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Articles for the Benefit of Members and Ex-Members of the WCG

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The Painful Truth About the WCG

It may seem like a long time ago, but in terms of how long certain prejudices and attitudes prevail in the WCG, 1982 is not long gone. On 1st August 1982, the London newspaper News of the World  published an article about the antics of former WCG leader, Herbert W Armstrong.

I remember being horrified at the time about such 'rumours' being circulated about him. He was the human leader of my church. I had come to look up to him and trust him. He was my spiritual mentor at the time, and I detested the 'irresponsible' and disrespectful comments the News of the World  published about him. However, I brushed them aside with the realisation that newspapers feed on gossip. Phlegmatically, I could come to terms with their promulgation of these 'lies', after hearing reassurances from WCG pulpits that that is all they were.

It was only about 10 years later that I discovered these were not lies, gossip or rumour! Despite the newspaper's tawdry reputation, it was not the News of the World   which had got its facts wrong. It was those in the WCG! They had been duped, too, by HWA. He had a way to persuade and convince, and he had done a good job of hiding the facts from his faithful followers to maintain his reputation in their eyes.

The newspaper headline and text read:

Kinky Churchman Fools Charles and His Cheque Bought Meeting With Maggie

A bizarre church leader with a sordid past of sexual and financial scandal has duped both Prince Charles and Mrs. Thatcher.

He bought himself an introduction to Charles by giving a huge cash gift to the Royal Opera House, one of the Prince's favourite causes.

And on the strength of the 106,000 cheque, he was invited to meet the Prime Minister.

But the sleazy activities of 89 year old Herbert W. Armstrong, head of the Worldwide Church of God, should shock security chiefs. Armstrong once angered the Queen by involving her in a hoax to attract publicity. [For the proof, write to or e-mail the address at the end.]


And before the Royal introduction at an opera benefit concert in London's Festival Hall, Armstrong told his followers Charles was "the wicked Prince who will become the principal cause of the destruction of Britain."

But afterwards, he was happy to splash their minute long chat all over his church's newspaper to convince his sect of his influence in top international circles. Like the photographs he has had taken of encounters with King Hussein of Jordan, President Marcos of the Philippines, and Egypt's President Mubarak. Armstrong, who controls his church's income of over 50 million a year has been accused of taking millions for himself.

He has a private jet, nicknamed "The Flying Whorehouse" and is said to take part in various deviances. His meeting with Mrs. Thatcher went ahead despite warnings to British Government officials from US based former members of the church. As he flew home to his headquarters in Pasadena, California, former sect members bashed the decision to let him into No 10.

"We were numb with disbelief, " said David Robinson, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who once held a [ministerial] post in the church. "Armstrong virtually bought himself an audience with the British Prime Minister and the heir to the throne."

Another ex-member John Tuit, who has written in a book about Armstrong, said: "He's a fraud. I contacted the British Embassy in Washington to warn them. He has stolen funds meant for the propagation of the gospel. He buys air time on radio stations, then makes a fortune from donations. This meeting with Margaret Thatcher is going to send his donations through the roof."

And Professor Joseph Hopkins of Westminster College, Pennsylvania, who has studied the church's affairs said, "I'm surprised Mrs. Thatcher fell for him. He's nothing more than a conman."

A Downing Street spokesman insisted, "The audience with the Prime Minister lasted only a few minutes. It wouldn't have been granted if he hadn't been a benefactor."

And a Buckingham Palace spokesman added: "Prince Charles met a number of people at the Royal Opera benefit concert at the Festival Hall. He probably wouldn't have known who Mr. Armstrong was."

The money Armstrong gave to help the Opera House came from his followers, who have to pay a tenth of their salaries into the church. In Britain alone.... [text unreadable, one line missing] .....year from donations and legacies.

Of that 1,150,000 went out again in operating costs according to figures lodged with the Charities Commission.

American lawyer, Jack Kessler, who audited the church's books, claimed he knew of a "catalogue of abuses" of funds. These included Armstrong flying to Rumania for sex therapy lessons and taking his jet to London to buy a sex toy.

The above text was from News of the World, Aug. 1, 1982

Another 'fast one' Herbert Armstrong pulled on us as trusting members of the Worldwide Church of God was a few years earlier. Likewise, I paid little attention at the time. I was too devoted to the church to take any such claims seriously.

But this was serious! Armstrong claimed in a co-worker letter that he was to be co-hosting an important event in London with the Queen! This was, of course, a massive image-booster for HWA! And loyal church members loved to hear it! But, no such event was planned!

In this co-worker letter of May 21st, 1978, HWA simply said that on "July 8th, I am scheduled to co-host an important premiere of a charity motion picture to raise funds for the handicapped children in Britain. Queen Elizabeth II has promised to co-host this premiere and banquet and in the event she is unable to be present, either Prince Charles (the next king) or Prince Philip will be there."

These were all outright lies! Tulsa World picked up the story, which is reproduced here:


THE QUEEN was far from amused when Herbert Armstrong tried to drag her name into his religious Circus. He hoaxed his followers by claiming that she had agreed to help him host a London film premiere.

But Buckingham Palace had never heard of the Worldwide Church of God and was quick to deny any link Armstrong boasted that he had arranged the first showing of the war drama The Wild Geese in aid of handicapped youngsters. And in a newsletter to 65,000 church members, he said, "Queen Elizabeth II has promised to co-host."


But the Queen wasn't at the event and Armstrong, far from being the organizer, was only a guest along with 1,000 others.

After the hoax, in 1978, bewildered church members turned to the Palace for an explanation. Her Majesty's Private Secretary, Robert Fellowes, told them: "There is no truth whatsoever in Mr. Armstrong's claim to be associated with the Queen, Prince Philip or any member of the Royal Family."

The above text was from Tulsa World Friday, May 11th, 1984

If you, as a WCG member or former member, find all this far-fetched, I quite understand. I did at first! But we have been victims of a huge con trick by a master trickster who was not led by the Spirit of God, but by demon spirits. Their ingenuity and ability to deceive knows almost no bounds, and their chief target is the people of God, so you shouldn't really be surprised once, that is, you can come to terms with it!

The relevant correspondence with Buckingham Palace cannot be reproduced here for technical reasons. If you would like a copy of this correspondence, please write to (or e-mail) the address at the foot of this article.]

More Lies from HWA

The painful truth about HWA's deception is revealed in other incidents. One was in 1974 and is revealed in correspondence from the then Regional Director of the WCG in the Philippines, Colin Adair, to Leslie McCullough in Pasadena. McCullough was Adair's superior at that time.

Colin Adair wrote McCullough on June 13, 1974:

Dear Mr. McCullough,

Margaret and I have been feeling depressed since we received Mr. Herbert Armstrong's co-worker letter of May 21. What we feared has happened. I just felt I had to "talk" to you about it because it has been in my prayers for days and going round and round in my mind. I would like this "talk" to be as minister to minister, brother to brother, rather than subordinate to superior, if you will allow me.

The exaggeration of parts of the letter really hurts. Gotoh and/or Rader [high-ranking WCG official representatives at the time] have misrepresented the facts about the campaign [in Manila, Philippines].... If Mr. Armstrong didn't feel we had that many there (as you said when we spoke on the phone) I feel he should not have said what he did, knowing it was not true.

Let me point out the serious errors in the letter. On page 1, he (Mr. Armstrong) says, "...audience packed the huge 24,000 seat coliseum with only some of the peripheral outer rafter seats unfilled." First of all the capacity of the coliseum is only 10,800. I have enclosed a Xerox copy of the floor plan given us by the coliseum authorities themselves. This is less than half of what Mr. Armstrong says. Many of the peripheral seats were unoccupied I would say about 5,000 because this section holds 7,000 people altogether. At the most we had 5,600 that last night. The letter implies about 23,000 "....audience packed..."

On page 5 near the top, the letter says, "The coliseum seemed well filled a few empty seats here and there..." The general admission area was totally empty that first night 7,000 vacant seats. We had, at the very most, 4,000 that first night.

On page 6... it says, "Not a soul was seen leaving until the end." Each night there was a continuous flow of people leaving...

I feel the readers of the letter (brethren and co-workers) are being misled. I can't agree with the "salesman" idea. We are not a worldly corporation. We should speak the truth at all times... I feel (this) breaks God's ninth commandment.

...The brethren in the Philippines know the true figures. I can't send that co-worker letter out...

I have spoken my mind, but just had to. I hope you won't get angry and feel I am in a bad attitude [which is what most dissenters were falsely accused of]. Not a bad attitude, just a sad attitude.... Please let me know what you feel, or correct me if you feel I am looking at it wrongly...

Your brother in Christ,

Colin Adair

Tony Badillo, formerly in the WCG, but ministering separately from 1980, first reported these above anomalies to the Rising Star, 3122 Jerome, Dallas, Texas 75223, USA, where they were published openly.

He concluded, "....let's ask: Why would any church exaggerate its progress and success in its reports to co-workers and members? Actually we need not guess because Mr. Herbert W Armstrong already answered this question in 1939 when he launched a savage attack on the Church of God 7th Day with these words:

"We ought to be ashamed of the pitiful... work that has split up and divided brethren... [what he did when he broke away from the COG]. All this while leaders desiring power to RULE send out misleading, exaggerated, deceiving statements designed to convince tithe-payers that 'the work is progressing'. What mockery! What tragedy! What pity! We praise God that many of the more spiritual HAVE COME OUT! Let us obey God!" (HWA in Good News, Feb 1939.)

What a hypocrite! HWA was the one seeking power to rule all along! He got it when he established the WCG! He learned how to mislead, exaggerate, and deceive! He was deceived and deceiver!

HWA's Incest

Another bizarre 'tale' which Worldwiders find impossible, it seems, to come to terms with, is that their church's founder, Herbert W Armstrong, was a sex pervert who seduced his own daughter. This incestuous relationship persisted for up to ten years, according to reliable sources.

David Robinson, a former WCG minister (he left when he realised how sordid HWA's personal history was) revealed these facts in his book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web. Although the church tried to stop publication through the courts, they were not successful. The book revealed incontrovertible truth which Armstrong did not contest because it was true.

He never repented of his misdeeds. He merely covered up the facts, in order to save face in the eyes of his church members. More about this is contained in The Corrupt Leaders of the Worldwide Church of God (available for a small donation from Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK).

The story of Herbert Armstrong's illicit sexual conduct in the 1930's, how he pleaded with son Garner Ted decades later not to 'spill the beans', and the names of authentic witnesses to the saga, were all published in Ambassador Report (PO Box 60068, Pasadena, CA 91116, USA.) The story is not gossip. It is not slander. It is true, and it is only repeated here to make readers aware that HWA was not a man of God but a deceiver. "You will know them by their fruits" (Matt 7:15-20). Jesus was talking about spiritual fruits, not the physical results of their work.

Some will immediately reject the facts about HWA because they learned truth of God through this man's work. That may be true, but many are used by God for this purpose who will not be in the Kingdom of God in the final analysis (Matt 7:20-23).

As difficult as it is for anyone steeped in WCG psychology to come to accept the sordid facts, it is essential if you want complete spiritual release and to come to know Jesus Christ fully.

Evidence of Armstrong's sexual impropriety again emerged years later during court proceedings concerning the divorce settlement between HWA and his second wife Ramona (who was young enough to be his grand-daughter which ought to tell you something about HWA!). Relevant newspaper excerpts are reproduced below. The sections in italics indicate that the incest allegations were not rumour, but fact well-known to those closest to HWA. They were hush-hushed so the church members would not hear about them.

Judge Orders Trial in Armstrong Divorce

Tucson, Arizona. (AP)

Attorneys reported Thursday that a tentative agreement had collapsed in the divorce case of Herbert W. Armstrong, pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, and the Judge ordered that a trial begin.

Armstrong and his estranged wife, Ramona, signed the tentative agreement on a divorce settlement April 26 after a two-year legal wrangle.

"I was under the impression that a settlement had been reached until early this morning," Allan Browne, Armstrong's attorney, told Judge William Sherrill, of Puma County Superior Court.

Browne said he and lawyers for Mrs. Armstrong had discussed their drafts of the agreement Tuesday. He said he sent a final version, subject to a "few minor details" to Lawrence Deckler, an attorney for Mrs. Armstrong, and to Armstrong in Pasadena, Calif., to sign.

"We do not have the agreement signed by Mr. Deckler at this point," Browne said.

Deckler told Sherrill the tentative agreement reached two weeks ago provided that Mrs. Armstrong would have to be satisfied as to disposition of pending criminal charges accusing her of theft, trafficking in stolen property and perjury. [A counterclaim is often brought against the other party to shift blame from the guilty.]

Mrs. Armstrong was indicted by a Superior Court grand jury in the disappearance of church owned gold flatware. Trial in the criminal case is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Deckler said Judge Richard Hannah, presiding over the criminal case, has indicated "no plea agreement will be accepted by him at this time" on the charges against Mrs. Armstrong.

Browne told Sherrill the church had agreed to waive its complaint about the disappearance of the church-owned flatware [because a smoke-screen], but that Deputy County Attorney Kenneth Peasley would not agree to drop the charges.

Browne said the prosecutor had taken the position that the divorce action would "not in any way control the outcome of the criminal action."

Both Browne and Deckler told Sherrill that agreement had been reached on the particulars of the marriage dissolution, including division of property.

The judge who would have had to approve any settlement, rejected a request by Browne to postpone the immediate start of the trial.

"I think that the only way that this case is going to be settled is if we go to trial," Sherrill said.

Sherrill agreed to a request by Browne to exclude evidence concerning "alleged explicit sexual activity or conduct."

Terms of the tentative settlement were not disclosed. Court documents showed that Mrs. Armstrong, who now lives in Nevada, was seeking a settlement including $150,000 a year, half of a $5 million bank account, the couple's Tucson home and furnishings, jewelry and furs.

She contended that a premarital agreement stipulated she would become Armstrong's beneficiary regardless of his death or anything else, including divorce. His lawyers denied there was any such agreement.

The Armstrongs married April 17, 1977, the elderly church leader testified last month during a brief appearance in Sherrill's court.

Armstrong said the couple had no children, and said differences between them had led to their marriage's "irretrievable breakdown."

Tulsa World Saturday, May 12, 1984

In the later news release below, further admissions in court reveal the truth behind the sexual allegations concerning HWA (underlined).

Judge Dissolves Armstrong Marriage

Tucson, Ariz. (AP)

A judge, Friday, dissolved the 7 year old marriage of Herbert W. Armstrong, the 91 year old pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, and his one-time secretary.

Judge William N. Sherrill approved the settlement in the 2 year divorce battle after a 5 minute hearing during which Armstrong testified that he had read the settlement agreement and did not feel it was unfair.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Armstrong's attorney, Allen Browne, said they "were not unfair to the parties involved."

The Tucson Citizen reported Armstrong's estranged wife, Ramona, would receive $300,000, including $150,000, for attorney's fees. She would also receive two cars, personal belongings and the couple's Tucson home, although she would be responsible for a monthly $785 mortgage payment, the newspaper reported.

On Tuesday, another judge, Richard Hannah, is to hear a motion to drop criminal charges against Mrs. Armstrong. [Those charges were brought to try and blacken her, to detract from HWA's bad conduct.]

Browne had told Sherrill earlier, that Deputy County Attorney Kenneth Peasley agreed to dismiss the criminal action on condition that Browne provide an affidavit stating that "a trial would be stressful to Mr. Armstrong and might be injurious to his health." [HWA didn't want a trial because a lot of smut would have emerged about HIM, which would have seriously damaged his credibility and affected his organisation.]

The affidavit also would include that restitution has been made for gold flatware, the disappearance of which prompted perjury, theft and trafficking in stolen property charges against Mrs. Armstrong, 45, Browne said. [As HWA's partner she would be entitled to share his possessions.]

During pre-trial proceedings in the divorce case, Thursday, Sherrill agreed to limit testimony on Armstrong's sexual conduct but to allow evidence on the finances of the Pasadena, Calif., based church.

In the divorce proceedings, Armstrong's lawyers had sought to limit evidence of a sexual nature but his wife's attorneys said it was crucial since the church leader alleged Mrs. Armstrong had breached an agreement of love and fidelity. [That is the reason Armstrong settled quickly. He didn't want this information about his sordid sexual history emerging before the ears of his church members!]

Louis Deckler, Mrs. Armstrong's lawyer, said the testimony would explain an "understanding" the couple reached about Armstrong's "prior incestuous conduct with his daughter for many years."

Citing Armstrong's worldwide travel in a $17 million private jet and other examples of a "luxurious lifestyle." Deckler contended the other side was trying to exclude evidence showing "the vast wealth that Mr. Armstrong personally controls to his own benefit."

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What was this "agreement" Herbert reached with his second wife Ramona about his former sexual misconduct? It is blatantly stated that it was to do with his "prior incestuous conduct with his daughter for many years."

This is not fiction, but fact!

Did Armstrong have to bribe Ramona to keep quiet about that? Was that why he agreed to give her everything? She maintained that they had made an agreement that she would "become Armstrong's beneficiary regardless of his death or anything else, including divorce."

HWA was happy to settle quickly, and to keep the whole embarrassing incident as quiet as possible.

Why did they want divorce so soon after being married? Armstrong alleged it was because his wife refused to accompany him on his world trips, or didn't support him. If that was true, why did she no longer support him? Was his sexual misconduct damaging their marriage?

He alleged that Ramona had been sexually unfaithful to him. But could the truth have been the reverse? He didn't want the truth to emerge, so whatever the truth (and it is not to say that his wife was without her faults) Herbert Armstrong certainly had something serious to hide!

He must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was all over.

God says to anyone:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9, NKJV).

Why was not Herbert Armstrong cleansed from his unrighteousness? Why was his son, Garner Ted, also trapped by similar sexual infidelity? (On July 11, 1997, Ted Armstrong appeared naked on a TV talk show on video footage secretly filmed at a masseuse's he frequented. He had made several indecent advances on the masseuse, so she had the camera installed to get the evidence needed to charge him. GTA's sexual misconduct goes back decades, too! Information about this was published in several Ambassador Reports, ARs 60-62, and AR 66.)

The curses of the generations are demonic curses which have not been lifted because the individuals have not repented.

God says all you need do, is repent, and you can be cleansed. But repentance takes place in the heart, and as long as the sinner likes his sin, forgiveness and deliverance evaporate like the morning mist. It is a sad story to tell, but the WCG- and CGI-leading Armstrongs never deplored their sins to turn away from them!

The longer a sin is tolerated, the more it is compounded, and the harder deliverance becomes. Deliverance is not impossible, for nothing is impossible with God. But it takes GOD to deliver HIS Spirit. There is no human strength capable of withstanding that of Satan.

This is what Herbert Armstrong never recognised. He trusted in his own arm, not that of God!

Malcolm B Heap

N.B. The information contained in this article is not new. It has been presented by others in various forms. Tony Badillo, formerly in the WCG, but ministering separately from 1980, may have been the first to publish it. He reported these above anomalies to the Rising Star, 3122 Jerome, Dallas, Texas 75223, USA.

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Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK