Monday 12 October 2015

Glynn Washington on growing up in the Worldwide Church of God

Glynn Washington, host of NPR's Snap Judgement, grew up in the Worldwide Church of God. In a recent interview he talks about its influence in his life (if you're following the interview link scroll down to the "full interview" - at just over 34 minutes - rather than the shorter edited version.)

It's a fascinating and insightful account (though he manages to relocate Petra from Jordan to Syria.) He talks about the end times predictions, a personal incident concerning the healing doctrine and its impact on others, what it's like being Black in a church that teaches British Israelism, along with what he misses about being a part of the WCG.

He also clearly labels WCG, as it existed then, as a cult, and justifies his opinion by several credible criteria... no argument here!  His tipping point in the decision to leave was the discovery that the Bible has far more complex origins than those the church assumed.

Following the interview the host read out a statement from the Tkach GCI that amounted to a mea culpa - but insisted that things had changed. Interestingly they described Washington not as a former member but "associate" of the church. Perhaps that's the new term to describe their members - people who still have little or no rights or representation in the sect.

These days he's a high profile story-teller, and he credits the WCG for the inspiration - though definitely not in a way that flatters the organisation.

One of the best ex-member interviews. Compulsory listening if you've "done time" in the original church, Grace Communion International, or any of the spin-offs.


  1. Thanks for bringing this very interesting interview to our attention. I could very much relate to Glynn's "tipping point" reason for leaving the church. Like me, he was questioning many things. But the real eye-opener was gaining an understanding of how the bible was written. This was my tipping point as well, and once I had that understanding there was no turning back.

  2. Washington presented an interesting view of his experience in the WCG. I did find one thing he mentioned not to be like I remembered it. I did not come to the WCG until I was a college student so it was insightful to hear how Armstrongism affected children. As one would expect, the affect was not good. Why his family of Blacks were in a white supremacist church was also something he could not address. My guess is that fear played a role. Fear of tribulation, fear of gehenna, fear that god would not love you. Once the fear button has been artfully pushed, remarkable and uncanny things can happen. He found the model of the Bible as taught by the WCG to be simplistic. The historical research supported a more complex origin (the Documentary Hypothesis). I do not see that as a reason to immediately become a non-believer (apparently based on reading Friedman's book twice) with no further inquiry. Such a direct and unconsidered move, to me, indicates a lack of any real commitment to Christian theism in the first place.

    -- Neo

  3. Another comment I agree with: when Glynn Washington was asked if there was anything he missed from WCG, he replied "the certainty". I too miss the certainty. With WCG, we knew all the answers (so we believed at the time). We knew we were God's elect and what the future held for us. This was a source of great comfort.

    Now, as a skeptic, I know very few answers. Further, I can see that those who think they know answers don't have the answers either. It's so much easier to discern what is NOT true than to find what IS true - mostly because there is much we humans do not know and may never know.

    Much is uncertain in life. I accept this because I prefer a life based on facts to one of pretending. Still, I can understand the attractiveness religion holds for many. There is something very comforting about certainty.

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