Saturday, July 2, 2016

Reading PCG's Autobiography of HWA

PCG has released their printing of the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong which is now available. It includes an anonymously written afterword.

Most of the photos appear to have been taken from previous printings of the Autobiography including the sometimes dated captions. Some photos which have clearly been added by PCG may be seen on PDF pp. 936-7. Photos appear on PDF pp. 186-217, 458-89, 682-713, 906-37.

PDF page 484 contains a photo of a tent meeting of HWA's in 1935. It is said that these were years of financial hardship. But seeing that HWA was able to hold such a meeting one cannot help but wonder if he and his organization were really so in want?

PDF page 683 contains a family photo of HWA and his immediate family. One can see Dorothy on the far left looking towards the other family members. She does not look particularly happy. Was she filled with disgust that she had to deal with HWA because he was her father?

In 1980 former WCG minister David Robinson revealed to the world that HWA had committed incest against his younger daughter for ten years.  Recently two of HWA's immediate family has stated that the incest happened. Some of the evidence for the incest was recently summarized by Kevin at Ambassador Watch.

An afterword written by someone in PCG appears at the end of this edition of the Autobiography (pp. 889-907, PDF pp. 1028-46). It summarizes HWA's life from 1959 to his death.

It is mentioned that HWA expanded his broadcasting to Australia.
As he oversaw the myriad decisions leading up to opening the new campus, Mr. Armstrong continued to direct the expanding Work of the Church. Soon after the college opened, he took his first trip around the world to Sydney, Australia, to book 39 additional radio stations, giving the World Tomorrow broadcast coverage of about 98 percent of the Australian population.
Prominent leaders of PCG originating from Australia include the late Ron Fraser and Brad MacDonald.

It is stated that 1963 was a year of austerity for HWA's Radio Church of God.

The connection with Australia is mentioned again.
The year 1966 brought Mr. Armstrong on another around-the-world trip to Australia, this time accompanied by his wife. Over the previous 5½ years, hundreds of Australians had come into God’s Church, and the Church’s message on radio and in print was continuing to reach thousands and even millions of Australians. (p. 889. PDF p. 1028.)
Loma Armstrong's death is mentioned. An oblique reference to HWA's ban against medicine and doctors is mentioned.
In February 1967, Mrs. Armstrong was stricken with a serious intestinal condition. What seemed to be an attack of appendicitis proved to be something more critical. With advice from a member with a medical background, Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong did everything they could without putting their faith in doctors. But then, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “The time had come to stand still, and commit it into God’s hands.”

A month and a half later, Mr. Armstrong wrote with sorrow: “[M]y wife’s critical illness has ended in the manner least expected—in her death just after midnight Saturday morning, April 15. In the next second of her consciousness she will awake in the resurrection, completely healed—and, far more than we beseeched God in our earnest prayers, not in the corruptible body of this mortal flesh and blood, but in an immortal spirit body, in glory in God’s eternal Kingdom!” (p. 891. PDF p. 1030.)
The association with Dr. Benjamin Mazar from 1968 onward is mentioned.

HWA's meetings with world leaders is portrayed as something unplanned which just providentially occurred.
Mr. Armstrong did not initiate meetings with the king, the professor or the prince. Nor would he initiate meetings with the presidents, first ladies, kings, queens, prime ministers, legislators, judges, ambassadors, professors, educators and other leaders he would meet during the 1970s. Yet he visited more of them than perhaps any other man alive. (p. 893. PDF p. 1032.)
The construction of Ambassador Auditorium is mentioned.

The mass defection of 1974 is mentioned. HWA is carefully shielded by the PCG writer from bearing any blame for what happened.
A group of 35 ministers led a major rebellion, largely against the authority of Garner Ted Armstrong, but also against Mr. Armstrong. Garner Ted, Mr. Armstrong wrote, was making day-to-day decisions as executive vice president—and some major, unauthorized decisions that Mr. Armstrong discovered later. Misunderstandings about divorce and remarriage and other doctrines caused serious problems. Accusers also said Mr. Armstrong and others at headquarters were mishandling funds. The group and those who followed along rejected the belief that God was behind Mr. Armstrong. (p. 895. PDF p. 1034.)
In fact some of those ministers continued to teach many of HWA's doctrines afterward. This indicates that their opposition was not motivated by a total rejection of HWA's teachings.

The establishment of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation is mentioned. Various projects it funded are mentioned.

It is mentioned that in the late 1970s HWA visited Apartheid South Africa. It is boasted that officials of that regime had long been reading HWA's recruitment magazine, The Plain Truth.
The latter half of the 1970s brought more flights to world capitals and meetings with world leaders. During one trip to South Africa, Mr. Armstrong spoke to 30 groups, gave press conferences and radio and television interviews, met Prime Minister John Vorster and former President J. J. Fouche, met mayors and leaders from Port Elizabeth and Edenvale (most of whom had been reading the Plain Truth for years), and spoke to crowds of 750 or more Plain Truth subscribers at public appearance campaigns in Capetown, Durban and Johannesburg. Nine months later, he met and addressed about 80 delegates in Southwest Africa (now Namibia), including Windhoek Mayor Dries Yssel, as they drafted the country’s new constitution. The special session at the Turnhalle in Windhoek was held especially to hear Mr. Armstrong.
He also addressed ministers, the legislative assembly and citizens of the Republic of Transkei (now dissolved) as it was being created; met with the mayor of Pretoria, South Africa, a keen Plain Truth reader.... (pp. 897-8. PDF pp. 1036-7.)
PCG has a long history of denigrating the current government in South Africa and overlooking the oppression against the black majority that was in force during Apartheid.

The Republic of Transkei was a Bantustan created by the Apartheid regime as part of an attempt to maintain Apartheid. The black majority were forbidden from voting in elections to determine the government of the Apartheid regime. To keep the black majority trodden underfoot the Apartheid regime created various "homelands" for certain tribes within the black majority and creating a legal fiction that those parts of the black majority belonged to these "homelands" and thus had no right to be treated as an equal with white South Africans. Once Apartheid was abolished in 1994 naturally these Bantustans were dissolved and reunited with the nation state.

Somewhat surprisingly HWA's marriage to Ramona Martin is mentioned. This aspect of HWA's life is often ignored and passed over in silence in COG hagiographies of HWA.

HWA's publication of The Incredible Human Potential is mentioned.

HWA's rejection of Garner Ted Armstrong is mentioned.

Garner Ted Armstrong is accused of being a driving force for the forced receivership imposed on WCG by the State of California.
The havoc surrounding Garner Ted’s actions did not end with his excommunication. The younger Armstrong went to the press with accusations and established his own church. He also took part in what turned out to be a major assault on God’s Church.
During the autumn of 1978, six disfellowshiped WCG members began to plot a class action lawsuit against the Church. ...

The main accusation made by Garner Ted was against his father’s “lavish spending.” The charges (which were later thoroughly disproved) prompted the state attorney general to appoint retired Judge Steven Weisman as the receiver of the Church. (p. 902. PDF p. 1041.)
One of these six former WCG members who initiated the lawsuit was John Tuit. After the receivership case ended he wrote a book all about the receivership case entitled The Truth Shall Set You Free, an account of how he joined WCG and ended up initiating the receivership lawsuit. The whole book may be read at Keith Hunt's website along with footnotes added by Hunt. Also Banned by HWA has large sections of the book online as well.

Among other things Tuit asserts that the receivership was an attempt to save WCG's assets from being used in an exploitative manner. The initiators of the receivership were not trying to destroy WCG but to reform it and save the WCG members' money from being used in an exploitative manner that disregarded the interests of WCG lay members. It was an attempt to reform WCG; not an attempt to destroy it. Also the six initiators of the lawsuit continued to fervently believe much of what HWA taught.

Were the allegations "thoroughly disproved"? Did the investigators take a look at WCG's finances and concluded that nothing was amiss? Let us see what this anonymously written afterword has to say about that.
While fighting against an unconstitutional attack that sought to establish state power over churches, the WCG received the support of dozens of other churches that recognized the danger of such an attack—support from churches with different doctrines, but all clinging to one common belief: freedom of religion.

On October 14, 1980, after siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars or more from Church funds to pay for the unjust and illegal receivership, the state of California dropped the case against the Church when the legislature passed a law barring the attorney general from investigating religious organizations the way they had accosted the Worldwide Church of God. (p. 903. PDF p. 1042.)
In other words WCG was not vindicated. Instead WCG lobbied "dozens of other churches" that were worried this receivership might also be used against them as well. This lobbying eventually led to a law being passed by the State of California that made it impossible for the State to conduct investigations like this on other churches and so the case against WCG was dropped. WCG was not vindicated; they simply changed the law.
Mr. Armstrong continued to fight resistance and disloyalty to the end of his life. The betrayal reached all the way to his marriage, when his second wife, Ramona, proved unwilling to stay by his side in Pasadena or in travel. It appeared “that there are other agents bearing influence in this matter,” Mr. Armstrong wrote; he was forced to file for divorce in 1982. (p. 905. PDF p. 1044.)
In other words it was HWA who decided to end the marriage and divorce her. It is simplistically asserted that she was to blame for the end of the marriage. How does this PCG writer know that? Other reports indicate that it was HWA who chose to end the marriage.

It has also been asserted that HWA reimposed his ban on makeup partly as an attempt to force her to initiate the divorce. It failed and it was HWA who had to initiate the divorce as even this PCG afterword obliquely admits. The court case dragged on until 1984.

This afterword makes no mention of Stanley Rader, an accountant who gradually rose to assume great power within WCG. He was even ordained an evangelist by HWA even though he had never been trained at Ambassador College and had not risen in the ranks within WCG's ministry. For a time he was the second most powerful man within WCG behind only HWA himself. It was widely believed he would succeed HWA. However his power within WCG relied on his close connection with HWA. There was little love for him within the ministry or the membership. Many WCG ministers resented how he was able to get so far bypassing them. But in 1981 HWA for whatever reason turned against Rader and he retired. However WCG faithfully paid him his retirement package until his death in 2002 even after the Tkach changes.

It is mentioned that the Youth magazine was started in the 1980s.

HWA's production of his last book, Mystery of the Ages, is mentioned.

HWA's last co-worker letter of January 10, 1986 is mentioned.
Between the late 1970s and the year Mr. Armstrong died, the Plain Truth circulation went from 1 million to more than 8 million, World Tomorrow television stations jumped from 50 to nearly 400. The Church’s annual budget leaped from $75 million to $200 million. (p. 906. PDF p. 1045.)
What was the date at which WCG's recruitment magazine had one million in circulation? What was the date in which WCG had an annual income of $75 million? These points of reference are not stated thus making this statement terribly vague.

Upon his death it is mentioned that some of the world leaders and officials he had met with over the years had sent their condolences and made kind words to WCG upon HWA's passing. Previously it was mentioned some of these officials sent words of encouragement to HWA during the mass defection of 1974.

However these world leaders and officials had never been deceptively recruited into joining his following. They had never been made to feel that they had to pay three tithes and extra offerings to HWA's organization. They had never been told that going to doctors or taking medicine was sinful and denied themselves vital medical treatment. They had never been told that they needed to do whatever a WCG minister told them to do or else they might not be allowed to go to the place of safety and be forced to endure the Great Tribulation. They had never faced the prospect of being disfellowshiped from WCG and losing all contact with WCG members. They had never had to face the disillusioning realization that a lot of what he taught was simply not true.
But the lives he affected the most, and those he cared about the most, were those whom God had called through him: the members of God’s Church. (p. 907. PDF p. 1046.)
HWA certainly affected the lives of his followers a lot. Often to their disadvantage.

PCG's version of HWA's autobiography ends with advertising for various writings by PCG and some of HWA's writings that PCG owns. The real purpose of this book is to recruit more members to join PCG and pay three tithes to the organization for the rest of that person's life.

But God is not with PCG. Since PCG started in 1989 the leaders of PCG have made 52 false prophecies. No doubt there are more. PCG's leaders are but false prophets.

(Update: July 3: Courtesy of Black Ops Mikey here is the 1972 version of HWA's Autobiography published before PCG got their hands on it.)


  1. On the .pdf page 1050, there's a disgusting picture of Herbert Armstrong with the words "He Was Right" -- the cover of an offered booklet claiming 50 years of accurate forecasting.

    Apparently, they didn't read 1975 in Prophecy, nor have they acknowledged Herbert Armstrong's Prophetic Record which is pretty abysmal.

    Liars and cons -- that's all they are.


  2. And if you want to see the original pristine version, you can look at The Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong at the website.

  3. Yes. It is quite horrid to imagine that some people are being presented this sort of hagiographic information without learning the less flattering parts of the story. HWA was not right.

  4. And thanks for the link. I've added it in an update for the post.

  5. "But in 1981 HWA for whatever reason turned against Rader and he retired. " It has been my understanding that at some point Joseph Tkach Sr. passed along to Herbert a clandestine recording in which Rader and Ramona could be heard plotting to have Herbert institutionalized as senile, and take over the church. This would certainly explain both Herbert's final decision to divorce her, and the mysterious departure of Rader.

    1. Thanks for mentioning that and contributing to this discussion.