Garner Ted Armstrong Exposed
If you are planning on becoming a member of Intercontinental Church of God, it behooves you to research the background of Garner Ted Armstrong, the founder, to see if he was truly was a “man of God” who followed what he taught. If you are a former member of ICG, hopefully our articles, testimonies and letters will be helpful.
Garner Ted Armstrong founded the Intercontinental Church of God and The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, both located in Tyler, Texas. His booklets and TV programs emphasized problems in society and newsworthy items that he believed related to Biblical prophecy. Many people joined his cultic organization after listening to him speak, or after subsequently sending away for a few of his “interesting” booklets.
Note: If you have a loved one who has recently gone into this group, or is becoming involved, be sure and read: If You Have a Loved One in a Deceptive, Exploitive Group.
Note: Intercontinental Church of God was previously known as Church of God International.
GTA taught many of the same doctrines that his father, Herbert W. Armstrong taught, such as:
God is a “family” consisting of two beings but that God is “reproducing himself through mankind.” Jesus is considered the “second member of the God family.” The Holy Spirit is the “spiritual extension of God,” and is considered to be only a force. The salvation process according to ICG is includes being called by God (into the true church), repenting of sins, baptism by immersion, receiving the Holy Spirit by having hands laid on, then “living a life of faith and obedience” (which includes obeying the Law which includes the 7th day Sabbath, annual O. T. holy days and tithing), and finally being born into God’s Kingdom as a spirit being. They also hold to a 2nd resurrection where “all those who never had a chance to understand God’s way” (i.e. Herbert Armstrong’s dogma) will be given their “first opportunity.” Those who don’t qualify and reject “God’s way” will be thrown into the Lake of Fire where they will be annihilated.
GTA was suspended from the Worldwide Church of God in 1971 for “sexual sins”; however his father told the members that his son had “emotional problems.” He was later reinstated before the first of 1972 and again suspended in May 1972.
GTA’s sexual infidelities were never admitted publicly by HWA, but repeatedly covered this up.1 Then in 1973 it became known to the ministry that Garner Ted Armstrong had been committing adultery with a large number of Ambassador College girls, coeds, baby-sitters, and other women. However, there were other ministers who had known of GTA’s sexual improprieties since the 1960s.2
1973 Communiqué From The Council Requesting Garner Ted Armstrong’s Removal (This was directed to Herbert Armstrong expressing why GTA was not spiritually qualified to remain in high office.)
From the 1970s on GTA continually “repented” and “repented” of his rampant immorality and sinful lifestyle, but was never known to change.1
Eventually in 1978 GTA was permanently ousted from WCG, the reason given was that Herbert W. Armstrong felt his son tried to turn the church into a “secular and worldly organization” while HWA was ill. However, GTA said the real reason for his being ousted was that he threatened to expose Herbert Armstrong regarding his incest (which he had found out through his [GTA’s] wife.3 After that incident, he and his father never talked to each other again. GTA (along with Guy Carnes4 and Benny Sharp) then founded the Church of God International (CGI) in 1978.
Garner Ted’s bisexuality had been known by others for a long time. In William B. Hinson’s book, The Broadway To Armageddon, p. 114, Ken Westby says to GTA in a 1974 letter, “Testimony from a man who observed you propositioning a young fellow on the street in southern California.” Ambassador Report #61, March 1996 also claims Ted was involved in a sodomitic relationship as a young man, but his father, HWA, pulled him out of it. It was understood that GTA could pursue all the girls he wanted, but he was to shun same sex unions. (Note: Read ESN’s comments about the AR.)
Criminal Charges & Sexual Improprieties
Finally in 1995, criminal charges were filed against GTA in Texas by Suerae Robertson (a licensed vocational nurse whom GTA had hired for massage therapy). GTA was videotaped unknowingly at the time. Exit & Support Network™ was first to get this story out and handled calls from reporters, attorneys, phone conversations with Suerae Robertson, and others involved.5 As a result of ESN’s exposure on GTA, he lost a lot of members from his church and the group fragmented. (OIU Volume Six, pt. 7 mentions this exposure of his sexual improprieties.) On July 11, 1997 Suerae and her lawyer appeared on the Geraldo Rivera TV Show, “Sex, Crime and Videotape,” concerning GTA’s behavior. When Geraldo aired the video, it was testified that pictures of naked women were seen tattooed all over GTA’s body. This and other depraved behavior by GTA was reported in an article in the New Times Los Angeles.
There have been other allegations against GTA by others regarding sexual improprieties. GTA’s last known affair was with a young woman less than half his age from Louisiana area. She had almost become his daughter-in-law, but after GTA’s son David broke off his relationship with her, GTA started seeing her. The affair lasted several years, ending with the masseuse incident.
Garner Ted Armstrong and the Masseuse (The report regarding the sexual assault)
In addition, GTA had been observed over the years in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Reno, gambling for high stakes and drinking alcoholic beverages.
The Church of God International Board of Directors finally removed GTA in 1998 from all positions he held in the church.
Letter Regarding the Immorality of Garner Ted Armstrong (Distributed to Church of God International Brethren. This excellent letter may be applied to all cases of evil that is propagated by those who have absolute power, no matter the name of the group.)
“Honey I Shrunk the Church” (New Times Los Angeles, December 4, 1997) (GTA is mentioned, starting with “The reported high jinks of the younger Armstrong, however, became more difficult to dismiss.”)
After parting ways with the CGI, Garner Ted Armstrong founded the Intercontinental Church of God in 1998.
Death of Garner Ted
Garner Ted Armstrong died of pneumonia at age 73 in a Tyler, Texas hospital on September 15, 2003. Before he died, GTA’s program was heard on over 100 cable stations in North America. He spoke at different conference centers around the country, advertising himself as an “internationally known evangelist and commentator,” and “world known.” His organization has a small TV outreach, plus a few radio stations. Intercontinental Church of God, in association with The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelical Association, publishes the Twenty-First Century Watch, a quarterly publication.
Carrying on GTA’s Work
After GTA’s death, his son Mark Armstrong6 spoke to the press that the ICG has an enormous responsibility to “carry on his work and to make sure his voice will not be silenced.”
ICG’s home page states: “The work undertaken by Mr. Armstrong is far from finished. Perhaps now more than ever this world needs to be warned of the coming tribulation.” It is unclear at first whether this statement is referring to Mr. Herbert Armstrong (GTA’s father) or Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong (now dead) but when taking into account what Mark Armstrong said one can assume they mean GTA since “Mr.” is used to address all their ministers.
They add: “The clear, straightforward Bible teachings of Mr. Armstrong stand in stark contrast to the convoluted dogma of much of mainstream Christianity.” This is simply a repeated lie of Herbert Armstrong as he often spoke against mainstream Christians who, according to him, could not be true Christians since they weren’t in his “one true Church” believing the doctrines he taught.
ICG has a Bible course online with three brief lessons: The first one is on “God,” the second one is on “The Bible” and the third one is on “Jesus Christ.” The longest lesson is on “The Bible.”
The lessons are filled with the same false doctrine as mentioned above and are patterned after HWA’s Ambassador College Correspondence Course with the same multiple choice quizzes and yes and no or false or true questions at the end that one is to submit.
Note: A much better option than ICG’s Bible course for studying the Bible is Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee or Bob George Ministries with Bob George. A description of both are listed on our Links.
ICG also has “Bible Studies” online which are composed mainly of a question sent in that they answer by taking Scripture out of context to give the answer that fits with their (HWA) false doctrine narrative.
Many members have left Intercontinental Church of God and there has been no television outreach program for years. In 2004 Tom Kerry and several other ministers left ICG and formed what eventually became known as Church of God Ministries International.
What Were the Fruits?
Garner Ted Armstrong continued to believe until the very end that he was “God’s messenger” with the “truth of the Gospel.” His sermons and booklets contained an air of carnality mixed with human reasoning. In a June 22, 1998 sermon entitled “Signs to Watch” he presumptuously said that many in the “churches of God ” (i.e., the Worldwide Church of God offshoots) will never be in God’s Kingdom unless they overcome a major stumbling block–that stumbling block being him.
One must ask, what were the fruits of Garner Ted Armstrong’s life? Was it good fruit or evil fruit? Did he ever truly bring forth fruits worthy of repentance? Repentance means to “change your mind.” It means to be restored to fellowship with God. A true Christian will want to live a holy life. (Romans 6:19; II Corinthians 7:1; I Thessalonians 4:7) He will take correction from the Scriptures. He will not seek favor from man, but from God. Did GTA ever do any of these things?
Much has been written on other websites regarding GTA’s repulsive lifestyle and how he constantly made excuses and covered up his sins. How can members continue to trust these kinds of leaders to lead them in the inspired Word of God?
By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
Updated June 4, 2021
“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient,
and unto every good work reprobate.” ~Titus 1:16
Related Letters & Articles:
Garner Ted Armstrong Knew About the Money Racket (letter tells how GTA stayed because of the money)
Stories About GTA Are True (letter tells how GTA was an expert at twisting the truth, rewriting history, etc.)
My Journey From the Depths of Despair (This man was influenced by GTA’s teachings in Church of God International and almost ended his life.)
Confession and Freedom From Specific Cult/Occult Strongholds (includes WCG, PCG & all offshoots)
1 Many of GTA’s sexual improprieties were printed in Ambassador Report #2, 1977. (Note: Read ESN’s comments about the AR.)
2 Al Carrozzo (one of many ministers who resigned from WCG during this period of time, see Worldwide Church of God History) stated that he had known about GTA’s sexual improprieties since 1965. (Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1974) Also read, Hanky-Panky and Revolt in the Worldwide Church of God which covers Carrozzo.
4 Guy Carnes was principal of Imperial Schools at Big Sandy, Texas. He later became one of the three founders of Church of God International (GTA). He died of cancer on November 2, 1999 at the age of 72.
5 The Exit & Support Network™ investigated and covered this GTA sexual assault lawsuit and has a 200+ investigative report in our files on the lawsuit that was waged against GTA when he molested Suerae.
6 Garner Ted’s son, Mark Armstrong, now heads ICG and the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, teaching the same Armstrong doctrines. His mom Shirley later became vice-president of the GTAEA. Shirley Armstrong died on October 17, 2014 at the age of 79. She attempted suicide at least twice in the early 1970s. She was the daughter of Roy Hammer. (See OIU 6, pt. 5 and search for the words “Buck Hammer” for more info on Buck and Roy Hammer.)