Thursday, October 29, 2015

PCG Glorifying Slavery in the Bible

The Pan-African Flag

There are some topics that should just be left as they are and must not be sanitized. Life is not perfect. Bad things happened. We have to work towards addressing these problems to build a better tomorrow now.

Back in March 2013 (presumably in Royal Vision) PCG's Joel Hilliker wrote an article about slavery as described in the Old Testament. Instead of just letting facts be what they are Hilliker somehow yearns to  present slavery as described in the Old Testament as something perfect, noble and ideal. He is also noticeably fixated upon the slave master. He talks of the slave master needing to be compassionate and filled with empathy for the slave under his control as though all would be well if only the slave master treated his slaves compassionately.

The article's title is:

Israelites Were Slaves—and Slave Owners

In this article Hilliker makes the mistake of assuming it is harmless to talk about slavery as described in the Old Testament without dealing with the horrors of slavery that was practiced in the United States until 1865. While I suppose one could well argue that slavery as described in the Old Testament was different from the type of slavery that was used against African Americans it cannot change the fact that the trauma of slavery as practiced until 1865 cannot help but affect how one views this topic. We must be respectful to the memory of those who suffered slavery in the United States and deal with this issue in a responsible way.

Slavery is a remainder of the painful problems facing America, particularly discriminatory treatment towards the African American community. To this day African Americans face all kinds of distinctive problems. When they endure injustice it is not possible to forget that it stems from the horror of slavery that was imposed on their ancestors by the slave masters. The ancestors of the African American community were ripped away from their homes and shipped over the Atlantic Ocean to be exploited and used as slave labor. The slave masters forced the African Americans to work and denied them the fruits of their labor. Many of those who were enslaved died under the severe oppression they were forced into enduring.

The Bible was written long before the slave trade forcibly robbed so many Africans of their homes and shipped them away from everything they held dear. But today it is not possible to look at this issue without addressing slavery in the United States that existed until 1865. (Of course there were other problems afterwards.) The traumatic memory of the salve plantation taints this topic. It is troubling that Hilliker seems determined to ignore how the terrible injustice of slavery taints his attempt to purify past events.
Israel’s history as a slave nation is knit within the fabric of its identity. In spiritual Israel [PCG] today, we identify with the rigors of bondage the ancient Israelites suffered. The Israelites’ slavery to Egypt typifies our slavery to sin and to Satan (e.g. John 8:34; Romans 6:20). Their miraculous redemption from captivity foreshadowed God freeing us. The spiritual imagery is profound, the lessons deeply personal.

But ancient Israel’s freedom did not end its association with slavery. Not only did the whole nation repeatedly go into varying degrees of captivity, but at times, individual Israelites actually became slaves and even owned slaves within the nation. Most of us probably haven’t thought much about this fact: While there is no indication Israel had a slave trade as some nations did, its people did own slaves. And God sanctioned and regulated this practice.
It is one of the most controversial aspects of God’s Old Testament law: slavery. Believe it or not, it is also a subject that glows with vision and even beauty when you properly understand it!
There are some African Americans who are members of PCG. What must go through their minds reading things like this?

It is strange that Hilliker should say "there is no indication Israel had a slave trade as some nations did" when he is clearly talking about not just any nation but his own, the United States. Why is it he feels compelled to resort to such a bland euphemism here when he is clearly talking about his own nation? Why is he so afraid of facts?

We should focus on making society today a better place and deal with the current problems caused by the trauma of slavery by working to overcome the injustices which are the tragic legacies of the horrors of slavery. It is unfortunate that PCG's leaders decided they had to justify a form of slavery to insist that PCG's God was always perfect and right.

Hilliker then justifies slavery as described in the Old Testament as a welfare program
God designed His welfare system so that the people, not the government, provided for those in poverty. He wanted the entire nation to look out for those in financial straits, and for the poor to work to get themselves out of poverty.
So Hilliker thinks the poor are that way because they do not work? That might be true with some but it is certain that most of the poor of not like that. He also ignores the problem of racism. Some people refuse to employ minorities and those minorities suffer because of that. Hilliker refuses to bring this problem up.

Also note Hilliker's denigration of the government providing for the poor. PCG is a right wing group and they imitate the right in this way as well.
Yet these aids did not eliminate poverty completely. So God provided a plan of last resort for a person in terrible financial shape. In extreme cases, a horribly indebted individual could enter a work program to get back on his feet.
Read Deuteronomy 15:12. Essentially this is God’s six-year work program for poor Israelites. For someone capable of working, this was a way to get out from under a crushing burden of debt. It also ensured that the lender received something in return. Contrast that against the modern practice of filing bankruptcy, which leaves creditors without compensation when the borrower defaults on a debt.
It is strange that Hilliker is so worried about the creditor instead of the man who becomes a slave for six years. Six years is a long time. That sounds like quite a long work program. Of course it is no such thing. Hilliker is projecting his fantasies upon these words.

Hilliker than talks about how one can become a slave in the kind of slavery that is described in the Old Testament.
God’s law outlines four other ways an Israelite might become a slave. In only one case did God actually command slavery: A thief without the money to pay the fine laid on him by the law was to be sold (Exodus 22:3). This punished the criminal for his crime and ensured that the grieved party received something for being wronged.
The other laws simply establish ground rules for this common practice. First, a father might sell his children (Exodus 21:7).
Second, someone might be taken as a prisoner in war and sold as a slave. Finally, an Israelite might ransom an Israelite from being a slave to a Gentile; he could then sell that slave to another Israelite (Leviticus 25:47-55).
Hilliker then clumsily tries to wring this out into some kind of lesson about avoiding sin.
All of these cases involve some kind of sin. If you consider these means by which someone could become enslaved, they illustrate one of the spiritual types at play in God’s laws regarding slavery: the fact that sin enslaves us. When an Israelite became enslaved, it was a sign that he had broken some laws—criminal or economic—and was now captive as a result.
They were probably more worried about being under slavery then about any allegorical lesson about obeying PCG's God as interpreted by PCG's leaders.

At least Hilliker says there will be no slavery after PCG's Christ returns, whether of the kind mentioned in the Old Testament or of the kind that was practiced in the United States until 1865.
It seems extremely likely that slavery will be a thing of the past in the World Tomorrow because God will eliminate all these causes for slavery. We will be teaching people—helping and guiding them—to ensure they are being responsible and actually growing their wealth. God wants everyone to prosper! God doesn’t intend people to be owned by other people. He wants all men to be free!
Then why bother justifying what happened in ancient times? It is maddening that PCG insists on justifying and even glorifying slavery as described in the Old Testament as some sort of family arrangement.
Notice Exodus 21:2. For six years, the master provided shelter, food and clothing for the servant, and would pay his debts. In exchange, the poor man would work. During that period, the master was forbidden from treating him harshly; he was commanded to acknowledge the servant’s status as a citizen of Israel and to treat him with justice in the fear of God. God gave many laws to ensure the servant was treated well—like family. And notice: “He shall go out free for nothing” means that at the end of the six years he no longer owed anything. His debts were considered paid in full.
It is wrong for PCG to minimize things in this way. Hilliker just mentioned earlier that one could become a slave as punishment for breaking the law. But now Hilliker wants us to believe that slavery could become a happy family if only the master was filled with compassion.
Read Leviticus 25:48. The man in this work program had this option: He or his family could buy his freedom at any time. That price was probably negotiated with the employer; the judges may have also gotten involved where necessary.
Instead of trying to make the past look beautiful and pristine one should instead work to make tomorrow better and work to resolve problems today.
Read Deuteronomy 15:13-14 and 18 to see what would happen when the poor man finished the six-year work program. Consider how different this was from slavery in other nations. This man was given a bonus so he could start life over again with some savings! That would help him stay out of poverty the next time. A man who experienced those six years of servanthood was strongly motivated to make sure he never fell into such a state again.
How contradictory Hilliker is. He tries to make slavery as described in the Old Testament as something beautiful, noble and divine, and even like a family. Now he portrays it as something a person would never want to go through again. It is made to sound like some sort of prison sentence with hard labor.

It is a hopeless endeavor to make the past perfect. Rather we must make the future better for all.
God really instilled within the master a strong sense of compassion toward the poor individual. This is reminiscent of when the Israelites went free from their slavery: As slaves they possessed little, but God made sure that as they started their life of freedom, they were rich! (e.g. Exodus 3:21-22; 12:35-36). God ensured the same for the Israelite slave who went free, commanding the master: Give to him liberally! God left the specific amount to the discretion of the master. Slaves knew about this law too; this would have been incentive to offer good service during those six years of work.
Now Hilliker appears to be trying to rehabilitate the slave master.

British Israelism has taught PCG that their nation is chosen by God to be the greatest on Earth. This teaches PCG to revere and love their "Israelite" nation. So they are disturbed at problems about the history of the United States. But instead of being responsible about this and just admitting that any society will be haunted by the injustices of the past PCG is trying to minimize the problem of slavery by portraying the slave master as having "a strong sense of compassion toward the poor individual."

This is wrong. Rather we should simply confront the fact that what happened under slavery in the United States was most awful and most terrible and work towards making society today a better place for all. We need to educate ourselves about racism to work against it.
Contemplate Deuteronomy 15:15. God wanted the master’s history as a slave and emancipation by God to inform his compassion and empathy toward the indentured worker. This principle applies anytime we have people working under us. There was a time when you were the child, the student, the employee or servant—when you were under another’s authority. Remember that experience, and be sure to exercise authority with compassion for the person who is now in the same position you used to be in. This is a law of love—and a law of liberty! Give those under you the same generous treatment God has given you.
So Hilliker seems to think the slave master will simply feel sorry for the slave and act generously towards him. It is terrible that while so many African Americans suffer racism today Hilliker decides to write this paean for the slave master and portray him as compassionate and filled with empathy.

I cannot help but wonder if Hilliker is trying to rehabilitate the institution of slavery. He does not wish to restore it by any means. Rather he seems to do this in order to pretend that his white "Israelite" ancestors in the United States were perfect, innocent and pure of the horrors of slavery. If so that would be most wrong. Rather we must be honest about what happened in times past and work to make our society better for all.
Consider the benefits of this program. It developed a stronger work ethic in the servant and provided a profit to both the employer and the worker. And it is worth mentioning that none of it required any public taxes.
Again note how concerned Hilliker is about the employer. What a sad perspective this is in regards to any kind of slavery. Slavery is made for the benefit of the employer at the expense of the worker. Considering this fact it is concerning that Hilliker should be so concerned for the employer.

It is also noteworthy how Hilliker boasts that this did not need any taxes. It is strange Hilliker should be so fearful of taxes when as a minister in a religious organization his religious groups does not pay taxes anyway. Odds are Hilliker has been influenced by some rightists on this matter.
The other spiritual type at play in God’s slavery laws regards the conduct of the master. God’s laws on slavery actually point to our servanthood to God, who is our faithful master.
Really study this subject in Scripture, and you see that God actually uses the master-slave relationship to typify our relationship with Him. God Himself is a “slave owner.”
Just because a now banned relationship such as slavery happened to be used as a metaphor to describe religious ideas does not justify in any way this bizarre attempt to sanitize the past. We should not sanitize the past but use it to inspire us to make this society better today and to work against injustice.
This idea is very foreign to modern ears: It goes against everything our culture promotes—glorifying the individual, worshiping personal expression, demanding selfish fulfillment.
How bizarre this is that Hilliker should dare to denigrate mainstream society in such a way.

It was no easy thing to abolish slavery. Alas, the issue was exploited by some who yearned to protect slavery and keep the slaves in chains to lead the southern states to secede leading to the most terrible conflict to afflict the United States, the Civil War. Those who wanted to continue the mass enslavement of African Americans led the United States into catastrophe.

How dare Hilliker denigrate mainstream society for not liking metaphors Hillikers wants to use in this article.
Nevertheless, this is the scriptural teaching. For example, God’s apostles often refer to themselves as the “servant,” or bondslave, of God (e.g. Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Colossians 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:24; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1). As Gerald Flurry explains in the James booklet: “God’s very elect are a small little remnant of people who know a lot about the Father and Christ, and who want to be a slave to both of them. This is a bondage of love. We love being in bondage to God.”
Hilliker then tells the reader that what is really important is what the slave master is like.
The real issue is the attitude and motive of the ruler. Scripture teaches we are all slaves: slaves of sin, or slaves of righteousness. Satan is the cruel, oppressive, despotic master of slaves of sin; Christ is the benevolent master of slaves of righteousness. Satan oppresses and bludgeons all he can from his slaves. Instead, Christ paid for His slaves with His precious blood, and offers us everything. Christ says: “[M]y yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30), compared to the hard bondage and destructive servitude Satan imposes.
Is it not amazing how Hilliker chooses to ignore the slave? He makes it seems the only important question is what does the master of slaves thinks and treats the slaves. What the slave thinks is here erased from discussion. This shows how the PCG leadership is so fixated on power.

Hilliker then decides that slavery is a lot like family.
Of course, God also typifies our relationship as a father-son relationship and a husband-wife relationship—but the way God views slavery, there isn’t necessarily a huge difference between those. The master-slave idea simply emphasizes the government—the authority and submission in the relationship. But in God’s view, it was almost like a family bond.

Reading about the relationships that some of the great men of the Bible had with their servants, you realize that they were very much like family. And we who are slaves of God are certainly family to God!
How bizarre this is. Hilliker seems to think there is little difference between slavery and a family. In this warped perspective within both slavery and the family the master or the husband makes the decisions and the others are to obey. This is so wrong and disturbing in so many ways. Reading bizarre words such as these it is little wonder that PCG has gained such a terrible reputation for authoritarian behavior.

Again we see Hilliker fixating his attention on the slave master. He seems to subconsciously assume that if only the slave master acts benevolently all would be well.
God wanted the physical level to mirror this spiritual reality. Thus, in His law, our spiritual Master heavily regulated the physical master’s conduct in order to prevent abuses. Read Colossians 4:1 and Ephesians 6:9, both of which explicitly draw the parallel between physical and spiritual. God enjoins masters to follow His example and to treat their servants with compassion. He instructs: Remember what I have done for you! Even masters are slaves of God, and they are to follow the example of how God treats them.
This sympathetic view towards slave masters is wrong in so many ways. Rather we should face the facts about slavery in the United States and inspire ourselves to speak out against wrongs and educate ourselves to stand up against racism in all its forms so that we can live together in peace and justice.

Now Hilliker pretends that masters and slaves were somehow equal.
Again we see how God’s law tends to protect the person likelier to be trampled on. In this case, it contains many provisions to safeguard the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the servant. In fact, one of these is contained right within the Ten Commandments! Look closely at the Fourth Commandment in Deuteronomy 5:12-14.

God commanded that all slaves receive the weekly Sabbath rest! That alone reveals a lot about how unusual was the treatment slaves in Israel received as compared to those in other nations. On a spiritual level, the master and slave were equals.
This is a crude minimization of the horrors of slavery. It is so wrong for Hilliker to act as though they are simply equal. The slave is bound. How dare Hilliker acts as though this is not the case. Earlier Hilliker said one could become a slave as a sentence for criminal acts. Clearly they are not equals.

Again I cannot help but think that Hilliker is trying to rehabilitate slavery in the United States in order to pretend that his ancestors were innocent and to suppress any uncomfortable feelings of sadness regarding the plight of deprived ethnic minorities.
In practical effect, these laws encouraged masters to view servants as extended family. All the laws that applied to natural-born Israelites applied to slaves as well.
Laws granting rights to slaves were almost unheard of in surrounding nations. But slaves in Israel had many God-given rights. The law says an Israelite slave was to be treated just like a hired employee, one who received a paycheck each day (Leviticus 25:39-46). It says that if a master maimed a slave, that slave was to be set free (Exodus 21:26-27). It explicitly forbids killing a slave (Exodus 21:20).
Study all those laws, and you will detect a common thread of godly empathy. In all the laws regulating this practice, God continually reminds the Israelites of their unique history as a slave nation in Egypt. He commanded that His people remember that difficult past and make sure it informed their conscience when they dealt with those in similar circumstances. This reality is particularly relevant to those of us in spiritual Israel [PCG] today.
Again note how fixated Hilliker is on the slave masters. He seems to think that if only the master treats the slaves well and feels compassion for them then all would be well. This is little acknowledgement that being a slave would have been a harsh trial. It is so vain to try to purify the past. Let us instead make the future better.
Consider the picture described in the law of Deuteronomy 23:15-16. This is an extraordinary law. If a slave from a foreign nation escaped to Israel, God commanded the Israelites to provide him asylum and allow him to live anywhere he wanted in the nation. This man could have a completely new life, transformed from being a slave in a harsh, pagan nation to being able to enjoy the choicest blessings of freedom within the nation of the true God!
Hilliker praises this practice but at the same time PCG constantly fear mongers about immigrants coming to the United States. They even accused President Obama of letting immigrants come into the United States as a plot to get more voters for the Democratic Party. In reality deportations skyrocketed under President Obama. Such false accusations seem to show that PCG is willing to say anything to get the desired reaction from their followers.
God has tremendous compassion for those in bondage! He hears the cry of the oppressed—even Gentiles who are enslaved to other Gentiles—just as surely as He heard the cries of His people Israel when they were in bondage in Egypt! He has a mind to graft them into His chosen nation.
Then why is it PCG so often refuses to do these things by indoctrinating their followers to shun family members, ex-members and members of the other COG groups? Some PCG members are in bondage to HWA's anti-medicine superstition and neglect their health by refusing to visit doctors or taking medicines.

And so this article comes to an end.

What a terrible article that was. This is what happens when one demonizes the entire world as being influenced by Satan except for one's own small sect. This is what happens when one declares that they alone are right in all the world. This is what happens when one chooses to go so far to the right politically speaking that they fail to give heed to those whose politics happen to be different. They isolate themselves from society and begin to develop strange ideas that seem reasonable within the group but outside of the small group the ideas inspire shock from those without. This is what happens when one fails to be educated about racism.

This article about slavery and about how PCG's God is so concerned about the slave master is appalling. We need to side with those who are oppressed and not sympathize with those who exploit the vulnerable.


  1. When I was a student at Ambassador College, the topic of slavery was discussed. Basically, in condoning the practice, the ministers compared it to the indentured servant concept practiced by the pilgrims in the 1600s, in which poor English people who could not afford the trip to America contracted with wealthy individuals who would pay their passage, and then the poor ones would work exclusively for their benefactors for X number of years to repay the debt. So, even in this, white people were treated on a higher level than the African slaves who were brought to America against their will.

    Joel Hilliker and people who share his attitudes need to realize that there are always much better alternatives to slavery of any kind. He worries about creditors suffering a loss without mentioning that this was essentially what happened every Jubillee year according to the law of Moses.

    We could go on and on about this, including Joseph's brothers selling him to the Egyptians, and the whole nation of Israel going into slavery as a result. Egyptian slavery was probably more akin to American slavery of Africans. Some male slaves were castrated in Biblical times, and attractive females were used for sexual purposes.

    The Holocaust was largely the Germans using the Jews as slave labor to build Hitler's public works projects. As the German nation became desensitized and lost their national humanity, the Jews and others were subjected to increasingly cruelties, torture, starvation, death, and experimentation.

    Rather than glorifying the slavery practiced by the ancients, ACOG members would be better served by acknowledging that while we still have imperfect practices today, they are much more elevated and evolved than what was common amongst the ancient Israelites. The basic problem in Armstrongism is that there is little understanding or respect for freedom, a condition in which the human spirit flourishes.


  2. I didn't even mention that the Nazis used prisoners as forced labor. How were those people not slaves? How dare Hilliker should idealize slave masters considering these terrible recent events.

    The idealization of slave owners here simply show yet again how the PCG leadership seems to be utterly entranced by power.

    PCG, don't whitewash the past. Whitewash the future.

    Make a better tomorrow. Don't sanitize the past.

  3. It was some time in the 1970s when Gerald Flurry was relegated to Quincy, Washington -- the very worst place for a politically motivated upward mobile minister -- and while he was there, he announced to the WCG congregation in a sermon, "No one has any rights!". Some met this with great acceptance. I, on the other hand, was very grateful for the United States Constitution.

    It should be clear that in the mind of all Armstrongist leaders that everyone but them should be slaves and they should be slave masters. One cult leader from Australia made it clear by saying that those of the 'yellow race' would be domestic servants during the millennium (I have no idea where this idea comes from -- he must like Chinese cooking, I guess) and that Blacks would be assigned hard labor outdoors.

    It is always a safe bet to assume that Armstrongist leaders want a social order that includes slavery at the bottom and them at the top. In fact, slavery of a sort was practiced at Big Sandy during the time that Conscientious Objectors served there. Today, there are reports (and a You-Tube video or two) on the virtual slavery of people working for Dave Pack at the Wadsworth compound. I'm thankful that so far the Armstrongists haven't gained enough power and control to emulate Warren Jeffs and the FLDS, although the House of Yahweh with Ysrael Hawkins may come a long way toward the same goals: Unpaid child labor. Some of the men in the FLDS typically work 21 hour days. The best they can hope for is to gain enough wives and children to move to prosperity sufficient to be prominent in their compounds.

    The idea of slavery is at the very core of Armstrongism and the leaders can't wait to bring it to the world. Hilliker is simply a harbinger of things to come if the PCG and other Armstrongist groups get their way and come to power.

    Imagine a completely dystopian future where you are a slave in oppressed misery and you can't even commit suicide to escape it.

    These are very evil people who do not want others to have freedom.

  4. What terrible behavior. Thank you, Black Ops Mikey, for exposing such behavior here.