Terry Ratzmann, who killed 7 people the other day in Wisconsin, firing 22 bullets from a 9mm handgun in a matter of a minute or less, was a member of the congregation that was meeting that day, part of the "Living Church of God." According to the Times:
The Living Church of God was founded in the mid-1990's by Roderick C. Meredith after he was kicked out of one of the many groups that splintered from the Worldwide Church of God upon the death of its leader, Herbert W. Armstrong. It claims 7,000 members in 288 congregations. Many of them, like the one here, meet in hotels or other public spaces with itinerant pastors.
The Living Church holds that people from Northwest Europe are descendants of the Bible's 10 lost tribes of Israel, "possessors of the birthright promises and accompanying blessings" of Abraham's descendants, according to a statement of beliefs from its Web site. It observes the Sabbath on Saturday and counsels members to remain apart from the secular world by not participating in juries, politics or the military.
The church's view of history, which asserts that humankind is moving inexorably toward the "end times," when the world will go through a series of cataclysms before the second coming of Christ, is not uncommon among evangelicals. While most evangelicals eschew specific predictions about "end times," however, Dr. Meredith preached in a recent sermon broadcast internationally that the apocalypse was close, warning members to pay off credit-card debt and hoard savings in preparation for the United States' coming financial collapse.
But what else does the leader of the Living Church of God preach? Well, here was his take on the 9/11 attacks:
Yes, God will give us corrective punishment to wake us up from our sins. We have turned away from God. We are getting into more and more abortion—the murder of little unborn children. We are getting into more perverted sex, wild scenes of sex and wretchedness on our television and in our movies. In every way, we are a degenerate people. More and more we are turning away from God, and bringing shame on the name of God, yet we put on our coins and bills "In God We Trust." Shame on us! God says: "‘But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished’" (Jeremiah 30:11).
Yes, God will have to correct us, my friends, and wake us up! These terrorist activities—along with coming terrible storms and earthquakes—are preparatory to a final attack and captivity of our people, who will be taken away from their land into literal slavery, where they will finally repent and then come back weeping in repentance to God. That is prophesied in many places in your Bible...
No, "these things" are not just carried out by Arab terrorists or other kinds of terrorists. God is going to use many different people — and many different nations —to wake us up!
If there is a "real" God—a God of total power—then why did He allow this horrifying tragedy?
At any step along the way, He could have intervened. He could have stopped it!
Am I saying that God did this?
No, not at all! But He very obviously allowed very sick and hate-filled individuals to carry out the most heinous attack on the United States in decades—if not in its entire history!
Let me explain: If you were God, would you bless and protect a nation which claimed to trust in You and yet broke and smashed your spiritual laws with absolute impunity? A nation which has exterminated 35 to 40 million unborn children in the last few decades?
A nation filled with liars, thieves, drunkards, drug addicts and sex perverts?
A nation which legally protects foul mouthed individuals who are blaspheming and cursing God’s very Name on the public media?
What kind of a "God" would bless and protect a nation that did all of these things—and much more?
Do you get the picture?
God did not directly cause these recent tragedies! Rather, as our personal and national sins have increased, He has "removed" His protective hand from the United States, Britain and Canada!
We are not truly "Christian" nations anymore—not by any honest definition of "Christianity"!
Clearly, we had it coming to us.
Other teachings of Meredith:
According to this site, during the 60's, when he wrote for Herbert Artmstrong's The Plain Truth, Meredith "promoted the idea that God had ordained racial segregation in the Bible."
The recent earthquake and tsunami: "...is not a "once in every 40 years" incident! Unfortunately, it is only among the very first of an entire series of natural disasters which are destined to shake the entire world in a manner never before experienced!" In other words, it's harbinger of the "end times", as are the series of hurricanes which recently hit the Southeast US.
Are there many different religions in the world, that disagree with each other and cannot, in some instances, peacefully coexist? Never mind, "[Jesus] will come — SOON — to rescue the world from religious confusion and conflict."
And so on and so forth -- there's not much doctrinal complexity about Meredith's ideology: we're bad, the end is coming, we're fucked, repent.
I thought this was interesting -- it's a description of the lifestyle of the memebers of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God, the group that the Living Church of God broke away from when the original group became more mainstream and less evangelical:
With only 200 congregations of the Worldwide Church of God available, the average member did not live in a town or city where such a congregation met. Most were "commuters," travelling long distances at least once a week to meet with others of similar belief. "Long distances" might include 100 miles or more one way, since some states had only a handful of congregations.
The denomination, by deliberate choice of [Armstrong], did not own any church buildings except those at the campuses of Ambassador College. Therefore, congregations all met in rented facilities. Common options were public school cafeterias and auditoriums, and Masonic lodges. Weekly activities in most larger congregations included a two-hour (or more) Sabbath service on Saturday morning or afternoon—including a sermon of an hour or more, mid-week Bible Study sessions on Wednesday evenings, and a men's public speaking club called "Spokesman's Club" on another week night. For those who lived an hour or more away, this could get to be a very hectic schedule for individuals and families to maintain. For those involved in such further activities as choir practice or deacons meetings, it was very grueling indeed. But it was typical for the vast majority of church families to attempt to attend every official gathering of the Church.
All finances for the local congregations except for a small fund for emergencies and the like were handled from the central headquarters in Pasadena. No collections were ever taken up at weekly church services—all members sent their tithes and offerings directly to [Church headquarters in] Pasadena. Almost all expenses for the local congregations, including ministerial salaries and hall rental, were doled out directly from Pasadena.
Members were expected to save a full tithe (ten percent) of their gross income (designated "first tithe") and send it in periodically to Pasadena. They were expected to save a full tithe (designated "second tithe") of their gross income to use to go to the annual Feast of Tabernacles conventions of the WCG in the fall. In addition, every third and sixth year of a seven year cycle, members were expected to send in an additional tithe (designated "third tithe") on their gross income for a fund that supposedly was dedicated to helping widows and orphans and the poor in the church. Unfortunately, documentation has shown that there were times in the history of the organization that a certain amount of this fund was not spent for the purposes stated. See the bibliography at the end of this section for documentation about this matter.
"Second tithe" money was to be used only for food and lodging and travel expenses during the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles, and for travel expenses there and back. (There were times when regional or national meetings were also held for the other annual observances of the Church, and it was assumed that second tithe could also be used for expenses for those gatherings also.) Using the tithe even for gifts for children or other family members during the Feast was frowned upon (although some members no doubt ignored this and bought such gifts anyway.) And any "excess" tithe, unused for the stated purposes, was to be turned in at the end of the Feast to Pasadena. In later years, members were even encouraged to "estimate" how much they might have extra and send it in ahead of time. Offerings were also taken up during worship services on the first and last days of the Feast, but members were strictly warned that money for these offerings should not come from the tithe they had brought for the Feast. They were expected to save up for an offering out of their income above and beyond the tithes.
In addition to the regular tithes which members were required to pay, they were encouraged to donate amounts above and beyond that money to a variety of special projects. These particularly included the never-ending building projects Armstrong embarked on for the college campuses and the church headquarters in Pasadena. Reading through the "coworker" and "member" letters that Armstrong regularly sent out back in those days, it is obvious that he continuously committed the organization to expenditures beyond the regular income from tithes, and then declared "emergencies" periodically, badgering the membership to "sacrifice as never before" in order to meet the obligations.
Obviously, this is not a specific description of Meredith's group, but it seems likely that, since his breaking away was an attempt to go back to the original practices of Armstrong, Meredith would have used this system as a model for his own church. If that's true, that's a pretty tremendous financial (and devotional) burden to put on someone, especially when times are tough.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.