Exit and Support Network

For Those Needing Information on
Garner Ted Armstrong

Garner Ted Armstrong founded the Intercontinental Church of God and The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, both located in Tyler, Texas. His booklets and TV programs emphasized problems in society and newsworthy items that he believed related to Biblical prophecy, but many people joined his cultic organization after listening to him speak, or after subsequently sending away for a few of his "interesting booklets." He taught many of the same doctrines that his father, Herbert W. Armstrong taught, such as:

Keeping the 7th-day Sabbath as fundamental to one's relationship to God; responsibility of tithing to his organization; keeping God's Law as part of receiving eternal salvation (includes observance of the seven O.T. feast days called "annual Sabbaths"); Jesus Christ is the second member of the God family; the Holy Spirit is the essence, power and mind of God; the gospel is preaching the history of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God as the government of God where members have the opportunity to rule someday; a belief in four resurrections (Christ's being the first); a resurrection of the saints at Christ's return to become spirit-composed members of God's family; a physical resurrection for all those who never understood God's way and who will then be given a chance for salvation; the last resurrection for those who reject God's way and who will be consumed in the Lake of Fire; the overwhelming majority will qualify for God's Kingdom and inherit eternal life.

GTA was suspended from the Worldwide Church of God in 1971 for "sexual sins"; however his father told the members that his son had "emotional problems." He was later reinstated before the first of 1972 and again suspended in May 1972.

GTA's sexual infidelities were never admitted publicly by HWA, but repeatedly covered this up.1 Then in 1973 it became known to the ministry that Garner Ted Armstrong had been committing adultery with a large number of Ambassador College girls, coeds, baby-sitters, and other women. However, there were other ministers who had known of GTA's sexual improprieties since the 1960's.2 (Read: 1973 Communiqué From The Council Requesting Garner Ted Armstrong's Removal.) From the 1970's on GTA continually "repented" and "repented" of his rampant immorality and sinful lifestyle, but was never known to change.1

Eventually in 1978 GTA was permanently ousted, the reason given was that Herbert W. Armstrong felt his son tried to turn the church into a "secular and worldly organization" while HWA was ill. However, GTA said the real reason for his being ousted was that he threatened to expose Herbert Armstrong regarding his incest (which he had found out through his [GTA's] wife.3 After that incident, he and his father never talked to each other again. GTA (along with Guy Carnes4 and Benny Sharp) then founded the Church of God International (CGI) in 1978.

Garner Ted's bisexuality had been known by others for a long time. In William B. Hinson's book, The Broadway To Armageddon, p. 114, Ken Westby says to GTA in a 1974 letter, "Testimony from a man who observed you propositioning a young fellow on the street in southern California." Ambassador Report #61, March 1996 also claims Ted was involved in a sodomitic relationship as a young man, but his father, HWA, pulled him out of it. It was understood that GTA could pursue all the girls he wanted, but he was to shun same sex unions.

Finally in 1995, criminal charges were filed against GTA in Texas by Suerae Robertson (a licensed vocational nurse whom GTA had hired for massage therapy). GTA was videotaped unknowingly at the time. Exit & Support Network™ was first to get this story out and handled calls from reporters, attorneys, phone conversations with Suerae Robertson, and others involved.5 As a result of ESN's exposure on GTA, he lost a lot of members from his church and the group fragmented. (OIU Volume Six, pt. 7 mentions this exposure of his sexual improprieties.) On July 11, 1997 Suerae and her lawyer appeared on the Geraldo Rivera's TV Show, "Sex, Crime and Videotape," concerning GTA's behavior. When Geraldo aired the video, it was testified that pictures of naked women were seen tattooed all over GTA's body. This and other depraved behavior by GTA was reported in an article in the New Times Los Angeles.

There have been other allegations against GTA by others regarding sexual improprieties. GTA's last known affair was with a young woman less than half his age from Louisiana area. She had almost become his daughter-in-law, but after GTA's son David broke off his relationship with her, GTA started seeing her. The affair lasted several years, ending with the masseuse incident. In addition, GTA had been observed over the years in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Reno, gambling for high stakes and drinking alcoholic beverages.

The Church of God International Board of Directors finally removed GTA in 1998 from all positions he held in the church. (Read: Letter Regarding the Immorality of Garner Ted Armstrong) After parting ways with the CGI, Garner Ted Armstrong founded the Intercontinental Church of God in 1998 (Tyler, TX).

Garner Ted Armstrong died of pneumonia at age 73 in a Tyler, Texas hospital on September 15, 2003. Before he died, GTA's program was heard on over 100 cable stations in North America. He spoke at different conference centers around the country, advertising himself as an "internationally known evangelist and commentator," and "world known." His organization has a small TV outreach, plus a few radio stations. Intercontinental Church of God, in association with The Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelical Association, publishes the Twenty-First Century Watch.

After GTA's death, his son Mark Armstrong6 spoke to the press that the ICG has an enormous responsibility to "carry on his [GTA's] work and to make sure his voice will not be silenced."

Garner Ted Armstrong continued to believe until the very end that he was "God's messenger" with the "truth of the Gospel." His sermons and booklets contained an air of carnality mixed with human reasoning. In a June 22, 1998 sermon entitled "Signs to Watch" he presumptuously said that many in the "churches of God " (i.e., the Worldwide Church of God offshoots) will never be in God's Kingdom unless they overcome a major stumbling block--that stumbling block being him.

One must ask, what were the fruits of Garner Ted Armstrong's life? Did he ever truly bring forth fruits worthy of repentance? Repentance means to "change your mind." It means to be restored to fellowship with God. A true Christian will want to live a holy life. (Rom. 6:19; 2 Cor. 7:1; I Thes. 4:7) He will take correction from the Scriptures. He will not seek favor from man, but from God.

Much has been written on other websites regarding GTA's lifestyle and how he constantly made excuses and covered up his sins. How can members continue to trust these kinds of leaders to lead them in the inspired Word of God?

By D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™
January 06, 2001
Last updated April 12, 2006

 

"They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." ~Titus 1:16

 

NOTE: More on GTA is mentioned in the 1997 New Times Los Angeles article, "Honey I Shrunk the Church."

Related Material:

"None of God's Servants Were Perfect" (for those who like to use this reasoning)

Profile of a Sociopath (A number of religious cult leaders may exhibit many of these behavioral characteristics)

Where is the True Church?  

Footnotes:

1 Many of GTA's sexual improprieties were printed in Ambassador Report #2, 1977. (Note: Please be aware that the AR is now posted on an atheist website.)

2 Al Carrozzo (one of many ministers who resigned from WCG during this period of time, see Worldwide Church of God History) stated that he had known about GTA's sexual improprieties since 1965. (Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1974) Also read, Hanky-Panky and Revolt in the Worldwide Church of God which covers Carrozzo.

3 Phone conversation between Garner Ted Armstrong and researcher in the Exit & Support Network™.

4 Guy Carnes was principal of Imperial Schools at Big Sandy, Texas. He later became one of the three founders of Church of God International (GTA). He died of cancer on November 2, 1999 at the age of 72.

5 The Exit & Support Network™ investigated and covered this GTA sexual assault lawsuit and has a 200+ investigative report in our files on the lawsuit that was waged against GTA when he molested Suerae.

6 Garner Ted's son, Mark Armstrong, now heads ICG and the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, teaching the same Armstrong doctrines, and his sister Shirley Armstrong is vice-president of the GTAEA.


Back to Offshoots / Intercontinental Church of God