January 13, 1996
Dear Fellow Christians,
This is the most challenging dilemma of my Christian life. On the one hand are the babes in Christ and the innocent ones. On the other hand I must end the lies and hypocrisy that I have been deceived into perpetuating. We were admonished in a sermon yesterday to ask "is this action compatible with the character of Christ?" I have searched the scripture and see many examples of calling a sin, SIN. Yes, He quietly forgave the woman at the wellas we should forgive those around us striving to overcome sin. He also labeled the scribes and Pharisees for what they werepubliclyfor all to hear. He seems to have detested a deceitful heart above all things!
From the beginning of this present crisis, for about the last 3 months, Ian and I have repeated to everyone we talked to, our positive feelings and our support. When Mr. [Ron] Dart resigned and then Mr. [Garner Ted] Armstrong "stepped aside" we were thrilled to see opportunity for a church to function with a team effort, with input and decisions from men whose desire it is to serve God. And we were supportive of Mr. Armstrong and his present situation. We believed we had been told the truth in both areas.
Mr. Armstrong told Ian personally that he had visited a massage therapist "3 or 4 times", had made a dreadful mistake and that a video tape had been made, unknown to him. He also said this woman was threatening him with a lawsuit and that the accusations were false. On several occasions the leadership in Tyler said things that made us believe it was a one-time eventa "mistake."
From the beginning, I heard rumors that "there were other massage therapists and other problems" and every time I heard that I said "can you give me a name?" Without that I tossed it out as rumor and gossip. When people from other areas mentioned this rumor I would go to great lengths to explain that in a community like Tyler, "surely I would have heard such stuff." I exerted my influence to get them to believe as I had been led to believe. (This deceiteven though unintentionalon my part is why I HAD to write this letter.) On Jan. 7, someone repeated the accusation and gave me two names...after prayer and soul-searching I knew I had to follow up and prove this a false accusation. That was my motive. I used the Tyler yellow pages, under "Massage Therapist", and on Monday, Jan. 8 verified that 5 out of 5 had either seen Mr. Armstrong as a patient or in the case of being owners of salons, their employees had treated him. This was bad enough, but then four of them described to me what had led them to terminate their services to himhis actions and words were sexually improper. Some of the reasons they gave are: "He hit on my employees", "He was sexually eccentric","He asked for special things", "He talked about his sexual frustrations and personal matters", "He repeatedly asked me to work higher", "He obviously came for his version of sex, not professional care."
This was over a period of several years. Please realize that if it was this easy for me to learn this, then others probably already have, including the lawyer for the woman suing Mr. Armstrong. I did not have the heart or the need to keep making calls.
I am dealing with two main sets of concerns...#1) My heart is full of grief for this fellow brother who is so troubled by his vices and problems, that he denies them and has not sought counsel to help him overcome what is obviously a lifelong sickness. How can he truly feel the forgiveness of God when he doesn't acknowledge the depth of his sin? And how can he know he is cared about when he doesn't understand "unconditional" love. In his eyes, you are either FOR him, i.e., willing to coverup, lie for him and allow him to be a hypocrite with no limits or punishments expected or you are AGAINST him, i.e., asking him to be honest, to humble himself before God, the Creator, and Jesus Christ (who is IN the members of the CGI ). I wish that before he dies he could come to understand that many of us can care about him, genuinely be willing to help in any way we can, but that we don't condone or approve of his actions, sins, etc.
And...#2) I told Charles Groce that I could represent CGI as a minister's wife and as a Christian and that I could forgive Ted and support him in the future but that if I ever learned I had been lied to and deceived and that they allowed me to represent those lies and deceit to others, "Iwould be one hopping mad woman." I am! It is obvious that the past and present hierarchy of the CGI has known and hidden this all along. When men hold themselves up to be respected, to be our teachers, but cover up this kind of habitual sin, their sham is as serious as is the sickness of the sin.
I believe that this church has been built with lies, deceit and hypocrisy at its core. We have true doctrines, but it is time to set some wrongs right. The criteria for every minister must be the same whether their name is Armstrong, Hufton or Chapman. It is time to be honest and not protect the guilty and punish the innocent because they won't protect the guilty. If this is truly "not Ted's church" then Ian and I will not be put out of the body for writing these letters. It is time for the people to come together, prune the tree (not kill it, just clean it up severely!), and work to let God grow something productive. It is time for the double standards and "hidden sins" to be recognized for what they are and for there to be room for sincere truth and moral strength in this church.
Yes God forgave David and called him a "man after His own heart." But David accepted his punishment, never tried to hide or deny the enormity of his sin. And he didn't do that sin again! I have wrestled with "the message vs. the messenger" as well, because we have all been repeatedly told by Mr. Armstrong not to use him as an example for our children, not to look at his life, etc. I read so many words in the Bible and they tell me that if a messenger can't or won't do what he is saying, he is a hypocrite. How do we get around that one? (By the way, hypocrisy, lying and deceiving others can be repented of and repeated no more. All things are possible with God.)
It is time for the "Country Club" atmosphere to give way to prayer, fasting, sincerity and hard work. I have a fervent desire to serve God, right where I am, in the CGI. It is sad to realize standing up for righteousness may result in our dismissals, but I have made the decision to obey God first. Please join me in praying that God's will be done, that we will put His will before our own, and that His love for us all will govern our future. We must worship God with all our hearts and love one another with our lives.
I remain in service to Jesus Christ and my fellow Christians,
Thalia M. Hufton