Religion

Franklin Graham “Preys” on Vulnerable, Hurting People

billy graham rapid response team

When major disasters and tragedies occur, it is not uncommon for Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams to be dispatched to the scene. While these teams certainly do a great job helping with the temporal needs of those who are suffering, make no mistake about it, their goal is to preach the Evangelical gospel, evangelize, and save lost sinners.

I view Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams in the same light as I do Adolph Hitler and his love for dogs. Yes, Hitler loved dogs. Yea, Hitler! But, he also was a murderous psychopath who systematically killed six million Jews, gypsies, and others deemed inferior. So then, Hitler’s love of dogs doesn’t negate his genocidal behavior.

Yes, Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams do — in very small ways — provide help to people who are affected by disasters and tragedies. But, these teams are operated by Franklin Graham, a man noted for his racist, homophobic bigotry. Their primary goal is evangelization, not meeting the needs of those who are hurting and suffering.

The Rapid Response Teams website describes their mission this way:

From the ashes of 9/11, the Rapid Response Team ministry was developed to share Christ in the midst of crisis and disasters. BGEA currently has chaplains in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. These volunteer chaplains are carefully selected and trained to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ and appropriately share God’s hope through the One who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

The suffering and heartache of others is just a means to an end — the salvation of sinners.

Yesterday, I received a fundraising letter from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

Dear Friend,

Our country is hurting. We’re in trouble racially, economically, politically, and spiritually—and day after day the news across our nation reminds us of that.

Dallas, Texas, recently endured the deadliest day for law enforcement officers in America since 9/11—a sniper ambushed and shot 12 police officers. Five of them died. The killings came soon after two widely publicized shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. Protests—sometimes violent—erupted across the country.

These are just examples of how broken our nation and society have become. Government cannot fix this. Elections will not solve this. Our only hope is God, who changes hearts and nations. Pray for America.

A group of crisis-trained chaplains from our Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT), selected for this deployment because of their law enforcement backgrounds, headed to Dallas the morning after the attack to offer support, comfort, and emotional and spiritual care to people affected by the tragedy.

Only weeks before that, a chaplain team went to Orlando when the city suffered the most devastating terrorist-attack on American soil since 9/11. A Muslim gunman began shooting inside a gay nightclub during the early hours of a Sunday morning, massacring 49 people and injuring 53 more. He himself called 911 during the killings to proclaim his allegiance to ISIS.

Experienced Billy Graham chaplains (right) arrived there within hours and immediately started one-on-one ministry to family members, first responders, and others in the stunned community—listening, comforting, and sharing the love of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NKJV), and over a period of two weeks, 40 of our chaplains participated in caring for hurting hearts in Orlando, encouraging and praying individually with more than 1,600 people affected by this huge tragedy.

A young man who personally knew some of the victims came with his family to a memorial site. His distress over the shooting had caused him to think more carefully about God, and he engaged two of our chaplains with questions about sin and forgiveness and about faith. The chaplains used Scripture to help answer the questions, explaining what God’s Son did for him on the cross and how he could be confident of forgiveness and eternal salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The young man then asked eagerly if he, his family, and the chaplains could gather next to the memorial and pray together. In his own words, he repented of sin, thanked God for loving him personally, and committed to live his life in faith with Jesus as his Savior.

During the deployment, the governor of Florida and the FBI agent in charge of the investigation each stopped to thank our Billy Graham chaplains for being there. Another FBI agent, a believer, came by our mobile ministry center and asked if he could pray for the chaplain team.

One day members of the team noticed a man at a memorial site who was taking deep breaths as if to calm himself. They quietly prayed for him before walking over to ask, “How are you holding up?” He immediately began to weep, saying how thankful he was that someone cared enough to ask. He was a professional photographer on assignment from a prominent media outlet, and the images of tragedy he was capturing had started to overwhelm him. Chaplains spent time with him, listening and encouraging. One of them asked if he would like to know how to find
peace in his heart. He replied that he was a secular humanist and not interested in matters of faith.

Nevertheless, for the next 20 minutes he poured out questions about the Bible, church, God, and especially why the chaplains would so willingly invest themselves in other people’s troubles. The chaplains had the opportunity to share the Gospel clearly. The young man readily accepted prayer for himself and his family but was not ready to make a decision. Pray for him and the many others in Orlando who received comfort and heard the Good News, and ask God to nurture the seeds that were planted.

I wonder if the “sinners” mentioned in this letter knew that they were going to be used for fundraising purposes?

Franklin Graham’s Billy Graham Rapid Response Teams are human vultures who swoop down whenever there are major disasters or tragedies. While they might hand out bottled water, coffee, and food, their primary objective is to pick clean the carcasses of hurting people. Instead of offering hope, compassion, and kindness, they offer the bastardized Evangelical version of these things, one that has as its ultimate goal the salvation of sinners. This is, by the way, the modus operandi of most Evangelical “ministries.” Disasters and tragedies are just the means to an end — the evangelization of non-Christians.

My Neighbor Tries to Witness To Me Via WiFi

wifi

Drive by our home and do a WiFi scan and you will find that our Service Set Identifiers (SSID) reflect that we believe two things:

  • There is no God
  • If there is a God, Bruce Almighty is his name

Today, I found out that one of my neighbors is use their WiFi SSID to “witness” to me That’s right, I can’t even escape Evangelicals in the comfort and safety of my  home. I actually  find their witnessing attempt to be quite funny and innovative. Here’s a screen shot of a WiFi scan I did earlier today:

wifi-scan

What’s next? John 3:16? Perhaps I should change my SSID to jesusisdead, christianitysucks,666, satanrulz, or ilovesin.

Why Evangelical Beliefs and Practices are Psychologically Harmful — Part Two

submission

Evangelicalism is dominated by Bible literalism. God said it, and that settles it. There can be no debate or argument on the matter. An infallible God has spoken and his infallible words are recorded in an infallible book — the Protestant Christian Bible. Whatever the Bible teaches, Evangelicals are duty bound to believe and obey. While Evangelicals may argue about the finer points of this or that doctrine, calling oneself an Evangelical requires fidelity to certain, established doctrinal truths. Christianity is, after all, the faith once delivered to the saintsJesus is, after all, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Psychological manipulation is a common tool used by Evangelical preachers to force congregants to do their bidding. I hear the outrage of offended Evangelicals now, screaming for all to hear, that THEIR church is not like that; that their pastor is different. Maybe, perhaps, but I doubt it.

If their church or pastor really is different, it is likely because they are not really Evangelical. There are a lot of churches and pastors who are really liberals or progressives who fear making their true theological and social identities known. Fearing the mob, these thoughtful Evangelicals hide their true allegiances. I don’t fault them for doing so, but such churches and pastors are not representative of Evangelical belief and practice.

In particular, women face the brunt of Evangelical preaching against sin and disobedience. What do Evangelicals believe the Bible teaches about women?

  • Women are weaker than men.
  • Women are intellectually inferior, requiring men to teach and guide them.
  • Women are to submit to her husbands in the home and to male leadership in the church.
  • Women must never be permitted to have authority over men.
  • Women must dress modestly so that they don’t cause weak, pathetic men to lust after them.
  • The highest calling of women is to marry, bear children, and keep the home.
  • Feminism is a Satanic attack on God’s order for the church and home.

Think about this list for a moment. Are Evangelical women equal to men? No! Women are, at best, second class citizens. They must never be put in positions where they have control or power. Such places are reserved for men. We dare not question this. After all, it is God’s way

Is it any wonder that many Evangelical women lack self-esteem and think poorly of themselves? How could it be otherwise? Everywhere they look women are progressing, free to live their lives on their own terms. Yet, here they sit, chained to a ancient religious text and a religion that demeans women and views them as little more than slaves or chattel.

I am sure there are many Evangelical women who will vehemently object to my characterization of how they are treated by their churches, pastors, and husbands. In THEIR churches women are quite happy! They LOVE being submissive to their husbands as unto the Lord. They LOVE being relegated to cooking duty, janitorial work, and nursery work. They LOVE having no higher goals than having children, cooking meals, cleaning house, and never having a headache.

The bigger question is, WHY is it that many Evangelical women think living this way is normal and psychologically affirming — exactly what God ordered for their lives? Evangelical women don’t want to disobey God or displease their husbands or churches. Whatever God, pastors, male church leaders, and husbands want, Evangelical women give. This is their fate, and until the light of reason and freedom creeps in, Evangelical women will continue to bow at the feet of their Lords and do their bidding.

Once women break free from Evangelicalism, a thousand horses and one hundred arrogant, know it all preachers, couldn’t drag them back into the fold. Once free, they realize a whole new world awaits them. With freedom comes responsibility. No more defaulting to their husbands or pastors to make decisions for them. These women are free to make their own decisions. They quickly learns that life in the non-Evangelical world has its own problems and that women are not, in many cases, treated equally there either.

Over the years, I have watched numerous women break free from domineering, controlling Evangelical husbands. I have also watched women flee domineering churches and pastors. Some of these women went back to college to get an education. No longer content to be baby breeders, maids, cooks, and sex-on-demand machines, they turn to education to improve their place in life. Often, secular education provides a fuller view of the world and opens up all kinds of new opportunities for the women.

Sadly, this new life often leads to family problems. Husbands who have worn the pants for decades don’t like having their God-ordained authority challenged. This is especially true if the husbands remain active Evangelical church members. Many times, unable to weather dramatic changes, these mixed marriages end in divorce. Evangelicalism was the glue that held their marriages together, and once it was removed their marriage fell apart.

Some husbands and wives find ways to keep their marriages intact, although this is hard to do. Imagine living in a home where mothers and wives are considered rebellious, sinful, and wicked by their Evangelical husbands, pastors, friends. Imagine being considered a Jezebel.  Evangelicals are not kind to those who rebel against  their God and their interpretation of the Bible. The Bible says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Biblical literalism demands that these rebellious women be labelled as practitioners of witchcraft. Once considered devotees to God, the church, and their families, these women are now considered to be pariahs — servants of Satan who walk in darkness.

I want to end this post with a bit of personal commentary.

For a good part of my marriage to Polly, our marriage was pretty much as I described above. I was the head of the home. I made all the decisions. I was in charge, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Polly bore six children, cooked, and kept the home. On and off, when finances demanded it, she worked outside the home. and in her spare time, she homeschooled all six of our children, including one child with Down Syndrome.

Polly is a pastor’s daughter. Her goal in life was to be a pastor’s wife. She went to college to get an MRS degree. Polly is quiet and reserved, and thanks to forty plus years of Evangelical indoctrination, she is also quite passive. During the twenty-five years I spent pastoring churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan, Polly heartily embraced her preacher’s-wife responsibilities. She was a dutiful wife who always exemplified what it meant to being in be submission to God and her husband. Never saying a cross word or demanding her own way, Polly submitted to those who had the authority over her.

A decade ago, things began to change in our marriage. I finally realized how abusive and controlling I had been. Granted, I was just being the kind of Evangelical husband and pastor I thought I should be. I tried my best to follow the teachings of the Bible and the example of pastors I respected. Regardless of the whys of the matter, I must own my culpability in behaviors I now consider psychologically harmful

In November 2008. Polly and Bruce Gerencser — hand in hand — walked away from Christianity. For the first time in our lives we were free from the constraints of God, the Bible, and the ministry. We were free to choose how we wanted to live our lives; free to decide what kind of marriage we wanted to have.

In many ways, very little has changed. Polly still cooks, but now she whips up gourmet meals because she LOVES to do so. I still manage household finances, not because I am the head of the home, but because I am better with numbers than Polly is. Both of us take care of household chores. I still do most of the shopping, but I no longer make the list. I am the numbers guy, someone who can figure out price per ounce in my head. By the time Polly finds her calculator in that bottomless purse of hers, I already have the equation figured out. Each of us tries to do the things we are good at.

The biggest difference in our marriage is this: I now ask Polly, What do you think? What do you think we should do? Where do you want to go? On top or bottom?  We have learned that it is okay to have lives outside of each other; to have desires, wants and hobbies that the other person may not have. The Vulcan mind meld has been broken.

Polly recently celebrated 18 years of employment for a local manufacturing concern. Out from the shadow of her pastor husband she has excelled at work. Her yearly reviews are always excellent and she is considered an exemplary worker by everyone who works with her. Over the past two years Polly has received two promotions. She now supervises auxiliary department employees on second and third shift. Polly even has an office with her name on the door. None of these things would have been possible had we remained within the smothering confines of Evangelical beliefs and practices.

In 2013, Polly bought a new car in her own name. Yes, I helped picked out the car and took care of the financing details, but it is her car. A first for her, and believe me, this was a BIG deal. In 2012, Polly graduated from Northwest State Community College with an associates of arts. This was a huge undertaking on her part. Why did Polly go back to school, you ask? Because she could. And that’s the beauty of our current life. Freedom allows us to live openly and authentically.  We no longer have to parse our lives according to the Bible. Both of us are free to do whatever we want to do. Having this freedom of spirit has allowed us to experience things that never would have been possible had we remained Pastor and Mrs. Bruce Gerencser.

Polly continues to break out of her shell and I continue to learn what it means to be a good man and husband. We still have our moments. There are those times when both Polly and I find it quite easy to fall back into our former Evangelical ways, As those who have walked similar paths know, it is not easy to change attitudes and lifestyles which were decades in the making. I suspect, until death do us part, we will remain a work in progress.

Why Evangelical Beliefs and Practices are Psychologically Harmful — Part One

born in sin

Cartoon by David Hayward

In light of a recent comment on the post Do Evangelical Beliefs Lead to Psychological Damage?, I thought I would give several reasons why I think Evangelical beliefs and practices are psychologically harmful.

Evangelical Christianity teaches that everyone is born with a sinful nature. People do not become sinners, they are, by nature, sinners. From the moment people come into this world they are sinners who are at variance with God. This is the lot of the human race. No one, except Jesus, is exempt.

What is sin? Sin is, according to Evangelicals, transgression of the law of God. God is Holy. He hates sin and those who do it.  All of us deserve to be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire for our sins. We deserve, because of Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden, to be tortured in the flame of Hell for eternity.

Jesus came to earth to redeem people from their sins. According to Evangelicals, God demands human sin be atoned for through a blood sacrifice. When Jesus was on the cross the wrath of God the Father was poured out on Him —wrath that Jesus did not deserve. Taking our sins and punishments upon himself, Jesus died on the cross to satisfy our sin debt.

Justification by faith is central to Evangelical soteriology. Simply put, the term means that God looks at a saved (born again) sinner “just as if they never sinned.” How is this possible? God hasn’t changed! He still hates sin and those who do it. He still throws people in the Lake of Fire to be tormented for eternity. God is God and this is what God does. It is only through the merit and work of Jesus that born-again sinners are saved from the fury of a wrathful God. Jesus stands between the saved sinner and God, taking on the violence that right rightfully belongs to saved and unsaved sinners alike. When God looks at saved sinners all he see is his son Jesus.

What I have written above is Evangelicalism 101. It is classic substitutionary-atonement, justified-by-faith, Protestant theology. Understanding this will be key to what follows.

How do Evangelicals view themselves?

  • I am a sinner. I sin daily in word, thought, and deed.
  • Even now, I deserve hell and punishment from God.
  • The only difference between me and the worst of sinners is that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The blood of Jesus covers my sin and I am, by faith, justified before God through the merit and work of Jesus.
  • No matter what suffering and pain comes in my life, I should be grateful that I am saved and that I have escaped eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Most Evangelical pastors spend a significant amount of time preaching about sin. These men self-described men of God really can’t be faulted for doing this. As People of the Book, they must preach what the Bible says — and the Good Book certainly has a lot to say about sin, judgment, and chastisement.

In the Old Testament alone there are 635 laws. Then there is the New Testament with all the new laws added by Jesus, Paul, John, and Peter.  Add to these the personal interpretation of the laws, commands, and precepts by Evangelical preachers…well there’s plenty of sin to preach about.

Needless to say there is a lot of guilt and fear among Evangelical believers. For all their talk about grace, Evangelical preachers spent significant amounts of time preaching sermons meant to cause listeners to feel guilty and fearful. Despite being miraculously saved, Evangelicals still sin —often more so than the uncircumcised, degenerate Philistines of the world. No matter how often pastors preach about this or that sin, preachers and congregants alike continue to sin. Evangelicals commit sexual sins, divorce, commit felony crimes, and have abortions, all at levels similar to those who never darken the doors of Christian churches. And thanks to the internet, we now know that Evangelical pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, youth directors, and run-of-the-mill congregants abuse and sexually assault children and prey on vulnerable teenagers and adults.

Despite knowing all of this, Evangelicals preachers — ignoring their own secret sins — continue to berate and badger congregants over their sinful behaviors. How DARE you sin!, Evangelicals preachers proclaim. Look at what Jesus did for you! The Bible says, how dare they, who have been freed from sin, continue any longer therein?

Evangelicals believe that the third person of the Trinity — the Holy Spirit — lives inside of them and is their teacher and guide. The Holy Spirit is a sin-o-meter of sorts. When temptation comes the sin meter starts saying, NO! NO! Don’t do this! Turn! Run! Leave! Stop!

Yet, even with Jesus saving them, the Holy Spirit living inside of them, the Bible as the Words of God, and thundering preachers reminding them of the dangers of sins, Evangelicals still sin like just like the rest of us. Try as they might, Evangelicals can’t kick their sin habit. This ever-present reality results in a lifetime of guilt and fear.

Evangelical church altars are routinely lined with people “getting right with God.” Churches hold revival services so congregants can wipe their sin slates clean and return to walking the straight and narrow way. Pastors weekly spend hours counseling church members who find themselves ensnared by Satan — caught up in temptation and sin. Preachers themselves are routinely caught up in this or that sin. If preacher can’t walk the talk, is it realistic to expect lesser Christians to do so?

For all their talk about forgiveness and deliverance, sin is still the number one problem Evangelicals daily face. No matter how much they pray, asking for forgiveness, sin keeps returning, spoiling their attempts to live a Godly life. A lifetime of this kind of living makes people emotional train wrecks. Over time, Evangelicals learn how to “hide” their sin. They learn the right things to say when asked about how things are in their lives. They learn how to play the “I am right with God” game. These bought-by-the-blood Evangelicals learn to erect a façade that masks the reality of their lives.

Sinning Evangelicals know they are frauds and hypocrites, yet they dare not admit this to anyone. Little do they know that EVERYONE, including the pastor, is just like they are. Some Evangelicals, after decades of being on the sin roller coaster, decide to get off. They crave an opportunity to live authentic lives, lives that are free from the emotional weight of guilt, fear, and condemnation.

Getting off the roller coaster is not easy. The emotional baggage weighs the people down. Isn’t their walking away the BIGGEST sin of them all? Doesn’t this prove that they never were real followers of Jesus? Their churches, pastors, and  Evangelical family will condemn them for throwing in the towel. Their defection will be viewed in light of what they Bible says about them: they went out from us because they were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have continued with us.” Leaving is PROOF that they never were the real deal. No matter how many years they faithfully walked the straight and narrow, the singular act of leaving undoes all the good they did in the name of Jesus.

Once free, an interesting thing happens: guilt and fear begins to recede. Psychological stress start to fade. For the first times in years, they experience peace. For them, it took leaving the Prince of Peace to experience inner peace.

Instead of live dominated by thoughts of their sinfulness, these former Evangelicals learn that many (most) of the actions the Bible, along with what their pastors and churches called sin, are not sin at all. As time goes on their “sin” list becomes smaller and smaller. Perhaps they learn that there isn’t really any such thing as sin. People do good and bad things and should be judged, not by a moral standard found in an antiquated book, but by a basic humanistic, common morality —  morality that respects the private acts of consenting adults; a morality that recognizes that many of the acts of other human beings are none of their business.

These former Evangelicals now have the freedom to live their lives on their own terms. Evangelical zealots from their past will warn them that they have made themselves their own God and that if they are not careful, they will become reprobates — those whom God has given over to the list of sins recorded in Romans 1 and 2. These type of threats no longer have the desired effect. Why? Because their minds having been freed from the chains of Evangelical Christianity. They now know what it is to have true freedom. Once free, having experienced the peace that passeth all Evangelicalism, they will never return to the garlic and leeks of Evangelical Christianity. To quote an old Southern Gospel song…They have gone too far to turn back now!

An Open Letter to the DNC

dnc

Cartoon by A.F. Branco

Dear Democratic National Committee,

I write to express my outrage over recent revelations detailing how DNC officials attempted to derail Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Presidential campaign. It is evident, based on released internal emails, that Deborah Wasserman Schultz and operatives within the DNC were working behind the scenes to marginalize Bernie Sanders, paving the way for Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic candidate for President. Earlier this year Bernie Sanders complained about attempts by Wasserman Schultz and the DNC to keep him from becoming the nominee. The DNC dismissed Sanders’ claims, categorically stating that both candidates were being treated fairly and equally. Thanks to Wikileaks, we now know better.

I am a diehard Bernie Sanders supporter. As a liberal, democratic socialist, I found Sanders’ policy positions to be the closest to my own. Sanders is the voice of progressivism; Hillary Clinton is the voice of centrist Democratic politics. Sanders is a man of principle; Hillary Clinton is a political opportunist. Bernie Sanders didn’t take a dime from Wall Street; Hillary Clinton made millions off of private Wall Street-sponsored speeches. Bernie Sanders opposes  war in the Middle East; Hillary Clinton will continue the blood-spilling policies of the Barack Obama. It is for these reasons (and others) that I support Bernie Sanders.

I am also an atheist. Offensive revelations that Wasserman Schultz and the DNC considered tarring Bernie Sanders with the atheist label suggests to me that the DNC doesn’t realize that most atheists are political liberals who most often vote Democrat. It is also clear that the DNC doesn’t understand that scores of millennials are non-religious. These millennials generally skew to the left — good news for Democrats. Good news, that is, if the DNC stops treating non-religious people as if they have some sort of communicable disease.

I am pleased that Wasserman Schultz has been removed as the head of the DNC. But that action is not enough. Every DNC operative who thought labeling Bernie Sanders an atheist was a good idea should immediately be fired. A failure to take such action shows that Democratic leaders don’t value fairness. The DNC should also publicly apologize to the atheist community for their shameful use of the word “atheist” as some sort of pejorative term. A full-page apology in the New York Times and personal letters to the major atheists groups will suffice.

I plan to vote for Hillary Clinton come November. I will do so for one reason and one reason alone — Donald Trump. I cannot in good conscience do anything that will increase the likelihood of a Trump presidency. These are perilous times, and I must do what is best for my country. Quite frankly, if a centrist Republican was running for President I would likely cast my vote for Jill Stein. In doing so, I would be telling the Democratic Party that until they value me as a voter, they have lost my vote. I want to do this now, but I can’t. I know that if Donald Trump is elected he will fundamentally and permanently harm our Republic. It’s Hillary Clinton’s lucky day. She will get my vote, not because I think she best represents my views, but because Donald Trump is a real threat to national security and social progress. If Clinton wins the election, the DNC might want to consider how to keep my vote come 2020. If liberal, democratic-socialist atheists aren’t welcome in the Democratic Party, then perhaps it is time to start seriously considering  third-parties that value people such as myself.

Sincerely,

Bruce Gerencser
A Former Right-Wing Evangelical Republican Turned Liberal, Democratic-Socialist Atheist

God’s Voice or Paranoid, Delusional, Conspiratorial Thinking?

abraham

Evangelicals are fond of saying that prayer is “me talking to God and God talking to me. ” Some Evangelicals believe that God audibly talks to them, while others believe he speaks to their hearts with an inaudible, still small voice. Some Evangelicals — particularly Calvinists — believe that God speaks to them through the words of the Bible. Regardless of how God speaks to me is described or explained, Evangelicals of every stripe believe God speaks to them.

That Evangelicals believe God speaks to them should not come as a surprise to non-Evangelicals. Evangelicals believe that the third part of the Trinity — the Holy Ghost/Spirit — lives somewhere inside their mind/body. If God lives inside people, it is not too far a stretch to assume that the indwelling Holy Spirit “talks” to Evangelicals.

Consider the lyrics of the hymn, In the Garden:

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
and the voice I hear falling on my ear,
the Son of God discloses.

Refrain:

And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of his voice
is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
and the melody that he gave to me
within my heart is ringing.

(Refrain)

I’d stay in the garden with him
though the night around me be falling,
but he bids me go; thru the voice of woe
his voice to me is calling.

(Refrain)

Jesus Speaks to Me, a song by contemporary Christian group FFH, perhaps states it best:

Can I talk to You a while
Can I lay my weary head
On Your shoulder again
Can I rest beneath Your smile
Will You whisper to me
As I kneel beside my bed

I’ve been walkin’ in the desert
I need to hear from You

I need Your touch, I need Your love
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
I need to hold You, oh, so close
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
Oh Jesus, speak to me

It feels like I’ve walked a thousand miles
Just to see the mountaintop
To be above the clouds
But it only takes a while
Until my feet just seem to stop
And I make my way back down

I’ve been so long in the valley
I need to hear from You

I need Your touch, I need Your love
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
I need to hold You, oh, so close
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
Oh Jesus, speak to me

Feels like I’m losing my mind
Going crazy
Feels like I’m running out of time
Come and save me
Just wipe the tears from my eyes
Say it’s alright, alright

I need Your touch, I need Your love
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
I need to hold You, oh, so close
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
Oh Jesus, speak to me, yeah
Oh Jesus, speak to me

FFH opines that they are going crazy as they desperately seek to hear the voice of God. I suspect many Evangelicals have similar sentiments. I know Polly and I did.  Sadly, Evangelicals will rarely consider that perhaps the reason they are going crazy is that the voice they are seeking to hear doesn’t exist.

Evangelicals who hear the voice of God are certain that what they are hearing is from the Christian God. Attempts to challenge such assertions are almost always rejected. I know what I know, Evangelicals say. I KNOW God speaks to me! How do they KNOW for sure God speaks to them? Why, they heard his voice! Suggesting that such an argument is circular reason will also be rejected. God’s ways are not our ways, Evangelicals say. As with most discussions with Evangelicals, attempts to appeal to reason and objectivity will be turned away with statements such as, by FAITH, I believe God speaks to me. Once Evangelicals appeal to faith, there’s not much more skeptics and rationalists can say or do. Subjective metaphysical claims are beyond the realm of reason. Facts, evidence, and science don’t matter when Evangelicals appeal to faith. As the old Evangelical canard goes, God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.

hearing gods voice

Comic by Ted Rall

Recently, a woman who calls herself Bible Believer had this to say about listening to the voice of God:

We are entering the days where things are getting more and more spiritually darker. Every Christian here feels it. We are seeing massive changes even within the last few years. We have to learn to listen to God in prayer. More and more it is important to listen to God’s warnings for protection. Some time ago, I had met a new person and on my second meeting with them where I was not in a larger group of people. I had this thought flash across my mind, “This person is wicked and an insider.”  This came out of nowhere. I did listen but I proceeded with caution but still erred on the side of not taking actions sooner. My warning about this seared person are so intense, I will leave a room or other place if I ever see them in it.

I am learning to listen to warnings like that faster and more immediately. Yes as a human being, I can err but I believe we all need to be listening when God is warning us of something. This may sound odd, but I had the thought too this person had some involvement with occultism. On the surface they are in a false church, and I met them in a community context.

I found out via public information on the internet someone closely related to this person is basically a Satanist. And I am not talking teen “Goth” or “Wicca” dabbler or a few bouts of yoga or rekki [sic] but a well into adulthood HARD CORE Satanist. Think “OTO” temple one with Silver in the name and interest in esoteric “magic”, some with names I am sure no one ever heard of but I have from my younger days. And it went even further then that. Some may say it is unfair to judge a relative on what another relative is doing. And on that they would be right. Many good Christians come out of wicked families, but this specific person on a public Facebook page, drew pictures of themselves surrounded by demons. They praised their Satanic family member to me when I first met them.

I believe God is helping to protect me from future betrayals. I hope people do not think I have lost it or gone “paranoid”. I didn’t act on a lot of warnings that came early when dealing with two major betrayals. I paid for not listening sooner. With one person, who was a deceiver, I had dreams about them for a long time. I “knew inside” but was afraid to act. The dreams told me over and over they were not what they appeared to be. Here is a place where a Christian will want to go with your gut. If all your “instincts” tell you something is wrong, the message is coming from somewhere. Listen to the small voice of the Holy Spirit! I hope with time I have grown stronger. Some will tell you everything you want to hear. Some will even pretend to be Christians. Some will pretend to even be a fellow new world order aware Christians.

Bible Believer’s hearing from God is not, in any way, unique. Every day, I peruse over one hundred Evangelical blogs and websites. Rare is the day that I don’t read articles and blog posts about God speaking to the authors. Those of us raised in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement are quite familiar with phrases such as: God said, God told me, and God is leading me. IFB preachers can easily justify almost anything by speaking these magic words: God spoke to my heart and told me to do ____________. During my preaching days, I often told congregants that God told me that the church needed to do _________________. Believing I was the man of God — one chosen by God to lead the church — churches members believed God and I were on a first name basis.

Of course, God and I weren’t BFF. The “voice” I heard in my “heart” was my own. God’s will always lined up with my own wants, needs, and desires. I wish Evangelical preachers would be honest with congregants, telling them that what they want to do is premised on their wants and not the voice of God.

god in mind

If God really does speak to Evangelicals, why do Christians have conflicting ideas about what God had said? I have participated in countless church business meetings, meetings that were always “bathed” in prayer, with members seeking to hear the voice of God. The goal, of course, was to gather up a majority of yes votes so the preacher’s wants/needs/desires could be fulfilled. Most business meetings are little more than rubber-stamp approvals of whatever tickles pastors’ fancies. Every once in a while, a congregant or two will “hear” a different voice and object to the topic under discussion. What are we to make of such contrary views? Surely, if all Evangelicals have the same Holy Spirit living inside of them, shouldn’t they — as the early church did — be of one mind? Despite all the praying and seeking to hear the voice of God, church business is decided by good old fashioned American majority rules.

Most Evangelicals who have conversations with God are good people. We humans are prone to irrationality, and in the case of people hearing God’s voice, this irrationality is on a massive scale. Where this becomes a problem is when hearing God’s voice causes people to harm to themselves or other people. Countless people have been murdered by Christians who believed that God was telling them to commit homicide. The Bible recounts the story of God telling Abraham to murder his son Isaac. While God was just “testing” Abraham, is there any doubt that the father of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam would have slit his son’s throat had God not intervened? This story is preached as a great example of faith — obediently doing whatever God commands. Why then, should the stories of modern-day Abrahams be discounted or rejected out of hand?

The answer, of course, is that such behavior is a sign of mental illness. Evangelicals who believe God is speaking to them and saying that they should harm or kill other people are mentally disturbed. While I am not suggesting that every Evangelical has a screw loose, many of them do, especially those who are sucked into depths of paranoid, delusional, and conspiratorial thinking. (Perhaps, this is a chicken/egg issue. Do people become mentally ill as a result of Evangelical teachings or are people who are already mentally ill attracted to Evangelical churches?) Most of the Sounds of Fundamentalism videos I have posted are good examples of Evangelical psychological instability.

I am sure Evangelicals will gnash their teeth and wail over the claim that “hearing the voice of God” is often a sign of mental illness. I suggest that such gnashers and wailers attempt to see how this looks from the outside. In any other setting someone hearing voices would be a cause for concern. Numerous mental health problems can give rise to hearing voices in one’s head. Why should voice-hearing Evangelicals be given a pass when it comes to their mental acuity? Does the fact that someone is religious exempt them from normal standards of psychological fitness? I think not.

Nothing I have written in this post will change the minds of people who are convinced that God is their best friend, one who frequently “talks” to them. All we can do is make sure such irrational beliefs don’t harm others. Behind much of the political machinations of the Republican Party are Evangelicals who believe God is telling them to oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, and gun restrictions. God is also telling them to build a wall on our border with Mexico, stop transgenders from using wrong restrooms, and, most of all, take back America. What’s next? Arresting and incarcerating atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularists, along with anyone else that opposes the establishment of a Christian theocracy? Perhaps it is time to put Prozac in Bible Belt water supplies.

Sacrilegious Humor: The Power of the Tongue by Unnamed Preacher

donald trump tongue

This is the fortieth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit 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 email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is The Power of the Tongue by Unnamed Preacher.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Hillary Clinton Plans to Outlaw Christianity by Jim Bakker

jim and tammy faye bakker

This is the ninety-second  installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a clip taken from a discussion between convicted felon and con artist Jim Bakker and  Ramiro Peña, pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Please put on your tinfoil hat before watching this video. You have been warned!

Bakker and Peña shamelessly campaign for Donald Trump while warning that a non-Trump president — the unnamed Hillary Clinton — will likely make Christianity illegal and pack the Federal courts with justices who will do the non-Trump president’s evil bidding. Like I said, make sure you wear your tinfoil hat.

Video Link