Tag Archives: Defiance Crescent-News

Letter to the Editor: Fundamentalists Run Amok in Ohio Government

letter to the editor

Letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

What has happened to Ohio, a state once known for its progressive politics and values? In a few short decades, religious and political fundamentalists have taken over the state government and are now attempting to take over the state board of education. Ohio is now being compared to backwater states like North Carolina and Mississippi.

The Ohio House of Representatives is considering HB 351, a bill that would effectively make abortion and birth control difficult to obtain. This bill has no abortion exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Evidently, women impregnated through rape or incest are supposed to realize their pregnancy is God’s wonderful plan for their life. Representative John Becker, the sponsor of HB 351, made it clear that this bill is all about his personal religious convictions when he stated “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor.”

The Ohio Board of Education now has several Christians fundamentalists on its board. Mark Smith, the president of Ohio Christian University, is one such member.  Smith, in a recent speech at the 2014 Road to Victory conference, made it clear that he is part of a movement that is determined to take the schools back for God.  According to Smith, “it’s no secret that our educational system is full of teachers and professors who desire to obfuscate truth, and these individuals are effectively [deconstructing] our nation.”

Truth to Mark Smith and other Christian fundamentalists like him is the Bible. Smith stated “You see I’m excited to lead the cause for the rebirth of faith values in America, the rebirth of embracing a love for God, the love for family, and a love for our nation. I like traditional marriage. I’m for traditional marriage. Let’s embrace traditional marriage….” Rather than focusing on education, Smith wants to focus on inculcating our children with his brand of Christianity. Our children may not learn to do algebra but at least they will know which God is the right one and which holy book is truth.

Sadly, most Ohioans are clueless about what goes on in Columbus. They continue to send Republicans to the state house without ever considering what they might do when they get there. The only way to stem the tide of religious extremism is to vote the extremists out of office. As it stands now, the Ohio Democratic party is weak and here in rural NW Ohio it is almost non-existent.

The solution remains the same. We must stand up and fight. We must vote. We must support candidates that want to return Ohio to the days of its progressive greatness. We must be willing to make our voice heard. The editorial page of this newspaper is filled with letters from right-wing political and religious extremists. Surely there are Defiance county residents that are willing to stand up for the liberal/progressive values? Perhaps it is time to write a letter to the editor.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Published: July 1, 2014 | Comments: 5

A Postcard from a Local Christian

Here’s a post card I received from a local Christian about a letter I wrote to the Defiance Crescent-News.

postcard from local christian

Just another day in “Christian” NW Ohio.

Published: June 27, 2014 | Comments: 4

Letter to the Editor on Global Climate Change, May 21, 2014

global climate change

I will update this post when my letter to the editor is published. This was sent to the Defiance Crescent-News on May 21, 2014.

Dear Editor,

A recent letter to the editor stated that the main reason for global climate change and the escalation of global temperatures is that this is how the Christian God wants things to be. The letter writer is not concerned one bit about climate change because God is on the job. We can collectively take a big sigh of relief knowing that the Christian God is in complete charge of the weather.

I wonder if people who make an argument like this understand the implications of their argument. If God is in control of everything, if he is the first cause, if he is the sovereign ruler of all, if there is nothing that we can do to stop the Christian God from doing his thing, then God must then bear the responsibility for everything that goes on in the world.

Katrina, Sandy, every hurricane, every typhoon, every mudslide, every forest fire, every natural disaster, must be laid at the feet of this micromanaging God. Since God is perfectly working out his will in the affairs of the human race, he then is accountable for war, starvation, disease, and death. If God is as the letter writer says he is, then God is culpable for everything that happens.

Of course, most fundamentalist Christians will object to what I have written here. They will say that humans have free will and that the bad things that happen are the result of humans exercising their free will. Wait a minute, I thought God was in charge of everything? Isn’t it God that gave humans free will? There is no way for God to avoid culpability since all power, authority, and control, rests with him.

This kind of fatalism is of no consequence if it is kept in the church house. If someone wants to believe that there is some sort of divine puppet master controlling their life, I couldn’t care less. But, when this kind of thinking bleeds into public policy, the result can be catastrophic.

The world doesn’t have the luxury or the time to just sit back and let God do his thing. Global climate change, along with ever-increasing global temperatures, is the greatest threat we face today. Doing nothing is not an option. As temperatures and seas rise, costs are sure to soar as global climate change disrupts growing seasons and forces the mass relocation of millions of people. As competition for earth’s dwindling, finite resources increases, affluent nations will turn to war to maintain their standard of living.

Our best days may be behind us and thinking that God is going to deliver us or is working out his plan only makes things worse. Why? Because it breeds inaction. Why worry about global warming? The rapture is just around the corner. Most global climate change deniers are also right-wingers religiously and politically. What is it in right-wing ideology that keeps people from seeing the world as it is? Answering this question would take more words than the Crescent-News allows.


Bruce Gerencser

Here is the letter I am responding to:

Human activity not having great impact

I believe that the ultimate goal of the campaign against global warming is political rather than scientific or humanitarian. I do not trust the findings, reports or spin of any organization or politician that depends on governmental funding for their existence. That includes the United Nations, Al Gore and President Obama.

I believe they are all out to harm the United States and to get powerful, total control of our country and the world. I would include the Democratic Party, our “mainstream” media outlets and local alarmists such as Willie Pack in the list of deceivers on this issue.

The reasons I have those beliefs are many and varied. I will list a few of them in this letter. Some of those reasons are based on information I have gleaned from a variety of websites. I cannot list all of the addresses here for spacial reasons.

Water vapor is the single most significant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. It makes up about 95 percent of it and may reports conveniently ignore it. Reportedly, 99.999 percent of the water vapor in our atmosphere occurs naturally. Human activity has almost no influence at all in 95 percent of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

“Scientific” reports warning of global catastrophes also ignore the contribution of volcanoes to the “greenhouse effect.” I read that each volcanic eruption spews more greenhouse gases than human activity has produced since the beginning of the industrial revolution. I simply cannot trust or believe any person or organization that ignores volcanic eruptions and has no plan for controlling them.

Carbon dioxide makes up about .04 percent of our atmosphere. It is agreed that human activity contributes between 3 and 5.5 percent of the CO2 in our atmosphere (the rest occurs naturally). That is the main target of politicians, global institutions and Mr. Pack.

Doing the math, human activity accounts for about .002 percent of the carbon dioxide currently in our atmosphere. That’s it! Two parts per 100,000 parts of CO2 are due to human activity. The deceivers I mentioned earlier would have us believe that by reducing that .002 percent of our atmosphere, we can control global warming. I doubt it!

Also, even though the CO2 levels are high now, the average global temperature was lower when CO2 levels were higher. CO2 levels are not a direct cause or predictor of global warming.

The main reason I do not believe that human activity is causing the destruction of the world is that I believe that God is controlling our world. I do not believe that God would allow mankind to cause an effect He did not want to happen. If the average global temperature is rising, it must be because God wants it to. And, if He wants it to rise, mankind is powerless to prevent it. He will continue to control our climate, our seasons and our lives as He sees fit and no Democrat, Socialist, scientist or alarmist can influence His plan.

Randall Peabody

Published: May 21, 2014 | Comments: 6

Letter to the Editor April 9, 2014

letter to the editor

I sent the following letter to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News. I will update this post when it is published.

Dear Editor,

This is an election year, and in less than a month, Ohio will have a primary election. As a voting, taxpaying citizen of Defiance County, I want to pass on some advice to the candidates running for office and those who write letters to the editor showing their support for a particular candidate.

Not every voter in Defiance County is a Christian. Not every voter attends church on a regular basis. A sizable number of voters do not claim the Christian moniker, and outside of weddings and funerals, they never darken the doors of any local church. We are the “nones”, made up of atheists, agnostics, humanists, pagans, secularists, and those who are indifferent towards religion. In Defiance County, there are also Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists. I know this is hard for the Christian majority to believe, but living near them are people who do not think like they do about God and religion.

So, trumpeting the fact that you are a Christian, teach Sunday School, are pro-life, or are a member of the NRA  might play well with Evangelicals, but for those of us who are not religious or not an Evangelical Christian, we are wary of people who play the faith card.

Being a Christian or being pro-life has nothing to do with how a candidate will perform as a local/county/state officeholder. In fact, when a candidate for office plays the faith card I am inclined to not vote for them. Why should I vote for a candidate that considers one voter demographic more important than another? This is especially true at the local/county level. I want officeholders that will represent everyone, not just those who are a part of their particular religious sect.

Those running for office would do well to mimic John F. Kennedy’s approach to religion. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, made it clear that his personal religious beliefs would not come into play when he made decisions. Kennedy understood that he represented every citizen not just those who happened to be Christian.

The United States is a secular state, not just at the federal level, but at the state, county, and local level too. I realize the candidates need votes to win. I realize that Defiance County is ruled by Evangelical, conservative, Republican ideology. Maybe it is a fantasy on my part to think that what every citizen of Defiance County needs to hear is how a candidate for office will spend our tax money, repair our roads, care for our poor and sick, and care for what we have entrusted to our governmental leaders.

It is these issues that will determine how I vote. Sadly, far too many of my fellow Defiance County citizens will vote, not on the issues, but on the number of buzz words they hear a candidate use. To them, where a candidate goes to church or what his view is on abortion is far more important than how he effectively governs.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Published: April 9, 2014 | Comments: 8

My Dad is a Communist


On February 10, 2014, a letter I wrote to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News was published in the newspaper. You can read the letter here. My letters to the local papers put my family in a difficult position because people often ask them or confront them about what I wrote. I have told them that they don’t have to defend me. If someone has questions they want answered or want to confront the evil, Satanic atheist, I am very easy to find. Over the years, I have received phone calls, letters, and visits to my home from people who wanted to “talk” to me about  something I wrote in the newspaper. When we bought a new car a year ago, the salesman asked me if I was the guy who writes the letters in the paper. I said yes I was, and much to my delight, the salesman said he agreed with me.  When I go to the dentist, my dentist will almost always let me know that he read my latest letter. He doesn’t agree with me but he does find my letters “interesting.” As I mentioned previously, my one neighbor lets me know when he reads the latest letter to the editor from whom he calls, his educated (or scholarly) neighbor. I know that I am the village atheist and I make no effort to hide from the public.

Last week, one of my sons had a fellow employee come up to him and “ask” him about my latest letter. Perhaps “ask” is not the right word. He wanted to let my son know that he disagreed with me and that he could refute EVERY point I made in my letter. According to my son, this man is a church going Tea Partier. In other words, he is like a lot of people in rural NW Ohio, Pro-God, Anti-Government.

The man asked my son, what I really want to know is your Dad’s economic beliefs?  My son replied, making me so proud him, He is a Communist.

Silence. (my son is smirking and laughing on the inside, I just know it)

Then my son says, I think my Dad would describe himself as a fiscally-responsible liberal.

I consider the letters I write the equivalent of poking a bear. I know what I write is considered heresy and offensive to the sensitive ears of conservative, right-wing locals. Rural NW Ohio tends to be a monoculture, so my letters are an important reminder to all of God’s people that not everyone thinks like them.  I also know I speak for other similar minded local people who can’t, due to job or family concerns, speak out like I do.

There are a handful of local Christian zealots who ALWAYS respond to my letters; people like Daniel Gray, Dennis Hanna, Larry Tonjes, and Randall Peabody, the four horseman of local fundamentalist Christianity. Since the newspaper only allows a person to write one letter a month, I try to plan my letter writing so these four Bruce Gerencser haters have to wait 3 or 4 weeks before they can respond to me. :)

I am often asked if I think my letter writing does any good and the answer is yes. When local Christians get wild about something I have written and write a rebuttal, it exposes for all to see what some Christians think about the world and those who are different from them. They are, whether they realize it or not, a great advertisement for liberal Christianity or atheism/agnosticism. While they rage against the red-headed Hungarian preacher turned atheist, others are asking themselves, is this what Christianity is really all about?  And as  I mentioned above,  I also think my letters are an encouragement to like-minded people who must remain in the closet. (I have received emails from a few of them over the years)

But, even if my letter writing did no good at all, I would still write them. It’s in my blood. My right-wing, John Birch loving, Communist hating mother was an avid letter writer. She wrote letters about the Vietnam war, a letter in support of Lt William Calley, and a letter that stated the Kent State students murdered by the Ohio National Guard got exactly what they deserved. She was unapologetically vocal about her political and religious beliefs and her letters reflected that. She was also willing to take on issues where she saw injustice. When the city of Bryan decided in the 1970′s to start a municipal garbage service and required local residents to only use trash bags purchased from the City, she stood up for the right to use whatever trash bags a person wanted and she stood up for the independent trash hauler.  When the Bryan Medical Group began consolidating its medical services, she wrote a letter to the editor saying the Medical Group was becoming a medical cartel. (And she was right. Today, there are NO independent, non Bryan Medical Group (Parkview Physicians Group) affiliated doctors in Williams County.)

So if you are looking for someone to blame for my letter writing, blame my mother. As for me, I am thankful my mother taught me that beliefs matters and if you believe something you should stand up and say so. While I have no doubt that my mother, if she were still alive, would NOT approve of my lack of belief in God or my liberal politics, she would appreciate the passion I have for writing and expressing my beliefs.

Published: February 17, 2014 | Comments: 9

My Friend Jack Palmer Died Yesterday at the age of 60

jack palmer

Jack Palmer, long time columnist for the Defiance Crescent-News died suddenly yesterday. Jack and I were friends and over the years we corresponded via email. Both of us were political liberals. Jack was a committed liberal Christian. In a newspaper that is dominated by right-wing and libertarian viewpoints, Jack Palmer was often a lone voice for liberal/progressive values.

I will greatly miss his wit, decency, and compassion. My heart grieves for the Palmer family. They lost a good man.

Jack’s last column appeared in the Sunday, December 22, 2013 Defiance Crescent-News. Jack wrote:

Christmas doesn’t come from a store

One of my all-time favorite television programs is the annual holiday special about the Grinch who wanted to steal Christmas. It’s one of the best half hours of animation anywhere, from Max the dog’s facial expressions to cute  little Cindy Lou Who (“who was  no more than two”) to the conniving Grinch himself, with his magnificently awful smile.

And, of course, Boris Karloff. Ever since the Frankenstein movies of the 1930s, people have been grooving to this dude’s voice. Is there anyone out there in C-N readerland who doesn’t recognize the song lyrics “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch?” Doesn’t “I wouldn’t touch you  with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole!” rank right up there with “Dashing through the snow?”

The simple but powerful lesson,  as the Grinch discovered, is that  maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps,  means a little bit more.

Christmas does mean more, but  it has nothing to do with chestnuts  roasting over an open fire, mistletoe, reindeer or even brightly  decorated trees.

Christmas provides a close-up  look at love, a close-up look at  God, a close-up look at that ordinary baby with ordinary skin and  an extraordinary way of saying “God is with us.”

Christmas teaches us to find love in the ordinary — infants with  their bottles, laughter at the table, the eyes of a child with a favorite toy.

There is nothing threatening about a Nativity scene. Neither is commemorating the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (which fell early  this year) or the African-American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa.A menorah, for example, is a menorah. It should not be referred to as “a holiday candleholder.”

In places such as Malaysia, where the majority of people are Muslim, Christmas is a public holiday. Though much of the celebration is commercial and has  no overt religious overtone, most everyone is free to celebrate as they choose.

Many who reside there from the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Bahai faith communities genuinely and sincerely wish everybody else a  Merry Christmas.

This may sound unbelievable to some people in America, where political correctness often trumps common sense.

Here in rural northwest Ohio, many of us have dear friends who do not celebrate Christmas. Yet I don’t know a single one who becomes upset or offended with the words “Merry Christmas.” Just as those of us of the Christian faith should not be offended with “Happy Holidays,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Don’t Let the Light Go Out.”

I have a better idea for those ratings-hungry commentators and their largely manufactured and attention-driven “war on Christmas.” Instead of exhibiting your own self-righteousness disguised as Christianity, use your time, energy and financial resources to honor  the true spirit of Christmas by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick and welcoming the stranger.

It is unfortunate, especially during Advent, that the wrong brand of the Christian faith seems to receive the most publicity. Maybe it’s because the nastiness and hatemongering of Scrooge is healthier for ratings or circulation than the compassion of Christ.

Christmas is the story of the birth of a child, born under humble and adverse circumstances.It’s the story of a son born of Jewish parents, which drew the attention of Jewish shepherds and three kings “from the east,” — possibly from Persia, today’s largely Islamic Iran.It’s a timeless story of faith, hope and love.

So, without apologies, Merry
Christmas to all!

Jack Palmer

As I read the paper on Sunday, I thought, Classic Jack Palmer, and I sent Jack the following email:


Great column today.

As our atheist/agnostic/humanist/Catholic/Baptist family gets together today for Christmas, my wife and I are reminded of how blessed we are. Our Christmas celebration is about family and the love we have for one another.

Let me be the first atheist to say to you, Merry Christmas. :)  I love the holiday season much more now than I did when I was a pastor.  I was so busy that I rarely had time to enjoy the season. While I can not embrace the Christian gospel, I can embrace the essence of the life of the Prince of Peace. Regardless of whether he was divine, the sermon on the mount is a worthy ideal for fundamentalist and atheist alike.

Have a great Christmas, Jack.


Jack never got to read my email. He died a few hours earlier at the age of 60.

Published: December 23, 2013 | Comments: 2

Defiance County Commissioners Lay an Egg with Hillandale Farms Giveaway

factory farm

I live in the rural NW Ohio county of Defiance.  I was born in nearby Williams County and I consider NW Ohio home.  When I moved away from NW Ohio as a nineteen year old boy, I has no intentions of ever coming back.  Yet, come back I did, several times over the years, finally landing here permanently in 1995. (with short stints in Michigan and Arizona)

I live in the village of Ney, population 354. Ney has one stoplight, two bars/restaurants, and a gas station/convenience store.  There is little crime, everyone knows your business, and Ney offers everything people love and hate about life in small town rural Ohio.

This is my home. What goes on here matters to me. Our way of life matters to me. My children live here and my grandchildren attend various public schools in the area. It is to this area that my Hungarian grandparents immigrated almost a hundred years ago.

Years ago, manufacturing provided good jobs for locals, allowing them to have a middle-class lifestyle.  Over the past thirty years, countless factories have closed their doors. I say countless, because I could count them and give their names if I so desired. Gone are the good wages and benefits. The factories that remain struggle to make a profit and pay their workers good wages. Thanks to the various global trade agreements, manufacturing hubs like rural NW Ohio have been savaged, and workers bear the brunt of the savagery.I often wonder what will become of us once amoral free market fundamentalism has finished her work?

New to the scene, is a farm-oriented business, confined animal feeding operations, AKA factory farms.  Most of these factory farms are owned by major corporations with no roots in the local community.  Their business model is quite simple. Concentrate as many animals in a building as the law will allow and make as much money as possible from the animals who are kept in crates or pens. (many of them never seeing the outside, never experiencing what non-factory farm animals experience)

As an environmentalist, I think that factory farms are immoral and their practices are barbaric. With every factory farm comes environmental concerns. These farms need a tremendous amount of water and generate a mountain of manure that is either put in a lagoon or sprayed on local farm fields. Years ago, when I was opposing a factory farm in far NW Ohio, a woman for the Ohio EPA told me that there was a real problem with how these farms and local farmers were handling the spraying of manure. While manure is certainly good for the ground, too much of it was ending up in run off into local ditches and creeks.

In the Friday, August 30, 2013, edition of the Defiance Crescent-News, there is a news report about a new factory farm being built near Hicksville, Ohio:

Defiance County commissioners approved a tax abatement and several other matters related to the construction of a large egg production facility near Hicksville during their Thursday meeting.

Hillandale Farms Ohio, LLC, is building the facility for egg production, egg processing and packaging, truck maintenance and feed production at 09715 Rosedale Road, east of Hicksville, and plans to invest $41 million. The project  includes eight production barns, water wells, manure waste handling and storage facilities and a waste lagoon.

Who is Hillandale Farms? According to their website:

Hillandale Farms is one of the nations leading supplier of shell eggs.With production facilities in the northeast, midwest and southeast, Hillandale Farms supplies retailers and distributors throughout the eastern half of the United States.

As a vertically integrated supplier, Hillandale Farms is directly involved in every aspect of egg production and distribution. From the farm to the customer’s forklift, Hillandale Farms is actively involved in satisfying their customers needs.

Specializing in corporate brands, Hillandale Farms offers services in category management, supply chain management and product development. Working closely with our customers to create world class egg programs tailored to their specific needs is a core competency.

Hillandale Farms has a wide offering of butter, cheese and meats to complement their offering of eggs.

For quality eggs and programs tailored to meet the needs of customers, look no further than Hillandale Farms.

I did a quick Google search for Hillandale Farms and I found that Hillandale Farms has found themselves in a bit of hot water over a suspect salmonella outbreak at one of their factory farms in Iowa. Grist  has an article detailing the connection between Hillandale Farms and Jack DeCoster, a man Grist describes as a habitual violator of the law. (see Fox News story  and a recent Global Gazette story) I found enough information that should have been a red flag for anyone who cares about rural NW Ohio.

All of this information was readily available to the Defiance County Commissioners, yet they ignored it and rolled out the red carpet for Hillandale Farms. It is one thing for a corporation to legally build a factory farm. It is another thing to give them buckets of tax dollars to do so.

Here is a list of what the Defiance County Commissioners gave Hillandale Farms:

  • 60  percent tax exemption for  real property  improvements for 10  years (which directly reduces the tax money going to local schools)
  • Defiance County will construct one mile of improvements on Rosedale Road, and  provide  50,000.00 in community development block grant (CDBG) funds, as well as 214,000.00 in Ohio Department of Transportation jobs and commerce funds
  • Defiance County will provide 440,000.00  in  CDBG  funds to support the  construction of 2.85 miles of a four-inch gas main to be extended by Ohio Gas Company to the project site.
  • The commissioners approved a contract with Tenmile Creek  Excavating, LLC,
    for  cement stabilization work on Rosedale Road (no contract cost given in news report)
  • The commissioners approved a contract to Brooks Construction Company to pave Rosedale Road

As readers know, I am opposed to ALL tax abatements and I do not think tax money should be used to make infrastructure improvements as an enticement for companies like Hillandale to locate here. Private corporations should pay their own freight.

Defiance County Commissioners will defend their actions by saying…Hillandale is going to hire 65 full-time workers. We NEED jobs in this area! Didn’t you see that General Motors just laid off 135 workers at their Defiance plant? Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Exactly what kind of jobs will Hillandale Farms provide?

According to the numbers in the Crescent-News, Hillandale expects to have 65 full-time workers and an annual payroll of 1,668,144.00. Based on a 40 hour workweek and everyone making the same wage, the wage will be 12.50 per hour. Since there will be managers, supervisors, and office people making more money that 12.50 an hour, it is likely that the real wage for most of the workers will be substantially south of 12.50 an hour.

Corporations know places like Defiance County are desperate for jobs. They blow into town and promise the world but rarely deliver on the job promises. They wildly inflate hiring and payroll numbers, giving local government officials the impression that their business locating here will have a huge impact on the local economy.

This happens over and over. It was not that long ago the Ruralogic extracted millions of dollars in tax abatements and incentives from local governments. Their business plan? IT jobs. When I read the reports about Ruralogic’s business plan, I said, this is not going to work. Sure enough it didn’t. Yes, Ruralogic is still in business, but they are currently on life support.

According to an April 19, 2013 story in the Crescent-News, Ruralogic promised and local governments gave:

Ruralogic received several incentives when it opened in northwest Ohio. In 2010, the Ohio Department of Development awarded a 60 percent Job Creation Tax Credit for eight years for the firm’s locations in Bryan, Napoleon and Archbold. The value of the tax credit is approximately $707,700 at each location, and the company is required to maintain operations at the sites for 11 years. At that time the company stated it expected to create 353 jobs (121 at each office in Bryan, Napoleon and Archbold).

Sounds eerily similar to the Hillandale Farms give-a-way doesn’t it? Ruralogic promised the moon and so far has only delivered a handful of jobs. (read this Archbold Buckeye report for more information about Ruralogic)

Years ago, my three oldest sons worked at a chicken egg factory farm near West Unity, Ohio.It was a small operation compared to the giant facilities that dot the landscape of rural NW Ohio and rural SE Michigan.

I picked up the boys from work numerous times, so I was able to see what went on inside the barns.  This was at a time when I had not yet come to the conclusion that factory farms were immoral and environmentally unsafe.

The chickens were kept in small wire cages with just enough room to barely turn around. The barns were dark, dank, and reeked of ammonia. No one wanted to inhale the air in the barns. (and one of my sons actually got some sort of skin infection from working there) Many of the eggs went to a local egg company that sold eggs to McDonald’s.

My first experience with a factory farm fundamentally changed how I viewed such facilities. Rarely do outsiders get the opportunity to tour a factory farm. The corporations that own these facilities know that if consumers actually saw where their milk, eggs, beef, and pork came from, they would likely be sickened and stop eating the “products” they provide.

To some degree, I remain a hypocrite. Due to having a limited income, we can not afford to always buy our meat and eggs from non-factory farms. We do what we can, realizing that the real fix is to regulate factory farms out of existence. It would help if local government officials would stop handing corporations money, but as long as corporations continue to make wild promises of economic growth, I doubt the money give-a-ways will stop.

I pity the people who live to the east of Hillandale Farms latest factory farm in Hicksville. On a warm summer day, with the wind blowing out of the west, they will get  “enjoy” the smell emanating from the Hillandale Farms barns and the nearby manure lagoon. I wonder if they will think that this is what progress smells like?


Humane Society Video about Ohio Factory Farms (graphic)

Mercy for Animals Video about Ohio veal farms (graphic)

Ohio Environmental Council page on Ohio factory farms

Published: August 30, 2013 | Comments: 5

Poking the Christian Bear in NW Ohio

EPSON scanner image

What follows is a letter I wrote to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News about the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act. After my letter are the responses my letter elicited from local Christians. The last letter is from Willie Pack, and his letter is the FIRST letter to the paper defending me. I appreciate Pack’s frequent letters to the editor. It is nice to have a fellow bear-poker.


Supreme court stood for fairness, justice (June 30, 2013)

The U.S. Supreme Court rightly determined that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Of course, those who oppose same-sex marriage are infuriated over the Court’s decision.

Mike Huckabee spoke for a number of people when he said the justices asserted that they were bigger than God. Huckabee, like others of similar persuasion, wrongly assumed that DOMA was all about what the Christian Bible said on the matter of same-sex marriage. According to Christian fundamentalists like Mike Huckabee, God and the Christian Bible condemn same-sex marriage and homosexuality.

What they fail to understand is that God and the Bible don’t matter when it comes to settling constitutional issues. The Supreme Court is God when it comes to determining what is constitutional. They have the final say. As citizens, we are free to amend the Constitution, but until we do, we must live according to the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court.

Jehovah, Allah, or Jesus have no say when it comes to what is the rule of law. The sooner people like Mike Huckabee understand that the United States is a secular state the better off it will be for our republic.

The Bible is not the standard by which we determine what our laws will be. We the people, through our elected officials and the ballot box, decide what our laws will be. Christians are free to live by the teachings of the Bible, but they have no right to demand that everyone live by those teachings.

For the past 40 years, evangelicals have been repeatedly told that the United States is a Christian nation, a nation that should follow the teachings of the Bible. As interpreted by evangelicals, no matter how many times historians correct their errant thinking, they continue to think that the United States is a Christian nation meant to be governed by the Bible.

I have come to the conclusion that trying to correct their errant thinking is a fool’s errand. Like those who deny global warming, think Obama is a Kenyan, think Ronald Reagan was a great president, and think Fox News is really a news channel, there is no remedy for their willful ignorance.

What matters is fairness and justice for all. Same-sex marriage is a matter of equal protection under the law. Gays have a right to expect to be treated equally when it comes to the law. In no way does this Supreme Court decision affect how evangelical Christians live their lives. They are free to practice their religion and get married just like they always have. Their ministers are free to not marry same-sex couples just like I am free to marry same-sex couples once same-sex marriage becomes legal in Ohio.

I applaud the Supreme Court for standing on the side of fairness, justice, and equal protection under the law. The battle now moves to the states and I suspect here in Ohio the battle will be long and bitter. I can only hope fairness and justice will ultimately prevail.

Bruce Gerencser

Only one way to change the Constitution (July 7, 2013)

Bruce Gerencser should use facts in his letters. His latest rant is so full of errors as to make his point completely obtuse. Here are a few examples:

1. The Supreme Court is not the final word as Gerencser claims. Article 3, Section 2, sentence 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: “In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” Did Gerencser miss the last part of the sentence where it says that the U.S. Congress can overturn a Supreme Court decision and then order the court never to hear another like it? This happened three times in the last 15 years in the Newdow cases.

2. Gerencser’s claim of the U.S. not being a Christian nation is absurd, as I can provide hundreds of thousands of documents — from the National Archives, the U.S. Congressional Library, Founding Fathers’ personal documents, etc. — not only proving that all our laws are based on Christian principals, but that this country did indeed start as a Christian nation. Or is Gerencser and others like him claiming that all of history is incorrect because they say so? That is the fool’s errand. Gerencser tries again to claim global warming is fact, yet NASA has repeatedly stated that global warming does not exist and the earth has not warmed in well over 10 years. Now is Gerencser claiming to know more then NASA?

3. The fact that Gerencser can marry anyone is laughable. He received his claimed ministerial credentials by professing a faith in a deity and swearing to follow that religions teachings. So unless he does so, then his authority to marry anyone under the same is null and void. Anyone he marries could actually find that they are not and never have been married. And last, the only way to change our Constitution is by a constitutional amendment.

According to state election rules direct from the secretary of state’s office, four million people voted in the last general election, and you must receive an equal amount of 10 percent of the voting population from each of the 88 counties, meaning that in a county like Defiance you must have 4,546 confirmed voters or the petition would fail in Defiance.

Without Defiance being included, the constitutional amendment would also fail. The chance you are going to get these signatures on a petition is slim to none. Even if it does pass, there is still the small matter of the Boy Scouts decision that clearly says that we cannot be forced to accept homosexuals, and this falls under the 10th Amendment which cannot be overturned by a decision of the Supremes as it trumps them, so what exactly has changed? Nothing.

History and facts yet again destroy the views of Gerencser. He should be used to that by now.

Daniel Gray

Communicating God’s warnings (July 10, 2013)

It is said that Christians are infuriated by the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriages, but in reality we are saddened by this decision, for we recognize it as another nail in our country’s coffin as we spiral down into more immortality.

When Jesus Christ, God’s only son, was here on earth, the pharisees (Israel’s religious leaders) asked him if it was helpful for the Jews to pay taxes to Caesar (Roman government). He asked, “Whose picture is on your coins?” They replied, “It is Caesar.” Jesus said, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give unto God what is God’s.”

So the Supreme Court, according to Caesar, gave the people what they believed belonged to them. But is this nation willing to give God what belongs to him? The Bible is God’s instructions from our creator to his human race on how we should live to show our gratitude to him for our life and be able to live peaceably with each other. He gave us laws in the Bible so we would know how a holy God expected us to reflect who he was, but in our “free will” we have decided to disobey these laws and brought death on ourselves. (Romans 3:10)

According to God’s word (the Bible), lying, stealing, adultery, murder and a man lying down with a man sexually, among others, are sins against God’s laws. (Romans 1:27-32). The penalty for our sins is death (Romans 6:23)

If you don’t believe the Bible is God’s instructions to sinful man how to live and their need of Jesus Christ to save them from God’s judgment on their soul (man has a body, soul and spirit) then you are “free” to sin all you choose to. But a Christian’s love of God and the human race compels us to speak out to people (Bill of Rights and Jesus’ gospel) the warnings about sin in God’s truthful Bible. (Romans 5:8 and 10:9-10)

Neither God nor Christians hate the person who commits sin for we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), but rather hates sin that destroys people’s lives, families and societies. (John 3:16)

Would this nation to be better off if we decided to obey God’s laws? Look back to our country’s foundation and the way God blessed us for our obedience. Our Constitution and Declaration of Independence were born out of lessons we learned of other nation’s tyranny and reflects our forefathers’ belief in God and biblical principles that would form a great society.

Anyone who promotes the sin of homosexuality is an enemy of God and the person he encourages to sin against his own body and God’s laws. This would be the same as promoting adultery, an enemy of families; promoting abortion, an enemy of innocent, unborn children; or pornography, an enemy of men in their thoughts and respect for women or wives in their marriage vows as well as against God.

Christians speak up about sin of a nation because God wants to use us as a warning of his anger about sin that destroys his human race. These are not our judgments, as we have none, but rather God’s warnings about sin’s results.

Dennis Hanna
rural Defiance

“Tolerance” is a relative term (July 14, 2013)

Gay rights, tolerance and Paula Deen.

The reader may wonder what the above topics have in common. They are all part of our current national discourse — and all relevant considerations in discussing the condition of our free society.

The country has become so sensitized to intolerance that it has become more intolerant than ever!

One recent example of such radical intolerance was the Paula Deen fiasco. She was a popular celebrity with a cooking show on the Food Network. She apparently admitted during a deposition that 20 years ago she uttered a “racial slur.” She tried to explain that acceptable terminology was different back then, but her explanation fell on deaf ears. The very next day her sponsors quit and her show was canceled. She was instantly condemned by those “tolerant” people.

Another example of intolerance disguising itself as a plea for “fairness” was the letter to the editor of June 30 written by Bruce Gerencser. Mr. Gerencser was campaigning for fairness and justice for same-sex couples while bashing all sorts of folks who may disagree with him on a wide variety of topics. It would seem that someone who pleads for “fairness” for his own chosen group should practice what he preaches and be fair to others with views contrary to his, instead of labeling them en masse “wilfully ignorant.”

I do agree with Mr. Gerencser on one small point: In discussing the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, he said that in interpreting constitutionality, the U.S. Supreme Court is “God.” (I would have said “god.”) Their decision is the law of the land. But he should read it again. It did not say that DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was wholly unconstitutional. It said that one section was. The only holding was that same-sex couples are entitled to the same federal benefits as straight couples.

The Supreme Court did not say that states cannot prohibit same-sex marriages. That issue has not been decided.

In his first campaign, President Obama was quoted as saying that the United States is no longer a “Christian nation.” I was rankled by that statement, but I understood what he meant. He meant that this nation welcomed all faiths, not just Christians. Mr. Gerencser emphasized that this is a secular nation, and is not to be “governed” by the Bible. While I agree with that in principle, I believe that the nation should be governed in accordance with the philosophy of the majority of its citizens. If that philosophy is the same as the principles taught by Christ, so be it.

This nation has been caught up in the obsession of granting to every minority (no matter how small) every possible right, privilege, advantage or demand that the rights of the majority seem to be disappearing.

I believe in tolerance for another person’s views and even tolerance for another person’s sexual idiosyncracies, but when the “tolerated” minority takes advantage of the tolerance of the majority and asserts “rights” contrary to the will of the majority, what happens to the concept of majority rule?

When “tolerance” becomes the mantra for those seeking to change society, and clarifications are not acceptable and dissent is rejected, have we not sacrificed our freedom of speech in our quest for “fairness?”

By the way, I happen to think that Ronald Reagan was one of our greatest presidents, and I will not accept Mr. Gerencser’s intolerant epithet for that belief.

John Goldenetz

Atheists will wish they had believed (July 17 ,2013)

So the atheists believe that there is no God and that they can put a monument in the form of a bench beside the granite stone with the Ten Commandment signifying that it is empty and there is no God.

We believers serve a God that cannot be seen with the carnal eye. God is so holy I believe, if we see him, we would surely die. Our God is invisible, he is a spirit and spirits cannot be seen. Who is to say that the Lord God didn’t work it out for them to place that bench beside the granite stone so he could sit there, relax and admire the granite stone with his Ten Commandments on it?

On judgment day, they are going to wish they had believed on him who they cannot see. By then it will be too late. May the Lord have mercy on them.

Joe Trevino

Focus on issues, not the person (July 21, 2013)

This letter is my brief response to Daniel Gray’s recent letter to the editor.

Gray continues to paint me as a liar, a deceiver, immoral, and an all-round bad person. Gray does not know me personally, so I am not sure how he comes to the conclusions he does about me. I have never made one of my letters personal, yet Daniel Gray and a few other letter writers think it is okay to attack my character and suggest that I am not a good person.

As a public figure, I know I must endure such attacks, but I wish my critics would focus on the issues rather than the person. If they would like to have a public discussion on these issues, I am quite willing to participate in any public forum they put together.

For the third time Gray suggests that I am not legally able to marry people and that anyone married by me is in danger of having their marriage invalidated. Gray seems to not understand the legal requirements for being licensed to marry people in Ohio. I meet all the statutory requirements and I am duly licensed to marry people in Ohio. Anyone can verify this by doing a ministerial license search on the Ohio Secretary of state’s website.

Bruce Gerencser

Some claim to have all the answers (August 25, 2013)

Most Christians are biblically illiterate and just assume that whatever is said from the pulpit has God’s seal of approval. Also, by claiming the moral high road of biblical literalism, fundamentalist have life and faith wrapped up in a neat little package, believing they have all the answers.

Furthermore, self-righteous, self-serving fundamentalist and evangelicals on both sides of the political spectrum insist on trying to restrict or mold God to fit within the narrow confines of their beliefs, then, claim him for their side in order to promote themselves and their own political agendas.

If God exists, he does not dabble in politics, and much too often those who claim to speak for him end up speaking only for themselves.

Fundamentalists like Richard Mastin are always making apocalyptic predictions, literal doom and gloom for this nation and all of us if we do not follow their narrow-minded belief system.

What would be the consequences for us and this nation if we accepted their beliefs and were governed with a literal interpretation of the Bible? The violation of many biblical texts is punishable by death, and women are told to subject themselves to their husbands, thus becoming second-class citizens. If Americans are going to be the new chosen people as most fundamentalists seem to believe, surely we will have to enforce all of God’s holy texts. The ignoring of inconvenient biblical passages must cease.

The turmoil in the Middle East is proof positive that religion and government do not mix. Many Christians, however, will say the Christian religion is a peaceful religion and that cannot happen here. Anyone who believes this should take an unbiased look at the history of the Christian religion.

Believers have used biblical passages to kill and to justify killing, slavery, hate campaigns against homosexuals, minorities, women and anyone who questions their beliefs or believes differently, leaving a trail of pain, horror, blood and death that is undeniable.

Our secular government guarantees all of its citizens freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Fundamentalists, however, have made many clumsy attempts aimed at silencing Mr. Gerencser through intimidation and denigration.

Can anyone doubt that if they had the power of past ages, they would summon him before the court of the Inquisition? They all seem to be vying for the position of head inquisitor. What would be his crime other than not sharing their beliefs and daring to say so publicly? Are they really that intolerant of others’ beliefs or just afraid their beliefs cannot stand up to a little scrutiny?

With all of the different religions, denominations and sects on this planet, one thing is for certain: We are all going to hell according to somebody’s religion.

Willie Pack

Graphic drawn by Tom Fishburne

Published: August 29, 2013 | Comments: 8