Golden Dawn Tabernacle
The followers of William Branham refer to themselves as being in The Message. However, this is not a homogeneous group. There are many sub-cults within the cult that is the Message. This article is one in a series on the sub-sects that comprise the Message - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:
- Don Parnell and the Third Testament
- Golden Dawn Tabernacle
- Lee Vayle and the Parousia
- Returned Ministry
Golden Dawn Tabernacle is a message church located at 301 E. Los Reales Road in Tucson, AZ. The pastor, Isaac Noriega, was described by a former Golden Dawn member as "a very angry, bad tempered man... I remember him yelling at the deacons and anyone else who crossed his path when he was in a bad mood because things were not going his way. He didn't care who you were. He would not hesitate to disrespect you."
We have confirmed the information below with several former members of the church so believe that it is an accurate reflection of what transpired in Golden Dawn Tabernacle prior to their departure.
The following list of unspoken rules were provided to us by former members of the Golden Dawn Tabernacle and are still in effect at Golden Dawn Tabernacle:
- Women are not allowed to wear flip flops or open-toed shoes.
- Men cannot not grow their hair too long or cut it too short (had to be a "message believer" approved cut)
- Men are required to shave (no mustaches, beards, sideburns or goatees).
- Men were not allowed to wear wedding bands because William Branham once told Isaac Noriega in a letter that wedding bands are for women only.
- Members are not allowed to visit ANY other message church without approval from the pastor.
- If you don't go to the altar to pray before service, everyone assumes you are not right with The Lord.
- You are required to be at church a half hour prior to service because William Branham said so.
- Listening to ANY kind of music other than music from the Golden Dawn Tabernacle church music was highly discouraged (Isaac Noriega is even against classical music).
- The church band is not allowed to have drums or a bass guitar as those are considered worldly.
- Men are required to wear a suit and tie on Sundays, and at least a tie on Wednesdays. If you show up in jeans, you might not be allowed in to the service, and if you were, you would most likely get blasted from the pulpit.
- You are not allowed to talk to members of your family that did not believe the message or fellowship with them. If you did, you would be condemned from the pulpit.
- Children are allowed not to go to high school (if you did, you were considered a rebel.) Homeschooling is highly encouraged. This rule is about 10 years old, so it is fairly new. The pastor's children, as well as the deacon's children, were generally permitted to graduate from high school and even attended college, but that was about 20 years ago.
- The piano and organ player are not allowed to play anything to jazzy or cheerful as that would hinder the Holy Spirit with worldliness. The pastor lets you know when you are not playing according to his standards by giving the musicians a very angry facial gesture.
- You are not allowed to go to the hospital without first notifying the pastor or one of the deacons. If you went to the hospital, it was normally frowned upon and you were considered to be weak in your faith, and not a good christian for not trusting God for divine healing.
- If you receive treatment for a disease, you are considered weak in faith, and also it was postulated that you probably had sin and demons in your life. The ironic part is that when the pastor's wife got sick, she was whisked away to the Mayo clinic to get some of the most expensive treatment in the world.
- There is absolutely NO bodily contact allowed between unmarried men and women (such as holding hands). Even conversation is very limited. If you want to court someone, you have to be over 21 years old, get the pastor's approval first, and then proceed in a highly chaperoned environment.
- Aside from women not being allowed to cut their hair and not wearing makeup, the pastor also forbids the women from plucking their eyebrows.
- Women are not allowed to wear pants or shorts. They must wear skirts or dresses with a length that has to be below your ankles.
- Women are not allowed to wear high heels, only flat soled shoes.
- Women are not allowed to work, especially married women.
- A youn man's first job has to be where other church members work, preferably doing manual labor, so that they can be more easily controlled.
- You are required to attend every single service (3 times per week: twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday). If you miss one service, a deacon will call or visit you the next day, checking up on you, to find out why you missed the church service.
- Internet and television are forbidden as they are considered tools of the devil. You are not even allowed to have internet for your business.
- Radio is forbidden as it is considered worldly.
- Board games are forbidden as they are considered worldly.
The rules can change depending on who you are. For example, the children of church leaders are the only ones permitted to go to college (paid for by the church). This is presumably because they have a career in the church ahead of them.
When a couple announces their engagement, they are each required to have a separate interview with Isaac Noriega in his office. In the interview, they are required to confess any previous sexual encounters (full graphic details are a requirement). The reason for separate interviews is to find discrepancies (police style - except police require a witness in the room, while Isaac Noriega does not). A full sexual history prior to attending the church is also required.
This interview process is carried out with ALL couples and, it is assumed, that this is the reason almost all weddings at Golden Dawn are private. Isaac Noriega has been known to use the interview information in his sermons, and also as blackmail, to control and manipulate the congregation. These requirements started in approximately 1985.
It is not believed that attendance at this church is not growing with external members, other than the offspring being produced internally at the church.
Consulting Isaac Noriega for any major decisions is very common in the church. He is consulted about everything from purchasing a vehicle, receiving medical treatment, traveling, getting a new job, to purchasing a house. It is normal practice to ask for his permission for very personal decisions that would normally be made by the individual. If you go against Noriega's "advice", he will then publicly blast you from the pulpit.
Excommunication - "Taken Out From Under The Blood"
Isaac Noriega is a firm believer in excommunicating any members of the church that he considers rebellious or a threat to his ministry. The church is taught that excommunication is taking a soul out from under Jesus' blood according to Matthew 18:15-20. However, Isaac Noriega does this under his own justification in order keep his congregation under control and maintain fear within the church so that they will obey him.
Once excommunicated, the individual is banned from the church, completely shunned, and not spoken to, or acknowledged. It is commonly observed that the members of this church will treat a non-message believer with more kindness than they treat an excommunicated individual. Family members of the excommunicated individual are forbidden from any contact with the individual under the threat that they will be excommunicated too.