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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another topic -- hypocrisy

A few days ago, I commented to James that I didn't have any new topics to bring up. He suggested I write on the subject of hypocrisy in the old WWCG. VOILA and EUREKA. Here it is:

HYPOCRISY ON PARADE

by Allen C. Dexter

“Hypocrite!”

What a devastating charge!

“Hypocrisy” simply means play acting or carrying on a pretense behind which one hides their real character, actions and intent.

Just about every human being has done something, or several things, during their lifetime that could be described as hypocrisy. We are, after all, just weak humans prone to look out for ourselves first and foremost. That leads us in moments of weakness to do things we are often deeply ashamed of later.

This leads me, in my mid-seventies, to be a bit tolerant toward the failings of others. I understand quite well the ancient remonstrance to let the one who was free of sin cast the first stone.

Hypocrisy rears its ugly head constantly, in private social and business intercourse and especially in politics and religion, the main ideologies seeking to sway and control the masses for the benefit of the controllers. The controllees come last in consideration and often get only condescending lip service. The longer I live, the more I understand that the average person is merely a pawn and a serf who serves only to enrich and aggrandize those who are in ultimate control.

Every news day brings us more examples of hypocrisy. The political, business and religious worlds are loaded with egregious examples – too many to enumerate in one short article. It would take a huge library of books one could add to daily. I choose instead to mention just a few examples from my experiences with The Worldwide Church of God.

Herbert and Ted were walking fountains of hypocrisy.

One such example began to play out in my freshman year at Ambassador. We were talented, enthusiastic young people who tried to lead lives similar to those led by students at other colleges.

Some of us got together and formed a drama club. We settled on a play we felt would be entertaining and set about constructing a set, rehearsing, gathering props, etc. We had a really good time.

The night came for the play and we carried it off to the delight of everyone attending, including Herbert W. I played the villain and received rave reviews from members of the audience.

Our elation and Armstrong's appreciation came to a screeching halt a few days later when an apologetic Herbert explained in a fatherly sounding way that although we had done an admirable job, he couldn't allow such activities in the future. You see, we were play acting, the root of the word, hypocrite. It was wrong for God's representative people to engage in such play acting.

That should have been a red flag to me and others, but we were just too slavishly inclined to accept any “bull+++t” that old geezer came up with.

Stage drama disappeared from Ambassador College – for a while. Years later, It snuck back in with things like a presentation of South Pacific by the Ambassador Chorale.

With construction of the elaborate Ambassador Auditorium – the much heralded “house for God,” the flood gates opened. That grand edifice finally gave ol' Herb another “in” to hob nob and brush elbows with the rich and influential of the world. Soon a whole parade of play actor “hypocrites” were appearing at regular intervals under the auspices of the Ambassador International Cultural foundation (AICF) paid for and maintained by the tithes and offerings of all those church members who had long ago forgotten the original edict.

Now let's consider the titillating subject of sex. That part of life bedevils just about everybody who gets too big and self-important for their pants or panties, in all levels of society, but especially in religion and politics. Just about every person has something in their sexual past they would prefer nobody knew about. It's part of being a normal human.

Ever since “church father” idiots like Augustine came on the scene and managed to seize control of Western religious thought, the Western world went into paranoia where the subject of sex is concerned. Sex just had to be a great evil because it was pleasurable and fun. Any aspect of it was shameful or suspect.

The conundrum was that sex was necessary if the human race was to continue and the religious despots were to have anyone to rule over and exploit. It was judged OK as long as reproduction was the only motive and nobody really enjoyed it. Really “holy” people like priests of every rank, monks and nuns were expected to renounce it entirely. We have ample demonstration of how practical that approach has been.

Anyone who has read Hawaii by Michener knows that the ancient Hawaiians lived an idyllic life and were as a whole extremely happy in their innocent acceptance and enjoyment of their sexual natures. As soon as a bunch of “tight-ass” missionaries happened on the scene, all of that idyllic situation went wafting away on the breeze.

The Armstrong's put up a magnificent facade in the sexual arena. One would have thought they were paragons of virtue and self-control. What went on behind the scenes and very secretly for a time was an entirely different matter.

Long time readers of this and other sites dealing with WWCG history are well aware of the incestuous relationship HWA carried on with one of his daughters and his constant indulgence in masturbation while condemning it in all others. They know about Ted's womanizing and flagrant adulteries. I won't belabor the issue with needless repetition.

There is one great instance of overwhelming hypocrisy I am aware of and of which most former associates are not aware. It shows the absolute ruthlessness and reprehensible character of Herbert W. Armstrong and his wife, Loma.

For many years, Garner Ted Armstrong treated the coeds of Ambassador College like a convenient stable of potential sexual conquests. One can only imagine the psychological traumas those girls he overwhelmed went through.

One former Worldwide minister knew it all too well. He was the one local elder responsible for counseling and ministering to those girls. They brought this very personal and devastating situation to him for his counsel and help.

This put him in a very touchy situation. The Armstrong's soon realized that the “cat was out of the bag.” They began to fear this minister and what he could do with the information to which he was privy. Several times, Herbert Armstrong demanded to know if he was going to blackmail them. He replied simply that such was not the way he operated. He told no one, including his wife.

Herbert accused some of Ted's sexual victims of seducing Ted and verbally did all in his power to demoralize them by calling them every smutty name he could think of. Some of these women eventually died of addictions because they could never recover from the psychological damage. In some cases, Roderick Meredith assisted in demoralizing these young girls, probably because he had hopes of becoming Herbert's successor.

Men like Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Herbert Armstrong don't take chances in such situations. They destroy their potential enemies whatever way they can. Herbert Armstrong set out to destroy this dedicated man with total ruthlessness.

One day, the employees of the department over which he was second in command received a visit from their boss and Herbert himself in which he feigned sorrow over having to put this man out of the Church and ministry for the sin of adultery. The following Sabbath, he made the same announcement in church.

He even tried to alienate this minister's wife from her husband in hopes of gaining her support in his efforts to discredit and destroy him. He had his chauffeur drive him and deaconess Annie Mann more than one thousand miles to Oregon to talk with her. During that meeting, he accused her husband of making up lies about him and Ted. She confronted his charges with "It was not ++++ who told me those things - - it was your son, Ted, who told me!"

Herbert's simple response was "Well, Ted should not have told you!" He then broke off the meeting and returned to Pasadena. Annie Mann witnessed Herbert being a liar and a deceiver. He never apologized to the man's wife for his attempted deception, nor for his efforts to discredit him.

I didn't know until many years later that the charge of adultery was a total lie. This man was so devastated and emotionally distraught that he actually suffered a heart attack with severe chest pains that lasted several days. He didn't realize what had occurred until years later when the evidence showed up on a chest X-ray and the doctor asked him when he had his heart attack.

When he explained to the doctor about his severe chest pains years earlier the doctor said "That is when you had your heart attack!" He suffered an emotional and mental (as well as spiritual) breakdown that took him years to overcome so he could rebuild his life. Herbert died without ever even attempting to undo the damages he inflicted on him and so many others.

I still count this man as a friend. Although we see the world through different reality tunnels (see my article on this subject), I respect his overall character and the principles by which he has guided his life.

When I first became a part of the Worldwide community, it seemed very family-like, and I think it was at that time. That atmosphere changed as the ministry became more of an elite club that maintained itself aloof from what became increasingly viewed as the “common” element of the congregation. This became even more pronounced as the British mindset increased with the addition of the Bricket Wood campus. British-style class awareness became ever more pervasive.

This was shown up vividly by the experience of one of my good friends who found himself called on the carpet about his mother.

His mother and Loma Armstrong had found in each other a commonality of spirit and personality that led to their becoming close friends. This did not fit in with what the powers that were thought was proper. His mother was not especially rich or highly educated, wasn't an executive and had no connection with the ministry. In fact, she had been a Hollywood show girl in her youth. A successful one, I might add. Then, just an ordinary housewife and mother.

I guess, because his father was long deceased, it fell his lot in their eyes to be the head of the family and they remonstrated him about his mother's efforts at “social climbing.”

Maybe the epistle of James somehow got clipped out of their Bibles while they weren't looking. Anyway, unless you were in a special class they thought worthy, you just didn't dare try to hobnob with the exalted elite.

I don't know if anyone bothered to consult Loma on the subject.

I could dredge up more examples if I really wanted to work that hard at it and make this a laborious read. These are the examples that have stood out in my mind, so I'm sharing them with our readers. If some others have examples they can share, please feel free to write an article, send an email or add them to the comments in this blog.

The longer I live and observe, the more I recognize the futility of looking to men and organizations of men as infallible guides to whom we must subject ourselves. That approach only encourages those who become so exalted to be hypocritical in an effort to maintain their positions.

We must learn to think for ourselves and guide our own lives wisely. The earlier in life we learn that lesson, the better our lives will be. I'm thankful that I began to really learn these things at about age forty when I was still in my prime.