Best of the Letters From 2004
Taken Me Years to Feel Like an Actual Person:
January 15, 2004
I want to thank whoever has put this site up. Reading everything has really made me feel better knowing that there are other people who have dealt with the same things. I was brought up in the WCG and later Garner Ted’s CGI [Church of God International]. I feel like it’s taken me years and years just to be an actual person. I’m trying to figure out what I actually believe in. I’ve felt like my mind turned into a mess of rules and debates that started back in the WCG. I lied to conform to what I was supposed to do for my parents, and I lied to my friends at school, and it’s taken me a long time to stop lying even though I’m all alone now. I’m just excited to find this site. Thanks. –Child survivor of WCG
January 25, 2004
I always try to research important matters to prevent mistakes. I found your site and read and read and read. I want to thank you because I almost made a very bad mistake of sending away for Living Church of God‘s “Bible Course.” I said a prayer last night and asked for guidance and found your site today! Thanks again. –B.
Your Site Helped Me to Understand the Love of God:
January 25, 2004
Your site has helped me today more than I can put into words. I have been feeling lost, depressed, and more, with the pressure of life. I regularly attend church, but it is only today after spending several hours on your site that I just began to understand the love of God for us. My faith in Jesus Christ is ever eternal, and I feel that I must help those who don’t understand the ever eternal love that God our Lord has for us. I sinned some time back (adultery) and have asked our Lord for His mercy so many times, but it is only today that I finally forgave myself and understand that our Lord forgives me. –London, England
Robbed of My Childhood:
January 26, 2004
Reading your site brought me to tears. I always felt different than other kids when I was growing up and I feel I was robbed of my childhood. After reading all these articles and uncovering the real truth, it is really hard to soak in. Thank God you are there and I have prayed in Jesus name that if this is right to help guide me through this issue and teach me the correct path and what exactly happened. I do thank you for your time and anything you can do to help. The funny thing was, I prayed a few nights ago about this situation to reveal itself to me and show me the way. The first night I found some stuff about WCG and couldn’t believe it. I prayed and researched some more and found you. I wonder how many hundreds of lost souls are out there. Thank You, thank you so much. –Child survivor of WCG.
No One Would Listen to My Story:
February 7, 2004
Spending most of my life in WCG and finally leaving it 4 1/2 years ago, I’ve been trying to tell someone what happened and what I was left with. Only yesterday, I found out about your site. I wish I’d known sooner–I tried to tell so many people what happened but no one would listen and many only put more blame and shame on me for my mental confusion when I left WCG. Some saw my confusion as a way to add more manipulation and abuse. I’m glad you’re here.
I want to thank you for your concern and care for those whose lives were shattered by the religious tyranny and abuse dealt by the WCG. Since I’ve wandered around for over four years without support, I would like to know what information and tapes you have available.
Thank you again for being here. Sincerely, –WCG child survivor
February 10, 2004
The WCG changes brought me to the place where I could no longer overlook the lack of integrity, compassion and brotherly love in WCG. The changes seemed to start with a series of tapes by Dr. Stavrinides about the “Nature of God.” (see OIU 1, Pt. 1 “Adding to the Confusion”) The tapes themselves weren’t a problem. The way they were administered was. They were seen as “sacred.” To miss a Sabbath when a tape was played meant making up that time. That was when I noticed the fist of control tightening.
Shortly afterwards, our new pastor started conducting mandatory “leadership” meetings. They seemed to be brainstorming sessions but they really were carefully planned manipulation sessions. The theory was that he would indoctrinate a few members first and that would make it easier to get the rest of the congregation to comply with his wishes. We “discussed” what our orientation was as a church. People listed all kinds of religious ideologies. Seemingly caught up in the moment, our pastor, his face glowing with contrived emotion said, “I’ve got it! We’re Evangelical!” He waited to see the reaction. Everyone seemed to come to the same revelation. It was done as if we’d discovered our identity together, at that moment. I didn’t know that Headquarters had already told my pastor that WCG was now “Evangelical.” He used this manipulative tactic over and over, having the leadership group “discover” something that was now “all right with God.” It made me wonder if the leadership was affected–if not outright led–by a dark spirit.
Thank you again for your site. You’ve been very thorough in your research in the history of WCG and in providing links to related subjects in the personal stories. I admire your ministry and pray that God will continue to bless it. –Child survivor of WCG
Update: Using a “facilitator” to bring about changes in a church is a manipulation and is being used by many of the church growth proponents. See the book: Outcome-Based Religion by Mac Dominick. (Pages 179-180 cover how the “facilitator” is used.)
NOTE: We have received a number of letters concerning “The Passion of the Christ” and they are placed all together here:
“The Passion of the Christ” is an International Hoax:
February 22, 2004
I thought you and visitors to your site might be interested in this revealing review: Mel Gibson’s Film “The Passion of the Christ” AN INTERNATIONAL HOAX. This article is quite long, but one of the many appalling things it says about this film is that the woman who plays Mary Magdalene in the film is “a famous pornography star!” It appears that many churches and ministries across the country, including Focus on the Family, are being mobilized to promote this movie (which is filled with “historical inaccuracies” and a “Gnostic Jesus”) for Christians. How trauma-based mind control programmers use the viewing of graphic violence to control their victims is briefly mentioned at the end of the article. –Former member of WCG
Comment: Presenting a Gnostic gospel and a Gnostic Christ would be causing others to believe in another gospel and another Jesus. Is the promotion of this movie by top ministries just another case of hype in false Christianity today?
The Passion and the Truth links to several articles showing why Christians shouldn’t view this movie.
The Holy Spirit Told Me Not to Watch The Passion of the Christ:
March 4, 2004
With the way the current world is right now, I don’t think anyone could make a movie that would reflect the accuracy of Jesus suffering. I just do not trust this world and especially the things that come from Hollywood. If churches are teaching a false gospel, then what does that say for Hollywood? They are 100 times worse. That’s my philosophy. In an evil world, how can they make a good movie? Deceit abounds!!!! Jesus told us this. The Holy Spirit told me not to watch it and I listened. I don’t know how to explain it any other way. People (“Christians”) at work think I am too judgmental or weird, but so be it! They haven’t been through what I have been through and I have learned to rely on Jesus and His Word, not others. One man said he wept and wept and wept through the movie and he and his wife will “never hate again” and “gave up all anger towards others.”
The Scriptures that David J. Meyer referenced to about the movie were very enlightening. They reinforced my feelings. I pray to Jesus and He is speaking in my heart and He will remain there forever. –Formerly affected by HWA’s teachings
Reply: It seems that many are lining up to see this film simply because of all the propaganda circulating by neo evangelicals. One thing that isn’t brought out is that the gospels do not record the details of the crucifixion. As J. Vernon McGee said,
“The Spirit of God drew a veil over it as if to say, ‘There is nothing here to satisfy sadistic gossip. There is nothing here with which an idle mind should be occupied. It is too horrible.'”
Also, in his notes on Isaiah 52:14 he said:
“…it is not always a sign of orthodoxy to dwell upon the suffering of Christ upon the cross; sometimes it is only being crude.”
Jesus suffered at the hands of man in the first three hours on the cross, but he suffered for man the last three hours (when there was total darkness). This was His worst suffering. Christ actually became sin for us; the sins of the whole world being placed on Him; satisfying the wrath of God for sin in our place, with the Father forsaking Him. How could any film portray this? Hollywood has always distorted the truth of the gospel. Can we expect anything different this time around?
Note: A Wichita KAKE news article has said, “The movie has been criticized for its graphic portrayal of Jesus’ death. Religious leaders around the country and here in Wichita say people need to be prepared for the graphic brutality.” And Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun Times said “the film is the most violent I have ever seen. It will probably be the most violent you have ever seen.”
Death of Christ Never Meant to Be Viewed By Millions:
March 4, 2004
I want to warn anyone about viewing The Passion if they have ever been severely abused. This movie would prove extremely traumatizing due to its violent nature and amount of blood and gore. I haven’t seen it (nor do I intend to), but I have read about it. I honestly don’t feel we are to view on a screen, with millions watching, what our Savior went through. I know you have already linked to many about this movie, but here is one I found from one site you mentioned. It is quite long, yet very thorough about what’s in this movie: “The Poison in the Passion.”
One thing they say (which I agree with) is: “Beloved, the cross of Jesus Christ was the darkest, shameful, disgraceful moment in the history of the universe. It was such a shame His own Father could not even look upon His Son.” –Former WCG member
Comment: The author, Terry Watkins, of Dial-the-Truth Ministries, brings out many pertinent things in this article that show great discernment.
The Passion Not Even True to the Bible:
March 4, 2004
Hey, we know something is wrong when people like Hank Hanegraaff are endorsing this film (The Passion). They don’t tell you it’s based on the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, who was a famous mystic Catholic Nun that experienced some pretty weird things; i.e., levitation and astral projection. The film is not even true to the Bible, but based on her book of crucifixion visions! –Anonymous
The Passion Corresponds to the “14 Stations of the Cross”:
March 5, 2004
I think the article (booklet) on “The Poison in the Passion” was excellent. I haven’t read a review quite so in depth. I was amazed to learn that the entire movie corresponds to the “14 Stations of the Cross” (Via Dolorosa), a Roman Catholic sacred ritual. I need to mention one point, though. Please be careful in reading the part towards the end of the article on “the scourging.” I made a mistake in reading that and it caused me to have very troubling thoughts, even waking up in the night and having to ask Christ to take the images away and replace it with His peace and the knowledge of Jesus. I can hardly imagine how horrible it would be if the real images from the screen were allowed in my mind, with the music blaring in the background. I think this movie is wrong for all the reasons the author stated. Many Christians are giving excuses why they must go see it. Some, after seeing it, are declaring it is a “great evangelistic tool.” All I can say is they have received a great blindness over their minds. –Former member of Armstrongism
Comment: The “14 Stations of the Cross” is merely the Mass being played out, which is the continual sacrificing of Christ for sin. One of the things the author of this article brings out is that it is very irreverent for anyone to “play” or “act” as the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus said there were many times (during the filming) that he “felt like Satan.”
Update: It has been brought out by some reviewers that if Christ had been treated in the way it was shown in the film, He would have been dead before He reached the cross.
Three of the Actresses are Hard-Core Pornography Stars:
March 7, 2004
Reading over the emails about The Passion, you need to mention that there are three of the actresses (not one) who are famous hard-core pornography stars: the one who plays Mary Magdalene, the one who plays Satan, the one who plays Pilate’s wife–and the one who plays the virgin Mary played in a “bizarre death film.” If this film is supposed to be so great, why not choose actresses with a better reputation? –L. J.
Practically the Whole of Christendom Falls Over to Propagate Deception:
March 7, 2004
The Passion movie, I believe, has the potential to be the most deceptive and dangerous thing to be perpetrated upon the true church in modern times. Isn’t it amazing that Mel Gibson, a Roman Catholic, can come preaching another Jesus, and practically the whole of Christendom falls over itself to bear with him and propagate his deception?
“I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2 Cor. 11:2-4).
We live in perilous times. Keep in the Word! Watch and pray!
Yours in Christ, –H. S., Australia
More on Jim Caviezel:
March 8, 2004
This is another review about the man [Jim Caviezel] who played Jesus in the movie Passion. Notice the words “shamelessly express your catholic faith.” Someone sent this to me. I thought you may not have seen it.
“I have been scourged, crucified, and, oh yes, struck by lightning. I know from whence I speak. That’s why I came here to show this remarkable film that speaks for itself,” Caviezel told the 1,400 young adults in attendance at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students conference. “I want all of you to have the courage to go out into this pagan world and shamelessly express your Catholic faith in public! …You, my friends, by God, you must fight with Mary and with Christ as your sword.”
–Former WCG member
Comment: In “The Poison in the Passion” Caviezel also claims he has actually had fans bow down before him in worship.
Read: Mel Gilson’s Film: the Passion of the Christ (When this PDF file opens, search for the words: “The Passion of the Christ – a Film by Mel Gibson.” As you keep reading there will be three reviews: (1) Mel Gibson’s Film: The PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2) Five Reasons Not to Go See The Passion of the Christ and (3) Thoughts on The Passion of the Christ. These will show many objectionable elements to the film.)
Thank You For Exposing The Passion of the Christ!
April 5, 2004
I wanted to thank you for posting those links for The Passion movie. [See emails starting above with February 22] My husband was determined to see it, and after I read the links, I was determined not to see it. He told me that “people who write stuff against the movie are people who have not seen the movie” (kill the messenger); so I told him that the reviews I had read were written by level-headed people who did see the movie, and have exposed it for what it was. After he read the links, he no longer wanted to see the movie. You really don’t know what a invaluable service ESN provides in areas of discernment! You have saved another soul from tragedy (and it would have been very tragic). My son was begging his Dad not to go. He said, “Dad, you wouldn’t allow me to see violent movies, so why is it okay for you?” My husband has an inherited, neurological disorder, and he also has OCD. People with this play things over and over in their minds and can’t seem to stop (it has something to do with their brain function). I felt that if he saw this movie, it would imprint the graphic violence in his mind, and he would never be able to get rid of those images–ever.
My girlfriend saw the movie and told me, “I have no clue why Focus on the Family would promote this movie.”
As far as using three porn stars for his cast, does anybody have any idea why Mel Gibson picked them? It sounds very suspicious to me where Mr. Gibson has been spending time recruiting for actresses. Seems that men who have problems with pornography/sex addictions (like Rod Meredith and HWA) try to “redeem” themselves by “doing something great for God.” Could Mel have made this movie for another reason?? How could Focus on the Family completely ignore these actresses’ backgrounds? How many unsuspecting, single Christian men will go and see this movie, think Monica Belluci is attractive and want to know more about her, only to find her pornographic website, and be lost forever?
And finally, as my husband and I agreed, how much of the millions of dollars that Mel makes from evangelicals viewing this movie will actually go to any evangelical church or cause?? (Try “zero.”) How much of it will go to his Catholic agenda? How many evangelical Christians would willingly walk into a Catholic church and plop money into their offering plates? Yet, that is exactly what they have done.
I can’t express my gratefulness enough. I am so glad this issue is behind us now, but it wouldn’t have been had you not exposed this movie for what is was.
Thanks again! –Former WCG member
NOTE: This concludes our posting of emails concerning this film. We hope others will continue to search this matter out and pray for discernment.
May 14, 2004
The Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena that WCG has sold part of its AC campus to is radically Charismatic and associated with the Toronto Blessing. In reading their press release, the WCG states that Harvest Rock is non-denominational and began in the Pasadena home of Senior Pastor Ché Ahn in April of 1994. The ignorance of this fact is mind boggling. It is becoming more obvious that the new WCG is definitely going to the Charismatic extremes. If this was not so, they wouldn’t brag about who they sold their property to. No organization can be that ignorant. –Former WCG member
Update: Read: WCG Received Millions for Sale of Pasadena Campus (March 29, 2005 letter to ESN)
Feel Like a Bird Out of a Cage:
June 15, 2004:
I am an escapee from the Worldwide Church of God. I have found your website to be very helpful. I feel like a bird let out of a cage and appreciate all the help you have been to me. We still have some members in the WWCG and some out in a state of confusion. We have been out for some time and rambling around looking for a church, but I realize now, that until we deprogram, we don’t need another church. We just need to concentrate on healing and getting our minds free. –Texas
Your Site Brought Immediate Validation:
June 28, 2004
Firstly I would like to say thank you for your site. It has been of immense help to me and my brother who were brought up under HWA/WCG doctrines.
Once again, thank you so much for your site. It has been more helpful than I can describe. I know the work that goes into a website and we are heavily indebted to you. My brother and I were stranded in Liverpool UK all alone until I got the Internet and found your site! Just the realisation that there was actually an Exit & Support Network™ for people leaving the WCG and that the church was referred to as a “cult” brought an immediate validation of our pain. Reading the site has let us know that we are not alone, and given us hope for the future. With love, –Liverpool, England
I Found Parallels Between Jehovah’s Witnesses and Armstrongites:
August 9, 2004
I recently ran across this 1971 book by William J. Schnell relating his Thirty Years A Watchtower Slave. Although he is describing the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the methods of mind control could apply to Armstrongism. Another book I’ve read, The Watchtower Files (1985) by Duane Magnani, also caused me to draw parallels between JW’s and Armstrongites. I realize that cults employ similar methods to gain and keep recruits, but the similarities between the methods of Herbert W. and Judge Rutherford are so great that I have wondered if Herbert’s intense “Bible study” of the 1920s included a heavy dose of JW publications. Is there any evidence that HWA was directly influenced by the JW’s or do cultists just tend to think alike? –J. G.
Reply: HWA is known to have plagiarized from Jehovah’s Witnesses’ material (along with Mormonism, 7th-day Adventists, and others). This is brought out in chapter 3, p. 2 and chapter 6 of “Mystery of the Ages (a critical review)” by Kelly Marshall (search for the word “Watchtower”). (PDF)
WCG Was Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me:
August 30, 2004
Thank you for your website. I have really benefited from your Exit and Support. I have been spending hours reading it. I was a victim of WCG many years ago. I attended from 1965 to 1970. I received the Plain Truth magazine for many years before that and started listening to HWA and GTA when I was very young. I do not know when I really began to believe in them. It may have been when I was 16 years of age or younger.
Getting involved with WCG was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Because of this “church” I did not receive a college education when I was in my 20s, and because of that I have never had a good job. They took a lot of years out of my life and it has taken me many years to get out from under their programming. I think I am still dealing with it, all these years later.
It is such a shame that people have used religion as a scam to extract money, time, and effort from their followers. Religion should be a source of comfort and inspiration, not a source of fear and depression. –Former WCG member
September 30, 2004
I just read your article entitled Why We Thought We Had Such a Wonderful Time at the Feast. I grew up in the WWCG and exited a few years ago, and I must say your article rang a bell. You accurately described several negative aspects of the Feast. Beneath the millennial dream was an authoritarian nightmare.
However, I must admit that every fall I still long for a get-away similar to the old Feast of Tabernacles. You assert that a simple family vacation should fill the void, and that the “brethren” weren’t really family at all, etc. I don’t disagree with you. However, there was something absolutely wonderful about several thousand people gathered in a coliseum fellowshipping and singing hymns, especially with the expectation of an entire afternoon of great food, fun on the beach or at the amusement center, etc. Just milling around in the crowd was inspiring in itself. The buzz and excitement created by 5,000 people fellowshipping before services was absolutely awesome. As a child and later as a teenager, it was almost overwhelming.
Coming of age in the 1980s, I didn’t experience the harsh discipline and intolerance that earlier WWCG youth did, so my fond memories of the Feast might seem a bit skewed to others, and that is certainly understandable. However, the basic concept of a Christ-centered, family vacation with a group of several thousand people is still very appealing to me. In fact, it sounds absolutely wonderful, especially in the fall when the weather starts to cool, the leaves start to turn and the moon is bright. Unfortunately, the Fall Festival of the present day WWCG is the only thing I know of that is even remotely similar to what I have described. I have no doubt that I could attend one of the major WWCG sites, worship God, see old friends and have a wonderful time without being questioned about doctrinal or loyalty issues. Still I know what the WWCG is and where it came from. There must be something better, something between the old Feast of Tabernacles and the simple family vacation that you describe. If you honestly think I should just get over it, please tell me. Any thoughts on the matter will be appreciated. –Child survivor of WCG
Reply: Most of the time these wonderful feelings were part of the “high” that these groups all foster. I quote from an article by the late Dr. Paul Martin, “Dispelling the Myths” (about cultic involvement):
“In recovering from cultic life the issue that takes longest to resolve is typically the gnawing search for the love, fellowship, and caring experienced while in the group. … The tremendous fellowship and warmth that the ex-member longs for is often an ‘artificial high.’ Yes, the group experience felt great, but was it grounded in truth? Was it always produced by the Holy Spirit, or might it have been more on the order of a drug-induced euphoria? True, the addict maintains there is no better feeling in the world. But look at the result–a most pitiable addiction that wrecks lives health, careers, and often kills. While the group member was on a ‘high,’ he/she may have–at the same time–unknowingly repressed or dissociated emotional pain, doubts, and the tell-tale signs that his/her health was being neglected. Such “highs’ (which are not unique to professedly Christian groups) are psychologically and spiritually abusive. The experience for the most part produces in the cults a strong sense of dependence on the group and its leaders.”
Growing up in WCG kept many children from being aware of all the heads of households that suffered financially and emotionally–before, during and after the Feast. On the other hand, some children do remember fun times at the Feast, especially since they don’t have anything to compare it with. The members, however, saw the FOT in a little different light. They considered everyone at the Feast as part of the “one, true Church of God on earth” who had received “God’s truth.” The ministers caused them to focus on how only they of all the people on earth would be chosen to rule in the millennium to teach (“enforce”) others to be happy by “obeying God’s Law.” This in itself was enough to make them excited and exuberant to be part of such a large group of “God’s people.” And don’t forget that the FOT was played up weeks in advance in the literature and in the sermons. Take away the “commanded assemblies” (i. e., the services and meetings and all jobs that members had to serve on) and what would we have left? Just a large group of people (“family”) milling around, spending more money at once than we ever did the rest of the year. These exploitive groups were well acquainted with how to use methods of thought reform on us, and that included hypnosis. [Refer to the book, Snapping: America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change. Altered states of mind and personality can happen quickly or gradually in these groups.] Far from being the wonderful “church” we thought it was, the leaders’ sole motive was to exploit out of us as much money as they possibly could and control every part of our lives. That is the reality.
It takes a long time to work through these emotions and memories. Remembering the good times is part of our healing. You have experienced many losses, but trying to find something similar today is not the way to go. For instance, many Charismatic churches are reputed to be very unhealthy psychologically and spiritually and can create religious addiction. Along with writing about your feelings (either in a private notebook or to someone who will validate you), and spending happy times of togetherness with your family and friends, we recommend that you continue to read about cults and controlling groups.
Keeping the Feast of Tabernacles Was a Burden:
September 30, 2004
Isn’t it nice not to be keeping the Feast of Tabernacles anymore? I can just imagine all the stress we’d be going through right now. It’s so nice to be able to take small (and affordable) family vacations. We just got back from one. When you have small kids, a few days away as a family can be a lot of fun. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we had to drag all of our kids to some strange, far away place, and then have to camp out for 9-10 days. It’s a lot of stress having to eat out 3 times a day with small children, and then sit in services, and then rush around trying to enjoy all the activities, and then have to rush back and get ready for the next day. I don’t miss it. Keeping the Law was truly a burden, and now I know what it is “to rest in Jesus.” –Former WCG member
October 8, 2004
I am not quite sure how I got to your web page, but I was searching out something relating to the horrible, uninspiring music of Dwight L. Armstrong and felt that you had “hit the nail on the head.” It is unfortunate that the “churches of God” are still under the spell of Dwight’s awful music. All the best. –R. F.
Comment: Dwight L. Armstrong, brother of Herbert W. Armstrong, was used by HWA to write some of the songs in the Radio Church of God hymnal (Bible Hymnal) and in the Worldwide Church of God 1974 hymnal (The Bible Hymnal). He began this work for the RCOG in 1947 and originally “borrowed” many of his songs from old Presbyterian hymns. Yet HWA always told members that such Protestant churches were part of “Satan’s false church.” Dwight Armstrong died of cancer November 17, 1984 at the age of 80.
October 12, 2004
I would like to know if you could please pray for me. I have come out of the United Church of God and then I went to another independent Church of God and I have left that, too. I feel very confused and I feel like there are like a million things about the Church of God swimming through my head.
I sometimes feel like I am going crazy and I shake at night in bed thinking that maybe I have lost my salvation. I have been given so many “warnings” from others still in the UCG telling me to repent and go back to the “true church.” When I tell them that I no longer believe as they do, they tell me that perhaps I have lost my salvation and God has hardened my heart. They call me because they are “worried about me.” I feel like I never belong anywhere and I can’t seem to be able to not think about my past UCG life.
I have been told that I am lawless and don’t want to obey God’s commandments and that if I don’t, I will never receive my “ultimate salvation” and be “born again” in the Kingdom of God. I read my Bible and I have church of god theology swimming through my head. I feel like it’s hard to read my Bible and it’s hard to pray because I have so many condemning thoughts in my head. Please pray for me. If God doesn’t help me soon I am going to go nuts. I can’t handle this anymore. I feel cut off from God. I feel it is very hard to go to other churches and to trust people. Thank you for listening. –[name withheld]
Comment from ESN: This person has received a personal reply. See our articles in Healing From Emotional & Spiritual Abuse. Many suffer CPTSD after exiting these spiritually abusive groups.
October 27, 2004
It is true that Herbert Armstrong studied Adolph Hitler’s book and this is mentioned on pg.116 of Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web. –M. M. (Former WCG member)
Comment: Here are the quotes from that page:
“Members of his [HWA’s] alienated family report his strange reading habits. According to these accounts, he read, very carefully, even studied for a long period of time, Adolph Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf. He was especially impressed with Hitler’s methods of crowd control, his methods of intimidation and domination of other men. He was impressed by Hitler’s method of moving swiftly during the hours between midnight and dawn when he wanted to pull off a coup. (Hitler thought men’s resistance was weakest during those hours.) Events of recent years abundantly demonstrate the effectiveness of such methods. Of course, that was not the way Christ worked!” (Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web, p. 116)
UPDATE: Read March 5, 2006 letter to ESN: Herbert Armstrong and His Communist Friends and May 29, 2007 letter to ESN: HWA Used Mein Kampf as a Guide in Controlling People.
We Were Afraid to Question HWA:
October 29, 2004
I loved the tapes you sent by Richard Plache. He had a good personality and he was always very charismatic as I understand. I think that his questions were the reason that he was disfellowshipped. HWA could not have answered the questions that Richard asked about why he had slid parts of the old covenant over into the New and tossed the rest. Richard was bold for even asking “God’s apostle” such things. I remember in an old Good News letter where HWA informed one woman (who dared to ask a question that he did not like) that to question him was “like questioning Christ”! What a crock! After that we were afraid to question anything he said. –Former WCG member
November 2, 2004
I have been reading some of the letters on your site and just want to thank you for the informative site and to say that I can identify with those who are having trouble purging out of their minds and consciences the entirety of the teachings learned in the past. We tend to hold onto things that we perceive to be incontrovertible. But the exiter needs to know that nothing that HWA had (i. e., the so called “18 Restored Truths”) was viable, or of God. It was all the advertising man who learned his religion at the library. How many responsible men in the 1920s and `30s, who had starving families at home, spent their time in the library trying to find a way to make a fast buck? What kind of man could spend time at the library learning Hitler’s methods of thought control while his pregnant wife and starving children were at home with nothing to eat, and not enough clothes to keep them warm?
But God was never there. We assigned that position to HWA and GTA. Instead of coming to Christ, we chose to follow a man. We never questioned why a man, who thought the world was coming to an end in a few years, kept building those great and expensive buildings–and his own empire as well–at our expense. –Ex WCGer
I’ve Questioned HWA’s Death Diagnosis:
November 8, 2004
I’ve done some research on the cause of Herbert Armstrong’s death diagnosis and it is impossible for the physician (Dr. Ralph Martin) to have made that diagnosis which was “heart arrhythmias secondary to ventricular fibrillation” without a heart monitor being attached to the patient. I checked with the RN on duty at the time (Bob Herrington) and he said (as did Aaron Dean) when I later questioned him about the monitor) that HWA was terminal and there was no reason to have him on a monitor.
Also, there was no coroner’s inquest and with this much money and property at stake there should have been, regardless of the fact that he was terminal.
What got me to questioning the whole thing was the cause of death diagnosis combined with the fact that Ambassador Report #35, April 1986, gave an exact time of death of 5:59 AM, claiming that he was up in his wife’s favorite chair and died suddenly, even though they had been expecting him to go eventually. There are lots of questions:
- Who was standing there with a stop watch at that time of the morning and noting the exact time? The RN should have been busy if it was unexpected, attempting to give comfort measures, and to call in those who wanted to be there like family and friends. Herrington stated very coolly that he was alone with the patient and did not call anyone until after the death. Tkach and Aaron made a point of one of them being with him constantly from the FOT 1985 to his death, according to the same AR.
- If he were this close to death, why was he up in a chair at that time of the morning?
- Aaron Dean claimed that he had chosen not to be present at the time of death for “reasons of litigation.” Now if your best friend and mentor is dying, would fear of litigation keep you from being present?
- There was a night guard on duty and his name was Tony Alameda. According to my source, Tony was also an Ambassador student and went back to his dorm claiming to fellow students that “Tkach has just stolen the chancellery.” Tony disappeared after that day. [Update by ESN: Tony Alameda left Ambassador College and WCG right after that. Around 1998 he was in a serious motorcycle accident and only survived a few years, living basically as a vegetable.]
- One ex-minister told me that he knew that Kevin Dean (Aaron’s brother) “feared for his life” and left the area that day (January16th) and wasn’t seen for some years after that. [Update by ESN: Kevin Dean was arrested in 2019 and charged with child molestation and sexual battery on a child]
- HWA was always interested in higher education though he did not have one. He even bragged about how much better educated he was than the people in Oregon. He wanted to be called “Dr. Armstrong” and he started the college in order to train and educate the leadership to follow him. This was part of his “great and near-great” fantasy and he wanted to live it out and make himself a great name. Tkach, Sr. could not even pass the AC courses. Now that is strange that he would educate all these ones like Garner Ted and Stanley Rader, etc., and then elect Tkach, Sr. with a criminal history above those he had educated. I suspect blackmail may have played a part.
- I checked with the state of California and Bob Herrington was not licensed to practice there, though he was in Delaware. The other nurses’ stories were too pat and too glossy to ring true. I suspect a lot of “hush money” was passed under the table at the time. I am still attempting to check that out.
–Former WCG member; retired RN [name withheld]
I Asked WCG Minister About Their Selling Copyrights to PCG:
November 11, 2004
I asked the WCG minister in the Philippines if he was aware that his California based organization (now moved to Glendora, CA) recently sold HWA material to a known cult (Philadelphia Church of God) in Oklahoma)? I told him that would bother me if I were a member, which is why I do not join. His glib answer was:
“Yes, I am aware of that. You don’t know the full legal story behind it from the start so we must not judge on hearsay. Why not ask our WCG lawyer in Pasadena. In so far as I know, the WCG acted in the best interest of the gospel. Again, I happen to trust in the WCG leadership.”
Undoubtedly, he was referring to Ralph Helge. Oh yes, I know Ralph, and have for a long time. Ralph would send his own mother up the river if it paid well enough. Give me a break!
I asked him how he could call himself as one having the love of Christ and go along with selling cult materials to a known cult, knowing that those poor people are paying for that junk? Is that what he called a service to God? Worship of God?? (which he told me tithing was) I don’t think so. All he could repeat was:
“What you are complaining about was the old system.”
Well, we shall see won’t we??
WCG is afraid to be proven wrong. The leadership is afraid because they will lose power, position, and money. Their followers are afraid because they do not want to believe the WCG is just an extension of the Armstrong cult. –Former WCG member
November 16, 2004
I want to comment that I really appreciate the link on your site that leads to the church growth movement such as Willow Creek and the Saddleback Church. I haven’t yet read everything I can from all the links available through the articles, but the whole thing is a very informative process to go through.
It amazes me that so many in our society fail to see what strides socialism is making in so many important areas of our lives. One day it’s going to be too late. It has been through your site that I have come to realize how it has infiltrated the churches. I’ve clearly seen it in government, education, law enforcement, and the military.
I just learned yesterday that the pastor we fired not long ago was pushing this same stuff. At least with us he never had a chance to get it off the ground.
This is so important. I wish people would take a close look at what is closing in on us. You are to be commended for helping to bring it to the attention of any who will take notice.
My older daughter gave me a copy of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I’m sure she has no idea of the nature of this author and Saddleback, with which he is connected. I did read the book, but I had to push myself to read it. I did not understand why, but I found it to be a very difficult read. I didn’t find the language difficult. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but I knew I wasn’t “connecting” with what was in this book. I carefully read all of it simply because my daughter had given it to me.
Now that I have read so much through the link on your site I fully understand why my spirit couldn’t connect with the message in the book. Otherwise, I never would have fully understood why I had a difficult time reading it. Now, I know. At the time I was reading the book I had no idea who Rick Warren was and I had never heard of Saddleback Church till I saw references to it in his book. –Former WCG member
Comment: A related article is: The Seeker-Friendly Way of Doing Church. In it is an incredible description of Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago) and their marketing techniques to attract the unsaved (which are now called the “unchurched”). Willow Creek Community Church was described as having a large bookstore, an extensive eating area and food court, a jumbotron screen with which an overflow crowd–or those eating–can view what is going on in the sanctuary. Mega churches across the country are adding basketball courts, bowling alleys, exercise gyms, spas, Starbucks and McDonald’s franchises, and all for the “furtherance of the gospel.” Also read: Church Growth Movement: An Analysis of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Growth Strategy. Note: Rick Warren is a member of the CFR (council on Foreign Relations).
Herman Hoeh Converted to Buddhism:
November 22, 2004
I was just told the news about Herman Hoeh’s death on November 21.
When it was announced, did they forget that Hoeh converted to Buddhism during the early `80s? Of course, he stayed on as a WCG minister under Tkach (which shows that Tkach has several practicing idolaters in his church) because he wanted retirement pay.
The last I heard, Herman Hoeh was still visiting the Los Angeles Buddhist Temple. –Former WCG member [name withheld]
December 2, 2004
I just discovered that Basil Wolverton (illustrator and writer for HWA’s The Bible Story, 1975 in Prophecy, etc.) was also a “minister” in the WCG. He was actually baptized in 1941 and ordained an elder in 1943. Wolverton had Christian parents but became an agnostic until he started listening to HWA. Wolverton can call himself whatever he wants; i.e. Christian, but as Jesus says, “By their fruits you shall know them.” I think Wolverton’s fruits speak for themselves. I remember one Feast of Tabernacles when the minister handed out the grotesque and horrifying Wolverton drawings. One little girl, around 8-9 years old, asked her mother, in tears, “Is this what’s going to happen to Daddy?” Her father wasn’t “converted” and the little girl was putting two and two together. The mother was beside herself and didn’t know what to say. His drawings were not godly. It is obvious that HWA used Wolverton to instill fear and horror through his artwork, and Wolverton complied. –Former member of WCG
Comment: Monte Wolverton, son of Basil, says that HWA asked Basil Wolverton to draw horrifying pictures for his 1975 in Prophecy! booklet. This site shows almost all of the drawings in that booklet which you will not find in most of the booklets online as they have been removed. The 1956 booklet was in black and white. Basil Wolverton had a stroke in 1974 and died December 31, 1978.
Also read: WCG Never Published a Bible Story Book Based on the New Testament (February 12, 2009 letter to ESN)
December 3, 2004
Do any of the exiters ever write on things that helped their kids to overcome fear of those Armstrong teachings? That might be a good thing to add to the site since some still have small kids when they leave. Just a thought. Or maybe how they started new traditions with their kids after leaving to help them through the transition. –Raised in WCG, former member of PCG
Comment: The following letters are in response to the email above. These ideas apply no matter what high demand, controlling group the family was in. For more read: Should we observe “pagan” holidays? (Q&A) Note: Children, even at a very young age, are not too young to learn about accepting Jesus as their Savior and understanding that He will always be with them and help them through fearful circumstances.
How I Helped My Children After We Left: (Idea #1)
December 8, 2004
What I did was explain to my small children that I was in a cult, also known as a “bad church.” Then I told them why it was bad, and I focused on their relationship with Jesus. Instead of overwhelming them with too much information that would not register in their small minds, I focused on what would protect them and gave it as small, but persuasive, bits of information.
I taught them that God loved them, and that they need not fear Him. Later I taught them that no one in the world, no matter who they were, was qualified to get between them and God, and that they should question every single church or religious group that invited them. As a result, none of my children ever went into a cult or controlling church.
One of the worst things that the cult did was to put burdens on the little children. The only holiday that really bothered me, and still does, is Halloween. I eased them into not liking the day as I explained how evil it is in many ways.
I worried about the long lasting effects of the group on my children, but as they grew up I have seen that they are able to face the fact that what we were in was a cult. Besides that, it is almost a blessing now because they are very careful about their affiliations. –Former WCG member (exited 1987)
Comment: Halloween is covered in: Should we observe “pagan” holidays? (Q&A)
How I Helped My Children After We Left: (Idea #2)
December 8, 2004
I can tell you what I did with my children. When I “woke up,” I explained to them that there are people who lie about things so they can hurt other people, and that what they told us was a lie and I told them I was wrong for believing it.
I talked to them about God, and even when we were in the WCG I had story tapes about Jesus because nothing was taught to the children at services and I couldn’t understand why. Towards the last, I finally told one of the “deacon’s” wives I was not going to make the children do those insipid Y.O.U. lessons and that they were ridiculous. I had an advantage because the children were always with me and we could talk. My daughter was affected the most by WCG’s teaching because she’s the oldest, so when we found ESN by accident, it helped her greatly. We talked many hours and read all the OIU Newsletters. What more can one do? I think talking about it helped the most. I was just telling my 16 year old about how Satan is the ultimate legalist.
I hope you know how much ESN has helped us. –Former WCG member (exited 1993)
How I Helped My Children After We Left: (Idea #3)
December 8, 2004
NOTE: This has been posted in article form: It Was a Gradual Process to Bring Christmas Back Into Our Family
NOTE: Also read: Need Guidance in Praying for My Children (2003 letter with reply from ESN)
December 10, 2004
I know those in the WCG had their faith badly wounded. I think just getting away from the WCG is what helped us and building a future. We cannot allow WCG power over our lives by continuing to let it taint the true Word and what Jesus stands for just because of all the perversion they initiated by using the Bible and His name for their junk. I believe that anyone who wants to truly leave the past behind can by taking one day at a time and trusting Him to lead them to Him in His time and in His way. We can’t know the whys.
I do with all my heart believe in His promises and one of those being that He works all things to His glory and He loves us with the purity that Love should be. I know that no matter how long it takes He will demonstrate that Love until we get the message. I know nothing else to say except that we need to hang on to the hope that Jesus is. –Former WCG member
December 16, 2004
Ronald Dart has made a living off of other people working for him in one way or the other, just as did Herbert Armstrong. They either pay for his radio program (“Born to Win”), send him tithes and offerings, or volunteer to work in his “for profit” Christian Education Ministries (CEM). The main thing that he has going is his reputation and position, and many of the offshoots are into that now.
Alan Ruth admitted to his former roommate (my son-in-law) that he overheard Dart say at an FOT that he had “all the money I will ever need.” Interesting confession.
It all looks good, but he is just another religious huckster. –Former WCG member
Comment: OIU Newsletter #4, Pt. 4 (which mentions Dart’s beginnings) tells how Dart told an acquaintance that he “had a friend who was making millions with this kind of business.” UPDATE: Ronald L. Dart died January 24, 2016 at the age of 82. His “Born to Win” program has been airing on many Christian radio programs.
December 17, 2004
A shredding of papers took place in the WCG Business Office during 1979. Of course the current WCG denies this and certain ones who are pro-WCG try to diminish its significance. But John Tuit’s book [The Truth Shall Make You Free (Herbert Armstrong’s Empire Exposed) [See our Booklist] leaves little doubt that there was not only shredding of evidence, but much of the paper trail was transported out of the WCG for stashing other places.
It is my understanding that Authur Andersen was also hired to shred documents at tithe payers’ expense to the tune of some $50 million!
Also the letter that I had from the co-pilot of the GII claimed that while he worked in the mailing department, he witnessed boxes of documents leaving the business office at night during that time. –Former WCG member
Justifying HWA and Collecting Triple Tithes:
December 17, 2004
The old guard is still promoting the triple tithes in the “churches of God,” and Tkach, Jr. is still collecting triple tithes from the hard core group of Simi Valley, California. When I asked him why, his excuse was that he could not help it if they want to give him money! Of course he doesn’t bother to deny the cultish system of the past and acknowledge the abuses that were part of that system either. This is the part of the old covenant he likes (although there is no scriptural proof of triple tithes and never was, nor is there proof of monetary tithes in the Scriptures).
The splinter groups are sleeping through the obvious twisting of the Scriptures in an attempt to deny the past. If you bring up the subject of the past system and its horrific abuses, there is no regret on the part of most of the leadership of the past. There is rather, denial that it was that bad. –Former member WCG
Minister Finally Gets Sick of Me Asking Questions About HWA:
December 28, 2004
After the WCG changes our old minister got fired because he saw through some of the lies and refused to teach them. Then they hired a young guy who had been raised in the system. Time passed and the sermons were more and more evasive and never were really addressing or ministering to hurting people. I tried to keep a positive relationship going with the new minister, but then I decided to call the district manager, Steve Meyer. Well he was impressed with my “positive” and non critical approach to him, so he said, “Who are these people with all these problems and would you be willing to call a meeting with them and we can sit down and discuss it?” So thinking maybe this was a positive thing, I got together about 25 people and we all met at the new minister’s house on a Sunday afternoon. People got to express themselves somewhat. But as far as really addressing things, not much happened as you might expect. Eventually I realized I had been played like a harp. After all, what better way to appease folks than this? It occurred to me not much was said about Jesus. Go figure. Aren’t we supposed to be focusing on Him?
Then I found the ESN site and my eyes were opened to Herbert Armstrong’s incestuous past and I read many stories of people’s abuses. One of the ladies that I had befriended in the WCG talked to me once about how anybody who had committed incest really should be castrated. But Herbert Armstrong could do no wrong. This is what led me to talk to the new minister again. I phoned him and asked him about the incestuous stuff, and I think I did ask the district manager about it too. Neither of them denied it, but said, “It’s all in the past.” Then I told him of my “friend” in the church and her comments about Herbert Armstrong, how she kept him on a pedestal, and how her attitude would be towards him if she knew about the incest. He didn’t even let me finish. He lost his temper and told me he was “so sick of me and these calls!!” I told him that’s just a shame, or something like that, and I hung up on him. We left the WCG not long afterwards. We knew we were going to leave anyway. –Former WCG member