Saturday, August 11, 2018

Bullying: The Hard Facts of Armstrongism's Attitude Problem

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:


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.



Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that Garner Ted wrote those words while he was raping coeds who would go on to become ministers' wives.

DennisCDiehl said...

I've told the story of GTA yelling in church once, when I was a mere 18, "If you don't like it here you can leave!!!!" We all froze. Long story short, I got hauled up to GTA's office on Monday and he announced it was me he was talking about and what did I have to say for myself... I spare you the rest. He ended up commanding me to get a haircut.

Years later I realized his paranoia was probably that I was unknowingly dating the same girl he was and that perhaps my "look" was based in "I know what you are doing." I did not.

Years later someone from Big Sandy told me that he told that story of me in Big Sandy during a sermon for what reasons I know not. I was told he said "There was this guy in Pasadena..." I was famous! lol ugh....

Anonymous said...

Just this last week, in Charlotte LCG, little Mikey DeSimone delivered a beat-down to LCG members old enough to be his parents and grandparents. Completely ignoring the Bible's instructions that he honor his elders, this kid used the analogy of white-water rafting to demand that members obey the ministry without questioning. The Bible tells us to follow the ministry as they follow Christ, but Mikey believes that LCG members must follow his instructions even if we recognize that he is making a mistake. Members are to recognize how little they know, and how much Mikey (like other ministers) knows.

Mikey seems unable to realize that if everybody took that approach, we would all still be Roman Catholics, and that if Rod Meredith had taken that approach he would have died as a member of Grace Communion International.

Unfortunately, Mikey is a good student of Rod McNair, who recognizes that if you can infantilize the brethren, you can control them more easily. God gives brethren the Holy Spirit to help them grow in maturity and discernment, which means that Rod and Mikey must work very hard to bully LCG members into quenching the Holy Spirit and becoming jelly-brained robots.

Anonymous said...

5.47 PM
There's a war on self responsibility, both inside and outside the church. I believe that envy and power lust are the main motivators. Hence the church belief of 'he who governs best is he who governs the most.' This is in sharp contrast to the declaration of independence and the constitutions limited governments 'he who governs best is he who governs the least.'

When I attended services, my ministers belief (never spoken out loud, but obvious in his behavior and tone of voice and body language) was that if any member made a decision, they were robbing him. Only he had a right to make decisions. He had the church culture on his side, and he knew it.

Allen Dexter said...

What wimps the church made of us! I've long ago left that mindset far behind me. Anyone who tried that approach on me today would long remember the occasion.

Anonymous said...

Take a peek at Romans chapter 2. Cruise through it from time to time. Especially the part about what we accuse others of we are guilty of ourselves.

The drill sargent routine doesn't cut it. We want to make a beneficial difference in someone else's life, take a look at our own and clean it up. In the meantime support others in overcoming their struggles.

The visible faults (sins?) we can see in others may be the last thing that needs to be worked on. They may have changed all wrong thoughts and deeds but one.

Oh, the church of the high and mighty. Bully someone to get them to live righteously. Riiiiiggghht. Who thinks it's a good idea to do that to a small child? Who among us would be calling CPS to report a parent who did nothing but browbeat and demean and bully a child? Isn't that why most children (of any age) run? Because the parent or church or government has become tyrannical, power hungry, cruel and abusive instead of nurturing, healing, teaching, guiding by EXAMPLE, giving hope of forgiveness and help to change, if change is needed.

We, in ANY position of authority, can push things too far with constant condemning judgment, and leave those we are responsible for feeling absolutely hopeless, helpless, and worthless.

Is that what we really want to be known for? That we left someone worse off than they were when we met them, or when they came to us/our church with hope.

It's almost as if those in charge are AFRAID of being kind and helpful, nurturing, forgiving, or at least merciful and longsuffering.

Quick to run through the field ripping up anything that is considered a tare instead of letting it grow. Damaging all in the process. We ought not to do that.

Anonymous said...

Garner Ted was writing about himself in that capital lettered tirade.
No one was as uncouth as he, no one's continued sins has done more damage to the reputation of the Sabbatarian movement than he. His damage still resonates long after his death. God did not even give him the years to sort out the past. He had the talent and he had the cesspit sins.
The brethren paid the price.

Anonymous said...

Bullying is still rife in COG splinters. In fact I think the bullying has gotten worse over the years if thats possible or maybe I've become more aware, but it definitely goes on.
It is upside down bullying too, not the young bullying the old but the old bullying the younger, the unmarried bullying the married, the ministry bullying younger men.
Bullying is defined in vile insults, demeaning patronising comments, outrageous false accusations against a person's character, pure hatred being shown towards people, dirty rotten tricks being pulled. And thats the tip if the iceberg.
It's a nightmare to attend Church Sabbath services if truth be told. It's a disgrace the COG movement has ended up like this.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:33 PM said to Anon 5.47 PM...

"...There's a war on self responsibility, both inside and outside the church. I believe that envy and power lust are the main motivators..."

That seems to be very true, but why? It is like watching some evil government in action among those of God's Church that is not "of God;" however, James recognized that envy and lust, which was so evident within God's Church a long time ago, as is evident by the question James asked:

"Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" James 4:5

And that was inside God's Church a long time ago! Is that spirit still evident today? Is that spirit also evident outside the Church?

It appears the answer is yes, and if yes, then perhaps that "war on self responsibility" is something that is worldwide, been on-going for a long time, among every human being who has ever lived, and is living today. Does the amount of lust/envy within individuals just a matter of degree...some have more/less than others?

Time will tell...


Unknown said...

Meanwhile , that evening , after GTA wrote this , behind closed doors...

Jerry said...

SEP ‘69. Dave Harris stopped our swimming session and brought two kids ( a girl and a boy) up on the dock and screamed at them : “You want to touch her? Here! “. Then he put is arms on them to force them together. In front of about fifty of us. Not only did it humiliate the two kids but it scared the shit out me. Dave probably had his eye on the boy.