Saturday, August 17, 2013

How Influential was HWA?

HWA liked to boast that the World Tomorrow was the second most widely distributed religious TV/radio show in the world, with more TV and radio appearences than all but one other religious program. It even appears that for a brief time after his death it was even number 1.

But although the World Tomorrow had a lot of time slots that does not many many people were watching it.

The following is from an article written shortly after his death in 1986.
For years Herbert W. Armstrong claimed that his was the "number one religious telecast in the US". While his program may be number one in terms of the number of channels on his network, he's by no means the most popular or influential TV evangelist.

In 1984 the Gallup organisation asked viewers "which religious television program do you watch most often?" And only one per cent of viewers named H.W.A. Surprisingly, Billy Graham still heads the list with 16 per cent of viewers indicating approval, followed by the appalling Jimmy Swaggert with 13 per cent, the awful Oral Roberts with 12 per cent, Pat Robertson with 11 per cent, Jim Backer with 10 per cent and the smooth Robert Schuller with eight.

Surprisingly, Jerry Falwell and Rex Humbard can only manage 11 per cent between them. And way down at the bottom of the list, with only one per cent, is Herbert Armstrong. Even his dissident son, Garner Ted, is out-pointing him. (Source.)
This reminds me of what John Tuit wrote in his book, The Truth Shall Set You Free, Chapter 5
I referred to reports that I had read of an income of approximately sixty-five million dollars a year, and why, I asked, couldn't the Church be much more effective in blanketing the world with its message. I said, "Look at Billy Graham, his message is much more well known than ours, and he has a lot less money to work with. And then what about some of these newer evangelists, such as Jerry Fallwell and Jimmy Swagert. They don't have any where near the money that we do and yet they are making quite an impact. What's wrong?" That was all Gordon [Muir] needed to feel that he could be candid with me regarding his own feelings. He said, "There's something very wrong, John. I'm very discouraged. We have a message of hope for the world and we just can't seem to do much. Everytime we seem to get going, a new scandal erupts. I really begin to wonder if the Church will ever be effective, if the name Armstrong is associated with it much longer. We are the Church of God, but the Armstrongs made it a cult." 
Of course, the real reason HWA's WCG was so ineffective in preaching its message was that it was an exploitative cult that HWA used primarily for his personal benefit at the expense of his followers. He was out to live off the fat of his flock.

Clearly these other preachers were more concerned about getting the message out than HWA was.

The other preachers actually told people where to meet up for church.

HWA just worked for the money and power and kept his flock hidden hoping skeptical minds would not notice he was milking the WCG members for all he could get and outsiders would not see that he was exploiting them. He was just hiding his exploitation from those who did not believe in him.

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