Exit and Support Network

Doctrines of Destruction

I was a loyal Worldwide Church of God member beginning in 1968 when I was 26 and ending in 1996 when I was 54. There is little if anything that I can relate about my experiences during that time that have not been expressed by others. But allow me to share a few of them along with some observations.

Upon graduating from what was then North Texas State University in 1965, I obtained a teaching position with the Texas Youth Council in their facility at Gatesville, Texas. At the same time, I married and because I had been exposed to Armstrongism by a college room mate I continued to listen to HWA and GTA. My wife also became interested and after a total immersion in WCG propaganda and saying and doing all the right things, we were baptized in the spring of 1968. But a condition of baptism was to quit my job of three years. I was told I should not be working where there were likely a whole host of "demons." Like a good little sheep, I did quit and nearly went under financially trying to find a job that would allow me to be off on Saturdays. I wound up sweeping floors in a public school in Arlington, Texas so I could be near the Ft. Worth WCG congregation.

After two years, I was able to go to work in the Nacogdoches I. S. D. as a teacher but was fired after two years for unspecified reasons, but not showing up for Saturday teachers' meetings and taking off for the annual fall exodus to Big Sandy were likely reasons. Or maybe I just was not good enough for them. They never said exactly why my services were no longer wanted. But whatever the reason, I quickly found myself in an almost impossible situation. Employers are not interested in history majors who were fired from a teaching job and want every Saturday off plus two weeks in the fall. After 9 months of living with my wife's parents, I finally found work in a manufacturing plant in Temple, Texas. It was $2.00 an hour, but it was work. I didn't have to work Saturdays but I did have to work the graveyard shift Saturday night/Sunday morning. It was always a lot of "fun" getting up early every Saturday to make it to 10:00 a.m. services in Waco and having little chance of getting any rest before going to work. It was even more fun when we had afternoon Bible Studies and I had no chance of getting any rest until around 8:00 Sunday mornings.

But I continued in this routine for around 20 years, convinced God was looking out for me. I am still with the same company that hired me 31 years ago. I have always appreciated them hiring me when no one else would and I have worked long and hard for them. Eventually I was given a technical job that is neither difficult nor boring. But had I not had to deal with the bogus doctrine of sacred days1 I know I could have done better.

In 1981, our only child, a daughter, was born. I missed out on a lot of her childhood because of my schedule. Just after her first birthday she developed a heart problem that kept her in hospitals in Temple and Houston for seven months. I must say that the Waco congregation was very supportive of us during this time. There were some very fine people in there, and I would never disparage them in any way. But I will never forget the associate minister telling me at the hospital in Temple when it looked like she was going to die, "Let God take her." My entire being was repulsed and stunned, but like a good little sheep I said nothing. But we did have her flown to Houston where Dr. Denton Cooley saved her life. Today I have a grown daughter and an almost two year old grandson I would never have known had I obeyed God's "minister."

I am sure there are success stories of WCG children in public schools. But my daughter is not one of them. She was always well-behaved in class and made good grades. But taking her out of school each fall was always traumatic for all of us. The school was understanding, but the work had to be done. And there was always those few who were unmerciful in their teasing of those who do things differently. But the greatest trauma for her was not being allowed to participate in band activities on Friday nights and Saturdays. She began playing the clarinet in the sixth grade and was pretty good by the time she was a junior. But until her senior year she was unable to go to a football game and perform with the band at half time. I regret keeping her home more than just about anything thing else in my life.

The one thing I regret most of all is going to a WCG picnic in April of 1991 instead of being with my dad before an operation from which he never recovered. I did not have to go to the picnic, but I was so mind-controlled I actually thought it was what I should do. I missed out on so many family gatherings where I could have been with him that I wonder if he felt like he was second in my life to Herbert Armstrong. I would give anything to tell him how much I did love him and how much I appreciated all he did for me after my mother's death when I was 13.

My exodus out of the WCG began in 1995 when a friend gave me a stack of the Ambassador Report2 publications from its beginning until the mid 1980s and another friend, unknown to the other one, gave me the rest of them so that I had a complete set. Maybe God was looking out for me after all, even if it was a bit late. I sat down and started reading them in order and immediately I knew I had been scammed. The more I read the more incensed I became. What really got me was a revelation that Herbert was in Mexico shopping, when he was asking us to go get bank loans because "the Work" was dangerously low on funds. That was in 1971 I think. I was already close to losing a house (and later did lose it) during my third tithe year and I really agonized over this request before deciding I just could not.

But back to my story. I tried the United Church of God for a while and saw that it was no better. I have been totally free now for seven years and plan to never be involved with any Armstrong offshoot group ever again or any other controlling group.

It should by now, with all the available information, be obvious that Herbert Armstrong was no more of a Christian than Attila the Hun. In fact, they had traits in common. The offshoots that claim his teachings have no legitimacy at all. Ministers in those groups were not called by God. Some may be well intentioned and I don't want to judge their hearts, but these ministers seem more interested in power and wealth than in humility and piousness. You can't build on sand, yet the "churches of God" have done that.

Neither were individuals in the WCG or offshoots called by God. They were responding to deep seated fears for their own well being and were then led down a primrose path by carefully constructed mind control techniques outlined very well on this site. Anyone who thinks God called him into a "church of God" has a poor opinion of their Creator. Does anyone in these groups think that the Holy Spirit leads them into all truth? If so, then the Holy Spirit has a difficult time deciding what is true. First, it is this way. No, wait, new truth just arrived. It is really that way. Or maybe the so-called ministers of God are just too dense to understand anything beyond the five senses. If the Holy Spirit is really leading these groups, why are there so many problems within them?

Sometimes I wish I could get interested in Bible study again. But every time I try to, I come across those familiar scriptures used over and over to manipulate and control us and I feel a rage within as I recall what a dumb sheep I was.

Of all the Scriptures that have I been beat over the head with, none has brought more blood than Malachi 3:8-10.3 This has to be number one on the offshoot ministers' top ten scriptures list. Unlike a hit song, this one is never replaced. I could not even begin to guess how many times I have heard this quoted from pulpits, but never in a kindly manner. One of the first questions asked on the first ministerial visit we received concerned tithing. Too bad I was too sheepish to realize the implications then. But 35 years later when I get my 401K statements I do. I would not feel quite so bad about all the money I gave Herbert and his henchmen had it gone for something worthwhile. But it didn't. He squandered it on a lavish lifestyle that monarchs would envy and then write another letter to us on the serious needs of "the Work." Why did it never occur to me that there must be something seriously wrong with an organization that had a monthly cash flow problem? Whether Herbert or one of his cronies wrote those co-workers letter I don't know. But whoever did sure knew how to squeeze blood from a turnip. Scriptures say that a man who does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel. [I Timothy 5:8] Herbert said, "Send me the biggest part of your income because my needs are more important than those of your family and if you don't, you're going to the lake of fire." Herbert could trump Scripture every time.

Of all the unique doctrines4 of Armstrongism, none are relevant to anything. Any worthwhile teachings attributed to him could have been found elsewhere. The only "contribution" Herbert Armstrong made to society was to damage lives by ripping and suppressing families. People died because of his "healing" doctrine. Families were torn apart by his divorce and remarriage doctrines. Sure, it was changed, but only after untold misery to untold numbers of sheep believing they were obeying God by putting asunder what scriptures say not to. No doubt there are many people my age facing a bleak retirement thanks to his tithing doctrine. And how many young people were damaged socially by not being allowed to associate with classmates in a normal way? Many of us thought our children were the elite ones, not to be contaminated by the "world." And how many adults cut off the friends of our youth because we were not to associate with people outside "the church"? How many young people never got their career on track due to sacred day doctrines? Those who prospered most in the WCG were self employed, able to set their own hours. Those dependent on a time clock were often not so fortunate unless they had been on a job long enough to build seniority. There was one sure way to tell the prosperous from the others. They were "the leading men" and "deacons." The doctrines of Armstrongism are the doctrines of destruction.

We know that Armstrongism is a sham and a scam, but what about religion in general? Is it, too, a racket, a tool to manipulate and control? Christianity has many laudable tenets and is not, to my mind, a religion. But where can it be found? I don't see it in any church, although it can be found in individual lives that treat others with honor and dignity. But living a decent life is only a by-product of Christianity, not the ultimate goal. Is it possible to be a Christian without having to jump through a set of prescribed hoops?

These are thoughts I have had over several years but never wrote down. I admit that I am bitter, but I am not consumed by bitterness. If it were only a matter of false doctrine, I could get over that and go on. But it is more than that. It was about scamming me out of my life with lies and deceit. It was about taking that which can never be replaced. I have wasted what should have been my most productive years seeking an unattainable goal. 

By Dale
September 7, 2003


"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. ... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." ~Matthew 7:18, 20


Also read:

Did Herbert W. Armstrong Abuse His Flock?

I Listened to a Man

Footnotes by ESN:

1 See: The Law of Moses and the Grace of God

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. The AR is now posted on an atheist website.

3 Understanding the Tithe (Excellent study that explains why the tithe has no application in the Church today. The first message covers using religious extortion in order to coerce people to tithe. Covers the history of tithing; Malachi 3 and Hebrews 7 are also addressed; 8 MP3 messages; free download) [offsite link]

4 Read: Herbert Armstrong's Religious Roots (The origin of Herbert's unique doctrines)

Back to Stories & Testimonies by Former Members of WCG and Offshoots