I was still but a pup when the Missouri Synod exploded under the leadership of the loathsome "Chairman Jao" (J.A.O. Preus II, son of a former Republican Governor of Minnesota.) The "civil war" saw the moderates leave and the hardline fundamentalists remain firmly in control of a depleted denomination which, despite the bally-hoo and bravado, then slowly headed into a period of irreversible decline. Anything to learn here? Well yes, if the preface from James Burkee's new study is anything to go by. It's not so much about religious beliefs as about political worldview.
Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity is about to be published by Fortress Press. In the preface he relates a tour of Lutheran churches in Milwaukee prior to the 2004 election. Two speakers each presented a Christian perspective on supporting one of the two main parties. In Missouri Synod churches the Democrat presenter was treated abysmally, while in ELCA congregations the Republican advocate got a hard time. Politics and religion are intertwined, even by those who loudly call for their separation. And of course, you don't have to vote to have a political worldview.
The current situation in the Armstrong enclaves seems a world away, but I suggest the same political dynamics are a factor. I know of a few "closet Democrats" in the UCG/independent factions, but it's hard to imagine that any could survive for long in the more fascist factions (thinking of Pack and Flurry.) As for the latest eruption, it's no coincidence that the tactics of the departing been compared to those of the Tea Party. There has always been a right-leaning Republican skew to the Churches of God, but all things are relative, and the newly formed sect will clearly be more 'conservative' - doctrine has always been a side issue.
The split in UCG, like that in the Missouri Synod long ago, is as much about the culture wars in the surrounding society as anything else.