It was the time of "the receivership crisis" in the Worldwide Church of God, then one of America's highest profile new religious movements. Herbert Armstrong's heir, son Garner Ted, had been cast out, rumours were flying about financial scandal, and church treasurer Stanley Rader had suddenly catapulted into the number two position in the corporation. It was also then that the State of California moved in with a court appointed receiver to protect the assets of the church and conduct a full examination of the books.
I don't believe 60 Minutes screened in New Zealand at the time, but it didn't matter. Copies of the broadcast - usually cheap audio cassettes - were quickly winging their way, via various sources, to every part of the planet where members were struggling to come to grips with the crisis that had seen Armstrong himself flee out of state to Tucson, and reestablish his church as a 'corporate sole.' It was at this moment of madness that the octogenarian apostle declared a doctrine of Petrine Primacy - much to the shock of everyone concerned - to justify his unchallengeable authority.
Mike Wallace's interview with Rader was quite the performance. Rader's performance. His most memorable line: telling Wallace "you're on my list!" And then he kicked him out.
No surprise that thousands of the brethren themselves walked out of the church. No small matter with disfellowshipments falling like confetti, families split apart and the church reacting as only an authoritarian structure of that kind can, with even greater demands for control over people's lives. Loyal brethren were bused in to Pasadena to do the unthinkable, wave placards, occupy buildings on the church's campus and generally hang tight with the official line.
|Armstrong, Rader & Arthur Rubinstein|
What goes around comes around, and it wasn't long before the announcement that "Mr. Rader" had stepped down from his responsibilities in the church. Who held the bloodied knife? I gather, despite being ordained to the church's highest ministerial office - under 'the apostle' of course - Rader never darkened the doors of the church again. Apparently he was attending a Messianic congregation at the time of his death. I hope it brought him some comfort and a sense of forgiveness. He was not the caricature of evil he was sometimes made out to be, though he certainly appeared self-serving and a born manipulator.
Mike Wallace had many, many more important interviews than this one. But for those who suffered under the heel of Armstrongism at the time, and those in the painful process of tearing themselves free, this was the one they will always remember.
Rest in Peace Mike.
[The Painful Truth site still, bless 'em, has the audio of that 60 Minutes program available - all 18 minutes - for those who want to take the time trip.]