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The Wire: Six-Inch Rule Strictly Enforced

orlandos the wire 2

Polly and I are re-watching The Wire on MAX — arguably the best series of all time. One episode featured a scene from Orlando’s Gentlemen’s Club — a strip club operated by Orlando, but owned by Baltimore drug dealer Avon Barksdale.

The scene under discussion took place in Orlando’s dressing room for the strippers. On the wall was a sign that reminded me of my days as a dorm student at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan:

orlandos the wire

As you can see, someone marked out the six and wrote a one. 🙂 If you have ever been to a strip club, you would see that the one-inch rule better reflects reality, and in venues where lap dances are given, the distance number is actually zero. (Please see Short Stories: The Preacher Goes to the XXX Movie House.)

The sign got me thinking about my days as a dorm student at Midwestern. The college had a six-inch rule too. Dorm students were forbidden from getting closer than six inches to the opposite sex. Breaking this rule could result in expulsion from college. Please read Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six-Inch Rule, if you have not already done so.

six inch rule midwestern baptist college 1970s

Much like the sign at Orlando’s Gentlemen’s Club, the six-inch rule (the width of a hymnbook) was universally ignored by dorm students. The rule was strictly followed when at school or in public dorm spaces. However, away from the college, say on a double date, the rule was cast aside for normal, healthy heterosexual experiences. Polly and I did not kiss each other until we had been dating for four months. We did the dirty deed during Christmas break while I was visiting Polly at her parent’s home in Newark, Ohio. And once we tasted the forbidden fruit, there was no going back. While we were virgins on our wedding day, more than a few students couldn’t wait, rounding third and sliding into home before saying “I do.”

I don’t know of a dorm couple who didn’t break the six-inch rule. Some got caught and were either campused (lost dating privileges) or expelled, but most couples learned how to play the game (and who to double date with) and escaped punishment. Polly and I certainly feared getting caught and being expelled, but the six-inch rule was no match for raging hormones.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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When Did Opening a Door for a Woman Become Offensive?

man opens door for woman

As a child, I was taught to be polite, defer to others, and respect personal space. Polly and I taught our children to do the same. It has come to light recently in counseling that these things are so deeply ingrained in me, that they actually cause me harm, allowing family, friends, and strangers alike to take advantage of me. As someone who has a lot of health problems, I need to do a better job at self-care instead of always deferring to others. It’s okay to walk out the door of the gym first instead of holding the door so 20 physically fit people can exit before me. They can wait, my counselor told me, and, of course, she is right. That said, it hard for me to think this way. When I see someone behind me walking up to the same door as I am, I naturally open the door for them and allow them to go first. It’s just how I am. From letting people pull ahead of me in a parking lot line to allowing people to go ahead of me in the grocery checkout, I have always been polite and respectful.

Two weeks ago, I went to a basketball game at nearby Fairview High School. I walk with a cane, a halting, shuffling cut of a man who self-describes as a “slow-moving vehicle. As I walked towards the outer door, a mother and three teen girls came up behind me. As I started to open the door, I held it open, and said to the woman and girls behind me, “Ladies first.” I meant nothing other than being polite — no different from how I have behaved my entire adult life. (I would have said “gentlemen if they were men, young man, if a boy.)

The teen girls thanked me, my not Momma. Evidently, I had violated some sort of feminist rule. Instead of saying “thanks,” she glared at me. As we reached the inner door, I once again held it open for the girls and their mother, along with Polly and Bethany — who have watched me do this countless times over the years, both for men, women, and children. The girls, Polly, and Bethany said thanks and walked through the door. Not, Momma. She once again glared at me and instead of walking through the door I was holding, walked over to another door and entered there.

I said nothing. I have run into a few women over the years who don’t want a man doing anything for them. In their minds, walking through a door held open for them by a person with a penis is offensive. Evidently, letting a man hold a door for you and geting something for you off a shelf that is too high for you, is some sort of admission of weakness or giving into the patriarchy. Child, please.

Forget my sex. I am just a fellow human being who is generally polite and defers to others. Gender does not enter into the equation. I hold the door open for men, women, grandparents, and even children. When someone opens the door for me, especially if it is a child or teenager, I always thank them, letting them know that I appreciate their kindness.

Do you have a problem with people opening the door for you or performing other acts of kindness? If you are a woman, does it upset you if a man opens a door for you or helps you in some other way? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Blacks

black sin colors

Race is a social construct used to sort people into groups according to skin color, birth parents, geography, melanin levels, and DNA. As a child in an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Sunday school, I was taught with the song Jesus Loves the Little Children to categorize people as red, yellow, black, and white. Later, the brown skin tone was added to the ditty.

Video Link

Recently, MSNBC host Joy Reid educated a C-Span caller about the use of words such as negro and Black.

The caller asked:

Around the time of Medgar Evers, you know, you had the signs of, you know, Negroes and colored people, this and, you know, all of that. Why are we still using the synonym Black? There are no Black people. If we’re going to start calling immigrants that come through the border brown people, let’s call the brown people, all the brown people, brown people and, like, really take hold of the narrative instead of, like, I don’t know if people have actually looked up the color black in the dictionary, It’s not something, why would you want to call your children that?

The caller also argued that black means “darkness, void,” saying “You know, that’s part of the discrimination. We are not black people. We are brown.” (It seems to me the caller was Black.)

Reid, who is Black, replied:

Because the term Negro was, is a made up term that was made up by white supremacists in order to label Black people who came from multiple ethnic groups and throw them all together. So when Africans were taken in slavery to America, you’re mixing tribes that had no genetic relationship other than all being Negro. And so the idea of whiteness and blackness was invented in America. It didn’t exist before the 16th century. No white people in Europe who are all different ethnicities, whether they’re Italian or Greek or British or German, they didn’t call themselves white.

And so when people reclaimed the term black in the 1960s, it was because they had decided to empower themselves. It was a term that felt to them more powerful than simply using the term Negro, which had been invented by enslavers. So I don’t see any problem with black. Black is a term that can mean power. It can mean beauty. It doesn’t have to mean darkness and horror.

Much like with preferred pronouns, when I want to know how a person wants to be identified, I ask them. Now, that’s a novel thought, right? 🙂 I don’t assume how they self-identify. I grew up in a home and a generation where it was normal to call Blacks negroes or niggers. Mexicans were called spicks and Asians were called slant eyes or mongoloids. My parents were Jesus-loving, John Birch-supporting racists, and so was I well into adulthood. I regret being so, my only justification being that was how I was raised, that was what was modeled to me, and it was the only thing I knew. When you know better, you do better — or you should anyway.

As a writer, I want to properly and accurately identify people. Years ago, a gay person educated me about how the words homosexual or homosexuality, much like words such as sodomy and sodomite, are generally viewed as slurs. Knowing this, I stopped using the words unless I’m describing the views of Evangelical bigots. I now use the LGBTQ acronym or what the individual letters mean.

As far as I can ascertain, I have never had a lot of Black readers. Some, but not many. When I wanted to know whether I should use the terms African-American or Black, I contacted my Black readers and asked them what they preferred. To the person, they said they preferred to be identified as Black. Several of them yearned for a world where we didn’t divide people according to skin color, but as long as they were going to be identified in this way, they wanted to be called Black. And that’s what I have done going forward.

Black when referring to someone’s race should be capitalized. Carolyn and I discussed this issue, concluding that if we are going to capitalize Black we should also capitalize White. And so it is. The goal is to not only accurately identify people, but to also identify them as they personally self-identify or in the manner that their community as a whole self-identifies.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Sorry Coach Chris Goodwin, the Real Issue is Bigotry, Not Basketball

basketball

Chris Goodwin is the girl’s basketball coach at Mid-Vermont Christian School in Hartford, Vermont. Mid-Vermont is an Evangelical institution.

In a February 2023 game, Mid-Vermont played a team with a transgender player. Rather than infect his players with transgender cooties, Goodwin forfeited the game.

When asked about why he forfeited the game, Goodwin said:

The team was not on our schedule during the year but we did see we might have the possibility of playing them in the playoffs,” he said. “As the season came to an end, that is the scenario that worked itself out. After discussions with our administration and players and parents, we decided that instead of going against our religious beliefs, … we decided to forfeit that game and withdraw from the tournament.

I’ve got four daughters. I’ve coached them all at one point in their careers playing high school basketball. I’ve also filled in for the boy’s coach when he can’t make a practice, and I run those practices, and boys just play at a different speed, a different force … than the girls play.

Goodwin also said that he was worried that one of his players could be hurt if they played against a biological boy.

Vicky Fogg, the head of Mid-Vermont, stated:

Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports sets a bad precedent for the future of women’s sports in general.

While Goodwin wants people to think that he forfeited the game out of concern for player safety, the real issue, as Goodwin himself stated, is the school’s beliefs about transgender people. In other words, the real issue is religiously motivated bigotry, not basketball. Having watched girl’s high school basketball since the 1980s, I can tell you that the girl’s game is every bit as physical and violent as the boy’s game. Yes, the boys can run faster and jump higher, but when considering physicality itself, the girls’ game is quite physical — especially when players hit the floor over a loose ball or when playing aggressive full-court man-to-man defense.

There’s an argument to be had about transgender girls/women in sports. Many transgender people agree. However, the place to have that discussion is not the gymnasium, right before the start of a game. Goodwin thoroughly embarrassed the transgender player and her teammates — was that his intent? — and robbed his own players of the opportunity of playing in a tournament game. Why? The Bible says ___________.

And people such as Goodwin wonder why an increasing number of people think Evangelicals are bigots.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Is Taylor Swift a Satanist?

I think when you’re looking at a lot of the artists out there, a lot of their stage shows are satanic rituals live in front of 20,000 people without them realizing and recognizing.

You’ll see a lot of hoods up and masks on and fire ceremonies. Even down to Taylor Swift — one of the biggest artists in the world — you watch one of her shows and she has two or three different demonic rituals to do with the pentagrams on the ground, to do with all sorts of stuff on her stage. … But to a lot of people it’s just art and that’s how people are seeing it, unfortunately.

When it comes to a lot of the music that’s out there at the moment — more of the hip-hop side of things — there is a lot of hidden satanic and a lot of evil within them, including down to the beats. It’s very real.

Music attaches to your emotions. It has a connection to your spirit and how you feel. That’s why I’ve stopped listening to those types of music myself because it doesn’t suit my spirit.

It 100 percent has an effect on society. I think our society has never been worse in many areas, and it starts from our children.

It’s coming in right at our children from the very beginning to get them to sway away from anything Godly, anything controlled or disciplined. It’s getting wilder and wilder out there for a reason. … Music is dangerous.

Shane Lynch, Irish Christian Musician

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Update: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Kevin Madden Facing Trial for Sex Crimes

pastor kevin madden

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In 2021, Kevin Madden, a youth pastor at Discover Church in Rogers, Arkansas, was accused of two counts of sexual indecency with a child and engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for visual and print medium.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported:

A former youth pastor was released Saturday from the Benton County Jail after posting a $50,000 bond following his arrest in connection with sex crimes involving two teen girls.

Kevin James Madden, 31, of Rogers was arrested in connection with two counts of sexual indecency with a child and engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for visual and print medium. Prosecutors haven’t filed formal charges against him.

….

Madden was the youth pastor at Discover Church in Rogers, according to a probable cause affidavit. The church said in a statement that Madden was placed on administrative leave when church authorities were made aware of the allegations. The church then contacted the girls and their parents, according to the statement.

“On Monday, May 3, we were told that the allegations seemed to be valid, but the detective could not give us a definitive answer at that time,” according to the statement. “On Friday, we were officially made aware that all allegations were true.”

….

Cassandra Brewer, the wife of the church’s pastor, reported to police that a church member told her Madden had sent photographs of his “private parts to a 17-year-old girl,” according to the affidavit. Brewer told police he started sending the images when the girl was 16.

Brewer reported Madden also may have been sending photographs to another girl, according to the affidavit.

….

One girl told police Madden started paying close attention to her when she turned 16, and he grabbed her and attempted to kiss her in the game room at the church, according to the affidavit. She told police Madden sent her a photograph of him in the shower.

The teen said she stopped going to the church because Madden was making her feel uncomfortable, according to the affidavit.

The second teen, a 15-year-old girl, told police Madden asked her to send him a nude photograph, according to the affidavit.

Madden told police he sent a photograph of himself to the older girl, according to the affidavit.

Channel 5 reported:

On April 30, 2021, a member of the Discover Church in Rogers reported a crime involving a minor. The tipster told police that a juvenile female from the church had come forward saying that the youth pastor, Kevin Madden, had sent sexual pictures to her and that he had sent inappropriate text messages to another minor in the church. 

During the course of their investigation, detectives learned that Madden had allegedly tried to kiss one of the girls at a church event and that he harassed her while she was at work. The girl also accused Madden of sending pictures of his penis and photos of himself showering to her over Snapchat. That other girl stated that Madden asked her to send him nude photos. 

A detective spoke with Madden at his home, where he initially denied the allegations against him. He said he had made mistakes with the juveniles but that he had not touched them. Madden went on to say what started as talks about one of the girl’s relationships and boyfriends had turned into inappropriate conversations. He then admitted to sending a picture of his penis to the girl and photos of him in the shower. 

Madden denied asking the other female to send him nude photos, according to a court affidavit. 

The detective requested a warrant for Madden’s arrest for engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print media and two counts of sexual indecency with a child. 

Three years later, Madden’s case is finally headed to trial.

KNWA reports:

The trial for a former Rogers youth pastor accused of sending nude pictures of himself to a minor has been set, according to court documents.

Kevin Madden, 34, was arrested on May 7, 2021, for engaging children in sexually explicit conduct and two counts of sexual indecency with a child charges.

Madden will have a pretrial hearing on Aug. 28. The trial is set to begin on Sept. 17.

On April 30, 2021, a member of Discover Church in Rogers reported to Rogers police that a pastor at the church, identified as Madden, had sent sexual pictures to a minor. The member told police that a girl from the church came forward saying the youth pastor sent sexually explicit pictures to her and sent inappropriate text messages to another in the church.

During the investigation, police found that Madden allegedly attempted to kiss one of the girls at an event at the church and harassed her while she was at work. She also accused Madden of sending sexual photos over Snapchat of him showering.

The other girl said to police that Madden had asked her to send him nude photos.

Madden spoke to detectives at his home and he initially denied the allegations and said he made mistakes with juveniles but didn’t touch them. He said what started as talks about relationships and boyfriends turned into conversations that became inappropriate.

He then admitted that he sent nude photos of him in the shower.

After his arrest, Discover Church released a statement saying, “We do not take the safety of our members, our students, and our children lightly. We acted swiftly to contact authorities and ensure a path to finding the truth in the situation.”

Madden pleaded not guilty to the charges in June 2021.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Ronnie Killingsworth Charged with Sex Crimes Against Minor Girls

pastor ronnie killingsworth

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Ronnie Killingsworth, pastor of Rephidim Church (an Independent Bible church) in Wichita, Texas, has been charged with six counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact.

Texoma’s reports:

Ronnie Allen Killingsworth, 78, of Wichita Falls, is charged with six counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. The indictment alleged Killingsworth committed sex crimes against three different female victims under the age of 17 over the course of eleven years.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, officials with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, tasked with prosecuting the case against Killingsworth, filed a notice filled with multiple alleged bad acts or offenses they intend to introduce into evidence.

The state’s notice filed on Tuesday includes previously unreleased details on the indecency charges pending against Killingsworth, the longtime “Pastor-Teacher” of Rephidim Church, a non-affiliated congregation located on Allendale Road in Wichita Falls.

Previously, it was unknown whether or not the allegations against Killingsworth were connected to Rephidim Church. However, new details in the state’s notice appear to confirm that at least five of the six charges are linked to the church.

The state’s notice alleged that in October 2000, Killingsworth touched a female victim under 17 years old and kissed her.

According to the state’s notice, in September 2001, Killingsworth allegedly touched a second female victim under the age of 17 and told her that if she didn’t separate from her friendships outside of the church, she would be kicked out.

The state’s notice also alleged Killingsworth told the victim that she was a bad child and that God would punish her if she didn’t do what he said. He’s also accused of telling the victim that God would punish her family if she disobeyed.

Court documents alleged that when the victim told her mother that Killingsworth touched her, Killingsworth said that all he did was spank her and that the child was a liar. He is also accused of telling the victim that if she continued to dress provocatively, she would end up getting treated in a derogatory way.

According to the state’s notice, on May 29, 2011, Killingsworth allegedly touched one of the victims, a female under the age of 17, while discussing “duties such as sex and babies.”

Killingsworth is also accused of making the first alleged victim touch him and grooming the victim by showing favoritism by giving the victim books and instructing them to “keep the books secret and not tell anyone.”

….

While released on bond, Killingsworth is prohibited from having any contact with the victims. He is also prohibited from going to the victims’ home, daycare, or school. Killingsworth is also required to provide a specimen of DNA to local law enforcement.

Concho Valley Home Page reports:

Killingsworth is the longtime “Pastor-Teacher” of Rephidim Church, a non-affiliated congregation located on Allendale Road in Wichita Falls, founded in 1972.

According to former members of Rephidim Church, Killingsworth previously served as the pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Iowa Park before he was asked to resign. A small following of members split from that church and formed Rephidim Church.

In January 1999, several former members of the church told reporters with KFDX and KJTL that they’d decided to leave the church due to the teachings of Killingsworth, claiming they contained “the tell-tale signs of a cult.”

However, during a phone interview with former KFDX Reporter Megan Henderson in 1999, Killingsworth adamantly denied being a cult leader.

After the recent indecency with a child charges were filed against Killingsworth, several former members spoke out with similar allegations.

Many of the “extraneous offenses and bad acts” alleged by the prosecution in the notice filed on Tuesday are teachings from Killingsworth that appear to confirm the statements made by former members of Rephidim Church.

According to the notice, the prosecution alleged that Killingsworth “controlled the congregation through fear, manipulation, and brainwashing.”

The state’s notice alleged that Killingsworth taught his congregation that they weren’t allowed to have a personal relationship with God. They said Killingsworth taught that they couldn’t know God without the teaching of their “right pastor teacher,” who was Killingsworth.

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth discouraged his church members from reading the Bible and to only listen to his interpretation. The notice said the congregation was not allowed to question Killingsworth, his teachings, procedures, or authority.

The notice alleged that Killingsworth “preached that he was the only pastor in the United States who is teaching the truth.” The notice said Killingsworth claimed to be the only person in the area authorized to teach God’s word and that “all other pastors in the area are considered evil and leading people astray.”

The prosecution alleged in the notice that Killingsworth taught his congregation the doctrine of separation, meaning that his members were only allowed to socialize with people within the congregation.

The notice said Killingsworth taught that congregants were not allowed to associate with family members unless they were members of the church and that Rephidim members were only allowed to marry someone in the church.

According to the prosecution’s notice, Killingsworth taught that once someone left the church, they were to be shunned or exiled, that people who left the church were called “Satan’s minions,” “enemies of the cross,” or “dead flies.”

The prosecution’s notice also alleged that Killingsworth would single out people from the pulpit, would yell for people to sit down and shut up from the pulpit, and would kick people out during his sermons. Members were not allowed to miss church unless there was a serious medical condition, and if they did miss, they were required to listen to recorded lessons.

The prosecution listed in its notice of extraneous offenses and bad acts several additional teachings and actions of Killingsworth that don’t qualify as a warning sign of a cult but are nonetheless shocking and alarming.

The prosecution accused Killingsworth in its notice of having lunch with a minor child and the child’s parent just days after he was indicted for indecency with multiple children.

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth would preach in front of children about sexualized topics from the Bible, including sodomy, rape, homosexuality, bestiality, BDSM, and demonic influences during sex. The prosecution also alleged that Killingsworth taught “rape is divine discipline from God.”

The prosecution alleged in its notice that Killingsworth preached that “all homosexuals should be put to death” and that “gay people are demon-possessed.” They also accused Killingsworth of kicking his own daughter out of the church due to her sexual orientation.

The prosecution also accuses Killingsworth of racist teachings. The notice alleged that Killingsworth taught “the Black race is cursed by God” and that “their skin is black because they are cursed.”

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth allegedly told his congregation not to read certain books or watch certain TV shows and movies. He’s accused of teaching that “Harry Potter would cause children to practice witchcraft” and that “the rhythm of rock music came from African tribes who were worshipping Satan.”

Killingsworth is accused of not allowing women to hold positions of power or be deacons in the church.

The state’s notice alleged Killingsworth told parents to spank their children for any infraction that went against his teaching. They also alleged Killingsworth himself would spank children.

According to the prosecution, Killingsworth allegedly taught that if something bad happened to a member of the congregation, they were being disciplined by God. He’s also accused of dissuading congregants from seeking outside therapy or counseling for mental health medication.

The prosecution also accuses Killingsworth of plagiarizing his sermons and writings. The state also alleged Killingsworth taught lessons by a theologian who was an open antisemite and a supporter of Nazi Germany.

Sounds like an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church to me.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor David Helbling Accused of Sexually Assaulting a Minor

pastor david helbling

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

David Helbling, a pastor at The Blessing Center First Assembly of God in Moreno Valley, California, stands accused of sexually assaulting a minor.

Audacy reports:

A 78-year-old pastor accused of sexually assaulting a young girl pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple felony charges.

David Lee Helbling of Moreno Valley was arrested last month following a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation.

Helbling is charged with oral copulation of a child under 10 years old, abduction of a minor, forcible lewd acts on a child, perpetrating three or more sexual acts on a minor and a sentence-enhancing allegation of bodily injury during a sexual assault.

The defendant was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Gail O’Rane, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for April 9 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

Helbling is being held on $2 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Martinez, deputies were informed at the end of January of an alleged attack on the victim, identified in court documents only as “E.A.,” in the 23000 block of Hemlock Avenue, near Pigeon Pass Road.

The ensuing investigation led to the identification of Helbling, a local minister, as the alleged perpetrator.

Martinez said a search warrant was obtained and served at the defendant’s residence, where “evidence related to the crime was collected, and Helbling was taken into custody without incident.”

Court papers indicated the defendant committed the alleged offenses all on the same day — Jan. 30.

“It is alleged that in connection with the commission of the offenses, Helbling … kidnapped the victim, and the movement of the victim substantially increased the risk of harm,” according to the criminal complaint. “The defendant resided in the same home, and (he) had recurring access (to her) with the intent of arousing, appealing to and gratifying (his) lust, passions and sexual desires.”

No other details were disclosed, including the house of worship where Helbling has presided.

The charges carry a potential maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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The Evangelical Replacement Doctrine

christian sex stores

Repost from 2015. Edited, rewritten, and corrected.

Evangelical Christianity teaches that the true followers of Jesus are to be IN the world but not OF the world. The writer of the book of 1 John wrote:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Notice what is being taught here:

  • Christians are not to love the world
  • Christians are not to love the things of the world
  • If any professing Christian loves the world, the love of God the Father is not in him (they are not a Christian)
  • All that is in the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, does not come from God the Father but is from the world
  • The world and its lusts will someday pass away, but those (Christians) who do the will of God (not loving the world or the things of the world) will abide (live with God) forever.

Many Evangelical Christians I know live in constant turmoil concerning the “world.” They know the Bible commands them to not love the world or the things that are in the world, but dammit, they just so happen to LIVE in the world they are not to love.

What’s are Evangelicals to do? They don’t want to be Amish or withdraw into a cult-like Jonestown or Waco, so they try to make peace with the world by practicing what I call the “replacement doctrine.”

The Christian church has practiced the replacement doctrine for at least 1,700 years. The Roman Catholic Church appropriated heathen holidays and replaced them with a Christian version. Christmas and Easter, both pagan in origin, were replaced by Christian versions of the holidays. Throughout history, Christians have been quite willing to take what the world has to offer, repackage it, and call it their own.

Jesus Ween is a Popular Evangelical Replacement for Halloween

In the twenty-first century, Evangelicals are quite adept at practicing the replacement doctrine. There is a Christian version of everything;

Anything the world has, Christians have a replacement for it. The only problem is this: most of the Christian replacements suck. Anyone want to argue that Christian music, TV, radio, or movies are of better quality than what the world puts out? I know I sure don’t. Is Fireproof better quality than A Thief in the Night? Sure, but both movies are little more than evangelistic tools meant to win the lost and encourage the faithful. As their Redbox account or Netflix queue delightfully shows, Evangelicals love the world’s movies. They may watch Courageous, God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2, or Facing the Giants, but they secretly and guiltily love Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead, and Westworld.

Instead of being counter-cultural and realizing that being NOT of the world means NOT indulging in the things of the world, Christians are heaven-bent on having their cake and eating it too. If a person is going to be a Bible-believing, Jesus-worshiping Evangelical Christian, then it means doing without what the world has to offer. If they are unwilling to practice what the Bible preaches, then perhaps it is time for them to stop saying “I am a Christian.” Remember, the Christian road is a straight and narrow way and few be there that find it.

christian mingle

Let’s face it, the world is fun. The things the world has to offer are far beyond anything the Christian church can offer, and Evangelicals need to realize their attempts to replace the world with Christianized versions are embarrassing and silly. There’s nothing worse than watching Christians try to act hip and cool all the while saying they love Jesus. Get in or get out . . .

As a card-carrying atheist, I love the world and the things that are in the world. Yes, the world is dangerous and its allurements can hurt and destroy. World-walkers must be vigilant and tread carefully. That said, I have no desire to go back to the cheap illusions found in Evangelical Christianity. Why would I ever want to go back to the silly imitations that Christians use to replace the things of the world? No thanks.

I realize this puts me at odds with Jesus and John. They were wrong about the world. The world in and of itself is not the problem. Yes, the world is a wild, wooly place. I get it: play with fire and you might get burnt. However, avoidance and replacement are not the answer.

Discernment and maturity are well suited and necessary for the world-walker. Instead of a book that plots out the way people must walk, giving them a long list of thou shalt nots, the world-walker must investigate and judge every thing and every experience encountered while on the path of life. Rational, careful, reasoned thinking is required every step of the way.

It is far easier to be an Evangelical Christian: the Bible is clear, do this and thou shalt live. No need for judgment and discernment, the Bible covers everything and everyone in the world. Isn’t that great? No need to think, just do what Jesus the pastor/evangelist/elder/bishop/more mature Christians than you say and all will be well.

Many Evangelicals — because of the teachings of the Bible — attempt to avoid the common bond they have with other humans. We are ALL world-walkers, people of the dust. Instead of trying to avoid the world or replace the world with cheap imitations, the Evangelical church would be better served if they truly and completely embraced the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Instead of an US vs.THEM way of thinking, how much better would the world be if we were all one, a oneness that would make a universalist shout?

Come on in Christian friend. The worldly end of the pool is warm and the company is grand (though you might be bothered a bit by the skimpy bathing suits). Once you try the deep end of the pool, you will never want to go back to the kiddie end of the pool. Really, who wants to listen to Christian rock when you can listen to the real thing? Stop worrying about what Jesus would do. Embrace your humanity, and enjoy the only life you will ever have.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Why Can’t Evangelicals Speak the Truth About Donald Trump?

trump the liar

While there are certainly Evangelicals who publicly speak out against Donald Trump, they are black swans in a bevy of white ones. They exist, but largely have no meaningful voice within Evangelicalism. In the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, over 80 percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. And come November, I have no doubt that most of these “godly” followers of Jesus will vote for him again. What has happened to Evangelicals that they can no longer see things from a Biblical or moral perspective? How is it that Evangelical churches have become the “ministry of truth” for Trump and his fellow MAGA Republicans? What happened to Evangelical commitments to holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord?

Remember the President Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal? Remember Clinton’s lies? At the time, I was the pastor of Somerset Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation in the Appalachian foothills of southeast Ohio. The Sunday following news reports of Clinton’s immoral, adulterous behavior, I took to the pulpit and lambasted him, pointing out that he claimed to be a Christian, yet he seduced a young college intern and had sex with her. I know of other Evangelical preachers who did the same. It seemed clear to me at the time that our political leaders, including President Clinton, must be held to high moral and ethical standards. If churches and pastors were to be clarions of morality and virtue, then politicians — Democrats and Republicans alike — must be held accountable for immoral and unethical behavior. While my view has moderated a bit over the ensuing years, I still believe that people who work for and serve the public, be they politicians, preachers, lawyers, policemen, doctors, or school teachers, must be held to high standards. Using your power and authority to seduce and take sexual advantage of vulnerable women (and men) is morally wrong, and people who engage in such behavior, including presidents and congresspeople, should lose their jobs.

My how things have changed. Trump, who claims to be a Christian — James Dobson called him a “baby Christian” — is immune from criticism and accountability for his immoral, unethical, and sinful behaviors; sins so heinous that the Bible says that people who commit such sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Charisma News is, by far, the biggest defender of all things Trump. There is no crime or sin so bad that Charisma can’t find a writer to defend, justify, or deflect Trump’s wickedness. Take Oscar Amaechina, the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network and a frequent author for Charisma. With Trump’s orgiastic juices dripping from the corner of his lips after giving his small-dicked hero metaphorical head, Amaechina has nothing but praise for Donald J. Trump — a man well known for his sexual and financial crimes; a man who lies so often that it is impossible for him to tell the truth.

Recently, Amaechina had this to say about twice impeached ex-president Trump:

Now, it is clear to everyone that Donald Trump has many moral failures.  Some have described him as a racist, others a corrupt leader, and some say he is a liar. But If he wins the primary of his party, between him and Biden, who do you think will create an environment for Christianity to thrive? Or do we pretend that our faith does not matter when politics are concern? Sincere answers to these questions will guide your decisions come November.

I know that Trump has his weaknesses, but he did something that endeared him to us in Nigeria. On September 8, 2020, our then-president Muhammadu Buhari said: “I believe I was about the only African amongst the least developed countries that Trump invited and when I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is a witness, he looked at me in the face and said, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’”

It takes a man who believes in the sanctity of life and love for humanity to ask such delicate and sensitive questions. I must confess that I was touched by this question which indicated that someone cares about the survival of the Nigerian Christians. Now that no one is asking this question, we have seen how Nigerian Christians are slaughtered on a daily basis recklessly.

This is not the time to be politically correct, nor the time for interdenominational criticisms. The evangelicals should also know that this is not the time to discriminate or claim that they can do it all alone. This is the time to bring everyone who calls on the name of Christ together. All should pray and work hard so that all will be free to practice their faith when religious freedom is restored first in America and then all around the world, including in my own country of Nigeria.

When one of you says, “’I am a follower of Paul,’ and another says, ‘I follow Apollos,’ aren’t you acting just like people of the world?” (1 Corinthians 3:4) A house divided against itself shall not stand (Mark 3:25). I am not oblivious to the fact that Trump and Biden claim to be Christians, but it is not about their claims that should matter to American Christians, but their dispositions.

Who between the two will favor the course of the Christian faith? Let all American people of faith vote to have freedom to serve their God without intimidation or harassment.

Amaechina admits that it is clear that Trump has many moral failures, yet he ignores them because all that matters is what Trump will deliver for Christians politically. Amaechina adds “Some have described him as a racist, others a corrupt leader, and some say he is a liar.” What I want to know is this: does Amaechina think Trump is a racist, corrupt leader, and a liar? The evidence is clear, Trump is all three. He is also a pussy-grabbing rapist and pervert, a man with licentious sexual appetites. We know just by listening to the man that he cannot tell the truth, even when there is no need to lie. We know he is in bed with dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Viktor Orban. We know he is a narcissist, a psychopath, a man without empathy or sympathy for other people. We know he wants to be a dictator, using the U.S. Justice Department and the military to punish his enemies, including the press. We know he wants to deport or incarcerate millions of people of color. We know he wants to lock up socialists, atheists, Muslims, and other undesirables in internment camps so they can be re-educated in proper American thinking. We know Trump is a racist and a misogynist. And Amaechina KNOWS all these things too, yet instead of speaking truth to power and condemning his vile, violent behavior, he justifies and condones Trump’s debauchery. Why? Well, Trump is nice to Evangelicals and delivers gifts from their wishlists on Christmas, Easter, and their birthdays. Amaechina and his fellow Evangelicals have sold their souls for bowls of pottage, trading moral authority for naked political power. In doing so, they have ceased to be Christian.

Amaechina says, with a straight face, that Trump is “a man who believes in the sanctity of life and love for humanity.” The only “humanity” Trump loves is the man who stares back at him when he looks at a mirror. As far as the “sanctity of life” is concerned, Trump is not pro-life. He sees Evangelicals and their commitment to forcing women to have babies as tools he can use to advance his political cause. Without the Evangelical vote, Trump cannot win the 2024 presidential election. He is willing to tell Evangelicals what they want to hear; that he alone is the pro-life president; that he alone overturned Roe v. Wade; that he alone is the defender of the one truth faith; that he alone will restore religious (white Christian) liberty and freedom. Never mind the fact that Trump rarely, if ever reads the Bible, never attends church, doesn’t pray or ask God to forgive him of his sins, and shows no signs that he knows one thing about what Christians believe and practice.

Amaechina concludes his sticky defense of Trump by saying, “I am not oblivious to the fact that Trump and Biden claim to be Christians, but it is not about their claims that should matter to American Christians, but their dispositions.”

There is no question that Joe and Jill Biden are practicing Roman Catholics. There is also no question that Trump is not, in any meaningful sense of the word, a Christian. It shouldn’t take an atheist to point out that Trump is an egotistical maniac; a man who has no regard for Christianity, Jesus, or the Bible; and that Evangelicals are nothing more than a political prop to him; a means to an end. Amaechina wants his fellow Evangelicals to ignore both Trump’s and Biden’s claims of faith. Instead, he wants people to focus on their “dispositions.” That’s a good idea, and if Evangelicals follow his advice, there’s no doubt that they will vote for Joe Biden in November. Of course, that ain’t going to happen. All that matters to Evangelicals is what Santa Trump can deliver to them. Now that Evangelical churches are overrun by white Christian Nationalist pastors and congregants, all that matters to them is turning the United States into a Christian nation. All that matters is enacting and enforcing the Evangelical version of Sharia Law. All that matters is returning America to the glory days of the 1950s. You know the days when Christianity was the de facto religion of most Americans, women were barefoot, pregnant keepers of the home, Blacks knew their place and lived in segregated communities, LGBTQ people were buried deeply in dark, dank closets, children read the Bible and prayed in public schools, and abortion, birth control, divorce, miscegenation, shacking up, adultery, and homosexuality were illegal. In other words, most Evangelicals want to roll back over a hundred years of social progress, going back to when stupid, silly women were given the constitutional right to vote.

A Trump win in November will be the end of American democracy, as we know it. We must not let this happen. I am no fan of Joe Biden, but I recognize that Trump is an existential threat to me, my family, and the American people, so I plan to vote for Biden. I will hold my nose and stifle the urge to vomit, knowing that Biden is the only man who can save our Republic from the white Christian National horde.

Bruce Gerencser