But things are not all rosy for the cult, as the COGWA schism cost UCG 18 percent of its income. It’s harmed UCG’s efforts pretty badly, even when factoring in all of the senior ministers they lost in the split and no longer have to pay.
Rhodes’ letter, in UCG’s time of fiscal need, clearly lays out the COG business model forged by Herbert W. Armstrong decades ago. In its desperation, the cult tips its hand in revealing what it really cares about: money for the sake of expansion and expansion for the sake of more money. It’s a simple formula, though not as easy to pull off these days, in a world increasingly skeptical of religious organizations that compel donations as a price of membership:
In order to devote more to our increased media efforts, our home office expansion proposal is “on hold” until our finances enable us to expand without borrowing.
All of this costs money. With more money, we can do more. Please pray that God will add more people to His Church—people who can help contribute to our efforts.
That’s an admission usually voiced more subtly by COG groups. In this case, UCG is being surprisingly candid about its strategy. It must be tough being unable to buy all the shiny toys the ministry wants.
Our new budget for the coming fiscal year includes a “faith line” like last year.
Pray harder. It doesn’t seem to be working.
When it is presented, you will see that 30.5 percent of our income is now devoted to preaching the gospel. In spite of suffering a loss in income just over a year ago, we have been able to do more—going through doors as God has opened them. We do not want to let up on these efforts. While our current income will not supply all our needs, we are asking God to call new people into the Church to help finance further efforts.
This is revealing. It shows that 69.5 percent of the millions that UCG rakes in each year is devoted to operating costs, including ministerial salaries. These are costs outside of the cult’s media projects that are being allocated tithe and offering money. Considering how little UCG and other COG cults give in charitable donations, that’s a shocking amount of money being paid exclusively to the ministry and on their toys, especially with how much the church gouges its members for activities.
And notice it says “now devoted” meaning it was an even larger ratio of ministerial spare change to media warchest before the budgetary adjustment. This change was likely spurred by that parting of ways between the automated zealots and veteran scammers in the ministry, as the true believers care slightly more about the message.
But then things get more interesting.
We preach the gospel through our varied media efforts including our website with over 300,000 unique visitors per month; our flagship magazine The Good News; Vertical Thought for our young people; the Bible Study Course for in-depth biblical teaching; and our dozens of booklets and other literature. All our beliefs are clearly answered in our literature, which is freely available to everybody who wants it anywhere in the world.
That’s sad. Apparently, God is managing to toss 300,000 visitors at month at UCG’s page. That translates to about 97 percent or more of those people not giving a shit, judging by UCG’s whopping organizational size of about 10,000 without discernible growth.
And those are odd numbers considering that Alexa ranks ucg.org at 62,692 globally and 20,649 nationally. That’s with porn sites factored in. It’s not like they aren’t reaching people. In fact, UCG is beating the Church of Scientology when it comes to web traffic in global and national rankings, which is impressive considering the large number of DDOS attacks Scientologists have endured the past few years from its detractors.
Considering the billions of Internet users throughout the world and how much UCG is spending on media efforts, compared to what major websites receive in monthly traffic, we see a resounding public statement of people just not caring for Armstrongism’s message.
LCG, in comparison, has a global rank of 528,335 globally and 99,229 nationally. That’s with LCG spending 40 percent of its income on its media projects. Somehow UCG is spanking them (which one would think Rod Meredith enjoys).
RCG is somehow crushing LCG with a 229,375 global rank and 39,699 nationally. Over the last three months, RCG’s traffic has shot up 41,000 percent. That once again goes to show it’s not size that matters, but how it’s used.
PCG has the most embarrassing statistics, with a global rank of 1,001,044 with 348,330 nationally. That ranks them last among major COG splinters when it comes to web footprint, a strong measurement these days of how well these cults are “preaching the gospel.”
WCG (GCI these days) has taken in a global rank of about 204,612 and 79,396 nationally, which shows that more international people care about Armstrong’s original organization than they do most of the COG splinters. It shows how badly LCG, RCG and PCG are doing outside of the U.S. in comparison.
These financial and web statistics help demonstrate a number of things:
1. A vast majority of COG income goes to operating expenses, like ministerial salaries, rather than preaching the Armstrongite message. This we knew and now it’s once again confirmed.
2. Despite this, the 30-40 percent of the income most COG groups spend on media projects has translated to varying degrees of successful global outreach, considering the smaller sizes of these organizations.
3. However, regardless of the hundreds-of-thousands of people who are supposedly being reached by the COG’s message, an overwhelming number of them are unaffected by it.
4. Members, therefore, are throwing their money into a black hole, where the only cause being sufficiently supported is the COG ministerial lifestyle.
5. Because maintaining those lifestyles is obviously the most important thing to COG ministries, media projects will continue to flounder.
6. So the COG cannot and will not grow since it can no longer transfuse itself with the new blood (and therefore money) required to survive, therefore ensuring its eventual demise.