Monday, October 24, 2016

Living In A Cult And Killing It




The following article on CRACKED will be sure to stir up a controversy with followers of Armstrongism:


The Church Of Scientology managed to gain worldwide infamy, despite numbering only roughly 25,000 in the U.S. That's a damn fine annoyance per capita ratio. At its height, the Worldwide Church Of God had nearly 90,000members in the United States, and you've never heard of them. Its followers didn't believe in space alien ghosts or anything, but they used to have other things in common with Scientology: both were founded by a charismatic hustler who told them not to go to the doctor, for example. And yet today the Worldwide Church Of God is more church than cult. That's a rare transition: From crazy to sane. It usually runs the other way, and doesn't stop until the men in white coats take it down with a net. Mike Feazell is part of the reason for WCG's shift to respectability. We asked him how he managed to pull a full-blown cult out of its tailspin of insanity, and he told us ...

6.  It Started With A Crazed Ad-Man Who Found God
5.  Medicine And Birthday Parties Were Sins Against The Lord
4.  It Was Both A Church, And A Wildly Successful Business
3.  When The Founder Died, We Started Questioning 'Doctrine'
2.  We Broke The Rules To Save A Life
1.  But It Was Dropping The Crazy Stuff That Killed The Church
Check the full article out here:

6 Things You Learn Living In (And Killing) A Cult

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I admire those who tried to change things from the inside. They made a mistake, though. You can't turn the proverbial sow's ear into a silk purse. The only answer is to chuck the whole insane mess and start over. That's what I had to do, and I don't regret it one little bit.

Allen C. Dexter

Black Ops Mikey said...

It's easy: Plan and then set up a new cult, then transition people from the old cult to the new one. Hopefully, they will not catch on and from the outside it will look like the group has gone from crazy to sane, even though that's not what happened.

Retain all the assets; keep the hierarchy in place; slowly change the 'doctrines' to align more with the mainstream.

Divorce yourself from any appearance of being the old cult.

Continue raking in the money without disbanding so you can live a cushy life at the top while screwing everyone else.

Always say the old cult was wrong and never, never, never admit anything that might make you look like a cult now (by keeping your actual structure, motivations and Drakonian control in place).

Anonymous said...

It's still a cult. A church wouldn't have an HWA-style unaccountable sole leader at the helm. A genuine Christian church would have trusted the Holy Spirit to lead its members into the truth, and wouldn't have ramrodded Protestant doctrine down the throats of the unwilling on the order of a single leader who could not be removed.

Yes, it's now a cult that more or less apes mainstream Protestantism with just a few odd variations. But it's still a cult.

RSK said...

There's a nice clipping around #3 in the article of HWA predicting famine in 1972. Oh, but HWA never set dates, right? Heh.

Anonymous said...

They're all cults. Get that straight. Even those benign looking churches you see on the corners of most cities are cults. That's how they started out, and that's what they still are. COG7 is a cult chipped off the original Adventist block. The Lutheran's are a cult chipped off the Catholics. So are the Calvinist organizations, the Methodists and all the rest. Herb was right in one thing. They're basically social clubs. Only the fanatic members take them much too seriously, and that's a mental aberration similar to the one we all suffered from.

Allen C. Dexter

Anonymous said...

Anon said: " A genuine Christian church would have trusted the Holy Spirit to lead its members into the truth, "

Good luck with that magic. How naive can you be?

Redfox712 said...

WCG had its own gas station at Headquarters? My word. I never heard that part of the story before.

As for that clipping of HWA's, it is from pages 5 and 7 of the February 1962 issue of The Plain Truth. There is a link in the Cracked article.

Anonymous said...

It is a myth that you have to belong to a church to be approved by God. It is also a myth that to grow spiritually that you must belong to a church. The structured environment as well as the message in any church org. is designed to keep people coming in the doors and giving a lot of money to perpetuate the org. You don't need buildings or church organizations to live a life that is full.

Byker Bob said...

This stuff runs pretty deep. From a theological standpoint, and on an intellectual level, I just don't understand why a post on forgiveness would have been so controversial. That seems counterintuitive. Yet, look at what we see!

BB

RSK said...

I think it's more telling that so few in the public ever heard of HWA and his church. So much for preaching the gospel around the world, preparing the way, warning the nations, doing the work, and so on. It came to nothing, as Gamaliel would say. It would be one thing if the so-called Philadelphia Era left some sort of real impression in the public memory, but it didn't.

Anonymous said...

The transportation department had gas pumps for the fleet vehicles and the elite ministers. The pee-on members were not allowed to buy gas at it.

Anonymous said...

The PCG has a gas station on their HQs property as well. It's behind the John Amos Feild House. Only Gerald Flurry, the ministry and HQs staff are allowed to gas up though.

Tom Dale said...

I was never told nor ever heard from any person associated in any way with the COG to not see a doctor. How's that for double negatives? It's like we were in different churches entirely.

RSK said...

Depends somewhat on when you were involved with the group, Tom, and where you attended. One of the old-timers here is probably more qualified to speak than me on that topic, though.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the ministry not only had fleet cars that were serviced at a functioning garage, but there was a gas station for them too. I was there. Life was good if you had the right position.

Allen C. Dexter

Byker Bob said...

Tom, in classic pre-1975 WCG, we were told that we could see a doctor for setting broken bones, getting stitches, or obtaining physicals when required for job or school. The doctors were called sorcerers and were to be avoided whenever possible. Resistance to school vaccinations was encouraged, except in extreme cases where kids might be expelled, or taken away by Child Protective Services. Polio vaccine was called "monkey pus".

Kids died from totally preventable causes, like one young diabetic guy who died for "obeying God" by going off his insulin. Some of the medications were made from stuff from unclean animals, like insulin from pigs, but nobody complained about the vitamin D from porcine sources in all of the commercially produced milk. They compounded it all, because they encouraged raw and organic foods that had salmonella, and then you couldn't go to the doctor for antibiotics if you got sick from eating the stuff.

Trust me. The edict then was as it is pretty much enforced by Gerald Flurry today, and it was in full force up until sometime in the late '70s. And, yes, I had friends and family members who almost died.

BB

RSK said...

They did tend to tread carefullt in a general sense due to legal liability. Seems to me I read something to that effect in a leaked ministers' letter or manual once. Anyway, I remembered a line from Rader's book and had to look it up.

"Mr. Armstrong believes in divine healing through prayer. However, surgery to "repair," such as the setting of a broken leg, and cleansing of wounds, is permitted. A doctor is available at Ambassador College for those 'who do not understand or have faith in divine healing through prayer.'"

That doctor probably had to be present due to liability, but BB and Gary would likely know more than I.

Anonymous said...

In 1968 we were under orders to not see a doctor or get immunizations. Our first-born son got a high fever at 8 months old and we were not to go to a hospital. That cooked his brain and he could never properly function. He died at age 36.

Black Ops Mikey said...

Armstrongist apologists are just waiting. They will keep testing the waters until it comes a day that no one will be left to tell them they are wrong.

It's like those who deny the Holocaust: It never happened -- it was a conspiracy!

RSK said...

You might be exactly right, Mikey. At this point in time, the generation that would know is mostly gone, their kids are aging, and we the grandchildren have only partial memories.

Byker Bob said...

As to why the doctor was present on the AC Pasadena campus, I'm sure he was able to make evaluations in the cases which came to him, and to be the "official" who administered church policy on medical matters. It is expected by society in general that there will be doctors or nurses present in both schools and institutes of higher learning. In the case of WCG/AC, had there been something catastrophic, a credentialed doctor, even one with "clipped wings" would be able to explain in medical terminology what had taken place, quelling the suspicion of the press and government officials, attorneys, etc.

The campus doctor while I was a student was more or less on call, also having his own practices and office off campus. There were doctors in the Pasadena area who were familiar with the WCG, and worked along with the nuances caused by the church doctrinal approaches. Probably the front line of WCG exposure to the medical community during that era was prenatal care and childcare. Medical attention in these fields was nearly unavoidable, although there were church midwives. But, much as there is interaction between medical practitioners and traditional Native Americans on reservations, there was also interaction amongst WCG members and the medical community of Pasadena. I am sure there was regular frustration on the part of these doctors.

In a typical visit to the campus doctor, a student might get a sprained ankle examined for bone breakage, or have a cut or other injury dressed. Someone suffering constipation might be given a note for the cafeteria staff so that they could get stewed prunes. Or salve or ointment might have been recommended for a rash, that the student could purchase at El Rancho. Also, it might be difficult to fathom this today, but the medical "industry" back then was not quite so sophisticated as it is today. Ambulance drivers back then, as an example were just that. There were no EMTs, or paramedics until the early '70s. In fact the TV program often viewable in syndication rerun "Emergency" was based on the adventures of the first official paramedic program on the L.A. area.

At this point in time, medical issues are much more highly scrutinized than they were in those days by all of the various watchdogs. Still today, Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusions, and the legal system protects their beliefs. However, HWA's own extensive usage of doctors and the medical profession, once it became well known, forever opened formerly closed doors for all but the inveterate extremists in the movement.

BB

NO2HWA said...

One of the main reasons they had a doctor on campus was that he originally did a lot of home births because church women did not go to hospitals. Everything else you describe above is spot on as to the reason for having the doctor or nurse present. Usually all they did was apply bandages, prescribe cayenne pepper for various illnesses, olive oil, and other homeopathic nonsense.

I had a pool filter lid blow off and slice my forehead while i was working on the Neff's pool in LaCanada. One of the maintenance guys took me to the health center instead of the hospital. The nurse put some bandages on it and sent me home to rest. There is actually a crease on the front of my skull where the lid hit with a tremendous amount of force. I should have been sent straight to the hospital. I am sure i had a concussion. I bled profusely. I was given vitamin E oil to put on the wound to help prevent a scar.

RSK said...

I remember hearing from several members that when polio vaccinations became compulsory to enroll in school, it was suggested to them to put lemon juice on the site of the child's injection to counteract the vaccine. Must be that monkey pus again.

Black Ops Mikey said...

One girl in the church had appendicitis. She couldn't be treated. Her appendix burst.

She survived, but she had severe health problems all her life because the church forbade surgery of the type that could have resolved and prevented problems.

The ministers may deny any responsibility for member's choices, but the member had to either comply with Draconian restrictions or face the possibility of expulsion.

On the other hand, the children of members didn't really have much of a choice, but did have to live with the consequences.

Hoss said...

A number of people I knew in the WCG had planned to study medicine and had to find an acceptable alternative career. During the time when doctors were only to set broken bones and do certain “repair” jobs, GTA mentioned a few times on radio a family member who had a “miraculous operation”. Off air, while applauding those who refused to allow their children to be vaccinated, he warned parents that they should really be informed of the issues when doing this.

With US Thanksgiving coming soon (Canadian Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago) the classic decorations will once again have Pilgrims dressed as Puritans. It’s interesting that the Puritans were trying to change the Church of England (which they thought was still too Catholic) from the inside, while the Pilgrims were Separatists, trying to change it from the outside. Looking at the case in point, the Tkatches changing the WCG, and to some degree Pope Francis making changes to the Catholic church, inside beats outside for effectiveness.

Anonymous said...

The doctors at Ambassador labored under extreme difficulty. So did original nurses like Faye Lutrell. I remember her. One time I had a severe hemorhoid and went to her to see what I could do. She gave me a heating pad and told me to sit on it. It worked! I went to a dance that evening pain free. Dr. Overton (who worked beside me in Letter Answering) and others slowly gained a bit of acceptance, but they had to tread lightly and he had to get recertified at Huntington Hospital before he could work at the infirmary. I often wonder what became of him and others who were whipped this way and that by the stupidity of Armstrong's fanaticism.

Allen C. Dexter