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Stanley R. Rader, was born as a Jew on August 13, 1930 and died on July 2, 2002. In 1956 in the capacity of a certified public accountant and while keeping his own faith, he first met Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong who was founder of the Radio Church of God, (later renamed Worldwide Church of God). This article traces the relationship between Stanley Rader and Herbert W. Armstrong.
Stanley Rader was born and raised as a Jew by his parents in White Plains, New York. He later moved to California where he met his future wife, Natalie “Niki” Gartenberg. He graduated in 1951 from UCLA and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1954. In 1956 he first met Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong of the Radio Church of God at its world headquarters offices on the campus of its Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. Under contract to the Radio Church of God, Stanley Rader sorted its disorganized accounts which created a favorable impression with Herbert W. Armstrong who then urged him to attend law school under his patronage. In 1963 Stanley Rader graduated from the University of Southern California Law School where he came in first in his class.
The Radio Church of God had been previously incorporated on March 3, 1946 when it was reestablished in Pasadena, California. Prior to this event it had been a hitherto unincorporated voluntary association in Eugene, Oregon named after its radio broadcast called the Radio Church of God. On January 5, 1968, which was the year following the death of his first wife Loma, Herbert W. Armstrong as President, together with his Secretary of the corporation amended the Articles of Incorporation of the corporation in a change of name to the Worldwide Church of God. (By then its radio broadcast had also been renamed as The World Tomorrow. By this time Herbert W. Armstrong was considered to be more of a modern-day Apostle by his followers, rather than a mere Pastor General. In 1969 Stanley Rader decided to devote his full time and efforts to the service of Herbert W. Armstrong.
1971 sex scandal
Until 1971, having already taken over all major responsibilities for radio and television broadcasting as well as heavily promoted local public speaking campaigns, Garner Ted Armstrong was in line to follow his father as head of the Worldwide Church of God. In that year, sex affairs and gambling binges by Garner Ted Armstrong using church funds, which had been known about for many years by insiders, suddenly became a major scandal and Garner Ted Armstrong was removed from the church and from the airwaves.
1972 time cycle ends
The doctrinal basis of the Radio Church of God had been built upon three basic ideas: The first was an assimilation of many beliefs common to Jews and the second was to disown many beliefs common to Christians. The second was the idea that Jews were merely one of the tribes of Israel (Abraham) and that ten of the tribes had become lost to history until they were rediscovered as being mainly the peoples who had settled in the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. The third belief was contained in a booklet called 1975 in Prophecy! which had been previously inspired by Herman L. Hoeh who was a graduate student of Ambassador College.
This booklet which was written by Herbert W. Armstrong and illustrated by Basil Wolverton, stated that the Radio Church of God was operating on two, 19 years time cycles with the second one beginning in 1953. That is when its The World Tomorrow broadcast was first aired over Radio Luxembourg. The second time cycle was prophesied to end sometime in February of 1972 following which the church would flee to a place of safety which was often hinted to be Petra in Jordan. Between 1972 and 1975 a third world war would be unleashed upon both the United Kingdom and the United States by a Neo-Nazi dominated United States of Europe which would destroy both Britain and America. In turn this would unleash a second war between this USE and a united USSR and China which would lead to the total destruction of humanity if Jesus did not return at that very moment as the world ruling Messiah to halt all further military activity. Peace would then reign on Earth for one thousand years with the followers of Armstrong serving in positions of authority in the new world government.
1972 financial crisis
By February 1972 at the end of the second 19 years time cycle, most members had been led to believe that they would have been taken to a place of safety, probably in Petra, Jordan to wait out the destruction of both the UK and USA by a prophesied United States of Europe during World War III. But because the income of the church had began to fall dramatically with removal of Garner Ted Armstrong from the airwaves, he was quickly restored to both his broadcasting and ministerial positions of authority.
However, the failed prophecies revealed that Herbert W. Armstrong did not have a master plan or inside information after all. In fairly short order the first in a never-ending series of doctrinal disputes leading to defections and splits began to tear the church apart.
Proposals by Garner Ted Armstrong
Garner Ted Armstrong made proposals that would have relegated the past failures to his father so that the son could present a new plan for the future. That plan included a transformation of church sponsored media into more mainstream approach similar to the plan adopted at that time by the Christian Science church. Garner Ted Armstrong wanted to transform The World Tomorrow program into a daily news broadcast which it was suggested could be sustained by developing a flying television studio aboard a Boeing 707. For years he had rehearsed his style to copy that of Paul Harvey to the point that sometimes the similarity became obvious to the casual listener. He would have also turned The Plain Truth into a newsmagazine and since it had been styled after US News & World Report, which would not have been difficult. He later suggested that it should become a newspaper and actually converted it from a glossy magazine into tabloid newsprint. This experiment did not last.
Garner Ted Armstrong returned on the promise that he would clean up his personal life and this enabled him to map out a new future for the Worldwide Church of God. Garner Ted wanted to imitate the same sort of news media approach taken by the Christian Science church by creating a newspaper out of church magazine called The Plain Truth and a newscast out of The World Tomorrow broadcast.
Proposals by Stanley Rader
Because Stanley Rader had gained the financial confidence of Herbert W. Armstrong beginning in 1956, he was able to reverse the plans of Garner Ted Armstrong and inject his own instead. To this end Stanley Rader created a totally new branch of the Worldwide Church of God corporation in order not to create a sudden and dramatic change which would once again damage the revenue flow.
The membership and existing media were left in place with the existing doctrines sans any mention of time cycles or dates for end time prophecies. Indeed, the church attempted to go out of its way to pretend that the time cycles had never really been a part of the core message of the church - in spite of all of the broadcasts, editorial articles and the booklet called 1975 in Prophecy!.
Stanley Rader who still considered himself to be a Jew, was baptized into the Worldwide Church of God by Herbert W. Armstrong in 1975 using a bathtub in the Mandrin Hotel in Hong Kong. This moved allowed Hebert W. Armstrong to reinvent Stanley Rader as an evangelist in an attempt to quell misgivings by many in the church hierarchy and laity who felt that Rader was ill-informed on the church’s theology. However, this move also gave Stanley Rader legitimate financial control of the Worldwide Church of God.
Ambassador for World Peace
Whereas the plan of Garner Ted Armstrong was to put his father into retirement, the plan of Stanley Rader and his aide Robert L. Kuhn was to transform Herbert W. Armstrong from an evangelist into the Ambassador for World Peace without portfolio. His plan demanded the creation of a totally new and secular entity from which to operate and in 1975 this gave birth to the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation which was funded by the Worldwide Church of God.
This foundation transformed Ambassador Auditorium on the Ambassador College campus from a church building into the Carnegie Hall of the West which began a concert series featuring the top names in classical music, jazz and the performing arts. PBS and other television networks made use of this glamorous new venue. The foundation also created a new glossy coffee-table commercial publication called Quest magazine with a circulation of several hundred thousand copies; bought the book publisher Everest House and funded the motion picture Paper Moon starring Tatum O'Neal.
Herbert W. Armstrong in the company of Stanley Rader began introducing themselves to those who held political power in the world. Armstrong was able to interpret his new approach to the church membership as being a new phase in preaching the gospel. However, that gospel message had now changed and to its Judeo-Christian mix was added elements of Buddhism. The message was now about giving and not getting and instead of referring to Jesus Christ, Armstrong dusted off an old US News and World Report editorial headline about A Great Unseen hand from someplace as being the savior of the world.
Stanley Rader and his associates used both existing companies and new legal entities with which to conduct business on behalf of the business of the Worldwide Church of God. These included:
- Rader, Helge & Gerson who provided legal representation for the church;
- Rader, Cornwall, Kessler and Palazzo who provided accounting services for the church;
- Worldwide Advertising, Inc., which booked The World Tomorrow on radio and television stations;
- Mid-Atlantic Leasing, which leased light aircraft and a Gulfstream II, all paid for by the Worldwide Church of God to enable Stanley Rader and Herbert W. Armstrong to fly around the world meeting kings, princes, presidents and prime ministers;
- Wilshire Travel, which made the travel bookings for Stanley Rader and Herbert W. Armstrong;
- Gateway Publishing, which printed books used by the church.
Behind the corporate scene Garner Ted Armstrong began to complain loudly to other ministers that Stanley Rader had taken over the church. Stanley Rader hit back and the continued gambling and sexual escapades of Garner Ted Armstrong which had never stopped since his return to the church in 1971, were suddenly plastered all over the mainstream media in both news broadcasts and print media articles. Garner Ted Armstrong was denounced by his father and excommunicated for the final time.
For a very short time Stanley Rader emerged victorious because he seemed to have total control and his new secular entity was growing while the church was being downplayed. When Garner Ted Armstrong left the airwaves again, his aging father attempted to resume the task, but he was not successful because he had passed his prime and his religious message was discredited. However, as Ambassador for World Peace without portfolio, Herbert W. Armstrong continued making the rounds of visiting world leaders with Stanley Rader and delivering his new message about giving versus getting and the Great Unseen Hand from Someplace. Stanley Rader assumed that he had won the war for control of the church when he moved into Garner Ted's former office space. In 1979 Stanley Rader told a reporter:
Mr. Armstrong has said publicly very often that I am a son in whom he is well pleased. The only other one he ever said that about was Garner Ted Armstrong.
While Garner Ted Armstrong had been driven out of the Worldwide Church of God and from the airwaves, he attempted to reestablish himself with a new membership base that he created around his new home in Tyler, Texas. However, the organization and media reach that Garner Ted Armstrong was able to create was minuscule by comparison with the Worldwide Church of God and its annual multi-million dollar budget. Garner Ted Armstrong then began to engage in behind-the-scenes political activity in order to topple Stanley Rader from power, so that Garner Ted Armstrong could regain control of the Worldwide Church of God and its income.
In alliance with dissident Worldwide Church of God members who were not happy with Stanley Rader and his AICF activities, Garner Ted Armstrong and others managed to get the attention of the State of California to look into allegations of financial malfeasance and misfeasance by Stanley Rader and his business associates with regards to the income of the Worldwide Church of God. Concurrent with that activity the dissenters also managed to get the attention of Mike Wallace who is famous for his tough interviews on the nationally acclaimed CBS television series 60 Minutes. Wallace was given audio tapes in which even Herbert W. Armstrong appeared to be having misgivings about what Stanley Rader was actually trying to do in transforming the church from a religious organization into a secular enterprise. Garner Ted Armstrong told Mike Wallace that:
Practically everywhere you look, if the church has business it is performing or bills that it’s paying, well, somewhere Rader is involved. How can this be? Why should it be?
Response by Stanley Rader
In an attempt to explain the church’s lavish spending policies overseas, Rader told Mike Wallace:
Our policy was we would make friends wherever we went in order to help us to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Rader’s plan was successful.
According to the American Lawyer magazine:
By 1976 the two had become constant companions - Armstrong called Rader his "best student" - and they traveled around the world together some 200 to 300 days a year.
By 1979 California Attorney General George Deukmejian had opened an investigation into allegations that millions of dollars a year had been stolen from the church by Herbert W. Armstrong and Stanley Rader. These allegations resulted in the Worldwide Church of God being placed in court-ordered receivership for more than a year.
This is a state, and we are representatives of God, and I am Mr. Armstrong’s Secretary of State.
Wallace then revealed that he had been given a secretly taped phone call in which Herbert W. Armstrong had alleged that Stanley Rader was deliberately trying to put himself in a position to take over as the church’s spiritual leader following the death of Herbert W. Armstrong. This infuriated Stanley Rader who got up from the interview, told Wallace to leave, adding: You’re contemptible.
On April 16, 1979, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote to his co-worker supporters in an attempt to explain what was going on:
Perhaps I will have a steward on our jet plane write an article of what he actually SEES me and Mr. Rader do on trips around the world. We are busy every minute. I am writing articles, letters, or proclaiming THE GOSPEL on my typewriter on the plane, in my hotel rooms almost every minute I am not out preaching to big crowds in Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, India, Japan, Thailand, Holland, South Africa, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Philippines (many times), Costa Rica and many other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America.
During this time Stanley Rader was the point man for Herbert W. Armstrong and he rallied other religious groups to his defense. With the help of this political this pressure group, Stanley Rader was able to successfully introduce a bill into the California Legislature which denied the Attorney General of authority to investigate religious organizations due to allegations of fraud. The State then dropped its investigation.
In 1980, Rader wrote a book called Against the Gates of Hell: The Threat to Religious Freedom in America. It was about the investigation by State of California into the finances of the Worldwide Church of God and which the National Council of Churches praised as "the seminal work on church/state relations in the 20th century." The book was published by the church’s Everest House corporation.
Stanley Rader Sues Steven Spielberg
In a sensational case after the release of the first of the Indiana Jones films called Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rader sued producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg for $100 million. Stanley Rader claimed that both he and his associate Robert Kuhn of the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation, had outlined a very similar plot for a movie. The plot, Rader alleged, had been shown to an artists’ agent whose properties were later acquired by Lucas and Spielberg. Nothing came of the suit.
Although Stanley Rader appeared to have won, his plan to create the AICF cultural empire had come to halt. In 1981 Stanley Rader resigned as General Counsel and Treasurer of the Worldwide Church of God. He was paid a $250,000 bonus and he continued to receive payments from the church's Discretionary Retirement Program. However, when Herbert W. Armstrong died in 1986, a person alleged to be close to Stanley Rader took over the church and began a process of dismantling it. When that person died his son took over and continued the process.
Death of Stanley Rader
By the time that Stanley Rader died on July 2, 2002, which was just two weeks after being diagnosed with acute pancreatic cancer, the Worldwide Church of God had terminated its former broadcasts and created a separate ministry for its magazine which had renounced its previous editorial purpose. When virtually nothing remained of the former major doctrines of the church it joined a mainstream evangelical organization.
With its educational arm closed the church then sold off its headquarters property in Pasadena and moved to a new office building in Glendale, California while suggestions abounded that its final act would to be to change the name of the church itself.
Timeline of Change
- 1986 - Herbert W. Armstrong dies and Joseph Tkach becomes Pastor General.
- 1988-1995 - Many former doctrines renounced.
- 1995 - Joseph Tkach dies and his son succeeds him.
- 1995-1997 - Lost ten tribes theory rejected; Christmas and Easter accepted; apology to members and world regarding erroneous teachings and the Worldwide Church of God joins the National Association of Evangelicals.
- 2002 - Stanley Rader dies.
- Against the Gates of Hell: The Threat to Religious Freedom in America by Stanley R. Rader On-line copy of Rader's book defending Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God
- Stanley R. Rader Resigns Article by Herbert W. Armstrong
- Stanley Rader obituary Article in the Los Angeles Times
- "The Devil and Stanley Rader" Article in The American Lawyer
- Stanley Rader on Sixty Minutes with Mike Wallace
|See: Herbert W. Armstrong (index) for other articles related to this subject.|
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