Oct 172011

Our friends over at the Armstrong Delusion have a section called The Memory Hole, in reference to a concept from Orwell’s novel 1984. It’s dedicated to forgotten PCG and WCG teachings. Check it out.

The concept of the “memory hole” is an important one to remember when discussing cults. The Wikipedia definition describes it as: “any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a web site or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened.”

Cults are exceptionally good at employing this tool. A case in point was 1975 in Prophecy!, an epic failure of false prophecy that had WCG believing the world would end in the lifetime of its current membership. The specified dates for the beginning of the Great Tribulation and Christ’s Return came and went and proved Herbert W. Armstrong to be an uninspired fraud. Yet today, the faithful have forgotten this fiasco, and genuinely seem to have repressed this.

WCG started destroying and disowning Armstrong’s works so its membership wouldn’t remember their doctrinal roots. UCG in particular has somehow managed to expel most of Armstrong’s life from their collective consciousness, and other organizations have erased his personal foibles to present a pristinely divine image of the man. This was accomplished through destroying and removing virtually any reference to catastrophic failures as possible. If there’s nothing to remind someone of a past event, and people are kept insulated from having to discuss it, the event naturally fades from memory.

How long before Harold Camping and his followers achieve the same thing? How many times has the COG managed to achieve this feat of historical revision each and every time one of its sects has pronounced a false apocalypse?

The memory hole is an important part of the COG scam:

1.) Find a way to pump money out of the flock (home office relocation, prophetic pronouncements, false charity gig)

2.) Wait for the reasons for the donations to pass (the Feast is over, the prophecized date has passed, the charity drive has finished).

3.) Be certain to announce how much was collected. Either overstate the amount of money collected to boast about it, or understate it to keep people from knowing how much they’re being ripped off.

4.) Sweep the entire situation under the rug. Take the literature out of circulation, release a revised version. Remove the announcements from the website and release announcements in bulletins that run counter to people’s experiences. The Feast last year didn’t happen and we have the exact same needs this year. Stamp out every vestige of what happened and NEVER mention it again.

5.) Repeat.

Cults rely on a human being’s capacity to forget.

Please, NEVER forget.


  • Silence

    Amen to that. :)

  • Silence

    I think this is a case of there being too many nested responses in that thread. I’ll look into lifting the cap on that, but if you just hit a standard reply at the top of the comment thread, you should be able to continue. :)

    edit: Actually, nested comments can now go 10 levels deep.


  • http://armstrongdelusion.com caseywollberg

    I can’t find a contact link to click on, so this seems like as good a place as any to lodge my compliment. Silence, you and your team are producing some of the best stuff I’ve seen to date in the ex-COG community. This is the kind of science- and critical thinking-based examination that was completely missing before Armstrong Delusion came out. Our dissatisfaction with what we found on offer is partly what led us to present what we consider the only compelling case against Armstrongism, namely, its failure to be consistent with the facts. For this reason, I am greatly appreciating your Fact Sheets section, which is dynamite. Well written, concise and, above all, true.

    I hope that together we (all of us) can turn the tide against the historical proliferation of counter-cult ministries, hype, sensationalism and sentimentality that pervades the anti-Armstrong culture. It’s fine to flog one’s victimhood and engage in witty personal attacks to a point, but none of that speaks to the truth or falsity of the propositions put forth by Armstrongism. I’d like to see this focus on fact-based refutations spread throughout this community, until we are all talking about Armstrongism in terms of its inability to withstand skeptical inquiry (and, clearly, this will require a bit of education on the subject of skepticism).

    All the sob stories in the world can’t hold a candle to an actual argument (not to mention the patent absurdity of exegetical squabbles), and logical argumentation (with verifiable facts to support it) can’t so easily be dismissed out of hand as a “government problem” by those who may still be persuaded. The best way to pull the wool back off the sheep’s eyes is not to convince them that they are being victimized (because so many of them are not in any concrete, direct way), but to lay out the facts and the arguments, clearly, boldly, and without cumbersome trappings. This you are doing very well, and it is refreshing to say the least. Thank you.

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