The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

I Should Have Known Part II

"God's Christian Soldier: Paul Royer"

by John B.

As I have recounted previously, I spent a little over two years in the Pasadena area from 1968-1970, living and working among the "brother'n". A curious fact about young men in my experience is that, in their early twenties, most of them are still trying to find their slot in the social pecking order. Such immature fellows often use horseplay, physical contests or demonstrations of strength, and verbal abuse to humiliate their peers and assure themselves of as high a rating as possible on the testosterone scale.

In Pasadena we played same game, only with different equipment. Instead of bragging about how many women we had or how much liquor we could down, we were constantly judging the "conversion" of our peers. The ultimate putdown (frequently and viciously applied) was, "You aren't very converted, are you?" or "That's a real converted attitude!"

Such immature conduct is, of course, the mark of insecurity. Some men never outgrow that insecurity, apparently--the Worldwide Church of God was full of them, and most of them were ministers.

Paul Royer was probably in his forties when I was at HQ, a minister in charge of the Personnel Dept. Yet for all his years and experience, he was one of the most insecure men I have ever met. Just as the young single men competed with one another for social dominance, Royer competed with the entire church.

If one assumes the Bible is the inspired word of God, then one must assume there really exists something called the "fruits of the spirit". If one accepts that such fruits exist, then one would logically expect to find them in the average Christian. One would certainly expect to find them in a pastor-rank minister who is supposed to be a role model for people trying to learn how to live a godly life.

Of course, one could also suck eggs and expect to grow feathers.

Young men between 18 and 25 might be excused for their immaturity--after all, their hormones are running wild and the only thing on their minds is sex (which was forbidden in the Worldwide Church of God). But once a man is married for twenty years and has children in college...well, dammit, he ought to show a little maturity, shouldn't he? Especially if he is a pastor-rank minister.

Paul Royer exhibited not a single "fruit of the spirit". He was cold, arrogant, aloof, vain, rude, insulting, and any other synonyms you care to add. I had one or two brief brushes with him, and found him to be completely "unconverted". If he ever had a holy spirit, he was excellent at hiding it.

Though living in Pasadena and heading up the Personnel Dept, Royer was also pastor of the Bakersfield church. He drove up on Saturdays (about 120 miles) to do his stint, then returned home. I was visiting in Bakersfield once when he came in the door. People stopped talking and shifted nervously as he strode down the aisle. His brow furrowed, his ice-blue eyes hard as diamonds, he made brief but disapproving eye contact with each person as he passed, shaking hands only because it was a required ritual (there was certainly no greeting in it), and the thought entered my mind as he brushed past me that he was reviewing his troops--and finding them unacceptable.

His war record was well known.

Paul Royer was extremely proud of his war record. He preached about it often. He wrote about it in church publications. He claimed to be a fighter pilot in the famous Flying Tigers of World War II. (Being a WWII buff, I always enjoyed hearing his stories, even though I considered him to be an insufferable prick.)

In 1976 I was honored and privileged to spend a couple of hours with the legendary war hero and Medal of Honor winner Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, who shot down 28 confirmed Japanese aircraft (the highest in the Marine Corps). Boyington was the subject of the short-lived and poorly produced TV series Baa Baa Black Sheep (later syndicated as Black Sheep Squadron). At the time of our visit, I asked him if, by any chance, he had known of a Flying Tiger pilot named Paul Royer. He didn't. Then he asked me if Royer had been a member of the 14th Air Force. I wasn't sure, but I said he probably was.

Boyington then explained that the 14th Air Force took over in China after Pearl Harbor and called themselves the Flying Tigers. However, the real Flying Tigers were those men of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) who fought in China before Pearl Harbor. Boyington was one of those; he and others like him were recruited from the various aviation services to serve in what amounted to a "Black Op" (officially they didn't exist) in order to help the Chinese in their defensive war against Japan. The AVG pilots were told to resign from their service (USMC, USAAF, USN) so they would be technically civilians in case of capture. This was to prevent an "incident" that could have embarrassing international implications.

After the war, when the public became aware of the Flying Tigers, a certain mystique surrounded that name, including the pictures of shark-nosed P-40 Warhawk fighter planes (with teeth), and a movie starring John Wayne (whose character was called "Pappy" and was loosely based on Pappy Boyington). To be a member of the Flying Tigers was to be an instant hero.

But Paul Royer was not, apparently, a real Flying Tiger. He seems to have been one of those pilots who hijacked the name for their own unit.

It would also appear that Royer was not even a very good pilot. In one article that he wrote for the Good News, he described how he strafed a supply convoy on a mountain road only to discover that it was composed of friendly allies. He even described how one of the men he killed was smiling and waving as Royer dived out of the sky with machine guns blazing.

Likewise, in a sermon that he gave in either Pasadena or Bakersfield, he told about shooting down a Japanese bomber. Unfortunately, he flew too close to the exploding plane and his own fighter was knocked out of the sky. Royer described falling head-down with his parachute tangled around his broken ankle. It was very dramatic, and I'm sure he felt covered in glory. But looking at it now, I think he was just completely inept as a fighter pilot.

Royer loved to brag about his wartime exploits. Yet he was insufferably arrogant. By contrast, Pappy Boyington (who really did do those things) was just an everyday ordinary guy. He didn't look much like a hero and he certainly didn't spend a lot of time bragging about it. When I met him, he didn't much want to talk about the war. It makes me wonder how much action Royer actually saw. He certainly was no hero.

When Dana described her "Date With The Dog", I thought she was going to get eaten. It would have been spiritual justice in Royer's eyes for a disobedient prospective member to get dismembered on his front porch by his German-speaking dog.

Paul Royer was one of the worst of the Worldwide Church of God Nazis. If he ever fought in a real war, he was probably on the wrong side. It's too bad there isn't a Nuremberg for his ilk.



If you have anything you would like to
submit to this site, or any comments,
email me at:
Send Me Email

Back to "Painful Truth" menu.


The content of this site, including but not limited to the text and images herein and their arrangement, are copyright (c) 1997-1999 by The Painful Truth All rights reserved.

Do not duplicate, copy or redistribute in any form without the prior written consent.