Tuesday 30 January 2007

Tales of the Good Old Days - Part 1

Across on the WCG Alumni Forum one of the regulars has been posting excerpts from a book by former AC student Peter Leschak, author of Bumming With the Furies: Out on the Trail of Experience. Several interesting anecdotes are told, including this one about the "rebellion" of 74.

On February 25 was the “Monday Massacre.” Garner Ted Armstrong had flown in from headquarters in Pasadena to end confusion and marshal the forces of righteousness. On the twenty-third he had delivered a blistering sermon at Sabbath services, inflaming the faithful with fresh distrust and, in some cases, hatred for the dissidents. It was an inspired performance by a talented orator. At the end, several hundred people spontaneously leaped to their feet, cheering and waving. I had a vision of Nuremberg, 1935, and was actually frightened. I counted six of us who didn’t cheer.

On the twenty-fifth, Garner Ted convened a minister’s conference at AC, and, after a forty-minute opening prayer, which saw him break into sobs, he harangued and intimidated the forty or so assembled church leaders for seven hours. Several entered the meeting with misgivings about the organization, but by the times it was over, only four still stood their ground, resisting the demand for total loyalty. They were fired from the ministry and disfellowshipped.

The next day it was the student body’s turn to be purified. Kelly and an associate delivered wild-eyed diatribes calling on us to “purge out those who are not willing to change!” Everyone knew who he meant; but of course it was the dissidents who had actually changed. We were told there was a “morass of rebellion” and that the situation was “insane.” The Devil was attempting to divide and conquer God’s church, and the rebels were on his side, partaking of evil. To cap it off, we were reminded, “there are things we shouldn’t even think; let alone say.”

Next day the student body was assembled, and Kelly announced that twenty students had been fired from their campus jobs because they had contact with disfellowshipped persons. The kicker was that he wouldn’t release the names of those who were “terminated.” You had to guess if you were among the causalities, and, therefore, further incriminate yourself by asking for official confirmation.

The next day Kelly kicked my friend Pam out of AC. She had been on the termination list and had gone to Kelly’s office to discuss her firing. She wondered why her job had been affected by a visit to a former member. Kelly replied that the salaries were paid via the donations of church members, so it was a betrayal of the brethren to use their money to pay dissidents. It would have been an appropriate moment to mention how the brethren’s money had been used top buy planes, limos, jewelry, and other extravagances for the WCG hierarchy, but Pam merely said, “I don’t think going to see a former minister should have anything to do with my job.”
“Your job isn’t to think, “ Kelly replied irritably. “You aren’t paid to think.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Pam countered, “Christians aren’t supposed to think.”

Kelly began to shout. He yelled, “That’s enough!” He didn’t want to hear any more. He told Pam she was expelled from AC, and, right on the spot, he instructed his secretary to file the necessary papers. As Pam left his office, he slammed the door behind her.

The “heretical underground” had grown cynical as the conflict in the WCG unfolded and we howled with mischievous delight when we discovered that Kelly had a bidet installed in the bathroom of his house. Some began to refer to him as “Clean ass Kelly,” and mused that since so many true believers were “brownnosers,” Kelly’s posterior must be scrupulously maintained in a pristine condition.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading about a five hour tirade Mao Zedong gave the leaders of the Red Guards in 1968, several times Mao wept,
this was followed by yet another purge. Similar tactic here.

No wonder "Into bed with Garner Ted" was published in Hustler

Anonymous said...

Oooh, thirty-three years after the fact someone publishes unsupported hearsay which nobody else witnessed. Damning evidence indeed....c'mon..get a life.

Anonymous said...

A recently departed individual i knew and respected told me a few years back about this. I especially believe it about Kelly because of what i witnessed personally from him shortly afterwards, when he cleaned house in like fashion. He did it from the pulpit,was not even supposed to have the sermon, but stormed the podium, got rid of close to 30 percent in attendance, what a show. The love just pored from him then.
rod 2

Anonymous said...

"Oooh, thirty-three years after the fact someone publishes unsupported hearsay which nobody else witnessed. Damning evidence indeed....c'mon..get a life."

Once I ran into a member of the WCG who believed that the Holocaust was a fiction created by the world Jewish conspiracy. I doubt that anyone could ever convince him otherwise. The statement above is similar.

The Bible says that in the mouth of two witnesses a matter is established. I am sure you can get many witnesses to what Leschak recounts.

I was present at AC at that time and witnessed part of this. A student I knew and sometimes conversed with was a "dissident." His older brother was fired from the ministry. I saw Ron Kelly and the older brother screaming at eachother in the lobby of the Field House over some of GTAs activities. Kelly was just a good soldier.

But this Armstrongite behavior is not something that is buried in the past and now extinct. To see the same kind of thing happen now, all one needs to do is start a "rebellion" in some COG. It will be dealt with in the same way. In fact, it may be the only form of excitement that some of the COGS have. I remember how the Grapevine flashed and sparked with electric information back in 1974. And how everybody on the secluded little island of the WCG was energized by these events. The classical tempest in a teapot.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 2:06:

Although there is currently an effort afoot to rehabilitate the image of Herbert W. Armstrong, and the pre-Tkach WCG, it is doomed to failure yet at this point in time. Why? Because there are many people still alive and active on the internet, who lived through that period of time.

When I started reading the excerpts over at Alumni forum, the thought entered my mind that I or some close personal friends could have easily written very similar first person testimony about the day to day events from that era. In fact, one such friend did! His name was John Trechak.

Let me just add my voice to that of the author of the book in question. From what I've read thus far, I believe that he was painting a very accurate picture. Having said that, I believe that those who choose to immerse themselves in Armstrongism will always find a way to discount or dismiss any negative evidence which would suggest that there are legitimate serious questions regarding their chosen faith. And, as our friend the King of Siam would say, "That is most unscientific!"


brave anonymous poster said...

well that all fits with other things I've read about the old WCG...I have no way of knowing how much is true though...

it just serves to reinforce my position not to get overly involved with the Corporation, but keep my focus on Jesus and His Church....

we'll never have a perfect Corporation simply because of all of the humans involved...

I just sit back and listen, and when the minister's words match what the bible says (and they usually do), then I follow him......when they don't, I ignore his direction and continue on the path I know to be correct.

I've never had any special attraction to personalities in the Church, neither HWA (didn't know him), nor GTA (knew him), nor any of the leaders of any other groups I've been it puzzles me somewhat as to why people get all carried away with the 'leader', hanging on his every word as if it were infallable, or as if his approval was required to gain entry into the Kingdom.

oh well.

brave anonymous poster said...

thanks Dennis!

you have just shown why I never try to convince anyone of anything...

no matter what I say, they will hear what they want to :-)

Anonymous said...


The problem is that you can't help but get your overall impression of Jesus and God from those whom you allow to have the role of "teacher" in your life. That comes not only from what they say in their sermons, articles, letters, and comments at Bible Study, but also through the example they set through personal behavior. You know what is really sad? God has been discussed quite at length on many of the ACOG-related forums. From time to time, people have expressed that their mental picture of God (while they were ACOG members) very much resembled Herbert W. Armstrong!

Characters in the Bible would allow themselves to be tortured to death rather than betray their beliefs. Do we really think HWA, GTA, and their lackeys would take their beliefs that far? I have no doubt that some of the "sheep" were sincere enough to do that. It's why we hear stories of widows who sold their homes to send money to Pasadena for a "gun lap", or why some charged their third tithe on their Mastercard or Visa. You also hear stories of people who died of cancer without taking so much as an asprin for their pain.

Hypocrisy of the higherups suggests that they knew Armstrongism was a scam. Those involved in the "Raised from the Ruins" movement are perpetuating that scam, by implying that all was sweetness and light prior to the Tkach's. People who know the truth need to speak out, or the scammers will continue to get away with their dastardly exploitation.


Anonymous said...

Dennis, there you go again, with your epistemological conundrums. As for me, I fall back on philosopher-warrior Rumsfeld's epigram, to wit: "The message is that there are known knowns — there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns — that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don't know. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns."

brave anonymous poster said...

no worries Dennis!

many people have been hurt badly by "Church leadership".....

you've probably read posts very similiar to what I wrote, and your "translation" may very well have been accurate for some of those folks, who knows?

and I would agree w/Bob that many get their impression of God from the teachers, at least at first, but as they learn and grow they beging to spot the spots, so to speak, on the leaders....

sort of like they say about how we see our parents.....we know we've matured when we see our parents as humans, instead of "all knowing perfect ones with all the answers"

when I first came into the Church I was somewhat awed by the teachers....I thought I'd never be able to understand the things they understood!...they were so "deep" in their knowledge....

but you know what?....sooner than I thought, I WAS understanding, and finding flaws in their teachings......those that were teaching "Armstrongism" were the easiest to debunk....(and I don't mean to question their sincerity one bit, they were simply teaching what they knew, and their understanding was quite shallow, actually)

maybe it's a blessing that I never came into the WCG, and therefore never picked up the HWA baggage, ...I probably wouldn't have stayed long if I had come in earlier, based on the stories I've read about those times.

and when I did come in, I didn't even know who HWA was, and didn't know anything of GTA's past....I simply read my bible, and saw that what GTA was preaching matched it.

I've been turned against, betrayed, and maligned (by the ministry) like many others in the Church by those who claimed to be members of God's Church......thankfully I have no ill will toward anyone, because my focus has never been on the man, or the corporate organization....

if the group I'm with now turns from the true path like the others did then I'll leave this one too...because in the end, none of them can help me one bit....

it will be just me and Jesus there when I get my "performance review"....what "so and so" did or didn't do won't matter one iota.

Praise God for that.

Anonymous said...

Both the Armstrongs gone--as is Stanley Rader.when will Rod "World Ahead" give up the ghost? Soon,let us hope