Several years back, a member at the Feast of Tabernacles posted a picture of his collection of alcoholic beverages in his motel room at the time. Very quickly, someone not associated with Armstrongism posted and asked, “Where can I sign up??!!??”.
That’s an excellent question, particularly these days in the waning days of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia sects suffering from atrophy and entropy. It is also a missed opportunity for the leaders of the aging seniors within Armstrongism. If there’s one thing that surveys tell us, it’s that seniors, particularly religious seniors, love gambling and booze. It’s high time that the ACoGs cash in on the potential market of Alcoholics that represent 6% of the population. In fact, the Armstrongist Churches of God seem to have a much higher percentage of alcoholics: When Dale Hampton came through to visit the Seattle church in the 1970s to help people understand alcoholism, he estimated that 18% of the adults of that church were alcoholics. In Spokane, 240 miles away, the percentage was much much higher, if you can believe the incidences of hypoglycemia which are indicative of the third stage of alcoholism. It was the disease de rigueur for most of the adults in the WCG there. The [jqeasytooltip tipposition=”tiptop” tipfollowcursor=”true” ][jqeasytooltipcontent]Don Weininger: 1975[/jqeasytooltipcontent]minister[/jqeasytooltip] there certainly was an alcoholic, which partly explains his murder of his wife and his suicide outside the office of Carl Maxie, the wife’s divorce attorney. Anyway, the path to success is to go about drawing in that population of people best suited to Armstrongism — the alcoholics will fit right in.
Moreover, the Feasts are always going to be a special treat, particularly the Feast of Booze in the Fall. Every potluck can be overflowing with spirits. In fact, the church can be especially appealing to Native Americans with their belief in the Great Spirit, as long as they are persuaded of the Great Spirit’s Spirits.
Yes, friends, we can swell the membership with the potential pool of 18 million alcoholics in the United States to draw upon. Hey, some of the WCG congregations actually met in a bar on the Sabbath, so it should be natural for long time members — although we’ll want to go upscale on this one.
There’s a good market for this: All that needs to be done is to determine the demographics and set up the Church Bar accordingly.
The beauty of this commercial enterprise is that it is self-sustaining, if done properly. Initially, tithes, offerings and special building fund will be needed to buy property, build the appropriate facilities and stock it with booze. Out of work members can go to work as bartenders, wait persons and maintenance. Once started up, the Church Bar will be able to sustain itself with patrons from the neighborhood during the week and Sundays, with the bar closed on the Sabbath for ‘members only’. It should actually make a profit. Happy high members can truly rejoice in the Sabbath, having at least a mild buzz. Sermons can be adapted for visitors to show from the Bible that Scripture supports use of alcohol and that it ‘cheers the heart of God and man’ as well as not a few women.
“But,” you ask, “what if something should go wrong??!!??”
That’s where Jon Taffer comes in.
Jon Taffer is the renowned expert driving Bar Rescue. He comes when bar owners are in trouble and ask for help. He has rescued hundreds of bars using science. He tells those in trouble, “I don’t embrace excuses; I embrace solutions”. He is just the man to set the Alcohol Churches of God on the right path when they run into trouble, if they will call for the help and follow his advice.
We can’t expect every Church of God to accept this new paradigm. In the 1970s, it was the Feast of Pentecost somewhere in Western Washington. David Jon Hill was slated to give the morning sermon. He stumbled up the steps and made a comment about how he “flew up the steps” to the lectern. That afternoon, Roderick Meredith gave one of his most fiery sermons ever about drunkards, so it’s unlikely that the Living Church of God will pursue this. Only if he dies and his successors see the light will there be the Living Bar Church of God.
Herbert Armstrong was a boozing alcoholic. That may be one reason he wanted to spring from the Church of God Seventh Day: He wanted to continue to wallow in his alcoholic solution to problems. Garner Ted Armstrong was an alcoholic. David Jon Hill was an alcoholic. Regional pastors in the hinterland were alcoholics. The whole WCG was top heavy with alcoholics and that defined the character of the church (or lack of it). Alcohol permeated the entire structure. So why fight it?
After all that is said and done, we have to admit that Dixon Cartwright, editor of The Journal was right. The Bible may not have any authority. Herbert Armstrong wasn’t a prophet. The ‘farmer theologians’ are at best misguided. What we should do though, is hold the social groups together.
After all, most of the people of the Armstrongist churches of God have one thing in common: They are boozing alcoholics. It bonds them. It makes them comfortable with each other.
And darn it all, after a drink or two, disagreements just don’t matter any more.