This courageous letter enabled many to question deception and exit Worldwide Church of God and any of its authoritarian splinter groups. It was written by L. A. Stuhlman, founder of Exit & Support Network™ after exiting.
If you have exited WCG, or any of its authoritarian offshoots such as Philadelphia Church of God, Restored Church of God, Living Church of God, United Church of God-AIA or another offshoot, this letter can be helpful in understanding WCG’s deceptive past.
NOTE: In April 2009 Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International.
Note: Please realize that the word “cult” (which was common when this was written) is used in the context of a totalitarian, deceitful, abusive, and mind-manipulating organization which has caused spiritual, emotional, and psychological harm to those involved.
Quick reference to subjects in the letter:
- Our Background and Personal Church History
- We stopped, Looked and Listened!
- Things Started Changing
- WACO (We Start to Investigate)
- Many Members Learned the Hard, Cold Facts
- The Anti-Cult Process
- YES!! The Cult-like Doctrines Are Changing Mainstream on the Surface, But What is Really Going on????
- The Anti-cult Process Under Mind Control Must be Instituted By Thought Reform
- Sales and Advertising Really Works!
- How Does the Thought Reform Work?
- Before we Blame…Or Think This is the Direction or Work of God Molding His Church for the “90s” Decade, we had Better Think About the Following
- God Says His Word Sticks…So What Happened???? OK, So Mr. Armstrong Was Wrong, What Do We Do Now? Put Faith in Mr. Tkach and Army?
- Some Thoughts on the Changes
- In Summary and Conclusion
This letter was written to inform you of the reasons why we have decided to leave the WCG organization. As some of you know, we have been less active during this past year, which allowed us to assess and evaluate our life and present situation. Our family remained in the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD (WCG), “GOD’S CHURCH,” for seven years. At least we can share with you the reasons for our departure from the WCG. As in the past, with other exiting members, we know we will be subject to rumors and judgment by many of you. Those who leave on their own accord–or should it be said, OWN FREE WILL–are prey to other’s individual opinions.
OUR BACKGROUND AND PERSONAL CHURCH HISTORY
July 4, 1987 was our first visit to WCG. After many months of reading the WCG literature and ministerial visits, we were finally invited to what we were told firmly to be GOD’S ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH. We took our election seriously because we, like you, became fully indoctrinated into the knowledge of being a CHOSEN ONE called purposely to be part of GOD’S FLOCK.
Encompassing our life for eight months prior to our entrance to WCG, was the education of WCG beliefs and doctrines through literature, P.T.’s, World Tomorrow telecasts, and Good News magazines. All materials taught us thoroughly that we were being called by GOD and HIS TRUTH. It was our job to respond (REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED; BE OBEDIENT), or we’d be sorry, as HWA stated SO VEHEMENTLY, SO OFTEN.
After our second visit with Larry Wooldridge, we were invited to a church in the area. Even though we completed studying approximately 25 booklets, including Mystery of the Ages and eight months of P.T.’s and telecasts, we were unaware of an area church. We soon learned it was “top secret” information, the public was not invited, and we had to qualify to enter the doors guarded by ushers. We also were not informed of the many, many doctrines, laws, and church rules before our entrance. We were specifically told that God would open our minds through conversion, and after we were baptized, His Spirit would help us to understand and accept GOD’S WAY. God, of course, would not hold us accountable for what we didn’t know, but we had better obey THE TRUTH when we learned it because the LAKE OF FIRE was in the wings. At any rate, all this dictation paled in comparison to the PRIVILEGE of being invited into GOD’S ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH.
With abundant enthusiasm (“first love,” it was called) we changed (“converted”) our entire life style. Via Mr. Wooldridge’s advice, we boldly rejected the conflict our families were posing. Knowing they would have the opportunity to be called and learn the truth in the future was all the confidence we needed to adamantly forge ahead. After all, we were converting for them and we certainly didn’t want to be a disappointment to them when they were resurrected in the second resurrection. REJECTION AND PERSECUTION (“SATAN trying to lead us away from the arms of God”) was much easier to tolerate due to the thorough WCG teachings.
We were very confident that God called us into HIS FAMILY to become SONS OF GOD, TO LIVE LIKE KINGS AND PRIESTS IN THE WORLD TOMORROW. With the knowledge that we were GODLY appointed servants to help all people with HIS GLORIOUS TRUTH, we were strengthened, like you were, to give up our entire lives, goals, dreams, financial goals, thoughts, beliefs, and entire identities. “WIPE AWAY THE OLD AND PUT ON THE NEW,” as it is said. At that time, we were taught that personal goals were vanity. Joseph Tkach instituted GOAL TALK within the past few years in relationship to GOD’S WORK. Relinquishing ourselves from our past life and experiences to learn that we were just GARBAGE (“HUNK OF JUNK” as HWA said) or “ROTTEN STINKING FLESH,” as Mr. Peterson frequently expresses in his sermons, was our goal as servants of GOD’S CHURCH.
As you may recall, in order to be counted worthy of GOD’S calling one must conform to all the rules and regulations WCG demands (actually, it is a choice given), one must do as God says through His Headquarter Church on planet earth and obey His leaders whom He is working through directly (HWA/JWT), or risk the chance of being disfellowshipped and burning in the LAKE OF FIRE. It is a known fact, and we were strongly reminded, that GOD gave us HIS GLORIOUS CALLING—NOW!!!! If we turned our backs on HIM, He would be a merciful GOD and place us in the THIRD RESURRECTION to pop up after all was said and done, to gaze at the awesome developments of GOD, to acknowledge that we rejected HIS GREAT CALLING and picked the LAKE of FIRE instead. After we saw the AWESOME WORKS OF GOD, he would catapult us into the LAKE OF FIRE to obliterate us as if we never existed. (Oh, what a waste for us, but a merciful GOD is HE, says HWA.)
After personally evaluating the pros and cons of the above situation, it wasn’t difficult to conform (obey without question) the WCG rules, knowing that truth and consequence removes all the stumbling blocks.
Adhered to Sabbaths and tithing
Our family adhered to Sabbaths, changed our eating habits, dropped all the holidays, birthdays, and worldly activities, ended community work and ceased voting, along with severing our outside (SATANIC) relationships, etc., etc. This is just a sampling of what was required of us to be a part of GOD’S CHURCH as instructed by Larry Wooldridge and other residing ministers. Our life centered around the TRUE CHURCH along with PRAYER, FASTING, BIBLE STUDY, AND MEDITATION. Our years passed as we followed the HOLY DAY schedule in honor of GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION.
On faith (fear of robbing God), we started tithing 10% of our gross income to God. Our second 10% for His Holy days, budgeted offerings and third tithes were also faithfully given to WCG as commanded. Our diligence to this command was due to the understanding that we would REAP WHAT WE SOWED, as Mr. Neff so aptly shouted at our first feast. “Open your envelopes and add more! God loves a cheerful giver!” The same words rang out at Lowell ’93 by Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Register. Unfortunately, we never questioned the application of our money. Our job as servants was to mail our money on time with a kiss on the envelope, as Mr. Peterson stated, and trust God’s Apostle to apply it where necessary. As special called out ones, we were to support THE CHURCH so the message of the SOON COMING KINGDOM could inspire all those whom He is calling, providing. He is opening their minds.
We could discuss at length about sacrifices we made personally and as a family. We pursued the theme that GOD WILL PROVIDE if we do our part. We were called to “give up” ourselves, we were told. With that in mind, nothing else was priority, not even a retirement fund or savings plan for the children’s college. The excessive tithes extracted that savings possibility. Why, you may ask, are we telling you about our personal experience anyway? Simply put, our story is not so different from yours. “Same church, different pew,” as they say.
Attached, you will find a copy of our Baptism letter. It is clear that we baptized into the GOD FAMILY, to a lively hope as a child of GOD—to self-denial, to (page 4.) A REAL BEGOTTEN CHILD OF GOD, NOW ONE OF THE FAMILY OF GOD WHICH IS HIS TRUE CHURCH—YOU (I) ARE (WAS) ONE OF HIS HEIRS,” not as Mr. Kaplan from Pasadena stated at ‘93 F.O.T., “You who are baptized know fully well that you baptized in the name of the FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT.” (Sorry…no one told us that! Besides, had we known that, we would have thought we attended a CATHOLIC BAPTISM. Actually, we could have remained in the Catholic Church for a fraction of the cost and continued to sing the hymns that WCG has now put into their hymnal!) [Note 9/15/15: The words said at our baptism were not “baptized in” but were actually, “I now baptize you not into any denomination or organization but into the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”]
Initial years are very important
The initial years in WCG are very important to all of us. We were all influenced with that initial knowledge to convert (change) our entire life.
Our hope was in Jesus Christ’s return, “IN OUR LIFETIME.” All church literature reminded us to look forward to the end of THIS ROTTEN WORLD and to the coming of Christ. Even the children’s Bible Study clearly stated that message. Up until these past few years the main and favored dialog between members was PLACE OF SAFETY, Petra possibilities, resurrection, Revelations, etc… How exciting it was to think that we would all be changed in a twinkling of an eye to meet Christ Jesus in the clouds and Mount of Olives; providing, of course, that we endured to the end and “qualified.” Just think–many would not see physical death. (Some people could think that sounds very vain or elite, don’t you think?)
Despite the attitude and flair you sense in this letter, our attitude was healthy, innocent, and in check throughout our baptized years in attendance.
(Husband) was helpful and obliging when assistance was requested. He served as president of the Spokesman Club, usher, fundraiser captain and telephone assistant. He was dedicated with any responsibility asked of him. (Wife) put forth much effort in instituting the Children’s Choir remained in existence for as long as it did. She also served in special music capacities locally and during the F.O.T., as well as solo at Pasadena Services. Most would probably agree she did not lack enthusiasm for “GOD’S WORK.”
We as a family share no regrets for the many times we hosted parties for other peoples’ accomplishments and opened our doors for “fellowshipping” with the supposed Kings and Priests of the World Tomorrow. All involvement with the Church from specific jobs to talent shows was done in a serving capacity with much caring. Had we needed to exercise our talents for self-fulfillment we would have gladly joined local organizations, depending on church rules, of course.
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WE STOPPED, LOOKED AND LISTENED!
About two years ago we started wondering why God’s people had so much difficulty. Why was there such bickering and fighting among members? Why were members appearing so unhappy, with emotional and psychological problems? Why were people feeling so angry and persecuted within the Church? Why was there so much FEAR in God’s Holy and righteous Church? Why were people so flat or trance-like, as if they had nothing to be thrilled about? So many questions appeared in our minds. Why did so many people leave GODS CHURCH ANYWAY? While we prayed for the Mrs. Woolridges and Kellys of the world, we also prayed for understanding.
When the many changes started to be put forth, we were very receptive to them. (Wife) even wrote Mr. Tkach a letter of support regarding the changes. It was unclear to us why so many members would forfeit GOD’S TRUTH to enter an offshoot church or start their own following. Why such rebellion? Why so much disfellowshipping? Why would 80% of our youth and 50% of the membership leave WCG and the protection of GOD’S CHURCH?
Our family was very fortunate in a way. We were recruited into the church just one year after HWA’S death. Joseph Tkach held Pastor General position for one year. All the literature we received was still HWA’S exclusives. JWT did not start changing doctrines and literature until 1988, actually. Having participated in WAT’S [WATTS] enabled us to accumulate many additional publications from the WCG library of TRUTHS. Having been indoctrinated on the cusp of both governments aided us in being astute to the doctrinal changes and plans of WCG.
Many situations occurred that raised “flags,” causing us to feel very unsettled about all the changes. As time continued, we dismissed these situations, accepted what was being told to all, and adhered to the WCG direction in order to obey and make our election sure.
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THINGS STARTED CHANGING
With the passing of months, it became apparent that “God told Mr. Armstrong one thing and Mr. Tkach something totally different.” WHY?
Peter Kamen asked that question in his sermonette, September 1993. Although Peter didn’t specifically answer that question, he did say that doctrinal changes were needed “on paper” for the rest of the world that didn’t have God’s Spirit or truth. It was necessary, as Peter said, to try to help the “others” of the world to understand GOD’S CHURCH. Peter also stated that no theologian has God’s Spirit unless he is a minister in GOD’S CHURCH, which is, of course, known by its LOVE (Sept. 1993). Peter continued to specify that we, as God’s people, must have faith in what God says to HIS ministers and leaders. Our personal job is to go forth and accept whatever new truth God is handling down to us through His government. We must rely on the HOLY SPIRIT to carry us through these times. [Note 9/15/15: Also referred to as, “GOD’S SPIRIT” in you.”] We were instructed not to get angry or cause dissension or question the multitude of changes in doctrines. After all, nothing has really changed…just words on paper for the rest of the world to view in comfort. What we think or question doesn’t really matter. What matters is that God’s Government is in charge!
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WACO (WE START TO INVESTIGATE)
In spring of 1993, the devastating occurrence in WACO had a very significant impact on our family. Week after week, we all watched the destruction of a cult and how the government handled this ordeal. We glared shockingly at the compound inferno, visualizing the men, women and children burning within its walls.
Many of you didn’t know, as we did, that the Davidians1 were a branch break-off of the Seventh-day Adventists, just like WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD! WCG’s true origins are astonishing, although WCG likes to attribute its beginnings to Steven Mumford and Newport, R.I. Baptists. A thorough study will show you that this data pales in comparison to the documented truth about its origins.
Davidians beliefs in common with WCG
The Davidians held many beliefs in common with WCG. Actually, their entire belief doctrines were NOT very different from WCG’s doctrines prior to the NEW TRUTHS campaign. We understand WCG affiliates were even called to WACO to help counsel the Davidians. Another note of interest is the fact that we were diligently taught that the Seventh Day Sabbath keeping is a “sign” of the true people of God and that to be one of the “true” churches of God a church must have that “sign.” Isn’t it interesting that David Koresh and his members all kept the Seventh Day Sabbath?! In fact, the Branch Davidians are the very first group listed in the “1986 Directory of Sabbath Observing Groups” published by The BIBLE SABBATH ASSOCIATION (Fairview, OK 73737).
When we asked Mr. Wooldridge how we could prove that WCG was GOD’S TRUE CHURCH, he said it was the ONLY church which was Christian and honored the Saturday Sabbath. (Ignorantly on faith, we trusted his answer and did not pursue the fact that he might have been telling us something totally untrue.)
With the events unfolding in Waco, there was considerable publicity regarding their teachings. We watched as Davidian members clutched to THEIR TRUTHS. We recalled our own fervency regarding the PLACE OF SAFETY. Shamefully we admitted we too would have responded to a transfer to safety as we are certain you would have done too as a representative of the only people on the face of this earth who have God’s Spirit. It does take humble understanding to admit this to yourself.
We were always taught emphatically that this was GOD’S TRUE CHURCH. Mr. Tkach reminded us of that fact in spring of `93 in a taped sermon. You may recall him saying, “Some people think that I don’t believe this is GOD’S TRUE CHURCH anymore. Well, I assure you I do.” [The exact quote was: “Now, I hear the rumor going around that I don’t believe this is the only true Church of God. You are my witnesses. I believe with all of my heart that this is the only one and true Church of God.” –April 3, 1993] Being part of the TRUE CHURCH meant we were part of the lost ten tribes (British-Israelism), Tribulation, Armageddon, Place of Safety, only God can open the minds of people, only God can do the calling, God Family, begotten son, Destiny to become GOD, seven churches, Revelations all the way, Laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (hand picked to serve God, of course), etc. Don’t hesitate to look back at your old literature if you don’t remember what your own beliefs were, based on the doctrines of the church.
The Davidians belief system was not so farfetched in comparison to ours. David, however, did pursue to the end, and his end did justify the means.
Did these well meaning, educated, some professional, God-oriented individuals burn to death in FAITH???? Not a chance, as we have learned. More on that later.
WCG didn’t even mention the Davidians
Despite the devastating impact on society and the United States Government, the WCG organization didn’t even mention it. The Davidians, in a sense, were related to us. The WCG administration acted as if they didn’t even exist. Have you dared to wonder why???? Mr. George Zycheck, in a sermonette, mentioned the words “wacko-Waco” and Mr. Peterson gave a pre-feast warning of the possible WACO fallout behavior we may witness at the F.O.T. ’93. To our knowledge, that is it. What did WCG have to FEAR anyway???? MANY THINGS!!!!
The very sad situation of WACO brought to mind, for the world, a memory of Jonestown. It also promoted heightened media information on…cults. Experts from around the country monopolized the airways discussing the criteria of cults. All of us had the opportunity to learn with compassion the devastating effects of MIND CONTROL…THOUGHT REFORM (“brainwashing”) and cults. We cannot imagine how anyone could possibly ignore such incredible, horrific occurrences. We listened to the multitudes of people relaying the personal experiences they encountered in their BIBLE-BASED CULTS. We learned for the first time how MIND-CONTROL and THOUGHT REFORM is implemented under indoctrination techniques and hypnosis and topped-off with propaganda tactics. It was startling to hear others discuss how they were lured into a Bible-based church (cult), which dogmatically insisted that THEY were the TRUE CHURCH… “GOD IS CALLING YOU…NOW! WE HAVE THE ANSWERS TO THIS ROTTEN WORLD,” ETC., ETC.
Initial feelings based on denial
Our initial instant feelings were based on denial. “This is SATAN’S work,” we said. “This is deception to GOD’S people,” we repeated. Nevertheless, we started at our local library in pursuit of cult education–objectively, we might add. Book after book listed WCG along with the Moonies, Children of God [Family International], Jehovah’s Witnesses, Boston Church of Christ [International Church of Christ], etc. “NO!” we said. “Lies and persecution!”
There are over 3,000 cults in the United States. Many of which are Bible-based. Why did the authors elect to use WCG as a cult reference anyway? What verification did they have that it was a cult? Denial on our part existed deeply.
However, it wasn’t long after our ample reading that we called the Cult Awareness Network2 in N.Y. and Chicago. “YES, we have information on WCG,” they said. They also told us many WCG people call “CAN” for help after learning they were involved in a cult. “CAN” was also instrumental in referencing addresses that offered more information regarding the inside agenda of the organization.
“CAN” issued to us a packet that had ample articles, mostly on past church issues with Herbert W. Armstrong’s history, which demonstrated stories of his involvement with INCEST with his daughter for ten years, and CHURCH FRAUD, DECEPTION ABOUT CHURCHES’ AGENDA REGARDING TRIPS, LAWSUITS, OPULENCE and much more.
After research and recommendations from many resources we started to investigate the true history about WCG. We ordered publications with the fear that it was probably SATAN attacking GOD’S CHURCH. At any rate we needed to prove all things and test that which is right, just like HWA and JWT told us so often. [I John 4:1 NKJV]
Started investigating the allegations
Even though we had some guilt about questioning GOD’S ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH, we pursued, after praying for his guidance and help with discernment, knowing that a loving, real GOD would not chastise us for investigating the allegations. After all, what did GOD have to hide?
We all have been diligently taught by many WCG representatives not to question GOD’S TRUE MINISTERS or authority. Trusting their word was a sign of our faith. Also, we have been strongly taught that if we dare to leave HIS CHURCH or question HIS teachings, we will suffer strong consequences—EVEN DEATH, as David Albert suggests and portrays HWA’S LAKE OF FIRE Doctrine in his taped `93 sermon. Joseph W. Tkach clearly explained at the F.O.T. that our job is to be privileged for our calling … obey … slave … submission … listen righteously.
The corruptness of WCG is beyond words, we sadly report, knowing full well that you will take great offense and anger regarding that statement. We have all been fearfully taught to close our eyes and ears to opposing SATANIC statements that in truth are accurate information.
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MANY MEMBERS LEARNED THE HARD, COLD FACTS
Countless ministers and members have left the WCG organization after learning about what a cult is. Learning the specifics of mind control (“brainwashing”) is a tedious task offering much confrontation. It is a humbling experience. The emotional anger from feeling totally ripped off, exploited, and used—along with being personally violated in regards to our HUMAN RIGHTS—is a shocking experience. It is so often described as a SPIRITUAL RAPE. We, like so many others throughout the years became aware of the deception, deceit, and outright lies that we supported with our entire lives. We, like you, made terrific sacrifices based on the conviction that OUR LORD called us to HIS TRUTH as WCG pounded into us constantly through strong vehement literature, sermons, and subtle Mind Control techniques.
WCG wants very much for the membership to think others leave because they just don’t have the spiritual understanding, or not enough of GOD’S SPIRIT, to open their minds to the NEW TRUTH (or THOUGHT REFORM should we say). WCG will focus on the many individuals who fled to dissident churches called offshoots. Members are to believe that those individuals who stray from THE CHURCH (BODY OF CHRIST) have waxed cold and have neglected their Bible Study and Prayer. If the ministry can convince those who are attending and abiding in what the CHURCH is perpetrating currently, that they have lots of GOD’S SPIRIT for understanding, that, of course, will make members feel special or ELITE. After all, who really needs to understand everything when you HAVE FAITH IN GOD?
Many members jump into an offshoot
It is very unfortunate that many WCG ex-members do jump into an offshoot organization such as Flurry’s group, Garner Ted’s group, and one of the latest developments, Rod Meredith’s Global Church of God. [Update: Roderick C. Meredith later founded Living Church of God] The WCG doctrine is indoctrinated so intensely it is almost impossible to shed the belief system without cult/Mind Control understanding and education. The entire process is so emotionally debilitating many ex-members find they cannot function without the DOCTRINE leading them and making decisions for their lives. This is one of the reasons why Meredith’s Global group is flourishing. Ex-members also find themselves overwhelmed with emotions of anger, frustration, denial, and severe depressions sometimes causing suicide. We have learned that we were victimized. Many never shed the feeling of being at fault for their emotional distraught state. Mr. Albert stated in his sermon ’93 that all those who leave the CHURCH have severe personality problems. In other words, anyone who leaves is sick…
Many have exposed the true agenda
Many members who have safely exited (evangelists/ministers/little people) have been instrumental in helping others with support. Hundreds have documented their experiences and exposed the true agenda of WCG. NO! It is not persecution! There are hundreds of publications available outlining THE TRUE HARD FACTS. WCG has tried diligently to stop these books and articles with its twenty-four member legal team, but have lost countless times. The truth will prevail!
The Ambassador Report3 and ample books available provide first-hand accounts of the corruption through the actual experiences, documented evidences and court proof evidence.
Had been told negative information was Satan’s attack
We have all been taught repeatedly that any so-called negative information toward WCG is SATAN’s attack. “Turn your back!” “COME OUT OF THIS WORLD!” etc. We have learned that these phrases called “loaded language” are all commonly used in other Bible-based cults. It is a fact that once a member starts to question and investigate, the mind starts opening to critical thinking and proper comparisons can be made. The cults want their recruits to be closed off from the world. They work hard in instilling Mind Control techniques to prevent members from researching or acknowledging any opposing data. Once the ministry becomes aware that a member is researching, or even just reading opposing literature of any kind, they usually take action. MANY have been disfellowshipped without warning just because they exercised their HUMAN RIGHT and GOD GIVEN RIGHT TO THINK AND PROVE ALL THINGS.
We did not take this new information at face value. After all, we made that mistake seven years ago when we learned “THE TRUTH” and tested the literature by researching the Scriptures provided next to every ARMSTRONG statement.
We investigated our findings
This time, instead of asking the shop owner if his product is worth the cost, we investigated our findings through references and cross-references. When we have made purchases in the past, we have investigated through the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Magazine the viability of the product. When we purchased with our life the WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD, we trusted the literature and the FEAR of GOD. We actually were sold that GOD was authorizing everything we were being indoctrinated into. After all, the ministers and literature said so!
Had we not had some understanding of CULTS and MIND CONTROL (“brainwashing”) through our studies, we probably would have dismissed all reality and evidence. Talking directly to prominent DR.’S and MIND CONTROL EXPERTS who work with cult victims throughout the country helped us to discern the facts we learned. It, however, did not diminish the overwhelming feelings of having been so violated and robbed.
Every expert we talked to was well acquainted with the TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR A YEAR WCG OPERATION which is labeled as a DESTRUCTIVE CULT throughout the country. It is also well known by the professionals WCG is undergoing a NEW THOUGHT REFORM PROGRAM by changing most of its hard-core cult-like doctrines. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons [known today as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and even the Moonies are doing likewise in efforts to shed the WACO appearance and in efforts to display to the public a more mainstream Christian non-cult cover.
WCG considered a sophisticated cult in America
WCG is considered a sophisticated cult in America, which is presently pursuing a NEW THOUGHT REFORM program for several possible reasons, in addition to what was just listed—lack of church growth loss of Income…Plain Truth, is down by the millions. World Tomorrow program viewing is way down and people are more conscious of joining cult-like groups. The usual recruiting methods are not working–personal evangelism must be instituted. People will mainly respond to Christian mainstream Bible interpretation. (We wonder ourselves why anyone would want to invest in all these new doctrines when they can join any Catholic, Protestant, or Lutheran Church for a similar package without the extreme THREE TIER TITHING system and ANTI-PAGAN HOLIDAY addendum. Then again, maybe the tithing system will be removed and replaced by fundraising mandates. We’ve already learned that many a high level WCG worker is enjoying the Christmas seasons with all the trimmings.)
WCG spent tithing dollars to issue publicity counter-acting cult PR
WCG appears to go through great lengths to show the anti-cult cover. No cost is too great. A special company has even been hired at the cost of many tithing dollars to issue publicity counter-acting cult PR. The Cult Awareness Network2 receives newspaper articles, courtesy of WCG, regarding other cults, to be placed on file for those who call for help. WCG knows full well that the Cult Awareness Network2 has a healthy file on WCG itself. We find it very interesting to see how WCG uses such reverse psychology tactics when we have been told so often that psychology is SATAN’S WORLD. “All help should come from GOD through FAITH and PRAYER. Leave it all in GOD’S hands.” Isn’t that how it goes? Mr. Kelly in his “GOD IS” sermon ’93 says he doesn’t want to be labeled a cult, so changes must be made. But Mr. Kelly doesn’t explain what a cult is, or what the criterion for a cult is. He doesn’t even tell us WHY so many people call us a cult. We wonder what Mr. Kelly has to hide! If you can look beyond The Worldwide News, Plain Truth and JWT letters, you will see a major duplicity. WHAT YOU DON’T SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.
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THE ANTI-CULT PROCESS
In the eyes of cult prevention organizations, experts, and mainstream church associations, WCG clearly qualifies as a cult. All cults are extremely controversial and negatively viewed by the public. NO organization wants to be classified as a cult. Likewise NO individual wants to accept the fact that they might be IN a cult.
WCG, like related cults such as JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES, MOONIES, OR MORMONS are all diligently working on changing their aberrant, totalistic, man-devised, controlling doctrines (dogma). You are probably thinking that WCG is nothing like these SATANIC organizations and besides, they are not GOD’S TRUE PEOPLE. After careful research on these organizations, you will find they sing the exact song about WCG. JEHOVAH’S has a $400,000,000 annual income with thousands of additional members.
WE WERE SO emphatic THAT WCG WAS GOD’S ONLY TRUE CHURCH AND ALL THE DIRECTIVES WERE COMING FROM GOD!!!! WHY? BECAUSE MR. ARMSTRONG SAID SO!!!!
Over 600 Bible-based cults in America
We have learned that there are over 600 Bible-based cults alive and well in America! WCG is one of the most successful. Many cults recruit college people to do fundraising to raise big $$$$$$. Very few cults would get away with a TRIPLE TIER TITHING SYSTEM based on man’s interpretation from the BIBLE. WCG recruits people who are usually at the end of their rope, as they say. Ready to give up…emotionally debilitated. Of the hundreds of personal stories we heard, including our own, we have NEVER heard anyone say life was going along just great when GOD called them. It is very common for WCG recruits to have emotionally abused backgrounds. Some people just fall into the category of being IDEALISTIC. It becomes a search for the TRUE GOD [i.e., TRUE CHURCH]. No matter what your personal background was, you can be fairly sure you were very vulnerable to the message, “GOD IS CALLING YOU!!!!”
The P.T. and television program use tactics that deal with social issues and descriptions of this falling apart world. Once we drink the PROPHECY POTION, the puzzle pieces of our lives start to fit. We find ourselves hooked on…GOD’S PLAN FOR THIS DYING WORLD…then become entrenched in the literature offered freely, which starts to dictate the RULES, REGULATIONS, LAWS and “TRUTHS,” based on the APOSTLE’S interpretation and interpolation. We all become quickly responsive to the program due to the FEAR of REPERCUSSIONS if we were to turn our back on GOD and HIS CALLING. Besides, as new recruits we begin to feel like there is truly a purpose for our life. We buy into THE PLAN, HOOK, LINE, SINKER, POLE AND BOAT!
We start the changing process and implement drastic WCG applications to our daily life…all on faith. We are told ARMSTRONG has the KEY to the BIBLE (GOD’S instruction book). WCG KNOWS THE SECRET CODE. (We never really understood why there was a secret code if the Bible interprets the Bible—as it has been said so very often.) We become so susceptible to being told what to do, and how to do it. Even if it doesn’t make sense to us, we follow the rules anyway without question. We think we are in control of our lives, but quite the contrary. We quickly learn to put down all OUR WILL in total submission…to GOD’S REPRESENTATIVES???? We allow ourselves to be led by HWA/JWT thinking it is the HOLY SPIRIT [Note 9/15/15: I.e., “GOD’S SPIRIT.”] We’re drilled by the SERMON GIVERS as they say, “MR. ARMSTRONG ALWAYS SAID, REPETITION IS THE BEST FORM OF LEARNING.” It is also the BEST form of MIND CONTROL (“brainwashing”).
Similarities with other bible cults
A “PROVE ALL THINGS” research on other cults and BIBLE CULTS would enlighten anyone on the similarities. Same routines, same words, same fears, somewhat same doctrines, all headed by a Christ-like or instrument/apostle whom God is working with directly, all claiming the inspired word of GOD, all instituting the GOD’S GOVERNMENT routine…pyramid…hierarchy regime, all claiming they have GOD’S TRUTH and doing GOD’S mission on earth (His work), all claiming the same Kingdom reward of greatness, all pound the CHOSEN ONES to OBEY…OBEY…OBEY…the LAW, all claiming THE TRUTH and that SATAN is inspiring all other churches. The list goes on and on. It is extremely IRONIC that all the cults’ upper level leaders live as if the WORLD TOMORROW or the SOON COMING KINGDOM is NOW on PLANET EARTH. The administrators live in opulence (KINGS AND PRIESTS). Actually, opulence is a mild word in regards to the lifestyle WCG’S TOP PEOPLE live. It saddens us to think about the thousands of well meaning, God-seeking, dedicated people who would have gladly flown to a PLACE OF SAFETY if the CHIEF APOSTLE said, “CHARGE!” All cults have their own type of “PLACE OF SAFETY.” Sometimes it is built right inside the members’ heads…
WACO members had a purpose…JONESTOWN people had a purpose…All died at their leaders’ hands, for what purpose? THE KINGDOM, via the interpretation of their leaders, DAVID KORESH and JIM JONES. [See OIU#4, p. 2 – search for “People’s Temple”] At this point, you probably think, “Well, they were not following GOD’S WAY, and that’s what happens.” At the cost of sounding insolent, which is truly not our intention, we ask you, what impels you to think you’re following GOD’S WAY? Is it because Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Tkach say so????
All cults have numerous similarities, especially Bible-based cults. The library has many books on various cults. Cult education and knowledge of Mind Control is an asset to understanding.
We were programmed to be angry with dissidents
At this point, you are probably very angry, especially with us. If you haven’t thought it yet, you are probably now thinking we are in SATAN’S clutches, we’re helpless, turned dissident, etc. It would be normal for you to feel that way because that is precisely how you have been programmed to think. Believe it or not… The people who are not attending church at this time are considered to be lacking of understanding to all the NEW TRUTHS, or maybe just lacking the HOLY SPIRIT. [Note 9/15/15: I.e., “GOD’S SPIRIT.”] Whatever the excuse is that the ministry postulates, it sends a clear message to those who don’t question, or continue to obey, that GOD is working closely with them. They are the special ones. They have the unique faith, understanding, or HOLY SPIRIT. It is an ELITE feeling to be like SHEEP. Do they mean follow like sheep—or sheep to the slaughter?
We assure you we are not writing to recruit you into anything, especially SATAN’S world. Besides, you will be so busy within the next few years recruiting for WCG, as mini-evangelists, while possibly increasing your efforts in fundraising projects, you’ll not have time for anything else. It is not our goal to pull you out of WCG, or persuade you into thinking OUR WAY… Our sole intent is to inform you of why WE had to leave WCG. Having basically served with you for seven years, we at least owe you the truth about our position. We have already heard of the rumors and lies circulating. You deserve to know the real story. Mr. Peterson is not going to give you the details. Our sincere hope is that you will read this letter with an open mind without succumbing to the FEAR phobia [OIU#4, p. 1] instilled into every member. I hope you will fight the denial within yourself, sort out your own thoughts, trust God directly to help you and investigate what you are investing your entire life in.
YES!! The Cult-like Doctrines Are Changing Mainstream on the Surface, But What is Really Going on????
As we mentioned earlier, the anti-cult process is imperative to WCG’S existence. The Ambassador Report3 and ample available books written about the inside dealings of WCG outline the ongoing problems and escalating difficulties. Many ministers and evangelists have left recently. Many area churches like Houston, TX and Boca Raton, FL exited along with their ministers to Meredith’s Global Church. [OIU#2, Pt. 2- “Speaking of Global”]
Growth has slowed, less baptism, countries have shut down to WCG media. World Tomorrow Broadcasts are reduced with decreased viewers, the P.T. is down from approximately 10,000,000 to 2,000,000. Many WCG workers from several departments in Pasadena have exited to Global also. It is also increasingly difficult, since WACO, to lure people into a supposed “CHURCH” organization, which claims…THE TRUTH, GOD IS CALLING YOU, HEAVY OLD TESTAMENT DOCTRINES, THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH, AND SIMILAR STATEMENTS.
Cults known to change their process every ten years
These statements are considered CULT TALK and are shared by all the other cults. A change by Mind Control with a NEW THOUGHT REFORM PROGRAM IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE SURVIVAL OF WCG. Interestingly, cults are known to change their process every ten years anyway.
WCG has changed over 190 doctrines. Many members don’t even know what is being changed or cancelled. We’ve talked to people lately and they are not aware that the KINGDOM IS HERE NOW! They don’t understand the new BORN AGAIN doctrine and are still unclear regarding the TRINITY deal. Everyone is singing the Catholic and Protestant hymns and not even wondering why? Have there been so many changes, so quickly, that people are “maxed out” or “brain dead”…?
It appears the NEW TRUTHS GOD IS LEADING HIS CHURCH TOWARD HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. We wonder when GOD is going to get with it, and pull off the MULTI-TITHING SYSTEM and HOLY DAY PLAN WITH SEVEN OFFERINGS. We are not being disrespectful toward God! We just question if God is being used/mocked for man’s purpose for POWER and MONEY. If GOD is NOT a GOD of confusion, then he sure blew it because this is one organization filled with confusion.
So little being said about these changes
Isn’t it thought provoking that so little is said about all these dramatic changes on the pulpit locally, or at the FEAST? Could the intention be to PLAY IT DOWN—low-key approach? Maybe in a few years when the THOUGHT REFORM is in full swing, people will completely forget what they used to believe or what they Baptized into. Are we all that gullible, or better said, indoctrinated into MIND CONTROL? Many people have told us they do not even read the P.T., Worldwide News, or listen to the tapes. Maybe if we all took a good look at what is going on right in front of our eyes, we have a lot of questions answered for ourselves. We personally have documented evidence depicting that one thing is being said to members and something totally different is being instituted to the outside world. Is GOD truly the author of this????
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THE ANTI-CULT PROCESS UNDER MIND CONTROL MUST BE INSTITUTED BY THOUGHT REFORM
The anti-cult process consists of several steps:
Firstly, do away with old doctrines
FIRSTLY, doing away with all old cult doctrines, rules, regulations and some laws. Simultaneously implementing new Christian mainstream doctrines while lightening up on church policies gives an altered appearance to the public, cult watchers and Christian organizations. Although the membership still must adhere to various physical rules such as TITHING, HOLY DAYS (seven of them, no less), SABBATHS, DIETARY RULES, etc., the outer appearance or cover for the Doctrine Book is more attractive for recruiting purposes. Also, if WCG is accepted to the National Council of Churches it could possibly prove to be very FRUITFUL for recruiting.
Secondly, clean house
SECONDLY, CLEAN HOUSE!!!! Change or retire ARMSTRONGISM Ministers who are dogmatic about ARMSTRONG REGIME. Most high-level ministers have had position changes. Many have left the church like Michael Snyder4, claiming it to be a cult. Some have run to offshoot groups of which there are approximately forty in number. Replace past employees with a whole new paradigm team.
Thirdly, implement new thought reform program
THIRDLY, implement a NEW THOUGHT REFORM PROGRAM under MIND CONTROL. This is a highly skilled practice, which slowly gains control of any given mind by implementing certain steps and procedures on a routine basis. Mind Control is subtle, deceptive, and laced with FEAR injections. [For more on this, read “Cognitive Dissonance” and info following in OIU#4, pt. 2]
Mind Control is something you can’t see, touch, smell or feel when it is coming your way unless one is educated as to what to look for. Some experts explain it by the analogy of GAS/CARBON MONOXIDE. You just keep taking it in until you’re gone!!!! (Did you ever in your wildest dreams think you’d be honoring the TRINITY and singing CATHOLIC / PROTESTANT hymns from the new hymnal you were so carefully trained to open week after week?
Most unfortunately, the last fifty years have proven instrumental in the cult development. Its sophisticated approach has infiltrated societies throughout the world and affected and harmed millions of lives.
THOUGHT REFORM AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TOTALISM, written by ROBERT JAY LIFTON is detailed but excellent reading regarding the subtle but crude implementation in China. This is a detailed book outlining the severe subtleness involved. There are, however, many other publications available, devoted to thoroughly explaining how CULTS, MIND CONTROL, AND THOUGHT REFORM WORK.
[Read: Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform (includes how it has been used by leaders of any high demand, authoritarian group.)]
WCG is extremely sophisticated and powerful in its approach towards recruiting. (Our TITHE dollars have been successfully implementing this program for years.)
Recruits told they are called into God’s Truth
Most cults lure members into their organizations by instilling in the heads of recruits that they were SPECIFICALLY CALLED or CHOSEN into GOD’S TRUTH. The process is slow in the beginning. Cults differ slightly in their regime. Depending on the type of cult, the group targets certain markets. Some cults recruit teen-age to college-age kids and lure them into the group through LOVE tactics and IDEALIST goals that seem rational at that age. The cult creates a feeling of acceptance towards the new prospect. Before long the new member is manipulated by destructive spiritual abuse (“brainwashing”), fear and doctrine. He/she becomes another “body” for fundraising adventures. All established cults have members who were born into the cult and know only that way of life.
Uses non-threatening approach
WCG’s approach appears very subtle, “cool” and apparently profitable. The subtleness of the TV broadcast and P.T. Magazine seem appealing and luring. Non-threatening approach to mail for FREE literature on appropriate social/news issues or mainstream Christian issues help to inspire viewers to respond (bite the hook).
Soon a chain of events starts unfolding. The viewer or P.T. subscriber becomes enmeshed in the WCG literature that slowly indoctrinates him/her into the spiritual commune. The more one reads, the more one starts to incorporate the doctrinal laws, rules and lifestyle based on the WCG’S “PROVE IT IN YOUR OWN BIBLE” technique. Before long, that initial P.T. reader is all wrapped up in a WCG funnel. Changing his lifestyle, alienating his family, giving up his personal identity, changing his personality, adhering to the rules based on WCG’S interpretation and so—much more.
THE WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD KNOWS FULL WELL THEY HAVE HOOKED A LIVE ONE WHEN THEY START POCKETING “TEN TO THIRTY PERCENT OF THE NEW RECRUITEE’S GROSS INCOME.” All that FREE literature turns out to be very expensive. Members pay with their true spiritual lives along with emotional, physical, and financial lives. For many…it cost their total life!
Members accept ministerial words at face value
After indoctrination and self-indoctrination is well on its way toward “progress,” members start accepting ministerial words at face value. Even if one is ambivalent about certain doctrines or policies, they keep their mouth shut in fear of the consequences. A converted person, with GOD’S Spirit is to “BE LIKE CHILDREN4,” be patient, don’t rebel, be accepting and so on, and on, and on…Oh, yes! Don’t forget to PROVE ALL THINGS THOUGH????
Once the new member has COME OUT OF THIS WORLD, he’s ingrained into the SPIRITUAL COMMUNE. Some people think one must live with the cultic group. Not so! Once we, as victims, surrender our thinking process and WILL to the group and its leader, we actually live in a spiritual commune literally housing mental artillery (FEAR TACTICS) to keep ourselves in line when no one but GOD is looking. The WCG image of GOD, as super HEAD OF THE HIERARCHY can be very frightening especially when the LAKE OF FIRE prevails…
As we already pointed out, one cannot detect Mind Control/”brainwashing” unless one is skilled in the techniques and has keen insight as to how to detect it. Not one reader of this letter will agree that their personal thinking is being controlled. Every reader will dogmatically resist the possibility that they are not in charge of their lives or decision-making. That’s precisely WHY MIND CONTROL / “BRAINWASHING” works. How does Joe Tkach put it? Brainwashing for CHRIST????
Critical thinking skills cease
In summary, our Critical thinking skills cease…the views of the leaders become our views…we lose our questioning ability…and our personal identity changes (cloning to the group). The level of indoctrination (conversion) depends on many factors. Those who seem to “forge ahead” with zeal consistently throughout the years become the good stewards for Christ (the easily manipulated members who “PLAY THE GAME”). It is common in many cults to not allow new members (for about three years) to serve or be actively involved. This purpose is to allow full indoctrination to take hold. It was commonplace in WCG to be cautious of any members who were not yet baptized. We knew members who would not invite anyone over to their home unless they were Baptized. Only WCG baptized people had GOD’S SPIRIT, everyone else was part of SATAN’S world.
One reason mind control works
One of the main reasons why Mind Control works has to do with ABUSE. Time will not permit us to explain this completely; however, we have attached a book listing, naming several excellent sources to understanding this terrible, dreadful situation. We will, however, share with you some facts. Yes! Some WCG recruits were Idealistic searchers and seekers, but most members at the time of indoctrination were experiencing traumatic, emotional upheaval in their lives. Many people have even come from abusive backgrounds. Whatever the situation is/was, their vulnerability was at its peak. The victim is/was susceptible to the calling (the hungry fish bites the worm on the hook).
It is a sad fact that victims of abuse usually bounce into other abusive situations. You have heard of the brutally beaten wife staying in the marriage only to be beaten again and again. It is very difficult to pull out of a depressive state when the spiral is downhill and help is not available. The drug of choice then becomes abuse. Abuse then becomes addictive.
How does this relate to WCG? Just think about it! Life is at a standstill. You’re emotionally distraught. You clue into an organization that tells you it has the answer. It injects you with a “FEEL GOOD” potion by telling you GOD is now in charge. It takes over and makes decisions for your life. Through the so-called authority of GOD it tells you what to do and what your reward will be if you follow through on the directions. You’re now off the treadmill of life. All you need to do is your job and wait for the new WORLD TOMORROW fantasy land. The prophecy talk becomes addictive. Throughout the whole process, it is instilled in you that you are garbage, rotten smelling flesh, worthless, puny, sinful and worth only death. To make matters worse, you are told that GOD feels that way about you. The constant reinforcement of the HUNK OF JUNK routine inhibits you even more. You become embedded in the dependency of the group. Finally, there is no way out. You’re stuck. You take whatever your authority is pushing on you and just go with it. You are too weak to fight back! You are too overwhelmed to discern reality! You just go through the motions. Depressed, dazed, obedient and your personal spirit is broken. Even if you begin to question “things,” the tendency is to repress emotions and feelings and discard opposing thoughts as Satan’s ploy to tear you away from “GOD’S WAY,” “GOD’S CHURCH” and “GOD’S CALLING.” Breaking out of this pattern is equivalent to the analogy of breaking out of the slums or poverty. It can be done, but the job is tough. Education backed up by insight, wisdom and counseling is a must.
Our free will relinquished
When we are recruited into an organization like Worldwide Church of God, we, through Mind Control tactics relinquish our OWN FREE WILL. The goals of the organization guide our lives. Our personal life decisions become based on the group’s goals. In our situation, our personal life was taken by a Bible-based group’s perspective, based on the “authority of GOD,” so they said! Did we ever think for a moment that we were not in charge, or in control of our life? The life a wonderful, loving God gave us. NEVER!!!! We became so convinced that the TRUE GOD was just the way WCG explained HIM to be.
Shocked at the real church history and HWA’s past
Herbert Armstrong was a legend in his own time. That’s for sure. After an extensive comprehensive study of his background, the REAL CHURCH HISTORY and his SHADY PAST, we were shocked beyond belief. But the most heart-wrenching awareness to us was the fact that WE BELIEVED ALL THIS TRUE CHURCH STUFF AND TRUSTED THE MINISTERS AND ELDERS WITH OUR LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OUR CHILDREN. WE PAID DEARLY, EMOTIONALLY, SPIRITUALLY AND FINANCIALLY BY THE THOUSANDS (enough to support our two children through two fine colleges). So often it has been said, “Don’t put your trust in man!” Well, it was a man every member put their trust in and believed that God was talking to, through great inspiration. We have talked to individuals who have learned the degrading facts about the church to which they belong and state comments such as, “Even if all the men running GOD’S church are evil, I don’t care, it’s still GOD’S CHURCH. He will take care of it, He’s in charge.” Can’t question that! Mr. Armstrong said so! We really wonder WHAT the TRUE GOD thinks about it. Knowing what we now know, supporting this organization would make us feel like BLASPHEMERS worshipping an IDOL.
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SALES AND ADVERTISING REALLY WORK!
HWA was a GREAT Salesman, marketer and advertiser. He could put his ideas and products across to others amazingly. No one will follow in his footsteps. That’s probably one of the reasons why the PRODUCT (doctrine) is under such reconstruction. NO ONE could write and talk like he did. SALES is a very interesting business.
All good sales people know the tricks to good salesmanship:
- Where there is a need, fill it.
- Have a good product.
- Handle the objections up front. (takes the doubt away from the buyer)
The free literature approach
No one wants to be sold. Everyone wants to think they made the purchase decision, and it’s a lot easier buying from someone who isn’t pounding you to sign on the dotted line. It is sort of luring to clue into an interesting Christian TV show or read a very basic PLAIN TRUTH MAGAZINE and not be hassled for MONEY. The FREE LITERATURE approach is pretty clean and non-threatening. All those FREE publications start coming through the mail with their little advertisements for more FREE literature. The cycle continues. As the reader expands his WORLDWIDE education, he becomes increasingly indoctrinated through Mind Control to respond to this…new calling. The ARMSTRONG REGIME literature that has all been pulled off the shelf, so to speak, was addicting, in plain English. The literature made grandiose statements, predicted futures, played fantasy land and threatened the reader with guilt and fear—all things stated by Herbert Armstrong and his interpretation from the Bible, backing up his opinions with random related Scriptures. Of course he told you and us that the “Bible interprets the Bible.”
“BE READY TO GIVE AN ANSWER,” it is written, and ready they were! By handling the objection up front, WCG can convince any interested prospect that the (GOD) product is foolproof. Well, like THOUSANDS of others, we bit the hook. Before long, we were highly indoctrinated into a whole new world, or should we say, WHOLE NEW WAY OF LIFE! Turning our back on anyone “in the world” who thought we went off the “deep end.”
Sales and advertising—marketing and propaganda, go hand in hand with product development. The little people (membership) think they are in a GOD centered church run by GOD and actually it’s BIG BUSINESS run by, in our opinion, based on all our research and substantiated evidence, TOTAL DECEPTION AND HYPOCRISY.
ALL THAT FREE LITERATURE ENDED UP COSTING US MORE THAN SOME PEOPLE PAY FOR THEIR FIRST HOUSE!!!!
HOW DOES THE THOUGHT REFORM WORK?
Remember the Paradigm5 Video? “Look at things in a different way!” “Get rid of your locked-in thinking!” “Think about other possibilities!”
Confusion and misinformation
We ask you to think about all the WCG changes you have endured since the film. The almost “TWO HUNDRED CHANGES” that most membership is not even aware of, have been occurring since Mr. Tkach became PASTOR GENERAL—slowly, at first, then escalating since WACO. Personally, we didn’t take issue with the changes (doctrines). We took issue as to WHY these changes were being implemented. Why was our GOD giving us so many NEW TRUTHS anyway? As Peter so kindly stated, “Why would God tell Mr. Armstrong one thing, and Mr. Tkach something totally different?” Have you asked yourself that question? Have you asked our LOVING GOD what was His purpose for such confusion and misinformation? Have you asked GOD why He allowed you to pay your hard earned tithes and offerings to an organization that claims His name as owner, for the purpose of spreading the GOOD NEWS of the SOON COMING KINGDOM OF GOD, and for the purpose of “nurturing” the called out ones, then change His PLAN in midstream? WOW! Talk about confusion!!!!
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BEFORE WE BLAME…OR THINK THIS IS THE DIRECTION OR WORK OF GOD MOLDING HIS CHURCH FOR THE “90s” DECADE, WE HAD BETTER THINK ABOUT THE FOLLOWING:
- Many members spent years of their lives following rituals that no longer have definition nor merit.
- Years spent sitting at Sabbath services for two hours and more (all day during the FEASTS) totally still, taking notes and listening intently–if not R.E.M. sleeping–to words of correction that don’t count today. Just throw that old literature away.
- People lost their jobs, their homes, their families, their marriages, and even their lives…for TRUTHS that no longer stand.
GOD SAYS HIS WORD STICKS…SO WHAT HAPPENED???? OK, SO MR. ARMSTRONG WAS WRONG, WHAT DO WE DO NOW? PUT FAITH IN MR. TKACH AND ARMY?
The Kingdom is here now…Born Again Christian…Trinity…Personal evangelism…Away with British Israelism (Lost Ten Tribes)…
We wish God would have listened to the Catholics and Protestants a long time ago. It would have saved us a lot of time, effort, frustration and money… money…money!!!!
Sorry! We don’t really mean to be sarcastic. If you knew the goings on behind the scenes in this organization—past and present—you, too, would have a few things to say!
Some people might think that the changes make everything right. How sad to think we as people can be so fooled. Obedience without questioning!!!!
Thought reform is conversion again
Thought Reform means conversion again. The country or organization slowly manipulates changes to suit the “powers” needs. It could take years. Some rebellion occurs, a business may experience a fallout, confusion is rampant. Eventually, over a period of time, the people should start to incorporate the mandates into their personal lives. Through Mind Control, the people start to forget the old way of life. A whole new Brain-frame is created for the purpose only the “powers” know about.
WCG has followed this regime pretty closely. Total restructure of the whole top Pasadena team. Old blood gone, New Blood in place. Doctrinal changes implemented slowly and methodically, the old books are burned (pulled off the shelves). If there happens to be a great fallout…so what!
I hope new recruits will replace the…rebels or dead wood.
“REPETITION IS THE BEST FORM OF LEARNING.” And repetition is what you get, until you get it. Get it? For example, in WCG, we just assumed everything we were told by the ministry was truth. WHY? Because they said it was…over and over and over and over and over again.
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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE CHANGES
Now that you’re truly born again, do you feel better? The Holy Days have nothing to do with GOD’S Plan. Oh, well! Chalk it all up to experience. As Mr. Ken Peterson says, “God’s people never get it right!”
- Mr. Kaplan, F.O.T. ’93 says, “You were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” My five page Baptism Letter doesn’t say that. Neither did Larry Wooldridge.
- We personally watched members close their eyes when passing a cross on the street like it was going to hex them or something. Now you can wear a cross on your chest, earlobes, or in your nose!
The list is too endless to write about. Take a look at the listing we enclosed for your information and come to your own conclusions. One more thing worth mentioning at this time is the August ’93 issue of The Worldwide News. Mr. Tkach explains how the God Family doctrine missed the mark. Mr. Tkach’s new understanding of the Trinity doctrine (Hypostasis) was changed due to a Catholic Priest’s request. Wasn’t the Catholic Church considered to be the “BIG WHORE,” if you will, just a few years ago?
Tkach says Mr. Armstrong was never formally challenged
Mr. Tkach stated the following in the August 8th issue, col. 1:
“Mr. Armstrong was never formally challenged on this point, and he never had to defend his teaching in the same way that I have been forced to do. I firmly believe that if the same facts had been brought to Mr. Armstrong’s attention that we have had to face over the past few years, he, too, would have made the changes we have made.”
And Mr. Tkach goes on to say:
“Mr. Armstrong’s integrity in putting the Bible and Truth ahead of his own teachings, when he was convinced of the facts is a matter of record. Likewise, when the Church today is challenged on a part of a doctrine, we have to be able to defend our doctrine from the Bible. Now we can.”
WOW! First of all, Mr. Armstrong was challenged by hundreds of individuals, churches, Christian cult watcher organizations and others by a GREAT DEGREE. That’s a matter of record! He DISFELLOWSHIPPED MANY ministers who questioned this matter. It is no secret that HWA DID NOT graciously change his teachings unless it personally affected him, such as the Marriage and Divorce Doctrine and Healing Doctrine. “NEVER CHANGE ANYTHING THAT WORKS.”
Perfect example of mind control
Whatever way you look at it, mainstream churches will certainly be pleased about the change to TRINITY, but it is doubtful whether they will be fooled! SECONDLY, THIS IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF MIND CONTROL!!!!
As we have already stated, we don’t take issue with the changes! However, our studies have taught us that the Doctrines we employed into our lives were completely taken out of context while the New Testament was ignored. We learned that WCG, like other Bible cults state their message and then twist certain Bible verses to prove their teachings. (We have found the book, SCRIPTURE TWISTING from SIRE Publishing to be very helpful in understanding and have counseled with professionals in this area.)
Looked objectively at the situation
As we have previously stated in this letter, we all, as WCG members, were strongly told to ignore opposing views, and throw away any opposing literature. Because of the “indoctrination” WCG members incorporate into their thinking, it is difficult to understand the thought we have laid out before you in this letter. As our critical thinking skills returned to us, we were able, without guilt of threat of fear, to assess the WCG situation. Through a “sorting” process, we were able to look objectively at the situation instead of passively sitting back, taking notes and accepting anything.
Sometimes we have to step away to see the FOREST THROUGH THE TREES.” We know this is NOT easy to do when that little voice keeps you reminded that “SATAN” is trying to attack you. He’s going to steal your calling. Or, sad to say, the dreadful LAKE OF FIRE awaits those who resist the “GOD’S WAY” routine laid out by WCG.
(Wife) attended the F.O.T. `93 in Lowell as a final conclusion to listening and discerning the message behind the WCG organization. It was appalling to witness the actions displayed by supposed ministers of God. We are ashamed that we supported an organization that allows its ministers to stand up at a podium in front of thousands and play “multi-level marketing games” with the offering. Slick competitive pitches for money. Hype about beating out Pasadena and Hawaii for BUCKS. How stupid do they think we really are???? Guess what? The joke is on us!!!!
Mr. Register entertained the group with a YOUTH DAY message called, “SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY.” His message portrayed the story of “Delilah” manipulating “Samson” in whore style. After carefully listening to this message, we both agreed that it was slanderous and abusive toward women. Then, to top it off, the members of “GOD’S CHURCH” were treated to a “Register-edited video produced by FOCUS on the FAMILY that due to the slick editing depicted women in a cheap, sleazy way. The message was supposed to explain false advertising. “LEARN to DISCERN” was the video name. Sex was portrayed vividly throughout this film, but the worst picture was a girl screaming in a tub, legs spread open toward the camera, horrified at the “Freddy Krueger” hand approaching her crotch. WHY did the little children have to be witness to such horrifying pictures? What right does anyone have to subject such disgraceful propaganda to thousands without their permission? What did this abusive message and edited film have to do with YOUTH DAY? What would DOBSON say about the disgraceful editing done to his film? Did WCG have permission to slice and dice a work of art to suit its needs? We wonder! We also wonder who is really in charge of your children????
Tkach’s message was loud and clear
We hope you will take the opportunity to listen closely to Mr. Tkach’s first Holy Day tape when it arrives at the church library. We have included some quotes on paper for your convenience. As he says, “Don’t obscure the deep meaning of the FEAST.”
Mr. Tkach’s message was loud and clear:
OBEDIENCE…SLAVE…AGGRESSIVE…DEFENSIVE…GOD’S ARMY… BRAINWASHING FOR CHRIST…USE SELF MIND CONTROL (These are interesting words.)…SHEEP AMONG WOLVES…BETTER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING OR YOU’LL BE CHEWED BY THE ENEMY…(That’s for sure!)
REV. 2:7 “HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES…”
Yes! Mr. Tkach’s message was loud and clear. Just as pointed as the famous “slap on the back of his head by his Dad when he was just a kid.” It is easy to discern that WCG hopes you will have accepted all the new Doctrines without question so you will be prepared to take the course consisting of fourteen videos and twenty-seven hours of instruction coming your way. Mr. Kaplan mentioned this at the Feast. Although he did not call it an intense indoctrination program, we like to name it “HOW TO RECRUIT, THE WCG WAY,” or maybe, “HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN TKACHEE SOLDIER FOR THE WCG ARMY.” At any rate, upon completion of the program, you will have graduated to “PERSONAL EVANGELIST FOR WCG.” (sounds a little like Amway, Tupperware, or maybe, the MOONIES, but you don’t get the paycheck!)
Return to subjects
IN SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
- It is not our purpose to provoke or anger you in any way with our lengthy letter and enclosed information.
- It is not our purpose to convince you to our way of thinking.
- It is not our purpose to lure you out of WCG or involve you with any offshoot “dissident” groups.
Allow yourself to think critically
Our purpose and hope is that you allow yourself to think critically regarding your life and dedication to the WCG organization. It was not an easy task for us to strip away that “FEAR PHOBIA” [OIU#4, p. 1] programmed in us to turn away from the dreaded facts about the TRUE WCG. The gift of CRITICAL THINKING involves looking at things from all perspectives; not just what one organization claims is TRUTH. We learned to rely on GOD and not FEAR him. He tells us He will never leave us. We trust Him.
Remembering your initial involvement with the “church” is very important to your relationship with the church today. You changed your entire life after purchasing the “wares” WCG sold. You did that thinking it was what GOD wanted you to do, because a “man” said so.
The old material (teachings, doctrines, experiences), was your spiritual childhood. You can’t just throw it away, whether functional or dysfunctional. You invested your future in it. Now WCG wants you to reinvest into something totally different. It also still claims God is directing the path.
If you can allow yourself to think without fear and damnation, you will learn that GOD has nothing to hide and He’ll be there for you while you “prove all things.”
Can be manipulated into anything
Millions of people in this country have been and are under Mind Control. Some people never come out from its influence. When under mind control, we feel “in charge,” even though our life is being run by someone else. When GOD is used as the FATHER/LEADER, it is even more difficult to think objectively. The world is wrong and we’re the ones with the right answer. With that “elite” thought programmed in our minds tightly, we can be manipulated into anything. The fine examples of WACO and JONESTOWN have proven that quite nicely. These victims were like you and us–same goals, same values, same dreams. Beautiful, intelligent GOD-FEARING victims all dead from Mind Control victimization.
Careful investigation takes time
No! We don’t think WCG is going to call you to “PETRA” any time soon. But we think you should investigate the total history, past and present, for your own well-being. Our careful investigation took time and we gladly purchased whatever books were necessary to reference and cross-reference. We used the libraries and called “anyone” who had experience. Learning about the dirt of the organization was only part of our recovery. We had to be willing to be confronted with the realization that we were taken. We had to learn why! We talked with ex-members from every level, evangelists to members. No one had an “ax to grind” with WCG. They shared their understanding and empathy and were very sympathetic, because they, too, lived through it.
There are parts of our letter that are quite cryptic. We mean no disrespect toward GOD. Borrowing a quote from a recently exited Elder of twenty-five years, may we say, “We have been where you are now, you have not been where we are.”
As we have reiterated so many times throughout this letter, we were shocked beyond belief to learn the real story, the actual facts, and just as shocked to realize we were caught up in it.
Yes, we like so many others left the organization…but we didn’t leave GOD. With our conscience, we could never believe that GOD’S hand supports the work of this group in any way.
Let us also say, we don’t think there is another group of people who with all of their hearts want to please God more. We hope with all of our heart that you live the “FREE WILL” that a wonderful GOD gave you. It’s your HUMAN RIGHT!
Was there a positive side?
Was there a positive side to “Worldwide Experience”?
Yes! WE will always remember the times we shared with so many of you on a personal level. As (wife) says, “She sang with her heart because you listened.” Hundred of members passed through our doors. We will cherish the memories.
We also learned many lessons about life the very hard way. No college in the world could teach us what this whole experience taught us.
We also want to THANK all those who were not afraid to call us out of concern for our absence. The cards and letters were so greatly appreciated. We were very saddened that Mr. or Mrs. Peterson never called us or communicated their concerns to us. Likewise, none of the area ministers or local elders bothered to call. When we think about how much we, like you, served and paid into the “church,” we would have thought that at least we could have been called to see whether we were living or dead. Another learning lesson!
Despite the rumors flying about regarding victims who have left the “church,” please know we are doing very well. As a family, we are closer and happier than ever.
Those who left
Lastly, so often during these past seven years, we have seen or heard of others who have left “the church.” We, like you, ignored their absence and settled for a passing rumor. We, like you, have judged them as being spiritually weak, without “understanding.” Well, for those who have endured this lengthy letter, have learned the REAL TRUTH as to WHY we left the WORLDWIDE —— OF —. If anyone asks you, “Where are the Stuhlmans?” feel free to say, “The Stuhlmans were ‘spiritually raped’ and they left the CULT that was responsible for the crime. They are doing just fine now, like so many other fortunate people and have resumed the spiritual education they set out to do seven years ago!”
With considerable thought, research and caring,
L. A. Stuhlman and family
Written and mailed in 1993
Note: L. A. Stuhlman, founder of ESN, was active from 1993 to 1999.
Note: Joseph W. Tkach died September 22, 1995 of cancer at the age of 68.
An Open Letter to Joseph Tkach, Jr.
Forthright letter which boldly confronted Tkach about the way the changes were made; covers double messages, half-truths and guilt placed on members during the changes; abuses of members; mentions Earl Williams.
From Victim to Survivor (Take Back the Power) by L. A. Stuhlman
Confession and Freedom from Specific Cult/Occult Strongholds (Includes Worldwide Church of God and any Herbert W. Armstrong splinter group)
1 David Koresh and his members all kept the Seventh Day Sabbath and also believed the books of Daniel and Revelation had been unsealed. They claim to have The Key of David. They teach that the Daily has been taken away. They give the identification of the tribes of Israel today. They teach about the Elijah messenger. They hold to clean and unclean foods. They teach about the two trees, and the two witnesses. They also claim to understand the firstfruits harvest. They claim New Truth and New Revelation. They distinguish their faith as special and unique and they believe they are God’s chosen people and are living in the end times. (information from their official website, 8-02) This is very similar to the beliefs of the Philadelphia Church of God.
2 Cult Awareness Network (CAN) is no longer a recommended resource. It was bankrupted by Scientology and is staffed by its operatives. Any mention of CAN in this letter was before this took place. More information on CAN is contained in this offsite report.
The Ambassador Report helped many to leave the Worldwide Church of God through its exposé of the organization. In the beginning Trechak and the team he worked with appeared to have a very noble goal. But after awhile, the message in his AR became mixed, causing people to become bitter instead of being on the road to healing. Later reports were referring readers off to agnostic, aberrant, meta-physical, humanistic, and anti-Bible sources through comments, letters, addresses and book titles. John Trechak died September 2, 1999. The AR is now posted on an atheist website.
4 Michael Snyder later joined United Church of God-AIA. (Read under “Michael Snyder” in OIU 3, pt. 2 about him.)
5 “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