Some supporters have acknowledged that HWA had committed incest with his daughter but offer the "David defense" to excuse this transgression and say that it has not impact on the role he played. This position need not be examined further as it neither proves non-consensual incest occurred nor would it excuse it.
Lack of Denials
It would be nice if one could find clear denials regarding these claims by HWA personally, by the church when these claims were first put into print (Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web), and/or by the family members that would have known one way or the other regarding these claims.
Unfortunately, none of these denials were made.
One may find this odd but the lack of denials does not prove that the incest took place. Innocent people do not have to defend themselves against false claims.
Evidence (or lack of it) found on the Internet (and/or shared by individuals)
1. A Nov. 19, 1979, letter from David Robinson (former WCG evangelist) to HWA alluded to the incest and other sexual issues and requested that HWA resign for the good of the church.
[Comments: Some have attacked David Robinson's integrity while others have defended him. I had read (likely in The Journal) that he was an honorable man who suffered greatly for making these claims.]
2. 1981 book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web (An Insider's View of the Worldwide Church of God) by David Robinson
David Robinson, a former WCG minister and employee in varied capacities, wrote from firsthand knowledge with deep disappointment and has come to agree with Solomon who advised against putting their trust in men. Chapter XX covered HWA and the incest story. This book is available in PDF form here.
[Comments: This book may not have been the most well-written account of the church but much of the material was consistent with other sources and confirmed through personal discussions with ministers that had been at headquarters. The portion dealing with the alleged incest was distasteful but there is likely no way for anyone to address this topic it in an acceptable manner to all.]
3. December 30, 1981 letter from Jack Kessler to the Board of WCG
Jack Kessler was WCG's CPA who worked directly with HWA and Rader and his letter detailing a number of corporate irregularities contained the following references to the charge of incest:
“The human condition is such that it would shock probably only just a few to learn of the moral depravity that is reported commonly among you. Although others, such as Dave Robinson* and Floyd Lochner, apparently thought it might work to their advantage to report Mr. Armstrong's admission (which he's made to several) that he had engaged repeatedly in incestuous intercourse with his daughter during the first 10 years of his ministry, as well as more recent, self-confessed sexual perversity..."The entire letter available here.
[Comments: Was this letter credible? In a number of areas, yes, such as the abuse of authority and financial mismanagement. It also brought out a second name related to the accusation of incest: Floyd Lochner, who had allegedly taped HWA hoping to get a denial on record but instead getting a confession. Damning evidence... if true. But where is the tape? Who had heard it personally?]
Lakeland Ledger May 12, 1984 newspaper article about HWA’s divorce with Ramona mentions an “understanding” the couple reached about Armstrong’s “prior incestuous conduct with his daughter for many years.”
*[Comments: The reference within this article was quite significant to me. This is not the type of comment a newspaper would make carelessly.]
5. 1997 letter from GTA in response to an inquiry about the incest
The Church of God International
Post Office Box 2530,
Tyler, Texas, 75710
Garner Ted Armstrong, Founder
Dear Mr. (Name Withheld by Request),
I'm sorry, but I really have no comment about the very lengthy letter from Jack Kessler. The entire situation is completely moot at this time, of course. My father died at age 93 1/2 back in 1986, eleven years ago, and I certainly have no desire to resurrect a lot of ancient ghouls from their graves and engage in a lot of criticism involving the actions of individuals in that organization decades ago.
Nothing my father did, negative or positive, matters to my personal salvation, or to yours.
For the last twenty years, I have continued to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God as a witness and a warning to the world, and I have never engaged in the kind of spiritual "grave robbing" that exhumes ancient sins of fifty or sixty years ago, and attempts to defile and defame the memory of individuals who themselves are long since dead.
Sorry if this proves disappointing to you, but I simply have no further comment.
Sincerely,This letter is available here.
Garner Ted Armstrong
[Comments: This letter came across more as "I do not want to talk about it" than as "It did not happen."]
6. 1999 Letter from Bruce Renehan who had interviewed some members of the Church of God 7th Day who reported they were aware of the incest.
"I'm not exactly sure what constitutes proof to everyone. Before I began to author my book, my wife and I visited the Church of God, Seventh Day, both in Bakersfield and in Fresno. That is the church that Herbert Armstrong started attending in 1927. I first heard of the incest from some of their members, two of whom--Israel Hager and John Keiss [correct spelling Kiesz]--had known Armstrong in the 20s and 30s. Keiss, who was Armstrong's closest friend in the COG7 had actually discussed the incest with Dorothy Armstrong who confessed to him. Not wanting to believe hearsay from just one group, I placed a call to a friend of mine (Bob Mizell) in Pasadena. Bob was a very close friend to Joe Tkach Senior and, if anyone would know if the stories were true or not, he certainly would. Bob told me openly that both he and Joe Tkach had known about Armstrong's incest with his daughter and then he quickly brought up the David was a man after God's heart" ploy. "The full letter is available here.
[Comments: To me, Bruce Renehan came across as sincere and credible but this does not constitute proof that what he said was true.]
7. Statement by Keith Hunt
"Oh indeed, the WCG was going to SUE Ambassador Report a NUMBER of times over the next years, especially over HWA having an affair with one of his daughters way back when, that came to light [and for those who still say it was all slander and lies; I personally heard GTA say he confronted his dad on the matter and HWA admitted it was so, saying, I was not always close to God"]. What was the reply from Ambassador Report to the WCG stating they were going to sue them, it was "Come on do so, will be happy to see you in court." The WCG NEVER did sue Ambassador Report!!"http://www.keithhunt.com/Hwaexp.6.html
[Comments: I spoke with Keith Hunt in April 2015 and found him to be sincere and credible. A direct confirmation by GTA is significant. Also, WCG never following through on their threat to sue Ambassador Report for repeating these claims is telling.]
8. WCG ministerial confirmations (various dates):
- When asked by various church members, David Antion (related to GTA though marriage) has acknowledged that the incest occurred.
allegations. Generally, families do not want to talk about such things openly (and most don't) but they do tend to know what happened. This is compelling evidence. Another member reported that she had come to the Antion home in the late 1970's, when Dorothy was inside crying about this. She is absolutely certain that it happened.]
- Several individuals have reported that Art Mokarow confirmed that HWA committed incest while in a public setting.
- Other ministers have acknowledged the rumor to be true when asked including Gary Antion and at least one of the current UCG Council members.
9. 2014 Interview of HWA’s niece Deborah
In a radio interview, Deborah related that the family had kept quiet about Dorothy to protect her. Deborah’s mother had told her it was true. She was also was told by her grandson. Interestingly, Deborah noted that the only thing HWA had given her was a hand signed copy of his “Missing Dimension in Sex” book.
Start at minute 50:00.
[Comments: For someone that would want to attack her credibility, please explain how Deborah would benefit from lying about this.]
10. 2014 Interview of HWA’s grandson Larry Gott
In a radio interview, Larry Gott said that the incest was an accepted as fact within the family and that it had started when Dorothy was 14 or 15. When asked, what kind of character was HWA, he said, “He was tyrannical… He was a person who craved and used authority over other people. That was sort of the essence of him. Nobody was really close to him – ever – including his wife. He was an authoritarian and I would tell people that he was not completely honest with everybody about himself.”
Start at minute 1:01:20.
[Comments: How would Larry benefit from lying about this?]
Conclusion: At this point, I would be more fearful of God for attacking the credibility Art Mokarow, Keith Hunt, Deborah, David Antion and Larry Gott on this topic than by stating that I feel certain that HWA did commit incest with his daughter.
Kev, these are the same conclusions that we've come to on the blogs and forums over the years, but this is the first time I've seen them compiled and all in one place. Also, you went through the extra steps of actually speaking with people who knew and were able to add their testimony. Good work! My only comment would be don't expect most of the current splinter members to accept your presentation as being solid proof, or to see this as refuting the so-called 18 restored truths that were supposedly revealed to HWA during the time that he was perpetrating this unimaginable evil on his daughter.
The Mattsons lived about 5 miles from my house, and had a number listed in our local phone directory. I could have called them at any time, but realized that it would cause them great pain, while still doing nothing to convince deliberate ostriches. Later, I learned that some insensitive person from PCG had called Vern Mattson, and supposedly he had confirmed it.
The dumbest rebuttal type comment I've ever heard on this topic was "Hey! Look what the priests in the Catholic Church are doing!" People just don't get it! They revere HWA as some sort of quasi-Biblical figure, almost to the exclusion of Jesus or Paul.
I've said before that I lean to 60-70% true.
However the fact is that non of it is legal proof. And chance is that ALL mentioned ministers engage in corporate gossiping.
Another fact is that probably a person I would have trusted to speak the truth is YOU BB.
But you decided to not ask Vern Mattson.
I find the invitatation or question to ask what benefit Deborah would have rather strange into saying what she said. I am reluctant to say anything bad about Deborah. But last I saw of her were rather strange leanings toward and defense of Russian propaganda and the Putin regime. The MDS book was indeed a strange gift. (although you forget to mention it was a gift to ALL Seniors at AC) Moreover she did not pay one penny for her education and tenure in Russia in the service of the AICF.
The first confirmation I heard that made sense to me beyond the Robinson book was a report in about 1997, by a close friend, of a public statement by Art Mokarow about the incident, a minister who had been widely appreciated and respected throughout most of the WCG. (He'd been our area coordinator back in the 1970s.) Art had been invited back to Michigan for an informal reunion of people who had been in the WCG "back in the day." At that reunion, my friend (in UCG) was shocked to hear Art openly answer a question about the incest with the statement that it was true, and that he had heard Herbert's voice on the Lochner tape himself.
Another exWCG minister (UCG at the time) I knew affirmed that one of the young people in his congregation had attended a youth camp, and had asked Gary Antion there about the rumors. The lad was devastated by the answer, which was YES, the rumors were true. He came home and talked to this local minister about his disillusionment.
The bottom line of all this...there is ZERO evidence AGAINST the allegations, including NO public denials by either the principals--Herbert or Dorothy--or anyone close to them. Nor any denials by anyone from their close circle of family and friends who could affirm that they had even PRIVATELY denied the rumors.
IF the story was not true, one would certainly expect at least ONE such person to affirm that they had heard a denial. Especially Garner Ted Armstrong. If Ted KNEW that all the allegations that he personally knew of the incest were utterly false, all he had to do was say, pointblank, that it was a pack of lies. He had everything to gain by doing so, as in his later years before his death, he went back to touting himself as the son of Herbert Armstrong, and thus included Herbert's reputation in his own "legacy." Denying the incest allegations would have been to his distinct advantage.
And one other fact that seems pretty indisputable to me...in addition to the church never suing Ambassador Report for the allegations--neither HWA or the church ever sued David Robinson for defamation of character over the Tangled Web's incest assertions. There is NO question that they had no compunctions against suing him...they DID sue to keep the book from being published. But not over the incest allegations. They literally sued over claims that there were "clergy-confidence" breeches in some of the quotes about Stan Rader!
HWA and the WCG were litigious to the nth degree. If the incest allegations were outrageous lies, and Herbert could honestly go into court and deny them, then there would have been nothing stopping them from instituting such a suit. They had everything to win, including saving his "honor," and nothing to lose.
Thanks, Kevin, for a carefully and calmly documented, reasoned, and written piece on this controversial topic. It's the best and most complete I've seen on the matter.
You've included ALL the points I would have included if I had gotten around to writing such a piece, and you've saved me the time of having to do so. :-) I've filed it to offer to anyone in the future who asks me about the topic.
What of the related testimony at the Ramona divorce trial?
Should have been mentioned.
"What of the related testimony at the Ramona divorce trial?"
It was mentioned, including a photo of the news clipping.
"Lakeland Ledger May 12, 1984 newspaper article about HWA’s divorce with Ramona mentions an “understanding” the couple reached about Armstrong’s “prior incestuous conduct with his daughter for many years.”
Do you have a source of documentation from that trial that would provide more clear evidence? I'm aware that Herbert supposedly made mention of the situation in the trial, but I've never been able to track down anything like a "transcript."
My impression of this is that it is hearsay. Hearsay can be quoted by newspapers and passed around from person to person. In this process, it gains momentum but not validity. That seems to be what we have here.
This is the closest thing we have to the idea of Sasquatch or Bigfoot. Concerning Sasquatch, there have been colorful ardent testimonies, some uncertain photos, hair samples, footprints,a series on the Discovery Channel about people hunting the mythic creature using high tech instrumentation and yet nobody has produced any conclusive evidence.
HWA is a highly politicized person and various people have various self-serving reasons for wanting to advocate this accusation. The statement about David Robinson being an honorable man needs further research. I knew David Robinson when he was on the Big Sandy campus as the head of the transportation department. And I find this statement about him to be a naïve oversimplification. And it is enough of a departure from what I now firsthand for me to wonder about the accuracy of the remainder of what Kevin is reporting. There needs to be an increase not in the volume but the quality of the "evidence".
But if someone can produce the alleged Lochner tape and have it authenticated by forensic voice recognition, I would reconsider my viewpoint on this. It is hard to imagine that the "smoking gun" would so completely disappear.
Note: While the testimony of family members seems like it would be unchallengeable, it is frequently colored with bias.
Let me see. On one side we have a significant number of both family members and others close to Herbert Armstrong confirming the allegations, including at least one person, Art Mokarow, who many of us hold in good esteem, who has said in public and private that he heard the tape recording himself.
On the other side, we have ... nothing. Zip. Zero. No public denial, no claims of anyone hearing any private denial by either party, by ANYONE. No suit for defamation.
As for the tapes, the only person knowing where they are to this day is Floyd Lochner. And he's dead. I would suppose he destroyed them before his death.
If hearing the tapes with your own ears, and getting forensic proof that it is Armstrong's voice, is the ONLY evidence you would accept as being ANY probative value at all, then that is certainly your prerogative. :-) The only other "forensic" evidence, of course, would be some DNA on the motel sheets from somewhere that Herbert and his daughter stayed. But even then, since we do have a number of testimonies that Herbert indulged in masturbation regularly enough to keep a diary of it, and spoke to others of that, just having a sample of semen would, of course, prove nothing.
As for Dave Robinson, I spoke back in the late 1990s with a former UCG minister I knew well who was one of Robinson's closest friends back at the time that he was writing the book. This minister saw the rough drafts of the chapters and everything, and discussed the material with Robinson. He was very clear to me that he had zero reason to doubt Robinson's total sincerity in what he had written, and zero reason to conclude he had evil motives and was just indulging in some sort of grudge against HWA.
But of course, that is no "proof" of anything either. And since Robinson is dead also, we can't administer a lie detector test on him. Which wouldn't be acceptable "in court" either.
I am comfortable that the preponderance of evidence substantiates the likelihood of the truth of the allegations. You aren't, NEO. Nice to live in a free country where we both can adhere to our own opinions. :-)
Pam: Like the "lone gunman" in the Kennedy assassination, this assertion about HWA will always remain not only controversial but also without proof. The fact that someone whom you respect told you something does not make it true. There are other such arguments. Like Kevin's argument that someone's testimony who has "no reason to lie" does not transform gossip into incontrovertible evidence. The fact that someone saw some rough drafts and had no reason to believe there was a grudge also does not make the imagined real. In politics, dissimulation knows no bounds.
I must point out that the circumstance under which Lochner made the tape is a little far-fetched. Lochner sticks a microphone in front of HWA to get a denial and instead gets an admission to a heinous and disgusting crime from a man who relies on his public image for his success? That has the sound of a rank fairy tale. Mokarow may have heard something but it was not what he thought.
The Lochner Tape, validated, is the only thing I can think of that would be convincing. If it does not exist there will never be any evidence only inconclusive hearsay. And I opt to believe that inconclusive hearsay is inconclusive hearsay.
Most of this information has been available for years on the Painful Truth. We are the overseers of all things Herbal.
I don't need forensic proof.
I only trust:
a) The Lochner tapes if they ever existed
b) The transcripts of the divorce proceedings (if they would ever surface)
c) bb's testimony if he had asked Vernon. Since the husband would not lightly speak about his wife in such way.
Non of it exists in the public domain. So I find NEO convincing still, although because of the chatter I am leaning to 60-70% true.
I cannot trust statements on the "honorability" of Robinson.
Especially stupid are the arguments about hwa or rader needing to legally deny the accusations. Those arguments totally negate the fact tha hwa was one of the top advertising men of the 20th century and was doing it before the word marketing ever existed. Arguments like that prove how unskilled those persons are in Public Relations and damage control and image management and branding.
Can you imagine a court case denying the incest one year after the State versus wcg. To engage in such litigation would be the ULTIMATE public relations disaster. Such denial would stick forever in the public mind. (we're talking early eighties) Instead they focussed on re-building a 250 million dollar business. Which was the right thing to do from a corporate perspective.
N_E_O, your comment reminds me of an old classic joke:
A man is talking to his best friend about married life.
"You know," he says, "I really trust my wife, and I think she has always been faithful to me. But there's always that doubt."
His friend says, "Yeah, I know what you mean."
A couple of weeks later the man has to go out of town on business. Before he goes, he gets together with his friend.
"While I'm away, could you do me a favor? Could you watch my house and see if there is anything fishy going on? I mean, I trust my wife but there's always that doubt."
The friend agrees to help out, and the man leaves town.
Two weeks later he comes back and meets his friend.
"So did anything happen?"
"I have some bad news for you," says the friend.
"The day after you left I saw a strange car pull up in front of your house. The horn honked and your wife ran out and got into the car and they drove away. Later, after dark, the car came back. I saw your wife and a strange man get out. They went into the house and I saw a light go on, so I ran over and looked in the window. Your wife was kissing the man. Then he took off his shirt. Then she took off her blouse. Then they turned off the light."
"Then what happened?" says the man.
"I don't know. It was too dark to see."
"Damn, you see what I mean? There's always that doubt."
" hwa was one of the top advertising men of the 20th century and was doing it before the word marketing ever existed."
And you "know" this from what evidence?? :-) This is hilarious. How much have you read about the history of advertising and marketing in America?? I have several hefty historical books on the topic, and I can't find Herbert mentioned anywhere in them. Eddie Bernays, yes. Herbert Armstrong, no.
I tried googling History of Marketing just now and got lots of timelines and such...and wasn't able to find Herbert's name listed anywhere there either.
I take it that the Autobiography is one of your "unassailable" sources of evidence for all things Herbert??
I will say this...he certainly seems to have done an excellent job of marketing himself to you. :-)
Regarding the Lochner recording... NO ONE ever alleged that Floyd Lochner "stuck a microphone in Herbert's face" or anything of the kind. The allegation is that Lochner did not believe the rumors, but realized Herbert likely wouldn't address them himself in public. So he decided to attempt to SECRETLY record a conversation in which he would ask about the rumors, so that he could have evidence to share with others...privately...that Herbert would at least privately deny them. And was shocked when he instead affirmed the allegations.
IF the Lochner recording never existed it seems utterly ridiculous, after the rumors of it started, that Lochner himself wouldn't adamantly deny its existence, either privately or publicly. I am unaware of any such denial. And HE certainly wouldn't have anything to gain by refusing to make such a denial! As I remember it, he was Herbert's personal trainer, and the allegations about the recording would have made him look horrible to his employer if they were untrue! Surely he would have wanted to "clear up" the lies...if they were lies.
But if the allegations about the recording were true, it was to everyone's advantage to keep it all hush hush after that. If he would have been fired over the allegations that he made the recording, that would have greatly increased the suspicion that the reports of such a recording were true.
Since Tucson is one of the cities in my territory, and since at one time I was doing work for the court system, I spent an afternoon in the building where the court transcripts are kept. This would have been about ten years ago. The transcripts covering Herb and Ramona's divorce case covers many, many pages, and iirc, it was policy that cost of purchasing parts or all of the transcript was set at the rate of 20 cents per page. I was allowed to access the computer records, and give two hours as my time slot at one if the bureau's computer, to review and choose which pages I might want. The proceedings were very tedious, and even speed reading, I was never able to locate the portions used as a basis for the newspaper article. It seems that many people in the ACOGs realize that a newspaper article is not a primary source, and therefore, based on what they were also taught about reporters by HWA himself, they've pretty much written off the article as being insubstantial, and probably inaccurate.
Ambassador Reports made obtaining the transcript seem relatively simple, and affordable. When I had first walked into the records building in Tucson, my intentions were to purchase the entire transcript (said to be available in AR) and to mail it to an attorney who was then a participant in the blogs and forums, and who had once been part of WCG. It was to be a joint project. He (went by the handle Stan Gardner) was going to analyze it, and the results were going to be shared on some of our regular sites. Unfortunately, with the per page cost, the time required to find the relevant sections, and other issues, it became too large of a project for my own limited resources. Apparently, when John first reported on it in AR, it was recent news and it would have been relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain copies. Computer technologies had changed, micro-fiche and the technology to read it have virtually disappeared, and there are a number of other issues and obstacles that probably only attorneys could get past to get us what we need. And, then, would what we found facillitate believability on the part of the average splinter member? A wall of denial is a very powerful thing.
I don't find it hilarious that people bought the lousy 70% margin product.
It seems you hold hwa to some religious standard. I hold him against marketing agencies and he was very succesfull. Worldwide radio Wattage dwarfing ANY other religious figure besides the Pope in air time.
Wcg was one of the largest media buyers in the world.
250 million dollars in todays money, tax deductible would amount into a bilion dollar marketing machine. I don't know many marketing executives flying in the latest GIII (V nowadays) to 70% of the World Leaders. I would not call that an unsuccesfull marketing executive. He pioneered every medium that was new, tv, radio thus the HAM strung.
I'm pretty sure he would run a better Google campaign than Packattolah, or the other wannabees.
Even Iacocca had to deal with a lot less margin. Of course the product sucked but even you bought it. So yes great marketing.
Minor point of correction in the Bruce Renehan letter quoted. The COG 7 Day minister did not have the last name of Keiss. It was spelled Kiesz. He was a very well known and respected minister in the organization, and his witness is extremely reliable.
Also, remember such terms from the '80s as 286, XT/AT, Commodore 64, card system, key punch? That was a completely different era. Most folks have no idea what we had to go through even in the early '90s just to get people to standardize their own fields in their records so that address lists could be manipulated so that ink jet technology and Postnet Barcodes could be applied!
Court records were maintained in "hard copy" mode (paper technology) and eventually archived to microfiche. Sales people who were taking advantage of the new and cutting edge technology were getting their leads from Dun's Microcosm, a mirofiche program, available at the local public library in most major cities. Many hours were spent at these machines, copying S.I.C. listings.
Considering purely the most recent changes in technology, one begins to get some insights from processing a practical application of 30 years ago as to how difficult it is for archaeologists or historians to accomplish their work. Much of what is believe today is based on what transpired 2-3,500 years ago.
In Chapters 42 and 43 of the autobiography, (linked below currently at Flurry's website), is a very odd story of HWA with his daughter traveling alone with him to Southern California to take up residence, while leaving his wife behind in Oregon. The excuse for such an odd arrangement that is given is bizarre to say the least.
The first meeting between Vern Mattson and his future Father IN Law is also a bizarre one, and is described.
In Chapter 43, is the account of Loma calling and demanding to send son Richard down to Los Angeles as well.
One only needs to read between the lines to understand what was going on here. HWA had his daughter alone and separated from any accountability by him to the rest of the family. Loma, understanding all too well what was going on, sends Richard down to attempt some kind of "chaperone" situation for her daughter and father.
Vern Mattson's response to HWA, was in reaction to either suspicions or knowledge of the situation at that time.
It is obvious, (as is often the case in abuse situations like this) that there are codependents, and enablers, and blind eyes by those in the families as well. This appears to be the case here. They too are victims of the sociopath as well.
HWA turned blind eyes on Ted down the road, and only finally relented when the outside knowledge of Teds activities became too well known. There was a faustian deal between father and son, as long as the relationship produced vanity, money and power for both.
Link to the account of Chapter 42/43
nck...you said he was a marketing whiz before the word marketing was even used. That sounded like you were speaking in particular of his pre-RCG era skills. Pardon me for misunderstanding that you were NOT speaking of that.
"Wcg was one of the largest media buyers in the world.
250 million dollars in todays money, tax deductible would amount into a bilion dollar marketing machine. I don't know many marketing executives flying in the latest GIII (V nowadays) to 70% of the World Leaders. I would not call that an unsuccesfull marketing executive. "
Strange. All this tells me is that the organization had a ton o' money to throw at anything they wanted to. Success...would not be how much money they spent, but how much return they got on that investment.
Herbert Armstrong was not flying that GIII because he was so successful in his world marketing efforts. He was flying it because he squeezed the financial life out of thousands of "little people" with his fear message, in order to finance those trips. Have you honestly READ any of his hate-filled rants to the coworkers/membership throughout the years of the buildup of the RCG/WCG demanding they "tighten their belts" to get "the Work" out of ONE MORE tight bind he'd put it in by overspending?
I figured it out one time...yes, he spent about 1 BILLION dollars over the course of 50 years to gather fewer than 100,000 members (including kids.) How many of those "world leaders" do you think remembered any of the "gospel" he shared with them a week later? How many people in the world, ten years after his death, even remembered his name, let alone anything at all about what he was "broadcasting" or publishing?
And this is successful marketing tactics?
In my next post I'll share some of his "marketing methods." The REAL source of the "success" of the org in a worldly sense.
Sample "marketing" methods via coworker letters.
Every individual who HEEDS this warning, turns to God, is WATCHING and PRAYING ALWAYS, being filled with God’s Spirit, living by every Word of God, with a life consecrated to Him, will be given special divine protection—taken beforehand to a place of SAFETY—preserved thru the final horrifying tribulation, time of plagues and human anguish soon to visit this earth!
But if we to whom God has revealed this terrible future thru His divine prophecies fail to heed it—if we fail to each play his or her full part in WARNING this nation and the world, now, while we may—then God says we shall not escape, but He will require the blood of this entire people at our hands!…
I tell you, ON THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST, IT IS COMING! Many of you NOW, are in financial condition to DO A LOT MORE than you are doing for GOD’S CAUSE..."
I have just had an urgent long-distance telephone call from Pasadena Headquarters. The SPECIAL offerings for the Building Fund are dropping off alarmingly.
Frankly, dear Brethren, I feel discouraged, helpless, frustrated. MANY of you—in fact, MOST—whom we have believed God had added to His Church, are not putting your hearts into the NEED of the Church as did the ancient Israelites, or the early Christians.
The NEED is imperative—desperate. Yet, when a few months ago I sent a serious request for pledges for this Special Fund in two different letters, only about one out of ten or twelve of our membership has responded. We are no longer a tiny Church of two or three hundred members, as we were back in 1933 when the broadcasting and publishing work was started. We still are just the "Little Flock" compared to the world's larger churches and denominations—yet God has added to His Church until it numbers some 12,000 or more today. And yet, only 1,077 members have responded to send in these direly needed pledges...
In the former letters, I gave you the Scriptural examples of how God had His ministers and leaders call on His people for such funds for needed BUILDING for Church use, in Bible days, and how joyfully and spontaneously and generously the people then responded.
Now, in these latter days, CHRIST the Head of this Church HAS NEED of another big, generous outpouring of special offerings for HIS Building Fund. SURELY IT CANNOT BE, BRETHREN, THAT NINE OUT OF TEN OF US ARE STRAYING AWAY FROM OUR LORD! If we do only our own part—what is expected of us—God's Word brands us as UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS. And the unprofitable servants are to be ***cast into the lake of FIRE!***
MANY OF YOU WHO ARE ABLE AND OUGHT TO PLEDGE HAVE FAILED OR REFUSED!
Brethren, do you realize this is the work of ALMIGHTY GOD? Do you realize HE is holding you accountable, according to your ability? It is not yet too late—but if you become a spiritual slacker, there is a Lake of Fire looming ahead, and I say to you in all sincerity and love, and by authority of Jesus Christ, you had better begin to fear and TREMBLE! This is EXPECTED of you, and if we donut do MORE than expected, we are UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS, and Jesus Christ says that the unprofitable servants are to be thrown into the Lake of Fire! I did not decree that—CHRIST DID!
MANY who DO have the ability [to give]… are GUILTY BEFORE GOD of shirking—of letting the SATANIC attitude of GET fill their minds… The only reward later, will be DEATH in the LAKE OF FIRE!
Now about the annual Holy Day offerings… Brethren I wonder if that [what you have done] is not doing almost exactly what Ananias and Sapphira did!… They professed that they put in the amount they sold their property for. Peter said they LIED to THE HOLY SPIRIT. They DROPPED DEAD! If YOU profess that what you put in the Holy offering is a SPECIAL HOLY DAY OFFERING, when it is only a regular offering, is not that about the same thing? Brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ I say I WOULD BE AFRAID to do such a thing!
But I have to tell you I am terribly DISTRESSED and sick at heart, to realize SO MANY of Christ's Co-Workers are FORGETTING HIM, or neglecting Him, at this critical time! If YOU are one who is doing that, in love I have to WARN you, you may not be on the way into God's Kingdom, but into a lake of fire!
THINK of how ASHAMED the living Jesus Christ must be with some of His Co-Workers! He has been BLESSING His Work! Through it He has converted more precious lives this year than ever before -- literally THOUSANDS, now headed toward eternal life in His Kingdom! Twice as many are being reached now, as the year before! TREMENDOUS new doors are being opened for His Work!
He has made US -- you and me -- the LIGHT of the world! If we let our light die out WHAT A DARK WORLD IT WOULD BE! Right now the Work needs the LARGEST SUMS YOU ARE ABLE TO GIVE!
… This Work… is geared to a pattern that demands constant INCREASE. IT CANNOT HOLD EVEN. It either goes on forward, or it goes backward! We MUST… GET THIS GREAT WORK BACK ON THE PATTERN OF A 30% annual INCREASE in power and scope… Brethren, we have to face a VERY SOBERING AND SERIOUS SITUATION. Unless drastic CHANGES take place, we are going to have to reduce many vital phases of the Work, and eliminate others. That means seeing the Work… start going BACKWARD for the first time in 40 years! … Brethren… WE DARE NOT LET THAT HAPPEN! … Brethren, I KNOW the CAUSE of our present situation. WE AS A CHURCH HAVE BEEN LETTING DOWN… That means that NOT ONLY God’s WORK is in danger—MANY of YOU BRETHREN are in MORTAL DANGER! I say to you candidly, I know that some, if not MANY of you are in REAL DANGER of the LAKE OF FIRE! … Let’s not dodge the real issue—let’s not deny the REAL CAUSE—Let’s not PASS THE BUCK! Our own personal, individual SALVATION is at stake… Jesus Christ, has shown me THE REAL CAUSE—not merely of the present situation, BUT OF THE DIMINISHING INCREASE IN INCOME—and—consequently IN THE ENTIRE SCOPE AND POWER OF THE WORK these past three and four years!… I know that the ETERNAL LIVES of many—perhaps more than HALF… are at STAKE…
If anyone can read all that evil nonsense above... AND the even more evil nonsense below...and be impressed by the fact that Herbert jetted around in a GIII, thinking that it was somehow evidence of his slick, successful marketing to the public...then I guess I have nothing more to add that would change their mind. The man was not a marketer...he was a megalomaniacal dictator. Pure and simple. Who bled a VERY small group of gullible people dry, to support his pretentions, so that he could impress all those world dictators he visited.
March 2, 1967
... Reports indicate that many have "come in" to God's Church in this manner: They have come to really SEE and KNOW that this is, truly, GOD'S Church. They know there is terrible WORLD TROUBLE just ahead. They have heard how God's Church is to be taken to a PLACE OF SAFETY. (And HOW God is working that out is a PART of the sensational ANNOUNCEMENT I hope very soon to announce!) So these people come in, selfishly, for a sort of spiritual and physical SECURITY -- to assure PROTECTION when the Great Tribulation bursts upon the world! But they are NOT themselves "on fire for GOD!" They are spiritual DRONES! And God will not give them protection!
Many professing to be Church MEMBERS say, when a Co-Worker letter arrives, in a grumbling, complaining disgust: "Oh, that's another of Mr. Armstrong's REQUESTS for MONEY," and many don't even read the letter!
Are YOU one of those? If so, LET ME BURN YOUR EARS before the Almighty GOD burns YOU in the Lake of FIRE! If that has been YOUR attitude -- if YOU are only on the GETTING side, and SHUN helping, and giving to the cause of GOD, then I say to you ON AUTHORITY OF JESUS CHRIST, if you don't REPENT and QUICKLY, and change that hostile, despicable, detestable attitude, you DO NOT BELONG in GOD'S CHURCH! You are some of the ROTTEN, PUTRID, spiritual WASTE that has been PLUGGED UP INSIDE OF THE SPIRITUAL BODY OF CHRIST'S WIFE, just as physical waste is plugged up in my dear wife's body! And the living Jesus is just as able to EXPEL YOU from the spiritual Body of HIS WIFE as He is to expel this physical waste from my wife's body!
And if THAT doesn't make your ears tingle, and AWAKEN you, then Jesus Christ says to YOU through me, YOU are in danger of the Lake of FIRE!
… You KNOW that we are on a SEVEN YEAR (or longer) building program, that began less than four years ago, and has three or more years yet to go. And yet, YOU BRETHREN, who call yourselves God’s PEOPLE have dwindled down to about HALF the amount of SPECIAL OFFERINGS for the BUILDING FUND you were sending in a year ago—though there are 30 percent more of us!
THINK OF IT! How ASHAMED God must be with His Church!…
LISTEN, Brethren—and listen HARD! Learn a LESSON that may save you from the Lake of Fire. Learn a basic TRUTH about how you are to develop character and GROW spiritually to INHERIT GOD’S KINGDOM! Learn a GREAT TRUTH! Learn what may mean your ETERNITY!
Read this two or three times! UNDERSTAND IT!
Some of you do not GO FORWARD spiritually with Christ, UNLESS I or YOUR LOCAL PASTOR, or SOMEONE PUSHES YOU! But our PUSHING will never get you into God’s Kingdom. Our PUSHING will never get you to the PLACE OF SAFETY for the Great Tribulation about five years from now…
In HWA's case, I don't see how a person can isolate the religious leader criteria from the advertising or marketing executive criteria. One was used to enhance the other, with the role of religious leader being the primary role for which HWA was known, and marketing his technique. Some of the church members saw this as a kind of Og Mandino thing. In retrospect, it has become a Bernie Madoff thing. Whoring out the standards of the advertising industry to create and promote a scam does not make one a successful marketer, it defines one as a criminal.
By the way, that last coworker letter was written while his wife Loma was suffering horribly from the bowel blockage that was soon to take her life. Since Armstrong taught against almost any medical intervention, including drugs, painkillers, and surgery, Loma suffered and died without so much as an aspirin to relieve her excruciating pain toward the end. (Yes, I talked to someone who was there at the time, and they affirmed she didn't even have the tiny respite of an aspirin during the whole hellish ordeal.)
And here he was, using her suffering as part of a piece of "marketing literature" in order to fuel his megalomania.
Don't be talkin' to me about his "marketing genius." To use a familiar phrase... I don't buy it.
HWA did enough bad things that are verifiable without anyone having to resort to the unverifiable. The Floyd Lochner story is bizarre. He recorded HWA in secret in order to provide a defense against accusation. An altruistic act on Lochner's part. HWA gives a self-condemning account and Lochner has it on tape. He then apparently makes the tape available to others. A destructive act on Lochner's part. And, of course, now the tape cannot be found. We only have hearsay.
The Lochner tape is the only "smoking gun" I have ever seen in the large volume of writing about this. It purportedly has HWA's actual voice on it. Everything else cited as evidence can be discredited in some reasonable way. I am sure a good lawyer would determine that the Lochner tape, even if submitted in evidence, would have to be subjected to forensic analysis because of its tainted and implausible provenance as described above.
Comparisons of this issue to Big foot, and statements like "various people have various self-serving reasons for wanting to advocate this accusation", insult the character of many individuals that have demonstrated greater integrity in their lives than HWA did.
As far as David Robinson, my comments were meant to be clear that I did not know him nor could I vouch for his character. Some people attacked him, others have defended him. That is the truth and does not prove anything one way or the other. If people want misinterpret such comments to cast doubt on the rest of what was reported, they may do so, but such decisions are tough to support.
Yes, there are many individuals that want to attack HWA, but were Art Mokarow and David Antion among them? They do not exhibit bitterness about the past. They have not rejected all of HWA's teachings. They are claiming to be the only one God is now working through. They are not trying to make a living off the gospel. They are not even making any statements on this issue unless questioned. They merely have answered honest questions with honest answers. Does this make them gossipers or liars because someone disagrees with what they have said? Based upon what evidence?
Not knowing David Robinson, I will say this in support of him in this one specific area. If he told the truth (and they are now many men with good character who say that he did tell the truth in this area), then he demonstrated quite a bit of courage as few of us could imagine going up against WCG back in 1979-1980. He had everything to lose.
And to be very clear, NEO, I and many others were still not willing to believe these allegations just because David Robinson had made them. For many, the family confirmations (and statements by individuals hearing the Lochner tape themselves) carried the most weight.
Kevin wrote ...
"He had everything to lose. "
It's my understanding that, basically he DID lose "everything." Obviously he was rejected by all former friends and coworkers in the WCG who didn't want to believe his story. (OR...who believed him, but didn't want to publicly admit it because they weren't ready to be rejected themselves...and couldn't risk being "associated" in any way with his reputation.) And viciously hated by a WHOLE lot of strangers who considered him a villainous liar who had blasphemed the Only True Spokesman for God on Earth.
He certainly made no fortune off sales of his book. He didn't use the information as some sort of blackmail, to get a big payoff from HWA. All he had to show for his efforts was that his plaintive story of how corrupt he was convinced the whole situation had been, was shared to anyone willing to read it.
And I'm pretty sure he knew all this going into the project. It could have yielded no other result in the world of the WCG.
His son ended up a minister in the UCG, so I would assume either they had a strained relationship from then on after the book came out, or the son just had to keep his mouth shut about what his dad had written, in order to maintain his OWN position in The Church.
If someone is so enamored of the illusion of HWA that they prefer to blithely assume that Robinson was just a crank, and made it all up on a lark, in spite of all the corroborating info from other sources, I'm sure NOTHING would change their mind.
This should not center on someone of unimpeachable character saying something that, therefore, cannot be doubted. An accusation as serious as this one must be supported by clear evidence. Otherwise, this will forever remain in the realm of conjecture.
I have had people I respected tell me things that they were seriously mistaken about. They were of good character. They had the respect of others. Yet there was something that they did not take into consideration. I do not regard my own efforts at verification to be an insult. Just recognizing that humans are error prone especially about politically charged topics.
This is an important topic, but reality is you can escape the Armstrong scam without it. It is most definitely incendiary.
Shortly following the failure of 1975, I went back and disproved most of the doctrines, and lived for over two decades knowing about GTA's transgressions, but not about HWA's. I first learned about David Robinson's book around 2001. At that time, it was out of print, and wasn't even yet available on the internet. A forum friend photo-copied the uncensored version and mailed it to me after he had asked special permission of David's widow. My instructions were not to share it with anyone else, and to destroy it when I'd finished it. I complied.
The forum friend had worked for David, and there was quite a bit of respect still obvious years after the fact for David's integrity and mentorship. On the other hand, someone in my family had worked in a department overseen by David, and persists on remaining in one of the splinters even today, meaning that the book obviously did not have any impact on him. That person is even mentioned by name in David's book in a favorable light.
One really needs to take this as part of the whole picture, along with false prophecy, corruption, evil authority structure, heretical doctrines, and the appropriation of noncredible extrabiblical theories. Most ACOG splinter members will not even acknowledge one single item on that list, let alone all of them. They are hoping and betting that this will somehow qualify them for the Kingdom, their version, in which Armstrongism is installed as the government of God for all eternity. Seems incredible, ludicrous, and impossible, but that is the belief.
I am not saying the product needs to be healthy in order to be able to market it.
(remember I once spoke of that famous brown sugary drink that got you santa clause in the '30's or those dried plant weed that got millions lung cancer by feeling like a cowboy or liberated woman)
The "only 100.000" members is ludicrous also. The fact that the corporation was not solliciting "new members" is called a USP, seemingly attracting those that contributed a billion dollars per year in todays money with a 70% margin. That is a blatant succes by all standards. Even the Roman Catholic corporation has to pay for buildings and makes no margin coming near to that.
I know the power of pr, marketing, influence, self delusion. I am not attacking Robinson's or any corroborating ministers charachter. I know the power of self delusion or people thinking they have first hand knowledge while in reality they have none, especially those that are not educated sufficiently but moreso those with inflated ego's. I whisper in my managers ear everyday and they are really and truly convinced they have connected the dots and came up with the idea themselves.
But I have to agree with BB. There is no need for the incest story to know today in 2016 that armstrongism is a fraud. Very difficult to see that in 1968. And increasingly difficult to see that after 1975 at the height of the Cold War and the atomic clock being moved to 5 minutes to twelve.
Still to make the claim I need better proof to move from 60% to a 100%. I guess we must leave it at that until someone produces the settlement in the Ramona case.
That commodore story brings tears to my eyes.
I am not blaming you at all. I have been repeating that IF you would have found something and posted it here I would believe YOU. That is a compliment.
It was damned near impossible in 1968 to see that Armstrongism was a scam. They did such a good job of denying and spinning 1975 that even that went over a lot of people's heads. They reprogrammed those who were receptive, geared up with a whole new marketing plan, and actually reached new heights with their measurable statistics.
It takes a conjunction of smaller events to sink a large ship or derail a locomotive. There was a progression of activities, starting in 1967 that began to bring the empire down. You had the death of Loma, the failure of 1975, the GTA scandal and his removal, the mass exodus of ministers and members in 1975, receivership, HWA's remarriage and divorce, and finally, the death of HWA. Then there was the massive and open revolt to the Tkach changes, and the ensuing ego-fest. The pride of their power was completely broken, and we witnessed the splintering, the contraction, and the sell-off of the assets, as the splinters were spewed from a strong mouth from somewhere.
Today, the information superhighway makes it possible to research doctrinal matters so thoroughly, and to know about the movement and its history that prospective members can quickly vet and reject the splinters. Plus, there are now multiple global existential threats, and people have become acclimated to living with them. If you try to market fear of the Germans, most people have heard theories about the New World Order, the Trilateral Commission, and other supposed secret layers of government, and usually only fringe people will even react.
There isn't a lot of reason to believe that the Armstrong movement could ever return to vibrancy and reach new heights, because most of the ideas were time and date stamped and have expired. It's kind of like the Technocracy movement from the early part of the 20th Century in that respect.
Yep, NCK. I remember being at various customer locations when the PC revolution first hit. Commodore 64 was almost a byword of the industry. It and the Tandy computers ended up being a lot of people's first PC. One of the first attempts at a network was Prodigy.
I knew David Robinson. I sat next to him in faculty dining at BS. I spoke with him in his office, I heard his sermons, I know people who had to interact with him in different contexts and I know what he was like and some of what he believed. Again, your view of him is a naïve oversimplification.
But if David Robinson were as right as rain, it does not mean he has any evidence that incriminates HWA. His testimony, without evidence, is hearsay.
The reality is that you have your own definition of what "incriminates" someone in an informal, non-court setting. You evidently want some sort of DNA or video/audio recording evidence to establish persuasive proof of anything that occurred outside of your own view, before you will give serious consideration to the possibility of truth to the allegations. (Well, at least when the accused person is someone you evidently admire...)
I would assume that you understand that those two pieces of "evidence" are seldom available for even any court case. If you are so dedicated to the memory of HWA that you refuse to accept testimonies from multiple directions, from people in a position to know the truth, that establish the likelihood of the situation, and you see no import to the fact that there is absolutely NO ONE who has ever stepped forward and declared (1) that HWA or Dorothy denied the allegations to them, personally or (2) declared that they had been falsely quoted as having personal knowledge of the matter and affirmed the truth of the allegations, that they never said anything of the kind ... then so be it.
I think you also likely realize that there are huge numbers of people in prisons around the country serving terms for crimes for which there was no DNA or audiovisual recording available, and far less "incriminating testimony" from credible witnesses who heard directly from perpetrator or victim about what had happened than there is out there for Herbert Armstrong's alleged incest.
But I certainly have no illusion that ANYTHING would change your mind about this matter, so I'll leave it at that. No use beating a dead horse...or dead false apostle...any more. :-)
The question remains, NEO, why didn't HWA/WCG sue? If they knew beyond the shadow of doubt that it was all a lie, and that there could not be any evidence, why wouldn't they seek justice for slander or libel? True, D.R. didn't have deep pockets, but they could have put the kabosh on "Tangled" and pretty much throttled him economically for the rest of his life. Seeking redress in court would also have killed the allegations if they were false.
It almost seems as if HWA, Rader, and Helge feared that either David himself had direct evidence, or that he might subpoena high profile individuals such as Dr. Lochner, GTA, Dorothy, or even Ramona at that point in time, and if even one of them either gave weak or damaging testimony, it would have crashed the empire right then and there.
John Robinson at one point held the options on his father's book, and opted not to take it to reprint, although there was a resurgence of interest in full bloom by Y2K. John was a minister in UCG. I liked John during the time period that I knew him, and my brother was friends with Mark Robinson. It has been reported that David was relegated to working as a custodian in later life, and never ceased being observant of the classic WCG doctrines.
Without some sort of silver bullet, this issue becomes very confusing, and unprovable either way. I tend to believe that HWA did it, but we might actually find out differently in the Kingdom.
If you had read anything that I have written about HWA just on the last few topics of this blog, you would understand that I am no fan of HWA, although it might be convenient for you to think that is what motivates me.
I do not believe that failing to sue must always be the equivalent to self-incrimination. People settle out of court all the time to avoid being tried by the media circus. Or, perhaps, if there is no deep pocket involved, they just ignore the accusations because if they win they won't get enough of a settlement to even cover legal expenses. It could also be that the person's constituency does not care about the issue.
And be apprised, contrary to what you have stated, there is something that will change my mind about this and I already stated this. Let's have a copy of Lochner's tape that has been validated by a forensics voice recognition expert. If Lochner is going to be cited and the contents of the alleged tape used to support the accusation of HWA, let's hear a copy of it. Otherwise, the whole Lochner event is an idle tale.
Without incontrovertible evidence, the jury is out and will always be out.
The jury may still be out for some folks, but it has been in for this former Armstrongite for a long time. Over the years, a number of people have asked me what I thought about these allegations. My response was always that there was enough evidence to discredit the Armstrongs (Herbert and Ted) by focusing on doctrines/teachings without resorting to character assassination. However, Kevin's excellent summary of the evidence available on the Web that supports the incest allegation has provoked some soul searching.
For the folks that are still involved in Armstrongism (and for those who may be considering becoming a part of it), this accusation goes to the heart of the matter: credibility. If Herbert was guilty of incest, be clearly wasn't qualified to be a minister of Jesus Christ - let alone an apostle!
I thought the letter from GTA in response to a query on the subject was very interesting. Someone who is very close to me (someone I love and trust) heard from GTA's own mouth that his father was guilty of this wickedness. In fact, GTA claimed that it was his confrontation of his father over what had happened to his sister that was the real reason he was disfellowshipped and disinherited (a self-serving interpretation). It does, however, explain some of Ted's own sexual pathology. He must have viewed his own transgressions as being vastly inferior to those of his father.
How ironic that an incestuous pedophile and a serial adulterer could pass judgment on the sexual behavior of others! When I recall some of their many statements about homosexuality, it makes me sick. Hypocrisy? That doesn't begin to cover this one. They clearly served their own lusts, not Almighty God.
The behavior of both men fails the Biblical standard for participation in the ministry. Please folks, let's not even bother with the apostle, evangelist, witness, teacher thing!
I hate my phone sometimes - this comment was a duplicate (have I mentioned that I also hate the autocorrect feature)!
Oh boy! In our WCG household, every morning for years, we had to watch one of our siblings get whipped because of enuresis. I can't imagine what might have happened if one of us had been born sexually left-handed.
As others have written, actually the incest allegations are not really "needed" at all to convince anyone willing to be honest with reality that Herbert Armstrong was not at all what he claimed to be. There are enough documented (even to the satisfaction of someone like NEO...) materials (much of it in Herbert's own words) giving evidence of greed, hypocrisy, lying, great arrogance, cruelty, vile temper, and lots of other vices that totally disqualified the man from any consideration that he was some "End Time Apostle" equal to the Apostles described in the Bible. Who according to the text lived humble lives, got little respect from the world, and suffered quite a bit...or a lot.
I have had an extensive overview of a large amount of such documentary material on my Field Guide website since 2001, a resource that has been tapped into by many thousands including secular researchers doing studies and writing about aspects of the WCG and its offshoots. I have never bothered to address on my website, even in passing, the sexual allegations. If someone would "need" to hear about and believe those allegations before they could face all the other horrendous emotional, spiritual, and physical abuse heaped on his followers by Armstrong and his system, something is desperately wrong with their powers of empathy.
His record of bombastic, dogmatic false prophecies ought to be enough to disqualify him too. And no matter WHAT you may think about the validity of his scriptural interpretations of "doctrine," IF you happen to look to the Bible for guidance on how to recognize a servant of Jesus, you'll not find Herbert's life and character and practices (much less any secret vices he may have had) to line up with any of the admonitions about that topic in the New Testament.
I happen to find the pile of testimony from credible sources about the incest allegations to be totally persuasive. I've not seen ONE SINGLE PIECE OF "EVIDENCE" or testimony from ANYONE in the 35 or so years since the Tangled Web was published that would give the slightest support to the position that the allegations were all lies.
So if anyone has asked me about the topic over the years, I've long just shared with them personally the pieces of the puzzle that I have found persuasive. What they choose to do with those pieces is their own business. For years now I've seldom even read let alone participated on forums such as this one, where the topic might be brought up, as I've moved on to much more positive life choices that keep me too busy to contribute any more energy to the haggling over the pathetic career and repulsive legacy of Herbert Armstrong.
But I did stumble on the fact that Gavin had gotten the Watch back up and running, and since I like him, and enjoy his writing style, I thought I'd at least drop by and participate a little. I'm a bit surprised (not too much, just a bit) that this topic can still be so "fresh" to some people 35 years after I first read the Tangled Web. It's pretty much ancient history at this point!
Why can't we admit that our patriarch was a white washed tomb? And he needed to really confess and repent of his sins to God. I hope he did. I also hope Dorothy found healing through Jesus Christ and was able to forgive her father and the head of the WCG.
I believe unrepented and undelivered sin becomes generational.
Pam, we know that some of the folks within the successors of the WCG read these blogs. We also know that anyone who is even mildly curious about the background of these groups and their teachings is only a Google search away from access to this stuff. For those of us who have moved on, isn't a desire to help those who haven't (or those who might become entangled in it) the primary impetus for our participation?
Just think, wouldn't this all be worth it if we could save even one person some of the grief and disappointments that we've experienced? Isn't that why you do what you do?
"Someone like NEO". What is that supposed to mean? From my perspective, in this case, it is someone who does not want to believe a bunch of hogwash and gossip as if it were true. Somehow that just seems right by ethical consensus. But I know the addiction that Armstrongites and ex-Armstrongites have to the all-powerful "grapevine."
If something is not contested does that mean it is true? That is pretty shallow thinking.
If you collect together a bunch of hearsay, does that make something true? Jews used to be persecuted in Eastern Europe because they were "known" to sacrifice Gentile children. Many reputable people promulgated this slander and ardently believed it to be true.
GTA's testimony is not to be trusted under any circumstance. We, of all people, are aware of the acrimony and jealousy that existed between GTA and HWA. And we know if GTA's glibness and other weaknesses.
This controversy may have a history and even a lengthy one. That does not substantiate it. It just means that some people have talked about it a long time.
We have all demonstrated our inordinate credulity by becoming Armstrongites in the first place. Let's not compound the matter by believing and perpetuating something that has a questionable foundation.
It's a bit ironic how you reject strong testimony of contemporaries
Yet accept the weak non-contemporary 'witnesses' of the Canonical Gospels!
Yes, Miller. That's why I do what I do. :-) As I said, I've invested over 15 years now in providing a source of sensible, solid documentation and commentary on the web about "everything Worldwide." I've received lots of feedback that many have been helped by not only the WCG material, but the other material on my site that addresses other abusive groups and gurus such as the JWs and the televangelists like Benny Hinn.
I'm glad there are still people actively carrying the torch to light the way for others to leave the bondage of the Armstrong legacy , because I just can't invest as much time as I used to in day to day active participation on forums. I'm glad there are still people "coming out" of the fog, although I still have to admit it is bewildering to me how LONG it has taken so many, with so much information available these days on the Web!
I was 18 years old when I got sucked into the WCG world in 1965. I am 69 now. I have no idea how much time I have left in life... could be thirty years, but that's highly unlikely. Could be twenty years, but by then I'll probably be pretty feeble...for instance, I found out four years ago I have a congenital eye condition, incurable, that has been slowly destroying my optic nerves since birth. In 2010 the doc told me I only had 10% left. (It's amazing how well you can see even with that much!) So the reality for me is that I want to use whatever time I have left to be active and fully-functioning in the most productive way that will use my own unique set of gifts and talents to be of benefit to others. I estimate that is about ten years. I honestly do care about people still stuck in the COG cults, but I also care about a WHOLE lot of other areas of service. So I'm having to prioritize these days. Bravo for those who are following their own set of priorities which may have exWCG expose' higher up that list, such as this blog, Banned by HWA, and others.
I guess the primary difference between my approach and yours, is that you seem convinced everyone should just shut up about the topic unless they have the sort of "proof" that is demanded by your own value system. That would appear to be because you assume the average person is unable to sift through documentation, testimonies, and the reasoning of others, and thereby come to their OWN conclusion on just how "valid" it all is.
But see, the cat is out of the bag already. The subject has been rampant inside and outside the COG world since the 1980s, with more and more info coming along as the decades pass. So you can't just squash that cat back in the bag and hope it will shut up.
I have NEVER approved of people just blithely making blunt "claims" about the allegations with no substantiating reasoning at all other than just ranting. That is neither effective nor profitable for anyone. But if someone already knows about the allegations ... which is pretty much everyone in the COG world these days other than the TOTALLY isolated and naive...then what they NEED is to have someone... such as Kevin...give them the straight talk about exactly WHAT is known about possible testimony or evidence regarding the topic. Not just be told by someone, "Don't worry your little head about those baseless rumors...there's no proof to support them at all." Which SEEMS to be what you think should be done.
It is not clear at all to me why you seem to think that it is better to leave people in the dark about just WHY so many seem convinced about the rumors. You are perfectly free, obviously, to set forth your own reasoning to "counterbalance" the information others provide. What is the problem with just getting it ALL out on the table, and letting grown people come to their own conclusions on what they find persuasive or not? Surely you don't think that it is best for you to tell them what to think...?
I have no desire to try to "make" anybody...including you...agree with my evaluation of the situation. I just happen to think that the more information that is available, the more effectively people will be able to come to their own conclusions on the matter. That seems to me to be the mature--and healthy--approach to a very controversial topic.
What a discussion here.
I will state here that I am persuaded on what others have stated in print and elsewhere on the Internet, that HWA did commit incest as is alleged.
As Connie noted earlier HWA mentioned in his Autobiography of taking Dorothy with him to Hollywood for three and a half months (mid-April-July 31, 1942) for, HWA said, the mere possibility that her fiance just might disembark there for a few days. The Ambassador Report mentioned that detail. It is really so hard to imagine that there other unstated reasons why HWA had her with him for three and a half months far away from the rest of family?
I start every of my postings with the sentence that I feel the story might be 60-70% true.
"It is really so hard to imagine that there other unstated reasons"
-Uhm, what is a girl to do in Hollywood? Isn't that every 17-18 year old girls dream in 1942? There were pictures of movie stars in every household in that time. And to be away from those pesky brothers.
-To cook for her working father maybe?
-So no it is not difficult, I can dream up a hundred imagined reasons.
Furthermore even if 100.000 people would say americans are actually Viking Israelites it still would not make it a fact.
Because of all the stupid girls in Massachusets innocent people got burned as witches as a legal fact. And all were 100% certain they had "witnessed" and "heard" and "proven" the others sorcery
Reading most of the postings here I am changing my opinion on Jury Verdict immediately as of now. :-)
"And all were 100% certain they had "witnessed" and "heard" and "proven" the others sorcery"
No, they weren't. :-) It became very obvious later that a number of them had concocted their stories out of whole cloth.
And no one in the HWA situation, such as Art Mokarow, has ever been involved in something like THIS, which was common among those who were supposedly afflicted by the "witches" and thus testified against them:
"Betty Parris, age 9, and her cousin Abigail Williams, age 11, the daughter and niece, respectively, of Reverend Samuel Parris, began to have fits described as "beyond the power of Epileptic Fits or natural disease to effect" by John Hale, the minister of the nearby town of Beverly. The girls screamed, threw things about the room, uttered strange sounds, crawled under furniture, and contorted themselves into peculiar positions, according to the eyewitness account of Rev. Deodat Lawson, a former minister in Salem Village."
And by the way, NO ONE in Salem was "burned." 19 were hanged, one was "pressed to death."
And there were multiple pieces of evidence, while the trials were going on, and CERTAINLY in times after that, that it was not true. The public HWA allegations began over 35 years ago with the Robinson book, giving plenty of time for revelation of people who could offer contrary testimony.
And the testimony in Massachusetts was indeed given by multiple "stupid girls," not by multiple responsible adult men and women, some with long careers respected by the community, with no record of being wild-eyed accusers.
And the Mass. testimony was about vague, nebulous nonsense, not about the kind of testimony offered about the activities of Herbert Armstrong.
Sorry, but trying to find a "parallel" between the two situations is pretty much silly. And mostly seems to be just grasping at straws.
And I'll say it one more time... I personally would be willing to discount SOME of the testimony IF there was even ONE... count 'em... ONE piece of credible, contrary evidence or testimony. For instance, ONE family member who would come forward and say--not even publicly, just privately so that it could be shared by someone it was spoken to, that the incest was NOT common knowledge in his family. (Do folks assume that the man was SO hated by his WHOLE family that NO ONE would make any attempt to uphold his honor??) Or one leading minister from that era who could vouch that it was NOT common knowledge among many of the top ministry? Or ONE person who could vouch that Herbert OR Dorothy privately confided that it was not true?
Is this all just some vast conspiracy of many unrelated people, with nothing in particular to gain from affirming the allegations, who just hated the man so much they'd join in league with others to make him look bad? Have men like Gary Antion confirmed the allegations to church members, men who...let's be honest here... look bad THEMSELVES for continuing to support the man even knowing this disgusting information...in spite of it being against their own interests to admit his evil?
I mentioned earlier a ministerial friend of David Robinson who said that indeed, he was totally convinced that Robinson was being totally honest about the incest, AND he was aware that numerous other ministers knew about the situation--not just from the book, but from other sources. That man remained in the WCG until Herbert's death, 5+ years after the revelations of the incest. I pressed him hard about this personally... HOW on earth could he continue to pretend respect for the man, and encourage "lay members" to look to him as a Great Man of God and God's Apostle, in spite of what he knew? He hung his head sheepishly and said he had no way to account for such lack of integrity. It embarrassed him horribly to look back on his choice at that point.
My standard is a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. None of us was there with a flashlight, but the weight of the evidence points to guilt. For me, this is a reasonable way to evaluate the behavior of these individuals in an area (religiously defined morality) in which they were so willing to give advice and judge others.
At least everytime you engage you add interesting stuff, history etc. (and indeed as Miller says an opportunity for those who don't know any of it to learn more)
"Burned"/ hanged well, they were supposed to burn in hell wouldn't they?
I represent "The State vs interesting Pam" and none of your arguments hold legal claim to the legal mind. (although again for the record I am saying it might be 60-70% true)
"assumption your honor"
"you reverse the burden of evidence"
"I read that a lot of people acknowledge the accusation, I acknowledge the accusation myself. But one needs Vernon Mattson to step forward really. Or expose the settlement in the Ramona case. That's it.
From a legal perspective "you" are grasping at an entire prairie.
(That doesn't mean I don't like you very much. Just that I wouldn't want you in my jury. ;-)
Please, you acknowledge the stupidity of the Salem witch girls.
The legal mind should be in the seat of the judges who made the verdict in Salem, examining the evidence.
I am both protecting against girls run wild and protective of a legal system that is obliged to get its facts straight. And I have seen no legal facts. (and am to lazy to obtain the Ramona case) That is where people who are truly engaged in releasing armstrongists from their bonds should be looking. I do not agree one bit with BB that releasing those transcripts would have no effect in the "splinters." I believe it would be the final nail in the coffin.
People who are Armstrong acolytes occasionally will indulge in some sort of spontaneous, open-minded re-examination of everything they believe they know, if the provocation is sufficient. At the very least, the issue of the incest should be thought provoking vis a vis the so-called 18 restored truths, and when they were supposedly revealed to HWA. During the time period when the incest was allegedly occurring, HWA was attracted to the British Israel theory, which led to a prophecy mold involving the US and British Commonwealth that has continued to fail for over 80 years. I do not believe that it is a stretch to say that in some way, the failed prophecies are somewhat of a subliminal corroboration of the incest. He also stated that God unlocks His secrets for people who keep the sabbath, holy days, tithe, and eat only clean meats. So, it follows that something had to have happened that would have skewed this unlocking process. One possibility is that these things he said were required had already been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. However, were that not the case, another possibility would be that HWA had in some way brought a curse on his ministry, in such a manner that God could not have made it appear as if HWA were working for Him in any way. Something did in fact go horribly wrong, or today, we'd all be re-educating our German torturers instead of blogging with one another, because we'd be forty some years into the millennium.
Didn't Floyd Lochner remain on the payroll of the WCG without any responsibilities? Was this a way of keeping him quiet?
Didn't Larry Gott, son of Beverly, who, I believe, is an atheist today, confirm the rumors?
" I do not agree one bit with BB that releasing those transcripts would have no effect in the "splinters." I believe it would be the final nail in the coffin."
I would suggest you are very naive. :-) In 1995 excerpts from a video tape of Garner Ted Armstrong cavorting stark naked, and making utterly lewd comments, in the office of a legitimate massage therapist whom he was trying to grope... and literally told it would be OK if they had a sexual encounter and God would forgive them both because he was "so important to the Work"... was played on NATIONAL TV. (On the Geraldo Rivera show) Copies of the FULL encounter on tape made the rounds among people of the Church of God, International that GTA had founded.
It took the organization OVER A YEAR to directly address this situation, and a large proportion of the people in the organization totally overlooked the whole thing. Because he said he was "sorry," dontcha know. And we have to forgive. Even though this situation was added to a record of scores of other sexual conquests by the man over the years, for which, of course, he was sorry, dontcha know. And was punctuated by the revelation he had, at the same time, been having an extended affair with a married woman in the local CGI. But God Had Called Him. And he was SO gifted at preaching the gospel, that God would wink at anything he did, as long as he said, "Oh. I'm so sorry."
Eventually quite a few people did leave, and the org did push him out. But he just packed his bags and started a new group, the Intercontinental COG, and lots o' folks in the CGI went along to help him. IN SPITE OF all that info... info documented by 100% proof that he was a reprobate dirty old man. And both the CGI and ICG still exist to this day.
The ability of True Believers to "forgive" unendingly when it is someone they admire is limitless. I am aware that many of the leaders of AT LEAST the UCG are well aware of the incest, but they've managed to "look past" it and keep an org going based on the legacy of HWA. I've seen a number of reports of Gary Antion, for instance, admitting to members that the allegations are true, but admonishing that they shouldn't let it affect either their esteem for the man or their confidence in his legacy. For, dontcha know, the allegations were of things done "decades before his death." Thus he MAY have repented before his death. And besides, who are we to judge? And then there's David and Bathsheba, dontcha know.
The point of it all, of course, is that indeed someone can "repent" of even the hellish sin of a decade or more of incest. It's not our place to say how God will "judge" the man in terms of his eternal salvation. BUT... we most certainly can "judge by the fruit" whether a man involved in such heinous sin for an extended period (this wasn't some "slip up" of an infatuation with a secretary leading to a single incident of adultery or the like...) had the CHARACTER and integrity required of a true "minister of Jesus Christ." I feel totally comfortable in judging THAT.
ALL you would get from a transcript in a trial, if it indeed exists, would be some namby-pamby admission that some time A LONG TIME AGO he did something bad. Which he sure regrets now. NOPE, I do not agree that this would even make much of a ripple. If anything, it might well just induce feelings of pity in those who have spent their lives adoring Herbert Armstrong.
The example you give is well documented in pyschological academics.
In prospect theory, loss aversion refers to the tendency for people to strongly prefer avoiding losses than acquiring gains. Some studies suggest that losses are as much as twice as psychologically powerful as gains. Loss aversion was first convincingly demonstrated by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.
So I am not talking about the "old timers" although many would be sincerely hurt.
I am talking about "enthusiastic 1968? Pam", doing some extracurricular research on her newfound religion and finding out in secular literature that Waldo, John Calvin, W. Miller would have been child molesters. Would that not have been an immediate put off? It is much easier to wean oneself from an investment if it is still at a low level.
The power of Loss Aversion is far more stronger than carrots alternatives may offer.
People go through fire to avoid loss, despite any rewards offered.
"In prospect theory, loss aversion refers to the tendency for people to strongly prefer avoiding losses than acquiring gains."
And I'm talking about the related phenomenon of Cognitive Dissonance. Same difference. If the investment you have in a belief (such as the apostleship of Herbert) is great enough in time, money, long-term relationships, emotion, fear, and so on, and then you get a piece of information that seems contrary to your belief, you have jangling dissonance in your brain that makes you uncomfortable. You have to deal with it in some way.
Cog Dis theory says if the original belief is strong enough, the likelihood is high you will do WHATEVER is necessary to discount the new information. You may "reinterpret" it to be irrelevant, you may surround yourself with other True Believers who will cheer you on in your old belief. In many cases, you will even become MORE zealous in your old belief and try to make new converts to it. (Mental Safety in Numbers.)
"I am talking about "enthusiastic 1968? Pam", doing some extracurricular research on her newfound religion and finding out in secular literature that Waldo, John Calvin, W. Miller would have been child molesters. Would that not have been an immediate put off? It is much easier to wean oneself from an investment if it is still at a low level."
The reality is that the COGs are making very, very little headway attracting new people through touting their legacy of HWA these days in the way the WCG lured in '68 Pam . The information already on the NET about all the false prophecies, crazy "hidden doctrines" that people will be expected to believe once they get into a COG group...not mentioned in the public evangelism messages...and more are not enough to convince prospective members to run the opposite direction, I seriously doubt that the incest thing will make a lick of difference. But I also think that for most people, all that OTHER info will be enough.
One of the first gurus I profiled on my website was exWCGer Herb Wannabee David J Smith. (Dave Havir personally begged me to do a profile on him, as he was affecting people in Dave's congregation with his craziness.) If you twirled the dials in some parts of the country in the late 1990s, you could run across Smith's radio program and think for all the world that you'd entered a time warp and were listening to an old Radio Church of God broadcast from the 1950s. He had his Herbert cadence down to a fine art. Startled me first time I heard him. His main emphasis was prophecy. And there was no way for just a casual listener to have any idea what the man's little cult was like, what it taught, and what he expected of followers.
What he taught in 1996 was that the Strong's Hebrew lexicon numbers 1996-1999 were a secret code to understanding the immediate future.
1996 "to gather"
1997 "assembling, gathering together"
1998 "to hasten together, come running together"
1999 "a conspiracy, i.e. , a concourse, riotous or friendly"
The implication in all this was that the "Place of Safety" was with him and his followers in Waxahachie TX. If you came in 1996, you could take your time. In 1997 you really ought to start taking this seriously lest you be left out of the "ingathering." If you waited until 1998 you better come running, and you might even be chased. And by 1999 it might be too late because of the riots. (Did I mention you should Sell All and give it to The Work to get out the message, and abandon family if necessary?)
ALL other COG groups were tools of the Devil and infiltrated by the Jesuits and such.
(See my next post for the conclusion of these comments)
To gain some insights into the behavior patterns following the reading of such a transcript, you must remember the basic programming methodology. Nowhere was this more in evidence than in the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. People who took it believed they were studying the Bible. But, in reality, they were being carefully guided to the church's acceptable conclusions. As peoples' membership progressed, they would learn from this course, from the magazines and booklets, and from the sermons exactly what the correct positions were. All incoming information would be evaluated within the context of these accepted positions and conclusions.
Importantly, the members were taught that this constituted thinking for themselves. Somehow, they were able to pride themselves in not having checked their brains at the door, like "Christians falsely so-called". They were persuaded that they were not following a man, but following what God said.
So, would God have allowed His end time apostle to commit incest while revealing His restored truth to him? Why of course not! That would be as ridiculous as Moses having masturbated while receiving the tablets containing the Ten Commandments! The automatic guided conclusion would be that the rumors had to be a clever attack by none other than Satan! The possibilty that the allegations could be true simply no longer computes. It doesn't go along with the guided conclusions.
I stand by my original statement that the transcripts would have very little impact on the stalwarts in the ACOGs. They've been pre-programmed to reject even entertaining that possibility.
Conclusion of my previous post...
Of course his 1999 predictions failed, but that didn't lose him hardly any followers. BUT ...From 2001 if you googled his name, you got to MY website's profile of him, and the expose' of all his damned foolishness. So quite regularly, I'd get emails from people who had heard his program and wanted to order a tape. They'd google his name, get to my website, not bother to read what was there, and just skim to the bottom to find a contact number and send their tape request to ME. I would calmly write back, explain they'd made a mistake, but might want to read the page before they pursue wanting his stuff any farther. I got back quite a few THANK YOU'S! for helping people avoid getting involved.
David J Smith
He died not too long ago, so at least he's not sucking in new suckers now.
Again, I have NO aversion to others providing sound information about the incest allegations, such as Kevin posted on here. I don't doubt that it will maybe save some people from getting involved, and pry a few long-timers loose.
But to think that it will "destroy" the splinter groups just ain't gonna happen. I've studied enough religious groups from the past two centuries whose gurus have been exposed as profligate sexual sinners of various stripe to know that the expose's may slow down growth for a bit, a significant percentage of True Believers will hang on to them while they regroup, and they will be back Business as Usual before you know it.
See a prime example in my next post.
Example: "Brother R G Stair" of Overcomer Ministry (The Last Day Prophet of God to America)
After I put the profile of Stair (linked above) on my website, I was contacted by a group of desperate former members who wanted to expose his incredible mental and physical and sexual abuse of followers... particularly young women. They sent me reams of material including testimonies, police reports and such. It was all horrendous.The elderly disgusting old man (born in 1933) had used his position in the cult to force women to have sex, sometimes even giving them STDs... and then denying them medical care as "doctors were of the devil." He had instructed some of them, when they got pregnant, how to induce self-abortions. And the stories went downhill from there. As per usual, each woman thought she was the "only one" until the situation blew up at one point. He confessed to much of the insanity in front of his congregation, then insisted that they had no right to judge him for ANY of it, because he was God's Prophet. And thus they were still to be obedient to him. Some left, some were totally blinded and stayed. (It was a commune.)
I did everything I could to help these people get out their message, and gather up more testimonies from former members. Eventually the dude was arrested, and let free with an ankle bracelet on a million dollar or so bail.
In the end, in spite of all the testimonies, and the confession he'd made in front of so many, he beat most of the rap. (He was smart enough to not fiddle with any young women of "jailbait" age by NC law, so they couldn't get him on that matter.) He was sentenced to "time served" in custody (77 days). Because, of course, his word that all that sex was "consensual" and such couldn't be beaten by "hard evidence" to the contrary. (Which would have been WHAT??) If you'd just SEE the grizzled, hideous old man you could not POSSIBLY believe any young woman would want to go anywhere NEAR him, let alone get in bed with him willingly.
Did it slow down his ministry? Nah. He continued his national broadcast over shortwave while in custody, and went right back to full steam ahead as soon as his "ordeal" was over. He still has a website, and at least as late as 2014 there were listings for broadcast times for the program on the Web showing up in his Wiki overview.
By the way, in the 1990s he gathered a bit of a following in exWCG circles... because a COG fellow (one I happened to know) was so impressed with his end time prophecy, and his rejection of Xmas, he made a trip to North Carolina to the compound to see Stair... and brought him the "truth about the Sabbath and Holy Days." Which he incorporated into his ministry.
Hardly any ministry gets pursued by the 'undue influence' clause that the law provides. Churches have lost to this clause big time.
Why is it not used more often? No attorney wants to pursue this grinding road. They want the easy money that they are accustomed to. But it is the one way to foreclose on the bank account of the charlatan who screwed you out of a lifetime of labor.
>It's a bit ironic how you reject strong testimony of contemporaries
>Yet accept the weak non-contemporary 'witnesses' of the Canonical Gospels!
>16 May 2016 at 15:57
Beat me to it.
Talk about a lack of "conclusive" or "quality" evidence and coloration with bias! I'd say the closest analog we have here isn't bigfoot, but yahweh. In the case of HWA, it is hearsay, in the case of the gospels, it isn't? If only NEO would apply the same rational skepticism he displays here to everything.
Let me reverse this. Why are you able to defeat the idea of god through "rationalism" but are unable to apply rationalism to the case of HWA?
Upon what "conclusive" or "quality" evidence are you now contending that I don't apply the same rationalism to both?
There's two things at play here: the probability and the threshold.
You conclude, correctly I might add, that the anecdotes and stories we currently have available in the public domain are not sufficient to conclusively convict HWA beyond all shadows of all doubts.
Perhaps not all people would require the same three sigma threshold be met prior to acceptance as you appear to require. Historians, for example, might require a simple >50% probability threshold.
Given the anonymous, non-contemporary anecdotes and stories, complete with mythical elements, with worse chain-of-custody, and without any secular corroboration, the strictly biblical evidence for a christian god (as opposed to merely a deistic or Spinoza god) is clearly and unequivocally of a significantly poorer quality than that which we have for HWA's incest.
In addition, the extraordinary nature of biblical claims is significantly more extraordinary than the, sadly, more mundane claim that a man molested his daughter, an occurrence which happens all the time. In fact, the claims that a man was a god is about the most extraordinary claim that could be made. Hence, any fair treatment of the raw probabilities relative to these two claims must conclude that both the prior probabilities and the posterior probabilities are lower for biblical claims than for the charges that HWA molested his daughter. The unfettered math simply allows no other conclusion.
Assuming there's no biasing hijinks going on with your math, and that you're playing it strictly by the numbers, in order to reject the claims of HWA's incest as not probable enough to meet your threshold, while the much lower probability of biblical claims do rise high enough, means there must be some pretty janky hijinks going on with your thresholds.
You're playing games either here, or with the math, if you prefer, but it's one or the other. There's no way around it.
With all this in mind, it's a pretty janky thing to say that anyone has "defeated" a claim which has never been probable enough to be rationally accepted in the first place. No such "defeat" is required. Just like you haven't "defeated" the claims against Herbie.
Wanna try again?
The threshold/probability model is irrelevant. This is a binary condition. Either you have credible, verifiable evidence or you don't. Either, for instance, you have Lochner's tape or you don't. Simple. Instead we are regaled with lurid hearsay.
"Clearly and unequivocally of a significantly poorer quality" and other similar passages you have written fall into the area of the hyperbolic languge of opinion. It is difficult to take this seriously. I would say you are consistent in two areas: 1) you believe the hwa malarkey and 2) you disbelieve in the existence of god. And wrong on both counts.
And when Dorothy confessed what had happened to Mrs. Antion, Mr. Antion knew the allegations were valid. No. Of course not, what they did not know is that even Dorothy was deceived about what had actually occurred, right NEO?
Hypothetically, would I be comfortable being HWA's executioner based on the evidence and logic presented regarding the incest? No. That would be too final so long as there is a scintilla of doubt.
For about two seconds, I pondered raising the issue of a hypothetical civil trial, where the threshhold for assigning responsibility for an act is less exacting, and penalties are only financial, but realized that that is precisely the critical situation which can never happen. Dorothy cannot give her testimony, HWA can never be deposed or volunteer to take a polygraph test, and even if the cornerstone piece of evidence (Lochner tapes) existed, would they be admissible in civil court?
The bottom line is that all we can do is evaluate what we do have, put HWA on trial in our own minds, and decide guilty, not guilty, or don't know. Then we need to do our due diligence on the doctrines that were adapted during the alleged incest activities. Without assumptions, start at point zero, dissect them, get additional information, and make decisions, this time not affected by undue influence.
I believe HWA is most likely guilty. If people in the church had been healed regularly, (including Dick and Loma), blessed financially for tithing, and if HWA's prophecy had been fulfilled in 1972-75, there wouldn't ever have been room for us to be having this discussion. Had expensive art and precious metal artifacts not been aquired with all the widows' mites, had the marriage to Ramona and ensuing divorce never occurred, and had the church complied with the receiver and emerged with a clean bill of health, (these are things we do know and can verify) the door of suspicion might never have even been opened regarding the incest. What has happened is that someone who was thought of as being a modern day human tool of God, as someone who had developed sufficient character that he could never become a future Satan, the example epitomizing being a sealed firstfruit, that man was discovered to have lived a life that was in no way beyond reproach, or even consistent with what he publically taught. And his demeanor towards the sheep in sermons and public appearances was angry, and egotistical to the point of being mean-spirited. Once again, whether incest happened or not, we don't need it. We've cited these other totally verifiable deviations from the path, he managed to overwhelm them with the illusion of his authority, and the sheep accepted that.
The people who blind themselves to these other evils will continue to refuse to even consider the incest. It is as simple as that. As I demonstrated in my earlier post, these people have been programmed over a period of many years, decades in some cases. Their minds are not capable of objectivity. It is irrational to believe that we could prove the incestuous relationship of the author of their programming to them, or to use it to bring down their cultic movement.
I think Byker Bob's latest comment pretty much hits the proverbial nail on the head. I also think that some of the other folks who have commented here (Minimalist, Stephen and NEO) have been somewhat disingenuous and inconsistent in the standards they apply to evaluating evidence. I'm not ashamed to admit that all (100%) of my conclusions about everything are based on partial/incomplete evidence (e.g. the age of the universe, the way that dark energy and matter affect that universe, that evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of the life we observe on this planet, that Jesus Christ existed and is my Savior, etc.). OK, some of it is more probable than others, but it is ALL based on partial/incomplete evidence. Moreover, as a consequence of that fact, it is ALL subject to clarification/modification by the future disvovery of more evidence. No, I couldn't sit on a jury and condemn Herbert Armstrong to death or Hell for this (fortunately, that's not my responsibility anyway), but I can conclude that this is another legitimate nail in the coffin of Armstrongism. Even so, let's not kid ourselves - NONE of us (Stephen, Minimalist and NEO included) are operating anywhere near the 100% mark!
>The threshold/probability model is irrelevant. This is a binary condition. Either you have >credible, verifiable evidence or you don't. Either, for instance, you have Lochner's tape or >you don't. Simple. Instead we are regaled with lurid hearsay.
>"Clearly and unequivocally of a significantly poorer quality" and other similar passages you >have written fall into the area of the hyperbolic languge of opinion. It is difficult to take >this seriously. I would say you are consistent in two areas: 1) you believe the hwa malarkey >and 2) you disbelieve in the existence of god. And wrong on both counts.
No, it isn't irrelevant. This is how history is done by professional scholars. And the incident in question is now a matter of history, exactly in line with BB's latest comment. It isn't hyperbolic language, and it isn't simply opinion. It is the language of mathematical probability and historical scholarship. Apparently, you have no familiarity with either of these fields.
Logical truth values may be binary, however, the probabilities that we would have things like the Deborah and Larry both publicly testifying that their grandfather was, in fact, a pedophile now that Dorothy is gone, if the incident happened vs. if it did not happen is not binary, it is Bayesian.
Like BB, I also think that the probability this incident happened rises above the >50% probability threshold. However, I don't think I'd go much beyond that.
The quality of the evidence for biblical claims is objectively worse. The quality of evidence for the existence of *real* witches in Salem in 1692-1693, or that a UFO crashed in Roswell in 1947 are also objectively better than the quality of evidence for biblical claims, just to provide more points for comparison. And when I say objective, I am thinking merely in terms of factors such as whether or not the stories we have are anonymous or not, contemporary or not, whether these stories include mythical elements or not, is the chain-of-custody better or worse, is there independent corroboration, are there signs of legendary development. Each of these could be handled in a binary fashion for our purposes here. You can either put a 1 or a 0 next to it. The more zeros, the worse the quality is. This isn't rocket science. Nor is it opinion.
If you want to say that I am "wrong" about the existence of the christian god, you've got your hands full justifying your apparent certainty. Please, show me how ancient noncontemporary hearsay for the most extraordinary claims that could be made could possibly result in a probability that exceeds that for modern contemporary hearsay regarding a mundane claim. And how do you plan to avoid the special pleading necessary to say your god is the cause of anything and not someone else's?
If you think the standards I have used to evaluate evidence are disingenuous, I urge you to point out such disingenuousness.
NONE of us?
I read: hwa was guilty of this and this and this bad thing, fleeced people for money therefore we can RATIONALLY conclude because of a lot of testimonies (possibly originating from just one source) that he is also guilty of incest. case closed
I need the original source. That would be Vernon Mattson today, or the settlement in the Ramona case. The settlement would be even more important than Mattson's testimony, because it is a legal document wherein parties conclude to settle an issue.
All other is hogwash.
I heard from BB that Mattson talked to others. Because I trust BB I moved from 50% to 70% true. However if asked on a jury today I would have to let hwa go free based on the presented evidence.
However, in that case I would get my hands on the settlement leaving no stone unturned.
Look, I once had my (labor law) paper ripped apart by my lawyer professor. If evaluated by a history or sociology professor it would have garnered straight A's, however it was a legal paper and it was ripped after being crossed with black pencil.
Wow while I was typing I see Stephen posted on the "historical research."
That was exactly the point I was making.
You would all get a straight A by a history or Sociology professor.
A lawyer would tear your opinions apart.
>Like BB, I also think that the probability this incident happened rises above the >50% probability threshold...
This isn't research. It's just application of methodology. I'm also not offering much in the way of opinion. What opinion I do offer is reproduced above. I'm offering far less opinion that BB is. Everything else is straight methodology. What is methodical is out of my hands, and is not determined by me.
Are you saying that lawyers don't like historical methodology? Courts don't deal in evidence that doesn't meet certain standards, chain-of-custody, for example. Hearsay is inadmissable. However, if the courts were forced to deal with the evidence that historians have to deal with, the sort of evidence that we're now contending with, what would they do differently? Are you saying they would do it better than historians do? What methodology would lawyers use to evaluate historical evidence? Are you saying lawyers are Supermen with historical x-ray vision who can see things in the past that ordinary men can't? What exactly are you saying?
I am saying that (in the ideal world) lawyers are the sole protectors of the thought that we are no supermen.
Therefore in certain cases the burden of proof needs to be A LOT higher than the standard methodology of historians. (look I love both professions)
Therefore lawyers have to make a different assessment of the facts and indeed a better job on the fact arrangement than historians OR they have to let the accused go free.
This was exactly my problem in law school coming from a wcg environment.
How could they let go a person that is obviously guilty, by my standards?
For instance if you would crossexamine the entire 1980 council of elders today.
It is highly probable that really the first time they heard from the allegation was the Kessler letter.
People on this board could now in 2016 construe this "knowledge of the facts" as "being common knowledge among the ministry." But it may not have been. Just coming from one source at that particular time. Just an example.
Perhaps you have watched the program "Who do you think you are".
Especially when black actors are on the program they sometimes find they decend from slave owners. That is interesting enough. Then 2 minutes later their world turns upside down because they were BLACK SLAVE owners.
You don't hear that much in history class. History allows for far more opinion and politics. Those are the facts your honor.
Look, this is not a case where we have to invoke how historians do research. This is not a case where we have to evaluate the foundation of our epistemology and such issues as how we know the age of the universe. This is a tawdry event related to a tawdry cult. The truth value of the event is simply based on facts and evidences.
If you do not have the facts (hearsay is not classed as fact) and evidences, then you are confined to the realm of opinion. The jury will not convict.
I certainly understand the zeal to be judgmental concerning HWA. His record is incontrovertibly bad. But zeal cannot be permitted to trump honesty.
I align with Byker's analysis but I have just come to a different conclusion for different reasons. My conclusion, like Byker's, is a function of opinion. There is nothing else here but opinion. I believe that, without evidence, the event is highly improbable. The quality of the "facts and evidences" (hearsay in this case) just does not deserve a different conclusion. Repeating the hearsay, ad infinitum, does not elevate it to fact. It is just "sound and fury".
In this highly politicized case where large amounts of money, either existing or potential, are involved, it does not take much imagination to envision that many of the suppliers of hearsay have a vested interest in besmirching or threatening to besmirch HWA's public image. Others may simply be victims of their own naivete.
Americans ever love a story of hubris.
Otagosh, nobody has changed their minds - next topic please.
"But zeal cannot be permitted to trump honesty."
Exactly, N_E_O, exactly. But it nearly always does. In fact, zeal nearly always trumps everything: courtesy, empathy, and compassion toward others, certainly. Less often, as with Kamikaze pilots and Jihadist suicide bombers, it even trumps self-preservation. Zealots send people into war and lock them up in concentration camps. Zzealots or their underlings commit atrocities. The expectation that Ambassador students should be zealous was one of the main factors that drove me away from there.
When Edmund Burke condemned apathy by writing, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," his underlying assumption was that the only reason good people can't relax and enjoy life in peace is that so many others are animated by zeal. Give me a choice between a zealot and an apathete, I'll take the apathete every time.
The fact that some of us have reached a different conclusion about this matter doesn't make us zealots, and it doesn't make your position morally superior to others. I detest smug, eltitist self-righteousness! That's one of the reasons I left Armstrongism behind. I agree with NEO - time to move on to the next topic. By the way, I normally enjoy your comments Retired Professor.
Thanks, Miller Jones. And I admire your comments, too. They are clear, reasonable, and respectfully expressed.
The David defense is stupid. Why not have many wives and use the Solomon defense? You can find many such examples. But, was David to be the standard of behavior or is the standard of behavior and qualifications to be a church leader made pretty clear in I Tim 3?
The name Herbert W. Armstrong has been burned. It is only effective in attracting members from one splinter group to another. The moment a prospective newbie understands that a church whose broadcast he has been watching takes its history and doctrinal approach from HWA, he is able to google the name, and within a few mouse clicks, uncover all of the failed prophecy, the controversy, and the negative testimony of past members. This automatically causes individuals who are curious about such things as the sabbath to continue their search, to seek out sabbatarian groups with a cleaner history. The one true church premise, pioneered and enjoyed for decades by HWA/WCG is no longer an exclusive. The very existence of numerous splinters has killed that concept. Again, that is something that only appears valid to splinter members, regarding their own particular splinter. Anyone looking for a church that teaches the classic doctrines, but without the foolishness of British Israelism, and without superstitions regarding prophethood and apostleship, is also going to become aware of Messianic Jewish, and sacred names or Hebrew roots groups, with much more loving governance, an emphasis on Christian living, and less severe, more biblical tithing systems. The Seventh Day Adventist Church is presently enjoying a period of growth.
If the ACOGs could somehow move their identities away from Herbert W. Armstrong, and make their teachings appear relevant and vital, perhaps they could once again begin to grow and flourish. But, since they revere HWA as having been a quasi-Biblical figure, ie "God's Apostle" it is doubtful that they would ever consent to this distancing, even if that were possible.
Byker Bob said, "If the ACOGs could somehow move their identities away from Herbert W. Armstrong, and make their teachings appear relevant and vital, perhaps they could once again begin to grow and flourish."
Even mainstream churches are having difficulty making their programs and teachings relevant and vital. Membership in nearly all churches have been declining. Too much emphasis on maintaining an institution with its traditions than doing what is needful and useful. The whole "Church" is in desperate need of another reformation movement. Away from building and maintaining campuses, away from clinging to traditions, away from being cloistered, isolated groups as if the church was little more than a private social club for professing Christians.
"is in desperate need of another reformation movement"
-The call for the original Jesus seems to have taken place in a time of extreme pessimism
So the market was looking for a deliverer from those circumstances
-William Miller’s preaching years occurred at the peak of social and religious
optimism in the 1830s and 1840s. Utopian millennialism was fostered
by Charles Finney and other preachers of the Second Great Awakening who
believed that a millennium of peace was imminent.
It seems we are in the middle of something today.
So the market is lukewarm.
Francis Fukuyama claimed some 25 years ago that history had ended.
I'm waiting for the word from Silicon Valley. Perhaps our new (scientific) algorithm God is able to keep us save, provide food, predict, steer and control our behavior more benign than human devised Gods.
It seems there is a merger between the old hippy ideals and the technerds.
On the other hand chance me impose upon us a slide back to the old methods of crowd control.
I hear that Harvard Medical School last tuesday discussed the "synthetic genome." That is chemical production of human dna, to produce man in labs. One step from "reading" the genome to "writing" and producing it.
They may make a kinder me.
Believe it or not.
The organiser was Dr CHURCH.
Now is this name a sign of providence? A bad joke by the conspirational government agencies? Or is it all sheer coincidence and the progress of science?
It seems our DNA is relentless in its quest to fulfill it's ultimate destiny. That is to inherit the stars and the universe! Their (dna's) best invention sofar, that is man, may have run its course as a prototype.
NCK, if we use teleology to identify DNA's best invention, we do not land on human beings. Instead we get Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for malaria. We vertebrates with hemoglobin in our blood make up the support system for half of the protozoan's life cycle, and mosquitoes make up the other half. To create this arrangement, DNA had to deploy representatives to two vastly different kinds of organisms, one of which (the hemoglobin side) comprises many species in order for the parasite to maintain its existence.
Since both terrestrial vertebrates and Anopheles mosquitoes clearly exist to serve the needs of Plasmodium parasites, it must be those protozoans that are the true apex of creation.
Heh! I've often remarked that HWA must have been bitten by a female pedopheles mosquito sometime during early adulthood.
Good one, BB!
Thanks, RP. I know you didn't intend this, but this was the first time there was proper set-up for my joke. I'm afraid that it went over everyone's heads when I let it fly on other occasions. The female anopheles mosquito is not usually something of which most folks are aware.
RP didn't intend this. I provided the foundation. It is not a set up.
Since we have been interacting for some time now we tend to become a swarm.
Or for those who believe we are human. We might be converging knowledge.
I'm skeptical on most matters. I don't believe anything without convincing evidence. But guess what? I believe we're human.
You are a datacluster, interconnected through a global network.
And I have the data to convincingly evidence that.
nck, you are mistaken.
Why limit to one aspect? I mean obviously one human function would be that of a center of perception, and yes, we do interface with other centers of perception. There is evidence that plants also do this. Evolution is a synergistic process. But, we are much more than this. Jeez, I hope nobody thinks to reduce us to the status of fertilizer factory!
I was talking about context.
So I figured I should read the next verses too.
Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church?"
Now I am very sure the Legis Actionis was applied.
Since it states that people could appoint there own judges, who would than rule.
NOW it seems Paul has heard the case not only through a trusted source. This case had been through legal court. EXACTLY as I require in all of my postings on this matter.
Paul was thus very sure, this case of THEFT had happened. Although he judges it as a case of FORNICATION.
Therefore Paul scorns those who have taken this issue to a CIVIL COURT, instead of taking this to their brethren and have an in-house judgement.
I trust the Romans more. They were better in building edifices, law and fighting than the Greeks.
0031 was message 2 I am reposting message 1 without the wikipedia link since it gets deleted.
You are an interesting person and commenter.
However you ask to many questions in which you are not an expert.
Let me first state here that I am not an expert AT ALL although I did pass one Roman Law exam. I will therefore only make observations.
Paul was quick to invoke standard Roman Law when it involved his own punishment.
So he either was totally self-righteous OR he knew something on the standards of Roman Law.
Now first of all you PRESUME incest.
Again not an expert just a quick glancer, I read "fornication" in this case a guy sleeping with his fathers wife. SHE WAS probably not his BLOOD MOTHER. The guy was old enough and women did not live into their thirties at that time. So his real mother was probably dead.
In Roman Law this was not about IMMORALITY. This case was about THEFT of his fathers PROPERTY.
wikipedia entry link about legis actionis
The legis actiones states that the BURDEN OF PROOF lay with the PLAINTIFF.
(the father probably)
Now, yes many of the household staff could have witnessed the act. As a matter of fact Christians were the household staff probably, since it is the religion of the poor and opressed. It only became High Class after emperor Justinian made the religion fashionable.
So NO I don't think Paul heard this through any kind of HEARSAY as defined by a modern encyclopedia. He might just have heard this case through a very trusted source, which is not Hearsay, who might even have been one of the staff/slaves in the household.
As you can see I am painting a picture here in broad strokes. A professor in Roman Law, or a Scholar in Jewish Law or one more knowledgeable than I am on the apostle Paul might comment quite different from myself.
However I am showing you a different perspective so that yoru contemplations are energized again so that they may come to a new or better conclusion.
Law is a difficult subject. One should take it into context.
Perhaps Paul was a self conceited person acting on hearsay. Perhaps he was skilled in the Law of Roman empire and the proceedings of the Jewish faith.
As a former prosecutor, who had been through a massive personal transformation regarding his tragic past, I do not feel Paul was someone who would be judging lightly on a matter that seemed to affect the church, because he had heard some rumors through the grapevine.
And yes everyone is held to the same standard, although they might be punished differently because of their different make-up/level of knowledge/skills etc. But all fall short. I might just appoint you right now as a magistrate at one of the most important courts in the Roman empire. You will be held against the same standard as anyone else. But I might just be the one who gets punished by such appointment.
Factors to consider:
1) Roman officials appear to have resisted, and attempted to avoid crucifying Jesus. They were manipulated by the Jews. This could not have been lost on Paul.
2) Paul believed that it was part of his calling to give powerful witness and testimony, and saw and used an opportunity to gain access even to Caesar himself.
Jewish law had a long and storied history that actually predated both Helenism and Roman law. The works of Josephus were written for Caesar's benefit, to familiarize him with the long term history of the Jewish people. This was one of Josephus's stated purposes in writing his opus.
nck, if we (you and I) confined ourselves to talking about things which others might objectively chararacterize us as being expert about, these conversations probably wouldn't be as interesting or wide-ranging. As for the question of the passage used from Corinthians, although I am often critical of the editorial decisions that have us our present chapter and verse designations, I'm not convinced that they aren't appropriate here. It seems to me that Paul introduced Roman law as a transitional element between two different issues going on within the congregation. I will not quibble over whether or not sleeping with one's stepmother should be considered incest. Whether or not some of the folks who shared this story with Paul were servants in the household is pure speculation. However, I do agree with you that Paul would have been very careful about such allegations. If you could see your way to acknowledging that those of us who have reached a different conclusion about the evidence against HWA could also be careful, I would be willing to say that you're not self-righteous.
I am really not qualified to discuss the bible.
Especially not with the blog owner having degrees and all. I make a fool of myself attempting to interpret.
I like wide ranging conversations though.
I am confused as to whether the "higher standard" should be applied "because of the community" and the stricter judgment because of the "people" OR because they are the standards of God.
You didn't want to quible on the "incest" in the passage.
It is an important point though.
The "son" and "mother" might just have been the same age.
The female in Roman Law was the property of the father.
True incest however was a very Imperial thing to do. Also the Egyptians married their sisters.
To the dismay of Paul these Roman citizen Church members take this case of "theft" to the local court. A much lower standard is applied than the standard of God that Paul would like to have applied in the Church.
Then Paul says. I am not with you present, but I am qualified to judge this matter from a distance. It was (made) clear to him that the Church would take moral judgement from the worldy courts, while they should have applied the moral code of the statutes of God.
The worldly courts don't pass moral judgment they just function to uphold peace and order in society by upholding the implicit agreements of society as a whole.
From my interest in Roman Law you can safely assume that, although I very much understand the Anglo Saxon jury system I am not convinced a jury produces better results than a judge trained in the Roman system weighing the facts that are presented.
So I am not taking your comment on being self - righteous personal. It is perhaps a philosophical difference in the application of who is to judge on what evidence presented. There are different systems. One, at worst, may come across as self righteous, the other as a local lynch party by the mob. I am willing to acknowledge that untrained people may be sincerely wrong. (As I stated at the beginning of this posting.)
I like BB's comment on Josephus.
It seems the Empire of Japan also acknowledged the wisdom and knowledge in the oracles of the ancient people of the jews. They seemed to have wanted to learn more about this ancient culture. Especially after they had humiliated themselves into oblivion and an obvious emissary from this ancient people talked about a plan from their God who seemed to be intent on world domination through Kamikaze (devine wind) or Ruach. First archeological artifacts and cultural and legal knowledge was exchanged. Later high technology know how.
Josephus professed a high degree of admiration for the organization of, the discipline, and the military prowess of the Roman soldiers. As a Jew, he was also a Romanophile. The emperors most likely had no idea that the writings of Josephus were derivative of Torah.
Strange no scholar has come up to correct me. Perhaps the subject is not important.
I have changed my mind.
A man was sleeping with his father's wife.
-In Roman Law a woman even his first wife was regarded property of the Patres.
-The Romans however were very big in ADOPTION. Jesus is literally speaking Roman Law when he speaks that we can be "adopted" as sons, etc etc thereby calling him abba father. etc etc
A man could inherit the family name and be a son like a blood son. Most emperors inherited a family name by adoption. For instance Julius (GAIUS) ceasar.
So the problem would be the betrayal of a father by a adopted son.
While all the bible commentaries use the word incest. (I am not sure about that.)
Again. This betrayal of a father by an adopted son would strike at the heart of Paul's message. That Christians could become sons of God.
The lukewarmness by which these Roman citizens took this to the local court instead of looking at it from the Christian perspective would strike at the heart of Paul's existence.
So there you have my new take on this story.
No incest. But a story of betrayal of the (holy) father by the christians.
Could please someone with a degree in Roman law comment on my assertions if they feel it adds anything to the common good?
nck, as you acknowledge in your remarks, most Bible commentaries label this incident as incest. That doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong, but it does make it more probable. After all, we're talking about the scholars! Also, as a student of history, virtually everything I've read on the subject of Roman law and sexual standards indicated that incest was regarded as prohibited behavior. Yes, the emperors and Ptolemaic pharaohs engaged in the practice, but we all know that most of them regarded themselves as above the laws and social standards of the societies they ruled. It is an indisputable fact that the vast majority of all of the cultures that have existed down through the centuries have regarded incest as taboo.
It seems the bible scholars don't know their Roman Law from their stepmother as do some of the pundits here!
What I mean is, You are right incest is somewhat of a taboo.
My point is the interpretations of the (protestant) scholars who read a message in Paul's letter that is completely not there because they lack an understanding of the (cultural) context in which things are said.
This side discussion originated by the "interpretation" that Paul acted on hearsay. My point is that he either had or had not reliable witnesses OR he was a fraud as dangerous as anyone acting on hearsay. Then I started musing on Roman law for the sake of an interesting discussion.
But I do understand the difficulty in interpretation.
In a thousand years scholars will be discussing:
The people that wandered through the desert to found their own state. They murdered anyone they encountered especially those with differing opinions and religion.
Following that spree was the Exodus from ......Syria......
Sweet mother of crap, nck! "Somewhat" of a taboo???
Please, I am not an advocate of this.
I am not talking about the current understanding on the subject.
Although the Romans weren't in favor of it at all.
There are levels that can be distinghuished but fall under the definition.
-different levels of kinship (cousins 2nd, 3rd degree even practiced in our society a hundred years ago)
-The particular disussion I had with mr Jones. Probably no blood relation at all. Only a legal relationship between the culprits. (therefore the use of somewhat, perhaps those roman church members would have laughed at the whole affair, knowing the ins and outs of that father marrying a 27 year old bride, younger than his son, who committed the "incest" with his (legal) "stepmother" .
It was my point that Paul was aghast at the lukewarmnness of the reaction of the greco roman church members, increased with goods because their trade with Egypt?. Just putting a different perspective on the bible versus than the 18th century protestant perspective.
Therefore the use of "somewhat". Not because of any endorsement of the practice.
We could have another discussion on the word "child".
Wasn't Mary supposed to have been 16 year of age or so. (The same age as empress Sissi of Austria?)
Again it is my firm scientific evidenced believe that the brain is evolving until the 25th year. However time, culture and circumstance have defined what constituted social relationships in the past.
I can imagine a world where people die in the droves being 36 years of age. A 15 year old person would be advanced in age in that society. (although not as defined by biological factors.
I am just sourcing the first book I come across at the internet so I am not a scholar at all.
The book contains some more gems, I see.
Some scholars argue that the Romans were cultural relativists, willing to let each conquered nation practice its own bizarre traditions as long as they received the appropriate amount of taxes.
Napthali Lewis describes “theusual pattern of Roman provincial government” in Egypt as “based on a policy of easytoleration of local custom where it posed no threat to or offered no interference with thesuperimposed Roman administrative apparatus.” He asserts that the Roman mission wassimply “to ensure internal tranquility and to deter attack from without.”
In this theory, Roman laws were only for Roman citizens, negating any need to enforce the incest litigation against non-citizen Egyptians. However, contemporary Roman administrators went to significant lengths to root out the local Gallic and Britannic religious customs of human sacrifice of slaves; they also interfered in variousother private social customs, especially religious ones like the practice of Judaism and Christianity.
Especially the practice of human sacrifice was abhorrent to Roman Culture. Perhaps therefore the difficult entry of Christianity in that culture.
So in some cases there seemed to be more of a taboo on Christianity.........
Another quote from this particular book I just came across.
Why then are the Gauls and their peculiar institutions treated one way and the Egyptians another? The Egyptians, in the Roman literary conception (which did notconsistently distinguish between local and immigrant populations) were a deeply strangeand perverse society; they were also an ancient and well-respected nation, one of the cradles of civilization. The Gauls, in contrast, were viewed as uncouth barbarians with little to teach the proud Romans. While the Romans undoubtedly held Egyptian incest indisdain, there was nonetheless respect for Pharaonic Egypt’s history and culture. On aneconomic level, Egypt’s enormous tax revenues and wheat surpluses were key to thefunctioning of the Empire. Gaul and Britannia were barely profitable.
(I am somewhat reminded of the text, lukewarm and increased with goods")
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