Sunday, January 12, 2014

WCG Kids Feared to be Away from their Parents

Members of HWA's WCG endured many things that non-members would find quite curious and bizarre. One such feature of WCG life was that many kids within WCG always kept themselves close to their parents and did not spend the night with other people because they feared that the call to flee to Petra might come at any time and if they were simply away from their parents they would not go to Petra and be forced to endure the horrors of the Great Tribulation without their parents. This destructive belief appears to have been fairly common among the children raised up within HWA's WCG.

Exit and Support Network has published a survivor's account that notes this belief.  
I have been dealing with issues that I believe stem from my time in the Worldwide Church of God (1973-1989). I was a child when my family began attending and left a mess. I had severe stress as a child because "end times are here" and "you won't ride the coattails of your parents to the place of safety." Dying a horrible death in the tribulation was horrific for a kid to imagine. I never spent the night or wanted to do anything for fear that my family would leave me behind.
The fact that this belief existed is also confirmed within Carla Powers' book, Matches in the Gas Tank, who also said that she always stayed close to her parents so that they would not flee to Petra without her.
Before Armstrong settled on the date of the Feast of Trumpets 1975 for Christ's return, we had no idea when the call to flee might come. It scared the bejesus out of me. What would happen if I weren't at home when the call came? What if I was out on a long bike ride when my family were told to flee? Members were ordered to leave everything and immediately get to the campus [at Big Sandy] when the moment arrived. My parents might wait a few minutes for me, but if I had decided to look in the woods for huckleberries instead of coming right home, I would be toast. I never ventured too far from home and made sure Mother knew where I was at all times. (Chapter 15, p. 90.) 
(Incidentally Ms. Power's book is very good. If you can, do you yourself a favor and get it and read it. It is a wonderfully detailed account of what it is like being raised up within HWA's WCG. Her account details many of the dysfunctional behaviors that were so common within WCG. It is important to note that she describes what things were really like before the turmoil of the 1970s. It was not a golden age of truth as many COG followers seem to think pre-1972 WCG was.)

To get an idea of what sort of things the children were hearing I recommend listening to Gerald Waterhouse's sermon, Get the Point (December 1, 1979). Unlike most churches the COGs do not have any form of Sunday School for the children and they are forced to listen to the same fear inducing sermons the adults hear.

I listened to that sermon and made many notes of it in a previous post. In it Waterhouse describes what he claimed would happen to the Laodiceans in graphic detail. He often states that the Laodiceans (WCG members who did not flee to Petra) will be beheaded by hordes of war hungry Europeans.

Here are some of the notes I took as I was listening to the sermon. This excerpt starts about 97 minutes into the sermon.
Franz Josef Strauss will be the military dictator of Europe. ([1:37])

The Laodiceans will speak up and oppose the Pope. He shouts. (38)

Europeans will behead Laodiceans. (39)

Laodiceans will proclaim that HWA is God's man to the triumphant Europeans. (39)

The beheading of Laodiceans will shock some of the Europeans. (40)

Every time the heart beats, blood squirts. Europeans will be traumatized and begin to wonder why they are fighting HWA's followers. (41)

Laodiceans' witness and mass murder is necessary to make Europeans aware of WCG members in Petra and of HWA. (42-43)

When the Laodiceans die in the Great Tribulation proclaiming the words of HWA it will prove to God that they have repented and submitted to HWA's authority. (44)

Submitting to HWA proves they will rule properly in the World Tomorrow. (45)
No wonder so many children were so scared within HWA's WCG and stayed close to their parents at all times.

The fact that little kids within HWA's WCG severely curtailed their socializing with their peers because they were afraid they would miss the call to flee to Petra, the alleged place of safety, once again exposes the severe destructive influence that HWA and his minions imposed upon WCG members in order to exploit them effectively, not least by persuading them to pay three tithes and extra offerings.


  1. I grew up with a totally different perspective. For me, the tribulation was a present event, and was caused by my parents and the then "Radio" Church of God. Horrible "real time" daily events were my reality, rendering the supposed future totally beside the point. In fact, my daily life was so bad that I wanted my parents and the church leaders to go through the tribulation to learn the meaning of pain! All I can say is that I relished the "protected" time at school, safely away from my parents, and would have welcomed the opportunity (and this was a serious taboo during the era) to have been adopted by a kind African American family!

    Now, kiddie kiddies, don't do this at home! If this is your reality (and I strongly suspect that such conditions still exist in the splinters), realize that the church's fantasies are all imaginary. It didn't happen in my lifetime, and it isn't going to in yours, either. Get through zero tolerance legalistic extreme punishment somehow, forgive and forget, and get on with your life. PTSD,,with its nightmares and sweats is no picnic, but forgiving the deceived is something you do for yourself. Don't hang on to it and allow a bad childhood in the cult to also rob you of your adult years!


  2. It is good to learn of your contrasting experience, Byker Bob. I am glad you escape that particular trap.

    When I read Powers' book I was amazed that kids feared to be away from their parents because of the place of safety doctrine. Seeing this implanted fear mentioned again in Exit and Support Network prompted me to report on this tragic phenomenon.

  3. Probably the most shocking aspect to that report is that the kids who fell into that particular mindset had no concept of trusting God to lovingly gather and shepherd them and their families to the place of safety together. They seemed to feel that the outcome was all up to their parents, their church, and whatever circumstances they happened to find themselves in at the time the call went out.

    In a sense, this is nothing different from the "leave them at the mall" routine espoused by some of HWA's successors. Whether young people had the rotten attitude which affected me, or the one described by Ms. Powers, what a horrible, distorted, and inaccurate concept of God!