The Legacy of the Worldwide Church of God

What it was like growing up in a cult and its impact on my life and others like me.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Living Church of God and Despair

I havent yet discussed the Living Church of God massacre because I started this blog after the tragedy in Wisconsin. But this blog was a direct result of that event. There is a fine line between a persons right to worship the way they choose and the abuse they suffer at the hands of those who would take advantage of them for their beliefs. I lot has been said about Terry Ratzman. Why didnt he just quit the church? Why didnt he just walk away if the church wasnt right for him? How could the church control him to the point of murder and suicide?

How could the church control him to the point of murder suicide?

The end result is we are all responsible for ourselves. Terry Ratzman was a murderer. He could have walked away but he didnt. Something drove him to the brink of no hope, despair, and anger. This in point, is what my blog is all about. I do think the Worldwide Church of God (and its offshoots), from my personal experience, contributed. I think in some ways I can understand Terry Ratzmans despair. I felt that despair myself. I felt like I had a death sentence hanging over my head when I left the church. From the time I was a very young child I was taught that the consequences of not believing the Worldwide Church of Gods beliefs was a death sentence. Not only in physical body but the eternal soul.

The WWCG taught me that my present day life was fruitless. That the things that I wanted in this life were nothing compared to the future kingdom of God. That basically this physical life was meaningless. How was I suppose to feel? Our job was to hurry up and prepare for another world and not care about the people left behind. I firmly believe that Terry Ratzman felt no hope.

But I was able to find hope. With help and with yearning in my heart that there is something better than the church of Gods version of God. I dont think the leadership of the Worldwide Church of God and its offshoots know true compassion and joy. That would interfere with business. This is evident in much of the silence surrounding these offshoots and the Terry Ratzmann murders.

2 Comments:

  • At 1:03 PM, Blogger Cole said…

    Sadly I know all to well the feeling of such despair of feeling trapped, unable to leave the church in spite of horrible suffering inside it. I've spent the last three years reeling from a sense of feeling that having left LCG I had in essence chosen to leave God and return to the world from whence I'd come. I did not even pray; feeling too ashamed before God to approach Him.

    I left because I was refused a divorce with rights of remarriage by Rod McNair. Though he was given a staggering list of Biblical grounds (sexual abuses [used as a weapon-withheld for months on end], physical abuses with property damage, frequent hostile rages in the home causing nervous disorders in all 6 of his family members, slothfulness--working only 50% of the year and the severe financial strain that resulted, child sexual abuse [open voyeurism of our 2 daughters causing years of nightmares in one of them, sexual acting out by the other] and on the list went).

    Rod refused to interview any of the children, three of whom were adults already, the other two teenagers certainly capable of speaking for themselves. My then husband denied the charges and asserted that I was crazy and/or lying (depending on the charge) and had manipulated the children into believing those things happened to them, that I had been courting their support for my “story” for years and had essentially brainwashed them against their father. Rod chose to believe that extraordinary defense and so didn’t conduct any interviews.

    After suffering a stress related heart attack at the end of years of stress related ailments I decided to disobey Rod. I left the church, dated and returned to the world and all its worldly ways. The cost to my spirituality was severe. I could not forget my beliefs or God and my guilt mounted higher and higher. Six months after my decision I suffered a total breakdown and spent eight days in a mental institution for treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    Eighteen months of therapy later I had come to see the lack of spiritual fruits in the leadership of COG's in general (what the therapist called “sanctuary abuse”). Authority and power (or the delusion that one possesses it and has a right to weld it) corrupted HWA and the ministry from the day HWA's was first challenged for his leadership of the church. No one noticed that PRIDE had overtaken the man and all humility (if he ever had any) vanished! The philosophies and doctrines he instituted to defend and protect his "right" to lead us, and of course our responsibility to follow him ("as he followed Christ" of course) set the stage for cultish abuses and Satanic corruption. Competition and politicking led to hateful retaliations and the disfellowhiping of anyone who threatened or defied authority in any way, as happened to me.

    I’ve come to realize the folly of thinking we are to follow any leader but Christ. Sure, there is place for teachers and servants to feed the flock, but no place for dictators or overlords who enforce God’s word on us as if they know God’s mind and could never be doctrinally wrong. I see also that our Lord does not rank and reject groups who accept him and obey him (to the best their consciences understand to do). We got all haughty thinking that worship only counted if it was “in spirit and in truth” as if only those who knew the “whole truth” (meaning the law; as if our obedience to it could save us) were counted as the children of God. Jesus said he had children the first church did not know of. In another place he stated clearly that believers who are not in the church are still on his side and they need not try to correct or reject them (Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50). We are not good judges of who is of God and who is not. The people casting out demons in Christ’s name were doing good works in the name of Christ, for that alone he considered them as deserving consideration as part of the family. If only we followed that example.

    Sects are not only allowed but accepted by God yet we have a long history of judging and comparing, deluding ourselves into thinking we were special. I am ashamed of my participation in all that pride and am now liberated from thinking any man stands between me and salvation. God judges our hearts, not the amount of “truth” we know or the level of adherence to the Law we live. He has called many sects to accept that Jesus is the Son of the Living Eternal Father, that there is in fact both Father and Son, not just the churches of God. We have called other Christian sects “imposters and deceived” and think on them as if they are not true children of our Lord. I am convinced that until and unless the COG’s in all their factions give up their Pride in all its forms and this judgmental habit of thinking we know who God is working with and learn to humbly love EVERYONE as God’s children these incessant splits and trials will not stop!

    We don’t know and cannot judge who is of God and who is not except for ONE thing, the fruits of the believer as noted by one’s actions. Love/God centered people who humbly accept that they don’t know everything; much less the mind and will of God are obvious to us all. I meet more people of this sort outside the ranks of the COG’s than I ever did inside it. HWA did one thing right, he taught us to take God at His word and the Bible as a whole. Past that he built a house of cards that Satan is allowed to exploit because we’ve followed and emulated men rather than God. Our chosen church affiliation is not a measure of our inclusion in God’s family, more and more of us are getting that now, but look what its taken to get the message.

    For the sin of Pride and the lie that any man has power to lead the church and command its subjects we have suffered a great deal of pain. No branch claiming there is a man in charge of it should expect much of God’s protection. R. C Meredith, D. Pack, on and on and on the sin of pride goes. We don’t call these human leaders “Holy Father” or “Pope” but in beliefs, deeds and structure (so called church government) what is the difference? Presiding Evangelist, since when was that ever a rank? It was supposed to be a role not a rank. When will we learn?

     
  • At 4:37 AM, Blogger listentonoman said…

    Cole,

    Thank you for your comments. The more that is heard about how the LCG and WWCG damages lives the better chances we have that others may recognize the abuse and get out. I know how hard this must have been for you. I have felt much the same as you in my lifetime. I hope things are much better for you now.

     

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