There is an excellent yet deeply sad letter on Exit and Support Network from a young woman telling what life was like growing up as a teen in the Philadelphia Church of "God". Her story is similar to those who grew up in the Worldwide Church of God or any of the other hundreds of splinter groups out there. Just more proof of how unChristian and morally bankrupt the entire Armstrongist movement is at its core.
Here is a snippet from her story:
"When I started high school and developed a social life outside of the group is when things got out of hand. My father, still drinking, but this time able to hide behind the fact that he was a prominent member of “the church,” would criticize every one of my friends. They were okay to talk to at school but I was not to spend any time with them outside of that. This is not something a social teen can do. Kids need to experience growing up no matter what religious practices they have. So this turned into an ongoing and sometimes very dark battle between my parents and me. I went to PCG’s church camp and while I met a few people who were feeling the same way I was about the strict rules and the unanswered questions, most of the teens there were very cold-hearted and seemed to be in some sort of popularity contest over who was the best teen Christian. I soon found out that a lot of these so called “good kids” were not at all. They were manipulative, judgmental, rude, arrogant and selfish. A very few of them were sincere.
More than anything I was confused as to why I couldn’t get a straight answer for anything. My father would always say, “Well, because that is the way God wants it.” I wanted to be in the school plays and was not permitted to because I couldn’t wear the stage makeup and also because me being in the “spot-light” was considered vanity. It’s a school play, for crying out loud, not a Broadway musical! I missed out on dances, choir events, friends, and more importantly, my high school years because of rules that didn’t make any sense. Social interaction wasn’t the only thing that suffered. My class work came after my Bible Lessons and since my father was sure the Great Tribulation would come before I even graduated, I never really had a great deal of interest in school work. In my sophomore year in high school I started to think about college and what I wanted to do after I graduated. Neither of my parents encouraged any kind of education after high school. They were sure things would come to an end before then. I began to work harder in school and managed to get my grades up to a reasonably good average and on a number of occasions was actually scolded for not paying enough attention to my “church-work.”
Things began to get worse and I grew very hostile towards my parents as well as the PCG. Most Saturday mornings began with an argument between me and my father. I had my home personality, my school personality and my church personality.1 I had to live a lie at home to keep any sort of peace. At services I would just turn myself off and turn into the girl that everyone wanted and expected me to be. I took notes on sermons, I discussed topics with my peers and other members of the group. I acted like it really was my way of life. In all actuality, I wanted to cry when I walked into that place. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs when the sermons would say things about how we need to make sure we are not judgmental and then turn around and flat out say that the world would be a much better place if certain people were killed. I hated feeling like I was supposed to be so much better than what I actually was. I began to sink into a deep depression and almost ended my life. My mother took me to the doctor (a very rare thing) and I was given an anti-depressant that would “make everything ok.” I took this hoping it would give me a few pseudo peaceful moments at home and at services, but in the long run it didn’t do a damn thing. I told my mother I wasn’t going to pretend that I didn’t know why I was upset all the time. I knew the reason I was crying every night in bed and why I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was unhappy in the “church.” I did not believe it to be the truth. I was sick of living a lie and a double life. That next morning, my parents gave me the choice I had been waiting for years to make, and for the first time in my life, I did not keep the Sabbath."
To this day I have an extremely hard time finding a place where I am comfortable. Some have called the WCG and the PCG a “cult.” I agree to this wholeheartedly. The typical association might not be the right usage but the idea is there. You have to be let into the group by an official, you have to strictly abide by the laws of the group; once you have been disfellowshipped, you are not to have contact with the people in the group, etc. In many ways it is a cult2 and the emotional damage is also very apparent in the people I have talked to about it, including members of my own family who were also raised inside. There were many ministers and deacons that I came across in the group that were very hard on the younger people. My little sister and I both had been told by Craig and Colleen Craig Winters that our clothing was much too poor to be worn to church services. Dennis Leap, at Philadelphia Youth Camp, would openly make examples of people at the camp that were doing things he didn’t see as appropriate. I was an example on one occasion. I had been injured pretty badly while playing soccer earlier that week and had been on bed rest for the last few days. His way of thinking seemed to be that physical injury and illness were a direct result of “spiritual sin.” He made a point to make sure everyone knew that the real reason I had been injured was not because of actual physical strain, but because I had sinned and was paying for it physically. Can you imagine hearing that? This is a small part of what I and many other young kids were subjected to at these camps.
Read the entire story here: GROWING UP IN “THE CHURCH” WAS THE HARDEST THING I EVER HAD TO DO
Most of us learned about the law conservation of matter and the law conservation of energy in science class in high school. It seems that in Armstrongism there is a third law: The law conservation of shit. In Armstrongism shit can neither be created, nor destroyed, but it happens on a regular basis. It remains forever, constantly changing form like a mutating virus, and in most unpleasant and oppressive ways. (see also "bad attitude"). The last twenty five years on the internet have underscored this so many times through a plethora of stories just like this young PCG woman's. No wonder "Honey I shrunk the church" has become an autobiographical classic in all 600 or so splinters!
PCG is a cult. In WCG education was highly encouraged. Achievers in all kinds of academic disciplines in schools and universities not part of the Church were regularly highlighted in the biweekly "News of the Work newspaper".
Leap is a creepy old pervert that hangs around kids at PCG camps in his tight biking/running shorts. Not a good look for an old man.
PCG & worldwide exhibited an arrogance and total disregard for Christ's warning not to harm or offend others who are young in the faith. Too many exhibit hubris and fruits of the Pharisees and hypocrites that you see many of in the writings. They are fake and counterfeit teaching for scripture the writings and fables of men.(makeup doctrine, false claim that you get sick because you sinned or church eras. I don't remember Christ telling the thief on the Cross he needed to learn about church gov't or read Malachi's message from THAT PROPHET before he died.
"...seemed to be in some sort of popularity contest over who was the best teen Christian. I soon found out that a lot of these so called “good kids” were not at all. They were manipulative, judgmental, rude, arrogant and selfish. A very few of them were sincere."
Replace "teen or good kids" with the word "minister" or "AC student" and you reach the same conclussion!
In WCG education was highly encouraged.
I heard MANY MANY times that college education outside of AC was "worldly" and not worthwhile. Many professional avenues, like CPA, or Doctor / Lawyer were diminished as career choices.
HWA was constantly railing against "intellectuals" and what a threat they were to the church.
“His way of thinking seemed to be that physical injury and illness were a direct result of 'spiritual sin.'”
Well, I suppose there actually could be something to that theory that spiritual sin leads to physical punishment, illness, and injury.
People sinned (i.e., missed the mark) spiritually in the most horrendous fashion when they went with That False Prophet Gerald Flurry and his satanic imposter cult the PCG. Now these people are suffering spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically as a direct result of their great sin.
The spouses, children, relatives, and friends all suffered greatly for the sins of the original suckers who got deceived into joining the PCG cult.
In WCG education was highly encouraged.
MY COMMENT - NCK, that was not my experience in Washington/Baltimore WCG congregations. In the runup years to the 1972/1975 in prophecy, people at Church would ask me why go to college if the Great Tribulation was about to happen and Christ was about to return?
When I was rejected by Ambassador College (thank the Lord God), a girl in my congregation who was my peer was accepted to AC and told me to my face that she wanted to go to Ambassador College because "AC is where the best guys are". Thanks, I needed that putdown at the time, I guess.
Yet, I know HWA's "7 Laws of Success" encouraged getting an education as one of the 7 laws. My recollection is the same as Tonto's recollection. An AC education was encouraged. But for young people in R/WCG, if you didn't go to AC, then what good were you?
I certainly don’t believe wcg encouraged higher education. Richard is right about the 7 laws, but I don’t think it strongly included higher ed. Medicine, law, psychiatry, philosophy, etc was discouraged.
I think engineering and business were the most acceptable if not at AC. A theology degree outside AC would put up red flags.
Still, it was not encouraged from my experience, but not discouraged.
Even if the "Worldwide News" and its predecessors highlighted "scolastic high achieving teens" biweekly in the newspaper I have to agree somewhat with Tonto, Richard and 12:26.
I remember getting frowned upon entering Law School.
I told them in the face that HWA paid for Stan Rader's education who could not have functioned without Ralph Helge and Stan Raders knowledge. And that HWA surrounded himself with the best of lawyers at the International Court in the Hague sponsoring diplomatic trips to Japan for them. and then HWA got an Honoris Causa himself (sponsored albeit)
Then people acknowledged that that knowledge could be of some good use although lawyers in general of course could be sleeze bags. :-) :')
The likes of Gerald Flurry even had a LADY lawyer (with make up yet competent) win MOA for them in the copyright case.
To this day I do not know how some good doctors and surgeons that I knew in the Church coped.
There could definitely be a dichotomy about that in WCG. Probably depends somewhat on what point in time you're recalling too - I get the impression that attitudes about that had relaxed a bit post-1975.
nck at 11:03 PM said...“The likes of Gerald Flurry even had a LADY lawyer (with make up yet competent) win MOA for them in the copyright case.”
In fact, the PCG LOST the copyright court case. Whether the copyright to the book called Mystery of the Ages belonged to Herbert W. Armstrong or to the Worldwide Church of God was moot because HWA had willed his property (and copyrights are willable property) to the WCG. The copyright belonged to the WCG.
Again, the PCG LOST the copyright court case. Satan's False Prophet Gerald Flurry then made a deal with the Devil's Apostate Joseph Tkach, Jr. to BUY the copyright to MOA.
Flurry did not win the MOA lawsuit. He lost it, no matter how much he lies that he won. He had to pay the WCG over 3.5 million dollars for the right to publish it.
nck at 12:20 AM,
Herbert W. Armstrong said that modern higher education has an evolutionary, anti-God bias. Of course, this is totally true. HWA seemed to preach self-education. The unfortunate part was that many young people in the Worldwide Church of God had a tendency to sit around uneducated and unemployed while waiting for the “soon-coming” end of the world (age) to finally come. The end-time events did not wrap up in 1972-1975 as previously expected. HWA died in 1986.
Under Joseph W. Tkach, Sr. the WCG's teaching became that if your “friends” are preventing you from getting a good education then they are not your real friends. Young people in the Worldwide Church of God then began going off to universities and getting degrees and better paying jobs.
After pretending to be so concerned about preserving Herbert W. Armstrong's last book called Mystery of the Ages, and losing the copyright court case over it with the Worldwide Church of God, Gerald Flurry BOUGHT the copyright to it from Joe, Jr.
Then, Gerald Flurry EDITED and CHANGED Mystery of the Ages so it would not expose such things as Gerald Flurry pretending to be a prophet (page 350) while leading the church (pages 244-245) or HWA's prediction that the end of the age would occur before the end of the 20th century (page 298).
I knew several physicians and attorneys in WCG. It was not easy for any of them. One told me about joining WCG in the early days. He was told he must give up his medical license. Members would ask him for help when they were sick. He finally told HWA he would have to get his license back or he could not help anymore. He did and took care of many including Loma Armstrong. He had a very precarious line to walk.
The split occurred while I was in medical school. By then attitudes towards modern medicine and becoming a physician were better but I was still expected to drive more than an hour each way to services each week and not go to labs and other study groups on Saturday. It greatly affected my class rank and ability to choose a specialty. By the time I headed for residency the minister in that city had quit but never told headquarters. I spent 2-3 months trying to find them while in the middle of internship. I say that WCG left me. BTW there are some similarities in the ways we were mistreated during medical training and the ways we were treated growing up in the cult.
I said the attorney "helped win it for them" Nowhere did I say "win the legal case." Also the highlighting of educated teens was in the predecessor of the WWN.. Entire 1970's. It did not start with the liar and thief Tkach.....
NCK said, "I said the attorney "helped win it for them" Nowhere did I say "win the legal case."
MY COMMENT - Spoken with true legal doublespeak.
Thank you. Richard. The exact reason why not many people here understood HWA or WCG even if they had been members for 25 years. It was legalistic.... Ponder that one why so many suffered unnecessarily. Nck
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