The early 1990s witnessed a flowering of conspiracy theories not just in the COGs but all over America. Many in the right were scared about a seemingly liberal dominated government, with both Houses and the Presidency held by the Democratic Party until 1994.
Events such as Ruby Ridge and especially the catastrophic end of the siege of David Koresh's Branch Davidians' compound were interpreted by an increasingly paranoid right as at best an abuse of power, at worse a sign of impending dictatorial rule.
Pack exploits the fact that conspiracy theories such as this were present within GCG to say that Meredith was an incompetent leader and downplays the fact that Meredith did in fact condemn conspiracy theories and made it unfashionable in Global COG. Pack does this hoping that you will start sending him tithes (both first and third).
Without further ado let us see what he says.
Conspiracy Theorists Infiltrate GlobalAlas this outlandish conspiracy theory has been coming back into currency recently.
At the beginning of 1996, as Mr. Pack was settling into his new long-distance responsibilities as House of Health owner, a serious problem slowly appeared in several congregations in Mr. Pack’s region. A growing number of brethren began to reflect a deep involvement in “conspiracy theories.”
At first, this appeared to be limited to a small, confused contingent divided between two congregations (Rochester, New York, and Cincinnati, Ohio). Gradually, it became apparent that brethren were being sucked in across other areas, including northeastern Ohio and Michigan. It would be learned later that there were some in these areas, but also around the country, who came into Global with similar thinking. These were mostly veteran conspiracy thinkers, not new converts who could be easily worked with toward recovery.
The basic premise behind many of these theorists’ ideas was a paranoia that there was a “New World Order” underway (a phrase first heard in a 1991 speech by President George H.W. Bush). It was supposedly being constructed secretly by governments around the world, and would soon be imposed on the citizenry of the United States.
Those of this mindset spoke of “black helicopters” following them home from work and secretly monitoring their homes, and they believed that certain manufacturing facilities and warehouses near their homes were actually secret “concentration camps,” among other outlandish ideas.
Many of them held a warped obsession with the April 1993 Branch Davidian incident in Waco, Texas, claiming a government cover-up.It was a horrific and dreadful incident. But these people tend to blame the federal authorities as actively guilty of what happened. I feel that is too harsh and I don't
This attitude exists among other COGs, such as M. John Allen, leader of Restoration Ministries, as may be seen in his book The Restoration of Truth, Chapter 7. After speculating that Christians should live in a commune he somewhat abruptly changes the topic to say that Waco was an act of tyranny and compares US law officers with Nazi storm troopers. He even suggests, without any evidence (he has "a feeling") that Jim Jones' mass suicide in 1978 was the same thing.
I feel it is no coincidence that government storm troopers were sent into Christian communities like WacoHow can he say that about Jonestown? He has no evidence, just "a feeling".
and Jonestown, with cover stories that these people committed suicide. The facts have come out about Waco , showing it was real ly a government hatchet job against innocent, law abiding people. We will probably never know about Jonestown, but I have a feeling it was the same type of thing.
We leave M. John Allen alone in his strange ideas and now continue with Pack.
They [the conspiracy theorists] were also caught up in strange forms of numerology, randomly associating world events with numbers in Scripture. Some “knew who shot JFK” or that “the Rockefellers had been killed and cloned for government purposes” or “the Soviet government actually destroyed the Challenger spacecraft in 1986 by space-based laser weapons—but only after the astronauts had first been secretly taken out of the capsule and hidden in Arizona, where they now reside.” Another member in Mr. Pack’s congregation “did not believe the Holocaust had occurred.” He could not be convinced otherwise.I know of at least one ex-WCG member who is now a holocaust denier and teaches the big lie that Jews are trying to conquer the world to create a 'new world order'. That is a totally false, extremely cruel and evil thing to say about the Jewish people.
Also of note is Fred Coulter, leader of the Christian Biblical Church of God, who seems to believe that a secret cabal of 'Zionist' Jews is trying to take over the world and create a "New World Order".
LCG apologist Bob Theil also comments on the conspiracism that CBCG has embraced.
We now continue with Pack.
Perhaps where CBCG differs from most COGs is that it is into conspiracy theories....
Specific conspiracies that CBCG teaches about concern the Freemasons, Rothchilds, International Monetary Fund, the US Federal Reserve, the Kennedy assassinations, banking in general and international banking in particular, secret societies, Thule Society, Alien/UFO contacts, and eastern religions ....
Most non-COG groups that believe in the same basic banking/Rothchild conspiracies appear to me to be anti-Semitic, but I have not detected that in any of CBCG's literature [I would respectfully disagree.-Redfox712.] (it should be noted that no actual COG is anti-semitic).
One criticism that a CBCG leader mentioned to me about LCG, is that "Living is not really into conspiracy theories".
Sadly, this mentality was not limited to the members’ view of the outside world. They began to believe that some ministers in Global were actually covert agents of the Jesuits (a religious order within the Catholic Church)!This peculiar idea was often remarked upon by Ambassador Report 62 (July 1996).
Meredith recently shocked his followers by vehemently attacking some notions that are gaining widespread acceptance in ex-WCG circles - namely the so-called international conspiracy theories revolving around Jesuits, Jews, and Freemasons...
In recent months one of the oddest ideas that has been circulating in Armstrongite circles is that "Jesuit secret agents" have somehow infiltrated the WCG and now even Meredith's Global Church....
In the [Global Church News] article he briefly touched on the Jesuits (p. 11):Because of the prominence of the Great Whore in prophecy, some of our brethren have gotten excited about some videos put out by John Osborne's Prophecy Countdown on "The Jesuit Agenda" - supposedly explaining what has happened to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. By extension, they think this is also what happened in our former association. And now they think it is even happening here.... Some people think that we want to join up with the United Church of God and other groups - as part of the Jesuit agenda. In fact, Messrs. Carl McNair and Larry Salyer [two of Meredith's subordinates] have been accused of this. That's ridiculous.
Conspiracy theories involving Jesuits have a long history dating at least four hundred years.
After this Pack then blames conspiracism on boredom. Pack then uses this as an opportunity to condemn those who say that they are not teaching anything new. They're right. COGs do tend to be repetitive.
“The conspiracy theorists who entered Global were a cancer of the worst order. I had dealt with them many times in my ministry, and they are minds that can rarely be brought back to balance. Once they have been involved for any length of time in the drug of what are endless conspiracy theories, they become addicts. Over time, and not much time at that, this becomes their religion. I liken it to the ‘Holy Names’ people, or to some who make aspects of natural food a religion. They ‘know’ something that everybody else does not know, and nothing will change them.I am no fan of conspiracy theories because generally they are not true, they give people a false sense of power for being one of the few to know the 'truth,' and they often encourage people to scapegoat certain targets instead of confronting the world as it is.
“I studied conspiracy thinking in the early 1970s at great length. I read a host of books and magazines to see what there was to the idea of ‘the Illuminati,’ as they are often called. This is when I learned it was a drug of the mind with vast reach—and that involvement in it was very dangerous to maintaining spiritual growth. It tends to block out the sun in its victim’s thinking.I am highly suspicious and skeptical of conspiracy theories. To the untrained eye they may seem to cause people to believe they are in a hopeless situation. But they also give believers a false sense of power and elitism for being one of the few to 'know the truth'.
“Consider. There are only three views of conspiracy theories, and I have taught this for decades. First, they are all true—who could believe this?—but if so, there is nothing you can do about them. Second, they are all false, and obviously should not be given the time of day. Third, they are a mixture of both, and we cannot know which is which. So what would be the point of studying them?Strangely I find myself unsatisfied with that conclusion.
Now Pack discusses public relations aspect of distancing oneself from conspiracy theories.
“Finally, there is the all-important point that conspiracy thinkers are dangerous to the image of the Church. Not only are their ideas wrong, but they make the Church look to be composed of kooks, something people are eager to believe anyway. We did not need ‘members’ fostering the image that Global was a Church that did not believe in the Holocaust. So there was the protection factor for the Church.
“But headquarters could not see this!”Pack is determined to discredit Meredith. Therefore in this issue he chooses to portray Meredith as not committed to defending the truth. In this specific topic Meredith is portrayed as being hopelessly indulgent of conspiracy theorists. This serves to obscure the fact that it was Meredith who made Global COG repudiate them.
There shall be more on this topic later.