Friday, March 11, 2016

Joe Sanchez: On the " and complete lack of transparency by the ministry. "

I received this today from Joe Sanchez.  He has a web site up that tries to take the leadership of the Churches of God to task for their behind the doors shenanigans where they "exonerate or condemn members" behind closed doors without the ekklesia having a say in the situations.  This has lead to situations like Rod Meredith giving all of his kids hall passes for adultery, drugs and other issues while kicking out regular members over the slightest infractions.

He writes:
Gentleman, this system that the Church of God has used for over 60 years, where in the leadership of the church has been able to either exonerate or condemn members of the Church in secret has accommodated an untold amount of evil and has systematically dissolved trust within the membership. 
He has written letters to COGWA and Living Church of God detailing his take on this situation.

So what led him to take on this issue?  It seems a lot to have to do with his mother.  According to Sanchez she was a serial adulterer who had countless affairs while maintaining a glowing reputation in the church for her good works.

My mother was killed in a car accident with my step father in November of 1989. At the time we were living in Eastern Oregon. She was a mother of 4, solid member of the church, attended regularly and served often in our congregation. There was only one small problem. She was a consistent and frequent adulterer. It wasn’t until later in life that I was able to piece all of the memories together to try and get a count. I estimate she had somewhere between 7-12 affairs that I could put a face to. No doubt there were many more. She was married 3 times and the last marriage took place just a couple months before the accident. And so the question I have is: how is it that someone who was so active in the church, was able to remain a member in good standing and live like she did? My mother definitely had her good qualities but turning a blind eye to her sins didn’t help her at all. I believe it destroyed her.
He also writes:
In the 40+ years I have been in the church of God I have seen multiple churches divide and split time after time- for the same reason. I have seen sexual predatorsgiven hall passes. I have seen good honest Christians, who are just trying to serve God, kicked to the curb like a piece of trash after decades of loyal service. I have seen decisions being made by the Ministry that greatly affected my family, done haphazardly that have affected me still to this day. 

Reading his site gives the impression that he is looking for the membership to have a say in situations like this.  I can see it now, member courts who decide who and how members get punished.  This  creates an entire new set of issues that open the doors for more abuse.  Many members are as vindictive and abusive as the leadership.  This is quit apparent in the PCG, LCG and RCG where members will turn in fellow members for the slightest received indiscretion all to ingratiate themselves with the minister/leader.

This is an issue that will never be corrected in a Church of God.

You can read his site here along with study papers and responses form COGWA:  To the Ekklesia 


Byker Bob said...

Two ideas.

The Armstrong movement has rarely practiced clergy-member confidentiality. So, clearly, any complaints by the ministry that an oversight committee would violate confidentiality would be totally misplaced. Confidentiality ends up becoming violated by the marking process at disfellowshipment.

Secondly, oversight would not be required if these men were actually "God's ministers" and if they rigorously applied Godly ethics. But, they don't, nor will they. They very arrogantly refuse to be accountable in any way.

In the '50s, '60s, and early '70s, members generally got caught, or confessed during counselling sessions following a single incident. There were some closet smokers, and alcoholics, but the first time I recall multiple sexual offenses taking place and people looking the other way was the GTA case. How did the church get from there in the early '70s to this level of flagrancy in the 1980s, a level which, from recent reports, still exists even amongst the families of leaders?

Joe Sanchez is right to be outraged, and to be seeking solutions. Unfortunately, the only solution I can visualize would be attempting to find a church that has the policies in place which he seeks. This means escaping from a mindset and leaving Armstrongism. And, that's a good thing.


Anonymous said...

I place all of this squarely on the leaders, period. Blaming the membership for leadership failures is simply lame. Why? Because good leaders would never have let these atrocities happen. And strong members just leave when abused.

There was a pedophile in my congregation that attacked one of my kids many years ago. I told the pastor, and said I was going to do Matt 18. So I confronted the sicko. He replied with crap like the way he was holding his hand made it so that he wasn't molesting my kids, but only touching. WTF??

Yes, I got my wife and 2 other older and respected members to come with me, and went to him a second time. And he denied any wrong doing. I went to the minister, and reported everything.

The 3rd step in Matt 18 is "tell it to the church (ekklesia)", guess how the pastor interpreted this? He was the "church", and so Matt 18 was over. I had no other recourse. The minister let him stay in the congregation.

This man sat every sabbath in the family section, and stared at kids the whole time. He liked sitting next to families with kids and "helping".

ALL the elders were told about this man to watch for him. I was told that this man would not be allowed to sit in the family section. (lasted all of one sabbath) Elders sat across the aisle from him in the family section.

Guess what I did? I stopped going to that congregation. In retrospect, I feel I failed the other families in that congregation. I should have told the ecclesia about this sicko. I did later, and many people have been shocked to not have known who this man was.

I found out later, a very brave woman saw him trying to drag off girls in the hallway (YES THIS IS HOW BAD IT WAS) and she said to an elder (may have been pastor, I didn't get this detail). "You either kick this man out right now, or I am calling the police, right now!"

He was kicked out immediately.

Let this be a lesson to all of us. Stand up for yourself and your family. Tell other people when there is a grievous sin against other members (use wisdom to discern good vs evil). Follow Matt 18, as we are commanded, in any group. (even non-COG groups)

To Joe Sanchez: It's never the responsibility of the followers to solve the problems of leadership, leaders need to correct other leaders. Your message needs to be clarified, unless you are calling for followers to stand up and be leaders? I am the leader of my family, and it's my responsibility to lead them away from danger. And in my congregations, I lead by not being bullied, and doing the right thing.

There is no "voting with your feet" in a family (ekklesia) we need to make things right where ever we are.

Anonymous said...

Nepotism is the hallmark of the church and it cancels out responsibility. They protect their own no matter what.
When I was brand new in the church back in the 1980s out west, there was a weirdo in the congregation who exposed himself to little girls.
It was a union hall with vending machines downstairs which attracted the kids.
A group of little 4-6 year olds went down to buy candy and he was there.
The church's answer was keep your kids away from vending machines.
I think the guy got hit by a bus or car a year later but whatever he was a filthy person who they knew about but refused to deal with.Many of our kids did not tell us about these incidents until after he was dead or we would have gone to the police pronto!
Members must report such things to the police without delay. Matthew does not apply with felony criminals.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 18 does not apply to criminals. It does not apply to murderers, sex offenders or armed robbers for goodness sake.
This church really perverts scripture.

Retired Prof said...

No voting with your feet in a family? Oh yes there is. There is divorce. Abused children can be taken away by child protective services and sheltered in a foster home. Sometimes those solutions are the only healthy ones.

My wife and I have never felt the need for a divorce ourselves, but both sets of parents did. If not for those divorces, neither of us would have made it through adolescence with our sanity intact. I have a cousin whose family took in foster children. I don't know the stories of all of them, but one child in particular set a telling example. He came from such a neglectful family that his twin brother died, and he was very ill himself when my cousin and his wife took him in. Eventually they adopted him, and now he is a healthy and upstanding young man.

The bonds in a church congregation are weaker than in a family, or at least they should be. Also the "divorce" or "placement in a foster family" is much less complicated. It is a mystery to me why anyone who suffers religious abuse of the kinds described on this blog does not just disappear from the congregation, resolutely and permanently.

Black Ops Mikey said...

There will never be any change from this in the Armstrongist churches of God. This is everywhere, from the pedophile elders teaching Sabbath school, to the stalkers, to the host of other criminal behaviors tolerated by the ministry with no recourse to the members. Not only that, but as we have seen, a member has a legitimate problem with someone and not only does the minister turn on the victim, but the other members turn on the victim as well. This was the case with the stalker in the Seattle UCG where the woman finally had to go to court to get a restraining order, with deacons, elders and a deaconess supporting the stalker and telling the judge what a fine man he was (the judge had none of it and had a few words to say to those who were on the side of the stalker as well as granting the court order to protect the woman from the stalker).

It will always be this way. Armstrongism is a poisoned well. It cannot and will not be fixed.

Step 1: Call the police and get charges against the offender;
Step 2: Publicly castigate the minister and the congregation and leave them without excuse;
Step 3: Leave and never look back.

It's a cult.

Why don't those of you in Armstrongism not get that?

You'll never win against the sociopaths of the cult by being nice and giving them the benefit of the doubt... ever....

It's a cult.

Anonymous said...

But Rod Meredith can see into the heart of a man/woman to determine repentance. It's part of his amazing ministerial capacities. He is that awesome and powerful! It isn't favoritism or nepotism at all. Being 3rd in all the universe with no major sins since baptism is a weighty crown. Cut him some slack.... NOT!

Anonymous said...

LCG is corrupt. When you are willing to lie to achieve your goals, what are the chances any system change is going to help.

LCG members have been convinced that:

1. it's not their job to correct the ministry
2. God will work it out in His time so we should just put up with ministerial bad behavior until that time occurs
3. we shouldn't focus on loose bricks or a few bad apples (even if it's the foundation/core)
4. standing up for what's right and walking away from this obviously corrupt organization is to risk one's very salvation
5. LCG is the one and only true church of God, we can't do any better and there's no where else to go so we need to just put up with abuse

It's battered wife syndrome to the tenth power.

Byker Bob said...

That is well and good, 4:22, and what you say has merit. But in actual practice in today's ACOGs, you could end up being the next Scarboroughs. Overbearing and unevenly handled authority is one of the reasons frequently cited for splinter-surfing, and/or going independent. It is actually an anomaly that the police-threatening lady in your congregation was not marked and disfellowshipped for the sins of Korah!


Connie Schmidt said...


Church threatens you with disfellowshipment for doing that??? Hand them the business card of your lawyer.

Pastors are REQUIRED by law to report such incidents that involve kids, also by law.

Somebody cheating with your wife or husband? Spray paint it on their car in the church parking lot anonymously, or create a fictitious email account and email everyone in the church.

Stop it with such passivity! Stand up and take charge and quit playing along with this kind of horse manure!

Connie Schmidt said...

I confronted a really weird 40 something guy hanging around many different little girls and videoing and photographing them and attempting to befriend them etc. at a FOT site a few years ago.

My husband and I , in no uncertain terms told him that we were going to call the cops and personally KICK HIS ASS if we saw him within 20 feet of any other little girl thereafter. We also told everyone with a child to be alert, and set up a bathroom escort service and kept a continual and quite aggressive watch on him that he was quite aware of. Again, DONT PUT UP WITH THIS KRAP!

Anonymous said...

Joe Sanchez is a good guy whose heart is in the right place. And we need more people like him who are not willing to not let some tough questions go by unasked. Only problem is, the system itself precludes a solution. And by "the system," I mean organized religion in general. I know there will be many who won't like me saying so.

However, ANY system of thought based on historical "revelation" that is not ongoing will always face this problem because, in the words of Hans Halvorson, a mathematician and christian philosopher at Princeton University, the biggest challenge to his faith is that "...if you take the religion seriously, that means you have to come to the 'data' that they've passed down to you with an 'innocent until proven guilty' attitude..." The problem with coming to any "data" with a an "'innocent until proven guilty' attitude," or IOW, a "'true until proven false' attitude" is, it is equivalent to the creation of "truth" by fiat, out of thin air, by doing nothing more than reversing the burden of proof from where it would ordinarily would sit when you consider any other claim, including the claims of other equally valid religions.

Any "data" that an individual decides to approach with this "attitude" will automatically be transformed into "truth" within the mind of that individual. By making this error, a believer has most emphatically not created truth. The believer simply makes an a priori decision to treat a privileged "data" set as though it were. It's simply that the believer decided to "take the religion seriously" one day. That's it!

There is still a missing link though. Words on their own have no definite meaning until someone interprets them, and when it comes to "holy" books, most people don't think they can, of themselves, make heads or tails of them. Every adherent to an organized religion, when he makes the above error regarding a given "holy" book, is then going to look for a man who he assumes can, more-or-less, read the mind of his god in order to "interpret" historical "revelation" "correctly." Then, by way of these errors, the adherent has set himself up to be taken advantage of because now the words of a living man also will be treated with the same "'true until proven false' attitude," which is a can't-miss recipe for abuse. When, not if, this man begins to abuse, by virtue of this "attitude," it will automatically treated by his followers as "truth" until it can be proven false, which as long as a believer is committed to a priori treating a privileged set of "data" as "truth," and bestowing a privileged status to a given interpreter of it, this will never be possible.

Once a group of people decide to go down this road, abuse will follow. It's why it happens in all organized religions and it's why it happens in armstrongism too. None of it is fixable. To try it is to play a game of whack-a-mole. While I commend Joe for his instincts to reform, ultimately he's wasting his time chasing critters who cannot be caught. Unfortunately, he, like many others, are trapped by an "attitude" into the circular frustration of dealing with symptoms instead of causes. But I comment any step, no matter the size, that is headed in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on March 12, 2016 at 4:22 AM said...

“This man sat every sabbath in the family section, and stared at kids the whole time. He liked sitting next to families with kids and 'helping'.”

“Guess what I did? I stopped going to that congregation. In retrospect, I feel I failed the other families in that congregation. I should have told the ecclesia about this sicko. I did later, and many people have been shocked to not have known who this man was.”

“There is no 'voting with your feet' in a family (ekklesia) we need to make things right where ever we are.”

Thanks for the nice story, but you are still failing everyone. Saying that there are bad people out there somewhere is not much help. I already know very well that all sorts of bad things go on in the splinter groups, but is there any chance at all that you could ever act anything like a real man and at least tell us which particular cult you attended? Or is it too embarrassing to admit, even anonymously, which false leader you made the mistake of following?

I understand where you are coming from when you talk about trying to make things right wherever you are, but in the case of satanic cults it is simply not possible to make anything right. Power is on the side of the perverts in the satanic cults led by the false prophets who have overrun the COG scene today. That is how the satanic cults were set up. There is no fixing anything in them. You CANNOT turn the false prophets into true prophets and you CANNOT turn their satanic cults into true churches that do good.

JESUS in the SERMON ON THE MOUNTAINSIDE in the NEW TESTAMENT said to “WATCH OUT for false prophets,” and in this context said that “a bad tree CANNOT bear good fruit.”

FOR EXAMPLE, in SATANIC CULTS like the PCG, led by FALSE PROPHETS like Gerald Flurry, most of the scheming, lying, and slandering are done behind the victim's back, so the person does not even fully realise everything that is going on, or what a serious problem it is, and how the satanic rage of the filthy old sex maniacs, sex perverts, and predators in the PCG is progressing and increasing. The old PCG sex perverts just go to the local leaders and complain whenever any much younger person politely declines to be “helped” by them. The local PCG leaders themselves are really just unqualified and incompetent bums who lusted after positions of power in the PCG when no WCG ministers went with Gerald Flurry and his PCG impostor cult. The results are all predictably bad.

The fake PCG “minister” tells the victim indignantly over the telephone that, “We've done so much for you and tried so hard to help you.” In this way, many months of trying to abuse and slander their victim get passed off as “trying to help” the person. As someone who honestly never expected any of the PCG people ever to do any good at all once said, “If they could have merely refrained from acting like Satan and lying like Satan continually, that would have been enough.” Next, the fake PCG “minister” gleefully announces that he will have to “make an example” out of the victim. The victim gets kicked out. The old sex perverts stay. Twisted bullies like the Morleys who delight in doing senseless evil to unsuspecting innocent people stay, presumably in case any more old sex-crazed freaks need Ronald Morley's help getting their filthy old hands on any more younger people, and so his perverted brat Robert Morley can help write children's stories and other trash at PCG Headquarters. End of PCG story.

Anonymous said...

Spray painting someone's car, or emailing everyone about the person, can get one arrested and-or sued. It's easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

In LCG, the consequences for adultery ans drug abuse depends soley on your relation to the ministry or the sensitivity of your job at headquarters. It's hard to watch.

Anonymous said...

Look, the ministry of each and every splinter of the wwcg are what the bible calls hirelings. Not only that, they refuse to see how they continue to beat the sheep , take the best for themselves and leave the residue for the people. Ezekiel 34 describes them to a "T" yet they refuse to see it and say it deals with national leaders.
They have every excuse in the world for their behavior.
They gave half baked sermons, perhaps a bible study once in a blue moon, they might council people but, you never know and the rest of the time they sit around collecting tithes and offerings like some Levitical priest. The fact that they are not priests is something they choose to ignore.
They build themselves fine offices and grounds so they can 'work' while the people's backs are broken on 3 ridiculous tithes. And oh man, you better pay them if you don't want a guilt producing sermon dunning you for money every single holy day.
Not the mention the whining member letters telling you about the great 'work' that needs your money so they can be on channel XYZ at 4 in the morning.

But at the feasts the priests will take the chief 'seats' and rooms, eat by themselves at fine banquets and avoid the brethren at all costs.

Is any sick among you? Call on the elders and get a wrinkled cloth sent to you but it will be a cold day in hell if one comes to your home to anoint you.
I know, I lived in a mile of 2 who would send cloths to everyone rather than walk a block to help in person.

In one service before I beat feet to the door a man called in on the sermon phone line to report that one of their congregation was in the middle of a heart attack and awaiting paramedics.
Did the pastor stop everything and ask us all to pray for this person? Nope. Business as usual after wishing him luck.

Since the booklets are all anyone reads to interpret the bible with, the doctrinal errors will continue. God forbid the members study on their own. A minister must be present.
Kind of like in the old USSR where a state tour guide(KGB) had to accompany you everywhere.
Rant over/>

Byker Bob said...

So what we are saying is that this problem is simply "nature of the beast"? Uh, that would be entirely appropriate.


Anonymous said...

The only acceptable course of action, when observing abuse or suspected abuse is to call the police or state abuse hotline. You can make a report without the suspect learning your identity - if you report with integrity. In some states, you may be a mandated reporter.

In a facility I worked in, I called the child abuse hotline several times. Each time, I started my report with a statement about not being sure if what I saw was actually abuse but it made me feel uneasy and I want to report the facts I observed. My statements were recorded and investigations took place. Mostly, I did not know the outcomes but felt good that I had done my duty. No suspect was ever informed about who made the call to the hotline.

Confronting the perp, as Connie did, will not straighten him out, scare him, or deter him. In his mind, you would be the one with the problem - then be prepared to watch your back. Attacks can come from the perp, his friends, and the ministry. Why would you want that? Only the investigators can sort out whether the perp broke laws - if they say no law was broken, at least there is an official report about the activity, that may come into play later.

Illegal acts like vandalizing a car and cyber slander would never work out well for you and are not useful for pointing the law at the real criminal.

Just call the police and/or abuse hotline.

Anonymous said...

Some people just like children and puppies. It used to be considered quite normal. Today it is a hate crime.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for the nice story, but you are still failing everyone. Saying that there are bad people out there somewhere is not much help. I already know very well that all sorts of bad things go on in the splinter groups, but is there any chance at all that you could ever act anything like a real man and at least tell us which particular cult you attended? Or is it too embarrassing to admit, even anonymously, which false leader you made the mistake of following?"

lol, you know what I found out recently? There are pedophiles in the CATHOLIC CHURCH!!! Yes, THOUSANDS OF THEM! It's not just for cults anymore. So why does everyone say the COGs have the pervs as if it's unique? You are all blind that believe this.

This past year I talked with a friend that left WWCG back in the 90s, and he went to a different church years later, a church that catered to those broken by cults and other groups. He listened to stories from EVERY group, Lutherans, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah's witnesses, which he said was the worst of all, and even way worse than WWCG!

So, no, I will not slander someone because they were moronic or foolish and have no ability to protect the weak. And I won't even mention the name of the perv either, as he is gone, and just writing his name makes me sick.

And for those that think you should walk out on your family, you need serious help (I include divorce in this). If there was a member of my family that was a pedophile, I would kick him out, not walk away and leave everyone else to fix the mess. I already did that once, and I won't do it again.

Mish-Mash said...

Some observations on a lot of the comments above on child abuse. I agree with Connie, call 911 immediately. Don't worry about Matthew 18, this is a criminal offense. The Catholic Church is still dealing with these issues, however, anyone who has contact with children now have to have their state criminal and child abuse clearances as well as attend a training called VIRTUS provided by the Dioceses. Volunteers and Religious people are now being scrutinized very carefully at the Catholic Church. I am not a Catholic, but my daughter attends Catholic school. Why? the local school district is crappy. Loaded guns showing up on campus, homosexual students allowed to make-out on campus. Really, my kid needs to learn English and Arithmetic, not be indoctrinated sexually one way or another. So I would rather have my child attend a Catholic School where these types of displays are not tolerated and I know that the people who are involved with our kids are now under the microscope.

With regards to the sickos in the church, you only had to be a part of it in the 1970's and early 80's to see the lunacy allowed. It's disgusting.

Getting back to the COG's, they produced the weirdest pool of sexual weirdos on the planet. A bunch of Mama's boys who can't lift a finger for themselves. It is scary how weird these bachelor's are.

Byker Bob said...

Probably the first thing everyone needs to remember is that no matter what kind people, ministers, or professionals are around to assist after the fact, a child can never be UNmolested. If your church won't do the right things, you'd better take precautions and do what you have to do to protect your children, and those of others.

I also disagree with the person who has stated that you can't turn your back and walk away from "family". If church or family makes you a co-dependant to their bad behavior, you'd best run for the door. Let Jesus sort it out later. He displayed great love towards children and will understand.


Anonymous said...

4.22PM. There are dissident sites equivalent to this one for Jehovah witnesses. They believe that once kicked out of their physical church, they are no longer the bride of Christ. Many are devastated when this happens to them, and some even commit suicide. Religious deception abounds.

Anonymous said...


So, there's nothing Jesus would object to about disconnecting from your family in this life.
It certainly doesn't make you a spiritual wimp. Or, does it? LOL!

It cracks me up to think of Jesus cutting his daddy off for letting him get crucified.

"me me tinkle too!" What a wimp!