Legacy Institute operates a Church of God ministry in Thailand, having had a presence there for many years. It had its genesis in the jet-setting world tours of Herb Armstrong to glad-hand any world leaders that would give him a nice photo opportunity. In a remarkable set of circumstances Herb cultivated a relationship with the Wat Thai Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles, which helped then open doors for him in Nepal and Thailand. Herb later met Thailand's King Bhumibol and greased the wheels with fulsome praise and dollars. Legacy appears to now carry the baton for the former WCG charity Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. It claims not to be a church, but behaves very much like one, holding Sabbath services and sponsoring a Thai Feast of Tabernacles.
If you follow international news you'll know any criticism of Thai royalty can land citizens in very hot water. Here's the lead from a recent BBC report.
Two military courts in Thailand have sentenced a man to 30 years in prison and a woman to 28 years for insulting the monarchy. The sentences are the harshest ever given under Thailand's lese majeste law, which prevents criticism of the king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. The convictions relate to articles posted on Facebook.
Prosecutions for lese majeste in Thailand have surged since last year's military coup. According to iLaw, a Thai rights group, there were only two ongoing prosecutions for the crime before the coup. That number is now at least 56, the group says.Lese majeste?
Article 112 of Thailand's criminal code says anyone who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent" will be punished with up to 15 years in prison. This has remained virtually unchanged since the creation of the country's first criminal code in 1908.
The ruling has also been enshrined in all of Thailand's recent constitutions, which state: "The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action." (BBC report)Journal editor Dixon Cartwright asked Sexton to comment. What emerged was an apologetic for oppression. Sexton noted that Armstrong "said the king and queen were the finest examples of righteous leadership in the world" (as if he knew anything about that subject), and reminded Dixon that - according to the particularly wooden reading of biblical eschatology favoured in the Armstrong churches - "the kingdom of God on the earth will be ruled by a King, and He will be an absolute monarch." (Perhaps we should be grateful he didn't add something about breaking kneecaps to ensure "every knee shall bow.")
So that's all right then!
And in a lengthy panegyric Leon mentioned that little matter of a military coup how many times?
Zero, zip, nada.
Now we can all probably understand that Legacy, in order to protect its interests, has to play a careful diplomatic game in order to stay in favour with the bully boys. But that hardly means this kind of obsequious endorsement of vicious injustice. It isn't good enough to say that "American ideals are the problem". Listen up carefully Leon, these aren't just American ideals, they underlie human rights across the world. Nor is it acceptable to babble on about "righteous leadership". The real leadership in Thailand isn't that of a sick old man who is regarded with idolatrous awe (literally worship) by the less educated people. The real power is in the hands of the military.
Sexton needs to think again.
Beware opinions of this ilk: "Beware of the antimonarchial slant of the liberal press".ReplyDelete
Your analysis is incisive. I would add that adulation of appearance is one of the "vanities" (I will use religious language rather than psychological language)ReplyDelete
with which Armstrongites were particularly preoccupied. Orchestrating appearance was a theme that arced through the entire history of the organization. It started with HWA and his background in advertising. Appearance was a guiding light from that point forward. The history of Armstrongism is replete with examples. In retrospect, I find this particular weakness to be bizarre and should have informed us of the chronic shallowness and dissimulation of the WCG. I recall how that those students at AC Big Sandy who were of attractive appearance were given the best positions in on-campus employment and in student body governance. Appearance was character, nobility, human value, spirituality. You will find this principle still operative among many who were educated at AC.
When AC Pasadena was visited by an accrediting committee, the reaction was to orchestrate a large show in the Auditorium in Pasadena. It was like those Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland movies where he solution to every problem was "Let's put on a show!!!" So instead of putting solid credentials on the table and leaving it at that, they put on a big contrived show in an attempt to snow the accreditors. I know of at least one AC student that was so turned of by the blatant and cheesy hucksterism that he stayed in his dorm room. The preoccupation with appearance seem to permeate every dimension in life. I recall as graduation neared back in the Seventies, students began to talk about their plans for the future. Many of the women graduates planned go into "fashion merchandising."
You really never heard about a woman wanting to get a degree in English or Chemistry or Education. To them, those disciplines would be weird and strange but fashion merchandising would be substantive. There are many more examples, whether it is Ron Kelly having documents shredded or GTA's country and western singer aspirations, but I think you get the picture about this unusual and morally impaired value system based on appearance in the WCG.
Allegedly, the WCG followed the teachings of one Jesus Christ who said judge not by appearance but judge righteous judgment. But if cozying up to and flattering a regime with regrettable behavior in the world community furnishes nice grist for the appearance mill, it is an opportunity that cannot be missed. It is as if Armstrongites do not recognize the principle that Christ articulated about appearance. Instead, the principle that they follow: Sell out everything for appearance.
".. those..who were of attractive appearance were given the best positions.."Delete
".. Jesus Christ .. said judge not by appearance.."
A.C. was just trying to be good Christians and follow the Bible where Jesus/Yhwh said choose the good looking w/out blemish (Lev / Deut).
-- Now the same Jesus says the opposite? Another Bible contradiction!
There is, of course, a difference between the evaluation of the character of human beings in the NT and animals for sacrifice in the OT. I think most readily understand this. But this comment is a good illustration for what passes as a "contradiction" for some.Delete
It's worse than that, only those who were Good-Looking could get a Government-job in Jesus' theocracy! (Lev 21)Delete
17 Say to Aaron, Any one of your sons in their successive generations who has any blemish, let him not come near to offer the bread of his God.
18 For no man who has a blemish shall approach [God’s altar to serve as priest], a man blind or lame, or he who has a disfigured face or a limb too long,
19 Or who has a fractured foot or hand,
20 Or is a hunchback, or a dwarf, or has a defect in his eye, or has scurvy or itch, or scabs or skin trouble
Minimalist, the lack of response says it all. Well played.