Nikiism and Armstrongism

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The Royal Janitor

by John Presco

Chapter: The Betsy Ross Affair

With five miles to go until the arrived at the home of the Anglophile, Eugene Getty, Victoria Rosemond Bond is locked into the Nike Sneaker Cosmology. She had found an article on the creation of Lil Nas, and is now into the Betsy Ross shoes Nike yanked from the market after Kapsernick complained. Then right-wing commentaries go involved.

“Did Mark Parker pull these shoes to stop a major controversy from affecting sales?” Victoria asked aloud.

“Both races would boycott the Betsey shoe – and other shoes!” Miriam added.

“There would be a Cultural Race War – over sneakers! This is why Nike dropped Kyrie, the basketball player, who was just looking to empower his roots.”

“Kyrie is not an anti-Semitic, because I know who THE REAL Jews are!”

“Of course you do!” Victoria said with – some disgust!

“No! It’s true. My parents were followers of Herbert Armstrong who taught British Israelism. My parents studied on their own. They discovered that Herbert has missed the mark, had overlooked something very important.”

“And pray tell, what was that?”

“Moses made two sets of tablets, four tablets in all. One set was made for the Canaanites, who of the Negro race, and the other was for – the Minoans – who worshipped the Golden Calf. I can defend Kyrie – and Kaspernick! Do you think I’m crazy?”

“I have a confession to make. I believe I discovered who wrote most of Shakespeare’s material. This is why were are going to watch his play. The Real Shakespeare – is a woman!

“Are we going to be able to fly to Oregon – after the play is over? I think there’s going to be allot of action in Oregon. I think Phil Knight believes the Commercial Pendelum is going to swing to the far-right”

“Look, Nike got sued for taking the Beatle’s song ‘Revolution!”

To be continued

There is going to be a total eclipse of the moon just before sunrise in Oregon. I held a brief contest to seeif anyone knows what Jesus meant when he said; “It is done!” Here’s what happens – next!

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Was there an eclipse of the sun?

Luke 10:18 I beheld Satan – That is, when ye went forth, I saw the kingdom of Satan, which was highly exalted, swiftly and suddenly cast down. Lu 10:18 I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

The core focus of the documentary, and seemingly what attracted Kyrie Irving to it, is its description stating that it “uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel”. The documentary states “The Jews today are Europeans whose ancestors converted from pagan religions to the Judaism religion”. In short, that Jews today aren’t the “real Jews”. Irving refused to apologize for his antisemitic posts and disavow antisemitism, and has been suspended for five games by the Brooklyn Nets. Nike has also suspended their relationship with him.

When asked about the cancelled release Mark Parker spoke about social consequences, saying “[They’re] important, particularly in a world that’s become polarized in many ways, amplified by social media. It’s a more sensitive environment. So there are occasions when we’ve decided to pull our product and services from the market.”

As for the exact reason Nike pulled the sneaker, Parker explained, “The decision [regarding] that Air Max product was based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the Fourth of July holiday. That’s the reason we pulled it, not to create a source of polarization. We make those decisions, sometimes. They’re rare, but it does happen. We’re trying not to offend.”

Parker also spoke on Nike’s history of supporting inclusivity and athletes that embody the same values as the company, such as Colin Kaepernick, Serena Williams, and Megan Rapinoe.“There are values that are important to the brand and the company that we’re not going to shy away from,” said Parker. “We support the views of our employees, our athletes. And yeah, we will put a stake in the ground and take a stand.”

Rapper and singer Lil Nas X launched a controversial pair of “Satan Shoes” featuring a bronze pentagram, an inverted cross and a drop of real human blood — and they sold out almost immediately.

The black and red sneakers, part of a collaboration between Lil Nas X and New York-based art collective MSCHF, were made using Nike Air Max 97s, though the sportswear brand has distanced itself from the design.

In an emailed statement to CNN, Nike said it was not involved in creating the modified sneakers. “We do not have a relationship with Lil Nas or MSCHF,” the company said. “Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”

MSCHF confirmed via email March 29 that the limited-edition “drop” of 666 pairs sold out in less than a minute (though Lil Nas X will keep the first pair, MSCHF creative director Kevin Wiesner told CNN).

They were priced at $1,018 a pair, a reference to the Bible passage Luke 10:18 that reads: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Each shoe’s air bubble sole contains 60 cubic centimeters (2.03 fluid ounces) of red ink and “one drop” of human blood, according to MSCHF.

A MSCHF spokesperson said the blood had been provided by members of the art collective, adding: “We love to sacrifice for our art.” Later, Wiesner explained on a video call that the creative team collected individual drops over the course of a week using the same type of needle used in at-home glucose tests. The group also confirmed to CNN that Nike was “not involved in this in any capacity.”

Armstrongism is the teachings and doctrines of Herbert W. Armstrong while leader of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG).[1][2] His teachings are professed by him and his followers to be the restored true Gospel of the Bible. Armstrong said they were revealed to him by God during his study of the Bible.[3][4] The term Armstrongite is sometimes used to refer to those that follow Armstrong’s teachings. Armstrongism and Armstrongite are generally considered derogatory by those to whom it is applied,[5] who prefer to be known as members of the Church of God (COG). These doctrines were also espoused by his sons Richard David Armstrong (until his death in 1958) and Garner Ted Armstrong (until his death in 2003) with slight variations.

British Israelism[edit]

Armstrong was a proponent of British Israelism (also known as Anglo-Israelism), which is the doctrine that people of Western European descent, especially the British Empire (Ephraim) and the United States (Manasseh), are descended from the “Ten Lost Tribes” of Israel.[8][9] It is also asserted that the German peoples are descended from ancient Assyrians. Armstrong believed that this doctrine provided a “key” to understanding biblical prophecy, and that he was specially called by God to proclaim these prophecies to the “lost tribes” of Israel before the coming of the “end-times”.[10] Grace Communion International, the lineal successor to Armstrong’s original church, no longer teaches the doctrine,[11] but many offshoot churches continue to teach it even though critics assert that British Israelism is inconsistent with the findings of modern genetics.[12]: 181

I grew up in a cult and I can tell you why ‘normal’ people join them

Fleur Brown



Apr 8, 2019, 10:21 AM

1970s protest
“The 1970s was the era of the Vietnam War, equal rights and the disruption of all kinds of traditional values.” 
  • A woman named Fleur Brown shares what it was like to grow up as a part of the Worldwide Church of God, a cult-like religious organization.
  • The church projected many catastrophic events which kept church members focused and contributing – emotionally and financially.
  • The church was funded by taking 30% of its member’s gross income and its leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, a self-titled ‘Last Apostle’ of Jesus Christ, lived a luxurious life in Hollywood. 
  • The woman said everyone was forced to be incredibly nice yet birthdays, makeup, and toys were banned. 
  • Brown believes that by the time people figure out they’ve actually been brought into a cult, their whole life is already committed to serving the cult community.

When my Mum lost her Dad in her early twenties, she was looking for answers and a soft place to land. A confusing time to be human, the 1970s was the era of the Vietnam War, equal rights and the disruption of all kinds of traditional values.

She found sanctuary in the Worldwide Church of God, an American fundamentalist religion that offered concrete answers for seekers; a road-map for the meaning of life, infused with a little self-help theory and some healthy eating tips.

Aside from a conservative dress code and a ban on makeup, the church was full of fairly normal looking people. There were millions of followers at its peak — families big and small, rich and poor joined from almost every country in the world.

Every cult has its currency – ours was fear.

Herbert W. Armstrong
Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, who died in 1986. 

The first ten years of my life were dominated by apocalyptic biblical predictions. These projected catastrophic events kept church members focused and contributing – emotionally and financially.

As a child, I believed I would never have time to finish high school, marry or have children of my own. We were always just a year or two away from global famine, pestilence and World War III — at which time we “the special ones”, would be whisked away to a “place of safety“ in the Middle East for three and a half years before the return of Jesus Christ.

We were taught that after most of the world had been slaughtered, a great resurrection would take place — the dead would rise, including humans from ages past. The faithful members of our special religion would be rewarded with leadership positions. Those resurrected mortals that agreed to teachings would be granted eternal life, the others would be thrown into a lake of fire.

Not exactly a chilled out perspective to grow up with. Even so, my main concern as a kid was whether or not I would still be able to plug in a curling iron into a mud wall in our middle eastern hideout.

This god we were so invested in seemed like an off-centre, unkind sort of character with a bleak outlook on life.

My own flawed human heart seemed gentler than this god we prayed to — a rebel thought I didn’t allow myself to nurture in case it attracted worldly punishment. In reality, my view of ‘god’ was shaped in the image of our narcissistic cult leader.

Cashing in on the human need for faith

Roderick_C._Meredith_and_Raymond_McNair_ _Evangelists,_former_Worldwide_Church_of_God
Ambassador College students Roderick C. Meredith and Raymond McNair who were ordained as leading “Evangelists” by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1952 and 1953 respectively 

The Worldwide Church of God was created by Herbert Armstrong, an advertising man who lost his job in the Great Depression and turned his promotional talents towards religion. A few decades on, he was leading a successful multinational religious corporation worth many billions of dollars in today’s value. Not a bad turnaround for a broke copywriter from Oregon.

Funded by a 30% tithe on the gross incomes of its members, this self-titled ‘Last Apostle’ of Jesus Christ lived the life of a celebrity on palatial grounds in the foothills of Hollywood. It was part religion /mostly business. A religious media mogul, he ran an international radio, TV and publishing business and 3 universities and circled the globe in his private jet discussing world peace with presidents and prime ministers.

Both Armstrong and his even more off-center cult leading contemporary Elron Hubbard (the Church of Scientology) had the gift of imagination on their side — Hubbard a science fiction writer, Armstrong an ad writer. Their words and worlds were compelling and persuasive enough to entice millions to give over a huge percentage of their income to the church coffers.

Armstrong led the life of a celebrity, whilst his followers struggled to survive. 

This was prophecy pre-Google, and, given few alternatives to focus on, my childish mind reluctantly accepted this environment as reality.

Like most cults, there was an agnostic layer to the sharing of “truth.” Our church masters cautioned us against sharing church secrets with school friends, neighbors or other outsiders — they were privileged truths to be revealed when they decided someone had been properly ‘converted.’ As a consequence, I kept my mouth closed at school and the church theories were rarely challenged. Later, I was often labeled mysterious and secretive. It took me years to realize this was not an intrinsic part of my nature, but something I had developed in an attempt to not draw attention to myself.

Niceness is next to godliness

worldwide church of god
Members of the Worldwide Church of God read, daydream, and color in coloring books in the Church’s headquarters in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 24, 1979. 

Another characteristic of cult life is the absence of authentic self expression. Cults have a powerful unifying mono ‘cult-ure.’ In ours, everyone was magnetically nice.

“Everyone is so …(can’t quite put my finger on it … ah there it is) … so nice!” was the comment I frequently heard growing up from neighbors, school friends partners — anyone who had a brush with someone from our Church group. It felt like heaven on earth for new recruits; who were often battered and bruised by life’s tribulations.

The indoctrination process was the best part of being in the group. New people were invited to dinner, quizzed intensely about their past, offered home cooked meals and support around the home, had their dance card filled with happy social events. Love bombed.

Niceness let the barriers down. It also stopped the appropriate boundaries from being in place whenever members felt uncomfortable. But that seemed a small price to pay to fit in. In a dog-eat-dog world, who doesn’t want to be part of an intoxicatingly nice community — even, any community?

That community feeling was the thing I missed acutely when I left … and studies show this is a big reason many people exit one cult to join another. Sometimes the ‘cult’ is a corporation with a similar restrictive culture.

This niceness nirvana cannot be comfortably sustained. There was a ‘Stepford’ feeling to our community — and our emotional kaleidoscope had a limited spectrum. Some feelings were more spiritual than others – self-reflection, sadness and anxiety were encouraged and rewarded with praise – anger, joy and celebration were considered self-indulgent, less spiritual, Ungodly. Birthday celebrations were an example – the pinnacle of self focus – and were banned, along with the ‘pagan’ celebrations of Christmas and Easter. That caused me no end of embarrassment at school and kept me away from forging deep connections with my nonchurch peers.

Tragedy was considered purifying for the soul, suffering was a prerequisite to spiritual growth. As a consequence, people attracted it. Wallowed in it.

Cults rarely withstand the second generation

Prophecy was used as a tool to keep members focused and committed. 

Cult life didn’t suit me. As a child, I longed to stand up in the middle of the two hour Saturday sermons, where toys and talking were banned, and scream out the words “stop!” at the top of my lungs.

As a teenager, my silent complaint was the sheer boredom of being around repetitive behavior. I had an intensely curious mind and dreamed of being a journalist – a truth-seeking occupation the church could never have tolerated. Journalists work on the Sabbath so it’s not an option, I was told.

I wanted to date people outside the group, everyone in the small community felt like family to me. That was also forbidden – a rule I broke repeatedly, at great risk. I remember having repeated nightmares about marrying my brother — a symbol of the lack of chemistry I felt towards those in my closeted church peer group.

I had another repetitive nightmare where I was stuck in a black and white maze that never led anywhere and I could never escape from. Looking back, it seems obvious that represented the emotional imprisonment of the group – where nothing made much sense intuitively.

Like most teenagers, I had a wild period. But, in my world, it was short-lived because the consequences were terrifying.

Despite my rebellious heart, I knew leaving would have an impossible price — it meant turning my back on family, childhood friends and my perception of any form of security.

Instead of simply ‘growing out of’ my rebellious phase, I eventually put a lid on it completely and took myself off to religious college to study Theology and try to tame my wild heart.

There are a number of factors that snap people out of cult mind control. And the great thing is, often once you find a loose thread on the the jumper, the whole thing unravels.

Exiting the group

“Books were my main connection to freedom if thought.” 

Books were my main connection to freedom if thought – I read at least three a week, often staying up until the small hours to finish them.

When I was 20, I pulled a book off the shelf of my favorite bookstore called Combatting Cult Mind Control. Such was my own mind control at that time, it took all my courage to walk to the counter and pay for the book.

“Don’t be stupid — you’re not in a cult. Get the travel book instead” my conditioned self told my curious self.

I loitered by the shelf and flicked through the book with my heart thumping so hard it was difficult to even read. I quickly found a page listing the 12 traits you are likely to experience in a cult. That pulled me in. I started flicking through the list — expecting to be merely enlightened, not cornered.

There were things such as the group activity takes all of your time, leaving you no free time for yourself. They actively discourage spending time with your family and former friends outside the cult.

I quickly paid for the book and stayed up until I finished it at 3 am. It was frightening, overwhelming but most of all intoxicating. I knew my life was about to change fundamentally. I was about to have “a life.”

That’s the thing about cults, they are life stealing.

The brainwashing was subtle, and the signs of dysfunction were mostly beneath the surface. There were no sacrificial goats, wild sex romps or witches hats in the forest. We didn’t wear tie-dyed clothing, live on a hippy commune or chant songs in the street. And that’s the point really. Some of the most insidious cults and cultures can appear normal from the outside.

If you’re in a cult you’re probably not reading this. But if you are concerned about someone who may be, I highly recommend reading Combatting Cult Mind Control.

Why do ‘normal’ people join cults?

A snapshot of Herbert Armstrong’s program “The World Tomorrow.” 

Few people consciously join a cult. Cults are beautifully packaged to look like something quite different from the outside. By the time people figure out what they’ve actually bought into, their whole life is committed to serving the cult community.

I never signed up to be in a cult. My parents choice, never mine, I was two when I entered the group and 20 when I found the courage to leave.

My Dad was a classic candidate. With two young children, he reluctantly followed my Mum in to keep the family together. Loyalty to the group was so extreme that “unconverted” partners and even children were often left behind. God (aka “The Church”) came first. Always.

My aunts and uncles voiced their concerns, but like his own questions about the environment he had entered their voices were pushed down deep beneath the surface — to allow emotional survival, to keep the family unit together.

If it offered emotional solace, safety and an inbuilt “supportive” community for women, this group gave status, discipline, and predictability to men. “Good” behavior was rewarded with increased authority. This system saw some of the most unlikely individuals climb to heights of leadership within the group. A yes mentality and thirst for power was a prerequisite to power. Those who question more, or are more focused on their own interests than those of the community tended to remain in the middle layers of the system never really receiving status.

A high achieving professional before he joined the group, my Dad didn’t really fit the mould. But all competing old habits are destined to be broken in the world of a cult and eventually his ‘ego’ was broken and he took his place amongst the rank and file.

He was far from alone. Before our church founder died, age 94, the membership of our global group reached dizzying heights. It was a coup in persuasive communication. The TV and radio shows were a great funnel, there was no door knocking, recruitment was subtle and mostly peer to peer.

Fitting in was paramount. Our group was Judeo-Christian — meaning they celebrated Old Testament (Jewish) festivals and holy days including a Saturday Sabbath. That Sabbath put an end to many professional ambitions and my Dad’s 60 hour a week CEO role was quickly surrendered to a low-status sales role.

Volunteer work was critical to stay in favor with the group. He soon lost touch with friends and family. Those annoyingly skeptical brothers and sisters of his were squeezed out by all the replacement weekend activity.“He lost his personality,” my Dad’s brothers and sisters told me years later.

Cults encourage big life questions on the way in. Once you’re enrolled, they slam the door on questioning.

The burning life questions that led people into the church group, were actively discourage once you were inside. Members were required to channel their reasoning and their curiosity towards a ‘greater cause”’ — a bigger purpose — “saving the world”, and ourselves, from future spiritual destruction.

Years later, I realized how this childhood programming had both fuelled a sense of missionary zeal in me, yet simultaneously cultivated a deep sense of pointlessness and futility.

Even after leaving, I discovered an unfortunate blind spot for arrogant, egomaniac, nonsense pedaling hypocrites. Paradoxically, trusting everyone else seemed impossible — not surprisingly I believed everyone had a manipulative agenda.

My first job after leaving the church had a cult-like quality — including a culture which pivoted around an obsessive, narcissistic dictatorial and delusional leader. It’s taken me years to unravel the effects.

Yet I am strangely grateful for the experience — here are a few reasons why.

What growing up in a cult taught me about real life

My experience growing up in a cult left me sensitive to manipulation and a strong defender of basic human freedoms. In particular, I strongly support the right to freedom of identity — a right beyond freedom of speech, which the world is only now coming to terms with.

Through this life lens, I spot cultish behavior in many areas of everyday life — the corporate world as a prime example. More recently, I see it reflected within startup culture, where people are often enrolled in organizations that barely pay their way under the promise of future opportunity which typically only arrives for the founders and early-stage investors.

These are some of the values I have learned to live by:

No rules or customs are sacred. Question everything. Don’t obey the “should” — only subscribe to things that make sense and feel right.

Feel everything and don’t let anyone tell you how to feel.

All feelings are equal – no feelings are ‘superior’ and all have value.

Everyone is intrinsically unique. You don’t need to prove that to anyone, least of all yourself.

Be wary of elitist groups – everyone is equal.

Don’t check your identity at the door — anywhere — you have a right to express your unique self in any environment.

Birthdays are important – sounds trivial, but this is one day a year when you get to focus on the value of you and your life. Celebrate it.

Check whether you are intensely compelled to do things simply because you are unconsciously repeating an unpleasant or unresolved childhood emotional experience

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets tweeted a link Thursday to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.”Sarah Stier/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving on Saturday tweeted that he “meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs” after the owner of his NBA team condemned him for tweeting a link to a documentary deemed antisemitic.

“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation,” Nets owner Joe Tsai wrote on Twitter Friday night.

“I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

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Tsai added, “This is bigger than basketball.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 27: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center on March 27, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving played in his first home game of the season after New York City expanded its Covid-19 vaccine exemption

Irving wrote in a tweet on Saturday: “I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. The ‘Anti-Semitic’ label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.”

An omnist is someone who believes in all religions.

The star guard tweeted a link Thursday to the 2018 movie “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which is based on Ronald Dalton’s book of the same name. Rolling Stone described the book and movie as “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.”

Irving has made controversial statements and decisions in the past, including his absence from most of his team’s games last season because he refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in a tweet on Friday called Irving’s social media post “troubling.”

“The book and film he promotes trade in deeply #antisemitic themes, including those promoted by dangerous sects of the Black Hebrew Israelites movement. Irving should clarify now.”

The Nets also spoke out against the star guard’s tweet.

“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement to CNN.

Police officers arrive at the scene following reports of gunfire, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Jersey City, N.J.  AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Who are the Black Hebrew Israelites?

“We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), who have been supportive during this time.”

Prior to the team’s game Saturday night, Nets head coach Steve Nash said he was aware of statements made on the issue by Irving and the team.

“The organization has spoken to Kyrie about it, Nash said. “Clearly, I think we all represent values of inclusiveness, and equality, and condemn hate speech.”

The NBA issued a statement saying, “Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect. We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions.”

Rolling Stone said the movie and book include ideas in line with some “extreme factions” within the Black Hebrew Israelite movement that have expressed anti-Semitic and other discriminatory sentiments.

“Black Negro people of ‘Bantu’ descent in the Diaspora and in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot be labeled ‘Anti-Semitic’ because we are the True Ethnic Bloodline Israelites of the Bible,” the author Dalton said in an emailed statement to CNN. “If Kyrie Irving or any Black Celebrity needs ‘back up’ to prove that we are the True Israelites … i am available to assist them on or off the camera so that the world can finally see and receive the TRUTH.”

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Nikiism and Armstrongism

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    Get ready to celebrate a Real Victory – IN OREGON!

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