Thursday, 10 March 2016

Is this the Worst COG Magazine?

Stuck away in my files are the two earliest issues of Twentieth Century Watch, the preview issue and vol. 1, no. 1. (May/June 1980). It was supposed to become a credible rival to The Plain Truth. The publisher is listed as the Church of God, International, and the staff box includes names like Brian Knowles, Ronald Dart, David Antion, Mark Kellner, James McBride and, naturally, members of the holy family; GTA (Editor-in-Chief), Mark (News Bureau), Matthew (Graphics) and David (Photography).

At some stage, Ted apparently wised up and the ownership of the magazine was transferred to the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association, a separate entity. When Ted was finally booted from CGI, the magazine went with him. These days the title is Twenty-first Century Watch, and it's still churned out four times a year under the direction of Mark Armstrong. Any attempt at balance seems to have been abandoned long ago, and the strident right-wing rhetoric more than matches the extremes of The Philadelphia Trumpet. Mark Armstrong clearly wears his politics on his sleeve and feels that bilious venting is somehow his religious duty.

Politically skewed articles in this issue concern the Iran deal, the Black Lives Matter movement, the 'myth' of the moderate Moslem and climate change. No surprises there. More conventional articles deal with the Sabbath (regurgitated from an old Ted Armstrong article) and Bible Study.

The circulation isn't stated, presumably this magazine has a very limited influence compared to those of the larger COGs. The amateur nature of operations at the GTAEA is indicated by the back page on the PDF where someone simply took a heavy black marker to a mailing label.

The PDF is available to download


Miller Jones said...

I see that Mark has not strayed too far from his father's and grandfather's teachings. Clearly, in this instance, nature and nurture have triumphed over common sense! It's just too bad for the Republican Party that many of the folks who accept this dribble still don't vote (but it's good for America).

Anonymous said...

Charity Navigator showed a very modest salary for GTA when he was alive and for Mark when he took over. How did he live on that modest salary, living where he did? Was the house and cars all in the name of the church? Did he have money stashed away from his years at WCG?

Pam said...

"Charity Navigator showed a very modest salary for GTA when he was alive and for Mark when he took over. How did he live on that modest salary, living where he did? Was the house and cars all in the name of the church? Did he have money stashed away from his years at WCG?"

Unless he lied through his teeth, GTA HAD no "money stashed away" when he left WCG. He spoke openly in his first year about how little grubstake he had to start his own ministry. (I don't have a firm memory of the exact details, but the amount "$10,000" comes to mind.) And used most of that up to launch his new radio program before some other folks came along and started donating to his efforts. I would assume, from his own testimony, that he'd just blown his money when he was in the WCG, thinking the gravy train would never stop.

His home and vehicles during his stint in CGI were never comparable to the lavish lifestyle he had lived in the WCG, so it wouldn't have taken a huge salary to afford them. As an ordained minister, much of the expense of the home could be designated by the organization a "parsonage allowance" for tax purposes. No federal tax would have to be paid on a parsonage allowance, and it wouldn't have to show up as part of his "salary" on paperwork like that of Charity Navigator. Likewise, the organization could easily have provided the expenses for any vehicles and not included them in any "salary" either. Thus his "usable income" could have been significantly higher than just the "salary" that showed up on paper work.

There would have been plenty of money to tap into for those "expenses." My hubby was ordained by the CGI in 1980 after we'd been supporting GTA's efforts for a couple of years, and he pastored a church for seven years. Field ministers received NO salary or financial perks of any kind. Although we later learned that we could have submitted some requests for expense reimbursements, the HQ was very nitpicky about those, and we had ended up paying for all George's expenses, such as phone bills and travel to visit members, out of our own pocket. George worked a sixty hour day job to provide for our family and pay all his own ministerial expenses. His "territory" for the ministry covered all of Michigan and down to the Toledo area. So expenses for visiting for baptism counseling, for instance, could add up.

In our last year with CGI in 1987, we attended a ministerial conference in Tyler TX. GTA had a shouting hissy fit during one conference session. He ranted that he had heard that some field ministers were using some of the tithes they Owed God from their day job salaries to pay for their own ministerial expenses. Didn't they know that was ROBBING FROM GOD!? ALL tithes, from members and ministers, were to be sent to Tyler for The Work. Local congregations were only to accept "free will offerings" from local members to pay for hall rent and expenses for meetings. In the last couple of years while we were there, the local congregation paid some partial reimbursement to us for George's gas money and phone and such...but only out of those "free will offerings." ALL TITHE MONEY was to go to pay...GTA's expenses.

In addition, Shirley Armstrong was provided an office at the church HQ, and a salary, although from what I heard from the grumbling of HQ employees, she essentially did nothing related to the actual ministry. Just mostly supervised decorating or something. That salary would have been part of the Armstrong "family income" without showing up as GTA's salary with Charity Navigator either.

Minimalist said...

Pam, is CGI Jamaica independent from the Texas HQ?

Byker Bob said...

I once had a manager who was in many ways great. When he started his own company, I watched on the sidelines for a couple of years, then accepted an offer to join him. What I discovered was that during the years he was with the major company, he was restrained and informed by its policies. This was largely responsible for his excellence, because their regulation reigned him in in such a way that utilized his talents in the most positive ways possible. Working for him at his own company, although he became a millionaire, the ingredients the larger company had brought into the picture were no longer present. The resulting dynamic was disappointing.

There is a lesson in that. We have seen and commented upon the lack of focus or success in virtually every ACOG splinter group. Not one of them has been able to replicate the success of the mother ship. GTA has been pointed to as possibly being the only individual who could have perpetuated his father's success, wink, wink, if only he hadn't strayed. And, yet, here we have this awful magazine, horrendous examples of runaway right wing politics, and the personal experience information from Pam as to how it was to work for an unbridled GTA. Clearly, when he got to the point where he called all the shots, his focus and abilities did not lend themselves to the success he had enjoyed previously. And, of course, it is may be a ridiculous exaggeration to compare the restraints and mentoring of a personality cult with the professional grooming of a Fortune 500 company. We tend to draw on the things with which we are familiar.


Connie Schmidt said...

Byker Bob:

You wrote: "We have seen and commented upon the lack of focus or success in virtually every ACOG splinter group. Not one of them has been able to replicate the success of the mother ship"

I understand what you are trying to say, but a little definition is necessary me thinks. Your statement assumes that WCG was a "success".

Only in terms of numbers and money would WCG could be called a "success". However, in its primary (supposed) mission statement, it was to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, "preaching the Gospel, and teaching disciples", of which as the fruits of time have shown, it was an abject FAILURE!

Enron was a $111 Billion corporation that was built on lies, fake accounting, and the misinformation propagated by its leadership. It suffered through a tremendous collapse, and bankruptcy. I had a personal friend who was a trader there, and she lost her entire $1 million dollar retirement plan that was a holder of Enron stock. It was tragic.

Since that time, there has not been an energy sector juggernaut that has grown or developed at the great rate of Enron in its heyday.

So both in the case of the COG, and with Enron, the time era, and how effective the confidence game and hyperbole can be exploited are critical to the exploitation of the plot. For the various CoGs , the old techniques are not effective in the new era, and this is self evident.

Redfox712 said...

On page 30 is the following caption:

"Iranian Prime Minister Zarif is quite amused."

That is incorrect. He is the foreign minister.

Redfox712 said...

Quite surprising to see an article reprinted (with permission) from The Nation magazine. That is quite a left wing outfit. (pp. 11, 19, 34.)

Redfox712 said...

Some of the articles are taken (one assumes with permission) from other right wing media outlets.

The article condemning Black Lives Matter is from some non-COG right wing organization.

"The Myth of the Moderate Muslim" article is from WorldNetDaily.

It also features an article from New York Daily News.

Steve D said...

Pam, you and George deservedso much better than you received. There were many dedicated, good, generous, caring people who worked for the WCG. But, perhaps, those who rose to the top were not, by and large, among them. Linda and I were married by Eugene Noel. A minister that Linda knew before we met in Pasadena. A decent man by all accounts. But, perhaps decency, gentleness, kindness, etc.and other fruit of the Spirit, may have been looked upon by others as weaknesses.

Byker Bob said...

Connie, you are quite right. Armstrong used the financial growth as sleight of hand to divert attention from failures in other areas. He also skillfully exploited photo ops, and the accumulation of real estate and buildings. He who dies with the most toys wins, and HWA most certainly accomplished that, so much so that those who were ripped off even today attempt to point out at least one lasting shred of positive effect that their wasted time in the cult produced.


Anonymous said...

Connie said

"So both in the case of the COG, and with Enron".......

A little fact.
Does it occur to you that both wcg and enron had the same auditor. (arthur andersen)

You related the sad story on your friends retirement plan.
I never got that people ignore time and time, over and over again the basic rules of investing. To not put your stock in one company. And people are doing it again you know.
It is a combination of greed and overconfidence in the human condition.
(provided one has enjoyed basic education)

Now from 2000 - 2005 or so I was very active at the planet alumni site. With ac alumni from the nineties, but also earlier years.

I placed many warnings and discussion on American corruption in business practices, citing many examples I personally observed at that time.

You are probably aware of how many flack I receive nowadays at blogs.
Well it is nothing compared to the vitriole I received then.
I should mind my own business and not speak in such terms on the best country, business, people in the world. "And if you don't like it go elsewhere. All, want to live here" etc etc etc Horrifying arrogance.

I was not surprised to witness the oktober 2008 events when the world economy barely survived the risks taken in the usa.

People seem to ignore the basic parameters (of economy and morality) when everything is "up" in their life or "economy". When things go down they blame "the others."

An economic crisis is a correction of immorality as hwa pointed out at the greek rotary club in athens. He learned that in 1919 at a luncheon at the Association of Commerce in Chicago from Roger Babson a great statistician.

That is not to say that "prosperity" is solely the result of the right morals of course. To grant you that. We should examine ourselves to not fall in the trappings of our own mind.
I wish you prosperity based on the right principles.