Friday, March 13, 2015

10th Anniversary of the Living Church of God Killings and LCG Leaders Remain Silent

It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since Terry Ratzmann went on a shooting spree in the Milwaukee Living Church of God.  Ratzmann shot the church pastor, the pastor's son and five other church members killing them all.  He wounded four others.

Numerous news reports. in print and in video form, say that Ratzmann was disturbed by a sermon that Rod Meredith had given a couple weeks earlier that was sent out to all the LCG churches with the requirement that it be played.  Meredith and crew quickly scrubbed the sermon from its web site.

The local Christian community was shocked by the killings and put up small crosses in the snow in support of those murdered.  This however send Bob Theil into a snarling fit of anger complaining that these poor misguided cretins used a pagan symbol that the TRUE Church of God looked down upon.

The Living Church of God, as well as most of Armstrongism, has a long track record of preaching doom, destruction and death that is soon to be unleashed upon the United States, Canada, England and Australia.  At times they seem almost giddy with delight in the prospect of it happening. 

Many in the Living Church of God, particularly in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin, are shocked that Rod Meredith and other leaders in the Living Church of God are completely ignoring what happened ten years ago.

One reader here wrote:
So, did a Meredith (Rod or Little Jimmy) say even ONE little thing to console LCG members upon the tenth anniversary of the deaths of their friends and loved ones? NO! All he did to mark the occasion was to cancel a previously scheduled Wisconsin feast site. Do you really think the timing of this disrespect to Wisconsin LCG members was a coincidence?
A book was even published on the shootings, written though by a Living Church of God member, Thomas Geiger.  Martyrdom in Milwaukee

This book, while filled with the tragic stories of what happened to the people that day, is a white wash supporting the Living Church of God in every aspect imaginable.

In 2006 I wrote on Gavin Rumney's blog, Ambassador Watch, about this book:

Geiger's account of his son witnessing the shootings and his son also almost getting killed is definitely moving. I also found the entire situation a tragic experience for all those involved.

The sad part of the book is that it is mostly a defense of Meredithism/Armstrongism.

According to Geiger, the entire congregation knew Ratzman had mental problems yet not one of them ever told him to get professional counseling. Of course, Meredithism like Armstrongism looks down on psychologists/psychiatrists. Geiger talks about how Ratzman would do weird things around all the members and they would laugh it off.

I found his following excuse of Meredithism relationship to the murders to be one sad comment:

"If it truly is your position that the Living Church of God is to blame for what happened, then by that same thought process you would be forced to blame Christ's disciples for his crucifixion."

The main difference with Meredithism/Armstrongism and the disciples is that the latter group was actually following Jesus, while the former group does not. I mean, how can they? They can't even talk about him without mocking him. At least Geiger did not seem to have a problem with the crosses displayed at all the memorial services. Which stands in sharp contrast with Meredithism cult apologist Theil and his silly embarrassing tirade.

Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel took issue with Geigers book.  The Painful Truth has the article up from which the following quote is from:

Geiger, who was friends with Ratzmann for many years through the church, devotes the first chapter of his book to episodes in which he believes Ratzmann behaved as a "genius," a "hero" and a "caring and sensitive man who could harm no one when in his natural state."

In an interview, Geiger said he was not trying to absolve Ratzmann of responsibility for the shootings, which left four other church members with non-lethal injuries.

"I don't want to whitewash the man," Geiger said. "He does bear a measure of guilt."

But considering that Ratzmann was known as a friendly man with no history of significant violence, Geiger said, "I find it difficult to ascribe all of that to him humanly."

As the congregation gathered March 12, 2005, for its regular Saturday service, Ratzmann fired 22 shots from the back of the hotel meeting room with a 9mm handgun, stopping once to reload.

In "Martyrdom in Milwaukee," Geiger dedicates the 178-page work to Ratzmann's victims and writes extensively about them, especially about the youngest victim, Bart Oliver, Geiger's nephew.

Bart's mother, Loni Oliver, who is Geiger's sister, said some parishioners are unhappy about the book, partly because they suspect Geiger is trying to profit from the tragedy. The paperback sells for $14 to $17.

The book is not widely discussed among Living Church of God members, who continue meeting every Saturday at a new location in Waukesha.

"There are people who do have a problem with it," Oliver said, "so you just don't talk about it."

It is surprising, given the number of crazy Church of God leaders that we now have running various splinter personalty cults, that another killing spree has not happened again. With Gerald Flurry's cult breaking up families and destroying marriages to Dave Pack's mindless blabberings that are also ripping families apart financially and physically, it is only a matter of time till someone snaps.

When that happens these cult leaders will not take responsibility and many members will still not hold their leaders accountable.  It will be Satan who is out to destroy the true church.  The troops will rally and the leaders will recover.  Doom, death and damnation will continue on and the money will roll in.


Church, Police Probe 7 Murders
Open Letter to Ron Dart: We Are Not Cowards
Relatives Struggle For Answers After Shooting
New York Times: Gunman Kills 7 In Wisconsin Church Group
What Motivated Terry Ratzmann’s Shooting Spree in the Living Church of God?
The Painful Truth: Terry Ratzmann (has links to sermon)
Eight Dead in Living Church of God Shooting Spree!


Connie Schmidt said...

I doubt that Geiger made much money if any on the book. Typically an author will make about 10% of the cover price. In this case of $19.95 , and likely less than 750 books sold, Geiger might have made $1500 total. This certainly is not worth the time and effort to produce such a book.

At Amazon, nearly all of the book is available to be seen for free in the previews.

Being an author, or producer of music are very low margin and difficult business models in light of the internet.

Anonymous said...

I hate to layer cynicism on cynicism, but won't Blurry, Pack-man, and all the competing false ones MAKE SURE they say something about this anniversary?

Prob'ly start with, "That would never happen here. In fact, don't we know that, because it happened in LCG, that PROVES (oh, no! not that word!) that they can't be the true one. Must be us then."

Failed prophecies mean nothing then, eh, guys?

Connie Schmidt said...

Since Dave Pack has made explicit and literal terrorism threats against other COGs , be sure to immediately report to law enforcement his appearance at your congregation without delay.

Byker Bob said...

If this were an incident similar to 911, they'd commemorate. By this, I mean to say that if outside extremists had gone to Wisconsin, and shot up the church because they hated the way of life, they would memorialize it.

They don't commemorate for the same reasons as we don't commemorate the Oklahoma bombing. Timothy McVeigh was an American citizen. Terry Ratzmann was an LCG member. Something went wrong in both cases. Both instigators somehow fell through the cracks undetected. Introspection is more appropriate, although in the case of LCG, they probably wrote it off as a random act of Satan.


Black Ops Mikey said...

An angry man in an angry church led by an angry leader acts out.

But of course, this is much the same scenario as the Chuck Harris shootings.

There's no guarantee this will happen again, but to continue the insane asylum run by the criminally insane is quite a risk.

Redfox712 said...

It does not surprise me one little bit that LCG's leaders do not know how to talk about the massacre in Brookfield. And it's not all Jim Meredith's fault either.

I remember that when the massacre happened I was somewhat surprised to note that LCG's recruitment magazine, Tomorrow's World, made absolutely no mention of the massacre at all.

Take a look for yourself.

March-April 2005 issue

May-June 2005 issue.

September-October 2005 issue.

Now the massacre was mentioned in Living Church News and their Weekly Updates but hardly anyone gets that, certainly far less than Tomorrow's World.

Back then I was a deceptively recruited believer who incorrectly thought God was with LCG. I was somewhat surprised that this catastrophe was left unmentioned in the Tomorrow's World magazine.

Anyone reading Tomorrow's World magazine would have had no idea that this catastrophe had occurred and that LCG was going through its darkest days.

I only knew about it because I read (the current false prophet) Bob Theil's blog. Otherwise I would have had no idea that the group I loved so much at the time had seven of their members murdered.

The fact that the Tomorrow's World magazine made no mention of the massacre in their midst shows clearly that the real purpose of the Tomorrow's World magazine is to get more people into joining LCG. And amazingly they won't even let a massacre of seven of their own members get in the way of that.

Ed said...

Thousands of people who where a part of armstrongs religion had their lives destroyed or have deep scars that may never be completely healed.

Terry Ratzman was just the first to snap and lash out in such a tragic way.

Hopefully this will never happen again.

My heart goes out to the families of those killed that they may have healing and some day peace.

Byker Bob said...

Let's see how relatively important this event is to what we will call "the Armstrong diaspora", and who or what might be held accountable in the minds of posters. I'm not a Facebook kind of guy, but if anyone regularly participates in any of the Armstrong-related Facebook pages, perhaps they can report to us what kind of buzz Facebook is getting on this infamous anniversary.

You would think that this would be one of the hot ones, with perhaps 100+ responses. However, it could also be one of those topics that most folks would prefer to just sweep under the rug. Let's see how sensitive or desensitized (as the case may be) Armstrongism-impacted people really are to the preciousness of human life.


R.L. said...

I would respond to this by asking: does any COG mention the anniversary of Herbert Armstrong's death anymore?

Dr. Thiel tends to mention it on his blog, but I don't think others do.

PCG considered it a big deal for awhile, and speculated something huge and Earth-shaking would happen on January 16. But there hasn't been much over the years.

If the death of the "founder" is not noted anymore, it doesn't really surprise me that this event should go by quietly as well.

But may God give comfort to those who still have grief and nightmares over what happened that Sabbath. To this day, the only real deadly "persecution" of a COG has come from within.

Anonymous said...

my experience in both the original wwcg and in lcg is that neither of these organizations has mastered the art of inclusion, but, like the typical groups and organizations of "the world", have a problem with cliques, little political based groups that tend to arrogantly look down upon others, i.e., certain individuals or groups within the organization.

i suspect this type of mentality may have been what led to the shooter losing it...

Black Ops Mikey said...

'Living' Church of God.

Does anyone else find that name ironic?

Anonymous said...

'Living' Church of God.

Does anyone else find that name ironic?

Not at all. For Rod and his family, it's their living!

Britain Stevenson said...

"The insanity never ends!"

Put all these post from banned by HWA, in a book. You would definitely make money from that.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Oh, well, maybe it will be published in The Journal.

Anonymous said...

"'Living' Church of God.

Does anyone else find that name ironic?

Not a bit. Just like "United" Church of God has never had any large and contentious splits.


Despite having so much "truth" they sure have a hard time telling any.

Anonymous said...

I was only surprised that it took so long for this to happen, not that it did. As for the part that they did not tell members, well...that is not so shocking either. Way back in August of 1981 there was another murder in the Armstrong religion. It too was not mentioned to the WCG at large or ever acknowledged or commemorated. Our neighbors were also church members and the mom beat her daughter to death in premeditated cold blooded murder that shock our entire community. She too had mental issues that were ignored by Armstronism. The whole thing was ordered hushed by Rand Millich. The mother spent 25 years on a life sentence in prison. BTW, I personally knew Ratzman by acquaintance from singles events, and two of the other murder victims. One I grew up with her daughter and the other I grew up with his step son and step daughter. These groups are nothing but cold left overs from herbs little empire milking members for what they have and working them like slaves.

Anonymous said...

Response to two points:

1. Rod is completely obsessed with ALL types of sex, not just homosexual. Despite the fact that there are many young children and impressionable teenagers in his audience he often goes into disgusting detail of various sex acts. Things I would never say to a child. On one occasion he told the entire Charlotte congregation that his wife had shown him all kinds of "disgusting sex acts on the internet including women with women, men with men and beastiality and every other unimaginable abominable thing". The audience is thinking, what in the world! Why are you looking at the stuff in the first place and then why are you openly admitting to it in public? Meredith is a grade A pervert.

2. Ever since the Wisconsin shooting Rod and his entourage have been very cautious, dare I say paranoid, about security. They have ushers in place at the door to make sure no one can get in without them being aware of it and also ushers who take note of anyone who gets up and leaves during the middle of services. They've evaluated every possible way an assassination could possibly take place (even on Meredith's drive home) like they are members of the CIA!

But, going to a physician shows a lack of faith?! If God is really on your side Rod, won't He protect you from a crazy shooter? Where is YOUR faith?

Anonymous said...

One of the Wisconsin newspapers (Journal Sentinel? Or the Brookfield paper, whose name escapes me) posted recordings of the 911 calls church members made to the police immediately after the shooting. I will never forget listening to those calls -- you could hear the terror in the voices of the callers, and you could hear the crying and screaming in the background as those in attendance watched others bleed out. It was crazy. Somewhere those recordings probably still exist; would be a good idea to post them if they can be located. They do a far, far better job conveying what happened that day versus Geiger's propaganda piece.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

R.L said, "But may God give comfort to those who still have grief and nightmares over what happened that Sabbath. To this day, the only real deadly "persecution" of a COG has come from within."

MY COMMENT - That has left an impression on me too R.L. All the WCG sermons I remember as a young person about martyrdom and Fox's Book of Martyrs and in the end after 70 years of Armstrongism, the only deadly persecution came from within and had nothing to do with our religious beliefs.

The thing that really angers me is that Armstrong claimed the WCG was God's one and only true Church, and that all others are counterfeits. Not one person has ever been martyred in the WCG or any of its splinters and yet we see so called "fake Christians" being beheaded by ISIS.

Who gave a more powerful witness for Christ - the lifelong WCG tithe slave member who sat in Sabbath Services listening to sermons about the coming Martyrdom, or the "fake Christian" beheaded by ISIS in the middle east?


Jenine said...

My mom was caught up in the deception of Armstrongism. Even after she and my aunt and uncles were thrown out of one of their congregations in the '80s, it still ruled her life. She even taught us "these things of God." And eventually, she became mentally unstable and I believe HWA was the main reason why. As me and my older sister (whom I no longer speak to) got older, she began to rule our lives with Armstrongism even more so. It got to the point where we not only couldn't do chores, buy, sell or any of the other stuff Armstrong said was breaking the Sabbath, but we could no longer watch any of our favorite shows either, which meant I had to miss Saturday morning cartoons....just to dwell in the word. It was torture especially for me. The fact that the LCG (a notoriously-known Armstrong offshoot), won't even publicly acknowledge the shooting that happened at one of their locations nearly 11 years ago, is no surprise to me.