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Is there a question you’d like me to answer or a subject you’d like me to write about ? If so, here’s your chance. If you have a question you’d like me to answer or a subject you’d like me to write about , please leave your request in the comment section. Any subject…ask away.

Doing this from time to time helps me understand what is important to the readers of this blog. I have plenty of subjects to busy myself with, but I would love to hear from you,

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Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?

steamy romance

Pastor Bob shows Church Member Felicia How Much Jesus Loves Her

Repost. Updated and Corrected.

In October 2013, Doug Phillips, of Vision Forum/Vision Forum Ministries confessed that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman who is not his wife. Defenders of Phillips took to their blogs, websites, Twitter, and Facebook, to do damage control on the behalf of Phillips and the patriarchal movement. One such defender is Voddie Baucham, the African-American version of Doug Phillips, sans the scandal. Baucham is an Independent Baptist pastor.  (you can find Baucham’s website here)

A Christian woman by the name of Julie Anne, an acquaintance of mine, posted an article on the Spiritual Sounding Board blog about Doug Phillips. In her post she had this quote from Voddie Baucham:

Dennis,You ask, “How many times do we see this in Christian leadership?” The answer may surprise you, but it is actually quite rare. There are hundreds of thousands of churches in America. We hear of these types of things on a national basis when they happen to high profile people. However, considering the number of people in Christian leadership, the numbers are quite small.As to your other point, most men who go through something like this never recover. Of course, there are exceptions. Moreover, there are some circles wherein things like this, and much worse, are merely swept under the rug. However, in circles where leadership is taken seriously, it is very difficult for a man to come back from things like this. People have long memories, and tend to be rather unforgiving. (emphasis mine)

Baucham repeats the oft told lie that clergy sexual misconduct is quite rare. I have heard this line more times than I can count. It is an attempt to prop up the notion that clergy are more moral and ethical than most people; that they are pillars of virtue and morality.  If Baucham doesn’t know better, he should. His statement is easily disproven.

In a study by  J. Krejcir Ph.D. of  the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute, Krejcir came to the following conclusions:

  • Of the one thousand fifty (1,050 or 100%) pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.
  • Three hundred ninety-nine (399 or 38%) of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.
  • Three hundred fifteen (315 or 30%) said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.

So much for clergy sexual infidelity being rare.

Numerous studies have been conducted concerning sexual infidelity among married people. The percentage varies widely, but it is safe to say that 10-20% of married people are sexually unfaithful to their spouse. The percentage is higher for men than it is for women.

We know the clergy are not morally or ethically superior. They are, in every way, human just like the rest of us. In the United States and Canada, there are approximately 600,000 clergy. According to the  Hartford Institute for Religion and Research, this number includes active clergy and “retired clergy, chaplains in hospitals, prisons and the military, denominational executives, and ordained faculty at divinity schools and seminaries.”  This number does not include clergy who are affiliated with independent churches.

If 10-20% of married people commit adultery, and clergy are no different from non-clergy, then this means that between 60,000 and 120,000 clergy have committed adultery.  Again, so much for clergy sexual infidelity being rare.

Keep in mind, this is only the number of CONSENSUAL sexual relationships. Every month, the Freedom from Religion Foundation newsletter reports clergy misconduct on their Black Collar Crime Blotter page. In the October 2013 newsletter, there are over sixty reports of clergy being accused, arrested, charged, convicted, sued or imprisoned for criminal acts, many of which are sexual in nature. (this is ONE month) As we know from cases like Bill Wininger, Bob Gray, and David Hyles, predator clergy can prey on children, teens, and women for decades without ever being caught.  Even when they are exposed they are often not prosecuted.

To suggest that there is not a HUGE problem with clergy infidelity and criminal behavior is a denial of the facts on the matter. Like the Catholic church, the Protestant and Evangelical church have their own their own sex scandal. As I have said before, Evangelicals love to point to the Catholic church sex scandal, ignoring their own increasing problem with sexual infidelity, sexual abuse, and predator clergy. Catholic priests seem to prefer little boys and teen boys; Baptists and Evangelicals tend to prefer teen girls and vulnerable women. None of these groups have the high moral ground and my advice to them is that they need to shut the hell up.

Yes, most clergy are faithful to their spouse. Yes, most clergy are not sexual abusers or predators. But, should we really take any great comfort in this fact, knowing how many clergy can’t keep their pants zipped up or use their place of power to abuse and prey on those who trust them? I think not.

UPDATED: Why Eric Jackson Confessed to Raping His Sister

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Six Jackson Brothers Who Repeatedly Raped Their Little Sister

Scott Brown, one of the elders at Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina, church home to two of the six brothers accused of repeatedly raping their sister over an eight year period, recently shared the reason the Eric Jackson confessed. In a blog post titled Eric Jackson and the Power of the Gospel Brown wrote:

Now, you may have heard that Hope Baptist has two of her members in jail on sex offenses against their sister. The tragic family life of the Jacksons is almost overwhelming. It is a story we will never forget.

But how did this come to light? The reason this story is in the national news right now is because of the power of the gospel. Eric Jackson came to the church, responded to the preaching of the Word of God, recognized that he was a false convert, embraced the true gospel, and was born again. His new heart compelled him want to walk in the light. As a result, he confessed his sin.

He first went to my fellow Hope Baptist pastor, Dan Horn and confessed. We collaborated on the situation and the next day Dan called to report it to the authorities in Elizabeth City. Shortly thereafter Dan went with Eric to the authorities to turn himself in. In that meeting Eric exposed the patterns of evil in his home and his past participation in it. Finally, 18 months later when their investigation was complete, 8 of the 11 family members were indicted by a grand jury and jailed to await trial. The father and the mother, Jon and Nita Jackson are out of jail on bond.

If Jesus had not saved Eric, perhaps the devastating culture of this family could have continued, even to more generations. But the gospel transforms and shines light in dark places. Jesus was the source of light that caused things to be brought into the light, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:4-5

Paul speaks of the transforming power of the gospel to the Corinthian church. He mentions that some of them had a horrible past – adultery, homosexuality… He writes to them of the mercies of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

When the gospel has truly been embraced, it makes murderers former murderers. It makes idolaters former idolaters. It even makes child molesters former child molesters who walk in the light. Nothing else has that kind of power. Nothing else can break the patterns of sin that once enslaved those who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)…

Eric Jackson is now twenty-seven years old. This means, depending on which report you believe about when the rape stopped, Jackson was around fifteen when the rape started and twenty-three to twenty-five when the rape stopped. Ponder that for a moment. He was a teenager when he started violating his sister and a grown ass man who owned a business when he stopped.

One commenter, on my other post on this sordid story, suggested that the brothers were so corrupted by their parents that they didn’t know raping their sister, age four and a half when it started and  age twelve to fourteen when it stopped, was wrong. The only proof of this claim is a subjective comment the local sheriff made in an interview. There is no proof that the brothers were so under the influence of their parents that they were powerless to stop raping their sister or didn’t know that it was wrong.

Now we have Scott Brown saying that Eric, the oldest of the molesters, did not know that raping his sister was morally wrong. It wasn’t until Brown, using the mighty power of the Word of God, showed Eric that he was a false Christian, that Eric began to see that raping his sister was wrong. Until the moment that Eric gloriously embraced the gospel of John Calvin, he had no clue that sexually molesting a child was immoral. Until the Calvinistic Holy Spirit gave life to Eric’s dead, darkened, depraved heart, he did not know that what he and his brothers did was wrong.

Those of us who are familiar with fundamentalist Calvinism have heard similar stories. Many of the “new” converts in Calvinistic churches are actually people who were already professing Christians. They were just the “wrong” kind of Christian. Calvinistic pastors are noted for their ability to persuade Christians that their non-doctrines of grace salvation is false. What better way to understand Eric Jackson’s sin and confession than to paint it as a Saul on the Road to Damascus conversion story.

Brown, of course, is an opportunist, and he is using Eric Jackson’s story to promote fundamentalist Calvinism. He even goes so far to suggest “If Jesus had not saved Eric, perhaps the devastating culture of this family could have continued, even to more generations.” If it is the Calvinistic gospel that made the difference, and so far Eric is the only Christian brother to get really, really, really saved, aren’t the rest of the brothers still rapists dead in trespasses and sin? Besides, at least two of the brothers regularly attended Hope Baptist Church. Surely they heard preaching against raping your sister? Surely they heard preaching against sexual immorality? If they heard, are they not accountable?

Calvinists love to make much of Romans 1-2 and the law of God that is written on the heart of every human. Surely, that law would tell Eric Jackson and his brothers that raping their sister is wrong? If atheists know that the raping a child is morally wrong, shouldn’t people raised in church, raised under the teachings of the Bible, even if they are not a Christian, know that they shouldn’t sexually molest children?

Brown’s blog post is quite “Biblical”, typical Calvinistic drivel. People like Brown are convinced that anyone who is not like them, a regenerated sinner brought into the glorious light by the Calvinistic gospel, is dead in trespasses and sin. We are vile, wicked, enemies of God. It’s a wonder that all of us don’t rape our siblings and children. We are helpless, in bondage to sin and Satan. Or so the Scott Brown’s of the world would have us to believe.

This story continues to sicken me and Brown’s opportunism and explanation only makes it worse. While I am sure that there was tremendous dysfunction in the Jackson home, it does not excuse the brothers for raping their little sister. I don’t believe for a moment that none of them knew what they were doing was wrong. Unless they were raised as feral animals, they had to know that what they were doing is wrong; especially by the time the brothers became adults.

All that matters now is that girl the brothers abused get the help she needs. There are also two other children to consider. Brown says there are 11 people in the Jackson family. The parents, the six brothers who are in jail, and the girl who was molested. This leaves two other children. Nothing has been reported about them, their age, or sex.

I hope in the coming days that investigative reporters will focus on the patriarchal and hierarchical authority structures found in the Jackson home and churches like Hope Baptist Church. This movement deserves to be thoroughly investigated. I am convinced that once this happens, others will be less likely to be sucked into their pernicious, soul killing, damaging beliefs. We now know, thanks to the Doug Phillips’ sex scandal and Bill Gothard’s sex scandal, that these beliefs can and do lead to gross manipulation and abuse of others. These kind of churches give the appearance of being safe places for families and children, but in some cases they are anything but. Behind the manipulation and abuse is a Bible that is used by men to control others.

Updated

Four of the six Jackson brothers pleaded guilty to sexually molesting their little sister. Eric and Matthew Jackson each pleaded guilty to first degree sex offense and were sentenced to twelve to fifteen years in prison. Nathaniel and Benjamin Jackson each pleaded guilty to multiple counts of incest and were sentenced to twenty four months in prison. Aaron Jackson, Jon Marc Jackson, and parents John and Nita Jackson, have yet to plead guilty or are awaiting trial.

Raw Story reports:

Four homeschooled brothers pleaded guilty Thursday to molesting their younger sister from the time she was 4 years old until she was almost 15 – and their parents and two other brothers still face charges related to the case.

The oldest brother confessed in December 2012 to molesting the girl after becoming a born-again Christian, and a pastor from the Baptist church in Wake Forest, North Carolina, contacted authorities the following day.

“He confided in his pastor and his pastor told him that was wrong and not the way normal families are,” said Perquimans County Sheriff Eric Tilley.

Eric Jackson, then 25, told authorities that he and all five of his brothers had sexually abused their younger sister for a decade, and authorities say their parents knew but did nothing to stop the abuse.

An elder at Hope Baptist Church, which Jackson and another brother attended, compared the pattern of abuse to other “horrible” sins such as adultery and homosexuality.

“If Jesus had not saved Eric, perhaps the devastating culture of this family could have continued, even to more generations,” wrote elder Scott Brown. “But the gospel transforms and shines light in dark places. Jesus was the source of light that caused things to be brought into the light.”

Eight of the family’s 11 members have been indicted in the case — which bears similarities to newly revealed claims that reality TV stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar may have covered up their eldest son’s molestation of his sisters and other girls.

The victim in the Jackson case told investigators that she believed she would go to hell if she told anyone about the assaults, which she said took place at least twice a week…

…The girl told authorities her mother had witnessed at least one assault and walked away.

After the eldest brother — who was the first to abuse his sister — contacted authorities, the parents fled with the victim to Colorado.

But the family was tracked down, and the girl was taken into custody by the Department of Human Services and confirmed the confessed claims of her brothers.

Tilley, the sheriff, said the family was “bizarre” and the father held “anti-government” and “anti-school” beliefs.

The eldest brother had difficulty writing his own name when he met with investigators.

“The children were home schooled with very limited education,” Tilley said. “They were very private and the whole yard has a fence around it — like a little compound. They’re very different.”

Are Pedophiles Hanging out at McDonald’s and Starbucks? Donna Rice Hughes Says YES!

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Macaulay Culkin, Home Alone

If you spend any time reading Evangelical Christian websites, blogs, or news sites, you will likely read things like:

  • Making same-sex marriage legal will destroy America.
  • Removing prayer, Bible reading, and the Ten Commandments from public schools will cause moral decline.
  • Allowing abortion to continue will cause God to pour out his judgment and wrath on America.
  • Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born liberal, socialist, communist Muslim who plans to institute Sharia Law, set up death panels, and arrest Christians. Besides, he’s black and his middle name is Hussein.
  • Rock music is Satan’s music and listening to it open up your mind to demonic oppression and possession.
  • ISIS is setting up camps in the U.S.
  • Federal government is planning to invade and take over Texas
  • Jesus is coming soon.
  • The rapture, it could happen today.
  • Atheists, agnostics, humanists, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists, Taoists, pagans, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, liberal Christians, Roman Catholics, and anyone else who is not an Evangelical will go to hell when they die. God will then fit them with a body that is capable of withstanding fire and torment, and then he will torture them for eternity.

What do all these things have in common? Fear! Fear is the fuel that powers the Evangelical machine. Without it, Evangelicalism dies. The fear-mongering tends to increase when a Democrat is president, and since Barack Obama is a Demoncrat and he is a descendent of Ham and Ishmael, fear levels are at an all time high.

Fear also generates donations. Without fear, Evangelical church members are less likely to give money to their church. Parachurch groups like Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, Parent Television Council, Liberty Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice, Home School Legal Defense Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, Concerned Women For America, Faith & Freedom Coalition, American Right to Life, Eagle Forum, National Organization for Marriage, Christian Coalition of America, Operation Rescue, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality,Worldnet Daily, and  Oath Keepers, along with thousands of Evangelical church and pastors, use fear to motivate the faithful to give their money to God, God being the church and parachurch organization. And every night, on millions of Evangelical TV screens, Faux News, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Franklin Graham, Jack Van Impe, and James Robison stir the fear pot, hoping the fearful Evangelicals will give them money.

Fear the blacks, fear the browns, fear the homosexuals, fear the atheists….and keep them donations coming.

Every day, it is something new to fear. In today’s American Family Association’s action alert, the new fear is unrestricted Wi-Fi at McDonald’s and Starbucks. According to Donna Rice Hughes, CEO of Enough is Enough and the woman who was accused of banging Presidential hopeful Gary Hart, there are predators and pedophiles lurking at your local McDonald’s and Starbucks. Here’s some of what Hughes had to say:

At many restaurants and stores, free public Wi-Fi comes with your morning coffee or your child’s Happy Meal. While the convenience of this connectivity allows many to work or surf the net for fun at public cafés or fast food joints, a growing number of people use public Wi-Fi to view pornography.

With public Wi-Fi serving as an unwitting channel for pornography to creep into our children’s field of vision and attracting felons – all in public squares – large corporations continue to ignore the public outcry for change. A growing movement, National P*rn Free Wi-Fi Campaign, has been calling on Starbucks and McDonald’s as early as March 2014 to filter their Wi-Fi networks…

…So what’s the big deal with unfiltered public Wi-Fi? What happens if Starbucks and McDonald’s doesn’t do something to make their networks safer?

Imagine teenage girls chatting over a Frappuccino after school, just one table over from someone browsing sexually explicit materials. Children in the play area can be just five feet from a man, sitting in plain view, watching pornographic films. These are not simply potential scenarios; they have already happened.

Perhaps more dangerous is that, according to federal officers, the anonymity of public Wi-Fi attracts criminals to engage in sexual solicitation of children and trafficking of child pornography right there in public places. On December 29, 2014, USA Today reported the arrest of a registered sex offender while he was allegedly downloading child pornography at a Hillsboro, Washington Starbucks…

…he availability of unfiltered public Wi-Fi also means that children and teenagers whose parents turn on filtering controls on their home internet service can bypass those parental controls and freely access pornographic materials in public. Even when they are not looking for explicit material, a misspelling on search engines could expose them to images or otherwise lead them to pornographic sites – everything from adult pornography (the kind of images that appear in Playboy and Penthouse) to federally prosecutable obscene material depicting graphic sex acts, live sex shows, orgies, bestiality and violence. Even illegal content depicting the actual sexual abuse of a child (child pornography) — once only found on the black market — is instantly available and accessible on the Internet…

…Unfiltered public Wi-Fi poses real threat to our society, and it’s high time that businesses take measures to make their Wi-Fi policies family-friendly and safe for their customers…

…A mom brings her kids to get a Happy Meal, and there’s a man in an adjoining booth enjoying hard-core pornography or even child pornography? Law enforcement reports this has happened. If parents understood that strangers can view hard-core pornography and child pornography in front of their kids in these establishments, I believe they would join us in saying, “Enough is enough!”…

Has anyone ever sat in a public restaurant or coffee shop and used free Wi-Fi to look at porn? Sure. But, more than a few Evangelical pastors have used their church’s Wi-Fi/internet service to look at porn too. Should we demand that all churches be required to have porn blocking filters on their internet service?  Why are people like Hughes not outraged over porn surfing pastors?

There are likely more predators and pedophiles in the church house than there is at McDonald’s or Starbucks. Ask the Family Research Council about  resident pervert Josh Duggar. And dare we mention the Catholic church sex scandals, the Southern Baptist and Independent Fundamentalist Baptist sex scandals? American Christian churches and parachurch groups are infested with men (and a few women) who are sexual predators, yet Donna Rice Hughes and the American Family Association is worried about someone viewing a porn site at the home of Ronald McDonald?

While I am sure somewhere in America someone is now using McDonald’s or Starbucks free Wi-Fi to gaze at pornography, I highly doubt that it “poses a real threat to our society.” This is little more than shaking the Evangelical money tree hoping some cash shakes free.

It’s not up to businesses to make sure that children and teenagers responsibly use free Wi-Fi. If people like Hughes are so afraid that their children are going to catch a glimpse of a YouPorn video or Victoria’s Secret’s website, then I suggest they keep their children near them at all time. I suggest that  they not allow them to take their smartphone or tablet outside their porn-safe home. It is up to PARENTS to make sure their children and teenagers don’t see things that are inappropriate. It’s up to PARENTS to make sure their children and teenagers use the internet and public Wi-Fi responsibly.

Businesses that offer free Wi-Fi have the ability to control what kind of sites can be viewed on their network. It takes all of five minutes to set up OPEN DNS or some other filtering software. Should businesses use filtering on their public network? Probably, but if they don’t, then parents have to be PARENTS and make sure their children and teenagers can’t access inappropriate material. It’s not the businesses fault or Obama’s faul  if 13-year-old Johnny uses public Wi-Fi to look at porn or catch a quick glimpse of a scantily clad model. If a parent wants to make sure Johnny lives in a porn-free world, I suggest they NEVER allow him to use a computer or smartphone.

The real issue I have here is with Hughes’s fear-mongering. I seriously doubt this is a problem, and Hughes provides no evidence that McDonald’s or Starbucks has a sexual predator or customer porn surfing problem. I’ve never walked into a McDonald’s and wondered if there were perverts sitting there watching porn, hoping they will have the opportunity to sexually molest someone’s child in the McDonald’s restroom. I have, however, walked into Christian churches and wondered if there were any sexual predators working in junior church or the nursery.

We have house-wide Wi-Fi access at our house. We have a main router/access point, two access points, and two Apple Airport Express. This weekend, there will be over 20 people in our home and many of them will have a tablet or smartphone. They will most likely use our Wi-Fi to access the internet. Because a teenager, several children, and my daughter with Down Syndrome will have access to our Wi-Fi, I use OPEN DNS to block certain sites. You see, that’s what a responsible grandparent and parent does. I’m not waiting for the government or Time Warner to block these sites.

It’s up to the adult internet user to determine what is appropriate. Donna Rice Hughes likely considers the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition to be pornographic. I don’t. She’s free to block any site that she thinks is inappropriate, as I am I and every other internet user. We have all the tools we need to block whatever it is we don’t want our children to see. (or our husband, wife, or pastor)

Perhaps the real reason that Donna Rice Hughes wants to block internet access is so no teenage boy ever has an opportunity to see:

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donna rice

donna rice 3

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Woman Wants Man Who Loves Jesus More Than He Does Women

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Dating Profile Sent to Me by an Atheist Friend of Mine

Snark, Snark, Snark Ahead!

I’m confused. Why does this heterosexual woman want to date gay men? If a man, any man, loves Jesus, who is a man, more than he does a woman, doesn’t that make him gay? And since there is no such thing as a gay Christian, this woman might as well give up now. Cuz, if she is looking for a man who desires, wants, needs Jesus more than a woman…

I’m sure there are a few  I love Jesus more than I will ever love you girl  men out there, but do you really want to marry a Jesus-loving man and start life as number 2 on his love list? Cuz, number 2 on his love list will turn into number 2 pretty quick.

Any man who says that he loves a man whom he has never seen more than a real, live, anatomically blessed, sexy woman is either lying so he can score or he is delusional. Again, not sure that this guy would be marriage material.  Any woman wanting and getting a man who will love Jesus more than he loves her is going to be sorely disappointed.

Honey, let’s have hot missionary sex tonight, the Christian newlywed wife says. Her Jesus loving husband responds, how dare you ask me to have sex with you. I am saving myself for Jesus!

Evidently, this woman has not read 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says a lot of crazy shit about marriage in 1 Corinthian 7, but since it is in the holy, unadulterated, inerrant, inspired word of God, let’s allow God to speak:

…He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

This woman needs to understand that if a man really does love Jesus more than he love women, then he should never ever marry. According to the aforementioned passage of Scripture, when a man marries a woman, his first priority is to the things of the world and how he may please his wife. It’s right there in the Good Book. So, this means that his wife comes before Jesus. God said it, I didn’t.

As Seen on Social Media: Why Atheists Are Praying for the Rapture

Graphics, Memes, Quotes, and Comments I’ve spotted on Facebook or Twitter.  Today’s graphic comes from Facebook. I think it accurately describes how many atheists feel about the rapture. That great day, sometime in the near future, when every Evangelical will be raptured from the earth and taken to their reserved seat in Heaven where they will gleefully watch God savagely maim and kill the majority of the human race.

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The Man With No Butt

Bruce Gerencser, early Spring 2015

Bruce Gerencser, early Spring 2015

I’m a big guy. 6 foot tall, just north of 350 pounds. Thanks to my current battle with Zeus only knows what, I have lost 40 pounds since last November. No one who knows me has asked if I’ve lost weight. I have an odd body size for a man my size and unfortunately weight loss or gain goes unnoticed. Unlike most men my size, I don’t have what is commonly called a beer gut. Instead, from my size 8 head to my size 10 1/2 feet, I am shaped like a fire hydrant. I do have some belly fat, but I am pretty much a cylindrical mass of human flesh. I have the beard color to play Santa, but I’d definitely have to add a pillow or two to give me that rotund Santa figure.

Most men my height have a 32-35 inch inseam. Not me. I have a 29 inch inseam. Even worse, I have no butt. No woman has ever complimented me for having a nice butt; mainly because my shirt is usually hanging out the back. I have spent much of my life tucking in shirts that are not long enough. Buying XXXL shirts are a challenge because clothing makers assume that every XXXL man has a big gut. The shirts are long enough, but often they are way too big in the chest. Last year, I finally found a tee-shirt that fits me well. Made by Key Industries, I can buy them for less than $11 on Amazon. (Short Sleeve, Long Sleeve)  The tee shirts are well made, don’t feel cheap, and have a pocket on the front. This pocket works well when I need someplace to put my lens cap or cellphone.

Even when I get shirts that fit, I still have a problem keeping my pants up. Most people have hips and a butt they can hang their pants on. Not me. Since I don’t want to make the local news, Atheist Moons Shoppers at Meijer, I not only wear a belt but I also wear suspenders. Wearing only a belt is an invitation for embarrassment. Especially now that I have lost so much weight. I put two new holes in my belt so I can cinch it up tighter, but even then, my pants tend to work their way down. If you are a local reader and have seen me at Meijer with my hands in my pockets, it’s not because my hands are cold. When I feel my pants following the path of least resistance, I pull them up Grandpa-style and put my hands in my pockets to keep them from sliding back down.

perry suspenders

Perry Suspenders

A few years back, I found the perfect suspenders for a guy like me. Most suspenders have a clasp that is snapped on the pants. Over time, these snaps get weak and tend to come unsnapped. Not good, especially for those who might be behind me. Thankfully, I found Perry Suspenders. Perry Suspenders hook on your belt, providing a second layer of butt exposure security. You can buy a pair of Perry Suspenders for $12.99 on Amazon. Since wearing Perry Suspenders, I no longer fear being the subject of a YouTube video shot by a local resident at Meijer. Nothing like fame for having your pants drop down to you knees in the middle of the store. It’s never happened to me, but I have caught them well on their way to embarrassing me.

So there ya have it. All you ever wanted to know about the man with no butt.

 

Dear Pastor Eric Strachan: What’s the REAL Reason You Are a Christian?

 

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Pastor Eric Strachan

Eric Strachan, retired pastor of  New Life Community Church, Petawawa, Ontario, Canada, recently wrote an article for The Daily Observer titled How Come Some Don’t Believe Their is a God?  Strachan decided to answer the question of why some of us don’t believe in God. And, like most Evangelical pastors who take on this question,  Stachan gives the wrong answer. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell me, what do the following have in common – renowned feminist Gloria Steinem, film maker Woody Allen, billionaire Warren Buffet, Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, martial arts expert Bruce Lee, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and last but not least Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger?

Scratching your head? Stumped? Let me give you a hint by adding to that list Jim Gibson, the mayor of Head, Clara and Maria who sits on the Renfrew County council. If it didn’t click before, now it has. All of the foregoing lay claim to being atheists. That means they’re not theists. A ‘theist’ is one who believes in God, but put an ‘a’ in front of that six-lettered word and you come up with what the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as ‘one who denies the existence of God’. That’s an atheist! And let’s face it, whereby in another era many atheists kept their personal denial of God’s existence somewhat private, today, in this post-Christian age they’re out of the closet and not just out of the closet, but preaching their unbelief with unashamed evangelical fervour.

Take for instance Ronald Reagan Jr., the son of the one-time Christian president of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan. Junior is now part of the ‘Freedom from Religion Foundation’ that bemoans the intrusion of religion into the political sphere. In a series of television ads Reagan advocates for the complete separation of church and state, finishing the brief ad looking straight into the viewer’s eyes with the bold pronouncement, “Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in Hell.” That’s bold isn’t it? I mean, really bold! But there is a brash radical boldness about today’s atheism, just listen to some of the front runners of the movement, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, they are preaching their ideology brother, and there’s an enthusiastic chorus of atheistic ‘Amens’ coming from all corners of the globe!

I don’t know about you, but a few weeks ago I stood in the Maternity Ward of our local hospital and looked at a pair of newborn twins, and then the other day I held them. It was an awesome moment for me, I was in absolute awe, strangely and mutely silenced as I touched tiny fingers, beheld tiny eyes, felt skin as soft as velvet and pondered to think that what I now held in my arms, these beautiful babies, had their mysterious beginnings in a microscopic cell. Who, I ask you, but a Supreme Omnipotent Creator could engineer such a marvel? You simply cannot look into the face of a newborn and declare “There is no God!”

But all that asides, I’ve discovered throughout the years that there are many reasons why many men and women today align themselves with people like Mark Zuckerburg and Ron Reagan Jr. I think there are many people who are atheists today because they’ve experienced human tragedy, painful traumatic events in their lives, wars, rapes, a dysfunctional childhood, abuse, the tragic loss of a loved one and they’ve simply not been able to come to a satisfactory answer to the perennial perplexing question, “If there is a loving, all-powerful God, then why would He allow this to happen to me?”

Outside of their own personal traumas, many embrace atheism today because they read of the Jewish Holocaust, see and witness human tragedies on a widespread scale, famines, genocides, ethnic cleansings and they ask themselves despairingly, “If there is a God, why would He allow such atrocities?” Together with that, there are many who fly under the banner of atheism today because at some memorable junction in their lives they have been desperately hurt, wounded and scarred by someone who professed to be a believer. Tragically the messenger has discredited the message by his/her inappropriate behaviour and the wounded one has committed the classic error that all of us are inclined to do, of throwing out the baby with the bathwater!

Personally, I would love to sit down with guys like Woody Allen or Mark Zuckerburg and Mayor Jim Gibson. I would love to ask them “Why are you an atheist?” And then I would love to sit and listen, without interruption or defence on my part, them tell me why. I would venture to say that some of them would come up with some very strong intellectual arguments as to why they reject God, but I’m also absolutely convinced that many of them would tell me that they have embraced the belief system of atheism because they’ve been wounded by professed believers, or they’ve seen too much hypocrisy in the ranks of those who believe.

As a theist and a Christian, I’d love to ask any of them what they think of Jesus Christ. I’d furthermore like to invite their responses to the question, “What do you think of the comments made by historian after historian down through the generations that this man Jesus Christ is the most important man who ever lived?”

I wonder what they’d say. I wonder what Gloria would say, and I wonder what Woody, Warren and Bruce would say. And I guess for that matter, I wonder, I really wonder, what Jim Gibson, the mayor who sits on the Renfrew County Council would say. It would be interesting to know, wouldn’t it? For let’s face it, if you forthrightly profess to be an atheist, deep down, at least according to you . . . there’s a substantial reason why!

Strachan did wonder what Bruce would say, not me, of course, so I thought I would tell him.

Strachan, like many Evangelical pastors and apologists, refuses to accept at face value the stories atheists tell about their deconversion. While he paints himself as a man willing to listen, he knows what their real problem is; they were hurt and they need Jesus; or they couldn’t reconcile the evil in the world with their being any God, let alone the Christian God. In one short post, Strachan gives all the reasons Christians say people like me are an atheist. All except one, that is. While many atheists certainly struggled with some or all of the issues mentioned by Strachan, the primary reason for their deconversion was an intellectual one.

Stachan seems to not know that many atheists were at one time Christians.  It’s not that we don’t understand the teachings of Christianity. We do, and we find them wanting. If you are not familiar with the reasons for why I deconverted, please read Why I Stopped Believing.

Here’s what’s offensive about Strachan’s line of reasoning. He refuses to allow the atheist to tell their own story. He wants to rewrite their storyline, making it fit his understanding of faith and unbelief. Imagine if atheists treated Christians the same way. Imagine if atheists refused to accept at face value Christian conversion stories. Why, Christians would be incensed over our refusal to accept their narrative at face value.

Imagine a discussion between Pastor Eric Strachan and Bruce Almighty, the Atheist:

Strachan: I am a Christian.

Atheist: Why are you a Christian?

Strachan: I realized I was a sinner and I needed my sins forgiven. I realized Jesus died on the cross for my sin. Jesus offered me salvation and deliverance from sin if I would put my faith in him. I did, and I have been a Christian for over sixty years.

Atheist: Yeah, but why are you REALLY a Christian?

Strachan: I told you.

Atheist: No, I want to know the REAL reason you are a Christian.

Strachan: I told you, don’t you believe me?

Atheist: Well, I just know there must be some other reason you are a Christian.

Strachan: Uh…

Atheist: What aren’t you telling me?

Strachan: Well…

Atheist: Did you become a Christian so you could be a pastor?

Strachan: I told you the reason I became a Christian. Why don’t you believe me?

The atheist and Strachan goes back and forth until Strachan realizes the atheist refuses to accept his story at face value and nothing is going to change his mind. Strachan hands the atheist a tract, promises to pray for him, and sadly walks away.

The next week, the atheist writes an article for The Daily Observer about the REAL reason Eric Strachan became a Christian.

I wonder how Strachan would feel?

Strachan makes a plea for civility, discussion, and understanding. However. such understanding only comes when we treat others with respect and allow them to tell their own story. Both Christian and atheist should have the freedom to tell their story, to explain how they came to where they are. When a Christian tells me why they became a follower of Jesus, I believe them. I’ve been there, I understand what it means to commit one’s life to Jesus. I also understand what it means to lose one’s faith, to wake up one day and realize you no longer believe in God. Since these experiences are mine, who better to understand them than me?

If Christians like Eric Strachan really want to understand WHY atheism, agnosticism, secularism, and religious indifference is growing in North America, they are going to have to listen to what the defectors have to say. Throw away the apologetics books that purport to give the REAL reasons people turn to atheism. These books are filled with distortions and lies. Who better to answer the WHY question than the atheist?