Called to Be Free
(Is it Truth or Only More Worldwide Church of God Propaganda?)
Dubbed as a "miracle story," this film has the potential to reactivate any programming placed in members and child survivors of WCG. Even the word "called" in the title is a buzzword to members since they have always believed they were "called" by God into His one true church. Music is used throughout to create a desired emotional response and ranges from low, suspenseful and drumming, to mellow, light, or uplifting. Herbert W. Armstrong's voice, which is randomly heard throughout the video, is frequently loud and disturbing. Ministers interviewed use a subdued, slower tone of voice, rather than the energized, fast speech often used in sermons.
NOTICE: In April 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. This video/DVD was made when they still had their old name.
WCG (GCI) has stated that "Called to Be Free" will be viewed by its present members.
Following is our transcript of the film, along with our comments showing the outrageous myths and propaganda. Names of the speakers and their positions are listed at the end of this transcript.
In addition, be sure and read:
Final Letter and Reply to Cultivate Ministries (This goes over the "Called to Be Free" Video)
Video Sermon by Joseph W. Tkach to Worldwide Church of God Members, January 1995 (Transcript shows the manner in which the new changes were first delivered to the members: with confusion, double messages, shouting and blaming.)
Outsider's Inside Update Newsletters (Looks behind the scenes at the real activities and associations pertaining to the "transformation" of the WCG and their New Age agenda. Reveals how doctrine has been used as a massive propaganda tool.)
"Called to Be Free" Video / DVD, 2004, is a production of Living Hope Ministries (former Mormons). Read: Living Hope Ministries Still Practice and Hold on to Cult-like Ideas (2009 letter to ESN)
Suspenseful drumming music plays while we hear the following speakers say:
"How could we have been so theologically ignorant?" (Greg Albrecht)
[Note: Read Ron Kelly's words from his 1990 sermon "Fun With Prophecy" showing how he got members to think that somehow they were at fault for believing in the prophecies of Herbert Armstrong.]
"We did not understand grace." (Greg Albrecht)
"This was catastrophic..." (Barb Edwards)
"I don't know of anything like this that has ever happened. It was a showdown. It was a Dodge City at high noon." (Hank Hanegraaff)
It is nothing short of miraculous." (Dr. Kevin Mannoia)
"It's the whole belief system that's in error. It can't be fixed. It has to be demolished." (Dan Rogers)
Suddenly the dogmatic voice of Herbert W. Armstrong is heard booming out fearful and gloomy prophecies, while at the same time, black and white pictures are being shown of World War II--bombs dropping, fire burning and demolished buildings, Hitler, marching soldiers, tanks, the White House, Kennedy's assassination, Vietnam protesters beside a dead body, riots, the Atomic bomb being exploded, fights, Castro, etc. HWA's voice has been put together from different sermons or World Tomorrow radio broadcasts. For instance, we hear him talking about how it is "poppycock" to believe we are saved by grace, then his voice shouts out, "When will we wake up!" We hear him say we haven't heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather a false gospel. We also hear him say things about the Tribulation, war, Hitler, the world in trouble, United States in trouble, etc. The words and pictures are disturbing.
Ronald Stoddart starts speaking quietly about how HWA "grabbed people's attention, but it was based on fear." Guitar music is strumming lightly.
"He had us holding the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in another hand." (Tkach, Jr.) Guitar music is strumming lightly.
Then we hear HWA authoritatively saying, "Russia now has the H bomb!! They now have a new type explosive that will destroy a whole nation!!" This part could be very disturbing for those who held to HWA's teachings--not only the pictures, but the loud sound of his voice speaking of fearful things and the suspenseful music. It will undoubtedly be triggering for members and for those were made afraid by his teachings, especially child survivors who suffered from nightmares.
Tony Murphy and Monte Wolverton (son of Basil Wolverton) speak matter-of-factly about Herbert Armstrong (we still vaguely hear HWA preaching in the background).
Randall Dick then says,
"Who was the man behind this voice? The man was Herbert W. Armstrong."
Light guitar music begins to play.
Black and white pictures are shown of HWA and Loma, the library, maps, etc., as Mike Feazell quietly talks about HWA studying and coming to the conclusion that his wife was right about the Sabbath.
Several speakers go over British-Israelism that HWA taught and why he taught it. (In the background we hear HWA's preaching.)
Suspenseful, slow music starts.
Black and white pictures of poor or orphaned children in World War II receiving food move across the screen. More pictures are seen of World War II, destroyed buildings, etc. HWA says "a terrible famine is coming on the United States that is going to ruin us as a nation inside of less than twenty more years!!" ... "You just wait twenty years and see whether I told you the truth!!" The mild voices of different speakers are heard every so often. Then a picture of the four horseman of the apocalypse; bomb clouds and devastated cities is shown. The mellow voices of Stoddart, Tkach, Jr. and Feazell are alternated between the horrifying pictures and HWA's voice. We hear HWA talk about the necessity of keeping the Sabbath and then we hear him declare, "It is the time of the greatest national trouble on the United States of America that has ever happened! It is coming, very, very soon!" He shouts, "Wake up!! You've been deceived!! The true gospel is the gospel of obedience to God!!" This part could be very disturbing for those who listened to HWA.
Mike Feazell tells how members felt:
"Now there's somebody that speaks with authority; there's somebody that's calling us back to a faithfulness and an obedience to God. There's somebody that takes the Bible seriously."
Dan Rogers talks about how the work of Herbert Armstrong "grew and grew and grew." Quiet, but uplifting music now begins to play.
Herbert Armstrong termed a "religious broadcaster":
"You couldn't get away from Herbert Armstrong as a religious broadcaster. And so a church began to be born." (Ron Kelly)
Notice how Kelly refers to HWA as a "religious broadcaster" instead of a religious cult leader, a false prophet, and a deceptive teacher. He also is not being honest to refer to the WCG as a "church" when he knows it was an organization that deceived and swindled thousands of innocent people.
Dan Rogers says that HWA began to receive letters that said:
"I like what you're saying; I believe what you're saying. None of the churches around here teach this. Where can I go to church?"
He then says that HWA told them: "The radio is your church. Go to church every week by faithfully listening to this radio broadcast." This reply is not true. People did not come out and ask "Where can I go to church?" for the simple reason that a church was never mentioned on HWA's program. One didn't find out about there being a church until they got further along in the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course and then "representatives from Ambassador College" had to visit them first to see if they were ready to attend services. (Read: How Did Herbert W. Armstrong Recruit People?)
Pictures of HWA are shown (as they will be at various times throughout this video).
"That was okay for awhile [to listen to the radio]. But more and more people began writing in and there began to be groups from the major cities across the U.S. and people wanted to become a part of this new movement." (Dan Rogers)
It's almost amusing to hear Rogers call the beginning of the WCG a "new movement."
"So HWA saw that he was going to have to train people to go out and serve and minister to his radio audience." (Dan Rogers)
"So he moved down to California and found some property in Pasadena that looked like it would work." (Mike Feazell)
Nothing is said about how the Church of God (7th Day) in Eugene, Oregon refused to accept HWA's teaching on British-Israelism, nor how he was stealing from the church till.
"It was the teaching of our church that a tithe of our income is required of God." (Ron Kelly)
Uplifting music is playing.
Kelly doesn't tell how people didn't find out about the 2nd and 3rd tithe they were expected to pay until after they started attending services.
Randall Dick talks about how the message was blanketing the U.S. and spreading cross the rest of the world.
Then HWA's disturbing voice is heard shouting, "And this gospel is going to go around the world! And when it has circled this world and gone around the world, then--and not until then--nor after then, shall the end of this age come!!"
HWA mocks the Trinity:
HWA voice is heard mockingly saying "blessed Trinity," as he reads from the sacred hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy."
Slow, somewhat sad music is being played.
"Our identity as the one and only true church was intriguing. It was a real hook to get people." (Ronald Stoddart)
The "hook" was through studying HWA's literature, which was offered free, each one building on the other.
Music becomes louder and the WT radio announcer's voice is heard authoritatively proclaiming, "The World Tomorrow!" HWA's voice says, "Well, greetings, friends." (pictures are shown)
Slow, quiet music is heard as Greg Albrecht speaks about Garner Ted Armstrong and his "inappropriate behavior."
"It was a huge blow to the church to learn that GTA had some moral failings back in the early 70's." (Mike Feazell)
First of all, most of the "church" (the members) didn't know the extent of what GTA's "moral failings" were back in the 70's, along with all the corruption and immorality that was going on within the organization.
GTA voice is heard saying, "...bringing you the good news of the World Tomorrow!"
"So people learned 'don't challenge Herbert Armstrong.' " [after GTA was put out] (Dan Rogers)
He doesn't mention how WCG evangelists in the 70's "challenged" HWA.
"Although the membership of the church was just over 150,000..." (Mike Feazell)
This figure is highly unlikely. According to Mike Hollman, director of data processing in WCG from 1972 to 1973, WCG's highest number was about 53,000 in 1973. (See this part in OIU 2, Pt. 2, about "discrepancies with the growth picture starting around 1978.") 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. (This also shows the millions WCG was pulling in compared to other top evangelists of the time.)
"As Herbert Armstrong got older he used doctors a lot. Still he continued to teach that it was wrong." (Mike Feazell)
Deborah O'Bryan mentions how her mom died "because she refused to go to the doctor."
Nothing is said about the thousands of people that died due to this healing doctrine, and how they were taught that they would end up in the lake of fire if they went to doctors. Many have health problems to this day because of this teaching. HWA was using doctors and it wasn't just when he got "older." Other ministers also used doctors. There was much hypocrisy going on at the top levels that the members knew nothing about.
Black and white pictures are shown of HWA meeting with dignitaries in other countries. The covers of booklets by HWA and WCG are shown.
"[Tkach, Sr.] had shown very much a great deal of zeal and loyalty to Herbert Armstrong for no reason, for no power, so he could be trusted to have the power." (Dan Rogers)
Slow music is playing and pictures are shown of a smiling Joseph Tkach, Sr. at HQ.
What about Tkach, Sr.'s "zeal and loyalty" during 1979 when the Attorney General of California investigated the "church" for financial improprieties1 and how the entire situation was exposed by the media? Of course, this is not mentioned.
HWA is shown giving a sermon. His alarming voice is suddenly heard shouting "I am here to bring you the truth! Because you don't hear this from any other voice." ... His voice gets louder: "He's speaking through me!" He has sent me here to talk to you to give you his word!!"
This sermon sounds like it could be a video HWA had sent out to members, especially during the Feast of Tabernacles. Again, this is another part that would activate programming and be disturbing.
Roman Borek shows the empty room and exact spot where HWA died, pointing out the spot where the chair and the bed were. This would evoke sentimental feelings toward HWA again. Slow, quiet music is playing.
Greg Albrecht's glib apology:
"My mother...bless her heart...said, 'Greg, we've been in a cult.' And I apologize to you." (Greg Albrecht - talking slowly)
Why would Greg act in the dark about the destructive methods of mind control that many religious cults use in order to retain members? What is he apologizing about? Certainly not for the lives that were wrecked and destroyed as a result of being recruited into this cult? Or is he apologizing to the evangelical Christians on the outside? (Read this footnote on our site which covers headquarters' "apologies.")
"I was dean of students at Ambassador College when she told me this. At the time I dismissed a lot of what she said, but...after a year or two or three I began to think about it, particularly around about the time of Herbert Armstrong's death, which was in 1986. That was a serious time of re-evaluation." (Greg Albrecht - talks slowly and somewhat hesitantly)
Tells how he began to look into British-Israelism at this time and found it "bogus and bizarre" and "off the wall."
"I was mad, I was...uh...upset, I was...uh...disappointed in myself, I was...uh...disillusioned with people who had taught me this." (Greg Albrecht)
At this point the twisted "story" is told of how Joseph Tkach, Jr., Greg Albrecht and Mike Feazell discovered they had held some errors. The only thing is it doesn't match with what really happened. Read Worldwide Church of God History to see that these "new doctrines" that Jr., Feazell, and Albrecht say they were "studying into" had already been brought to the attention of the Armstrongs over and over again in the 1970's (a time when these present leaders were involved with the WCG and would know all about what happened). Also read Deception Surrounding WCG Changes (twisted Mystery of the Ages story given in the early 1990's).
Tkach, Jr. says when he first saw evidence that British-Israelism was false, he didn't accept it at first, but once he saw that it didn't hold up and that it was bogus, "everything fell in place" and his "world view changed." (slow, quiet music is playing)
"My dilemma was, what do I do now? I have discovered serious flaws in Armstrongism. ... Can I quietly leave and mind my own business? Now, how...how...does the son of the current denominational leader quietly leave? (Joe Tkach, Jr.)
Why does he call the WCG a "denomination"? Do the leaders want others to think that WCG was a Christian church all along? (Their booklet Transformed by Christ, 1998 also uses the word "denomination" to describe their organization.) [Read a critical review of this book by ESN.]
After telling how he found out that what HWA taught about the Trinity was completely bogus and that HWA "built this huge condemnation of traditional Christianity on something that was completely preposterous," Feazell says,
"I went through a period of...kind of depression and trying to think it through and pray for...you know...some kind of stability, what, how to, where to go next, what to do."
"It was clear to me then that this was not the one only true church. The question was did it have any validity as a church at all? And then what do you do? Is there an obligation I have to that? What am I supposed to do with that?" (Greg Albrecht - talks slowly)
Leaders feign surprise at new doctrines:
The leaders begin to act surprised at the things they were finding out.
"Joe Tkach, Jr.--his father was Sr.--and Mike Feazell and I eventually kind of found each other in the late 80's, early 90's and we determined through questions if the other person was safe or not, and we would test the other person to see if they would keep our confidence, if we could actually talk to them about what we were really thinking." (Greg Albrecht)
"They seemed to realized that, 'we [starts to laugh] share many of the same disagreement with the teachings of Herbert Armstrong. We all seem to be coming to similar conclusions. What's going to happen when we take these to Joe Tkach?'" (Dan Rogers)
Albrecht does not admit that he, Mike Feazell, Bernie Schnippert (and others in WCG's "inner circle" at HQ) were quietly attending classes at Azusa Pacific University years prior to this meeting. (Azusa is considered a theologically liberal institution and is Charismatic/Pentecostal. They are also a member of Willow Creek Association. Read: Willow Creek Hegelian Dialectic & the New World Order for more info on WCA.) Richard Foster (co-founder of Renovaré and whose books WCG has promoted) is Professor of spiritual formation at Azusa. (For more on Richard J. Foster, see the exposé article: Richard Foster - General Teachings and Activities) This meeting of these three was presumably after 1986 when they "discovered" they shared many of the same ideas.
But in the meantime, WCG hired a PR team to reach the apologetic ministries. Michael Snyder (one of those PR men) was interviewed on the radio with Ruth Tucker in December 1990 telling everyone that the WCG was now "Trinitarian." Michael Snyder later left the WCG, accusing it of being a "cult." (The Watchman Expositor, Vol. 10, No. 7, 1993, p. 3) Are we supposed to believe that those at WCG headquarters didn't know about all this?
Then in 1993 a "Paradigm" sermon was sent out to the members (to prepare them for changes coming). The video played was called "Discovering the Future." Notice what Joseph Chambers (1997) said about paradigm: "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."
To add to the confusion (i. e., mind control), Tkach, Jr. gave a sermon entitled "Rumors" the same year--April 3, 1993--where he denied the very changes that he says on this video that he was studying into. (Read excerpts from this sermon.)
"We got together with my dad and shared with him our research. I didn't know how he would react. I think if it was just me...I'd have been out of a job. If it was just Mike Feazell, he would have been out of a job. ... I was really gratified to see that my dad and my closest all friends said, Let's start teaching the truth and move out of the error. ... But it is significant that all...all of us together...were in agreement. (low, mellow music starts to play) I look back on that...and that's...part of the miracle." (Tkach, Jr. - talks somewhat slowly and carefully)
"When the leadership realized that there were serious doctrinal issues that had to be addressed, they formed a doctrinal team and they decided to just lay everything on the table and examine every single doctrine." (Ronald Stoddart)
Light piano music is playing.
It has already been mentioned above that many of these same doctrines were examined back in the 1970's by those who were labeled "liberals."
We are led to believe that it was Joe Tkach Jr, Mike Feazell and Greg Albrecht that understood these new doctrines first, then they approached Tkach, Sr. with their "research." Yet in an impromptu meeting in March 1995, Tkach, Jr. is recorded as saying that it was his Dad that "got this thing going." (OIU 3, Pt. 3)
Joseph Tkach, Sr. did begin changing doctrines slowly, in bite sized pieces, starting in 1986 after HWA died. These new doctrines began to be slipped into articles and not announced formally, some teachings just stopped being preached and were secretly modified. During the time he was doing this, he was denying any changes, while deceiving members into thinking he was "following in Herbert Armstrong's footsteps). What creates more disorientation is that on November 12, 1991 Tkach, Jr. wrote a disfellowshipped member saying that it was Mr. Armstrong who commissioned his father to look into the changes that they had made, so they were "following the wishes of Mr. Armstrong." Read: Deception Surrounding Worldwide Church of God Changes. (also covers how Tkach, Sr. told the WCG members in a video that Herbert W. Armstrong "changed his mind" before he died in regard to what he previously taught)
Before the 1990 radio interview mentioned above, Michael Snyder (one of WCG's PR men for the new changes at this time), stated:
"Three years ago  Joseph W. Tkach, the minister who succeeded Mr. Armstrong, instituted a wide-ranging review of all published literature, which is still underway (there are more than 100 published titles)." (Letter to Ruth Tucker by Snyder, February 1, 1989)
Also read The Earl Williams Factor to see the catalyst that propelled Tkach, Sr. to begin speeding up his new doctrinal changes and to come out with the New Covenant sermon in 1995. Before this sermon, Earl Williams' tapes were circling the country among a number of members and more and more were beginning to wake up and to exit the WCG.
After 1995 Joseph Tkach, Sr. continually engaged in double-talk after these "big changes" had taken place. For instance, telling members that they weren't under the Law anymore, but "they obey the Law because they have the Spirit." (For some incredible quotes concerning the words Sr. was telling the members at this time read Letter from ESN to Watchman Fellowship, February 16, 1995.)
"How could we have been so theologically ignorant? How could we have embraced error to the degree we embraced it? And I still don't have the answer to that. I puzzle over it regularly." (Ron Kelly)"
"It was hard to just take that, swallow, and say, I've...been...wrong. I have misunderstood." (Ron Kelly)
Kelly wants us to believe that he was totally surprised by these new changes. Where was he prior to September 1995? He was part and parcel of the layer of deceit in the WCG, which had been known since the 1960's. Read this part in OIU 4, Pt. 3 that talks about Ron Kelly, along with other top leaders in the WCG, who knew about the corruption in the WCG, and who knew that these doctrines were not anything new. Ron Kelly also met with James Dobson of Focus on the Family on the National Day of Prayer in 1997 and it was confirmed that H. B. London had known Ron Kelly for some time. Read our partial transcript of Ron Kelly's 1990 sermon, "Fun With Prophecy" which shows how Kelly used "humor" to disarm the members while making them believe that somehow they were at fault for believing HWA's prophecies. Also read a March 10, 2003 letter to ESN that tells of a later sermon Ron Kelly gave where he called the members "stupid" for believing in polytheism. These sermons of Kelly's served to "pave the way" for HQ to introduce the new changes.
"Jesus Christ is God." (Mike Feazell)
Can the leaders at HQ say the words, "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior?"
"When I saw that I'm under the New Covenant... I describe it as awakening out of a coma." (Joe Tkach, Jr.)
Was he in a coma when the ministers of the 70's brought these same issues before the Armstrong's and ended up being called "servants of the devil"?
"This whole pile of legalism... all of that collapsed in an instant." (Mike Feazell)
Members in WCG at the time of these "new changes" have testified that "legalism" didn't all collapse in an instant. Letters from our Research page and Worldwide News Quotes before September 1995 show that tithing, Sabbath keeping, festival observances, were still in effect and many contradictions were used.
"How were they going to get this same wonderful truth across to all the members of the church?" (Ronald Stoddart)
Stoddart called these changes the "truth" here. Members did think it was new truth. Joseph Tkach, Sr.'s 1995 video sermon showed how they got it across.
"All we know is this is what's true and this is what isn't, and we know what we have to do." (Joe Tkach, Jr.)
It's questionable whether the leaders knew "what's true," when it comes to speaking the truth, but they certainly knew what they had to do. What is very significant is that for a number of years many cults have been trying to mainstream. ("From Cult to Church: The Quest for Acceptance," audio by R. Enroth, 1994.) Many feel "church" is merely a front for what are actually highly funded organizations with millions of dollars in investments. Today they are shedding their distinctive features, blending their ideologies, and becoming united under the name of "God." Much of Christianity is being replaced with New Age philosophies today. Are we beginning to see the coming together of an ecumenical, one world religion?
"The leadership came to see it's the whole belief system that is in error. It can't be fixed. It has to be demolished." (Dan Rogers)
Then why wasn't it?
"You're either going to continue to be a cult, or you're going to be a Christian? Which was it?" (Greg Albrecht)
Members did not even understand the abusive, deceitful tactics that cults employ.
"So my dad worked long and hard to prepare a sermon to explain that." (Joe Tkach, Jr.)
Did Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. (or whoever was doing the writing for him) work long and hard to make sure the sermon was filled with blame, confusion, and spin control?
"In that sermon, Mr. Tkach acknowledged, as a result of all our studies, that the N.T. does invoke the N.C. ... And that N.C. does not carry with it the rules and regulations of the old. They are simply done away." (Ron Kelly) Light music is playing.
Part of the January 1995 sermon video is shown with Joseph Tkach, Sr. giving his sermon to the members, but we don't hear him shouting: "DO WE WANT TO HEALED OF THE STUPIDITY AND IGNORANCE THAT WE HAD?!"
Pt. 1 | Pt. 2