Thursday, March 27, 2014

Anecdotes of Stanley Rader's Power (From David Robinson)

Among the many things discussed by David Robinson in his book, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, is the great power Stanley Rader had within WCG, and seemingly over HWA himself. Rader appears to have grown increasingly close to HWA in the 1970s. It is often speculated that Rader fulfilled the void in HWA's life after the death of his wife, Loma Armstrong, in 1967. Rader was instrumental in helping HWA visit world leaders from 1968 onwards His power peaked around 1978-1981, from the disfellowshipping of Garner Ted Armstrong until Rader himself was deposed by HWA. Rader was very much in control of HWA.

Several incidents in the book highlight Rader's great power within HWA's WCG.

During the mass defection of 1974 HWA wrote a co-worker letter insisting the dissenting ministers were simply power hungry, ungrateful traitors who wanted money. Most of their grievances (Garner Ted Armstrong's lenient treatment for his numerous adulteries, the failure of HWA's 1972 prophecy, etc.) were not even discussed. According to David Robinson this letter was actually largely composed by Stanley Rader.
(Stan claimed later that he wrote it!) (p. 42. Emphasis in original.) 
Chapter 12 discusses Rader a lot, including the creation of Quest magazine and the general disgust with it among WCG members because it behaved contrary to WCG teachings. In it Robinson speculates that HWA was attracted to Rader because he was already familiar with many of HWA's distinctive teachings due to his Jewish heritage. (Chapter 12, p. 141.)

Robinson makes it clear that Rader was a man of great mental dexterity. But he did not know everything. Robinson mentions how once in a press conference Rader said Garner Ted Armstrong's church, the Church of God International, was not a church but a corporation. Robinson cites this as evidence that Rader did not understand religion very well. (Chapter 13, p. 149.)

It is also noted that Rader said the ideal of equality was inaccurate and untenable. (Chapter 13, p. 153)

Robinson criticized Henry Cornwall, a non-WCG member, using WCG money to attack and demonize Ron Dart, a high ranking minister closely associated with Garner Ted Armstrong. However Rader seemed quite pleased with himself for using Dart in this manner as a sort of training exercise to later depose Garner Ted Armstrong. (Chapter 13, p. 159.)

Robinson was greatly disturbed by how Rader seemed to believe that in certain circumstances it is necessary to lie for a greater good. During a conversation with Robinson, Rader accused Garner Ted Armstrong of destroying "the Work" (the supposedly expending operation of WCG) for ten years. Robinson protested that Garner Ted Armstrong was not an intellectual as WCG was then accusing him of. Rader agreed that this was so. (Chapter 13, pp. 159-60.) 

Soon after that Robinson was summoned by C. Wayne Cole who asked him why he was spending time with Rader. Robinson said he wanted to understand the situation between HWA and Rader. Robinson asked Cole if Rader was converted. Cole said Rader was not converted. Rader had business interests unlike most other church people. (Chapter 13, pp. 160-1.)

Robinson confronted Rader on why WCG needed Quest or the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation in the first place. Rader gave an evasive and waffling response. Then Robinson asked Rader about the Ezekiel message and pleaded with him that WCG needed to prioritize sharing this message to the people of the US and the rest of the world instead of having power struggles among themselves. Robinson never felt as though Rader understood what the Ezekiel message even was. (Chapter 13, pp. 162-3.)

Robinson then asked about WCG's stance regarding homosexuality and asked why was WCG not doing more to prevent its acceptance in mainstream society considering the success Anita Bryant had in Florida. Robinson found it incomprehensible how she was doing more about this topic then WCG. Surely WCG could do more he thought. Rader then promised that something would be done about it. (Chapter 13, p. 163.)

At one point Rader relates a story of how HWA first commissioned the purchase of his own plane, but he knew nothing about how to get one. He found himself hopelessly unaware of what to do. While telling this Rader said, "I know my man. I know my man." The implication being that HWA was quite inadequate in many ways and Rader knew how to do what HWA could not. Robinson could not help but wonder if Rader used his knowledge for his advantage in working with HWA. (Chapter 13, p. 167.)

While talking with him Robinson noted that Rader also wanted to be ordained. Robinson wondered if Rader's influence upon WCG would have developed in a more positive direction if the receivership had not occurred, but it is impossible to know. (Chapter 13, p. 167.)

Robinson also identifies one major problem why things went so wrong within WCG.
At that time there was no machinery in the Church of God to purge itself. (There never has been.) (Chapter 13, p. 168.)
Pages 170-1 contain a letter by David Robinson's son, John Robinson, respectfully appealing to Rader to use WCG money to let WCG ministers stay in hotels during a ministerial conference instead of staying in members' houses.

Page 172 contains a letter of Rader's citing this letter as a reason for firing John Robinson and accuses him of covertly editing HWA's articles.

Pages 173-4 contain David Robinson's respese in which he notes that Rader had previously admitted to him that John Robinson did not edit HWA's writings, but instead Rader had accused Garner Ted Armstrong and Robert Kuhn of doing so. He also notes that John Robinson never blamed Rader for the problem regarding WCG ministers having to stay in members' houses but rather presented Rader with an opportunity to correct this problem.

Chapter 19 again shows Rader's power. When David Robinson talks to HWA in his home in Tucson Henry Cornwall, a man closely associated with Rader who was not even a WCG member, constantly stayed with HWA and Robinson during their climactic conversation.

We have David Robinson to thank for helping to reveal just how much power Rader had over HWA at this time. Later, in 1981, somehow HWA turned against Rader and deposed him, but unlike previous perceived rivals he treated Rader very cautiously by agreeing to pay him a generous pension which was faithfully paid by WCG to Rader until he died in 2002.

[Update: March 29, 2014: You can access Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web from Exit and Support Network. Just email them and request it. It is well worth reading.]

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