(Tuit was the man who initiated the lawsuit brought by the Attorney General of California against Herbert W Armstrong, Stanley Rader,and other leaders of the Worldwide Church of God)
This book is filled with so many interesting facts. It is too bad it never received the recognition that Robinson's Tangled Web book did. This book is just as devastating to Armstrongism. It exposes the scheming, conniving, manipulative, hierarchy manipulating the church behind the scenes.
Some of these people are dead, some are running splinter cults where they continue the abuse to this day as they proclaim themselves God's anointed endtime servants
(pg 3) Little did I realize that my first contact with the Worldwide Church of God, about eighteen years ago, would lead to this moment, nor could I ever have imagined what it would lead to in just a few years. Only a few years alter my wife and I were to make the decision to institute a lawsuit against the Worldwide Church of God and its officials, alleging that the officials were misappropriating funds. This lawsuit was destined to become one of the most massive church/state confrontations in recent history.
(pg 7) (In searching for a church they wrote to Pasadena)…I later found that Church meetings were kept rather secret so that outsiders wouldn’t wander in. Looking back at this, I wonder how the Worldwide Church of God could ever have expected to do the work that Christ commanded when they spent so much effort at keeping themselves hidden in the local community.
(pg 15) We didn’t realize at the time that most of what was written about Church history and Herbert Armstrong was just a subtle device to condition people’s minds to blindly following the Church’s teachings as expounded by Armstrong. I should have realized at the time that any man who claimed to be the only servant of Jesus Christ would not put out a 540-page autobiography which only covered the period from his birth in 1892 up until the year 1938. This book, significantly, was the largest publication ever issued by the church. There is more written about Herbert Armstrong in this autobiography than there is written about Christ in the entire Bible.
Chapter 2 Beginning of Troubles
(pg 21) When we first contacted the church in early 1974, we did not realize then, and in fact did not realize for some time, that we were coming into the Church during one of its most tumultuous periods. A series of events took place in 1974 that were actually setting the stage for the legal action that we were to initiate in 1978. In 1974, over forty ministers and an estimated two thousand to three thousand members left the Church. This was later to become known as the 1974 Rebellion. This rebellion was actually the aftershock of a double crisis in 1972. Church members had for many years been told in sermons and in Good News, a publication only for church members, that they should be prepared to flee to a place of safety in 1972. This place was to be the ancient and now uninhabited town of Petra, located in Transjordan, Petra is described in the Pictorial Bible atlas, as follows: “In the small basin of Petra was situated the famous Nabatean. Impressive gorges and impregnable faulted walls of crystalline rocks rise into the southern Edom Mountains to over 5,000 feet.” The entrance to Petra is a mile-long canyon with cliffs three hundred feet high. It was to this town in the wilderness that the entire Worldwide Church of God expected to go and live for three an one half years awaiting the return of Christ in 1975.
(pg 22) During the late 1960’s, in anticipation of this flight to safety many members had put off important matters, such as necessary dental care, home purchases, or any other long-term commitments, expecting that such things would not be necessary. Of course, 1972 came and went, but there was no flight to Petra.
Armstrong wrote a co-worker letter, dated March 25, 1975, “Some years ago I saw factors indicating the possibility that our work might be completed in early 1972, and immediately followed by the Great Tribulation. I NEVER SET A DEFINITE DATE, I NEVER SAID IT WOULD DEFINITELY HAPPEN-but cautioned there were indications of the possibility. Yet some misunderstood it as a definite prophecy for a definite date.”
Nonetheless, 1972 was a momentous year for the Worldwide Church of God. It was in that year that Herbert Armstrong announced to the church, in a letter dated April 25, 1972: “Last autumn I was dismayed to learn that my son had been overcome with personal emotional problems, that it Ied to conduct inconsistent with the high standards of the Work of the Church of God and the scriptural qualifications for a minister of Jesus Christ, and rendered him incapable of carrying on the duties of a minister, and of his responsibilities of Executive Vice-President.”
(pg 23) This event rocked the Church in 1972. Garner Ted Armstrong had been for years the radio and television voice of the Church, and was known and respected as not just a great evangelist, but a man with tremendous insight and understanding regarding world affairs….There was much speculation at the time, and also allegations that Garner Ted Armstrong’s problem was one o f sexual infidelity. I was to find out much later that whatever the depth of his emotional problems, it was amazing that he survived the ordeal at all, considering the constant struggle that he had been having with his father on some of the harsh doctrines of the Church.
The whole period of turmoil actually had its start around 1968, after the death of Herbert Armstrong’s wife Loma in 1967. It was at this time that Stanley Rader began to assume a more prominent position as an advisor to Herbert Armstrong. Rader was a non-member and had been in the employ of the Church for approximately ten years as an accountant and legal counselor. It was during this period, starting in 1968, when the massive building program was embarked upon, including the commitment for the elaborate Ambassador Auditorium. This also marked the beginning of Herbert Armstrong’s visits to political leaders around the world, as part of what he called his ‘great commission.” Garner Ted Armstrong’s disagreement with the direction his father was going, as well as the doctrinal differences, were one of the many causes of a complex emotional problem.
Three of the doctrinal points which seem to be of major contention (pg 24) were those concerning divorce and remarriage, healing, and make-up. A fourth one, to a lesser degree, concerned birthdays. On the matter of divorce and remarriage, the Church taught that a divorced person could not remarry, as to do so would be adulterous. Even harsher was the part of the teaching which required one who had been divorced and remarried before entering the Church to dissolve the second marriage and return to the first mate. If that was not possible, the remarried couple were to live apart from each other, since to continue together would be adulterous. There was no scriptural basis for this teaching, and many lives were virtually destroyed by a forced adherence to this doctrine.
On the matter of healing, members were taught that to use doctors or medicine for anything other than “mechanical” repairs, such as fixing broken bones or repairing teeth, was a sin. Members were to rely only on God for healing, and were to have a minister anoint them with oil and then pray over them for healing. It is certainly true that God does heal and the He does perform many miracles, but He does expect us to do what we can physically as part of our reliance upon Him. Many members and, even more tragically, young children actually died as a result of the member’s fear to use a doctor of medicine.
Members were also forbidden to wear make-up as it was considered to be a sign of vanity and, according to Herbert Armstrong, something used by prostitutes. The celebration of birthdays was forbidden as being pagan, although there is no Biblical proof of this.
The expenditures for Armstrong’s world trips in the Church owned Gulfstream II jet were also becoming a cause of dissention among many of the top officials…All of these various factors – the 1972 ouster and later return of Garner Ted Armstrong, serious doctrinal questions, and the massive expenditures of money on round the world trips – all combined to set the stage for serious discord within the ministry. The final result of all this was the event that became known as the 1974 Rebellion.
Another point of serious concern among many of the top Church leaders was the growing influence of Stanley R Rader on Herbert Armstrong. Rader, born in 1930 in New York, was not a Church member and had never been baptized. He was first employed by the Church in 1956 as a certified public accountant and later became legal counsel to both the Church and to Herbert Armstrong. He was a member of both the accounting firm of Rader, Cornwall and Kessler and of the legal firm of Rader, Helge and Gerson. Both these firms represented the Church in a professional capacity.
Chapter 3 The Great Commission
(pg 34) Armstrong said further, “One thing that has been a serious handicap, and caused me and my touring team no little embarrassment. We have had to say that we represent either Ambassador College or Worldwide Church off God.
“I am regarded as an Ambassador of WORLD PEACE. But if I represent a CHURCH, immediately that shouts to them RELIGION.”
Somehow in Herbert Armstrong’s convoluted way of thinking he was convincing Church leaders that he could deliver the Gospel, a religious message, by not sounding religious and hiding behind a secular organization. Most ministers kept this to themselves. When it was mentioned in congregations, it was put forth in such a way that the people swallowed the whole story without even realizing what was going on.
(pg 38) In contrast, our way of serving was to be one of supporting the Armstrong’s or as some call it, “Pray and pay!”
Only later did I come to realize that that was not the complete statement. More accurately it was, “Pray and pay while the Armstrong’s play.” Herbert Armstrong was jetting around the world in the Gulfstream II visiting foreign dignitaries, while Garner Ted Armstrong was jetting across the country in his Falcon jet, on his way to hunting or fishing trip. Still oblivious to so much of this, I said to Maceo Hampton one day, “How can I serve? I want to serve. I feel like just going to Church every Sabbath and being a (pg 39) member isn’t enough. What can I do?” To which Paula added, “What about me? It seems that all the women do is have their ladies club. If the Church were to have a Sabbath school for the kids, the women could certainly be much more effective and helpful!” Hampton responded, “You two are really something! You always want to help. Don’t worry, just be patient. Your time will come. I know that you will get your opportunity to serve, I can assure you of that.”
Little did any of us realize how significant his statement was to be.
Chapter 4 Crack in the False Facade
(pg 41) The first significant wedge to be driven into the crack developing in the façade of the Worldwide Church of God came in June of 1976 with the release of a publication called the Ambassador Review. The Ambassador Review was put out by a group of former Ambassador students, led by J. Timothy Nugent, John Trechak, and Leonard W. Zola. In their opening statement they say, “The Ambassador Review is a journal by and for students, alumni, and friends of Ambassador College. Its goal is to provide an open forum for those who have shared in the ‘Ambassador Experience.’ It has grown out of an increasing need for a response to censored and ideologically-controlled articles found in the official Ambassador College and Worldwide Church of God publications.” This publication was a fifty-two-page magazine, and while it had a strong impact in the Pasadena area, it did not receive wide circulation. I was unaware of it at the times, but did find out later that some people in our local congregation received copies in the mail. Most of those copies were immediately given over to the ministers and destroyed.
Another article by Nugent states, “None of the ‘great purposes’ seem pertinent anymore. Bricket Wood is gone, Imperial Schools is gone. The Ambassador Press has been sold. The computer department is being phased out, The Ambassador Television Studio is being bartered off. And it doesn’t help to be reminded (pg 42) that THE PLAIN TRUTH look starved for content, while the pages of the once-again delayed HUMAN POTENTIAL are so bloated with content that it appears to be wallowing in its own galleys, perhaps never to see the arrival of a second edition. Yes, it’s hard to be optimistic.”
Referred to here as the College at Bricket Wood, England, which had been closed and was in the process of being sold. The sale was finally consummated in 1978. The Imperial Schools were elementary schools in the Pasadena area which were operated by the Church. It was becoming quite obvious to some that great sums of money were going into cultural endeavors and allegedly great humanitarian causes, while some of the very basic operations of the Church such as its schools, its colleges, and even its printing plants were being liquidated.
The selling of the printing plant is a case in point. The Ambassador Press was one of the most modern color printing facilities on the West Coast. In a short-sighted move to raise cash, the entire facility was sold to large magazine publishing company in an arrangement whereby the Church would then contract with the purchaser for the printing of THE PLAIN TRUTH and the GOOD NEWS magazines. Soon after the sale of the printing plant the buyer closed the facility due to insufficient business, as a result of the 1974-75 recession. The same basic recessionary period that motivated the Church to sell the printing plant resulted in its total closing, with the presses being dismantled and sold off to some distant buyer. This resulted in the Church being in the position of having to job-shop, or farm out, its major printing assignments.
One of the main points of Armstrong’s teaching was that of Church authority. He would constantly remind the membership that he was God’s apostle and that God’s form of government was government from the top down. This meant that, he, Armstrong, was in charge of everything and in a sense, the only human capable of governing the Church. He more than once made the statement, “God would never allow me to do anything or make any decision that would adversely affect the Church.” In this he even goes the Pope one better. At least the Pope limits his claimed infallibility to matters of faith and morals; Herbert Armstrong, in a more subtle way, claims infallibility on any decision affecting the Church.
(pg 44) Attention was also called to the fact that the accounting firm of Rader, Cornwall and Kessler didn’t operate exactly as an arm’s length auditor of the Church’s books. Rader, of course, was on the payroll of the Church. Henry Cornwall, a partner in the firm, was not a member of the Church. Ambassador Review states: “Another individual worthy of note was Henry F Cornwall, long time friend and business associate of Stan Rader. He holds the office of Secretary-Treasurer within the Foundation. His position in the entire Worldwide Church of God empire is even more covert than Rader’s, but sources within the organization have revealed that Cornwall yields incredible power in the area of fiscal affairs. Cornwall, a Certified Public Accountant, has kept the financial records of the Church and College for years and reportedly acts as the sole ‘independent’ auditor of the corporate conglomerate. From their office suite in Century City, Cornwall and Rader discreetly exercise almost absolute control over the purse strings. It is they who authorize the ultra-extravagant expenditures by the AICF using Church monies.
Herbert Armstrong was taken strongly to task in another article entitles “Herbert W Armstrong, A legend in His Own Mind”. One of the more shocking disclosures was the fact that the church conducted what were known as ‘tithe checks’ on members and especially employees. If a member was being considered for ordination as an elder or deacon, or if someone was being considered (pg 45) for promotion as an employee, a check of their tithing record would be made.
Ambassador Review further states: “The ministerial letter of January 28, 1969 emphasized once again that the ministers should check with headquarters to determine the loyalty of suspected brethren under their charge.”
Little did I realize that I was a member of a church that conducted its operations more like a Communist police state, while Herbert Armstrong was running around the world telling people that God’s way is the way of love and man’s way is the way of get and selfish greed. Which way was he practicing here?
…It is difficult to determine the effect the first issue of Ambassador Review hay have had. While it may have caused some people to begin thinking critically about Church leadership, it appears that most of the people who received copies of the Review did the same thing as those in my Church area. They turned them into their minister.
The interesting point in all of this was that they did not just throw out something that they did not consider worthy of their attention; because they did not want to be suspected of ever having such a think in their possession, most members turned them in as an outward show of loyalty to the Church and the Armstrong’s. This is a perfect example of what can happen to someone’s thinking process after being conditioned with propaganda that Herbert Armstrong is an apostle of God, and as such could not be questioned. For to question him is to question God, and to question God is to risk losing your eternal life and ending up in the lake of fire.
(pg 51) Elbert atlas is one of the few black ministers in the Church and he only black area Coordinator Unfortunately, he (pg 52) appears to very sensitive to this fact and ever-mindful of the feeling of some of the top officials in the Church. He will probably never forget the statement, by Roderick C. Meredith, a top-ranking evangelist who was later to become Director of the ministry “that one of the signs of God’s displeasure with America was the fact that many blacks were ruling over us.” And he called particular attention to the black mayor of Los Angeles [Tom Bradley]. He further stated that no black man should ever have authority over whites.
Chapter 5 The Apostle’s New Helpmate
(pg 55) In the spring of 1977, Herbert Armstrong, after ten years a widower, remarried. At age eighty-five, he married a woman in her late thirties, Ramona Martin.
Many members wondered about Armstrong marrying such a young woman at his age. Again, this point was handled well by the (pg 56) ministry. Picking up on Herbert Armstrong’s statements that his original wife could not have stood the rigors of travel, they told the members that God mercifully allowed her to die, so that Armstrong could conduct his world travels and bring the Gospel to other nations. Because he needed a wife who could act as his hostess in various social functions, we were told that God provided him with his new young wife who was able to handle such heavy travel. Could there be some further significance to this? What about the fact that the new Mrs. Armstrong had been a secretary to the mysterious Osamu Gotoh and them later an assistant to Stanley Rader? One wonders wither God really did send her to Herbert Armstrong or someone else made the arrangements.
Church members were told in letters from Herbert Armstrong that he had gone to this clinic [Otopeni Clinic] to rest up after a grueling trip. Yet Garner Ted Armstrong in a public speaking engagement in Hackensack, New Jersey, in September 1978 was to say something quit different. He said, “My father, before marrying this younger woman, went to a clinic in Romania where they give these special treatments for sexual rejuvenation, and it didn’t do any good.”Again, one must wonder where a lot of heard –earned donations had (pg 57) been going. Had it preached the Gospel, or to pander to every whim and desire of the self-appointed apostle?
Garner Ted Armstrong was to state in an interview, regarding his father’s marriage to Ramona Martin, “I felt that every woman over fifty in the Church would be outraged.” He stated further that he strenuously objected directly to his father and through intermediaries regarding his father’s interest in Ramona Martin during the entire two-and-a-half-year courtship. Garner Ted said that he was told that his father would drink too much at dinner in some of the fanciest restaurants throughout the world, and in his inebriated condition pound his fist o the table, making public spectacle of himself as he proclaimed his anger against his son and his love for Ramona.
Garner Ted was so opposed to his father’s marriage that he says, “As I was walking through the front door of my father’s Tucson home, I was saying to my wife Shirley, “No, I will not perform (pg 58) this ceremony. It’s not right, it’s not good. I won’t do it. She kept begging me, all the way up the steps. I won’t do it. But when I opened the door and walked in there and I saw him surrounded by all these strangers, my heart went out to my father. Suddenly, the family tie was there, and I said, ‘I can’t do this, I’m Garner Ted Armstrong, the executive vice-president and the person right next to my father and in the position at the top. How can I let an insignificant young, new pastor of a little tiny church, whom I had know since the time he was a baby boy, perform the wedding of the Chairman of the Board and the President of the Church and the Founder of the Church and the College and so on, when he is my father. I walked over to my dada and asked him if I can perform the ceremony. He broke down and threw his arms around me and just almost with a weeping voice said, “O Ted, that’s the greatest wedding present you could have ever given me.”
“Stan walked in and my father said, “Stan, isn’t it wonderful Ted has consented to perform the ceremony.’ Stan’s face blanched and he looked at me like he would like to have me disappear on the spot. He was furious. My wife saw it, I saw it, we felt it, it was just blazing anger, you couldn’t believe how angry he was. And it was unreasonable. Because he saw me suddenly winning, he thought it was political of me. It wasn’t political. It was totally accidental. Nothing political about it. It was just a heartfelt feeling that I had had.”
What very few people know, was that the events leading up to the marriage of Herbert and Ramona Armstrong, over Garner Ted’s constant violent objections, were setting the stage for a crisis in the Church such as had not been seen before. It was during this same period of time that Garner Ted had been having some disagreements with Stanley Rader and had also become increasingly suspicious of Rader’s motives and increasing wealth. When Garner Ted observed Rader’s blazing anger at the fact that he was going to perform his father’s wedding ceremony, it became fully apparent to Garner Ted that this marriage had a great significance to Stanley Rader.
(pg 59) Strangely enough, this woman, whom Herbert Armstrong married, suddenly had better things to do, than to accompany him on his trips. This, in spite of the fact that Herbert Armstrong made a major point of the fact that a young wife would be able to stand the rigors of travel, whereas had his first wife Loma lived, she would not have had such endurance.
Shortly after his marriage, Armstrong was to embark on another international trip. Ramona, however, could not travel with him in order to attend to matters of greater urgency. She stayed home in Tucson, in order to oversee the landscaping project of their new home.
It seems strange that Church headquarters had no Sabbath school materials at all for use in the program. All lesson materials had to be developed locally, and Harriet, with a group of assistants, did a fine job preparing a complete set of lessons. What seems so strange was that in discussing the financial needs of the program with a minister, Harriet was told that (pg 60) there was no money in the budget from headquarters to fund a Sabbath school program. All such funding had to be done on a local basis. We had no idea, at the time that we were told this, that Garner Ted Armstrong, at about the very same time, was being instructed by his father to sign checks for tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewels and furs for his wife Ramona. There was plenty of Church money for pearls of adornment, but no money to bring the pearls of great price to our little children. Money for international trips and gifts for world leaders, but no money for Sabbath school lessons.