Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

Was Herbert W. Armstrong Guilty of INCEST?

Several religious teachers today deny that Herbert W. Armstrong ever did any "major" sin after his ministry began or after his conversion. One calls him "Elijah," and reverences him -- virtually idolizes him. Another accuses me of spreading malicious and scurrilous lies about him. What is the documented truth? It is not pleasant for me to discuss these matters, I would rather leave dead dogs buried. But, to defend my own integrity against false accusations from those who seek to deny and suppress and hide the truth, I must give you the facts. So here they are -- read, and weep!

by HOIM Staff

It is incredible to me how men and women will virtually worship the memory of a man. And woe unto anybody who would say anything against that man! He might as well be tarred and feathered or boiled in oil. It doesn't even seem to matter if everything he says is true, and can be proven easily by anyone with an open and unprejudiced mind. He is automatically considered a very nasty person, guilty of libelous slander and even blasphemy (a much more serious charge!). One man wrote to me saying,

"I just read your July-August 1993 Prophecy Flash and I must tell you that I think it is absolutely disgusting that you accused Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong of committing incest with one of his daughters in the 1930's and early 1940's. How could you make such a baseless and false slanderous charge against God's end-time apostle. Mr. Armstrong is not alive to defend his honor. Well, I am doing it for him . . .

"I challenge you, Mr. Dankenbring, to print this letter in your 'PROPHECY TRASH' newsletter and send me a copy so I will know whether or not you can take it as hard as you dish it out. I think you are a coward for taking such a cheap shot at Mr. H. W. Armstrong. He no doubt had sins and faults as we all do, but incest was not one of them and you know better."

In another case, Gerald Flurry, head of the Philadelphia Church of God also blasted me for "bad-mouthing" the man he calls God's end-time "Elijah." He said in a sermon:

"That's what Billy says...He [HWA] wasn't the Elijah. He was a fraud. When he calls Mr. Armstrong a fraud, I know he is a tool of Satan the devil!....Who should I believe -- God? or Bill?"

Truth is, I did not call Herbert Armstrong a "fraud," but I did point out that he committed some great sins and made great mistakes. He was definitely not "Elijah," despite Gerald Flurry's slavish adoration and worship. In a more recent sermon, Roderick C. Meredith also castigated me and raked me over the coals, holding my feet to the fire. He declared:

"I know one man who has this paper he puts out, attacks Mr. Armstrong personally. Says vicious things about him...."

That is a remarkable accusation coming from the lips of one who knows all the things I have written about Herbert Armstrong are true. David Robinson, author of the book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, where the facts about Herbert's incest were first published, tells me he knew Rod Meredith very well, and that Rod knows the truth about these things. So why does he deny them now? Why does he accuse me of attacking HWA and being "vicious" if it is the truth? Said David Robinson in a phone conversation with me, December 22, 1993, by denying the veracity of these things, Rod is guilty of "misrepresentation -- presenting false, untrue information in order to manipulate and gain undue influence over people."

Well, my friends, let's set the record straight. Let's see who's telling the TRUTH, and who is covering up and hiding their eyes from the truth! Am I guilty of drugging up lies, filth, innuendo, and slander toward Herbert W. Armstrong? Or am I telling the plain truth -- just like it is -- unvarnished, straight from the shoulder...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Evidence of Immoral Sex

The truth is, many people have been terribly deceived, and kept deliberately in the dark, as to the real inside story about the personal character of Herbert W. Armstrong. It is high time you knew the truth, so that you can lead your life accordingly, without following died-in-the-wool spiritual mountebanks and frauds who use the name of "Armstrong" to bilk thousands of people out of their hard-earned tithes and offerings!

To begin, W. Jack Kessler, former auditor of the Worldwide Church of God, wrote a letter to the church's board of directors, dated December 20, 1981. Kessler, an Ambassador College graduate, CPA, and attorney, had his contract to do accounting for the church terminated in the summer of 1981. This hit him hard, like a bombshell. He was then disfellowshipped on September 9, 1981, for refusing to turn over certain documents to the church -- or so said Ellis LaRavia, evangelist in the church at that time.

In his 14-page letter, Kessler detailed many of his grievances. In his letter, he stated to the board of directors:

"Although others, such as Dave Robinson and Floyd Lochner, apparently thought that it might work to their advantage to report Mr. Armstrong's admission (which he's made to several) that he had engaged repeatedly in incestuous intercourse with his daughter during the first 10 years of his ministry, as well as more recent, self-confessed perversity, such attacks have been weathered, and I know that both you and the membership have steeled yourselves against potential adverse publicity, if any, that such revelations could bring" (for a much longer quotation from the letter, see the Ambassador Report, 3/31/82).

In this lengthy letter, Mr. Kessler gives a rather poignant and sad description of Herbert Armstrong -- a side of him that the vast majority of people never saw in public. Most people know Herbert Armstrong based on the glowing pictures seen of him in the Plain Truth magazine, or an image they have in their minds of him from seeing him speak at the Feast of Tabernacles. Little do they know of the real man and his innermost character. It's time we look beneath the public posturing and superficial facade, and came to grips with the "inner man" and his flaws, weaknesses and unhappy character traits.

The Character of Herbert Armstrong

Jack Kessler wrote in his letter to the board of directors of the Worldwide Church of God:

"Mr. Armstrong is somewhat of a tragic figure. He is a man to whom a great calling has been given and through whom marvelous insight has been revealed. He is also a man motivated by strong passions, and is perhaps one of the most naturally selfish men to have walked this earth, ever. That he has been able to control his desires and egocentrism to an appreciable degree shows some measure of his tremendous will, and only God can judge to what extent he has overcome..."

In his letter, Kessler pointed out how profligate and illegal Herbert Armstrong was in the handling of the church's money. As auditor for the Church, he was privy to these matters. He declared:

"Some of you know that Mr. Armstrong takes with him on each trip in his aircraft $10,000 in cash for which he does not account, which is not treated as compensation, and which is used for his personal pleasure or given to his private nurses as 'fun money' or else given to his wife. When such funds are insufficient to satisfy each of his desires, he has had additional funds wired under false pretenses from the Church to pay for such things as a $30,000 rental payment for a yacht in Monte Carlo....

I would be inclined to wager that the vast majority of you never knew these things about Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong -- "God's apostle" for the End-time! Wrote Kessler, "In some cases, Mr. Armstrong encouraged others to join in the fun of having treasure troves from Harrod's of London maintained in their homes so that his own conscience could more easily be assuaged."

Among the "peccadilloes" of Herbert W. Armstrong, Kessler declares, "And as a matter of trifling insignificance in the larger scheme of things, but one that may not universally be so regarded, the G-II was sent to Tucson earlier this month to deliver a letter. Much better service than the post office, and much cheaper than federal express, if you discount the rental value of the G-II and its crew and supplies and fuel." Kessler points out that for the price for each hour of renting an airplane like the G-II you could purchase a nice car. Some letter!

Does this sound like a "profligate" apostle? Or a true, humble, self-denying servant of the living God? I don't recall any of the true apostles of Jesus Christ -- Peter, James, John, etc. -- being so wasteful and extravagant! Describing the life of a true apostle, Paul wrote: "For I think that God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men...

"Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are as the off scouring of all things unto this day" (I Corinthians 4:9-13).

3 Years of Sex Before Marriage!

But let's continue the saga of our so-called "modern apostle" and "Pastor General" of the Worldwide Church of God.

Two years later, in the April, 1984 issue of Ambassador Report, the saga of the personal life of Herbert W. Armstrong, "God's apostle," and "Elijah," picks up. In this telling issue, the editors of the Report point out that during Herbert's marriage to Ramona Martin, she evidently had a boy-friend on the side, whom Herbert knew about -- and even approved! Included among the correspondence which Herbert's attorneys attempted to introduce as evidence in the divorce trial is a Christmas card from Ramona to Wally, and a novelty card from Wally to Ramona, with the punch line, "It makes me feel horney!" There seems to be no effort made to conceal the relationship from the "Apostle" at all.

Writes John Trechack of Ambassador Report --

"Longtime readers of Ambassador Report know how Herbert's intimate relationship with Ramona predated their marriage by a number of years. In recent months Ramona has admitted to friends that she and Herbert maintained a sexual relationship for three full years prior to their marriage. At some point along the way Ramona apparently had some misgivings and so asked Herbert what he would do if he discovered some man in the church was involved in a non-marital sexual relationship with one of the church women. He answered that he would immediately disfellowship them both. 'But,' questioned Ramona, 'isn't what we are doing also wrong?' To her surprise Herbert said, 'No.' When she asked why, Herbert explained, 'Because I am an Apostle!'"

Shocking information, no doubt, for all of you who have not been aware of what was going on in Pasadena, Tucson, and on board the G-II, before Herbert Armstrong finally married a woman who was forty years younger than himself!

Herbert Armstrong's preoccupation with sex is graphically detailed in David Robinson's book, Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web. Robinson, a former elder in the Worldwide Church of God, points out that Herbert Armstrong kept a diary or log book in which he recorded the dates when he "masturbated" himself. Humorists in the Church later referred to this little book as Herbert Armstrong's "FLOG LOG." Armstrong discussed this "habit" he had with male friends, and while courting Ramona he told her "this lifelong habit was the reason it would be necessary for her to submit to his sexual advances," says Trechak in the Ambassador Report. The two were married in 1977.

After suffering a near-fatal heart attack in 1978, Herbert Armstrong, no longer satisfied with his sexual ability to perform, flew to a famous sex clinic in Romania where he received "shots" to rejuvenate his sex life. Accompanying him on the trip was his personal trainer, Floyd Lochner. Not happy with the results, he then gained admittance to a sex clinic in London, England. There he was fitted with a "specially made prosthetic dildo," according to Jack Kessler, former accountant for the Church. This device also did not satisfy him, and he then began thinking in terms of a prosthetic implant, developed by Dr. F. Brantley Scott at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. Fearful of the surgeon's knife, however, he decided not to have the surgery, and resigned himself to his fate.

But what about his wife Ramona?

John Trechak reports, at this time according to certain sources close to the Armstrong, he told Ramona that due to their great difference in age, and his dysfunction, that "he knew she would enjoy dating other men. This, he said, he would allow her to do, but on one condition -- that she be 'discreet'" (Ambassador Report, 4/84, p.7).

Confessions of INCEST

Did Herbert Armstrong really commit incest with his younger daughter Dorothy for a period of about ten years, from 1930s to the 1940s? I have been drubbed, attacked, and accused of libelous and slanderous remarks for saying such a thing by Gerald Flurry, Roderick Meredith, and others who ought to know better, if they would stand up and admit the TRUTH!

But apparently they would rather have the admiration of ignorant "sheep" who don't know any better, than to publicly confess that the sordid and nasty story is sadly, true, after all.

Solomon wrote, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Unfortunately, the sins of Herbert Armstrong are still to this day being covered up, denied, and suppressed by men with a false sense of loyalty.

David Robinson broke this story in his book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web, published in 1980. Although Armstrong's and the Church's lawyers tried to stop distribution of the book, when it first was published, they never once asserted that the incest allegation was untrue. Nor did Dorothy Mattson, Herbert's younger daughter, come forth to deny the incest story. Not once!

Here are the incredible facts, as reported by John Trechak in Ambassador Report:

"In 1971 Garner Ted Armstrong paid a visit to his younger sister Dorothy. He had long been suspicious of the kind of relationship his father and sister maintained during his youth. They chatted over a few drinks and then Ted told her bluntly of his suspicions. She did more than admit the allegations. With candor she related detail after shocking detail.

"For a number of years GTA kept the information to himself. But Dorothy did not. She divulged the same information to many others including David Antion (GTA's brother-in-law) and Lois Chapman (who had been married to the late Richard Armstrong, Ted's older brother, and after his death married Ben Chapman).

"Dorothy's story as related to Ted and others was that Herbert had begun fondling and heavy petting her in 1933 when she was thirteen years old -- around the same time that HWA now claims that God was using him to found the modern era of the only true church. But he did not begin to go 'all the way' with her until three years later. One day Dorothy returned home from a date with a young bank teller to inform her father that she had just been 'half-raped.' To her surprise, Herbert was actually 'elated' over the news. Herbert decided it was time to show her how it was really done. From then on Herbert went 'all the way.' The year was 1936; Dorothy was 16 years old."

Sufferin' Succotash! Tell me it's not true! But it is true, and all the rugs in the world can't hide it; all the fog in England can't obscure it! If you won't believe me, or David Robinson, or John Trechak, or those whose witness I have cited, who have investigated these matters and allegations, including eye witnesses and participants -- then who will you believe?

David Antion, Garner Ted Armstrong, Dorothy Mattson -- all could verify (and in the past have verified) the truth. Herbert Armstrong himself admitted it to the Church's Council of Elders. In the March 1982 Ambassador Report, Trechak writes:

"As pointed out in previous issues of Ambassador Report, there has never been a real denial of the now well-known incest allegations. We were aware that before Garner Ted Armstrong was booted out of the WCG, he did, on at least one occasion, personally confront his father about the matter. A third party who overheard the highly charged conversation has reported how Garner Ted, in no uncertain terms, directly charged his father, yelling: 'You...[four letter for to describe the sex act in common slang deleted] my sister!!!' Herbert, suddenly aware that his son at last saw him for what he really is, could only softly admit: 'Well -- there have been times in my life when I've gotten far away from God.'

"In the almost four years since then, Herbert has made less and less of an attempt to hide this fact of his early ministry. Now, we understand, he has actually confessed this part of his past to many of the church's council of elders. But sadly, he is still unwilling to take any responsibility for his past behavior. He has simply placed the blame on his late wife, Loma" (Ambassador Report, March 1982).

The incestuous relationship continued for years. On one occasion in a hotel room, Dorothy so loudly protested her father's actions and abuse that the manager knocked on the door and inquired for the reason for all the noise. Herbert told him his "young bride" was a bit uncooperative due to inexperience. Satisfied with the explanation, the manager left. Dorothy has claimed that "Herbert then overpowered her, and after tying her to the bed and gagging her, proceeded to rape her." Says Trechak, "It's a pity Herbert neglected to include this incident in his book God Speaks Out on the New Morality. "

Ted Armstrong learned of this "affair" in 1971. However, it was not until 1978 that he finally said anything to his father about his shameful past. Writes John Trechak of the 1978 encounter:

"That year, during a heated argument between GTA and his father, HWA threatened to 'destroy' Ted through making public certain information about his personal life. But Ted responded in kind saying he could destroy HWA with the information he had. Ted charged his father in no uncertain terms, yelling: 'You...[unprintable four-letter word for sexual intercourse deleted to avoid causing offense] my sister!' Herbert, shocked at Ted's knowledge of the incestuous relationship, could only reply: 'Well -- there have been times in my life when I have gotten far away from God.' The conversation -- overheard by GTA associate Benny Sharp -- was the last face to face meeting between the two men. And Ted has since related how the hateful look he saw in his father's eye made him suspect they would never see each other again" (Ambassador Report, April, 1984).

This was not the only time Herbert Armstrong confessed to the incestuous affair with his own daughter.

After the Robinson book came out, Henry Cornwall -- then an aide to Herbert Armstrong -- asked him if the allegation in the book was accurate. Herbert said it was true. He then told Cornwall that his wife Ramona was not to see the book or hear of the incest.

Unfortunately, Ramona already had her own copy of the book, and was in the next room listening to the conversation between Herbert and Cornwall! She also confronted Herbert about the allegations of incest. Once again, he admitted it was true, but begged and pleaded with her not to allow this fact to get in the way of their marriage. Once again, he blamed his first wife Loma for the problem. Says John Trechak of this sordid relationship:

"Dorothy has stated that her sexual relationship with her father continued into the early forties. In 1943 Herbert officiated at the ceremony in which Dorothy was married to Vern Mattson, who soon afterward was to serve overseas in the U.S. Marines. We have no information that the incestuous relationship continued beyond that point. However, Dorothy has related to friends how, around the time of her engagement, Herbert told her that her marriage need not put an end to their own special relationship."

Nothing but the Truth

As for my many critics, Armstrong worshippers one and all, or ignorant and naive church members who just don't know any better, this is the sheer truth, unembellished, unadorned, unvarnished -- just the plain truth. If you don't like it, too bad. If you can't stomach the truth, then maybe you'd better see a doctor -- or a psychiatrist. If you refuse to admit the truth, and continue deceiving your own congregations and members about it -- denying it, suppressing it, hiding it, then God will just you as a hypocritical liar and cast you in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). If you continue to falsely accuse me of spreading malicious lies, gossip, innuendo and slander -- then may Almighty God judge you accordingly!

I do not write these things easily or out of sense of joy or rejoicing at the sins and faults of another human being -- it is an unpleasant, odious task. It gives me no pleasure or joy whatsoever. But the truth must be known! Jesus Christ declared, "Fear them not, therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops" (Matthew 10:26-27).

The apostle Paul declared, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather REPROVE THEM ["EXPOSE THEM," as the Moffatt and other translations say!]. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Ephesians 5:11-12). Paul wrote to Timothy, "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men, they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid" (I Timothy 5:24-25).

God says, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (I Peter 4:17).

Those who worship a "man" -- Herbert Armstrong or any other man -- will be judged by Almighty God. Those who "idolize" a man and lie to cover up his misdeeds -- will suffer the plagues of God. Isn't it time we quit following mere men, and looked to Christ, keeping our eyes on Him (Psalm 25:15) instead? God help you to really understand this essential truth.


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Courage for the Sake of Truth is Far Better Than Silence for the Sake of Unity!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.

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