Aug 282014

atomWe respect the march of science here. While spiritual beliefs are deeply held, personal choices, facts are far less flexible and scientists are, by definition, the gatekeepers of what constitutes scientific fact. The scientific method  has taken us from dying young, starving, cold and miserable in the wilderness to landing men on the Moon, wiping out entire diseases and developing the Internet. While our scientific understanding is imperfect, judicious and responsible application of the scientific method progresses society further than policies based in ancient theology.

New discoveries are being made all the time, many in direct violation of traditional Armstrongist teachings, along with fundamentalist Christianity in general.

Most recently, sensationalist headlines lit up social media this week when living microbes were discovered in space. Of course, this is old news. We already know extremophiles like tardigrades can survive in the vacuum of space, but this highlighted the phenomenon as being far from an isolated one.

A type of ocean surface-dwelling plankton was supposedly found on the outside of the ISS. While the lifeform is certainly terrestrial in origin, it’s still unclear how it got there. It should be noted NASA has not confirmed the findings of the Russian Cosmonauts, but with Russia/U.S. relations being what they are right now, communication is likely suffering overall.

This reported discovered fuels speculation that life could have traveled to Earth from space — an idea called Panspermia. Regardless of wider implications space-dwelling microbes might have on scientific understanding, its immediate impact on COG members is as follows:

1. If God created everything “as is” in seven days — as the COG has traditionally maintained — and nothing is supposed to live beyond Earth until after the Millennium, why did God create microbes that can survive such harsh, extraplanetary elements? If the Earth is to be burned up and life renewed on other worlds by “the elect” COG members who have achieved godhood, what’s the point of space microbes?

2. If God created life to be super durable like that, so that various lifeforms can take lots of punishment and keep ticking, then why not institute a process by which such adaptions are applied to populations of organisms to insure life’s survival in the face of harsh, ever-changing environments? You know, like evolution via natural selection? It would make more sense, in light of space microbes existing, to create a creation that keeps on creating instead of one stagnant creative dump of a set number of species (or “kinds” as fundies prefer).

3. Again, God specifically created those microbes to survive in space, the point is elusive, especially if Earth was made to be a perfect place for mankind to live from the outset. Such awful conditions shouldn’t exist on a planet specifically tailored to be ideal for life, this super-duper special world harboring God’s only children.

Of course, all of those questions are from the COG’s perspective and each assumes intelligent design (a huge assumption, from a scientific point of view). And as usual, the COG paints itself into these logical corners by clinging to an extremely outdated understanding of science and a literalist interpretation of scripture. Garner Ted Armstrong’s absurd booklets bashing evolutionary are even funnier today than they were back then as understanding of biology and its origins expands by leaps and bounds.

The truth is, these little discoveries are just tiny splinters of the problems established science holds for creationist fundies. We are going to conquer our solar system. We are going to find life beyond Earth, whether on an alien planet or just floating out in the void. At that point, religious fundamentalists across the world have even more explaining to do to their adherents – and frankly the rest of us as they try to pollute the public’s understanding of science.

Aug 262014

UCG, in preparation for its upcoming public seminar/failure in September has attempted to appropriate the #whywereyouborn hastag.

The problem is, #whywereyouborn is a popular social media diss, as in “why were you even born?” Rather than being used by legions of curious unwashed heathens searching for a deeper meaning in life, it’s an expression of frustration for Millennials and younger.

Alternatively, it’s a reference to Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline” book and film, and that gets its fair share of hits too.

So Twitter users searching through the hashtag are going to notice UCG photos of billboards and be like #wtf. Hijacking hashtags isn’t necessarily an effective social media strategy, as people clicking it are intentionally looking up a specific topic and anything else is akin to spam. If intrusive marketing is part of their strategy, they might as well take out ads on porn sites.

It’s not that UCG isn’t trying really hard to be good at social media. After all, “Why Were You Born” even has a presence on Pinterest, so everyone pinning room decorations can also satiate their existentialist curiosity. For UCG, gaining exposure isn’t their problem. They spend a lot of money on this stuff, so getting noticed shouldn’t be a problem. It’s that people don’t care and UCG’s message is entirely tone-deaf. One can spend as much on marketing as desired, but if the product is inferior, it’s all wasted resources and efforts.

UCG members should question more closely what their tithe money is being spent on.

Seriously UCG, #whywereyouborn


Aug 162014

PCG isn’t only close-mouthed about the location its Sabbath services, but about how many congregations and members they have. Cults suppress information, so learn about their inner working can be very difficult.

Living Armstrongism‘s Redfox712 has done some great research work and dug up some numbers, which show PCG has 147 congregations and 63 ministers worldwide. No word though on how many of those ministers are the same men covering multiple regions, something that happens in most COG cults.

Region Congregations Ministers
United States 73 37
Latin America/Caribbean 18 4
Canada 20 4
UK/Europe 7 3
Philippines 12 4
Africa/Asia/Oceania 17 11
Total 147 63
Aug 152014

Commenter Don wrote about his experiences with RCG in response to reports of David C. Pack’s discrimination against his own disabled followers, who he tries to pressure into giving the cult more money:

I’ve had the same experience and when questioned about it I was put out of the RCG. Of course, I was planning to leave anyway as it’s clear the RCG is a cult, and of the worst kind!

I remember in a sermon and a Bible study where Mr. Pack said that if “your retired… you have to un-retire yourself, and if your disabled, you have to un-disabled yourself’, or you won’t get salvation. Basically, because if you didn’t give more money to the RCG it was simply because you were just being ‘selfish’, etc.

I hope those in the RCG wake up like several others I know of. Mr. Pack, and his henchmen, are truly evil and the opposite of what a true minister of Christ should be, one who is willing to lay down his life for the sheep.

Aug 142014

Olderandwiser left this comment in response to the story of the COGWA member getting life in prison for raping two children:

There were a couple of perverts in the NYC area in the 60′s when I was a teenager. One groped me before I was rescued by my brother. Years later, he married a young widow with a few young kids. Didn’t take long for him to dessimate that family. 38 years later, my mother found a picture of him in a box of photos. I took it and slowly ripped it up. “Why, that was Uncle Dewitt!” Weel, I told her that Uncle Dewitt was a pedophile, and I knew, first hand. When she asked me why I never told her, I said she would never have believed me. The almighty WCG came first, and we kids were non entities. I got off lucky I guess, but I can’t imagine how many others have been ruined because of the rule of silence.

Aug 132014

How many will actually attend UCG’s upcoming Why Were You Born seminar? It’s got a whopping 40-something Twitter followers currently, not great for spending all that money on billboards. Maybe roundabouts 100 or so will attend? Mostly church members? Perhaps exclusively church members? Maybe a handful from the unwashed public will honestly look to Gary Petty to learn about why they were born (spoilers: biological processes), but it’s going to be a pathetically small amount. If this is the best opening salvo Operation Broken Rung can muster, UCG is in trouble.

Aug 022014

From the Norwalk Reflector:

Child rapist gets life without parole

A Milan Township man was sentenced to life without parole Monday for raping two girls several times when they slept over at his Mudbrook Road home.

An Erie County jury convicted Joseph D. Wagner, 63, of 10 counts of rape for sexually assaulting two girls who were younger than 10. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incidents which happened between 2011 and 2013 when Wagner lured the victims to his bedroom.

Wagner maintained he didn’t abuse anyone when he made a statement to Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binette.

“I did not abuse anyone, nor have I ever considered the heinous things I’ve been accused of,” said the defendant, who was found guilty June 11.

Binette, according to the Sandusky Register, told Wagner he groomed the victims “in your own sick ways” and made his bedroom “a torture chamber for those two children.”

The judge also told the defendant the sexual abuse was similar to a life sentence for the girls. Binette said he took into that consideration plus a woman’s testimony who alleged Wagner abused her decades ago — and possibly at least five other victims — when he decided the defendant’s sentence.

Banned! tags him as a UCG/COGWA member in the Cleveland congregation frequently visited by the local elder. Sounds about right.

Rage does not describe the feelings this kind of horror conjures. So many dreadful things happen beneath the noses of the ministry, sometimes with their knowledge, all the while anyone, anywhere one might call brethren in the cult could be a monster.

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