Chapter 9 On The Track or Off The Track?
(pg 113) While Paula and I were going through these personal experiences in our church life, many other things had been happening. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely in spite of Herbert Armstrong’s forceful directive to Stanley Rader to sell or get rid of Quest, Rader was increasing his control over Quest with no apparent intent to sell it.
On July 12, Roger Lippross, Circulation and Publishing Director of The Plain Truth magazine, announced to employees in Pasadena that Stanley Rader had placed Quest under his personal control in the AICF. At about the same time, Rader made swift moves to remove all Church employees from their positions at the Quest offices in New York. In addition to Jack Martin, several other Church employees had earlier transferred to the Quest offices from California. The group included Gordon Muir, who was slated to take over as circulation manager. The Church employees were now given less than a week to phase out and leave the offices. The reason given by Rader was that it would be easier to sell Quest if it were a self-sustaining operation without Church employees on the staff. The true reason behind Rader’s actions, however, seems to be somewhat different. With no one from the Church on the scene, Rader could then mold Quest and the newly established Everest House publishing operations to his liking and use them to his purpose.
(pg 114) The importance of a secular publishing business owned by the Church could better be understood in light of a remark that Robert Kuhn, executive assistant to Garner Ted Armstrong and a Church vice-president, made at the 1978 ministerial conference. He said, “Quest was very important to the Church, as through the publishing contacts maintained by the Quest office, adverse publicity in the press could be controlled.” One must wonder that even if it were possible to influence the press in such a way, why would a Church want to do so. It would appear that the only influence a church would desire over the press would be one whereby its evangelistic message would be disseminated through the news media.
Perhaps the fall 1978 Everest House catalog with its list of twenty-two books would offer some insight to Rader’s true motives. Quest and Everest House, while subsidized directly by money from the Church, which had been collected from tithe paying members for the preaching of the Gospel, was quit obviously engaged in promoting a very unchristian message. Jack Martin and other Church employees were evidently placed in positions at Quest for a short period of time to appease those who objected the initial Quest issues. Now, in all of the turmoil over Garner Ted’s ouster, it was very easy to remove these people from Quest and it wouldn’t even be noticed. And to keep quiet they were kept on salary while they had no job to go to.
Looking through the Everest House catalog we find publications such as Dark Dimensions; A Celebration of the Occult. The description reads, “In this startling new exploration of the wonders of the occult world, the renowned author and one of the world’s greatest authorities on parapsychology, Colin Wilson brings together the extraordinary feats of nine masters of magic.” The book contains accounts of homosexuality, mutilation, and sex perversion. Another book entitles In Search of…glorifies the demonic talents of psychics such as Jeanne Dixon and explores the satanic practices of Kirlian photography. The LTR Money Book is not as sedate a financial advisory as the title would indicate. It contains advice for gay couples and instructions for homosexuals who wish to get married or divorced. And Zen Running is not a book on jogging, but rather a book that advises how one can let his mind go through the use of Zen. Certainly a strange list of books to be published by an organization that claims to serve Jesus Christ under the leadership of a man who claims to be God’s apostle.
(pg 115) Perhaps the true spiritual leadership of the Church could be better understood when one considers Rader’s statement regarding his birth date. When asked his date of birth by a reporter, Rader stated, “August 14, 1930. I’m a Leo”. While many Christians may be aware of their so-called astrological birth sign as a result of having followed such practices before their conversion, it is something that a converted Christian would not longer retain in his mind. Rader’s interest in astrology seems to go far beyond his simple recitation of his birth sign. Could it be that some of the books offered by Everest House are the true handbooks of Rader’s spiritual life and in fact other aspects of his life also? The answers to these questions were to become into more clear focus as time progressed.
When the prophet Isaiah told of the judgment to come upon Babylon for her evil ways and rejection of God, he said mockingly, “Let now the astrologers, the star gazers, the monthly prognosticators stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” (Isaiah 47:13) Rader's preoccupation with the occult led him to state in a talk to Church employees, “If I were teaching course in metaphysics we could spend an whole semester talking about what reality is. “ Strangely enough no one picked it up. From Rader’s comments and his further actions, it would become more and more apparent which God he really serves.
Through the rest of the year Herbert Armstrong, through a massive propaganda effort, continued to strengthen his position as God’s apostle. At the same time Stanley Rader was about to liquidate Church properties in order to provide the money needed to keep the organization afloat. From year to year the Church operated at a deficit and the financial crisis was virtual way of life in the Church. Of course, all of the Church’s problems had been blamed on Garner Ted and his so-called attempts to secularize the Church. Now that he was out, the Church’s problems could no longer be blamed on him. Now that the cause of the problems was no longer in the Church, Armstrong must therefore come through and eliminate all problems. To cover himself, through sermons and Church publications, the members were constantly reminded that they were in a lax spiritual condition and were not behind him, the apostle. If they were not behind the apostle, Armstrong said, then God would remove his blessing from the Church. The members were under constant pressure to dig deeper into their pickets as a show of support or suffer the terrible guilt feelings of being (pg 116) unfaithful to God or, even worse, they were in a constant fear of perishing in the lake of fire for failure to support God’s Church and his apostle. A despotic leader always has the tools of intimidation and fear at his command, tools which enable him to maintain control under virtually any circumstance. No matter what may go wrong, he can blame the problem on someone else, further reinforcing his own position as great leader and the only one who can solve the latest crisis. It almost seems that a despotic leader can only maintain his control in a time of trouble and crisis; his follower’s reason, “If things are this bad with our great leader in control and being constantly attacked, what will happen if we lose him?”
A key point to Armstrong reinforcing his position as apostle depended upon the establishment of an authority for that claim. In the past he had always criticized the claim of the Pope to be a spiritual descendant of Peter, the first Pope. Of course, there is no historical proof whatsoever that Peter was the first Pope, and in fact it cannot be proven that he was ever in Rome. It is more likely that Peter was never in Rome, as Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and there is considerable record of Paul having been spent much time in Rome.
Now Armstrong, in a July 10, 1978 “Pastor’s Report,” was to put himself in a position of going against his own previous teaching and against scripture as well when he claimed that Peter had been the head apostle and that in this age he, Armstrong was not only the head apostle but the only apostle. Armstrong says, referring to the power to impose decisions upon the Church, or as it is called, “bind and loose,” “To WHOM did Christ give power to bind and loose? NOT THE CHURCH AS A COLLECTIVE VOTING BODY. God’s government is from the TOP DOWN –NOT Democracy!” Yet the scriptural example is quit different. In Acts 15 is the account of the apostles gathering in Jerusalem to discuss the matter of whether or not Gentile converts to Christianity must be circumcised. This was a major issue, as the accounts said (117) that there had been much disputing. But the “plain truth” of the Bible is not the Plain Truth for Herbert Armstrong. For he concluded his article in the “Pastor’s Report,” “God speaks with a decisive and certain voice through the one HE has chosen, and used these many years as HIS instrument.
“I do not ask your permission – I TELL YOU as Christ leads me.”
And then the announcements started coming regarding another about face at Ambassador College. It was not again to be a full four-year college. The July 17th issue of the Good News revealed that Armstrong was now purging out the deadly leaven of higher education. Of course this deadly leaven of higher education, as he called it, was all a result of his son Garner Ted having led the Church into secularism and into the world’s ways. In all modesty and humility as befits a true minister of Jesus Christ, Armstrong reveals in this article how he originally established Ambassador College as what he calls God’s college. He said, “I recognized clearly that I myself as the ONLY available faculty member possessing SPIRITUAL knowledge must DOMINATE the teaching staff and inculcate the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD into the students.” After two pages of rambling on about his own greatness and character attacks against his son, whom he accused of removing all of Herbert Armstrong-trained instructors from important positions, he said, “The ‘coup’ had become complete.” Armstrong then continued in explaining why he had removed his son from the church, “And (pg 118) THAT, brethren, is why God has roused me to TAKE OVER – why the living CHRIST has stepped in to HEAD GOD’S CHURCH and to SET BOTH CHURCH AND COLLEGE BACK ON GOD’S TRACK. Truly Satan had all but WRECKED the Church, the college and the WORK of the living God – it HAD JUMPED THE TRACK WHERE GOD THROUGH ME HAD SET IT!
“That is WHY I had been led by CHRIST to move swiftly to resume human LEADERSHIP! – TO PUT THE CHURCH AND IT’S WORK BACK ON GOD’S TRACK!”
The man who accused his son of secularism is, incredibly enough, the very same man who only a few months earlier had stated that he was embarrassed to represent himself as a minister of a Church world leaders. HE is the same man who goes to these world leaders and tells them that the whole cause of the world’s problems is the fact that the world follows the way of get and God’s way is a way of give. That is the beginning, the end, and sum total of his so-called message of Jesus Christ. The name Jesus Christ is not mentioned at all. Yet the Church members’ minds are so conditioned to believe everything this man tells them that they blindly follow. Whomever he accuses of wrong leadership, disobedience, or disloyalty is automatically guilty in the minds of the members. Now Herbert Armstrong must fight vigorously to solidify his position as the apostle, as he fears his son. He had hoped his son would take the bait of the $50,000 annual payoff, and it didn’t work.
Herbert Armstrong went on to state in the July 31st edition of the Good News with blaring headlines: “THE GREAT MAJESTIC GOD BEING ENTHRONED IN EYES OF CHURCH ONCE AGAIN BY JESUS CHRIST.” Again the constant repetition of the same theme, week after week, month after month: “Yes, more than generally realized, Satan was manipulating things to make God’s Church and his Work more and more secular – more like any other purely worldly and human activity!” His statement, of course, was true. The Church was becoming more and more secular. However, his son was not the cause of it – he was.
Herbert Armstrong would play the game by different rules in different circumstances and. Buy constant distortion and manipulation and by using fear, maintain his base of support. It seems that egomania and extreme paranoia go hand in hand. While Armstrong envisions himself as God’s apostle, he also feels threatened.
(pg 119) While he feels threatened by his son and the Church of God International, he also feels threatened by Stanley Rader. He knows that he is secure only as long as Rader can use him. For, in fact, Rader controls the Church.
On the subject of his proper handling of his duties, Armstrong says, “And if he doesn’t? If he needs correction or removal? If so that is CHRIST’S responsibility – and HE WILL SEE TO IT. It is not the responsibility of those UNDER the apostle to correct him.
“But maybe Christ is NOT LOOKING or maybe Christ neglects to correct him? Should not the people under him then take it into their hands? To do so would DEFY CHRIST –TRY TO TAKE CHRIST’S JOB AWAY FROM HIM!”
Logic clearly says that if Christ is going to correct Herbert Armstrong, He will do it either by removing him through death or illness or through the use of other people who may take certain actions. Yet Armstrong is telling the people that no matter what they may see wrong, they are to sit idly by and do nothing. Is this any different than the rational that Hitler used on his subjects to convince them that they should say nothing while millions of Jews were being burned in the ovens? For many Germans believed as Hitler claimed – that he was a special leader of the German people ordained by God to fulfill a purpose.
Going ahead to the November 8th issue of “The Pastor’s Report,” Armstrong in an article entitled, “HOW CHRIST GIVES THE CHURCH ITS DOCTRINES,” he fully establishes his Peter Primacy Theory. In it he states, “Peter did have many primacy as chief apostle.” By this time Armstrong had put into the Worldwide Church of God the Catholic Doctrine of Peter Primacy, and he, Armstrong, was the modern-day fulfillment of Peter’s office. Now Herbert Armstrong had fully established the office of Church leader in a direct parallel to that of the Pope in Rome. This in spite of the fact that in earlier years Armstrong had criticized the Papacy as being pagan in origin, having its roots in the Babylonian mystery religions.
To make sure Armstrong had no opposition, he redeveloped his program to squelch all opposition, and reconstructed the college in a way that he could produce automatons as graduates, who would faithfully serve him. Even at his age, he is not one to think in a shirt term, as he expects to be around a long time. He fully expects to be alive when Christ returns.
(pg 120) To further mold minds into the state necessary for blind obedience, it is necessary that the desire to excel be totally destroyed. In academic subjects, of course, one must excel to pass the course. However, Armstrong was to have no spirit of competition where one would seek to excel in any way over another.
In purging out this “evil” concept, this leavening of higher education that had crept into God’s college, Armstrong stated, “We don’t have physical education this year. We want to have it again, but competition is one of those things Satan introduced, so we are not going to have intercollegiate completion. I never was for that in the first place, and until my son was taking over and he wanted it, we didn’t have it. That’s out and it’s going to stay out.”
And then of course, the use of fear. To be obedient, people must be fearful, Armstrong told the students, “Ambassador College will never go Satan’s way again, I promise you that. And if I find it tending to, I will close it down.”
And through all of this Garner Ted was not getting off lightly either. His father continued to attack him. Again Armstrong constantly hammered away at the fact that his son was out to displace him as God’s apostle he said in the September 21st “Pastor’s Report,” “I began to sense an undercover conspiracy for my son to take over – as two of King David’s sons Adonijah and Absalom tried by deceptive means to conspire to take over David’s throne.” From this type of propaganda the Church members were beginning to get the picture that Garner Ted, who had introduced evil competitive sports was laying the ground work for training people to be of an evil conspiratorial mind, as his father claimed him to be.
Herbert Armstrong continued: “Ted always wanted a more liberal way of life than I had learned from GOD’S WORD.” What Herbert Armstrong does not discuss here is whether he himself has wanted a more liberal way of life than he had learned from God’s word. Whatever liberal conduct Garner Ted had engaged in was (pg 121) not without precedent in the Armstrong family, as we were to learn later.
Continuing to lash out against his very own son, Herbert Armstrong actually makes what would be more fitting as a statement of self-indictment. He said, “My son is out to GET not GIVE. While he writes and by his clever words and ‘fear speeches’ he deceives some sincere brethren to thinking he is ‘proclaiming the gospel of the world,’ YOU KNOW that is a LIE!”
Having several homes to live in, several chauffer-driven limousines, including a Roils Royce at his beck and call, a lifestyle befitting that of a king. Armstrong could have written that very statement about himself from his desk in his Gulfstream II Jet. But it was becoming increasingly obvious that Herbert Armstrong was feeling threatened by his son having started a church. He fought and fought hard. For a man who hates competition he himself could handle it quit well.
In the December 4th issue of Good News, Armstrong wrote an article entitles “IS CHRIST STARTING A SECOND CHURCH?” He goes on at great length to claim that there is only one true church, the Worldwide Church of God headed by God’s apostle, himself. He claims that the acts of his son are quit different from his own acts in the 1930’s when he broke away from the Oregon Conference of the Church of God. Through convoluted reasoning, Armstrong claims that he was never a member of that Church, therefore he did not break away to start a new Church. He claims that he was uniquely called by God to raise up the end-time Church, the Worldwide Church of God, which he calls “the Philadelphian era of the Church.”
He goes on, in the December 18th issue, with two more articles claiming that God’s Church is not composed of many separate groups and that Christ is the living head of only one Church not two. Armstrong goes on and on, making the point that there cannot even be other organizations believing the truth of God, for it there were, they would be part of t the Worldwide Church of God. Insisting that God’s true Church is the Worldwide Church of God, he accuses his son of incorporating the Church of God International with a name very close to the Worldwide Church of God as a means of deceiving and, misleading brethren into thinking it’s the same Church.
Yet Armstrong felt no guilt about operating for years as the (pg 122) Radio Church of God prior to the Worldwide Church of God, after he himself withdrew from the Oregon Conference of the Church of God. While he continues to deny having been part of the Church of God Seventh Day at Salem, West Virginia, the Church has in its file the following document containing Herbert Armstrong’s signature: “I am anxious to begin on the ministry which has fallen to me by lot, in the one body, and am determined by the help of the Lord to live and teach the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ as found in Holy Scriptures, and as outlined in the Constitution of the Church of God, with world headquarters at Jerusalem, Palestine. Will you please record this my acceptance, and have credentials issued to me, according to my ministry in the body.”
It is interesting note that not only did Herbert Armstrong receive his credentials as a minster of that organization, but he acknowledged that organization as being “the Body,” meaning the Body of Christ or the true Church. How, then, could he later form another organization and claim it was the true Church? Does that mean that other predecessor organizations ceased to be so, even though they remain in existence? As God’s apostle, does he have the authority over these other organizations? One could run in circles trying to figure out the logic of Herbert Armstrong. But in his own mind the while matter is clear, for he states, “God does not have two churches – only ONE Church that Jesus Christ founded in A.D. 31 and raised up to carry on in OUR time though His own chosen apostle.” If that statement is true, then Herbert Armstrong must have been ordained into the ministry of a false church, in which case his ordination is fraudulent and not only is he not an apostle, but he is not even a minister in the Church of God.
The most incredible aspect of all of this, however, was that Herbert Armstrong’s propaganda was very effective. The Church members, for the most part, believed even more fervently that the Worldwide Church of God was the only true Church, that Herbert Armstrong was God’s Apostle, and that to go against the Church or Herbert Armstrong was to go against God Himself.
Among the ministry, even though for the most part there was a belief in Armstrong’s apostleship, many of them harbored sever doubts about the character and motives of Stanley Rader. Although they supported Rader’s position before their congregations, he became a subject of increasing concern within their own (pg 123) ranks. Many were concerned about what they viewed to be Rader’s heavy influence over Herbert Armstrong. In dealing with this matter, Herbert Armstrong, in an August 21st “Pastor’s Report” characterized such concern as character assassination, evil speaking, and destructive gossip, al of which had to be stamped out of God’s Church. He said that he agreed with Rader’s position that an attack against Rader was an attack against him. An attack against Armstrong was also, according to him, an attack against God. He was now putting forth a doctrine whereby this continuous chain an attack against Rader would be in effect an attack against God. Armstrong said, “But you who have accepted these defaming innuendos against the character of Stan Rader, ANSWER ME THIS: What PROOF – NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER!” He then went on to brag about the qualities of Rader and his exceptional talents and abilities, keen and brilliant mind and his wealth of experience. Armstrong said that Rader had been of inestimable value to God’s Work. He said, “He has been of VALUE to me in my personal activities in the Work beyond description.”
Armstrong continued: “I have known for years the GREAT VALUE of Mr. Stanley Rader’s services. The character assassination spread among some of the ministry against him was, in reality, intended to harm the personal representative and apostle of Jesus Christ – whom HE chose, and for fifty years had USED, in building this entire great Worldwide WORK! One must wonder why Herbert Armstrong would fight so hard to defend Stanley Rader. After all, if a top executive of an organization, no matter how qualified for his position, acts in such a way as to create great dissension among subordinates, then there is a problem which must be dealt with. It just would not make sense to allow an organization to tear itself apart at the seams because of such a problem.
What is interesting in this situation is the fact that while virtually none of the ministry had gone over to the Church of God International and Garner Ted Armstrong, there was still a great concern about Stanley Rader. Armstrong, aware that the ministers would not submit to political suicide by directly confronting him with accusations against Rader said, “If any of you have EVIDENCE or PROOF, of anything, more than hearsay, against Mr. Rader, come (pg 124) forth with it, and I will deal with it. If not, and you still want to go along condemning him, I will be happy to accept your resignation.”
The Rader matter kept seething and building however, and in the December 4th Good News Armstrong dealt with the matter further, in an article entitle, “Answering Smear Stories,” Armstrong reported that Rader said that his health was not up to par and that all the stress and strain was wearing on him and that he felt that he should probably resign. This was a standard tactic of Rader’s to reaffirm his position. Whenever Rader felt that his position was being threatened he would then inform Armstrong that maybe it would be better if he resigned. Of course, each time Armstrong would convince him to stay. The reason according to Armstrong in this article was, “If his health permits I shall plead with him to stay with me, for I NEED HIM AS MY ASSISTANT. He is of inestimable values to the Work. His fruits have been good – actually superb.”
While it would appear that Rader’s periodic requests for permission to resign was for legitimate health reasons, what few realized at the time was it was in effect a veiled threat to Herbert Armstrong. What no one knew at the time that this article appeared was the fact, contrary to his public statements; Herbert Armstrong was finally, this time after months of wrestling with the problem, appearing to remove Rader from his official position in the Church. This, in spite of the fact that only two months earlier in October the Associate Press sent a wire story to the papers throughout the country which called Rader the new crown prince of the Armstrong Empire. According to that article, there could be no doubt that Garner Ted had been a loser in a power struggle and that Rader was firmly entrenched. The article stated, “Four months after the ouster of TV evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong, the troubled Worldwide Church of God has a new crown prince, a formally Jewish lawyer-accountant who could inherit the rich religious empire of Armstrong’s father.” Rader was quoted as saying, “Mr. Armstrong has said publicly very often that I am a son in whom he is well pleased.” This man, the very man who some in the ministry are concerned about, the man who Armstrong is publicly exalting while privately planning to remove, has so displaced Herbert Armstrong’s real son that he now apparently fills that position.
The question of whether or not Rader will succeed Herbert Armstrong (pg 125) is really at the root of the concern among the ministry. Had it not been for Garner Ted’s violent objection, Armstrong would have ordained Rader as a minister on the day that he baptized him. Had that happened, Rader would have been seen at this point as the obvious successor of Armstrong. Now it could be a matter of speculation. But if Armstrong had intended at one time to ordain Rader, might he still do so in spite of his secret desire to remove him? These were problems that Herbert Armstrong would have to deal with and in fact would find that he had little to say about.
On the matter of succession, Rader said, “I don’t feel that it is my calling. I don’t want to be a minister. Of course, several letters have come in recently telling me that Christ was not a minister. He was a carpenter.” A statement such as that on the part of Stanley Rader requires little speculation as to his true motives.
While the Church was being barraged with the Armstrong-Rader propaganda, the program of asset liquidation was well under way. The inoperative Ambassador College campus at Bricket Wood, England was finally sold on September 1978. The property, containing nearly two hundred acres with several buildings, swimming pool, track and other athletic facilities, was sold for approximately $4 million to the General Electricity Generating Board. The London Daily Mail, in reporting the sale of the property, described its history: “Ambassador College, as it now is, started life early this century as the country residence of East Indian Merchant Sir David Huel, a former director of the Midland Bank. In the sixties it was sold to an obscure religious sect.” “Obscure religious sect” –an interesting way for the Church to be described by a British newspaper after millions had been spent on Herbert Armstrong’s world travels so that the Church and its message would be known around the world. Ina nation where Armstrong claimed to be co-hosting a movie premier with the Queen, the Church is reported as being an “obscure religious sect.” One must wonder what Herbert Armstrong did in Britain during his lengthy visits other than ride around in his chauffer-driven Rolls Royce and spend tens of thousands of dollars at Harrods’s
Perhaps Britain was important to Armstrong and Rader as an operating base for which they could conduct activities in other countries. The former wife of a leading church official recalls that in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Herbert Armstrong would boastfully state to her that Rader was taking another trip to France (pg 126) to meet the Princess. Rader was to go to Paris to accompany a princess on shopping trips and then return her in the Church-owned jet to her own country. Sine this activity was not publicized to the Church members, it is hard to conceive how expenditure for such travel can be justified. While Herbert Armstrong was not stingy with the Church’s money when it came to running a taxi service for royalty, his attitude toward average Church members was quit different.
Again, the same woman recalls that while she lived in England with her former husband, while he was a college official, there was an occasion when Church members from the States were visiting Ambassador College in Bricket Wood. These people were planning to return home when Herbert Armstrong coincidently planned to return to the States with the Church jet. On that particular trip, there were few if any others travelling with him, leaving excess available space on board. It was suggested to him that perhaps he could bring these visitors back to the State, since he had extra room. Armstrong’s comment was, “Who are they anyway? They are just Church members. I don’t have time for nobody’s.” While he enjoyed the ego satisfaction of associating with royalty and leading political figures around the world, he had little time for the people who were paying the freight. He was certainly correct when he would say God’s way was the way of outgoing love and concern for others whereas the world’s way was the way of get. However, the example that he set was quite contrary to the message he preached. All this is not new, of course, as it has often been said that ministers don’t practice what they preach. It’s such an old, worn-out cliché, yet it appears that few have carried it to the extreme Herbert Armstrong has.
Along with the sale of the Bricket Wood campus, similar plans were made for the Big Sandy, Texas campus of Ambassador College. On October 31st, Rader announced that the Big Sandy campus would be sold to F. William Menge of Lynchburg, Virginian, and that the property would be used by the James Robinson Evangelistic Association. The entire sixteen-hundred –acre parcel, which included full college facilities, several lavish homes, an operating farm and an airfield capable of handling small jet aircraft, was sold for $10.6 million dollars. There were many who considered this price to be far below its true value and, to top it off, this property for which Herbert Armstrong many (pg 127) years ago asked the people of the Church to sacrifice financially, as he said that God had placed His name there. Such words coming from the apostle would virtually make the Big Sandy campus hallowed ground. Yet it was now being sold at a bargain price to one of the “world’s churches,” that Armstrong often characterized as “Satan’s churches.”
During this same period of time the Church announces plans to dispose of at least two convention properties used for the annual Feast of Tabernacles. This constant process of asset liquidation to cover operating deficits would never be tolerated in a business enterprise, and it certainly would never be tolerated in a church. Here was an organization with tens of millions of dollars in assets and since it was a charitable, non-profit organization, the officers were actually trustees of these properties. They, according to the law, administered the assets, as a trust and had a fiduciary responsibility. Yet Armstrong and Rader would capriciously do as they wished with the asset, as though it was all their own personal property.
Truly the title bestowed upon Rader by the news media, “crown prince of the Armstrong empire,” was fitting, as the entire operation was and still is no more than a personal kingdom with the tithe-paying members of the Church being no more than mere serfs. And as loyal serfs, most of them had so long ago stopped thinking, that they were happy to continue being defrauded.
As one who was by this time a former member planning a lawsuit against the Church leaders, one could say it was no longer any concern of mine if the members didn’t care, but they were not the only ones supporting the activities of t the organization. Over 24 percent of the income to the Church in 1977 was received from non-member contributors. These are people who for one reason or another, having heard the broadcasts or received The Plain Truth or other Church literature, decided to contribute. These contributors consist of occasional contributors known as “donors” and “co-workers” which was a classification given to those contributors who contributed at least twice in a twelve month period. Once one had fallen into the category of “co-worker” he was then on the mailing list for the “co-worker” letters, the propaganda sheets sent out by Armstrong boasting of his fulfilling of the great commission, and soliciting additional financial support. These non-member contributors certainly were not of the same (pg 128) commitment to the organizations were the Church members. In most cases, they merely thought, from the superficial view that they had of the organization, that they were supporting an evangelistic work that was bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, while in many cases not even being in agreement with all the Church’s doctrines.
One fact remains, however. Non-member contributions, as do members, have a right to expect their contributions to be used for the purpose for which they are given. While a rationalization could be made that the members could handle any dispute internally by discussing questions with their ministers, that option is not open to non-members. Therefore, there was no doubt in my mind that even though I had withdrawn from the Church, I still had a duty to pursue this matter. The Worldwide Church of God was a tax-exempt organization receiving certain benefits from the State and Federal Government, including reduced postage rate and the ability to purchase broadcast time on federally licensed broadcast stations. As such, the general public has a right to be protected from misrepresentation.
If an organization wishes to misrepresent itself to members and defraud them, it may be considered an internal matter. Once the general public becomes involved, it is quite another situation.