There was an article (pg-3) in the latest Journal titled ‘United Pilgrim Crusade based on old WCG’. The author of this article wrote

The episode, titled “Charlatan,” starring Ed Asner, who plays newspaperman Lou Grant, deals with a fundamentalist Christian ministry based in Rosemead, Calif., noted for its beautifully landscaped campus and extensive expensive art collection, as well as a grand auditorium, among other things. I won’t overly delve into the plot but will point out interesting parallels that indicate where the episode’s writers may have gotten their inspiration: headlines in L.A.-area newspapers of the time.

8 Replies to “Charlatan”

  1. The splinter members can make claims that their particular charlatan is doing a great and important work, but nothing has happened over the past 35 years which would indicate that any of them have the same cultural impact as did the WCG during the Lou Grant or Hee Haw eras. The way in which you sell episodic television involves general recognition and identification. There is an indefinable something contained in the story line which reaches out and grabs a broad cross section of the general viewing audience, and rivets interest. Obviously, the writers, sponsors, and production company knew that there was enough familiarity with Armstrongism that this broadcast would set off lightbulbs as opposed to going over the audience’s heads. The only partially noteworthy event to cross into public consciousness in recent years has unfortunately been the Terry Ratzmann massacre. Even that ended up being a very short lived small blip on the radar screen.

    Speaking of the latest Journal, I found the reprint of the In Transition article to be very insightful, because it depicts just how unwilling the fully indoctrinated of that era were to reopen, or examine afresh, the so-called 18 restored “truths” plagiarized and compiled by HWA. The writers of the article and those interviewed pretty much assume that British Israelism, the God family, the “binity”, and the present being the time of the end are established fact, beyond question, or the need to further prove. They claim to be exposing a subversive agenda, but in reality end up belying their own irrational and somewhat naive mindsets. The “new” beliefs are identified as red flags and heresy without any point and counterpoint discussion of the beliefs themselves. Instead, they assume that HWA was “God’s Apostle” and narrowcast, focusing on an alleged conspiracy. Typical!


  2. Lou Grant wasn’t the only one — Quincy, M.E. had an episode of “Mr. Osbourne” and his church in a 1979 episode called “Mode of Death”:

    “A televangelist whose church is being investigated by federal authorities is found dead in a seedy motel room having died of combining painkillers and alcohol. But the painkillers were prescribed, and the bottle wasn’t empty, and the amount of both taken was barely enough to kill him. So was he trying go commit suicide, or was it an accident? Quincy decides to organize a psychological autopsy to find out.”

    There was a very entertaining right-on hilarious Stanley Rader look-a-like who also looked and sounded like somebody who had just met on camera with Mike Wallace. Years ago at the Feast of Tabernacles in Hawaii, [WCG lawyer] Ralph Helge explained to us that the WCG had considered suing over it!

    I often wonder if the writers are just doing it to appeal to the masses to make money, to expose frauds or to satisfy their frustration from sociopaths being able to pull off such scams.

    Note too the ending of the Lou Grant episode: The newspaper published the scam, but the leader used the incident to convince the members that it was just Satan persecuting the church. The writers were really brilliant and captured the essence of Armstrongism.

    Concerning The Journal: It’s difficult to understand the appeal except as nostalgia — The Journal is nothing more than toxic rubbish.

  3. Appeal of the Journal? Well, did you ever notice at a gathering or social event that when someone abruptly and loudly expresses disgust at a terribly offensive odor, everybody seems to gather around to get a whif? The words “Yuckkkk! What’s that smell???” will always draw a crowd of people anxious to sample the air and express their expert opinion.


  4. Byker Bob, “expert opinion”?

    I’d say ‘expert’ opinion.

    The Journal is a chaotic toxic mess.

    It makes you wander, “What were they thinking?”

    The answer is obvious that they weren’t, not that they don’t expect to be treated with great honor for producing the absolute rubbish, of course.

  5. Both the Lou Grant and Quincy episodes had some parts showing great similarities with what we’ve experienced with HWA and the WCG.

    One scene in Lou Grant I found amazing was the woman who said she tithes 27% of her husband’s income, and took out a bank loan to give money for a mission fund. Also, the excuse for the leaders’ extravagance: they don’t want to disappoint important people they meet who expect a higher standard.

  6. This video and your one on Uncle Hitler link to a site which cannot be accessed outside the USA. Can you post them on the site itself?

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