Thursday, July 25, 2019

Herbert W Armstrong: What Did He Do... (part 2)

What Did He Do... (part 2)

When talking about my cult upbringing, people sometimes ask me what I would say to Herbert W. Armstrong if I were able to travel back in time and meet him. (He died in 1986 when I was 13)

My answer is always the same.

I would grab him by the lapels of his $2000 suit coat and shout in his face as loudly as I possibly could, “YOU STOLE MY POTENTIAL AND MADE ME AFRAID OF MY OWN FAMILY, ASSHOLE!” And then, depending on my ability to restrain myself, I might then, possibly, spit in his face.

But here’s the real kicker of the whole scenario… I don’t think that he would have had much of a reaction to our confrontation.

After all, we are talking about someone who, when confronted with accusations about his incestuous acts on his youngest daughter, never once denied them and is said to have even admitted abusing her to several people. (Source links available upon request)

The incest allegations notwithstanding, you can’t really call Herbert a “monster.” Looking at other cult leaders like Jim Jones, L. Ron Hubbard, and David Koresh, Herbert Armstrong looks almost harmless. So, really, what did he do that was so bad? I mean, after all, didn’t his organization donate money and labor to truly worthy causes all over the world? Didn’t his teachings promote things like eating healthy diets and strengthening the nuclear family? Who could have a problem with a guy like that?

Well, when you look at the backgrounds and behaviors of notorious cult leaders, a commonality becomes apparent. Those people share the distinction of recognizable acute mental illness. Herbert wasn’t diabolical or sadistic, he was just a charismatic and selfish (and/or greedy) narcissist. And that was the secret to his success and longevity. “Crazy” cult leaders burn themselves out (sometimes literally), but a “Con Man” cult leader can live to the ripe old age of 93 and die surrounded by millions of dollars’ worth of golden finery and his very own private jet.

Now let’s look at what he left behind besides the $80,000 golden chalices and a stack of writings, that if laid out page by page, end to end, could reach beyond the moon.

He left millions of isolated, confused, and fearful people with little or no financial stability or plans for the future aside from going to “the Place of Safety” in order to hide from “the Great Tribulation” (aka “Armageddon”). Each of those people had been encouraged to cut ties with their “unconverted” family members and friends. They lived in a world where their only real support structure was The Worldwide Church of God and the followers of the teachings of Armstrongism.

Even though “the church” was VERY big on family, it had an ability to destroy families that statistically rivaled substance abuse and infidelity. A bizarre doctrine known to Armstrongers as “D and R” (Divorce and Remarriage) was arguably one of the worst offenses that the church ever committed.

It was a position that made, at least a little bit of sense, on paper.

If a man and woman made an oath before God to belong only to each other until separated by death, then they should be held to those terms. So, if a woman divorced her abusive husband and then years later married another man who treated her with nothing but love and respect, their otherwise legal marriage could be ruled invalid by the Worldwide Church of God, and the couple would have to separate if they wanted to escape the horrors of “the End Times.” It was not uncommon for children to have loving and safe two-parent homes ripped apart because of the ill-informed judgments of a man and his ministers.

And then you have families like mine.

Now, I’m not naïve to think that were it not for my mother’s indoctrination into the WCG that my parents would have remained happily married. The most likely would have divorced at some point anyway. All of my parent’s siblings divorced at least once, so I’m sure my mother and father would have split up as well. But WCG doctrine made the idea of her ever getting remarried iffy at best. Moreover, my actual father was considered “spiritually dead” and despised by God for rejecting Armstrong’s “true gospel” teachings when they were shared with him. (More on that in a page or so)

Now add to the surgically precise and sterile removal of my father’s influence (or any hope for a future step father to take his place) from my life, the endless preaching that my unconverted family members were, at their core, people who hated the “truth” about God’s Plan and would constantly be inspired by demons to pull me away from God’s divine protection so that I would fight for the side of Satan.

For reference, think of the movie, The Matrix. When you were in the matrix, each and every person you encountered, who wasn’t a part of Morpheus’ group, could at any moment turn into an Agent and kill you. According to the cult of Armstrong, any person who wasn’t under God’s protection could conceivably be a demon (or under a demon’s control) and actively seeking to pull you away from God’s protection.

Now let’s follow that to the logical conclusion that myself and many other children raised in this belief structure came to.

Your unconverted family members, school mates, and basically anyone you don’t go to church with (and possibly some of the one’s you do go to church with) might be a demon intent on tempting you to do something that would make God mad enough to exclude you from being among the protected.

But then it gets worse.

You see, in Armstrongist belief, the people who never knew the truth will eventually be instructed by God’s chosen people on the true purpose and plan that God has for them. It’s fine just as long as you never knew that you about the rules you were breaking. HOWEVER, if you had been shown the truth and then rejected it, well….

All I can say is that it sucks to be you.

The good news is that you aren’t going to hell - because there is no hell. The bad news is that there is a “Lake of Fire” (no, it’s not like the one in the Meat Puppets song) and you’ve got a one-way ticket straight in.

No written warning, no second chances.

You’ve got to get it right the first time or God will judge you to be as evil as the demons who lead you astray.

Let me make this crystal clear for you.

Adolf Hitler gets a second chance because (presumably) was never able to receive Herbert Armstrong’s broadcasts or publications. God is going to show him mercy.

Me, on the other hand, I’m beyond forgiveness. I had the ultimate blessing of being born into God’s true church. I was given unlimited access to information about God’s true plan. I lived among God’s chosen people. I “kept” (observed) God’s true holy days and followed his laws and commands – and then I rejected all of it (for several reasons I will go into later in another post) and walked away forever.

So let’s recap.

Family is super duper important to God, but some people aren't allowed to have one because that would break God's rules.

My entire family, aside from my mom and my sister, everyone at my school, and basically anyone I meet who isn’t a cult member is potentially a demon with the intent of making me a servant of the Prince of Darkness.

Adolf Hitler gets a mulligan and a private tutor from among God’s chosen faithful servants, but if I leave the cult, I am damned to burn because (unless, of course I change my mind and return to the cult BEFORE the Great Tribulation starts).

This seems like a good place to pause until next time.

I will be glad to answer any questions or address any comments you'd like to share below.

Or you can email me at



Anonymous said...

Can I just say Ripley has a beautiful voice! I could listen to it all day!😍🎶

Byker Bob said...

It all just seems so surreal in retrospect. Personally, I’ve analyzed it into the ground, and considered it all from every possible aspect. It happened, I got out, and when I realized many years ago that nobody was going to recover for me, a new odyssey began. Also, some of the damage was permanent, as there are dead spots from what they killed, and what we can never get back.

There are things we often perceive as weaknesses which, if viewed properly, are actually strengths. The moment we perceive one thing, we are also conscious of the opposite of that thing. Safety is the narrow band between the two polar opposites, where the pull from either pole is neutralized by the other. That is freedom, the absence of slavery. HWA taught a form of fanaticism which involved getting as close as possible to his preferred pole. This was said to be “Philadelphian”, although gravitating to an extreme pole, eschewing normal balance, can never substitute for love. We learned to practice “the law” (as picked and chosen and defined by HWA) to the hurt of all the “unconverted” ones on the planet including our families.

Recovery involves a return to balance, a recapture of the good and natural parts intrinsic to our human nature which HWA had insisted that we subvert and repress.

If I were to see HWA once again, I would simply shake my head and smirk. If he asked me what that was all about, I’d respond with “You really were clueless, and in no way enlightened in the ways in which you insisted that we all believe!”


Anonymous said...

I am really sorry for what has been done to you and your family. It's a terrible experience for adults to go through what you described but it's even worse for kids.

I hope you find happiness, strength and courage to move forward in life.

I had almost an identical experience and we are similarly aged. My father was a full time minister and we got all the beatings you would imagine and my parents divorced also.

As a parent I raised my kids poorly and I am working hard to repair the damaged I've caused them that I learned from my own upbringing.

And I can say from personal experience that many other people have been through much worse than us and have recovered. Seeing this in others and experiencing some if this in my own life has given me hope.

I have since found the real God and people who have found him and his ways also and there is peace and caring in his true religion. We are supposed to take care of each other ... Something so basic and fundamental was not taught by Armstrong.

But now we are free and its up to us to fix things regardless where we started off.

Peace to you.

Anonymous said...

Because of the huge numbers who left ca. 1995, most of the ACOGs no longer teach that a baptized member automatically goes to the Lake of Fire if he or she leaves the church. Now, they typically say, "Well, he probably was never converted in the first place, so he'll come up at the GWTJ." This is apparently a more acceptable idea than that 90 percent of the people exposed to the "Truth" have chosen the Lake of Fire. It does, however, give church youth an easy out when they decide to leave, an out that wasn't available in the 1960s and 1970s.

Anonymous said...

Till death do us part. Most people think that means a physical death, I'm beginning to be of the opinion that it can also mean the death of the relationship. When someone joins up with one of the splinters now, they often turn their backs on spouses, children and other family members. These groups encourage the emotional and spiritual abandonment of family members, they become the new spouse and allegiance now goes to the "church". I was told that the church would always be more important than me after being married for many years. I felt like I was thrown to the back of the bus and then eventually thrown off the bus. I'm often confused by what he says and does but I've learned that I can't trust him with me as long as he continues in "gods church". The very essence of what holds a marriage together was killed by the teachings of the church he attends.

nck said...

Huh 6:00??

To the unbaptuzed that option was always available.

I did understand I was under the "little children protection blessing clause" until "my days of discernment" would arrive.

I do understand the writers sentiment and experience, even if it is only 20 percent "wcg doctrinally proof".


Tonto said...

The post said...." So, really, what did he do that was so bad?"


* People DIED from the no medical treatment concept, including children!

* Multitudes of happy marriages were wrecked because of D and R

* Retirements and Financial well being were severely wrecked by endless hounding of money.

* A culture of submission and minimizing denied 100s of thousand of people the opportunity to grow , explore and prosper

* The promotion of child abuse and beatings.


Incidentally, the poster fantasized about "confronting HWA to his face". At least from 1970 on, it was impossible to gain access to HWA face to face. His appearances at the auditorium and at FOT sites , were very carefully laid out, with entry from side door s or from stage sides.

I NEVER saw HWA just casually talk with the brethren out in the audience , not even one time. Ted on occasion would do that, but never Herbert. He had an entourage of handlers and body guards to prevent anything even remotely close to the posters imaginations coming true.

Anonymous said...

Huh, nck? You seem to be removed enough from the current splinter experience that you don't understand a very simple point. The privilege that was always given to the unbaptized is now given to the baptized more often than not. It is routinely preached, today, when baptized people fall away, that "they were never converted" and will be in the GWTJ. Baptism has nothing to do with it, which is precisely the point of 6:00 AM's post.

Anonymous said...

6.00 AM
It sounds like the ACOGs are diluting their doctrines to boost membership.
But it doesn't matter what any church teaches. The reality is that baptism is a contract with God. If one fails to build the mind of God in the time given, one ends up in the lake of fire. In fact, recently the holy spirit informed me that a former abusive minister has failed to qualify for the kingdom. Which is comforting from my point of view.
A contract is a contract. That's the way the world works.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:08, the massive falling away prompted many in the ACOGs to rethink their old doctrine. Many people couldn't accept that 90 percent or more of their family members and friends would be going to the Lake of Fire while the vast majority at the GWTJ would accept salvation. Without the trap-door of "he was baptized but not really converted" they would be left with the idea that baptism in this age is a curse, rather than a blessing, as most of the baptized have fallen away, and continue to do so.

SHT said...


When HWA did his Local Church Visitations in the 1980s, Herbert and GTA greeted most members in the local congregations for brief (and I do mean brief) conversation. You are correct that there was, however, no casual discussions permitted. It was just a "Meet and Greet" kind of deal. No autographs (LOL).

Most members did not know the real HWA. They only knew what they were allowed to see. Photo-ops with "important people", HWA in his plane, HWA typing on his typewriter, or talking with church execs in the office. Based on the multitudes of accounts I have either read or have heard, the real HWA didn't live up to the "hype" or the "perception" of what he was to be (And that's an understatement). Most seemed to be sourly dissapointed.

Byker Bob said...

Actually, this is doctrinally consistent with some of the other teachings of Armstrongism, 9:31. WCG never did believe in the power of God to the extent that they would teach “once saved always saved”. Members’ salvation status was in jeopardy each day from the time that they woke up in the AM, and nobody could really know if they were actually converted. You’d only know for certain when you came up in the first rez. The ministers usually inserted themselves between a member and God, with your salvation status being determined by whether or not you listened to them and showed a proper, obedient attitude.

What is interesting is that members who became atheist believe that at the end of their lives, it is over. Universal eternal death. What a change! Going from fear of eternal death to actually embracing it. The only difference becomes that members believe that if they leave “God’s True Church”, they’ll see everyone else getting their reward, weep and gnash their teeth, go through a couple moments of intense pain, and then be gone just like the atheist, with no memory of anything at all.

I have never been able to understand why anyone would fear eternal death, but it is certainly easy to understand how someone would fear eternal hellfire.


Anonymous said...

I have never been able to understand why anyone would fear eternal death, but it is certainly easy to understand how someone would fear eternal hellfire.

Byker, the universe is 13.772 billion years old, yet you were "dead" until just a few decades ago. Why would anyone fear returning to that state? Especially if the only way to get "eternal life" is to make a waste of your present life, pretending that some vain man and his bootlickers are "God's Extra Most Special Ministry"?

ACOGgers who are reading this, remember that if you are a Flurryite the Packites think YOU are going to the Lake of Fire, just as you think THEY are. Becoming the slave of some ministry isn't enough; you need to become enslaved to the RIGHT ministry.

It's enough that an ethical man with a conscience could very reasonably choose eternal death instead of trying to live an eternal lie.

As for eternal hellfire? A god who would burn you forever for spending 100 years trying to use the mind and heart He gave you is a monster. If such a monster is the One True God, we are all destined for suffering, whether in the Kingdom of Heaven or the fires of Hell.

Anonymous said...

The ministers usually inserted themselves between a member and God, with your salvation status being determined by whether or not you listened to them and showed a proper, obedient attitude.

Were the coeds supposed to be in a good attitude when GTA forced himself on them? Were they LOF-bound rebels if they pushed him away, or were they LOF-bound sluts if they didn't fight him off?

Were the parents supposed to be in a good attitude when the minister told them to abandon their special-needs child at a shopping mall? Were they LOF-bound rebels for saying "No!" or where they LOF-bound abusers if they stripped the child of all ID and left him to become a ward of the state?

The ministers bicker amongst themselves while preaching "unity." Does only one "side" of each split earn the label of LOF-bound rebels, or are both sides implicated in causing the division? Even when a church is "unified" what is a member supposed to do when two pastors teach contradictory things or give contradictory guidance?

ACOG members are no more or less perfect than their ministers, but it seems likely that God will judge the ministers quite harshly for making themselves little mini-Popes in the lives of members. You would think they haven't considered that they may be blaspheming the Holy Spirit when they deny church members the power to exercise that spirit and make choices of which God might approve, even though those choices might displease the minister. The intrusive ministers ought to shudder when they read scriptures warning that God will deal with them in the same way they choose to deal with others. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that many ministers don't really believe in God, and thus are unafraid of any eternal consequences of their actions.

Al Dexter said...

BB, at 10:59. Yes, I've cast off the fear that continually dogged me in WCG. When one accepts that he or she is just a transient bit of sentience in a billions of years old evolving universe, life becomes truly precious. I have no illusions of eternal grandeur anymore. It was quite a carrot to dangle in front of believers, but I honestly don't miss it. I'm now content to enjoy the eternal now and not be tied up in irrational fears for the benefit of religious conmen.

Al Dexter said...

"Eternal consequences>" That's an interesting phrase. It flies in the face of every principle of fairness and balance ever postulated. Whether it's eternal hellfire or just extinction in a lake of fire, the whole premise is absurd when considered in the light of justice and fairness. AS monster is acceptable if it's your chosen monster.

Anonymous said...

6:00am, the acogs can say whatever they want but they haven't a clue whether someone was "converted" or not.

I just don't understand how hard it is to just admit that God is more merciful than we were ever taught, and if one was "converted" that our merciful God will indeed give them another chance.

That's one of my big problems with mainstream, most get almost angry at the thought of a "second chance". Why? Every time we sin and ask Jesus to forgive us is another "chance".

I'm probably well past my seven times seventy "chance".

God is more merciful than WCG ever taught, and way more merciful than the majority of mainstream teaches.


Anonymous said...

"Whether it's eternal hellfire or just extinction in a lake of fire, the whole premise is absurd"

How so? How is either any more absurd than an "evolved" conscience destined for eternal death?

Opinionated said...

Anon 1:54

nck is not very observant as you can see in this video. Please forgive him, he's a special needs child.

nck said...


I am observant. It has ALWAYS been tradition that if "normal" people left church on their own accord, to state that "perhaps they had not been converted".

If was a of nice way of saying that God would sort it out since man does not really know anothers psychological make up. Especially not a blind man from 10.000 miles away who never met the "nice couple that left."

If the splinters extend and bend that tradition to a standard practice than it really is an admission that this is a or the "laodicean era" which has also been preached "forever."

I guess the people who were in wcg and "feared" anything but God are know the most prolific liars on this blog.

They probably don't even know how ridiculous it looks when they talk about "their personal interpretation of supposed doctrines.

I said that I did understand the writers feelings as a kid. Although much of what he wrote was "doctrinally" unsound.


nck said...

The same goes for Dennis musings on "deep time". WCG always believed the earth was billions of years old.

Since my parents always left open the possibility to stay home if I wouldnt like church I would have exited wcg at age 8 if the church had not taught billions of years old earth.

WCG always tried to reconcile science and religion. The basis of any American fundamentalist religion founded in the 1920's however was to "fight Darwinism" which fully took over education on 1920.

The first chapters of "the autobiography" are proof of the greater fundamentalist thought process going on as is "the 7 rules of success" which blends "darwinist capitalist philosophy with a fundamentalist good ending about god".

All wcg teaching should be seen in the light that "god is central to the universe." Also the kind words to "not damn lay members to the lake of fire when they fall away, since that is considered the prerogative of god only.

Those that testify on this blog that "they feared germans, ministers, death, anything are actually saying I did not place God central as all literature aimed at.

Although I have learned and admit that a great deal of parents must have been severely twisted as many ministers in the USA if there is one yota of truth in the shared experiences.


Byker Bob said...

There were twisted parents, nck, because HWA twisted them. Remember, I wasn’t born in the cult, so I saw the before and after versions.


Anonymous said...


Sorry to hear about your experience. Sadly this is the case with most who go with these splinters. Especially the likes of RCG and PCG.

nck said...

I wish we had been friends as kids. If I had learned about your experience (at camp) I might have exited at age 13.

More likely however would have been my father kickin' your dads rear real hard, regardless of the consequences.

This is what we do in our family.

I was lucky to have many of the Dennis' Diehl's dad type around in my youth. That's why I have consistently called him "a brother."

Dennis isn't fully aware that his personal process had been done before by millions and entire bodies of literature have been produced as the cultural backbone of entire nations.

To him and you and others it is personal.

To me some of the commenters are living literary protagonists that talk back instead of having my high school teacher just rate my papers. (decades ago)


Anonymous said...

Adolf Hitler will have his chance for salvation, but it's basically academic. The parable of the sower shows that it's a persons character prior to conversion that determines ones likelihood of qualifying for the kingdom. The Hitler mini-mees in the ACOGs have a unflattering success rate. The typical Herb minister (ie, a spiritual loser) is another example of this.

Anonymous said...

10:45am Just how do you know that the parable of the sower isn't only about firstfruits and not those brought up in the GWTJ?

Tessa said...

Don't let Herbert etc spoil your life. He's dead and gone, you are living now and it would be a pity if you didn't get to enjoy your life. Many are brought up in abusive families and have to come to terms with it - understand it and learn to love ourselves and distance our selves from creeps. Please try to do that and know when you are ready. Don't let herbert or anyone steal the rest of your life from you - you are precious.

Mickey said...

About whether the unbaptized kids were given an out, I say it depends on where were raised and who your patents were. Church areas were not consistent nor were parents. I remember one of our local pastors as not being overly concerned when a teen grew up and left, but parents were sometimes in anquish at the thought of their child being without God's protection. I also remember statements by HWA that God would hold people accountable for having known the truth and then rejecting it. I dont remember if he qualified that with baptism but it made a terrifying impression on my young mind before I had been baptized.

Anonymous said...

The bible is pagan, pagan, pagan.

According to "Exiles from History" by David McCalden, Encyclopedia Judaica, article "Purim" used to say that Esther represented the goddess Ishtar, and Mordecai represented the god Marduk. The names are similar, and there is other evidence.

So Esther and Easter and Ishtar are all the same thing.

All religion is pagan. Name one that isn't.

Also, "God is One" from the OT is probably pagan. It seems to be pantheistic, i.e. the idea that everything is god and god is everything.

Anonymous said...

"qualifying for the kingdom"

The brainwashing worked pretty good. Just how do you qualify for a free gift?

Qualifying for the kingdom is one of the dumbest of WCG's catch phrases.

There's no qualifying for salvation, nor is our "reward" something we are owed.

I'd love any one of you who think we "qualify" for something to go before God and demand what is owed you.

In all honesty most in the cog don't go above and beyond what we're commanded. That makes every one of us who obey what we're commanded unprofitable servants.

This shit about qualifying for the kingdom is just cult speak, nothing more!

Wake up you sleeping "virgins"!


Anonymous said...

God has the policy of no more demons in His kingdom. Even the present demons plus Satan will eventually be destroyed. If you have experienced toxic relatives or toxic people in your workplace,this policy becomes self evident.
I know many don't agree with this. The reason? They are the abusers. They want to eat people alive for all eternity. Well, this wet dream will never come to pass. So it's build the mind of God or into the lake of fire one goes, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.

12.20 PM
Your question is similar to asking how do we know that the laws of physics and chemistry are uniform throughout the universe. The observable evidence says yes, and Gods traits, such as perfection, implies uniformity of these laws throughout His creation and through out time.
So the same moral and physical laws apply to the angels, the first fruits, and those who follow.

Anonymous said...

5:50pm Apparently you're the one with the wet dream, thinking you know the mind of God. You're a fool!

Anonymous said...

Observable evidence. What a hoot. In relation to the universe, we haven't even gotten out of bed on our way across country. We've observed nearly nothing. You're assumptions that you understand the sower parable based upon your biblical understanding is foolish indeed. You're most likely a member of one of the acog cults. Or maybe Theil or Malm or even Pack himself. You haven't a clue!

Anonymous said...

Think a little deeper. We cannot not yet fathom how so many of the laws of the universe would even work. We just know to a certain extent how they work given the present set of constants on planet Earth. Scientists have discovered a wide range of elements and conditions just within our own galaxy that vary widely from what we see on our own planet. This means that you can’t extrapolate what we observe here, and know precisely how everything works in the rest of the universe. In fact, what made some of the planets in our own solar system gas giants? What causes black holes? Will scientists eventually discover worm holes?

The earth has been described as being an oasis of order in a sea of entropy. What we know here may not apply everywhere else.

ilija said...

Gay who writes this article proves that he is a drug-addicted person. Writing letters such as against a person showing his character and stupidity. Who was Mr. Armstrong or any person it is his job to do what he thinks is right? I don't need to join his cult because they do not Phizicly force me to join them. Criticizing them show my character and this is what this writer did. Showing himself instead Mr. Armstrong

nck said...


"Exact" definitions are only on the STP.

Baptism wasn't even a qualifier nor "knowledge".

It was taught that AFTER baptism the holy spirit would be bestowed on portions enabling a person to grow according to the parable of the talents.

Neither the rejection of knowledge nor baptism would in this case be regarded capital offences nor sinning AFTER baptism (like the catholic need for absolution).

However the "quelching of or rejection" of the working of the holy scripture would corrupt a man like a jedi knight tapping into the darth vader side of the force therefore to be destroyed before one became a incorruptable corruptable like Lucifer.

My take from Tatooine in a galaxy far far away from "the action."


Anonymous said...

The Pharisees claws have come out.

nck said...

In 11:27 I wrote holy scripture.

The good reader would have seen I meant to say holy spirit.


Ripley said...

The new one is up.