiritual seekers.
"Repentance is a change of mind and attitude. It is a change from this carnal attitude of hostility toward God--of rebellion against God's Law, to the opposite attitude of love, submission, obedience, and worship of God, and reliance on Him. It is an "about-face" in attitude and intent, the way of God's righteousness. Repentance means that you come to really see yourself as you are--as God sees you--as a self-centered, hostile, shriveled-up, rotten, vile, filthy, sinning hulk of rotting human flesh, unworthy to breath the free air God gives you! It means to be so sorry, not only for what you have done, but also for what you ARE--that you so abhor yourself that you come emotionally broken up, throwing yourself on God's mercy, asking His forgiveness, and His redemption! It means wanting to be made righteous." (What Do You Mean--The Unpardonable Sin? by Herbert W. Armstrong.)
The same underlying message found its way in all the readings and letters and sermons geared for the membership. Is there any wonder why so many found suicide to be the answer to their pain? While the ministry accused the psychology field as being SATANIC, they employed whatever psychological measures needed to keep their "sheeple" (people/sheep) in line.
[NOTE: Read: Can I commit the unpardonable sin? (Q&A)]
Thanks to Jonestown and the increased cult awareness, recruiting slowed down through the 1980s. The HWA hard-line approach was continued by Tkach for at least three years following HWA's death. The Tkach regime manipulated many marketing strategies with The Plain Truth and World Tomorrow broadcast. It seemed as if the formats were being changed every few months. That certainly would indicate what wasn't working. The year 1988 was when a few daring insightful members were able to first detect some change. However, it wasn't until 1990 that possible changes became more evident. As the duplicity and confusion prevailed within the church, the leaders locked hands with Protestant ministries in an effort to reform their doctrinal package and de-cult the look of the Worldwide Church of God. Of course, the membership was told that the doctrines were only being enhanced and modified and nothing was really changing.
"Work Smarter, Not Harder"
These were the words Joseph Tkach told his membership. "We've got a five year plan in motion," he boasted. This helped the membership to begin realizing that they too might join the rest of humanity and see physical death. Shock permeated the local ministries; the new thought was, "looks as if Christ isn't coming in our lifetime." That was a problem, because the bulk of the membership had no money saved, no insurance, minimal education and nothing to show for their WCG life span but the thought that their money helped build "God's house."
With the membership in increasing disarray, they were comforted by their leaders that WCG was God's only true church and that God (more recently changed to Jesus Christ) was leading the way. Members were asked to always pray that Joseph Tkach would carry out God's instructions faithfully.
1994---A Pivotal Year
The escalation of cult awareness with the occurrence of WACO expedited the WCG's new strategy development program. The cult watching Christian ministries were being entertained with the words such as, "Trinity" since 1990. Meanwhile, the Trinity introduction to the membership didn't occur until 1993 with the word "Hypostasis." By 1994 all of the membership was aware that changes were occurring within their church. Confusion escalated month after month because of the contradicting messages in the writings and sermons. Those not in denial were aware that JWT was changing course. Past Church beliefs were shelved and replaced with Protestant teachings while previous behavioral traditions were being overshadowed by liberal methods.
The WCG was moving in several directions at the same time throughout 1994. Their new friendship with Church of God Seventh Day, linkage with Protestant/Evangelical Christian Ministries, Accreditation, new recruiting strategies with Open Houses, TV advertising, evangelism programs, registrations in new foreign markets, Dr. Stavrinide's psychobabble tapes on the Nature of God and implementation of a form of Protestant Christian theology, seemed to not only confuse the membership more, but leave them psychologically paralyzed as well. Could that have been the intention?
1995---WCG Goes Public
Following an exhaustive year of Tkachism duplicity, contradictions, double-talk, etc., Joseph Tkach conditions the membership with warnings of major decisions pending. In the Sept. `94 Pastor General's letter to the membership, JWT states the following:
"Today, we all live and work in uncertain times. Trials may strike at any time. Some trials are unpredictable, and others are easy to predict but seemingly impossible to prevent. On my own horizon, for example, I see some difficult decisions looming, as I referred to in last month's letter. I agonize about these decisions, and I am fully aware that I am unable to solve the problems on my own. I come before God in fear and trembling, asking for his mercy and direction."
This August `94 letter prefaces the above statement while it paves the way for the pending Holy Day offerings:
"First, I cannot stress enough how important the fall Holy Day offerings will be this year. Income seems stable at about 7 percent below last year, which is what we had projected based on current economic trends and conditions. However, we had hoped, of course, that the picture would be brighter than our projections.
The unpleasant news I bring to you now is that our projections for next year must again anticipate a decline, and that decline must be prepared for now. This financial situation demands that we carefully reassess all priorities and take serious immediate action to reduce expenses in advance of next year's projected deficit.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Indication, based on our past income cycles and typical economic cycles in the US, is that this negative income trend will begin to slow down in late 1995 and early 1996 and reverse itself in 1997.
(He goes on to say:)
Financially, our first priority is to provide our congregations around the world with pastors, so that the Body of Christ has the local spiritual leadership vital for spiritual health and growth in Christ. This priority is based on the instruction in Eph 4:11-16, and must remain our first consideration. This priority includes the need for proper training and administration.
Our second priority is The Plain Truth magazine, which (besides the personal Christian conduct of our members) is our fundamental evangelistic tool. The Plain Truth is our primary media vehicle for Christian instruction, encouragement, admonition and proclamation of the gospel. It supports and enhances the evangelistic work that more and more of our local congregations are becoming engaged in. Of course, to build and maintain Plain Truth circulation we must continue to advertise, as we are now doing with our television ads. Along with The Plain Truth in priority, is the mail-processing operation, which receives and responds to the thousands of letters the church receives every day.
After these, several aspects of the Church's work are vital: Ambassador University and our Christian booklets, brochures and study aids. As we can afford it, we will also continue with television advertising and acquisition of buildings for local congregations."
The Christian cult watchers finally learned to use a little patience before giving WCG a clean bill of health before its due. They have tempered their glowing statements and have taken a "wait and see attitude," while watching the WCG events unfold. The Christian cult watchers main concern is that the leaders of WCG combine forces with their own theology. So, as JWT and team set the pace for their strategic business maneuvers, they apparently will gain support as leaders after God's own heart.
In January 1995, Joseph Tkach gave a three-hour video sermon to the membership and all churches were instructed to play it. The sermon was filled with the expected double messages, contradictions, confused rambling and abusive shouting, but the bottom line indicated the following:
- The WCG is a new Covenant Church.
- The church is not under the Old Testament Law.
- Tithing is voluntary and no longer a required command.
- Sabbath is not required for Salvation, nor is it a sign between God and his people.
- Pork and shellfish are OK to eat (but they are still unclean food).
One would have to listen to the three-hour video and the follow-up sermon given two weeks after the big message to fully understand and discern that the same old story is being told. The commands to the laws have been done away with; however, the law is spiritual and written on the hearts of the Spirit-filled; therefore, those who have the Spirit and our true followers of Jesus Christ will want to continue to keep the Sabbath and Holy Days and tithe above and beyond 10%. Tkach says it is not a command, but thoroughly conveys to the listener that they better do more then required in the past because the law is on their hearts.
The three-hour video and the follow-up sermon on Sabbath and Tithing are filled with mixed messages and leave much to be desired. HWA is praised as if he had been teaching these ideas all along, but people misunderstood him. Tkach extols the importance of keeping the Sabbath because one has the Holy Spirit, but assures that one may work at his place of employment if necessary. The Big Sandy video edited out Tkach's comment about playing golf on the Sabbath being perfectly fine. "I don't keep the LAW to get saved, I keep the LAW because I am saved," are the words Tkach uses to explain his position. Tithing may be voluntary; however, Tkach points out that anyone who truly loves Jesus and is thankful for what Jesus has done for him, will want to tithe even more than before.
The three-hour video does not follow the script written in The Worldwide News article. The Dec. WWN neglects to allude to the membership as dummies and ignorant as he did in the video. If one were to read the WWN as their only information source and not read the Pastor General's Reports, nor listen to the video, one would think the message was polished and professional. But that is not the case. Tkach's words on the video mimicked the same authoritarian mannerism riddled with abuse tactics and blame on the membership. While Tkach strives to look like a Christian hero willing to go the way of Jesus, the membership is repeatedly blamed for the destructive thinking patterns of the past and for their stupidity in misunderstanding good old Mr. Armstrong.
[For those who are interested in the total message along with a study in manipulation and mind control we suggest you obtain a copy of the tapes from the ESN. Or go to Video Sermon by Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. and Transformed by Truth or Transformed by Lies?? for excerpts]
Opinions are wide and varied regarding the message behind the video. To sum it up best, it could be said, "Have it your way." Basically, anyone tuning in will hear what he or she wants to hear. Do you want the LAW? You've got it! Do you want grace? You've got it! Do you want more freedom on your wallet? You've got it! Do you want emotionalism? You've got it! Do you want to know that the WCG is Jesus` church and Jesus put YOU in it? You've got it. The list is endless, but let's not forget the most important thing. Do you want everything to stay the way it was and have legalism to boot? You've got it! Just pick up your body and shuffle over to Rod Meredith's Global Church of God. He'll give you Armstrongism on a silver platter, no strings attached! Tkach goes as far as to hold up one of Global's magazines, The World Ahead, and invites members to join.
As the membership tries to incorporate the Tkach message regarding their personal misunderstandings for past beliefs and behaviors, they seem to find themselves baffled over how they could have been so wrong. Several members we have spoken to are particularly annoyed over the presentation of Herbert W. Armstrong. On one hand, it is stated that the church was wrong on past teachings; on the other hand, HWA is constantly esteemed as a beloved man of God who brought great truth to God's Church. The image of HWA is reshaped with constant reminders that HWA would have been a true supporter of all the Tkach maneuvers had he been alive. [Read: Transformed by Christ (a critical review) to see the WCG's whitewashing of Herbert Armstrong and Has WCG Whitewashed Herbert W. Armstrong? (several examples)] The Jan. 7th, WWN offers a lengthy article about HWA's Baptist baptism. Columns of twisted misinformation attempt to shape HWA into a righteous silhouette. The point of the article is to convince the reader that HWA never believed that salvation had anything to do with Sabbath keeping. The article states that HWA wrote the following:
"If you do not honestly feel sure in your own mind that God wants you to rest and keep holy the time between Friday and Saturday sunsets, it is not disobedience not to do it...I now realize it has nothing to do with salvation...Until you had taken that step [of baptism] I have felt you should not be bothered with the Sabbath question."
One current member told us he was shocked over the overt lies being told and couldn't understand why more people were not reacting to such heresy. It appears that the leaders are fairly secure with their Mind Control tactics and feel cocky enough to get away with anything. Maybe the members are petrified to say anything for fear of losing their life. In Tkach's latest sermon he forcefully shouts that anyone who dares to cause discord by disagreeing with him verbally will be sorry and God help him! Phew!
The Truth Proof
Where is the WCG going with all this? The Christian Media hopes it's going "their way," but is it really? One would think true repentance would accompany an honest change in behavior, especially dealing with matters of Jesus Christ. But has it?
The Tkach by-line states that the ministers will not honor the changes and the membership on the whole refuses to accept change. Blame for non-conformance has been positioned on the lower ministry from the beginning. All the while Tkach is set up as a Godly man of change exhibiting much integrity. This propaganda certainly delights the self-appointed Christian cult watchers who DO NOT know the whole story. Tkach stands as the man of faith, willing to put the whole church in jeopardy for the sake of the "truth". However, if the Tkach regime had an honest agenda, it would be highly unlikely that such secrecy, duplicity, contradictions, blame, denial, guilt, manipulations, deception and massive confusion, would be part of the change format--unless, of course, there was a hidden agenda to the change strategy.
One exiting member wrote us, stating her frustrations with the Tkach double message and new psychological twist. She says that if these changes represent an honest statement of repentance then obviously we'd see some different fruit in Mr. Tkach:
- Tkach would admit to the financial corruption of the past.
- He would stop lying.
- He wouldn't be living a high lofty lifestyle and making a salary of several hundred thousands dollar a year.
- He wouldn't tolerate decadent lifestyles.
- He wouldn't be using fear, guilt and manipulation on those who leave the church.
- He would come out and repudiate HWA's corruptive and deceitful life instead of trying to convince the membership that he was a man following Jesus Christ.
- He'd stop using the membership like objects and cease exploiting seekers for the gain of power and money.
- He'd be open about what he is doing with all of the church's money.
This recent member makes valid points, but for us to better understand why cult leaders do what they do we must understand their personalities. In the book Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias address this issue under Chapter Five, Characteristics of a Cult Leader. A thorough explanation may be found under the following subheadings:
The Authoritarian Power Dynamic
Who Becomes a Cult Leader?
The Role of Charisma
The Cult Leader as Psychopath
The Master Manipulator
The Profile of a Psychopath
- Glibness/superficial charm
- Manipulation and conning
- Grandiose sense of self
- Pathological lying
- Lack of remorse, shame or guilt
- Shallow emotions
- Incapacity for love
- Need for stimulation
- Callousness/lack of empathy
- Poor behavior controls/impulsive nature
- Early behavior problems/juvenile delinquency
- Promiscuous sexual behavior/infidelity
- Lack of realistic life plan/parasitic lifestyle
- Criminal or entrepreneurial versatility
Moving right along...
The last OIU discussed the WCG's marketing strategies. A review of the last ten years indicates that the Adventist message wasn't working anymore for recruiting. WCG was behind the times with current trends and squeezed the final dime out of its followers. If business was going to survive, grave restructuring of the entire modus operandi was in order. If we set aside our personal spiritual beliefs and look at the organization in a business sense, we can better understand the total picture.
Armstrongism was not about doctrine. It was a way of life instituted by HWA and highlighted by buzzwords and science fiction. It is well documented that he did not author any specific teachings through Godly inspiration, but instead incorporated a neat little package from several other religious denominations and often modified them to tailor his specific needs and personal beliefs. He was careful to combine and plagiarize just the right statements that would serve the groupthink. Contrary to what many believe, Herbert W. Armstrong was not academically intelligent. He did, however, possess exceptional expertise on how to control the crowds. His pre-religion history gave him vast understanding about "human nature" most intellects never arrive at. That, combined with his worldly experience, his close association with his mentor, Frank Armstrong and heeded advice from Elbert Hubbard, rewarded him great riches. Timing was great for HWA's methodology, but all good things do end. So did the HWA era.
The Tkach handlers stepped into the multi-million dollar operation following HWA's death. Sure, Tkach tried to fill the HWA shoes for at least two years, but to no avail. The product (Armstrongism) was already in great decline. The church structure, which is set up like a "Mary Kay Cosmetic" organization (or any multi-level marketing Co. for that matter) needed a new product to sell. After careful study of religious trends and surveys, the WCG leaders did what had to be done.
Business is Business
In business, when sales drop, decisions are made to increase profits. There is only one main goal prompting decisions; it's called PROFIT. If the product is no longer salable, it must be modified or dropped from the sales line. Usually, it is replaced with a far trendier product. Rest assured though, it will be based on the need in the market.
Relating this to the WCG, we note that Armstrongism died with the image of Herbert W. Armstrong. That left the WCG all dressed up and nowhere to go, as they say. After fiddling with different renditions of the same old sales market, WCG incorporated a whole new sales strategy. Bearing in mind that the bottom line is money and the money is going to come from those who buy the product, it is highly doubtful that most past customers (members) will accept the new game plan. (Can't teach an old Pavlov dog new tricks.) Radical changes are essential.
Putting this perspective into the WCG we can easily piece together the incremental steps to their strategy. If the product doesn't sell, there is no use advertising it [read: pull all the publications from printing]. If the company's sales are declining, the work force must be downsized [read: no ordinations of new Pastors and combining of local churches to reduce overhead]. By applying the business understanding to WCG, we gain insight into why local ministries and affiliated businesses like Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF) will continue to be shut down. Why carry the employee expense and costs of running local areas if they are not generating profit, let alone new business? In the case of the WCG, the situation is a bit sticky because the organization (deceptively) took millions of dollars from well-meaning people under a specific pretense (product). Careful considerations must be applied to every move lest the WCG creates a massive rebellion from its followers.
When a market dries up, the business must look for new markets. That is exactly what the Tkach regime has done. It abandoned the exhausted product and replaced it with a more durable, easier to relate to package. Something for mass appeal. But who will buy into this product? Not likely the old customers [read: members]. So, a whole new market must be penetrated.
What better way to dump the original customers than to catch them completely off guard with a major diversion. Only a few short years ago no one would have believed that the WCG would have attempted to take every "satanic belief" and incorporate it into the current mind set; yet, that's exactly what they are doing and have been doing for awhile.
In business, if you want to get rid of an employee, you hope that he leaves on his own. It saves you the pain of dumping him and having to deal with repercussions upon his exiting. What better way to dump the current WCG membership than by making a 180° turn in their investment. In other words, pull the rug out from under their feet.
In plain English, the product wasn't working anymore. The money allocated to the local ministries was eating up revenue to no avail. Why open up new offices and pay employees if they can't cover their expenses?
The local churches are likened to deficient offices. WCG changed its sales strategy and marketing approach. Before, they used every controlling tactic to recruit and bleed the seeker until the well ran dry. Now the leaders have learned to work smarter and not harder. They are learning to derive their income from mass appeal rather then catering to costly exclusive customers. The brilliant play on psychology could prove to be very profitable in the long run, while the WCG leaders attempt to sweep the religious market with a product proven to work! Orthodox Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism, Evangelicalism is a proven product. WCG has modified its package by combining several belief paradigms. This package serves several purposes:
- Gains acceptance in the mainstream Christian Community.
- Appeals to the seeker and searcher and larger Christian audience.
- Puts the WCG in line with the "universal religion" now taking shape.
- Attempts to de-cult the look of the organization.
Those jumping from their inherited denominations and those new to WCG, should feel much more at home with the "New Covenant Church of Christ" (the future name which might replace the WCG name) than with the old and tired legalistic, totalitarian.... Worldwide Church of God. The unfolding of events seems to indicate that WCG will continue to down-size its local money eating churches, despite its "priority" to obey the instructions in Eph. 4:11-16. (Aug. `94 PG letter) They have been preparing the local areas to act independent of HQ for some time now.
[UPDATE: Worldwide Church of God changed their name to Grace Communion International in 2009.]
This reverse turn in Christian teachings has inspired many to flee already. Some have run to the highly WCG advertised, Global Church. Could that be part of the plan too? Now that the Tkach team has shifted gears and applied full throttle speed to their rocket approach marketing strategy, many of the diehards are starting to panic. No one knows what to think anymore, that is, for those who do think!
So where is the Tkach team going with all this?
If the local ministries are just money eaters, it would behoove the leaders to do away with all the ministries that are not income producing. Apparently, that is just what is happening. In the past two weeks HQ has started the money panic woes again. Listed here are a few of the current events pointing to abolishing the local ministries.
- The Jan. Pastor General Report indicated that the Pastors could not be guaranteed their jobs in the future and should now start evaluating their marketable skills.
- We are told that over 40 ministers were handed "last chance" retirement packages in the past month.
- 30 more ministers are scheduled for lay-off with a 150 additional lay-off by the end of 1995
- Contracts for the entire fleet of ministerial rental cars have canceled.
- Many local churches throughout the U.S. have merged for services.
- All subsidies to the International work have been discontinued.
Now on the surface, it looks as if the hero, Joseph Tkach has forsaken the church for the position of truth. But instead of taking such a superficial naïve glimpse at the picture, we should dissect the rest of the strategies being played out simultaneously to the axing of local churches.
One must wonder why the legal department continues to negotiate registrations in other countries such as Singapore and Uruguay. The WWN claims 117 thousand people attend services, with over 7000 new members signed in from successful Open Houses. This contradiction doesn't make sense!
Is The Cookie Crumbling????
Such diabolic contrasts of events permeate the Church correspondence and announcements. The WWN remains upbeat about the church's growth and Open House successes. Articles regarding Ambassador University's glowing triumphs seem to be appearing more often these past two months. The leaders even entertained King Hussein while cheering over basketball games at AU. Is all the hype real, or is it diversionary propaganda?
What is real, however, is that the 180° turn in doctrine and behavior is sweeping the membership off their feet and on to their... bottoms, while they claw at their heads with desperation. This strategic flip of marketing strategy has recently caused a few more dominos in the long line to fall. Here listed are some additional events that have been reported to us:
- The WCG airplane is up for sale, or may have been sold.
- Hundreds of regular employees have been laid off.
- Imperial School will close as of July 1st.
- 1/2 of the editorial staff has been dismissed.
- Major cuts abound at the Festival Office, and the Feast of Tabernacles `95 (now known as the celebration of Jesus Christ) looks questionable.
- Seven evangelists have been offered healthy severance packages [read: hush money] and are on their way to the next adventure. [Could it be Global?] Herman Hoeh, Debar Appertain, David Hulme, Dean Wilson, Leroy Neff and famous Gerald Waterhouse are among them.
- It is reported that ministers receive 60% of their salaries for life providing they honor the exiting contract by never preaching again.
[UPDATES: 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).]. Herman Hoeh died November 21, 2004 at age 75. Dean Wilson later became a UCG-AIA minister, and died with Parkinson's disease on January 11, 2005.]
Wait!!! There's more...
"Ambassador Auditorium--one of the Southland's most acclaimed concert halls and for more than 20 years a center for fine classical, jazz, and folk music--is canceling its 1995-1996 season because of financial woes and will shut its doors in May, owners of the Pasadena landmark said Friday." (January 27, 1995) [Owners???]
This quote was positioned in the middle of the LA Times front page. The extensive article continues to discuss the magnificent auditorium and its attributes to the service of the Pasadena society. Nowhere in the article does it discuss that the real reason the auditorium was built was to represent God's House here on planet earth. Nor does it attribute thanks to the thousands of men and women who were coerced out of their last dime and manipulated by guilt and shame into obtaining bank loans to contribute to the multi-millions of dollars it took to construct this awesome building, which brought such joy to the Pasadena community. This sudden closing startles many, especially the "worldly" entertainers who were paid the highest financial rewards issued from any cultural foundation in the country.
We have also learned that several "fund-matching" companies investigated the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF) and became aware of its church/cult attachments. If deception was used by the WCG in efforts to gain "free money," it is no wonder why many companies pulled out of the program. This too would mean a significant financial loss for its owners.
The following was stated by David Hulme in the LA Times Jan. 28, 1995:
"The hall will continue to be used for religious services, but its future as a concert hall is unclear. It would be wonderful if members of the community around us could come to our rescue in whatever way they feel they can."
The Feb. 7th WWN states that Mr. Hulme has received a flood of calls since the announcement was made on Jan. 27th.
"People want to know what they can do," Hulme said. "They want to see the performing arts continue here. Some of the patrons said they will pay double for the tickets if it helps us continue, and there has been an offer of outside funding, so there is reason for cautious optimism."
One can't help but wonder what the leaders have up their sleeves now. Rest assured it is part of the overall strategy. Sadly, the USA Today and Pasadena Star News reported to the public that they were told these cutbacks followed the command for tithing being lifted by leader Joseph Tkach.
"Me thinks thou dost protest too much." Shakespeare
There has been no word as to what Real Estate, if any, has been sold at this time, but we'll keep you posted.
All these financial woes come in the wake of Tkach "going public" with the New Covenant Freedom Act [if you will]. It is most ironic, that the Pasadena Star News and USA Today report that the Worldwide is exhibiting its worst financial disaster in history because the members have stopped tithing. Supposedly, the income is down 30 to 40 percent. This drastic drop is attributed to the fault of the membership withholding tithes since the leader, Joseph Tkach, withdrew the command from the people. Once again, the fault is placed on the members' shoulders. The long-abused membership struggles to build the structure and then they get blamed for dismantling it. It is very interesting how these radical cutbacks come immediately following Tkach's "Going Public" message.
Remember, Roosevelt said, "Nothing ever happens by chance in politics. If it happens, it is planned that way."
And as Art Mokarow clearly demonstrates, "The reason is the cause of the event. It's the WHY, that counts."
The thinkers have been working overtime observing these unfolding events. Although some differ in their conclusions, none feel that the Tkach regime is truly repented and turning this long held corrupt organization into an outright HONEST church, where people are free to come and go and rejoice in their Christian belief.
"For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away" (James 1:7-10)
The "new truth" change was cuddled by consoling Armstrong verbosity. Those who follow the strategy were educated on the keen application of propaganda and manipulation while the Tkach regime carefully constructed the new image of Herbert W. Armstrong. Tkach has gone so far as to indicate that HWA secretly told him to make these changes. We at the ESN especially enjoy the comment made on the current video that, "HWA was unaware of the wrong teachings being implemented by the upper-level ministries. " HWA's words are repeatedly twisted in efforts to make him look... righteous??? The Armstrong statements that have speckled the pages of the WWN these past few years have been outright false flattery and attempt to provide historical cleansing. There is plenty of documented material that proves this!
Among other double-minded tactics worth mentioning at this time are the repeated comments made by the leaders to the outside cult watchers placing blame on the Directors, ministers, and membership for fighting the supposed doctrinal statements. Words like: resistance, refusal to change, lacking God's Spirit, fighting and rebellious, are the descriptive adjectives used to clarify that the leader is the "good guy," and the rest of the church is the "bad guy."
This constant shift of blame onto the victims continues to cripple them spiritually and emotionally, as if the people haven't had enough already. They have been constantly reminded that their interpretation was wrong, or they carried things too far. As the leaders work diligently to gain acceptance from the outside Christians, they neglect to incorporate Christian love. These abusive guilt/blame tactics continue to foster an already psychologically distraught membership. In the psychiatric field this is termed, projection. Projecting is a defense technique used to shift the blame from the responsible party to the innocent bystander.
"No man and no force can abolish memory." (Franklin Roosevelt April 1942)
It is an atrocity when a Christian ministry makes an assessment of the WCG and has not researched all the elements of the organization. It is no accident that the WCG moves in several directions at the same time. Shame on those who consider themselves "Christian stock" and have bought into the propaganda at "face value."
The fact is the duplicity and confusion is not an accident. It's another strategic maneuver, which causes great distraction from the reason behind the event.
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.
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