Written during the new changes in Worldwide Church of God
Manipulation, deceit, coercion and blame were heavily used in getting the new changes across, along with using “change agents.“* This letter was written to author Janis Hutchinson who succumbed to the propaganda by WCG and looked only at the doctrinal changes that were coming, and not at the abuse.
Two letters are included from Michael S.
[all caps are the writer’s; words in brackets ours; we have given headings to make reading easier]:
Begin Letter #1 from Michael S.:
May 23, 1996
I just received your letter and. really am quite puzzled by it. You speak continually of “past abuses” as though you aren’t aware of any current abuses. Unless I’m mistaken I’ve told you of several instances. Janis, I STILL ATTEND CHURCH ON OCCASION WITH THE WCG [Worldwide Church of God]. My observations are current. My contacts are current. Apparently you misunderstand what is being said. When the ex-members say “there are no changes,” THEY ARE AWARE THAT THERE ARE DOCTRINAL CHANGES–BUT ARE SPEAKING OF THE MIND SET OF THE MINISTERS, THE WAY THE CHURCHES ARE CONTROLLED, MANIPULATED, THE MEMBERS TREATED AS CHATTEL, THE ISOLATION, ETC.
Yes, some of the Ministers have apologized for wrong doctrines being taught; NONE HAVE ADDRESSED THE ISSUES OF MIND CONTROL, PHYSICAL ABUSE, SPIRITUAL ABUSE, ETC. ETC. ETC. Instead, what is said is that there were errors in doctrines. HOGWASH!!! There was and is institutionalized evil here. This is not a question of aberrant behavior or sins of an individual that steals, lies or abuses members. THIS IS DELIBERATE, INSTITUTIONALIZED, DAY AFTER DAY, ABUSE BY EVERY ONE OF THE OLDER MINISTRY. THE MINISTRY WILL NEVER LET THE MEMBERS GAIN FREEDOM. TAKE FIDEL CASTRO AS THE EXAMPLE AND MULTIPLY BY THE NUMBER OF CURRENT WCG MINISTERS AND YOU WILL HAVE A TRUE PICTURE OF THE WCG AND THE POSITION OF THE MINISTRY AS A WHOLE.
Ministers Will Never Let the Members Truly Be Free
Castro will never let the peoples of Cuba go, neither will the Ministers ever let the members truly be free. They will, and are, maintaining their positions, and status, at all cost. The Ministers are nice, educated, personable people, with good-looking, talented, intelligent wives and children. This has absolutely nothing to do with the members. They are truly a pitiful lot, AND ARE INCAPABLE OF HELPING THEMSELVES. PEOPLE, SUCH AS YOU, ARE THEIR ONLY HOPE. The way the members have been-indoctrinated THEY CANNOT EVEN WANT FREEDOM. They WANT slavery, and to be ruled over, just as the Cubans seem to want Castro.
A Knowledge of Mind Control Was Needed
Mr. Covington’s actions, in my opinion, was a total loss in his church area. I don’t think any got his message during his year here. He tried very hard and very professionally taught the freedom the members have in Christ, BUT THAT IS NOT ENOUGH!! They must also have a rudimentary knowledge of mind control and thought reform, and a rudimentary understanding that the WCG was a business AND AT TIMES A CRIMINAL BUSINESS.
The reason you are flooded with ex-members tales of abuse, etc. and no current members IS THE CURRENT MEMBERS CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES, THEY DO NOT HAVE THEIR “RIGHT MIND.” THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES. With the mind control and conditioning they’ve had they have no options. Even the majority that leave have gone into the same type system [Armstrong offshoots], not knowing they are injured, in a medical way.
WCG’s Original Plan Put on Hold
Janis, if you cannot see, and know these things, the members are essentially without hope, as the whole world has embraced WCG as repentant. The WCG has had to alter their plans, as the loving accolades embraces the excellent press, the prestige of being a repentant cult was totally unexpected. Apparently their plan was to ultimately to have the WCG go bankrupt after selling off all the assets worldwide and disposing of the monies. The organization and “church” would still exist under the name “The New Covenant Church in Christ,” [this was the first name WCG considered using] but would be forever beyond any legal entanglements, suits, etc. as the corporation WCG would no longer exist. WCG watchers have discovered many corporations here and overseas set up by the WCG in the name “The New Covenant Church in Christ.” But this plan has been apparently put on hold because of the totally unexpected support, encouragement, excellent press, endorsements etc., etc. All of a sudden the ugly duckling was a swan and everyone’s darling. Christianity loves the WCG, but they are totally oblivious that the WCG they have embraced is only the Ministry.
Members Only See the View Inside
THE MEMBERS ARE STILL THE LIVING DEAD, ZOMBIES, EMOTIONALLY DEAD, FORGOTTEN BY THE WORLD, KIND OF DAZED, NOT REALLY CAPABLE TO SEE THE WORLD OUTSIDE THE WCG, ONLY THE VIEW INSIDE.
I like you very much and truly wish to meet you some day. But frankly your letters sound as though you are trying every way possible to embrace the WCG. You appear to accept at face value everything Tkach and company say, while chalking up all other information as “bitter ex- members.”
Spitting in the Face of Ex-members
The whole evangelical community for all practical purposes is spitting in the face of ex-members. They are labeled bitter, soreheads, etc., etc. When the truth is THEY ARE THE EXPERTS OF THE WCG. It would take you 24 years to know the WCG as I do. The vast majority spend time, effort, and money resisting the WCG because it is the Christian thing to do. It is also the right thing to do. I am very weary of it for it allows the WCG to win by default; every minute I spend writing letters, every dollar I spend in copies or postage or telephone bills, is one more minute and one more dime the WCG has stolen from me.
Ministry Perpetrating Abuse
I will answer the questions you ask of David in your last letter:
# 1. Yes there is abuse in other regions, it is endemic to the whole organization. The ministry would have to be to be replaced for any hope of it ever changing.
#2. Yes, the Ministry is perpetrating this. They were trained this way, they are all sociopathic. It is the will of headquarters to continue ruling over the members through the Ministry. It would not take months, or years to free the members from mind control. A Six week study of mind control and the history of WCG would suffice to free them (my opinion). The Ministry doesn’t want to change, the positions they had are the cushiest, best jobs on earth A multimillionaire could not approach the life style of a Minister. They were, and still are, Kings and Priests in their areas, AND BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE SO. There will never be a member “healed” by a Minister, no matter what the program set up by headquarters is. The WCG is already seven years over into it’s program and essentially NO ONE HAS BEEN HELPED YET.
#3. Yes, in all probability Glen was lying to you. BUT WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE IT AS SUCH. A sociopath doesn’t recognize lying, nor guilt, all they do is “right” in their own eyes. At first when I became aware of the truth of the WCG, for many months I conversed with probably 25 top men and Ministers. Essentially EVERYONE AT HEADQUARTERS. Absolutely every one lied to others of our conversations, denied the conversations, took whatever action was in the best interest of keeping the members in the WCG. After a while it became clear that something was terribly wrong here, this was not normal behavior. I am not lightly saying that ALL are sociopathic. The selection process at Ambassador, the psychological testing, the personality testing, the intelligence testing apparently was weighted in that direction (this is true only of candidates for the Ministerial program). It is not a compliment to a person to have been selected for the Ministerial track at Ambassador. The tendency toward sociopathic behavior was “enhanced” by Ministerial training etc. Ministers absolutely cannot even recognize it when they lie. In a local congregation ANYTHING a Minister wishes to do is LAW, he really has GOD LIKE POWERS, with no constraints. If anyone objects he simply disfellowships them.
#4. The remark about “changing the course on the members… might be lawyers present…” appears to refer to how incredibly deceitful, unchristian, this whole process of change has been. WCG has taken the position that the “ends justifies the means.” The means used thus far have been so horribly evil it’s beyond belief of ordinary people. The fear of a successful suit has tempered very much of their actions, and information about their actions they want members etc. to know.
Members Feel Tithing is Correct Thing to Do
#5. Your comments about tithing astounds me. You assume the members are normal Christians as in other churches. Their mind makes Tkach’s statement about tithing very heavy handed. I don’t think you comprehend the sacrifice members made. About 60% to 70% of their income was taken in tithing, serving, traveling to services. I know many members still paying 3 tithes. Most feel it’s correct AND MINISTERS DO NOT DISCOURAGE THAT FEELING. To my knowledge every member of the [name withheld] congregation still tithes and would feel incredibly guilty and cursed if didn’t. THEY STILL HAVE A COMPULSION TO TITHE AND SACRIFICE FOR GOD. They cannot distinguish between “God” and the “WCG” and the “Work” all are the same to them.2
#6. The obligation you feel toward members is appropriate. If those on the outside don’t champion their cause they have no hope. They have no more say so about their fate than did those of Jonestown or Waco. That people feel that they “have free will” is proof of how ignorant they are of mind control and thought reform. Those at Jonestown and Waco COULD NOT LEAVE.
The Members Do Not Have a Choice
Not because they were physically captive, but they were captive in their minds. The chains were just as strong. Some of what you seem to feel about “freewill, free to do so, etc., etc.” would lead me to believe you would say to those at Jonestown and Waco–“Just leave and don’t drink the cool aid on your way out.” Like they really had a choice. I will say it one more time THE MEMBERS DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE, THEY DO NOT HAVE EITHER THE FREE WILL NOR THE FACTS TO MAKE RATIONAL DECISIONS WITH. Every single member I’ve spoken to (and that’s several) still feel they suffered for “God” and the “truth.” They still worship the WCG, and HWA as God’s end-time man or apostle. Their lives hang in shreds and they feel they are blessed. This is mass insanity on a grand scale.
#7a. Yes, you should keep the counter cult ministries informed. But frankly I’m afraid of what you would inform them. I don’t think you understand the dynamics of the WCG. I absolutely know that Ruth Tucker does not. She has injured the members in a gross manner. She is in the position of legitimizing those that ran Auschwitz, with no accountability whatsoever. WCG headquarters probably laughs at her behind her back. She ran face to face with evil and not only embraced it, loved it. When Michael Snyder won her over he really caught a big fish. He ultimately repented and left the WCG, labeling it for what it was. [Update: Read this part in OIU 3, pt. 2 “Michael Snyder” about how Michael Snyder later joined United Church of God-AIA, a Herbert Armstrong offshoot. (OIUs available as PDF download)]
Ruth Tucker Has Injured the Members
However his legacy in Ruth Tucker continues; as some mindless robot shoveling bodies into the furnace, she works to hide the bodies and build up those that destroyed them. I defy anyone to show one constructive thing she has done for the members. Her entire effort has been to legitimize the leaders. She even told me 3 years ago she didn’t care at all about the members, what mattered was the written position of the WCG. She also stated that if the members “didn’t realize the changes WCG had made, they could not read nor write and had to be living on the moon.” I wonder if she is aware that Russia has a constitution guaranteeing more freedoms than just about anywhere on earth. Unfortunately the Govt. ignores the constitution. I DON’T CARE WHAT WCG SAYS, I CARE WHAT THEY DO. WHAT THEY SAY AND WHAT THEY DO ARE VERY DIFFERENT. At the time she told me that Roanoke [VA] church had over 300 people NOT ONE KNEW OF ANY CHANGES.
I was labeled a liar by Carol Miller, Britten Taylor, Robert Persky, David Stone, Victor Kubic, Clint Zimmerman, and practically every one at headquarters. Because in private conversations they had discussed the changes with me. I then told others and foolishly told them to call those people if they didn’t believe me NEVER ONCE THINKING THAT THEY WOULD LIE ABOUT IT. EVERY LAST ONE LIED AND DENIED ANY CHANGES. SOME EVEN DENIED EVEN TALKING TO ME. I then resigned. I called a meeting with David Stone and every Elder and Deacon (about 10) and told them what was coming. I wrote a letter detailing what was happening and mailed to the members. EVERY WORD HAS SINCE PROVEN TO BE TRUE. I was disfellowshipped for telling the truth. MANY, MANY PEOPLE THAT RECOGNIZED THE TRUTH OF THE CHANGES WERE DISFELLOWSHIPPED ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. MR. COVINGTON NOW SUFFERS FROM TELLING THE TRUTH. Sadly so will you if you have the courage to tell the truth.
WCG Hates the Truth
The WCG cannot stand the light of truth. They hate it and they will stoop to nothing to avoid it. They have already started rumors about the “mental health” of David in Roanoke. A Deacon, Mike Kinsey, told me last Sabbath that Covington had a lot of gall to preach about healing to others; HE WAS THE ONE THAT NEEDED HEALING; HE WAS A TRULY SICK MAN MENTALLY, STATING HE WAS A BITTER MAN TOWARD THE WCG. This is so very typical.1
#7b. Do you really think WCG will ever give 70% of contributions back to local churches? If you do you are looking at some track record I’m not aware of. I would almost classify this hope in the same category with the tooth-fairy. The history of WCG, historical and current, is that monies travel a one way street in the WCG. that’s always up the chain. Nothing ever comes back down.
#8. Your statement on Minister salaries is appreciated. For the record I ran a survey of local churches and in every one members knew the salary and compensation package of the Minister. Mainly because the parishioners pay it and-vote on it. I attend a local Lutheran church and everyone in the congregation receives a financial package annually showing all income and expenditures for the church, including all compensation for the Pastor. This church has 800 members and the pastor receives $32,000 a year salary with $12,000 housing stipend and an insurance package, $4000 automobile allowance. In the WCG I am told that senior Ministers receive approx. $65,000 and Regional Directors a base salary of $120,000 per year, neither figure reflects perks or intangibles i.e. retirements, insurance, autos, etc., etc.
Local Ministers Live on the Back of the Members
But I tell you in all truth that a local Minister LIVES ON THE BACK OF THE MEMBERS. They mow his yard, baby sit his kids, supply his food-from. their gardens, repair his cars, paint and repair his home, add additions to it, even build homes for the Ministry. I know of many, many Ministers that literally had the members build their homes. The mind set of the members is that to serve the Ministry is serving God, AND THEY STILL ENCOURAGE IT. That’s why you hear ex-members say nothing’s changed. THEY DON’T MEAN DOCTRINE.
I’m tired of typing so I guess I’ll close. Please do the right thing. You can do so much good. I hope this letter doesn’t sound too critical as I truly need more friends and fewer enemies over the WCG.
*The term “change-agent” is New Age terminology. The change agent is a person or organization that changes or helps to change the beliefs, attitudes, or behavior of someone without their knowledge or consent, and to replace them with new beliefs and behaviors that will render the person susceptible to manipulation, coercion, and control. Read 2009 letter to ESN: WCG Guilty of Sensitivity Training (this also links to a 2001 letter: WCG Getting Others to Buy into the Changes which mentions “change agents.”
Letter #2 from Michael S.:
[The following parts are excerpted from the last of his letter, which brought out some excellent points]
March 12, 1996
Dear Janis, …
I suggest the following changes or fruits of repentance if the WWCG is sincere.
- Have Mr. Tkach divest himself of the ownership of the WWCG. Can or should one man own the “church”? Return true ownership to the congregations. Make full financial disclosure.
- Let the local churches control the tithes and expenditures, then VOLUNTARILY SUPPORT A HEADQUARTERS IF THEY WISH TO DO SO.
- Tens of thousands have given their lives, their retirements, their futures to the WWCG. Let them return some of the monies to those they abused in the form of retirement facilities for the elderly that have nothing left. Why does the Ministry which did these evils get rewarded, i.e. retirements, etc. when those that paid, borrowed and suffered get nothing from the sale of the assets? I suspect that the rate of bankruptcy among members is at least ten times the rate of the country at large. What price could you place on broken lives and children? I weep for the totally dysfunctional children and families that have been produced by this church.
- Distribute, at the very least, educational materials such as books, etc. free of charge to those they injured. Or pay for professional counsel for some. I can name several in this area that are truly in need of professional help for their mental state. If Mr. Covington has been totally unsuccessful in treating the members [in his area] for a year, how can the other areas be healed with the same process? In my opinion books such as Toxic Faith, Cults in Our Midst, Healing Spiritual Abuse, etc. and yours would have been much more effective than the “half ass” methods used. I must conclude that the WWCG is less than sincere in the effort, if after several years no one gets the message. …. The position of WWCG is like someone committing Auschwitz then wishing to forget the victims and embrace the world. Ignoring the bodies left behind them. In conclusion, please don’t help them conceal the bodies left behind by rushing to endorse them. Require more than just verbiage of repentance and change. Remember the Scripture that says a “good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit” the fruit of this tree has been evil from the beginning. It’s always been a business that deals in lies, deceit, and placing people in bondage.
Sincerely, Michael S.
NOTE: How much of the above did the WCG ever put into place?
UPDATE on WCG:
One of the “healing sessions” that Worldwide Church of God brought in (during the changes) to try and deal with members’ recovery concerns was called “Pathways for Peace and Healing.” This was in the form of seminars for local congregations. A search on this group shows that it is based on Shamanism, which is tied in with Reiki healing, a New Age and occult practice. (Read: Reiki a universal energy technique to heal and How the New Age Has “Creeped” Into the Church [covers Reiki].) The founder of Reiki was Dr. Mikao Usui a Japanese theologian who claims that Reiki came to him in a vision. By 2004 WCG was also using some of their own pastors to conduct healing workshops to reach not only outsiders, but their own members. Those who attended these “healing” groups have relayed to ESN how the ministers were getting tired of members’ “unforgiving attitudes,” and “demanded instant forgiveness”; and that members “weren’t allowed to feel anything else,” but were told to “move on and put the past behind them.” To do anything less was to be labeled with a “forgiveness problem.”
In 1995 Joseph Tkach, Jr., Mike Feazell, Greg Albrecht and Frank Brown were interviewed and stated that the WCG “cannot accept allegations that church teachings and practices are inherently responsible for personal dysfunctions.” (MacGregor Ministries News & Views, April 1995, p. 7)
In April 2009, Worldwide Church of God changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. (Some local church areas and countries may still carry the former name or a different one.) Today they have gone on to embrace New Age Teachers and philosophies. Read: Grace Communion International – New Age and Ecumenical Connections and On Apostasy–A Radical Proposal (Letter to WCG, Philippines) (this letter reached close to 350 WCG ministers, including those at Headquarters).
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.
What Really Occurred With Worldwide Church of God (GCI) (very important; detailed)
1 To label someone with “psychological problems” is to encourage depersonalization, which is the loss of one’s distinctive individuality as a human being. This is one method WCG has used to try to silence her critics.
2 Read: Techniques to Gain Control (This letter details techniques used on members especially replacing God with the “government” of the group.)
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