August 20, 2019

Dear Members and Coworkers,

Our offer this month is Beware of Cults(on CD),  by Garner Ted Armstrong. Can you think of any time when this message might have been more appropriate? The theme is related to religious cults but the principles in play certainly apply to other situations we know all too well. Any time you have someone claiming to wield the authority of God, telling you what you have to do or not do in any given situation, and saying their proclamations are directly from on High, run for your life.

God gave each of us free moral agency. He made every one of us sovereign over our own lives and decisions. There are those who attempt to inform or educate people on history, on God’s Word and examples of the blessings for observing His Laws and curses for breaking them. Unfortunately for those involved, many have gone far beyond those basics and used their temporal “authority” to make demands upon their followers. Those demands carry real life consequences for any who would dare to question, object or disobey.

In the case of religious cults, we’ve seen some terrible examples. Who can forget the case of Jim Jones, who took his followers to the jungles of Guyana where he demanded they drink poisoned Kool-aid? The documentary comes around every so often, and it’s just as unbelievable and sickening as when the news first broke.

Jones was a religious leader who ended up rejecting the Bible and proclaiming himself a savior. He invented the concept of “Apostolic Socialism,” in part to conceal the fact that he actually embraced communism.  It’s rather interesting, in light of numerous recent events, that he is suspected of having staged numerous “hate crimes” against himself and his followers clear back in the early sixties. He set a date for nuclear holocaust that would mean the end of the world. In this case it fell in 1967. (Now we’ve got a host of legislators in government and campaigners for the highest office in the land saying we’ve got 10 to 12 years before global warming “destroys the planet.” Any similarities?)

He slammed a Bible down yelling, “I’ve got to destroy this paper idol!” He claimed there was no help but that you would give yourself. “Nobody’s gonna come out of the sky! There’s no heaven up there! We’ll have to make heaven down here!” He proclaimed the Bible a tool to oppress women and non-whites. He told his followers that they needed to follow his orders and drink the poison, otherwise there would be troops coming by helicopter to torture the people.  They would take captive some of the children and convert them to fascism. (Ding-ding-ding.)

There are many details we won’t cover in this letter, but if you want to read of them or can stomach the documentary with actual footage from the mass suicide, he ordered his followers to commit, it’s available. For whatever reason, Jones had the whole thing recorded on video. When he heard crying and wailing from his doomed congregation he is heard saying, “Stop these hysterics. This is not the way for people who are socialist or communists to die.”

We all knew that Jim Jones was one of the most bizarre cult leaders of the 20th century claiming, as he did, to be the reincarnation of historic communist figures. But how many realize that he employed so much of the reasoning of the far left? Race was the prominent subject of one rant after another and he claimed to be Cherokee Indian (ding-ding-ding). He warned that children would be taken captive and become brainwashed into fascism (ding). He was involved with homosexuality with male members of his cult (ding). He sought to create a “socialist paradise” in Guyana, where his people lived in abject poverty. He claimed his members were “the purest communists there are.” He preached a doctrine of “Translation” where he and his members would live in bliss on another planet once they all committed suicide. Mars maybe? We’ve got TV commercials now where free-thinkers are designing architecture for life on Mars. The hits just keep on coming.

The audio message Beware of Cults was recorded in the immediate aftermath of the Applewhite, Heaven’s Gate mass suicide in San Diego. Interesting too, that they were dressed right down to the Nike shoes with their driver’s licenses and money at the ready to meet the Hale-Bopp Comet and be whisked off to the “kingdom of heaven.” Instead, they went to the morgue. Everyone of the 39 members were found dead, having ingested some poisonous concoction and suffocated themselves with plastic bags over their heads. It’s hard to believe anyone would be deceived by such idiotic claims, but the identically dressed bodies were ample proof.

Even the Church of God and some of its splinter groups have been identified as having cult-like tendencies. To the extent that some leaders claim to have found themselves in the Bible, call themselves apostles and prophets, order their constituents to obey their mandates without question, some probably do legitimately qualify for the claim. As members of these “churches” can attest, their self-proclaimed leaders have tremendous authority which is enforced through their ministries. If anyone expresses doubt about some proclamation of the “apostle,” they can be cut off from the “church.” That means husbands and wives, or parents and children or best friends can be “put out,” disfellowshipped or “marked.”  I’ve actually had direct contact with members who know that they’re involved in a situation with no solution. To question the “authority” or veracity of their leader would mean they’d be cut off from any relationship with their families and close friends.

In a situation like that, many choose to just hunker down and try to deal with the problem by not upsetting the applecart. The weird holy man may have shown himself to be a complete fraud, drunk on his own publicity, basking in the absolute power he holds over the congregation. But the consequences of questioning or causing an uproar are too great to risk. Many have seen examples of how ruthless so-called “ministers” can be and just can’t bring themselves to take the risk of being put out, hated and despised by those they love.

As my Dad preached time and again, “Don’t let any ‘minister’ get between you and God.” Each of us has the ability to establish a close relationship with God. Who do these guys think they are to demand obeisance to their every whim in order the be in the good graces of the Almighty?

For that matter, who does the pope think he is?! We’ve got this little communist who thinks he can dictate what Christianity is. Turns out it’s all about illegal immigrants from the third world flooding into the Western nations. It’s all about accepting queers, their lifestyles and their demands. It’s all about destruction of freedom and the imposition of socialism!

If, or should we say when, these forces gain absolute power in the Western nations, it will spell the end of freedom as we’ve known it. The arguments are familiar. Get on board with socialism or you’re destroying the planet. Support “gay” rights or you’re a bigot. Believe in open borders, and supporting all the world can send, or you’re a racist. They’re already flinging these kinds of accusations daily in our mainstream media. The ultimate cult will pervert religion, and already has. Pray these would-be cult leaders never gain any more influence than they already have. Cults deprive people of freedom of speech. They deprive people of their God-given rights and freedom. The whole concept of some weirdo telling everyone what they have to think, say and do is against everything the United States stands for! It’s the only nation whose founding documents proclaim divine rights that no cult leader nor government has the authority to revoke. Beware of Cults!


Mark Armstrong