Los Angeles dinners at Perino's, the swanky Los Angeles restaurant, stays at deluxe hostelries around the world, and costly purchases at Paris boutiques are among the expenditures made by Worldwide Church of God officials as part of what they say was their mission to "spread the Gospel."
A wide variety of expenditures -- ranging from $12,402 for crystal glass objects, to $2,124 for a purchase from a Hong Kong furrier to$26 for golf balls as a gift to King Leopold of Belgium -- appear on a copy of a church financial document for the 1975-76 fiscal year made available to The Los Angeles Times.
The church's complete financial reciords detailing these and other similar expenditures are expected to be made part of the official record in the heated battle for control of the $80 million, Pasadena-based, religious empire.
On one side is the state attorney general's office and lawyers representing dissident former church members who claim in a civil suit that the church's 86-year-old patriarch Herbert W. Armstrong, his top adviser, Stanley R. Rader, and other leading church officers have siphoned off church assets at a rate of "several million dollars a year" and turned them to their own use.
On the other is Rader and his law-yers, who say the attorney general's civil suit represents a massive invasion by the state into "spiritual matters" of the church and argue that all expenditures made were legitimate and designed to advance the goals of the church.
The 1975-76 fiscal document shows the church spent $1.7 million on travel, lodging and public relations, including expensive meals and gifts for what church officials claim was the courting of foreign dignitaries.
Most of the money expended was spent by Osamu Gotoh, said to be a former Tokyo cab driver who at that time was the coordinator of church activities in many countries. Gotoh's services were dispensed with after Armstrong had a heart attack in 1977 that curtailed his travel.
Other substantial portions were spent by Armstrong and Rader. Among the items listed were:
$38,494.81 owed to Trans World Airlines by Gotoh for a globe-girdling trip in August that took him to many of the world's major capital, including Paris, London, Rome, Geneva, Tel Aviv and Tokye, with side trips to Addis Ababa and Nairobi.
$2,902.03 to cover costs at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for guests in September described only as "senator Bunsei Sato" and "Japanese Senators." These same visitors also rung up a $2,588.60 bill at a West Los Angeles Limousine service, which the church covered.
A bill paid in November to cover Gotoh's Diner's Club card bill of $1,519.75 for Gotoh in a Japanese night club.
Another American Express bill to Gotoh for $6,325.40 to cover expenditure described only as "hotel bill -- Switzerland."
Three bills form Perino's in December covering an unknown number of meals totaling $2,304.40.
Bills from the Hilton Hotel -- Jerusalem. paid by Rader on his Diner's Club card, totaling $10,131.11.
A Steuben Glass bill of $12,402 described as "1 Moses, 1 Pyramidon, 1 Excaliber, 3 Pillof the Griffin." No other description is given nor are the recipients of the gifts stated.
A July 9, 1975 bill from Gucci in Paris for $1,162.10. No explanation given on document.
Three August 2(, 1975, bills from Gucci, Beverly Hills, Calif., paid by Gotoh's credit cards, totalling $1,215.82. No further details.
December 23, 1975, bill on Gotoh's Diner's Club for purchases from Christian Dior, Paris of $645.46.
Another Gotoh bill for $2,124.24 on Dec. 18, 1975, for a purchase, details unknown, from Siberian Fur Store, Kohloon, Hong Kong.
Asked by The Times to explain generally the purposes of these and other expenditures, Rader replied:
"You have to understand we are not like commercial enterprises owned by stockholders where the board of directors is constrained to show a profit or pay dividends. We had a commission to spread the Gospel by radio, the printed word, television and evangelish. This all takes money."
Rader, who serves as treasurer and general counsel of the church, added: "Some people might not agree that this (the expenditures) is the way to spread the Gospel, but we feel it is. I don't believe it is their (the state and dissident members) right to tell Mr. Armstrong he should not give golf balls to King Leopold."
Allan Browne, an attorney representing Rader and the church, offered a similar explanation.
"For the past 10 years, in accordance with church policy, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Rader have spent an average of 255 days each year establishing religious and charitable programs all over the world with their staff proclaiming the word of Jesus,' Browne said. "Enormous sums of money are spent," he added. "Sometimes in meeting with prime ministers and other world leaders you bring him (the dignitary) something and it may be that it's from Gucci's. Many important people have stayed at Stan Rader's home and you don't take them out to McDonald's, you take them to Perino's."
Rader said presentations of expensive gifts such as Steuben crystal were made to dignitaries including the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meier, President Ferdinand E. Marcos of the Phillppines, the Japanese crown prince, and several Japanese prime ministers. Deputy Attorney General Lawrence R. Tapper said it is up to the court to determine the reason-ableness of the expenditures, but that his office, "representing the public at large, has the duty to bring matters of this type out."