I want to say a few things from my own personal experience which may help anyone out there understand just how controlled people in Philadelphia Church of God are.
PCG, like any totalitarian group, knows what the members fear the most and it’s all about fear tactics! Members in PCG are willing to sell their soul to the “church” because they simply don’t see that they have any other option, and I was one of those people at one stage in my life. Our very sense of “belonging” and being loved is in our attachment to the “church.” Love is equated with complete and total obedience, even if lies, betrayal, shame, threats and disapproval is taking place.
To be loved and accepted in the group requires total obedience even to the point of total self sacrifice and a life of unhappiness! Some people are willing to do that because fear and manipulation causes very black and white thinking. We become trapped by our conditioned responses. If we obey, we will be loved and accepted versus not obeying, which triggers fear of rejection thus being disfellowshipped (cut off from the “church”) and threatens our very sense of safety and security (our basic human need).
The threat or fear is not so much about being kicked out of a church or group. The “church” is a lifestyle in which everything in our life is based upon which gives us our security. It’s the fear of being cut off from God, not making it to God’s Kingdom, and being separated from an illusion of what we believe is our family. The stakes are high….very high and when people are in that position, it’s a dangerous place to be because we don’t have any power. They hold the power to accept or reject at any time and members are fully aware of that, and continually treading on egg shells, nervously proving to the ministry their right to be in the group. Sad…but very true.
After a while, you begin to internalize all of this, about ourselves as people, our worth, and self-doubt starts to creep in. It takes a while to get out of this pattern of thinking, even a long time after being free of PCG, especially for those who have grown up in the “church.” I know of stories where advice is given by the ministry to divorce when this will ensure members are not influenced by their spouse who are non-members. They try and control members from having any contact with the outside world, so they are under complete control of the ministry. The members become isolated and their whole world is the “church.” The ministry have also been responsible for forbidding dating and marriage even between members. They make direct and indirect threats about what will happen if the members don’t go along with the ministry.
If we are sick and are not healed when anointed, we are blamed for lack of faith and the blame is put on the individual for not giving our whole lives to the “church.” They once lent me money when I was in a tough spot financially and little did I know it would be forever brought up to remind me of what I owed the “church.” I felt guilty and selfish because of this and found myself accepting their abuse because of this. I spent a long time going against my own wishes and now I am free, although it’s still hard trying to move forward. It’s possible, though, so don’t give up, all of you who are struggling out there and have been through the PCG experience!
By Cliff (former member of PCG)
NOTE by ESN: If you left the WCG during the “changes” in 1990-95 and gravitated to PCG, you it is most likely that you had no knowledge that there were serious problems in the WCG for decades before that. These problems were just as serious as those created by the Tkaches. It is good to read the history of WCG. Two excellent ones we recommend are:
Worldwide Church of God History by Kenneth Westby (transcription from the audio tape)
Double standards of the Armstrongs; suffering of the members leads to mass exit. Reveals how some of the same “new” doctrinal changes introduced in the 90s had been brought up to HQ in the 70s, yet were ignored.
Robert Gerringer 1975 Letter to Charles Hunting
Reveals how Herbert Armstrong was confronted time and again with doctrinal issues and failed to change. Covers double standards, false prophecies, bad fruit, the lack of intellectual freedom of the members to think for themselves, etc. Shows what really happened in the 70s when many left.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
~1 John 4:18
I Could Not Obey the No-Contact Ruling (Have Courage to Look Into the Hard Questions)
Disfellowshipped After Voicing Concerns (This man was disfellowshipped for believing God and not man)
Have No Doubt I am Doing the Right Thing (PCG member who prayed for discernment and is leaving)
Helpful Suggestions For Those Who Have Left PCG (From a former PCG member)
Back to Mike’s Enlightenment Page (Info on Philadelphia Church of God)