THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE
Armstrong's Empire Exposed
(Published in 1981)
PROPAGANDA AND SIT-INS
RADER FOUND THAT THOSE WHO VIEWED ARMSTRONG AS THE APOSTLE
would rally behind him. A show of complete loyalty on the part of
the deceived members of the Church was all he needed. Through his
manipulation of these people, he would be able to thwart and
frustrate the authorities for quite some time.
Over the weekend, a letter over Herbert Armstrong's
signature was prepared for mailing to the membership. Dated
January 14th, it was run off secretly late that evening and early
the following morning in an attempt to circumvent the receiver.
Earl Timmons was immediately made aware of the letter by one of
his contacts within the Church. The letter was nothing more than
a blatant attempt to circumvent the court order.
Starting with his traditional tactic of striking fear in the
hearts of the members, Armstrong opened his letter: "Satan has
struck his master blow to destroy God's Church. We must now FIGHT
as never before, knowing God will also fight our battles for us."
He then went on to claim that the State of California had
appointed a receiver who's purpose was to take God's tithe money
and to destroy God's Church. He also claimed that the State had
given the receiver the right to remove him as Pastor General from
the Church. That statement was a complete lie and totally
contrary to the ruling handed down by Judge Title.
Claiming that the tithes sent to Pasadena would be used by
the State and not by the Church, Armstrong continued:
"... Meanwhile I ask you to stand solidly by Christ's chosen
Apostle! So, until I notify you otherwise, please go ALL OUT in
support of GOD'S CHURCH AND WORK now. I have to ask you to
SACRIFICE AS NEVER BEFORE. Send the most generous offerings it is
possible for you to send to defend God's Work. And please state
in your letter, in your own words, that this money is your
ENDORSEMENT OF MY APOSTLESHIP, AND THE MONEY IS TO BE USED FOR
DEFENDING GOD'S WORK AS I, Christ's Apostle, deem best."
Continuing in his plea for total sacrifice on the part of
the membership, he said: "SACRIFICE AS NEVER BEFORE! GOD'S WORK
SHALL GO ON. Use THIS MAIL ADDRESS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE:
Herbert W. Armstrong c/o General Delivery Tucson, Arizona 85731."
With their immediate attempts to circumvent the court order
it became quickly obvious that Armstrong and Rader were going to
fight to the bitter end. Chodos summed it up quite well in a
statement to Earl Timmons when he said that Rader reminded him of
the woman who wanted Solomon to have the baby cut in half. He
said he felt that if Rader couldn't have the Church for himself,
he would do everything he could to destroy it.
As a result of Timmons' immediate knowledge of the
preparation of this letter, he was able to bring a copy to Judge
Weisman first thing Monday morning. Weisman immediately sought a
court order from Judge Title backing up his decision to embargo
the letters at the Pasadena post office. Of 85,000 letters that
had been printed, only approximately 25,000 entered the mail
Not to be thwarted, however, Church officials immediately
implemented another plan. They resorted to what was known as the
telephone hotline, or round-robin system. Through this system,
messages can be gotten to the entire Church membership within
only a matter of hours. Headquarters personnel phoned the local
ministers and read to them the key points of Armstrong's letter.
It only remained then for the local ministers to phone a few
people in each of the congregations passing on the information.
Through this chain of events, these individuals would then phone
a group that each of them had on their list and again in one more
step, each of those individuals would make the final contacts and
all Church members would have the message. The sense of urgency
conveyed by this telephone message of soliciting the money to be
sent directly to Armstrong in Tucson was probably more effective
than the letter would have been.
Church members now being told to commit acts in violation of
government authority had completely forgotten or ignored what
they had read in Church publications and in the very Scriptures
in which they claim to believe. But Armstrong, the master of mind
manipulation soon had millions of dollars pouring into the post
office at Tucson, Arizona. Yet, by the words of his own
publication, The Plain Truth, he is condemned. In a pamphlet
reprinted from a 1973 edition of The Plain Truth, the Church
issued an article written by Dr.Hoeh, entitled "Respect
Government Authority." Besides quoting again from Romans 13, Dr.
Hoeh wrote: "Anyone who resists the authority of human government
is actually rebelling against God who ordains that authority."
Regarding our attitude towards government officials, he
said, "It is a common practice for people to resist government
regulations and to accuse office holders, whether the president
or the corner policeman. This supposed 'right' of the people is
abominably misused. There is a righteous limit to the 'freedom'
of speech. The Bible sets that limit by commanding you to refrain
from speaking evil of dignitaries. Solomon said you are not to
curse officials even in your own thoughts. (Ecclesiastes 10:20)"
And in his conclusion, he stated, "God has established
earthly governments to keep order until His Kingdom comes. It is
your commanded duty to submit to their authority patiently,
excusing the obvious faults inherent in human leadership. No
human government can be perfect, it may even be required of you
by God to suffer unjustly when you have to obey God rather than
From this point on, the entire affair began to degenerate
into a circus of total resistance of authority on the part of the
On January 16, the Church attorneys appeared before U.S.
District Court Judge Robert Firth with a petition asking that he
declare the Los Angeles Superior Court decision regarding the
receivership, unconstitutional. They also filed a suit for seven
hundred million dollars in damages against the State Attorney
General and other court officers. Throughout the court
proceedings, Church members picketed and prayed outside the
Federal Court House. Judge Firth refused to interfere and said,
"It is obvious at this stage that it would be foolish to intrude
the Federal court into the proceedings taking place in State
Courts." The seven-hundred-million-dollar lawsuit against the
State was later to be thrown out of court.
The following day, it became necessary for a debugging team
to sweep the entire Church headquarters, as phones and offices
had been bugged, making it almost impossible for court officers
to function without Rader being aware of what they were saying.
The Church-employed guards, who were supposed to cooperate with
the authorities, instead served as a constant obstruction to
their efforts to conduct an audit and investigate the charges of
malfeasance. It was necessary for Judge Weisman to hire his own
guards at a cost of $2,600 per day.
Weisman had hired as his chief operating officer a man well
experienced in affairs of this nature. He was A.Sheridon
Atkinson, a well known Christian businessman. At various times he
had served as chairman of the board of various major
corporations, usually as someone who was hired to straighten out
companies when they were in extreme difficulty. One of the most
notable companies that he headed was Botany 500, having been
hired by a group of stockholders in order to preserve the assets
of the corporation during its Chapter XI bankruptcy proceedings.
Atkinson said to several people, "I believe that God has sent me
here to fight Satan. I have fought the mob before, and I fought
Satan before, and actually I've even fought Stanley Rader before.
A different face and a different name perhaps, but I have fought
him before. And I won't back down. My reputation as a Christian
and as a businessman is well known and I have a duty to fulfill
By January 19th, security had totally broken down according
to Atkinson, and vital assets, including gold bullion, coins,
expensive paintings, and computer tapes, were feared to be
missing. All of these items were known to exist, but it was
impossible for Atkinson to gain access to them. Church leaders
were able to exercise total control over the employees, since
they were under fear of being disfellowshipped and fired from
their jobs if they cooperated with the receiver. Had it not been
for several employees who were secretly cooperating, things would
have even been much more difficult.
On January 18th, Judge Weisman wrote a letter to Herbert
Armstrong advising him of the facts regarding the court order. He
said in his letter:
"I am writing this letter hoping that whatever problems there may
be may be resolved in a spirit of cooperation for all concerned."
He then offered to meet Armstrong at any place, at any time,
to resolve any misunderstanding. Predictably, the letter was
ignored. It is even doubtful if Armstrong actually ever saw the
The same day, a letter was sent to the Church membership
from Armstrong and this letter now carried a box number address
in Tucson, Arizona. Attempting to strike fear into the hearts of
the members, he informed them that the very life of God's Church
hung in the balance. He accused Judge Weisman of attempting to
take the Church over to himself. He continued claiming that this
is a satanic attempt to destroy the Church and then began to
blame the entire matter on his son, claiming that it was a
conspiracy brought about by his son in an attempt to destroy him.
In one of his most typical ways of raising large sums of money
coupled with his direction to send money to him in Tucson, he
proclaimed a day of fasting on January 27th. Predictably, the
people fasted and the money poured in.
During that same time period, Rader set the stage for a
possible flight by the Church by issuing an announcement that
Church headquarters would be moved out of California. While this
never actually took place in totality, the financial functions of
the Church were permanently moved to Tucson. Everything was then
made ready, just in case any further moves were determined
necessary by the leaders.
While all this was taking place, I had heard that Wayne Cole
had tape recorded his December phone conversations with Herbert
Armstrong. Supposedly, the comments made by Herbert Armstrong
regarding Stanley Rader were on these tapes. I decided to call
Cole to see if he had in fact made such tapes.
On January 21st, I phoned him and his wife answered. She
said that he was not taking any calls, that he was physically ill
over the entire situation and just didn't want to have anything
more to do with it. I suggested to her the possibility of the
existence of tape recordings of the December conversations. I
could tell that it was a sensitive subject and she didn't want to
discuss it. Finally, she did promise that if he felt better later
in the day, he would call me back.
By late afternoon, having not yet heard from him, I decided
that I had to force the issue. I called again. The response was
the same. His wife, who answered the phone said that he did not
want to speak to me. I then said, "I understand that he has both
notes and actual recordings of conversations with Herbert
Armstrong. I had hoped that he would be willing to turn them over
in order to avoid the need of their being subpoenaed."
Apparently, that statement was sufficient to bring him to
the phone. After some conversation, Cole agreed to turn over the
notes and the tape. Within the next couple of days, his notes of
the conversations were in the possession of Hillel Chodos and the
tape recordings were in the possession of the producers of 60
To this day, I don't know the means of conveyance of these
items from Cole to their final destination. The cloak-and-dagger
aspects of this situation, particularly since it involves a
church, are almost impossible to believe. Yet it was necessary
that much information be secretly passed at rendezvous points in
the dark of the night. Many people had been threatened, and Earl
Timmons had been told by Church members that they just couldn't
wait to get him against the wall and shoot him.
Suddenly, we could see history again being relived. During
the Crusades, when the apostate Church at Rome was trying to
spread its brand of paganized Christianity throughout Europe,
people were killed for refusing to bow their knee to the Pope.
But that just seemed like so much distant history. Now, in 1979,
brothers in the Church were threatening other brothers with
murder. Thankfully, it never happened. But then again one never
knows what the coming months and years may bring. These events
certainly put quite an impact on what the apostle John said in
the Book of John, Chapter 16, Verse 2: "They shall put you out of
the synagogues: Yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you
will think that he doeth God a service."
Armstrong and Rader were trying very hard to press the issue
of trying to force the officials to precipitate violence. They
Starting on January 21st, all-day sit-ins were conducted in
the Ambassador Auditorium and the various Church office
buildings. By the following day there were over 2,400 people
gathered, including children whom parents were instructed to keep
out of school. The buildings were locked and signs were posted on
the doors, "Worldwide Church of God Ecclesiastical Services."
Armstrong spoke to the gathered people over telephone lines from
Tucson. He said, "Being subject to the laws doesn't always mean
to obey them. I wonder if people aren't going to have to go to
This was the very same type of conduct that Armstrong was
condemning not too many years back.
By Wednesday morning, January 24th, the situation had all of
the potential of a Kent State disaster. And that is exactly what
Armstrong and Rader wanted. Uniformed deputies escorted Sheridan
Atkinson to the administration building. His entrance was barred
by doors that had been locked by timbers which had' been placed
through their door handles. Members inside were singing hymns.
Outside the door, a deacon, Wayne Pyle, yelled at Atkinson, "If
you want to come in you're going to have to break the door down.
You will have to arrest us. You are our enemy, but we'll pray for
you. We'll pray for God to take care of you."
Atkinson was a fine example of Christianity in its practical
application. He tried to reason with Pyle, and said that he was a
Christian and believed in moderation in all things. Instead of
giving a command to break down the door, he held up a copy of
Judge Title's order and an open Bible and said, "I believe in the
same God they do, but they ought to read the 13th Chapter of
Romans." Standing before news cameras was a representative of the
courts conducting himself as a true Christian and speaking the
words of Christ to a group of people who were making an absolute
mockery of the Gospel.
Exercising the utmost in restraint, Weisman decided not to
use the two hundred riot-equipped deputies and Pasadena police
officers who had been assembled at a nearby park in the event
they were given the command to break down the doors. He sent a
message to Rader: "I have so much respect for religious freedom
and the right not to be interfered with that I would like to work
out something that respects your religious freedom." A meeting
was held and a compromise was reached.
Later that afternoon Rader escorted Weisman into the
administration building. A short while later, when Weisman left,
Rader, in a complete about-face, said to the assembled group of
Church members, "There is no peace, there is still a war. Not
until we get the attorney general punched out and the receiver
punched out will there be peace. We're still in a state of all
out war. We've been invaded by an army of the State of
California. There were two hundred fifty armed members of the
sheriff's force ready to break down the doors."
In spite of this statement, however, Rader had apparently
decided to back down somewhat. For, by the following day, the
demonstration was over, with the entire premises left in a
shambles by people who had always prided themselves as being ones
who should show care and consideration for property.
During the same week that the demonstration was in progress
at the Church headquarters in Pasadena, Herbert Armstrong was
holding a minister's conference in Tucson. This conference, which
had originally been scheduled to take place at the Auditorium in
Pasadena, had been hastily moved. Armstrong had no intention of
coming to California. For someone who said he had wanted to
cooperate with authorities, he was using maximum effort to stay
out of their reach. Prior to the conference, there had been
rumors that many of the leading ministers and area coordinators
were going to speak out at the conference in support of the
Attorney General. It was said that maybe they could bring the
entire matter to a head and get Herbert Armstrong to remove
By this time, the smokescreen of Church versus state had
been so well thrown up by Armstrong and Rader that many people
were totally deceived regarding the true issues. Approximately
550 ministers gathered for the conference. And true to form, no
one spoke out against Armstrong.
One can only conclude that these men are ministers of
convenience rather than ministers of conviction. Apparently, they
were brought up in an educational environment and in a career
that is so sheltered, so attached to Herbert Armstrong that they
stand in absolute fear of having to earn a living under the same
conditions as the members to whom they are supposed to be
shepherds. Armstrong, in his address to the ministers, said,
"This attack has come on the Church because I represent Jesus
Christ, and this world doesn't love Jesus Christ." Ministers who
knew better than to believe that sat silently and listened. Most
of the conference consisted of Armstrong attacks on what he
labeled "liberal dissidents" and those who he said had tried to
change the Church and take its control away from him.
Rodrick Meredith, however, decided to use the conference as
an opportunity to undermine Rader. His purpose was not that
altruistic, as he felt that he was the one who should be in
charge of the Church next to Armstrong, and he was anxious to
make a move. There had been a rumor regarding Rader that had not
yet been too widely spread. In order to make sure everyone knew
the rumor, Meredith decided to publicly deny the rumor. He then
announced to the entire assembled group of ministers that all of
the allegations regarding Rader's homosexual conduct with
Cornwall were false. Now everyone knew the story. And while Rader
remained totally silent on the subject, he would have the final
word on Meredith.
A few months later, Rader was to have Meredith removed by
convincing Armstrong to eliminate the position of head of the
ministry and take it to himself.
On January 26th, Sheridan Atkinson resigned as the
receiver's chief operating officer. Apparently, Weisman
considered Atkinson not sufficiently sensitive to some of the
problems and Atkinson claimed that he found it best to resign as
he was being thwarted by politics. He said that he was totally
unable to get anything done and that he had a reputation of
achievement. He said if he was going to be ineffective in his
position, it was better that he resign. Atkinson said that he had
even heard that there was a strong possibility that he may find
himself on a hit list as a result of his involvement.
Again on January 29th, Browne was back in Federal Court with
another attempt to get Judge Firth to remove the receivership. He
was unsuccessful. Hillel Chodos pointed out that the
constitutional rights argument was just a smokescreen, a series
of trumped-up charges, an attempt to thwart the receiver. He
said, "You cannot perpetrate fraud in the name of religion and
then wrap yourself in the flag and call out the name of the First
He said that Browne, in effect, was saying, "If a man comes
into court and says 'stealing is my religion' there's nothing you
could do about it." And through all this Rader continued to
conduct himself in a way totally contrary to that of a Church
Referring to Deputy Attorney General Tapper, he said: "I
think the Attorney General is paranoid. We were in the same
class. I was at the top and he was an also-ran. He is out to get
me. I'm going to make the Attorney General eat those words."
From this point on the entire receivership settled down into
a lengthy, tedious legal battle. There were constant trips in and
out of the court room, too numerous to mention. Several attempts
were made by Rader to appeal to the Federal courts without
success. A petition was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in an
attempt to have the state's action reversed on the grounds of the
first amendment prohibiting against government establishment of
Judge Weisman later resigned his position as receiver, as
his health did not permit him to withstand the rigors of the job.
After numerous court proceedings, at this writing, the Church is
under orders to provide all documents to the Attorney General's
office as deemed necessary for the purpose of investigation.
While all of these court battles were taking place, Rader
used every attempt to frustrate those he considered to be his
enemies. He filed a $550 million lawsuit against Garner Ted
Armstrong. Then his accounting firm filed a $13 million suit
against Garner Ted. Both suits were thrown out of the court as
legally deficient. And then there was the $13 million suit that
Rader filed against Deputy Attorney General Tapper and Hillel
Chodos. Chodos' response was, "This complaint will be given the
attention it deserves."
Through all this, Rader's troubles, however, were to
continue to grow. Soon after the initiation of the receivership,
the IRS advised him that he was under criminal investigation.
Whether or not Rader had had a prior investigation was no longer
important. This time the investigation was initiated from the
grass roots, and would be very difficult if not impossible to
Through all of the demonstrations, sit-ins and other
unchristian conduct, Church officials acted as though the 13th
Chapter of Romans did not apply to them. Yet, in April 1957, the
following was written in The Plain Truth: "We must all be subject
to the laws of our land and to its court decisions. WE MUST NOT
RESIST AUTHORITY. We are not to participate in boycotts in order
to force officials to change their policy."
There can be no doubt that Armstrong and Rader knowingly and
willfully manipulated the minds of their members in such a way
that these people became totally contrary in their conduct to the
teachings of the very Bible in which they profess to believe. In
fact, in 1948, when the Church was originally incorporated as the
Radio Church of God, Armstrong considered obedience to law so
important, that in the Covenant portion of the Church
consititution and by-laws, he wrote: "having been called through
the will of God to this special ministry for this time in the
service of Jesus Christ our Lord we do now in the presence of
Almighty God and this assembly most solemnly enter into a
COVENANT with Almighty God our Heavenly Father, and with one
another, in the name of Jesus Christ; to walk circumspectly in
the world, to be subject to the laws and government of our
nation, to pray for the president and leaders of the national
government, to be careful to give a good account of ourselves at
all times before the world in order that we may win, so far as
within us lies as Christians the respect and approbation of the
world, to avoid the appearance of evil or placing a
stumbling-block before others, to practice the Great Command:
'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' with charity towards
all and malice towards none, following the example of Jesus
Christ by the faith and in the power of His Spirit."
Not only has Herbert Armstrong broken his covenant with God,
but he has induced others to do the same. In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter
speaks plainly about such things. He says: "But there were false
prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false
teachers among you, who privally shall bring in damnable
heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon
themselves swift destruction."
To be continued with "60 Minutes"
It is truly shocking and mind-blowing what ministers and so-
called "apostles of Christ" and church members will do, in the
name of God to remain in what they think is "freedom of
religion." If a church organization, be it local, or larger, is
open with its finacial books, has nothing to try and hide, is not
being ruled by some "cult-minded leader" who wants all power and
authority, they have nothing to fear from the Governments of the
Western world. That is still true to this day (in 2010 as I
write). Freedom of religion that does not abuse people
(physically, sexually, emotionally, and financially) is given all
kinds of freedom, without any Government body stepping in to
check on things. I KNOW, because I was "pastor" of a "registered"
Church of God for YEARS both in Canada and the USA. Yes, there
was simple "disclosure" papers to be filed every year to the
Government of Canada and the USA. If everything was on the level,
you had nothing to "fear" from any Government official. It is
STILL that way. Just look around you, how many LARGE church
organizations, either local or beyond, do you see in your town or
city. Some of them have been there for DECADES, some of the
"national" ones for a 100 years or more.
What Armstrong was doing, all the ministers "going along with it"
and the members who supported it, was acting as a CULT - pure and
simple! Sorry to say, but some of the off-shoots from the
Worldwide Church of God, have still not REPENTED of all this cult
mentality they were part of, and still look back to Herbert
Armstrong as some "great man of God" - they cannot see, or do not
want to see, how HWA became in the last 20 years of his life. I
saw him in his ministry before Loma Armstrong died in 1967 and I
saw what he became by the time I left the WCG in 1972. I also
followed all that went on after 1972 and especially the time that
John Tuit is writing about. It was SAD and it was DISGUSSING and
it was SHAMEFUL!!