Friday 15 September 2006

Death cult?

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 na├»ve 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.


Anonymous said...

These people have blood on their hands. God gave us the ability to figure things out for ourselves. He could miraculously feed us loaves and fishes every day, but doesn't. He expects us to do what we can to feed ourselves -- and to feed others who cannot feed themselves. Similarly with medicine, He expects us to use our noggin and to make wise and well-informed choices -- with all the attendant risks. But it is the height of irresponsibility to limit God by saying He is unable to work through the skill and competence of medical professionals. We can fly and sail because of the skill of engineers and others -- we don't refuse to travel unless we can miraculously ascend to the sky or walk on water. How ridiculous would that be? Yet this absurd and willful refusal to avail oneself of medical skill is, tragically, deadly.

jorgheinz said...

Perhaps a curse should be put on one who leads others to their death through a perverted gospel..did not Paul pronounce a DOUBLE CURSE upon those who mishandled the word.

God expects us to use our noggin
and not let others do our thinking for us.

People died in the good 'ole WCG days because they "trusted God" for healing. Ah,God will heal in the Millenium they used to say when the person died,even after anointing.I was a former member of WCG..our family has had professors of anatomy and medicine going back to the 1500s, with no end of medical professors and doctors around the world today.And these people DO save lives.

Christ himself said the sick need a physician, and "is there no balm in Gilead"?.HWA and Flurry have missed something,here.We believe that Herb had medical treatment whilst allowing his blind sheep to die in more ways than one.
Herb lost his wife because of his irrefrangible attitude towards healing.Loma could have had more years but chose not to.

And the writer himself has had years of experience within the pharmaceutical industry.And these drugs do save lives.And side effects do have to be measured against benefits,and on balance the lives of millions of people have been improved because of prescription drugs and often saved and prolonged.

I wonder if Flurry's blinded followers ever think of what hurt their perverse gospel is doing to themselves and to their minds?This is the more important thing. Are they capable of thinking or is it that their entire cerebral apparatus is contained within their organ of hearing?

Maybe they will learn one day.

Anonymous said...

When you stand to get all the money from the dead member's estate, why tell them to see an expensive doctor when you can spend all of their money on a crystal chandelier & six pack tonight, without having to wait?

Anonymous said...

The hell will always be with Gerald, always.

Anonymous said...

I'm so disturbed by this that I've e-mailed one of the leading TV investigative reporters in Oklahoma about it, mentioning this blog.

The District Attorney in OKC can look into this. Well, make that should.

Anonymous said...

The really extraordinary paradox in the Armstrongite implementation of the "healing doctrine" is that it is not applied consistently. In the Armstrongite realm, there is an enormous difference between taking organic supplements and taking antibiotics, for instance. Yet why should this be? In the case of both, one is relying on some external treatment instead of trusting purely in God. As I recall, Herman Hoeh once observed that there was no spiritual difference in relying on antibiotics for treatment and relying on organic Vitamin C. Both fell into the same category of external factors.

The result of this inadequately thought out principle is that some Armstrongites will take a sick person to a chiropracter rather than to a surgeon. Somehow organic supplements, chiropracty, naturopathy and a whole host of other interventions are acceptable. But traditional medicine is an intervention that is unacceptable. But both are categories of intervention and both violate the Armstrongite view of faith.

After Rod Meredith had his retina reattached, surgery became pretty much "corrective" and was permissible among Armstrongites. (Although I heard a minister back in the Seventies at Big Sandy state that the healing gift within the WCG began to wane due to RCM's surgery.)

I am not certain how Armstrongites now sort out this confusing cluster of viewpoints. I am glad I am not burdened with it.

-- Neo