The Latest from Bruce

Please Submit Your Questions

i have a question

Previously, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to answer. While I still have about a dozen or so questions to answer from my previous request, I am asking you, yes you, to submit new questions that you’d like me to answer. I plan to answer this round of questions using a video format. Yes, as my Facebook page followers know, I’m ready to start producing videos. I know I’ve been promising this for a long time. That time has arrived.

Please leave your questions in the comment section. You don’t have to be an atheist to submit a question. Honest questions from people of faith are welcome. If there is some aspect of my story you’d like to me to clarify or explain, please ask. I’ll do my best to answer every submitted question. I plan to answer questions in the order they are received.

The videos will be posted to this blog. They will  also be available through my YouTube Channel. If you FAVORITE my channel, you should receive a notification every time a new video is posted.


It Doesn’t Always Happen to Someone Else

why me

As a Christian, I believed that if I prayed God would take care of me and he would make sure calamity didn’t show up at my doorstep. In those rare instances when it seemed that God wasn’t answering my prayer and I was facing disaster, I thought that God was either testing me or chastising me for disobedience.

I was relatively healthy until the early 1990s. I played basketball in the winter and softball in the summer. In the fall I cut wood, spending hours sawing felled trees into wood stove sized pieces. I hunted in the fall/winter, walking for miles in the Appalachian foothills. I was, by every measure, a healthy, but increasingly overweight man. Today, I am a crippled old man, worn thin by chronic illness and debilitating pain.

I am still amazed by how quickly the circumstances of my life have changed. It seems that life is being sucked out of me ever so slowly. Gone are the days of strenuous physical activity. Now I am happy if I can do things of physical nature a few days out of the month. Our home is littered with projects in various stages of completion. I will get to these projects soon, I tell myself. The pile of unread magazines on the bedside table continues to grow. I stubbornly refuse to cancel the subscriptions because I just know I am going to catch up on magazine reading one of these days. The same could be said for the unread books that line the shelves in the living room.

Recently, I went over to my oldest son’s home to wire their new bedroom and bathroom. My coming over to help quickly turned into me taking extra doses of pain medication and sitting on a chair while I told others what to do. I was able to get the circuits where they needed to go, and I suppose I could make myself feel good over my son still needing my expertise, but I quietly wept inside as I thought about how much I have lost. Any attempt to do something physically strenuous is met with the screaming objections of my body. I push through the pain, knowing that I will pay a heavy price for ignoring by body’s vociferous objections. I shouldn’t do these things anymore, but the only thing worse than not doing them, is feeling that my expertise and help are no longer needed. We all want to feel needed by those we love.

One of the biggest issues that dominates my every-other-week counseling sessions with Dr. Deal is my unwillingness to embrace life as it is. Even my family doctor has talked to me about the fine line between giving up and embracing the reality of how my life is. There will be no more days of playing basketball or softball. There will be no more days of feeling the sweat run down my face and back as I cut wood on a crisp fall day. There will be no more days of trudging through the woods playing a game of hide-and-seek with a cottontail rabbit or a fox squirrel. No matter how much I want it to be different, I will never be able to read like I once did. While the voracious appetite for the printed page is still there, the ability to process it is long gone.  This is my life, and there is not one damn thing I can do about it.

As a Christian I believed that my physical afflictions were the result of God making me more like Jesus. I believed the way to heaven was paved with suffering. I can confidently say that God never answered one prayer of mine when I cried out to him for physical relief or deliverance. I came to see that I was like the Apostle Paul who prayed for deliverance and God told him no. (2 Corinthians 12:6-9)

These days I now realize that the diseases that are  ever-so-slowly taking life from me are the result of a combination of genetics, environment, and lifestyle choices with a topping of “who the hell knows.” When I whine and complain about my lot in life and say “why me?” the universe shouts back, “why not you?”

Bad things don’t always happen to other people. It is not always another family’s child that gets cancer or is killed in a car accident. It is not always someone else who has a brain tumor, goes through a divorce, or loses a job. It is not always someone else who loses everything in a fire, tornado, hurricane, or a flood. The truth is that life is a big crap-shoot: good luck, bad luck, at the right place, at the wrong place, good genetics, bad genetics, growing up on the right side of the tracks, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, marrying the right person, marrying the wrong person. The list is endless.

As I peruse the ways of humankind, it is clear to me that very few people live to be old without facing trial and adversity. It is just how life is. If there really is a God, I might find some pleasure and satisfaction in saying DAMN you God  But since there is no God, I am left to shout at a universe that yawns at my death-defying struggle. If the universe could speak it surely would say, this movie always ends the same way. Dead. Next.

It is futile to see life other than as it is. Wishing for days that are long since gone only results in depression and despair. We must embrace life as it is while we go kicking and screaming into the night. We have two choices in life: fight or roll over and die. Yes, life is unfair and bad things happen to good people. Shit happens and it doesn’t always happen to someone else.

Let me end this post with a poem by Dylan Thomas, an early 20th century poet who died at the age of 39:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Arizona: The Day I Got Busted by the Border Patrol

arizona 2004_0001

Gerencser Children, Miller Peak, outside of Sierra Vista, Arizona 2004

If there is one thing I am famous for, at least among my children, it is my wanderlust driving the back roads of wherever we are living at the time. I hate highways and interstates, and, if given a choice, I will always choose a back-road-takes-longer-who-cares-where-we-are-headed route. Our family took many road trips over the years where the only destination was east, west, south, or north.

In 2004, we lived in Yuma, Arizona. We took a lot of road trips, going as far as San Diego,California to the west, Bisbee, Arizona to the east, Phoenix, Arizona to the north, and Mexico to the south.  We traveled countless Arizona back roads, drove around the Salton Sea, and attended a Friends church in El Centro California. I worked for Allegro Medical, Polly cleaned offices, and after work and on the weekends we would jump in our Ford Crown Victoria, the best car we ever owned, and off we would go.

One Saturday, we piled into the car to take a road trip to San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. Outside of Yuma, I decided to get off the highway and take a back road. I was headed south and I knew that the road would eventually lead to the Mexican border. After a few miles, the road began to change into a sand version of a rutted dirt road in Perry County Ohio. The road was narrow and I began to notice that there were no houses…anywhere. Polly was worried we were lost. I wasn’t lost, I just didn’t know where I was.

As my family will attest, I don’t turn around and go back. Oh no. I decided to keep driving, only to find out that I wasn’t really driving on a road. I was making my own road through the desert. Now, I began to worry.  The car started getting bogged down in the sand, so I drove faster; you know like a drug smuggler trying to avoid the Border Patrol.

It wasn’t long before I spotted the steel fence separating the United States from Mexico. See, I thought, I know EXACTLY where we are going. At the border fence, I turned west toward San Luis Rio Colorado. Little did I know that the Border Patrol had been watching me.

As I began to drive west, I noticed a Border Patrol vehicle ahead. I thought, this ain’t going to turn out well. Sure enough, they pulled in front of me, stopped our car, and began to question me. I told them we were just out sightseeing and had gotten a tiny-wee-bit off the road. I thought, I bet they have never heard this line before.

But, they believed me, and just before I started to put the car in drive they said, hey, do you mind if we look in your trunk? I thought, Oh no…not that. You see, I carried all my camera equipment in a padded aluminum case, you know the one that looks just like the one drug dealers use in the movies? I told them they could look in the trunk, but, before they did, I explained to them what they would find and I told them they could open the not-drugs-not-drug-money aluminum case.  All they found was camera equipment and they then let us go on our way.

We took the highway home.

arizona 2004_0002

Gerencser Children, Yuma, Arizona 2004

arizona 2004_0003

Polly Gerencser, Arizona 2004, wearing her first pair of pants. Such a heathen :)

Ken Ham’s Followers Doubt the 1969 Apollo Moon Landing

moon landing hoax

I’m convinced that Bible literalism, creationism, and Evangelical belief, when merged together in the mind of a Christian render them unable to rationally think. Harsh, you say? Let me give readers an example of what I am talking about. Recently, Danny Faulkner, a frequent contributor to Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis website, wrote a post about the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.  While Faulkner was quick to say, yes the moon landing actually happened, his reasons for believing so left a lot to be desired. After giving a historical account of the moon landing, Faulkner ended his post with this:

The Apollo moon landing theory has gained some traction among Christians too. Since so many scientists are wrong about the origin and age of the world, it may be that many Christians assume that the same scientists are wrong about landing on the moon too. Sometimes it seems that scientists want to stamp out any dissent on certain issues, such as evolution. This heavy-handed approach can look a bit conspiratorial, so Christians may be justified in being at least a bit skeptical about many things. How should we respond? It is tempting to give a detailed rebuttal of many of the claims made by those who support the idea that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax. However, that has been done many times already.

There is a much more straightforward approach. Two of the twelve men who walked on the moon later were born again Christians, Charlie Duke, and the late Jim Irwin. Both of these dedicated Christians wrote books in which they shared their testimonies and their experiences as astronauts. To doubt the Apollo moon landings amounts to accusing two Christian brothers of lying about the biggest thing that ever happened to them, of course apart from their salvation. The biblical standard for establishing such a matter is two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:15–17; 2 Corinthians 13:1). These two Christian astronauts certainly suffice as reliable witnesses, so we can be assured that the Apollo astronauts indeed walked on the moon.

That’s right. Danny Faulkner told Answers in Genesis readers that he completely understands why they might have doubts about the Apollo 11 moon landing. After all, “Since so many scientists are wrong about the origin and age of the world, it may be that many Christians assume that the same scientists are wrong about landing on the moon too. ”

Faulkner’s answer for those who understandably doubt the truth of the moon landing is to remind them of moon walkers Jim Irwin (Apollo 15) and Charlie Duke (Apollo 16). Both of these men are born again Christians, and according to Faulkner this means their testimony of what happened on the moon should be accepted without question. Evidently, being a Christian grants a person special powers that enable them to always tell the truth. According to Faulkner, to not believe the testimony of these moon walkers is to say that they are lying, and no Christian should call a brother or sister in the Lord a liar (even though Ken Ham spends considerable time calling all sorts of people liars).

Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and Noah’s Bathtub Adventure, posted Faulkner’s article to his Facebook page. After Ham posted the article, outraged Evangelicals let Ham know what they thought about it:

I respect Ken Ham and his work but I have a hard time believing the moon landings were real based on the word of two christian astronauts. Most of the astronauts were high level Freemasons including Buzz Aldrin and John Glenn and that is a red flag for me as far as credibility goes. Hillary and President Obama also call themselves Christians. So do we believe everything they say also? Sorry, not buying it.

I’m not sure about the moon landing. But hopefully it’s true!

I have always questioned if we did, Glory PTL

When I read these comments, I am so discouraged. No one knows how to make a sound argument. “the landings weren’t faked, cause we are told they weren’t faked and we watched it on TV and my grandfather was in the program and so on and so on… literally no proof. Again, we could have done it, but and null the arguments made are so terrible and have no business being acknowledged but to simply make my point. No one can think anymore. Many are uncomfortable with questioning things of this magnitude. It opens the door for the possibility that many other things could be deceiving them as well. We don’t like feeling deceived, therfore we accept what we are told. Talks of science being compromised in the fields of biology and geology, still thinks astronomy and physics are 100% legit. Revelation states the devil deceives the whole world but Ken doesn’t want to acknowledge an elitist globalized agenda to deceive the whole world… [face palm]

Sorry … One of your Astronauts was a MASON.

How can you land on a light? It is better to trust God than man. Every man is a lier.

 The entire world had really been brainwashed the this B.S. moon landIng Matthew 24:24 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” The bible is right

It’s so sad that many Christian still believe this greatest lie in human history. They blindly believe anything just because they heard it in the radio and watched in the TV. Just because they read a bible verse doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth. Matthew 7:21 (ASV) Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

 I’m not sure which side I take on the issue. As a professional photographer for many many years – photos don’t lie. Let’s not forget, we’re dealing with photography back in its earlier stages… not like we have today. Perfect photos in a harsh lighted realm by amateur photographs – not likely. And that is only a tiny piece of the many problems.

My question is, if we did really go there soooooo many years ago, why haven’t we went to the moon a thousand more times since then? It just doesn’t make any sense…

We never landed on the moon. NASA is a sham. It’s embarrassing anyone still hasn’t looked at the so called evidences, especially if you consider yourself an intellectually honest seeker of truth. What, you mean the stuff NASA puts out who doesn’t allow anyone else to verify their stuff? They are a self verifying agency. Wake up! Look at the many fakes and frauds they put out from photos to videos. Why fake anything at all? Fact is, they faked it all

I love what you do Ken, but it’s kinda disappointing to see AiG supporting this hoax. Getting to the Moon would have been impossible 50 years ago with the technology available, which isn’t even close to what we have now. And there’s a pretty obvious reason for why we haven’t been there a single time since then.

 My question is why can’t you see any stars in the background? When we look up from earth you can see a million stars but not from th moon. And who took the pics of the first steps of man on the moon was someone already there waiting?

I have a question. Who took the video of it leaving the moon surface to return home? Saw this as a child and no one could answer that question.

The truth must be our guide, not any other things. People question the technological feasibility of landing on the moon with 1969 technology. It’s a legitimate question. They question the authenticity by asking, “Why haven’t any governments sent men back with modern tools and technology in the 40 years hence?” It’s a legitimate question. “Why were the moon mission files classified until 2026?” It’s a legitimate question. “What about the Van Allen radiation belts and lethal radiation exposure?” It’s a legitimate question. “Why did Neil Armstrong ration interviews? And why his wording about ”truth’s protective layers” in a brief White House speech?” They are legitimate questions. And there are 50 more legitimate questions. Christians must seek the truth. God gave us faculties to utilize, and a Christian must purpose all his faculties upon the truth. And there remain unsatisfactory answers to questions. An honest Christian, born again, seeking the truth, can question the claims, in pursuit of the truth. It is fundamental.

I know we left some junk on the moon when we left.  They know where the Luner landers landed. Can’t we point one of the orbiting telescopes at the moon to locate some of the debris. Or one of the flags we left.

I am ambivalent. They haven’t been to the moon in over 40 years but what did they do on the moon? They are trying to go to Mars but they haven’t done anything with the moon yet. That’s partly why I’m skeptical. The other part is the photos that don’t cast a silhouette with the only light source behind them. Just make me go hmmm.

How Christians Turned a Supportive Blog Comment Into a Personal Attack

bruce gerencser street preaching crooksville ohio

Bruce Gerencser, street preaching, Crooksville, Ohio, with his young son Jaime. Circa late 1980s.

A few years ago, several men from Calvary Chapel in Hemet, California went to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to preach to the captive audience lined up outside the DMV waiting for it to open. Not long after they started preaching, at the behest of a DMV security guard, a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer was dispatched to the DMV to deal with the street preachers. After refusing to stop preaching, the obnoxious preachers were arrested. According to the CHP officer, they were breaking the “preaching to a captive audience” law. After finding out no such law exists, the charge was amended to “impeding an open business.” This charge was dropped and the district attorney then charged the street preachers with trespassing.

Here’s a YouTube video of what took place:

Video Link

The arrested street preachers secured legal representation through the Advocates for Faith and Freedom (operated by Robert Tyler and Jennifer Bursch), a non-profit law firm “dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts.” According to a September 2015 update on the law firm’s website, the criminal case against the street preachers was dropped. Advocates for Faith and Freedom have since filed a federal lawsuit seeking “a federal remedy to further clear his (Mark McCay) name and to protect other individuals who seek to peacefully express their faith.” The update states the following:

Advocates for Faith & Freedom has filed a legal brief in support of religious freedom before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Mark Mackey, the Riverside man who was preaching the gospel when he was arrested outside the Hemet DMV for what a CHP officer deemed “interfering with an open business through obstruction or intimidation.”

Last year, though, a Superior Court judge absolved Mackey of the crime saying that the street preacher did not violate the law. During the course of the criminal trial, the judge also suggested that the law used by the CHP officer was unconstitutional.

Mackey and two other men were reading the Bible outside the DMV when Officer Darren Meyer accused them of preaching to a “captive audience.” The officer later amended the allegations, citing them instead for intimidation. At the time the men were approached by the officer, however, the DMV office was closed and the men were standing 50 feet from the entrance as citizens waited outside the door. The men never approached the crowd. After insisting that they were exercising their constitutional rights, the officer arrested Mark Mackey and Brett Coronado.

The federal suit—stayed while the criminal case played out in state court—alleges that there was no probable cause to arrest Mackey and that his First Amendment rights were violated. Even though our client has been criminally cleared, we are seeking a federal remedy to further clear his name and to protect other individuals who seek to peacefully express their faith. The federal district court found that the CHP officer did have probable cause. We will keep you apprised as this Ninth Circuit Appeal advances..

I first heard of this story through Defending Contending, a fundamentalist Christian blog.  A man by the name of Bill Phillips wrote an article about the arrest of the street preachers. Here’s part of what he had to say:

I discussed this with a couple atheists in the comments on this YouTube video. They are biased against anyone preaching about the Bible of course; they also believe these preachers broke the law. They say they support freedom of speech, but they don’t seem to understand that the whole point of the First Amendment is to protect speech you may find offensive or annoying.

I spent a number of years preaching on public street corners and sidewalks. I was accosted numerous times by law enforcement officers demanding that I stop preaching. While I was never thrown in the pokey, I was threatened with arrest numerous times. In every instance it was a local business owner who demanded the police shut me up. Try as they might to keep me from preaching, they failed miserably. One Saturday, knowing they couldn’t arrest me, four Zanesville, Ohio police officers parked their cruisers a short distance from me and got out of the cars. For the entire time I was there they stood staring at me, hoping that I would be intimidated into quitting. I wasn’t, and later I went to the police station and filed a complaint against the officers.

Having experienced the heavy hand of law enforcement officers who are ignorant of the law and the first amendment, I am sympathetic towards anyone who is harassed or arrested for exercising their first amendment right to free speech. When I read the aforementioned story on Defending Contending, I decided to leave a comment in support of the arrested street preachers. Here’s my innocuous, supportive, relatively non-offensive, non-argumentative comment:

Well, I am an atheist who supports the right for idiots to stand on public property and preach. This is America and the freest real estate in America is public property.

I preached on the streets for many years. I was threatened with arrest dozens of times. I have been harassed by police more times than I can count. I stood my ground because the first amendment matters…for Christians and atheists.

This means having to put up with people and speech I find offensive.

Yes, I called the street preachers idiots. They are. And they are also obnoxious, in your face, and offensive. While I support their first amendment right to free speech, it doesn’t necessarily follow that I like or support their message. I don’t.  As a former street preacher, I know all the tricks of the trade. So when I come across street preachers haranguing the public with the “good news”, I tend to mock them. Just exercising my right to free speech, even if Polly wishes I wouldn’t. I tend to see harassing street preachers as fun and games. Polly just stands in the distance, alternately laughing and shaking her head.

In leaving my comment, I thought Bill Phillips and Defending Contending readers would appreciate an atheist standing up for the fundamentalist street preachers, especially since the blog post mentioned several atheist YouTube commenters who thought differently.  I should have known better.

Jim, using the Flee Babylon moniker, replied to my comment with this:

“Well! I am an atheist who supports the right for idiots to stand on public property and preach.”

Bruce – There are many problems with your alleged testimony. Let me ask you a question. Were you truly born again (met Christ not in word but in reality and power) and now turned away from him or did you have a mental belief in Christ, earn a living from it, and now your mental belief is changed?

Kindly, Jim

As you know, I have no patience for this line of interrogation. I have written about it numerous times. I replied to Jim:

Normally Jim I would use a few choice words to tell you want I think of your comment but I will respect the fact this is not my house,

Your use of the word alleged is offensive. It is my life, my story, my testimony and you don’t get to frame the storyline. I was every bit a Christian that you now are. I don’t care if that squares with your theology. It matters not to me whether or not you think or know I was never a Christian. I know. I give you this challenge…. Find one person who knew me as their pastor or a fellow colleague in the ministry who thought, at the time, I was not a Christian. Either I was deluded and an expert at deceiving people or your theological premise fails when applied to real life.

That said, what the **** does this have to do with the point of the post? I won’t discuss this further with you. Come over to my house and we can discuss it there.

And let the pile on begin…

Todd 3588 writes:

What’s an atheist?

Jon Gleason writes:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Linda MacDonald writes:

Bruce Gerencser, GOD says you were never his and you nor I get to “frame the storyline” HE DOES. There’s no such thing as being A Christian and then no longer being one.

Jesus after talking about people who did great things in his name says-”Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ -”Mat 7:23

“I NEVER KNEW YOU” means never.

A person does not become born again of the spirit of God and become unborn. God’s word clearly says- “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”-1 John 3:9.

a person leaving and becoming a staunch atheist is evidence that you were one of the first 3 soils but never the 4th soil-good soil.

Satan has mental assent just like many people have but never a full commitment from your heart where GOD reaches down to YOU and saves you. It is God who reaches down to us not us reaching up to him.

No human decision saves anyone-John 1:13 only when we are born of God from above.

Mickie Merrie writes:

What astounds me is he sees it as a badge he wears to brag about it! Any remorse for the sheep he sheared?

Just wrote this the other day for another blog..sure seems to fit this one too!

“A man blinded by God…a man struck deaf by God…due to His perfect judgement of the heart, cannot be made to see or hear by man. We may not even yet see their blindness nor deafness, for it begins at God’s descretion (sic), due to sin in the heart, long before it manifest itself in their actions. This too explains the sudden change in the behavior of those who walked the path uprightly in days gone by.
It’s not how you ran the race, but how you run the race, and finish a winner in Him.”

Having put his hand to the plow and looked back …

Perhaps this will help him and those who relate to him get a cleare (sic) picture, it is good for all of us to read…

Happy Resurrection Day to everybody!

Todd3588 writes:

Here are two thoughts….The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him.

Todd3558 also wrote:

Ah the “interpretation” arguement (sic) AGAIN. “That’s YOUR truth.” “This is MY truth.” Blah, blah, blah. “Your interpretation is wrong…if you were as smart as me, then your interpretation and understanding and (non)belief would be as ‘advanced’ as mine.” Blah, blah, blah.

Anti-Christian, A(nti)theists are all the same. Arrogant. Elitist. Dead in their sin. Blind to truth. Under the wrath of God. Destined to spend eternity in a place created for Satan and his angels. Just like all others who’ve not been given the gift of faith and conversion.

And  finally Jim chimed in, giving me his email address and telling me what a wonderful guy he is:

“I was every bit a Christian that you now are”

That is my point, I could never say “I used to be married but now I dont (sic) believe that my wife ever exsited (sic)”. Such a statement would mean either:

A) I only imagined I was married, however popwerful (sic) that imagination was (like I bought a second car to keep in the drive way, drew a picture of what I thought my wife might look like, etc)

B) I was married and am now so angry or hurt that I deny my estranged wife even existed

Either you were a false convert all along or you are an apostate and walked away from truly knowing Christ. This has nothing to do with theoolgy, (sic), just reality. I am not impressed with what people thought of you as a pastor either – modern church people are the easiest to trick into believing anything. If there is one thing I applaud it is you leaving the professional clergy that scripture knows nothing of. Maybe you will find Christ in the wilderness if you have never truly met Him. If not, I pray you find healing from what ever pain the religious beast system caused to you.

Please do not be angry at me and treat me as someone who deserves a few choice words. I would actually meet up with you if you lived near Detroit? My email is


Interspersed in the comment section are several comments by my friend John Arthur. John, always a polite man, tried to engage Defending Contending commenters on my behalf, but to no avail.  What’s interesting is that there is only one comment directly related to subject of the post. Feed a fundamentalist dog an atheist bone and it will forget the filet mignon in its food bowl.

I suppose that it could be argued that I baited the Christian commenters by calling the street preachers idiots. I can see how someone might think that, but that was not my intent. I simply made a judgment based on their behavior. They acted like idiots and I said so. Why should my opinion be considered offensive? Shouldn’t God’s chosen ones view such criticisms as a badge of honor? Doesn’t Psalm 119:165 say:

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Nothing shall offend them, the Bible says. Yet, one atheist uttering a six letter word causes some of the zealots at Defending Contending to feel offended. Man, they need to come over to the other side of the street and have a taste of the hate and maliciousness dished out by Jesus-loving Christians towards Bruce Gerencser, the preacher turned atheist.

I posted this to illustrate to readers how a comment of SUPPORT on a Christian blog turned into a personal attack. An attack, I might add that says far more about Defending Contending readers, their insecurities, and their religion, than it says about me.

Songs of Sacrilege: Turtles All the Way Down by Sturgill Simpson

This is the sixty-ninth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Turtles All the Way Down by Sturgill Simpson.

Video Link


I’ve seen Jesus play with flames
In a lake of fire that I was standing in
Met the devil in Seattle
And spent 9 months inside the lions den
Met Buddha yet another time
And he showed me a glowing light within
But I swear that God is there
Every time I glare in the eyes of my best friend

Says my son, “It’s all been done
And someday you’re gonna wake up old and gray
So go and try to have some fun
Showing warmth to everyone
You meet and greet and cheat along the way”

There’s a gateway in our minds
That leads somewhere out there, far beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light
Cut you open and pull out all your pain
Tell me how you make illegal
Something that we all make in our brain
Some say you might go crazy
But then again it might make you go sane

Every time I take a look
Inside that old and fabled book
I’m blinded and reminded of
The pain caused by some old man in the sky
Marijuana, LSD
Psilocybin, and DMT
They all changed the way I see
But love’s the only thing that ever saved my life

So don’t waste your mind on nursery rhymes
Or fairy tales of blood and wine
It’s turtles all the way down the line
So to each their own ’til we go home
To other realms our souls must roam
To and through the myth that we all call space and time


Wikipedia defines the phrase “turtles all the way down” this way:

“Turtles all the way down” is a jocular expression of the infinite regress problem in cosmology posed by the “unmoved mover” paradox. The metaphor in the anecdote represents a popular notion of the theory that Earth is actually flat and is supported on the back of a World Turtle, which itself is propped up by a chain of larger and larger turtles. Questioning what the final turtle might be standing on, the anecdote humorously concludes that it is “turtles all the way down”.

Life: It All Depends on Where You Are Standing

Photo by Ken Kistler, Public Domain

Photo by Ken Kistler, Public Domain

As you know, I spend a lot of time writing about my past: people, places, and events that are very much a part of the fabric of my life. I try to be as truthful and accurate as possible when I recount the past, but I am ever aware of the fact that I am giving an account of things as I remember them. Having read a good bit about the brain and memories, I know my retelling of my past may or may not be accurate. As best I can remember, I try to give an honest accounting of my life.

I have a younger brother and sister, and it is amazing how differently we each view events that happened in our childhood. Who is right? I’ve come to understand, we all are. The story we tell depends on where we were standing at the time.  As a 15 year old boy and the oldest son, my view of our parent’s divorce , is much different from that of my 11-year-old sister. The same can be said about many of our shared seminal experiences.

I live with a lot of guilt. I am prone to depression and I can be quite pessimistic. I have faced long, deep bouts of depression, times where I have felt that death would be too good for me. With my words, theology, and religious practice, I hurt people. Or so I think. I’ve come to have these feelings because I am looking back at my past with the eyes of a 58-year-old man. How could I have been Bruce Gerencser, the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist preacher? Who is that man, I ask myself. Thanks be to Zeus he no longer exists, having been slain by reason and maturity, but I still live with the memories of the past.

I am Facebook friends with several of the kids who were members of Somerset Baptist Church, a congregation I pastored from 1983-1994. I was their pastor through the formative years of their life. Not only did they sit under my preaching 3 times a week, they also attended Somerset Baptist Academy, a private Christian school I started in 1989. I often feel I hurt them and let them down. I think back to how narrow I was over things like certain kinds of clothing, music, physical contact between the sexes, movies,  and TV. If these children hated me, I wouldn’t blame them. Thankfully, they don’t.

When I talk to these former students, I hear their perspective on our shared experiences. All of them are in their 30s now and many of them are married and have children. Several of them are gay. Their religious persuasions run from atheism to liberal Christianity. None of them retained the fundamentalist Christianity of their youth. From their vantage point they recall things quite differently from the way I do. Several of them recall my wife teaching them to read. One man mentioned going back to the old church grounds and playing another game of kickball for old times sake. Again, what we remember depends on where we were standing at the time.

I recently re-read several posts I wrote about fundamentalist Baptist evangelist Don Hardman and his wife Laura. (please see Laura’s Light by Laura Hardman, A Book Review and The Preacher: The Life and Times of Donald A. Hardman, A Book Review)  As I read these posts I felt twinges of guilt and sadness. When I was a pastor, I had no closer friends than Don and Laura Hardman. I loved them like they were family. When they came to our church it was the highlight of the year. For 15 days we would focus on God and his Word. Every day Don and I would go out evangelizing and street preaching. The church loved the Hardmans and graciously gave of their money and food to help them.

From my vantage point as pastor of Somerset Baptist Church, I have nothing but good memories and feelings when I think of Don and Laura Hardman. I never saw them fight and I never had a cross word with them. Even when we parted company for a few years over my Calvinistic beliefs, we remained friends. In the early 2000s, the Hardmans came to Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio, a church I was pastoring at the time, and conducted a week long meeting. We had a great time, but I knew that I could not have them back. While they remained right where I met them in 1987, I had changed. My view of God, the Bible, politics, culture, and other Christian sects was evolving. Yet, we remained friends until 2008, when my deconversion permanently fractured the relationship.

Here I stand in 2015, no longer a Christian, now an atheist. My view of the past is clouded with the tincture of time. While I still have fond memories of evangelist Don Hardman’s protracted revival meetings, I have come to see that the preaching and the theology behind it was psychologically controlling and damaging. This is how I view much of my preaching as well, especially the first 15 years or so. Over time I matured. I began preaching expositionally and I turned from a Bible-quoting, hellfire-and-brimstone-preacher to more of a teacher of the Bible. Oh, I was still quite passionate about God, the Bible, and how we ought to apply it to our lives, but I was much more careful about using the Bible in context and letting the text speak for itself. While the Hardmans remained steadfast and unmovable throughout our friendship, my understanding of them changed. Again, my vantage point changed, resulting in me viewing the Hardmans differently.

Polly, my wife, and I have known each other for almost 40 years. Last July we will celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. A year ago, I uploaded a bunch of old pictures to Facebook: family pictures; pictures from the Somerset Baptist Church, and pictures from Our Father’s House. As I uploaded these photos I began to weep. The memories of years gone by flooded my mind; memories of the people I pastored and the children I taught at Somerset Baptist Academy; memories of my wonderful wife and our little babies. Good memories. Wonderful memories.

Now, having a different perspective, I view the events recorded in these pictures differently. Is this maturity? I don’t know. Time changes how we view the past.  What were once wonderful memories are now clouded by what I now know about the emotional and mental manipulation I perpetrated on those who called me Pastor. As I have shared before, I am in a unique position. I am both a victim and a victimizer. I followed in the footsteps of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers who emotionally and mentally scarred my life. Victimized by their manipulation, I in turn victimized those who were members of the IFB churches I pastored. It’s an ugly cycle of abuse that I was fortunately able to put an end to during my latter years in the ministry and subsequent post-Jesus life.

So it is with Polly. While she and I walked side by side through the years we spent in the ministry, Polly’s viewpoint is very different from mine. I was the leader of the church and the center of attention. People, for the most part, respected me, loved me, and supported my work as a pastor. For Polly it was different. Like many pastor’s wives she was my gofer. She did what others didn’t or wouldn’t do.  No one in the nursery? Polly filled in. Entertain people every Sunday for 20 years? Polly did it without a complaint, even when her pastor husband forgot to tell her so and so was coming over for dinner. She quietly submitted to  a life as the helpmeet of a poorly paid, Type A, constantly-working, never-home, Baptist preacher.

Polly did without.  Our entire family did without, but Polly more so than me the children and I. She never said a word. She quietly lived in ramshackled houses and drove cars that were better suited for a demolition derby.  She made do with what she had. This much I know, I do WISH there was a heaven, because Polly deserves a huge mansion right next door to Dottie Rambo’s Log Cabin.

Video Link

However, since there is no heaven, all I can do is make sure that Polly has the best life possible for the rest of this life. She deserves it!

It should come as no surprise then that Polly remembers the past much differently from what I recall. One time I said, wouldn’t you like to go back to __________church? Immediately she replied, No I wouldn’t. I was surprised by her quick and negative response. I asked, why not? I then quickly learned, from where Polly was standing, that her view of this church was very different from mine. Who is right? We both are.

I have written a good bit about the abuse that went on, and continues to go on, in Baptist group homes. (please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for Girls, Teen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your Sin and The Dogma that Followed Me Home)  The stories that some people share from their time in these facilities break my heart. I want to personally find these abusive miscreants  and beat the shit out them.  They deserve to have punishment heaped upon them. They hurt  people that I love and respect, and the fact that these dear friends of mine still suffer from the abuse received from men like Mack Ford angers me to this day. Every once in a while, someone will come along and leave a glowing testimony from their time in the same facilities. They loved their time there. They were helped and their life is the better for it. How can this be? Surely, someone is lying, right? Not at all. While it is possible that someone is lying or they are living in denial, more often than not, the difference is simply a matter of where the person was standing in relation to the person, place, or event.

Time shapes how we view the past. For me, I am finding that the further a person, place, or event is in the past, the fonder my memories are. I suspect that’s how we as humans cope with life. The tincture of time often brings healing, and it also allows us to gain enough distance from the negative things in our past that they no longer feel harmful or threatening. While time rarely heals all wounds, it does allow us the space and distance necessary to be at peace with those things that cut us to the quick. Perhaps that’s the best we can hope for.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you would like to ask Bruce a question, please contact him via the Contact Form. If you would like to financially support this site, you can make a donation through Patreon or PayPal. Buying books though our Bookstore is also greatly appreciated.

Did You Know Atheists Are Sexual Deviants?

pray for atheist

I want to share with readers several emails I received from a fundamentalist Christian named Matt Nye. Nye is of the opinion that people reject Christianity and become atheists because they are sexual deviants.  I hope you find his emails instructive.  Pay particular attention to the fact that Nye tells me he is 21 years old and that he became a Christian after years as a porn-loving atheist/agnostic. My God, they must start watching porn quite young where he lives!  Besides, since he was an atheist before he became a Christian, doesn’t this mean that he was a sexual deviant too?

One of Nye’s favorite preachers is Tim Conway, pastor of Grace Community Church in San Antonio, Texas. I wonder if Nye is aware that I once was Conway’s pastor? Imagine, one of his favorite preachers had an unsaved, sexual deviant as his pastor. Gotta love the irony, right?

Based on several posts on his now-defunct blog, Matt Nye is a Calvinist. As a card-carrying member of the John Calvin club, surely Nye knows that God has decreed and predestined me to be an arch-enemy of Christianity. And since I cannot overthrow the plan God chose for my life from before the foundation of the world, it’s God’s fault, not mine, that I’m a sexual deviant.

I hope you will also note in the one email that Nye asks me to watch one of convicted felon Kent Hovind’s seminars. Ken Hovind attended Midwestern Baptist College, the same college I attended in the 1970s. According to Wikipedia, in 2007, Hovind was “convicted of 58 federal counts, including 12 tax offenses, one count of obstructing federal agents, and 45 counts of structuring cash transactions” and sentenced to ten years in prison. In July of this year Hovind was paroled.  Now out of prison, Hovind, also known as Dr. Dino, has returned to his calling, preaching the gospel of young earth creationism.

Here’s email number one:


I noticed you said you left the Christian faith and are now an atheist. I have a question for you though. Before I ask you it, we have to define what a born-again Christian is. A born-again Christian is someone who knows the Lord, evidenced by 1 John 2:4.

So my question to you is this, did you know the Lord?

This presents a serious problem for you, because if…

A)… you say “Yes” then you are admitting there is a God and creator, but you walked away from him.

B)… you say “No”, then you are proving that you never were a Christian.

I don’t mean to sound condescending and I’m sure being a former pastor you know the scriptures more than a 21 year old like myself, but according to 1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

You’ve had a false conversion my friend. I ask you to consider these things seriously because eternity is a long time to be wrong.

Email number two:

Hi Bruce.

To be honest, I don’t know you at all personally, as I am a nobody who stumbled across your site.

What I’m asking you to consider is this, were you truly “born-again”?

I was a false convert until the age of about 20 when the Lord opened my heart and saved me.

I’m willing I can describe your situation all those years. The “church” or “worship” part of Christianity is this “grit-your-teeth” sort of feeling. There’s also a sense deep within that you are rebelling against something. Like this energy within you that is fighting against something. I can assure you that “inner-rebellion” is completely gone. The only thing left is my sinful flesh which is dying little by little. Theology or preaching must have been your #1 thing while Jesus was just some accessory.

As I’ve said before, I don’t know you personally, but I assure you that the main reason people reject Christianity and become atheist is because of a sexual deviance. (Jude 1:18 “How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”) Pornography is a big one. It was with me. I actually was atheistic/agnostic for some years and then intellectually became a Christian again, or “returned from a back-slidden state” thinking I was still saved. But when God saved me for REAL, he really revealed himself. Christianity isn’t a mental acknowledgement of the facts. Saying a sinner’s prayer and trusting in the prayer won’t do it.

Sir, I’ve had too many prayers answered to know that this isn’t just a coincidence. There really is a God. I plead with you, regardless of what you’ve heard about Kent Hovind. Watch one of his seminars and just think to yourself “Ok, there’s a chance I could be wrong, so I’ll be open minded” Eternity is too long to be wrong.

Email number three:

I’m amazed at how atheists can be so emotional over something they don’t believe in. I’m only spending my time to e-mail because I truly care about you, not to be condescending.

When you look at the Venus Fly Trap or any other Carnivorous plants, are you really going to believe that it was the result of a mutation? Here’s something striking, mutations have never been observed to introduce new information in the genome. Mutations can only scramble or duplicate existing information.

Check this page out.

I made no attempt to engage Nye or answer his emails. After he emailed me the first time, I responded and told him I wasn’t interested in corresponding with him. I asked him to not write me again, but, in classic Evangelical fashion, he ignored my request and emailed me several more times. This kind of behavior is quite common among Evangelicals who feel duty bound to share what “God” has laid upon their hearts. They have no respect for atheists, and seem only concerned with hearing themselves talk.

I suppose I should feel sorry for this young man. His head has been filled with foolishness that he thinks is God. He’s a youngster who pridefully thinks he knows the Bible and the mind of God so well that he can, with great certainty, pass judgment on my spiritual condition. Never mind that I have likely forgotten more Bible knowledge than Nye will ever know. All that matters to Nye is putting in a good word for Jesus. He’s told Bruce, the atheist the truth, and now that he has done his duty, he’s free to move on to other atheists who desperately need to hear that they are sexual deviants.