Friday 15 September 2006
Garth Macdonald, a young Australian in his twenties, son of John Macdonald, PCG elder in Perth, was granted the coveted opportunity to study at Armstrong College (formerly Imperial College) in Oklahoma. He is described by someone who knew him as “a very kind and well liked young man whom I believe had a lot of potential.” Another remembered Garth as “athletic and intelligent.”
Garth is no longer with us. These are the details as they have been posted elsewhere on the Web.
“He became very weak some short time before the start of the Ministerial Conference at Edmond in June of 2006. He had no medical attention, and probably didn't want to either or else it would be considered a "lack of faith." ... Garth's parents attended the Conference and were shocked to discover that their son was so emaciated. So Garth was put into a hospital somewhere in Edmond for "tests" which showed that he had a weakened immune system...
“The PCG brethren were asked to pray for Garth, and (due to the hospital giving him steroids) he picked up and people thought that God was healing him... The next thing anyone knew was that his parents were putting him on a plane with them to take him home to Perth... PCG brethren were shocked when he died, a few weeks later, as they believed that God was healing him, but it was because he stopped taking the steroids once he got back home to Australia. He had to be on them to have the strength to be able to get onto the plane...
“There was the stress of his brother getting kicked out of the PCG and college while he was there... One of Garth's three brothers is Brad Macdonald who is married to one of Dennis Leap's daughters.”
Perhaps there are factors involved that aren't apparent to those who've expressed these concerns, and there's no denying that this is a tragic situation for the family, or that their grief should be respected. But there are also wider concerns that need to be aired. These comments also come from a former PCG member:
“I attended PCG in Australia for approximately 10 years (as a child) and witnessed a number of members who refused medical treatment, and instead opted to rely on God to heal them, which in a lot of cases lead them to a slow and painful death. Not once did I see any miracles. Many of those members would still be alive today if they had of followed the doctor's advice and/or start treatment for their otherwise curable medical conditions. The PCG should be held accountable because of their healing doctrine. What they are doing to innocent and naïve people is just wrong. It's time for the PCG to come to an end once and for all. I hope and pray that becomes a reality before any more members die due to a lack of medical care.”
If there was any hope that incidents like Garth Macdonald's death might act as a wakeup call to PCG's leadership, they have been dashed with the release of the October issue of the Trumpet. Two articles by Robert Morley lambast medical science, emphasizing the rigid doctrine that faith and medical intervention are mutually exclusive. Morley writes:
“There is only one Being who has all the answers, the Being who designed and created man in the first place. It is He who created the physical laws by which our bodies function correctly—laws we should do our utmost to abide by. Following these physical laws does not merely treat the effects of disease and sickness—it eliminates the causes. These laws include regulating what and how much we eat and drink, upholding cleanliness and hygiene, getting plenty of sunshine and fresh air, sufficiently and properly exercising, sleeping and resting the right amounts, avoiding bodily injury, and maintaining a positive mental attitude.
“In addition, only God has the power to heal you—and in His Word, He has spelled out iron-clad promises to heal those who satisfy certain basic conditions. Herbert W. Armstrong expounded upon these in his booklet The Plain Truth About Healing, which we offer to you free upon request.”
In a separate article Morley writes: “The question we should be asking is: What is causing our ills? Then the challenge is to really accept the hard answer that we are not living our lives the way God designed us to, and set our minds to fix that. That can truly give suffering individuals and their families hope.”
"Hard answer"? Indeed.
Well, he's certainly correct about needing to ask questions, but not the patsy ones suggested. PCG, by promoting an inflexible doctrine of "healing", continues to endanger the lives of its members. Contrary to Morley's glib claims, how many good, decent, trusting brethren will suffer because they take these articles to heart? This latest issue of the Trumpet – attractively laid out and appealing to people who desperately want to believe in PCG's literalistic variety of fundamentalism – is surely nothing short of a death sentence for many of these same folk.