I guess we should start the story of Ronald Weinland 1,900 years ago. That was reportedly the last time God chose a prophet for His Church of God. Now fast-forward through the boring parts of history until the present era. God decided it was time to bestow the Earth with two new prophets who would warn His children of the coming Apocalypse, as foretold in the Book of Revelation.
One of these prophets was Ronald Weinland.
By stunning coincidence, the other prophet God chose was Ron’s wife Laura.
As per His usual operating procedure with prophets, God divulged His secrets to the prophets and left it to them to round up followers using the time-tested “you guys are just gonna have to trust me on this” method of persuasion.
Unfortunately, not everyone in his circle trusted Weinland. For an explanation of why not, we have to examine the legacy of a preacher named Herbert Armstrong.
Herbert Armstrong and his Schismatic Followers
Ronald Weinland was a follower of a man name Herbert W. Armstrong – a charismatic preacher who way back in 1934 founded the Radio Church of God (later built into the Worldwide Church of God). Per Armstrong’s followers, “God revealed from the Bible hundreds of true doctrines through him, which had been lost through the centuries.”
Abridged version of the history of Armstrong’s church – the church grew in followers and wealth; internal divisions appeared; Armstrong predicted nuclear apocalypse; Mike Wallace did a 60 Minutes expose in the 1970’s on the lavish lifestyles of the church leaders; the state tried to audit the church; church spent millions fighting the effort and appealed it all the way to the Supreme Court; after Armstrong’s death the new leaders made doctrinal changes, lightened the tone, and redubbed it “Grace Communion International;” schismatic sects branded the leaders heretics and set off to found their own churches based on Armstrong’s revelations (by some accounts, there are up to 500 schismatic sects).
Weinland is one of those branch-offs, and he dubbed his church the COG-PKG, or “Church of God Preparing for the Kingdom of God.” Thus, Weinland and his followers are bitterly opposed not just by the Grace Communion International Church to whom they are apostates, but by several hundred other Armstrong-revering schismatic churches who believe he is a false prophet.
And remember: that’s just among his “team.” Then there’s the rest of the world.
A Quick Sidenote on this Whole “Church of God” Moniker
Honestly, is there a lazier, more generic, and less-differentiating bit of brand-naming than dubbing your congregation the “Church of God?” Not since the Oakland Athletics…
Thus God Spaketh to Weinland
So, in 1997, God started speaking to Weinland and his wife. Within a decade God was telling them some pretty frightening things, which they reveal in their book 2008-God’s Final Witness. Like: the first trumpet of Revelation sounded on December 14, 2008, beginning the time of tribulation. Like: the final trumpet, signaling the second coming of Christ, will sound on May 27th, 2012.
God left Weinland to spread the word to the rest of humanity about the impending rain of hellfire.
One thing God allegedly didn’t tell Weinland to do, apparently, was to pay his taxes. The government has recently indicted him for tax evasion.
Per a local news article:
The indictment alleges Ronald E. Weinland, 62, attempted to evade taxes in the amount of $357,065 over a period of five years starting in 2005. Weinland’s alleged acts of evasion included filing tax returns, understating his gross income, using church funds for personal expenses and failing to claim those funds as income on his income tax returns, and failing to report the existence of a bank account in Switzerland.
He faces up to five years in prison on the charges. The criminal trial is currently set to commence on June 4, 2012, so if the world doesn’t end on May 27 – he may be wishing it had.