Insights Into How Herbert W. Armstrong Did It. Part 3

Insights into Herbert W. Armstrong’s Techniques /
Co-worker Letters / Part 3

Excerpts are 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).

We have been examining Herbert W. Armstrong’s techniques for gaining control of our minds and our money. Although he is dead and buried, perhaps the most dangerous part of the man remains alive and kicking – his unscriptural ideas and his methods of deceiving his fellow man through spiritual intimidation and abuse. In Part 3, we will further examine the psychology behind his co-worker letters, looking at the “closer” portion of his letters.


(All that appears below, including comments, to “End of Part 3” is taken verbatim from Mr. McNair’s book, with the exception of minor spelling corrections, etc.)


This area of Armstrong’s co-worker letter is usually an urgent plea for funds. The first one, randomly selected, is dated:

 1) January 24, 1952 – “Yes, the work is growing – things are literally HUMMING with activity here – thousands and thousands of new names are going on the mailing list . . . but our Co-Workers, very many of them, are slacking off again in their efforts. In ten more days this could become a fatal crisis! Co-Workers, EVERY ONE, leap to my aid! Send in the very largest sum you possibly can, at any sacrifice, BY RETURN AIR-MAIL in the enclosed envelope, whether it be a check or draft or several thousand dollars or one or two dollar bills – the widow’s mites. There is no time for more words. I must make this brief so it can be printed and mailed AT ONCE. It’s VITAL to the life of the work that you keep tithes and offerings coming in REGULARLY – as often as possible! . . .PLEASE HURRY!”

 2) July 24, 1953 – “. . . the July PLAIN TRUTH has had to lay, all printed, for one solid month in the printing plant because of lack of sufficient funds to pay for it. Think of it! One month late! And we had it printed ON TIME! . . .The summer months are the most difficult of the year . . .Co-Worker! I call on you now in Jesus’ Name to rally to God’s great cause! We have to re-double our efforts! . . .A miracle is now needed to keep the work going . . .”

 3) July 31, 1954 – “. . . Co-Workers, I can’t carry my load much further, unless you’ll get into DEADLY SERIOUS EARNEST about this! If you don’t have a thousand dollars to send, YOU COULD PRAY HARD ENOUGH, AND BELIEVING ENOUGH, that God would lay it so HEAVILY on the heart of one who CAN, to do so! . . .But I doubt whether God will hear you UNLESS you are willing to do your UTMOST {i.e. give your utmost} . . . It’s all deductible on income tax, up to 20% . . . And, not only do we need an IMMEDIATE response to this letter – WE NEED TO HAVE IT KEEP UP . . . There’s no need for this undertaking to fail – IF YOU’LL STIR YOURSELVES AND GET UNDER THIS BURDEN WITH ME! But we shall have to keep it up UNTIL TV produces its harvest!”

 4) February 3, 1955 – “Listen, Co-Workers! Do I have to send you desperate, urgent appeals to be faithful in sending God’s tithes, and your generous offerings? It is still a life and death struggle . . . It always will be! {This indicates Armstrong actually planned to budget beyond the level of current donations and constantly keep pressure on the members and co-workers.} . . . Send the largest amount for the work God has made possible for you to send – AND KEEP IT UP, as OFTEN AS POSSIBLE! It’s later than we think! Time is growing short. . . ”

 5) March 23, 1955 – “. . . This work . . .is not only a matchless PRIVILEGE – it is also the very testing ground of FAITH, to try us, and make us WHITE in the righteousness of God! . . . Either we endure in the joy of our glorious Mission {supporting Armstrong’s work with money} – or we lose salvation! . . . I tell you dear Co-Workers, your own salvation for eternity is at stake . . . ”

 6) October 19, 1956 – “. . . if ever we needed a number of LARGE donations of $1,000 to $10,000 or more, it is right now. I would suggest that any of you in position to make such a gift or loan contact me immediately by long distance telephone . . .There’s not an hour to lose! Please hurry!”

 7) November 25, 1958 – “. . . I must stop right here and RUSH this emergency S.O.S. to you! God’s Work needs your WIDOWS’ MITES – it needs the generous offerings of one or several thousand dollars from the VERY FEW of you who are able to give so much for CHRIST and His Work. It needs whatever amount is GENEROUS giving, according to YOUR circumstances and ability, whether as much as $50,000 or only one or two dollars.”

Perhaps it has happened before – but surely it is rare for a religious leader in a mass circulated letter, to request specific donations of even a few thousand dollars, not to mention TEN THOUSAND or FIFTY THOUSAND. Such a request has just been witnessed – spiced with a threat of “loss of salvation” if enough doesn’t come in to keep Armstrong’s work going.

But how does he get people to respond to requests mingled with threats? The real psychological pull which impels Armstrong’s adherents to dig down deep is found between the letter’s opening and closing. And like the great American hamburger, it is almost addictive.

End of Part 3

Just what kind of filling does Armstrong put between the upper and lower crust of this (co-worker letter) sandwich? We will find out in Part 4.


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