By Kenneth Westby
Reviewing the 1970s era aids in connecting and analyzing the strategic events that have unfolded in the Worldwide Church of God. This is a transcript of the message given by Kenneth Westby,1 former WCG evangelist, and is helpful for exiters of Worldwide Church of God, or any of the authoritarian splinters.
Certain evangelists and ministers in the 1970s showed they were willing to stand up for truth and the Word of God by confronting the abuses, double standards, cover-ups and destructive doctrines that had been destroying countless families. What happened? They were accused, slandered, called “servants of the Devil” and terminated, or disfellowshipped.
More info about the 1970s era is covered in: “Recapture True History” (OIU 2, Pt. 1, “Recapture True History”); Robert Gerringer 1975 Letter to Charles Hunting; Armstrongism: Religion or Rip-Off? (An Exposé of the Armstrong Modus Operandi) by Marion J. McNair (see chap. 17: “Doctrine–Battleground for Division” in the book) and The Broadway to Armageddon by William B. Hinson (see p. 91: “Executive Exodus” which lists all the ministers). Note: OIUs are available as PDF downloads.
Other ministers which exposed exploitations were Richard Plache; “My Story” by C. Wayne Cole; “Firing & Disfellowshipping” by David L. Antion; Communiqué Requesting the Removal of Garner Ted Armstrong and Jack Kessler 1981 Letter to WCG Board of Directors.
During the 1970s doctrinal issues were brought up time and again to the Armstrongs–many of the same doctrines that WCG many years later began changing when they said they began “studying into these things.” David Covington in his 1996 resignation letter to Tkach, Sr. stated, “Almost all the doctrinal issues now being discussed were reviewed during the 1970s by WCG administration and suppressed when Herbert W. Armstrong put the church ‘back on track.'”
Update: 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.)
Note: A few non-pertinent comments (especially toward the beginning of the message) have been omitted.
Most of us became a part of the Worldwide Church of God not because we wanted to serve men, but out of personal loyalty to God and respect for His Word. But I think, after a period of time, there was sort of a conditioning process that took place in many lives where the respect and honor they had toward the Word of God and God was somehow diverted. The respect they had toward God after awhile became transferred to the human leaders or the human “head” of the church and the respect they had for the Word of God transferred to the “Work.” So after awhile it was the human leaders and the “Work” that was looked to, even in some cases before God. I don’t think any would have maybe admitted that, but it was a subtle type of thing that took place over a period of time, a period of conditioning that was quite subtle, but nevertheless very strong. And some, after a few years in the Worldwide Church of God, found that they had more loyalty to the organization and to men than to the Word of God. This was brought out, of course, when many doctrinal contradictions became very apparent and the people were willing to follow a man rather than the plain Word of God, and this is truly unfortunately.
So let’s now get into some of the issues and take a look into the drama that was worked out in the lives of hundreds and hundreds of people over the past several years. I think we can certainly draw some powerful Christian lessons from the whole episode and I hope our confidence and faith in God and in sincere people of God will be strengthened more than it ever has in the past.
No Criticism Allowed in WCG:
Because of the very heavy authoritative structure in the Worldwide Church there were never clearly open avenues to discuss the problems facing the church, doctrinal problems, any vehicles for in-house, frank, open, constructive criticism.2 Often criticism was labeled as being “disloyal.” Or, if people ever presented it to the Armstrongs, they were usually labeled as “servants of the Devil,” or “demon possessed,” or “attacking the Work,” or some type of character defamation was quite often indulged in. Frequently individuals who crossed the Armstrongs were fired on the spot. And this type of authority intimidation had its effect on open, honest communication. Many at the highest levels, and at times in the past, tried to be forceful with what they felt was a right point, or against some evil, or some mistake that was being made in policy. But they were usually put down promptly, or intimated, as far as their jobs were concerned. Some individuals who had worked closely with Herbert Armstrong had been fired not once or twice, or three times, but sometimes a half a dozen to a dozen times, and of course, re-hired later when they showed some type of contrite attitude, or maybe when Herbert Armstrong cooled down from the emotion of the time. But this type of authority intimidation definitely did stultify openness and candor. And at the management level of the church, at the higher levels of management, middle management, meetings were always considered disloyal if anything of a negative, or even constructive criticism, was brought up.
Open Meetings Began:
Through the Regional Director structure and through David Antion’s leadership, for the first time, we felt free to face the problems and try to figure out solutions without thought of being disloyal or something, because we wanted to serve God. Most of us were in those positions because of our zeal. I had been in the ministry for many years myself at the time. Now I have actively served in the ministry for approximately 11 years, including my ministerial training; it’s up around 15 or more years. And we were there in those positions because of our zeal and, in many cases, distinguished service of the past. We felt we had a responsibility toward the people and we had to deal with that if were going to be leaders in the church. So in our meetings we openly discussed the issues. They were not known just to us; they were known to most of the ministry, but now we were able to discuss them openly.
The 1972 Fiasco of Herbert Armstrong:
Some of the issues were, of course, the 1972 fiasco where Herbert Armstrong had set dates, year in and year out, for many, many, many years, prior to that time, targeting 1972 as the date when the church would flee to the place of safety, when World War III would break out. And, of course, 1972 came and went. This underscored the fact that in the past several years many in the ministry and in the church were coming to see that there were serious errors in our doctrines and prophecies, and that there was some shameful mismanagement in the churches and colleges’ affairs.3 The past forty years had seen a long series of prophetic errors that had underscored a lack of real, basic Biblical understanding. It became extremely injurious to the church that so many based and planned their entire lives and their finances on these prophecies of Herbert Armstrong, often compromising their own family and compromising their example to the world, such as the 1972 affair.
I remember in the 1930s Herbert Armstrong was prophesying that Mussolini was leading us to Armageddon, as could be seen by the earlier Plain Truths. And then in the 1940s it was Hitler who was going to be the great Beast. Then in the `50s Hitler was still believed to be alive, but it was the seven times prophecy of Leviticus 26 that would leave the U.S. highways desolate in 1965, and World War III in 1972.4 And up until just a matter of months prior to 1972, Herbert Armstrong still thought there was better than a 50/50 chance we would flee in `72.
In the `60s, of course, the 19-year time cycles were emphasized, and these were basically based around Herbert Armstrong’s private life. Absolutely no Biblical proof for it. And I’ve heard various analogies, all of which have been proven false. But how many lives were damaged in the meanwhile? How many people were compromised? How many eyes were taken off Christ and placed on dates? [How many] put confidence in an organization and an interpretation of a man? But the scars of 1972, of course, are going to linger in the lives of brethren and ministers for a long time to come. People who didn’t buy homes when they could have, because they gave their money to the church; they felt there wasn’t time left. They didn’t save money, they didn’t invest wisely in the future as a good steward; a good steward, following the Bible should do. To educate and train his children, provide for his family, take proper care of them.
Double Standards at Headquarters:
During these times, the brethren were continually being told to “tighten the belt,” to “sacrifice,” to go borrow–even at the banks–for another “crisis in the Work.” Yet all the while there was this nagging double standard taking place, while the brethren, methodically, every month, paid their way into poverty in many cases, paid their way into penury, compromised their family’s future, neglected their little children, set a miserable example for concerned relatives, and even to neighbors. Yet all the while those at headquarters and at the two other church campuses were being elegantly furnished in the finest of style, far above what would be considered normally first class. They were moving into $100, 200, 300 thousand dollar homes, and in some cases, like Garner Ted and Herbert W. Armstrong had three homes apiece, plus vacation cabins and retreats. And the combined assets and furnishings of those homes the Armstrongs had would have to be figured in the millions. This obvious double standard between the lifestyle of the hierarchy at headquarters and how the common sacrificing brethren were living from check to check became upsetting to those of us who were in the ministry. This high living basically took place–this jet-setting of the Armstrongs–took place in the late `60s and then really accelerated into the `70s.
Those of us who were busily going from house to house, visiting God’s people were counseling ministers about the plight of the people, the financial plight and some of the other issues like divorce and re-marriage, were quite concerned when we saw what was taking place at headquarters and yet we saw how the people were. Yet, we saw what was continually required of them, and when suggestions were made to ease the burden on the people, they were rejected out of hand, given absolutely no priority in the spending of monies, or the concern for doctrine.
The college campuses had become virtual country clubs for the leaders, building expensive $100,000, $200,000 handball courts, fancy, padded locker rooms for the elite, and for the rest of the brethren out there, they were criticized and told don’t, well don’t buy physical things. Yet those who were leading the work were practicing a double standard. While the finances were, of course, being squeezed out of the brethren –they were being bled white–the Armstrongs were forming a fleet now of multi-million dollar aircraft equipment. All these many other lavish expenditures were always justified as being “necessary for the Work.”
Well, this is just one of the areas of concern. But people were beginning to take a second look, particularly those in the ministers at some of the prophecies and blunders of the past. Herbert Armstrong prophesied China would attack India and it never happened. He prophesied Britain would not join the Common Market, but it surely did. And one prophecy after another proved false. It was becoming evident to all of us one thing for sure that Herbert Armstrong wasn’t a prophet, yet there never was any apology made to the brethren for the mistakes that had been made, no honest candid remarks saying, “Well, brethren, I led you astray,” or “Brethren, I am sorry. I’m sorry I placed such emphasis on these things.” The brethren were once again reprimanded, once again told that they had set dates, and that they did these things, and Herbert Armstrong was, of course, exonerated.5 Well, there were so many doctrinal problems facing us that prophesy was just one. It showed the basic weakness of the organization. Its stress was on dates, on following a man, or a man’s interpretation and not on the pure Word of God.
The Garner Ted Problem Not Handled Honestly:
Also about that time there was developing quite a credibility gap. Garner Ted Armstrong had been kicked out of the church by his father, and this only through much coercion and pressure from others. Then there was the subsequent cover-up, and none of this was handled in what could be considered an honest, Christian fashion. And those of us who were closer to the inside and knew the true facts involving the case saw some terrible scandalous handling of the Word of God and most, even to this day, have not been told the truth. The only little bit of truth that has gotten out in many areas has gotten out through the secular press, which was always ridiculed by the Worldwide Church6, but in this case told largely the truth of the matter. David Antion had originally brought the facts about Ted indiscretions, problems, long-standing sins, to Herbert Armstrong, and then waited patiently one year before Herbert Armstrong finally acted and put his son out of the church. And then only because he felt he had to because of the tremendous pressure. Then he was brought back very prematurely and there was never the supposed time of repentance fulfilled that he was supposed to have fulfilled.
But it became hard for us during this time–I say “us”–the regional directors and I’m sure many in the ministry, as well, who did know the truth–most were kept in the dark. But for those of us who did know the truth it was difficult for us to stand up and represent headquarters’ policy; difficult for us to give the party line when, in fact, we knew the party line was not the truth. The reasons given for Ted’s absence was that he was “overworked,” which nothing could be further from the truth, because of this recreating, jet-setting lifestyle. And that he was just facing some kind of a “nervous breakdown” and the truth of the matter was never honestly dealt with. Instead, ministers stood up in the pulpit and told the people these things, which, of course, were not the truth.
It was at this time, too, that Herbert Armstrong was now energetically beginning what he called “the greatest effort in the Work,” “the new phase of the Work,” this going about seeing world leaders on his jet aircraft. This was a very expensive maneuver and it’s one that he said was the “great, new breakthrough in the Work” that this was “the way the world was going to be warned” and this was a “commission”–to fly in and give a little speech, and then fly out, and that nation now and all its people were warned and they could be summarily destroyed now by God in the coming holocaust without any blood put upon us. It was this very naïve interpretation of the Bible, basically the applying of Old Testament, prophetic analogies to a New Testament ministry; that in the O.T. certain prophets warned nations of impending physical calamity and they warned them for their physical deliverance. This type of an O.T. prophet’s commission was now appropriated to Herbert Armstrong in the New Testament where it did not fit, nor was it properly interpreted at that. Many at the leadership level totally disagreed with this interpretation of the “commission.”
Doctrinal Issues Become the Catalyst to Stand Up Strong:
At this time the regional directors began to logically process and categorize the problems we were facing. We tried to start off with some of the small ones we could handle first. Study projects were assigned that we could study and look into, whether it was authoritative, rank structure; whether it was the tithing problem, divorce and re-marriage, any number of important issues that were being faced. Reports and suggestions were beginning to be made. We discussed in long meetings, lasting many, many hours, and sometimes agonizingly. So the problems we were facing, and certain realities, became quite obvious. We had no authority to change a thing and the Armstrongs were not open to input from below unless it agreed with them. The ministry and the brethren, basically, were not priority items with the Armstrongs.
The doctrinal questions became the catalyst that I think gave all of us the strength and courage to stand up strong. And 1973 was the catalyst year and this year many major doctrinal problems came to the floor as never before. Divorce and re-marriage was one. Our multiple tithing system was another; healing, Pentecost, church eras, church government, commission of the church, “we only” syndrome, identity of Israel, and others. We had to deal with some of those.
Many ministers were put in the dark and many were contentious to preach the party line and would not entertain a questioning thought, thinking that would be disloyal. They were content to follow men, take orders, and many were even totally oblivious to the needs of the people and the doctrinal questions. But this wasn’t true in all quarters. Some of the regional directors attempted to keep their pastors informed, taking a risk in so doing. This was one of the risks I took as I openly shared with my pastors the doctrinal issues being discussed, the problems, and the honest situation of the work at the time. Many of them could see that we were coming to some kind of a decision in the future, that we were coming to some kind of a moment of truth when we are going to have to find out once and for all, are we going to honestly serve God and the people, and put those priorities first?
Take the divorce and re-marriage issue, for instance. Here we had a doctrine that was totally unmanageable to administer. It involved the lawyer-like delving into each one of these complicated, and sometimes embarrassingly frank details of prior marriages, cases without…so many personal complications it would take teems of lawyers operating with a clear set of rules to ever come up to that kind of unified decisions. Yet our local ministers were put in this position where they had to decide who was bound to whom, and then they had to encourage the individuals to, in order to “obey God,” separate. This often included moving a state away. Many of us sat in living rooms, their eyes filled with tears, as we separated mother from father, and child from parent, and it was very agonizing. When it became quite apparent to us that something was really wrong with this doctrine…is this the kind of fruit? The fruit was not good of the torn-up lives and the misery of these “spiritual widows” who now lived the single life the rest of their days and tried their best to take care of their children and were supported by a dole amount from the church, which was supporting this doctrine. These men which were now languished as bachelors, or they were “free” to marry, they were match-mated by the local minister, or some others, and encouraged to get married.
We anguished at this type of a doctrinal clause; we knew something was wrong, but not quite what. Then as we began to study into the subject it became very apparent that our teachings were grossly wrong. Some tremendous assumptions had been made on the part of Herbert Armstrong, some very poor scholarship and a strong stand on Matthew 5, the understanding of porneia, and this was the basis of Herbert Armstrong’s doctrine on that subject that many of us had assumed it was true, and I think it was our fault for assuming that in the first place. I’m sure it was.
But nevertheless, now that we saw it was erroneous we were not going to continue any longer to tear daughter from father and son from mother and separate husband and wife. This was something that had to be faced immediately, plainly and quickly, and we couldn’t “have patience” on this subject as we were asked to, but it was something that had to be faced. So we can see some of these doctrinal issues were forcing a moment of truth, forcing a time for us to frankly to stand up and be counted.
The Tithing Issue:
Tithing was another major issue…where our people were paying what some of us had found to be unscriptural. First, second and even third tithes, and this was greatly injurious. We were putting burdens upon the people. The Word of God talks about putting burden upon the people and not lifting a finger to take them off [Matthew 23:4; Luke 11:46], but yet putting more upon them.
Some have said we contrived issues and just made up all these issues. This certainly is not the case. Most of these doctrinal problems were clearly communicated to the Armstrongs; sometimes on a number of occasions. It was done verbally, it was done in print.
Memo to GTA Concerning Third Tithe Issue:
So let me just quote to you from a memo I sent to Garner Ted Armstrong in May of 1973. It’s dated 5-31-73. The title of the memo is “POSSIBLE SCRIPTURAL ALTERNATIVES TO THE PRINCIPLE AND FOR ADMINISTRATION OF THIRD TITHE.”
Quoting now from the cover memo to the lengthy 7-page memo on third tithe, which proved firstly that it was unscriptural and secondarily that our people were already paying a national third tithe through taxation welfare related programs and that this was an extra burden that need not be put upon the people. Quoting now:
Attached is a lengthy memo from me suggesting we change our policy on/in administration of third tithe. I feel we need the change for a number of very important reasons as the memo will explain. I’d like to see the church make the changes now for the right reasons rather than later with embarrassment and under pressure from the world. The point of this memo is to illustrate that our members are already paying a national third tithe in the form of welfare related taxation used for the stranger (that is, unemployed persons), fatherless, widow, and Levites. We are adding an extra burden upon our people that I do not feel necessary in these New Testament times. In spite of the few advertised cases, most of our members have to downgrade their standard of living in the third and sixth years. Many of our people have had to sell their homes or get a cheaper car, or do without many needed items, or go get a loan. Finances are a major concern issue among our people, It could develop into a moral problem. A change in our third tithe policy could help avert problems if we act quickly. New Testament scriptural proof for a third tithe policy is absent. The church needs to make a judgment on it.
We have gone over the three inch thick 1974 U. S. budget book [which I might add here comes out a year or so in advance every time] to get some taxation facts and breakdowns in welfare type programs. Most of that information I do not include in this write-up as it will easy to demonstrate our people paying at least 2.86 in national or state third tithe items. [That 2.86 annualized figure that third tithe breaks down to.]
I hope it is helpful and I will be happy to do more work on the subject if you are interested.
This was the cover memo to my third tithe 7-page write-up. Throughout the memo many Scriptures were used to prove the point of the unscriptural basis for third tithe and also I strongly throughout the memo that they remove this unnecessary burden from our membership to get in harmony with the Word of God and out of concern for them. This memo was prepared by many back here in the Washington region besides myself. We all contributed and worked with it together and I put it together finally and sent it to Ted Armstrong. Needless to say I received absolutely no acknowledgement or no response.
Shortly after the memo was sent in, I had dinner with Ted Armstrong at Mount Pocono during the Feast of Pentecost and discussed the same basic subject with him at that time. What was especially disheartening was that much of this third tithe money was being spent on luxury items for the leadership, for airplanes, for expensive houses, and many other such personal indulgences. There was absolutely no way you could justify a New Testament servant ministry living in such a high style above its people and knowingly levying this heavy tithe upon them when the evidence showed that it was unscriptural, and certainly whether it was scriptural or not, the use of those monies was unjustified and certainly paid disgrace to honesty. Those tithes and offerings were given in good conscious to do the work of the Lord and not to pad the pocket or insure some type of a king-like lifestyle for certain elite rulers.
Money Not Used to Build Churches:
During my Pentecost 1973 dinner with Garner Ted, I expressed to him the plight of the brethren, the financial burdens, our people didn’t have local church buildings. This was a horse that seemed we were always getting on and every time it turned up dead. There were absolutely no priorities for it other than lip service and time and time again people would say, “Oh yes, we are going to do this,” or Herbert Armstrong would hold the carrot out in front of all the members, saying, “Well if you give to this property fund so we can build a new monument out here in Pasadena, we’ll get church buildings for all you people.”7 Of course, it never took place. And, as millions and millions have poured into these school buildings there for these young students, the brethren out here who were footing the bill for all this had to meet in the Odd Fellows Hall, or be moved around from week to week from one rented hall to another because of hall conflict.
This was a problem we were having back here in a couple of our church areas where they could not rent a permanent hall to meet in. Sometimes in four weeks they would meet in four different halls. This was extremely discouraging to the people. It was without cause. Those of us in the management knew that the money was available to build buildings. I presented a plan, architectural drawings, showing that a whole lease-option-buy program for building churches could be inaugurated immediately with very little outlay. Over a period of time, everyone of our churches throughout the country could have a basic, utilitarian, practical building of their own. This was presented to David Antion to discuss with the Armstrongs, or Ted Armstrong, and every time, of course, lip service is paid, but absolutely no action takes place, because it’s not a priority issue. The background feeling of the Armstrongs was that, well, if the people got their own church buildings, they would get their eyes in their local area and they wouldn’t give enough money to do the work, which, of course, means support their projects.
Faith Placed in Men Instead of Christ:
At that dinner with Ted Armstrong I also told him that I felt we as a church, we as ministry, had oversold the Armstrongs as personalities and were guilty of establishing a personality cult. I felt it would be a whole lot healthier for our members to look just to Jesus Christ as the leader and more emphasis on following Christ rather than on following human leaders. I told him that because of the fact that he was recently kicked out of the church, I just underscored the fact that many people had put trust in men and then when they saw men dashed upon the rocks, as it were, it really shook their faith because it ought to have been in Christ and not in men.
Many others besides myself were instrumental in bringing issues honestly to the floor. Of course, we were penalized for it.
Memo to GTA Concerning Doctrinal Crisis:
Another memo sent to Garner Ted Armstrong, as well as David Antion, was from Jim Morrison (one of our directors here in the Associated Churches). This memo was dated July 31, 1973. It’s entitled, “DOCTRINAL CRISIS: THE NEED TO FACE CRUX ISSUES.”
Quoting now from the memo:
As many of us realize, we are now in the midst of perhaps the greatest crisis in the recent history of the Church of God. I am referring not to the financial situation. That is a remote, distant second, or maybe even third consideration. I am talking of the doctrinal crisis that many of us have seen developing for many, many months and is now fully upon us. The issues are major and monumental, paling into insignificance a single issue such as divorce and remarriage, or healing. The question is whether we will face it before it publicly blows in our face.
The time when our energies, our time, our emotional concerns have been largely devoted to financial matters, and organizational problems involving the mechanics of getting out the gospel, we find ourselves in a doctrinal and spiritual crisis. I’m convinced there can be no solutions to our financial and organizational problems unless we face the crux issues.
The thrust of the memo was the point that we do not really understand the New Covenant and this, of course, is crux to understanding the rest of the doctrinal issues that were facing the church; such things as makeup, or healing, and certainly tithing, and the identity of Israel–and on and on you can go. They all tie directly into the New Covenant, the New Testament, which is what Christianity is all about.
At the end of the memo Jim Morrison, his last two sentences, stated:
Someone must be willing to raise the questions–in faith–that God will guide us to a proper conclusion. At this time, nothing I feel is more urgent and more important.
As usual, no response. Other memos, were, of course, sent, too.
We in the ministry were not inventing the problems. They were there. Now, for the first time, we were just honest enough to admit them, or at least have the vehicle where we could discuss them and see them plainly and come to some conclusions and recommend some action. It was this area that we came to our decision that a moment of truth must come.
One of the researchers at Pasadena, Harry Eisenberg (sp), had written a paper on tithing during this time, in which he demonstrated that tithing was not obligatory under the New Testament. He was told plainly not to circulate that paper. It was threat with his job, if he did.
Years prior to that time, another faculty member brought up the makeup subject. The faculty member was fired and was labeled as “demon influenced.” All he had done was showed that the church’s interpretation of certain Old Testament verses was wrong.
Pentecost became an issue with many of us in the ministry, not so much as to the importance of the day itself, but rather the way it was being handled. This underscored the overriding issue of church government, because Herbert Armstrong stated that he alone had the right to determine which day was Pentecost, which day of the week it was to be observed on. We did not feel any man had that right. The Bible plainly spoke thousands of years ago as to what day of the week it should be kept on. Why should all the members in the church cue up behind a human leader and wait for him to give his proclamation when we have the Word of God to live by? We see no such example of this in the New Testament. So it was the means of handling doctrine that became of concern to us.
[Note by ESN: Read: How is the Day of Pentecost Figured? (Furnishes the correct calendation)]
The healing booklet, as well, was a source of great concern. The booklet was recalled about 7 years or so ago, right after Mrs. Armstrong’s death.8 Herbert Armstrong said that he was going to re-write the booklet personally. He wouldn’t let anyone else do it, and yet the church was kept waiting around for him to get around to writing it up.
In the meanwhile, the old healing policy was basically taught that doctors were evil, that it was breaking the commandment on idolatry to go to a doctor and not trust in God. Christians who did go and get operations and all were basically regarded as “second class Christians.” There was a tremendous double standard in this area. This is one of the many areas where double standards were so evident, where those “in the know” like those at headquarters, including Herbert Armstrong, other evangelists, took prescription drugs, had operations, received medical advice and treatment, and so on.9 Yet the people were living another way and taught by their local pastor another way. This information wasn’t wrong to do these things was never communicated. Or the feeling was that if…principles along the line of letting people make their own decisions relative to doctors was communicated, it was basically that if one was weak he could go to a hospital or he could go a doctor. I know of dozens of cases where families let their children die who could have been saved. Others who refused a transfusion, or something, to a child, and the child to this day is retarded. Until the church more recently changed its decision on this subject.
Of course, no apology was ever given. Booklets were recalled right, left and center, and no explanation was given. The booklet on Who is the Beast? 1975 in Prophecy! The Proof of the Bible, the healing booklet, and many others were recalled, many because of doctrinal errors. Yet no apology ever made. For instance, the right day of the Pentecost observation was brought to the attention of the Armstrongs over thirteen years ago by Ernest Martin. [Note by ESN: Ernest L. Martin died January 16, 2002.] Of course, this was rejected out of hand. Criticism of Herbert Armstrong’s book–that he plagiarized basically from a Protestant work–on The Proof of the Biblewas shown to be in error. Not, of course, the Bible, because let me tell you right now it’s not in error. It’s just one of Herbert Armstrong’s interpretations of an Old Testament prophecy–a couple of them–that are basically in error. Not the Bible. It stands pure and clean as it was originally given. But, nevertheless, he refused to accept that, but the booklet was finally recalled.
But this is the way doctrine was dealt with. It was only if somebody was willing to put their job on the line, or had to be fired, or the work was under pressure from the press, or some type of pressure from outside, would be the only way doctrine was faced up to and a decision made. And then generally it would be one of expediency for financial considerations and for the retention of authority, rather than for the good of the people, or even honest to the Word of God.
Prophecy Interpretation Based on Assumption:
The pattern was becoming more plain with every passing month of 1973. The teaching of church errors was proving to be very fallacious. Much prophecy interpretation had been based on the assumption that the Worldwide Church of God was the Philadelphia Church era. Of course, this was based on another assumption that there is only one true church. And, of course, there is, but the rolls for that one true church are kept in the Book of Life up in heaven, somewhere I’m sure, at the side of God the Father. He puts them in the church, and He removes them from His Son’s church. [Read: “Can We Lose Our Salvation?“] That’s where the record book is kept. The church of God is the invisible body of Christ, made up of true believers all over the earth who have His Spirit, who are willing to obey Him. God knows His own. He knows where they are, and He has not built some human organization, some corporate enterprise, and locked them all in there, and boarded up the Kingdom against all who would not be in that little group that started thirty or forty years ago. To think that the invisible body of Christ, the true membership, the Book of Life, is reduced to the computer world of Ambassador College in Pasadena10 is a great, gross presumption and is not provable at all. The body of Christ is a living organism with Jesus at the Head. It is not a human corporate structure. It’s not wrong to have human corporate structures, but to claim that it is the body of Christ and has some sort of human head who answers only to Christ is totally inaccurate by the Word of God. But this assumption leads to other assumptions which then, of course, leads to great misuses of authority, frankly.
No Pyramidal Structure of Government in New Testament:
You don’t find in the New Testament any type of hierarchy, pyramidal structure, or an autocratic type of a government. But, rather, you find much more of a team effort, with the ministry and the people working together as a team, each part having a different function or different role on the team, but the ministry regarding the people as brothers, as equals before Christ and not living so high above them, or exercising authority over them and this kind of a strange atmosphere at all. You find much more of a camaraderie brotherhood between the two.
Most of the doctrinal areas we were finding had gaping holes in…involved most of Herbert Armstrong’s special interpretation. [This part clipped] The things he added like identity of Israel are totally unprovable. It’s just a model that has been taken from another group and much of prophecy now has been taken through this model that has proven its inaccuracy and is totally fruitless. It’s 100% speculative. It may be true, then again it may not. There is no way to demonstrate or prove it. [Read: Where Are the Tribes of Israel Located? (A Critique of Herman Hoeh’s Article) Certainly we shouldn’t use it to come up with some sort of dogmatic interpretation of Scripture from. We’ve seen the damage this can have on people’s lives and the totally inaccurate tract record is proof enough without comment.11
We Only” Syndrome:
The “we only” syndrome spins off from this understanding that the Worldwide Church of God, which was started by Herbert Armstrong, is the only true church. It leads kind of an exclusive, narrow minded atmosphere toward others. It doesn’t demonstrate an attitude of love. It demonstrates an attitude of judging, where now you’ve judged your neighbors on earth; you’ve judged the body of Christ and found all those outside the membership rolls of this church wanting–and in that sense “lost”–unless they are willing to come and buy Herbert Armstrong and his authority and the rest, they’re just left out…this is too bad. I hope this isn’t what Herbert Armstrong intended from the beginning; I’m sure it’s not, but it is what has developed, nevertheless, and I feel that it has really compromised the type of Christianity that many of the brethren in the Worldwide Church of God could have had, and could have practiced, and let their light shine to their neighbors, rather than running away from their neighbors. Most of what the neighbors saw of Worldwide members on the Sabbath was the car disappearing out of the driveway, the man with the briefcase, and the children rushing to some church hall where outsiders were usually frowned upon and kept out over the years. This is not the way to set a light.
Herbert Armstrong’s Ego Tripping:
The commission of the church was a major issue. Herbert Armstrong felt that if he would just fly in and pay for a banquet–and these banquets cost tens of thousands of dollars in many cases, that he, of course, would pay for himself, and use whatever political means and front men and so on, to secure these meetings with these leaders–that he was then witnessing to the nation. It was totally without any New Testament example at all, and in many of his meetings for those who have heard recordings of them, the name of Jesus Christ was never even mentioned. The “God of the universe” was talked about and the “God of creation,” which, of course, to a Moslem or a Buddhist means something totally different than it does to you or me. He gave twenty or thirty minute little talks on some religious principles that Billy Graham or [unclear] could do justice with, if not better. Somehow this was the “warning” to that nation, just through that leader. Of course, the New Testament commission that we read of…one statement is in Matthew 28: 19:20 where the disciples were to go forth teaching and preaching and baptizing. It was a teaching ministry; it was a baptizing ministry. It was for conversion, it wasn’t just to knock people over the head and say, “Hey, friend, the end’s coming and the bomb is gonna drop, and now you’ve been warned,” and then say, “Bye, bye.” This is not the love of God and certainly is not what God had in mind.
Now the Matthew 28 passage, which was basically the one Scripture upon which the whole Worldwide Church of God was built is a prophecy. It’s one of the signs of the end that the gospel would be preached in all the world and it would be a witness. We read in Revelation 11 where the two witness are going to do that job. In fact, there is even reference in the book of Revelation to an angel preaching the everlasting gospel through one means or another (it’s not clearly explained). But the work of the two witnesses is, and you can be sure that’s going to be done in all the earth through great miracles and wonders and powers and the rest.
Of course, we’ve not been able to see any of that through the Armstrongs, or the Worldwide Church, and I think it is very naïve to appropriate that commission, which doesn’t exist, to a man. They claim it to be the most important function of the work. In fact, it was routinely stated that a person’s private salvation, a person’s private walk with God, his Christianity, his eternal life, was secondary to his role in supporting the work, which is basically “pray and pay.” This always was given as the first reason for the individual’s calling and the second reason was, of course, to get converted. But there you can see the tremendous priorities. Eventually we had a group of people who were following a man and a corporate structure rather than, in so many cases, following God and letting their light shine as it should.
The irony of the situation was that most of these world rulers were third world nation leaders, many of whom were extremely corrupt themselves, who had a regular revolving door visitation program with every kind of dignitary, reporter, who would come through, and they could be bought with a price, individuals like Haile Selassie and his extremely corrupt government. His far eastern leaders, who, one by one, after Herbert Armstrong visited them were deposed, usually for corruption. Then the question was, “How about their nation? Now has that nation (so called) been warned? Those 50 or 100 million people that live in that nation, are they going to be doomed now to destruction because a corrupt, former political leader they had happened to visit and hear a 20 or 30 minute speech from some traveling preacher from America? And this is supposed to be a fulfillment in these end-times of the work of the witnessing in Matthew 24 is just so illogical as to defy an honest agreement to it. But anybody who gave the slightest suggestion, or criticism toward Herbert Armstrong’s church were summarily castigated verbally, were threatened on a regular basis, the congregation was thundered at upon his return that they didn’t appreciate him enough. At which time they would then try to break out in clapping to let him know they loved and respected him. But it was this type of jet-setting around the world, a form of religious ego-tripping that produced absolutely no fruit for conversion and was in no way identifiable with the commission given to the New Testament Christian church.
Secular Approach of GTA’s Broadcast:
The broadcast done by Ted Armstrong in recent years has taken on more and more of a secular approach where millions and millions of dollars were spent to talk about birds and bees and whales and dolphins. Some of these things are certainly nice and interesting, but in many a broadcast the word Jesus Christ was not even mentioned. As far as preaching the plain gospel, the Word of God, feeding people the Word of God, showing them what Christ could do for them in their lives, the changes that could be brought about and the blessings of Christianity, the knowledge of their Creator, this really wasn’t gotten into. The early strength of the broadcasts was basically the sarcasm involved and the threatening of the world with gloom and doom rather than a real positive and encouraging message showing them the way of life, that God’s burden is easy and His yoke is light, and He invites people to take it upon them so that their way can be better.
To Stand Up Meant Putting Our Job on the Line:
Well, I am sure you can that 1973 was a catalyst year. For those of us who were having to deal with these issues and bring solutions and be honest with God–honest with those who are over you in your job–it really brought out some tremendous contradictions and I think many of us at that time could see the handwriting on the wall. We were accused of being collusionists and there was no collusion at all. Certainly those of us were putting on jobs on the line; had counted the cost in order to speak up in those halls of meeting and those circles of conference. You had to be willing to put your job on the line. Many of us knew that if we stood up for the cause of righteousness, stood up in disagreement with the Armstrongs in many of these doctrinal things, or with any of their policies of treating people, that we might very well might be fired.
We did not plan, if that occurred, to go into retirement. We did not plan at that time to say, “Well, God, I’m no longer going to serve you in the ministry. I’m no longer going to do the work of the ministry. That is ridiculous. We knew fields out in this earth are white unto harvest and our labor is needed. Many of us had committed our lives many, many years ago and had given up jobs, had left family and everything to serve Christ, and we’re going to continue to serve Christ. We’re going to weed out some of the error; we’re going to develop a closer walk with God, provide a much better service for his people, but we weren’t going to go into retirement if we ever got fired. We didn’t feel we were ordained of men. I don’t guess Herbert Armstrong felt he was ordained of men either when he was ordained by the Church of God 7th-day Oregon Conference [See: Herbert W. Armstrong’s Religious Roots] and later left that group and went and took many of its members with him and started his own church which then he said was “the only” true church on earth, which is, as I said earlier, ridiculous.
But as far as planning any type of conspiracy to “split the church”…none of that was done. That is entirely different from counting the cost. We had counted the cost. We knew very well we might get fired. I can remember many occasions, sitting down with Dave Antion, and maybe one or two of the other regional directors, maybe David Antion’s wife, and we said, now frankly (and he said frankly) if we present these things to the Armstrongs we’ll probably get fired over it. We thought about it and we hoped that wouldn’t happen. We were for reform within the Worldwide Church. We loved the church; we loved the people there. We had invested our best years, long hours in travels. I had, this past number of years, averaged over 120 nights away from home, traveling and visiting churches, visiting ministers, trying to build up the area and had done that in zeal. I wasn’t out to destroy the church, to get some following after myself. I and Dave Antion and some of the other regional directors…Walt Sharp, George Kemnitz, just to mention a few were concerned with those changes as well. We were trying to bring reform to serve our God and serve His people. We had no alternate church structure planned out. We had no dates of anything planned out, it simply came upon us.
At the Feast of Tabernacles in 1973 Herbert Armstrong–in most of the areas he visited in the Untied Stated–thundered at the ministry along these same lines of fear and intimidation, because there had been certain criticism toward him and Garner Ted, and it was legitimate criticism. He thundered at that time that he was not going to change on Pentecost and that he was not going to change on divorce and remarriage and that any who ever picked a fight with him lost. Of course, many of us felt, well, sure, he just fired them. That’s why they lost. It wasn’t run like the church of God ought to be run. It was run like a dictator might run his nation.
Most of the analogies used for Herbert Armstrong and his actions have been taken out of the Old Testament as being equivalent of a David, or of a Moses, and the analogy of a civil leader over a civil nation was continually used for Herbert Armstrong over the church The two are not the same at all. For instance, over the church is Jesus Christ. It’s a spiritual nation. Without the [unclear] burrs of corporations, or of land. The individual ministry in that church was to be a servant ministry, serving the people with the good Word of God, laboring in their service and encouragement and direction of those people, not interfering in their private lives, not intimidating them, not lording it over God’s heritage. But these were the analogies being used.
Many Ministers Were Bought and Paid For:
We were also warned that any who would criticize him or Ted would be fired, and any who ever disagreed were openly slandered, as was done during this occasion. So this tended to intimidate the leadership, and many of the leadership had already been bought and paid for and had become “yes” men. With their high salaries, the average evangelist was making at that time in the $35-$48-$58,000 a year bracket. The average home of the evangelist was approximately $200,000, expensive furnishings, expense accounts, easy work schedules. And many of these were not willing to compromise all that on a doctrinal or moral issue. Yet all learned–I say they all hadn’t–some were willing to stand, like two of the vice presidents, Albert Portune and David Antion, and both of them resigned over these very same issues.
But they had learned not to fight the Armstrongs, even on doctrinal or moral issues. The ministry had no retirement, no social security, no tenure; could be fired at the whimsical will of the Armstrongs. No changes were ever made unless they were proved by Herbert Armstrong. The problem was his mind was not on doctrine and the needs of the people, and he wouldn’t delegate authority in those areas to others. If he wanted to fly around the world and do his thing, well, that’s fine, provided he delegates to others responsibility to rightly deal with the work and the Word of God. It was a very shabby way to handle people and God’s.
Discouragement in the Face of No Answers:
The doctrinal committee at Pasadena was a laughing stock; it was powerless. The recommendations of the committee, some were read, and some were not read. Basically the only ones that were used as documentation were those whose supported Herbert Armstrong’s stand, like on divorce and remarriage. Herbert Armstrong personally walked that booklet through to its completion to see to it that it was handled sacredly, that it wasn’t changed. He was reacting at that time toward his son’s problem. But when the booklet was finally produced and sent out, it was a disaster. It just reinforced as very poorly researched material with very poor scholarship. And yet those on the committee who criticized it, their reports were not even read.
All of these abuses were justified in the name of church authority, which was a major Worldwide Church doctrine. It was an invented doctrine, basically conceived around the time of 1957 when they were deciding how people ought to live and physical things like outward appearance; the makeup issue. Rather by keeping Christianity in the heart and judging people by really what’s in their heart–which only God can see perfectly–but judging people on their long term fruits of the spirit and so on, it’s a whole lot easier to judge people on outward appearance, on hair lengths, skirt lengths, and all the rest. This, of course, was the emphasis in Worldwide doctrine.
Most of the ministerial conferences that were conducted in Pasadena spent their time and concerned themselves with such very, very tiny things such as hair length, and skirt length, and dying hair, and makeup and all these little physical judgment areas, living people’s lives for them. This is what Herbert Armstrong would spend so much time doing. The big general conferences would cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars to produce and to fly capable men in from all over the world, to supposedly look into the Word of God and confer on these things. Yet they weren’t conferences in the sense of conferring; they were just one way lectures where Herbert Armstrong would rehearse back over all the events of his beginnings back in the 1930s. Many a case the first time he saw the agenda for the conference was when he sat down at the front of the meeting to conduct it. Many of us left these conferences so discouraged. We’d come in high hopes we’d get some answers to some of the doctrinal problems, whether it was healing, or something else, and walked absolutely no answers and having to go back with an empty hat to present to the brethren.
Pressure Building Toward End of 1973:
The pressure was building toward the end of 1973 and now many in the ministry who, up until this time, hadn’t really known what was going on, or hadn’t even known what Ted Armstrong’s problems were, became informed one way or the other through the word of mouth, through gossip, or whatever reason they became informed. Some couldn’t cope with it–individuals like John Mitchell stood up and told his church all the dirt issues involving Ted Armstrong, which the rest of us disagreed with and didn’t feel ought to be done publicly at all. Our feeling was that all those things should be dealt with within in the ministry, and the ministry ought to clean its house first. If the ministry refused to clean its house, then it should be brought to the people. Our goal that first we would present these things, as we had been, to the Armstrongs and if all the changes and doctrinal things were refused, why then we would have to take the matter the church. We didn’t feel it ought to be put on the people first.
First, there was Mitchell and then there was Fish and then Barry Chase. One individual who had been involved at Pasadena closely and in the inner workings of management, and one of the key personnel there, overseeing the headquarters’ church for many, many years, was Al Carrozzo, who was also a former district superintendent, regional director, and by conscious reasons he, too, saw so much of gross corruption and lying and misuse of funds, and disrespect of the Word of God and double standards, finally was forced to resign, which he did, toward the latter part of 1973. Ernest Martin’s paper on Pentecost was once again being presented and he was being slandered at this time by Herbert Armstrong. [Note by ESN: Ernest Martin wrote a resignation letter to Herbert Armstrong on January 27, 1974.] After the first part of the year he was then retired on a full year’s sabbatical pay and then separated from the Worldwide Church of God.
In the first week of December 1973 we had a meeting in Ted Armstrong’s office. He called the meeting–called me personally before the meeting came, invited us out, all the regional directors were there. He said he wanted our help. It was right after Mitchell had told his church. Ted Armstrong was worried. He felt this might happen all around the country and he wanted us to pull together to see what the problems were and try to face them. So all the evangelists and several other key personnel were in Ted Armstrong’s office. So we held there, in the first week of December, two or two and a half days of meetings. And there we discussed many of the multi-faceted problems that were current in the field and in the ministry, and at the risk of our jobs some of us stood up and plainly mentioned all of these issues and problems, or as many of them as we could cover during that short time.
During this meeting with Ted Armstrong, he rehearsed the details of his last personal problem, the one that finally got him kicked out. Later David Antion bravely brought up GTA’s qualifications for the ministry, and this was reacted to very sharply by Ted and some of his other supporters. It wasn’t a matter of his personal forgiveness, as I and others explained to him. Certainly, he has that of God, and who are we to forgive man anyway? All of us need much of the mercy and forgiveness of God. The question was his qualification for his particular job as the executive director of the work and the spokesman for God all over. Because, as it says in the qualifications for the ministry, that a minister should be blameless–that is without blame, not in a position of bringing legitimate blame upon the church. I don’t think the church minds being persecuted for righteousness, but not for dirt and filth, and it was putting the church in a very compromised position through his leadership. Walt Sharp said that he felt Ted was the Achilles’ heel of the church, so we discussed his qualifications some.
We discussed the credibility gap where there was a mistrust in the ministry toward headquarters. Many examples of headquarters giving a party line which didn’t tell the truth. They gave second or third reasons for sending an evangelist to England, or kicking somebody out, or doing this or doing that. They never gave the honest, straight reason. I won’t say never, but in many cases would not. It was a credibility gap.
We discussed the double standard of the high living leaders and the sacrifice of the people. Ted, at this meeting, even proposed to buying a third jet aircraft for Big Sandy. I told him I would be embarrassed to have him send a jet aircraft out to pick me up in Washington to take me to some conference. Anybody who knows the slightest thing about it knows it’s a whole lot cheaper to fly commercial. So why should a non-profit religious organization have its own air force? It just was without reason, a multi-million dollar excessive, personal indulgences. It would be different if all the people were rich and had plenty of money and were just rolling in money and had nothing else to do with it, well, that’s fine. Or if they [the leaders] want to live at that style on their own salary, well, that’s fine, too, but they lived at that style at the expense of a lot of poor people–at the expense of really getting the message of Jesus Christ out to this world that is dying and very much needs it.
After the meeting Ted Armstrong felt this was like “Korah’s rebellion” and in spite of this face to face thanks for all of us being there, apparently he mistrusted many of us from that moment on.
In Feb of 1974, the first week, there was another meeting conducted by the regional directors to discuss the doctrinal problems we were facing–mainly third tithe and divorce and re-marriage. All the regional directors met privately at David Antion’s home and spent many long hours in Bible study, going through the whole divorce question. Several directors–myself, Walt Sharp and Burk McNair [Burk McNair died 12-5-17] had already decided that we were making no more divorce and re-marriage decisions. I had about three dozen cases on my desk, waiting a decision at that time. It’s just one of these things that couldn’t be put off.
Poverty of Members in England:
Prior to our February regional director’s conference, I had been in England a couple of days on my way to see my family in Norway–for the first time in my life–on a trip I had planned for a long time and paid for myself. While going on that trip, Ted Armstrong moved up the dates of the January conference so that it would take place while I was gone and Tom Williams was gone. But in talking to some of the English ministry, we were extremely concerned at the administration of policy. Here were people on a much lower standard of living, paying first and second and third tithe. Many of them not having enough protein to feed their families–sometimes not buying meat but every four to six weeks. And yet here were the religious royalty there on the campus–living like millionaires, living like barons–and the common people without enough food and some cases heat, to make ends meet. This was not reconcilable with the Word of God in any way.
It hadn’t always been like this. But in the past several years the whole events of the Worldwide Church was this direction. We felt it was a wrong direction and many of us were resolved in our minds that that direction would have to change, or we would be leaving.
Doctrinally, Morally and Ethically:
Also in February there was a conference called in Richmond, the Washington D. C. regional ministry, called by me. At the time David Antion and Albert Portune were flying out in Ted Armstrong’s airplane to visit with Tom Williams and me. Tom had been accused by Ted of doing things disloyal and many members in Richmond had called in, saying that he was telling people to put their confidence in God and not men, including the Armstrongs. If his attitude didn’t change, they said they were going to fire him, and I let it be known that they’d have to fire me first. David Antion said well, if they fired me for those reasons, they’d have to fire him, too.
We discussed the whole matter with Al Portune. We stated all the issues that we were standing up for–doctrinally and morally and ethically. He agreed with all of them because he had agonized through the same subjects many, many times himself over the years and had tried to bring certain reform, only to have himself put down, and was almost a nervous wreck as a result of it. He very much was encouraged to see our strength and seeing it was 100% in agreement and was wanting to be supportive in every way he could.
So after the Richmond conference, we decided to get all the issues clearly down on paper. They were discussed with over 35 ministers present, notes were taken; all the ministers participating stated what they felt were the crux issues and things that they wanted resolution to. We got all those things down on paper. We kept Ted Armstrong and Robert Kuhn (his assistant) informed during the meetings of what was taking place.
After the Richmond meeting, David Antion went to Dayton, Ohio for a campaign. Albert Portune flew back and met with Ted Armstrong and went through all the matters discussed in the meetings, told him that the ministry was not going to wait on divorce and re-marriage until his father got around to looking into the subject. Ted Armstrong had already stated that he thought it might be priority #35, or #64, with his father, and it might be seven years before we’d be able to get into that subject of divorce and re-marriage. He felt it would be pushing his father to bring it up now, knowing his father’s sensitivities to the subject. We felt we can’t treat people that way, and tear lives apart for the next several years, waiting for an old man to get around to looking into it. This is no way to handle the Word of God, or God’s people.
Ted Armstrong agreed with Albert Portune and got on the phone to his father overseas and explained divorce and re-marriage to Stanley Rader,12 who helped explain it to Herbert Armstrong, and finally got permission to recall the divorce booklet. David Antion had discussed these issues many times with Ted. Let me quote from Dave Antion’s memo to Ted Armstrong of February 1974:
As you are well aware, there is a great lack of confidence in the field ministry toward headquarters in Pasadena. It has been building up for sometime and it is now intensifying to an explosive condition. A look at the history in the work over the last few years will give a background to what is happening today. The roots of doctrinal problems go back to the mid-`60s when effective ministerial conferences came to an end. Today most of the ministers in the United States have heard of the doctrinal problems. Some do not know what the questions are, but they do know there are questions.
Toward the conclusion of the five page memo, which underscores the intimidation of fear, the misuse of human authority, in the next to last paragraph, David Antion states:
In any case the situation is extremely grave. There is no way I can keep the field from coming apart, though I have tried. I have introduced many projects to keep the men encouraged and keep them in their work–but that is not the answer. These matters of Bible and conscience. We cannot ask, or demand, that men throw these aside for the sake of the organization.
Termination of Sincere Ministers of Jesus Christ:
Ted Armstrong met me February 23, Saturday morning, and told me the news that the divorce booklet had been recalled. I, being totally aware of the pressure and the politics involved in that, recall knew that the recall of a booklet did not solve our basic problems. Unknown to me, the day before the call, Ted Armstrong had authorized my termination, as well as the termination of many other sincere ministers of Jesus Christ. The next Monday he conducted a conference in Texas, whereby he intimidated the few ministers who were willing to stand up for truth.
That Monday night, several regional directors, George Kemnitz, Dennis Pyle, myself, Ed Smith, as well as several area pastors, were meeting with David Antion in Dayton, Ohio to discuss some of the issues that we needed to present to the Armstrongs.
I received two calls that day from Stanley Rader, requesting I come to Pasadena with Dave Antion for a meeting with the Armstrongs. We were looking forward to coming anyway, so I came. Albert Portune, David Antion, and me waited all that day for the meeting, which never came about. David Antion met with the Armstrongs, and many of the evangelists, for several hours that day and they plainly stated that they would not see me, so I flew back to conduct a meeting with the ministry in the Washington area.
That week I and a couple of dozen other ministers were fired. Some like George Kemnitz decided to resign. We were fired behind our backs without any explanation of the reasons; the Biblical principle to go to your brother was totally ignored. The brethren were sent many, many letters from the Armstrongs, labeling us as “servants of the Devil,” libeling us and accusing us of things that never took place, and totally ignoring the issues at hand. The Worldwide Church of God canceled services that weekend so the brethren couldn’t be told the truth. I had never publicly told any of the congregations the real problems facing the church, hoping to bring reform from within first. I would never have the opportunity now.
I called the meeting for the first week in March of all the interested ministers who would like to come together to form a church association. We invited Ernest Martin, Al Carrozzo, and many others to attend, and they did. As a result of that conference, a board was chosen and directors appointed and the Associated Churches of God began. The rest is a matter of history. …
By Kenneth Westby (former evangelist of WCG)
[Transcribed by AJW, Exit & Support Network™]
“He [Herbert Armstrong] was always willing to make a change when he could see the error. Of course, while he was still alive,
neither he nor any of us saw these errors.” (Personal from Joseph W. Tkach, The Worldwide News, March 7, 1995, p. 3)
NOTE: Seventy ministers, along with 11,000 members, defected the Worldwide Church of God in 1974. Three years after this exodus, Greg Albrecht was secretly attending Azusa Pacific University. (See OIU 6, Pt. 2, available as PDF download)
NOTE:The names of the WCG ministers and Ambassador College employees who exited after 1973 are listed in The Broadway to Armageddon by William B. Hinson (see p. 91: “Executive Exodus”).
To read how the leadership, in the late 70s, built in “safeguards” to prevent further uprisings in the future and to keep the members in line and how certain ministers in the early 1970’s became sickened by the control and abuse that was going on, including the suffering of victims, see OIU 2, Pt. 1. Search for the words: “The WCG leadership was determined to get their people back on track.” (OIUs available as PDF download)
Hanky-Panky and Revolt in the Worldwide Church of God (Article originally published in True magazine in 1974; reveals misuse of funds and exploitation and suffering of members)
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.)
Footnotes by ESN:
1 Kenneth Westby became interested in Herbert Armstrong’s Radio Church of God (later known as Worldwide Church of God) in the late 1950s. He was baptized in early 1959, attended Ambassador College that same year; later ordained as a WCG pastor and then appointed as a district superintendent in 1968. Around 1972 he was appointed as one of eight directors over most of the east coast. He left the Worldwide Church of God in 1974 and formed the Associated Churches of God. Update: Kenneth Westby died December 8, 2016.
2 This is still prevalent today. If a former member happens to criticize something about the WCG, its past, or even Herbert Armstrong, they are quickly labeled, “unforgiving,” “lacking love,” “bitter,” “not wanting to be in unity,” “don’t have your facts straight,” etc. It is simply a tactic used to cause the person to feel guilty, or confused.
3 Jack Kessler’s 1981 Letter to Worldwide Church of God Board of Directors goes more into detail concerning this.
4 1975 in Prophecy! 1956, Herbert W. Armstrong.
5 This is what happened again at the time of the new WCG doctrinal changes. The brethren were blamed that “they” had believed these things all those years. (I.e., refer to “Fun With Prophecy” (sermon by Ron Kelley)
6 This is considered part of “milieu (environmental) control” which harmful cults make use of.
7 Worldwide Church of God HQ announced the same thing to members around 1993.
8 Loma Armstrong died April 15, 1967 after failing to receive the medical attention she needed. Even her illness became an opportunity for Herbert Armstrong to milk his followers out of more money.
9 Charles Hunting, former Worldwide Church of God evangelist, discussed these double standards of Herbert Armstrong on The Clyde Thomas Show in Orlando, Florida, 1988 (transcript is here on offsite link). Also read: “Herbert Armstrong Received a Bag of Medicine and Had a Parade of Doctors” (April 13, 2015 letter to ESN from an area sales manager who worked for a pharmaceutical company at the time)
10 Worldwide Church of God moved its headquarters from Pasadena, CA to Glendora, CA in November 2004. (Pasadena Star-News, October 25, 2004) In April 2018, GCI relocated its headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina. Joseph Tkach, Jr. retired at the end of 2018 and Greg Williams replaced him as GCI’s President. (GCI Update, March 14, 2018)
11 Herbert Armstrong gave over 200 false prophecies and these can be found on the Internet.
12 Stan Rader died July 2, 2002, in Pasadena, California, two weeks after having been diagnosed with acute pancreatic cancer. He was 71. More info about Stanley Rader is in OIU 5, pt. 4. (OIUs available as PDF download)
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