To be a member in the Philadelphia Church of God entails observing certain rules and regulations. PCG definitely adheres to HWA’s ideas. Dresses are to cover the knees even when sitting. As far as necklines, no cleavage at all! Some members said perms were not allowed, but that was news to me, and while in the PCG I had one or two perms. Coloring hair was out. Makeup is not allowed, but if someone is considered a “prospective member,” rather than a “member” it’s possible that some ministers (more than likely the local deacon, as most church areas don’t have full time ministers) may be somewhat lenient about certain areas at first; i.e., makeup, just to keep membership up. However, when we first starting attending in 1993, I asked John Amos about makeup and he gave me a bunch of HWA articles and called it the “makeup” kit.1 I did notice some women at services that had light makeup on, including one of my relatives (who wore more makeup when she was at work). Truthfully, I don’t think the “men” at services really noticed as it was very natural looking makeup.
As far as tithing the PCG likes to use the Scripture in Malachi that says you are stealing from God if you don’t tithe (Mal. 3:8). They keep tract of you more if you work at headquarters and miss tithing, though. In fact, I know for a fact that reports on those employees are checked to see if they tithe the full amount. Yet there is no way for HQ to know how much “gross” a layman makes to determine if they are tithing or not. They also assume that women don’t work. Two years ago when we were in PCG ( that was our ” third tithe” year), we had several kids and only one income, and there were many weeks we only sent in first tithe. Sometimes we would send in a partial third tithe. We didn’t counsel about it with any minister, nor did we tell anyone else our business. The PCG never contacted us about it. I doubt if they knew what our income was.
Our PCG congregation (and probably most of them) was extremely critical and judgmental.
Everyone was always looking to criticize someone for how they were dressed or if they missed a week or two of church (whatever the reason). One elderly man was handed a bag of used ties, since his were older and not so nice anymore. He was quite insulted! My husband told me about that one. I was called a “Laodicean” (which the PCG hates) behind my back (but my husband overheard), because I wore a pantsuit when it was extra cold. I had to be on the floor a lot, caring for the baby, but “they” didn’t care about that!
Members will try to discredit anyone speaking out against PCG, and they practice shunning of members if anyone doesn’t obey all the rules.
NOTE: Ever since Herbert Armstrong wrote that the reason for the “falling away” was makeup (Worldwide News, November 16, 1981, “How Subtly Satan used MAKE-UP to Start the Church Off the Track: How Satan began injecting liberalism into God’s Church”), Gerald Flurry has used “makeup” as the reason for the “falling away.”
Also see: Herbert W. Armstrong (many articles)
Footnotes by ESN:
1 Herbert Armstrong had a booklet distributed in the earlier years entitled, The Truth About Makeup which said a woman looked like a “whore” if she wore it. (Makeup was later allowed for a brief time in the WCG (when he was married to Ramona Martin), then later forbidden when HWA came out with a strong article against it in November 16, 1981 Worldwide News.) Nevertheless, there were a few women who wore very light makeup at services, and more makeup on their jobs–even coloring their hair–and were not “caught.” The “great falling away” that Flurry began teaching about began with this makeup rule. He said that the ladies in the WCG led the men, just like Eve led Adam into sin, and that it was their “vanity” with makeup. Flurry taught that once the WCG opened the door to sin by allowing makeup, next they changed the healing doctrine, which then “destroyed the faith” of those who were already weak. It was all the woman’s fault for trying to be “over the man.”