The early morning radio voice of Luther Masingill — with Mom clanging around the kitchen — was the background music of my childhood and youth.

After six decades, Luther is still on the air in Chattanooga to eagerly promote a benefit pancake supper in Flintstone, Ga., or help a family in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., find their lost dog.

On non-school days, I heard other WDEF Radio personalities throughout the day — who, unlike Luther,came and went. One was called “Jolly Charlie,” I recall.

Songs like Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and Red Foley’s “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” (a local favorite) seeped into my young head.

But just around dinnertime, a voice without that comforting Southeast Tennessee/ Northwest Georgia drawl would come on the air announcing: “The World Tomorrow with Dr. Garner Ted Armstrong…”

CLICK. Without comment, Mom would turn off the radio that had played since before she cracked the first egg.

With some sense of spiritual discernment that she never explained, my mother — a Baptist from Cradle Roll to the grave — didn’t want us to hear the teachings of this radio minister who succeeded his father, Herbert W. Armstrong, and later had conflicts with the elder Armstrong over his prophetic views. Both are gone now.

But for some strange reason all of those childhood memories came rushing back yesterday when I read an article from Religion News Service. According to the report, the ministry started by Herbert W. Armstrong is now to be known as Grace Communion International.

The group renounced the teachings of its founder after his death in 1986 and seems intent on staking out a place in the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. Becoming known as Grace Communion International appears to be another step away from the teachings of Armstrong that apparently included denial of the Trinity and an emphasis on Old Testament law.

But I’m really not sure what the Armstrongs taught — since Mom was quick to reach for the dial each evening.

In fact, the radio in our kitchen stayed off until the next morning — except on spring or summer nights from 1966 on. Then a voice we could believe in came to us with a quick click to the “on” position:

“This is Milo Hamilton along with Ernie Johnson and Braves baseball is on the air, brought to you by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola and by Union 76. Any rebroadcast of the descriptions or accounts of this game without express written consent of the Atlanta Braves is prohibited…”

Mom protected us from wayward theology but not from the pain of losing.

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