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Armstrong's Empire Exposed

Crack in the False Facade

                       THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE

                    Herbert Armstrong's Empire Exposed

                                    by

                                 John Tuit
                                  (1981)


Crack in the False Facade


     THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT WEDGE TO BE DRIVEN INTO THE CRACK
developirig in the facade of the  Worldwide Church of God came in
June of 1976 with the release of a publication called the
Ambassador Review. The Ambassador Review was put out by a group
of former Ambassador students, led by J. Timothy Nugent, John
Trechak, and Leonard W. Zola. In their opening statement they
say, "The Ambassador Review is a journal by and for students,
alumni, and friends of Ambassador College. Its goal is to provide
an open forum for those who have shared in the 'Ambassador
Experience.' It has grown out of the increasing need for a
response to the censored and ideologically-controlled articles
found in the official Ambassador College and Worldwide Church of
God publications." This publication was a fifty-two-page magazine
and, while it had a strong impact in the Pasadena area, it did
not receive wide circulation. I was unaware of it at the time,
but did find later that some people in our local congregation
received copies in the mail. Most of these copies were
immediately given over to the ministers and destroyed.
     Another article by Nugent states, "None of the `great
purposes' seem pertinent anymore. Bricket Wood is gone. Imperial
Schools are gone. The Ambassador Press has been sold. The
computer department is being phased out. The Ambassador
Television Studio is being bartered off. And it doesn't help to
be reminded that THE PLAIN TRUTH looks starved for content, while
the pages of the once-again delayed HUMAN POTENTIAL are so
bloated with content that it appears to be wallowing in its own
galleys, perhaps never to see the arrival of a second edition.
Yes, it's hard to be optimistic."
     Referred to here was the College at Bricket Wood, England,
which had been closed and was in the process of being sold. The
sale was finally consummated in 1978. The Imperial Schools were
elementary schools in the Pasadena area which were operated by
the Church. It was becoming quite obvious to some that great sums
of money were going into cultural endeavors and allegedly great
humanitarian causes, while some of the very basic operations of
the Church such as its schools, its colleges, and even its
printing plant were being liquidated.
     The selling of the printing plant is a case in point. The
Ambassador Press was one of the most modern color printing
facilities on the West Coast. In a short-sighted move to raise
cash, the entire facility was sold to a large magazine publishing
company in an arrangement whereby the Church would then contract
with the purchaser for the printing of The Plain Truth and the
Good News magazines. Soon after the sale of the printing plant,
the buyer closed the facility due to insufficient business, as a
result of the 1974-75 recession. The same basic recessionary
period that motivated the Church to sell the printing plant
resulted in its total closing, with the presses being dismantled
and sold off to some distant buyer. This resulted in the Church
being in the position of having to jobshop, or farm out, its
major printing assignments.

     One of the main points of Armstrong's teaching was that of
Church authority. He would constantly remind the membership that
he was God's apostle and that God's form of government was
government from the top down. This meant that, he, Armstrong, was
in charge of everything and in a sense, the only human capable of
governing the Church. He more than once made the statement, "God
would never allow me to do anything or make any decision that
would adversely affect the Church." In this he even goes the Pope
one better. At least the Pope limits his claimed infallibility to
matters of faith and morals; Herbert Armstrong, in a more subtle
way, claims infallibility on any decision affecting the Church.
In response to Armstrong's church government theory, Nugent
continues, "The notion that 'governmmnt from the top down' is not
of God and therefore not the best government for humans gains
plausibility from the premature departure of four of the
college's most respected evangelists-three of them
vice-presidents. The resignations of scores of former Ambassador
administrators convince us that the issues troubling the
consciences of these men are real. The continued rising
prominence of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation
appears to bear out the credibility of seers who say that the
Worldwide Church of God contributions are being transferred to a
separate foundation under the control of less than `Ambassador
quality' people. Reports of the AICF spending $125,000 in one
night for a Hollywood movie premiere lend substance to the
ominous prediction that Ambassador College will not make it much
longer if these subsidies continue at the current pace. Now we
are discovering that certain doctrines and leaders cannot live in
control of our lives forever. If this is what's happening,
perhaps in time we can make peace with the inevitable change,
candidly admit the mistakes of the past, settle into a productive
and rewarding spiritual maturity, and face adulthood with
intelligence, not blind allegiance. The end of innocence in this
case will be the first step toward wisdom."

     A major article in the review was devoted to the AICF.
Thinking back now, I wonder if it is coincidental that the AICF
was formed at about the same time Rader finally decided to be
baptized. Rader was baptized in a Hong Kong bathtub by Herbert
Armstrong around the middle of 1975. I recall that announcement
at Church services and how happy everyone was to hear the news.
No one knew, however, that at that time Herbert Armstrong had
planned to ordain Rader a minister at the time of his baptism. It
was only after strong objections were raised by Garner Ted
Armstrong that the ordination did not take place. With the
credentials of a minister, one must wonder what Rader might have
been able to do as we look at his continuing achievements without
his having had that qualification.
     Regarding AICF, Ambassador Review states: "Since the Church
was already funding numerous educational and cultural projects
such as the Temple excavation in Jerusalem, anthropological
expeditions for King Leopold III of Belgium, the International
Cultural Center for Youth in Israel and other humanitarian pro-
jects in Thailand, Nepal, etc., the idea of a cultural foundation
which would take these programs under its wing seemed perfect.
Herbert Armstrong could now represent a prestigious organization
`dedicated to serving humanity worldwide' without suffering any
of the old embarrassments caused by representing a small church
and college."

     The article further states: "This 'cultural foundation'
concept practically sold itself to Herbert Armstrong. The concert
series nicely appealed to his obsession of 'showing up' the Los
Angeles Music Center, and required little persuasion for its
adoption."

     Massive promotional efforts in the Los Angeles area soon
established the AICF, with its concert series in the Ambassador
Auditorium, as a leading charitable organization.
     Attention was also called to the fact that the accounting
firm of Rader, Cornwall and Kessler did not operate exactly as an
arm's length auditor of the Church's books. Rader, of course, was
on the payroll of the Church. Henry F. Cornwall, a partner in the
firm, was not a member of the Church. Ambassador Review states:

"Another individual worthy of note was Henry F. Cornwall,
longtime friend and business associate of Stan Rader. He holds
the office of Secretary-Treasurer within the Foundation. His
position in the entire Worldwide Church of God empire is even
more covert than Rader's, but sources within the organization
have revealed that Cornwall yields incredible power in the area
of fiscal affairs. Cornwall, a Certified Public Accountant, has
kept the financial records of the Church and College for years
and reportedly acts as the sole 'independent' auditor of the
corporate conglomerate. From their office suite in Century City,
Cornwall and Rader discreetly exercise almost absolute control
over the purse strings. It is they who authorize the
ultra-extravagant expenditures by the AICF using Church monies."

     Herbert Armstrong was taken strongly to task in another
article entitled "Herbert W. Armstrong, A legend in His Own
Mind". One of the more shocking disclosures was the fact that the
Church conducted what were known as "tithe checks" on members and
especially on employees. If a member was being considered for
ordination as an elder or deacon, or if someone was being
considered for promotion as an employee, a check of their tithing
record would be made.
     Keith M. Hunter, who was Director of the Ambassador College
Data Processing Center from 1965 through 1973, told the
Ambassador Review, "In early 1968, Rodrick C. Meredith, then head
of the U.S. Church Ministry of the Radio Church of God, now the
Worldwide Church of God, was taking a tour of the new computer
facilities at 55 North Vernon. I briefed him on the system we
were developing and showed him some printouts of donation
information. His eyes seemed to widen as he realized the
potentialities of such a system. He asked me to look up the
donation records of two men who were about to be ordained as
deacons. It turned out that one was tithing and one was not
(according to RCM). Mr. Meredith immediately set up a policy to
be administered through Dan Porter, then head of the Church
Administration Department, that all ordinations and elevations in
rank would be done subsequent to a tithe check. It was my feeling
that this policy has been carried on to the present day."

     Here we have a Church that Herbert Armstrong claimed was the
one and only true Church, and headed by a man who calls himself
God's apostle. A Church that claims to teach the message of Jesus
Christ, who said, "God loves a cheerful giver." Yet the constant
pressure on the members to give special offerings, to adhere to a
rigid tithing schedule, certainly makes it a paradox.
Ambassador Review further states: "The ministerial letter of
January 28, 1969 emphasized once again that the ministers should
check with headquarters to determine the loyalty of suspected
brethren under their charge".

     Little did I realize that I was a member of a church that
conducted its operations more like a Communist police state,
while Herbert Armstrong was running around the world telling
people that God's way is the way of love and man's way is the way
of get and selfish greed. Which way was he practicing here?
Rounding out the Ambassador Review were a couple of articles
relating to the subject of tithing and the accreditation of
Ambassador College. The attempt to get Ambassador accredited by
the Western Association of Schools and Colleges was finally
aborted in 1978.
     The article on tithing carries over two pages of scriptural
support for the fact that a Christian is not required to tithe,
or give a tenth of his income, to the Church. The article states:

"For more than three years the Armstrongs and their evangelists
have been deluged with over 40 research papers demonstrating that
a Christian is NOT required by the Bible to give God a tenth of
his gross (or net) monetary income. Many ministers, top
headquarters and administrators and department heads have come to
understand the Biblical theology of tithing and admit privately
that the church has no proof or authority for requiring a tithe
on monetary income. Unfortunately, the WCG leaders have time and
again refused to refute the new facts that have come to light,
and they attempt to silence those who would spotlight their
futile attempts to cover up this important new data."

     From the article it became quite obvious that considerable
doctrinal research had been conducted on the subject of tithing
and that most top Church leaders privately agree that tithing was
not a requirement of the New Testament Church. It appears,
however, that the faith of Church leaders is not as strong as the
faith they attempt to instill in the members. If it were that
strong, they would have revealed the Biblical truth to the
membership, and truly relied on God and faith to supply the needs
of the Church as a result of cheerful giving. Instead, members
were constantly reminded with arm-twisting letters to keep
sending in the money. 

(I have over the years seen just about every argument AGAINST the
law of tithing. They are all nonesense, and I have answered the
main arguments on this topic on this Website under "Tithing" - it
should also be noted that there are many other church organizations
that believe in tithing, including the Seventh Day Adventist [who
do not monitor in any way their members tithing] who with their
monies have built hospitals, have their own TV channel, produce
all kinds of literature, and are one of only two Christian groups
that are on the increase around the world, the other being the
Roman Catholic religion. Tithing is to God, not to some man or an
organization, so the responsibility is in your hands, as to who
you send your tithe to, which could include "charity" organizations
that are serving the poor, the needy, and the destitute. You will
notice on this Website no asking for money; there is no address
on here to even send me any money. I do not want or need your
tithe money - Keith Hunt)

     It's difficult to determine what effect the first issue of
Ambassador Review may have had. While it may have caused some
people to begin thinking critically about Church leadership, it
appears that most of the people who received copies of the Review
did the same thing as those in my Church area. They turned them
into their minister.
     The interesting point in all of this was that they did not
just throw out something that they did not consider worthy of
their attention; because they did not want to be suspected of
ever having such a thing in their possession, most members turned
them in as an outward show of loyalty to the Church and the
Armstrongs. This is a perfect example of what can happen to
someone's thinking process after being conditioned with the
propaganda that Herbert Armstrong is an apostle of God, and as
such should not be questioned. For to question him is to question
God, and to question God is to risk losing your eternal life and
ending up in the lake of fire. Thankfully, I was not aware of the
Review at that time. For had I received a copy I probably would
have begun talking to others about it, something which could have
resulted in my being disfellowshipped back in 1976. Had that
happened, some things might be different today, for I would not
have had the opportunity to get at the real facts and be able to
use them properly.
     Apparently, Church leaders just dismissed the publishers of
the Ambassador Review as a bunch of dissident troublemakers,
instead of addressing the issues that were raised.
     "God's apostle" could be secure in the fact that God would
punish such evil detractors of the "one and only true Church."

     By the end of 1976, many members and even non-members who
had subscribed to Human Potential had not yet received their
first issue. Finally an article in the November 1976 Good News
announced: "Our most significant project is about to be launched;
an exciting new publication, Quest/77, designed to make a
fundamental statement about human potential, reflect the highest
quality of our institutions, and be publicly and commercially
successful."

     Finally, Human Potential, now renamed Quest, was eagerly
awaited. After hiring some of the top talent from the magazine
and publishing industry and naming former Harper's editor, Robert
Shnayerson as editor, Quest made its debut with the March/April
1977 issue. When I received my copy I was impressed. It was a
highly-quality magazine with a lead story on the 1976 Mount
Everest expedition. But something seemed to be very wrong. The
article entitled "The Green Bay Monster" by George Plimpton and
Bill Curry was, as the name would seem to indicate, about Vince
Lombardi, the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers football
team.
     After having been primed for so long to receive a
high-quality magazine, even though this secular magazine would
have a unique character, as could be produced only by an arm of
the Church, I was quite shocked to see an article containing
obscenities and blasphemies. Of course there were also fine
articles such as one about a doctor practicing pediatrics in a
small town and another about cross-country balloonists. While the
Lombardi article disturbed me a little, I could at least accept
it as the type of problem that could be expected in a first issue
produced by non-Church members.
     But I was in for more surprises. There was an article
entitled: "DeRerum Natura" by T. Coraghessan Boyle. On the page
opposite the article's first page was a painting of a man in deep
thought with a serpent entwined around his leg. Flanking him in
the background were the upper portions of a man and woman, the
woman totally entwined by a serpent. To fully understand the
article, one would have to be as demented as the author appears
to have been when he wrote it.
     The story concerns an inventor developing his own versions
of mutated life forms. An example of the satanic influence
prevailing upon the author is as follows: "At fifteen, he stunned
the world with his first great advance, the stooless cat, which
brought him the financial independence to sustain his subtler and
more meaningful future work. Through an accelerated but
painstaking process of selected breeding he had overseen the
evolution of a strain of common house cat - the usual attributes
intact - which never in the course of its normal life span was
actuated by the physiological demands of micturation or
defecation. Within six months after its introduction, the major
producers of cat litter had thrown in the towel and pet shops
were opening next to every liquor store in the country. His
photograph (contemplative, the horn rims) appeared on the covers
of Newsweek and Time during the same week. He was hailed: 'An
Edison for the Seventies,' 'The Pragmatists Einstein,' they said.
Housewives clamoured. The Russians awarded him the Star of
Novgorod. Encouraged he went on to develop the limbless,
headless, tailless strain that has since become an international
institution." 
     And then there was a footnote to that paragraph "In Finland,
for example, a 10.3 annual per capita consumption of the Furballs
(patented tradename) is indicated. At Reykjavik they are sold on
the street corner. An American Porno Queen posed nude in a sea of
Furballs for a still controversial spread in a men's publication.
And the Soviet Premier has foregone bedclothes for them His
explanation: 'Can you make purr the electric blanket?'"

     The final article in this first issue was entitled, "Build
Your Courage in Three Easy Lessons" by Jean Houston. Jean Houston
is noted as being the director of the Foundation for Mind
Research and co-author of Mind Games. According to this article,
"The recovery of courage is a recovery of the imagination. It is
also the recovery of the sense of physical and mental fluidity
that goes with the energized imagination." The article then goes
on to give instructions for three exercises as a means to develop
one's building of courage through imagination. The first is a
dance exercise. The author advises here, "After some minutes of
movement and dance, continue moving to the music, but add to it
some fantasy of courage-the wilder and woolier the better. Keep
moving and dancing, but also act out that situation imagining the
kinds of things you could optimally do or say. Let the music
carry you and prime your responses".

     The second exercise is an exercise in fantasy, where one is
advised "Working with a close friend, tell him the tale of an
alternate life-a life that could have been your own, but one
involving much courageous response to many challenges. Tell the
tale of a wise, crusty soul who rose above his fears and dared
even to fail. After you have told this story, spend some minutes
feeling this alternate person in your body-mind. Try to feel his
feelings, think his thoughts, look through his eyes, see how he
perceives the world. Then, switching back and forth, engage in a
dialogue between your everyday self and the 'other' person. Have
`yourself' question this courageous `other' on issues that
concern you. Have the 'other' answer and offer advice. Keep this
up until you feel you are gaining some newer perspectives and
feelings about the way you could operate in the world. What you
are doing here is tapping into a dramatized personification of an
innate but latent being in your life."

     The third and final exercise is an exercise in meditation.
The author advises: "Lie down, make yourself very comfortable,
and relax as deeply as you can. Discover that you can relax still
more. Then have the image or feeling of descending an ancient
stone staircase, descending down and around, around and down
deeper and deeper. Eventually the staircase ends and you imagine
that you are entering a great hall known as the Place of Courage.
It may be that you may be greeted by someone there-an archetype
or personification-known as Mother Courage or Father Courage or
even the Spirit of Courage. Whoever it is be with that person in
that place for awhile. Sense as fully as you can this realm-the
taproot of courage in your life. Feel its power and its abiding
reality for you and know you can draw upon it whenever you wish.
This exercise in the use of imaginal inner spaces will provide
the momentum and the courage to be in out spaces."

     After reading this I became outraged. While very popular
these days, I felt that it had no place in a magazine produced
with a subsidy that was paid for by people who gave their money
to the Church for the purpose of preaching the Gospel. What Jean
Houston advises here may be considered by some to be plain
nonsense and others may unfortunately take it very seriously. It
is certainly not sheer nonsense and is in fact totally contrary
to Scripture and against the teachings of the Church.
     Only a few months earlier, in the Good News of December
1976, said in an article on meditation. In summary, the TM
meditation technique isn't the same kind of meditation referred
to in the Bible. The attendant rituals, ceremonies and mystical
teachings of TM are derived from Hinduism and clearly conflict
with the Christian concept of worship, existence and growth".

     What was being advocated in this Quest article is a system
of allowing one's mind to go totally blank, allowing a demon to
then enter into the mind to act the part of the "other person,"
with which one would have a conversation. Descending into a place
of courage to converse with someone known as the Spirit of
Courage is totally demonic. There is only one spirit with which
we should have communion. We need not descend into an imaginary
place of courage to do so. In 1st Corinthians 2:12, Paul writes,
"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit
which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely
given to us of God."

     I showed these articles to Paula and we both wondered how
this could be. In anger I called Elbert Atlas, a minister who had
recently moved into the area to take the position of area
coordinator. In that position he served as Pastor of one of the
Churches in Nanuet, New York, as well as being in supervisory
position over other pastors throughout the Northeast. I told him
that I was completely outraged that the Church would have
anything to do with such a magazine. I said, "If Quest is going
to continue publishing articles that are contrary to Scripture,
it can only mean trouble for the Church. If this doesn't get
straightened out soon, I don't see how God will continue to bless
this work."

     This was my first experience with what I have come to
realize is general blind obedience on the part of the ministry to
Herbert Armstrong. Atlas said, "Don't worry about it, it's not
for us to get upset over. Mr.Armstrong has been called as God's
apostle and he certainly knows what's going on. If he doesn't
like it, he'll do something about it. We do have to use different
ways to reach the people in the world you know." The more I
argued with him, the angrier I got. My anger became so intense
that I could feel my back muscles tightening up as the
conversation progressed. A couple of hours after the conversation
ended that evening, I had severe sciatic pains in my left leg.
They were so severe that I could hardly walk.
     Five years earlier I had had a slipped disc which had been
corrected by traction, and although I had a recurrence of minor
pain from time to time, there had been no problem at all for over
two years. The pain became so severe that I could not get to
sleep that evening. Finally, at about two in the morning I phoned
Maceo Hampton who had by that time been transferred to a
sabbatical in Pasadena, California. I told him what had
transpired and said that I felt that I should be anointed, but
didn't know if I should contact Elbert Atlas, at that point,
considering the nature of our discussion. Hampton said, "It seems
that you have perceived something in a more astute way than
perhaps most others would do. Satan does work in many subtle ways
to destroy the Church." He had yet not seen Quest, but was quite
shocked to hear me tell what I had read in the magazine. He
suggested that in spite of the nature of my conversation with
Elbert Atlas, I call him for an anointing. Hampton said that he
would pray for me and after the conversation the pain eased
considerably and I was able to sleep. The next morning I called
Atlas and asked him for anointing. I did not at that time tell
him that I had been in contact with Maceo Hampton.
     Atlas arrived later that day with Richard Frankel, who
several months earlier had become the new Pastor of our local
congregation upon the transfer of both Messrs. Swagerty and
Hampton. They both assured me that God would take care of any
problems with Quest and that Mr.Armstrong would not be allowed by
God to do anything that would harm the work. They gave me quite a
talk along that vein, which I only realized later was a lot of
mindless nonsense. They did anoint me, and within the next couple
of days I was completely over my sciatic problem.
     Thankfully when God heals, He goes by the faith being shown
on the part of the one who is ill, rather than by any judgment He
may have of the instrument he is using to perform the anointing.
I didn't realize it at the time, but neither of these men were
about to rock the boat. In fact as I write this, they still have
not rocked any boats. Elbert Atlas is one of the few black
ministers in the Church and the only black Area Coordinator.
Unfortunately, he appears to be very sensitive to this fact and
ever-mindful of the feelings of some of the top officials in the
Church. He will probably never forget the statement, by Rodrick
C. Meredith, a top-ranking evangelist who was later to become
Director of the ministry "that one of the signs of God's
displeasure with America was the fact that many blacks were
ruling over us." And he called particular attention to the black
mayor of Los Angeles. He further stated that no black should have
authority over whites.


     Richard Frankel was born in India to British parents, and
then educated at Ambassador College in England. He was at this
time only in his early thirties and had already acted in several
international ministerial responsibilities and had been for some
time in charge of the Jerusalem office of the Church. In that
capacity he had close contact with Herbert Armstrong, and having
lost his own father at an early age seemed to look to Herbert
Armstrong as a substitute father.

     In one way or another the dominant authority and great
father image of Herbert Armstrong seems to have affected the
minds of just about everyone in the Church, in ways similar to
that reflected by the attitude of Atlas and Frankel.

     Subsequent issues of Quest did seem to improve in some ways,
but it was never totally under control. The November /December
1977 issue carried an advertisement for the Self-Realization
Fellowship and a book which they were offering called
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. The May/June
1977 issue carried an article favorable to psychic healing. I was
not the only one complaining, and it appears that whoever did
complain was quieted down in the same manner as I had been.
Quest issues continued to carry articles contrary to Church
teachings and even carried advertisements for Christmas wreaths
and holiday smoked hams. This, in a publication put out by a
Church which teaches that Christmas is pagan and that pork is an
unclean meat and must be abstained from.

     Church officials did move Jack Martin into the Quest office
as publishing director around mid 1977. He was a minister, and
had served in various responsibilities in the publishing
activities of the Church. His stay, however, was to be
short-lived and would be over before he could be truly effective.
This trend into publishing a secular magazine under the auspices
of a secular foundation operated by the Church was an activity
totally in conflict with the purposes, beliefs, and teachings of
the Church. If God would not allow Herbert Armstrong to do
anything that would harm the work, as he had always said, then
what was going on here? Either God was a hypocrite or Herbert
Armstrong was wrong.

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


To be continued with "The Apostle's New Helpmate"


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