Saturday, May 7, 2011

Darren Brown: Miracles For Sale (Religious Hucksters)

A friend sent me this link today.  It is quite interesting in how it exposes the fraudulent faith healers in the United States and elsewhere.  California has been filled with these religious charlatans for decades.  We are fertile breeding ground for these fraudulent belief systems.

Soon after I came to Pasadena Peter Popoff hit the news with his charade exposed.  It was close to the time of Jim Jones, WCG's Receivership, and other religious leaders being brought down to their knees because of their lies and deceit.  Soon Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye, Oral Roberts, Tilton, Binny Hinn, and many others had their deception spread across the news for all the world to see.  Binny Hinn is the biggest fraud out there today.  He owns more homes, jets, and cars than HWA ever did.  Yet, he is is exactly like HWA in the way he uses his words, his actions, and his manipulative way of speaking that stirs people to action.

WCG has always been filled with countless stories of miraculous healing.  I wonder how many of them are actually true.  How many have you ever witnessed first hand or were they stories you heard?  While I have no doubt in my mind that miraculous things can happened, I still have to wonder how much of it is mind over matter?  Do we want it to happen so bad that we deceive ourselves that it has?

There Really Was a Bomb in Gilead

There Really Was a Bomb in Gilead

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorI can't imagine the sounds, smells and sights that must occur when a human being walks into the midst of a crowd of fellow humans and explodes among them.  Those clustered closely to the suicide bomber are gone in a flash never to return much less recover.  As you get further from the source of the blast people survive initially but many will die suffering way to much damage to survive long.  Next, and further away yet, we have the severely injured who will have to suffer though months if not years of healing and recovery never really being able to return to whatever normal used to be for them.  Still further away, we have wounded who can recover fairly quickly and yet emotionally and psychologically have to deal with having been there and yet, "for the grace of God, there go I."

When the bomber is a theologian or Bible expounding organization, a few will literally die in the explosion of scandal and theological error recognized or truths thrown out depending on one's perspective.  Messing with the theological hopes and dreams of a person is probably a more dangerous mistake than a literal explosion.  Reckless change forced upon sincere people of faith, as the Tkach's and Company came up with is almost beyond belief.  Endeavoring to change theological ideas that usually take generations and decades minimum to change carefully as the slowest of the slow catch up is organizational suicide.  The WCG foolishly changed course overnight.  History shows us those kinds of changes take much much longer if one is to be kind and caring about those who will suffer through it , "fall away" from these alleged new truths or adjust in some way. 

The Tkaches and those like them should have simply left the organization, given up the benefits and friends and moved on taking spiritual refugee status with another organization of their choice.  However we know this is not what happened.  They walked away with everything we and our parents and even grandparents invested in and claim it for themselves.  As I was told, "Dennis, we can't help you with retirement because Jesus worked out such a great miracle in the church and we lost support."  To which I said, "That stinker Jesus tricked me into his Church and then changed the game from Hockey which I like to Basketball, which I don't?"  I also noted to this minister, who has proven to me at least that changing as needed to get their own retirement works if you don't mind selling your soul.  Of course, he also was failing to mention the funds just received for sale of everything we and our families had built over decades, but I guess he forgot about that.  

I was told by another illuminary of the church who has reaped great reward for his own part in reckless change that receiving anything to maintain a roof over one's head and food would probably depend on staying loyal to the new organization.  

At any rate, my problem.  I made my choices early in my life and, as all of us on many topics, will have to live with them. 

Back to explosions.  In such explosions as we all have been a bit too close to, the wounded do several things.  They simply recover and disappear into lives lived  quietly, they find others who have not been affected by this particular explosion, join them and go on older and wiser for the experience.  They regroup and start their own version of yet another bomb that may go off in their face at sometime in the future but we hope not.  Finally, we have some who reassemble the original bomb, reload it and gather in the wounded promising them it won't go off again but is indeed the true bomb to hang around until it is no longer needed.....send it in.

And then there is another smaller group.  These are those who survive the explosion, spend a decade or two screaming in pain, lashing out at all bombers, provide a place for others of like mind to process this insane experience having lost all faith in all things.....and then reconvert to an original and yet modified form of  the ideas that went sour in the first place and launch themselves on a new path that seeks to reconvert those they gave comfort to in recovering from it. 
Believer/Disbeliever/Rebeliever     More power to them and I have no problem with that because it is a way and part of the journey some have in this search for truth and how to deal with the problem of death for we who are aware we are aware of this reality.

So I ask myself.  "Why can't I do that?"   I don't think you could have found a more sincere kid wanting to know "the truth" way back when I came to read and hear the way WCG viewed the Bible and its message.  I sneaked my AC college application out under my parka in a NY snow storm to mail it so my parents would not see me do it.   Dad and just about every male in my extended family eventually went on to become members, ministers, elders and deacons in WCG with a few deaconesses scattered among us.  

So before this gets too long, what holds me up or makes in seemingly impossible to become a person of faith again?  Here goes....

The fact is that I have found the Bible to be less than inerrant.  It is full of misinterpretations, misprints, misapplications and misunderstandings.  I have done my home work so if you disagree, don't do so with me unless you do yours. 
The story of Jesus is truly the old old story of previous godmengodmen were born on Christmas of virgins and repeat the same astrotheological story of the journey of the Sun through the 12 signs of the Zodiac each year. That is just a fact.  The heavenly story brought down to earth we call the Gospel Story personified.  In short, all religion originates in some, yet similar form of Sun worship.  Jesus and all godmen truly are the light of the world and are such whose power is from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof.  That's because they ARE the Sun.

There is little or no evidence that the grand stories of a cultic people in the Old Testament are true in history, time or space.  And yet all the grand doctrines of the New Testament depend on them being literally true.

The Bible is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy......   And yet, how easy for a real Deity to simply speak up today in the now as it once did.  We know they can.  We never experience it.  Faith seems work only as long as the facts are suppressed.
There is a heavy political war being waged in the Bible, OT and NT between conflicting views of the faith.  Priests against Scribes, Disciples against Apostles and Apostles against each other. 
James, Peter and John hated and disagreed with Paul's view of Jesus.  Paul hated their view, condemned and mocked it.   John told his group to forget about Peter, who denied Jesus, comparing him to Judas who betrayed him.  Paul did the same through his apologist Luke. 

James and Mark's community restored Peter and forgave him. 

Paul, not Jesus is the founder of modern Christianity.

History has little or nothing that notes Jesus ever lived or that at least, that the Jesus of the Gospels did.

The Jesus of the Gospels is not the Jesus of Paul and certainly not the Jesus of Revelation
Jesus Birth stories don't match with most never hearing of them as told in Matthew and Luke.  Mark has no birth story and even one about his family, including his forgetful mother coming to take him home as he was insane.  Paul just says he was born of a woman. Which is it?

The Bible has been heavily edited at times to reflect the winners. I am supposed to trust the understanding of people who see flashing lights in their heads others don't see.  Hear voices others don't hear and claim to have been to the third heaven but are not willing to tell me about it because only he could hear and see what he heard and saw.  

I'm supposed to have faith in prophets whose prophecies failed and whose personal behaviors look like mental illness at best.  

Many of the books of of the Bible, OT and NT were not really written by those whose names are affixed.

Religion, and especially Christianity seems to make its leaders particularly prone to weakness, sin and scandal.  (Please understand, members are also prone to this. We all have the prones.  But when the member is prone, forgiveness is abundant and just part of the game.  When the minister is prone, he gets eaten alive and spit out in shame and a lifetime of mocking becomes the norm.  

The men who are said to have walked, talked  and lived around Jesus are not the men who get to make up the meaning of Jesus.  The man, Paul, who never met Jesus in real life and for whom Jesus was a hallucinatory experience and voice with occasional light in his head gets to decide just what the truth of Jesus was and is.  That makes me very uncomfortable. 

No one seems to know just what exactly did happen after Jesus death. The Resurrection accounts are muddled, contradictory and unfixable.  In short, they are contrived for whatever reason and by whomever. 

I don't believe it is fair to people to expect them to believe the most important ideas in history as life saving truth when they have not experienced it or known the players personally or else go to hell.   Salvation or damnation by hearsay seems wrong to me. 

Salvation by execution seems unreal to me.

Not being able to forgive without the shedding of blood seems strange to me.
Believing humans who got the story from others who got it from others who got it from others doesn't seem trustworthy to me.

Blaming me for the Original Sin of mythological people and a talking snake seems risky and unfair and a bit bizarre to me. 

The main OT character of Moses, who brought the big ten down from the mountain noting one is not to make images of things above the earth, on the earth or beneath, who then makes the image of serpent to hold up for the people to be healed from snakebite seems odd to me.

It bothers me that after receiving the Big Ten , including, "you shall do no murder/kill," orders "every man to kill his neighbor and in that day 3000 died," for looking to a golden calf for some answers and help after he disappeared into the wilderness for 40 days.  I'd think he was dead by now too.  Golden Calf?  Serpent?  What's the diff?

And a whole lot more stuff like this.  I simply can't dismiss it or just have faith in it as presented. The stakes are too high being wrong one's entire life. Or maybe they aren't.  Maybe it's just how Earth School works. 

I honor the journey of those who get blown up, get skeptical, recover somewhat and reconvert.  It's what humans do to process pain and yet still need meaning.  They are , however, no better a person than those who still struggle or can't reconvert, now or perhaps ever to the story.

People handle the above problems by finding a place where their problems can be addressed or at least not cared about.  I can't physically sit and listen to a man or woman expound on the scripture knowing they have done their homework or have repressed their findings.  

There is seat for every butt in religion and perhaps we spend our lives looking for that perfect fit regardless of whether it is literally true or not. 

I have found that those who are the most sincere get the most damaged when disillusioned by the failure of product specs. For better or worse, faith does suffer when the facts present themselves.  Facts can be faced, denied or tweeked and messengers can be disregarded, made fun of or dismembered, but we still need them both. 

Thanks for listening.  I'm going to endeavor to write less about these things unless they are actually helpful to those of us who have survived the explosion we found ourselves in the varying vicinities of when first we believed. 
Dennis C. Diehl

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Salvation Is Only Available Through HWA

There are various web sites and blogs that just salivate at the mere name of Herbert W. Armstrong.  To them HWA is as important as Jesus Christ, and more so at times.  Jesus was an impotent little man who was unable to restore God's word to the earth.  That impotency lasted for 1,900 until HWA arrived on the scene reacting to a nightmare his wife had about the Sabbath.  We all know the path of destruction and human tragedy that has been left in the wake of this nightmare.

Families destroyed, marriages broken up, hundreds of suicides, unnecessary deaths, doctrinal confusion, close to 700 harlot daughters of his original church, and more.

That is all glossed over though by some of his more rabid followers.  Just look at the following comment today on Yahoo.  It is frightening to see the veneration and worship by these people of HWA.  Ancestor worship in China and Japan does not hold a candle to this kind of worship!

According to these people salvation is only possible through HWA.

I have to wonder just how many of God`s people have so soon forgotten that it was our great God who inspired Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, His Apostle, in this end time, who restored the truths of God, and to open all of our minds, including every Evangelist, every minister, as well as every one of us, to truth that is so necessary for our salvation!!! Truths that could not have been heard before, having received them from Mr. Armstrong!! Not only for our salvation but to educate us to be there as a part of His government to help those at Christ`s return for their salvation, as well as to be there for those on that "Last Great Day" to help them to receive their salvation!!! Will some be left out,  and behind, because of refusal to accept the truths that God has given us from His Apostles, including His last Apostle, Mr. Armstrong?!!
  Mr. Armstrong gave us these truths out of love for us and I believe that F___ O____ also gave us this forum with his love for us in upholding those truths!! I have tried to support Mr. Armstrong`s teachings and  F____ O____ desire to pass those teachings on when I succeeded him in the ownership of this forum. When someone asks to be a part of this forum, I basically ask two important questions: "Do you accept the teachings of Mr. HWA and do you believe that he restored the truths of God?!" I will say that about 99% never answered which tells me that they don`t believe, and this forum is apparently not for them!!
  I again ask, "Have some so soon forgotten?" I had posted, previously, the list of sermons that I keep in my favorites column that my wife and I keep listening to over and over again! I don`t know if any of you have kept the website for reference but I will repost it for those of you who would want to keep for your important salvation!! That posting will follow for those of you who are interested!

The Truth Shall Make You Free: Chapter 15 Propaganda and Sit-ins

Chapter 15  Propaganda and Sit-ins

(pg 225) Rader found that those who viewed Armstrong as the apostle would rally behind him.  A show of complete loyalty on the part of the deceived members of the Church was all he needed.  Through his manipulation of these people, he would be able to thwart and frustrate the authorities for quite some time.
Over the weekend, a letter over Herbert Armstrong’s signature was prepared for mailing to the membership.

Dated January 14th, it was run off secretly late that evening and early the following morning in an attempt to circumvent the receiver.  Earl Timmons was immediately made aware of the letter by one of his contacts within the Church. The letter was nothing more than a blatant attempt to circumvent the court order.

Starting with his traditional tactic of striking fear in the hearts of the members, Armstrong opened his letter: “Satan has struck his master blow to destroy God’s Church.  We must now FIGHT as never before, knowing God will also fight our battles with us.”  He then went on to claim that the State of California had appointed a receiver who’s purpose was to take over God’s tithe money and to destroy God’s Church.  He also claimed that the State had given the receiver the right to remove him as Pastor General from the Church.  That statement was a complete lie and totally contrary to the ruling handed down by Judge Title.
Claiming that the tithes sent to Pasadena would be used by the (pg. 226) State and not by the Church,

Armstrong continued:

“…Meanwhile I ask you to stand solidly by Christ’s chosen Apostle!  So, until I notify you otherwise, please go ALL OUT in support of GOD’S CHURCH AND WORK now.  I have to ask you to SACRIFICE AS NEVER BEFORE.  Send the most generous offerings it is possible for you to send to defend God’s Work.

And please state in your letter, in your own words, that this money is your ENDORSEMENT OF MY APOSTLESHIP, AND THE MONEY IS TO BE USED FOR DEFENDING GOD’S WORK AS I, Christ’s Apostle, deem best.”  

Continuing in his plea for total sacrifice on the part of the membership, he said:


                Herbert W. Armstrong
                c/o General Delivery
    Tucson, Arizona 85731

With their immediate attempts to circumvent the court order it became quickly obvious that Armstrong and Rader were going to fight to the bitter end.  Chodos summed it up quite well in a statement to Earl Timmons when he said that Rader reminded him of the women who wanted Solomon to have the baby but in half. He said he felt that if Rader couldn’t destroy the Church for himself, he would do everything he could to destroy it.

As a result of Timmons immediate knowledge of the preparation of this letter, he was able to bring a copy to Judge Weisman first thing in the morning. Weisman immediately sought a court order from Judge Title backing up his decision to embargo the letters at the Pasadena post office.  Of 85,000 letters that had been printed, only approximately 25,000 entered the mail system.

Not to be thwarted, however, Church officials immediately implemented another plan.  They resorted to what was known as the telephone hotline, or round-robin system.  Through this system messages can be gotten to the entire Church membership within only a matter of hours. Headquarters personnel phoned the local ministers and read to them the key points of Armstrong’s letter.  It only remained then for the local ministers to phone a few people in each congregation passing on the information.  Through this chain of events, these individuals would then phone a group that each of them had on their list and again in one more step, each of (pg. 227) those individuals would make the final contacts and all Church members would have the message.  The sense of urgency conveyed by this telephone message of soliciting the money be sent directly to Armstrong in Tucson was probably more effective than the letter would have been.

Church members now being told to commit acts of violation of government authority had complexly forgotten or ignored what they had read in Church publications and in the very Scriptures in which they claim to believe.  But Armstrong, the master of mind manipulation soon had millions of dollars pouring into the post office at Tucson, Arizona.  Yet, by the words of his own publication, The Plain Truth, he is condemned.  In a pamphlet reprinted from a 1973 edition of The Plain Truth the Church issued an article written by Dr. Hoeh, entitled “Respect Government Authority.”  Besides quoting again from Romans 13, Dr. Hoeh wrote:  “Anyone who resists the authority of human government is actually rebelling against God who ordained that authority.”

Regarding our attitude towards government officials, he said, “It is a common practice for people to resist government regulations and to accuse office holders, whether the president or the corner policemen.  This supposed ‘right’ of the people is abominably misused.  There is a righteous limit to the ‘freedom’ of speech.”

And in his conclusion, he stated, “God has established earthly governments to keep order until His Kingdom comes.  It is your commanded duty to submit to their authority patiently, excusing the obvious faults inherent in human leadership.  No human government can be perfect; it may even be required of you by God to suffer unjustly when you have to obey God rather than man.”

From this point on, the entire affair began to degenerate into a circus of total resistance of authority on the part of the Church leadership.

On January 16, the Church attorneys appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Firth with a petition asking that he declare the Los Angeles Superior Court decision regarding the receivership, unconstitutional.  They also filed a suit for seven hundred million dollars in damages against the State Attorney General and other court officers. Throughout the court proceedings, (pg. 228) Church members picketed and prayed outside the Federal Court House.  Judge Firth refused to interfere and said, “It is obvious at this stage that it would be foolish to intrude the Federal court into the proceedings taking place in State Courts. “  The seven-hundred-million-dollar lawsuit against the State was later to be thrown out of court.

The following day, it became necessary for a debugging team to sweep the entire Church headquarters, as phones and offices had been bugged, making it almost impossible for court officers to function without Rader being aware of what they were saying.  The Church-employed guards, who were supposed to cooperate withy the authorities, instead served as a constant obstruction to their efforts to conduct an audit and investigate the charges of malfeasance. It was necessary for Judge Weisman to hire his own guards at a cost of $2,600 per day.

Weisman had hired as his chief operating officer a man well experienced in affairs of this nature. He was A. Sheridan Atkinson, a well known Christian businessman.  At various times he had served as chairman of the board of various major corporations, usually as someone hired to straighten out companies when they were in extreme difficulty. One of the most notable companies that he had headed was Botany 500, having been hired by a group of stockholders in order to preserve the assets of the corporation during its Chapter XI bankruptcy proceedings.

Atkinson said to several people, “I believe that God has sent me here to fight Satan.  I have fought the mob before, and I fought Satan before, and actually I’ve even fought Stanley Rader before.  A different face and a different name perhaps, but I have fought him before. And I won’t back down.  My reputation as a Christian and as a business man is well known and I have a duty to fulfill here.”

By January 19th, security had totally broken down according to Atkinson, and vital assets, including gold bullion, coins, expensive paintings, computer tapes, were feared to be missing.  All of these items were known to exist, but it was impossible for Atkinson to gain access to them.  Church leaders were able to exercise total control over employees, since they were under fear of being disfellowshipped and fired from their jobs if they cooperate with the receiver.  Had it not been for several employees who were secretly cooperating, things would have been even much more difficult.

(pg. 229) On January 18th, Judge Weisman wrote a letter to Herbert Armstrong advising him of the facts regarding the court order. He said in his letter: “I am writing this letter hoping that whatever problems there may be may be resolved in a spirit of cooperation for all concerned.” He then offered to meet Armstrong at anyplace, at any time, to resolve any misunderstanding.  Predictably, the letter was ignored.  It is even doubtful if Armstrong actually ever saw the letter.

The same day, a letter was sent to the Church membership from Armstrong and his letter now carried a box number address in Tucson, Arizona.  Attempting to strike fear in the hearts of the members, he informed them that the very life of the God’s Church hung in the balance. He accused Judge Weisman of attempting to take the Church over himself.  He continued claiming this is a satanic attempt to destroy the Church and then began to blame the entire matter on his son, claiming that it was a conspiracy brought about by his son in an attempt to destroy him.  In one of his most typical ways of raising large sums of money coupled with his direction to send money to him in Tucson, he proclaimed a day of fasting on January 27th. Predictably, the people fasted and the money poured in.

During that same time period, Rader set the stage for a possible fight by the Church by issuing an announcement that Church headquarters would be moved out of Californian. While this never actually took place in totality, he financial functions of the Church were permanently moved to Tucson.  Everything was then made ready, just in case any further moves were determined necessary by the leaders.

While all this was taking place, I heard that Wayne Cole had tape recorded his December phone conversation with Herbert Armstrong.  Supposedly, the comments made by Herbert Armstrong regarding Stanley Rader were on these tapes.  I decided to call Cole to see if he had in fact made such tapes.

On January 21st, I phoned him and his wife answered.  She said that he was not taking any calls, that he was physically ill over the entire situation and just didn’t want to have anymore to do with it.  I suggested to her the possibility of the existence of tape recordings of the December conversations.  I could tell that it was a sensitive subject and she didn’t want to discuss it.  Finally, she did promise that if he felt better later in the day, he would call me back.

(pg. 230)  By late afternoon, having not yet heard from him, I decided that I had to force the issue. I called again. The response was the same. His wife, who answered the phone, said that he did not want to speak to me.  I then said, “I understand that he has both notes and actual recordings of conversations with Herbert Armstrong. I had hoped that he would be willing to turn them over in order to avoid the need to be subpoenaed.”

Apparently, that statement was sufficient to bring him to the phone. After some conversation, Cole agreed to turnover the notes and the tape.  Within he next couple of days, his notes of the conversations were in the possession of Hillel Chodos and the tape recordings were in the possession of the producers of 60 Minutes.

To this day, I don’t know the means of conveyance of these items from Cole to their final destination.  The cloak-and-dagger aspects of this situation, particularly since it involves a church, are almost impossible to believe.  Yet it was necessary that much information be secretly passed at rendezvous points in the dark of night.  Many people had been threatened, and Earl Timmons had been told by Church members that they just couldn’t wait to get him against the wall and shoot him.

Suddenly we could see history being relived.  During the Crusades, when the apostate Church at Rome was trying to spread its brand of paganized Christianity throughout Europe, people were killed fro refusing to bow their knee to the Pope. But that just seemed like so much distant history.  Now in 1979, brothers in the Church were threatening other brothers with murder.  Thankfully, it never happened.  But then again one never knows what the coming months and years may bring. These events certainly put quite an impact on what the apostle John said in the Book of John 16:2, “Yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God a service.”

Armstrong and Rader were trying very hard to press the issue of trying to force the officials to precipitate violence.  They wanted martyrs.

Starting on January 21st, all-day sit-ins were conducted in the Ambassador auditorium and the various Church office buildings.  By the following day there were over 2,400 people gathered, including children whose parents were instructed to keep out of school.  The buildings were locked and signs were posted on the (pg. 231) doors, “Worldwide Church of God Ecclesiastical Service.”  Armstrong spoke to the gathered people over telephone lines from Tucson. He said, “Being subject to the laws doesn’t always mean to obey them. I wonder if people aren’t going to have to go to jail.”

His tactic and his psychology was no different that that used by Martin Luther King, when after making similar statements, riots ensued.  This was the very same type of conduct that Armsrong was condemning not too many years back.

By Wednesday morning, January 24th, the situation had all of the potential of a Kent State disaster.  And that is exactly what Armsrong and Rader wanted.  Uniformed deputies escorted Sheridan Atkinson to the administration building.  His entrance was barred by doors that had been locked by timbers which had been placed through the door handles. Members inside were singing hymns.  Outside the door, a deacon, Wayne Pyle, yelled at Atkinson, “If you want to come in you’re going to have to break the door down.  You will have to arrest us. You are our enemy, but we’ll pray for you. We’ll pray for God to take care of you.”

Atkinson was fine example of Christianity in its practical application. He tried to reason with Pyle, and said that he was a Christian and believed in moderation in all things. Instead of giving a command to break down the door, he held up a copy of Judge Title’s order and an open Bible and said, “I believe in the same God they do, but they ought to red the 13th Chapter of Romans.”  Standing before news camera was a representative of the courts conducting himself as a true Christian and speaking the words of Christ to a group of people who were making an absolute mockery of the Gospel.

Exercising the utmost restraint, Weisman decided not to use the two hundred riot-equipped deputies and Pasadena Police officers who had been assembled at a nearby park in the event they were given the command to break down the doors. He sent a message to Rader: “I have so much respect for religious freedom and the right not to interfere with that I would like to work out something that respects your religious freedom.”  A meeting was held and a compromise was reached.

Later that afternoon Rader escorted Weisman into the administration building. A short while later, when Weisman left, Rader, in a complete about-face, said to the assembled group of Church members, “There is no peace, there is till a war. Not until (pg. 232) we get the attorney general punched out and the receiver punched out will there be peace.  We’re still in a state of all out war.  We’ve been invaded by an army of the State of California.  There were one hundred fifty armed members of the sheriff’s force ready to break down the doors.”

In spite of this statement, however, Rader had apparently decided to back down somewhat.  For, by the following day, the demonstration was over, the entire premises left in a shambles by people who had always prided themselves as being ones who should show care and consideration for property.

During the same week that the demonstration was in progress at the Church headquarters in Pasadena, Herbert Armstrong was holding a ministers conference in Tucson. This conference, which had been officially scheduled to take place at the Auditorium in Pasadena, had been hastily moved.  Armstrong had no intention of coming to California.  For someone who said he had wanted to cooperate with authorities, he was using maximum effort to stay out of their reach. Prior to the conference, there had been rumors that many of the leading ministers and area coordinators were going to speak out at the conference in support of the Attorney General.  It was said that maybe they could bring the entire matter to a head and get Herbert Armstrong to remove Rader.

By this time, the smokescreen of the Church versus state had been so well thrown up by Armstrong and Rader that many people were totally deceived by the true issues. Approximately 550 ministers gathered for the conference.  And true to form, no one spoke out against Armstrong.

One can only conclude that these men are ministers of convenience rather than ministers of conviction.  Apparently, they were brought up in an educational environment and a career that is so sheltered, so attached to Herbert Armstrong that they stand in absolute fear of having to earn a living under the same conditions as the members to whom they are supposed to be shepherds.  Armstrong, in his address to the ministers said, “This attack has come on the Church because I represent Jesus Christ, and this world doesn’t love Jesus Christ.”  Ministers who knew better than to believe that sat silently and listened.  Most of the conference consisted of Armstrong attacks on what he labeled “liberal dissidents” and those who said he had tried to change the Church and take its control away from him.

Roderick Meredith, however, decided to use the conference as an opportunity to undermine Rader. His purpose was not that altruistic, as he felt that he was the one who should be in charge of the Church next to Armstrong, and he was anxious to make a move.  There had been a rumor regarding Rader that had not yet been widely spread. In order to make sure everyone knew the rumor, Meredith decided to publicly deny the rumor. He then announced to the entire assembled group of ministers that all of the allegations regarding Rader’s homosexual conduct with Cornwall were false.  Now everyone knew the story.  And while Rader remained totally silent on the subject he would have the final word on Meredith.

A few months later, Rader was to have Meredith removed by convincing Armstrong to eliminate the position of head of the ministry and take it himself.

On January 26th, Sheridan Atkinson resigned as the receiver’s chief operating officer.  Apparently, Weisman considered Atkinson not sufficiently sensitive to some of the problems and Atkinson claimed he had found it best to resign as he was being thwarted by politics.  He said that he was totally unable to get anything done and that he had a reputation of achievement.  He said if he were going to be ineffective in his positions, it was better that he resign.  Atkinson said that he had even heard that there was a strong possibility that he may find himself on a hit list as a result of his involvement.

Again on January 29th, Browne was back in Federal Court with another attempt to get Judge Firth to remove the receivership.  He was unsuccessful.  Hillel Chodos pointed out that the constitutional rights argument was just a smokescreen, a series of trumped-up charges, an attempt to thwart the receiver.  He said, “You cannot perpetrate fraud in the name of religion and then wrap yourself in the flag and call out the name of the First amendment.”

He said that Browne, in effect, was saying, “If a man comes into court and says ‘stealing is my religion’ there’s nothing you could do about it.”  And through all this Rader continued to conduct himself in a way totally contrary to that of a Church leader.

Referring to Deputy Attorney General Tapper, he said, “I think the Attorney General is paranoid. We were in the same class. I was at the top and he was an also-ran.  HE was out to get me.  I’m going to make the Attorney General eat those words.”

From this point on the entire receivership settled down into a (pg. 234) lengthy, tedious legal battle.  There were constant trips in and out of the court room, too numerous to mention.  Several attempts were made by Rader to appeal to the Federal courts without success.  A petition was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to have the state’s action reversed on the grounds of the first amendment prohibiting against government establishment of religion.

Judge Weisman later resigned his position as receiver, as his health did not permit him to withstand the rigors of the job.  After numerous court proceedings, at this writing, the Church is under orders to provide all documents to the Attorney General’s office as deemed necessary for the purpose of the investigation.

While all these court battles were taking place, Rader used every attempt to frustrate those he considered to be his enemies. HE filed a $550 million lawsuit against Garner Ted Armstrong. Then his accounting firm filed a $13 million suit against Garner Ted. Both suits were thrown out of court as legally deficient. And then there was the $13 million suit that Rader filed against Deputy Attorney General Tapper and Hillel Chodos. Chodos’ response was, ‘This complaint will be given the attention it deserves.”

Though all this, Rader’s troubles, however, were to continue to grow.  Soon after the initiation of the receivership, the IRS advised him that he was under criminal investigation.  Whether or not Rader had had a prior investigation was no longer important.  This time the investigation was initiated from the grass roots, and would be very difficult in not impossible to stop.

Through all the demonstrations, sit-ins and other unchristian conduct, Church officials acted as though the 13th Chapter of Romans did not apply to them.  Yet, in April 1957, the following was written in The Plain Truth, “We must all be subject to the laws of our land and to its court decisions.  WE MUST NOT RESIST AUTHORITY.  We are not to participate in boycotts in order to force officials to change their policy.”

There can be no doubt that Armstrong and Rader knowingly and willfully manipulated the minds of their members in such a way that these people became totally contrary in their conduct to the teachings of the very Bible in which they profess to believe. In fact, in 1948, when the Church was originally incorporated as the radio Church of God, Armstrong considered obedience to law so important, that in the Covenant portion of the Church constitution and by-laws, he wrote: “having been called through the will of God to (pg. 235) this special ministry for this time in the service of Jesus Christ our Lord we do now in the presence of Almighty God and this assembly most solemnly enter into a COVENANT with Almighty God our Heavenly Father, and with one another, in the name of Jesus Christ; to walk circumspectly in the world, to be subject to the laws and government  of our nation, to pray for the president and leaders of the national government, to be careful to give a good account of ourselves at all times before the world in order that we may win, so far as within us lies as Christians the respect and approbation of he world, to avoid the appearance of evil or placing a stumbling block before others, to practice the Great Command; “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself” with charity towards all and malice towards none, following the example of Jesus Christ by the faith and in the power of His Spirit.”

Not only has Herbert Armstrong broken his covenant with God, but he has induced others to do the same.  In II Peter 2:1, Peter speaks plainly about such things.  He says:  “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privally shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some Non-COG News

Fearing to Question Faith

Fearing to Question Faith

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorIf you wish to see the good, the bad and the ugly side of people of faith, just question the faith. I was a pastor soaking in Christianity and the Bible for three decades. I heard, read and studied all the plain and simple truth in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I can tell you the truth is neither plain nor simple and rather liked Paul's description of it all as being "the present truth." At least calling truth something that is currently understood gives some wiggle room for those times which shall come to grow a bit in the grace and knowledge that most Christians think they are open minded enough to really do. Most I know grow neither in grace, unless they attach a few dozen laws that you must keep to be one of the good people, nor knowledge which seems to scare the bejesus out of them when they really run up against it.

I fully understand the anxiety caused when faith fails and why questioning it causes no end to grief and strong reaction. As humans, we are aware of our awareness.  We know we will die.  That is troubling and we spend large parts of our life in denial of that.  Faith, any Faith that assures us that we will go on after death, even faith in quantum physics and the non-religious possibilities are all held on to so that our anxiety is kept at bay. It is why people argue and fight over religion.  If you are able to plant doubt in my mind about my faith, Mr. Anxiety returns and I will do almost anything to keep that from happening.  Religion calms our anxious souls from the meaning of impending death and dissolution of the body.  We get rather fond of living and know we are fond of living.

I had little satisfaction as a student asking questions of the WCG teachers and "theologians."  A question well put and not in line with current or rather cemented truth could get you put on the pastor's terrorist watch list.  The best answer I ever heard to a question was when HWA was asked, "who are the Two Witnesses?"  He said,  "Joe Blow and Harry Smith!"   I have met many Joe Blows along the way since then.  As a pastor, and in hindsite, I realize when I was asked questions, I either answered as expected (and believed true) and felt a bit threatened if the question was outside the box of what I understood at the time.  However, most members were not good question askers.  You have to know what questions to ask to ask a good one.  Some asked, especially publically, to show off how much they had studied and were merely kiss up to the pastor.  Those were easy to spot.

By far, the writings I have done that have proven to be the most popular for the open minded and enraging for those who enjoy that frame of mind a bit less, have been on Questions Your Pastor Will Hate. Many appreciate the questions and admit that they too have had the same questions as they sincerely study the text of the Bible stories and accounts of varied topics. These are the people who see the politics behind the texts. They admit that James and Paul really did bash heads and Peter was bashed by Luke and John as one who was totally unworthy of any authority in the church. Judas had betrayed Jesus and Peter had denied him, so that's pretty much the end of them in the eyes of John, Luke and Paul.

The story of Annias and Sapphira in Acts 5 is not a story about Peter killing two church members for not coughing up all the money they had "pledged" to the church. It is a spoof that the readers of Luke and Paul's community would understand of the buffoon Peter who, like the two church members who said they would give something to the church and didn't, said he'd never leave Jesus and fled. Peter who said he'd do one thing and did another is now punishing a couple who said they'd do one thing and did another. It was hilarious and a poke at Peter the Pathetic according to Luke and Paul.

 John mentions Peter three times in his Gospel and each time sandwiches Peter stories between two comments about Judas. The point is not missed on the original audience as is the story of Peter being forgiven three times by Jesus tacked on to the end of John's Gospel to show Peter is just as able to be forgiven as anyone else. (Side note: A really fascinating possibility is that the 21st chapter of John is the Missing ending of the pro-Peter Gospel of Mark. Mark is known to have no good ending to the Jesus story. It's ending has been added to make up for the bummer ending at Mark 16:8. John, on the other hand, has two obvious endings in chapter 20, the real ending and chapter 21, the forgive Peter ending.)

At any rate, to question the story is to run great risk of abuse at the hands of the faithful who need the stories to be literally true as they learned in Sunday School and that all the characters of the New Testament Church loved each other in Jesus and got along famously in the faith. That is very far from reality, but don't question it.
I can't tell you how many, while not near as many as those who appreciate the inquiry, take the time to write and remind me I will change my mind when I am frying in the fires of Hell in the judgment. No one has bothered to answer one question posed, but they just know I should go to hell for asking it. Some who write are subtle in their warnings to me. Some sound like a human form of God who will warn me to "gird up my loins" (my loins are just fine) and get ready to answer, but that's where it ends. I guess they feel God himself is about to break out upon me for asking questions about the faith. So far so good. Some talk to me like I imagine Moses talked to the Children of Israel when he was really angry at them in God's name. Some are not so subtle as one reminded me that "Dennis, words can get you killed." Well the history of religion that does not appreciate questions proves that!

Is it wrong to notice the inconsistencies, errors, goofs, bad science, poor examples, contradictions, animosities, politic and real history of the Bible? Depends who you ask. Those who believe that none of those things exist in the Holy Book would shout "yes!" In my view, the answer is "no it is not." Why is it OK and even something one should demand of their honest selves? Because ideas have consequences. Because the stories and ideas expressed in the texts are used to control people in various life circumstances. Because some use the mythologies of the Bible to make up literally real laws that effect women and children, and generally not in a good way. Because many are kept in fear, guilt and life long shame being reminded way too often that they, as a human, are worthless without divine intervention. Being born right the first time, as I have said in the past, is a truth that is kept far from their consciousness.

It is always right to ask questions about that which seems like it deserves to have a question asked. If you can't imagine Joshua raising his hands and stopping the earth from rotating without planet wide consequences...just ask your Pastor how can that be. Of course be ready to hear, "with God all things are possible," which is not what you asked. If you can't picture penguins and polar bears ambling down to the middle east to get on the Ark, just ask your Pastor about that. If you wonder where dinosaurs or Homo Erectus fit in, just ask your Pastor. The answer might be ill informed, but it's ok to ask.

If you notice that Paul never quotes Jesus, yet gets to write most of the NT heavy meaning of Jesus, just ask. If you notice that Paul thinks Peter, James and John, the disciples of Jesus don't seem to have anything Paul needs to learn from them and he learns nothing from them, and think that's kinda strange...just ask.  When Paul says he learned nothing from Peter, James and John and the Jerusalem types, I have to admit, it took me back a bit.  Paul seems somewhat of a loon to me now.

 If you notice the Birth or Resurrection of stories as written in the Gospels don't match very well and seem contradictory, just ask. If you say "they seem to be contradictory," be prepared to have the word "seem" jumped upon, but you still have the right to ask. I'm not saying you'll get a good or correct answer. You might, but probably not. But you have the right to ask. And you certainly have the right to notice the many problems in the Bible if you know the Bible well enough to notice in the first place.
If you wonder why the five women in Jesus family line are all fallen women, just ask.  It is fascinating. 
If it ever crossed you mind that Jesus death was not the worst in history. Thousands were crucified in far more terrible ways than Jesus.

If you wonder why, if Jesus knew he was coming back in three days and God knew he would get him back better than ever in three days, that was such a great sacrifice for God or Jesus, just ask.  If the thought "weekend inconvenience at best," or "shouldn't a real sacrifice stay dead,"  or " Every type of sacrifice in the Bible that is said to point to Jesus stayed dead, why not this one?"  just ask.   I am not being disrespectful. These are questions I was asked and I had to think them through long and hard. 

What do you tell a teen who asks "If Mary was not married to anyone when she got pregnant and God, who didn't marry her either,  got her pregnant, did God commit fornication?"   Go ahead, give it your best shot.  How about, "If God impregnated Mary but she was pregnant "by the Holy Spirit, the Third Person according to some ...what's that all about?"

One thing is for sure. If you are a genuine seeker and you truly notice that the Bible has some real problems with what we truly know today about many topics and even within itself in the form of many contradictions and editing done by one to correct the problems of the other, it's ok to ask. A real seeker cannot not notice what they notice. You can't go back to the lame apologetics that many offer to explain away the problem as if there is no problem. You can't unsee what you do see. You can't unring a bell. also have the right to expect not to be penalized for asking in the first place. Just don't count on it.

Dennis C. Diehl

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's A Sin To Say 'Happy Birthday' to the King James Bible

Stupid comments on COG related sites never fail to amaze me. It's no wonder Armstrongism is looked upon with such derision by the world!

The King James version of the Bible is currently celebrating it's 400th Birthday. There are all kinds of official celebrations going on around the world.  However, not so in Charlotte South Carolina where God currently dwells. In true hypocritical COG fashion, Bob Thiel points out that it is a sin to celebrate birthdays as the one and only true Church, the Living Church of God believes.

The King James Version, translation of the textus receptus into English happened four hundred years ago.  Here is some of what Fox reported:

Happy 400th Birthday to the King James Bible
– The Most Influential Book in the English Language
FOX News – May 2, 2011
The poetic power of the King James Bible is part of our heritage. Around the world people have been comforted by the words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” They have been challenged by, “Be strong and of good courage.” They have celebrated with the proclamation, “Fear not . . . For unto you is born in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
The early 16th century was a tumultuous time in Britain.
Fifty-four scholars labored nearly seven years. In spite of its title page saying that the KJV was “newly translated,” the committees were instructed to follow the Bishops’ Bible when possible. Because the Bishops’ Bible depended on the work of Tyndale, more than 80% of the KJV is Tyndale’s wording. The KJV was published in 1611 and within 50 years it was the dominant English translation of the Bible—a position it held for 300 years.

Of course, early Christians never celebrated their own birthdays, but I kept the headline because the KJV Bible probably was the most influential book in the English language.

This one is a pretty good whitewash of King James, but still interesting.

New Government In Canada A Sure Sign Of The Endtimes

Bob Thiel, apologist extraordinaire for Spanky Meredith, has made another prediction.  You would think after the hundreds of failed prophecies and predictions made by Rod Meredith that Thiel would learn to control his tongue.  But no. 

Thiel says that the current shake up in the Canadian government is a sure sign that we are close to the end times.  Canada is set to suffer horrendous persecution according to Armstrongite mythology with invading German armies, meathooks, concentration camps and torture galore.

Or will it be the Chinese?  Or the Muslims?  Armstrongism has been filled with all kinds of deadly scenarios in the last few years.

How might Stephen Harper help fulfill Bible prophecy?  But here are some key points to consider:
  1. We are getting close to the end of God’s 6.000 years for humans to rule themselves their way in Satan’s world.
  2. Canada will experience the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21, the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).
  3. Because of the timing of him being in office, Stephen Harper’s very presence (as well as his planned and unplanned actions) should be enough to enable the fulfillment of various end-time prophecies.
  4. Getting the majority government he wanted, means that he will have more influence than he has had so far in office.

Despite having natural resources and many overseas international trading partners, because of its geographic location, its economic history, and what is recorded in biblical prophecy, Canada is tied in with the United States of America.
To a great degree, Canada is expected to share the fate of the USA, which ultimately will not be good.

A God Eager To Zap You

Apostle Malm is all indignant today concerning those that profane his so called 'sabbath'.  A reader of his site posted the following comment which they both obviously take great delight in seeing what happened to one of the cooks. 

It seems that a COGWA congregation held a potluck/dance during UB.  What irritates the writer and Apostle Malm is that they cancelled Sabbath services that day so that those who were driving a long distance could meet together in fellowship with a potluck and a dance.

But their biggest offense was that on the last day of UB several men cooked turkey, lamb and briskets to feed the congregation gathered for the last 'holy' day of UB.  Pay particular attention to the last sentence.  In the writers mind and in Apostle Malm, is evidence of God's righteous judgement in action for all the church to see!  Profane the 'holy day' and suffer God's wrath!

The Sabbath before last day of Unleavened Bread, all services in North Carolina were canceled. ( COGWA )  A catered meal was planned $20.00 per person  children free.  And a dance that night. There were  190 or more present. Arranged by Ron Kelly. It was held  in Burlington N C.  A long Sabbath drive for many.

Then on last day Unleavened Bread a great feast was held in the Raleigh area. Several men cooked meat and trimmings for 85 app.  Turkeys lamb and beef brisket was cooked on the High Day. 80 lbs of meat and all was eaten as reported to me per my inquiry. This is the congregation that Clyde Kilough pastors. Just learned  that the  gentleman doing the cooking had a mild heart attack and has to see a cardiologist.

Then Apostle Malm goes on with another snipe at a UCG elder that cracked a joke on the night of UCG's 'passover.'

 It is also reported that a certain overseer of a Passover service in UCG BI was busy cracking jokes and appeared less than sober at the Passover.
This seems consistant with the general fixation on personal pleasure and pollution of the Sabbath and Holy Days extant in most COGs today.

Thank goodness I easily understood that all this law keeping silliness was not required of Church members when the changes started happening.  The sad part is watching people who had a knee jerk reaction and now are far more legalistic than WCG ever was.  They have placed a yoke and a burden on their members that robs them of all joy, happiness and peace.  They will never be able to measure up to all the rules and regulations and will be constantly beating themselves up.

Sadly they perceive their only hope is their yearly 'passover' service where they think their slate has been wiped clean on that night. Their only problem is that the very next day or so they will break one of their laws and their suffering will begin all over again.  It is a vicious endless cycle of hopelessness perpetuated by spiritually deviate church leaders.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

UCG In Another Church Meeting Hall Controversy

UCG seems to have big issues with congregations that build their own buildings.  After decades of meeting in school gyms, Masonic and Elk's Lodges, many COG groups decided to build their own permanent buildings.  Some in WCG started this and it carried over into UCG.

An earlier UCG Church hall controversy happen in West Virginia around 2002-2004.  A UCG Church member in Bluefiield was a branch bank manger for a local West Virginia bank.  During her tenure there she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars.  She was generous with that stolen money and helped UCG build their own church building in the area.  Later when the US government found out she had been stealing money they repossessed  the building from UCG and prohibited further meetings there.

Now switch to Houston Texas.  After meeting in eleven different locations from May of 1995 to December 1996  a wealthy group of  UCG members in Houston Texas decided they wanted to build their own building.

From The Journal:

On that day UCG-AIA president Les McCullough and treasurer Tom Kirkpatrick, both of the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, addressed a combined meeting of Houston North and South. Mr. Kirkpatrick had served as associate pastor of Houston North during the initial planning for the building.

The purchase of the property and construction of the building at 20737 Broze Rd., in the Houston suburb of Humble, were made possible by a large donation from a Houston couple, along with other special offerings, fruit sales and other fund-raisers, and other donations from the Houston North brethren.

The Journal spoke with Houston North pastor Jim Franks, who described the building as a "great blessing to be used primarily for Sabbath services and other church-related activities."

No plans for its use as a Feast site are foreseen, Mr. Franks said. The 10,000-square-foot metal structure is comprised of an auditorium that can seat 600 people, four classrooms, a room for parents to care for small children, an office, a kitchen and a large foyer suitable for weddings and other events.

"If you can remember what the Feast-ad building on campus was like, our building is similar to that," he said.

He was referring to what used to be called the Festival Administration Building on the former Ambassador College campus in Big Sandy.

With the Houston North church the largest United congregation (about 300 in regular attendance), the brethren there have faced a struggle to find a suitable location to conduct services.

During the first 18 months of United's existence (May 1995 to December 1996), Houston North met in 11 locations. The last meeting hall (Magrill Elementary School) informed the church in 1997 it must find another location for services.
The school granted the congregation an extension on its lease while the brethren explored other possibilities. At that point the process began of obtaining permission from United's home office in Milford, Ohio, to purchase property and construct a building for the congregation.

Unusual situation

Church officials are quick to point out that Houston North's situation is an unusual one and that the construction of the building was made possible by generous private donations and by the more than 100 members who labored for countless hours to obtain such a facility.

Now jump to 2011.  No one from UCG had any idea that there would be a huge split in the Church and a new group forming.  The  problem with United was that the people who paid for the building are now part of COGWA.  COGWA is demanding the building stay with them, and UCG is being a hardass and saying the building belongs to them.

Apostle Malm has this little blurb today:

On Jan. 30, 1999, the members of the Houston North congregation overwhelmingly elected to grant UCG a special warranty deed. The brethren were confident this document was written in such a way that the building would be held in trust for sole use by the local group. This action was taken in a spirit of trust. Thus, a deed along with a “side agreement” was prepared. The wording of the 1999 Church survey makes the wishes of the brethren quite clear:

“We can deed the property in the name of UCGIA, which is a 501(c)3 corporation, to be held in trust for the local congregation. The property would be controlled by the local congregation and could not be sold without local approval. … If UCGIA were to dissolve or abandon our fundamental beliefs, then the local group would still maintain control. The property would not be lost. All of this would be written out as a part of the deed, similar to what is currently done with a restricted donation.”
It was the expectation of the brethren that in the event of an irreconcilable dispute with UCG, the building would revert back to the local group. Contained in the original documents was language that attempted to address what would happen to the facility in case of dispute, but no one at that time could have foreseen what eventually transpired at the end of 2010. As a result of the unforeseen events of December 2010, the language of the documents proved problematic for purposes of protecting the rights of the local brethren to regain title to the building. Though the local congregation has expressed both a moral and lawful claim, after consulting with legal sources, it was unclear as to what the outcome of a legal challenge to retain control of the building would be. However, the local group in Houston has not waived any of its legal rights, and the situation remains under review.
Over the past few months there has been dialogue with UCG concerning the possibility of leasing or purchasing the building, but the conditions for lease or sale imposed by UCG were not satisfactory to the Houston North membership. Based on demands from UCG to vacate by April 26, the only alternatives to the brethren were to leave or face a lawsuit. Thus, the Last Day of Unleavened Bread was the final time for the congregation to use Broze Hall.

These two UCG buildings are not an isolated case.  There are other issues going on with other UCG buildings.  COGWA is demanding use of the same buildings as UCG.  Just more COG 'Christian ethics' on display.