The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God.

The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

Herbert Armstrong,
A man of EXTREMES!!!

By Douglas

Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God."

1 Corinthians 14:3, "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort."

Think as you will, but I judge people according to their own standards and their own words. Even if they do not hold the same standards I do, I evaluate them on their own standards. That is fair, is it not?

Those who came to the Radio Church of God and the Worldwide Church of God should be able to expect that the ministry will supply according to the commands of the God they claim to serve. The RCG / Worldwide Church of God was committed by this logic to abide by the Scriptural statements above. Comforting their members was a commission that could not be avoided without engaging in extreme hypocrisy. The leadership must carry out this commission or they are infidels and reprobates. According to their own standards, they will burn in gehenna if they do not fulfil this. They will not have qualified to be in the Kingdom, from their own point of view.

If you are with me so far, you may have already skipped forward to Job 16:2, "I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all."

What we have here is a collection of badly abused people who need comfort and have none.

That should change.

Herbert Armstrong was the source of the abuse. The ministry left in his wake is itself, trying to cope with the excesses of his ministration. They do not have even the first fledgling processes which would empower them to conquer their own fears and doubts, let alone reach out to others to mitigate the pain, misery, and misfortune.

The first step in overcoming the abuse is realizing that you have been abused. You must realize the source of the abuse. Then you must stop it at its source. Finally, you must help others.

Herbert Armstrong was a man of extremes. As we were subjected to these extremes, we lost our perspective.

"This is the GREATEST WORK on the face of this EARTH!!!" "Brethren, did you know that THIS GREAT WORK of GOD could go DOWN FASTER than any of you can IMAGINE." "Satan is ATTACKING this GREAT WORK of GOD!!! We need to SUPPORT the WORK more than EVER!!! FAST and PRAY that the WORK will ...." "You cannot OUTGIVE God!" You get the IDEA!!!! (I hope some of you will not experience disassociation.)

Herbert Armstrong was given to hyperbole. He used it to "get his fix"--his Narcissistic Supply. To understand more about his narcissism, visit my web site at http:// and look under Relationships: People to Avoid. The R/WCG was all about him, and him alone. Technically speaking, as a Corporation Sole, Herbert Armstrong was really the only member of the Worldwide Church of God. You were never members of the Worldwide Church of God, legally speaking. (For a very nasty satire on this, visit my religious satire page at http:/ / t/satire/ under "The Handwashing Service".) The situation of the UCG is slightly different: Only the ministerial leadership are legally members of the United Church of God, so the venue is somewhat broadened, but remember most of the "members" even of the UCG are not truly members.

Herbert Armstrong was the center of his universe and insisted that you provide "his fix" or he would dump you. Narcissists are cold that way--they see people only as objects to achieve their ends. Do you remember his threat to "start all over with my eight Japanese sons"? He was about to dump us because we did not give him the level of honor, respect, and attention he craved and to which he was addicted. He sucked us dry, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and financially. He was more important than his family and our families. He came first.

This is not the only source of the problem.

Herbert Armstrong wrote and spoke many things which would provide psychiatrists years of amusement. I evaluate him by his own words to the end that people can understand who he was and can be healed by moving away from the extremes he represented.

Those who have their own copy of the Diagnositic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) will have already noted the material in my web page People to Avoid. In the DSM IV, it states about Narcissism:

"Sustained feelings of shame or humiliation and the attendant self-criticism may be associated with social withdrawal, depressed mood, and Dysthymic or Major Depressive Disorder. In contrast, sustained periods of grandiosity may be associated with a hypomanic mood. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is also associated with Anorexia Nervosa and Substance Related Disorders (especially related to cocaine). Histrionic, Borderline, Antisocial, and Paranoid Personality Disorders may be associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder"

What this means is that not only is it possible for a Narcissist to be bipolar (Manic-Depressive Illness--for more information on bipolar disease read "Manic-Depressive Illness" by Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin and Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, New York / Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1990 or visit my web site at http:/ / and look under Exploring the Mind: Manic Depressive Illness--it is very likely that the Narcissist will be. As already noted, the words of Herbert Armstrong indicate that it is likely that he was bipolar, or more likely (just like the Director I worked for recently) was a monopolar hypomanic, which means that he was in a mildly manic, irrational state, most of the time.

What is important here is the highs and the lows Herbert Armstrong went through and how they affected us. There are those who argue that he was not bipolar: To admit that might mean that he was not responsible for some of his behavior and they want Herbert to be culpable. If that is not sufficient for you, then, consider that Herbert Armstrong was also an alcoholic. John Robinson documents this fairly well in "Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web". Those interested in the functioning of the alcoholic and his affects on others should certainly read "Under the Influence" by Dr. James Milam. Dr. Milam notes two things of interest: 1) The predisposition for alcoholism is passed through the mitochondria, and 2) Hypoclycemia is symptomatic of the mid to late stages of alcoholism. To the first point, the reason it is significant is that the mitochondria is passed only through the mother, as anyone with an unabridged dictionary can verify.

There is an important concept in the book, "Shadow Syndromes": A noisy brain. A "noisy brain" is a concept that mental disorders begin with unsolicited random input within the brain itself.  This "noise" interferes with "normal" rational thought.  The result is everything from bipolar disease, intermittent rage disorder, to autism.  It is my belief that Herbert Armstrong had a rather noisy brain from his youth.  He has overloaded "members" of the Worldwide Church of God with NOISE for those DUMB SHEEP!!!!  He produced the GREATEST noise IN THIS WORLD Brethren!!!  It CLOUDS your THINKING so your NORMAL THOUGHTS just CAN'T take HOLD!!!   Sorry, just illustrating a point.

The picture I am painting of Herbert Armstrong is an alcoholic, bipolar, narcissist. It is not a pretty sight. Coping with the first two is difficult enough. For those interested, "Malignant Self Love--Narcissism Revisited" by Dr. Sam Vaknin should be elucidating. He gives some insight into coping with the Narcissist at http: //

We should have cut him off. It is not too late to cut off other narcissists, particularly those who go off and leave their church board members with $10 million in debts. Ignore the narcissist, and he will go away.

I believe that the extremes that Herbert Armstrong subjected us to have left most of us in quite a vulnerable state. We have lost our perspective.

We can see people who are worried and scared that they are not worthy and that they will be subject to the terrible consequences of "The Great Tribulation". (I thought that World War II was bad enough, and that Hitler and J. Edgar Hoover were bad enough.) They fear the prophecies of destruction, societal collapse, and mayhem. They fear that they will not achieve the place of safety. They fear personal harm will come to them, they will be subject to persecution, and when it is all over, they will be burned up in the Lake of Fire, and will never see the Kingdom. They are not faithful enough. They are not worthy. They are not thinking clearly.

Well documented are over 191 failed prophesies. And please excuse me, but my favorite is still from David Jon Hill in 1964, "I tell you brethren, in ten years, there will not be a tree standing in the Pacific Northwest [USA]". The floods, famines, disease epidemics, the collapse of civilization as we know it, never happened. As one pundit put it, he was glad for all those prophesies from Herbert Armstrong about the Allies being defeated by the Axis powers in 1943, because, otherwise, Hitler might have won. Very funny.

This is not to say that some of these Extreme prophesies could not happen. Some day. Probably not in our lifetime. But as an expert in the Year 2000 issue, I have to tell you that IF there are any problems, they will probably be cleaned up within 72 hours. It is unconscionable that the UCG should prey on uninformed people with this issue using "The Good News" (and under the circumstances, isn't the very name an irony?) when THEY KNOW that there probably won't be a major maladjustment. And the Euro (I've dubbed it the Urine Dollar) isn't doing all that well. A minister bragged that "The Good News" had articles today that were just like the articles in the 1960s.  Is this necessarily a good thing? To be fair, there are some good articles in "The Good News", but there are also some articles which perhaps should not be there.

We are getting recycled garbage.

Except that the recycling hasn't been that good--it's more like we are getting raw sewage.

Sometimes the prophecy thing gets down right silly.  Consider the following exchange of e-mails (slightly modified to protect ME!):

>-----Original Message-----
>>Date: Monday, February 08, 1999 12:31 PM
>Subject: Re: Big question: Is the "place of safety" still in Jordan?
>>Petra has been a favorite place of safety for prophecy buffs long before our time.
>>Rather than address the location, I'd like to address the idea.
>>Since we have such fragmentation today, and since the POS (Place of safety) concept requires that we must function together in unity at that time, it would seem that if there is a POS in Petra, that therefore we must have some form of unity within the church prior to that time.  Or, that only one of the many scattered groups will go to the POS.  What is clear, is that the many scattered individuals could not possibly qualify for a singular POS, since they have no unity.
>>Therefore, any group that embraces the singular POS concept, must also embrace unity within the church, or be able to make the claim that they are the only group that pleases God.
>>If on the other hand there is no singular POS, it would be allowed that many different groups could be protected by various means.
>>The promise "I will keep you from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole earth" does not specify a singular location, but it could include it.
>>>From the above, I draw the conclusion that there must be one of 3 possible cases:
>>1) there will be a future unity of the church that will precede the POS
>>2) there will be only one of the groups going to the POS
>>3) there will be different POS's for each of the groups found worthy
>>I tend to believe that #1 is the case.

My response:

-----Original Message-----
From: Douglas
Cc: Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 8:49 AM
Subject: Re: Big question: Is the "place of safety" still in Jordan?

>Given the track records of the past, it is unlikely:
>    1) The various splinters and groups of the CoG will unite in this generation;
>    2) That divisions will cease;
>    3) Jordan was ever really a candidate for the "Place of Safety"--for one thing it has been too popularized by too many groups;
>    4) There will be a NEED for a "Place of Safety" in this generation;
>    5) There is a literal, physical "Place of Safety"--the Scriptures and analogies upon which the idea is based is too tenuous to be objective;
>    6) The various CoGs are even close to ready yet for the end of this age--UCG, for example, is now past the point of "Repentance from Dead Works" after four years, and is now just beginning the phase of "Faith Toward God"--UCG has five more doctrines to go, and some of the other groups haven't even finished the Repentance phase.
>    There is always Faith,  and that is not to be discounted, conditions can change very quickly, but at this point, the "Place of Safety" in Petra within Jordan seems delusional based on wishful thinking. If God truly has a flair for the dramatic, why would He do the obvious?  Besides, should we not be more concerned about a Spiritual "Place of Safety" rather than looking to a physical one?  Perhaps we have missed the obvious--Petra is the Rock; Christ was that Rock....

Some people were rolling on the floor holding their sides over that one.

Do we really think that Herbert Armstrong was a prophet?

If you want to make people angry, lie to them.  If you want to want to discourage them, give them unfulfilled promises.  If you want to make people apathetic, place an incompetent in charge.  Are we not seeing the results of these things?

Herbert Armstrong was a terrible man: He did things that the gentiles would never think of doing; he abused people; he squandered money as typical of a bipolar person; he drank alcohol to excess; he was a terrible father to his children; he was a false prophet; he in no way fit the qualification of an elder as given by the Apostle Paul.

His successors weren't much better. It was commonly reported that Joseph Tkach, Senior openly had a mistress, and pretty much locked up his wife. He had a legendary temper. His language was absolutely foul. One man described it as "Sailor's Language!".

The "Ambassador Report" has recounted the fact that Joseph Tkach, Junior was divorced and remarried, and that the relationship in his first marriage was rather, well, to coin a phrase, stormy. His son has been reported to be somewhat "spirited" and "mischievous".

Ministers, particularly at "Headquarters" knew all this.  They did not have the Faith--the courage--to either reveal what was going on or take charge of the situation.  Most worked behind the scenes by stealth and craft, afraid to confront what they knew as the evil powers that be.  They had the fear of loss of a salary.   They had the fear of a loss of retirement.  They had a fear of men; and in the end, many lost what they feared they would lose, even by sticking with something they knew was not right.

It should be clear by this time that we will gain nothing from God by the fear of men.

We have a tremendous crowd of witnesses who have testified of the excesses and abuses of the Worldwide Church of God. It is has been established in the mouths of two or three witnesses. In the case of Garner Ted Armstrong, make that two or three MILLION witnesses. What more will it take?

Last year I told someone that my spiritual goal was to exceed the righteousness of the leadership of the Worldwide Church of God (past and present), Herbert Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong, Roderick Meredith, Joseph Tkatch, Senior, for starters. He told me he though I was already there, but I'm not so sure. I'm not righteous over much. I think we all need to have our righteousness exceed that of many of the leaders of the Churches of God, et cetera.

This may be helpful:

There came a day a year or two back that I had come to the realization of who and what Herbert Armstrong was. The problem was how my wife would react. Those of you who know my wife can understand my concern. Suffice it to say, she has red hair, and that should tell you something. We went to dinner at "The Outback Steakhouse" and broached the subject. Her reaction? They are all a bunch of men! We should not trust and rely in men. End of story.

What I think is that we need to recover balance within a standard deviation of the mean. Our families have suffered greatly because of the extremes of sacrifice we put them through. You also experienced the extremes of a corporation that sucked up money to support immoral, if not illegal, activities. In losing our perspective, some of us lost the ability to know how to retain / spend our own money within a venue of extravagance and waste. Why would a godly person need a Picasso or Rembrant Painting in their homes to do the work of God? What would be the justification for having a $100,000 table setting, when members, particularly widows, were in want. So many people were abused through assault, neglect, lying, and arrogance. It was an extremely abusive environment, as you know.

The outrage continues with Joe Tkach, Junior selling the Pasadena Campus to developers and people like Roderick Meredith leaving his church council of elders behind with a $10 million debt, Garner Ted Armstrong literally exposed on TV and STILL maintaining a following. The Worldwide Church of God had received in excess of $2 Billion over a 20 year period, by my calculations. Many people gave over $100,000 during their life time, only to see it go into the pockets of a few selfish men. Some of that money was chewed up by dinner parties for evil foreign "dignitaries" and leaders.  I have been told that it was typical for Herbert Armstrong to spend as much as $25,000 in one night in a visit to someone like Ferdiand Marcos. Some of the Pastors of the other Churches of God, et cetera, have made it clear that they are using the tithes they are getting now to settle into a comfortable retirement--and given what they have been through, can we really blame them? They were abused as much or more as the regular member, not that I particularly have a lot of sympathy for those who still take advantage of us who don't really know right from wrong any more.

Of greater concern is the fact that "the Devil has had his way with us": Many of us were basically righteous and "good" people before entering the Worldwide Church of God. The environment has turned many to be as much a child of hell as the leadership. People who did not even drink, became alcoholics. People who would never have thought to do violence to other people, seriously abused their children. People who had their house in order, lost their money to charlatans--made more vulnerable by that same loss of perspective to which they were subjected. Some, who did not really care one way or another and were not before, became sexists, racists, bigots, and worse. Part of healing has to be the resolution of guilt of doing evil things magnified by the environment of the Worldwide Church of God. Hyperbole seemed to be considered the norm.

There were many many anomalies. We were taught to respect our civil leaders [as commanded by the Apostle Paul], but who can forget Gerald Waterhouse coming through and speaking not just of "Fine Israel--you see, they won't call it fine China in the World Tomorrow", but of leaders such as Mousey-Dung and Hokey Min. Supposedly, God set up these leaders [from the basest of men--just like the leadership of the Worldwide Church of God]--and amazingly enough, Herbert Armstrong met [with $1,200 Stuben Crystal in hand] with some of the same leaders, GW had subjected to ridicule.

One of Herbert Armstrong's favorite jokes he told near the end of his life, was the story of a General Store Manager who had a reputation for quoting Scriptures during a sale. While some customers who knew the manager were in the store, someone came looking for a horse blanket and the owner showed him one for $10. The buyer said it was OK, but he wanted know if there was a better one, so the owner took the blanket into the back room and refolded it and brought it back out. The buyer asked the price. "$20". "Well, that's better, but what else do you have?" The owner went in the back with the same blanket and folded it again. When he brought it out, the buyer asked the price again. "$50". "I'll take it!", the buyer said. All the rest were waiting for the applicable Scripture. But the buyer put down his money, and took the blanket, leaving the store. Several people asked, "Well?". When the buyer was out of earshot, the manager could not hold it any longer and said, "I was a stranger, and I took you in!".

How ironic.

I have likened the Worldwide Church of God like a great swelling pretty balloon--you know--like the gondolas people take for a ride. They are pretty on the outside, but have no substance on the inside--it's all hot air. And you don't know where you're going and where you'll end up, but when you come down, you know you've been taken for a ride. There was never a real sense of family or community. People were so stressed DOING the WORK--whatever that meant to them--that many did not form real relationships, even with their own families. There wasn't any real substance to benefit the people of the Church. When the hot air ceased--when Herbert Armstrong died--the balloon collapsed AND a lot of people went down with it.

We need to mitigate the extremes.

We need to decide what our priorities are.

As we go through life, we form connections with other people. Some people we meet for only a moment may have a permanent affect on our lives. Relationships are important. Arrogance severs relationships. If we but have faith in something outside of ourselves--whether that be the universal laws of physics and chemistry, a belief in our customers, faith in our family, or in God, we will not have that all consuming faith in ourselves--which is the source of arrogance: Pride in self. We need to decide whether self-esteem and family are more important priorities than religious hucksters who are strangers. Unfortunately, we have made connections with people we really care about in the Worldwide Church of God, only to have them ripped apart by divisions.  Where have the divisions come from?  From the "membership"?  Or from the arrogant leadership?

The good news is that there is no more Ambassador College. AC won't be churning out Herbert Armstrong clones anymore, although hope springs eternal for some. We can at least all pray that there isn't a return performance. The handwriting is on the wall and it is MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

From time to time I receive e-mail from distressed people relating situations that indicate the lack of comfort provided by the Churches of God, et cetera. Two of the e-mails dealt with people losing their children. The people were heart broken and deeply stricken about the loss of their firstborn, a very image of the parent that conceived them. In this sad loss, members and ministers wanted to know what they did wrong. What sin had they committed to deserve this? One minister had the sense to say that he did not know why it happened.

When we face tragedy, we need validation and support. What we paid for, in spades, and got, was nothing but judgmental abuse. To be fair, the myrmidons were not well equipped to comfort others because they had issues of their own to resolve. Some of them have TRIED, and there are a few (mostly non-paid local elders) who have been able to render comfort without judgement, without "helpful" suggestions--just acceptance.

When I say that the ministry was not equipped to comfort others, it was an extreme. They did not know how the human mind works. (Those who really want a view to this, should read, "The Emperor's New Mind" by Roger Penrose. Roger Penrose is a colleague of Steven Hawking and as a premiere world class Mathematician and Cosmologist lends insight to the quantum mechanical operations of the brain.) They could not tell me the definitive borderline between the spiritual and the medical in the spectrum of mental disorders. I finally had to give one of the ministers the book, "Shadow Syndromes" by John J. Ratey, M.D. so he could recognize and cope with the hidden psychological disorders that can influence your behavior and silently determine the course of your life.

The major problem with those who have set themselves up in the ministry of the Churches of God, et cetera is that they are filled with covetousness, which, according to their own standards, as defined in Colossians 3:5, is idolatry. Herbert Armstrong coveted the praise of men. Joseph Tkach, Senior appeared to have coveted the power. Joseph Tkach, Junior seems to have coveted the money. Many of the others went off to form their own Churches of God, et cetera for similar reasons. In some cases, the ministry coveted retirement benefits. They coveted a stable pastorate where they could be close to their family and friends (and who could do better?). The problem with this is, that it cripples their ability to comfort others. Isn't it ironic that some of us have had the most comfort from our coworkers, "unconverted" neighbors, family (if we haven't completely alienated them), and friends, and in some cases, atheists?

George Carlin gave me great comfort recently by saying that God is loving, kind, merciful, the Creator, but He's bad with money. He always needs money. He can't manage His money. That's why his ministers have to keep asking for more money.

To those who still need comfort I say, seek and you shall find, ask and you shall receive, knock and it will be opened to you.  You will find comfort, though it may take patience.

Above all, avoid extremes.

Regaining the balance is difficult, but necessary.  The Worldwide Church of God has subjected us to such extremes.  There are those unitiated who just can't grasp or believe what we have been through in this cult experience.  A few try.  We are really screwed up.  It will take years to get straightened out for most of us, particularly if the Worldwide Church of God got us early in our lives.  Those who grew up in the Worldwide Church of God have no perspective whatsoever. We have several lost generations who will struggle with questions a life time. And wonder.  Who am I? Did I do the right thing? If I'm doing the right thing, why am I in such pain?  Why does it SEEM wrong? I know this isn't true, but what if it is true?

Isaiah 40:1, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God."

1 Corinthians 14:3, "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort."

The first step in overcoming the abuse is realizing that you have been abused. You must realize the source of the abuse. Then you must stop it at its source. Finally, you must help others.

You may contact me at my new e-mail address and I will respond to you. That isn't to say that I don't have intense problems of my own, but I am willing to reach out to others in a time of need.

For those of you who just absolutely loathe me (but who take my stuff and don't give me credit), who hate what I say on the Internet, who don't like what I'm telling them, I have this question: What kind of person hates the truth?


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