Wednesday 16 May 2007

Greg's Dregs

I think I'm probably not all that unusual among ex-WCG members in having a hard time reconnecting to the idea of "church." In fact, truth to tell, I find the whole idea of driving off to a weekly service quite stressful, and nothing fires my indignation more than some smug, self-satisfied, Bible-toting pastor who passes judgement on non-attenders as lazy or uncommitted. Here's a recent example from the normally urbane bloggin' Baptist pastor Jim West:

Everyone who attends church has heard, and maybe even used, some excuse as to why worship couldn’t be attended. From the mysterious illness that strikes at 10 on Sunday morning but which clears up by noon so that the mall can be visited, to the sudden visitor who just dropped in as they were “leaving”; to the tiredness from a late Saturday night out; to simple laziness. And anything and everything in between, including, but not limited to, bad preaching, boring sunday school lessons, and too many other things to do.

But the real reason, the 100% always accurate reason, the authentic truth of the matter is that people stay home from worship because they don’t want to have to mend their ways or change their lives. They know, after all, that if they KNOW what God wants them to do, they will have no excuse for not doing it. So, they stay home on Sunday or they trot home after sunday school so that they can avoid the inevitable claim of God on their lives.

They don’t stay home because something more important has come up- because there is nothing more important than God. They stay home because they are afraid that God may want something of them. Namely, them.

Given that level of rhetoric it's not surprising that disaffected Christians might embrace the individualism of the Internet and a "church experience" without a church. Enter former WCG luminary Greg Albrecht and his Plain Truth Ministries. I'm not sure how Greg ended up with The Plain Truth, but it seems to be his personal play-pen these days, and he has taken it in directions antithetical not only to WCG but most other churches. Greg is now High Priest of stay-at-home Churchianity parading as liberation from religion.

I suppose I should be sympathetic, but tune in to Greg's "Christianity Without the Religion" (CWR) and you'll discover just how parasitic Albrechtism really is. Schmalzy music, online communion (BYO of course!) and bucketfuls of preacher Greg's platitudinous pontifications. This, if Greg is to be believed, is the wave of the future: Christianity minus community or commitment (but they'll take your money.) And this bloodless waffle, Greg assures us, is religion-free!

There's certainly a case for a radical rethink of the way Christians "do" church. But Albrecht's ministry is far from radical: an unappealing mix of evangelical glibness and sectarian self-absorption. Greg may extoll "Christ-centered" faith, but it seems far more Greg-centered to me.

Of course, that's just my opinion. But I'd pay good money to be see Greg lock horns with Jim West on this issue. Praise the Lord and pass the squishy tomatoes!

Addendum: How about a caption for that photo?
"Hey, check out my threads..."
"No sorry, I'd love to contribute but I left my wallet at home..."
"Hey, c'mon guys, gimme back my clerical collar..."
There's got to be better ones than those ;-)


Douglas Becker said...

Or the ever popular:

And it was this big!

Unknown said...

This whole "Christians opposing religion thing" is pure deceit. I mean, religion are those things people do in the hopes to make God happy - such as listening to sermons, doing communion, baptism, sending in the money (not to God but to men), doing missionary work. These are the same things all these yahoos who cast off religion do. All I ask for is consistency. Taking your religion online makes it no less religion.

Coming from a never-to-be-baptized, never-to-take-communion, never-to-be-a-missionary, never-to-pay-tithes real Christian religionist.


Unknown said...

How 'bout...

She has large tracts of land.

Anonymous said...

..and so brethren, Why am I here?

Pax Vobiscum said...

"Praise the Lord! I've been freed from the stigmata -- you can't see the marks of the nails any more!"

Lussenheide said...

The one thing any human enterprise must do is NEVER BLAME THE CUSTOMER!

Businesses that fail, often try to blame the customer. The Big 3 automakers in the 1970s wanted to blame the consumers for wanting less expensive, more economical fuel efficient cars with better quality. Toyota, Volkswagen and Datsun were all fulfilling that need, but Ford, General Motors etc all wanted to blame the consumer and NOT MAKE THE CHANGES NECESSARY THAT THE MARKETPLACE WAS DEMANDING.

Churches are often just as guilty, and the COGs especially are nominated.

They blame the membership (consumer) for not wanting to be in their "group" because they must somehow be "deficient", "immoral" or "insane".

Reality is, make church a positive, instructive, functional, empowered, enriching experience and people will come in droves and the word will spread far and wide about such.

From "Field of Dreams" - Build it and they will come!


Neotherm said...

I would guess that modern Christian worship, espcially in evangelical and charmismatic congregations, would seem bizarre to first century Christians.

After the 1995 Revolution, the WCG congregations in my state dwindled to about a tenth of their previous size. The distance I must drive to the nearest micro-congregation is about 100 miles, so I just don't go.

I tried to align myself with some of the evangelical congregations in my community and discovered some of the same distasteful things I encountered in Armstrongism.

I visited to Church of Christ a couple of times and was well received by all except one elder who regarded me with suspicion. Later I was wearing dark glasses on a bright day and was crossing a parking lot in town and ran into this elder. His first question, when he saw the dark glasses, was "Are you using drugs?"

I had enough of that kind of smarmy, authoritian judgementalism in the WCG. So I promptly quit attending and my involvement with evangelicalism ended. Armstrongites are not the only ones who are dysfucntional.

Jim West should ask himself why the atmosphere in his congregation is so toxic. Maybe he should survey some of the people who attended a few times and did not come back. This kind of survey will never be popular because it will point to some of the "pillars" in the congregation that West depends on for support.

-- Neo

Corky said...

Always remember and never forget:

Minister, preacher, pastor, evangelist, apostle = PARASITE!

One book, right? You can read as good as they can, right? What would make some other man's interpretation of the same book any more valid than yours?

Claim holy spirit guidance, they do - all 30,000+ sects of christendom. So, God is not one, two or three, he is 30,000+ different spirits.

Of course they don't actually have a possession of the holy spirit, they only claim they do. They cannot demonstrate it by any of the spirit gifts and even the Pentecostals only speak in gibberish and not real "tongues" or unlearned languages.

Anyone who claims possession of the holy spirit - demonstrate it, heal an amputee or raise someone from the dead. Too hard? Okay, how about being honest and not making that claim to start with?

DennisDiehl said...

"They don’t stay home because something more important has come up- because there is nothing more important than God. They stay home because they are afraid that God may want something of them. Namely, them."

Or.......they might not find God in the Church, find encouragement in the God of the Bible God, may need their money for college or retirement, can't stand the ego-centric pastor or find nothing all that inspiring in going to all the trouble.

Personally, PT Ministries was some kind of "gift" from WCG for some reason, to Greg. Read through "Ask Greg" sometime and see that it is pure pablum, just as when you read the WCG site that mainly reruns ten and twelve year old articles. How much of a splash can five people who run a church of a few thousand blind, deaf and dumb hangers on make?

Stay Home from Church and save Ten Percent....

Religion is what is poured into the head by others and spirituality is what comes from the inside out based on experience.

God does not need your money, your time or your hard work to convince others you are right. The scorn Jerry Falwell is taking from those burned by his racism, prejudice, ignorance and the idea that our happiness depends on putting ourselves under God's form of thinking as outlined in the Bible, is richly deserved.

Like Gavin, I could not bring myself to drive, listen to and give something to the piously convicted but marginally informed, if you put a gun to my head. When you seek a personal spirituality, you don't need organizational guidance.

I'm sure some of you have read this experience I had last week at work on XCG, but let me repeat it. We were under lunatic watch from a man who was coming back to kill as many in the hospital as he could and then himself, on Mother's Day. I had a security guard upfront with me all day at the desk. When a former WCG "best friend" came through the hospital, and knowing the threat, said.."Dennis, let me whisper something to you..." I leaned in and he said, "Perhaps God is giving you one last chance to repent." You would have enjoyed the rare moment when I went blank, had nothing to say, and realized I just got sucker the chosen ones.

DennisDiehl said...

To me...Greg is simply making a living doing and representing the only thing he has experience in.
It's Online instead of real time Screwage...

Paul said...

"I'm not a wolf anymore, guys..really!"


        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

How about "What till you see my gold lame Goth Avatar at my 2nd Life online 3D church!"

If there's ever a movie made about Armstrongism, I vote for Ray Liotta for the character of Greg Albrecht.
No other actor would quite fit so well. Especially that laugh.

DennisDiehl said...

You know, aside from Greg being gifted with his corny online one man electronic church for the wounded, who holds Joe Tkach accountable for his ridiculous and reckless Papal reign over the mostly defunct WCG? How does he get to "keep" millions of dollars in assets sold? How does he get to not disclose the amount the properties sold for? Why is it that only his Imperial School Cronies got stay and be gifted for life by the assets of the Church they grew up hating?

Joe Tkach Jr. is to the WCG what Paul Wolfowitz is to the World Bank. The only difference is that there are those with with power to force Wolfowitz out for his stupidity and croneyism, but Joe gets to stay because there is no one left to force him into accountability. He may be Pastor General of Nothing, but he does have a substantial bank account funded by the tithes and offerings of those he scorned. It's religious thuggary.

Someone once said that we have to get our circle of influence in line with our circle of concern or just expect to be powerless and waste life energy on things you can't change. I have to ask myself more often now than not, what good does it do to comment, observe and have opinions about all the topics the COG's can provide us all with forever more? Really very little it seems more and more to me. I have a big circle of concern about my (our) experience but very little influence as far as I can tell.

"Love your enemies..pray for those who spitefully use you..? Sounds like something someone who had created a lot of enemies and spitefully used people and knew it would advise....

Richard said...


Joseph Tkach, Jr. is to the WCG what Ken Lay is to Enron shareholders or Bernie Ebbers is to WorldCom shareholders.

Lay did not live long enough to go to jail, but Ebbers is in for 25 years.

If the WCG had been a publicly traded company, Tkach would be in jail. But, WCG wasn't a publicly traded company, it was privately held company, a coporate sole.

See Dennis, we thought the WCG was God's church and also OUR church. Therefore, in our mind's we thought we were shareholders - owners. Remember how HWA rallied the church to defend the church assets during the Receivership? We all thought it was OUR church - OUR Assets paid for by OUR capital contributions in the form of the many tithes and offerings.

In reality, we the membership were ONLY customers of the WCG. We paid our tithes to purchase the WCG brand of "truth", to be reminded periodically that we are weak and base things, and to be spared the great tribulation that was to begin in January, 1972 when we were to flee to Petra.

I'm sure, as customers, we received plenty of customer satisfaction. Correct?

KScribe said...

Well my point of view is this. Greg is a religious whore that is pimping Jesus for the personal satisfaction of the paying customer.

Greg gets a 100% cut of the "profit" for his immoral and unethical enterprise. Jesus get prayers or souls. Yep, Jesus saves until you retire. Then you find yourself in the position of a “Starving Marvin.”
A South Park character from years ago.

Stan said...

Dennis, you wrote: "He [Tkach] may be Pastor General of Nothing, but he does have a substantial bank account funded by the tithes and offerings of those he scorned. It's religious thuggary."

The PTM ministry has been spun off a bit from the WCG corporation, but not legally. Although Greg goes to great lengths to try to make PTM look completely independent, he is actually heading PTM at Tkach's sole discretion. PTM was originally incorporated way back in March, 1975 by the WCG. Here is the current address on file for PTM and the agent for service of process (same last name as Albrecht, could they be related? :-)

Number: C0742587 Date Filed: 3/17/1975 Status: active
Jurisdiction: California
PTM Address:
DUARTE, CA 91010

Agent for Service of Process
STE 1000
IRVINE, CA 92612

There are enough financial and other ties remaining to the WCG that he had to recognize his continuing affiliation with the WCG in his last set of tax returns published at PTM is still quite dependent on funding by the WCG for continued survival to pay the salaries and expenses. And who has at least three of five controlling votes on the PTM Board, not including independent executive director Greg Albrecht? Joe Tkach Jr., that's who.

Joe Tkach, Jr., PTM President and Director
Greg Albrecht, Executive Director $160,562
Monte Wolverton, Secretary/Director/Managing Editor
J. Michael Feazell, Director
Bernard Schnippert, Treasurer

Also notice Albrecht's salary compensation was last noted at $160,562. Do you think "Pastor General For Life" Joe Tkach is going to let a contracted temporary employee like Greg Albrecht make more money than he is? How's that for a "Kodak" moment?

DennisDiehl said...

Joe Tkach, Jr., PTM President and Director
Greg Albrecht, Executive Director $160,562
Monte Wolverton, Secretary/Director/Managing Editor
J. Michael Feazell, Director
Bernard Schnippert, Treasurer

"Also notice Albrecht's salary compensation was last noted at $160,562. Do you think "Pastor General For Life" Joe Tkach is going to let a contracted temporary employee like Greg Albrecht make more money than he is? How's that for a "Kodak" moment?"

I didn't realize all the PTM/WCG connections. So Greg makes in one year what it took me five to make as the loyal drive all over creation and feed the two or three congregations of sheep pastor. Un-freaking-believable. Richard, you are right of course and very well expressed. I take it you both have been a lot closer to the source than I ever have been. It's so depressing to me to have been taken for such a fool. Let's see, now Greggy makes, "In Him" what it takes me seven years to make in the "be warmed and be filled" mode.
Maybe that says more about me than them huh?

I tend in my 50's now to labor under the classic underachier in life mode. I could have done much better. Is it ok to say, damn them? If not, let me know.

A few weeks ago some anonymous source said I'd be getting a package of WCG info that needed to be "outed" but then withdrew the offer. Since they withdrew the offer, I don't feel I'd telling anything personal. Perhaps it better...I blocked the back news of WCG/HWA/and Company for years believing that "God" wanted me to minister and be encouraging from the Bible perspective. Argh...why did I have to have the shit for brains gene...

Thanks for your insights and at lest helping me to understand how guys like this pull it off. It helps me understand how what seemed so right to me went so wrong and this regrouping for me is so personally difficult. I believe the cheap shot of "before this crazed killer comes in to shoot you Dennis, maybe God is giving you one last chance to repent," did not serve me very well this past week. Others have told me "my problem" is that I need to "give up your intellect, your will and return to Jesus."

How come they never have to do anything?

Anyway, I had a chat last night after I wrote about finally cutting it off and trying not to comment anymore or even care. I hesitate because, while we may all have had different experiencs, and now have solved the past with different present beliefs or belongings, I spend too much time alone without the social contact I had for so many years that fits me.
The other concern is how I can "make it" in the future and hearing how well set up for life JT and company are, is very difficult for me personally. I am told that "things work out." I hope so.

Boy how sick that I am stuck considering this bunch my friends...:)

Perhaps my anonymous contact will reconsider and I can pass the "Good News of Joe's Kingdom" on to you all.

Pardon is I talk personally. I don't believe in playing the victim and endeavor to see life as what is for my learning. I just do't like the classes I signed up for.

Breathe Dennis........

DennisDiehl said...

pardon the typos...can't speak from my heart and make my head work at the same time evidently. It's morning...

Anonymous said...

How about - "Just when I thought I was finished, I figured a whole new way to live off of others!"

Lussenheide said...

I can virtually guarantee you that good old Greg gets more than the $160,000 salary draw. How about the likely...

Meal expenses and dining at some pretty nice restaurants.

401k or other fully funded retirement plan.

Nice Health benefits.

Add to this a company car, (not likely to be a KIA either!)

Travel expenses paid for. (Hotels, air fares, vacations, etc)

Cell phone.

Personal Computers, lap tops, ipods etc.

Cable services, magazine subscriptions, etc.

Personal services, ...maid, gardners etc.

All likely paid for by the PTM corporation or the WCG.

Id call his compensation more in the area of $250k + .


Lussenheide said...

What truly amazes me is that good old Greg was one of the meanest, up tight, pharisaical PRICKS when he was Dean of Students at Amabassador College.

A real Nazi.

He was also a real company man, and enforced with all of this "Temporal Power" any of the strange Armstrongist quirks of the moment, whether it was "makeup" , wearing a "choking tie" at services , or calling the old man "God's Apostle".

Yet, by some miracle, the "Gang of Four" (Tkach, Feazell, Greggy, and Schnippert) all had a spiritual "epiphany" at the same time (give me odds that 4 people all reach consensus on a radical idea independently of each other) and are now the new "Born Again" kindlier, gentler, loving and blessed hope for mankind.

Talk about alot of horse shit! I will give Greggy a lot of credit for knowing how to be a chameleon and knowing how to run with how the wind blows.

As far as I go, Greggy , et al, are all still Pharasaical "Grace" Nazis, with a new gig and new "wolves in sheeps clothing" attire.

When the hell are all COG whores, including the splinters going to get "Real Jobs" ???


Stan said...

According to the 2005 PTM tax return filed with the Ogden branch of the IRS, page 20 of the pdf, Tkach reported compensation of only $101,348 and Mr. Schnippert $116,879.

Schnipppert made more money than Tkach! Pretty good when you can phone it in from Orgeon!

Stan said...

AW Newsflash!

According to the 2006 PTM tax return, somebody appointed Ambassador U. grad Michael Peterson to the PTM Board!


Does anyone remember this fellow?

Michael Peterson, Ed.D.

Dr. Peterson is president of Workplace Consultants Inc., which helps companies identify the cultural and behavioral factors that promote or inhibit corporate success. Also an associate professor of health promotion at the University of Delaware, Dr. Peterson is recognized as a leading authority on workplace culture, stress and the dualistic approach to organizational and employee health. He has conducted extensive research into the organization of work and work stress, and the health impact caused by the organizational culture. Dr. Peterson has had his research findings published in the American Journal of Health Behavior and the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He earned his doctorate degree at the University of Kansas.

Dr. Peterson, an associate professor and director of the graduate health promotion program at the University of Delaware, has extensive experience in health promotion and wellness program planning and implementation and evaluation in corporate, government, and educational settings. His research area focuses on the relationship between corporate culture, work, and health.

Dr. Peterson is president of Workplace Consultants, Inc., an organizational health, development, and assessment firm that helps companies identify the cultural and behavioral factors that promote or inhibit corporate success.

• Ed.D., University of Kentucky
• Medical Behavioral Science, University of Kentucky,
College of Medicine
• M.A., California State University, Los Angeles
• B.A., Ambassador University

His company bio is at

Dr. Peterson created STORM Index, or The Strategic Organizational Management Index, a proprietary process that reveals and uncovers your employee’s perceptions, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses which impact your corporate performance and profit.

KScribe said...

Stan said...
"Dr. Peterson created STORM Index, or The Strategic Organizational Management Index, a proprietary process that reveals and uncovers your employee’s perceptions, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses which impact your corporate performance and profit"

I guess Jesus is now an official corporate whore!

Douglas Becker said...

The Bag of money for my salary is this BIG!

Stan said...

Peterson's company does detailed employee surveys using an internet website where the answers are collected and the data analyzed. His company has worked with the Gallup organization. Interesting. Didn't HWA himself do surveys and claimed to invent the Gallup poll, before Gallup?

Workplace Consultants Inc. offers high quality Web-based focus group evaluations for Internet-based customer services. This new service provides the feedback necessary to increase Internet sales.

Sales and Marketing departments often employ focus group techniques to assess TV and Radio ads, but often omit their Internet Web sites. How often do companies lose customers and sales due to ineffective websites? For an Internet Church without the Religion, this service just might be what fits the bill for Greg Albrecht.

Organizations receive a detailed evaluation report on their website including a description of its effectiveness, problems, strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations from a consumer perspective.

Maybe the WCG itself could use a scientific church member "satisfaction" survey or two, also!

DennisDiehl said...

Psalm 24:3-4 - "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Well me of course... see, I have clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up my soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. No really, look at my hands...very clean....and my suit is nice too"

Stan said...

Did I mention Ross Jutsum and Michael Peterson are now official PTM members?

Maybe that should improve the quality of music at services!

Greg says: Q. Is Plain Truth Ministries (PTM) financed by or affiliated with a church or denomination?

A. No. We partner with and provide resources to other ministries and well as small groups and individual congregations. But we are not dependent on any other ministry or church.
Q. How is PTM financed?
A. Over 95% of our support is from the generous contributions of our dedicated Partners. The remaining 5% is from resource sales, advertising and miscellaneous income.

According to the 2005 PTM return, the WCG contributed a noncash subsidy to PTM of the amount of $633,967.

After all PTM liabilities have been paid, PTM assets equal $996,804 as of December 31, 2005.

This $996,804 includes $761,044 in PTM cash and cash equivalents. PTM doesn't have the overhead expenses of a brick and mortar church, either.

How many WCG congregations have that much cash in the bank?

Stan said...

Note to Greg:

Your new Board Member's name is spelled P. Michael Peterson, not "J. Michael Peterson" as it was mistakenly typed on your tax returns. How could you miss that one?

If you're going to welcome University of Delaware professor Dr. Peterson as a new PTM board member, you might as well spell his name correctly!

And Monte Wolverton, now that you are signing off as PTM Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, will you please thoroughly READ the financials you are signing off on for more important such errors and omissions!

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

Lussenheide said...

What truly amazes me is that good old Greg was one of the meanest, up tight, Pharisaical PRICKS when he was Dean of Students at Ambassador College.

A real Nazi.


Like I said, Ray Liotta is perfect for the hypothetical "WCG - the Movie" as the maniacal Greg Albrecht.

There's a needle missing in that boy's human relations compass.

Tkach is just another example of draft dodging milleu of characters that inhabit our white house.

Psychology, fear, and manipulation before truth and honesty. Same crap we get from the WCG we now get from Washington.

I'm just waiting for the next episode of LOST to reveal that the Dharma Initiative on the Island was funded by AICF and Herbert Armstrong!

BTW..Dennis wouldn't believe how many pastors I've talked to who are exactly like you. You are by no means alone.

Corky said...

"where have all the pastors gone,
a long time leavin'?
Where have all the pastors gone,
a long, long time ago?
Where have all the pastors gone,
Gone to Texas every one?"

Aaron said...

Stan, if you're still monitoring this thread, I would like to follow up on the financial data you've discussed here.

Can you tell us where to find it? seems to be nonfunctional, and it looks like you're just getting your blog started.

Stan said...

PTM tax returns or 990s, can be obtained trough the Office of the California Attorney General website.

Put in the California Office of the Attorney General and "charity search" and that should bring you to the Attorney General's search page for charities in California.

Once there, put in the search term "Plain Truth" click on the link, and a page opens up with some basic numerical data for Plain Truth Ministries.

Click on the pdfs for tax information filed by the officers of the org for a particular year. It is in the pdfs you will find a greater level of disclosure, but not enough for the Worldwide Church of God donors to know what's really going on. For example, Tkach's six or seven figure salary on the tax returns is listed as zero - none of your business.

How Christian is that kind of disclosure, taking money from the plate and not telling?

Hope this helps.


Stan said...

Also, please realize that in no way these 990 tax information returns qualify as any kind of endorsement or approval of the reported spending or the financial actions of the charity by the Attorney General.

The forms are supposed to be filled out according to IRS guidelines. The pdfs are only information as sent to the IRS and put into format by Guidestar to help the public figure out where the money donated went. Obviously, this kind of information is not yet required to be published on the PTM and other tax exempt websites, but it should be easily obtainable in the public interest.