Saturday, February 21, 2015

PCG's Mark Jenkins Forbids Military Service (2002)

Very often PCG's leaders condemn America's leaders as being hopelessly bested by various international rivals and these events are presented in an alarmist way as evidence that America is falling apart on the international stage and a sign that America will soon be destroyed by Europe.

Their writings at time are so strident in condemning and negatively portraying those they view as America's rivals that one unaware of PCG's background could be quite surprised to learn that PCG actually forbids their followers from serving in the armed forces. Recently has posted a May 2002 article by Mark Jenkins that restates PCG's ban on serving in the armed forces. It is entitled "Should a Christian Fight?" Jenkins is really talking about PCG members who are taught by PCG to be the only true Christians in all the world.
The PCG frequently comments on American military weakness. Does this mean we support military action? ...

The Philadelphia Church of God’s newsmagazine, the Philadelphia Trumpet, frequently comments on American military weakness. This is, however, not because we support military action—we do not! This military weakness of the United States and Britain demonstrates the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy—that the pride of their power has been broken (Leviticus 26:19). In writing on this lack of military strength, the intent of the Trumpet is simply to show the extent to which God’s prophecies are being fulfilled in the U.S. and Britain. Because of disobedience, God has broken the pride of the their power and appointed terror over them (verses 15-16). ...

Consider: The Apostle Peter drew his sword in defense of the living Christ and was told to put it away. God does not condone violence.
How many readers of The Philadelphia Trumpet would misunderstand PCG's writings and assume that PCG supported war? PCG's writers have written many articles that sound as though PCG was calling for war as may be seen in the following examples.

Just a few months before Jenkins wrote this article Ron Fraser wrote the following words in a Philadelphia Trumpet article.
Surprisingly, German President Johannes Rau publicly stated that this horrific terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland gave no reason for the U.S. to go to war! He preferred a civil action against the perpetrators. (Ron Fraser, The Battle Lines Broaden, Philadelphia Trumpet, November 2001.)
So it would seem that Fraser condemned the idea that the US should not go to war over 9/11. How does that opinion show PCG's writers' intent "is simply to show the extent to which God’s prophecies are being fulfilled in the U.S. and Britain" as Jenkins put it?

Also note this particularly inflammatory article by Joel Hilliker which, citing a lawsuit, accuses Iran of having a role in preparing 9/11. This is a part of PCG's continuous demonization of Iran which they have been indulging in since 1994.
Today, some families of 9/11 victims are still seeking justice—but the rest of the country has moved on. All people want is some kind of end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As clean and tidy as possible, sure—but if not, what can you do? We’ve already spent 7,500 lives and a trillion dollars.

Clearly, there is nary a soul with a mind to actually attack Iranare you kidding? ...

Proof abounds of Iran waging direct war against American troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq—arming and training insurgents and so on.
Iran has been waging war against America for ten years! (Or we could go back much further—1979.) It helped kill 3,000 Americans on 9/11. It has helped in killing thousands more on the battlefield since. It is bloodying America’s nose, trashing its reputation, burning its honor, and draining its treasury.
And America does nothing. Like a whipped dog. (Joel Hilliker, Iran Helped Plan 9/11, September 14, 2011. For more on this topic here is a previous post discussing Joel Hilliker's article.)
With words like these how in the world are readers supposed to know that PCG's leaders forbid their following from going to war? How on Earth are readers supposed to note that PCG's writers' intent "is simply to show the extent to which God’s prophecies are being fulfilled in the U.S. and Britain" as Jenkins euphemistically portray PCG's writings on this topic?

(A note to any Iranian readers who may read this: PCG is a small and marginal group. They only have about 5000 members. They are not important in America. Many people who read their Philadelphia Trumpet publication do not fully understand the nature of PCG. PCG is not important in America.)

We now return to Jenkins' article.

Jenkins also states that PCG's members allegiance is to (PCG's) God not the nation you live in.
Also, consider where your allegiance lies. As a citizen of the United States of America, you would not fight for any other country; to do so would be considered treason. When you visit another country, you are a guest. You cannot participate in any aspect of its government, military or otherwise. The question, then, is this: Where is your citizenship? Are you a part of one of this world’s kingdoms? Or are you a citizen of the Kingdom of God? ...

If you are led by a government that is fighting a war, then you can fight for it. But if you are led by God, He gives the following command: “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). If we were to participate in any of this world’s military organizations, we would be demonstrating our lack of obedience to our Father and, at the same time, our willingness to fight against a terror that has been appointed by God (Leviticus 26:19).
Then why do PCG members pay taxes? Some of those taxes are used to fund military expenditure. Why are they required to obey legal decisions by the government they live under? These words are just facile rhetoric designed to convince readers to obey the will of PCG's leaders.

It is also worth noting how Jenkins describes Al Qaeda as "a terror that has been appointed by God" and thus is not to be fought against by PCG members serving in the armed forces. Isn't that what Osama bin Laden liked to imagine about himself? Such talk regarding the murderers of innocent civilians, including innocent Muslims, is sickening.
Terrorism and war are appalling evils, and will be stamped out by Jesus Christ at His return. We, however, simply do not have the right to go work for another government or kingdom—one being punished by God for its sins—simply because we believe its cause to be righteous. ...

Until that time, God expects us to serve Him, not one of man’s military organizations.
While at least PCG's members are spared the ordeal of war because of this teaching it is irresponsible for PCG's leaders to talk as though it is a good idea to go to war with a nation they do not like considering that they themselves and PCG members refuse to join the armed forces and thus do not directly bear the consequences of any decision to go to war.


  1. The only way in which one could be objective about the power of the United States military would be to take a hypothetical alien from a distant solar system, one who had no direct knowledge of planet Earth or its history, and assign him to visit Earth to discover where the greatest military power resided, and was prevalent.

    The alien would be reporting to his superiors that consistently, the superior powers of the US military were used to quell strife, and to insure peace, and that this has remained true for decades. The alien would probably note differences between the ways in which liberal administrations and conservative ones promoted and utilized the military capabilities, as well as the presence of antiwar protesters, but that the strength of the organization in general has remained fairly consistent, and has been the backbone of peace and stability in the free world.

    Armstrongism has a prophecy mold which remains continually unfulfilled. The proponents utilize flame fanning in an attempt to make it appear to members and prospective members that the prophecies are actually being fulfilled. They are not. I've watched this over my entire lifetime, and at times, some small point which they could magnify surfaces, they max it for all it is worth, and then it just as quickly dissipates, having no lasting effect. As an example, in terms of their prophecy fulfillment and events affecting the history of the world, the strife in Bosnia, and even 9-11 have not been any sort of key events. They were periodic problems which were resolved, and life went on. Debate often takes place in the seats of power of the "bad boy" nations they have picked and chosen from Europe, the hot rhetoric which is sometimes a part of early work product is quoted, but then the cooler heads of the "real" power prevails in resolving problem areas, and the world continues to go on. At best, Armstrongites are simply hecklers and nay-sayers, and always have been.


  2. As I understood it, the WCG taught that the United States should lay down its arms, everyone should join WCG, everyone should be totally obedient to Herbe --- uh, I mean God, and that then God would fight our battles and everything would be hunky-dory. I always wondered how that would work out.

  3. And yet... and yet....

    The Worldwide Church of God had conscientious objectors, as taught by Herbert Armstrong, during the days of the draft where young men were inducted into the military.

    The acid test, as it were, was how Ambassador College treated those who served out their I-W programs at Big Sandy Texas: They were treated as worthless un-American slave workers who were disloyal. Heck, many of the ministers who abused the conscientious objectors didn't even know about the church teaching on the subject.

    Lives were ruined.

    And Gerald Flurry was at least part of the grinding Ambassador machine that chewed up and spit out the conscientious objectors.

    Would Mark Jenson be willing to go through that same program today under the same conditions? To be treated like crap by the supposed True Church of God?

    Would any of the PCG ministers be willing?

    And then there's the Blue Angels contracted to fly over their auditorium.

    Just how does that fit in with their eschatological stance?

  4. Yes, you would have thought that Ambassador College and WCG would have been a haven for the young people whom WCG required to be conscientious objectors, treated in ways different from the way the secular world treated them. However, rather than providing job opportunities commensurate with their actual abilities, the church deliberately gave them demeaning jobs. These were the young guys who had failed to qualify for Ambassador College and theology student deferments, and were therefore considered not to have a very bright future in "the work".

    Many people really found out to what extent the church had their backs through their conscientious objector process. It was as if the church required something, but didn't wish to attract the attention of the federal government for the official stance. As such, refusal of military service became a mandatory personal decision, a required matter of conscience. In some cases, those who would have considered it a sacred duty to serve their country were coerced via the tribulation and Lake of Fire to object to military service, and then rewarded by being treated as second class citizens for their compliance.


  5. Now I never heard about that. How grotesque. WCG members being ordered to not join the armed forces and then being treated with contempt for not going to war. What disgraceful and shameful behavior.