The Worldwide Church of God during the Armstrong years had an extremely permissive attitude toward alcohol quite out of place among other Adventist sects. There was no precedent for this in the Church of God (Seventh Day), the group from which Herbert Armstrong split in the 1930's. Yet conspicuous consumption of alcohol was a definite feature of the WCG's Feast of Tabernacles celebration. Those who preferred not to imbibe were regarded as "weak in faith". The sad reality was, however, that many of the WCG's leading ministers had alcohol problems. Herbert W. Armstrong was no exception.
Holly Ruiz, wife of Enrique Ruiz, the church's office manager in Mexico, made this statement about HWA when asked by Mary Jones of Ambassador Report whether she'd ever seen him drunk:
I've never seen Herbert Armstrong sober after 8:00 at night. I used to notice this when I stayed in his home during conferences and on trips. He would fall asleep in his chair, and (Stanley) Rader would have to take him to bed. His daughter (Beverly) once told me never to call Herbert after 8:00 because he was always in a stupor by then.John Tuit, writing in 1981, quoted Herbert Armstrong's grandson Mark:
"His liver is pretty bad, you know. He's got whatever it is you get from drinking too much wine and cognac. Boy, that's a real problem with him. He tells the Church people to drink in moderation, and for years he's been getting himself smashed just about every night... I've even helped carry him to his bed when he was just plain wiped out from too much booze."Al Carrozzo, a minister who left in 1974, quoted Garner Ted Armstrong: "They have to pour my dad into bed every night." He stated: "I have seen him drunk on many occasions" (William Hinson. Broadway to Armageddon, p. 96). David Robinson, writing in 1980, told of Armstrong's slurred speech over a bottle of fortified wine (Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, p. 76). Armstrong himself admitted to excessive drinking as a young man, but "not at all even the fraction of the volume of an alcoholic" (Autobiography, p. 240, 1967 edition).
In Tangled Web, Robinson relates how HWA pressured him to name "liberal ministers" so he could fire them. By this stage of the conversation the "Apostle" had begun to slur his speech slightly because of the Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry. "To name names in this context over a bottle of wine", wrote Robinson with a droll sense of humor, "seemed at the time to be injudicious" (pp. 75-76). He remained tight lipped.
Robinson commented on HWA later in his book: "Solace and sleep, such as it was, had to be induced by drinking much wine."