Survey: WCG’s Impact on Your Life

Joy Wallace, who posted her story here in August is doing a really interesting sociological survey on people who have been involved with the WCG or its offshoots that you can take anonymously. I’ll post a link to her results once she’s gotten enough responses and produced her analysis. Please pass this on to anyone you think may be interested!

Why Does This Blog Exist?

I grew up in the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) from the time I was five. Over the years I spent attending WCG, first as a child, and later as a baptized member, I made many friends, traveled to many different places for the Feast of Tabernacles, tithed on my income, and in general did the things that WCG taught us to do.

When I became an atheist in 1995, I left WCG behind.

But I didn’t leave my history behind: WCG, its people, government, culture, politics, scandals and changes made a lasting impression on my life. A number of my friends and family still attend WCG (since renamed Grace Communion International) or its offshoots. And despite my current view of Christianity and religion in general as false, I feel I share a sense of kindred spirit with those who attended (or still attend) WCG, and especially those who grew up attending.

Much has been made in discussions on the Net and elsewhere about WCG’s various splinter groups and where those who have left the WCG ranks worship these days. But until I started this blog (long before the term “blog” was invented) I saw practically no discussion about those who have not only left the parent church, but who have left religion entirely. As non-believers, they can draw upon the considerable resources of the Net to engage in discussion groups and consider the arguments of theology vs. atheism. However, as former WCG members they, like myself, had nowhere to turn for support and the knowledge that they are not alone; which is why I decided to create this blog.

Requirements for posters: I invite you to submit your own personal story for publication here, if you were once a member of the WCG, or grew up in the WCG but were never baptized, and you now consider yourself an atheist, agnostic, humanist, unbeliever, or freethinker (please click the links to make sure you understand these terms.) Simply e-mail me with any information you would like to see posted. (Please make sure the subject line of your message includes “WCG”.) You can include your name, your general geographic region, some kind of contact information (full address, e-mail, URL), and whatever short biographical information you like. To be considered for publication, clearly state that you meet the above requirements and that you’d like to be listed. I will never post anything you send unless you explicitly request.

Requirements for commenters: Comments on this blog are moderated. I will remove any comments that I feel disturb the supportive atmosphere of this site. This especially includes preaching, quoting scripture, proselytizing posters back to the faith, etc. Start your own blog if you want to do that, and welcome to the 21st century.

Recommended Podcasts

I get a lot of my news and entertainment through podcasts these days. I wanted to take a moment to recommend two I’ve been enjoying that readers of this blog might also appreciate. Both of these podcasts are nicely produced and include a wide variety of engaging guest interviews.

Living After Faith
[iTunes]

Pentecostal preacher-turned-atheist Rich Lyons and his wife Deanna Joy Lyons co-host this playful, often touching, and occasionally deeply personal show. Their podcast is designed to help you as you leave religion and move forward with your life. It is the official podcast of RecoveringReligionists.com, a recovery group founded by Dr. Darryl Ray, author of The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture.

The Secular Buddhist
[iTunes]

Ted Meissner is an atheist and naturalist who also finds value in the study and application of early Buddhist thought to help find peace and meaning in everyday life. As someone interested in “inner practice” such as meditation and everyday mindfulness myself, I have long thought it would be interesting to explore the philosophical, psychological, and scientific aspects of Buddhism apart from supernatural assertions such as rebirth and karma. Ted and his guests make great guides in this journey.

Have you discovered a helpful podcast? Leave a comment and let us know about it!

Ronald Weinland: Armstrongist Prophet of Doom

I’d like to put an invitation out to interested readers of this blog to journey over to my personal blog, where I have recently called out a number of modern false prophets. One in particular, Ronald Weinland, has made near-term predictions for cataclysmic events of Revelation starting in April of this year. He’s attracted a lot of attention from people who are eager (or fearful) of seeing Revelation fulfilled this year, but who are also clueless to the fact that Ronald Weinland teaches a warmed-over version of Herbert Armstrong’s biblical interpretation— and they are also clueless of Armstrong’s failures. I’ve tried to educate them a bit, but you’re also welcome to observe or participate.

The original posting I did on Weinland is here. When it finally got over 250 comments I started a new thread to continue the discussion here. People are mostly arriving from Google searches on Weinland’s name.

You can see all my postings on false prophets here. (Be sure to click the post title to read the whole thing.)

God Hates Blogs

If you read any of the other blogs that track the WCG and its offshoots, you’ve probably already seen this jaw-dropper. But in case you haven’t…

He started it!

• The Restored Church of God: Blogs – and God’s Youth

They (and many others) finished it!

• XCG: Shutting Up the Sheep
• Ambassador Watch: Blather from Pack
• The Zero Boss: Teenagers: You’re Going to Hell, One Blog Post at a Time
• Wonkette: God Hates Blogs

Ex-WCG Non-Believer Hosts Popular Humanist Podcast

DJ Grothe is an Ambassador College graduate and former member. But these day’s he’s a tireless advocate of science and skepticism, and the host of the leading humanist and skeptical podcast Point of Inquiry. Each week, DJ interviews thought leaders such as Michael Shermer, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Bill Nye, and Sam Harris to name a few.

A recent episode that featured Carl Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan (alas, poor sound quality on that particular interview) also features in its second half a must-listen recording of Sagan’s inspiring public address, “Wonder and Skepticism,” given as the keynote of CSICOP‘s 1994 conference in Seattle.

Recent Blog Posts On Religion

Over at my personal blog, I have a number of articles on Christianity and religion in general that readers of this blog may find interesting.

Most recent first.

Ten Christian Lunacies

I have just posted an article I wrote, Ten Christian Lunacies, over at my personal blog. It was inspired by a WCG-related discussion I engaged in on a separate blog.

My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken… The Rose Parade?

Growing up in the Worldwide Church of God, we always took pride in the fact that our opulent headquarters campus was in Pasadena, California— right next to the route of the Tournament of Roses Parade. And most years on January 1st I would be out there with my fellow church volunteers either helping sell Kodak or Fuji film during the parade, or helping with the ignominious task of sweeping the detritus from beneath the grandstands afterwards— all to raise a little cash for our local congregation. Of course, if January 1st fell on a Sunday, the parade was held on January 2nd in order not to interfere with the local churches, and if the parade day fell on a Saturday (the WCG’s sabbath) we didn’t do it at all and one of the other local churches got the concession that year.

Every year our ministers smugly predicted good weather for the parade (and our concessions.) Indeed in my lifetime it had always been so— the parade seemed charmed, and even when the weather threatened rain, the skies would always shut up and the clouds would roll away, and while the air was usually rather cold until the sun rose above the buildings on Colorado Boulevard, the weather always turned out fine for a parade.

And of course, the WCG wasn’t the only group that believed the Rose Parade was smiled on by the divine. As discussed in the Los Angeles Times article Hoping Floats Won’t Have To, The Rose Parade organizers themselves have a number of traditions and superstitions built up around the idea that God really likes the parade and would go to some lengths to avoid raining on it.

Until this year, of course. Yes, it was simply a matter of time.

But of course, this too has ever been so. Some residents of New Orleans kidded themselves that God must be protecting the city, because every hurricane that came by missed. And going back a little further, we Americans in general kidded ourselves that nothing like September 11 could happen on our soil.

The other side of the coin is the “Godly Gloaters—” the Pat Robertson types who crawl out of the woodwork like drowning cockroaches every time the water rises and proclaim, “God has turned his back on this sinful…” nation, city, parade— you name it.

The simple fact is, it is not a matter of divine indulgence or retribution. It is simply a matter of circumstance, time, and chance. This is California— it doesn’t often rain on January 1st, but sometimes it does. New Orleans was built below sea level. Bullheaded politicians give America the political enemies it deserves.

One can only dodge so many bullets.

So those of you who think you know God’s mind, get off it. You would do better to act as if your god doesn’t exist (because assuredly he/she/it doesn’t) and take responsibility for the consequences of your own— your city’s— your nation’s actions.

Here’s hoping for better weather next year.