By SHT, Contributing Writer
In case you didn't realize it, the Armstrong Empire was full of bullies. From the top, down - through all the ranks of ministry to the deacons - it was a haven that produced, enabled, and promoted bullies. Nowhere was this most evident, however, than at the very top. An article in the Good News, November, 1962, displays a sample of the prevailing attitude in bold, stinging detail.
Garner Ted Armstrong had a member of the Church come to him - who was "in trouble" with the Local Church because he only attends once in a while. This individual was judged to be "plainly carnal", and had the absolute audacity to come up to Garner Ted to shake hands with him.... get this.... "as if he was really a brother in God's Own Church".
GTA might as well have said to this man:
"How DARE you come up and shake hands with ME, you smelly, stupid, indifferent person!"
He might have said to someone who is overweight:
"You're fat and lazy. You're also a glutton! Why do you believe you're not, you dummy!"
Then Garner Ted Armstrong goes off on those who came to church as unshaven, uncouth, and unclean as deaf, dumb and blind. And if that wasn't enough, let's go off on the little children as well - and call them virtual MONSTERS. Then, he calls their parents deaf, dumb and blind too.....
"You dummy! You come to church completely unclean - how can you be so blind?"
"These children are MONSTERS! Have you no control over them? You DUMMY!"
Garner Ted Armstrong then asks them if they are "REALLY" a Child of God!
But that's nothing.He basically looks at a person and says:
"Why, you MISERABLE, FOUR-FLUSHING, LYING, CHEATING, CONNIVING, HARD-HEARTED, SELFISH, LUSTFUL, RESENTFUL, REBELLIOUS, SINNING, NEGLIGENT, APATHETIC, GOD-REJECTING, DECEIVED, PLEASURE-MAD, STIFF-NECKED, CAST-OFF WORTHLESS HUNK OF HUMAN JUNK" .
Well, that is, anyone who isn't in a "converted member".
Talk about a beat-down.
This is the way the Worldwide Church of God treated their members who were not meeting their mold in the 1950s and 1960s. This is also the way that many of the members were trained to act in their ministries decades later. It is classic bullying. It is indefensible. It is absolutely inexcusable.
This is how we were taught to view the world. This is how we were taught to view those who were not in our church, who were not us. This is how we were taught to view those who go to church on Sundays. Or our co-workers. Or our school-mates. Or those who were caught up in addictions, or struggles, or in divorces. This is how we were taught to look down on people who we regarded as unconverted. We were taught to look down at them in the same manner as this man looked down on those he did not regard as "brethren". They world, to us, was the literal scum of the earth - not fit for us to associate with, to eat with, to be with. And if they couldn't be charged with any of those things, then they were heathen, pagan, awful CHRISTMAS-KEEPING, HAM-EATING, SUNDAY KEEPERS. Which actually, to us, was a worse charge than the laundry list of names that was spewed on the struggling in the Church by an Armstrong.
This is the inner mentality that was firmly etched into many of those trained into ministry. Some of that mentality still exists in a few of the ministers even now who are in the splinters. They look down on those who struggle with issues with haughty arrogance and nauseating pride. Instead of teaching others the positive message of Jesus Christ, and how the Holy Spirit changes you to reflect and show the fruits of the Spirit in Christian love and positivity, they sent the members to boot-camp with the full force of a drill sergeant and a blast furnace of negativity.
But to some of them, as long as you keep the Sabbath, and the Holy Days, and call yourself, "The Church of God" - it's all going to be okay. That's the sign of the true church, they say. And they're fine with the thoughts and attitudes of judgement that harbor to others who aren't in the same place as they are.
In case you wonder why the Splinters are in the shape they are in today - all you have to do is look at the attitudes that were displayed in those who they listened to as their trainers.
Doesn't this cause you to wonder how many times Garner Ted had to be called names this way by someone, in some manner, to think this sort of bully behavior was okay?
Regardless of how you endeavor to spin this, the truth of the matter is, bully tactics have nothing to do with the fruits of the spirit.
Never mind the hypocrisy that you know too well in hindsight. But that's for another time and place.