Stanley R. Rader (August 13, 1930 – July 2, 2002), was an attorney, accountant, author and, later in life, an ordained minister in the Worldwide Church of God, then a Sabbatarian organization, which was founded by Herbert W. Armstrong.
Stanley Rader was born and raised 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 Rader met Armstrong, leader of what was then called the Radio Church of God, at its headquarters offices in Pasadena, California. Under contract with the Radio Church of God, Rader worked on improving its accounting system, thereby creating a highly favorable impression with Armstrong, who then urged him to attend law school at Armstrong's expense. In 1963 Rader graduated from the nationally ranked University of Southern California Law School where he was ranked first in his class.
The Radio Church of God had been previously incorporated on March 3, 1946 when it was reestablished in Pasadena. Prior to this event it had been an unincorporated voluntary association based in Eugene, Oregon named after its radio broadcast. On January 5, 1968, which was the year following the death of his first wife, Loma, Armstrong, as president, together with the secretary of the corporation, amended its Articles of Incorporation to reflect the change of name to the Worldwide Church of God. (By then its radio broadcast had also been renamed The World Tomorrow. By this time Armstrong was considered to be more of a modern-day apostle by his followers, rather than merely "pastor general," his title in the church. After coming to terms regarding salary and compensation, in 1969 Rader decided to devote his full time and best effort to the service of Armstrong.
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 install a version with more long-term sustainability. Using his inside knowledge of and great personal influence with Herbert Armstrong, Stanley Rader remodelled the Worldwide Church of God to sustain any sudden and dramatic change which would once again damage the donation income flow, such as the scandalous public disfellowshipping of media draw Garner Ted Armstrong.
The membership and existing media were left in place with the existing doctrines, although any mention of time cycles or dates for end time prophecies was removed. Indeed, the church attempted to go out of its way to pretend that the numerology and 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 hotel bathtub in the Mandrin Hotel in Hong Kong
. This move allowed Stanley Rader to reposition himself as a high-ranking church evangelist
in an attempt to quell misgivings by many in the ministerial hierarchy, who felt that Rader's undue influence on Armstrong was troubling. Rader, the ever striving CPA, had become class valedictorian of his law school class at USC, a noteworthy accomplishment in and of itself. In the 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace, he more than proved able to defend himself, remarking humorously to Wallace, "I (Rader) don't take stupid pills."
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong refused to interview with 60 Minutes because he felt they were going to edit the interview in a manner unfavorable to him, and would not agree to air the interview honestly. Herbert Armstrong, by way of contrast, did not attend college, but became a very successful and wealthy man at an early age as a salesman and religious figure.
Ambassador for World Peace
Whereas the plan of Garner Ted Armstrong was to ease his aging father into retirement, the plan of Stanley Rader and his aide Robert L. Kuhn
was to transform Herbert W. Armstrong from an elderly evangelist into a more secular leader, casting him as a vital Ambassador for World Peace without portfolio
. The diplomatic phrase "a minister without portfolio" may refer to an important government official who is not in charge of a particular department, but who still takes part in the decisions of government. His plan required the creation of a totally new and secular cover entity from which to operate, distanced from his Worldwide fundamentalist sect, which might prove unpalatable to prominent world leaders as he played out his role as quasi ambassador. In 1975, therefore, he incorporated the AICF Ambassador International Cultural Foundation
which was actually funded from the tithe money of members of the Worldwide Church of God.. In 1979, he was ordained as one of the Evangelists of the Worldwide Church of God
As a consequence, the AICF foundation transformed Ambassador Auditorium on the Ambassador College campus from a church auditorium in which Saturday Sabbath church services were conducted, into a 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 AICF also created a new glossy secular coffee-table commercial magazine 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 himself to any world leader who held political power willing to meet with the aging grandfatherly figure while receiving expensive gifts such as Stueben crystal during a Plain Truth photo op. Armstrong sold his new AICF portfolio approach to the church membership as being a "new phase" in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, that gospel message had now changed to a more palatable international mix of less of its Judeo-Christian elements and more of Buddhism. The message was now about giving and not getting and instead of referring to Jesus, 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 used his own professional legal accounting practice and also incorporated new companies with which to conduct profitable business enterprises on behalf of the Worldwide Church of God. The companies largely owned and controlled by Rader 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
. 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, 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.
Mike Wallace was able to convince Stanley Rader to appear on the 60 Minutes
show on April 15
. In speaking about himself, Armstrong, and the Worldwide Church of God, Rader said:
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.
Rader's apparent victory
During this time Stanley Rader was the point man for Herbert W. Armstrong and he rallied other religious groups to his defense. With the backing of a nonprofit religious lobbying coalition forming against state intrusion, Stanley Rader was able to successfully introduce a bill into the California Legislature
which generally restricts the Attorney General's authority to conduct civil, but not criminal, financial investigations into the activities of California religious and nonprofit organizations. Subsequent to the bill's passage into law, the California Attorney General then dropped its Worldwide Church of God financial receivership investigation litigation.
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
(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 Dr. Robert Lawrence 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 the financial receivorship, his plan to create the AICF cultural empire had come to a halt. In 1981 Stanley Rader resigned as General Counsel and Treasurer of the Worldwide Church of God. Armstrong paid Rader a special $250,000 bonus, after taxes, he said, as a result of his efforts in vigorously defending the church against the state receivorship. Also, Rader received substantial pension payments arising under his contractual agreement with the church. However, when Herbert W. Armstrong died in 1986, control was passed to Joseph Tkach, Sr.
, a person alleged to be close to Stanley Rader.
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.. Rader's funeral was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, California (the same cemetery in which the Armstrong family is buried). His funeral was presided over by Dr. Joseph W. Tkach, Jr.