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Light Writing Schedule Next Week

blogging

Next week, I will not post as many articles as I typically do. I need to take care of some things on the homefront. I also need to devote a couple of days to get my podcast off the ground. So, if you come to this site and don’t see any new posts, don’t worry, the rapture hasn’t taken place. Once saved, always saved, baby. When Jesus comes in the clouds to snatch away his bride, Bruce the Atheist will be going with him. 🙂

You can help me a bit while I am off doing other things by writing a guest post. If you want to share your story or have something you would like to share with the world, please send it to me and I will have Carolyn edit it. Posts of any kind are welcome, especially deconversion stories. Please email your submission to me here.

Thank you for your love and support.

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bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Ten Things I Regret Not Doing as an Evangelical Christian Parent

life is a one time offer

My wife, Polly, and I will celebrate forty-four years of blissful, happy, serene, uneventful — wait for a minute while I get a hysterically laughing Polly off the floor — marriage. 🙂 Life has blessed us with six children, ages twenty-nine to forty-three — damn they are getting old — and thirteen grandchildren, ages two to twenty-one. And I must not forget our son-in-law and daughters-in-law. Without them there would be no grandchildren, and, though we don’t say it enough, we love and appreciate them. On balance we have lived a good life, blessed in every way.

Yet, as a slowly dying, frail sixty-five-year-old man with fibromyalgia, gastroparesis, osteoarthritis, and chronic, unrelenting pain, I can’t help but reflect on my life. My new counselor has told me that I have a good sense of self-awareness. This, of course, can lead to me thinking too much about the past and my culpability in things that did or didn’t happen in the lives of my wife and children. I’ve been faulted for dwelling too much on the past, but this is who I am. Besides, I wouldn’t have much to write about if I let the past be the past. The important thing for me is that I don’t live in the past. I use the past as a teaching tool, as a way to measure progress in my life; as a reminder of what not to do. Being a committed, devoted Fundamentalist follower of Jesus Christ, a man with a slavish devotion to the literal teachings of the Bible resulted in me making choices and decisions I now regret.

While not everything on the list below is religion-related, many of them are. For the nominal, cultural Christian, their faith doesn’t make much difference in their lives. However, for those of us who were saved, sanctified, filled-with-the-Holy-Ghost believers; people who immersed themselves in the Bible, a book they believed was the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God; people who governed their thoughts, words, and deeds by the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit; people who devoted themselves to the work of the church and the ministry; people who gave thousands and thousands of dollars to their churches and other ministries; people who witnessed to and evangelized unbelievers; people who separated themselves from the world; people who homeschooled their children or sent them to private Christian schools; people who put God/Jesus/church/ministry above their families, friends, and job — their faith and its attendant beliefs and practices made an incalculable mark on their lives. And now that we are no longer believers or have moved on to less demanding expressions of faith, it’s hard not to look back on our lives without regret. In my case, I spent fifty years of my life in the Christian church, and half of those years pastoring churches full-time. It’s hard not to conclude, then, that I spent much of my life devoted to a lie, sacrificing my wife and children for an imaginary deity.

Ten Things I Regret

  1. I regret not teaching my children to swim. We spent very little time at places where our children could swim and I had no time due to my commitment to Jesus and the church to take them to swimming lessons.
  2. I regret not letting my children play organized sports. There was one hard, fast rule in the Gerencser household: the church always, and I mean ALWAYS, came first. Since practice and game schedules conflicted with the church calendar, there was no discussion to be had: no sports for the Gerencser children. Why play baseball when you can go soulwinning and street preaching with your preacher father, right? While I played baseball and basketball in school, I didn’t afford my children that same opportunity.
  3. I regret not taking my family on vacations. The only “vacations” the Gerencsers took were trips to events or churches where I was preaching.
  4. I regret not taking off time from toiling in God’s vineyard to enjoy nature with my children. We lived in a lot of beautiful, wildlife-filled places, yet I was too busy to take the time to enjoy what was right in front of me. Hell was hot, death was certain, and Jesus was coming soon! Who had time for trees, flowers, hills, rivers, mule deer, and bobcats? Souls needed saving and Jesus was fixing to split the Eastern Sky as he returned to earth to judge the living and dead.
  5. I regret using disciplinary methods with my three older children that I now think are child abuse. While I moved away from such disciplinary practices later in life, there’s no other way to view the whippings and beatings my older sons received as anything other than ritual, Bible-inspired, Jesus-approved child abuse. I would not blame my oldest sons if they hated me and wanted nothing to do with me. That they still come around and we have good relationships is a testimony of love and forgiveness.
  6. I regret using my children as unpaid laborers for the churches I pastored. My children spent countless hours working with their father on church projects. While they learned many skills that they still use today, I can’t help but regret viewing my children as construction workers janitors, and groundskeepers. They were never given a choice. Preacher Dad said ______________. End of discussion.
  7. I regret not letting my kids be kids. Certainly, my sons and daughters did plenty of kid stuff — especially when I wasn’t around — but they lived in a glass house where appearance and perception were everything. God, church members, and the “lost” were always watching, I told my children, so we must always be kind and polite — even to assholes — and on our best behavior.
  8. I regret not exposing my children to a secular worldview. Instead, I built a bubble around them, protecting my children from the big, bad, evil world. While they have recovered nicely from the Fundamentalist indoctrination and conditioning of their youth, I can’t help but think these things harmed them as young adults.
  9. I regret not telling my children I loved them. I blame this directly on growing up in a dysfunctional home where my mom or dad rarely, if ever, expressed love for me. While I am a lot better with this now, I still could do even better. When I first embraced my youngest daughter and told her that I loved her, she had a shocked look on her face that said, “are you dying”? I can’t emphasize this enough: emotional distance between parents and children is often generational. I know it was for me. I look at my grandparents and parents and I clearly see this distance. They passed this on to their children. The only thing I know to do is to recognize this and do better.
  10. I regret being a hypocrite. As a pastor, to church members and the world, I was a pillar of morality and virtue, a man who always had his life under control; a man who rarely expressed anger. Behind closed doors, I could be a different man, far more temperamental, more easily provoked to anger. Oh, the stories that could be told to illustrate this point. I hope to get some of my children (and Polly) to come on my podcast and talk about these things someday.) Today, I want to focus on why I was this way. I was a loving, kind, generous man, especially towards church members and unbelievers. Yet, when it came to my family, I could, at times, be unloving, unkind, and lacking in generosity. Granted, I’ve come to this opinion thanks to hindsight. At the time, I thought I was just being a good Christian husband and father. Why was I this way? My version of Christianity demanded that I deny self, take up my cross, and follow Jesus. In doing so, I lost all sense of self. Thus, when I was behind closed doors, pent-up frustrations would come out, often in anger. If I had had a healthy view of self, I suspect things would have been different. I know that TV (which I deemed sinful) wouldn’t have gone flying out the front door. 🙂

The past is the past. There are no do-overs. At best, we get second chances to right the wrongs of the past or at least model and show that we have learned from the bad things we did previously. I know that’s the case for me. I see my grandchildren as an opportunity to do things differently, and I hope in the latter years of my life to forge better relationships with Polly and my children.

Does this mean that I was a bad man, unfit to pastor churches? I am sure some will come to that conclusion — thus finding yet another reason to dismiss my story out of hand — but I see myself as a broken, flawed man, someone deeply affected and scarred by his upbringing and immersion in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Christianity. It would take me five decades before I realized how much harm IFB (and later Calvinistic) beliefs and practices had caused me, harm I passed on to Polly and our children (and Polly had her own dysfunction to deal with). I see that growing up with a mentally ill mother who tried to kill herself numerous times, constantly living in new houses and attending new schools, being sexually abused as a boy, and being left to fend for myself during the most formative years of my life, extracted a horrific price from me. Sure, I survived, but not without lasting scars. All I know to do is make an uneasy peace with the past and try to do better. I will leave it to those I love to decide if I have successfully done so. If not, I will keep trying. What else can any of us do?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Bill Donohue Says Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal Over

bill donohoe

There is no on-going crisis. In fact, there is no institution, private or public, that has less of a problem with the sexual abuse of minors today than the Catholic Church.

— Catholic Apologist and Right Wing Extremist Bill Donohoe

CWR: The subtitle is “Clarifying the facts and causes of the abuse scandal”. So do you discuss that misinformation, disinformation, misunderstanding? What is it exactly that needs clarified?

Donohue: There’s no question that the media has convinced the public. I call it the poisoning of the public mind. They’ve convinced the public, and many Catholics as well, that the scandal is ongoing. In fact, the scandal is largely over and it’s been over for about a half a century. The worst damage that was done in the Catholic Church by molesting priests, almost all of whom were homosexual, was done between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s.

We still have cases of it here and there. What you’ll typically see in the media are reports of an old case, but a lot of times, people won’t read past the headline. And if you do, you find out this is back in 1963, 1971, 1985. And, by the way, they don’t bother to tell you almost all the molesting priests are either dead or they’ve been thrown out of ministry. The idea that the priests are walking around looking for kids is simply a lie, and it’s a vicious lie. So I wanted to set that straight.

The other thing is, we’ve made tremendous progress. We are down to single digits now in terms of the average number of substantiated accusations made against approximately 50,000 members of the clergy. There is no organization in the United States, secular or religious, which has a better record today in maintaining the safety of minors than the Catholic Church.

Yes, we dropped our guard—particularly in the 1970s. It was a terrible, terrible decade. And the Church deserves criticism for what happened then. But also, if we’re going to be fair about it, we have to give credit where credit is due: the Dallas reforms, as well as many other reforms that were taking place. We’ve made tremendous progress and I’m very proud of that. The Catholic Church has largely turned the corner on this issue.

CWR: Why do you think public perception is that the problem of sexual abuse of minors lies primarily within the Catholic Church? People hear about child sexual abuse and they think of priests. Why is that?

Donohue: That’s the perception. Well, it’s really not hard for me to figure out at this point. As someone who has a doctorate in sociology, the Catholic Church is hated by secular militants within the activist organizations, many of them legal organizations, non-profits, and large segments of the media, in large segments of education (particularly in higher education), as well as in other quarters.

And the reason for that is because we live in a society obsessed with sex. It’s not the Catholic Church which is obsessed with sex. It’s the secular militants who are. They don’t want any restrictions on anything they do, no matter how many people have wound up with STDs and in the grave as a result of practicing liberty-ism (liberty with license, without any restraints). They never seem to learn.

The Catholic Church—like our Jewish friends, and for that matter, Mormons and Muslims, evangelical Protestants—we all agree to an idea of sexual reticence, of a sexual ethics which emphasizes restraint. And marriage and sexuality should be entered into by a man and a woman—a biological man and a biological woman. And that other forms of sexuality are not really well-accepted. We live in a society today where the three most dreaded words in the English language are “Thou shalt not…”

So when they see bad news about the Catholic Church, they’re going to drum it up. They don’t want to let it go. They want to convince the public that the scandal will never end because they want to weaken the moral voice of the Catholic Church. And after they do that, they’ll go after the Orthodox Jews, evangelical Protestants, Mormons and Muslims and everybody else who agrees to a more traditional understanding of sexual morality. That’s why this is happening.

CWR: The public, for the most part, seems to ignore or deny the role that homosexuality and the sexual revolution in general have played in the abuse crisis, in the Church and across society. Why do you think that is?

Donohue: Well, the denial is in the Catholic Church as well. The denial is in the Vatican. Let me be very explicit about it: in the book, I talk about the Vatican summit in 2019. Everyone from the Pope on down, all the Cardinals: all they talked about was clericalism as the driving force of sexual abuse.

Clericalism, or a sense of elitism, certainly may have something to do with why some bishops were enablers, but has absolutely zero to do with why a priest would molest a minor. Nothing. They don’t want to talk about homosexuality.

….

Pedophiles are about three and a half percent. When a man has sex with a post-pubescent—an adolescent or above—man, that’s homosexuality. I am not saying that all homosexuals are molesters. That would be gay bashing. What I’m saying is that gays, more so than heterosexuals, are more likely to abuse minors. And this is clearly the case in the Catholic Church.

Why? Because of the emotional and sexual immaturity that marks so many homosexuals—not all of them, but so many of them. And it is immaturity—sexual and emotional immaturity—that leads to this kind of sexual abuse, because these guys are stunted, and their psycho-sexual development hits a plateau. They can’t identify with anybody beyond adolescent age, which is why they associate with them. And, in some cases, molest them. That’s the God’s honest truth.

— Bill Donohoe, The Catholic World Report, “We’ve been lied to.” Bill Donohue on clergy sexual abuse, homosexuality, and the media, May 26, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Anti-Trans Bigotry at Bryan, Ohio City Schools

bryan city schools

“It’s just really, disrespectful. I just want them to call me Jay when I walk across the stage in front of everyone so it’s not really embarrassing.”

“I didn’t really have any friends. The kids would call me slurs and names they would make up themselves.”

“The kids at school would use my deadname to bully me. It would be so embarrassing and disrespectful to go up in front of all those kids and get called it once again.”

Jay Rober

“The consistent practice has always been to utilize the student’s legal name that matches with the legal name on the diploma.”

“If they decide to apply for employment or if they decide to attend higher education, we on the school side are bound to ensure that the legalities are followed with the legal document.”

— Bryan City Schools Superintendent Mark Rairigh

Letter to the editor of the Bryan Times.

Dear Editor,

Graduating from high school is a seminal moment in a student’s life; a time of arrival and entrance into adulthood. Graduation should be a day of happiness and joy as family and friends congratulate a student on a job well done. It is not a day for moralizing or political statements. Unfortunately, Bryan City Schools superintendent Mark Rairigh did just that for one transgender student, Jay Rober. And now Rober won’t be walking with his fellow students on graduation day.

Rober asked school officials to please call him by his preferred name when awarding him his diploma. Rairigh says this can’t happen for “legal” reasons. What “legal” reasons, exactly? I can understand requiring a student’s legal name to be printed on his or her diploma, but that’s not what is going on here. All Rober wants is to be called by his preferred name when his name is announced. Doing so is just a matter of respect for the student. Countless students are daily addressed by their teachers with preferred names. My dad’s name was Robert, but his teachers called him Bob. The same goes for my mother, whose legal name was Barbara, but wanted to be called Barb.

Accommodating preferred names require no effort on the part of Bryan City teachers, administrators, and the superintendent. It’s hard not to conclude, then, that there is either a political or religious agenda behind Rairigh’s refusal to accommodate Rober’s name request. Hiding behind “this is the way we have always done it” is the mantra of people resistant to social progress and change; the same mantra used by southern white supremacists to block school integration.

School officials threw Rober a lifeline, of sorts: legally change your name (in less than two weeks, at a cost of hundreds of dollars). Are Bryan City teachers required to call every student by their legal name? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Shouldn’t students who have preferred nicknames be required to legally change their names? Absurd, right?

At the end of the day, “Jay” is just a name. Out of respect for Jay and his family on the biggest day of his young life, he has earned the right to be called by his preferred name. I can’t think of a rational or logical (or legal) reason why Jay just can’t be “Jay.”

Bruce Gerencser

Ney, Ohio

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Catholic Michigan State House Candidate Jacky Eubanks Wants to Ban Birth Control

jacky eubanks

… You cannot have a successful society outside of the Christian moral order. And things like abortion, and things like gay marriage, are outside of the Christian moral order. And they lead to chaos and destruction and a culture of death…

…

[VORIS: How do you answer the local press person, who might be your age and just sees you as some loony who… that she wants to take away your birth control… in the state of Michigan?]

Sure, so, I guess we have to ask ourselves: Would that ever come to a vote in the Michigan state legislature? And if it should, I would have to side with: It should not be legal. And I think that people that birth control is… better… because, “Oh, then you won’t get pregnant and you won’t need to have an abortion.” But I think it gives people the false sense of security that they can have consequence-free sex. And that’s not true! And it’s not correct!

… Sex ought to be between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage… and open to life. Absolutely.

Jacky Eubanks, a Michigan Republican running for State House, Quotes from an interview Eubanks did with Michael Voris of the Catholic site Church Militant

From Eubank’s policy page:

Education

As a graduate of Hillsdale College, I recognize the supreme blessing it was to receive a classical liberal arts education based on the seminole works of Western Civilization. I also recognize the damage done to young Americans indoctrinated by falsified Leftist “history” like the 1619 Project. I will write legislation implementing the 1776 Curriculum into Michigan’s K-12 public schools. I will also write legislation banning Critical Race Theory, as well as pen a version of Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill which would prevent teachers from discussing radical sex & gender theory with students. I will also pen legislation mandating students in K-12 public schools use the bathroom & locker room of their biological sex and prohibit them from playing on sports teams of the opposite sex based on “gender identification”. 

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement is the cornerstone of a law-abiding, peaceful, thriving community. I am not in favor of “defunding the police,” especially not in the wake of violent riots. I am in favor of designating ANTIFA as a terrorist organization, and apportioning law enforcement funds for the investigation and prosecution of this organization in the state of Michigan. 

No Tax-Payer Subsidies for Green Energy or Big Business

Manufacturers, the heart and soul of Michigan’s economy, are fleeing to states with lower energy costs. Why are our energy costs so high? A key issue is the state’s subsidizing “green energy” sources such as wind farms and solar panel fields. These sources of energy do not provide the power needed to keep our manufacturers in our state. I would not support taxpayer dollars subsidizing the farce of green energy. I would instead offer tax breaks to nuclear, gas, oil, & coal-burning plants, which have significantly higher energy outputs at a lower cost. At the same time, this would make subsidizing major corporations with taxpayer dollars unnecessary. I do not support corporate welfare, which is inherently anti-free market. 

School Choice

Affording private school tuition is a struggle for most families, and parents who wish they could send their children to private schools are often priced out of the market. I intend to fix this by implementing a tax break system for parents who choose to send their children to private schools or to homeschool. I propose a tax break for parents equivalent to the cost per student in a given school district, because the parents have eased the burden on taxpayers who would otherwise have to pay for their child’s education. 

Constitutional Carry & Pro-Gun Legislation

I am against red flag laws of any kind and will always vote “no” on anything that restricts Michiganders’ Second Amendment rights. I will pen constitutional carry legislation, and I will push for “gun-free zone” reform. I believe good guys with guns are the best solution to bad guys with guns, and that a public which is generally armed makes for a safer community with lower crime.

Pro-Life Legislation

I am uncompromising in my belief that human life begins at conception and ends at natural death. I will introduce legislation banning abortion in the state of Michigan. I will always vote to restrict abortion, and if a heartbeat bill came to a vote, I would vote “yes”. I also will never budge on physician-assisted suicide & euthanasia. If legislation ever comes to a vote which would expand or allow these anti-life acts, I will unequivocally vote “no”.

Child Abuse & Human Trafficking

I will write legislation classifying surgery and hormone therapy for the purpose of “gender reassignment” for anyone under 18 years of age as child abuse. 

Michigan is also the state with the highest human trafficking rate in the United States. I will pen legislation requiring every law enforcement agency undergo human trafficking awareness training, based on the DHS Blue Campaign.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Quote of the Day: How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church

tim alberta

For generations, white evangelicals have cultivated a narrative pitting courageous, God-fearing Christians against a wicked society that wants to expunge the Almighty from public life. Having convinced so many evangelicals that the next election could trigger the nation’s demise, Christian leaders effectively turned thousands of churches into unwitting cells in a loosely organized, hazily defined, existentially urgent movement—the types of places where paranoia and falsehoods flourish and people turn on one another.

….

Beginning in the 1980s, white evangelicals imposed themselves to an unprecedented degree on the government and the country’s core institutions. Once left to cry jeremiads about civilizational decline—having lost fights over sex and sexuality, drugs, abortion, pornography, standards in media and education, prayer in public schools—conservative Christians organized their churches, marshaled their resources, and leveraged their numbers, regaining the high ground, for a time, in some of these culture wars.

….

Short-lived victories, however, came at a long-term cost. Evangelical leaders set something in motion decades ago that pastors today can no longer control. Not only were Christians conditioned to understand their struggle as one against flesh and blood, fixated on earthly concerns, a fight for a kingdom of this world—all of which runs directly counter to the commands of scripture—they were indoctrinated with a belief that because the stakes were getting so high, any means was justified.

Which brings us to Donald Trump.

When Trump was elected thanks to a historic showing among white evangelicals—81 percent voted for him over Hillary Clinton—the victory was rightly viewed as the apex of the movement’s power. But this was, in many ways, also the beginning of its unraveling. The “battle lines” Bolin described as having emerged over the past five years—cultural reckonings over racism and sexual misconduct; a lethal pandemic and fierce disputes over vaccines and government mandates; allegations of election theft that led to a siege of the U.S. Capitol; and, underlying all of this, the presidency, prosecution, and martyring of Trump himself—have carved up every institution of American society. The evangelical Church is no exception.

….

The nation’s largest denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, is bleeding members because of ferocious infighting over race relations, women serving in leadership, accountability for sexual misconduct, and other issues. The United Methodist Church, America’s second-largest denomination, is headed toward imminent divorce over irreconcilable social and ideological divisions. Smaller denominations are losing affiliate churches as pastors and congregations break from their leadership over many of the same cultural flash points, choosing independence over associating with those who do not hold their views.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Christians, like Americans from every walk of life, are self-selecting into cliques of shared habits and thinking. But what’s notable about the realignment inside the white evangelical Church is its asymmetry. Pastors report losing an occasional liberal member because of their refusal to speak on Sunday mornings about bigotry or poverty or social injustice. But these same pastors report having lost—in the past few years alone—a significant portion of their congregation because of complaints that they and their staff did not advance right-wing political doctrines. Hard data are difficult to come by; churches are not required to disclose attendance figures. But a year’s worth of conversations with pastors, denominational leaders, evangelical scholars, and everyday Christians tells a clear story: Substantial numbers of evangelicals are fleeing their churches, and most of them are moving to ones further to the right.

….

Many right-wing pastors have formed alliances—with campaign consultants, education activists, grassroots groups, even MAGA-in-miniature road shows promoting claims of an assault on American sovereignty—that bring a steady flow of fresh faces into their buildings. From there, the fusion of new Republican orthodoxy with old conservative theology is seamless. This explains why, even during a period of slumping church attendance, the number of white evangelicals has grown: The Pew Research Center reports that more and more white Trump supporters began self-identifying as evangelicals during his presidency, whether or not they attended church.

— Tim Alberta, The Atlantic, How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church, May 10, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Words Matter

words

When you say homosexuality is an abomination . . . you are saying your gay son and neighbor are abominable.

When you say all non-Christians will go to Hell when they die . . . you are saying your non-Christian mother, son, and neighbor will be tortured by God in the flames of the Hell for eternity.

When you say abortion is evil, sick, and murder . . . you are saying those who are pro-choice are evil, sick murderers.

When you say Christians are idiots . . . you are saying your Christian mother and grandfather are idiots.

When you say people on welfare are lazy, good for nothing bums . . . you are saying your out-of-work cousin with cancer is a lazy, good for nothing bum.

When you say atheism is immoral . . . you are saying that your atheist daughter and cousin are immoral.

You can’t divorce your words from their implications.

Words matter.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Born That Way

born that way after all

I previously mentioned that Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) luminaries Bob Gray, Sr., retired pastor of Longview Baptist Temple, Longview Texas, and Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona are currently in a pissing war over whether homosexuals are “born that way.” Accusatory winds have blown the conflict into far corners of the IFB universe. The burning question facing these defenders of the one true and holy Baptist faith is this: Are homosexuals genetically born homosexual (nature or nurture)?

That IFB preachers are even considering this question is astounding, a sign that LGBTQ people are making themselves known in IFB churches and families. (Please read The Jonathan Nichols Story: Growing Up Gay in the IFB Church.) While there have always been gays in IFB churches, these tortured souls were buried so deeply in the dark recesses of church closets that there was little chance they would be discovered.

In the years since I left the ministry and Christianity, I have reconnected with several men who were children in one of the churches I pastored. These men are proud, out-of-the-closet, sexually active gays.  My mind goes back to the days when these men were young boys and teens who were forced to listen to preaching â€” not only mine, but that of evangelists and other guest speakers â€” who regularly excoriated homosexuals for vile, deviant, reprobate sexual behavior. While I have apologized to these men for my hateful, bigoted preaching, I can’t help but wonder how much damage my words did to them.

Over the years, a handful of LGBTQ people wandered into many of the various churches I pastored. While they didn’t announce their sexuality as they came through church doors, over time it became clear that they were physically attracted to the same sex. Sadly, once the whispers of gossip turned into accusations, I was put into the unenviable position of deciding how to deal with them. At the time, I believed that LGBTQ sexual behavior was sinful, and, in some instances, a sign that people were reprobates. (Please see Out of the Closet, Into the Light: According to Steven Anderson, I Am a Sodomite.) I regularly preached against sexual sins, giving adultery and fornication as much attention as homosexuality. The difference was how I went about preaching against homosexuality. Shamefully, I must admit that I used derogatory labels when preaching against homosexuality — words such as queer, homo, sodomite, and fag. I refused to use the word gay because I believed that there was nothing “gay” about the homosexual lifestyle. I remember — oh, I wish I could forget! —  when the AIDS epidemic came to light that I let congregants know that AIDS was God’s judgment of homosexuals. Had I remained an IFB preacher, I have no doubt that I would have been staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage.

LBGTQ people didn’t stay around long in the churches I pastored (with the exception of the men mentioned above, who were forced by their parents to listen to my preaching for years). When whispers turned to accusations, I confronted these “perverts,” demanding they leave the church. In one church, a gay man visited for months before it was discovered that he was a pedophile. Several fathers came to me and said this man was inviting their young sons to spend weekends with him at his nearby farm. Livid, I went to this man and told him he was not allowed to attend the church. When he objected, I threatened to physically throw him out of the church. He left, never to return. In retrospect, I deeply regret how I handled the matter. If the man was indeed a pedophile, I should have reported him to law enforcement. If he wasn’t, I should have tried to help him, though I doubt that there was much I could do because of my homophobic beliefs. That he was accused of being a pedophile was enough to reinforce the stereotype believed by many congregants: homosexuals are child molesters.

Thirty years later, some LGBTQ people in IFB churches are no longer willing to sit by and silently suffer while their preachers rail against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I have always wondered why anyone would willingly submit themselves to psychological assaults by supposed “men of God.” Children and teenagers have no choice, but adults are free to flee the verbal assaults and attacks on their person. Why stay?

As American society becomes more LGBTQ-friendly, IFB churches are confronted with how best to minister to people whom they consider to be sexual deviants. The Steven Andersons of the IFB world think attacking LGBTQ people in their sermons is the best way to “reach” them. I highly doubt such preaching is reaching anyone for Jesus. In fact, I doubt that reaching “sodomites” for Jesus is the goal of men such as Steven Anderson and Bob Gray Sr. As anyone raised in the IFB church movement can attest, attacking homosexuals from the pulpit is a surefire way to get lots of rounds of “amen!” Preaching against certain sins will always invigorate the righteous, and sexual sins are crowd favorites (even though we now know that IFB congregants are not immune from all of the behaviors they deem sexual misconduct, including homosexuality, pedophilia, incest, adultery, and fornication).

Realizing that the cultural tide is turning against IFB churches and their incessant prattle against sexual sin â€” particularly homosexuality â€” men such as Johnny Nixon and Bob Gray, Sr. have cooked up a novel reinterpretation of what the Bible says about homosexuality. Now, these men still believe engaging in homosexual sex, or any sex outside of marriage, for that matter, is a sin, but they now admit that homosexuals are “born that way.” These “eunuchs” are expected to refrain from same-sex sexual behaviors and relationships, and if they are willing to do so, they will be considered Christians. I suspect that the greater goal is to “convert” homosexuals, helping them to see that only by switching sides can they ever know true sexual fulfillment and romantic love. I am left to wonder why, if it is God who determines sexuality, does he make some people homosexual while at the same time saying that homosexual sex is a criminal act worthy of execution. (I refrain from using the LGBTQ acronym because the IFB preachers in question do not consider all sexual identities equally. Their primary focus is on gay men. I know of no IFB church that is accepting of bisexuality or transgenderism.)

My good friend, the late Steve Gupton— an IFB preacher turned atheist who once attended Bob Gray’s church and college and later attended a church named Hyles Baptist Church â€” made me aware that Jack Hyles worshiper David J. Stewart has weighed in on the Gray Sr./Anderson fight. In a post titled Refuting the Book ‘Born that Way After All’ and the Compromised Preachers Who Support it, Stewart stated:

I was surprised today while listening to a sermon by Pastor Steven Anderson (website). There is an ungodly book (published in 2015) titled, “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL,” authored by Dr. David J. Nixon and R. G. Hamm. They also have a website at BornThatWay.org. The book is unscriptural and promotes a wicked philosophy of tolerance for sin. What surprised me is that the website lists Dr. Bob Gray Sr., Pastor Jeff Owens and Pastor Paul Chappell, as being supporters of the book and ministry. The book is an ungodly perversion of the Scriptures!!!

I am trying to understand why Dr. Gray and Pastor Owens would approve of something evil like this. Both of these good men have counseled tens of thousands of people combined throughout their church ministries. So I tread lightly and don’t want to criticize them in my article, this is not my intent. However, I will voice my opinion of this ungodly book “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” and their ungodly “BORNTHATWAY.ORG” website. The book is clearly a sinful attempt to bridge the gap between the ungodly homosexual community and the New Testament Church. Dr. David Nixon and his co-author are trying to straddle-the-fence on the issue of homosexuality. As far as I’m concerned, they are pulling on the same rope as the Devil.

David J. Nixon and R. G. Hamm base their strange doctrine on Matthew 19:12, “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Being a eunuch from a mother’s womb simply means, for one reason or another, that a man is born impotent. The Greek word for “eunuch” in Matthew 19:12 is eunouchos, meaning, “a castrated person (such being employed in Oriental bed chambers); by extension an impotent or unmarried man; by implication a chamberlain (state officer).” Here’s some helpful Bible commentary on the topic, “EUNUCH.”

The Bible mentions eunuchs, who are born “THAT WAY” from the womb, which is equivalent to castration. This is not homosexual lust! A eunuch “FROM THE WOMB” cannot procreate, that is, cannot have children. A homosexual can procreate (with a woman if they so choose). Obviously, homosexuals do not come “FROM THE WOMB”! And as I will evidence to you later, many people who profess to be “heterosexual” admit to committing homosexual acts at times. This tosses a monkey-wrench into David Nixon’s retarded hypothesis! Homosexuality is a sin, and Christians won’t be able to help sodomites unless they address the issue as such. God only saves THE UNGODLY (Romans 4:5-6). It is evil to tell homosexuals that there’s really no problem, because God made them “THAT WAY AFTER ALL,” intending for them to become celibate as eunuchs for God. That doesn’t solve the problem, which is, HOMOSEXUALS ARE SINNERS in need of the new birth. Unless a homosexual is willing to confess to God, “I AM A SINNER,” they cannot be saved. You’ve got to admit that you are a sinner to believe the Gospel. You need to know what you’re being saved from!

On their “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” website, they say:

“The gay community is not the battle field, they are the mission field. They are not the enemy, they are the mission itself. We are in a spiritual battle, but if you view them as the enemy, you are fighting the wrong war (Ephesians 6:12). Our book “Born That Way After All” explains God’s unique design and purpose for those who are not attracted to the opposite sex.”

Although I agree that the gay community is a mission field, from a soul-winning perspective; I totally disagree when such reasoning is used to silence Christians about the evils of homosexuality which is targeting, recruiting and hurting America’s children. Hugh Hefner’s perverted Playboy business could be called “a mission field” too. We could say that the dirty magazine business is not the enemy as well. But does that mean preachers and Christians should be silent about such evils? Of course not. Now, more than ever, pastors and Christians need to expose the evils of homosexuality in our society. Silence is not golden, it is yellow cowardice. The false idea that exposing homosexuality as a filthy sin will hinder reaching the gay community for Christ is a big lie!

Homosexuality Is A Filthy Deathstyle (homosexuals account for 75% of all Syphilis cases!). Placing an adopted child into the hands of two homosexual parents (perverts) ought to be considered criminal child abuse! But our nation’s ungodly courts disregard God’s Word. Americans can legally commit adultery, film themselves in bed having sex and upload it to the internet, get drunk, murder their children by abortion, homosexuals can marry and children are forced into their care by adoption, et cetera. In eternity, God will hold people accountable for even their words (Matthew 12:36).

The insane notion that believers will never convert homosexuals to Christianity by calling them “perverts” is totally untrue. When the rich man in Hell begged Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead to warn his five brothers, “lest they also come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:28). Abraham plainly said that if people won’t listen to the Word of God, THEY WON’T GET SAVED, even if they see miracles and supernatural signs. “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:29-32).

The ungodly book effectively attempts to silence Christians to the evils of homosexuality, portraying sodomites as a needy group who ought to be ministered to (informed that God really made them to be eunuchs) and otherwise left alone. So while naive preachers are spending the rest of their life reaching out to gays with the Gospel, America’s children are being homosexualized. If churches must become worldly to attract the homosexual community, then they’re coming to apostate religion, not Jesus Christ.

Although I disagree with Pastor Steve Anderson’s lack of love for the homosexual community, I must say that Brother Anderson COMES MUCH CLOSER TO BEING RIGHT than today’s compromised preachers who hobnob with gays and won’t preach against them!!! HOMOSEXUALITY IS EVIL. You’re NEVER going to win sodomites to Christ by tolerating their sins. A fundamentalist preacher ought to be a balance of grace and truth, of strength and beauty! Jude 1:22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” John 7:7, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” The Word of God condemns the sinful world. That’s why gays reject the King James Bible, changing it into a lie (Romans 1:25). All of the modern PERversions of the Bible completely remove the word “sodomite.” The unscriptural website “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” says they “do not necessarily endorse the term… ‘homosexual’ for several Biblical reasons.” [1] These are wicked people, who are trying to silence fundamentalist Christians about the evils of homosexuality. The idea that preaching and standing against open public wickedness, is a form of hate, is as satanic as can be!!!

….

I love Pastor Jeff Owens and Dr. Bob Gray Sr. I promote their sermons and ministries, because my heart’s desire is to help others in the Lord. I don’t throw people away because I disagree with them on something. I don’t stop promoting someone because they don’t agree with me. My faithful web visitors know that I often promote and expose someone at the same time. Most preachers won’t do that. Dr. Hyles invited Dr. R. G. Lee to preach at Pastor’s School in Hammond, knowing that Dr. lee was in the compromised Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Hyles didn’t demand that someone agree with him 100% on everything, to be his friend. I like that! There’s not one man that I promote whom I agree with on everything. I want to help others. If I find something that helps me, I want to share it with you also, to help you too. YOU are my Epistle. YOU are the book that I am writing. 2nd Corinthians 3:2, “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” YOU are my treasure!

Having said that, I love the preaching and teaching of Dr. Bob Gray Sr. and Dr. Jeff Owens. Albeit, I do not agree with them in their support of the “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL” book and “BORNTHATWAY.ORG” website, where they are listed. I am 100% in agreement with Pastor Steven Anderson on this issue, because I believe Brother Anderson’s position is 100% Biblical. Romans 1:24-32 plainly condemns the homosexual deathstyle!!! No one is born with a Sodomite tendency. Homosexuality is abnormal, against nature. We are all born with a sin-nature. If the sin-nature is allowed to flourish, uncontrolled and unbridled by moral restraint, anything evil is possible. America was doomed the day in 1963 that the King James Bible was removed from our nation’s classrooms.

All human beings are born with a sin-nature. Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” We are ALL sinners by nature and by choice. A child doesn’t have to be taught to steal. They have to be taught to be honest. Children must be trained and taught the Word of God. And yet, even having grown up in the best home, with the most faithful Christian parents, enrolled in a great Christian school, attending a strong Bible-believing church—They may still ruin their lives and choose to go into a reckless deathstyle of sin. Having good Christian parents does not guarantee godly children. Certainly, training up a child in the admonition and nurture of the Lord stacks everything in their favor when they become adults, but they are still sinners by nature and by choice. What a proper upbringing DOES give a child is a strong FOUNDATION for the rest of their life. So if the house of their life burns down one day, it can be rebuilt!!! Amen!

No one is “BORN THAT WAY AFTER ALL.” I am not trying to be mean or unkind to anyone. If you are not saved, you’ll never get the victory over sin. Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” If you have homosexual desires as a believer, then there is a Bible verse for you. 2nd Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

You can read all of Stewart’s homophobic rant here.

Stewart’s website features countless articles against this or that sexual sin, leaving me to say “The [man] doth protest too much, methinks.” I so wish that there were a God and I wish there really were a Jack Chick-like This Was Your Life final judgment. Can you imagine what would come rolling out IFB closets come judgment day? (It is rumored that Stewart has a few skeletons in his closet.) All of us have things that we have done that we never want to be brought to light. All of us have done things that we regret or wish we had done differently. The good news is that our embarrassments are safely stored in the back of our closets right next to our white buckskin shoes, platform shoes, frayed blue jeans, maxi dresses, and our dad’s collection of old Playboy magazines.

With one exception, I oppose prying open the closets of others, revealing secrets long buried in the dark recesses of people’s lives. We all have a right to have secrets, things that are no one’s business but ours. I do my best to write openly and honestly about my past and present life. But, there are some things that I can’t or won’t talk about because I find these events embarrassing — even fifty-plus years after the fact.

The one exception I make is for preachers, politicians, and church leaders who deign to be the voices of moral authority; those who demand the Ten Commandments be posted on school walls and self-righteously demand their fellow citizens obey the anti-human moral code found in the Bible (as interpreted by them according to a literalistic, Fundamentalist hermeneutic). These defenders of virginity, the anus, and all things sexual, often don’t practice what they preach. While these “men of God” are preaching against adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, masturbation, short skirts, tight pants, teenage petting, and lustful glances, they are often wallowing in the very sins they condemn. (Behaviors they call sins, anyway. I wouldn’t call these behaviors sins, depending, of course, on context. Sins? No. Bad Behaviors? Maybe.) For these self-absorbed preachers of God’s plan of intercourse — Evangelical, heterosexual, married, missionary position only — I am all for exposing their secrets. It is for this reason I write the Black Collar Crime series. The sooner the truth is known — that preachers are no different from the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world — the better. Imagine how different things would be if Evangelical preachers swung wide the doors of their closets and openly talked about what is buried deep within. I am not talking about criminal behavior here.  Sexual predators who hide in plain sight as pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and church leaders should be aggressively pursued and prosecuted. The secrets I am talking about are the things that are common to man. Imagine how different Sunday morning church would be if preachers admitted that they are human, burdened with the same desires, wants, needs, emotions, and feelings as everyone else. Granted, Evangelicals would have to re-write the Bible and abandon previously held certainties for them to truly reenter the human race. As long as they maintain that the Bible and Christianity are morally superior and demand everyone live according to their interpretation of a bronze-age religious text, preachers shouldn’t be surprised when people take delight in their moral failures.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Why Do Evangelical Preachers Tend to Sexually Assault Girls Instead of Boys?

jack schaap
Jack Schaap, an IFB pastor who served twelve years in prison for repeatedly sexually assaulting a church teen he was counseling

I am talking with a man about being on his podcast later this year. The focus of his podcast is the sexual abuse of boys. As we were talking, it dawned on me that the overwhelming majority of predatory Evangelical preachers prey on girls, teen girls, and older females. In the Catholic church, pedophile priests tend to go after boys, but in the Evangelical and IFB churches, the focus is on females. Why is that?

In Evangelical churches, homosexuality is considered perversion, the sin above all sins. Further, many Evangelicals believe that most child molesters are homosexuals. Does this aversion toward homosexuality ward preachers off from molesting boys? Or is it, as my counselor suggested today, that boys are less likely to talk about being molested due to their church’s hatred of all things LGBTQ? Or is it a combination of things?

What are your thoughts on this subject? I do want to hear from you. I am also looking to talk to Evangelical men who were molested by preachers and other church leaders as children or teenagers. If you know someone who would be willing to talk with me or share their story, please contact me via email.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 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.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser