Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Do Armstrongite Leaders Wish It was the 1950s?

One thing that strikes me about the COGs leaders' worldview, and this is true in both LCG and PCG, was this strong nostalgia regarding the 1950s. Often they would say that society had been degrading since the 1960s onwards. Douglas Winnail's article, Cultures in Crisis, from the May-June, 2000 issue of Tomorrow's World is quite typical of this sort of thinking within the COGs. American society before the 1960s is portrayed by Winnail as being essentially noble because of its Protestant Christian nature, joyously maintaining their religious and cultural heritage causing their great prosperity until  ""progressive ideas" promoted by secular, liberal, New Age propagandists" gained widespread acceptance starting in the 1960s causing today's culture to decline and coarsen to an alarming degree.

Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish economist wrote: "In every civilized society… there have been always two different schemes or systems of morality… the one may be called the strict or austere; the other the liberal, or… the loose system" (Himmelfarb, p. 3). The Bible reveals one of the fundamental challenges of life involves choosing between two different ways of living (Deuteronomy 30:15–20). In America and Britain the strict or religious scheme dominated our culture until the mid 20th century. The loose schemes of morality existed on the fringes of our society, primarily among the so-called "decadent elite" who had nothing but disdain for Bible-based morality (Ibid. p. 7). This fringe element found fertile ground in the growing secularization and urbanization of society, the decline of religious influence, the increased power of the media and the "dissolvent effect" of two world wars on traditional behavior and belief (Ibid. p. 10). The explosive growth of higher education in the 1950s gave increasing numbers of young people "access to the worldview-changing experiences of university life" that undermined traditional values (Ibid. p. 13; Hunter, p. 63).
When I read this article in the early days of my journey into Armstrongism I found this article very persuasive.

Today I find it has many problems. It is a very simplistic ways to view modern day events. There were lots of problems in the1950s. At the time lead paint and asbestos were often used while people were left ignorant of how deadly they were because big corporations that profited from them intimidated people who knew to stay silent on such matters. (See How You became a Guinea Pig for the Chemical Corporations.) It was only in the 1950s that scientists began to discover how toxic and viciously deadly tobacco is, thus letting people know for the first time the true nature of that terrible poison and the urgency to quit.

Another problem was the lack of sex education. Many Americans, while growing up, were not educated about sex but instead were left to discover such things for themselves. One can only imagine the world of trouble and hurt letting the young being ignorant of such an important facet of life. Now that people can freely talk about and teach about these things people are more able to avoid the pitfalls that predecessors were forced endure. Young people receiving sex education is a good thing. Of course no one will be entirely satisfied with what is taught but it is better for people to know and talk about such things rather than being told not to talk about it. If one is not happy with what is taught I cannot see why contrary viewpoints cannot be taught by the parents at home.

Also another problem is how Winnail ignores the issue of racial discrimination in this article. Until the 1950s several states in the United States, mainly in the South, imposed the Jim Crow laws and all kinds of legal restrictions upon African Americans that made it impossible for them to participate in society on an equal basis with white people. Also every now and then some white people, sometimes organized like the Ku Klux Klan, sometimes by themselves, enforced this terrible system of racial oppression by lynching African Americans to terrorize them into submission.

These terrible problems within American history are casually ignored by Winnail. Try and find a reference to these problems here or anywhere else within Armstrongism. No wonder so few African Americans joined Armstrongism. All my time within Armstrongism I can hardly recall anytime they deeply thought about those terrible and painful issues. It is largely ignored. Because most members are white, as far as I can tell, they do not see these issues as worth discussing.

But no, to confront historic and ongoing racial injustice runs counter to the narrative of America's decline and fall that the COGs so desperately push at to anyone willing to listen and get sucked into the cults. Because of this Winnail ignores these issues.

Furthermore it needs to be stated that Herbert Armstrong taught that racial intermarriage was sinful. He even wrote such an obscene idea into his masterpiece of deception, Mystery of the Ages. With such a teacher it is no surprise that most COGs are far from satisfactory regarding racial matters and that they do not take these issues as seriously as they should.

Also, it strikes me as deceptive to claim that before the 1960s America was mainly Christian when in fact Armstrongism teaches that all Sunday observing Christians are heretics and not true Christians at all but instead must convert to connect with God.

After seeing these things I now find it absurd to be so nostalgic for the 1950s. One always wishes that life was more simple, happy and well ordered than it is now but it is not possible to go back to the 1950s, and we should not even want it to be so.


  1. The 1950s were a special unique time in American history: World War II left people with extra money they earned during the War and there was a pent up demand for consumer products. It was also the time when the United States was THE power of the world without question. This gave rise to prosperity in so-called peace time (if we ignore the Korean War), with the family homes with white picket fences. This also gave rise to Generation Zero mothers who had lived through tough times and wanted to give their children everything to satisfy their wants and needs instantly (this actually began in 1946), giving rise to the first generation of boomers, expecting to have their say and then go their way. This was also the time of the Cold War giving way to the paranoia incited by the Senator Joseph McCarthy from Minnesota. Even though there was a very small percentage of Communists in the United States at the time, the furor built to fever pitch and lives were ruined.

    Herbert Armstrong took advantage of all this and began building his Empire on it. The Cold War helped a lot and he was able to capitalize on paranoia and fear of communism. Radio was still a viable media for propaganda because Television was in its infancy. Not only that, but the United States was still Agrarian and Herbie knew how to talk to farmers (over the radio). It helped a lot that the populace was still highly religious and most actually attended Christian and Catholic churches weekly.

    You have to know that the leaders of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong just hate the Internet and smart phones. People can check out the cults in just a few minutes and dispense with them, even if they have a religious bent. The Cult of Herbert Armstrong can offer the moderns absolutely nothing. Pretty much nobody cares to return to the stagnancy of the 1950s, nor do they want to lose their freedom to people who obviously want to completely control their lives (in this life time and the next).

    Appeal to morality does no good and they CoHA has nothing to entice a media savvy community where they have completely lost a whisper of a hint of relevance. It's just money grubbing egotistical men devoid of morals having not one shred of knowledge of ethics, except the end justifies the means. They lie, they cheat, they make stuff up in attempt to recapture their glory days (ironically set in the 1970s).

    Of course, CoHA wants to ignore the fact that there was quite a lot of adultery and boozing abusing going on. Things were not as rosy as the CoHA leaders want to deceive themselves to believe, along with all the other things already mentioned here.

    There's no going back, but you can be sure that the CoHA leaders really really want to: It would give them options of controlling masses of people for their own gain and agendas.

    Now make no mistake: The pursuit is entirely selfish and not at all positive. Just who, these days, wants to sacrifice and live in poverty so some cult leader can be a billionaire? The answer: Weird fringers.

    It's a lose-lose proposition being subjected to heavy entropy as the Armstrongists continue to lose ground -- not the least is the growing concerns of young adults starting out, thinking of retirement, who are going to be rather deaf to appeals to them that they should think to dump their future down the toilet to engage in delusional hopes for a future which will never show up in their life time, leaving them bereft of security in their "golden" years.

  2. No doubt they miss the days when they could hide their unsavory side from potential recruits.

    Winnail's article also demonstrates how LCG leaders are trying to get their followers to tune out from the rest of society in order to isolate them and strengthen the cult's hold upon LCG members and co-workers.

    It serves to further isolate LCG members.

  3. Your comment regarding how so many Americans after World War II had a lot of money to spend reminds me of a comment from The World at War: The Landmark Oral History from the Previously Unpublished Archives. I cannot remember it clearly. Details may be off a bit.

    There is one section that mentioned how economists in the US feared that after the war ended their economies would fall apart into a depression. That was what happened at the end of World War I. In 1918-9 the soldiers returned only to discover that there were no jobs for them and the economy badly contracted. (I am not sure if they were referring to America in 1918-9.)

    But the famous economist John Maynard Keynes did something very clever. While the war was going on people were restricted from spending money due to strict rationing. It was harder for people to use disposable income. So when the war ended and rations finally ended all these people had all this money they could not spend before and, of course, they did spend it. And consequently the US economy prospered after the end of World War II.