Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is The Philadelphia Church of God South Africa Stealing Money From Members?

Silenced has up news today about the PCG ministry in South Africa and how there is documented cases of the PCG stealing money from its members.  This is nothing really new in Armstrongism, it has been going on for the last 70 some years.  Most of the time it was covertly done and most never knew about it.

A former PCG member is spilling the beans about it all.  It occurred at last years Feast of Tabernacles.  Church members were told to use the Church "discount" price that the hotel had given them for their hotel rooms.  This has been common practice by the COG over the decades in regards to Feast site accommodations.  Supposedly the church negotiates with the hotels for lower rates for guaranteed  room occupancy.  This was all fine and dandy till a SA member found out that the PCG was actually charging the SA members a higher price than the hotel was offering.
In one of his letters the man writes:

Should I keep quiet when I know with all my being that foul play is afoot? We have not been taught to keep quiet. What I have put my faith and energy in for the last 17 years seems to be vanity. The vision of this world being filled with the colleges of God seems to falter with the knowledge and reality of ministers deceiving and robbing God’s people. 
What these COG leaders fail to remember is that many members no longer sit back and let the Church get away with things they normally have over the decades.  With the Internet, people have ways of checking up on the church. 

HWA always claimed the printing press was created for the express purpose of the COG publishing its materials.  In that same vein, the Internet must have been created in order to expose the lies of Armstrongism.

Silenced writes:
We’ve been hosting a couple letters by former PCG member Alex Foster on behalf of ESN for several weeks, but haven’t gotten around to wading into them. Essentially, PCG ministers stole money from members in South Africa over last year’s Feast of Tabernacles, a practice that is apparently rampant across its international operations.
We have insisted since this blog launched that COG cults do this regularly. We have long claimed these churches add markups to their “discounted” event deals, which would never be discovered since members most often book through ministers and other ordained members (or their wives). COG members have jumped up and down angrily telling us that we’re wrong about that. This is documented proof that it’s true and likely common – if it’s happening in Australia, Fiji and South Africa, it’s likely happening elsewhere — at least within PCG. And to us, there’s no way other COG groups aren’t doing this. Why wouldn’t they? As Foster points out, it’s the “perfect money laundering plan.”
Make sure to click on the "letter" links.  It will open a pdf of the letter and documentation.

The first letter describes Foster’s attempts to book a cabana for the FOT at a hotel called the Seabreeze. PCG tried to get members to book through the church at “discounted rates” but Foster discovered — through clerical screwups on PCG’s part — that the cult was charging members more than its agreement with the Seabreeze. Members directly booking with the Seabreeze were paying less under its agreement with PCG than members booking directly through officials. PCG was adding a secret markup to the price.

In the second letter, Foster writes:
He explained to me that because the costs of the hall etc., in George for the Feast, is normally more than the funds received from the tithe of the tithe monies, he instructed Mrs. Wakelin to add R50 per day to the cost of each cabana for the South African brethren. He told me that they do the same in Australia and in Fiji. He said that the international brethren which attend the feast in George are charged an extra R100 per day for their cabana because the exchange rate for dollars is pretty good, he also said that if a room in the booked cabana is not occupied an additional R100 would be charged per room per day, the reason being that brethren must not think that they can book a cabana only for themselves. This additional money was imposed on each and every one of those attending the Feast without their knowledge or consent.

Wow!!!!!!!!! Why not just rent a hall which is affordable? This is a just a “wonderful” money making scheme which cannot fail. The perfect money laundering plan. Doesn’t have to be declared etc, etc. Next year he will probably load the rates by R200.00 per day – gullible, gullible sheeple, or so he thinks. Well I wouldn’t have known about the blatant theft of God’s peoples 2nd tithe monies if MR Meaker hadn’t, by mistake, put the original cabana cost document on the information desk instead of the fraudulently altered one.


Anonymous said...

In South Africa, this is no different from when the UCG or LCG steals money from members.

Anonymous said...

This explains a lot. In some cases, you can tell the minister is tough negotiator and gets a rate that is surprisingly low. In other cases, it seems like they aren't negotiating at all. In those cases, this is probably what's going on. Some years ago, at a small feast site in a third-world country, I recall quite clearly that something was definitely wrong because I was miffed at the festival coordinator over what I assumed was his gross incompetency. This was not a PCG site though, it was a different splinter.

It started with the minister berating everyone during annoucements because some people (such as myself) had booked their reservations directly instead of through him. People were doing this because with the internet, they realized they could save a lot of money booking directly. So it was no secret that the church rate was substantially higher than the regular travel agency rate. The minister explained that the only way the hotels rent out their meeting halls is through reserving a block of rooms for a convention (and he was suggesting that the hotel charged a higher rate for that block of rooms). I thought that was a dubious claim regarding the meeting hall policy because good negotiators realize that everything is negotiable and managers won't stand on ceremony if it prevents a deal being struck. By booking through him, he said the church gets the meeting hall for "free," but they have to book a minimum number of their reserved block of rooms or else the hotel will surcharge them for the meeting hall. Free? It's only "free" through accounting tricks. He said if you book directly, then you're not helping to pay for the "free" meeting hall. Since I was one of the ones who booked online, it wasn't too hard for me to figure the difference between booking online versus through the minister. For a 9-day booking the difference was hundreds of dollars. If that minister was being at all truthful, he was a terrible negotiator, because I was able to back out the total cost of that "free" meeting hall, which would have been approximately $110,000 for the eight days, which is nearly $14,000 per day. Pretty steep for a meeting hall, especially a free one!

Given this story, I now realize that the meeting hall probably WAS free, and that the festival coordinator was probably robbing the members through upcharging them and pocketing, at minimum, tens of thousands of dollars, either for the church or for himself, but probably for both. Beyond extorting first tax, the tax of the tax, third tax, and offering taxes, of course they're going to be robbing them blind into the bargain. Why am I surprised? Why would I ever have expected anything else? Probably all the splinter groups are doing it, especially in the third-world countries. It's probably quietly sanctioned too, because it means HQ doesn't have to contribute as much in direct subsidies if you give them the right to fleece the members themselves. And if they get caught, then HQ can disavow all knowledge.

I'm so glad I had the courage to get out. The majority of folks in the splinters are well-meaning people who are sincerely convinced that Armstrongism is the way to find God, but it never was. All it is is a mafia masquerading as a church. I am convinced that no one will ever find God through any of the COGs.

Byker Bob said...

These guys preach that you are to be different from the world, that you do not use the world's business practices, that you are accountable to Father God and Jesus Christ to be totally honest and above board. They demand this type of honesty from the brethren. And, then they turn around and use practices straight from the textbooks of the world's shady promoters, just like Stan Rader (who had set up several companies to "serve" the church's needs) did back in the 1970s.

Like I've said in the past, you're not going to find these people repenting of any of the sins committed by their "apostle", or giving up his stupid theories. He's their Petrine binder and looser, and their substitute Jesus.


Anonymous said...


All of the ACOGs have been stealing money from their members since HWA first broadcast his lies on radio and print. Not only him, but all that have taught Xians to tithe their money have been stealing from sincere, well-meaning, honest, naive and biblically illiterate Xian folk! Tithing mammon is nothing less than a "doctrine of devils" taught by religious hucksters and peddlers! So why be surprised if they devise alternative means of sucking people dry of their hard-earned savings??!!