Raise up a Child….

HWA. A Proverbs 22 father?

Herbie raised a sexual deviant for a son. GTA having made the headlines in the Hustler magazine for his adulterous ways, was to continue on this path as a sexual predator for decades to come.

Below is a cut and paste from the Ambassador Report as we attempt to retrace his behavioral pattern.

In late February 1933 (Ted had just turned three), Herbert became the minister of a small group known as the Church of God, Oregon Conference. From this time on HWA launched himself into his ministry with fervor.

So Ted’s formative years were spent in the fledgling years of his father’s evangelical work. Both of his parents were extremely busy and had very little time to spend with their children.

Still, Herbert expected strict obedience to his authority and often punished his children severely if he caught them disobeying one of his directives. At a very early age Ted developed an inordinate fear of his father which he carried with him most of his life. Evidently, Herbert didn’t realize this until late 1971, as he explained to a group of ministers in Pasadena.

“But Ted and I had the most frank talk we have ever had about… a month or five weeks ago over in Big Sandy [Texas]. It took up most of the morning. And Ted began clear back to the time he was a little boy. He said, ‘Dad, all my life I’ve been afraid of you, and I’ve tried to avoid you.

“‘Why Ted, I didn’t know that,’ [I replied]. It hadn’t been apparent…. And Ted, from the time he was a little boy, got to thinking I was unfair and cruel, and he learned… not to fear me in the way he should-the way we should fear God but to be actually frightened-physical fear. And I never knew that until four or five weeks ago” (Herbert Armstrong, Ministerial Conference, January 1972).

Ted graduated from high school in Eugene, Oregon, in 1947. This same year Herbert decided to move his religious headquarters to Pasadena, California, to take advantage of the broadcasting facilities available in the area. Ted moved to California with the rest of his family.

Eventually the fear of his father and the embarrassment of his religion turned to loathing. In a fit of rebellion, Ted left home and joined the U.S. Navy in May of 1948, to escape his father’s authority. He enlisted for three years, but a compulsory wartime extension lengthened his hitch an extra year. In early 1952, he received an honorable discharge and returned to Pasadena.

Although Ted did not immediately accept his father’s religious philosophies, he was not adverse to working in his father’s mail processing office. Before long he was elevated to the position of office manager. In the fall of 1952, he enrolled at Ambassador College.

In December of that same year Ted accompanied his parents to Gladewater, Texas. While HWA was finalizing a land transaction with Roy Hammer, Ted was busy “courting” Hammer’s daughter, Shirley. After the land deal had been finalized, the Armstrongs returned to Pasadena. Shortly thereafter, the Armstrongs made a hasty trip back to Texas to arrange Ted and Shirley’s marriage. They were married on March 8, 1953.

By January 1958, Ted was being recognized as a leader in the organization. His father appointed him vice-president of both the college and the church.  But much of Ted’s new authority was in name only. He still lived in the shadow of his father and several others who held responsible positions. His inability to operate independently from his father and others in command continued to plague him for years.

Ted’s Problem. By this time, word of Ted’s sexual improprieties had begun to filter through the ministry. For at least a year, Ted had been having an affair with his stewardess. Of course, this was not his first affair-Ted had had numerous adulterous relationships with many other women-but this relationship was different. Herbert could not dismiss it as another one of Ted’s passing flirtations. Ted was ready to leave his wife.

“I went in to my father and went ‘blah’ and had a great big written thing and told him I was getting a divorce and that I was leaving and that this was going to happen. And when I left, I left with a trailer full of my goods and never intended to come back…” (GTA Pasadena ministerial meeting. March 7, 1974, tape 2, side 2, ref. 6454).

Herbert Armstrong could not afford to ignore this attitude, especially in light of the church’s doctrines on divorce (see the article “Home-Breaking-Armstrong Style”). Ted had determined that he was no longer bound to his wife and was free to marry another.

“…I had already in my own mind convinced myself I wasn’t even bound to my wife… I was in my mind divorcing her. I left with a trailer full of clothing and a stupid little girl…” (GTA, Big Sandy ministerial meeting, March 4, 1974, tape 5, side 2, ref. #052).

In July of 1971, Herbert was forced to relieve Ted of his duties and send him on a leave of absence, ostensibly for “health reasons” (see article “Profligate Son”). In a letter dated September 26, 1971, Herbert informed the church membership that Ted would not be speaking during the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles. However, Ted prevailed upon his father to let him speak. According to schedule, Ted spoke to members gathered at feast sites in Big Sandy, Mt. Pocono, Jekyll Island and Squaw Valley.

During Ted’s stay in Squaw Valley, his “problem” reared its head again. After preaching a stirring sermon, Ted took off to spend the night with his stewardess. The next day he flew to his next stop in Penticton, but word had already gotten out to his father and the other executives. They intercepted him there. Ted was again relieved of his executive duties. In a letter to the church, Herbert covered up Ted’s adultery once again, and stated that he had sent Ted on a much needed vacation.

This charade continued for several months. Ted did take an extended vacation, but by January 1972, he had returned to Pasadena and participated in a ministerial conference. His return was short lived.

On the night of January 30, 1972, HWA, Stan Rader (legal counsel for the organization), and several leading evangelists confronted Ted in his home about his affairs with his stewardess and others. On that night, it became painfully obvious to those present that Garner Ted had been using his natural glibness for a lot more than just sermons and broadcasts. On that night, Garner Ted Armstrong acknowledged that he was involved in extensive, extra-marital sexual conquests. Finally HWA was forced to disfellowship his son and send him into exile.

At this time, Herbert forced Ted to end his longstanding relationship with the woman who had been his stewardess. Ted and Shirley were sent to Ted’s A-frame in Colorado in an effort to get them to put their lives back together. Ted’s stewardess was transferred, under an assumed name, to work in the WCG’s New Zealand office.

Again Herbert Armstrong was forced to offer an explanation to the church.

By the fall of 1973, many field ministers were aware of Ted’s adulterous behavior. Although most remained silent on the matter, a few considered it a matter of conscience to tell their congregations.

From the article: In Bed With Garner Ted

But as it was to be, in a few short years after Loma’s death Herbert’s own sexual sins would be exposed to the world. Not only would the incestuous affair with his daughter make the newspapers, but his admission that he practiced what he preached against. In a drunken stupor, Herbie told David Robinson about his masturbation habits. Back as far as he could remember, Herbert admitted that he had always had this ‘problem.’

The hypocrisy of these two men who claimed to be of God was at the very least, astounding. From the very early years GTA must have always looked for a way to rebel against his father. He feared his father, loathed his father, and in some unconscious way, used sex as his way to rebel against his father and his nutty religion. After decades of this behavior sex became his obsession. The man became as decadent as his pedophile father.

Garner Ted’s book The Plain Truth about Child Raising’  may give us a hint as to what went on in the Armstrong household. Without any degree from any accredited college, GTA takes it upon himself to instruct his followers on how to raise their kids.  One title within the book ‘Authority Begins in the Home’  reminisces his own childhood where his father was a harsh task master.

These teaching’s led parents into beating, starving and torturing their children. The lives of the children didn’t turn towards their fathers and mothers, but against them.

Excerpt from Anna’s story:  Within months of my parents leaving the church I had my first nervous breakdown….where instead of dreaming of the great tribulation I also lived it while awake! Constantly I lived in persecution while the devil sat outside my bedroom window trying to break in…..after a year I came out of it and returned to school…and lived a somewhat normal life, hiding my insecurities from the world…and being as nonreligious as possible therefore blocking that part of my mind out that I couldn’t deal with.  15 years later I suffered another devastating nervous breakdown that took everything including my children from me….again,,,this nervous breakdown occurred when I tried to go back to the church….which only served to throw me back into the living hell that I believed in and still believe in….that nervous breakdown lasted 2 years…I have since moved on…I have won my children back from their father.  I own my own home.  I work…I am a professional…I haven’t set foot in another church since….I am still afraid to pray, thinking it will drive me crazy if I do.  I am still afraid of the monster that could be lurking outside my bedroom window (whether Satan the devil or one of those horseman from god)  I still feel that I am going to watch everyone around me die…I am still miserable…..I am clinically depressed though i receive no treatment for it…a huge part of me is still trying to die….I do not go on dates…I try not to be close to anyone….I am waiting for doomsday…I am waiting for the day of reckoning…I am waiting to watch everyone around me die while I live on in a modern day Hiroshima…I am waiting for god to come down and say ….you and yours just aren’t good enough…so good bye…I never loved you….another big part of me thinks maybe it will be okay …maybe I am forgiven…maybe it’s okay not to attend church not to ever be baptized…maybe I’m forgiven because the church destroyed me…so much that I am not allowed in my own mind to think of god but briefly without feeling unsteady in my own head….for fear of another nervous breakdown…I have no church…but I miss my god…I am sad for myself that not only did the worldwide church of god give me so much to dread and be terrified of in this world but they have also taken my ability to worship Jesus and god as I feel that they should be worshipped.  They have in a sense taken my god from me…and replaced him with a nightmare…not to be picked up, not to scrutinized but to be shut away in a dark corner of my mind…33 years later I am still traumatized still afraid of the things that go bump in the night.

So where do we stand on this? Should people trust men of this disgusting ilk with their own children’s lives? Unfortunately the answer is yes for some parent’s. They will follow these failed men and their failed model to their own determent.

For people who have a sense of duty to their children and just plain good old fashion common sense, the smart thing is to avoid these and other groups that have the potential to destroy you and your children. If your new to one of the Armstrong groups, get out now while you can. One does not need a man to get between you and your God. They are not you intercessor regardless of what they say. My advice? Don’t follow the decadent and corrupt Armstrong’s. Repudiate them.

Now someone go and tell Gerald Flurry that its not right to abandon your children at the shopping mall!

4 Replies to “Raise up a Child….”

  1. I’ve known several people whose lives have been controlled by, and ruined by their parents. They were unable to break away and to lead their own successful lives because their parents had something which they wanted or needed. This made them their parents’ codependents. It appears that that was Garner Ted’s problem. The best opportunity in his life was what Herbert had to offer him.

    A conflicted life was the result. GTA could have removed himself from the fear. But, he didn’t do that. Instead, he lived one life for his father, and a secret life for himself. When he was finally either forced or able to break free, he continued to live in and teach a modified version of his father’s religion. The control his father exerted continued to live through this, even though GTA was estranged from his father.

    This sort of thing more frequently happens to women. There are many stories of women who are miserable living in luxury in the palaces provided by rich and powerful men. Being consumed by a need for or addiction to the lifestyle imprisons them, and they never realize the freedom and pure enjoyment of life that could be theirs if they could only break free from what controls them.


  2. “The best opportunity in his life was what Herbert had to offer him.”

    I doubt it. The man could have been a singer, a construction worker, a garbage man. What do these all have in common? Hard work.

  3. Theoretically, James, he could have. You or I could plainly see that, as could thousands of others, including the guys on Hee Haw. Amazing, phenomenal talent. But, it’s like I told any number of people while we were studying martial arts, the training doesn’t accomplish anything if something deep inside of you prevents you from using it. There are little guys who are very spirited in their fighting, and big guys who somehow never want to test themselves, no desire to become all that they could be. Their early handlers (parents) instill these things into them.

    I believe that Herbert embedded some internal restrictions into his son. Isn’t it logical to believe that he did the same things to his son as he did to all of the church brethren? We’ll never know, though. It is what it was. There are immensely famous, talented, and celebrated musicians who have revealed that even while they were enjoying their greatest successes, it wasn’t because they were able to exercise control. In the middle of it all success seemed possibly elusive, and the outcome unknown. It was only later, and in retrospect that they could look back and realize that they had it going on.

    It would have been nice to sit and have an unrestricted conversation with GTA to gain some insights into what made him tick. Many people imitated him before his fall.


  4. Herbert taught his kids and that is reflected in their behavior after leaving the nest. At least GTA anyway.

    Then comes the age old question when we talk ‘amstrongism’. That question is, why are all these leaders so sex focused? Masturbation, missionary positions, homosexuality, pedophilia, etc.

    Don’t forget this observation. After their wives die they marry very soon afterwards. What’s with this behavior?

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