In England, which has NO "separation of Church and State,"  
the church is sort of like the post office; -- just another branch
of the government.

It is stating the obvious to say that "people go to church
because they believe in God."  Surely there is more to it than

To say that people go to church because they believe in God is
sort of like saying that people go to banks because they believe
in "the Almighty Dollar."   It's like saying that Willy Sutton
robbed banks "because that's where the money is."

We are told that "God is everywhere."  People claim to believe
this, and yet they find God in these special "holy places."  

We have many sites of pilgrimage. These can be memorial
places such as cemeteries, or patriotic monuments.  We might
go to the site where some event occurred. So:

A church is a place of pilgrimage. It is a shrine, or
otherwise "special" place.

Such places don't have to be overtly religious. They include
places like the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, or the
Pro-Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

A place of pilgrimage can be a natural place, like the Grand
Canyon.  Or it can be a man-made place, such as Hollywood

But, a church is more than just a PLACE.

A church is a group of people.

When I was 17 years old, I saw Garner Ted Armstrong on TV.

In those days, we didn't have a lot of channels. We just had the
old dial of 12 channels, 2 to 13. If you wanted to watch TV, you
had to choose from among these channels.

Also, I had been reading "
Chariots of the Gods ?" by Erich von
Däniken. See the short description at:

The first time I recall seeing Garner Ted Armstrong on
television, he was talking about Erich von Däniken, and the
Chariots of the Gods ?"

He mentioned that he was also on the radio, so I started
looking for his show on the A.M. dial.  Just by turning the dial
back and forth all night, I found several broadcasts of the
Garner Ted Armstrong show.

On the weekends, they played shows of his father, Herbert W.
Armstrong, who was the FOUNDER of the Worldwide Church
of God.  (This church has gone through several name changes
over the years).

I sent away for the free booklets, and I eventually sent some
money to "pay" for them.  My early study of the Bible was
greatly helped by Garner Ted Armstrong, and by these

I seriously wondered whether this could be "the True Church."  

There are many reasons why I lost interest, but one reason in
particular was Garner Ted Armstrong's advice on "child-rearing."

He believed, and taught, that you should beat them on the
"rear" to make them blow their noses, until they go DEAF.  He
bragged about how he was able to force his children to blow
their noses, and then at one point casually mentioned that
some of them are DEAF.

When I was in Catholic school, and I saw how mean and nasty
some of the nuns could be, I realized that "this cannot come
from God."  People who act in such a mean way, or who
preach stupid and hateful doctrines, cannot possibly be "God's
chosen representatives on Earth."

One of the reasons why Atheists need a Church is to get away
from the many bad aspects of traditional "God-fearing"

Many people end up being "lured" into these churches,
because they have no place else to turn.  If people are
choosing a church, they are limited in their choice to those
churches that actually EXIST.

One aspect of the Armstrong Church was the fact that they
didn't have special church BUILDINGS.

Actually, of course, they DID build monuments to themselves in
the form of buildings at their headquarters in Pasadena,

But generally, the "church" was sold as "a group of people"
rather than as "a building."  So again:

A church is a group of people.

When I was 17 years old, I was driving myself to Akron, where
the nearest congregation was located. This was on
SATURDAYS, as that church is a "seventh-day" church.

Rather than having a special "church building," this group
believed in renting, leasing, or buying nondescript downtown

In Akron, there was a sort of public auditorium downtown,
which was their meeting place.  (This was around 1975 or 1976,
but they might still be meeting in the same place, for all I know).

There was a church in Massillon, which I read about in the
newspaper, where there was a dispute over the leadership, and
a "schism."  One faction kept the building, and the other faction
rented a vacant store to use temporarily.

They eventually built themselves a "proper" church building,
but it just goes to show that even a "traditional" church can
meet as a group of people in an unmarked building.

The basis for the "Church of God," of course, is in the New
Testament. In the time of the early church, there were no
special buildings.

They met wherever they could. The practice of "keeping a low
profile" is meant to emulate the early Christian church.  

Of course, the name "Church of God" is found in the epistles,
and there are many different sects today calling themselves
"The Church of God."

So far, we have found two descriptions:

A church is a place of pilgrimage.

A church is a group of people.


Just after I wrote these words above, that church I mentioned
was in the news.  

For more about the Armstrong churches, see Church of BS
page 2:
Church of B S
Our motto:
was taken from a suggestion by business guru Tom Peters.  
He used it on a PBS TV show. There are more search results using the words "no worse than anyONE else.",RNWE:2004-34,RNWE:en&q=tom+p
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