Only for background, not for attribution
IT’S BEEN MORE than two weeks since carnivorous-plant aficionado Terry Ratzmann shot to death eight people, ending with himself, during his church’s services in suburban Milwaukee, and authorities still say they don’t know exactly why.
According to the current predictions of his sect, the Living Church of God, life on Earth wasn’t supposed to end until 2017.
As I pointed out in my earlier item “Little Church of Horrors,” Ratzmann devoted much of his life to listening to his church’s apocalyptic sermons. Surely that wouldn’t have anything to do with his March 12 rampage, would it? Even though he jumped the gun?
One of his religious friends, of course, has it figured out:
“I don’t believe, in all honesty, that was Terry Ratzmann who walked in,” said Thomas Geiger, who had known Ratzmann for 20 years. “I believe he was under control of a high-ranking demon, and maybe the highest one.”
It all depends on what kind of demon you’re talking about. Some readers have chimed in on this. Here’s a sampling:
Mark Oliver wrote:
What voice tells you that we are not supposed to believe the Bible? Satan?
Thanks for writing, Mark. The only voices I hear are the ones telling me to “shut the fuck up.” I occasionally listen.
Hannah Ellams wrote:
I would just like to thank Ward Harkavy for “The Little Church of Horrors.” Usually most churches have to pay for such publicity, and you gave more in-depth coverage than any paper will usually do!
You managed to be informative and knowledgable to a very large degree, which makes me almost think insider knowledge or someone who has far too much time on their hands!
Why should you imply what you say are “doom and gloom” sermons which Ratzmann generally only heard for one hour per week can be a motive for murder?
What really bothered me, to be honest, is what does it really have to do with beating Bush anyhow? If you had done your research properly you would have found they are a non-political group and the members don’t have political feelings in any way and most don’t vote. I know this and I am not even a member!
Thanks for writing, Hannah. Extremists fascinate me. The Bush regime, like Living Church of God patriarch Herbert W. Armstrong, has done a great job of whipping up fear. And it uses religion to do it.
Besides, we might be in the “end-times” right now, if Bush’s handlers decide to attack Iran this summer, as former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter warns.
For other predictions of TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it), see the fascinating collection of doom dates at ReligiousTolerance.org. The first one on that list is part of the spiel Ratzmann was continually exposed to:
2010+: In early 2005, Roderick C. Meredith, leader of the Living Church of God wrote in his church’s magazine Tomorrow’s World that the end of the world is near. He said that events prophesied in the Bible are “beginning to occur with increasing frequency….We are not talking about decades in the future. We are talking about Bible prophecies that will intensify within the next five to 15 years of your life.”
Richard Markland wrote:
Just read your article on the shootings that took place in the Living Church. I was a member for six years. Was kicked out for asking uncomfortable questions. Shooting was unbelievably tragic and a warning Rod Meredith needs to change his approach to members.
Thanks for writing, Richard.
I wanted to thank you very much for the article you did on the Living Church of God. As a former member for 20+ years in the WorldWide Church of God (mother church of the LCG), what you said was very correct.
Members were subjected to psychological horrors by the leader/ministers of these cults, and although I’m no longer a member, I still suffer from all that I was taught since early childhood.
Words like “tribulation”, “Lake of Fire”, “Place of Safety” are all catch words used by the leaders to terrify members into staying in the cult and to continue being abused financially, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. Members are taught that they are at fault for any depression that they may have. They are taught that depression is of “Satan” and that if you are depressed you learn to hide it and pretend you’re happy.
Doctors, psychologists, etc. are not to be frequented, as they are “of the devil,” according to the leaders. Medicine is also not to be taken. Many people have died as a result of these teachings, and even those survivors of the deceased are taught to not grieve for them so all their emotions are kept inside with no outlet.
All members of these cults are afraid of losing their salvation, which the leaders teach will happen if they are not a part of “God’s true church.” Of course they teach the members that this is the only true church, so they cling to it at all cost.
Thanks again for getting the truth as to what is truly happening in these destructive “churches.”
[Signed] A former Worldwide Church of God Member
Thanks for writing, Mzkiss.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 30, 2005