Armstrong Delusion posted an old document from Didactic Ministries known as the Kessler Letter, a note to WCG leadership from disaffected member W. Jack Kessler in 1981. It’s a great letter detailing specific cult abuses and corruption, and it’s well worth it to read it all.
Here, we’ll post our favorite parts. This also serves to filter it, since Kessler can be quite long-winded. Please note that each of the charges Kessler brings against Herbert W. Armstrong and WCG leadership were not the first time these were brought up.
It’s also important to note, as a matter of context, that many of these types of abuses still take place across the COG, since many of the villains from 1981 are still in power in various sects today and their tactics and philosophies haven’t changed.
Firstly, we have more charges of HWA committing incest with his daughter.
The human condition is such that it would shock probably only just a few to learn of the moral depravity that is reported commonly among you. Although others, such as Dave Robinson and Floyd Lochner, apparently though it might work to their advantage to report Mr. Armstrong’s admission (which he’s made to several) that he had engaged repeatedly in incestuous intercourse with his daughter during the first 10 years of his ministry, as well as more recent, self-confessed sexual perversity, such attacks have been weathered, and I know that both you and the membership have steeled yourselves against potential adverse publicity, if any, that such revelations could bring.
Next, we have allegations of covert operations at Ambassador College to plant incriminating evidence in the offices of political opponents within the church and tap their phone lines:
The issue of morality takes on its true significance when it is not a mere weakness of the flesh, but when, coupled with blatant hypocrisy, it is used for political advantage. At the beginning of this year two people responded to a vicious smear campaign that had been launched by Mr. Kevin Dean. Mr. Dean had apparently forsaken Christ to become a disciple of Segretti and Krogh. Showing tremendous energy, if not ingenuity, he (with the assistance of his brother and fellow minister Aaron) purchased an extensive cache of electronic surveillance equipment in Hong Kong and Tokyo, organized a burglary squad, which included the campus locksmith, and set out to discredit any who stood in the way of his rise to power. If he couldn’t dig up any dirt, he could always invent it. (Aaron admitted to being especially anxious to go to work on Mr. Rod Meredith’s phone lines.) I suppose that such antics are par for the course in large centrally managed organizations, but it shocked some of their early targets. For those of you who are not familiar with the mundane details of these covert operations, you might check with fellow board members Tkach, LaRavia, McNair, or Walker. It would not be a good idea to reread the cover-up under Mr. Armstrong’s signature in the Pastor General’s report (ironically referring to Watergate as if that scandal concerned the actual burglaries rather than the web of falsehoods), unless you wish to be disillusioned by fairly clumsy fabrication.
Next, Kessler goes into detail of how WCG crushed whistleblowers after these covert operations were discovered:
Mr. Dean’s activities are instructive not for their intrinsic evil, but for the reaction their disclosure received. This brings us closer to the heart of why I am writing to you. When Mr. John Kineston and Mr. Joseph Kotora approached Mr. Herbert Armstrong and told him of Mr. Dean’s activities, and defended themselves against false accusations that Mr. Dean had made against them to Mr. Armstrong, he reacted in a way that is now probably all too familiar to most of you. First he told them that he knew them to be men of truth. Second, he told them that they would be given the chance to face their accusers and that he would “clean up this stinkpot” as soon as he returned to Pasadena. Third, he saw to it that Messrs. Kineston and Kotora were fired and disfellowshipped before such confrontation could ever take place. (This result, you see, promotes unity and harmony among the evildoers with the Church and only sacrifices a few innocent lives in the process.) And fourth, Mr. Armstrong made sure that you all saw and heard, once again, how futile it is be a whistle-blower in this Church.
More financial fraud and abuse:
The specific financial abuses that have plagued the Church in the past were bred in just such a climate of intimidation. What is to prevent the same scheme that Mr. Ray Wright used to embezzle over a quarter million dollars from being used again? Who is left in the organization, other than Mr. Wright (who is now back in the financial affairs office, without having repaid the funds), who knows how he pulled it off and who wouldn’t recognize it again? Who will prevent the Church from getting involved in another $50,000.00 kickback scheme to a Mexican bank when it sells another jet aircraft, other than the same legal office who so poorly monitored the first sale? Who will tell Mr. Dennis Stauffer that a scheme is more than just ill-advised whereby corporate officers are able to purchase monetized silver and gold bullion from the Church at its cost through the use of fraudulent book entries to show that the investments where purchased on behalf of the officer (through the extension of free credit) when prices have risen and on behalf of the Church’s own account, or that of its employee benefit fund trust, when prices fall?
Detailed accounts of Armstrong living in excess and allegation he carried around a prosthetic dildo:
These particular attachments are not notable, merely illustrative) Some of you know that Mr. Armstrong takes with him on each trip in his aircraft $10,000 in cash for which he does not account, which is not treated as personal compensation, and which is used for his personal pleasure or given to his private nurses as “fun money” or else given to his wife. When such funds are insufficient to satisfy each of his desires, he has additional funds wired under false pretexts from the Church to pay for such things as a $30,000.00 rental payment for a yacht in Monte Carlo. (Some of you may recall how that he later complained that Mr. Rader (who was not there) either “forced” Mr. Armstrong and his wife to do it or else Mr. Rader had made the arrangements himself. Competent testimony will prove otherwise.) Members of his family use corporate credit cards for personal use on a persistent basis, without any present ability or apparent intention to repay, and he uses actual handwritten checks drawn on the corporate accounts. His household staff includes a full-time cook, who is probably an appropriate perquisite, but she is paid rather handsomely by most standards in that he takes out a corporate check to give her a little bonus every so often. Last year her total cash remuneration from the Church, excluding the value of interest-free loans, a company car, meals and other perks, was in excess of $50,000. Since he requires no approval for the issuance of bonus compensation to himself, he does not hesitate to increase his own pay when the need appears to present itself. Often, he is quite vocal about it: He recently shocked Frank Mariani (President Reagan’s tailor) by loudly complaining for all to hear that with taxes so high he was going to have to give himself a bonus of $100,000.00 just pay for his clothes. Last year Mr. Armstrong’s compensation, at least that which went through the payroll system, was in excess of $500,000.00. (I believe it was around $563,000.00, but that figure may include Mrs. Armstrong’s salary.) I am informed that he keeps on his person cashier’s checks or certificates of deposit in his name in amounts ranging into six figures so that he can, as he once expressed, get out of the country if the attorney general ever comes after him. He had wanted to place $1,000,000.00 in non-interest-bearing cashier’s checks payable to him so that he and the Church would be “protected” in such an eventuality. Of course you know that his daughter Beverly has a lifetime contract for “personal services” with the written proviso that she take orders only from her father and is relieved of providing any services upon his death. In point of fact, she renders no services whatsoever. Her compensation is more generous than that which Cardinal Cody is alleged to have given his friend, and it includes the use of an exquisitely furnished home in La Canada at a guaranteed monthly rental of $250.00 for life. The use of the Grumman Gulfstream II jet aircraft for personal pleasure, whether it be a trip to London for the sole purpose of purchasing a specially made prosthetic dildo (which he carries in a Hermes pouch), or just a trip from Tucson to Jurgensen’s in Pasadena for groceries, is another area of concern. Speaking in Mr. Armstrong’s defense, his actions may have been unthinking, uninformed, or just plain stupid. But I do not understand why do you don’t seem to think of them as problems.