Letters From Those Impacted by
WCG, HWA & Offshoots
Best of the Letters from 2003
Glad to See WCG Auditorium Go:
January 13, 2003
Isn't it a bitter/sweet piece of (tentative) news about the Auditorium being destroyed? I'm so glad it's going, but at the same time, it seems so sad that the members, who funded the building of that monstrosity, won't see a penny of it. What a sham. What a testimony--the works of Armstrong becoming as ashes under our feet. Yet, there is a sadness to it all. It ends something of a piece of our history. We gave our hearts and souls (and many, their lives) to this belief system, and now it will be gone. It such a shame that the whole movement didn't die along with the buildings. It was still an idol, nonetheless, and I'm glad to see it go. --Former WCG member
Future Plans for Auditorium Surprised and Disgusted Me:
January 15, 2003
I'm especially irritated at Ambassador Campus site explaining WCG's future for the headquarters in Pasadena. To hear of the destruction of that building is something that both surprised me and disgusted me--especially since they made it sound like they would be doing Pasadena a favor to build up a residential area. Their self-righteousness just turns my stomach and at the same time I'm very sorry that people are still so deceived by their antics. --Former WCG member
January 27, 2003
I can't tell you how many times your website came up in talking with "experts" around the country! Know that what you do is well known, and is an invaluable resource. --Exiter
Experiencing Healing With My Family:
February 11, 2003
I've finally been opening up to my family about our past cult involvement. A relative told me that my mom (now deceased) prayed constantly for me and my husband to leave the WCG. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to heal the wounds that I have caused my family. I can't tell you how much ESN has helped me. I know I've tried to talk to my family about this before but they didn't seem to understand. Having them go to your site and see what it's about helped them to realize what had happened to us. It helped to answer so many questions they had. They finally understood the fear behind our actions. I can't thank you enough for everything you've done to help me "close the gap" that had been there all these years. I truly hope others will experience this healing of relationships with their family. --Former WCG member
I Felt Like I Was in a Cult:
February 24, 2003
I just saw your website and was reading some of the letters. I was in the Armstrong's WWCG in the early 70's. Glad to be out. Reading some of the info posted here, well, seems no matter what the "church" calls itself now, it's the same old, same old. I hope others are able to leave. I hope they are able to do so without the guilt I carried so many years. I felt like I was in a cult. I do not think being a child of God should make one feel like one is in a cult. It feels good to breathe now. --Virginia
Am Sending Out Links to Your Site to Many Others:
February 27, 2003
I've been working with other WWG survivors, especially ones who got dragged in as children.
You would not believe how many links to your site I'm sending out on the web, and they, in turn, will be passing them even further. If anybody is doing God's work, it's you.
I'll be at your site a lot, and I'm already getting "thank you" from forwarding it to others. God bless you and yours. --Child survivor of WCG
[The following letter concerns the $3 million dollars WCG received when selling PCG the copyrights to HWA's literature.]
February 27, 2003
I think this is incredibly incredulous!! How can these "mainstream Christians" (WCG) justify giving Gerald Flurry more bricks to build his empire? Flurry's movement may have died with him--he didn't have too many bullets left in his gun. Now the WCG just supplied him with a whole arsenal. I'm sure Jesus is very proud of these "orthodox Christians" selling this damning heresy (a.k.a. "unusual doctrines" by WCG) to a group who will use it to propel thousands more innocent people into the clutches of a madman who claims he is "Christ's representative."
You can't tell me that Joe Tkach, Jr., Mike Feazell and Greg Albrecht don't understand this. How do you boys sleep at night? Tell me how you justify doing this?? No wonder you fellows don't teach the doctrine of hell, because if you believed it, you wouldn't be doing what you're doing! How can you vehemently claim that you were abused by this doctrine, and yet have no conscience over selling it to others??
Hey, Mike [Feazell], didn't you just publish a book exposing Herbert Armstrong as a liar and who wasn't who he claimed to be? So why are you allowing his works to be republished? Hey, Joe, is your life really Transformed by Truth? If it is, prove it. Pass up at least one financial opportunity that exploits others. Hey, Greg, does Plain Truth Ministries think it's okay to sell ads to evangelicals and sell heresy to Flurry? Doesn't the word "hypocrite" cross your mainstream lips? Shame on you all!! For once in your lives, why can't you stand up and be men and prove that you are not cast from the same mold as your predecessor. --Former WCG member [name withheld]
Worldwide Church of God Won't Supply Financial Statements:
March 3, 2003
I sent an email to Michael Morrison of WCG requesting an income statement for Joseph Tkach, Jr., or the financial statement for the WCG, and received no answer. So I sent a follow-up saying that I had asked for a financial statement out of curiosity and told them other religious organizations such as Thru The Bible Radio Network do not hesitate to provide financial statements freely and I simply thought that if other religious organizations could provide financial statements as a matter of public record, so could the WCG. I also asked why they weren't listed on charitynavigator.org since I noticed that the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association was listed there.
Finally Matthew Morgan of WCG answered me (Cc to Morrison). He said audited financial statements were "only available to baptized members in good standing" and regarding charitynavigator, they didn't consider it to "be a good fit for the Worldwide Church of God" as "most of the organizations on there were not churches" and if I wanted to understand the WCG better I was invited to "go to their website."
I saw this as nothing but spin. Here was my final reply to him:
Mat, you are absolutely right when you say that charitynavigator is not a "good fit" for the WCG. I've done some searching and the fact is the WCG is well-known as an organization guilty of fleecing scores of people for decades. Therefore, I can see why you would never want a full disclosure of WCG's financial expenses, assets, or records made available to the public. All this secrecy just proves that there is no big change in the WCG. Consequently, I (and my friends) will never donate one dime to your nefarious organization.
March 8, 2003
This has probably been addressed before, but how can anyone currently with WCG in good conscience possibly go along with the settlement (sale?) regarding the copyrights to old WCG literature, considering that it was all branded mistaken, at best, or heretical, at the worst.
This just goes to show what is really important to the upper echelon of the WCG leadership: $$$Dollars!! I believe the entire copyright lawsuit was a sham anyway just to put on the face that WCG is now principled, has courage in their conviction. Just more spin for the remaining lay membership.
If y'all at HQ were really serious, and were truly convicted that the documents are in error, not only would you not settle this sham of a lawsuit, you would dry up the church coffers, searching out and destroying the remaining flawed literature. In my opinion, you all are a bunch of moral cowards. The world does not need another half-assed, lukewarm, ecumenical ministry, such as Plain Truth Ministries.
I suppose with the settlement with PCG regarding the literature lawsuit, WCG gets to profit once more from erroneous literature and flawed doctrine. Good Day, --J. B.
March 10, 2003
We have been visiting your website for about 3 months; as a result our whole family has received Jesus Christ into our lives. We found your website quite accidentally or should I say providentially. The night before I was praying to God to lead us to His truth and guide us in His direction. I found your website as a result of looking for something else; I can't recall what it was. We were amazed at the amount of information on ESN and so grateful for it. We finally have found out what was really going on in the WCG. We left the WCG in 1993 and have been floundering ever since, until we found ESN. Thank God. We have been listening to J. Vernon McGee and it has been a great blessing to us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We always had a lot of questions and probably were considered a liability. We became enraged when we were subjected to a sermon presented by Ronald Kelly. During the course of the sermon he laughed at the congregation and inferred we were stupid for believing in polytheism and that the WCG never taught it. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. As a result, we stopped attending. We refused telephone calls from Mr. Jim Lee [the minister]. After a few weeks, Mr. Lee left a message on our answering machine and informed us we were going to be disfellowshipped. We never replied. We assumed we were. Not one person from our area ever spoke a word to us. We had no contact with anyone except one family that left a little later than us.
When we left WCG, we stopped doing all the rituals, but we still had so many unanswered questions. We had been wondering for years if we were wrong to leave or if it was self pride that caused us to leave. We now see that it was by God's grace that we did leave. We are so thankful for your website; we finally got answers to the multitude of questions we had. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your hard work. It is our prayer that God will bless you and your work. Sincerely, --Missouri
March 30, 2003
I was born into the WWCG. For several years now I have felt like there was much more to HWA than what has been published and taught by the WCG. His people control techniques, racial theories and earthly utopian teachings were all too classic.
Your site helped me to start putting the pieces together somewhat, and made me realize that the WWCG today still hasn't changed it's goals, only it's appearance.
With that fact in mind, I was appalled to hear that WWCG has decided to profit financially from HWA's writings by selling them to PCG for millions of dollars. I learned of the deal through a pastor's report, and I felt moved to send my pastor an email expressing my thoughts on the whole subject. Attached is my letter to my pastor as well as his response, all of which I think you will find interesting. My pastor is a very kindly and sincere man, but his response is classic "headquarters" spin. Admit a little guilt on the part of the church, but then put the burden back on the victims by accusing them of bitterness, lack of Christian forgiveness, etc. I think you'll see what I mean. To beat it all, he sent my personal letter, which I sent only to him, to the WWCG district superintendent without asking me first! He's tattling on me! Not that I care in the least, but isn't it classic WWCG? Oh well, I shouldn't complain, because now I'm sending his letter to you. He's a wonderful man who is, unfortunately, still blindly loyal to the system.
If you wish to post any of my enclosed correspondence, I request that you please change the names of all involved except perhaps the district superintendent. Thank you. --Former WCG member
My Stumbling Block Was the Law:
March 27, 2003
I've been questioning the Armstrong offshoot I'm in and HWA for about a year now and three days ago I gave myself to the Lord to serve him alone, by faith alone, forsaking my former life. Almost immediately, I felt the Holy Spirit minister to me for the first time. What brought me to the Lord was the understanding of my own foolishness and the foolishness of those who live faithless lives, trusting in their own intellect. In my former life, I was always arguing with people over Scriptures. I was always trying to understand things for myself. I knew that it just didn't make sense. I knew that there must be an easier way to salvation. My stumbling block was the Law. I thought that I had to keep the Law to be holy. I didn't know that all I had to do was believe that Christ lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Law perfectly for me so that I might live my life through him, and not of my own sinful self. --Anonymous
Not Moved By Anti-Christian Arguments:
April 1, 2003
I have spent many hours reading ESN information, and it has helped me and my family immensely.
Regarding "Mr. Agnostic," I stumbled across him some time before I found your group, and I must say I was disgusted and rather discouraged. I wasn't the least bit moved by his tired old anti-Christian arguments, but it just seemed like everywhere I turned in my search for information, I found disinformation. Your site is obviously different, and your concern for others seems very genuine.
Also, the email you sent me in response to my letter to [my pastor] was very encouraging. I have shared it with several interested family members and they were quite impressed. They are now eagerly reading info from your site. Thanks again! --Former WCG member
Your Site Helped Me Rethink Armstrong's Dogma:
April 4, 2003
I have been "steeped" in the doctrine of HWA since a teenager. Your site along with others has been helpful to me in the past year to rethink the dogma that is so engrained. I have especially appreciated the many articles on the ESN site which address the flawed teachings of HWA. I think the floodgates for me were opened when I downloaded and read the copy of D. M. Canright's Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced. I cannot wait to meet Mr. Canright someday and tell him that almost 100 years after he wrote his book, it was still bringing people to the truth regarding this Sabbath issue. God is really moving in the lives of my family (parents, sisters, their families and my son and me). All of us have decided to leave the organization (a WCG splinter group) and to join the mainstream of Christianity. Both of my sisters have found wonderful, grace-filled churches in our community. My parents, though they have not "officially" left, will, and I have no doubt they too will find a better way to live their faith. I don't believe "going to church" is the "key" to salvation. Only Christ and a faith in who He says He is, is what brings salvation.
As for me, through hours of talks with my family, I believe we all have had the Holy Spirit move in us and given us much peace in this most difficult decision. --Formerly involved with Armstrongism
Your Site is Excellent:
April 11, 2003
I just found your site today, and I couldn't believe it. My parents brought me into the WWCG when I was nine years old. I am now 51. I was deeply involved about 7 years. Just when I think I've put this horrendous experience behind me, it rears its ugly head. I have always wanted to talk to somebody about it, but didn't think that anyone would believe me outside of my own family who witnessed it first hand. Your site is excellent, and I am so grateful to have found it. I feel like I need to read everything on it, including all the books and articles listed. You have done a wonderful job of putting this together. Thank you so much. --Child survivor of WCG
We Were Influenced By Mind Control:
April 30, 2003
I believe that exposing the evils of HWA is correct and that it shouldn't stop there, but go on (as your site has) to help those who have been abused by him and show that Jesus can heal us and that in time God will help us to triumph through this. HWA may have taken our money, but he can't take our salvation when we know our identity in Christ.
I disagree completely with those that say we weren't influenced by mind control. Yes, we chose to join the group, and yes, we were too trusting because we lacked experience to discern, but the WCG did use mind control to keep us there--and certainly frightened us into the group with their "be part of the true church or be left behind!" literature. --Former WCG member
WCG Was a Bad Investment:
June 17, 2003
Thank-you for your informative and helpful site.
I left WCG when an Ambassador College Student (they were treated like gold, while we were treated like mud) and gave a sermon on staying in WCG in spite of all the changes because it was like an investment in our time and money. That's when I woke up and realized I had made a bad investment and it was time to get out!
Nobody really understands what we've been through unless they've been there too. The scars are real, painful, and we are still reeling from it all and it's been 6-7 years since we got out.
We have attended a Baptist church the last two Sundays and it has been like a balm to my soul. My spouse is still very cautious and unsure. But this is a big step for both of us. I realize now that we both need additional help if we're ever going to recover from WCG. Stumbling upon your web site just might be the start of our spiritual healing process. Thanks again! --Exiters of WCG
Your Site Has Been Like a Breath of Fresh Air!
July 18, 2003
There is nothing anyone can say that will change my favorable view of the great work you have been doing. Who else is trying to help the victims recover from the mistreatment of WCG and its splinters? None that I know of.
Also, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, was hated for the great Work He was doing. Even He could not please the religious leaders and evil doers of His day. You and your work has been like a great breath of fresh air for those who have turned to you. Jesus Himself might have led them to your site. Wow!! Isn't that great!!
Your detractors do not in the least faze me about your good works. I feel sure this is true of many you have held out a helping hand to. Your helping hand has reached out to many who have been drowning in their fears, confusion, abuse, distractions, loneliness, friendlessness and many concerns left by the abusiveness on the part of WCG. It seems the Spirit uses you in your quest to aid others in your selfless way for the aid of those still in need of help.
I thank God and I thank you for being there. You are an instrument of His.--Ex WCG
Relief to Know Others Feel the Way I Do:
July 25, 2003
It really has been a remarkable relief and help to me to know that I am not alone and that others felt and feel just the way I do. The isolation of feeling so different from everyone I come in contact with in everyday life is not as crippling now that I know others share the pain and grief that I do. I already feel so much stronger and so much happier now that I have done so much research on cults and cult induced personality traits and understand why I reacted the way I did when I left. I still get depressed at times because it can be overwhelming and I feel like I will never be able to get rid of all that I have engrained in the back of my mind for 20 years while in the cult, but I feel like I'm a living and loving human being now instead of a robot. --Child survivor of WCG
No Longer a Victim:
All the hidden dynamics of my life growing up and being in Worldwide Church of God was a nightmare. And the way we coped was denial.
After the changes, our local congregation was talking against what HQ was teaching in The Worldwide Newses, etc., and they did it up until we left a year ago. Ted Johnson was so abusive behind the scenes. (The image the ministers put out is incredible!!) One family in our area almost had their family literally destroyed by him. He lied and so did his wife.
Suffice it to say, we were never loved, or nurtured, or comforted, the whole time we endured in that cult. The whole package is abusive and wrong. I look forward to the day of its total destruction. God can save whomever He wants to out of there. He saved us and we were one pathetic mess. But now I have a chance to move forward. I am no longer a victim because of what Jesus has done and is doing in my life.
At end the end of every story of abuse from that cult experience--at least for us--is a story of redemption and the freedom we have now. We can attend churches, but we don't have to join or put up with abuses. It is the hardest thing being so lonely--we like to have friends to eat with, etc.--but if that is just not possible now outside of the cult, then so be it. It is better to suffer and be alone than to cozy up with abuse. We refuse. We continue to visit with God and read.
The abuses in Worldwide will continue and it is a good thing to tell our wretched stories, hoping they will help others to recognize abuse and to realize that they don't have to continue to be abused. There are ways out! Jesus is truly the only way out completely. The more we all speak out against the cults, the more aware others become. --Exiter
WCG & Splinters Refuse to Accept Responsibility:
August 30, 2003
In my effort to "mend fences," I returned to the splinter church I just left to "visit" with its pastor. I tried to be as direct as I knew how to tell him that WCG was a poison that continues to infect its members, including the pastor. His reply to me was, "That's ancient history; its been 30 years ago." (Actually its been 22; we left WCG in 1980, but whatever.) The organization, he said, had its "problems" and that is why we left. Problems, oh my, what an understatement. I have come away from the "visit" more convinced than ever that he and his fellow "ministers" who were AC trained will not--except through a miracle of the Holy Spirit--take any real responsibility for all the pain caused to people. Moreover, he and his kind will continue to delude themselves into believing that all that WCG stuff is "in the past," when the effects of their abuse continues to keep many in bondage.
I pray that many more will find true freedom in Christ! --Former member of WCG splinter group
P.S. On a personal note, thank you for recommending the variety of "recovering from emotional and spiritual abuse" books. As you know, I have read several and each one helped me see the manipulation and Scripture twisting I came against during my "visit." Had I not read these books, I do believe I would have come away much worse that I did. Please keep doing what you do!
Interview With GTA Printed in Hustler Magazine:
September 16, 2003
I never had to serve under GTA, so I only know from hearsay what kind of minister he was. But he sure let the entire world know what kind of man he was. I first heard of GTA in the 1970's before I had any interest in the Worldwide church. He had done an interview with Larry Flynt which was published in Hustler magazine. When a magazine such as that finds plenty to write about on a person's decadent lifestyle, someone needs to wake up and smell the coffee!! I'm sure the members were virtually unaware of this article, since Hustler would not have been on the approved reading list.
I didn't wish him dead, but I'm not mourning his passing either. --Former member
Thought WCG Was Moving Into Grace:
September 29, 2003
I have just found your pages. Amazing. I have been duped all these years--thirty to be exact. I thought we (present WCG) were moving into grace. Now I see things that have been started in our area fit right in with what has been written: Seeking new members; moving to another building and changing our name; evangelizing. I am anxious and not sure what to do next. I have friends and my husband has friends. We don't want to lose them. The new location is far from us so we can fade slowly into the woodwork. But it is hard to wait. I want to do something now. I have been reading your site for about a week steady. Thank you for putting so much effort into this. --Canada
October 3, 2003
The WCG has changed little in their tactics, they still use a certain amount of mind control., they still go on the attack towards anyone that questions them, or who sheds a bad light on their business, and that in my opinion is exactly what it is, a business.
I left because they sent out mixed messages and did not make a stand. I thought at the time it was they didn't know, but now I can see that there is something deeper then that. --John Miller, Jr.
Comment: Read John Miller, Jr.'s testimony from 2002: The Ordeal of the Worldwide Church of God.
Experiencing True Godly Grace Saved My Life:
October 9, 2003
Having spent 35 years of my 37 years on earth as a member of either WWCG or a splinter group, I know all about the pain, especially the childhood memories of being so different and having to defend our weird beliefs at every turn. But I am here to say, although I have only been gone from the splinter group for six months, I have experienced such freedom! I don't think I truly understood the burdens we bore--the burden of perfectionism, of image, of "religious" purity to name a few--until gone from the "church."
Since leaving, my self-image has taken a definite turn upward. I no longer torture myself with self-doubt, or worry endlessly about "doing the right thing". Now I focus on being the right person, not just looking like I'm "holy." Experiencing true godly grace has saved my life! My health was beginning to suffer from all the years of stress, anxiety and worry that have been my companions since childhood! I certainly cannot say I have now found all the answers, but I know I have found the answer and that is to rest in Jesus! I pray that all those suffering from past, present and future pain caused by this evil cult will find the real Jesus and rest in Him. --Child survivor of WCG
Chicago One of the Most Corrupt of Church Areas:
October 14, 2003
I left the WWCG back in 1974 when the truth about GTA surfaced in the Chicago area. I probably lived in one of the most corrupt of church areas in the world and knew ole Joe Tkach Sr. personally. Joe Jr. was just a little boy, maybe 12 or 13. Dean Blackwell married me back in 1965. Bill McDowell took over after Blackwell got yanked from Chicago because of getting caught red-handed by a local member (Doc Galloway) having an affair with another member's wife. The chief "fruit cake" was Gerald Waterhouse whom I especially disliked. All the main players are now dead.
It [being in the WWCG] caused most of my life to be screwed up and I was only an actual member for 10 years. It has been many years since I was actively involved in helping people in exiting the WWCG. Keep up the good work!! God bless. --Former WCG member [name withheld]
Your Website Has Helped More Than You Can Know:
October 15, 2003
I want to thank you for creating this site, it has already helped me more than I can begin to thank you for.
I was born into the WCG, I left when in my early twenties. I am now in my early thirties and just recently I have sought professional help with a therapist. I had no idea what was wrong with me, I only knew that I wasn't right. After my first session, I was unable to sleep that night, so I grabbed my laptop and went online. Something I must have stirred up in that first session caused me to run a search on the WCG. Then I found your website. It's very difficult to describe the emotions that came out, but I will do my best. I found the child survivor page and began to read. I was up all night. I broke down several times. Relief, sadness, joy, anger, many conflicting emotions. I wept as I read some of the others' stories. I thought I was the only one that was going through this. My therapist has suggested that I contact others that have been through this and I think that is a good idea.
I just ordered about ten books from the booklist and anticipate them arriving soon. Words cannot fully express my gratitude to you for creating this site. Please use my name. Thank you again, --Jim (Child survivor of WCG)
Amazed and Incredulous:
November 21, 2003
I was recently directed to your site, and am amazed and incredulous at what I have read. I appreciate what you are doing. I have sent everyone I am concerned about, who can, to go look at your site. --Former member
Sexual Abuser Protected by WCG Minister:
December 5, 2003
I personally knew of a young lady in the Modesto, California WCG church who told me that there was a man in their congregation who had molested several children, including her. The minister knew about it, but kept silent over it until several children had become his victims. This sexual abuser was protected instead of being put out of the church. The entire situation was handled in a very bad way. --Former WCG member
Wonderful How I Found ESN's Website!
December 28, 2003
I would like to tell you about how we found your website. We never attended any churches since leaving WWCG and floundered for years. We found this one small organization called The Christian Bible Society. They had this material saying they found out about Bible translations and they re-translated the Bible themselves over a 16 year period. We corresponded with them by mail for awhile asking Biblical questions, but they would not talk to us by phone or let us know where they were located. It was really weird. All the while, I was praying to God for his help in understanding. We finally gave up writing to them because it seemed God was telling us to stay away.
I continued to pray. One night I was praying and said to God, "Father, since I was 4 years old I have been trying to find you. Please help me, I just don't know what to do anymore!" No one knew about my prayer except God. Right after that my oldest child started telling me that I needed a computer. I said no, I don't and she said yes, you do! I told her I couldn't afford one and didn't know a thing about them! She said I'll give you mine. I said no. Well, this went on for few days. She kept insisting that I really needed a computer. We finally gave in. It wasn't about more than a day later after we hooked up the computer that we found your website by accident. I didn't even know how to use a computer! My husband and I were astounded. We read article after article. One of the first articles we read was, What Were the Lies and What is the Truth? I just sat there and cried. You see it was I who wanted to go to the WWCG. I was the one who read all their material. My husband never wanted to go. He only went because of me. It was about 10 years to the day from when we left the WWCG. Wow! Isn't Jesus wonderful?
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. I found out later, as a result of your website and some of the links you had on the Bible, that what The Christian Bible Society publishes is just a rehash of the NIV [New International Version]. --Former WCG member, Missouri
P.S. We like Vernon McGee a lot and we are so grateful we found him on your website.
Comment: (Read this person's first email to ESN.) The Christian Bible Society's website uses such words as "great discovery," "truth revealed," "God is calling you into action," "You've waited long enough for the whole truth," etc. HWA used such phrases and also always kept hidden what was really behind his program--the Worldwide Church of God--only saying to write to "Herbert W. Armstrong," or "The World Tomorrow."