Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blast from the Past: Garner Ted Armstrong - How Low Can You Go?

Here's blast from the past that a reader sent me.  The entire article is here:  How Low Can You Go?

"All I can say is the 'Nancy Nurse' in me came through. He was complaining of this severe pain, and he was literally begging me to do the massage."

Suerae, dressed in a purple jogging suit, shifted her gaze to the floor. "I am a classic co-dependent," she said blankly, shrugging her shoulders. "Royce has always told me I could get bit by a dog, the dog could run across the street and get hit by a car, and I'd run across the street with a bloody leg to save the dog."

As Armstrong's massage sessions with Suerae continued throughout June 1995, he grew ever bolder, according to court documents. "Armstrong would begin to fondle his genitals and try to place plaintiff's hands on his genitals while he would 'minister' to the plaintiff," the lawsuit says. "His tattoos, including that of a naked woman on his body, would greatly frighten her."

Suerae said she would abruptly end the sessions when Armstrong got aggressive. But, her lawsuit states, "Armstrong would be extremely apologetic, make reference to his similarity to King David" (with whom Suerae says Armstrong compared himself frequently, saying that his work on earth was so important that God would overlook any transgressions he might commit), and beg Suerae to continue. The massages would then conclude without further incident, and she continued booking his appointments.

By early summer, Suerae recalled, she was beginning to understand who Armstrong was. He preached and "counseled" her about her separation from Royce. He urged her to join Church of God International. She said he discussed his ministry and television show, and outlined the tenets of his sect, including a commandment that members pay a tithe of 30 percent of their income. The tithe, he told her, is required to attain salvation.

Despite his clearly sexual behavior, Suerae never stood up to Armstrong, never barred him from her business. He returned again and again.


Anonymous said...

As bad as Ted was at times he was a far better person than Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry or Rod Meredith. Far better!

Byker Bob said...

In reading the whole article, it seems there wasn't an ounce of class to be found in this whole sorry episode. The GTA stories I had always heard in the past had indicated that there was a certain level of classiness to his sin. Obviously, by age 66 his pathology had sunken to new low levels.

That someone would try to preach the HWA British Israel and tithing end time gospel to a masseuse that he was in the process of attempting to seduce into prostitution is beyond absurd. But, it's another example of the type of convoluted thinking caused by Armstrongism. Not unlike the woman who rescheduled her appointment for an abortion so that it wouldn't take place on the sabbath.


Connie Schmidt said...

Anon @ 11:21--

Castro was not as bad as Hitler, but that does not really mean much.

Relative "badness" does not make one "righteous" simply because he was not not ridiculously despicable, just very despicable.

Connie Schmidt said...

The husband and wife in the article sound very opportunistic and low life. Still , no excuses for GTA though.

For them to attempt to sue the church though, as a "deep pocket" was a bit much. The judge made the right decision in that regard.

Mark Wolfe said...

Ted became a bit of a sympathetic figure when he lost the power struggle with Stanley Rader. He, very skillfully, set himself up as the person who was standing up against the corruption and financial misdeeds that prompted the lawsuit in '79.

But I don't think the CGI ever did too much. Most of his main alliances with the WCG left him within 5 years.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Herbert Armstrong certainly built a legacy for us, including a son gone mental.

Anonymous said...

Herbert Armstrong certainly built a legacy for us, including a son gone mental.

Legacy? Do you mean:

Stephen Flurry?
Jim Meredith?
Jeremy Weinland?

Anonymous said...

At least GTA never guilted his retired CGI members into going back to work so they could donate more money to the church. Apparently this is standard guidance in PCG:

California Senior Un-Retires to Support Church


Anonymous said...

California Senior Un-Retires to Support Church

“This led him to focus on increasing his financial support for the church. Since his income was limited, he was left with one thought: 'I got to find a way to help the Work of God: get a job.'”

The really sad thing about this is that he is not “helping the Work of God” at all even if he wants to and sincerely thinks that he is. He is--though probably unknowingly--helping the Work of Satan. He could help the Work of God better by simply not supporting the Work of Satan. He should tell That (False) Prophet Gerald Flurry to get an honest job.

Byker Bob said...

Like most of the current ministry, he may not have been qualified under I Tim. 3, but GTA was different from them in that he did have the compassion for others of one who knew that he was a sinner. He also didn't take on fantasy biblical titles for himself, actually did log a lot of time with HWA, and didn't make himself the center of his preaching, or his splinter. He had some positive attributes that some of his less talented rivals and critics would do well to emulate.

Unfortunately, he preached the same, familiar, basic bogus tenets of Armstrongism, with some minor modifications. This lumps him with the rest of them, though we might be tempted to grade on a curve in his case. Trying to find a true or good church amongst the British Israel Old Covenant legalists becomes a futile exercise, equally as distasteful as comparison shopping for diarrhea.


Britain Stevenson said...

All a bunch of lying sociopaths using scriptures to heap up treasures for themselves on earth at the innocents expense. They might could have pulled it off a little better if they would have left off all the nonsensical disfellowshipping, but God has a way of getting someone's attention while exposing the lie. Garner Ted and all of them are disgusting, to say the least.

Redfox712 said...

Great article. It is so important to remember the truth about who the people who started up Armstrongism really were like. This includes Garner Ted Armstrong.

Anonymous said...

Garner Ted's uniqueness and difference from all the others .... Hmmm.

It was the undeniable speaking ability of the guy, and the approach, on the broadcasts, that made you feel you were learning something very few other people were privileged to know.

When I sampled Gerald Blurry's broadcasts, I could see he thought that using the same phrases and jargon would make his proclamation of the message just as effective and convincing. What a laugh! That goes for everyone else. (I am unable even to listen to more than a few minutes of Dave Packman, even for curiosity's sake.)

It WAS Ted's appealing self, and presentation, that caught me up in the HUGE LIFE MISTAKE we all discuss here. Evil is evil.

One other thing I'd like to mention, out of sympathy -- the members' sons who, born in the WCG in the 60s, were NAMED Garner Ted, after the guy. You poor souls!

Anonymous said...

Ted should not have been in ministry.

Yes, he was talented, even gifted when it came to oratory, performance, etc.

But one can surmise that he entered the ministry more out of eventual expectations than actual desire.

Imagine Ted as he was in the Navy; his perspective on life, the Ted of the tattoos and taste for women. And then...he "repented" just in time to do his father's bidding.

It's easy to forget that Ted was a minister in the WCG for only 23 years before things finally, inevitably, came to a head with his dad. He was 48 when he got the boot. Pretty young.

Take that same guy, and put him in front of Hollywood cameras or a news anchor desk or a late night talk show, or even in sales or public relations or other executive-level professions that could have benefited from his charisma and intelligence, and imagine what might have been.

He should not have been in ministry. He gave in to other tastes, which millions of people do. In his case, however, it was under the guise of being one of the Armstrongs, one of the Lord's anointed, and it led to untold damage being done to countless people who were negatively affected by his behavior.

No doubt, he's responsible for his actions, and for the occasionally terrible things he said from the pulpit and foisted upon the congregation. But when you step back and take a look at how and where it all began, there's more than a little tragedy to the story of his life.

In that sense, his story parallels that of many of the people who became his followers.

Anonymous said...

Ted was like the glitter on the Christmas tree of Armstrongism.

When he pranced around naked massaging his penis boner on national TV, it took him down a few notches. Heck, then he even croaked. But that certainly didn't bother the hardcore members of the Intercontinental Church of God which GTA created.

In fact, if you take a brief look at the Intercontinental Church of God website, you might think GTA is alive and well, rather than the the stinking rotten serial sexual predator which he was.

Anonymous said...

On balance, since there's as much praising of GTA with faint damnation as there is...

GTA's fatal flaw was his utter lack of self control. The man was so entitled and spoiled (hubris?), he was completely incapable of telling himself "no." There was no temptation too small to resist.

Can we fairly paint any kettle all black? Of course not. But if you put GTA's despicable characteristics on one side of the "character" scale and his good characteristics on the other, where does the scale come to rest?

GTA, like his father, Meredith, Weinland, Flurry, Pack and more, are card-carrying members of this particular rogue's gallery of con artists, thieves and pimps known as Armstrongism. Each of the guys in this gallery are the big fishes in their own little ponds—the empires they've constructed as shrines to their own egos.

The character flaw of all these poobahs is that they have no self control. Dave Pack's 1998 sermon where he warned his followers that he wasn't going to be able to keep himself from being corrupted by the power they had given him is probably the closest thing to self-restraint that he has ever exhibited.

There are other rogue's galleries. Move up one order of magnitude and there's the Rogue's gallery of politicians. Then you can compare and contrast them with ayatollahs and dictators. The character flaw is the same, the only thing that's different is the quantity of power. He who has been unfaithful with little...

Bottom line is, none of these people are "normal." Regardless of the amount of power they might or might not have, put their character on the scale and the despicable will so far outweigh the good. Not to say that there isn't any good, it's just that it's dwarfed by the bad. Hitler made the trains run on time, and that sort of thing. If you ask me, these guys use even their good characteristics to further their own selfish ends.

Is there any point at which they will restrain themselves? And so it is that I damn them all with a calibrated damnation that is not faint.

Let's induct GTA into the Hall of Infamy, a distinction worked late nights to achieve.

Byker Bob said...

I find myself wondering if there will ever come a time in which the broad membership of the ACOGs understands haplotypes to the point where it is necessary that British Israelism be abandoned. Obviously, if David Hulme's splinter can be seen as a test case, that time is not the present. The "Mr. Science" of Armstrongism attempted to come clean, and subsequently watched his organization revolt and implode.

One aspect that prevents acceptance of the inevitable is that in order to continue to have their traditional high level of control over members' lives, the fear factor must exist, and the leaders of the movement must be seen as the gatekeepers for the prophesied events. Basically, if B.I. were abandoned, the ACOGs might end up looking like typical Messianic Jewish groups. There may still be idolization of HWA, or perhaps with the realization that B.I. is not possible, that idolatry might finally diminish.

I guess what we are asking is exactly when do the ACOGs figuratively admit that the Earth is round, and that it is in orbit around the sun? How long can they continue to resist the facts?


Connie Schmidt said...

Ted actually had an offer from the large KTLA Los Angeles channel 5 station of some $250k a year to be a news broadcaster for them after his ouster. This was reported by the Ambassador Report at the time.

Like stated above, he probably was more fitted by his talents for such, and should have avoided ministry completely.

In the end, you must judge by the fruits, and Teds creation of disillusionment and disenfranchisement of people who were seeking God is no small matter.

Brian said...

GTA's moral failings would have shown up regardless of the career path he chose. Just probably would have harmed and disillusioned less people if he had stayed out of the ministry - and would have made less money because he would have been fired earlier for his moral failings.

Anonymous said...

Connie, was that KTLA offer real or just anecdotal?

It seems unlikely Ted could have made the transition to legitimate news broadcasting after the various things he'd written and said over the years. If his ridiculous statements about child rearing or hippies or British Israelism or various church groups and denominations had come under greater scrutiny, he would have been the object of scorn from the media and the public in general.

Plus, he would have continued to espouse his beliefs and would have ended up living some sort of bizarre double life. Can't imagine how that would have worked.

He could have done something like that if he'd started from the outset, but once he'd promoted the Armstrong party line, not so much.

Anonymous said...

If you are a partisan, you are always going to receive scorn from those on the polar opposite side. Scorn is not the be all and end all of a career. Much of what GTA stated fits well with the conservative agenda, in spite of the fact that it might have been laughable to some.

Ron Silver got a lot of grief when he switched to the conservative position following 9-11. Prior to that he had been well known as a liberal activist.

~Miguel de la Rodente