Feb 252015

UCG’s lack of self-awareness knows no bounds. While claiming to know pretty much everything and promoting their ministers as experts on virtually any subject, they reveal a painful lack of consistency, logic or internal analysis when blithering about how horrible “the world” is.

This time, UCG is once again attempting to muddle the term “cult” even further, which it’s attempted to do before.

Beyond Today‘s Roger Berendt has this wonderful little gem about how choice isn’t really for you, and that it pretty much leads to the holocaust:

Every Jewish person would be familiar with a saying in the Talmud (a compilation of teachings and opinions of rabbis) that is as follows: “Whoever saves a single life saves a whole world.” There has been a very strong attempt to preserve the lives of Jewish people ever since the terrible years of the Holocaust. Yet, over two million babies have been aborted in Israel alone – and the millions of Jewish people living in the USA, Canada and other nations have added huge numbers to that score. Abortion is a hot topic of debate. Those who favor it are labeled “pro-choice.” That choice is whether they want to have the baby or not – it is not a choice the baby makes.

Besides being a hugely WTF opening to an article, its equation of abortion of the holocaust seems to suggest that human freewill and choice pretty much inevitably ends in genocide.

After bashing abortion rights, he then lists off everything that’s wrong with the world, which ironically includes religious cults, which he helps to run:

Children resist the teaching and direction parents give and all of us seem to want to decide for ourselves the course we will travel. We want to be independent. We can amass a number of excellent reasons for the decisions we make and cloak our choices with what we call freedom. We want to continue to live as we please, but not have to pay the price.

Lifestyles that include the gay community, religious cults and premarital and extramarital sexual encounters are among the areas in which we seem to think we have the right to make choices.

Funny how he lists being gay or sexually active outside of marriage along with cultic behavior. The closeted gay and sexually-active teens and young adults of UCG must really be tripling down on all that sinful choice.

Man’s history is replete with choices that were driven by greed, vanity, emotions, financial gain, search for power and influence, self-gratification, jealousy and pleasure.

And Armstrongite ministers would know after decades of making those kinds of choices. But if you want to follow suit, you are vain and misguided:

Choosing wisely as directed by biblical standards is different than just following the “cult of choice” so acutely popular today. The cult of choice is something forced on us by a number of human conditions that society imposes, by our inner misguided reasoning and longings that may be fueled by incomplete and immature thought patterns and by the simple vain insistence on doing things our own way.

He then bashes scientists for attempting to cure the horrific AIDS epidemic instead of forcing behavioral changes — as if sexual intercourse were the only driver behind HIV infections (it’s not). Also, we’re super close to an HIV vaccine.

Recent cultural pressure shows a demand was made for billions of dollars to be spent in seeking a cure or preventative medicine for AIDS, but not to change the lifestyle that causes the disease.

Will UCG ever post an article that isn’t completely stupid? (spoiler: no)

Feb 212015

We’ll certainly be watching “Going Clear” — a long-awaited HBO documentary focused on Scientology — for its public revealing of abuses and atrocities previously known primarily only to the cult’s longstanding opponents.

Scientology, of course, was crippled by a mass Internet uprising that started in 2008 and continued until 2011 or so, which showed the free flow of information is a mortal enemy to aging old-world institutions like psychotic cults. In no small part due to those efforts, Scientology is financially crippled, clinging foolishly to myriad newly-constructed empty buildings across the world and trying desperately to weather an increasing storm of negative media attention once unheard of. The iron curtains shrouding Scientology have been broken and it’s been bleeding members for years, resulting in org closures and feeble marketing gimmicks like their recent Superbowl ad.

In that narrative lives many parallels to the COG’s current situation as it fails to grow and wastes money on land purchases and building projects while squandering resources on desperately misguided marketing stunts. XCOG blogs continue to hack away at the cults’ lies while COG warchests diminish and dissent tears these churches apart.

What’s also interesting besides the similarities between Scientology and the COG are those between between L. Ron Hubbard and Herbert W. Armstrong. Both were men mad with their own wealth and power, who didn’t care how many they harmed in pursuit of both. Each man knew the key to making money rested through religion’s doors and they willingly preyed upon the deluded sheep who chose to trust their revelations as divine.

Both Scientology and Armstrongism practice various forms of brainwashing, have established strong institutional controls on information, place a huge emphasis on giving one’s income to the cult and each believe they are the only hope for humanity’s salvation.

In fact, Armstrongism figured something out Scientology hasn’t.

In Scientology, money is usually only exchanged for goods and services, like reading materials, counseling sessions and dietary supplements. While Scientology is fraught with tollbooths on the road to spiritual growth, members still tend to receive something directly in return for giving their money to the organization. In this respect, Scientology is a purely commercial enterprise, which is why it didn’t have tax-exempt status — unlike other churches — until 1993 when it blackmailed the IRS.

In contrast, Armstrong figured out how to get money from members simply by shaming them into it. Tithing is simultaneously voluntary and compulsory since the COG has twisted scripture into demanding members feed the church 20 percent or more of their income without receiving anything in return. Hubbard would probably be jealous.

Watch the documentary’s trailer and swap out Scientology’s context with the COG and notice how well the descriptions fit.


Feb 142015

The gall of the COG often knows no bounds.

By now, most know of the credibility crisis currently being experienced by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for embellishing his experiences in Iraq, and perhaps on many other occasions, which has resulted in cries for his termination and a six-month suspension from his show.

Journalists and media critics from across the country have called for Williams’ head. While some of that is hypocritical considering the flaky relationship some media outlets had with the truth when it came to the Iraq War in the first place, it remains that journalism is supposed to stand on a foundation of trust. Whether or not Williams has told any lies from his anchor chair is irrelevant, as his off-the-cuff bullshitting with celebrities reveals a divorcing from reality a nightly news anchor cannot afford to exhibit. And the media knows that, very keenly. So even while journalism has suffered some hits to public trust over time, it does try very hard in most instances to publicly and ethically correct itself, like with The New York Times with Jayson Blair, The New Republic and Stephen Glass or This American Life in their coverage of Apple.

But one entity that doesn’t get to throw stones at Brian Williams over honesty is the COG, something that UCG’s Darris McNeely just did.

It’s a sad situation to see anyone get caught up in something like that and then fall from grace

any of us who work in media in any position of trust and responsibility take a hit from something like this, and it causes people to look at us with perhaps a bit more critical eye – “Can I trust this person?”, “Are they telling me the truth?”.

The answer to both questions, re: you is no, absolutely not. UCG has over and again shown itself untruthful and untrustworthy. Yet, that doesn’t stop its ministers from sitting in their own anchor chairs or standing at their podiums and lying straight to the faces of an audience that foolishly trusts them. Whether its Melvin Rhodes’ alleged affair with a laymember that was quietly handled without any public discourse, Dennis Luker’s paranoid power trips as he fired UCG’s regional pastors for criticizing him, the masking of the actual reasons for the COGWA split and the multiple lies told about defectors, the trumpeting of the monumental failure of its Denton project as some success as they finally sell the property, and the list goes on.

And I think that it – regardless of whether we’re in media or any walk of life, one lesson from this is important. And it’s a lesson that I was talking to a group of students with this morning, regarding what God says in Numbers:32:23, where He says that, “If you have sinned against the Lord, be sure your sin will find you out.” That’s such a stark principle from God’s word, that our sins will find us out.

UCG’s sins have been found out and spread online. They’ve been told to members directly for years. All of the lies and deceptions have been revealed as such many times over. But it unfortunately doesn’t affect most members. They refuse to admit when they’ve been blinded. See, UCG doesn’t need to worry about its sins being found out because decades of Armstrongism has shown that members can rationalize anything from corruption, fraud, murder, negligence, pedophilia, incest, abuse, brainwashing, censorship and tyrannical control.

McNeely can sit in his glass house and take aim at Brian Williams because the COG has the scam very neatly figured out, hence its relative longevity in the face of incredible incompetence, malfeasance and mismanagement. Whereas embellishments can take down a public figure in “the world” where there are real consequences for one’s actions, the COG ministry gets to live in a fluffy unaccountable bubble where their words, even when vetted, have absolutely zero impact on their positions of authority.

When will a minister face a six-month suspension for his behavior? Or have to write a concise correction about something he lied about or got wrong? Or completely retract a public statement? Or face any sort of punishment or corrective measure for something they’ve done to other ministers or to members? When the COG starts playing by the same rules as the rest of society, then they get to weigh in on Brian Williams. Not before.

Feb 072015

There has been no greater tool for combating the lies and breaking the control of Armstrongism than the Internet, one of our world’s modern wonders.

The COG hates the Internet’s free and open nature, traditionally preferring the “walled garden” approach of web use and heavy censorship of criticism. If the cults could control the web’s information flow, they would.

But the Internet is under another serious threat from cable ISP conglomerates — chief among them Comcast and Time Warner — as they attempt to strike down the single binding, unwritten rule of the Internet, Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality is simply the principle that all web traffic is created equal, and cannot be blocked, slowed or favored in any way by ISPs. It allows everyone’s voice to be heard and ensures an open and competitive online ecosystem.

Comcast, Time Warner and other ISPs/cable companies hate these principles and have funneled millions into the political and legal system attempting to destroy Net Neutrality and exercise greater control over what should be a public good. They want to control online content in price tiers similar to those they already have with cable television plans. For instance, people on a basic plan might only be able to access Google, YouTube and The Huffington Post, while those on a pricier plan would also be able to access Netflix and The New York Times. They have also proposed “Internet fast lanes” where websites and services paying more get preferential treatment by the ISP to deliver their content more smoothly to customers than those lacking business deals with Comcast or Time Warner. Websites like this one — or perhaps more likely our server — might be hindered by slower connection speeds due to our inability to pay for preferential treatment.

To combat these practices, after coming under fire for months and partially losing some vital Net Neutrality court cases, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is playing one final card: classify ISPs as a common carrier public utility similar to the phone companies. This would prevent predatory practices on the part of cable companies. Far from being government control of the Internet as claimed by various right-wing alarmists, it would allow ISPs to continue their private management of the Internet while also directing them to follow guidelines that protect freedom of information online and potentially even opening faster traffic lanes to more people across the country.

Enshrined in our First Amendment is an explicit Freedom of Information, which a free and open Internet embodies. Free and equal access to information isn’t a privilege, it’s a right that must be preserved for future generations.