WCG Paratroopers of 1979 – 1980
By Wes White
The March 7, 2019 post in Banned about the re-capture of alleged child-molester Kevin Owen Dean (brother of UCG evangelist Aaron Dean) brought back some old, old memories. Especially the comment which said: “I remember him (Kevin Dean) coming to KC one time… he accompanied Raymond McNair as they were going around to try and give ‘correct’ info when CA sued the WCG.”
This comment was talking about the Paratroopers who operated in 1979 and 1980. Does anyone remember the Paratroopers? I was one of them.
This PR operation was created as a result of the Receivership crisis which began on January 2, 1979. We were called Paratroopers because about twelve to fourteen of us would load up on the church’s G-II on a Friday afternoon. We would fly to a region of the US and we would be dropped off (usually in pairs) in various cities of that region. We would attend morning Sabbath services in one city and then afternoon services in a nearby city. We would be picked up Sunday morning and returned to Pasadena that afternoon or evening.
Each two-man team was typically composed of an older minister and a younger guy who may or may not have been ordained. Obviously, I was one of the younger guys.
I actually found some of my old Paratrooper files and I am looking at them as I write.
The “younger guys” consisted of people like Fred Stevens (Accounting Department), Jim Snook (Facilities and step-father of the Dean boys), Mike Feazell, Contardi, Aaron Dean, Kevin Dean, Joe Katora, Robin Webber, and Wilbur Berg.
The “older ministers” consisted of people like Bob Fahey, Jack Kessler, Dean Blackwell, Dibar Apartian, Raymond McNair, Larry Salyer, Ellis LaRavia, Carn Catherwood, Leroy Neff, Joe Tkach Sr., Dick Ames, Richard Rice, John Halford, Frank Schnee, Sherwin McMichael, and K. Walden.
At the church service in a local area, the older minister was tasked with just giving a sermon. That’s all. He didn’t need to necessarily promote the party line regarding the Receivership. If it had been required that the older minister speak glowingly of resisting the Receivership, a lot of these older guys wouldn’t have participated in the program. Guys like McNair and McMichael and Neff were not on board with the resistance to the Receivership. They were still steeped in the old WCG condemnations of sit-ins, demonstrations, and resistance. That was liberal hippy stuff and “liberal” was a very bad word in WCG.
So it was the younger guys who were given the job of doing the heavy lifting of rallying the local church to support WCG as it fought the Receivership. From my notes, I can see the following were the responsibilities of the “second man:”
n Introduce the film about the Receivership that had been created by the WCG Television Department.
n Even though this is a church vs state conflict, remember that it is NOT the job of the Paratroopers to get the membership to hate the state of California. We don’t want the church to be turned into a group anti-government nuts. We don’t want to be promoting any weird conspiracy theories.
n Don’t bad-mouth GTA or anyone else who has provided information, assistance, and encouragement to the California Attorney General’s Office. Example, in private conversation with the local leaders, it is inappropriate to refer to GTA as Garner Terd Armstrong. If they say things like this to you over lunch or dinner, discourage it. Don’t refer to the “Receiver” as the “Deceiver.” Don’t make jokes about Judge Wiseman (the Receiver) by quoting the hymn, “Not Many Wise Men Now Are Called.” Be respectful of authority even when it is wrong.
n Be prepared to truthfully answer all questions about exactly what is happening at HQ. Don’t embellish. Don’t try to read more into what actually happened. Don’t say anything that is factually incorrect because some brethren will be recording this church service. Anything you say that is incorrect will be used against us later. Telling the truth is important.
Here are just a few of the questions we received during our trips:
Isn’t the demonstration and the sit-in wrong?
Who are the plaintiffs?
What does the lawsuit demand from the Church?
Why does Stan Rader insist on going after GTA in lawsuits?
GTA claims he has tried to call his father many times, but the
phone is left off the hook when it is answered. Why is this so? Is
Do you think HWA will ever set foot in California again?
What is the origin or story of this mysterious tape that has fallen
into the hands of Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes?
Who is Mr. Bagley?
Why are some of our local ministers confused about the suit
against the church?
How probable is it that this case will be brought before the
Does the church file forms with the government each year?
Has the Big Sandy campus sale fallen through?
How much money has been paid by the church to the Receiver
and his staff?
Why wasn’t Quest sold? I thought Mr. Armstrong said he was
going to sell it.
Why doesn’t Mr. Armstrong say Worldwide Church of God instead
of AICF when he travels?
Is AICF taking over the church? Why do we allow it to print bad
What is the plastic company I heard about in Texas?
What happened to Rod Meredith? What is the real reason he is in
Who runs Mr. Armstrong? Is he drugged?
Forty years later, I would answer a lot of these questions differently than I did back then. And, as I have pointed out on Banned on several occasions, I have repented of many of the things I believed, said, and did while I was WCG from 1971 to 1981.
However, I still believe that the California Attorney General’s Office was wrong to use an ex parte court hearing to set up a receivership that took over the WCG. This was wrong in 1979 and would be wrong to do today. History has proven that this was a wrong act in that it has not happened since.
We now know from hindsight that this receivership happened mostly for two reasons:
The first is that GTA and his family and his supporters were pushing for it. They provided tons of documents to the state of California along with doom and gloom predictions that the members of WCG were about to do some horrible things to themselves and their families.
The second reason why this happened is because the memory of the Jonestown massacre was still fresh in the minds of many people.
Rader was correct when he publicly stated that, if he was doing something illegal, the LA County District Attorney should have him handcuffed and taken downtown for booking. That never happened because no one could ever prove that what Rader (and HWA) did was illegal.
Let me explain.
The rich people who run things in this country are usually too smart to do anything illegal. They and their experts know the law well enough to know they can get just about everything they want legally. They simply don’t need to steal.
The laws of this country are set up where people (whether we’re talking about Rader or the Clintons or the Trump family or the Kennedys or the Bushes) usually hire the best minds to guide them as they reap financial benefits LEGALLY.
Some have said, “Of course the government couldn’t prove that Rader was a thief. He kept the church’s financial records secret.” Not true. At the time, all WCG and AC offices were leaking like sieves. There were people in just about every department who were unhappy with the WCG. Employees were constantly leaking information to the Ambassador Report and to government agencies. Remember that it was Bill Sprouse (Director of AC Security) who unlocked all the doors for the Receiver on January 2. Yes, he was fired for it shortly thereafter. But he let them in everywhere they wanted to go – including the fourth floor executive offices of HWA and Rader.
Then there were several weeks between the initial take-over by the Receiver’s people on January 2 and until they lost control of the property during the sit-in. During that time, the Receiver’s staff had access to all the financials.
You can promote all the conspiracy theories you want, but (in the end) until someone is convicted in a court of law, he is to be presumed innocent. Yes, until he is actually found guilty by a judge and jury, we cannot say with assurance that he is guilty.
Yes, I have heard all the stories about John Kineston supposedly hauling off gold in the middle of the night from the basement of the Hall of Ad. But the truth is that Kineston was out of town when that supposedly happened.
Rader didn’t need to steal. He carefully followed the law and got what he wanted without stealing. He set up corporations that did business with the WCG. And he made millions from these corporations along with his generous salaries (plural) and expense accounts (plural). Was the set-up and usage of these corporations and salaries and expense accounts ethical? Probably not. Were they moral? Probably not.
But legal? Yeah. They were legal.
So, if someone doesn’t like what WCG and HWA and Rader did, the laws regarding church corporations need to be changed. Setting up a Receivership in an ex parte court hearing is not the appropriate way to solve the very real problem that was WCG, HWA, Rader, GTA, RCM, RFMc, et al.