Insights Into How Herbert W. Armstrong Did It

“Armstrongism Religion Or Ripoff” – by Marion McNair

Those of us who are a little long in the tooth have experienced the fund-raising techniques and mind-control psychology employed by Herbert W. Armstrong chapter 3 excerpts below bring out. Those who have never been subject to these diabolical mind manipulations can’t relate to what is being discussed here, but are only able to parrot their standard retort of “Get over it! The man is dead and buried!” Would to God that the man’s strangle-hold on the minds of countless thousands of those who still believe the “truths” he taught was also dead and buried!

I believe that the only way to really counter Armstrongism is to thoroughly understand all of the techniques and tricks of the trade that Herbert W. Armstrong employed, along with his errors in doctrine. Hopefully with this knowledge will come a gradual understanding of how so many could be so totally deceived in a day and age when people pride themselves in being “enlightened.” And also with that knowledge will come freedom, or as the Bible tells us, “and the truth shall make you free.”

There are still far too many sincere people out there who haven’t a clue as to what has been actually going on between their ears once Herbert W. Armstrong gained their confidence and gradually and subtly took over doing their thinking and reasoning for them. To these people this series is dedicated. I will continue in my unending quest to release as many as possible from the personal hellish twilight zone many have unknowingly taken residence in, also known as “Armstrongism.”

Excerpts from “Armstrongism Religion Or Ripoff” – by Marion McNair, Chapter 3, written in 1977.

Marion McNair was a member of the Worldwide Church of God who attained to the highest rank of Evangelist back in the 1950’s and brother of Carl and Raymond McNair.


(All that appears below, including comments, to “End of Part 1” is taken verbatim from Mr. McNair’s book, with the exception of minor spelling corrections, etc.)


The following is a catalog of a few suppositions held by the Armstrongs and their adherents – all are effective tools in getting people to contribute.

 1) Loma Armstrong through an angel prophesied Herbert Armstrong’s present work.

2) Herbert Armstrong superstitiously credits God with his business failures – turns it into a sign that God wants him to fulfill his wife’s dream-vision.

3) Armstrong claims to have spent three and one-half years in study for his ministry – just as the Apostles were supposedly with Christ for three and one-half years – and that is supposed to have some supernatural significance.

4) Armstrong claims he did not get his doctrinal teachings from other men – that they were REVEALED BY CHRIST with whom he was in communion (like the Apostle Paul) during that three and one-half year period.

5) Armstrong claims that no one has preached (original Greek – published) the Gospel from the time of the early Church until he began his ministry in 1927 – which he is quick to point out is ONE HUNDRED “19-year time cycles” after the (supposed) beginning of Christ’s ministry. And all that is supposed to have some supernatural significance.

6) Armstrong assumes the title of APOSTLE (he declares only one APOSTLE is necessary today)and teaches that his commission is to “publish” the Gospel to the world as a “warning” witness – not specifically to make converts and save souls.

7) And of more recent date, the Armstrongs have declared that Garner Ted’s ministry was foretold by the Old Testament prophets.

What do all these suppositions have to do with acquiring FIFTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS annually? They are Armstrong suppositions but they become SUPERstitions to his adherents. And when they become SUPERstitions in one’s mind he will contribute heavily to his last breath. Thousands and thousands have compromisingly accepted them and many thousands more have gullibly believed those suppositions.

They are suppositions pure and simple! None of the above points have anything to do with the “way of life” – how you treat your neighbor and live before God. They are EXTRA BIBLICAL. They cannot be directly proved by the Bible because it just doesn’t deal in suppositions.

Reinforcing Armstrong’s suppositions is a highly exercised code of psychological propaganda to which the average, unwary reader is completely oblivious. This adds even greater weight to his leverage for soliciting donations.


 1) Always appear PATRIOTIC! Your position is almost invulnerable when you stand up for “Mother, God, and Country.”

2) Get on the BAND WAGON! Really whoop it up. Put on the sales pitch. Bring in a few glowing testimonials, and hand out a few rewards – trophies, titles, etc.

3) Use glittering GENERALITIES! Always deal in vague terms. Let others think they know your stand – but keep your real position, facts, figures obscured.

4) Elevate those who compliment you – who back you without reservation. Always speak well of them – put them in a good light. Promote them in every way possible. Reward them well with money, gifts, and honor when it is within your power to do so.

5) Always have a COMMON ENEMY readily at hand. When difficulty develops within your camp – always lay it to the charge of that OUTSIDE ENEMY. When one within your ranks is in disfavor always equate him with the OUTSIDE ENEMY. Then attack that ENEMY rather than the man. This isolates the culprit from his friends and puts them (his friends) in your camp.

6) Deprecate those who question your decisions, actions, or motives. Avoid them like the plague. Any reference to them must be one of pity, scorn, or reproof.

7) Use the HALF TRUTH. Don’t give all the facts. Use only the ones favorable to your goals and array them so as to present your efforts in a good light even when the whole picture is very bleak.

8) Tell the BIG LIE (Gospel not preached for 1900 years). The BIG LIE technique – make it big enough and tell it long enough and even the most skeptical will believe it.

Armstrong’s arsenal of suppositions born on a tidal wave of propaganda, floods the minds of his co-workers, on an average of once a month, on some occasions, more.

End of Part 1

Next time:

We will examine the typical Armstrong co-worker letter and the psychology it employed.


Part 2 can be found HERE.

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