Thursday, February 6, 2014

David Robinson's Book: A Denunciation of Rader's Power

David Robinson's book is most well known for first bringing to public attention the fact that HWA had committed incest for ten years with his daughter Dorothy Armstrong. But there are many other things David Robinson had to say.

Similar to John Tuit's book, The Truth Shall Set You Free, Robinson's account is greatly concerned with the extraordinary power held by Stanley Rader at the time. He greatly feared that Rader was plotting to seize control of WCG using his particularly close relationship with HWA. His book is greatly colored with this fear. After reading Tuit and Robinson I am firmly persuaded that Rader was indeed seeking to seize control of WCG. This was also the opinion of the writers of the Ambassador Report.

After reading these works it is easy to see that Rader had an absolutely devastating effect upon WCG. Many of the most detailed and damaging critiques of Armstrongism (Ambassador Report, Tuit and Robinson) were written, in part, as attempts to prevent Rader from seizing power over WCG.

Although Rader must bear a major share of responsibility for the turmoil within WCG ultimately HWA must bear the main responsibility for the troubles within the 1970s. The ultimate problem was HWA making himself the absolute ruler of WCG. There was no outside accountability. There was no one to whom he had to be make himself accountable for. This allowed HWA to abuse his power.

Among many abuses HWA committed was to allow Rader, a man who was not a minister (until 1979) and did not have any link to WCG members. Rader did not have the support of a majority of ministers or members but he expertly used his connections with HWA to assume power as the second most powerful man within WCG and heir apparent.

Eventually, in 1981, Rader was deposed by HWA. No doubt the heroic acts of resistance against Rader's power grab, as detailed in the Ambassador Report, and John Tuit and David Robinson's books helped cause Rader to be removed. In one sense Rader's disposal could be viewed as a popular revolution by WCG ex-members, members and ministers that forced HWA to remove Rader. It is an added layer of tragedy that HWA never thanked the people who did so much to liberate him from Rader's influence.

Now I wish to state that I have heard that apparently David Robinson may have held some anti-Semitic views. Gavin Rumney reported about this.
Anti-Semitism has always existed in a precarious balance with philo-Semitism in the Armstrong sects. John Trechak [editor of the Ambassador Report] reportedly pleaded with David Robinson to remove openly anti-Jewish passages from his book, Herbert Armstrong’s Tangled Web. Robinson eventually agreed. Robinson saw Stanley Rader as the “Jewish threat” to the church, a view that Garner Ted Armstrong may have exploited. Whether Rader was the Rasputin figure he was made out to be is beside the point: whatever issues surrounded him, they had everything to do with personal ethics and nothing to do with his Jewish heritage. (Source.)
I agree with this opinion. Any praise I may have for Robinson's book is not intended to promote negative views towards Jews.

Despite this unfortunate flaw Robinson's book is essential reading for anyone wishing to properly understand HWA's character and what really happened within WCG in the turbulent 1970s.

You can access Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web from Exit and Support Network. Just email them and request it.

1 comment:

  1. Several ideas come to mind. One is that I was quite shocked at the blatant antisemitism openly displayed several years ago in Al Portune's memoire. There is no doubt that antisemitism existed within classic WCG.

    Secondly, on the rare occasions that Stan Rader would address the Pasadena congregation, comments were made in the aftermath about effeminacy. He was not a powerful orator, so managed to embody two of the stereotypes (antisemitic and anti-GLBT) deeply programmed into church members.

    Finally, much is known today about how Armstrongites react as a group to power changes. Had Rader assumed power back in the 1970s or 1980s and attempted any doctrinal changes, there is no reason to believe the church would have reacted any differently than they did to Joe Tkach Sr in the 1990s. If nothing else, Stan Rader was highly intelligent and realized that the only way he could have power over the church would be as puppetmaster to HWA. This is the time-honored symbiotic relationship used by "handlers" to control prominent politicians and acclaimed entertainers.