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Police Focus on Religion in Milwaukee Shootings

Published: March 15, 2005

The police said Monday that they were increasingly focused on religion as the motive for a man's murderous rampage through a
church service on Saturday at a suburban Milwaukee hotel, promising a full investigation even though the killings ended in suicide.

The local pastor of the Living Church of God, Randy L. Gregory, who was killed along with his 16-year-old son, appears to have been
executed, the authorities said, while others among the seven dead and four injured were shot at random.

An earlier theory that the gunman, Terry Ratzmann, may have been upset about losing his job has been discarded after the police
found that he had long known his contract as a computer technician for GE Healthcare would end on March 25. The authorities also
said they found no evidence to support church members' reports that Mr. Ratzmann, 44, suffered from depression, and said that he
was not on medication.

So while they remain unable to explain why Mr. Ratzmann stormed out of services two weeks before - or even whether the sermon that
upset him was given via videotape by the church's international leader, Roderick C. Meredith, or by Mr. Gregory - the police see the
little-known church as the key.

"We believe that the motive has something to do with the church and the church services more so than any other possible motive,"
Capt. Phil Horter of the Brookfield, Wis., Police Department said at a news conference on Monday. "We're looking at the church totality,
whether it's members of the church, members of the hierarchy of the church, the sermons of the church," he added.

Investigators are combing through some 1,000 e-mail messages and other files, about 70 of them encrypted, on three computers
seized from the home where Mr. Ratzmann lived with his mother and sister, and one from his office. A message left on the
Ratzmanns' answering machine on Monday was not returned.

"You're looking for logic in an illogical act," the Waukesha County district attorney, Paul Bucher, told reporters on Monday.

The Living Church of God, an offshoot of a sect seen by some as a cult, the Worldwide Church of God, is a fringe group that advocates
literal adherence to the Bible, observes a Saturday Sabbath, rejects the Holy Trinity concept and frequently focuses on a coming
apocalypse. The national director of church administration, Charles Bryce, disputed reports about Mr. Ratzmann's angry departure
from the Feb. 26 service but declined to discuss that week's videotaped sermon.

"We are a peaceful church," said Mr. Bryce, who flew to Wisconsin from the church's headquarters in North Carolina on Sunday to
counsel local church members.

The police said Monday that Mr. Ratzmann purchased the 9-millimeter handgun used in Saturday's shootings last June. They said he
was seen at the hotel on Saturday morning holding a briefcase, and apparently returned home, where the briefcase - containing a
Bible - was found, before bursting into the hotel ballroom brandishing the handgun 20 minutes after the 12:30 p.m. service began.

Mr. Gregory and his family are believed to have been targets, the authorities said, while others were hit randomly. Four victims,
including the Gregorys, died of single gunshots to the chest, while the others were shot two to four times each.

Tapes of several 911 calls from church members reveal chaos, with people wailing and screaming in the background.

"Many, many, many, many fired, shot," a breathless man told the operator, struggling to get out the name of the hotel where the
shooting occurred, and mistakenly identifying it as a Marriott, rather than a Sheraton. "I don't know how many were shot, a lot of them."

One woman identified Mr. Ratzmann and even said he had been depressed.

"Oh my, oh no, oh no, oh no, Gloria is dead, oh no, oh no, oh no, there's at least - how many are on the floor? - 5 to 10," the woman
says. "Five to 10 at least, oh my, one of my friends is laying on the floor, I think she's dead. This is a massacre."

Gloria Critari, 50, was indeed among the victims identified Sunday.

"All of a sudden we heard bang like a firecracker, but it was so loud and then again and again," the woman continued. "My husband
pushed me down to the floor, my son. We all went to the floor, everybody.

"Right after this we're having a potluck and then an entertainment show this evening," she added. "I think it's all on hold."

Erik Gunn contributed reporting from Milwaukee for this article, and Maggie Jacobus from Brookfield, Wis.
To find this answer - I decided to get away from the 'controlled' media and check out what others were saying on the net concerning
this church and their congregation - and congregations such as this one. Here is what i found - Mary Sutherland

Living Church of God
13 March 2005
Jeff Sharlet

A few years ago, a colleague and I reported a story about an attack on a church in Henderson, North Carolina. In that case, the
shooter used
blanks; everyone got a fright, but no one was hurt. The members of this little church did absolutely nothing to merit
such terror. But when we started spending time at the church, we began to see how a mentally disabled person could be easily...
Confused. This was a non-denominational pentecostal church with a persistent focus on apocalypse; indeed, the only artwork in the
church were two identical paintings of a modern city being "raptured," with great violence. Church members viewed their attacker as
demonically possessed. I thought about that little church as I read about the Living Church of God in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where
seven congregates were killed on Saturday by one of its own members, who then took his own life. The killer, described as an
exceptionally gentle man, was no doubt in some kind of psychotic state. The church's beliefs have nothing to do with this awful
event. To suggest otherwise would be the ugliest of secular slurs on religious belief.

Or would it? The New York Times reports on the killing by cribbing a few statements of belief off of the Living Church of God's
website, with no explanation. Readers are left to infer that Living Church members believe that they are the true Israelites. And
without any background knowledge, only the cleverest reader would guess that the "Apostolic" restoration referred to means that
members believe God is restoring the offices of prophets and apostles. It would have been worth noting that many adherents of
Apostolic restoration believe that one can train for one of these positions; and that full-blown prophets abound in every congregation,
if they'll just let themselves listen to and speak the voice of God they're hearing in their heads.

The Chicago Tribune does the Times one better, half-heartedly consulting a few experts who assure the paper that the Living
Church of God, while built around the belief that we live in an apocalyptic era in which every historical event has meaning, are really
just "low key," "mainstream" people. That assessment is probably correct -- but it's worth wondering what the consequences are
likely to be when the "mainstream" is a river of apocalyptic fear charted by men and women who believe themselves to be prophets
and apostles, listening to a voice of God that can supersede scripture.

The Los Angeles Times foregrounds the church's apocalyptic theology in its lead, but also notes, up front, that the church preaches
nonviolence. Not in the normal church way, but in the full, conscientious objector sense. But the Living Church of God, reports the LA
Times, may be a long way from its home theology. It's the result of a schism that followed a schism, each in response to the
denomination moving closer to that mythical "mainstream" of evangelical Christianity. The Living Church is either adhering to the
original vision, or spinning off into righteous heresy (heresy, that is, within the terms of the church's beliefs).

Of course, the ideas of the man to whom the Living Church of God claims to maintain special loyalty are themselves heretical by
traditional "mainstream" standards. Here's an excerpt:

And now we are fast approaching the final grand smash explosion that is going to stagger the mind of man beyond the bounds of
sanity. Forces are at work today on plans, programs, conspiracies, movements that soon will erupt into a world explosion of violence
and chaos such as never happened before, and never will again. Men today are tampering with forces of nature they lack the
prudence, knowledge, ability and wisdom to control.

Such is now the mainstream for much of American Christendom. Likewise the Living Church of God's emphasis on the reality of
Satan, as suggested in these booklets offered by its website. The Living Church of God sees the world as filled with actual demons
and demon-filled people. Is it then so strange to imagine that a member might come to believe that he himself is demon-filled -- or,
perhaps, a prophet who hears the voice of God others ignore?

We've yet to see any media ask the survivors who're talking the obvious question: Was the killer, Terry Ratzmann, possessed by
demons? The answer will reveal a great deal, for those who believe and those who do not.

At the church in Henderson, North Carolina, mentioned above, congregants knew just what to do about their attacker. The shooter
was in jail, but that was of almost no concern to him. What the shooter needed, they knew, was an exorcism. And so they performed
one, long distance, augmented by multiple gifts of the spirit. When it was over, they felt much better. Safe, even -- they knew they'd
cast the demons out and done a great service for that "poor person who brought a firearm into the house of the Lord."

My colleague and I called the jail the next day. The shooter -- a hermaphrodite who gave many names -- continued to believe she
was on a mission from God.

UPDATE: Letters regarding the Living Church of God shooting spree in Wisconsin. A number of newspaper reporters, editors and
others in the media have contacted Exit & Support Networkâ„¢ in the course of investigating the shooting spree and deaths that
occurred during a Living Church of God Sabbath service on March 12, 2005.

Media Question and Answer Page Regarding Living Church of God Shootings
(Answers the most frequent questions of newspaper reporters, editors and writers.)


Be sure and investigate further into the inner working of the Living Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. because LCG won't tell you up
front what you're getting into.

Rod Meredith believes God chose him to "re-establish the true church" and that
members are the "spiritual heirs of the original
Jerusalem Church of New Testament time" or "remnant" of the Philadelphia era.1 However, LCG's doctrines and beliefs are rooted
in the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God (which claimed to be the "one and only true
Church of God"). LCG believes they are the continuation of this Philadelphia era which Herbert Armstrong began in 1934.2

While Meredith founded LCG with a
small business loan in 1998, he originally founded Global Church in 1992 after the WCG's
doctrinal changes were getting underway.  (Read: Speaking of Global...(Re-inventing the wheel) and Letter to Janis Hutchinson.)
Meredith gave a sermon on 5-17-97 titled "Where is the True Church Today?" Of course, this "true church" was none other than
"Global Church of God." Meredith was later fired from Global in November 1998 after an "authority conflict." Meredith felt he should be
the "unquestionable leader." (August 1998 issue of The Journal) He founded LCG soon thereafter.

LCG teaches that there is only one true gospel and it is "about the Kingdom of God" and that the true church is to first, preach this
"gospel of the Kingdom" and second to preach the "true name of Jesus Christ."3 What Meredith means by the "true name of Jesus
Christ" is not clear as LCG preaches a false Christ, along with preaching a false gospel. (Read ESN's Review of Mystery of the Ages
which goes into detail about these beliefs and how many of them were copied by Herbert Armstrong from the Jehovah's Witnesses,
the Mormons, Adventism, and Church of God 7th Day.) Paul says in Acts 20:24 that he received of the Lord Jesus the gospel of the
grace of God and in Romans 1:9 he called it the gospel of God's son. The New Testament shows that the early Christians preached
the Lord Jesus. (Acts 11:20)

Rod Meredith teaches members that they must keep certain O. T. Laws and rituals in order to obey God and to be born again (at the
resurrection). It is works plus
faith. In fact, Meredith affirmed this false teaching early on in his 1956 booklet, "Is Obedience to God
Required for Salvation?"

Meredith teaches Herbert Armstrong's false doctrine of becoming God: "How can you not be filled with ALL of the 'fullness of God'
and not be God? ... This is the final fulfillment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--the ultimate Good News--that man can be born into the
God Kingdom, the God-level of existence."4  (emp. ours)

Members are not only to pay a first
tithe to LCG headquarters every paycheck, but they are to set aside a second tithe which is to only
be spent for observance of the Old Testament feast days--predominantly at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Although these
days listed in Leviticus 23 were given by God to ancient Israel under the Old Covenant, LCG believes they are to be observed today.
LCG, as HWA, holds to the theory of British Israelism. (Read: British Israelism: True or False? )

Additionally, members (but not ministers) are to pay a third tithe every three years out of seven. They are: "God places great
importance on this tithe because He sets it apart for sacred use."5 Herbert Armstrong also instructed members to pay a third tithe to
in order to "help the widows and less fortunate," but instead this tithe was used to subsidize the luxurious lifestyles of the leaders.
(Read: Third Tithe: Where Did it Go?)

Members must take off work every Saturday (the Sabbath) to attend services. Only occasionally is it permissible for them to eat out in
a restaurant. They are commanded to attend all eight feast days in the Old Testament. These are considered "annual Sabbaths"
and no work is allowed. If one of these days falls during the week members must still attend. Fasting (without food or water) from
sunset to sunset is required on the Day of Atonement (DOA), along with attending services that day.

Following the DOA, they observe the Feast of Tabernacles (FOT) as a seven day assembly at sites designated only by headquarters.
Top ministers--but rarely members-- stay in high priced places during the Feast. This holy day is blown up to be the highlight of the
year, but in reality it is the major time of year in which members are further programmed into the belief system of Living Church of
God. (Read: When We Attended the Feast (what did they do to our mind?)) .

Immediately following the FOT they observe what they call the "Last Great Day" (the eighth day of the Feast), which pictures a
resurrection "when ALL humanity will finally be given an opportunity to understand the Truth."6 (This "truth," of course, being what
was taught by Herbert Armstrong and now LCG.) To read how HWA came up with this "Last Great Day" see footnote 3 at the bottom
of The Wonderful World Tomorrow: What it WON'T be Like. Children are expected to be at services for all of these O. T. holy days. To
not show up is considered a sin.

Roderick Meredith goes on to claim that Herbert Armstrong was an apostle and the "greatest minister, perhaps, in the past 1800
years."7   HWA has been exposed as a hypocrite and a false teacher on this website and other sites and in many books.

LCG members believe it is wrong to observe birthdays. Meredith states: "I do not observe birthdays and I have never had a birthday
party for myself or any of my six children nor my wife or anyone else for over 51 years."8  Likewise, members do not observe holidays
such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc., calling them "pagan."

LCG holds to many false teachings, such as only being "begotten" after conversion, and are not fully "born again" until the
resurrection.9 This implies that those who have trusted Christ could be "aborted" and lose the Holy Spirit and eternal life. This
contradicts the many Scriptures in the Word of God which say believers have eternal life now; i.e., John 3:15;  I John 5:13; John 10:28.

They also believe God can, and will, restore miracles and gifts, which were given to the Apostles in the first century as signs. This
includes the gift of healing.10  

Children and teens  are strongly encouraged to attend LCG's Living Youth Camp. Read about Herbert Armstrong's S. E. P. camps.

Members decline jury duty and do not involve themselves in politics. They also refuse to participate in war, believing it goes against
the commandment not to "kill."

Baptism is to be done by LCG ministers. If you were baptized prior to going into LCG; for instance, by a minister in a Sunday keeping
church, it is considered invalid. LCG teaches that the Holy Spirit can only be given to those who are obedient to the government of
God; i.e.,  to Meredith's teachings and are baptized in the LCG.

Meredith's sermons and newsletters are filled with end time prophecies and frightening scenarios, telling how "time is short" and
the "end will soon be here."11   As a result of this repetition and fear, members are manipulated into believing they need to tithe,
send in generous donations, fast, obey God's government, have faith, etc. because God is soon going to punish the "modern
descendants of the House of Israel," which he claims are America, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.12

LCG Member Letters from Rod Meredith (LCG pulled their letters from their site after the shootings. These are posted to aid
researchers and others in their understanding of the mind set of LCG and the prophetic prophecies Meredith is giving.)

LCG teaches that they, "as Philadelphians," will be protected during the great tribulation for 3 l/2 years--probably in Petra, a
wilderness and rocky place of caves in Jordan. . The "lukewarm Laodiceans" (who do not keep God's Ten Commandments) will not
be protected.13 This was an early teaching in the WCG. In fact, Herman Hoeh wrote an article for members titled "A Way of Escape"
which showed pictures of this area and told how it had a "lack of water" but "plenty of caves." The Good News (April 1962 and
October 1963) showed pictures of Petra and said members would probably flee there by large airplanes. (Read: Memories About
Petra to learn more about what Herbert Armstrong taught about this "place of safety.")

Roderick Meredith wrote many articles and booklets in the past for the Worldwide Church of God, especially on prophecy. He was
exposed as a false prophet in the Gerringer Letter. (Just search for the word "Meredith" in this letter to see some of his prophecy
quotes. Also do a search for the words "Meredith" on our website.)

Members study LCG's literature diligently, listen to long sermons and Bible studies, submit themselves to the authority ("LCG
government") over them and, as a result, fail to think critically enough in order to break free of the mind control.

Educate yourself on the characteristics of Bible-based cults (deceptive and exploitive groups), so that you don't end up a casualty in
Rod Meredith's Living Church of God! (Read: How Mind Manipulation is Used For Influence and Control and Lifton's Eight Criteria of
Mind Control)

By Exit & Support Networkâ„¢
Updated March 13, 2005

NOTE: Living Church of God has been known to meet in Masonic temples or buildings (as did Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide
Church of God). Freemasonry is a considered a religion but not a Christian religion. Rod Meredith confessed to being initiated into
the DeMolays, a Masonic club for boys, when he was a teenager. ("Trust Christ's Leadership," taped sermon, July 6, 1996.) He
attended Ambassador College 1949 to 1952. Some believe that groups such as the DeMolays are "feeder groups" for the Masons
("being groomed for potential membership in Masonry and the Eastern Star when they reach adulthood"). (Hidden Secrets of the
Eastern Star by Cathy Burns. Also see our tapes: Freemasonry and the Cult Connection. Could Dr. C. Paul Meredith (Roderick
Meredith's uncle) perhaps have been a Mason himself? Dr. Meredith was an evangelist in the Worldwide Church.

This site originally began as a place to house the  booklet-length article, Lying with the Truth: Deception and Mind Control in the
Worldwide Church of God. Recently two new articles on the general workings of mind control cults, written by someone who has
many years experience fighting for the individual's right to freedom from brainwashing and cult exploitation.