The Corrupt Leaders of the
|I recently [early 1995]
published some information exposing some of the heinous sins which the
former leader of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), Herbert W. Armstrong
(HWA), had committed while establishing the church. I had learned about
these alleged misdeeds from issues of Ambassador Report. [See
An acquaintance whom we knew in the WCG read this material and wrote to me, disgusted that I should publish such information: "I deplore the vicious attack being made on the character of a man now dead and unable to refute these degrading accusations..."
Specifically, I had referred to sexual immorality consistently and deliberately committed by the former Pastor General of the WCG. Ambassador Report had uncovered incontrovertible evidence of HWA's incestuous sexual relationship with his daughter Dorothy, spanning a decade. This occurred while he was married to his first wife, Loma Armstrong. His adulterous relationship had been kept a closely guarded secret. Church members were ignorant of the facts.
When I first became aware of these allegations, I too was horrified! I didn't believe them. They seemed too far fetched to be true! However, the evidence is undeniable to any who have objective open minds. I will cover that evidence later in this article.
Not only was HWA responsible for corrupt misconduct, unfitting for a man in his capacity, but so too is the WCG's present leader, Joseph Tkach [who died in September 1995]. He is a fraud. His duplicity and unchristian character are revealed in further issues of the Report. [See footnote.]
I replied to the false accusation that I had made a "vicious attack" on the character of HWA. It was certainly not a vicious 'attack'. It was intended to reveal truth that WCG should be aware of. My reply follows:
Thank you for your letter concerning the recent mailing. I appreciate the sentiments you expressed in your letter and I understand why you vehemently defend Herbert W Armstrong. Don't forget that I, too, was highly supportive of the man from 1968, when God drew me into the Worldwide Church of God. For over 20 years, I would not have dared say a word against HWA, because I believed he was the end-time representative of God on earth. You must appreciate that my sentiments in 1989 were precisely those which you are expressing. So, what was it that caused me to change my appraisal and approach?
In 1989 we noticed WCG leadership decisions and behaviour that were very wrong. You will recall that in 1990, Helena and I contested that wrong ministerial behaviour. We challenged the WCG leaders over decisions they were making, much like Xxxxxx Xxxxxx did and numerous others before him have done. For challenging the established authority structure in the church, we were thrown out. You thought nothing of that at the time. You complied with the ministerial decisions and refused to have any contact with us. You didn't come and talk to us about our dismissal. You didn't find out what had transpired. You merely accepted what happened and cut us off, following the directives which the church leaders had established in order to maintain strict controls over members' minds. By isolating us, you never came to know the spiritual issues which were at stake.
Since then, you have come to learn of some of the relevant issues through Xxxxxx Xxxxxx's writings. The Worldwide leadership was cleverly eroding foundational concepts and leading the WCG away from God. However, there are more issues which even Xxxxxx Xxxxxx has not yet seen and contested. I am trying to make the church aware of those. So, please hear me out first before you dismiss what I say.
To come back to Mr Armstrong's case, I am not 'slanging' him because he is dead and unable to defend himself. The allegations of incest were made in a book by a former WCG minister, David Robinson, (Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web), which was published long before Mr Armstrong died. He was not unable to defend himself! In fact, in 1980 the church tried to legally stop this book being distributed, but the court did not act in favour of the WCG, instead it acted in favour of those making the allegations! (This is covered in AR 12 and AR 13 of Ambassador Report.) The allegations were not denied, when those involved had a chance to deny them.
If the allegations were untrue, those involved would have fought to clear their names. Mr Armstrong, his daughter Dorothy with whom he had committed the incest over a period of several years, and his son Garner Ted did not deny the allegations. (Covered in AR 14, 27 and 40). Finally, HWA himself confessed to the promiscuous relationship which had gone on for about a decade, from 1933 to 1943.
You will doubtless be shocked at this information! I was, I can tell you!! When I first heard a 'hint' of anything immoral in Mr. Armstrong's life, I also refused to believe it. That is a natural reaction. We don't want to think evil of others, especially those whom we have looked up to as church leaders, who stand before the flock as examples of Christ. So we shut our minds to such information, thinking it is wrong to consider it. But it MUST be considered. These are the fruits by which we can 'test' the spirits.
It is so easy to be duped and to forget that when Satan comes, he comes as an angel of light. It is easy to be deceived. And we all were deceived in the WCG about this man's authenticity as a man of God.
Allow me to quote from Ambassador Report (AR 27), April 1984, pages 7 and 8, about these allegations:
Many readers will recall that when David Robinson's book appeared in 1980, it contained numerous allegations shocking to even some of HWA's long-time critics. No accusation was more startling than that found in the book's last chapter. There Robinson charged that HWA had maintained an intimate sexual relationship with the younger of his two daughters for a period of approximately one decade beginning in the early 1930's.
The Armstrong organization, through surrogates, attempted to use the courts to block distribution of the Robinson book, but failed miserably (Ambassador Report, Sept 1980). It is most remarkable, however, that in attempting to stop distribution of the Robinson book, never once was it asserted that the incest allegation was untrue. Nor did Dorothy Mattson, HWA's younger daughter, ever come forth to deny the incest story (and she has repeatedly refused to respond to queries from the Report regarding the matter.) In spite of all this, it seems there are still some who prefer to believe that the incest story was fabricated. Let us briefly review the facts.
In 1971 Garner Ted Armstrong paid a visit to his younger sister Dorothy. He had long been suspicious of the kind of relationship his father and sister maintained during his youth. They chatted over a few drinks and then Ted told her bluntly of his suspicions. She did more than admit the allegations. With candor she related detail after shocking detail.
For a number of years GTA kept the information to himself. But Dorothy did not. She divulged the same information to many others including David Antion (GTA's brother- in-law) and Lois Chapman (who had been married to the late Richard Armstrong, Ted's older brother.
Dorothy's story as related to Ted and others was that Herbert had begun fondling and heavy petting her in 1933 when she was thirteen years old - around the same time that HWA now claims God was using him to found the modern era of the only true church. But he did not begin to "go all the way" with her until three years later. One day Dorothy returned home from a date with a young bank teller to inform her father that she had just been "half-raped". To her surprise, Herbert was actually "elated" over the news. Herbert decided it was time to show her how it was really done. From then on Herbert went "all the way". The year was 1936; Dorothy was 16 years old. Strangely, Dorothy has claimed Herbert later went on to become a good friend of the bank teller.
The incestuous relationship went on for years, but it was apparently not mutually enjoyable. Dorothy has related to friends how on one occasion in a hotel room she so strongly protested Herbert's abuse that the manager knocked on the door and asked what the reason was for all the noise. Herbert was quick to inform him that his "young bride" was a bit uncooperative due to inexperience. Satisfied with the alibi the manager left. Dorothy has claimed that Herbert then overpowered her, and after tying her to the bed and gagging her, proceeded to rape her. It's a pity Herbert neglected to include this incident in his book God Speaks Out On The New Morality.
During those years, besides taking her on supposedly church or ministry-related business trips, it was not uncommon for Herbert to take Dorothy out dancing on Friday nights. On one such occasion she asked him if he ever worried that one of his church members would see them. He told her no, because, in effect, they were too stupid to be out dancing on Friday night and that he had them well-trained (in keeping the Friday sunset to Saturday sunset Sabbath).
These incidents were but a part of the awful truth Dorothy related to Garner Ted and others. In spite of church upheavals, arguments with his father, personal emotional problems and considerable notoriety about his own sins, Ted said nothing about his father's shameful past. Not until 1978.
That year, during a heated argument between GTA and his father, HWA threatened to "destroy" Ted through making public certain information about his personal life. But Ted responded in kind saying he could destroy HWA with the information he had. Ted charged his father in no uncertain terms, yelling: "You fucked my sister!" Herbert, shocked at Ted's knowledge of the incestuous relationship, could only reply, "Well - there have been times in my life when I have gotten far away from God." The conversation - overheard by GTA associate Benny Sharp - was the last face to face meeting between the two men. And Ted has since related how the hateful look he saw in his father's eye made him suspect they would never see each other again.
As was covered in great detail in our 1977 issue, during the early '70s Garner Ted Armstrong became highly infatuated with an Ambassador College coed. The resulting affair caused great confusion in the higher echelons of the WCG. Former WCG evangelist David Antion recalls how, at the time, he discussed the problem with HWA. Antion was for years perplexed by the almost Freudian analysis offered. HWA told Antion that Ted was simply fantasizing the younger woman as being his own daughter. The statement made no sense to Antion until years later. (As an aside, it is interesting how Ramona has claimed that HWA has been, over the years, very jealous of GTA's supposed sexual prowess.)
The last meeting between GTA and his father in 1978 was not the only time HWA confessed to the incest allegation. In 1980 Henry Cornwall, then an aide to HWA, read the Robinson book soon after it appeared and asked HWA directly if the chapter on incest was accurate. HWA told him it was. He then instructed Cornwall that his wife Ramona was not to see the book or learn of the incest story. Unfortunately for Herbert, Ramona already had a copy of the book and was in the next room listening to the Cornwall-HWA discussion. Shortly thereafter, she too confronted HWA about the incest allegation. And once again, HWA admitted it was true, but begged and pleaded with Ramona not to let this fact get in the way of their marriage. The cause of the problem, he said, had been Loma, his first wife. Considering the perversity of Herbert's past, is it any wonder Ramona's love would begin to wane?
One can only speculate on how much Herbert's first wife Loma knew of what had transpired for ten years between her husband and her younger daughter. But some individuals who were then close to the Armstrong family did notice that toward the end of her life, Loma was not on good speaking terms with Dorothy and that during the last year or so of her life she appeared to have lost almost all will to live. She died in 1967 after an illness that many say could have been cured by medical science, had she availed herself of that help. It is interesting to note also that HWA's great preoccupation with world touring began right around that time.
Ramona has reported to friends how the Robinson allegations preoccupied HWA's mind for a considerable period. She has also reported seeing a typed statement intended for Dorothy's signature. It stated that she (Dorothy) had never had a sexual relationship with her father. The document was, and we'd be willing to bet still is, unsigned. Dorothy undoubtedly knows that to sign such a statement would prove financially costly, removing any leverage she still possesses over her father. (On a recent trip to Big Sandy, Texas, HWA was quoted as saying his daughters show him very little affection and care only for his money.)
Dorothy has stated that her sexual relationship with her father continued into the early forties. In 1943 Herbert officiated at the ceremony in which Dorothy was married to Vern Mattson, who soon afterward was to serve overseas in the U.S. Marines. We have no information that the incestuous relationship continued beyond that point. However, Dorothy has related to friends how, around the time of her engagement, Herbert told her that her marriage need not put an end to their own special relationship.
Shortly after Vern's discharge from the military, Herbert was able to provide him with employment within his growing organization. Although Dorothy drifted away from her father's church by around 1951, Vern continued his association. He was the organization's business manager before the Albert Portune era.
What caused him to leave the Armstrong corporation? Was it then that he discovered the awful truth about his wife and father-in-law? The following quote taken from the transcript of one HWA deposition provides a clue (Ramona's lawyer is asking about Dorothy's house being sold to the WCG):
Q Did she sell it to the church?
MR BROWNE: Objected to as being irrelevant and immaterial and constitutionally impermissible. Transactions between third parties and the church are none of anyone's business in this particular case and instruct you not to answer.
THE WITNESS: I refuse to answer.
MR DECKTER: Okay. Where did you provide her with living accommodations?
A. I provided her with living accommodations ever since, on and off ever since - Now, wait a minute until I think of the year. Let's see, I don't know. Began back in the 1950's, ever since Vern Mattson resigned from being business manager of the church.
Before leaving the subject, one other deposition excerpt is worth quoting. Ramona's lawyer was asking HWA some background questions concerning his health:
Q And do you suffer from any other diseases or chronic problems other than what we've discussed?
A Not that I know of.... I have had difficulty sleeping for the last, oh, let me see, ever since 1933.
That was the year HWA began abusing his own daughter. Is it any wonder he hasn't slept well since? (From Ambassador Report, AR27, April 1984, pp. 7-8.)
The allegations of incest are true! These were not momentary slips in which Mr Armstrong fell in sin and later repented. He didn't repent. He knew he had done wrong, but he only tried to cover it up and hide the truth from the church. HWA was a highly deceitful and clever individual who hoodwinked most in the church to give the impression he was a man of God. Even he himself was deceived about himself. (The wicked don't know they are wicked - Jer 17:9.)
So, please understand, I don't enjoy 'slanging' him or anyone. I am merely speaking the truth, so individuals who have been duped by him can perceive the truth and learn to discern the spirits (I Jn 4:1).
Jesus warned us to beware being deceived (Matt 24:4) by men who come in His name. HWA deceived us. Or rather, the devil deceived us through him. He has got Gerald Flurry well and truly deceived also. Gerald Flurry worships HWA!
Jesus told us we would not necessarily recognise false prophets by the doctrine they preach (all preach a mixture of truth and error), but that we would know them by their fruits (Matt 7:16,20). You must not close your eyes to the true fruits of this man's life which have been covered up and hidden. The truth must be exposed for all to see clearly. I pray that you will have the courage to do so and warn others also, so they can see the truth.
If you are prepared to read what I have written in the last missive I sent you (Worldwide Church of God, Where Do We Go From Here?), it should be clear that HWA was not the prophesied 'Elijah' to come at the end. HWA had no miraculous testimony to speak of to accompany his ministry (II Cor 12:12). Jesus has not come yet, so HWA could not have been the 'Elijah'... Flurry's claim that he is the 'Elisha' is not scriptural and is ridiculous. He is deceived and a deceiver just like Armstrong, being used by Satan without knowing it.
The tragedy in all the teaching of the WCG and the PCG is that, although some truth is taught, it is so mixed with error that it is highly dangerous. The greatest danger lies in the fact that it leads you to believe that you have found God's one and only faithful remnant Church. You then close your eyes to what anyone outside is saying, and are psychologically trapped within that organisation... looking down on others outside because they don't have 'the truth' which you assume you have. (There are many other true Christians elsewhere. Possessing right doctrine is not the indicator of a true Christian. Right spiritual fruits reflect who has God's Spirit.) With such a blinkered approach, you cannot learn from any other Christians.
By perpetuating the same exclusivist arrogance which the WCG began under HWA, the PCG exerts the same psychological controls which hold members in demonic bondage. They cannot see it because it is so subtle. They are deceived.
Beware Being Deceived!
The New Testament is replete with warnings for us to beware deceivers in the Church. Naive Christians think that the deceivers are in other churches; never their own! They always assume that its the 'other guy' who gets deceived, not themselves.
But a deceived person does not know he is deceived. That statement was made countless times by HWA, who was himself deceived about where the true Church was. He assumed that all others outside his organisation could not be part of the true Church. Not only that, but he was deceived as to his own spiritual state.
How can you avoid being deceived?
Peter provides the answer. He also reveals why deceivers become deceived, and continue deceiving others. Notice what he says in his second epistle. The simple answer to why people become deceived is because they allow themselves to become corrupted by the temptations in the world through evil desires (2 Pet 1:4).
The problem is, church leaders can slip away from God as the physical pressures on their time increase. As their organisations grow, so their vanity and pride can grow too. The bigger their organisations get, the 'bigger' they get. Of course, that is an illusion: they are actually diminishing, spiritually!
Satan's main target is the Church. He wants to deceive the Church. He can do so if individuals allow him to.
If church leaders have character weaknesses that have not been 'crucified', such as greed or other physical lusts, the temptations of this evil world can overwhelm them. Satan is a mastermind at tempting people into sin, and deceiving them that it doesn't really matter.
This is what happened with HWA. He became corrupted by evil desires. Even before the money came rolling in, in later years, temptations of the flesh overcame him. Satan got him trapped!
Later, he became vain and proud of the organisation he had established. Although he paid lip service to God - he would say, "Jesus built this church, not me" - psychologically, he had succumbed to pride. This was a weakness which had been with him from the beginning. He had always aspired to greatness. Perhaps it was that evil desire which he failed to crucify, which led to his downfall.
Watch Out For Deceivers!
Peter warns us to beware evil men in the Church who can lead us astray. How can we tell who are evil? Jesus told us to examine the fruits of their lives (Matt 7:16,20).
He didn't say look at their accomplishments or exploits. A man may be a hard worker, but he may do it for selfish ends. He may be clever. He may have a good personality. He may be an accomplished orator. He may have built a big organisation through his efforts, even sacrificing to do so. Those are not the fruits Jesus is talking about. They can all be achieved humanly, through selfish motive.
The fruits He is telling us to be aware of, in assessing a person's real character, are the spiritual fruits of their living. Those are listed in Galatians 5:22-24:
Conversely, false ministers do not do so.
If sinful human desires are not mastered, they will master you. This is what happened in the life of Herbert W Armstrong, so-called 'apostle of God'. He was nothing of the sort. He was a capable man, a clever man, but a deceived man. He was conquered by Satan, and because he was so deceived, he deceived many others.
Never underestimate the power of Satan. Never underestimate that he could conquer you, if you don't strive to conquer sin in your life. Jude wrote assertively:
Sexual immorality was one of the sins which caused the downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah (v 8). Natural instincts "- these are the very things that destroy them" (v 10).
But some ardent supporters of HWA will protest that he was a good man. "After all, he sought truth. He taught people about God and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom."
Yes, he may have appeared a good man. However, satanic tools come as angels of light (2 Cor 11:13-15). It is difficult for the undiscerning to see through them. They give the impression that they are altruistic, and that they fear God. They, themselves, even think they do! The truth, however, is different. Their hearts are not right before God.
The fruit they should have in their personal lives has withered because "they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage (v 16). They... follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit" (vs 18,19).
Ironically, false ministers, whose hearts are not right with God, will still be used to preach the Gospel. They preach a mixture of truth and error. Sons and daughters of God are even called through their ministry. That does not mean that the preachers are of God. It means God is capable of using them to perform some things He wants accomplished. God will use dirty vessels as well as clean. How much He can use them depends on their submission to the Holy Spirit.
In the end, whether they are accepted or rejected depends upon the fruit they have borne in their lives. "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven" (Matt 18:3). Sadly, HWA was arrogant. He did not have child-like humility. His life's ambition, it would seem, was to make a name for himself and to establish his organisation. Paul had previously warned:
HWA drew away disciples after himself. He did what he did to gain a following. He did not co-operate with other ministers, except where they submitted to his authority. Some have called him egocentric, even an egomaniac. Jesus had cautioned His disciples:
HWA deceived many by subtly causing them to follow him. His followers regarded him like many Catholics regard the Pope. He became 'God' to members of the Worldwide Church of God.
Some 'old-timers' still idolise him! They regard his words equal to, if not sometimes more important than, the Bible! They don't perceive their behaviour and mental approach as blasphemous. Why can't they see it? Because they are deceived!
The 'man of sin' Paul describes in second Thessalonians 2 may well be the end-time false prophet, who leads the great false church at the time of the final resurrection of the Roman Empire. But the same trait is evident in others who claim to be Christ's representatives, but who are fakes.
When a man exalts himself and supplants God (2 Thes 2:3,4), no matter how subtly, he is guilty of blasphemy against God! Why is that power of lawlessness described as "secret"? (2 Thes 2:7.) Because it is not perceived.
People are easily deceived by deceivers! And a deceived person does not know he is deceived. Many in the WCG have been deceived by HWA! Have you?
The Truth About
Although there are many other instances we could quote to illustrate the wrong fruits of HWA's life, these have already been exposed through the pages of Ambassador Report. We would encourage you to obtain relevant issues for yourself and study them objectively. A summary of the issues to date is provided for you at the end of this article. Please consider the financial needs of those providing this information.
Also, please note that we do not concur with everything contained in those reports. The views expressed are not mine. While I have objectively considered the facts presented therein, I do not agree with all the conclusions of the editor, nor do I endorse all the doctrinal statements of others which appear within those pages.
You must allow the Holy Spirit to lead you, and make up your own mind about what you read.
In Ambassador Report, Joseph Tkach is revealed as having a chequered history. The appearance you see of a wonderful 'man of God' leading the end-time 'Church of God' is not accurate. It is a gilded version, specially decorated to attract admiration and loyalty from Worldwide members.
To maintain this false self-image, Tkach has had to lie to members. For example, he has told the following untruths:
Lord Acton is well quoted as having declared: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Tragically, that statement is not more true than in the lives of those who have wielded absolute power in the Worldwide Church of God!
The Evidence Against Joseph Tkach
There is a plethora of information which the investigations of Ambassador Report have unearthed which exposes the real fruits of the current leader of the WCG. In this short expos‚, I can only cover excerpts. For a comprehensive explanation of how the data was gathered and more background information, I would encourage you to obtain the complete accounts from Ambassador Report [please send the editor a donation to cover his costs.]
Before we relate some of these details, what is noteworthy is that Tkach and his lawyers refused to be interviewed by Ambassador Report. If you are innocent, you want to defend yourself. If you are trying to hide something, you stay quiet! Tkach's reticence, unfortunately, reveals much. Secondly, Peter warned us about the traits of...
Of course, false teachers are not stupid! They will cleverly try and cover up their greed. But the facts cannot be hidden indefinitely. Jesus promised that whatever is concealed will be disclosed (Luke 12:2). He said this in the context of religious hypocrisy!
Misappropriation of Church Funds
John Trechak states: "The allegation that Tkach in the past misappropriated to himself church funds set aside for the poor comes from numerous sources. In our March 1982 issue [AR 19] I published a lengthy letter that had been written by the WCG attorney-accountant Jack Kessler to the WCG's board of trustees. The Kessler letter recounted numerous ethics violations by top WCG executives. The letter contained the following statement:
"In early 1982 I wrote both Tkach and the WCG's legal department, asking if they wished to comment on the Kessler allegation. Neither replied.
"Beginning during the early sixties, when he was still in Chicago, Tkach's superiors often gave him responsibility over the 'poor fund', or 'third tithe' accounts of local congregations. Earl Timmons, for a decade a confidant of Tkach, told me that Tkach would often siphon off funds by making loans to needy church members, then labelling the loans on the books as gifts paid out, and finally pocketing the loans when they were repaid. I personally recall how during the early seventies, a number of my WCG friends, unemployed at the time, went to Tkach for assistance. In each case they were granted a few hundred dollars. They were startled, however, when Tkach informed them that the amount they received was only a loan and that the loan had to be repaid to Tkach personally in cash.
"I asked one former church secretary, who had known Tkach quite well during the seventies, if she believed Tkach had siphoned off funds meant for the poor during those years. She told me, 'Oh sure he did. But so what? In those days a lot of the ministers were doing the same thing.' Perhaps that is so..." (AR 43, p 1.)
Tkach's Connections With 'The Underworld'
"The allegation about Tkach having once been a fence was contained in a Feb. 1, 1981 telex from WCG attorney Stanley Rader to church founder Herbert W. Armstrong. As I have quoted in past issues, Rader's exact words were:
"Rader is not the only one who has made such allegations. It was in January 1979, as I waited to be interviewed for a TV news segment about the WCG receivership, that Earl Timmons first mentioned to me how Tkach had knowingly dealt in stolen property. Whether the item was a refrigerator for a church member or gold rings for his daughter Tanya's wedding, Tkach apparently had no qualms about buying or selling goods that his friends warned him were stolen. According to Timmon's wife, Shirley, Tkach would rationalize such dealings by saying, 'If you don't know where it comes from it's not wrong.' " (AR 43, p 1.)
The same Report continues to uncover questionable details about Joe Tkach's social life:
"Two ex-WCG members who knew Tkach back in the sixties... recalled how, at some juncture, Tkach gained a reputation as one with contacts in organized crime. Said one ex-member, 'I seem to recall it was Alan Manteufel who started that rumour.' (Manteufel was a WCG minister who died in 1978 - from alcoholism, some say.)
"Whether it was because of Tkach's visits to his imprisoned brother-in-law, or because of an overactive imagination on the part of Manteufel or someone else, the rumour of Tkach's Mafia connections became widely accepted as fact in WCG circles. As for Tkach, not only did he make no effort to dispel the rumour, he encouraged it. Ken Nagele, a former WCG member who once worked for Tkach, told me, 'Joe Tkach even used to kid about his old Mafia connections.' A number of former members also recall how Tkach had a 'Mafia Car Sticker' on the black sedan in which he used to visit members. While many undoubtedly took the sticker as a joke, others did not. Some have since noticed in the news how one major crime figure apprehended not long ago in Southern California also had such a 'humorous' sticker on his car.
"...But is there any real substance behind the image of an 'Apostle' with lots of gangland friends? One man who answers unequivocally in the affirmative is Earl Timmons... A WCG member since the early sixties, he was a very close friend and confidant of Tkach from 1969 through 1978. The two were so close they would get together almost daily over coffee. Shirley Timmons was also close to the Tkach family, as she was one of the church women who, for years, took care of Tkach's ailing wife.
"Because of his plumbing business, Timmons came in contact with many Los Angeles County businessmen. One was George Pappageorge... however, Pappageorge was not just a legitimate businessman, but the central figure in a major crime ring. Timmons alleges that Pappageorge and his associates were involved in burglary, robbery, and interstate trafficking in stolen cars and other merchandise...
"Court records show that Timmons' allegations should not be thought of as fantasy. George Pappageorge and two accomplices... were convicted in 1974 on multiple counts of kidnapping (at gunpoint), robbery, burglary, and conspiracy...
"From reading the court records it becomes obvious that Pappageorge and his many associates were involved in a very wide range of criminal activity. Yet, according to Timmons, George Pappageorge and his associate Kenny Moran were very close friends of Joe Tkach. Timmons is sure of this, he says, because he was the one who introduced Tkach to Pappageorge. From then on, says Timmons, Tkach would often spend time socially with Pappageorge and Moran. Why? According to Timmons, 'Joe just liked them. He'd go out to restaurants with them and he liked their company.'
"...The statement by WCG attorney Stanley Rader that Tkach once engaged in 'illegal fencing activities' raises a number of questions. During the early seventies, the WCG started a local discount store for its members in the Southern California area. Called the Crown City Commissary, the Pasadena store was a pet project of Pastor Al Carrozzo who saw it as a way for the WCG to give something back to its members. But when Carrozzo left the WCG in late 1973, Tkach moved into the vacuum caused by Carrozzo's departure.
"Some now wonder if Tkach was fencing through the Commissary. They recall how the Commissary often had on sale, for very low prices, huge lots of some items (sporting goods, for instance) for which there was very little demand among church members. Some also remember how the Commissary was abruptly shut down in mid-1974 amid rumours that 'hot stuff' was being sold there. Former WCG minister Howard Clark remembers how in early 1974 Timmons (who had been a contractor for the remodelling of the Commissary building) told him he was providing Tkach's Commissary with 'merchandise'. Timmons denies he did anything illegal in those days, but he does not make the same denial for Pappageorge and Tkach." (AR 43, pp 2,3)
The Sad Story of Tkach's Wife
John Trechak continues to relate in Ambassador Report: "During the mid-sixties Tkach's wife, Elaine, suffered a devastating mental breakdown from which she never fully recovered. Eyewitnesses have told me how for many years she seemed to be in a 'trance-like state', behaving 'like a zombie', and 'not in reality'. Some who have known her well say that at times she complained of 'atomic bombs going off in her head'. Some talk of how she has roamed around Ambassador's Pasadena campus in only a robe and slippers. Others have told stories of incredibly destructive rampages in the Tkach residence that led to her being forcibly confined to her room for months at a time and never left unattended.
"One individual, close to the Tkach family, has written me that since HWA's death Elaine's condition has improved. And a number of people have reported how she is now able to go shopping on her own. (Any appearance of improvement may be due to the powerful drug Haldol...) However, when I recently saw Mrs. Tkach wandering about in Pasadena, she still seemed to me to be very disturbed.
"...according to some who have known the Tkach family, Tkach is convinced his wife is demon possessed. Many other WCG ministers are similarly convinced. Yet neither Tkach nor his subordinates have the ability to cast out the demons in the Apostle's wife.
"...Among those who've personally known the Tkach family, Elaine's affliction has been attributed to a number of supposed causes. One WCG member, a long-time friend of the Tkach family (and one who views Tkach as a dedicated servant of God), wrote me:
"A few, who have personal knowledge of the situation, have speculated that Elaine's condition was exacerbated by Joe's domineering insensitivity and by the intermeddling of church official Roderick C. Meredith in Tkach family matters during the mid-'60s. However, almost all the WCG old-timers I talked to were convinced that there was a connection between Elaine's condition and a sexual relationship she allegedly had with evangelist Dean Blackwell, her husband's superior in Chicago during the early '60s.
"The Tkach administration now wants the Blackwell affair downplayed as having been merely verbal overtures by Blackwell. With only one exception, however, all the WCG old-timers I talked to said their understanding was that the Blackwell affair was out and out adultery - at the very least. And significantly, that widespread perception in WCG circles arose as a result of statements made to numerous individuals by Joe Tkach himself. When I suggested to former WCG pastor Al Carrozzo that Blackwell's romantic relationship with Elaine Tkach was now being portrayed as only verbal, he replied, 'That's not the way Joe talked about it years ago. He believed Dean Blackwell had gone to bed with his wife.'
"Carrozzo is known for his frankness. He is a man that does not mince his words. His understanding of the Blackwell affair with Elaine Tkach, however, is very mild compared to what some others have said. For instance, at least one WCG evangelist has described the Blackwell-Elaine trysts as 'wife swapping'. When I first became aware of this accusation I assumed the evangelist was confusing Dean Blackwell with Blackwell's brother, Lowell, who was put out of the WCG ministry years ago because of alleged wife swapping. That sordid business was actually detailed in a turgid open letter written to the entire WCG ministry by church administrator Roderick C. Meredith in the early '70s. But a similar accusation against Tkach has now come from other sources as well.
"In March I was contacted by Indiana businessman Robert Skaggs, who had been a WCG member in the Midwest during the early '60s. He had then been involved with the WCG's visiting program and had been very close to both Tkach and Blackwell. Skaggs claims that when he knew him, Tkach was not genuinely interested in religious truth, but was possessed by a lust for power. Skaggs told me that in his quest for power Tkach stooped so low as to allow evangelist Blackwell, then his superior, to sleep with Elaine, his wife. In return for this favour, says Skaggs, Blackwell had Tkach ordained into the WCG ministry.
"When I was told this, I pointedly asked Mr. Skaggs, 'Are you saying that Joe Tkach was ordained in return for participating in some kind of wife-sharing arrangement?' His answer: 'Absolutely!' Skaggs went on to state that Blackwell had at least one other man ordained for the same reason.
"As shocking as they are, Mr. Skaggs' accusations regarding Blackwell are in step with Blackwell's reputation among many former colleagues. Former church administrator Gary Arvidson told me, 'Yes, Dean Blackwell had something of a reputation. Without going into details, let's just say he was known as someone who really knew how to bring relief to the widows.' Another former WCG minister recalled how Blackwell repeatedly had to be brought into headquarters for periods of moral rehabilitation. Some such periods culminated in pulpit pronouncements by Blackwell (somewhat akin to those of Jimmy Swaggart) that he had finally repented and learned his lesson.
"Another former WCG minister who commented to me about Blackwell's reputation is David Robinson. He recalled how, in the fall of 1971, WCG minister Don Wineinger confessed how he had obtained a quick promotion to the rank of preaching elder. Wineinger said he became aware of Blackwell's double lifestyle and threatened Blackwell with exposure if he wasn't raised up a notch in rank. Within days, Blackwell had Wineinger ordained a preaching elder. I would have liked to have verified this information with Wineinger. Unfortunately, Wineinger committed suicide in 1978 after murdering his wife at a Spokane, Washington divorce lawyer's office. As for Blackwell, my letters to him, asking for an interview, were never answered." (AR 43, pp 3,4.)
Other Women in Tkach's Life
"Because of his wife's condition, friends say, Tkach was deprived of a normal marital love life. For female companionship he was forced to look elsewhere. He didn't have to look far, however. The WCG has always had its share of ministers' groupies - lonely females romantically attracted to authoritative 'men of the Word'. And so it was with Tkach...
"One former church employee of the early '70s wrote me:
"I was able to locate Miss X; I wrote her and left messages on her phone answering machine. To my requests for an interview I never received an answer. A friend of hers said that although Miss X, in the past, admitted she tried to get Tkach in bed, Miss X claimed Tkach was 'too self-righteous to do anything'. Earl Timmons says, however, that Tkach's affair with Miss X was 'hot and heavy'. Timmons told me, 'I used to let them use my house in the afternoons so they could be alone together.'
"Others have talked about Tkach frequenting Pasadena coffee shops and flirting with waitresses. One former church employee wrote me of how Tkach was frequently overly helpful to 'church widows'. In the last few years I have been told repeatedly of Tkach's relationships with a number of church secretaries. I wrote to three of them asking for an interview and, as usual, received no reply.
"One of those women deserves special mention. 'Mrs.' Ellen Escat, a divorcee, is regularly quoted and shown in church publications. When quoted, she is often describing Tkach's sermons in glowing terms. When shown or reported on, it is usually in regard to her accompanying Tkach to some important function. Described by one WCG insider as 'a domineering woman prone to temper tantrums', Mrs. Escat is Tkach's top female assistant and, as such, has considerable influence in the WCG power structure.
"... she first came to the attention of church employees in early 1979 when, according to eyewitnesses, she and Joe Tkach were seen on numerous occasions holding hands in public and appearing romantic towards one another...
"... the question naturally arises: Where is Mr. Escat? A story told among top headquarters personnel is that in 1980, when Mr. Escat discovered the relationship his wife was having with Tkach, he angrily confronted Tkach and other top WCG leaders about the matter. In return for his pledge of silence, so the story goes, he was granted some type of beneficial arrangement.
"As Mrs. Escat never responded to any of my letters, I decided to contact Mr. Escat. Although he was not listed in any phone directory, through a bit of detective work, I discovered Eugene Baptiste Escat Jr. was a retired businessman living alone on Pasadena's wealthy southwest side. I drove over to his home, noticed a for sale sign out front, and found Eugene working in his garage. He was a trim and well-dressed gentleman who appeared to be in his mid-fifties.
"Eugene gave me a cordial greeting. But when I explained that I was with Ambassador Report, he became visibly nervous. Hoping to gain his co-operation, I gave him a few back issues of our publication. I then noticed a curious thing. In a nervous reaction, he rolled up the issues as one would large building plans, and held them at chest height with both hands. As I talked about Tkach, his face contorted into a deep frown and his trembling hands began to squeeze and twist the rolled-up issues almost as though he was strangling the neck of a chicken.
"Eugene then blurted out, 'I've met Tkach. He's weak! Very weak! I can't believe he's in charge over there.' He went on to say how he had also met with and had had business dealings with church attorney Stanley Rader. But when I pursued the matter, Eugene checked himself and said, 'I better not say any more.' He then hastily retreated into his home and bolted the door.
"It's too bad we couldn't have talked further because I would have liked to have asked how it was that he achieved such a favourable divorce settlement with his ex-wife. In looking over the 1981 Escat divorce papers at the Pasadena court building, I noticed that even though the Escats were married for 12 years and even though California is a community property state with 'no fault' divorce, Ellen came out of the marriage with little more than her personal belongings. Eugene on the other hand, did very well indeed. He got their entire house (which he recently sold for $425,000), and he was not required to pay one penny of alimony.
"Perhaps that's just as well. As one of the WCG's most important personnel, Ellen receives a generous salary from the WCG. And in 1987 Tkach had Ellen moved into a luxury condo almost directly across the street from his own church residence. Explained Tkach to one volunteer mover, 'I want Ellen to be close to her work.' " (AR 43, pp, 4,5.)
Don't You Be Fooled!
Of course, loyal members of the WCG will protest that all this is reading far more into things than is warranted. Many would rather condone the behaviour of the leaders, than admit to their inadmissible failings!
Yet such failure to admit is a denial of a command Jesus gives His followers: Do not be deceived... (Gal 6:7). If you choose to shut your eyes to truth, you will be deceived. The devil has no favourites! There is a penalty for sin. Unrepented sin brings tragedy and suffering. The greatest tragedy is that it is often the innocent who suffer.
Mrs. Elaine Tkach is paying the price for her husband's failure to submit to God. Either you submit to God, or you submit to the devil. There is no 'halfway house' (Jas 4:6,7; Matt 12:30). James says aptly: You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (Jas 4:4.)
If you welcome the devil inside, as Joseph Tkach has done, he will take over! The Bible says quite clearly to those who tolerate sin:
You must assess their fruit. Liars and adulterers are not being led by the Spirit of God, but by demon spirits.
WCG loyalists criticise and condemn me for repeating such allegations against their idol and mentor, just as they have criticised John Trechak and others who have also sought objectivity before me. However, unless they are willing to bury their pride and prejudices, they will follow false ministers into perdition.
You can believe what you like, but know this, that for what you accept you will be judged. Not everyone who says to Jesus, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does God's will!
When such sins are openly repented of by church leaders, and you see evidence of good fruit in their lives, then and only then, can you know that they have truly repented. Until then, you are to have nothing to do with them (2 Tim 3:5).
Malcolm B Heap, Early 1995
Why This Was Written
Members of the Worldwide Church of God are generally unaware of the gross corruption perpetrated by those who lead them. If they were, they would not want to be associated with such people!
The sins of the leadership have been covered up or camouflaged and members kept ignorant. As a WCG member, you need to know about the deceivers who lead you!
HWA was a sexual deviant who did not repent of his misdemeanours. If you don't believe me, you don't believe the truth.
Jesus says a bad tree bears bad fruit (Matt 12:33). If you don't believe HWA was a bad "tree" you don't believe Jesus' words.
Don't be deceived. The sexually immoral will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God! (I Cor 6:9).
Joseph Tkach is a liar. He has lied to bolster his image in the eyes of members. No such liar has the Holy Spirit living in him!
Joseph Tkach has pilfered church funds. He has expropriated tithes belonging to the Worldwide Church of God for his own use. That is called stealing!
WCG lawyer Stanley Rader once told Herbert Armstrong that he had discovered Joseph Tkach was a 'fence' (he disposed of stolen goods).
According to a reliable report, Tkach allowed evangelist Dean Blackwell to 'sleep with' Tkach's wife. In return for this favour, Tkach was ordained by Blackwell!
Tkach has had other adulterous relationships. I am not rumour-mongering. Read the facts for yourself in Ambassador Report.
You must assess the fruit of church leaders. Liars and adulterers are not being led by the Spirit of God, but by demon spirits.
1 Ambassador Report is a factual quarterly publication which investigates and reports on past and present irregularities and changes in the Worldwide Church of God. Founded in 1977 by a group of Ambassador College alumni, Ambassador Report's publishing association has since exposed numerous scandals which have not been made known to the members and financial supporters of the WCG. It is thoroughly researched, frank and shocking. If you want to know the plain truth behind the Plain Truth, write to Ambassador Report, P. O. Box 60068, Pasadena, CA 91116, U. S. A
M B Heap, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP17 8TL, England.
Last modified: October 04, 2002