Jul 302014
 

Banned! reports a PCG member, Janet C. Privratsky, died by suicide in response to cutting off contact from her non-cult family members. Eric Anderson was apparently her PCG minister and will have the nerve to conduct her memorial service. The no contact policy has destroyed families and now has claimed a life.

Reportedly nobody from PCG bothered showing up to the funeral. PCG also has the audacity to lie about her death, telling members it was due to heart failure.

Absolutely disgusting and enraging.

People who submit themselves to these dangerous, reckless and insane cults put themselves at serious risk of isolation, depression and other emotional and mental difficulties. Dying by suicide is a special danger in environments where mental health issues are ignored or attributed to “demons” and other lies. PCG is not alone in its criminal negligence as a community in this regard, but it does have a tendency to put extra pressure on members to cut themselves off from anything even resembling a healthy social and family support structure.

Suicide in PCG Due to No Contact Ruling:

(Notice: Certain details have been changed in this letter due to further clarification.)

July 28, 2014
Janet C. Privratsky, age 30, a member of PCG, committed suicide on July 20 because she had to cut off her parents and only brother due to the no contact rule. She became depressed and then killed herself. Her husband’s name is David. Someone I know (ex-PCG) attended the funeral and said it was heart rending to see the parents’ grief. Not one person from PCG was in attendance. PCG is truly a sick organization. –[name withheld]

Members Being Told Death of Janet Privratsky Was Due to Heart Failure:
July 29, 2014

Just read on your site this morning about Janet’s death being a suicide. Those in the PCG are being told it was “heart failure.” People have been so saddened and shocked!

Believe me, I know how this will be kept on the “down low!” They will not want this out there, for many reasons. One of them being, PCG is in the process of purchasing property in the UK, raising up another college. This would not go over well at all. I am shocked–not once did this enter my mind.
It sickens me. Here it is in a nutshell: You obey the PCG rules because those laws, rules, judgments, anything that comes down from the “government” (which, believe me, members strongly and devoutly believe comes from God); if you go along with all this, you will get along just fine in the PCG, and love it there. But if you disobey and voice any disapproval, and do not agree, and do not give in, you cannot stay in the PCG; cannot be among the people.

Janet’s parents and brother, for whatever reasons, were suspended from PCG. I do not know when. David and Janet would, of course, be told they could no longer see her mom and dad and her brother, since the ones who leave are considered to be “Laodiceans.”

In their hearts, to whatever degree, David and Janet felt God (down through His “government”) was telling them to do this. David, most likely still does, no matter how much he hurts. He’ll just suck it up and draw closer to all his PCG family, with all their “love and support.”

Everyone in PCG just hopes and prays no one in their family leaves. They don’t want to go down the same path as Janet or want that for anyone in their family.

I can tell you right now, many in PCG do not agree with that ruling! But if you choose to leave and your family’s in, you just cut yourself off from your own family! They’ll turn it around and say, “We did not cut you off, you cut us off when you left us!” They believe firmly, Satan now has you.

If you have any more details or proof about this, let us know. I do know for sure that it was a PCG minister that officiated at the funeral.
Thank you. –Anonymous

Jul 222014
 

Ding ding ding! It’s time for COG Apocalypse Smackdown!

In one corner we have David C. Pack of RCG and his tacit prediction of a 09.17.2016 doomsday. He seems to be going for broke. Does this mean the upcoming “Batman v. Superman” movie is one of the signs of the end time?

In the other corner we have Ron Weinland of COG-PKG, who is back at it with a Pentecost 2019 doomsday prediction (06.09.2019). Not content to lose as many prophetic predictions as the Buffalo Bills have Superbowls, Weinland is making the best use of his prison sentence he possibly can be getting his remaining followers energized for his release and a long-awaited destruction of modern society.

Who will be right? Which is our ultimate harbinger of doom? All we can do is watch the clocks.

Both predictions are absurd. Both have been added to the Doomsday Clock.

 

Jul 212014
 

We've been on Pack's enemies list for awhile, actually.We’ve been compiling some stories from RCG members, which have slowly trickled into our mailbox following the call to hear from current and former members last month. These are still being tabulated and we’re seeking permission from others to possibly share their stories. We’re still keeping our ultimate plan for these writeups under wraps for now, but we hope to have a breakthrough soon.

Pack’s tacit prediction of a September 27, 2016 doomsday, if he chooses to run with it, will certainly make things worse RCG members trapped in his thrall.

Meanwhile, both Bob Thiel and Banned! have reported David C. Pack and his RCG cult have started threatening members who don’t send enough money by taking away their spiritual salvation. In particular, they have pressured a disabled member into getting a job so more tithes and donations can be funneled into the cult’s coffers:

07/15/14 a.m. Spoke with a man who was recently part of RCG late yesterday.

He brought up his view that David Pack and RCG are highly focused on money. So much so, he stated that a disabled person had been told by an RCG representative that he had to get a job so he could have more tithes/offerings to give to RCG. He said this person was told that if he did not, although he would still be allowed to attend RCG services, that he would not be granted salvation.

The individual I spoke with was horrified by this, and then quoted Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” He realized that RCG added a non-biblical requirement for salvation. He also mentioned other problems associated with David Pack and RCG.

While I knew that David Pack has long been obsessed with money, what I was told yesterday was even worse than I had heard before.

Years ago, in late 2007, David Pack basically told people to get into debt and cash out any retirement savings they had to give to him so he could build an impressive headquarters. David Pack indicated that this would be signal for all in the various COGs to come to him. 

David Pack later (in the Spring and Summer of 2013) stated that would happen by August 30, 2013. Of course, that date was proven to have been in error. But the obsession with money has not let up within RCG. 

Pack is a sociopath who knows no shame. Reading through the things he has done and has continues to do turns the stomach. It also drives us to make Pack a particular focus for the near future. His cult cannot be allowed to grow or succeed in any way and those duped into following him must be freed.

Within the next month we hope to be able to present a starker, even worse picture of what happens within RCG’s enclosed cult community, one with a megaphone bigger than this little blog. In the meantime, we’ve restructured our links and content pages in hopes of pushing COG-specific pages to the forefront, including one focused on RCG we’ll be fleshing out. Stay tuned.

Jun 152014
 

Continuing our theme of looking at COG money problems, we decided to have a look at PCG’s supposed purchase of part of the old Ambassador College Bricket Wood campus in England, which was for sale again a couple years ago.

Bob Thiel’s COGWriter reported last year that PCG had purchased the house and a cottage amounting to about seven acres of land in what is now called Hanstead Park. The acquisition apparently cost PCG about $6.8 million, which would certainly add to the financial hole the cult is already in. Thiel said Gerald R. Flurry was looking to start classes there once again. Aside from COGWriter’s report, blogs and commenters have talked about PCG owning a clip of the old Bricket Wood property for months.

We want to know more about this, but couldn’t find any non-blog evidence that PCG actually owns any part of Hanstead Park and the lack of documented evidence suggests they don’t.

Banned! reported that Flurry wasn’t able to buy up as much of the property as he wanted, and that part of the park is being used to film a movie. So it seems that Flurry wasn’t nearly as successful in his Bricket Wood bid as Thiel asserted (not really shocking).

So, we decided to look on the park’s official homepage, which says nothing of such a significant purchase in a history that includes WCG’s Ambassador College. As far as the official site is concerned, St. Congar Land still exclusively owns the property and is looking to redevelop it. However, it doesn’t make mention of any events after October 2012, save for a council decision that “will” happen back in November 2013. So fine. Maybe Hanstead Park just hasn’t updated its website in awhile. Like for two years. Okay.

So we decided to look at its Wikipedia page on the off chance somebody updated it with pertinent information like part of it falling back into the hands of Armstrongites. After all, its been nearly a year since PCG’s purchase and Wikipedia has been really good about updating Ambassador College’s demolitions and changes of hands in Pasadena. Yet, there’s nothing on the Bricket Wood page about it.

A LexisNexis search also didn’t reveal anything about it save for that St. Congar Land owns it.

So we turned to Google in hopes that one of the many press entities in England would have picked up on a purchase of part of an historic location — one mentioned in the Domesday Book — by an American entity. Nope. We find rumblings on blogs about it, in comments, a mention of Flurry’s plans on ESN and elsewhere. An obscure blog about seventh-day churches had this to say about Flurry’s attempt at buying Hanstead:

PCG had hoped to buy Hanstead House, and recreate Herbert Armstrong’s Ambassador College, but it failed to raise enough money, mainly because of the large repayments and running costs for Armstrong Auditorium, completed in 2010 and reportedly costing $25 million to build. (According to Gerald Flurry, PCG’s annual income for 2012 was around $19.5 million.) The former Ambassador College campus is now owned by Saint Congar, a property development company, which is expected to gain approval from the local authority for the conversion of Hanstead House, though perhaps not for all of its controversial housing scheme.

That seems to actually fit with what we’ve researched. Another post on Banned! last month seemed to reset the narrative that Flurry simply wants to buy land in England to reopen the campus and do insane British-Israelism-fueled archaeological digs, but hasn’t done so yet:

There was an announcement made last July 13, 2013 during the PCG Youth Camp at Edmond, Oklahoma about the prospect of the PCG returning to the Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire County, England where the second Ambassador College campus was once situated (1960-1974). Pastor General Gerald Flurry said that they wanted to have another college there and eventually establish an office which would also be used for the planned archaeological dig in Ireland in search of the “ark of the covenant” and the possibility of acquiring the stone of destiny as well. It has not been quite clear though if they are just planning to buy it or has already bought some parcels of the real estate for $6.8 million. But the final deal or negotiation however, would most probably be sealed around September / October 2013 according to their previous estimation, but as hinted at a latter announcement, they suggested an April 2014 timeline. Nevertheless, whatever the date might be, one thing is for sure, the purchase of Bricket Wood shall surely come to pass according to God’s prophecy.  

So the reporting timeline on this complicated story goes something like this:

1. Hanstead, the former Bricket Wood campus, was for sale again in 2012
2. Flurry purchased Bricket Wood for $6.8 million in 2013
3. Flurry didn’t manage to purchase as much of Bricket Wood as he wanted and residents battled to keep certain parts of it out his hands
4. St. Congar Land is building a huge development on Hanstead and studios are looking to film a movie on the property
5. Flurry didn’t actually manage to buy any of Bricket Wood because of Herbert W. Armstrong Auditorium’s vast construction costs
6. Flurry wants to buy land in England to do archaeological digs and open a new campus, though not necessarily in Hanstead

Conclusion: despite many previous reports, rumors and posts across multiple sites, PCG does not own any of Bricket Wood. They might be in negotiations, but those apparently have not gone well at all. If there’s information to the contrary, that would be fabulous to see. Obviously, Flurry would want to buy Bricket Wood, because of course he does. Flurry owning the campus would give us a new campus opening to examine and it would deepen the the cult’s financial pit, two interesting developments. But that would require them actually going through with a purchase instead of just talking about it. It seems very unlikely that PCG will be reopening the Bricket Wood campus anytime ever.

We can safely chalk this up to the basic lack of transparency when it comes to cults and PCG getting way too excited about something they wanted but cannot actually afford.

Jun 092014
 

moneyFinding out any internal information, especially financial information, can be remarkably difficult when it comes to cults, or just churches in general due to the special unconstitutional privileges granted to them by the government.

But every so often we catch a glimpse of a COG cult’s income and financial picture, as we did with PCG recently. But its rare, since as we’ve discussed before, religions are unfairly tax-exempt and don’t have to file forms describing their income like other nonprofits do.

However, despite this gap, we have collected enough information over the years to make a fair estimate of what the combined income is among the most significant COG groups, for the purpose of highlighting how much the sheep are being fleeced and how ineffective the cults are at growth and promotion despite their stockpiles of cash.

From what we know based on past data, we can surmise the following income estimates for various COG cults:

UCG – $20 million (what it inched toward between 1995-2005)
PCG – $19.5 million (2012)
LCG – $14.3 million (2010)
COGWA – $3.8 million (2011)
RCG – ~$2 million (it has to be making at least this much just to function, though no public data exists)

The total hovers around $60 million among these groups. This doesn’t factor in recent membership loss, and income doesn’t indicate wealth, especially since cults like PCG are in considerable debt and RCG pretty much has to be as well after the Wadsworth construction project.

Some notes:

  • WCG at its height was reported to have been generating $200 million in annual income. The top five make around a fourth of that.
  • Membership size doesn’t necessarily seem proportional to annual income, as PCG reportedly makes more than LCG and COGWA combined.
  • It’s long been known that only about 30-40 percent of COG group incomes are spent on media projects and “preaching the gospel” – roughly between $18 million and $24 million of these group’s total income being spent on spreading Armstrongism.
  • That leaves between $36 million and $42 million being spent on organizational overhead like property and staff salaries each year.
  • While this is a massive income fall from WCG’s heyday to a modern day significant remainder of that church, there’s still a lot of money being generated by a relatively few number of people to pay even fewer. COG members are being squeezed hard.
  • It’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that COG cults lie about their income, so these numbers could be purposely skewed.
Jun 082014
 

A former WCG member has compiled a comprehensive account of his journey through the COG and beyond. Looking Back, Sideways, and Forward is a 64-page retelling of Roger Day’s insights and experiences as a member of WCG and offers some good insights into the cults and a decent rundown of the splinters.

While it’s certainly bent toward mainstream Christianity, that angle we’re certain speaks to a lot of people wrangling with how to make sense of how COG theology actually measures up to scripture.

Here are a couple sections that jump out at us:

A CULT ?!

My parents once told me I was in a cult. I vehemently denied it, and stated that I was a member of the WCG by choice, and that I could think for myself. But oops, they were correct! I agreed to speak with a Methodist minister, whom they engaged to deprogram me. He gave up after three hours. It was no doubt harder on him than me. He couldn’t answer my questions, such as whether God would save Chinese babies that died. Despite being in a cult, I understood some important subjects that he didn’t know how to handle. And this turned out to be the real enigma for me – being in a cult that had a chunk of little understood truth. Being convinced of that truth,

I presumed that all the WCG taught was true, and that surely nothing important had been left out. So take note that the most effective cult is one that none of the members think is a cult. A cult restricts the free will of followers, even if the followers don’t perceive this is happening. If members are pressured to attend and contribute, they simply take this as a reminder of their proper responsibilities. Those who depart from a cult typically require years to get over the conditioning acquired during their cult experience. And I have been no exception. It takes time to sort out what is true, what is false, and what was missing. This writing presents highlights of my sorting out. If you are still in the cult, maybe this writing will help you to think and then sort.

And on tithing versus actually helping people:

While tithing of anything to any party is not a requirement for any Christian, there is no limit to how much one may give to assist those in physical or spiritual need. Direct involvement is rewarding. The person in need may be a friend, a neighbor, or a stranger. Other times, one might elect to help some folks in physical need through a charitable organization, Supporting a ministry that truly helps those in spiritual need is also valid. Before giving to a nonprofit organization, it would be prudent to investigate how the funds are managed, and how effective is the work that is done.

We suggest people check it out in full. A lot of work and thought went into this and it shows.

Jun 022014
 

Many commenters over the last few years have shared their horror stories about the Restored Church of God, many providing valuable insights into the cult’s internal workings and culture, along with the sheer insanity of its leader, David C. Pack.

We’re looking to compile detailed accounts from members or the friends and family of members about how RCG has affected their lives, any particular incidents that stand out in their experience or just anything you think the world needs to know.

If you have shared your story before, feel free to share it again. We’re trying to collect all of these accounts in one place.

Send us your story via our contact form, or feel free to leave a comment on this post.

Nothing will be published without prior permission. We’re just seeking as much detailed information as possible.

Thank you.

Peace.

May 132014
 

Living Armstrongism and Banned! have shared information showing that PCG is still struggling financially, due in large part to its absurd expenditures on building its vaunted Armstrong Auditorium.

Armstrong Auditorium, the crown jewel of PCG’s Herbert W. Armstrong College, opened its doors on September 5, 2010 and has been a yoke around the cult’s neck ever since.

The auditorium reportedly cost $25 million to construct, yet PCG’s income, according to a cult booklet, was only about $19.5 million annually as of 2012. This fits with the previous reports from 2011 about PCG’s failed attempts to raise an additional $7 million in donations pledged by its members, which would have helped bridge the funding gap.

Years worth of begging and threats for additional donations to pay for building projects haven’t resulted in the kind of cash PCG needs to recover from its extravagant spending. This has not deterred PCG from continuing to pressure its sheep into giving more “until God’s House is paid for.”

Financial pressure is just one of the forms of slavery PCG inflicts upon its members. To try and squeeze more blood from the already dried-up stone of the cult’s members is an exercise in futility. It’s disturbing that a cult so small manages to generate nearly $20 million in annual income, since it seems to indicate its members are being stretched to their breaking point to keep PCG’s staff paid and infrastructure funded.