Friday, July 19, 2013

Roderick C. Meredith's $750,000 Libel against Leona McNair

This is the 600th post of this blog. Thank you to all readers for encouraging me to keep writing what I know in the hope that others may find the information presented here helpful. 

And now let us continue reading the June 25, 1979 Pastor's Report.

This report is notorious as, on page 6, it contains Meredith's infamous libel against Leona McNair. This libel plunged WCG into a thirteen year court case which forced it to pay her $750,000 in an out of court settlement.

Reading this Pastor's Report, at first I completely missed his vicious and false accusations against Leona McNair.

But now looking at it, and remembering the instrumental and vital role Roderick C. Meredith played in destroying families to impose HWA's divorce and remarriage doctrine I find it most fitting that Meredith should stumble into this costly and humiliating blunder by talking about WCG's policy on divorce and remarriage.

Meredith felt that WCG members and ministers were divorcing and remarrying too much and wanted to tell them that they could only divorce for "legitimate reasons," the few exceptions WCG allowed marriages to dissolve.

Now he knew WCG members and ministers could dismiss his words by saying, "But Raymond McNair got a divorce, and he did not have a "legitimate reason" to do so. Your words are hypocritical, so I will ignore them."

Meredith is trying to get around this objection by saying Raymond McNair's divorce was legitimate within "God's Church" and met his exceptions for allowing divorce.

But he did this by demonizing Leona McNair, saying untrue things about her.

These are Meredith's words on page 6.
Now, fellow ministers, I would like to discuss something that is becoming an increasingly critical problem within the ministry and within God's Church as a whole -- especially here in the United States. Increasing numbers of our church members are beginning to divorce their mates for, it seems, almost ANY conceivable reason! What's more, they then expect to "remain in the church" and probably REMARRY someone else in the Church -- perhaps their former friend's wife who has, by now, divorced him, and is also "still in the Church."

We are going to have long doctrinal and theological discussions with Mr. Herbert Armstrong to cover and thoroughly understand any legitimate reasons for divorce and remarriage. However, as of this writing, thee are only THREE that God's Church has officially recognized as legitimate:...

(III) Desertion -- by the unconverted mate -- although this was accepted and taught by the Church long before his action, a classic example of this would be Mr. Raymond McNair's situation. His wife refused to be a wife to him for over two years -- to sleep with him, cook for him, or even civilly communicate with him in a decent manner. Rather, she had left God's Church and was actively FIGHTING God's Church and Mr. McNair, turning his children against him and literally cursing him to his face. Finally, upon advice of Mr. Armstrong and Ted Armstrong, he was finally forced to make legal the already existing FACT that she had deserted him and was no longer his wife in any way whatsoever.   
Of course, as it turned out, what Meredith said was very misleading and inaccurate.

And later, when Leona McNair read about Meredith's words she was very upset and traumatized that he said such untrue things to the many people who knew her and that she knew within WCG.
A $70 million libel suit against the Armstrong organization was filed in July [1979] by Leona A. McNair. ... 
contacted Mrs. McNair requesting details of the suit but was told that she has been deeply hurt by the allegedly libelous statements made against her and does not wish to give the matter further publicity. (Ambassador Report 10)

On 23 August 1984 a Pasadena jury awarded her $1,260,000 in damages for Meredith's libel. The whole topic is extensively covered in Ambassador Report 29, hosted on the Painful Truth website. This issue contains much valuable information regarding Roderick C. Meredith and Raymond McNair.

This is how the divorce really happened.
What the McNairs discovered when they arrived [at Pasadena in 1973] was a church headquarters fraught with doctrinal divisions, political infighting, and sex scandals.
To all of this, Raymond turned a blind eye, remaining faithful to his mentor, church founder Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA). Leona's patience with the church's leadership, however, rapidly waned. Her high intelligence (Dr. McKelligott would later testify that her 143 IQ is equaled by only three in a thousand) and strong religious values conflicted with the role she was expected to play. She told Raymond she could no longer continue to support him in what she viewed as the perpetration of a giant fraud. She stopped attending Worldwide Church of God (WCG) services in 1974 and occasionally attended lectures given by such ex-WCG ministers as Dr. Ernest L. Martin.

Leona's disillusionment with Herbert Armstrong and her desire for religious freedom were intolerable to Raymond, and he made his feelings known. According to testimony by Leona, in 1975 her husband told her, "I am going to crush you until you are totally dependent on me!" (In court Raymond denied ever making this threat. However, third parties have confirmed hearing Raymond say the equivalent.) Raymond cut Leona off from access to their joint bank accounts, badgered her into giving back jewelry he had given her and then sold them, refused to give her adequate money for groceries, and moved into separate sleeping quarters. Leona also soon began to notice that many WCG friends would no longer have anything to do with her.

Communication between Leona and Raymond became increasingly strained. But in spite of this, Leona - concerned for the welfare of her children - put aside all thought of divorce or separation. Raymond, on the other hand, had different ideas. According to Leona's court testimony, and corroborated by her daughter, on a number of occasions Raymond took her to the door, opened it and yelled, "You're not paying the bills here. Get out!" The reason for this behavior was inexplicable to Leona until later when she realized that, although the WCG had for four decades prohibited all divorce, around 1974 church leaders began to discuss the possibility of allowing divorce for members deserted by nonmembers. Leona's suspicions were confirmed when Mrs. Nancy Tate, one of her close friends, told her how the wife of one WCG evangelist had confided, "If we could just get Leona to leave the house, we could get her on desertion." Before long, Raymond made his intentions perfectly clear. He flat out told her he would divorce her when the time was right.

The relationship was now a traumatic one, but Leona still had no intention of deserting her family. Nor was she lingering on for (what Allan Browne would later claim in court) a "free ride." She started attending college again in 1974 to reestablish her nursing credentials. And when those were obtained in 1975 she found work at a local hospital. But then, a few weeks later in June, Raymond McNair did something no WCG evangelist had ever done. He filed for divorce. 
It is terrible to think that Meredith simply lied and claimed the divorce was all Leona McNair's fault.

The issue of Ambassador Report also note how Meredith once, in 1960, gave Leona McNair a humiliating four hour shouting session at her that adversely affected her health.
Meredith's testimony, less rambling than Raymond McNair's - but equally self-justifying - was particularly remarkable in its portrayal of the WCG as one big happy family. Meredith went to some length in describing the close friendship that had supposedly once existed between the McNairs and himself. But Ruth McNair-Knasin, when asked about the matter, said she didn't believe true friendship ever really existed between Meredith and her father. She described their relationship as one that would quickly evaporate were it perceived as getting in the way of "the Work." ...

The WCG may be one big happy family to Meredith, but Leona on the stand recalled how one evening in 1960 Raymond let Meredith into their home and announced, to her astonishment, that he had been invited in to "counsel" her. What followed, according to Leona, was four-and-one-half hours of railing accusation, authoritative preaching, sex-life interrogation, and high-decibel, humiliating verbal abuse from Meredith. Her problem? She was not a submissive enough wife and two ministers (unnamed) had found fault with her. She needed to obey his dictates because he (Meredith) was "God's number three man on earth" and would very likely remain in authority over her for all eternity! She needed to learn true submission! (Those who have seen Bryon Forbes' movie "The Stepford Wives" - referred to by Ruth McNair-Knasin in her testimony - will understand what Meredith was apparently aiming at.)

The 4= hours of harangue left Leona - then 2= months pregnant - in utter shock. She began shaking and hyperventilating. While Raymond slept well that night, she sobbed all night. The next morning found her still trembling. According to her court testimony, it was then that her nervous disorders began. In court Raymond claimed that Leona never had any emotional problems during their years in England. But a letter he wrote to her in 1975 specifically referred to her "emotional hangups." And Ruth testified how around 1970 her father had asked for her support in the event that he would find it necessary to have her mother committed.
On the stand, Meredith gave a very different picture of what happened. He described the 4=-hour session as nothing more than a friendly discussion lasting about an hour or so. Meredith's benevolent persona, however, stands in stark contrast to his reputation as a psychologically intimidating and harsh authoritarian in the performance of ministerial duties.  
 The Ambassador Report also notes other instances of Meredith's authoritarian behavior. Here is one.
Another former WCG minister told us that after a Meredith "counseling" session with his wife, she became so totally depressed he emphatically ordered her never to discuss anything privately with Meredith again. He explained, "Rod has the ability to somehow dig into a person's mind in such a way as to make them feel utterly guilt ridden and despondent. He seems to revel in this strange power to bring someone down psychologically." The same man also told us how once on a walk with Meredith, Roderick turned to him and said, "You may not realize it, but in all the universe, I'm number five, and you're number such and such." To us, at least, Leona's testimony was quite credible.
No wonder the jury awarded her $1,260,000 in damages for Meredith vicious libel against her.

WCG appealed and the case dragged on until 1992 when WCG paid $750,000 in an out of court settlement because of Meredith's libel. 
Mrs. Leona McNair's libel lawsuit against the Worldwide Church of God, Roderick C. Meredith, and her ex-husband Raymond McNair, was finally ended in December when the suit was settled out of court for $750,000 (Pasadena Star-News, 11/21/92). ... the WCG still refused to admit any wrongdoing, ... The victory by Leona was no small accomplishment...
 Leona McNair says she intends to get back to her career in nursing very soon. In the meantime, she is working on a book about tithing which she believes is a false doctrine that has cursed many Christians. Whether or not the book ever gets done, she has already written a short, but thought provoking, paper on the subject and she is distributing it to friends.

The best thing about her lawsuit coming to an end seems to be that, because she is no longer perceived as fighting against "God's Work," her two WCG-member sons are once again able to talk to their mother. Ironically, because Leona's ex-husband, Raymond McNair, recently left the WCG for Rod Meredith's Global Church of God, Leona's two sons are not supposed to talk to their father now because he has become "an enemy of God's Church." (Ambassador Report 52.)
Because Meredith left WCG shortly after this case was settled it is often asserted that Meredith stayed in WCG because of the libel lawsuit. Once the lawsuit was over he got out of WCG, which shielded him by paying the out of court settlement and paying to defend him and WCG from her libel suit, and started up his own COG offshoot group.

What a terrible legacy of shattered dreams and shattered lives this Roderick Meredith has left behind in his wake.  

How can anyone choose to follow a man who done such terrible things?


  1. Have you noticed that Germany has become the 'Go to' nation + powerhouse of europe?

  2. Do the authors + contributors to this website regard the Roman Catholic Church a cult? One man has rule, holds sway + advises governments UN etc. On everything from birth control to taxpayer funded help to selected RC nations....The RC church is regarded as the WEALTHIEST including properties + lands,church/religion on earth! The RC priests advise folk on everything, instruct, demand, preach + ask for donations$'s..

  3. I was raised Catholic but have not been to a mass in over 40 plus years. I see all main stream religions as cults.