It’s clear that Ronald Weinland committed fraud: He was convicted of 5 counts of felony Income Tax Evasion and sent to prison for 42 months; in addition, he must pay what he owes with penalties. He was legally convicted by a jury of his peers, but members of his cult, the Church of God, Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG), believe that it was persecution not prosecution. Objectively, he committed a crime, the evidence was against him and his sentence was just (if a bit lenient).
The question here is why do the members of the PKG give Ronald Weinland the benefit of the doubt, even though he committed fraud and, thus, violated the precept that a minister should have a “good reputation of those who are without” — non members — meaning that it is inappropriate that he should be a minister (/ apostle / prophet / evangelist / [____] General)? This question arises other places. For example, there is a southern conservative that was voted out of office because he embraced the evidence that global warming is being caused by human beings. This became too much for his constituents because it threatened a way of life! People would have to examine how they live and make new choices about how they acted. Moreover, it would threaten their social status. This is consistent with the sociology we find within the Armstrongist churches of God.
Thus it is that Herbert Armstrong could be a total fraud — making false prophecies as a false prophet as he did for decades and preach the thoroughly debunked stupid idea of British Israelism — and people in the WCG would defend his ‘honor’ vociferously because they just ‘knew’ he had brought them the ‘truth’. Some of knew and now know that he committed incest with his daughter for the first ten years of his ministry, and that is just fine because he brought them the ‘truth’. They can know that he plagiarized all of his major doctrines from G. G. Rupert — including the Feasts — and still accept that he was ‘personally taught by Jesus Christ’. Some even knew of his practices which would have gotten him into the same sort of trouble with the Internal Revenue Service as Ronald Weinland, if only he had been caught spending church funds on his family sailing on a yacht on the Mediterranean. It’s all good because if members admitted the truth, they would have to give up following him, lose their status in their little WCG social club and lose access to the Feast where they could booze it up with their fellow alcoholics. It would be too much to change in their lives and would have been an unacceptable disruption to their dysfunctional chaos.
I have never made any secret of my admiration for Garner Ted’s good qualities. But, in a restrictive religious environment, living under what was often called the ultimate honor system, his behavior should raise some very disturbing questions for devout Armstrongites past and present.
We were taught in the WCG to take every word a minister utters as if it had come directly from Jesus Christ. It’s kind of like the old trust exercise where participants are expected to fall backwards, knowing their fellow members in the class will catch them. How can a practicing serial adulterer be a trustworthy vessel for carrying and transmitting the words of Jesus? And yet, not only was his father, HWA, complicit, but also, as age set in, his son, GTA, was arguably the most effective and convincing speaker in the WCG. Didn’t we all hang on his every word, “knowing” them to be inspired? So, if the primary characters are acting, in no way validated by Jesus Christ, all the supposed end time gospel efforts supported by impoverished tithe payers would be nothing more than a sophisticated scam. (They were!)
Think about this. Hypothetically, what if you were God? We know now, that this just can’t be, but what if you, as God, had actually chosen a father and son team to warn the world that the end was coming in 1975? What if you watched both as they totally botched the commission by giving in to their prurient appetites, failing to live the life they were preaching, lying and cheating to get the gospel out, participating in incest and adultery, drunkenness, and gambling along the way, and lying to cover it all up? If you were God, you simply couldn’t make it appear that these types of people were your messengers, so you would need to make them appear as false messengers (which they actually were, they had nothing to do with God or anything supernatural). Even if you had scheduled the end for 1975, you would need to postpone it, and start from scratch, using a whole new group to do the job. I no longer believe in any of the major details of the Armstrong prophecy mold. Those are every bit the farce as are the incest and adultery. However, in the dubious and remote event that that mold ever had a scintilla of truth behind it, a Godly scuttling for plan B is the only thing that makes any sense. Truly, the Armstrongs embodied the phrase “Judas priest”. And, those taught by them are unfit messengers as well, and now dying off just like the Israelites wandering aimlessly in circles in the desert for 40 years.
Other disturbing questions should be raised concerning his illegitimate children: He abandoned them. Should we give GTA a free pass because he was charismatic and a fun guy to be around? The children (not to mention the A.C. coeds he raped who became minister’s wives) are very much diminished by this view.
David Pack is a fraud: He predicted several years back that three of the leaders of the ‘major’ [Armstrongist] churches of God would die and the people in those churches would come flocking to him. It never happened. But people are amazed at his apparent skills of leadership and building a church headquarters facility, replete with a Steuben Crystal piece in his office. The city of Wadsworth has also been sucked in. Nevertheless, reports of the misery (not to mention YouTube posts) illustrate the hubris of the man who is unsympathetic to any of the needs of those in his congregation. Heaven help you if you MUST go to the bathroom during his sermon!!!! People just live with it (with a bit of grumbling) but are still certain that he’s going to get them into the luxury suites in Petra when they leave for the Place of Safety. Good luck with that: The preponderance of the evidence more than suggests that going there under his domination would be fatal.
Then we have Gerald Flurry… a total fraud and complete failure as ‘that prophet’ — the incarnation of Jesus Christ in this age. His online DUI suggests differently as does his failed prophecies. Redfox over at Living Armstrongism has blog after blog detailing the stupidity of the Philadelphia Church of God. The latest is the PCG compared with the 14 points of Fascism. It is one of the most factual ignored blogs within the anti-Armstrongist movement.
After awhile some people may conclude that, yes, certainly the leaders of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia sects are nothing but frauds, but that perhaps the time of giving the followers sympathy has long passed.
When Prophecy Fails is a study of what happens to individuals when their belief system has been shown to be in error (disconfirmed).
A review by William E. Adams at Amazon.com says:
This work first saw print in 1956. It is the story of a UFO cult in a large city in the Midwest…how it developed, how the leaders recruited followers, how predictions about the coming end of the world started flowing from the psychic members who allegedly channeled messages from the spacemen/pilots. The cult members were told they would be saved, picked up by saucers on an appointed date. The members quit jobs, sold possessions, and gathered, only to be disappointed. Did they all quit in a huff? No way. The first failure only made them more determined they were right, more anxious to be ready for the next announced departure date. Then a second failure. A few members fell away, a few suffered doubts, a few challenged for leadership themselves. The point of this book is that it takes “three disconfirmations” to kill a movement of true believers, and even then, some still hang on to the discredited “theology” by grasping at excuses. I found this book by accident about 30 years ago, and have read it at least four times. I find it fascinating. In the 1970’s I knew two women in Albuquerque who were amateur psychics. They started bringing forth “space brethren messages” and eventually, although they failed to attract a following, they went up into the nearby mountains one night sure they would be lifted off before the coming unspecified disaster. They waited, but no ship appeared. I think people inclined toward UFO beliefs haven’t changed much since this book was published. The basic data shown in this study can apply to religious or political groups as well. I am sorry it is out of print, but if you have an interest in this field, get a used copy…the prices are reasonable and the book will not disappoint!
Support for the study was obtained through the Laboratory for Research in Social Relations of the University of Minnesota and help received through a grant-in-aid from the Ford Foundation to one of the authors. The study is to answer the how and why people take on new fervor when they have contradictory evidence which they should not be able to avoid. There are five conditions under which the authors would expect to observe the increased fervor:
A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.
The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual’s commitment to the belief.
The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.
The first two of these conditions specify the circumstances that will make the belief resistant to change. The third and fourth conditions together, on the other hand, point to factors that would exert powerful pressure on a believer to discard his belief. It is, of course, possible that an individual, even though deeply convinced of a belief, may discard it in the face of unequivocal disconfirmation. We must, therefore, state a fifth condition specifying the circumstances under which the belief will be discarded and those under which it will be maintained with new fervor.
The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of dis-confirming evidence we have specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, we would expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselyte or to persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.
Luckily, the authors found a group they could observe during the study. A woman of a very religious persuasion began writing messages she just ‘knew’ was from a contact in outer space. This ‘source’ warned her to tell the world that there was going to be a great flood to purge the world.
Along the way, she was told that those within the inner circle of her group would be rescued by flying saucers.
And in the end, we all know how that turned out. They waited again and again to be picked up, but, alas, there was no saucer shuttle and no flood. Yet, many of the group continued to believe even after a number of disappointments, illustrating the workings of the 5 premises. The people really did hang on to their beliefs even after they had been demonstrated to be patently silly.
Of course, those of you currently in the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia know perfectly well there are no such things as flying saucers and the whole thing is patently silly on the face of it.
Just in case you Armstrongists get off the hook because you don’t believe in flying saucers, think again! The authors of When Prophecy Fails spend over seven pages of the first chapter on William Miller! The CoHAM should be getting mighty nervous. After all, those of us blogging to refute Armstrongism have shown that the Worldwide Church of God and its successors are cults. We’ve debunked British Israelism and shown up the same sort of ‘prophecies’ ‘disconfirmed’ by the book. There are no excuses. You Armstrongists are doing exactly what the study predicts you would do. For example, consider the British Israelism Church of God: It has the gall to just make up excuses why DNA doesn’t disprove British Israelism. The problem is that Y-Chromosome DNA has been found to be stable over thousands of years and just doesn’t magically morph to some other haplogroup. Idiots.
Major fail. Again and again. And yet, people keep believing and making up excuses, just like the study says. If you really want to be embarrassed by what you believed, re-read 1975 in Prophecy:
Herbert Armstrong made some pretty bold prophecies. They simply didn’t come to pass. Did you make excuses for the failure in 1975 when the disconfirmation was too intense to ignore?
If there is any group that illustrates the truth of When Prophecy Fails, it is the PKG. Ron and Laura Weinland — the two witnesses of the Church of God – Preaching the Kingdom of God (CoG-PKG) — have conned the PKG to continue giving them money even after their major prophecies failed… again… and again. What’s worse, Ronald Weinland is currently serving his sentence for felony Income Tax evasion, but the PKG membership sticks with him and continues to make excuses.
Others, such as David Pack continue to exhibit hoof in mouth disease — Dave prophesied a specific date that three major leaders in the other churches of God would die and members of all the ACoGs would come flocking to him. That was years ago and still… nothing.
Now it is true that the Armstrongist Churches of God have something that little group in the Midwest in the 1950s didn’t have. It would have been so much better after the flying saucers failed to show and take them away from the flood that didn’t happen if they had some way to find out how the various members of their group fared after The Great Disappointment. They should have had the benefit of some sort of periodic newspaper which had stories and articles about the group and the individual members. They could keep up much better, even if the editor didn’t particularly believe in the tenets of the group and held the ‘floodists’ and ‘farmer UFOlogists’ in contempt. He could still publish something called The Journal. Maybe out of some town like say, Big Sandy. What’s important is not what the group believes — what’s really important is to keep the social group together in its completely delusional dysfunctional existence.
Let Us Have A Moment of Silence For Our Brave Friend
Founding CEO of Evil Cult
The world is better off without him.
The Evil Corp portrays the functioning of crisis among upper management.
The Executive Vice President explains the situation.
The CEO, as her patron, explains to her why he can be so confident in the crisis.
CEO: I’m glad he’s dead — he was weak; the world is better off without him.
People may find the opinion of the CEO of Evil Corp concerning the crisis of losing $400 billion in one day, the confidence he had for the future and his perspective on his Executive Vice President of Technology puzzling, even disingenuous, but it is the result of the standard objectification used by those in the upper management of corporations who see others (and even themselves), as nothing but objects to be manipulated without becoming emotional about the choices they must make. Make note of the fact that though the Executive Vice President had a gambling and drinking problem, that was not the most important factor — the most important factor — and the one the CEO abhorred was that of weakness. A lot can be tolerated in the corporate environment, even adultery, but someone who is perceived as weak is doomed.
Those who think that it is any different in the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia should be warned that Herbert Armstrong himself detested those who were weak. In fact, he saw himself as the strongest person and those under him were weak: He created those under him and gave them positions; as such they were far inferior to him. In fact, at the lowest levels, Herbert Armstrong had no enthusiasm for the church members and believed that none of them really had a shot at salvation except in the rare cases that they supported him enough [to be noticed]. The letter that Herbert Armstrong sent to Roderick Meredith, March 19, 1980, should dispel any doubts:
When you were made second Vice President, it became a standing joke among leaders at Pasadena, the saying, “Well, after all, I am the second Vice President.”
In fact, Herbert Armstrong often showed contempt for his evangelists in various ways: He saw them all as weak.
Fast forward to today: Herbert Armstrong has died, leaving a vacuum. The weak evangelists, pastors and local elders saw their chance to make their way free from the domination of those they could not previously rise against. Roderick Meredith was one of the first of these when he established Global. But he didn’t have the fortitude to keep his promises to submit to his own board: He rebelled, lied, broke his promises, bankrupted Global and established the Living Church of God to gather to himself those weaker than he was to submit themselves to him to make their cushy living.
Robert Thiel later left Meredith and Living as a prophet, but before he did, he was so weak that he had to have others in Living declare him as a prophet (there is some suspicion that he took some liberalities with quoting dead people he claims supported him as prophet). For heaven’s sake, if you are a prophet of God, you have the force of God behind you and you don’t need other humans to vouch for you.
Ah, the days of Victor Kubik sneaking around to find a way to support himself post Worldwide Church of God — he found someone he looked to: Dennis Luker. Though he was weak and did not have the faith to stand up against Joe Tkach alone (and if God is for you, who can be against you?), he found a champion to be his patron and the rest of two decades of history.
Just how weak is David Pack? He made a major failed prophecy that everyone in the churches of God would come flocking to Restored (not to mention that 3 major leaders of the ACoGs would die). It never happened. And it never happened again. How weak is that?
Some of us remember Gerald Flurry was relegated to quite a minor congregation in Quincy, Washington. Herbert Armstrong considered him weak. Quincy is really out in the boondocks. There’s just no respect for the weak.
Then there’s Ronald Weinland. He’s been weak from the beginning. And now he’s in prison for felony Income Tax evasion. How weak is that?
There is a whole cast of other weak characters skulking about. They’ve managed to eke out a niche and put up a shingle for the money and self-aggrandizement, but they really don’t have much and the world just isn’t listening to any of them. That’s pretty weak.
In the 1960s, Herbert Armstrong complained that there were no “men of character”. He was talking about prospects for those to support him in those days. Apparently, he finally found one worthy of his respect — Stanley Raider. Even that didn’t last. His last, final and disastrous search for the strong resulted in picking a psychopath to continue his legacy. It is fitting seeing that Herbert Armstrong himself was a weak man — morbidly obese, committing incest with his daughter for 10 years at the beginning of his ministry, having failed prophecies as a false prophet, basing his religion on British Israelism which can be scientifically disproved, having a donut and cup of coffee on the Day of Atonement to keep up his strength, never even finished high school and a boozing alcoholic with a violent temper — all of these are properties of a weak man.
In the end, we detest weak men.
Like the CEO of Evil Corp, we believe that the world is better off without them.