Email: Sweet and Sour(maybe)
(Mail from Kooks, Nuts and Loonies is on another page)
Email, Indexed by DATE
New on 11/16/98:
I'm new to the internet and just ran across your webpage the day before yesterday. A couple of weeks ago I was thinking how nice it would be if there were a website devoted to the victims of the Worldwide Church of God, and set out to take a class in website construction so I could learn how to make one. But I see you've done the job already, and what a beautiful job you have done! I LOVE it!! Well done. Thank you!
Although my experiences pale by comparison to some of the other accounts I have read, they have been life-altering (and not in a positive way). I've never had anyone to talk to about these experiences and have simply kept them bottled up within all these years.
I just read on a different website about GTA being caught on videotape in a massage parlor, and how he was fired from the CGI for having an affair with a churchwoman half his age! And I used to listen to these scumbags! Not only listen, but take notes, and then pray for their success in doing the work! And I was going to tell my mother about all this (she's a Presbyterian) but the words wouldn't come. I couldn't say anything. I can't share these things with outsiders. That's what makes this website so necessary--so that we can talk to one another and give utterance to things which we could only think about while in this bondage.
I will try to email you some of my experiences as I have time to do so. Meanwhile, thank you so very much.
(A.C. Pasadena 1968-69)
To find this website was such a comfort to me. I always knew the church was a cult, but my mother thought I was just "hostile". She dragged me into the church when I was in the 6th grade.
My life before that consisted of "pagan" holidays and "sinful" birthdays. Well, that was abruptly cut short. All of a sudden, my favorite days of the year no longer existed in my mother's household.
It hurt me and angered me so much. I was not allowed to listen to my favorite radio station anymore because the music could encourage carnal thoughts. The TV programs I watched were closely monitored for content, and I was strongly discouraged from being friends with non-WWCOG children. I was ignored at school because I was considered weird. And I was.
My mother was not one to spare the rod, so sometimes I'd go into school angry and crying. To this day, I curse the teachers and counselors of that school. I told them all that my mom always hit me and that she belonged to some weird church, but they never helped to take me out of that situation. I wish to this day they called DYFS. Maybe if I was taken out of the situation early, I wouldn't have been subjected to more religious torture.
Well, then came my teen years, I was still getting hit and my mother and I were still fighting every Saturday about me going to church. It was always such a hassle. Unfortunately, she always got her way and I went to church with a "bad attitude". (Remember that?)
Because of all I went through with her, my rebelliousness grew over the years. I did drugs and I slept with some really lovely people to get the "love" I craved. I was a lost and angry and I did everything I could for attention. I always hated being compared to the girls in church. They were so perfect and I was such a bad seed. Why couldn't I be like them? Well, what my mother didn't know was that they hated the church too, but didn't have the balls to say anything. Fear kept their mouths shut. Hatred opened mine.
My mother finally stop cramming that ridiculous doctrine down my throat over time. Then the church's rules loosened. I was finally granted permission to wear makeup, even though I had been putting it on before school and taking it off after school for years.
And within the past few years, my mother actually became normal. She knows the hurt she's put me through, and has apologized for it. I will always be scarred with the memories of the church, excuse me, the cult, but the past can't be changed.
I turned out fairly normal compared to my other childhood and teenhood WWCOG friends. Man, I could tell you some stories about them.
One thing I regret is that I will never have a close relationship with God. For most of my childhood, I hated him, and I still have this mean image of him planted in my brain. What God would judge you based on the amount of money you tithed? What God would prefer one group of people over another? I want to love God, but it's hard.
My mother has since moved on to an offshoot of the WWCOG. She does not like what Herbie stood for or what Mr. Tkach preached. (He was affectionately referred to as Mr. T-Crotch by me when I was younger.) She loves God and no longer believes things without proving them to herself first. She's happy now. She still keeps the Sabbath and the holy days, but she is also a much nicer person now. She even has a sense of humor again. She has balanced reality with her faith. I believe that's a good way to do things, don't you?
Name Withheld former attendee of the WWCOG Montvale, NJ congregation.
I have no reason to doubt what you say about hwa. I have two questions, honest:
1. How come you and others have not noticed these things while you were in the Worldwide Church of God 10 or 20 years ago? I remember coming in touch with hwa literature 12 years ago, and man you could see that he's a false prophet, all this glamour, no cross of Christ, humility, etc.
2. I understand that you are not a Christian anymore. May i ask without any desire to be provocative or something, have you considered the possibility that you might be throwing the baby out with (dirty, no doubt) water...
Thanks for your message. Answer #1: If everything is so clear to you, why can't you see that you are completely wrong in what you believe today?
Answer #2: I didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The baby was only a figment of my imagination. The baby never was there. The baby is much bigger than man-made religions.
You have to try to free your mind from all things that you have been indoctrinated with and try to start from scratch. Not with the Bible. Start with "is there a God?" and go from there. God should be provable without a Bible. Then do your research on the Bible, not in the Bible. When you do it honestly, you will see that there is no way that it is God's word. It is fallible, God is infallible. If God wanted to write a book that was necessary for our salvation, don't you think He would have written it so that all people could read it and that it wouldn't be subject to so many interpretations? Religion is so irrational.
Reason, think. Free yourself from the trap.
You are a minister, go and find the real truth and preach that. That truth will set people free from the slavery of worshipping a book and will put you out of the business of religion.
Well, I'm not wrong in what I believe today. But if you are puting up a site devoted to errors of Armstrongism, why not put up a site devoted to your errors of beliving this system?
You must be a man of wild imagination if you could believe Armstrong.
Problem is not in the Bible, but in people: people who teach error instead of truth and people who believe error when they believe truth (you became an Armstrongite in America where there were so many orthodox churches, not on a lonely island).
And atheism is rational? Come on...
I think we are failing to communicate. I am not an atheist.
I followed Armstrong because I believed what he taught about the Bible. I believed that I was just as right as you believe you are today. I was wrong then, you are wrong now.
I believed hwa's interpretation of the Bible because I was a Biblical illiterate. Plus, I thought it really was an inspired book from God. In fact, it is not inspired and it is not from God. The problem is not the Bible, as you said. The problem is people believing the Bible when there is no proof whatsoever of God having anything at all to do with it.
But, believe what you want, I don't care. I don't think you are lost because you don't believe as I do. You, as a Christian, can only think that I am lost, since I do not accept your Christ as my savior. But, you, yourself, are trapped in an exclusivist cult, the Christ Cult, so don't think you are superior to me since I was so stupid to be in a cult. You, in fact, may have something to worry about since you are a minister and should bear a greater responsibility than your members. God will judge.
Regards, Wildly Imaginative Ed
To Ed ,
I read the letter from the fearful man (below). I thought of Revelation 21:8 "But the fearful, and unbelieving... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone..." Certainly I wish no such thing on this man and hope and pray he can find his way out of this vexing situation.
However, after reading his message there was your own message which has a glaring act of arrogance you probably haven't realized. You state: "Note that trying to encourage him to join your cult, (which, of course, is much better than his present one) will go straight to the trash."
Has it occurred to you, Ed, that you are setting yourself up to be as one of those ministers who receive so much of your venom? How nice of you to filter out anything you don't think this man should hear. You sound just like one of those self-righteous men who stood in the pulpit back when you were still in Worldwide. Are you afraid he'll hear something you don't think he, as a rational adult, can handle?
Thank you for your kind, loving Christian message. God's love just flows out of you. Because of your wonderful example of Christ, I will now return to a Christian cult also. Since I also will otherwise have my part in this "lake which burneth with fire and brimstone..." I am just scared silly and repent in dust and ashes. I will no longer protect this poor man from idiots like you since I will, once again, be just like you and will no longer see you as an idiot. We can be idiots together and believe things that we cannot prove because, well, we just do. Yeah, right.
This poor man is obviously not rational otherwise he would flee people such as you without a second thought but you nuts have him so scared of losing his eternal life that he doesn't know what to think.
I guarantee that he will not be led back into your ungodly religious trap by anything he reads on my pages.
Hello fellow Armstrong sucker!
I too was fleeced (hah!) for a while by the Worldwide Church of God even though I was never close enough to become a member.
I was a Co-Worker sucker!
Can you tell me if anyone has ever tried to organize a class action suit so people like us can get back our tithes and offerings -- which were CLEARLY suckered out of us under FALSE PRETENCES!
I'd be very interested to join in something like this.
I am not a lawyer -- just someone who wishes he NEVER, EVER gave money to them -- and, even more, wishes I'd NEVER EVER heard of them!
If I had come upon "Ambassador Report" earlier, it would have saved me a lot of grief.
Of course, if those rats at Worldwide Church of God had been "honest," I would have been told they had "predicted" the "end" to come in 1975! (You see, I did not become interested until about 76 or 77 or so!)
I guess, then, there has never been a lawsuit, huh? Caveat emptor applies to even blatant scams like this, eh? Seems wrong to me.
New on 12/13/98:
A friend of mine e-mailed me a link to your page. My name is Adam and my parents were a part of the WWC. I spent about 17 years being raised in the church. I am thankful for the church for introducing me to God. I often wonder if I was not raised in the church, if I would believe in God.
So for that I am thankful. But I felt very much like an outcast in the church because I Knew I was gay. You don't know what it feels like to sit at the dinner table and hear your parents make jokes about "gays" when you know in your heart you are one, or to go to church and hear a sermon about how God loves everyone, but then the minister makes a comment about queers. I never sought baptism because I new that they would not let me unless I repented.
I am sorry to hear about your wife. I am a nurse and took care of a man with ALS for five years. I am glad you still believe in God. He is a good God a loves us all very much. I know your wife is with him, and the good news is we will all be with him one day in a place that will makes us forget all of the pain we endure on this earth. Well I just felt like writing I guess. Take Care.
Thanks for your message.
The wcg introduced you to a God that hates you.
The real God loves you as one of His/Her/It's own children. God is easier to find outside of the wcg, outside of churches and definitely outside of the Bible. They legitimately get their hatred and prejudice out of the Bible.
Best Regards, Ed
Thanks again for your work and for this new topic about bible itself. One contradiction has been in my thoughts for many years. When Jesus said to pray for your enemies , and do good to them. Why would he choose to eventually torture his enemies in an everlasting fire. This seems to be hypocritical.
p.s with the the recent news about global, I'm having a hard time keeping track just which split is the true Philadelphia church.
You seem to take great satisfaction at the thought of that disturbed, deranged, sinful, but also dynamic old man screaming out through the body of a lunatic his terror at "going under". While I do not discount the actual event, I do take total exception to your un-christian smugness as well as to your ignorance about what hell is; in that point of doctrine, Herbert was on the right track. The Bible makes no mention of sinners writhing in torment for eternity. And no mention of God taking great pleasure at their torment. Herbert Armstrong was a man whose sins and profligacy equalled his ego and drive, but there were those of us who, despite all the psychological scarring, learned a lot from him and Worldwide Church of God, and therefore don't have to fall into the trap of "if not Armstrongism, then mainstream evangelicism". No, you guys don't have it, either. I make no criticism of people who have pureness and love in their hearts, minds, and beings, whatever their religious beliefs. But I won't fall into your own doctrinal traps. And no, HWA is not writhing in torment in some Dante-esque chamber of horrors. Most likely, his life-energy is presently residing within a twelve-year-old or younger child, who probably is struggling mightily against he/she knows not what: the process of working through the karma of the soul.
Ms. Penkava, Thank you for labeling me "Unchristian," since I would never again want to be mistaken for one (too bad a reputation). I really don't care what your fairy tale book says about hell or heaven.
I can only hope that God would have a fitting punishment for someone who manipulated and destroyed so many lives of His children. If it would only be possible, I wish that we could harness the energy that ol' herbie must be generating as he spins in his grave at about 666,666 revs per minute as he sees what has happened to his moneymaking empire.
And, if his life energy is inhabiting a twelve year old, it is probably back in time and commiting incest, once again, with his own twelve year old daughter.
That miserable son-of-a-bitch.
Last night I came across Rod's resignation letter which he posted on the Net. I also came across Global's official letter about this. Today I have found and downloaded Global's propaganda but I can't locate Rod's. I hadn't bookmarked or saved it. Are you able to tell me where I can relocate this please?
PS the whole saga of Worldwide Church of God and its daughters (or do I mean HWA and his daughters) would be a fabulous soap opera - if it wasn't so true and tragic. I enjoy the painful t pages: thanks.
New on 12/23/98:
I hope everything is well with you during this festive season.
Periodically, I go over to your website to see what has changed. I don't really stay in too much contact with ex-WCGers anymore and, as time goes on, I grow less and less interested. It amazes me how long some people can keep up the battle by trying to expose that corrupt organization(s). I believe that you are serving a very good purpose by keeping your website open.
I like the humor sections that you have. It was very creative of someone to come up with movie titles for the Worldwide Church of God experience. I thought of a few of my own ("Revenge of the Nerds" (Global Church), "Revenge of the Nerds II" (United Church), "Herb & Ted's Most Excellent Adventure," and "Herbie the Love Bug.")
I also liked the letter from God that someone composed.
There are a couple of contributors that strike me as eccentric: Douglas is not very authoritative, although he sets himself up as an authority on psychopathology. He is actually dead wrong in his diagnosis of Armstrong as having a psychotic break and of him being manic-depressive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bob W. , who I used to work with at AC, seems to be romanticizing the "good old days" of when he was a student in the 60s. His stories seem a little inappropriate for your website.
Do you get any positive feedback from readers? That might be an interesting addition.
Thanks for your message.
I don't agree with all of the articles that are posted. I have basically let people with different opinions than mine post, as long as they are not pro cult. I even allow some "religious types" to post. I don't know enough about psychopathology to know if "Becker" is right or wrong. If you would like to post a "counter argument", that is fine.
Bob W. , I feel, gives some insight into the workings and thinking at AC, while he was there. This is something that a lot of us had no idea about and, I feel, very informative.
Most every email I get I post on my email page.
I don't know how many more people are out there that will need or want my page in the future. I will keep it current as long as possible and then just leave it posted forever so the truth about the wcg cult and herbie will always be available. It won't cost me a penny to keep it going but I'm sure it will cost the cult plenty of money. And that is hitting them where it really hurts.
Best Regards, Ed
I want to thank you, Ed, for helping me come to understand the truth about the Worldwide Church of God cult. It has been your web site that has been the catalyst for truth. I feel so ashamed of my involvement with the cult that I can't talk to anyone about it. But thank God (Or whatever force) I now know more than I ever did; and thank you for your work in helping to eliminate the myths about HWA's bullshit cult religious garbage "church". Again, THANK YOU!!!!!!
I wish your site existed when I was in the wcg. This is great, and very funny, stuff.
New on 12/26/98:
I am a former church of god member. Left in 1967 because of healing. I have been so completely depressed ever since. I keep seeking God but nothing seems to work.
I always thought I would go back but now I ask, back to where? If the bible can't be believed then what are the answers?
If you could help me in anyway, I would be so pleased
I lay awake every night talking to God but of course it's a one way conversation.
I am open for any comments you might have.
Joseph, All I can tell you are MY answers. Your answers will come to you in time.
First of all relax. Just live your life the best you can. Be good to people. Help those you can help. Don't hurt people. Don't let anyone put any guilt trips on you.
Prove for yourself that the Bible is not God's word. Don't just take my word for it. I have given you enough sources on my web pages. Once you do that you will understand that unscrupulous men have used that book down through the ages as a weapon against good people. Even ol' Herbie couldn't prove it was God's word and he sure tried.
God is giving you just as many answers to your prayers now as when you were in the church. God never talked to you from that book. You only thought He did. It was a delusion. Now you are waking up to a new reality and it requires you to reason and think things out without other people telling you what you should think.
You don't need a book to see God. Look up at the sky. Look at a sunrise or sunset. Look at the stars. Look at all the beauty we see in our physical world. Listen to beautiful music. Do good deeds and you are acting for God. Try to see God in the things that happen to you. Does everything happen by chance or does God intervene sometimes? I think He has intervened many times in my life. But usually I can only see it when I look back, not at the time. God doesn't need a book to communicate with us otherwise there would be no hope for blind people or illiterate people or poor people or people that have a language that doesn't have bible translation. Such a belief makes God a very incompetent and uncaring god. But it does make those who believe in such a God feel very important and better than other people.
Religion is slavery. And the Christian religion uses the Bible to keep its members in slavery with guilt and fear of death.
Free yourself from Religion and you will find true freedom.
Good luck to you in your search for God,
New on 12/27/98:
Thank you for getting back to me.
Ed if we can't believe the bible then how does Jesus fit into all of this? How do we know what god wants of us if he doesn't tell us somehow? Really mixed up.
And I would like to keep hearing from you. Maybe I can see something I have completely missed.
You have to read. Read the books that I have recommended.
You have to come to your own spiritual decisions and conclusions.
You are right, if you can't believe the Bible, Jesus does not fit in. You cannot find him anywhere significant in history, other than the Bible. If the Bible falls, so does he. Yes, that is shocking and there are a lot of people that try to rationalize the two but you can't. Its either both or neither. The Bible stands on Christianity supporting it. Christianity stands on the Bible supporting it. They hold each other up, if you can imagine that. Its like the cartoons where a character runs off the edge of a cliff and just stands there in mid-air until it looks down and then falls. As long as no one looks down, religion stay up in the air. But the only thing holding it up are the delusional beliefs of its members. Only a religion that promises eternal life or eternal punishment could put over such a scam on gullible followers. They play on people's fear of death and the knowledge that people are too lazy to research their own beliefs. It is just so much easier to let someone else do the thinking for you.
Yes indeed, why doesn't God tell us what He wants? Some people say that he does, through the Bible. But if the Bible is fallible, as is so easily provable, then you don't know what to believe out of it. But even people that believe it is infalibly God's word just pick and choose what they want to believe out of it anyhow. So, if God does not tell us exactly what He wants, then maybe it is not all that important to Him. If He wanted to communicate with us, He could just write his message in the sky or beam it into our minds so that we would all know. He certainly would not choose to do it through a book that has many errors in it and has been subject to corruption's and political and religious manipulations all down through history. If salvation depends on reading a book how do you decide which translation? We no longer have the original. We no longer speak the same languages as it was written in. Maybe men have made God a lot more complicated than He ever intended Himself to be. And they do it through their religions.
If I may quote Armand L. Archambeault in an email message forwarded to me:
"Religion is basically "anti-god", and messes up the mind of the seeker with trash. When a person becomes involved in a religion, that person takes on the 'beliefs' of the religion. 'Beliefs' are just 'suppositions', they are not necessarily fact. When accepting the 'beliefs' as our own, we become idiotic robots for that religion.
We become enemies of all other religions, and there is enmity between us and others that wasn't there before. I have found that God is everywhere all the time and to seek and find God, a search within our souls is where the communication starts and evolves.
We live in God, and not many books of religion will give the truth because they place God in a Heaven outside of you in a distance and they tell you that God is jealous and kills people because of it, etc. This is balderdash! God is simple. Man is simple. Life is simple.
1. Love God with all your being.
2. Love yourself (an extension of God) as much as you love God.
3. Love all others the same as you love yourself.
There are no complications."
I'm not going to go into all the reasons why you shouldn't believe the Bible is God's word. Make a list of the Books I recommend and buy them or get them from your library.
Read them and draw your own conclusions.
New on 1/2/99:
I'm a former Worldwide Church of God and Global member who has been out of the church for almost 2 years. Although I miss some aspects of Worldwide Church of God life (friends, etc), I see Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God for what they were and it ain't pretty.
Thanks for the brutal honesty I've spent hours on your web site marveling at my own gullibility and foolishness.
You already know how crappy wcg is, but my wife just revealed to me what happened to my daughter who had been in that damn cult almost as long as we have. She went to Ambassador College and took a low paying job when she returned. she struggled to make ends meet on her own, with all the usual expenses, rent, food, car etc, not to mention the "tithes".
For years she had a guilt complex because she couldn't afford third tithe. Finally, she had a conference about it with John Amos, our minister at the time. She explained to him how she was barely making it, seeking some guidance and understanding. You know what that son of a bitch did? He laid her out! He accused her of robbing God and all that bullshit and ORDERED her to pay the full amount up to date, PLUS INTEREST, even if she had to take out a loan. The poor kid was so shook up, she put it all on her credit card, even though she couldn't afford it, and just recently paid it off.
She was very reluctant to tell my wife, let alone me. If I had known it while the asshole was alive he would have died sooner.
If there is a hell, I hope he's in the same pot with the old pervert with the temperature set at very slow boil. I am writing this without her knowledge, so if you post it, please make it anonymous.
I just wanted to ap you off some fan mail in support of your homepage.
As a fellow ex-christian I really find your approach to our collective issues psychologically healthy and even cathartic.
Keep up the good work.
I will be recommending this site to all our friends in "Club 144,000".
I will also be sending you some articles and perspectives.
This is one of the best wcg sites I have ever seen.
Go ahead and post my letter. I am not a professional writer so when I begin to draft a more structured letter please feel free to edit my grammar.
Thanks again for this opportunity and I look forward to seeing a lot of other perspectives posted.
Lets put a writers disclaimer to some of my terms.
I use, and a lot of Native people use the term " Born Again Pagan".
Real Pagans are of Celtic and related ancestry. The term "Pagan" is also a beautiful concept, literally meaning "country people".
Like the word pagan, savage has also come to be a derogatory term. What Savage means is "people that make their sustenance off of hunting and fishing."
So I use Born Again Savage to be more culture specific and not to offend our Pagan friends.
I checked out your site several month to find only David Covington. Is he the only minister in or out of the Worldwide Church of God with integrity?
I am a former member. Between the ages of 15 and 19 I was really searching for god. My church of origin was United Methodist. I looked into Eastern religions, did some other study but found the Worldwide Church of God at 17. Studied and decided god had honored my search by bringing me to the truth and was baptized at age 19.
After 20 years of spiritual abuse (I was graduate-level college educated, a social work/counselor, and I thought for myself) I was very relieved by the changes in the early to mid 1990s. However, at the time I was living in Montana which came under the influence of James Reyer. We were literally frozen out of the church there and go zero support form headquarters.
My conclusion is that any god who would bring me into an organization like the Worldwide Church of God does not deserve worship. I am very nearly an atheist. I have taken the attitude that god can "show me", not with the usual crap that happens in a person's life which I used to call trials. Rather, by something great and clearly from him/her/it. If nothing happens, I am content to go to my grave not knowing and not caring.
Thomas H. Schear, Ph.D.
Mr. Schear, Thanks for your message. Apparently David is the only minister who wasn't/isn't in it for the money. I'm sure they know about my site. I know Jr. does.
Possibly Integrity and Ministry do not go together, at least for the ministry of the xCG's.
I've just spent several hours perusing all the information you have on this website. Thank you for all the work you've done. It's both encouraging and utterly depressing to read the accounts of personal experiences within the various churches. Encouraging to know we are not alone, but depressing to realize the far-reaching effects this church has had on so many people.
I am a typical "second-generation" ex-church member. My parents joined the church when I was a toddler...we were the model "church family", dad was a deacon, sang in the choir, etc. I went on to attend SEP several summers and eventually AC where I was fortunate to meet my husband (one of the only normal people there) and we set off to live our lives as model AC-grads and pillars of the local church community. (I say that with sarcasm, of course!)
Now having left both Worldwide Church of God and subsequently UCG (we were still trying!), we are slowly overcoming the guilt and shame and mind-control that dominated our thought processes up until now. I would be interested in seeing a forum for people such as myself, 30-somethings that were raised in the church essentially from birth, with the Worldwide Church of God mindset, thought-processes, etc. being all we've ever known. I feel like a stranger in a strange land trying to make my way in society and finding where I fit in and what my purpose is, because, as you know, it was all figured out for us in the church. If you lived your life a certain way and did certain things and(this is the most horrible) if you looked the right way, happiness would follow. Even at the time I realized the shallowness of it all, but now I find myself (in an unhealthy way) yearning for the mindless simplicity of that life when faced with the reality of the real world.
I would welcome thoughts of others in my situation as we struggle to figure out what the answers are now that we realize we don't have them all!
Thanks again for giving us a place to talk and listen and hopefully heal!
Please withhold my name, thanks!
Thanks for your message and support.
Don't know of any other forum for those freed from the wcg and its daughters where you can talk freely without getting slapped down by religious hypocrites except Ekklesia. You can find it on my Links page.
It has a mixed membership, all ages, but the people who would try to force their religion on others are quickly driven away. 99% former wcg/ucg/gcg/pcg. There are a couple diehard wcg members. Lots of people never post anything, just lurk.
If you subscribe, you will get between 15 and 25 messages a day. If you have anything to question or want to discuss or just post an opinion just send the message to the group and it goes out to all subscribers.
I've been a member since it began. Its not for everyone.
Best wishes to your sons and my classmates. I don't care whether or not you post this message. I am writing in response to the efforts made to provide a diagnosis for HWA. Before I share my concerns, let me first note that, since you are not the author of these diagnostic efforts, my criticisms are not directed towards you. I would, however, ask you to consider the following as you ponder your decision to continue posting these pages. Second, my comments are in no way intended to be read as a defense of or in support of HWA. With that said, let me proceed.
I am concerned with the practice of assigning a DSM-IV diagnosis based on thirdor fourth-hand information. It is, in my opinion, inappropriate to diagnose an individual without actually interviewing that person. Having never met HWA personally it would be unethical for me, or anyone else, to review someone else's comments or observations about HWA in order to develop a clinical opinion. Having read his autobiographies, having been raised in his church, and having graduated from his college certainly qualifies me to hold an opinion about the man; however, without having actually clinically interviewed the man, I am not in a position to make a clinical diagnosis. I can dislike him based on all of these things, but I shouldn't be providing him with a diagnosis.
The purpose of a diagnosis is two-fold. The first is designed to assist the patient/client. An appropriate and accurate diagnosis assists the client/patient because the treatment of this person can be more focused and specific to the nature of the problem. Because the DSM-IV is a medical text, a medical analogy is appropriate. A patient who presents in the emergency room and who is diagnosed with a broken arm is better served and better treated by a quick, appropriate, and accurate diagnosis. The treatment team will not have to waste valuable time because the problem has been identified. How is HWA assisted by someone assigning him a DSM-IV diagnosis? Since he is dead, he is obviously not better served.
The second reason for a diagnosis is to provide a common language for treatment providers. Again, there is no reason to diagnosis HWA as no treatment is being provided.
Here is why attempts to diagnoses HWA are actually harmful. Society has difficulty dealing with the mentally ill. The mentally ill are often viewed as weak individuals who are responsible for their own illness. Or, worse, the victims of some demonic influence. The Worldwide Church of God has a terrible track record of misunderstanding the plight of the mentally ill. Sadly, the random behaviors of a few seriously ill individuals are often generalized to entire mentally ill population. Check the DSM-IV prevalence rates. It is shocking how many Americans, at some point in their lives, have a diagnosable condition. HWA clearly did some very unacceptable, very bad things. A lot of people were hurt by his regime. I am saddened that some appear to think that by putting a diagnosis on his condition, HWA is made to look worse. If HWA truly had Bipolar Disorder, then there was likely some sort of chemical imbalance in his brain. Does it make what he did any more worse because he had no control over his brain chemicals? What bothers me is that HWA is a person from whom most rational persons (oops, now I am being judgmental) want desperately to disassociate. Creating a link between HWA and a diagnosis, in my view, only serves to add to the misunderstanding of those who currently suffer from mental illness. If we as a society practice mental health treatment by distancing ourselves from those who suffer from these afflictions then we are turning our backs on large segments of our population who need our help.
HWA's actions and leadership were bad enough and speak loudly enough all by themselves. Putting a label on him does not add to the severity of his impact on the lives of many thousands. Labeling, however, does potentially add to the bias against the mentally ill. I question the motive of someone "nearly completed" with his/her degree who is willing to publicly express such an uninformed clinical opinion. Citing work experience and nearly completed education does not excuse one for exercising poor judgment, even if it is about HWA.
I don't feel it is necessary to cite my credentials in order to justify this reaction. If the reader feels the need to rebut, I am available for comment and would be happy to share my vita.
John M. Laux.
New on 1/3/99:
Dear Mr. Laux,
I will respond to your letter which I found to be rude and meant to be a direct attack on me personally. Apparently you took personal offense at some of the things I and others wrote concerning the possibility of Herbert Armstrong having Bipolar I disorder. I stated in my letter to Ed that I don't claim to be an expert or authority but I certainly have ample experience to comment, whether you think so or not. This was not meant to become a pissing contest. I have interviewed hundreds of psychiatric patients and simply stated that fact as a basis for making an observation.
For your information, I have met Herbert Armstrong several years before his death and been in his home many times. Having authored a book on Herbert Armstrong, I had the opportunity to interview dozens of his personal acquaintances in and out of the church as well as some of the top administrators of the wcg at the time. I worked for the wcg for seven years and was well acquainted with Herbert's personality as was anyone who ever had the displeasure of working with him. The late David Robinson told me that Herbert Armstrong was the type of man who could act very charming on stage and then walk off stage and stab one of his ministers in the heart without showing emotion. Robinson adequately describes Armstrong's behavior in his book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web. Read the part where Armstrong coldly rolls his car window up as church members gathered around his limousine after church. I did not make any psychological statements about Armstrong in my book for the very reasons that you take issue with.
Before finding a forum on Ed 's site, Douglas had e-mailed me and others offering his opinion on Herbert Armstrong being a manic-depressive. I don't agree and stated so in my letter. I've believed that Herbert fit the diagnostic criteria for a narcissistic personality disorder for many years but have never commented until recently. I think anyone has the right to their opinion and I chose to agree openly with Mr. Meyer about his observation. Whether Mr. Meyer has a vita or not, doesn't matter. He made an astute observation and has a right to his opinion. Many of us have wasted far too many years being told by authoritarian ministers that our opinions were invalid, so don't try to insult us into censure. Those days are over.
As for the rest of your letter, I found it to be rather half-cocked. It is true that the DSM IV is a medical text, so is Grey's Anatomy. The DSM is constantly under revision and is the best effort of the psychiatric community to categorize symptoms that are commonly seen in patients. The DSMs most useful purpose is to justify to insurance companies that a patient is in clinical distress so the doctor or therapist gets paid. Unfortunately though, many of the diagnoses in the manual would never justify a person to receive therapy. Usually those are the personality disorders. Someone with Borderline personality disorder would be hard pressed to get insurance money for therapy. Personality disorders are much more pervasive and permanent than Axis I mood disorders.
But there are other reasons why one might want to express an opinion about someone's psychological profile. Understanding that Adolf Hitler and David Koresh are pathological and have certain personality traits helps us to understand why someone would claim to be an apostle or the prophesied Elijah while displaying those same traits. Some of us have spent years trying to unravel some of these things in order to get on with our lives. Scientific explanations can be quite helpful for us.
Recently, I have been reading Carl Sagan's book The Demon Haunted World. I found one chapter very informative. He explains scientifically what ALL wcg ministers used to refer to as demon possession. It is a common sleep disorder. These riddles, that are misinterpreted in places like the wcg, need to be passed on so that we may benefit. Whether they are passed on by someone with a vita or not doesn't matter.
Most well educated people that I know don't flaunt themselves the way you do. I think if you have an educated opinion about some of these topics we would all welcome your comments but the fact that you use worldwidisms of insult and ridicule seem to have a sinister motivation. I was told many years ago to avoid writing about my experiences because I would be attacked, possibly even sued. Fear and cowardice just don't fit for someone who seeks to escape a past of bondage.
I was raised by a father that was involved in this cult and although I know he never meant to harm me it has caused me many problems with my faith in God over the years. Because of all of the rebelling I did as a young teen against all the inflicted "rules" I feel that my relationship with God has been injured.
I guess what I'm asking you is how you came to a peace with God and your belief system? I have tried to talk to others about this but they don't really understand and I never even knew that WWCG was considered a cult until tonight when I was just browsing through the web. Seeing your page gave me a lump in my thoat! I thought maybe all the feelings that being raised by a man that followed everything Herbert W. Armstrong said as gospel were wrong and that no one else knew what I meant. I would really appreciate a reply from you and I want to thank you.
Thanks for your message. Glad that my site is helping you in some way.
I came through this in a step by step process that many people seem to go through in similar stages. Let me see if I can remember some of the stages:
1. When I had to read and study about the "new teachings" put forth by Tkach Sr., I could see that God's only true church, could be wrong, very wrong.
2. That led me to wonder about all those who had left the church before me and about the literature that some of them had tried to share with me but which I wouldn't even look at.
3. When I read it, I could see that God's chosen apostle, hwa, was just a rotten, greedy s.o.b. And that is being very nice about him. Finding out the truth about him was a real eye opener for me.
4. Then I found out that his appointed successor, Joe Tkach Sr., was probably just as bad a person as he was.
5. That destroyed any faith that I had that God was working through any man. Especially so when I had some correspondence with his son, Joe Jr., and just got double talk back from him.
6. Then I could see the letters that were sent out and the articles in the Worldwide News were just a lot of propaganda and guilt laying to try to get people to stay and continue to send money to them.
7. Then I could also see that Joe Sr. was not very smart. He couldn't even give a decent sermon and he couldn't explain what the new beliefs even were without someone correcting what he had said the next week. He couldn't keep the doubletalk straight because he didn't even understand it.
8. Then I wrote Pasadena about all that I had read in the Ambassador Reports. Carroll Miller called me back and did his little tap dance around the truth and basically admitted that most of the stuff I asked about was true.
9. It was about this time that I got on the internet and was in contact with other members through Worldwide Church of Godnet. There was a lot of discussion about many things and that helped me sort things out for myself.
10. Shortly after that, my wife and I decided to not attend any longer. We figured that we could read the Bible just as well as these idiots that had misled us for all these years and that, if we were going to make any mistakes from now on, they would be our own mistakes and not someone else's.
11. When a person goes through something like this, they feel really burned and the thing that was used to burn us was the Bible. I would say that most people that leave wcg and never go anywhere else, probably hardly ever look at the Bible again. The way I look at it is that, if it is not infallible, then it isn't from God. But, I've covered that many other places on my site.
12. There is just so much information out there refuting the Bible that it is really incredible that the religion pimps get away with their scam so easily. But people are just too lazy to look into what they believe or even what their church believes. Religion is irrational and proud of it.
13. Once you prove the Bible is not God's word, you have no basis at all for believing there is or ever was a Jesus. That is just the way it is. You cannot find this person mentioned outside of the Bible in any reliable way. I know it is hard to accept.
14. So why do I believe there is a God then? I've read a lot of what atheists have written but do not accept it. I have just had too many of what I call "interventions" in my life that had to be other than natural events. I have noticed these things since I was a little kid. These have continued long after leaving Churchianity and Christianity. I have had too many prayers answered to not believe in God. I don't believe in Evolution either. Life and all creation is just too complex and beautiful to have happened by accident. I also don't believe it happened the way it is described in the Bible either. I think there is something more than what we know or can even comprehend going on here but I don't have a clue what it might be. Try watching the movie "Contact" some time. I would think that it is probably closer to that than the fairy tales in the Bible.
15. So, I come down to believing there is a God, one that helps me occasionally, but one that is not communicating with me or anyone else.
16. So, I have to conclude that it must not be all that important to God to tell me anything special. If something was important for me to be doing, especially if my salvation depended on it, I would think He would reveal it to me through some means that I couldn't deny and nobody could refute. Anything other than that would be just plain criminal and certainly not be a God that would be worthy of worship.
17. So where does that leave me with belief in an afterlife? Don't know. Doesn't really matter because either there is an afterlife or there isn't. If there is, nobody can prove it. If there isn't, nobody will even know. We'll all find out some day but I don't need some religious types trying to explain it to me when I know they don't even have a clue. I'll take my chances with a God that has found some reason to help me numerous times in my life and make Himself very real to me and hope that there is indeed something better after this life.
Hope this helps you somewhat, if not, feel free to write back.
Best Regards, Ed
Thank you so much for replying to my letter, I truly appreciate you taking time out of your day to do so.
It was in the early 80's when we my father got involved with wcg. I was a teen then.
My father got out of the church in the late 80's and even apologized to me for putting me through it. It helped but didn't heal everything.
It sounds like we have a lot of the same thoughts on this. Yes, I have seen "Contact". I try to keep an open and questioning mind. I guess I just basically try to live a good life and the rest will all work out in the end.
There is still that part of me that yearns for some sort of spirituality and I guess that is the part that finds it so hard to trust again. I feel a lot like you, I have no desire to "belong" to a church again.
Again I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer me, and yes it did help to know that I an not alone in how I feel.
Back in days of yore, ok, a few years back, I marveled at the Nazis who denied everything evil that was done in Germany before and during the war. When they were confronted with witnesses, testimonies, or hard evidence, they would start yelling that it was all a fraud and the witnesses were paid, etc.
Then I heard of the "Flat Earth Society". They believe that the Earth is flat, ok you get the picture. When talking to a devout HWAer, I find that if something was done or said at church back in HWA's time and you don't have hard proof of it's happening, then you are a liar.
What I find that is so astounding in this is that it was HWA who stopped us from recording services. Did he know that after his death people would only want to remember his "good" deeds? Hmmmmmmm?
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