Exit and Support Network

The Myth and the Abuse of the
Feast of Tabernacles

When someone is first being lured to the Philadelphia Church of God, they are baited by the myth of the Feast. They are told that it is better than Christmas (which you are told is "pagan.") They are told that their children will love it and have a wonderful family time. They will have all the money they need without going into debt. They will travel to a wonderful vacation spot with a lot to do and will experience the "Millennium" ahead of time. As a Feast celebrator of thirty years, I can tell you that the truth is much different.

If you have children, they will be persecuted by the school system. They will probably be penalized by their grades being lowered. They will certainly be loaded down with twice as much work as their classmates will be doing, and it must be turned in when they get back. They will have to spend all the time in services doing schoolwork.

You are told you will have one tenth of your income to spend (the second tithe). However, you must also use some of that money during the year at the other Holy Days. There will be motel bills to be paid and many expensive meals bought before you ever get to the Feast. You must send in a full tenth of your second tithe to pay "expenses." By the time you make your reservations, which are supposed to be at the best motel you can afford, you may find that your available money is much lower than you expected. Eating out is so expensive that many people wind up eating from coolers they keep in their rooms. Still, you are expected to eat out as much as possible.

You will be expected to volunteer for some service to be done either during services, or before and afterward. If you do not volunteer, you may be assigned a job to do. Depending on your assignment, you may be forced to come early and stay late which will greatly cut down on the available time to go do anything else. Your available time will also be taken up by multiple scheduled events that you are expected to attend. You will find that you have very little time left over to go to any of the "wonderful activities" that the area has to offer.  

You will also be told you must pray at least thirty minutes a day and do Bible study as well as study all the notes which you are required to take during services. I doubt that many members actually do this.  

You are told you may eat anything you want, but warned not to overdo it or you will get sick. In 2003 the headquarters site (Edmond, Oklahoma) was hit by a flu epidemic, but the other sites were not told of it. There was no warning not to shake hands or to wash frequently. Hundreds of people at Edmond were sick the entire week and had to stay in their rooms.  

In the meantime, bills are piling up back home with no income to pay them. If you hoped to bring home some money to pay bills, you will probably be disappointed. Most people take their vacations during the Feast, so there will be money left at home. When you come home, you feel that you did not have enough time to enjoy yourself. There will be no money or time left for a real family vacation. You will probably experience what is known as "post-Feast let down." However, you will be told that this must be the "Best Feast Ever!" To achieve this, you probably wind up at the mall before you come home buying whatever expensive trinkets you can still afford so that you will have something to show for all the wasted money. Meanwhile, home repairs or necessary expenses may go begging for years so you can keep your second tithe faithfully.

Do not expect your children to "like the Feast better than Christmas." Between the persecution at school and the lack of time, plus the overload of schoolwork, they may greatly resent the whole thing. Do not count on this being your family vacation. It is not.

If you have any problems, you may be sent home by the ministry with no hope of returning. If you have car problems, or sickness, you will basically be on your own. If you run out of money, you will be in trouble with the ministry. They will be sure that you cheated on your second tithe.

All this adds up to a huge amount of stress and pressure for the people that attend. There are some who wind up skipping services to have a good time, but they run the risk of being sent home. Everyone is expected to be at services unless they are ill. In other words, your time is not your own at the Feast. You are there at the minister's whim. You must perform all tasks assigned to you. You must put the Feast ahead of your family.  

The Feast of Tabernacles is just another method of control that is being used on the members. Those who do not measure up will be weeded out. Don't allow yourself to be deceived. Take a real vacation with your family instead. You will save a lot of money, and those house expenses won't be put off for year after year. You can get much closer to God on your own than by taking copious notes of two-hour, boring sermons by untrained, pompous overlords who basically just want to be worshipped themselves.

By Janet (former member of PCG)
April 22, 2004

 

"How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, wherein ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days and months, and times, and years" (Galatians 4:9,10).


Comment by ESN:
The Scriptures show that the command to "dwell in booths" applied only to the native born in Israel (Israelites): "Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:" (Lev. 23:42) Yet HWA tried to make members think this verse meant they were to leave their homes and live in motels, hotels, tents, etc. for 8 days.

Related Articles:

How Mystical Manipulation is Used in Herbert Armstrong Groups (shows how the Feast of Tabernacles is used to control members in the Armstrong groups)

Articles and Writings on the Holy Days


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