Tuesday 30 January 2007
Tales of the Good Old Days - Part 1
Across on the WCG Alumni Forum one of the regulars has been posting excerpts from a book by former AC student Peter Leschak, author of Bumming With the Furies: Out on the Trail of Experience. Several interesting anecdotes are told, including this one about the "rebellion" of 74.
On February 25 was the “Monday Massacre.” Garner Ted Armstrong had flown in from headquarters in Pasadena to end confusion and marshal the forces of righteousness. On the twenty-third he had delivered a blistering sermon at Sabbath services, inflaming the faithful with fresh distrust and, in some cases, hatred for the dissidents. It was an inspired performance by a talented orator. At the end, several hundred people spontaneously leaped to their feet, cheering and waving. I had a vision of Nuremberg, 1935, and was actually frightened. I counted six of us who didn’t cheer.
On the twenty-fifth, Garner Ted convened a minister’s conference at AC, and, after a forty-minute opening prayer, which saw him break into sobs, he harangued and intimidated the forty or so assembled church leaders for seven hours. Several entered the meeting with misgivings about the organization, but by the times it was over, only four still stood their ground, resisting the demand for total loyalty. They were fired from the ministry and disfellowshipped.
The next day it was the student body’s turn to be purified. Kelly and an associate delivered wild-eyed diatribes calling on us to “purge out those who are not willing to change!” Everyone knew who he meant; but of course it was the dissidents who had actually changed. We were told there was a “morass of rebellion” and that the situation was “insane.” The Devil was attempting to divide and conquer God’s church, and the rebels were on his side, partaking of evil. To cap it off, we were reminded, “there are things we shouldn’t even think; let alone say.”
Next day the student body was assembled, and Kelly announced that twenty students had been fired from their campus jobs because they had contact with disfellowshipped persons. The kicker was that he wouldn’t release the names of those who were “terminated.” You had to guess if you were among the causalities, and, therefore, further incriminate yourself by asking for official confirmation.
The next day Kelly kicked my friend Pam out of AC. She had been on the termination list and had gone to Kelly’s office to discuss her firing. She wondered why her job had been affected by a visit to a former member. Kelly replied that the salaries were paid via the donations of church members, so it was a betrayal of the brethren to use their money to pay dissidents. It would have been an appropriate moment to mention how the brethren’s money had been used top buy planes, limos, jewelry, and other extravagances for the WCG hierarchy, but Pam merely said, “I don’t think going to see a former minister should have anything to do with my job.”
“Your job isn’t to think, “ Kelly replied irritably. “You aren’t paid to think.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Pam countered, “Christians aren’t supposed to think.”
Kelly began to shout. He yelled, “That’s enough!” He didn’t want to hear any more. He told Pam she was expelled from AC, and, right on the spot, he instructed his secretary to file the necessary papers. As Pam left his office, he slammed the door behind her.
The “heretical underground” had grown cynical as the conflict in the WCG unfolded and we howled with mischievous delight when we discovered that Kelly had a bidet installed in the bathroom of his house. Some began to refer to him as “Clean ass Kelly,” and mused that since so many true believers were “brownnosers,” Kelly’s posterior must be scrupulously maintained in a pristine condition.