I don’t remember a lot about exact dates (I’m 75), but I think I yanked my wife and small children out of the Baptist church and into Radio Church (later WCG) around 1961. She became “the Unconverted Mate.” Just the use of that old epithet gives me the creeps, but I’ve had lots of time to repent of that ugly attitude.
I had dragged her and our small children from Catholicism to Southern Baptist-ism. She was actually the first to respond to Herbert Armstrong. She had heard “The World Tomorrow” on XERF, Del Rio, TX. She sent off for The Plain Truth (then a small black and white folder) and “Does God Exist” and “7 Proofs God Exists” — also black & white — odd shaped and hard to store and keep track of.
We lived in Fayette County, TX, near Schulenburg. Each Sabbath I would pack peanut butter sandwiches and kool aid (we were poor as church mice), load up the children, and drive 167 miles down old Highway 90 (before I-10) to sabbath service in San Antonio, TX. It was an all day event — we left at dawn and got home well after dark. A few times my wife accompanied us, but she refused after I scolded her for putting on lipstick before sabbath service — I said something like…”none of the other women will be wearing it, you’ll look weird”. Later I was “given permission” to attend sabbath church in Houston, only 110 miles but much of it interstate, as I-10 had been completed as far as Columbus, TX by that time.
Frank McCrady, a “local elder” at the time, counseled me that my marriage was “on the rocks”. He tried to convince me I should skip every-other sabbath to stay home with my wife and children; but I was just too hypocritical (read: “dedicated to G-d”) to do that. We had seven children before we were divorced in 1983. Neither she nor I have remarried and she owns the farm.
I was booted (“disfellowshipped”) from WCG in 1974, but I would drive over 100 miles to find a sabbath service in which I felt I would not be recognized. I snuck in as the opening hymn was in process, ducked out before the final “amen”. I had learned by that time how to circumvent the security system in place to keep out the unconverted and unapproved, manned by deacons.
In 1978 I went with Garner Ted and Ron Dart to CGI (Church of God International). I stayed until Ted was sacked for an alleged peccadillo — I think in the late 80’s. I was “booted” from that outfit around 1988 for “living in adultery”, but they were lackadaisical about maintaining security; so a few other adulterers and I sort-of continued in a home fellowship for a year or two.
As an educator I’ve always urged students to avoid blaming others for downturns that will come along with all successful individuals. “If it’s going to be it’s up to me…” Therefore, I look at my history with WCG as a good thing, not a bad thing. It was an episode that helped me become successful in the other things I’ve accomplished in life — a 30-year lesson learning experience (read: how NOT to behave!!). Had I not known Ted or his father I would have missed an important dimension in acquiring skills needed to see through fallacy.
I have not been involved in any religion of any kind since 1990 and consider myself a “sovereign state” (anarchist — but I think it is important to understand what anarchy actually means before making judgements). I do not call myself “atheist” (which itself is more-or-less religion as I see it); but I believe you have an absolute right to believe and proclaim as you see fit, and I will not denigrate any thesis you put forth.