New York, NY, USA
My name is John Halloran. I was a WCG member from August, 1978 until around November, 1996. I was in contact with the church—–and, as so many others, without realizing for quite some time that there even was a church—–via The Plain Truth, Correspondence Course, and booklets for about ten years before beginning to attend.
Count me among those who, before and since exiting WCG, have questioned not only the policies and doctrines of WCG and its offshoots, but the underlying premises inherent in the whole theistic worldview.
Actually, this had been a task I’d set myself long ago, before beginning my WCG existence, but one I abandoned once, for reasons too involved to elaborate on now (yet probably rather familiar to many members and ex-members), I accepted the basic premises of the church which, to me, were: 1) God exists; 2) The Bible is God’s inspired revelation to humanity (well, to those of humanity who knew how to piece the puzzle together anyway!); and, 3) The Worldwide Church of God was the one and only True Church, and therefore the only one actually led by the Holy Spirit, and therefore the only one that knew how to put the puzzle that was the Bible together.
Somewhat later came the acceptance of Herbert Armstrong as, effectively, pope, and therefore the mindset that all real truth came through this man and, to a lesser degree, through the upper echelon of church leadership.
Once these beliefs became firmly entrenched, all thought of researching the basics was dismissed as irrelevant at best, heretical at worst. Doubts and questions, which recurred for various reasons and in diverse places, were relegated to the ever-more-crowded "back burner".
In autumn 1996, when the back burners could hold no more (even though I’d added extra burners!), and when I became persuaded that those guys just didn’t have a clue what the truth was and, in any event, were being evasive and duplicitous, I took my leave. I’ve never gone back, don’t plan to, and don’t regret it.
My position now is essentially agnostic. I am thus far unconvinced by the arguments of either theists or atheists, as those I’ve encountered both appear to me to assert more than can be comfortably supported by the evidence (a VERY important word to me these days, evidence), though I will say I find the latter’s arguments generally more compelling.
I am far more likely these days to be found poring over a copy of Skeptic or Skeptical Inquirer, and enjoying them more, than The Plain Truth or The Good News. I am enjoying the sensations of being a free individual, and of once again using my mind without feeling hamstrung by doctrinal drivel posing as the truth of God.
I’m not beset by any especial bitterness or anger toward most of WCG or its people—–in fact, liked most of ’em I met in 18 years!—– but that may be partly, at least, as a result of learning about so much of the cynical wickedness in high places so long after departing, when it no longer had a lot of emotional relevance to me anymore. Too, I wasn’t among those who suffered greatly at the hands of stupid, venal or vicious ministers, or as a result of horrific doctrines or policies (divorce & remarriage or healing, for example). And, there were a number of positive church experiences for me as well, not the least of which is that I’m alive to write this (unexpectedly epic…..sorry) email. The John Halloran who entered the WCG in 1978 at age 25 was a confused, agitated and ocassionally quite depressed young man, and I don’t know what might have become of him sans the discipline and sense of purpose the church provided. Suffice it to say, the path he was on was a risky one.
So here I am, 20 years later to the very month, mostly alive and tolerably well and thanking you for a very interesting and informative webpage. I’ve found much to think about in reading the remarks of my co-scribes, especially Messers. Bruce Renehan, whose book I just finished today, and Neil Godfrey, who at times sounded like he’d been in my mind.