We can't speak to the size of Mike's bank account, but Jeff had to fight to drum up $7 grand for his movie. Not exactly "rollin' deep in my ill-begotten gains" money. And the actions of the church leadership after Armstrong's death certainly didn't seem like the actions of greedy con-men. The Church Of Scientology doubled down on sucking money out of its followers after L. Ron Hubbard's death. The Worldwide Church Of God did the opposite when Herbert Armstrong died.
"We had a tithe system, the first that goes to the work of the church, the second for yourself to spend at church festivals, and a third tithe every third year for the poor."
Lisa F. Young/iStock
So basically all those health insurance savings right back out the door.
So that was 20 percent of your income to the church most years, and 30 percent every third year. Even Mormons aren't expected to give like that. With Armstrong dead, it was something Mike and the other "liberators" decided they couldn't justify.
"We had to change that. And naturally the income plummeted. So yeah, that was kind of like shooting yourself in the foot strategically, economically ... we had to cut the TV program, we had to cut the Plain Truth magazine and book program, eventually we had to close the college ..."
"Look, there's just no budget for frills this year. Do we really need a Second Corinthians?"
There are still some 50,000 members in the one-time Worldwide Church Of God (after a name change in 2009 it's now called Grace Communion International), but they no longer shun flu shots or birthday parties. What was once, Mike admitted, "a cult" that urged its members to risk their lives rather than see doctors, now has a more enlightened attitude on medicine than many rich, white neighborhoods in California.
It's hard to say what the message here is, other than "hope your cult leader hands over power to decent people when he dies." And that's not really practical advice. So we guess we'll instead say "have a fun birthday party."
Jeff is a freelance video editor for Cracked, and just successfully funded a short film about a cult. It's called The Future of Man and it stars Roger, from our Honest Ads videos.
Robert Evans has a book, A Brief History of Vice about how bad behavior built civilization.
Have a story to share with Cracked? Email us here.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Ways Growing Up Inside Scientology Was A Nightmare and 5 Disturbing Things I Learned in Scientology's Space Navy.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Why The Ninja Turtles' Master Splinter Was A Cult Leader, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.