OIU Volume Two - Pt. 2 of 3
OUTSIDER'S INSIDE UPDATE™
Volume TWO. A newsletter of understanding ... Winter `95
Published by the Exit & Support Network™
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"Gone are the days when young cult members of many nationalities stood at street corners selling magazines to passersby and inviting them to their meetings.... On the whole the cults have changed to much more subtle methods in order to achieve a better press. Many have "dialogue" with churches, address schools and play the role of persecuted minorities. Some of the official presentation of aims (manifesto style) is formulated in such a way that they contain little that could not be readily endorsed. Points of real importance, however, are likely to be left out or to be cleverly concealed. To anybody who gets the chance to study internal cult documents (writings for members only) it will become apparent that despite changes in policy, the main aims are still pretty much the same, and in many cases they are still connected with striving for power and wealth." (The Cult Observer, Vol. 11 Nos. 9&10 1994, AFF, P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, FL 33959)
[NOTE: In 2004 AFF changed their name to International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)]
Growth, Growth, Growth, you've heard the words for years. HWA's favorite remark was that the church was growing 30% per year. But was that a true statement? Big growth did occur in the 1960's and some did occur throughout the 1970's, although we're unsure how with all the negative media exposure that existed in that era.
We find some discrepancies with the growth picture starting around 1978. As we mentioned previously, Mike Hollman, Head of Data Processing, indicated in his testimony ["Armstrongism: An Insider's View" available from Watchman Fellowship] that there were only about 45,000 baptized members listed on the computer. Mr. Hollman offers a reputable comment because he was the Dept. head who set up the computer program for the Worldwide Church of God. The new member recruiting was significantly low from 1986 to 1994 (lean years for the Great Tribulation message). Somehow, the WCG leaders feel that the church expanded from 40,000 to 100,000 between 1978 and 1988. Given the high rate of attrition during these same years, that inflated sum is highly unlikely.
Another disturbing observation is in the Financial Statement of that same era. It was widely reported that the Church's income in 1978 was about 70 million dollars, by 1988 that figure grew to 201 million dollars, to 214 million by 1989 and then increased to 222 million dollars by 1990. How could that have happened? It has been established that recruiting remained low for over a decade and certainly didn't pass the church attrition rate, but somehow the income increased by 152 million dollars in twelve short years. Also, we must consider the fact that the years 1979-82 were recession years--only to be followed by more difficult financial times starting in late 1986 and continuing to this day. These difficult economic times affected the WCG brethren greatly--not only due to the economic pinch, but because the household salaries were on the low end of average income. Today, the average American income is approximately $25,000 per year; in the late 1970's and early `80's, the average salary was far less than that. This point is crucial to bear in mind while we scrutinize the current WCG agenda. Simple math will indicate there are grave questions regarding the multi-million dollar increase in income of the Worldwide Church of God. Where did all the money come from during that ten-year period? It is so uncanny how the "till" could grow so significantly while recruiting did not. Interestingly, prior to the multi-million dollar increase in income, Herbert W. Armstrong and Stan Rader were traveling up to 300 days a year on their highly publicized dignitary visits supposedly orchestrated by the mysterious Japanese, Osamo Gotah, throughout Japan, Middle East, Israel, Philippines, Egypt and many other highly controversial areas. (We've recently heard Osamo Gotah is in jail in Japan, but have no further details at this time.)
With a careful study of historical facts, combined with analytical scrupulous observations of the last 10 years, it is easily concluded that the WCG had no foundation to support organizational growth. It was built on money and ruled by power. It now becomes obvious to many that the WCG's agenda had much to do with deceptive dealings and little to do with true undefiled religion. Religion is abused as the drug to divert attention. Theology was not the mainstay of the WCG; control, under an abusive totalitarian government is what held it together until the public grew smarter. There will always be successful spin-off groups, but they will not grow into empires like the WCG. If the WCG money/power base is to continue in this "new age," it has no choice but to align with Protestantism and Catholicism. The WCG would have folded without a product switch. The organization hid under the wide umbrella of religion for the past 60 years. It incorporated under the seal of religion as a guise for its strategic business operation.
[NOTE: Read Myth 1 and 2 - the greatest of them all in OIU# 6, about how Joe Tkach, Jr. and Greg Albrecht found it necessary to enhance the exaggeration of inflated church membership numbers making the latest account higher than all other false statistical statements.]
The inner workings have been well plotted and time-released. Many probably forget how:
- The Plain Truth was being canceled in many countries starting several years ago. Distribution decreased from over 10 million to 1 million. [PGR, Feb. 1995 states that the PT was cut by 50%]
- The satellite in Europe for The World Tomorrow was canceled around 1990.
- The Bible correspondence course was pulled along with the many publications way before the membership became alerted to doctrinal changes.
- The OUTREACH [read: propaganda campaign] to Protestant/Evangelical Christian Ministries began around 1988.
- The subtle, but contradicting messages about "new truth," trickled towards the ministry, oh so slightly at first, as the leaders' said one thing, and did just the opposite.
- Ordinations to Pastor position became a rare occurrence.
As growth hype prevailed, the membership was sheltered and uninformed about the inner agenda. Meanwhile, the college extracted financial energy and priority manpower, while it turned its objective from being an educational institution to train ministers and to further the gospel into a college business capable of earning great sums of money. Accreditation means much more than a new facade for the past graduates, it means it can now squeeze more money out of the government through many types of grants and loans. The WWN, Nov. 29th issue listed approximately 1000 companies participating in gift matching to universities. It asks the membership to contact the personnel or human resources department at WCG. There is more than one way to skin a cat and many feel here goes another tool to use toward the game plan of power and money. Although the tithe paying membership paid millions of dollars into the WCG college business over the years, they were kept secluded from the plans and direction of the leadership. As ministers were sent to study Protestant Theology and secular professors were hired to teach new curriculums, the WWN barely mentioned any college news with the exception of eliciting money to build new buildings. Recently the WWN reports upbeat trivial news about the University's successes.
In summary, the modus operandi under Armstrongism fell apart, causing a rapid state of decline in finances and membership. It left the leaders with no choice but to radically switch operations. After careful research of the religion polls and surveys, embracing the Protestant/Evangelical Christian paradigm became the new religious product to merchandise. It is this religious system that offers mass appeal.
[UPDATE: "The word paradigm describes the New Age idea of transition between two world views. ... Do not ask questions, for questions and Biblical reasoning is a solid block against this change." ~Joseph Chambers, 1997]
The first priority for the leaders was to establish a rapport with the Christian Media and cult watching organizations. The WCG employed Public Relation companies and pursued keen marketing psychology in an effort to gain respect from a Christian public who detested the WCG's teachings. The writers and cult watchers, who did not fall in line with WCG's new truth propaganda, were contacted by the Tkach team and on occasion legal threats were applied.
Secondly, the membership was slowly stroked with a slight lifting of intense authoritarianism while it was being prepped for the "new truth" manipulation, known better as re-duping the duped. The newly instituted mind-direction intensified following the WACO disaster. Increased membership fall-out started escalating with the exit of Gerald Flurry and William Dankenbring. Soon following, Rod Meredith was noted as disfellowshipped from the WCG and the Global Church of God was born, almost the same day.
The Rod Meredith organization must not escape close scrutiny in the scheme of things. Although onlookers are divided with opinions, many feel strongly that the Global Church of God was purposely set-up by the "inner-workings" of the Worldwide Church of God. As one North Carolina minister stated to a member, "the church would not attempt any change without a contingency plan."
When one carefully examines the stacks of documented history and analyzes the maneuvers and diversionary tactics employed by the WCG over the past 60 years, this type of scheme comes to be expected. The panic from those dependent on and hooked into Armstrongism and its government would cause them to be the likely candidates to jump from the "Laodicean church" into the "Philadelphia branch" of the Church of God conglomerate. It is unlikely that these true diehards would miss a day of tithing.
This concept might seem quite far-fetched and conspiratorial to many, especially the ones who jumped from WCG into Global before their Armstrongism awakening. On the other hand, not considering the strong possibility would be naïve and play right in the WCG's leaders' hands! For those who are sparked to investigate this possibility before making the conclusion that "it could never happen," we suggest you:
- Study the in-depth background of Rod Meredith and his involvement in the WCG over the past four decades.
- Count all the times Joseph Tkach verbalized a Global commercial to the WCG membership. His most recent invite to join Global was in the video sermon. "Holding up a magazine of Global's called, The World Ahead, JWT told the membership, "If you want legalism, go join Global!"
- Many exiters told the ESN that they knew nothing about Rod Meredith and Global until they heard so much about it from Mr. Tkach.
- Do a careful study on the literature and correspondence written by Evangelist Rod Meredith. One gets the impression, that he is quite complimentary about the Papa church. While Rod Meredith states clearly that he doesn't want to ridicule the WCG, he successfully convinces his readers that the WCG has changed and has embraced mainline Christianity. Isn't that the same message the WCG has been selling to its cult watchers?
- You may also wish to request a copy of "Most Asked Questions, An interview with Mr. Meredith," from the Global Church. We find his answers do not correspond with the other documented material from the past.
- Think about the countless times Armstrong, his aids, and the present day leaders (students of Armstrong), deceptively and successfully maneuvered plans and strategies behind the backs of the tithe payers. Cult leaders easily predict the behavior of their slaves--they spend their lives perfecting skills to control others.
[UPDATE: Larry Salyer later joined United Church of God-AIA.]
The Global News (Jan. Feb. issue) states it has grown to over 62 churches and is served by 64 ministers, including four evangelists. Of the 62 churches, 43 are served by pastors, while 19 churches are served by "Hosts." The 62 churches also include nearly 100 deacons and over 30 deaconesses. In addition to the 62 churches, nearly 100 Video groups regularly hear sermons from Headquarters, while 1300 households receive the sermons by audiotapes. All told, about 7000 brethren now hear the sermons being preached by ministers of the Global Church of God.
This very revealing issue seems to coincide with the WCG's full throttle thrust toward change. Rod Meredith writes in the January 25th letter to the Brethren:
"My wife, Sheryl, and I recently returned form a most encouraging and inspiring visit to the Pacific Northwest. We had been repeatedly urged by many of our brethren and supporters to pay a visit up there--as many of God's "sheep" were in a state of confusion after all the recent upheavals in our former association. So we flew up there last Friday. We were able to have dinner with our dedicated elder and his wife in the immediate area, Mr. and Mrs. Terry Graves. He had told us earlier in the week that they were expecting about 60-80 brethren there for the Sabbath. That evening, at dinner, he said a lot of people had been calling and that the attendance might even get up to 100."
"Sabbath afternoon, as more and more "new" people kept coming into the hall, the final attendance came up to 134! And what a group it was! As dozens of out former brethren came in they would be joyously greeted by close friends among our people--and there was so much smiling, hugging and laughing that I almost thought I was back at the Feast of Tabernacles."
So, while Rod Meredith grins from ear to ear and poses with open arms to catch the "lost sheep," the Tkach regime seems to be subtly directing his sheep that are unable to accept change and longing for the "good old days," into the open arms of Global. Before one hastily dismisses the possibility that Global was strategically set up for the purpose of catching the Armstrong junkies (while WCG incorporated its new mainstream religion sales package) the entire Worldwide picture must be considered!
As Rod Meredith grows comfortable in his new mansion in San Diego, he gives this message to those who find comfort in following him:
"As we work and pray together to do the real Work of God, He will use us NOT to attack our former association as some do, but to preach and publish POWERFULLY the dynamic Message of the Kingdom of God and all that this entails. And we will preach the true "name" of Jesus Christ--the WAY of life which He and His original apostles imparted to the world of their day."
"Also, we must preach the end-time prophecies and the Ezekiel Warning Message to our slumbering Israelitish nations! (Ezek. 33) We must do as God tells us in Isaiah 58:1, "Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell my people their transgression. And the house of Jacob their sins." (Dear Brethren and Co-workers letter Jan. 25, 1995)
One final note on this topic; the reruns of The World Tomorrow telecast are terminating just as Rod Meredith steps into the blinding lights of television to launch a Global telecast. Is it just coincidental that the Global Gospel will pick up where the Worldwide left off? You decide!
[UPDATE: Rod Meredith was later fired from Global and founded Living Church of God in 1998. Read: What Happens if I Join Roderick Meredith's Living Church of God?]
"The difference between the Lord and me is that I am finishing the job." ~Hitler
"Nazi propaganda was simplistic, emotional, repetitive and uncompromising with total obedience. Nazi propaganda drew its power from absolute control over information."
~Holocaust Museum film, Washington DC"
"One people, One nation, One leader." ~Hitler
A streamlined outline of the WCG conversion strategy might look something like this:
Bury Herbert W. Armstrong.
Stop promoting ranks to Pastor position.
Gain acceptance from members by acting like HWA, start with hard-line approach.
Spend two years traveling to local ministries shaking every member's hand.
We Are Family!
Gain support and trust by:
a) Releasing the killer doctrine on Healing. Let members get medical treatment.
b) Allow women to wear make-up.
Hold secret meetings with Protestant/Catholic Evangelical ministries. Make a doctrine package; call it new truth to the members. Tell cult-watchers you're making changes, fill membership with confusion and contradictions.
Get the Christian cult ministries to rally around WCG and support the leaders at face value. Use all "brainwashing" techniques on the theologians of the world.
Launch de-culting campaign. Disfellowship any insightful members who question the change.
Mend relationship with Church of God Seventh Day. Use them to help the de-culting campaign.
Quietly pull booklets from publications.
Shelve the British-Israelism.
Pretend we never believed in it. Propagandize against it.
Hire Marketing firms and Public Relation firms to help WCG change image and implement new strategy.
Make policy changes while membership is being told there are no changes. Start Outreach and Evangelism programs as diversionary agenda.
Start liquidating church-owned Feast site locations. Absorb the profits... quietly.
Cut TV broadcasting stations.
Cut Plain Truth circulation, use threats on the membership that it is their fault recruiting is low.
Combine local churches in efforts to save money. Prepare membership for new sales product. Instill confusion about Trinity, Nature of God, the Gospel and other new doctrines. Call them "enhancements".
Change Gospel from the Gospel of the soon coming kingdom with His called out ones, to The Gospel of Salvation and Grace. Don't tell the membership you've changed it.
Push hard that it's now Jesus' church.
History Cleanse HWA. Start recreating his entire identity.
Position all blame on membership. Shake them up for big change by squeezing last ounce of self-worth from their bodies. Shoot them with "stun gun effect" verbalization. Get them to shoulder all the guilt and blame for the past. Program members to think that they were the ones who had the wild ideas and misinterpretations of beliefs.
Go Public with No Sabbath command--but we are to honor the Sabbath, Tithing voluntary--but we should want to tithe more then 10 % if we have God's Spirit, No Old Testament Law--it's now New Testament Law etched in the heart.
Follow up with another sermon by Tkach. Be harsh and abusive. Give it all you've got with guilt and manipulation.
Steer Armstrongites over to the new income producer...Global Church.
Go full speed ahead with corporate downsizing program:
a) Lay-off ministers. Cut all perks.
b) Close church locations with exception of money producers.
c) Shut down financial drain operations like Ambassador International Cultural Foundation (AICF).
d) Liquidate luxury items like the airplane.
e) Shut down International markets.
f) Get rid of all old time Evangelists. Give "exit contracts" to shut them up.
Denounce Armstrong as a false Prophet (this hasn't been done yet, but it will probably happen). [UPDATE: In a January 2005 video, "Called To Be Free" (produced with Living Hope Ministries) Greg Albrecht stated that Herbert Armstrong "was a false prophet." The video has been used as another propaganda tool. Read our critique of the video/DVD.]
Go Chapter 11 or equivalent for church organization.
Make the outside world think the church is folding as you heavily divert funds.
Shut down the whole church, if necessary, to make it look like the members were at fault. Get rid of the groupies who don't pay enough money.
Set up Tkach to look like the hero for Christ.
Re-surface as a new Church. Maybe call it the New Covenant Church of Christ.
Now set up like the International (Boston) Church of Christ (the fastest growing cult in the nation).
Throw out as much disinformation and propaganda as possible. Lie from every direction. Keep the observers off balance and confused. Keep doctrine junkies focused on doctrinal issues. Create confusion on all levels to maintain the power and control.
As Operation WAT unfolds as planned, the non-tithe payers and WCG fence sitters get pushed again, this time it's... out.
The members are left with little choice but to buy into the whole Tkach package, hook, line and sinker again, or to join the Global Church and pray, pay and decay. The only other alternative left is to exit quietly and blend into society like the 1,000's of other distraught victims before them--the ones that survived, that is. Any thinkers in the crowd have already exited. Armstrongites are running to Meredith. What are left (and that is the majority of the members of the past) are the followers of Tkach and the government he represents. Most will parrot whatever they hear from their master.
During the past three months, the plot has thickened. Disinformation is released daily by Headquarters. Several reputable sources tell us that disinformation in disseminated on purpose from the Pasadena fourth floor.
The PGR, WWN and Tkach sermons are all contradicting.
Here are a few of the conflicting events that have been reported to the ESN:
- Pastors will receive a one time offered severance package.
- Ambassador University will merge with another college.
- The entire church will close its doors, perhaps as early as summer 1995.
- Half of the Pasadena grounds have been sold.
- The airplane is for sale and perhaps sold.
As the leaders attempt to portray two different scenarios, the reality is that there are many smoke screens set up to divert everyone's attention to what is truly happening with the leaders of the WCG, as they continue to pursue their hidden agenda. Yes, "The true hand is unseen."
Cults are about power and money. They survive by control and enslaving a people. Religion serves as the perfect vehicle to entrapment. Armstrongism is dead, but the leaders of the past are still alive. They have tasted power! They have abused power! Thousands have suffered greatly under the strong-arm of the Armstrong regime that continues to rule.
Power corrupts--Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Embracing a hodgepodge of mainstream beliefs serves many purposes for this once dying cult. Each passing day magnifies the inner workings of the WCG. By pushing out the old membership and claiming financial disasters, the leaders apply damage control tactics, which in turn prevents the WCG's rightful owners to lay claim on the goods. Just meditate on the thought of 1,000's of scorned members rebelling against the WCG with massive lawsuits, or publicity, in effort to claim their financial losses. That's the last thing the leaders want. The leaders have never been financially accountable to anyone. They have manipulated every loophole available by hiding under the Constitution in the name of religion. The Tkach regime needed only to convince the followers through all their handy "brainwashing," manipulative, deceptive and coercive techniques, that Jesus was leading His church. If you didn't buy into the mind-control, you were shunned, ostracized, ousted and character assassinated --unless, of course, you had a top ranking position and could walk away with an extended contract filled with hush money, providing you kept your mouth shut!
"Bad men cannot make good citizens." ~Patrick Henry
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." ~Matthew 7:18
The future of the WCG remains to be seen at this time. However, it is doubtful that the leaders are making a primary move to shut down the whole church (permanently). That theory is held by many observers and it may be just what they'll do if their current business strategy doesn't pan out. By the time the leaders successfully rid the roster of most of the members and local church areas that do not generate income, their plans for gobbling up the floating mainstream spiritual seekers of America should be tightly in place. Whatever is left of the 52 acres of land in Pasadena (after any Real Estate deals are completed) may be used to warehouse the mass mail-order appeal. We might actually see the WCG doors close within the next six months--but for those who are eager to see corruption and evil end, don't get your hopes up. The beast power may be getting a facelift. It could rise up glistening and wrinkle free. The plan was to kill the past, restructure the cult and shed its previous image--very few remnants will remain. Whatever occurs, you can be guaranteed the select few leaders and handlers will be filthy rich.
At this time it looks as if the New Age WCG plans the following:
If you can't beat them, join them.
Shut down operations, Internationally and in non-profit local areas.
File Chapter 11 or Bankruptcy.
Close church doors if necessary for thorough restructure.
Resume operations, possibly under a new church name and new facade.
Target mass appeal with mainline non-threatening Christianity.
Use new Plain Truth (under a new name) to appeal to all Christian Public. Increase mailing list to millions. Collect all the benefits of selling religion like tax-free exemptions. Pocket millions of dollars in offerings from the mass appeal approach.
Build a mail-order church on the same wave of Billy Graham. Instead of squeezing blood out of a stone with a hard-core tithing command, subtly seduce a mass population that will offer random donations. In other words, go for quantity not quality.
Continue to open registrations in various countries, which will allow banking privileges and investment deals.
Continue with selected local ministries, which prove to be income producing and good advertisements.
Watch Global grow.
Laugh all the way to the bank!?
This would serve as a no lose situation for the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God. Even if in the long run their new strategy fails, the leaders will benefit as they walk off with multi-millions of dollars (as if they don't have enough stashed away already). Most all the past membership will be history except for the truly committed members of the abusive dysfunctional group.
How ingenious of the leaders to have figured out a plan that would allow the evil, corrupt thieves to walk away with all the money and all the support from the cult watching Christians. Joseph Tkach and son have been quoted several times saying comments such as these:
"I don't care if there are only 10,000 members left in the church, at least it will be a good church."
"If I'm the only member left, than that's the way it will be."
"We plan on losing up to half of the members with these changes."
The reality is it appears they have implemented a plan to rid the non-income producing members so they can carry on with their "hidden agenda."
It certainly appears that the Tkach regime has purposely implemented the opposite action that Tkach points out in the Aug. `94 PG Letter (pg. 5):
"The first priority is to provide our congregations around the world with pastors so the Body of Christ has the local spiritual leadership vital for spiritual health and growth in Christ?" Is that why all the International work has been cut off financially? Is that why the paid ministry is being let go? Is that why the non-profitable church areas are closing down? Is that why the ministry is getting pushed out before the billion-dollar Real Estate is sold?
"Our second priority is The Plain Truth magazine, which is our fundamental evangelistic tool. The Plain Truth is our primary media vehicle for Christian instruction, encouragement, admonition and proclamation of the gospel." Is that why the PT has been canceled from all International countries? Is that why the PT distribution has been slowly decreased from 10,000,000 to 2,000,000 circulation over the past five years with some areas receiving black and white issues? Is that why the PT circulation has been cut again by 50%, now down to 1,000,000? Is that why 1/2 of editorial staff is being laid off? Is that why all advertising has been discontinued?
"After these, several aspects of the Church's work are vital: Ambassador University and our Christian booklets, brochures and study aids." Is that why most of the booklets were pulled from distribution? Is that why the new Bible Study was never written or published to replace the "outdated" one? Is that why the church hasn't released any learning tools carefully explaining their newly incorporated traditions? Is that why there is rumbling that the University will shut down in July or merge with another college?
There are many more questions on peoples' minds! Such as, where have all the millions of dollars gone? Whose name is sitting on the Corporation papers as sole owner of the empire? Where have all the evangelists gone? Have they joined Dr. Stavrinides in Greece? (We understand he is quite wealthy these days as a recipient of a very fat bonus.) As the "leader regime" diabolically preaches a new direction to its congregations, it moves with thrusting power with its own secret agenda. There is a destiny--they will ride on the image of Jesus Christ to get there.
Over the decades the WAT leaders have fooled many, but those who have dared to peer through the propaganda, distortions, distractions, diversions, and manipulations, clearly see that the great change of the New Covenant Church of Christ (read: WCG) is another preposterous deception and exploitation under the name of religion and for the purpose of....……………
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