Sunday, April 6, 2014

David Robinson on Raymond McNair, Rader's Collaborator

David Robinson shares his impressions of Raymond McNair in his book, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web. He was especially concerned with the fact that he chose to collaborate with Stanley Rader during the receivership crisis in 1979.

At one point David Robinson talked with Stanley Rader about Raymond McNair and expressed concern that he was in the new "loyalty committee" but, in Robinson's opinion, he seemed to lack the personal character to be a judge of other people. Robinson reported that Raymond McNair was nicknamed "Buffie" because HWA had once called him a buffoon.
I discussed with Stan how lacking in perception Raymond McNair is and how it troubled me he was connected with the new "loyalty committee." I thought a judge must be perceptive, as well as having good judgement. I didn't think Raymond had those qualities. He was widely known in the field as "Buffie," because it was widely known or rumored that Herbert Armstrong himself referred to Raymond as a "buffoon." Stan said not to worry as he would not be judging me. (Chapter 13, p. 162.)   
Chapter 17 is devoted to describing Robinson's impressions of Raymond McNair. He appeared to be a man who deeply yearned for glory, but knew he could only do this by attaching himself to HWA's cause. He also tended to be quite compassionate and without malice while he was alone. But if he was part of a group he could then become nasty.

Robinson heard from Raymond McNair himself that in 1976 HWA sought McNair out to meet him in order to encourage him to remarry after he divorced his first wife. 

Robinson also revealed that McNair was perfectly capable of misrepresenting events to WCG members for personal gain. For instance he boasted that he was instrumental in the creation of the Systematic Theology Project.
Raymond came back from the conference [in 1978] exuberant. He mounted his pulpit waving the new Systematic Theology Project triumphantly. He reminded his listeners of his time spent on the Doctrinal Committee and how it was now paying off. He had contributed handsomely to this new project. Now the beliefs of the church were codified, and had been a major contributor! (Chapter 17, p. 214.)
But as the winds changed HWA denounced the Systematic Theology Project and claimed it was part of an attempt by Garner Ted Armstrong to overthrow him, liberalize WCG doctrine and he insisted that it was done without his knowledge. Raymond McNair chose to collaborate with HWA's charade to be in his good graces. He insisted that HWA was unaware of the Systematic Theology Project but in fact McNair knew better.
The fact that Raymond upheld HWA's direct, forceful, and often repeated denial of any knowledge of the Systematic Theology Project was a strong signal to his peers that Raymond would misrepresent on command from HWA. There were too many reports that Raymond possessed positive knowledge to the contrary. (Chapter 17, p. 215.)   
Robinson explained elsewhere that HWA was always able to stop any change in practice or doctrine if he simply wanted to. The claim HWA made that senior WCG ministers were covertly kept away from him by Garner Ted Armstrong seems to be simply untrue.

On pages 218-9 Robinson reports that he and his wife confronted Raymond McNair on why he incorrectly proclaimed in sermons that Garner Ted Armstrong had silenced him (and Meredith) and prevented him from contacting HWA when he knew that it was HWA who had demoted him at that time. McNair admitted that it was HWA, not Garner Ted Armstrong, who was behind his demotion. He had no good explanation for misrepresenting the situation.

When the State of California began to investigate the financial practices of WCG's leadership prompting the receivership HWA at first desired to cooperate with the investigation. However Rader went into action and reversed this initial policy and got HWA to vehemently oppose the receivership and to falsely claim it threatened freedom of religion.

It is Robinson's contention that as part of securing his power over WCG during the receivership crisis Rader planned to bring the ministry under his control. To do this he used Meredith and Raymond McNair. It appears he offered them great power if they worked with him. Robinson was deeply disappointed with these men for choosing to align themselves with Rader during this crisis.
It shall always accrue to Raymond's shame that he lent himself to this devilish plot to overthrow the ministry itself. (Chapter 17, p. 220.)
Robinson reports that Raymond McNair was "like a madman" when he lashed out during the infamous meeting in which those who wished to cooperate with the receivers (including his own brother, Burk McNair) were viciously cast out of Ambassador Auditorium.
For Raymond McNair to stand that Friday morning and bar his own brother from the auditorium meeting, for him to attempt to keep all ministers out, including all of the area coordinators who were there in town, is remarkable. ... Many eyewitnesses report Raymond as appearing and acting like a madman. He was prepared to cut, to destroy, to lie, to hurt, and to violate his pledge given at the time of his baptism - he was prepared to do anything! ... he more than ready, even eager, to destroy his own brother - even his blood brother - and he was proud of that. He was doing it in the name of God! (Chapter 17, pp. 220-1.)
Robinson believed that Raymond McNair was greatly distressed by leading protest marches against the receivership and hated contradicting traditional WCG teaching prohibiting participating in protests. Robinson seemed to believe that to contradict what he had so long taught must have caused him "sleepless nights." Nevertheless he chose to collaborate with Rader and HWA. (Chapter 17, p. 221.)

Later in January 1979 Raymond McNair spoke at a conference. According to Robinson he spoke in a manner which only gained ridicule from the WCG ministers attending. Everyone was embarassed at his crude attempts to flatter HWA and to proclaim his supposed greatness simply to gain favor from HWA. Even HWA was embarrassed at McNair's unseemly performance and had to stop him speaking.
A number remarked afterwards how he was destroyed forever in the ministry. (Chapter 17, p. 221) 
But as Robinson accurately foresaw earlier Rader put Raymond McNair in his place soon afterwards. Meredith and McNair were no match for Rader and miserably failed to overcome Rader's power play. (Later in 1981 Rader was deposed by other men and shunted out of power within WCG.)

Robinson concludes his disappointed portrait of the man with these words.
And those who had thought of him as physically courageous and doctrinally strong  have been disappointed on both counts. (Chapter 17, p. 225.)
It is good that David Robinson, with what must have been a heavy heart, reveal the measure of a man who chose to collaborate with Rader during that most serious crisis for WCG and was played a fool by Rader.

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