This website is intended for people affected by the Worldwide Church of God, Living Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God; or any other splinter group. However, these essays may be helpful to anyone who was once involved in a Bible-based cult.

Friday, 18 April 2008

'The Church' VS. 'The Hippies'

The following excerpt is taken from a book titled 'Hippies - Hypocrisy and Happiness' (published in 1968 by the Ambassador College). I've included it here, because Worldwide Church of God used the word 'cult' to describe the youth of the 60's who objected to the Vietnam War.

This is not the only case I've found where the Worldwide Church of God points its finger firmly at others declaring 'they are a cult.' (See my essay on Carn Catherwood's sermon, discussing Jim Jones' cult)

Why did the Worldwide Church of God throw around the word 'cult' so much?

Personally, I believe that 'the church' was trying to define the word 'cult' for its members. They did not want members to know that a bible-based cult is defined as 'an apocalypse-fearing church (who's leader talks with God)'. 'The church' wanted us to believe that 'cults' were satanic. I know my parents don't seem to believe there is such thing as a 'bible-based cult;' they don't think a 'church' could be a 'cult.' They believe all cults involve the occult (such as paganism or Wicca), which they consider satanic.

I think their opinion is pretty universal to ex-members of the Worldwide Church of God who have not accepted that it was a bible-based cult*.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Mormon Splinter Group Investigated

Perhaps you have seen the footage recently on the news of 400+ women and young girls dressed in 19th century clothes being evacuated from a 'religious compound' in Texas. Apparently a teenager in the cult informed the authorities that underage girls were being molested and forced into marriage, prompting the US government to get involved. The cult in question (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day) is a polygamous splinter of Mormonism, which broke off 100 years ago. The cult leader, Warren Jeffs, was previously charged with rape and forcing a 14 year old girl to marry him, so I feel that the allegations about this cult are probably founded.

I think it is also important to note that this 'church' is listed as a hate group, for its teachings against interracial marriage. Does this mean that the Worldwide Church of God and its splinters are/were listed as hate groups for teaching the same belief?

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Armstrong's Apocalypse Illustrated

In an effort to really strike the fear of God into people's hearts, H. W. Armstrong commissioned Mad Magazine artist Basil Wolverton to make a series of illustrations. It was to be depictions of the Apocalypse, with inspiration taken from Armstrong's prophecies and the book of Revelations.

Looking at these images, I'm sure I have seen them before. Perhaps not in colour, but they are so very familiar. I remember these graphics in a book my Father carr
ied in his briefcase. I used to look at the pictures before services. (We always seemed to be there a half hour or more early to 'fellowship' with other people in 'God's one true church.')

These illustrations are a chilling look into the 'world tomorrow' I was taught about as a child. Once again, I can trace my constant nightmares about a zombie apocalypse to 'the church.' I've been having dreams about the end of the world since my parents left 'the church.'

I've included a whole series of illustrations here; click on the image for an enlargement.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Common Beliefs Between the Christian Identity Movement and the Worldwide Church of God

April 19, 1995 -- on the Anniversary of the Waco tragedy -- a Federal building in downtown Oklahoma City was bombed. Over 800 people were injured, and168 people were killed. This act of terrorism was committed by people involved with the Christian Identity movement, who opposed the way the Branch Davidian cult was dealt with at Waco. In fact, the bombers attended a Christian Identity church in Scottsbluff, Nebraska; not just too far from where I grew up in America.

"What is Christian Identity?" I asked myself, while doing a report on the bombing when I was in college. This started a line of research which changed my life, forever.

The Christian Identity movement is closely related to the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi skinhead groups. They believe in Anglo/British Israelism; meaning, they believe that the British (and Americans, the colonial descendents of the British) are the lost 10 tribes of Israel. They believe that the Anglo-Saxons are 'Gods Chosen People,' and use this belief to justify their racist acts.

When I first discovered this information, I was shocked. You see, I was already familiar with Anglo/British Israelism; I remember my Grandfather teaching me about it as a very young child. It was one of Herbert W. Armstrong's core beliefs, and thus essential doctrine of the Worldwide Church of God. In truth, I had considered Anglo/British Israelism to be prejudiced from the age of 12 or so. However, I didn't know it was the same belief that the Ku Klux Klan used to justify racism and hate crimes.

The difference between Christian Identity's interpretation of Anglo/British Israelism and what was taught in the Worldwide Church of God is only a matter of extremity. In 'the church', we were taught that interracial marriage was a huge sin. Christian Identity churches teach the same, but take it a few steps further. They insinuate that 'God's Chosen People' (whites) have been given the right to punish people who violate 'Gods Law'.

Christian Identity also seems to direct a lot of hatred at Jews. I do not remember anyone in 'the church' directly preaching hatred of the Jews or non-white people. However, I do remember being told that 'Gods Chosen People' will rule over the people of the earth in the 'World Tomorrow' when Christ returns. And I do remember wondering as a child, "Who exactly will we rule over?"

Did Herbert W. Armstrong truly preach racism? I was determined to find out. Of all the research I have done to answer this question, the most incriminating evidence is found within the books that Armstrong himself wrote. Discovering such a close connection between the 'church' I grew up in and the neo-Nazi Christian Identity movement was the first step I took in accepting that the Worldwide Church of God was in fact a bible-based cult*.

"God does not reveal in the Bible the precise origin of the different races. It is evident that Adam and Eve were created white. God’s chosen nation Israel was white. Jesus was white. But it is a fair conjecture that in mother Eve were created ovaries containing the yellow and black genes, as well as white, so that some of the children of Adam and Eve gave rise to black, yellow, as well as white. The one man God chose to preserve the human race alive after the Flood was perfect in his generations—all his ancestry back to Adam was of the one strain, and undoubtedly that happened to be white[...]

Mystery of the Ages; H.W. Armstrong; pg. 147
These words are undoubtedly racist. Where in the Bible does it say Jesus was white? The statements are not scriptural, it is merely the racist opinions of Armstrong. If the Bible did state that Adam, Eve or Jesus were white, Armstrong would have included the scriptures to 'prove' his point. Below I have included quotations from two of Armstrong's books: Mystery of the Ages and The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Both of these passages deal more directly with Anglo/British Israelism; the beliefs that both the Ku Klux Klan and Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God have in common.
"So now again we come to the question, Why did God raise up this special Hebrew nation as “the chosen people”? [...] One point to notice here. The probability is that these people were all—or nearly all—of the white racial strain, unchanged since creation."[...]

"Here was a people of almost clear racial strain, and the God believing heredity of Abraham, Isaac and Israel."[...] "The nation Israel under Moses was one race—very little interracial marriage had marred their racial nationality. The Promised Land was then called Canaan. Canaanites, racially dark, had settled in the land. But God had given this land to the racial descendants of Abraham by promise! It did not belong to the Canaanites or other races settled there."[...]

"This nation Israel was God’s nation. But they were a physical, not a spiritual nation. Yet God gave them his Church, as well as national government and religion. God intended to keep them physically separate from other nations—both nationally (racially) and religiously. For them to intermarry with other races would result in two things: It would interbreed them into other races, and mix them into other idolatrous religions!"

Mystery of the Ages; H.W. Armstrong; pg. 166- 172

"The world has never known what became of them [the lost ten tribes of Israel]. The world in general, mistakenly, has considered that all Israelites were Jews. But in the Bible, the term Jew applied only to the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. The Levites had joined the kingdom of Judah when they were expelled by Jeroboam. [...]
"The so-called Lost Ten Tribes—the kingdom of Israel—continued into western Europe and Britain. [...] Ephraim and Manasseh journeyed on into the British Isles. They became a colonizing people, and according to prophecy they were to lose their first colony."
"Let who grow into this promised multitude? Let whose descendants become that numerous seed, which shall number into billions? Not Judah, the father of the Jews—note it!—but Ephraim and Manasseh! [...] Who, then, according to your Bible, is the real Israel (racially and nationally) of today? Ephraim and Manasseh! Ephraim and Manasseh together received the right to the name Israel. It was to become the national name of their descendants. And their descendants were never Jews!" [...]
"Thus it is that many of the prophecies about “Israel” or “Jacob” do not refer to Jews or to any of the nations that are today the descendants of the other tribes of Israel. [...] Together the descendants of these two lads, Ephraim and Manasseh, were to grow into the promised multitude—the nation and company of nations. These national blessings are poured upon them jointly. These are the collective blessings which the lads together received—but not the other tribes!"

The United States and Britain in Prophecy; H.W. Armstrong

Easter, and other Pagan Holidays

Today is Easter Sunday. On the television they are playing a Catholic mass. Everything about it seems so foreign to me: the organ and choir music, the images of Jesus on the cross, the prayers that everyone recites together. The Christian message, that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, is completely alien to me.

I actually feared the concept of Easter as a child. The Worldwide Church of God deemed Easter a Pagan holiday. I remember getting a chocolate easter egg from a teacher at school and feeling as if I had committed an unpardonable sin by eating it. It is important to note that the word 'Pagan' and 'Satanic' were interchangeable in the Worldwide Church of God.

It is true that Easter is on the Spring Equinox, and that Pagan religions of Europe had celebrations on all of the Equinoxes and Solstices. It is also true that, in order to convert Pagans to Christianity, the Catholic church absorbed Pagan holidays into their customs. The Worldwide Church of God deemed nearly all holidays Satanic; Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day.

I believe Armstrong condemned these holidays for a few main reasons:

Fisrt, to keep members of 'the church' from ever being able to visit, fellowship with or convert to other Christian churches.

Secondly, to alienate 'church' members from any family members who were not in the Worldwide Church of God. Holidays are when family -- who may not see each other very often -- gather together. Members of 'the church' were unable to accept Christmas presents or go to family get-togethers on any of these holidays.

Thirdly, because we were not allowed to celebrate these Pagan holidays of the world, the Hebrew Holy Days of 'the church' became very important. Armstrong tried to make all of our happiest childhood memories center around the 'the church' and it's practices.

For instance, the Feast of Tabernacles was the most important time of the year for me, as a child. For a whole week, my family would stay at a hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota; USA. We would get presents, like 'normal' Christians would get at Christmas; we would go out to eat at restaurants and fellowship with other members of 'the church.' Most importantly, sometimes my grandparents from the UK would come to the Feast in Rapid City.

Although I have finally accepted the fact that the Worldwide Church of God was a bible-based cult*, some part of me still misses going to the Feast. All of the warm, family memories most people have for Christmas, I have for the Feast of Tabernacles. I believe this is why, when my family first left the Church, I studied hard to convert to Judaism. Those Holy Days were so important to me -- and my identity -- that I could not let them go. If it were not that I lived 100 miles away from the nearest Jewish Temple, I believe I would have converted by the age of 16.

Watching these Christians celebrate Easter on TV makes me realize I don't really know what true Christianity is. I was taught to fear Catholics, and in fact all Christians who celebrated these Pagan, Satanic holidays. I remember physically fearing the Lutheran church my grandmother went to. I was scared to go in the building, as it was filled with what I was told were 'false idols' -- images of Christ and the cross. I was scared to even look at the imagery.

Not only were we taught to fear and distrust all forms of Christianity by the Worldwide Church of God, we were also told that demons dwelt in all other churches. We were taught that Satan was in control of the world, and anyone who was not in the Worldwide Church of God had demons in control of their mind. Only those in God's one true church (the Worldwide Church of God) were not under the influence of Satan.

I was taught all this as a small child, and it effects me to this day.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Waco's Branch Davidian Cult and the Worldwide Church of God

When I first found out that the Branch Davidian cult (gunned down by the US government in Waco, Texas) was a schizm of the Seventh Day Adventists, I was shocked. I knew that the Worldwide Church of God also split off of the same religious sect.

At that time, I had not fully accepted that the Worldwide Church of God was a cult*. I found myself compelled to research the history and beliefs of the Branch Davidian cult, to compare it with 'the church' that I grew up in. First, I'll go over the beliefs both the Branch Davidian cult and the Worldwide Church of God had in common:
  • Both believed that Christ would return in the immediate future.
  • Both kept the Sabbath on Saturday.
  • Both kept dietary laws.
  • Both kept all of the Jewish Feasts; including the Feast of Tabernacles, Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, Feast of Unleavened Bread (etc.)
  • Both believed they were 'God's one true church.'
  • Both groups believed they were the 'Philadelphia church' mentioned in Revelation 3:7
  • Both believed their respective leaders were 'God's end time prophets.'
  • Both believed in a 'Place of Safety', where members would be called to during the impending apocalypse.
There are a few other similarities between the Branch Davidian cult and the Worldwide Church of God. For instance, they both had compounds in Texas; the Branch Davidians at Waco, TX and the Worldwide Church of God at Big Sandy, TX; both groups recruited new members by radio programs. Also, both organizations were investigated by the US government. Now I'll go over some differences between the two groups (which are important to note for balance.) For instance:
  • The Branch Davidians believed they would have to physically fight off the demons of the apocalypse with weapons.
  • Worldwide Church of God members awaited the day when trumpets would call them to their 'Place of Safety' in Petra, Jordan. There, 'the church ' would build a great city, and start a new civilization.
  • Many Branch Davidians already lived in their 'Place of Safety' (Waco, TX) and stock-piled gun in anticipation of the apocalypse.

Below is a time line, tracing the Branch Davidian cult and the Worldwide Church of God back to the same parent group; the Seventh Day Adventists.
1863: The Seventh-day Adventist Church becomes an official body. Ellen G. White, who was considered an end time prophet, played a big part founding the church. She taught that, when the apocalypse came, Jesus will gather all those who are worthy and take them to a kingdom in heaven. [1]

1884: Some Seventh-day Adventist members did not believe a woman (Ellen G. White) could be a prophet. These members broke away and formed the Church of God (7th Day). [2]

1929-1931: Victor Houteff (a minister of the Seventh-day Adventists) believes he is an end time prophet. He began teaching that God will create a place of safety on earth when Christ returns (ruled by Jesus and the "Antitypical David.") The Seventh-day Adventist Church disfellowshipped him for these teachings. Houteff starts his own church, the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists. [3]

1938: Minister Herbert W. Armstrong was disfellowshiped by the Church of God (7th Day), for preaching about the Feast of Tabernacles and Anglo/British Israelism**; the belief that Anglo-Saxons are the true descendants of the ancient Israelites. Armstrong formed his own church, called the Radio Church of God (later re-named the Worldwide Church of God.) Armstrong claimed to be God's end time prophet. [4]

1955: The Davidian Seventh-day Adventists are split when their end time prophet Victor Houteff dies. Houteff's wife is appointed leader, but Minister Benjamin Roden claims to be God's new endtime prophet. Roden forms the Branch Davidians. [3]

** [It is important to note that Anglo/British Israelism was a belief preached by the Ku Klux Klan. ]

Armstrongism and the Apocalypse

As a 3rd generation Worldwide Church of God member, my childhood was saturated in Armstrongism. Many teachings of 'the church' effect my life to this day. One stands out in my mind: it's views on the apocalypse.

We were taught that the apocalypse would happen 'in our lifetime.' We were told only members of the Worldwide Church of God would survive the apocalypse, and have everlasting life*. Trumpets were supposed to blow--at any moment--signaling that the end times had come. Upon those trumpet calls, members of 'the church' would sell all of their belongings and send the money to the Worldwide Church of God. 'The church' leaders would buy jets and we would all move to the 'place of safety' (Petra, Jordan).

Also, as a child I was taught that , if we did not follow all of Gods laws, we may not hear the call of the Trumpets and be left behind to be eaten alive by demons.

I have been free from the bondage of Armstrongism for over a decade now. For years, I tried to just forget about 'the church.' Only now I come to realize how detrimental 'the church' has been upon my mental wellbeing. For over more than half of my life, I have had re-occuring nightmares of the apocalypse; specifically, a zombie apocalypse. Rotting corpses re-animated... seeking human flesh to eat.

Below is the audio of a Worldwide Church of God sermon (taken from 1982.) This audio file is long; in the old Worldwide Church of God fashion. I took the time to listen to the whole thing; but now I finally understand why I have re-occuring nightmares of a zombie apocalypse to this day.

I find this sermon shocking.
Carn Catherwood warns that 'the church' will be compared to Jim Jones, when we flee to the "Place of Safety" during the apocalypse. The sermon warns us that--during the apocalypse-the media will call us a cult.

Perhaps it is important to note that this sermon was recorded only 3 years after the mass cult suicide in Jonestown. I believe American media had focused much attention on cults at this time. Obviously these statements (supposed prophecies) were a form of damage control, due to the heightened awareness of cults after the Jonestown mass suicides.

The WCG minister then recites a passage from Revelations, twisting it; he claims that
"the media is Satan on earth, trying to trick us out of everlasting life." The minister says it is Biblical prophecy: "the government and the media will try to prevent us from fleeing to Jordan."

Church members are told that we cannot survive on their own during the apocalypse; they can only survive in the 'Place of Safety." He conjures up images of people being eaten alive; claims that your neighbours will burn down your house to get at any food you may have hoarded for the apocalypse.

The minister, Carn Catherwood, is obviously trying to force people (using fear-tactics) to believe in the "Place of Safety." We are reminded about Lots wife, who turned to a pillar of salt, when she hesitated fleeing. Over and over the minister says: "As it was in Lot's time, so shall it be during the tribulation."

Catherwood is encouraging people to act without thinking, out of fear. We are told to blindly follow 'the churches' lead OR ELSE. Catherwood is teaching members that even common sense and critical thinking could cause you to loose your eternal life.

This sermon is evidence that the old Worldwide Church of God was in fact a cult*.

[It is important to note, that these teachings are now considered 'doctrinal errors' by the current Worldwide Church of God. During the fateful 'Changes', this was one of the 200 plus doctrines that were altered.]

Herbert W. Armstrong and Interracial Marriage

Herbert W. Armstrong's views on interracial marriage were not at all a secret. I have found various sermons and written works by Armstrong that express a great deal of racism. The following collection of quotes is intended to illustrate how open Armstrong was about his racist beliefs, and how he enforced his prejudices upon members of the Worldwide Church of God.

"God originally set the bounds of national borders, intending nations to be separated to prevent interracial marriage. [...] Noah was of perfect lineage in his generations. His wife and three sons were of that same white strain."

Mystery of the Ages; H.W. Armstrong; pg. 149
"God intended to prevent racial intermarriages. But man has always wanted to violate God’s laws, intentions and ways. They wanted to become one race or family through intermarriage
of races."

Mystery of the Ages; H.W. Armstrong; pg. 151

Below, I have transcribed pieces of one of Herbert W. Armstrong's shockingly racist sermons. I have included a link the the audio of the entire sermon. He was 90 years old when he spoke these words. I have capitalized certain bits of text to note the volume of Armstrong's voice. Anyone who has heard a sermon by HWA will remember his bouts of screaming, when he was trying to make a point.

Apparently, what had spurred him to write this sermon was a letter, written by one of his followers.
[Click to hear a racist sermon by Herbert W. Armstrong]

"Today I want to speak on what may possibly be the very next attack that Satan will use against this church [...] interracial marriage."
"It was stated that the blacks in God's Church are dissatisfied with such doctrines that are not in keeping with the current social trend in the world [civil rights movement] that are a part of this nations background. [...] And this letter also says that they are trying to line up a group of blacks to give ME AN ULTIMATUM, that I get on the side of the social trend of this world, or else! I'll tell you what I'll give them, I'LL GIVE THEM THE 'OR ELSE!' (church audience laughs) I WON'T COMPRIMISE ONE MILLIONTH OF AN INCH! And if you will, you can go into the Lake of Fire if you want to. [...] Some are saying that we have to to have racial balance at ambassoders college. [...]"
"Genisis 6:1; And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of
the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

Genisis 6:2; That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were
fair; and they took them wives of ALL WHICH THEY CHOOSE."

"That's what they want to do today. A black man wants to take a white woman for a wife, THAT'S WHAT HE CHOOSES. [...] Now I don't know any cases where a WHITE MAN wants to marry a black woman, WHY IS THAT? Answer that for me! Why is it only BLACK MEN who want to marry white women?"
This is obviously a twist of scripture. Armstrong is trying to 'prove' his racist beliefs with the Bible. There is no mention in the Genesis 6 that God sent Noah's flood because of interracial marriage; nor is there any evidence that Noah was white. HWA himself declares this, but there is no evidence in the scriptures.

And why should 'the church' question him? He is God's end-time Elijah... GOD TALKS TO HIM (or at least that is what WCG members were told.) Going against Armstrong was like going against God, for members; leaving the church was the worst sin one could commit. Apparently, these are concepts that are found in many cults*.