Check out this web site for a story about dealing with the drawings of Basil Wolverton and the Worldwide Church of God. Are You Prepared for… the Unthinkable?: Part 7: MAD BAD Art
The author quotes an interesting comment from HWA that I had never heard before. He said the church was FORCED to print such graphic pictures. He intended to scare the little kids!
This changed when I got married at age 18, in May 1965, at the end of my Freshman year in college. One day shortly after the wedding, my new husband, George, brought home to our apartment a tall stack of magazines and other literature from his parents’ home. Back in 1959 or so, when he was in high school, he had answered an ad in the back of an old December 1957 Capper’s Farmer magazine he found while rummaging in his mother’s stash of clutter in the attic. (She had kept the issue for the Christmas cookie recipes.) The ad offered free copies of booklets titled 1975 in Prophecy, Will Russia Attack America? and The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy. And included would be a free subscription to a monthly magazine, The Plain Truth. All were offered as publications of “Ambassador College.” As a bored, flat-broke high school student, free sounded good, so he sent for it all.
------------------Before the summer was over, I was hooked on this material, and had read the booklets as well as many of the issues of the Plain Truth. Each magazine and booklet also offered more free literature, so I began sending for everything they had to offer and started building my Apocalyptic library. There was a lot of material included that was on topics unrelated to prophecy, and I read all of it, too. But the prophetic material overshadowed everything else with its constant appeal to paranoia and near hysteria. Jesus was scheduled to return to earth to set up a beautiful Kingdom of God by 1975. But before that would be the Great Tribulation.
I learned the most about that Tribulation in one of the earliest booklets I sent for, titled The Book of Revelation Unveiled at Last! And the first grim illustration in it cemented my new interest in nuclear war.
In the coming months and years I was to be exposed to quite a few more of this kind of grim illustration, peppered throughout literature published by Ambassador College. Sometimes the topic wasn’t even all that grim, but the artwork had the same gritty “feel” to it.
I’ve personally talked and corresponded with many people who grew up in the Radio Church of God, or the later Worldwide Church of God, who vividly remember having nightmares in their childhood about the illustrations in these booklets, pushed on them by their parents. Why would parents force-feed such visions to their young children … sometimes even pre-schoolers? Because Herbert Armstrong, whom they believed to be a unique spokesman for God Himself, insisted they should:
Plain Truth magazine, Febuary/March 1955 Plain Truth Herbert Armstrong
“Yes, I KNOW these pictures are terrifying… but they may save thousands of precious lives from the horrible fate they depict—including yours! Read WHY we are forced to publish them—and of the happy World Tomorrow just beyond! There is the final article on the BOOK OF REVELATION. READ! THINK! HEED!”
… Some few have written me gripes and criticisms. Some few have not wanted to SEE such realistic pictures of WHAT’S COMING IN REAL LIFE! Some few have threatened to stop reading the PLAIN TRUTH, unless I stop publishing such realistic pictures! Some don’t want their children to see such pictures! Yes, I KNOW these pictures are terrifying—revolting! THAT’S WHY WE ARE PUBLISHING THEM. Better show our children what’s coming—better WAKE THEM UP—and teach them how to SEEK GOD and His divine protection. Better explain to them that these horrible conditions NEED NOT ever strike them—that they MAY be taken on a flight to a place of SAFETY, where they need never SEE such terrifying scenes in real life.