It's not every day - or even every decade - that an entire religious movement goes belly-up, but that's what happened to the Worldwide Church of God. It happened so long ago that whole generations have now arisen that have no idea who Herbert or Ted Armstrong were, and no knowledge of former brand names like The Plain Truth or The World Tomorrow. Those of us who still do are tracking up well beyond middle age into - I say it with deep regret - old fart territory.
Those with get up 'n go long since got up and went. Some, clinging to nostalgia and really bad Bible misinformation answered the siren calls of the tithe farmers who set up parasitical ministries.
There are at least two sorts of these derivative groups, let's call them the blands and the loonies. In the bland category are the UCG, CGI and COGWA. In their favor they're not one-man-bands, and there are some minimal checks and balances to keep Mussolini-like egos tied down. Unfortunately (for them) they're caught in a time warp several decades out of step with the real world, desperately trying to breathe life into a idealized version of the past before women became uppity, gay people began to be regarded as fully human, and evolution was a satanic delusion. The incongruity lies in the rapid adoption by these groups of new technology to promote this kind of intellectual deadwood. By and large these groups are congenitally incapable of connecting with anyone under forty, and the demographic collapse proves it.
Having said that, there are some good people in these groups trying to do the right thing the best way they know how. No future here though.
Then there are the loonies beginning with Meredith's LCG at the less extreme end of the spectrum (though, personally, I've always regarded Rod as certifiable) and going all the way to the flat-out nut jobs like Weinland at the furthest fringe. Slot in Pack, Flurry, Thiel and the others where you best think they fit on the sanity continuum.
These guys are legends in their own lunchtimes, one-megalomaniac operations. LCG is an interesting case in that it is being forced into some kind of ham-fisted transition due to Rod's increasing incapacity. It's no sure thing, though, that it'll survive that process. Any sane person sees these franchises for what they are - a joke. More-so, sadly, because the insiders are generally too thick to appreciate the humor, which is clearly at their expense. Few of these tin-pot sects will survive the passing of their pompous tithe-lords.
So are there any real victims in all of this considering that those who remain actively choose to remain and submit, which is their perfect right. As the decades have rolled by the corruption, manipulation and hypocrisy have become impossible for any honest person to deny. Knowing that, it's hard to feel much sympathy for the hangers-on.
The exception would be the kids in groups like PCG who are being raised within the walls of these pigpens of human oppression. The reality is that most of them will walk away in disgust when they can. Armstrongism has always had a problem retaining its young.
What, if anything will be left by mid-century?