Monday, 13 October 2008

Death of longtime evangelist

Raymond McNair passes from the scene

(link to report on The Journal website)


Leonardo said...

I'm very sad to hear of the passing of Raymond McNair.

My understanding is that he had been struggling with some kind of cancer the past several years, and so now his earthly sojourn is over.

I always liked Mr. McNair's sermons - basic subjects for the most part, typically quite thought-provoking, and in general very applicable to daily life.

He clearly didn't possess the caliber of intellect that a Dr. Hoeh did, but he was a good and decent man.

I remember once as an AC student having had some heavy issue on my mind that was troubling me, and him taking the time to talk with me about it over breakfast together one day in the Student Center - not something your typical HQ Evangelist would condescend to, being seen eating with a mere student.

Another experience I recall with Mr. McNair, and that is the time he chaperoned about 20 students (10 from a women's dorm and 10 from a men's dorm) up for a weekend getaway at a rented house northeast of Los Angeles up in the mountains on Lake Arrowhead.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was sitting in a pool table room (reading the book of Ecclesiastes, as I recall), and he was staying in a bedroom off to the side.

Anyway, he peaks out from behind the door, and when he saw that I was the only one there, all of a sudden he comes walking out in nothing but his boxer-style under shorts, holding two different suit coats, one in each hand! Then he asked me, "Young man, I was wondering if you might give me your opinion as to which coat do you think would be the more appropriate for me to wear for this afternoon's Bible Study?"

Well, quickly gathering my thoughts together after they had been scattered a bit at seeing, for the first time in my life, an Evangelist standing in front of me wearing nothing other than his underwear, I gave him my opinion! And I also recall having quite an interesting talk with him right there on the spot about the book of Ecclesiastes as well!!

Raymond McNair was always a humble, down-to-earth kind of guy, and I liked and respected very much.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed his US history book Ascent to Greatness.

Anonymous said...

When I was a student, I was pulling flowers from a bed at the Hall of Ad to prep for a new planting, Raymond McNair walked by and was a bit dismayed since the ones we were pulling still looked good. He asked if I could set some pulled plants aside for him, which I did.

I got a personally written thank you note from him--which floored me. As a student, one did not expect to have such courtesy shown by the higher ups, especially if fulfilling a request.

Anonymous said...

"He clearly didn't possess the caliber of intellect that a Dr. Hoeh did, but he was a good and decent man."

And he was an integral part of a system that financially and mentally subjugated and plundered other human beings. What a swell guy. He was only, after all, just following orders.

Paul Ray

Harry said...

One of the most decent men from the WWCG. he will be sorely missed

Anonymous said...

Raymond McNair was a fine fellow, every inch of him a gentleman. He was serious about living the high Christian ethics and morality he gave his life to teaching. It was an honor and a privilege to have known him. May God rest his gentle soul in the bonds of eternal peace.

Anonymous said...

Raymond McNair was always a humble, down-to-earth kind of guy

I was told never to speak ill of the the dead and I won't. but!! the above statement is "untrue" I got close enough to know, that is except the fawning faithful I guess


Byker Bob said...

Are we forgetting a little something here? The good guys are the ones who repented of their Armstrongism and totally left the group. I am sure that even Hitler himself occasionally dispensed a random act of kindness, kissed a baby, picked a flower, or pet a puppy.

Armstrongism was not a soothing, peaceful religion. It was a toxic, authoritative, ruinous, controlling philosophy, intrusive into even the most personal areas of one's life. One simply could not rise to the lofty ranks within that organization by being a good person. Unquestioning loyalty to HWA was the only path to higher office. These people did not have the spirit of God, they had cultivated the malevolent spirit of HWA, subverted their own personalities, and were nothing more than fawning puppy dogs following every step in their master's footsteps.

There may have been some authority figures who appeared "less bad", and some may actually have learned to convincingly fake sincerity, but the organization itself was totally rotten to the core, so by no means can "less bad" be whitewashed soas to appear good!

The truly good, those still able to stand on principle, either left, or were kicked out and marked from the pulpit.


Mickey said...

Raymond McNair always struck me as a rather simple man. (I don't mean that in a perjorative sense, just that he didn't seem that complex)

I don't doubt there were a fair number of folks who had some fairly positive interaction with him. I don't begrudge them that. But given the right circumstances most people can be humane, just, and kindly.

Probably his first wife didn't have such a positive view of him. I wonder how much he just stood around like the wounded victim getting church sympathy while RCM went on the attack against the first Mrs during that rather nasty divorce. You always end up looking better when someone else is doing the dirty work. (For those of you who are going "What first wife?", see the Ambassador Reports)

For me personally, his passing is another tie to the past broken.

Leonardo said...

Anonymous 10:55/F4Frank wrote:
"I was told never to speak ill of the the dead and I won't. but!! the above statement is "untrue" I got close enough to know, that is except the fawning faithful I guess"

Just in case you've never read any of my previous comments on this blog site, F4Frank, I don't fall into your glib category of "fawning faithful" - rather, I just possess the basic discernment to recognize the good in another human being, in spite of other faults he may have had, especially at the time of his death.

And would you please do yourself a favor by reading an elementary school book on basic English syntax and punctuation, because your comment above looks like the product of a six-year-old - as well as it's actual content.

Anonymous said...

Byker, not all were reprehensible. Quite to the contrary. Some came for what they could get; others were motivated by a sense of self-sacrifice in order to help with what was perceived as a Godly work. I was in that second category, as were many others. And yes, things did eventually change so radically that some had no choice but to leave -- but those choices more often had to do with incompatible beliefs than with rotten people.

I remember college freshmen at AC for being bright eyed, wholesome and idealistic young people of enviable talent, intelligence, energy, high spirits and strong work ethics. Later, as graduates, they went on to serve honorably where they found opportunity.

One cannot accurately dismiss everything connected with the Armstrong phenomenon as rubbish. As always, there were two sides to that coin too.

In terms of human decency Raymond McNair was an exemplary role model when I knew him. Wonderful fellow, actually. Would God that there were more like him.

Leonardo said...

Byker Bob wrote:
"The truly good, those still able to stand on principle, either left, or were kicked out and marked from the pulpit."

Don't you think you perhaps are overstating your case a bit here, Bob?

Yours are some extremely broad, sweeping, generalized statements that I really don't think reflect the entire picture. I knew many of these guys, and yes, while perhaps a large number of them were truly first-class anal orifices, still, there were many decent folks out there in Pasadena. And I speak from direct first-hand experience having studied, lived and worked out there for 17 years.

“Men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” — Abraham Lincoln

Anonymous said...

One of my AC brainwashers.

Anonymous said...

"I just possess the basic discernment to recognize the good in another human being, in spite of other faults..."

Hear, hear! I agree. For example, I recognize the good in HWA, despite his "faults." Jimmy Swaggart, too. And Jim Jones. Hell, let's even through Hitler into the mix. Once you look past his "faults" (in COG land some would call those "mistakes")you can see the good in him.

Thanks for accentuating the positive!

Paul Ray

Byker Bob said...

These were all fully complicit partners in knowingly marketing a very defective and toxic product. They got to witness the direct cause and effect relationship between their teachings and the human misery which their intrusiveness and authoritarianism caused in people's lives, yet refused to be instructed by such prima facia evidence as the nearly constant stream of bad results.

Some may have been more benign than others, but there were no innocents. All it takes to keep bad happening is a few "good" people failing to speak up. As I stated earlier, the ones with integrity broke the chains the system had on them, and got out. The others, the life-long ones, and the die hards are very much like the high priests and pharisees for whom Jesus had so many harsh words.

They even got to watch as God divided and confused their tongue, breaking up the main group and its power. How did they respond? By egotistically starting up their own little perpetuations of the original evil.



Mr. Scribe said...

Biker Bob,

McNair assisted in evil by not fighting it. The pay check was of most importance. People second.

paco said...

I keep hoping that at least one person who was an old line "big shot" in HWA's operation will have the insight and the courage to step forward before they die and say something like:

"You know what? The entire wcg experience was a lie. We were wrong. HWA was wrong. We hurt so many people. I feel terrible that I spent my entire adult life deceiving people and living off money obtained under false pretenses. Please forgive me for the evil I inflicted and the evil I allowed to happen without opposing it. I am so sorry."

I did not know Raymond McNair personally and spoke with him only a few times in Pasadena. My impression was that he was an exceedingly dim bulb who had little to offer. I quit going to Friday night bible studies in the Auditorium shortly after Raymond became the main speaker for a stretch of time. I just could not endure listening to the man.

Even so, I take no pleasure in his death.

I still hope that someone will step forward to really apologize. Let's see:

1. HWA - dead
2. GTA - dead
3. Herman Hoeh - dead
4. Raymond Cole - dead
5. Rod Meredith - not likely
6. Ron Dart?
7. Les McCullough?
8. Charles Hunting - is he alive?
9. David Antion?
10. Wayne Cole - maybe the best chance of someone who will apologize
11. David Jon Hill - dead
12. Dennis Luker - fat chance
13. Richard Plache - would not believe him if he did apologize
14. Anyone at UCG?
15. David Hulme?
16. Insert your favorite name here

Raymond did have a brother named Marion McNair who at one point was ordained an evangelist by HWA. Marion ended up getting busted by HWA for something and spent his last few years at AC/WCG as an bitter and angry man managing the copy machine dept at AC/WCG in the early 1970's. He then wrote a book about his experiences in which he referred to himself as "The Evangelist."

Byker Bob said...

Sadly, Paco, I believe that David Jon Hill was in the process of doing exactly as you suggest through his memoires. Unfortunately, he died after only a couple of installments. What he did write was very insightful, and seemed to anticipate more of the same.

You have to wonder to what extent payoffs and legal documents might have been exchanged with some of the other "key" and potentially damaging individuals. Seems like there is almost an "omerta" mafia-like ethic ongoing here.

What we've seen in the past twenty years would seem to suggest, unfortunately, that only one of the mavericks would probably feel secure enough to acknowledge the truth. Yet a maverick's very nature sets him up for disbelief, suspicion, and dismissal amongst those still loyal to HWA. So it would seem, human nature unfortunately protects the movement. As long as the old guard stands before splinter congregations in their polished manner, and their GQ suits, faithfully repeating the same old same old, that's all the proof of veracity that most of the members need. Most have stopped honestly looking for answers or solutions years ago.


camfinch said...

Charles Hunting is still alive, and is a co-author, with Sir Anthony Buzzard, of a book which defends the one-God idea, and takes an anti-trinitarian/anti-binitarian stand. Don't know if he'd apologize or not. He was known as quite a hard-liner in the old days, but then left the WCG "on the left" in around 1976.

Not sure if the dates given for Marion McNair's time post-evangelist, but still working for the church/college, are correct. I thought he'd been long gone well before then. I don't remember him still being in the church at the time I was at AC in the early 70s. I might be wrong. He wrote a book blowing much of the facade off of HWA and Armstrongism a long time ago. Can't remember the title; maybe some of you have read it. It's no longer in print, I suppose.

Leonardo said...

Byker Bob wrote:
"Most have stopped honestly looking for answers or solutions years ago."

Bob, you've hit this one “right on” with your observation.

After all, what possible motive is left to vigorously continue on the voyage of discovery for truth when a person is convinced that they've been given all, or at least most, of the answers supernaturally.

I remember years ago one young fellow jubilantly claiming to me that God just dropped into his mind "the answers" to life before he was ever smart enough to have asked the questions!

Today, the man remains an ardent hero-worshipper of HWA and all he taught, still stubbornly clinging onto the WCG even though he disagrees with virtually all the new changes instituted back in the mid '90's (gotta stay loyal to "God's Government"). He is also quite incapable of defending his stance. I know this because I’ve heard him try many times, but nobody can quite understand his reasoning at all.

So yes, thinking you have all the answers truly takes a toll on one's intellectual capacity and sense of curiosity, that's for sure.

Purple Hymnal said...

I thought Buffy McNair had started up his own splinter? Or am I confusing that with something else?

larry said...

I certainly hope that no one takes you up on your suggestion. That would be silly.

paco said...


I know that Marion J. McNair was still working at AC/WCG in Pasadena sometime in the late 1960's to early 1970's. I don't remember exactly when he left. According to John Trechak's Ambassador Report, Marion McNair published his Armstrong expose in 1977. The title was, "Armstrongism: Religion or Ripoff?" I had a copy at one time but have no idea what happened to it.

Larry - best wishes to you on your journey through life. We each have to go at our own pace. But, it is not "silly" to hope that those in spiritual darkness eventually come out into the light or that the mentally ill regain their sanity. The old wcg was highly toxic and its offspring are still toxic. It is not silly to hope that people eventually escape, even if those same people do not currently realize what a mess they are in.

Leonardo said...

purple hymnal wrote:
"I thought Buffy McNair had started up his own splinter? Or am I confusing that with something else?"

Raymond McNair did start a splinter group - the Church of God 21st Century - apparently after he was booted out of the Living Church of Rod the second time.

Here's the pathetically atrocious website - which looks more like a UFO/alien abduction/New World Order conspiracy website, complete with gaudy flashing graphics:

Click on the "Divine Healing" link on the left margin, really bizarre...and pretty sad actually.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paco,

I have to disagree with some of these assertions of yours: "The entire WCG experience was a lie. We were wrong. HWA was wrong. We hurt so many people. I feel terrible that I spent my entire adult life deceiving people and living off money obtained under false pretenses. Please forgive me for the evil I inflicted and the evil I allowed to happen without opposing it. I am so sorry."

All was a lie? You’re saying God doesn't exist? People should not be taught the Bible? Prayer is nonsense? Healthy living is inconsequential? There is/are no Biblical Sabbath, Holydays? Tithing is a false concept? There is no place for a service-oriented ministry? The Kingdom of God is not a worthy goal? Biblical prophecy is altogether moot, or a ruse? There is not even a remote possibility that America and the UK contain a significant incidence of Israelite ethnicity?

I'll give you this much. The Armstrong experience was sometimes governed by means of a sadistically misapplied version of "God’s government," so-called; and humanity does indeed have a soul, despite Armstrong’s teaching to the contrary. And of course the Sinai covenant is technically required only of Jews, but no one is forbidden to enjoy Biblical holydays.

Raymond McNair did not create the governance of HWA’s church; he did not know enough Hebrew to counter Armstrong’s assertions that mankind has no soul. He acted like a man with a very human soul indeed, a soul imbued with kindness, warmth and genuinely Christian motivation. He tried, quite successfully, to exercise governance with humility and an even hand. He was always a standout decent and trustworthy gentleman -- not an intellectual, but smart enough to run a college of gifted faculty, some of whom had high intelligence but lacked common decency.

Maybe Raymond McNair does owe us an apology, but he didn’t know that during his lifetime or I'm quite sure he would have given it. Within what he knew he did his best. In the next life, I don’t doubt for a nanosecond that he’ll be more than willing to apologize when he learns where he was wrong his first time around.

I wish you had known him better. He was one very fine fellow indeed. You'll have your chance to challenge all of them in the next life. Everything should be out in the open then. I doubt there'll be much harumphing "in the name of Jesus Christ" when that roll is called up yonder.

Russell Miller said...

Anonymous: Yes to all of your questions.

Glad I could help.

Anonymous said...

"I thought Buffy....."

Really, is this necessary. Here was a man who was really rather human who would let his hair down with people, even attempt to kid with them and really, did not have the greatest sense of humor. So what? Calling him the above name that came from the abusers who abused you and others. Purple Hymnal grow up.

Purple Hymnal said...

I wish you had known him better. He was one very fine fellow indeed."

Oh really?

Anonymous said...

Wow there were sure a lot of McNairs in the Young Ambassador flicks...

villy777 said...

Hey Dudes,

stumbled across this thread by accident. Distressed to hear of the passing of Raymond McNair. I have read all the comments and can only add that in my experience he was a decent, fair, and humble individual. Sincere to the core. A bumbler, true, but who is perfect? I remember being a lowly Sophomore at Pasadena, and was tasked (with a gal Sophomore) the job of greeting ppl as they entered the Student Center before one of the dances (Grad ball?) Raymond was escorting Herbie up the stairs and I remember so clearly that as he passed me, with Herbie on his arm, walking slowly, he turned and gave me a warm smile. I have never forgotten that. And his favorite scripture was the one about he who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. Don't get me wrong, I have spent years getting the rage of the toxicity of WCG out of my system and don't like most of the ppl (ministers) that I remember. But Raymond was a guy I remember with fondness. I wish him godspeed and eternal rest.

dewdrop said...

Raymond McNair's widow sent out a co-worker letter dated 24 October 2008, blatantly requesting financial donations for herself, not the so called "Work."

The amazing paragraph read: "My husband had wanted to write asking that, in the event of his death, since I would have no income, could some of you help me through your tithes and offerings?

Has this beggar never heard of working for a living?

Did the guru McNair never tell her that even when tithes were required, the scripture did not stipulate that they be paid to greedy widows of the wealthy WCG hierarchy?

I was an employee at Bricket Wood when the martinet McNair ruled his own family and the UK churches with a rod of iron. He lived the life of riley in a beautiful custom-built home that most top UK businessmen would not have been able to afford at the time. This was all paid for by the poorest of people who would travel hundreds of miles on a Saturday in clapped out old cars, wearing hand-me-down clothes and existing on hand-outs, to worship at his feet. He claimed he was "an Armstrong boy" and never budged from the "company line" although many of us new that things were completely different in the US, with people seeing doctors and living almost "normal" lives in society, rather than cutting themselves off from it.

How this women can have the bald-faced cheek to ask for even more sacrifices to keep her in the lifesyle to which she is accustomed, I just cannot believe.

This just illustrates how some of these people want to perpetuate the discredited teachings of Armstrong to make a living for themselves (Mark Armstrong and his mother for example.)


Dewdrop (England)