Thursday 24 March 2016

Herb Armstrong's Sickening Racist Fantasies

Thanks to Pam for pointing out the audio file of a sermon Herb Armstrong gave - probably in the last year of his life - on interracial marriage. It is, simply, horrendous, salted with threats of the Lake of Fire. Includes appreciative clapping from the mindless sycophants in the congregation. It fairly drips with racist rhetoric. God destroyed Noah's world because only he and his family were racially pure and, therefore, worthy of saving ("Noah was perfect in his generations"). He was the only man left who was "pure white". Segregation is good ("God's way is geographical [yells] segregation! And integration is not the way of the Eternal God!"). The Canaanites were black.

As usual for Herb's sermons, he rambles all over the place (Adam, two trees, give/get...) before getting to the point, but the point - when the old goat finally gets to it - is painfully clear.

The audio (a little scratchy) is available here. It lasts just under 69 minutes.

Just so you can keep your disgust fresh.


Pam said...

"It is, simply, horrendous, salted with threats of the Lake of Fire. Includes appreciative clapping from the mindless sycophants in the congregation." This reference to appreciative clapping reminds me of the last sermon I heard in the WCG, in early 1979.

After GTA was kicked out in April 1978, I had become aware of much going on behind the scenes at Pasadena, the profligate spending and corruption and lies. My hubby and I had quietly discussed our concerns with a few close friends, but in the Gestapo climate of the time, we had been "turned in" to the local pastor for being "doubters."

Early in 1979 Gerald Waterhouse went on a tour of the WCG congregations to, as he put it, "turn the hearts of the people to headquarters." We quit attending after the 1978 FOT, had been in contact with GTA's ministry, and privy to a lot going on behind the scenes. It looked like there might be a "breakthrough" in Pasadena, with Stan Rader being exposed for his manipulation, and a reconciliation between the Armstrongs. So we were hunkered down waiting to see what would happen.

On the first Sabbath of 1979, the Lansing MI pastor marked and disfellowshipped us from the pulpit. The "cause" given:disloyalty to the WCG administration. By Monday morning the Receivership was launched, and in the hubbub "The Deweys" were quickly forgotten by everyone... including some of our closest friends. The minister had never asked what our concerns were. We were just accused, tried, and sentenced "in absentia." :-)

Shortly after were marked, Gerald came to town. One of the few friends we had left after the marking provided us with a tape of his performance. In it, he ranted that the church would soon be fleeing to "The Place of Final Trial and Testing." He explained that no one who was not TOTALLY loyal to Herbert Armstrong would be going. After all, he hollered, if disloyal people infiltered the faithful there, every morning the leadership would have to ask who would ***need to be shot that day*** or sent out into the wilderness as food for the jackals. Since we were the ONLY members at that point who had been marked and disfellowshipped in Michigan, his words were pointedly applicable to us. It was disconcerting to hear the positive, enthusiastic response of the congregation, appreciative clapping and, yes, LAUGHING by folks we had considered our friends for over a decade.

It came to a head when he thundered about the fate of those "Left Behind." They would have to go through the Tribulation and have their heads chopped off. "EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM, BRETHREN!" he shouted. The crowd went wild with laughing and clapping. Just months before, over 900 people had committed suicide in the jungle in Guyana, after listening to the ranting of Jim Jones over the loudspeakers at Jonestown. As I listened to Gerald's words, I almost thought I could hear the mosquitoes buzzing around him...I found the psychological manipulation going on to be astounding--and sent copies of the sermon off the the Los Angeles Times and the TV show "60 Minutes," with a cover letter commenting that someone ought to investigate what was going on before we had "another Jonestown." :-)

At the end of Gerald's sermon, he explained that the only hope that we miserable disloyal people would have to escape being sent to the Lake of Fire was, as we were led to the chopping block, to repent of our rebellion and "testify" that "God's Anointed was down in Petra preparing God's People to be ready to rule the world when Christ returned." (Yes, he specifically called HWA God's Anointed.) We'd still lose our heads, but we'd get to be doorkeepers in the Kingdom instead of crispy fried food for the worms in Gehenna.

I've never forgotten that "appreciative clapping"...and especially the hearty laughter...that responded to the discussion of the possibility of shooting people, and chopping their heads off.

Byker Bob said...

Wow, Pam!

It sounds as if the church administration was still trying to get the aftermath of 1975 under control in 1978-79. In Pasadena, around 1974-75, HWA was losing control big time. That is when both the conservative camps of the church were revolting and splintering because of such changes as the divorce and remarriage doctrine, and the liberals were leaving in droves because Dr. Martin's research was not being examined and considered by HWA and his rubber stamp board. Many of the ministers had left over a combination of these things and sudden knowledge of the perennial moral failures of GTA. Meanwhile, there was an explosion of pot and alcohol usage amongst the teenagers and young adults in the headquarters area.

One morning in 1974, we employees were summoned to department meetings and told that in order for us to continue to be employed by the church or college, we would be required to sign loyalty oaths to HWA. Under duress, many of us took the somewhat Paulican attitude that idols were nothing, and thwarted the intent of the whole process by going ahead and disingenuously signing the offending document. At the Press, my former AC roommate, who was working on my team, had a twinge of conscience, told our supervisor that he could not sign, and I was asked to drive him to his home. Several days later, after he knew how the rest of us had treated the occasion, he relented, signed, and was allowed to come back to work. Within several months, the AC Press was sold to the W.A. Krueger Co., and with jobs being safe, many of the people at the Press enjoyed a freedom that nobody else on campus had: to leave the church and not only get to keep our jobs, but also to receive raises while doing so. Even deacons were leaving, and a lot of the church administration was shocked. This is a time when "they" clearly thought they had the upper hand. The AC dorms were "bugged" and surveillance vans were dispatched to locations of dissident meetings, so that undercover photos of brethren attending could be taken.

There were so many people leaving at that point, that really only high profile people were marked and disfellowshipped. I was never actually officially disfellowshipped, or marked. In fact, even though I had left the church, I kept the commitment to work campus sabbath security that I had made months earlier. A few years later, I was shocked to read in the newspapers that demonstrations were being held at the Hall of Administration to protest court appointed receivership. Apparently at that time, HWA had no trouble amassing his troops of loyalists to commit acts of civil disobedience against which he had always preached. Then, of course, he began his "back on track" gestapo campaign, which was apparently the final compensatory adjustment to the events and loss of control of the mid-1970s.

Many people during those times learned how very little value they as members really had to the leader and senior management of the church. Armstrongian love was amazingly consistent in its totally conditional nature.


Anonymous said...

My reaction to all this is that cults are insane.

I do not need the cult environment to encounter crazy people -- there are quite enough outside the cult venue to satisfy any need anyone might have.

Besides, cults are expensive and why pay for insanity when you can get it for free?

Unknown said...

The problem with HWAs treatise is that all of Noah's sons ALL had to marry interracially , did they not?

And all of these marriages were saved and blessed by being saved on the Ark!

This obvious fact is self evident and right before ones eyes that it hurts!

Very sorry to hear Pam's and Bykers experiences. Is there anyone who has been around the COG in the last several decades who DOESNT have a bizarre story to tell? I doubt it!

Byker Bob said...

Thanks, Connie, but my leaving experience was relatively painless and somewhat pleasant as compared to what Pam and her husband endured. I even got to keep my friends, who had also left. There were many aspects to 1972-75 which made that an ideal and unique time to leave Armstrongism.


Pam said...

BB said, " The AC dorms were "bugged" and surveillance vans were dispatched to locations of dissident meetings, so that undercover photos of brethren attending could be taken."

The crisis created by the ouster of GTA, and the threat of the Receivership, brought all of this back into play in 1978-1980. By then, the "surveillance vans" prowling around the parking lots of major dissident meetings out in California were there to take photos of license plates (Rader or someone had a "friend" in the traffic dept who could pinpoint who those plates were issued to) AND ... to listen in. They literally had spy-style equipment that allowed them to tune in to the sound systems in buildings and hear what was being said.

Out in the hinterlands, such as Michigan where we lived, the spying was more mundane. I still remember attending a "personal appearance" by GTA in the Detroit area in early 1979, in his attempts to attract dissident WCGers to his new CGI efforts. It was held at a large hotel meeting room, in the middle of a harsh Michigan winter. Out in the lobby, as we entered, I noticed a man sitting on a bench, body hunched over, with his heavy winter coat on even in the nicely-warm lobby, head and face shrouded by a big winter hat. He was still there, swaddled in his outdoor winter gear, at the intermission of the meeting. At that point, someone from the Detroit area WCG approached him, and recognized him as a local deacon. Caught in the act, he confessed that he had been sent there to "take down names" of anyone he recognized entering the meeting. But he insisted he HATED doing what he was doing.

The bottom line, of course, was that these tactics weren't in place really to "punish" dissidents. They were in place so that any dissidents could be removed and quarantined so that they didn't infect any loyal members with questions they didn't already have. Folks living near HQ in Pasadena were privy to much more information about what was going on than were people out in the hinterlands. This was before the Internet, and information spread very slowly. Most average WCG members in congregations throughout the nation were oblivious to what was going on, other than what they read in the official letters from Herbert and the Worldwide News.

But scattered in among them, were people like me, who could be dangerous. Once I got whiff of the extent of the problems, I began snooping like a blood hound and wouldn't be put off. I got a mail subscription to the Pasadena Star News newspaper so I could see what was REALLY going on at the Campus during the Receivership. I went to a nearby university library, and checked the Los Angeles Times newspaper for investigative reporting articles about the WCG every week, as well as rummaging other major newspapers like the NY Times for articles about the Church.

I had a friend from Michigan who had moved to Pasadena recently. He would tune in the local news on the radio every night out there and tape record for me anything having to do with the church. I'd then call him every few days, and he'd play for me the latest recordings.

I composed layout collections of relevant news clippings, and photocopied them and sent them out periodically to friends all over the country. Such as the article describing Stan Rader's comment when confronted by a reporter with the fact that he had acquired a luxury home in Pasadena at rock bottom price via his connection to to Church, then subsequently sold it for a $1 million profit. His comment, "Buy low, sell high. I DON'T TAKE STUPID PILLS." Knowing that my faithful tithes for over a decade had amounted to a tiny fraction of the "benefits" this man received from the church which allowed him to become stinking-rich-wealthy left a really, really nasty taste in my mouth. :-)

Looking back, I am proud that my efforts at least made a tiny dent in eventually "infecting" naive members across the land.

Anonymous said...

" can go into the lake of fire if you want to."

35 years later, the absolute arrogance of anyone to have used such threats to control and beat people down is just appalling. What a bully.

As for the purge years...after GTA got the boot in '78, one of my buddies wanted to go check out what he had to say when he conducted a service in Pasadena. We'd been students at AC, which by then was closed. So a few of us made the drive over, mostly out of curiosity. Everything went off without a hitch, and we saw some familiar faces, Dave Antion among them. Ted came in, even stopped and said hi to us, then gave his sermon. That was that, no fanfare, no drama.

A few days later I happened to be passing through the Student Center. One of the former AC instructors, who had been given an administrative position in HWA's one-year bible diploma school that existed in 1978-79, spotted me and made his way over. He rather somberly asked if I was now attending church with Garner Ted Armstrong. I'm sure he saw the startled look on my face as I put two and two together. I just smiled and said no, that a few of us drove over out of curiosity, nothing more. I wasn't a baptized member, anyway, and, to his credit, he seemed satisfied and let it go. But it was clear that spying was going on in full force.

It was all such a big deal back then, but now, looking back, it's just ridiculous. We lived in a bubble of our own making and thought every move, every proclamation, every decision was so important. And here we are, 35 years later -- and the Armstrongs are an increasingly distant memory.

Anonymous said...

I did not listen to HWAs diatribe - I have heard it all before. The following points are relevant:

1. The Canaanites were not black. They were genetically indistinguishable from the Jews.

2. If you were required to marry within your race, I don't know how that would be accomplished considering the amount of intermarriage that has already taken place in ancient times. All the people outside of Africa carry Neanderthal genes.

3. Gerald Waterhouse claimed that HWA was pure in his generations like Noah was. It would have been interesting to have given HWA a genetic test. Adolf Hitler was a big proponent of racial purity and a genetic test of his relatives revealed that he was descended from a North African haplogroup.

4. Herman Hoeh claimed that the WCG had no policy based in theology that was racist. The segregationist practices of the WCG were just intended to preserve harmony with the larger society in the USA. In this dodge I see defensiveness and shame.

It is not surprising that Armstrongism exalts racism and, hence, attracts racists.
But this is not uncommon. The Baptist Church in the southeastern quadrant of the US is full of racists who claim to be Christian.


Pam said...

" Herman Hoeh claimed that the WCG had no policy based in theology that was racist. The segregationist practices of the WCG were just intended to preserve harmony with the larger society in the USA. In this dodge I see defensiveness and shame. "

Actually, this is what most folks "remember" Herman as saying. For instance that the only reason there were "segregated feast sites" was to not give offense to those in the US society who were ardent segregationists. But this is a "false memory." Articles by both Herman and Herbert... and Rod Meredith...constantly drove in the point that it was GOD who created physical segregation of the races, that integration was inspired by the Devil (and pushed in the US by the Communists.) They also taught that there would be strict physical segregation in the Kingdom, with all people with Negro blood left at the return of Christ repatriated to Africa. (No mention of how "mixed race" people would be dealt with, but the unspoken assumption was that ANY Negro genes made you a Negro.)

The ruse they used was that "segregation" was, by definition, NOT "racist." Racist meant you hated people of different races, and wanted to harm them. Their claim was that the Bible taught strict segregation but not "discrimination" (treating people of a different race as inferior.) This was all nonsense, of course. Herbert ranted about how disgusting it was that "black" men wanted to marry "white" women NOT because that would somehow mess up God's loving plans to keep the Negro race "pure"... but because he very painfully, obviously, thought blacks to be inferior. (He didn't bother to rant about white men wanting black women...he mocked the very idea of that, as being preposterous. It was clear he thought no red-blooded white man would be interested in a black woman.)

Here is a bit of what Herbert had to say about the topic in an article in the Good News magazine in November 1957 titled "Why is America Cursed?" (The bottom line of the article was that America was cursed because it was being led by the fledgling Civil Rights movement to accept integration.)

"Communism stands for amalgamation of the races , until there will be but one race again. They disseminate this propaganda among the Negroes of America. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt has fallen under this delusion, and other public leaders have started a trend in America which makes segregation, which God COMMANDS, appear to be sinful and evil, and which makes a mixing of races, which GOD CONDEMNS, appear to be Christian and good! This has nothing to do with race superiority or racial discrimination. God condemns racial discrimination, but commands racial segregation. There’s a vast difference! Today people confuse the two as though they were the same!"

And here is a clip of what Herman had to say in a major article about "The Race Question" in the April 1957 Plain Truth.

… If the South and the North would have recognized, after the Civil War, the importance of geographic segregation and would have practiced it—as God, ordained in the first place—there would have been no discrimination against the Negro. The Negro should have been returned to his rightful inheritance in Africa, just as Egypt should have returned the enslaved Israelites to Palestine under Moses."

Rod Meredith was even more blunt in an October 1963 PT article titled "Race Explosion--What Does it Mean?"

" The idealists and “do-gooders” have been telling the Negroes that they can and should COMPETE with the whites in every type of industry, business, social and political activity."

My. What a ghastly, ungodly idea. Equality of the races.

Anonymous said...

Pam, that's the stuff that the modern "defenders of the faith" (meaning, Herb) conveniently sweep under the rug. It galls me the way people will still make excuses, all these years later, for his behavior and his absolutely offensive beliefs.

Recently over on Banned someone called out Aaron Dean for his hypocrisy on this point. It's amazing more people don't do that. Recently several of my friends on Facebook, all of them former or current COGers, liked a photo Aaron posted of HWA with Nancy Reagan. I saw that and wanted to puke. What a smug, smarmy thing to do. A woman dies, and he has to use it to prop up his hero. Of course, Aaron and his wife were conveniently included in the photo, too.

Anyway, thanks for pointing out HWA's inflammatory comments about God "commanding" segregation. Herman's and Rod's, too. What a bunch of hurtful, hateful buffoons. Their legacy is more one of destroying lives than helping them.

Pam said...

For those interested in the history of racism in the WCG, I have a whole 11-part series of articles on my Meet MythAmerica blog from last year that is titled "The Wonderful World Tomorrow--What it WON'T be Like!"

It has a documented overview of many aspects of the Civil Rights movement of the 50s/60s in the US interspersed with many parallel quotations from the Plain Truth and Good News magazines during that same period. It VERY firmly establishes the unmistakable, even vicious anti-integration stance of the Radio Church of God of that time.There are lots of poignant news photos from the time included, and photocopies of lots of related PT/GN covers and interior articles and photos. It would be VERY difficult for those still enamored of Herbert these days to try to whitewash the level of damning documentation I provide. :-) The problem is, most of them would fight tooth and nail to avoid having to read it. But for any who are willing, here is the link to the first article in the series. At the end of each article is a link to the next article in the series.

The Wonderful World Tomorrow--What it WON'T Be Like

Byker Bob said...

What strikes me is that these "ministers" could have taken a much more enlightened aporoach. They could have been right in the fray, on the cutting edge, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King in an effort to promote social justice! Instead, they cast their lot with the Jim Crow rednecks, twisting the Bible, and using mostly the Old Testament to make it appear as if God supported segregation. They were not talking much about Moses' wife, or about the fact that Manasseh and Ephraim's mommy was Egyptian (which could have meant Nubian). They didn't seem to dwell much on the fact that Noah's family was an early lesson in multiculturalism. They were arbitrary in assigning inappropriate and unprovable racial backgrounds to the enemies of God and the Israelites, and they glossed over the real reason for the putting away of foreign wives during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. They loved to quote Josephus, but only as proof-texts for their own fractured approaches.

And yet, HWA had the gall to bill himself as the human restorer and arbiter of "God's truth" which had been lost for 2,000 years. There were people who actually hung on his every word, and used that in formulating their opinions, assuming that they were cultivating a Godly attitude. Even today, if one tries to conduct a conversation with family members or past friends from the church, it is impossible to have a real conversation. You are having a conversation with their church, just receiving a rehash of the official church position on every topic discussed. They still believe that God is going to reseparate the races in the millennium, and that people who are as little as 1/10 "negro" will be sent "back" to Africa, even though they were raised as white people. I suppose they would send my son and his children "back" to Spain, or South America.

Failed prophecy is not the only way to prove that Armstrongism can't possibly be the true church. This blatant, and easily disproven racism, is one of several additional methods. The problem is, that if you can't trust them to have the truth in a number of key or important areas, you can't really trust a thing they ever taught.


Christopher McNeely said...

My aunt attended AC in Pasadena in the late 70s/early 80s before jumping the WCG ship (and forever being a role model for me). Eventually she met, fell in love with, and married an African-American man in LA. Needless to say, this did not go over well with my family back home in the Heartland.

On one fine Sabbath morning while driving to church, my grandmother (my aunt's mother) was heard to remark, bitterly: "I can't believe she married that n*****."

Without question, I can trace the moment I knew I needed to leave WCG to that day.

Sadly, I didn't get to leave WCG...I had to go through two pointless years of exile in the Piney Woods of East Texas and the mess of '95 before eventually leaving the UCG in '97.*

Better late than never.

*Note: UCG is, by the way, the OED example for the colloquialism 'lipstick on a pig'

Pam said...

Christopher McNeely wrote, "On one fine Sabbath morning while driving to church, my grandmother (my aunt's mother) was heard to remark, bitterly: "I can't believe she married that n*****."

Without question, I can trace the moment I knew I needed to leave WCG to that day."

Oh! That made my stomach hurt when I got to your example! The juxtaposition of the words "Sabbath" and "church," and bitter racism is mind (and heart) boggling. Thank you for sharing.

I can trace the moment I knew I needed to leave the WCG also. It was Thanksgiving 1978. We were staying with friends for the four day weekend, friends who had been in the WCG with us for several years. We had been very troubled about the "church politics" chaos going on that year after GTA had been kicked out, and the obvious dictatorial measures that were being implemented to stifle all questioning. We had only been back to services after the Feast of Tabernacles a handful of times. We hadn't been sure what to do next.

After dinner we sat around the TV and were shocked to watch the big news story unfolding on the screen. The suicidal deaths (and murders) in Guyana of over 900 people...parents who were followers of mad-man Jim Jones, along with many of their children...had just been discovered. As the drama played out and commentators began examining the roots of what had happened, I remember turning to my husband and saying, "That is exactly the mindset of many of the members of WCG toward Herbert Armstrong! I can't go back to being part of that."

Byker Bob said...

Most Armstrongites did not use the "N" word, or tell crude "Rastus" jokes. However, the relatively polite terms in which "God's plan" for races and race relations were described were just as negative, hurtful, and damaging. Soul rot is the kindest phrase I can find to describe HWA's teachings on this topic. Imagine what their place of "safety" would have been like for people of color!


Pam said...

"Imagine what their place of "safety" would have been like for people of color!"

Sigh. Imagine..."segregated drinking fountains" in the hot desert sun at Petra.

Unknown said...

Being of German Heritage myself, it is/was annoying to be referred to as "Assyrian" , or "your kind of people are going to be part of the Beast Power".

White, yes... second class citizen of the COG when German??... also a yes.

Such nonsense, total nonsense!

Pam said...

"Being of German Heritage myself, it is/was annoying to be referred to as "Assyrian" , or "your kind of people are going to be part of the Beast Power".

It was so strange that this was basically invented by and promoted by ... Herr Herman Hoeh! I have still never figured out how he dealt with the cognitive dissonance of his own identity as a German and his speculative nonsense on the prophetic significance of Germany.

Anonymous said...


"Being of German Heritage myself, it is/was annoying to be referred to as "Assyrian"


As teenagers I and a Friend from YOU used to refer to little babies (shown to us by proud young mothers) as "being radiated by Satan's airwaves".

It was a joke of course. As I said on another thread. I guess as teenagers we were able at that time to see what was "speculation" and what was "self evident".

Still I believe you are warlike in the Assyrian spirit. A spiritual war at least. :-)