The True History of
The Worldwide Church of God"
by Bruce Renehan
Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web of Corrupt Leaders
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The Daughter of Babylon: A True History of the Workdwide Church of God
"Daughter Of Babylon,
In 1993, I finished the first edition of DAUGHTER OF BABYLON with the hope that it might help a few people sort out the confusion and anguish that had been created in them by their membership in the Worldwide Church of God. How can I be so certain that there are so many people who have been confused by the Worldwide Church of God? Because I too was a dedicated member of that group for a very long time. I too had been convinced that I had been called into God's one and only true church through the reading of Herbert and Garner Ted Armstrong's literature. I too traveled down the same path of self-denial and ritualism that thousands of other well-meaning people had trod.
By the time that I began to counsel for baptism, I had been so convicted by the Armstrong publications that I would hardly have hesitated to endanger my life for the beliefs of the church.
I received permission to attend church services in 1969 while I was in the Navy and stationed near Oakland, California. No one could attend church services without first gaining permission from church ministers. The Armstrongs had appeared so sophisticated in their writings about the church that I felt unworthy to enter such an elite environment. I did not know what to expect but reality was a bit of a let down. When I actually witnessed church services, I had an instinctual feeling that something was odd about most of the church members. They looked abused. I even made comments about it to someone. "Oh well, God just calls the weak of the world, the cream of the crud," was the automatic response of one member. The sermon that day was delivered by church evangelist Rod Meredith. Nearly 20 years later I was invited to have lunch with Rod and his wife in Glendora, California. I told him that he was the first Worldwide minister that I had ever heard preach and about the way the appearance of church members struck me on my first attendance of church services. His response was verbatim, "Oh well, God just calls the weak of the world, the cream of the crud." Deja vu!
In January of 1970, I had been transferred from the USS Sperry to Dental Technicians' school in San Diego. It was there that I confronted my superior officers with the first demand made on me by the church. I asked to be discharged on the grounds of conscientious objection. Because of the Armstrong's teachings, I refused to participate in any war effort. They gave me the ultimatum of withdrawing my request or being sent to dangerous assignment in Viet Nam where my convictions against the war would be tested. Acting in faith, I chose to pursue my discharge and then faced the hard struggle of proving my sincerity. I was finally discharged in April after several interrogations with the commanding officers of the Naval Training Center. I have to say that that was a very unpleasant and distasteful thing for me to experience. I actually enjoyed being in the Navy and I worried about what my family would think about me making such a radical decision. War protesters were not appreciated where I was raised. Maybe that is why I chose not to return home to Texas.
Instead, the following November, I was hired to work for the Worldwide Church of God at their headquarters in Pasadena, California. I worked for the church for seven of the twenty-three years that I was a member. Working for the church was disappointing also. There were constant conflicts with people who were supposed to be converted and gracious. For years, I blamed myself for never being the ideal Christian that I had always been told I should be. At times, I was obsessed with perfectionism but I never could display the "perfect righteous character" that ministers assured us was supposed to happen. It bothered me that there was always the stigma of being judged as "unconverted" hanging over me. Finally, I began to wonder if I were the only one who felt that way. To test my theory, I started asking other members questions about their proof of conversion. I was shocked. People would evade answering me or just stammer while groping for an answer. Their expressions told me that they were riddled with the guilt of being untrue to themselves. It is amazing how the appearance of guilt can be mistaken for humility.
That is part of the reason why this book had to be written.
Requests for the first edition of my book have come from all over the world. Many have written to thank me for my research. I have even sent copies of the book to Worldwide ministers (including an autographed copy to one of the two ministers who disfellowshipped me). More than one copy has gone to church headquarters.
Two years since first publication, I have continued to broaden my perspective about mainstream living and shed the narrow-minded prejudice that I had been indoctrinated to believe by the Worldwide system of control. I now hold a degree in liberal arts and am pursuing a second degree in psychology at California State University in Bakersfield.