Exit and Support Network

Letters to Latayne Scott

Concerning Worldwide Church of God changes

 

The following three letters from ESN were sent to Latayne Scott as a result of a paragraph about the Worldwide Church of God in her book Why We Left a Cult. Scott paid no heed to any of the information she was sent. Her final reply and our comments are included.

See ESN update on WCG at end.


Letter from ESN Founder & Editor of OIU Newsletters:

July 15, 1994

Ms. Latayne Scott c/o Baker Book House
P.O. 6287
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287

Dear Ms. Scott:

It has been brought to my attention from several ex-members of the Worldwide Church of God, that you issued an emphatic statement in your 1993 book, Why We Left A Cult. After having obtained a copy of that statement on page 11 on your Preface, I too am shocked that you would have such a presumptive opinion to suggest that a devastating, and destructive cult of sixty years, has turned to God and brought itself out of cult status.

A statement such as yours is highly damaging to the welfare of thousands. Had you, or individuals such as yourself, properly investigated the Worldwide Church of God prior to making such an uninformed conclusion, you would have learned the many intricate details that clearly counteract the propaganda being programmed by the leaders of this cult-skilled organization.

You state, "astounding changes have taken place in both the doctrines and practices of that [WCG] group (accompanied by a significant decline in membership) that they can no longer be accurately viewed as a cult. While of course, many cultic groups (most notably and overtly the Mormon church) have tried vigorously through an image-changing campaign in the media to be accepted as "another Christian church, " the Worldwide Church of God seems to be doing it through repenting and changing instead of publicity and advertising. Only time will prove the group's sincerity. Meanwhile I am fascinated with the prospect that a cult, as a group, can turn to God."

As founder of the only international Exit and Support Network™ for the victims of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), I find it imperative to educate and inform you of some facts that may help balance your thoughts and impressions about the supposed "astounding changes" that you feel have taken place. Being that you have written, to my knowledge, three books which attempt to counteract the Mormon propaganda, while exposing the duplicity and frauds, I feel you will not only benefit, but will have compassion and understanding toward the victims of the WCG and relate to their situation, being that you too experienced a similar trauma.

As you may know, Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) died in January of 1986. He left behind a history that is filled with corruption in the areas of sexual deviance, gross financial improprieties, and human destruction in the forms of death and personal or family desecration, just to name a few. The two hundred million dollar a year empire (not including the millions in assets) derived its gain from highly exploiting, manipulating, coercing and deceiving thousands of people for sixty years in the name of Christianity through God and Jesus Christ. While the leaders lived (and still do) in a lavish and opulent lifestyle, by enjoying the fruits of the laborers, the members are psychologically coerced into paying a three tier tithing system, which leaves families impoverished and paralyzed. The members are pounded repeatedly to adhere to THE LAW as described by the leaders of the church. Due to severe programming of threats and fear, the members complied (and still do) with strong obedience to follow the commands of their leaders, whether they're local ministers or Pastor General Joseph W. Tkach. Either way the member is "brainwashed" into believing the leader IS God's only true minister on earth. I'm certain you can identify with that type of belief system and its repercussions being that you lived under a similar circumstance in the Mormon Church.

For a thorough research on the history of the WCG, you might start with the attached reference sheet. Many people, such as yourself with Mormonism, exited this cult throughout its years and pursued the difficult and draining endeavor to speak out as a warning for those not yet lured into its encompassing clutches. These individuals, so often labeled by the church as "dissident," have dedicated portions, if not all, of their lives toward a courageous goal. That goal was (and still is) to participate in the action of warning others of the atrocity that lures under the umbrella of Christianity. That same atrocity nourishes itself and thrives under the Freedom of Religious Rights in our Constitution.

To better understand the maneuvers being played out today, one must understand the WCG's foundation and what part Armstrongism plays.

The Church of God Seventh Day [Church of God (7th Day)] elected to remove HWA's credentials in the 1930s. HWA was adamant about introducing British-Israelism (Identity Movement/Lost Ten Tribes) into the doctrinal belief system. After flat refusal from the COG hierarchy, he proceeded to gather his own following. The Radio Church of God was established in 1934 [renamed Worldwide Church of God in 1968]. HWA's entire theme was British Israelism, He, of course, broadcast that God inspired him to announce the truth about the Lost Ten Tribes. As HWA incorporated the, "God Called ME" belief system, he became successful with British-Israelism and Holy Day plan. As the years progressed the HWA package became "God's plan of salvation." In 1948, HWA set up shop in Pasadena, California. His main thrust was to train men to be God's ministers and set up a college program that was geared toward indoctrinating young men to teach the God's way (HWA) system. 1n 1952, the printing presses expanded, pumping out booklets filled with hard-core, legalistic, seductive and ensnaring Herbert Armstrong interpretations on the Bible. It is vital to acknowledge that HWA did not just pound his personal renditions of doctrines; he simultaneously dogmatically instituted a dammed if you don't "WAY" of life. That "WAY" consisted of controlling every facet of a member's life. The Armstrongism program was NOT just doctrine! It was a behavior! Herbert Armstrong admitted that he was an avid student of communism (along with several of his top leaders) [Note: HWA stated in a November 24, 1967 Co-Worker letter that he had studied Communism in the 1930s and 1940s and he also made mention of the book, Witness by Whittaker Chambers] and teamed early, in his deceptive career, how to gain control of the minds and lives of people. A thorough study in Marxism will outline the approaches applied by the WCG.

The WCG printed hundreds upon hundreds of publications with copies into millions, instructing every member how to live in every degree. Words cannot describe the magnitude of intrusion HWA implored into each life. HWA's formula was quite simple: present the crisis; recruit the individual; control the mind and mold the loyalist by presenting the solution to the crisis. God (not Jesus) was the tool that was used as the whipping post or electric fence that kept everyone in line. Armstrongism was not a God issue. It was a WAY of life with an ideology to support it. Once hooked on the literature and HWA, a member would obey HWA in every respect. In a member's mind, his life and salvation depended on strict obedience (same teaching prevails today) and he was reminded often by fearful threats of loss of Salvation and the LAKE of FIRE.

I invite you, Ms. Scott, to view the hundreds upon hundreds of publications that outline the WAY of life that was repeatedly drilled into the brains of thousands upon thousands of innocents, year after year. The people of WCG have always lived in a commune. That commune was/is psychological entrapment skillfully organized by the leaders of WCG. The arsenal of artillery was/is housed in the minds of the victims. It must be noted that publications were not the only vehicle used for control and abuse. The membership was/is required to attend Sabbaths, attend all Holy Days, attend the eight day Feast every year, and attend Bible Studies; in conjunction with this, he was instructed to maintain heavy personal Bible study, prayer sessions, fasting and meditation, all of which was required for entry into God's Kingdom.

Being that you personally were victimized by a belief system, I am confident that your in-depth studies of cults and all the entities of cult involvement will help you to identify with the type of victimization the WCG manifests.

By the 1970s, many were catching on to the fraud and corruption perpetuated by Herbert Armstrong, and his son, Garner Ted. The Seventies proved to be turbulent years for the WCG. The organization was highly negatively publicized for its behavioral corruption and doctrinal discrepancies. Many ministers did leave once they learned that the church was a sham and they had been duped. Some fought back. Yes, some highly exploited, spiritually raped, and poverty stricken individuals tried to fight the multi-million dollar organization. Although the negative PR had a significant effect, fighting against such an operation that was armed with a massively shrewd legal team, proved to be fruitless. Many underestimated the power of the loyalists. Stanley Rader (reported by many to be a 33º Mason1) was for the most part running the entire organization during this time period. When he and HWA were not "running the show" from their hideaway in Tucson, they were traveling the world via church jets, visiting dignitaries. Significant details about this era are available upon request. As the exposé of the WCG and its leaders progressed, the Christian community became very observant to the WCG's doctrines. The understanding of cults was in the beginning stages. The WCG was one organization that helped define the word "cult" for today's society. As the inside atrocities became more noted (and I don't say the word "atrocities" lightly) theologians and Christian cult watchers began scrutinizing the unfounded beliefs of Herbert Armstrong. The results of much scrutiny splattered the pages of books and magazines throughout the world. Unfortunately, due to the lack of knowledge of cults in general, the exploitation, coercion, deception, manipulation, fraud and corruption took a back seat with the Christian community, plus there were no secular cult awareness programs at that time to help define the entities of cults as there are today.

Henceforth, the WCG did survive the Seventies, despite the fact that many felt it would not. A major thrust to revive the church was implemented in the late Seventies. That thrust consisted of eliminating a few doctrines due to their controversial status. The Marriage and. Divorce doctrine was one such doctrine (members were originally made to separate from a second marriage no matter what the circumstances were, upon their involvement with WCG). This doctrine ("God's Law") was strictly enforced for years and it created unspeakable hardship and suicides among the members. This was also one of the precipitating doctrines that caused such an out-cry in the Seventies. The major priority of the thrust entailed a stronger authoritarian control on the church. Rules and regulations were implemented consistently. A great psychological push regarding Satan vs. God and who is going to control your mind? was rampant. Every possible cult maneuver was employed. After disfellowshipping Garner Ted Armstrong for his gross sexual improprieties, HWA was utilized to bring the church back on tract. His voice permeated the airways with pounding, threatening, messages to which many were attracted. If a member did not obey or dared to question, they were immediately disfellowshipped from "God's Church" and left isolated and destitute to obliterate in the "LAKE of FIRE." (as the members were "brainwashed" into believing). Being that the church made it through the turbulent Seventies, it had no reason to care about what any Christian Cult watchers thought. The me/them attitude took on a more emphatic tone which inspired many Christian reporters to be grossly angered. It wasn't important for the leaders to care about the "persecution" from a cult watcher. The WCG got its way, as they say, and used persecution as a proof positive sign that it was truly, "God's one true church."

The church saw a great comeback during the early Eighties. The "WAY," worked! That is not surprising. HWA and leaders employed a type of government that always worked, history has proven that quite well. The main theme of WCG and its gospel was: the church is God's Government and it's purpose is to set up God's Kingdom on earth when Christ returns, which of course was scheduled to arrive within the next ten years. Again, there is much information available regarding the deceptive recruiting methods and government set up, available to those who research. The membership was/is loyal to their calling and adhered to the stringent rules and laws which were strongly enforced right through the Eighties. The main thrust of all the teaching weighed heavily on controlling the behavior of members and enforcement of absolute obedience to God's one and only Government on earth. It was also during this time that several books were written and dogmatically pushed onto the membership, that detailed the many way-out fantasies and addicting fiction supposedly conjured up by HWA with significant assistance from Herman Hoeh. (Mystery of the Ages and The Incredible Human Potential[Update: Herman Hoeh died 11-21-04]

Nothing changed for several years after HWA's death. Joseph Tkach and the HWA regime soared full speed ahead as hard-line as possible. Following the televangelist scandals that exposed Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker, and Jimmy Swaggart, minor changes started to surface. For instance, women were allowed to wear make-up, and Joseph Tkach gave the OK for people to get medical treatment. (Hundreds previously died due to the spiritual Healing Doctrine). The changes during ' 88 and ' 89 were, very few and far between. It wasn't. until 1992, that some members started to detect something was going on. These minor changes were subtly introduced as "new truths given by God to Joseph Tkach." As Joseph Tkach was/is known and respected as "God's apostle," most members incorporated the "new truths" into their thinking without skepticism. These changes were strategically maneuvered to the membership. It is vital to point out that several WCG leaders were maneuvering with certain theologians such as Ruth Tucker, as early as 1989 and 1990 and while claiming to the outsiders that certain changes were being implemented--the fact is they were not! [Note: Michael Snyder and Ruth Tucker radio interview, December 13, 1990, WMUZ, Detroit.]

Some (very little) change started to become more noticeable to the membership in 1992. However, due to the church's methods of delivery, very few members even acknowledged the fact that there were changes. First of all, Joseph Tkach repeatedly stated, "we are not really changing doctrines, just enhancing our understanding of existing doctrines." That, of course, was backed up by the local ministers while adding their confusing rendition of the so called enhancement. Herbert Armstrong was, and still is, highly esteemed and positioned as the precipitator to whatever enhancement is being made. The following quote given by Joseph Tkach in The Worldwide News (WWN) May 17th, 1994 issue (the only inside news publication), explains this point very well. In Joseph Tkach's "personal," under the subheading, The way of Christ, he discusses the Sabbath:

"'Well, then. Why can't I just go to another church where I won't have the problems of Sabbath-keeping?' one person asked. First, because God commands Sabbath-keeping.
Second, because God has called all his children to `deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him.' The way of the cross is not the way of least resistance. It is the narrow and difficult path."
"Third, God expects us to be faithful with what we understand, even it he has not given that understanding to others. And finally, we should not assume that people who faithfully keep Sunday never make any sacrifices to do so. The film 'Chariots of Fire' depicted only one small example of sacrifices people have made to remain faithful to God in Sabbath-keeping, insofar as God has given understanding."
"God is faithful to all who truly trust in him, and he does not forget their sacrifices of faith in obedience to him, even if their understanding is not quite perfect."

Two paragraphs later,

"And let's thank him [God] for the special heritage that he gave us through his servant, Herbert Armstrong, of deep commitment to the authority of the Bible as our continual guide toward faith and obedience. Through Mr. Armstrong, God gave us a tradition of continually studying the Bible for purity of doctrine, spiritual renewal and strength, correction and instruction in the way of God, and we never cease to pray for God to lead us rightly dividing the Word of Truth." [Italics, Joseph Tkach]

Many times Joseph Tkach skillfully explained to the membership that Mr. Armstrong counseled him about these changes before his death. To this day not one old teaching or doctrine has been clearly denounced. Most recently Joseph Tkach has said, "in the past we have been wrong about a few things," and while he emphasizes the word WE which in turn places the membership as part of the guilty party, the dogma and Armstrongism of the past continues to be a strong part of the present WCG mind set package. Nothing has been done to help the "brainwashed" membership to remove the paralyzing belief and behavior system that was once, and still is, dictating their lives. To confuse matters more, MANY ministers continue to run the local areas in the same destructive fashion as in the past. That fashion consists of a hard-core government which manifests a totalistic; authoritarian; controlling; aberrant organization that consists of much secrecy and duplicity while it continues to break the "self will" and demands total obedience from it members with a non-questioning, non-thinking attitude.

As 1993 progressed, the "new truth emphasis" was more "pronounced," inside the church; years after all this so called change had been reported to the outside through the mouthpiece of organizations such as Christian Research Journal, Talbot Society [Talbot School of Theology], and Ruth Tucker or Josh McDowell. I say, "pronounced," but don't consider this to indicate that the leaders were being honest, repentant, up-front or communicative with it's tithe payers. They were not! Actually, it is very safe to say that the membership, for the most part, was unaware of any reported changes up to the time of the WACO occurrence. Ironically, changes seemed to escalate following the Davidian tragedy. Luckily, for the WCG leaders, most members had no idea that the Davidians were a branch of the same Adventist line as WCG. The summer of 1993 issued in a new era of change with the introduction of "time to get a personal relationship with God." No clear teachings transpired 1993 about the Nature of God, or the Trinity. As major teachings of the past, such as Prophecy, and British-Israelism became watered down or simply not mentioned, but never denied, membership became increasingly confused. Adding to the confusion were other more significant changes, or better said, the true agenda was being played out. The leaders decided to switch recruiting strategies for the organization. This would have been impossible to implement without revamping the doctrinal package to something more attractive and salable to the Christian marketplace. In place of relying on the expensive telecast program called, The World Tomorrow and Plain Truth magazine, the new strategy of "evangelism" was introduced. This strategy was absolutely opposite the ingrained WCG behavior, which has always been, keep your mouth shut, --only God can do the calling. The main thrust toward the end of 1993, and presently, is personal evangelism. Yes, a few articles appeared in the WWN in 1993, talking about the understanding of God (hypostases), but the main push remains "evangelism." Any "doctrinal changes" are down played or positioned in a confusing, contradicting and antithetical manner. Confusion was/is so prevalent due to the scrambled doctrinal messages that members became complacent to new information and incorporated a "Who cares about doctrine God's in charge anyway," way of thinking. This attitude fits neatly into the WCG package, as it is exactly the message that was given by the leaders. "It's not a matter of what you know or what you understand, it is a matter of faith and obedience to God (lately the words, "Jesus Christ" have replaced "God"). The God of the WCG is the WCG Government and the mind-set toward its leader, be it Armstrong or Tkach, is no different than the mind-set demonstrated by millions of followers of Hitler. [Note: HWA studied Hitler's book Mein Kampf] This behavior is not exclusive to the WCG; it's a cult behavior. Letter after letter from the Pastor General clearly defines evangelism by bringing people to Jesus Christ; bring people into his church, the WCG. Training programs have been instituted in every degree concerning how to talk with people. No studies--no booklets-no doctrinal training programs have been designed to better explain, "Born Again" or "Trinity." To this day, most members would flatly deny Trinitarian beliefs or rationalize the change by saying, "it's not the same Trinity as the others believe."

Had the authors, or publishers, who aligned themselves with the WCG, investigated the total picture of the "Worldwide turn," they would have learned that there are many reasons why the WCG pursued a "we're your friend now" propaganda campaign. The leaders of WCG calculated their moves. These professional salesmen and advertisers, along with the professional PR companies they hired, knew very well that there would be a minor set back with implementation of a new strategy. Their risk however, was minimal and offered a gamble worth taking. Let me explain. WCG has earned the role as being one of the more destructive cults in America for very good reasons. As indicated, plenty of documentation was written on the corruption of this organization; WCG ran a cult. The leaders were well aware of their reputation. Even a surface investigation would indicate that. As the cult functioned by employing a government related to Marxism, it was very easy to project what negative impact a strategy change would induce. The membership was/is programmed to respond to triggers. They have been well conditioned throughout the years; their loyalty remains with the Government. God, doctrine, and religion is not the issue; it is the distraction for the membership and also the Christian cult watchers. The skilled propagandists know what they are doing. Their growth strategy is well in line with other cults' strategy in gearing up for the Nineties decade and next century. Because WCG has been known as such a "King Cult," its recruiting and growth has been hampered in the past ten years. Many countries flatly refused their entry and many possible recruits learned the truth about the group before they got personally snarled, thanks to the publications that exposed the WCG as a cult. The WCG had no choice but to orchestrate a de-culting propaganda program. Surley, they realized they would lose members, but they knew it would be only a few. Most loyalists would remain with the government. That is exactly what transpired. A few doctrinally hooked people defected to the offshoot cults, such as Global Church of God, headed by Rod Meredith. Some feel Global was purposely organized to catch the doctrinal junkies. [Note: Read: Speaking of Global...Re-inventing the Wheel for more insight on this. Roderick Meredith later founded Living Church of God.] Others, not many, have left on their own. Surely you can empathize with the post-cult trauma that's inherited, thanks to the cult. Nevertheless, they're the fortunate and brave ones. All total, WCG claims that approximately 3,000 members left the group, which is a very small number compared to the 95,000 it claims to hold. In addition, WCG's new recruiting strategy includes spot ads, that seem to be molded right after the Church of Latter Day Saints ads, unless of course you live in Canada where you'd be entertained with PROPHESY ads. The leaders claim these ads are really bringing in a great viewer response. The newly instituted "Open House" program is widely scattered throughout the globe. The chief evangelist team is not touring the local churches in efforts to train members on the new doctrinal enhancements, they are thrusting their energy into the recruiting of new, 30% of gross income, tithe-paying members. So, with all this new recruiting push in conjunction with personal evangelism, which mirrors the Boston Church of Christ [International Church of Christ] way, the WCG should certainly recover its menial losses. Your statement, indicating that WCG experienced a significant decline in membership, is wrong!

WCG had nothing to lose and everything to gain by incorporating a mixed bag of religion that includes Protestantism, Adventism and Christian orthodoxy. First of all, they have sixty years experience in playing double games. It's true, as Joseph Tkach says, they are experts when it comes to advertising and sales, they have reaped over $200,000,000 in yearly income doing what they do best. Now they teach that it is not necessary to understand doctrine, what's important is that one anchors to God's Church with faithfulness and obedience along with a willingness to do God's will by evangelizing and bringing in new disciples. The leaders would have never been able to implement this new growth strategy under the abhorrent and ridiculous belief system designed by Herbert Armstrong. Oh, it worked for his day, and would continue to work to some extent; however, it results in a Mom and Pop Shop type of cult in comparison to what the "big boy" cults are doing these days. The damaged reputation of the WCG created stagnation in the past decade, not BIG GROWTH. On the other hand, the "have it your way" theme bursts through the barriers of stagnation and enhances the proven and widely accepted PR generated by people such as yourself.

The major de-culting program has been in full swing during the past few years and it has escalated during the last six months. The priority has been on revamping the modus operandi and training the already highly exploited spiritually raped membership to go out into the "Babylon world" and recruit new disciples. Although there has been a softening up on some of the practices, the same God's Government employs the came cult tactics. This softening and tightening of the LAW belt, has been practiced many times in the WCG past. The free attitude of the Seventies led to the most rigid of all decades. History will repeat itself. But this time the WCG leaders are looking forward to a "cult free" reputation while it does it's thing.

The Tkach team has done whatever necessary to enhance the power and financial growth. Aligning with the accepted orthodox belief system. has rewarded the WCG in many ways. Other so called Christian Cult watchers like Christian Research Institute (CRI) are now recruiting for WCG also. They've permeated their publications and airways with the good news of WCG. What a clever way to get cheap advertising. It is hoped by the WCG that all negative allegations and cult warnings will cease, thanks to the WCG propaganda. That will in turn clear the way for the Tkach organization to do whatever it wants, wherever it wants. Think on that for a moment! The sloppy rendition of "change" has already paved the way toward obtaining registrations into many countries that have, as I said, flatly refused them in the past. One of the latest benefits to the propaganda ploy has been the acceptance to accreditation of the Ambassador College, better known now as Ambassador University. Herbert Armstrong was adamantly against any college accreditation. He said repeatedly that God's Church was not in the college business. Well, the "astounding change," as you call it, has opened the door to the college business and many other business as well. WOW! Now the WCG can scrape more from the government by obtaining grants. And, isn't it wonderful that WCG can travel the globe recruiting students to attend the WCG indoctrination program! It has been reported that the college presently has 54 countries represented. One wonders who is paying their way! Is it the Government, or the laborers of the church? Do you know?

Ms. Scott, I could go on for another several pages about the benefits for the organization due to it's de-culting strategy, but I hope I have inspired you to do your own investigation. There is a tremendous amount of evidence available to those who research, that substantiate the facts that the de-culting maneuvers orchestrated by the WCG organization, are a window dressing or temporary facelift. The WCG definitely has an agenda, but to indicate as you have, that it is repenting and changing while becoming a true Christian church as well as turning to God is an outright absurdity based on the reality roof what is actually happening. You indicated that you have had many conversations with ex-members of the Armstrong group. It seems difficult to accept that, being that I am in contact with many recent ex-members, I can attest that not one of them would agree with the Christian Research Journal and its unethical journalism tactics. Paul Carden of CRI, even admitted to me that they have based their findings on the leadership's word. I must wonder whether the leaders themselves verified your findings or referred you to one of their many ex-members who are currently receiving great sums of money that some people label "hush money."

Most significantly (and I'm sure I relay the thoughts of many), I question how you, who lived through the cult process, could possibly accuse the Mormon church, of having tried vigorously through an image-changing campaign in the media to be accepted as "another Christian church," while in the same paragraph expound that the Worldwide Church of God seems to be doing it, and, you are fascinated with the prospect that a cult can turn to God. This, Ms. Scott, is indicative of the deception and success of the WCG propaganda program! One ex-member questioned whether it was the WCG that paid for publishing costs of your book. I'm sure you can understand his thought process. Your voluntary assumptions are analogous to my claiming the Mormon church is truly and honestly making changes and turning to God. I might also add, that I find it very curious that you apparently were able to locate ex-members from the WCG that convinced you of the church's repentance, while finding prospects for the other cults you listed, which all have millions of members, was a difficult task.

So, while a few individuals, such as yourself, print assumptions that are totally unfounded and can be so dangerous to the lives of those who are involved in the WCG and deceptive to those searching, the WCG continues to recruit and lure God-searching individuals into it's clutches through deception and manipulation only to learn how to live God's WAY, by THE (WCG) LAW.

Possibly, you would have had a change of mind had you spoken with individuals who were recipients of gross abuse in every capacity. Maybe if you witnessed the mental torture WCG's victims must overcome, you would have had a change of heart. Had you researched to verify the "astounding changes" maybe you would have learned what was really happening on the "inside"! At least it would have enabled you to apply critical thinking skills prior to accepting the propaganda of the WCG leaders and their select evangelical team.

In closing, please know that nine more pages could be filled listing all the ways an organization could attempt to prove that it is actually making an honest turn-around. The WCG has not been modest about hiding the "red flags" of deceit. I would be pleased to assist you in any verification matters, although I unfortunately doubt that I will obtain a response from you. Do know that I will use your "assessment" as an example of the propaganda being played out by the Worldwide Church of God and some Christian Cult watchers.

Obviously, it has taken considerable time and effort on my part to respond to your one paragraph. I truly hope that this attention serves as a confirmation of the seriousness of this matter. My main purpose with continued dedication toward the Network, is to address the needs of the WCG cult victim. How very unfortunate that precious time is spent counteracting propaganda with individuals who should know better than to buy into the WCG cult propaganda without having done their homework.

Sincerely,

L. A. Stuhlman
Exit & Support Network™  

Update 2002: Read: What in the World is Worldwide Church of God Doing Now?

Letter #2 from D. M. Williams, ESN, to Scott:

Sept. 29, 1994

Ms. Latayne Scott c/o Baker Book House
Box 6287 Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

Dear Ms. Scott:

It has came to my attention that in the preface of your book, Why We Left a Cult, you mentioned that the Worldwide Church of God can no longer be accurately viewed as a cult" because of the "astounding chancres" that have taken place in both their doctrines and practices I believe that they still have quite a ways to go before this becomes reality--if ever.

Having been a member who has recently exited (with a husband still attending, but planning on leaving soon), I still have access to what is going on in the congregations in this area. I want to make it clear that I have no bitterness toward anyone in there (they are deceived as I was), but I do take exception with the leaders telling the media one thing and the members something else.

If the WCG is really changing internally, why haven't they notified all the members by video and printed word about the truth that they are under grace and all the law was fulfilled in Christ? It wouldn't take long to do this, and to tell them that Herbert W. Armstrong was wrong and start now to implement it. But the WCG is preaching grace with works added--if there is such a thing. Many members are in total confusion at present and many others have left for splinter groups to hold onto what has never been denounced as HWA's "truths received from God." To change ones thinking over to grace after years of being indoctrinated with law and works by HWA is certainly not easy.

The members are still being manipulated, controlled by fear, guilt, and financially exploited by the three-tier tithing system. Let me tell you of several incidences of control and abuse right before and right after I left the WCG.

The pastor of the congregation I was in gave a Bible study to the members on 3-9-94 in which he stated that if someone wanted to leave the WCG, we "turn them over to Satan," where he hoped they will "learn the lesson and that will bring them back into the church."

He also said he "didn't want to see any dichotomies in this church area or he wouldn't say what he would do if he found one, or more so what God would do!"

According to very recent taped sermons that I heard by my minister and other ministers in the area, they still subscribe to the WCG as being the one and only true church that God is working through, and that members are to keep the annual Sabbaths, weekly Sabbath, tithe, give offerings, and not leave the WCG. He said that to believe (like the Protestants do) in "once saved, always saved" is "very, very wrong." In fact, in The Worldwide News (WCG's newspaper), July 12, 1994, Ralph Orr stated that, "We agree that a failure to resist sin can result in a loss of salvation."

Mr. Joseph Tkach is not telling all the story and how the members are still under a burden of works in keeping all the annual holy days. (Some even lose jobs in order to do so. Huge offerings are received from all seven of these holy days, which in turn goes in large part to print more booklets telling about WCG's doctrines in order to bring in more people into the WCG where they come to be believe that only by remaining in there will they eventually receive salvation. (Did you know that they still teach one can fall away and lose the Holy Spirit?)

Members' letters have been read (without permission) by those who have left and have written to headquarters in Pasadena, or to their friends in WCG, explaining why they left. This is a tactic the ministers use to cause the present members to believe it is the one and only true church and to feel they should stay.

Of course, ex-members of the WCG from several years ago will tell you that astounding changes have taken place. The Plain Truth certainly gives that impression. But are those ex-members sitting in there at present to know what's really going on, or listening to sermon tapes?

Lastly, let me say that the mental torture of having to overcome being in the WCG for many years, and then to leave and try to reconnect back into mainstream Christianity (many are unable to) is beyond words. One doesn't get over this kind of betrayal and mind-control that easily. I hope you investigate this much more thoroughly and read other letters from those in and out of WCG before you write what you did about the WCG in the future.

Sincerely yours,

D. M. Williams
Exit & Support Network™

Letter #3 from Former WCG Member to Scott:

November 24, 1995

Latayne Scott c/o Baker Book House
P.O. Box 6287
Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

Dear Ms. Scott,

Dear Ms. Scott, In 1983 I became interested in religion after a number of severe personal crises. As a result, I read literature from a group that taught me:

  1. Medical treatment and doctors are pagan and tools of Satan.
  2. Christ would return by 1990.
  3. Voting and jury participation are forbidden.
  4. Consuming unclean meats was a sin.
  5. Giving less than 30% of one's gross income is stealing from God. 
  6. The rest of humanity is deceived. 
  7. Only prostitutes wear makeup. 
  8. The Northern European peoples are God's chosen people. 
  9. Friends and family will be tortured in concentration camps. 
  10. We will rule the world. 
  11. If I leave, then Satan is leading me astray. 
  12. Doubts and concerns are an indication of demonic influence. 
  13. To criticize the leaders is grounds for disfellowshipment.
  14. Financial problems in the church are due to the members not giving enough money. 
  15. Doctrines are dispensed from a small group of leaders without any discussion by members and ministers. 
  16. The leaders meet in opulent buildings while members meet in rented halls. 
  17. All teachings, no matter what is taught, are inspired. 
  18. Anyone who disagrees is rebellious and in danger of losing salvation. 
  19. Wisdom and knowledge are impossible without attending services weekly.
  20. Members should invest most of their free time in church-related activities.

I profited by reading Why We Left a Cult. I learned about cults' doctrines and practices. The personal accounts were interesting and the format was innovative. I found many similarities between ex-member's accounts from the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Christian Scientists and the cult I attended for ten years. The cult I participated in have changed their doctrines significantly, especially in the last year. In fact, they have dismissed their teachings on items 1 through 10 of the list mentioned above. However, they have not changed their positions on items 11 through 20. As you can imagine these remaining items provide a field ripe for abuse. Thus, a group can change-their doctrines to mimic those of traditional Christianity, yet still remain a cult. The agenda of mainstreaming* does not exempt a group from being a cult. Therefore, I write this letter to correct you on the status of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG): It is indeed still a cult. While WCG leaders discussed teachings with cult watching individuals, members were blamed for misunderstanding subtle policy shifts. By the use of misinformation and dialectics, JW Tkach, JM Feazell, et. al. confused the church. In fact, in a recent letter from CRI, Hank Hanegraaff brags how he led the WCG out of cult status by meeting with leaders "behind closed doors." [CRI co-laborer letter, Oct. 6, 1995] Such important matters should not be handled by a select coterie "behind closed doors," especially when administration was denouncing such things as rumors. In addition, such meetings are a violation of WCG's Standard Operating Protocol. In the booklet, Statement of Beliefs, it states: "In the Worldwide Church of God, the decision-making process under Christ involves councils of ministers who report to the pastor general,...

Ironically, while leaders discussed these things outside, inside; members who brought up these issues were ignored, scorned or even disfellowshipped. Nevertheless, beliefs have been changed to please the evangelical community. However, the aftermath has left many lives strewn across the religious landscape of America. Due to the dishonest and chaotic nature of the mainstreaming program, many have joined offshoots of the WCG. As much of 50% of the people have left the WCG to join offshoots which teach the traditional Armstrong belief system. The success and motives of the mainstreaming program should be questioned when it alienates almost half the church. Last, but not least; there are thousands of people around the world left holding the bag. Thousands who divorced, who tithed 30%, who impaired their health, etc. based on WCG's teachings and are blamed for not understanding the new truth. The exuberance of WCG observers rings hollow when I recall those who devoted their lives yet are financially bankrupt, emotionally shipwrecked or even dead from this cult. 

I have talked to many ex-members from hard-line Armstrong conservatives to the liberals and all agree that the Worldwide Church of God should not be trusted. Therefore, based on years of experience and volumes of documentation, I advise you to retain the Worldwide Church of God as a cult.

Sincerely,

William Brown [name changed]

*"From Cult to Church: The Quest for Acceptance," tape by Dr. Ron Enroth, 1994.

Scott's reply showing how she defends her stance:

[all emphasis ours]

August 2, 1994

First of all, I want it clearly known that I stand behind what I said in the paragraph you quoted from my book. There are several reasons for this. First of all, when I began the project of selecting participants for this book, I fasted and prayed and gave this project to the Lord. I asked Him to open and close doors before me. I asked that each participant in the book be His choice, not mine; and that I make selections not based on the articulateness nor "polish" of each individual (that was my job to help each one express himself or herself--through a process of taped interviews, transcription, editing, writing, and final approval of material by each participant).

As my book indicates, I originally planned to deal with WCG, selecting two participants who were ex-members of that cult. If you have read the criterion I used in selecting participants, you will see that not just any "ex" would do--he or she had to be a faithful, stable Christian capable of and willing to give advice. I spent many, many hours and considerable money trying to find such participants from WCG. I contacted every organization I knew of that might give me access to such people, including the CRI and Ambassador Report2 and others. ... not one was willing and/or available and/or able to participate. ..."

And what reason does Scott give for not being able to find participants to testify?

Scott goes on to say:

I did turn up others whom I wrote or called. Again, none were all of these things: available, willing, and able to fit the criterion of being able to say they were mature, committed Christians, at least two years out of the cult, and with a track record of being actively involved in a mainstream Christian church (see pages 11 and 12 of my book: Christians don't want advice from soreheads who leave groups and don't get involved in church again.

[end of quotes]


COMMENTS:

This is an incredible statement by Latayne Scott! How many exiters would be able to fit her criterion, seeing they had been abused by religion and the Bible in the first place? Furthermore, to call those that are willing to speak up about their abuse "soreheads" is taking on the same mindset that WCG has always used to silence their critics and to place the blame back on them! 

UPDATE on WCG:

In November 2004 the Worldwide Church of God moved its headquarters from Pasadena to Glendora, California. In April 2009 they changed their name in the United States to Grace Communion International. Today, the Worldwide Church of God has gone on to embrace New Age Teachers and philosophies. Read: Letter to Worldwide Church of God, Philippines (On Apostasy--A Radical Proposal) (this lengthy letter reached close to 350 WCG ministers, including those at Headquarters) and Grace Communion International - New Age and Ecumenical Connections.


Footnotes:

1 While some may say that Jews cannot become Masons; therefore Stan Rader, a Jew, couldn't have been a Mason, this offsite article Freemasonry and Judaism are Compatible by Rt. Wor. Bro. Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple says otherwise. Excerpts: "Jews have not found freemasonry to be incompatible with their Judaism"; "Especially in English-speaking countries, the movement has always had a high proportion of eminent Jewish members, including leading rabbis"; "To Jews, the right to join freemasonry became a touchstone of religious liberty, an agent of emancipation and social integration."

2 The Ambassador Report helped many to leave the Worldwide Church of God through its exposé of the organization. In the beginning Trechak and the team he worked with appeared to have a very noble goal. But after awhile, the message in his AR became mixed, causing people to become bitter instead of being on the road to healing. Later reports were referring readers off to agnostic, aberrant, meta-physical, humanistic, and anti-Bible sources through comments, letters, addresses and book titles. John Trechak died September 2, 1999. (Note that ESN does not endorse the atheistic views on this website.)


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