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Armstrong's Empire Exposed!

And Beginnings to Explode!

                       THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE
             Herbert Armstrong's Empire Exposed and Explodes!

                                    by

                                 John Tuit
                            (published in 1981)



Beginning of Troubles


     WHEN WE FIRST CONTACTED THE CHURCH IN EARLY 1974, WE DID NOT
realize then, and in fact did not realize for some time, that we
were coming into the Church during one of its most tumultuous
periods. A series of events took place in 1974 that were actually
setting the stage for the legal action that we were to initiate
in 1978. In 1974, over forty ministers and an estimated two
thousand to three thousand members left the Church. This was
later to become known as the 1974 Rebellion. This rebellion was
actually the aftershock of a double crisis in 1972. Church
members had for many years been told in sermons and in Good News,
a publication only for Church members, that they should be
prepared to flee to a place of safety in 1972. This place was to
be the ancient and now uninhabited town of Petra, located in
Transjordan. Petra is described in the Pictorial Bible Atlas, as
follows: "In the small basin of Petra was situated the famous
Nabataean. Impressive gorges and impregnable faulted walls of
crystalline rocks rise into the southern Edom Mountains to over
5,000 feet." The entrance to Petra is a mile-long canyon with
cliffs three hundred feet high. It was to this town in the
wilderness that the entire Worldwide Church of God expected to go
and live for three and one half years awaiting the return of
Christ in 1975.

     During the late 1960s, in anticipation of this flight to
safety, many members had put off important matters, such as
necessary dental care, home purchases, or any other long-term
commitments, expecting that such things would not be necessary.
Of course, 1972 came and went, but there was no flight to Petra.
Armstrong wrote in a co-worker letter, dated March 25, 1975,
"Some years ago I saw factors indicating the possibility that our
work might be completed by early 1972, and immediately followed
by the Great Tribulation. I NEVER SET A DEFINITE DATE. I NEVER
SAID IT WOULD DEFINITELY HAPPEN - but cautioned there were
indications of the possibility. Yet some misunderstood and took
it as a definite prophecy for a definite date."

     Nonetheless, 1972 was a momentous year for the Worldwide
Church of God. It was in that year that Herbert Armstrong
announced to the Church, in a letter dated April 25, 1972: "Last
autumn I was dismayed to learn that my son had been so overcome
with personal emotional problems, that it led to conduct
inconsistent with the high standard of the Work of the Church of
God and the scriptural qualifications for a minister of Jesus
Christ, and rendered him incapable of carrying on the duties of a
minister, and of his responsibilities of Executive
Vice-President. The Board of Directors of the Worldwide Church of
God, and the Board of Trustees of Ambassador College, grieved as
we were, had no choice but to remove Garner Ted Armstrong from
his office and responsibilities. Mr. Albert J. Portune was made
ACTING Executive Vice-President of both corporations, and Mr.
Garner Ted Armstrong was granted a leave of absence, hoping that
full repentance and overcoming of his personal emotional problems
would allow reinstatement without a long delay, and for the
protection of the Work, no public announcement was made."

     He then printed a copy of his son's letter to him where it
stated, "I guess no one can ever know how deeply I was bitten,
afflicted of the devil through all my wretchedness of these past
few months - or just how subtly and cleverly Satan sought to
destroy God's work through me. I think you do know as perhaps no
one else does, with the exception of Shirl (Mrs.GTA) who is here
with me now, as I write. I have no excuses. I sinned mightly
against God, against His Church and His Apostle; against the wife
God gave me in my youth; against all my closest friends." 

     The letter asked for forgiveness and then closed, "I hope
God will continue to deal with me, and that He has not cast me
away from His presence; that I can yet somehow, find space for
forgiveness for all that I am. With deepest love and respect,
your son, Ted."

     Herbert Armstrong then continues, "The Board and I did, as a
result of this letter, receive him back. But subsequent events,
attitude and conduct, to our great dismay, demonstrated to the
Board members, ministers, and myself that the process of
repentance was not complete." He went on to state, "But we had to
come to realize, as did my son also, that he must take a
considerable period of time to regain his spiritual strength and
stability, before he can even contemplate the resumption of his
heavy responsibilites, or duties in preaching and broadcasting."

     This event rocked the Church in 1972. Garner Ted Armstrong
had been for years the radio and television voice of the Church,
and was known and respected as not just a great evangelist, but a
man with tremendous insight and understanding regarding world
affairs. His programs were seen and heard by millions. He was
called "the most charismatic of all broadcast evangelists" by
many news reporters. There was much speculation at the time, and
also allegations that Garner Ted Armstrong's problem was one of
sexual infidelity. I was to find out much later that whatever the
depth of his emotional problems, it was amazing that he survived
the ordeal at all, considering the constant struggle that he had
been having with his father on some of the harsh doctrines of the
Church.

     The whole period of turmoil actually had its start around
1968, after the death of Herbert Armstrong's wife Loma in 1967.
It was at this time that Stanley R. Rader began to assume a more
prominent position as an advisor to Herbert Armstrong. Rader was
a non-member and had been in the employ of the Church for
approximately ten years as an accountant and legal counselor. It
was during this period, starting in 1968, when the massive
building program was embarked upon, including the commitment for
the elaborate Ambassador Auditorium. This also marked the
beginning of Herbert Armstrong's visits to political leaders
around the world, as part of what he calls his "great
commission." Garner Ted Armstrong's disagreement with the
direction his father was going, as well as the doctrinal
differences, were one of the many causes of a complex emotional
problem.
     Three of the doctrinal points which seem to be of major
contention were those concerning divorce and remarriage, healing,
and make-up. A fourth one, to a lesser degree, concerned
birthdays. 

     On the matter of divorce and remarriage, the Church taught
that a divorced person could not remarry, as to do so would be
adulterous. Even harsher was the part of the teaching which
required one who had been divorced and remarried before entering
the Church to dissolve the second marriage and return to the
first mate. If that was not possible, the remarried couple were
to live apart from each other, since to continue together would
be adulterous. There was no scriptural basis for this teaching,
and many lives were virtually destroyed by a forced adherence to
this doctrine.

(This was indeed so, I lived through it and saw it - Keith Hunt) 

     On the matter of healing, members were taught that to use
doctors or medicine for anything other than "mechanical" repairs,
such as fixing broken bones or repairing teeth, was a sin.
Members were to rely only on God for healing, and were to have a
minister anoint them with oil and then pray over them for
healing. It is certainly true that God does heal and that He does
perform many miracles, but He does expect us to do what we can
physically as part of our reliance upon Him. Many members and,
even more tragically, young children actually have died as a
result of the members' fear to use a doctor or medicine.

(To be more accurate. The official teaching from "headquarters"
was "Never tell a memeber not to go to a hospital or see a
doctor." I was in the "minister training" class in the local
church, about 1968, and this was one of the classes we had, on
"health and doctors." But I heard that many ministers in the
field taught as Tuit discribes, as some lived and acted like
little (or big) Hitler - Keith Hunt)

     Members were also forbidden to wear make-up as it was
considered to be a sign of vanity and, according to Herbert
Armstrong, something used by prostitutes. 

(At the time Tuit wrote that was true - Keith Hunt)

     The celebration of birthdays was forbidden as being pagan,
although there is no Biblical proof of this. The reason given was
that there were only two birthday celebrations mentioned in the
Bible. The first one is in the fortieth chapter of Genesis, when
Pharaoh hanged his chief baker at his birthday feast, and the
other is in the fourteenth chapter of Matthew, when Herod had
John the Baptist beheaded at his birthday celebration. Obviously,
it was not the celebration of birthdays that was wrong, but
rather what was being done on those two particular occasions.

(The WCG did teach birthdays were wrong to celebrate. I have
written the truth of the matter on all of these subjects [except
doctors because it was only individual ministers that taught the
"doctor is sin" stuff. We certainly did not teach it where I was
in the local church from 1961 to my leaving in 1972]
on this Website - Keith Hunt)

     The expenditures for Armstrong's world trips in the Church-
owned Gulfstream II jet were also becoming a cause of dissension
among many of the top officials. Regarding these trips, Joseph
Hopkins, in his book The Armstrong Empire, said "Just how the
contacts are arranged is a mystery. Armstrong himself attributes
them to an unusual series of coincidences which started about six
years ago. Be that as it may, he has gained access to heads of
state in at least a dozen world capitals. Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi of India and Golda Meir of Israel, Emperor Haile Selassie
of Ethiopia, Prime Minister Kittikachorn of Thailand, Presidents
Suharto of Indonesia and Marcos of the Philippines, Prime
Minister Tanaka of Japan and ex-King Leopold III of Belgium are
among the internaional celebrities who have taken time from busy
schedules to confer with the Chancellor of Ambassador College.
Photographs of Armstrong and his legal counsel, Stanley R. Rader,
a non-member, but constant companion and confidant of Armstrong
shown presenting expensive gifts of exquisite Steuben crystal to
the foreign dignitaries, have become a trademark of Plain Truth
issues in which these visits are reported." 
     All of these various factors - the 1972 prophecy debacle,
the 1972 ouster and later return of Garner Ted Armstrong, serious
doctrinal questions, and the massive expenditures of money on
round the world trips - all combined to set the stage for serious
discord within the ministry. The final result of all this was the
event that became known as the 1974 Rebellion.

     Another point of serious concern among many top Church
leaders was the growing influence of Stanley R. Rader on Herbert
Armstrong. Rader, born in 1930 in New York, was not a Church
member and had never been baptized. He was first employed by the
Church in 1956 as a certified public accountant and later became
legal counsel to both the Church and to Herbert Armstrong. He was
a member of both the accounting firm of Rader, Cornwall and
Kessler and of the legal firm of Rader, Helge and Gerson. Both
these firms represented the Church in a professional capacity. I
often recall seeing photos of Herbert Armstrong in Church
publications and it always seemed that Rader was next to him or
behind him peering over his shoulder. This ever-present man, with
his thin mustache and dark glasses, always appeared to me as one
who would be more appropriately cast as a croupier in a casino
rather than as the right-hand man of the leader of a church.
I felt it was wrong to prejudge and, if I had any difficulty
suppressing doubts regarding Rader, my ability to suppress them
was reinforced by periodic announcements from the minister at our
Church service. There would be, on several occasions, an
nouncements countering the statements of the ministers who had
left in 1974. We were reminded that Mr.Armstrong had God's holy
spirit and was specially called and blessed of God, that we
should not question his sound judgment in having a man such as
Stanley Rader in such an important position, even though he was
unbaptized. Little did I realize that this was part of a constant
brainwashing campaign of the membership.

     Through the rest of 1975, after our baptism, Paula and I
certainly enjoyed our Church activity. We always looked forward
to the Sabbath when we could attend Church services, fellowship
with our many friends and learn more of the Scriptures. We felt
that we were a part of the great work of God, and were eager to
learn more and grow to have a part in this work ourselves.
     A constant stream of letters to the members supplemented The
Plain Truth and Good News magazines and always served to keep us
strongly in support of Herbert Armstrong's activities. An example
of what we would be constantly reminded of is the following from
the January 1975 edition of The Plain Truth, written by Herbert
Armstrong: "More than 41 years ago the living Christ called and
chose me as His instrument in reviving and carrying out His GREAT
COMMISSION in this END time - We are commissioned to take the
message into all the world. In the mind of God, this is the MOST
IMPORTANT ACTIVITY ON EARTH! It is His activity - the Work He is
doing through us, He is coming to end all poverty, ignorance,
sickness and disease, filth and squalor, ugliness. He is coming
to end all crime, all war, to solve all this world's evils - to
bring universal prosperity, happiness and joy! Is that important?
He called me as His instrument to announce all that in advance!"

     From a Herbert Armstrong letter dated April 27, 1975: 

"I have returned to Bombay to speak this afternoon to 4,000
delegates attending a Lion's Club District Convention - I am
showing leaders of these nations that FIGHTING for peace doesn't
bring it, and that the Living Christ is soon coming back to earth
to HELP all these leaders of government all over the world to
have REAL PEACE - permanent, with universal prosperity, instead
of wasting their strength and effort in fighting against each
other - Who is carrying the MESSAGE of His coming - the messenger
with the MESSAGE of the KINGDOM OF GOD? GOD'S CHURCH is sending
forth that MESSAGE. That Message was prepared before the end of
the first century. The world has not heard it from about 70 A.D,
until THIS WORK began proclaiming it publicly, and THIS is a sure
sign that Christ gave that we are in the very END TIME, and the
END of his world is upon us! Dear Co-worker, the living CHRIST,
soon to come again in SUPREME POWER, has called and chosen YOU,
with me and Garner Ted GIVE THIS GOSPEL MESSAGE TO the nations.
Right now we need your continued generous backing! God bless you
for it."

     Letter of May 26, 1975: 

"These campaigns are VERY IMPORTANT IN GOD'S eyes, brethren! Are
they in YOURS? He has called us to back this Work of His, and you
are all I have in this world back of me."

     Letter of October 8, 1975: 

"Do you REALIZE what is now going on in the world? Gradually,
relentlessly, VIOLENCE in general, and the overthrow of
governments all over the world is accelerating. August 15th, a
man I knew - President Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh - was shot
and killed in a military coup. Sitting with us, when I visited
President Rahman (then Prime Minister but actual head of state),
was Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed, Commerce Minister. Ahmed led the
military coup and took over as head of the government. In August
1973, I was in Santiago, Chile (South America) to visit President
Allende. Three weeks later, he was assassinated - machine gunned
in the back - in the very room where I had the conference. Three
weeks after I had visited Prime Minister Kittikachorn of Thailand
and spoken in Bangkok before an audience which included Doctor
Sanya, Rector of the University, a riot of 200,000 students
overthrew the military government, and Prime Minister
Kittikachorn fled to the United States. I had become well
acquainted with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. Twice when I
visited him in Addis Ababa he placed one of his personal
limousines with chauffeur at my disposal for my entire stay. But
the military forces took him prisoner and took over the
government. Last July a bloodless coup overthrew the government
of General Yakubu Gowon in Nigeria (Africa)."

     And of course he closed with, "We are moving with THE WORK
swiftly! I need your earnest prevailing, believing PRAYERS. We
need INCREASED FINANCIAL SUPPORT! IT IS URGENT. THANK YOU IN
JESUS' NAME."

     This type of communication from Herbert Armstrong is typical
of the continuing propaganda efforts to which we were subjected.
Certainly, as Christians we wanted to do all we could to help
bring the message of Jesus Christ and the news of His coming
Kingdom to the world. We truly believed that Herbert Armstrong
was doing this and we wanted to be a part of it. Little did I
realize that some of the events mentioned in the letter just
quoted may have had significance far beyond what even Herbert
Armstrong might have realized. It was to be some time before I
would come to realize that Paula and I had become part of a
church that was in the final stages of being perverted into one
of the most diabolically controlled organizations in existence.
During the next year our enthusiasm in having a part in
proclaiming the end time message of the coming Kingdom of God
continued to grow. And, as our knowledge of Scripture grew, so
did our faith.

     In two cases, we had dramatic healings, which demonstrated
to us God's great power and helped to build our faith. And, by
dramatic healings, I do not just mean a recovery from some
illness or injury, but rather something very dramatic. In one
case, late in 1975, our son David, who was not quite five years
old became ill with a badly infected throat. He seemed to be
particularly prone to throat infections, but he had never had one
this serious. The doctor informed us that his tonsils were badly
infected and that it would take massive doses of antibiotics to
correct the problem. He said further that there was no question
that the tonsils would have to be removed after bringing the
infection under control. We did what we could humanly do by using
the prescribed medication, and also prayed, asking God, in the
Name of Jesus Christ, to heal David.
     The situation got worse, however, and finally got to the
point where he could not eat. The pain in his throat was so bad
that he even refused to drink water. Paula and I really felt let
down as David's condition seemed to get progressively worse. Then
it occurred to us finally that perhaps we should have him
anointed. I remembered a sermon in which the minister said that
Church teaching in the past had been in error as far as the
teaching against any use of doctors or medicines were concerned.
He said that not to use physical means at all to treat illness
was in a sense tempting God, yet there was a limit to what
medicine could do. We should rely on God, as there was no limit
as to what He could do. Finally, as we were literally at the end
of our rope with David's situation, we realized that there was a
passage in James 5:14-15 which told us what to do. It says, "Is
any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church;
and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of
the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the
Lord shall raise him up; and if he had committed sins, they shall
be forgiven him." I called Maceo Hampton and that evening he came
to our home. We all knelt on the floor, and the minister prayed
to God in the Name of Jesus Christ, asking that David be healed,
and actually reminding God of this promise in the book of James,
and actually asking Him to keep that promise. I was impressed
that this was not a prayer of begging, but truly a prayer of a
son coming before his Father asking Him to keep a promise. He
then, at the end of his prayer, anointed David's head with oil
and, as Paula and I tearfully said "Amen" at the end of the
prayer, David said, "God and Jesus are going to make me better".
I'm afraid that his faith was much stronger than ours. David then
went to bed not having been able to eat all day. The next morning
when he got out of bed he said, "Mommy I'm hungry, when can I
eat"; to which Paula responded, "I'll make it right away David,
but how's your throat?" And he said, "I'm better now. Mr.Hampton
said that God would heal me." We then examined him and found that
the tonsils had reduced considerably in size and that the
infection had cleared up considerably. In another couple of days,
David was completely well. Considering his very serious
condition, the doctor could not understand how he recovered so
quickly, and said his tonsils would still have to be removed as a
precaution against further infections. David still has his
tonsils and has had no serious throat infections since that day.
Paula and I were just thrilled by this tremendous experience
where God demonstrated His healing powers to us. Both of us in
our earliest religious upbringing had been taught that miracles
were not performed in this age, but now we were beginning to
learn that that was not true.

(Yes, indeed, God can still perform miracles [He's never been in
doubt that He can - He's always known it] - yet it is in His
time, not ours, and sometimes it will be the resurrection that is
the miracle - Keith Hunt)

     An even more dramatic experience happened seven months
later, in the spring of 1976. It was a Sabbath morning and we
were not going to attend Church that day, as Paula had been up
through the night as a result of Lisa being quite cranky. Lisa,
our youngest daughter, was about three months old at that time.
Paula was seated at the kitchen table with Lisa on her lap as I
poured boiling water into Paula's teacup. Only a few seconds
after I poured the water, Lisa reached out over the table and put
her hand into the cup, totally immersing her hand into the
boiling water, and then spilling it over. I don't believe I've
ever heard a child scream so loudly in all my life. Her entire
hand immediately turned a bright red and it was obvious that she
had a very severe burn. Paula cooled the hand under water from
the kitchen faucet and, even though she is a nurse, we found
ourselves in a state of instant panic. As she said later, "It's
different when it's your own child." Obviously there was no time
to call a minister to come for an anointing. I thought of one of
the elders, Walter Scull, who I was sure would not have left for
church yet. I said to Paula, "I'll call Mr.Scull while you put
some A and D ointment on that hand. I can't think of anything
else that you can do for her." I was able to get Walter Scull,
who was still at home, told him what happened, and he said they
would immediately pray for Lisa. After hanging up the phone our
entire family knelt and prayed also, asking God to heal the hand.
At this time Lisa was still screaming uncontrollably, and shortly
after we had finished praying she had stopped crying and Paula
put her in her playpen. In a few moments she fell asleep and
didn't awaken for at least two hours. During that time we could
see that the bright red hand was fading to pink and then later we
could see white spots beginning to appear, a sign of a normal
skin color, and after a couple of hours the hand was completely
back to normal, with the exception of three small pinhead-sized
blisters. When she woke up she played normally as though nothing
had happened. This was truly a miracle and one which we will
never forget, as it is absolutely impossible to immerse a hand in
boiling water without serious injury. It was as though the three
pinhead blisters were left there just to remind us that she had
been burned and then healed.

     When Paula mentioned this to the doctor later, his only
response was, that we must have been mistaken, that the water
could not have been all that hot. But I know better; it was
boiling water. Lisa had been burned and immediately healed.
I think it was experiences such as these, and our general
enthusiasm about being part of what we had come to believe was
God's work, that made us fail to see some of the danger signs
that were staring us right in the face. 
     As an example, from The Plain Truth, April/May 1976; "God's
PURPOSE in having created and put HUMANS on earth was to develop
in them GOD'S own holy and righteous character. God wants a
people who will REJECT and overcome Satan's WAY OF LIFE and turn
to the GOVERNMENT OF GOD - which is GOD'S way of life. That
GOVERNMENT OF GOD exists at this time on earth only in the
Worldwide Church of God."

     At the time I failed to see how Herbert Armstrong was
injecting his own ideas into the preaching of God's truth. Much
grief has been caused by people who consider themselves to be the
only representatives of God on earth.

                           .....................


To be continued with "The Great Commission"


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