A Cult in Transition
The greater Christian community has observed much publicity regarding the Worldwide Church of God's attempt to mainstream into Evangelical Protestantism these past several years. [UPDATE: Worldwide Church of God changed their name in April 2009 in the United States to Grace Communion International.] Many dedicated Christian ministries have followed unfolding events through the writings of Ruth Tucker, Hank Hanegraaff and a select few who have been approached by the current administrators of the multi-million dollar WCG empire. As many would agree, the publicity regarding the WCG change has been most positive and effective, leaving few to question what is actually occurring within the tightly controlled organization. Few have the connections or ability to deeply research or investigate the validity of changes occurring within this sixty year old organization. While many Christians see this "historic" change (as Hank Hanegraaff often describes it) as real, it is a fact that the critical information regarding the entire story behind Worldwide Church of God has not been disseminated or considered.
The face value acceptance of the WCG into the greater community is of major concern to thousands victimized by such a destructive force. That concern extends to honest Evangelical ministries and those yet to be approached by the WCG's sophisticated system of deception. During these past few years many have been dazzled by the well orchestrated propaganda. Sincere Christians have been captivated by the doctrinal changes they read or hear about. Throughout this past decade major cults have maneuvered their way into the mainstream Christian arena and society in general. Their successes have increased their power while achieving significant inroads with their political agendas and financial pursuits. It is true that most cult educated Christians feel they would never succumb to manipulations generated by Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons. We must ask why then have some accepted and endorsed the relentless manipulations put forth by one of this century's most destructive cults. Is the power of Jesus really behind this "historic event"?
What makes you say, "YES"?
When it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as Christians, it is our responsibility to make decisions based on critical information--not hearsay, propaganda, one way dialog, vanity or monetary rewards to prove all things. We are empowered to test the spirits as our actions can and will effect countless Christian lives throughout the years ahead. Discernment in any issue must be supported by His word along with every effort to gather all the facts essential for critical decisions. In the case of the Worldwide Church of God, some, well known publishers in the Christian community, have failed to fulfill this serious responsibility.
THE REASONS BEHIND THE EVENTS!
On the surface it appears that the WCG is breaking down. Leaders are announcing great loss of income and member attrition due to the change in their doctrines. The surface reports lead one to think the courageous, faithful leaders have risked all in pursuit of doctrinal truth. What is not known, is that there are significant reasons behind the events. Many have become easily distracted by clouded and sketchy "doctrinal" issues and progress reports written by well paid WCG consultants, i. e., Hank Hanegraaff, and Ruth Tucker.
The study of propaganda teaches us that repetition is the greatest form of learning and truth mixed with lies is its format. The WCG publicity generated throughout these past few years has caused some to accept the propaganda without challenge.
THE CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
The story of today started decades ago. Those currently observing the WCG events are missing the total picture. It is analogous to reading the last chapter of a book and drawing the author's final conclusion. They do not have the true history of events which have led the WCG to implement its current strategy. How dangerous to assume full knowledge of the plot without having witnessed, investigated, or intensely researched each chapter. Even more detrimental is to assume that a cult has turned to Christ, because the cult leaders said so, or to accept the cult's paid consultants' words--at face value. The Chronology of Events is near completion. This detailed document will offer the interested Christian researcher a magnification of what has been going on behind the WCG scenes for the past decades and will clearly explain the current events and maneuvers that have won the WCG attention throughout the Christian community. The WCG successfully operated as a non-profit church organization, but its documented behavior spells severe corruption with spiritual, financial, emotional and sexual abuses continuing to be reported at this time. A team of dedicated individuals doing intense research have compiled the documented lies, distortions, manipulations and deceptions put forth by the WCG leadership as they deceitfully sell their way into the Evangelical arena. Costs incurred by the WCG for doing business with hired consultants like Hank are insignificant when one realizes how important the purchase of "respectfully and credibility" is to the leaders' goals.
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS
Herbert W. Armstrong unsuccessfully dabbled in sales before weaving his way into "the religion business." He was ousted from the Seventh Day Church of God due to financial improprieties, his adamant preaching of British-Israelism, and the Holy Days Plan of Salvation. He capitalized on radio during its start up phase with his main message of racist British-Israelism. His message gathered a strong following during a time when the country was non-accepting of immigrants, and especially Jews and blacks. HWA's racial message was enhanced with his message of Romanism. During the 1930s the country was coming out of the complex era of the 1920s grotesque Ku Klux Klan activities and depression. Many individuals were attracted to the anti-Catholic; anti-Black; anti-Jew message. HWA successfully molded his message around twisted Scriptures and packaged a product that brought him funding and adherents as his Radio Church of God1 expanded. HWA's financial contacts and large listening audience in the California area led him to the posh neighborhood of Pasadena's millionaire row. In 1947 he started Ambassador College as an institution to train his own field ministers.
The post war years of the 1950s and 1960s were growth years. The massive propaganda "free booklet" program was organized in 1952. This was the beginning of millions of free literature pieces being distributed throughout the country. As J. Gordon Melton states: "HWA was the most successful proponent of the racist doctrine of British-Israelism." HWA/WCG's religious system consisted of doctrines extracted from Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Pentecostals, Adventists and ancient teachings relating to the Druids. He did not originate any teachings, but skillfully twisted Scripture to validate his rendition of "God's way" of life.
The message started to wane by 1969 as did recruiting new members. The publication, The Plain Truth, marketed a secular message for the first time that year. By 1974, massive turbulence occurred within the organization surrounding sexual misconduct of its leaders, financial improprieties and doctrinal disputes. Many ministers started rebelling against the fear tactics used to control the membership. It became increasingly apparent that HWA's failed prophecies were nothing more then apocalyptic attempts to deceive the submissive members.
The turbulence continued throughout the 1970s resulting in a receivership by the state of California and a lawsuit regarding the wide scale corruption and alleged crime in many forms. Rebellion escalated over HWA's chief assistant Mr. Stanley Rader, a 33º Mason.2 Rader, who worked for a Hollywood accounting firm, became involved with HWA [Herbert Armstrong] in 1957. After receiving his (church funded) law degree from the University of California, Rader grew steadily closer to the top leadership position and became the spokesperson for the eighty year old "apostle," as HWA and current leaders referred to him.
HWA's son, Garner Ted Armstrong [died 9-15-03] was ousted in 1978 through the manipulation of Stanley Rader. The entire 1970s decade destroyed whatever reputation the organization held and, while recruiting slowed dramatically, attrition increased. The WCG never had over about 54,000 members at one time. When figures are stated as 80,000; 100,000; or 200,000, these figures are deceptively inflated to make the church look as if it were healthy and growing.3 The Plain Truth mailings exaggerated the look of true church's success. It was shipped free of charge throughout the 1970 and `80's, but generated little in donations and less in recruiting tithe paying members
Much of the multi-million dollar empire was built from private donators, often called, "co-workers who God is calling to fund His work." Other income was generated through many corporate shells and business endeavors hiding under the umbrella of a non-profit church.
By 1980, Stanley Rader left the public eye and functioned behind the scenes as a highly paid consultant. Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. was Stanley Rader's assistant throughout the 1970 era. While the vast history of facts concerning this situation is spelled out in the forthcoming document, it is important to note that Stanley Rader continued to work behind the scenes, to this very day, under the Tkach administrations. [Update: Stanley Rader died of acute pancreatic cancer on July 2, 2002.]
The WCG political agenda usually receives little attention. The WCG has been highly involved in significant political pursuits with international leaders. The Arab nations, Israel, Thailand, Belgium, Philippine, China, and Japan, are just a few countries that have had questionable relationships with WCG leaders over the years. While Henry Kissinger was banned from traveling to foreign countries during that same period, the WCG cult was able to travel freely throughout communist countries and hold many meetings with leaders such as President Marcos, Leopold 3rd; Nagendra Singh, and Manfred Lachs of the World Court; Prime Minister Golda Meir; Indira Gandhi; President Suharto of Indonesia; Former Presidents Thieu of South Vietnam and Suleiman Franjieh of Lebanon; Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia; the Emperor of Japan; Jemo Kenyatta and President Moi of Kenya; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the late Anwar Sadat; Prime Minister Begin; King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand; King Hussein of Jordan and King Juan Carlos of Spain. Massive documentation spotlights others whom have been doing business with the WCG over the decades. All the visits were under the auspices of bringing together one peaceful world order under a one world government.
Following the 1970s decline, the WCG became highly noted as a destructive cult. The extensive bad PR served as fuel for the rapid decline. The 1980 era ushered in the strongest WCG authoritarian rule resulting in the tightest control toward the membership throughout its cult history. The remaining members were exploited by psychological techniques involving severe manipulation of theologies and behavior. Those who have researched Scientology, or Jehovah's Witnesses, would fully relate to the methodology of manipulation used during most of the 1980s decade.
Within two years following HWA's death, the Tkach administration proceeded to restructure their business plan. The WCG was failing with recruiting measures. Their highly rated (apocalyptic-news) television show was not pulling in recruits or money. The waning local churches were a financial burden. As the continued abuses on every level prevailed, the Tkach administration started proselytizing "certain" members in the Evangelical area. Ruth Tucker was among the first to be consulted. Unbeknownst to the church members the special PR team headed by the Chairman of the Public Relations, David Hulme, currently president of the United Church of God extension group, was secretively meeting with Ruth Tucker and others. The entire Tkach administration denied these meetings and continued to foster doublespeak - deception - falsehoods - manipulation duplicity and continued abuses while claiming to be changing and turning to Christ.
The membership of the organization was not led to believe anything was changing until 1993. Current WCG ministers started giving sermons filled with contradictions and confusion, leaving members in a traumatic state. Contradictions became the mainstay for the following years. Members were being drilled with the Armstrongism message while simultaneously told of changes. Nothing was implemented with honesty. Spiritual abuse escalated as members started rightfully questioning what their leaders were saying. Individuals were being kicked out in droves and told they had lost salvation for questioning the leaders. Suddenly, in 1995, the Tkach administration pushed a whole new doctrine regime onto the members, leaving members in a state of trauma and confusion. To better understand this imagine how you would respond if you were suddenly told in your adult years, that the parents you cherished were not your true biological parents but actually people who stole you from your real parents at birth. That is analogous to the type of dissociative trauma the Tkach administration purposely fostered on the remaining membership.
Within six weeks of this trauma, approximately 200 of the 425 ministers within the WCG were neatly organized into an extension group called the United Church of God. Each local area minister targeted for entry into the reform Armstrong group brought at least 50% of the 40,000 membership with him. Various leaders who were previously responsible for implementing the strategic "Evangelical" PR throughout the previous years (such as David Hulme), suddenly claimed they knew nothing of the changes and aligned with the breakaway extension group. Lie upon lie mounted throughout 1995. After the death of Joseph Tkach, Sr., Joe Tkach, Jr., Michael Feazell, and Greg Albrecht openly aligned with Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute. Up until that point the several year association with Tucker and Hanegraaff were kept secret from the members. Tkach, Sr. was not a participant in meeting with others in the Christian community and functioned more like a front man. Although referred to as Pastor General of the pyramid government structure, he was not the decision maker.
Much documented evidence clearly demonstrates that the dividing of the organization was well orchestrated. Members who were targeted for not going along with changes were manipulated to join the newly formed United Church of God. Left in the WCG were those willing to go along with the changes. The leaders started to publicize that the members were rebelling and refusing to support the church. Blame was chronically positioned on the members or ministers who, in fact, were mere pawns in the game. Although the leaders were, in reality, selling off the church assets since 1979, they suddenly propagandized in 1995 that they needed to downsize and sell off assets to survive, as the duped members shouldered the blame for being "rebellious toward the changes."
To conclude this synopsis, the reason behind the supposed change of the WCG is about business, money, and political agenda. The multi million dollar accounts, real estate, and other assets were being liquidated for years.4 The local churches continue to be shutdown, abuses within the cult have pushed members into the extension and offshoot groups.5 Few have exited without church association. At this writing, the WCG has less then 10,000 members left and those remaining are being pushed away on a daily basis to make way for the revised business agenda and mass marketing of political goals The current leaders function without financial accountability and manipulate the numbers to satisfy current questioners. Proper financial reports are rarely issued, at that, they are brief, confusing statements. The WCG has always exploited and capitalized on religion to further its financial and political goals. Now, it has infiltrated a respectable Christian arena with an accepted popular product to continue its business. The "historic" issue here is that it recruited Evangelical "cheerleaders" to support its agenda.
The extension groups have regrouped and collectively number approximately 30,000 members under the umbrella of Sabbath-keeping churches all practicing various forms of Armstrongism. The real WCG promoting Armstrongism is now divided under several different names. What remains of what is called WCG is a NEW AGE shell with a NEW AGENDA. Its occultic messages can be found through careful research and scrutiny. The WCG leaders purport to have changed their doctrines, but just request a copy of a booklet on the Trinity, or Heaven and Hell. They don't have one. Why? Because the changes were cosmetic to serve a far bigger purpose. Doctrine is not the priority; emotionalism and preparing the way for recruiting through evangelism is the marketing strategy. What the future holds remains to be seen. Many leaders and high level co-conspirators have become very wealthy these past several years. While we have verification of payments made, we have no idea as to the exact amount of payment Hank Hanegraaff, Ruth Tucker or others have received. We assume it is quite satisfactory as the WCG would never have been able to convince those within the Evangelical community without the "historic" assistance of those in the Christian publishing business.
The WCG will take one of the following roads:
- It will continue to purposely disband its old church format and start concentrating on YOUTH recruiting similar to the International Church of Christ.
- It will enhance its already applied discipleship methods and emulate the Unification Church methods of recruiting and selling "the Gospel."
- The extensive land holdings and ailing college in Big Sandy will be used as a YOUTH training camp possibly while partner-shipping with other "churches," organizations, or individuals such as Ruth Tucker or Hank Hanegraaff.
- The major assets such as Pasadena "headquarters" could be assumed by the extension groups or sold5 with proceeds clandestinely going into the leaders' pockets.
- The WCG, as it currently stands, will continue to break down and disband completely. This would occur only after the major holdings were well distributed and out of sight.
- Currently The Plain Truth is nothing more than an ad magazine for Christian products, we could expect to see several name changes in the future and a headstrong target toward recruiting the YOUTH.
As Hank Hanegraaff and Ruth Tucker promote the WCG as a church to be accepted into the fold and propagandize that its leaders have turned to Christ, thousands continue to be abused and deceived. Some think the documented history of sexual abuse, incest, rapes, ritual abuses, adulteries, financial theft, inhuman behavior toward others, lies, stealing of personal belongings, authoritarian rule, family breakups, and financial corruption is a thing of the past. The leaders of today were the perpetrators of those things yesterday. The strategies on the surface may be different, but the core remains the same. The real "historic" story is about how Ruth Tucker and Hank Hanegraaff were paid by one of the most destructive [Bible-based] cults to represent it and its leaders as they infiltrate their NEW AGE agenda into the greater Christian Community.
THE BIG PICTURE
Christians who care about their neighbor should exercise extreme caution before buying into Ruth Tucker's or Hank Hanegraaff's publicity. They have been well paid to bring it to you. Some who have been approached by the WCG leaders these past few years were simply manipulated by cunning words, and while striving to give the benefit of doubt to the cult leaders, have inadvertently re-victimized and betrayed their fellow Christians who needed their help. The story is big and it is not simple. We have witnessed several claiming fame for the WCG transition, but few are willing to reach out to those caught in the deceptive web of this destructive organization. Few have listened to their testimonies and pleas. It is a sad day for Christianity!
There is ample documentation in many forms supporting the facts and truth about the reasons behind the events. If you think the Worldwide Church of God should now be accepted into the Christian fold, you owe it to thousands of Christians to explain why.
We must remember the late Joseph Hopkins, author of The Armstrong Empire, who dedicated his Christian life to exposing the works of evil and deception in Christianity. He would never have betrayed Christian truth--no matter what the offer or financial gain. His investigative research on the WCG was truly "historic"! Mr. Hopkins was a true Christian man who would have demanded accountability and he would have proved all things.
We pray for your discernment! (Matt 7:15-20)
By L. A. Stuhlman, Founder of Exit & Support Network™ 1995
WCG joined the Evangelical Ministries to New Religions in 1998. EMNR is a Lausanne-covenanted organization and has, in fact, been instrumental in mainstreaming the Mormon religion as a Christian denomination. For more information, read the following report: Evangelical Ministries to New Religions. WCG has given their approval to the Lausanne Movement, calling it a work of God.7
NOTE: EMNR used to be called Evangelical Ministries to Cultists before 1984. They have now changed the word "cult" to "new religions" and "new spiritualties."
In March 2000 WCG sold the Ambassador College Big Sandy campus to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., who leased the campus to Bill Gothard, president of Institute in Basic Life Principles. Gothard bought all the property in the buildings. (Calvary Contender, May 15, 2000).] For an in-depth exposé on Bill Gothard and his pharisaical, cultic "system," read: Bill Gothard. UPDATE: Bill Gothard resigned from his organization in 2014 after allegations of rampant sexual harassment.
In November 2004, the Worldwide Church of God moved its headquarters from Pasadena to Glendora, California. (Pasadena Star-News, October 25, 2004) By May 2006 all their offices were moved to Glendora. (Together, May-June 2006). In 2006 they were considering a name change. In April 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) They have since gone on to embrace New Age teachers and philosophies.
Research pertaining to topics discussed:
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. OIU 4, Pt. 1 has a section on Propaganda and Dialectical Materialism. OIU FIVE and SIX are detailed reports surrounding the Ecumenical Movement and their current strategy involving the Worldwide Church of God conglomerate. Those interested in researching the "reasons behind the events" and activities of the Worldwide Church of God and its extension groups; i. e., United Church of God, Global Church of God (today the Living Church of God), Philadelphia Church of God and other splinters, will find these two Volumes helpful, thought-inspiring and possibly shocking.)
Transformed by Truth or Transformed by Lies?? (a critique of the gross distortions in Chapter two of Transformed by Truth by Joseph Tkach of Worldwide Church of God)
Letter to author Janis Hutchinson from ESN (Vitally important letter with much exposé regarding WCG's history and reason for the changes; helpful in undoing the propaganda and misinformation)
The Conspiracy Was Strong - The Discernment Ministries
Herbert W. Armstrong is mentioned in Parts 1-3 of this in-depth report--search for the words "Worldwide Church of God"; also mentions the FBI files on Herbert Armstrong and Stanley Rader; covers Anthony Buzzard. [offsite article]
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly
they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. ~Matthew 7:15-20
1 Radio Church of God was renamed Worldwide Church of God in 1968.
2 While some may say that Jews cannot become Masons; therefore Rader couldn't have been a Mason, this offsite article Freemasonry and Judaism are Compatible by Rt. Wor. Bro. Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple says otherwise. Excerpts: "Jews have not found freemasonry to be incompatible with their Judaism"; "Especially in English-speaking countries, the movement has always had a high proportion of eminent Jewish members, including leading rabbis"; "To Jews, the right to join freemasonry became a touchstone of religious liberty, an agent of emancipation and social integration."
3 It can be documented that the WCG's highest number was about 53,000 in 1973. Discern by listening to: "Armstrongism: An Insider's View" by Mike Hollman, available from Watchman Fellowship. (Hollman was director of data processing in WCG from 1972-1973.) Read: Myth 1 and 2 - the greatest of them all in OIU 6 to learn about the myth of WCG's membership numbers. (Also see this part in OIU 2, Pt. 2 about "discrepancies with the growth picture starting around 1978." This info is also covered in "Worldwide Church of God History & Changes" (audio tape by L. A. Stuhlman, founder of ESN).
6 On May 14, 2004 Worldwide Church of God sold a portion of AC to Maranatha High School and Harvest Rock Church. Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California (formerly known as Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Greater Pasadena) are known as a Pentecostal/Charismatic renewal movement and their worship style is known as the "Toronto blessing." WCG is totally immersed in the ecumenical and modern Charismatic movement now, and mixes regularly with new evangelicals.
7 History of Mission Spokane - as of 2-13-00, "What is God Doing?" / "What on Earth is God Doing?" by Gary Roberto.