We present to you some of the horror stories that have been recorded in the past dealing with Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God…
My Worldwide Church of God Horror story:
My parents became interested in the Worldwide Church of God in the mid-1960s. At one of his first visits, the minister asked my dad what he did for a living. “Pharmacist”, he replied. Turning to his wife in mock horror, the minister exclaimed “Sorcery!”. “Witchcraft!” she replied, on cue. Having to give up his profession in his mid-forties was (by his own admission) one of the main reasons he turned to alcohol. He managed a few years at a couple of other jobs, then basically became unemployable.
After several years of denying he had an alcohol problem, and despite being seen walking to the liquor store and back after services (using his briefcase to carry his purchases), my dad was told not to attend church any more. By this time we had a really volatile minister who thought that all forms of disfellowshipment allowed him to publicly “mark” the offender. The next sabbath he humiliated the family by angrily announcing he had thrown my dad out for his problem and for not providing for his own family, thus being worse than an infidel.
This minister had in an earlier week humiliated one man’s family because this guy suddenly decided the previous Saturday to go to a horse-race meeting instead of to church. (I can still vividly recall his wife sobbing during this minister’s tirade.) But perhaps the highlight of his pastorship was the day a member family had a stillborn child and he blamed it on the spiritual state of the congregation.
It was the spring of 1952 that my mom became a member of Worldwide Church of God. And for those of you that are familiar with the former Ambassador College campus in Pasadena, my mom was baptized in the baptismal located in the Lower Gardens, it is where graduations were held, and it is where my wife, Barbara, and I were married in 1968.
It was approximately 1960 that my mom noticed an unusual lump under right her arm. Being concerned, she went to the ministry and was annointed. She was forbidden to see a doctor or to receive any medical care whatever. She was told not to worry, God would completely heal her. She was also told that if she went to a doctor she would lose her salvation .
The non-WCG family members were outraged by the ministers instructions and ultimatum. They urged her to at least have her condition diagnosed by a doctor. After a considerable amount of positive harassment by family members, seven years later she finally went to a Seventh Day Adventist doctor only to discover the seriousness of her condition. It would be fatal if not treated.
We were living in Hawthorne California at the time, which is about 40 miles south of Pasadena, which was the closest church area at that time. Since we did not have a telephone (my dad hated them) our contact with Worldwide Church of God was limited to occasional visits by the ministers and our occasional trips to Pasadena for church services.
My mom did not drive, and my dad was not a member of Worldwide Church of God and did not feel it was necessary to go to church every week.
I only mention our limited contact at this time so you would be aware that we were somewhat isolated and therefore did make some decisions on our own without consulting the ministry. That is until they started a church in LA and we were able to attend every week. It was then that the hammer fell, the ministry told my mom NO MORE doctors. They dogmatically told her that God would heal her.
After that she did not and would not go to a doctor. She feared that by doing so she would lose her salvation. The ministry reinforced this fear by making it quite clear that if she did not trust in God she would lose her salvation and her place in God’s Kingdom.
In the summer of 1967 her situation became critical. I agreed with some of the other family members and in spite of the ministers commands we had the doctor come to our home to give her some aid and relief from the pain.
I was a member at this time. It was not that I lacked faith, it was just that what the ministers said made no sense at all to me. I guess I just was not converted enough to trust in their divine inspiration and decisions completely.
The doctor arrived and after a brief examination told us that her condition was terminal. I was there holding her hand when the doctor gave her a shot of morphine to help ease the pain in what turned out to be her last few hours of life. I will never forget the look in her eyes, she was helpless and too weak to stop the doctor from giving her an injection. And she looked at me as though I had betrayed her and robbed her of her salvation. Her eyes expressed the emotional pain she felt, for in her mind she was rejecting God and would face the Lake of Fire. She felt this because this is what she was told by a “loving and compassionate ministry”. I might mention also that the ministry never came to visit her during the last TWO years of her fatal illness.
Me? I still continued to attend Worldwide Church of God until 1992, well some of us are just slow learners…at that point I finally said enough lies and abuse and quit attending. But that is another story for another time. I do have many interesting stories about life in Worldwide Church of God, some of them are funny some are very sad. One in particular is about my personal contact with the wrath of Herbert W. Armstrong., and I survived!
Today my wife and I totally embrace the grace of Jesus Christ. Our lives have been forever changed and impacted by Christ living in us. Our salvation is secure, it is no longer based on what we do, it is solely based on what He did for us at the cross.
We are not attending any church at this time but we do have an in-home Bible Study that is now in its third year. We are a happy and joyous group. We have learned that God can not love us more than He does, and He will not love us less!
May the Lord bless you all.
I’ve been thinking about something… I have a lot of questions about some things. So I’m going to recount my experiences and observations here and see if any of you have any other observations…
As you all know, I was raised in Worldwide Church of God, I was born there and had been involved in it (in one way or another) until about a year ago or so. Essentially everything in my life was either influenced by or revolved around the cult for that amount of time, about 21 years.
There were a lot of kids who went to church with me – they grew up to be somewhat normal – with all of their faculties – even though their parents seemed to be, under certain circumstances, even more severe than mine. I have to wonder what was different.
The Worldwide Church of God (or any organized religion, as I’m beginning to find out) is very difficult on a child. The child is born with a preconceived mold fit around them that the parents feel obligated (as a “highest calling”, if you will) to force the child to fit into. The preschool years, at least in my case, could only be described as the “period of molding”, when my parents were making a very concerted effort, pushing, prodding, stomping, paddling, whatever, in an effort to make me fit into that little mold. I can’t forget the Y.E.S. lessons we were required to do every week, or the “memory scriptures”. The memory scriptures were particularly virulent because the Toledo minister at that time, George Kackos, would look at my parents askance if I (or my brother) did not have them memorized like good church kids. Sometimes he would have “a talk” with them, if I remember correctly. The long and short is that the minister was actively involved in trying to force me into that mold.
During this time, I had no friends my age outside the church (or even inside the church, come to think of it), so the only point of view I was ever exposed to was my parents’ and the church’s.
At this point in time I can remember thinking reverently about the minister – fearing him – like he was God himself. I remember even revering things as stupid as his haircut, or the types of shoes he wore. The church literally was my life at that time. I was thoroughly brainwashed as a little child – as much as it pains me to admit it. There could be no other…
I was not put into kindergarten. In all fairness, I was actually too smart for kindergarten…
My first experience with “normal” kids my age was in the first grade. At this point I was a complete fish out of water. I had already been trained, like a good kid, not to celebrate birthdays, or any of their “pagan” holidays, and I’d been given nice pre-digested reasons as to why not. My experience with the church and their inherent judgementalism made it very easy – in fact, I thought it was my duty – to “tattle” on all the other kids as much as I could. I didn’t even remember that until an old schoolmate told me that when I was a teenager. Needless to say, this made my life a living hell – even in first grade I didn’t fit in. And, to make things worse, my mother would come in to the classroom and help out. I’m not really sure why – I think one of her reasons was to make sure I wasn’t filled with “pagan garbage”. Or something.
I never recovered from this, as a reputation thing goes. The church never lost its sway on me during my elementary school days. In fact, it got stronger. I remember my brother and I sitting in the backyard playing “church”, which would consist of screaming at the top of our lungs “you shall not keep Christmas!”, while pounding on the lectern. The other one of us would be sitting on a chair in the “audience”, listening. There was a little neighbor lady who thought we were completely whacked out cause of this.
Towards the end of elementary school, 4th to 6th grade, I did make a few neighborhood “friends”. Wanna know why I put that in quotes? They didn’t want anything to do with me, except my parents told them if they didn’t play with me they couldn’t play with my brother. So in all honesty the only “friends” I had really didn’t want anything to do with me either.
Around the 6th grade or so my parents were having some marital problems. My father was being abusive, as all good church men are, and my mother just didn’t want it anymore, so she wanted a divorce. My father found out about it and used every tool at his disposal to stop her, including turning the two of us boys against our mother. He made us hate her by telling lies up the wazzoo… and then stating he wasn’t lying and that she was in the wrong for telling us anything about the truth. You know, in retrospect, those are classic Armstrongian tactics.
So eventually they “patched” everything up. My father was disfellowshipped at this point – for his “attitude” and for not having a job. Was his attitude bad? Yes… but the minister, at this point a Mr. Dave Fiedler, was the pastor. He was extremely authoritarian – but a part of the problem here was, again, my father, who decided that he was lord and master over everyone in his household. So they butted heads for six years. All this time my father was feeding me misinformation about both my father and the minister (who was also very much at fault) and being generally an abusive SOB. He and I butted heads very frequently. He’d always win, of course, because that’s just the way bastards are.
About this time I was pulled out of school – I was in junior high and my reputation had preceded me. I was one of the five smarted kids in that school – but I had severe problems by then. This was probably the toughest jr. High school in Toledo, and they were trying to kill me. So I was homeschooled from 7th grade until graduation. From the ages of about 12 to 15 I had zero interaction with kids my age. Zero…
I was not attending church, but I decided to rejoin at around 15 because I knew I had zero friends and I was going insane with depression. So I went back, and acted like a bulldozer with the social cliques there. That’s not allowed, you know. The “unwritten policy” of the church was openness and “no cliques”, so ostensibly they couldn’t exclude me, but I wasn’t wanted by then and I knew I wasn’t. The Worldwide Church of God didn’t want me. All of the years of oppression, etc, had taken their toll and I was already too weird to successfully integrate. Not even with the people I was raised to integrate with. So I went to district meets and stuff and tried my hardest to fit in, but I was too much of a loose cannon. They wanted nothing to do with me. I wasn’t in the “in” crowd. Believe it or not, most of those kids were not near as badly brainwashed as I was. I think it was because of the influence of their friends. Or maybe just because they had them… dunno…
So, around 17, I went to college. You know, come to think about it, this was THE FIRST TIME I’d ever had any integration with people my age who wanted anything to do with me. They liked me, and I liked them, and I just couldn’t deal with it. So I began a period of culture shock. I had no idea what to expect from people my age, I thought they were all evil, wicked sex fiends. It just never crossed my mind that any of them could be decent people. For two years I did nothing but try my hardest to stay away from them and their culture. I was completely incapable of integrating with them on anything more than a completely academic level. I still can’t. This is the effect the church had on me.
So eventually the culture shock got to be too much for me and I dropped out. By this time I had stopped attending the church and even the keeping of the laws fell by the wayside because I was just fed up with it. Then I met a young woman my age over the internet, and we became friends, then boy/girlfriend, and I went to Denver to visit her for a couple of weeks – we ended up just being friends and nothing happened. But this was around christmas time, and I went to a pageant at her old high school. The culture shock led to an actual panic attack that lasted for three hours. I just wanted to run. I was 20 years old. It was around this time that I began to realize what a load of bull the Worldwide Church of God had pulled on me. And you know, my parents still blame her for “ruining me”. They still blame her…
So then I got a job at an ISP, things were looking up… and I met another woman on the internet, and it turned… well, sexual. I went to meet her, and then I came home, and all sorts of stuff happened, and the point is I’m not sure why I did it… but it was yet again just as much of a culture shock as anything else.
You know what? The culture shock still hasn’t gone away. I went to college last quarter. I liked it the first day. The second day I just went bananas. I haven’t been the same since. Things really haven’t changed, you know? I still subconsciously thought of every single person there as evil sex fiends or whatever, even though consciously I knew that by my definition, I’m one too. I just can’t cope with this culture or world or actually anyone else in general. They took that from me the day I was born.
You know how I spend my days? I go to work, I work, I come home. And on weekends I just stay home. I STILL don’t want anything to do with “the world”, even though consciously I beat myself up for that over and over again because I know it’s completely irrational. I wish I could do things people my age do, I wish I could have fun that way, I wish I could just “live”. But they trained me too well.
I am a walking legacy of the Worldwide Church of God. Anyone who says that they weren’t so bad should just talk to me. They ruined me.
I hope those who run the Worldwide Church of God get wind of this letter. I hope they read it well. And I hope that somewhere deep in those vast expanses where their heart should be, they get a twinge of conscience for having a part in doing damage to myself and hundreds or thousands like me. This is my story – this is the story of a child who was ruined by the narcissistic perverted vision of one man and those lemmings who followed him. And I don’t know what the ending is going to be. I just don’t know. But maybe a twinge of conscience is too much to ask from those narrow-minded greedy bible-peddlers they call evangelicals.
And you know what? I can “forgive” them. I probably haven’t, but I can. But I can never forget. And I don’t know whether I could ever look George Kackos, or David Fiedler, or Eugene Noel (who once told me I was too full of myself because I was more intelligent and perspective than most people and knew it), or Joseph Tkach, or Warren Wilson, or any of those people in the eye. Or even my parents. Because I only had one chance at childhood, and they, in true Organized Religion fashion, took it for their own purposes in the name of a possibly nonexistent higher power and shaped and twisted and perverted it until it was useless. And they still have the nerve to say “it’s all in the past”.
Anyway, thanks for listening. I needed to get that off my chest.
Just when you might think the depth of depravity of Armstrongism cant sink any lower, along comes another horror story from the Gerald Flurry’s cult.
“I was told by a minister in PCG to “get rid of” my mentally handicapped son (who also had cerebral palsy) or don’t return. He told me to put him in some facility, or if I couldn’t afford that, then take him somewhere that he would not know and abandon him in the mall or somewhere that people were. He said someone would find him and put him away, and that I was to turn and not look back, and just leave him there! I guess you can imagine just about what I told them!!”
Link to full story can be found HERE.