Aug 012011

Much thanks to Robert McNally for giving us permission to link to the member letters from his site.

“Fear of Breaking the Sabbath”
“Was the WCG a cult?”
“Evan R”
“John Craig”
“Ann deBlecourt Walker”
“Andy Z”
“G. Morrison”
“John Pavlou”
“Bob M.”
“R. Duncan”
“Klaus Obermeit”
“D. from Iowa”
“Raising Freethinking Kids”
“Zada Doak Leon”
“R. Johnson”
“Greg Resler”
“Helen Rowe”
“David Wells”
“Tonya Marie”
“Ron Weinland: Prophet of Doom”
“Cherie Marquez”
“David Mooney”
“Paul Brown”
“L. Sahaf”
God Hates Blogs
“A Peace Corps Volunteer”
“Name Withheld 3″
“Stephen Wallace”
“No One”
“Name Withheld 2″
“James E. Baldwin”
“Bruce Renehan”
“Neil Godfrey”
“Julie Penner”
“John Halloran”
“Larry A. Taylor”
“Michael Savoia”
“Mark Justin Brock”
“Troy Witte”
“Max Carey”
“Bill Fairchild”
“Dan Mohryecogniak”
“Betty J. Hayley-Brogaard”
“Michael Gibb”
“Dennis Diehl”
“Brian J. Magee”
“Sue Frederik”
“Norman Zimmerman”
“Heather Champagne”
“Wendy Lee Connelly”
“The Grizzly”
“Sharon Mooney”
“Brian Lesko”
“Michael Slick”
“Kay Dennis”
“Terry Lee Jacobs”
“Bethani M.”
“Allen C. Dexter”
“Almon C. McCann”
“Rebecca Perkins”
“Name Withheld”
“Trent Simon”

Aug 012011

Mirrored via Escaping Armstrongism

My wife owns her own business. A small number of the of the people in our former xCOG congregation frequented her business. One of them stopped in last night. This person was unaware that we have discontinued attendance with our former affiliation. A long conversation ensued.

My wife is smart. She knows what she was taught, she knows what she believes now, and she knows how I feel. She just doesn’t have the Bible verses in her head like some people do. That doesn’t make her argument any less valid; only less effective in the short term. I’m not the kind of person who can hold book/chapter/verse in my head either.

Well, this person kept referring to Herbert Armstrong’s booklets. My wife kept trying to tell her that we must prove things from the Bible without referring to HWA’s material. It didn’t sink in. This person knew about the charges of plagiarism, and gave HWA a pass because “he’s just a man and makes mistakes”. My wife believes that a mistake is one thing, but repeatedly plagiarizing someone else’s material and calling it your own, in addition to falsifying information, is not just a “mistake”. Nothing phased her. My wife noted to me how, twice now, from two different people, she has gotten the same words, the same arguments, the same responses. This is directly in line with what I got.

The same words: “I fear…”, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…”, “no one has the whole truth”, etc. The same arguments: “Did the truth/Spirit come through HWA or not?”, “We should immitate Christ and the Apostles”, “The Holy Days are God’s plan.” Everyone we speak to appear to be programmed with what to believe and programmed with how to respond. Is this surprising to me? Yes! Why? I don’t know; it shouldn’t be. I know what brain washing is. I know how it works. One way is to sit a captive audience before a repetitive message and eventually they will believe it. The old addage “A lie told often enough becomes the truth” applies here. I’m just surprised that I was brainwashed and it’s hard to believe my old friends were too. Now I see. And because I see, I am surprised at what I see.

Well, it eventually came down to how this person couldn’t answer my wife’s questions without referring to HWA, and my wife couldn’t get this person to realize their dependance on HWA. This is what I see from everyone I talk to – circular reasoning and partial facts.

For instance, here is a highly abbreviated conversation I usually have:
[COG] “We have to keep the law.”
[me] “Then why don’t you keep the whole law?”
[COG] “Without the law, how will we know what is sin?”
[me] “By reading the New Testament and having the Spirit work from within us, rather than trying to keep a law that can’t change our hearts.”
[COG] “Jesus said the law will not pass away.”
[me] “Then why are circumcision, sacrifice, the Levitical Priesthood, legal distinctions between Jew and Gentile, Passover, etc, etc. all magnified, but not those things you hold to?”
[COG] “How can the Holy Days be done away with; those are God’s plan?”
[me] “I believe the whole Old Covenant was revoked at Christ’s death and a New Covenant made in His blood.”
[COG] “But then you believe the 10 Commandments were done away with! And those were written in stone.”
[me] “So do you, as Deuteronomy 4: 13 says the 10 Commandments were the Old Covenant, stone or no stone, and everything else was added later. According to the law, when Jesus died, the whole agreement was rendered obsolete.”
[COG] “But the Apostles were zealous for the law.”
[me] “James also regarded the Talmud, do you? The Apostles were Jews, and they preferred the Jewish converts to be zealous for the law; there was no such requirement for the Gentile converts. Those Jewish converts who falsely taught the Gentiles to be Jews were the ones Paul wished would emasculate themselves.
[COG] “But there will be Sabbaths and Holy Days in the Millennium.”
[me] “Yes. There will also be animal sacrifices, a temple, the Levitical priesthood complete with required garb and rituals, and probably circumcision too. That doesn’t mean I need those things now.”
[COG] “You should read the booklet about…”
[me] “I’m not going to refer to any booklet when I have the Bible. I don’t follow HWA.”
[COG] “Neither do I. I disagree with him on some things.”
[me] “Then why do you always refer to him and his teachings?”
[COG] “Well, we need to keep the law.”
… and round it goes.

This person referred my wife to her spouse who was better versed in the law. (Second verse, same as the first.) My wife did the right thing. She said “Listen, I can’t go discussing this with everyone. Either they will ignore me or they will leave the congregation. Neither option is good for me.” My wife and I agreed at the outset that we are not going to spread dissent, we are not going to try and convert anyone, we are not going to cause division, etc. We just left quietly out the back one day. That places a burden on the shoulder of the Minister, not that I want him burdened, but better he who will handle it as he wants it handled than we who will certainly cause even bigger problems. Even if everyone has to believe my wife and I are confused, so be it. We didn’t cause division.

If anyone has any similar stories to share, please do. I’d love to hear what you’ve gone through and how you’ve handled it.

Aug 012011

The following is a listing of external links to the Exit and Support Network member letter library. Much of it makes for some heart-wrenching reading.

“I Was Abandoned by My Family”

“Free From the WCG”

Abuse Letters

Exit Letters

Child Survivor Letters

Lindsey’s Letters

WCG Letters

RCG Letters

PCG Letters

PCG Letters 2

PCG Articles

PCG Articles 2

Mike’s Testamony

Mike’s Exit Letters

Aug 012011

Mirrored via God Discussion and Banned by HWA!

Years ago, my brother almost died because of a ruptured appendix. This was not the fault of the local physicians. It was the fault of the Worldwide Church of God, which at that time was headed by Herbert W. Armstrong. Because of the church’s stronghold on my parents’ intellectual reasoning, they and the minister prayed over my sick brother for months, putting stupid little “anointing cloths” and oil described in the bible on him. He became sicker and sicker, wasting away to nothing except for a grossly bloated stomach. He was so weak he could not walk.   He suffered tremendously.

Fortunately, my parents allowed reason, love and compassion to prevail and took him to the emergency room, despite the instructions of the church. They did so in the nick of time. The appendix had ruptured and my brother hovered near death. My parents felt guilty about this for the rest of their lives. In fact, my mother manifested appendicitis in her late 50s.

Other parents, however, resist reason and logic and continue to follow the dictates of their churches and/or faith. The recent Neumann case that has been reported on here at God Discussion is an example. In this case, the Neumann’s 11 year old daughter died from a treatable form of diabetes. Both parents are facing trial in Wisconsin.

Christians have rallied around the Neumanns’ cause and have set up a website requesting donations and prayers. Their message is this:

We ask that you pray for them as they are representing the rights of Christians to live the Gospel according to the law and the Constitution.

The Constitution not only guarantees freedom of religion, but it also guarantees the right to pursue happiness.   In fact, I’ve heard this argument used quite often by pro-lifers, who claim that abortion takes from the developing fetus’ right to pursue happiness.

Religious organizations have had legal standing to allow children to die without medical help because of religious belief.   This “right” has been slowly eroding. Religion may not agree with the moral standards that are accepted by the rest of society.

What is more important, religion or societal morals?

Is it morally correct to allow a child to die from a treatable disease because of faith?

CHILD, Inc., doesn’t think so. “Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty” (CHILD, Inc.) is a non-profit national membership organization established in 1983 to protect children from abusive religious and cultural practices, especially religion-based medical neglect. CHILD opposes religious exemptions from duties of care for children.

CHILD’s website has an outstanding collection of resources — and disturbing look at childhood deaths associated with religious belief. CHILD published a partial list of religions whose members have let children die since 1980 because of their religious beliefs against medical care:

  • Faith Assembly
  • Followers of Christ
  • Christian Science
  • Church of the First Born
  • Faith Tabernacle
  • End Time Ministries
  • The Believers’ Fellowship
  • Faith Temple Doctoral church of Christ in God
  • Church of God of the Union Assembly
  • Church of God Chapel
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses (Their only objection today is to blood transfusions.)
  • Jesus through Jon and Judy
  • Christ Assembly
  • Christ Miracle Healing Center
  • Northeast Kingdom Community Church
  • “No Name” fellowship
  • The Source

It is ironic that in today’s society, a teacher at a public school cannot even pat a child on the back without a potential abuse lawsuit; yet, Christian or other faith-based values will permit parents to allow their children to die, often in slow, painful deaths.

It is ironic that Christians have been throwing a fit over President Obama speaking at Notre Dame because of his pro-choice stance; yet, some amongst them feel it is perfectly acceptable to allow a conscious child to die because of prayer vs. medicine.

People should have the right to practice their religion and, if they are adults, chose to die because of conflicts between religious belief and their faith.   They have the life experience, information and legal authority to make such a decision based on their own free will.

Children, on the other hand, are innocents who do not have free will, let alone the intellect or life experience to make faith-based decisions about whether they should place their lives in the hands of the church or the hands of medicine.

Having seen firsthand the damage that faith vs. medicine is capable of inflicting, I think that commonsense and reason dictate that when a condition appears to be serious, that it’s time to call the doctor.   In American law, there is a “reasonable man” standard.   Shouldn’t reason — not religion — be the ultimate measure of the law?

If religion makes you happy, fine … you have the Constitutional right to pursue happiness and to practice whatever religion you want.

Let the kids grow up and decide how they shall pursue happiness.