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Dear Mrs. C, a Guest Post by ObstacleChick

prayer in schools

Cartoon by David Horsey

A guest post by ObstacleChick

Mrs. C: Recently, you posted on social media a statement to which I really wanted to respond, but I chose to refrain. Why? Because I know that social media is a poor place to debate political, religious, or social issues, so I remained silent. Your post is as follows: “How to fix America….put Jesus back in all the places you asked Him to leave: Home, School, Government, Church and Your Heart.”

For four years, you were my high school math teacher at a K-12 fundamentalist Christian school. Starting my senior year, you had just retired, yet when your replacement — a former student with a master’s degree in math — could not handle five preparatory classes and quit after six weeks, you came back to finish the school year. In fact, I heard that you continued to teach for fifteen years after your originally planned retirement date. You were committed to teaching students, and I’m sure you could have told us a lot about your religious beliefs had women been allowed to speak in chapel services at school. As it was, all teachers were required to be Christian and to follow certain rules of conduct even outside school (like not going to movie theaters), so there was no doubt that the “witness” of the teachers for Jesus was apparent to students both inside and outside campus boundaries.

With regard to your post, I’m sure that the sentiment makes complete sense to you, living in a suburb of Nashville where the majority of your neighbors identify as some sort of Christian – specifically Evangelical Christian. Sure, you may disagree on finer points of doctrine such as whether musical instruments should be used in worship service, or whether women should wear skirts/dresses to worship services, but I suspect that the vast majority of your neighbors would agree (or at least state that they agree) that Jesus should be present in all aspects of private and public life, and that America is going to hell in a handbasket because the Evangelical God is not a mandatory part of public life.

I would like you to think about other areas of the country, areas which are more diverse in population. For example, I live in a town in New Jersey, just 20 minutes from Manhattan. Our town was settled by mostly Italian Catholic families. As time went on, more and more residents moved in with names like Torres, Patel, Silverstein, and Qureshi. Today, about thirty percent of the town is populated by families with names like Kim, Takahashi, and Chang. While the majority of residents are still Catholic, there is a large demographic of protestant Asians, a smaller demographic of Jewish residents, and a handful of Hindus and Muslims, as well as a few non-religious or atheists like my family. Our elementary school used to start teaching Italian to students beginning in third grade, but parents petitioned the school to begin teaching the arguably more useful Spanish instead. Our school district is made up of seven towns with demographics similar to our town, and we have a large enough Jewish population that the school district is closed on Jewish holidays.

Mrs. C, you speak of bringing Jesus back to the schools, and I assume you mean you would like to see mandatory prayer in the schools. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that mandatory prayers would occur during homeroom, and the prayers are supposed to be prayed to generic “God” and not specifically to Jesus. Under this scenario, Mrs. Shapiro or Mr. Elqariani could lead prayers to a generic “God” and not necessarily feel offended. However, I’m not sure to whom Ms. Patel would pray as Hindus have many gods. Would she just pray to a generic “God” even though her gods have many names? Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe just a generic prayer over the loudspeaker system each morning would suffice. But, I’m not sure that solves your issue of putting Jesus specifically back into schools.

Definitely, I AM overthinking this. Since I’ve been out of Evangelical Christianity for twenty-five years, I almost forgot the number one rule of Fundamentalist l Christianity: that it is imperative to proselytize anyone who doesn’t believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is, no matter how devout or moral people of another religion or no religion might be, if they have not made a confession of sin and profession of faith in the life, substitutionary atonement of Jesus and his resurrection three days later, they are lost and require evangelistic intervention from believers. Without Jesus, they are destined for eternal torment in hell. I was going through different scenarios where prayers could be given in public schools, thinking of allowing Muslim students to pray to Allah, allowing Buddhist students to offer prayers as they wish, and for Hindu students to pray as their belief allows. But that isn’t what you want, is it, Mrs. C? When you say that Jesus should be put back into schools, that is LITERALLY what you mean. Not that students of other religions should be mandated to pray, either in general or to the deity of their choosing. Not that volunteer imams or priests or rabbis should visit the school and offer prayers. No, those clerics are unsaved or apostates. You believe that the number one priority of Evangelical Christians is to witness to the “lost.” And while you may grudgingly permit those of other faiths to pray in an occasional gesture of ecumenicism, what you really want is your version of Christianity to be the one faith to which everyone is exposed. Most of all, you want public school students to hear prayers to YOUR deity –the Evangelical Christian God.

How about we look at a different scenario, Mrs. C? Let’s say your grandson goes to my district’s high school. He plays soccer and really wants to make the varsity team. He goes to tryouts and notices before practice that most of the boys who were on the team last year are kneeling on prayer rugs and praying to Allah with Mr. Assad, the coach. Your grandson notices this happens every day. He and the other boys really want to be favorably noticed by Mr. Assad in order to secure a spot on the team, so your grandson goes home and asks his parents to buy him a prayer rug. I suspect, Mrs. C, that you would have a fit.

Maybe these questions are part of the reason why judges saw the merit in upholding the establishment clause in our Constitution. Why don’t we leave Jesus where he belongs — in the privacy of your home, heart, and church — and let our public spaces be free of religion.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Egalitarianism to Blame for Sexual Assault of Women, Says John Piper

men protect womenMy point in that article [Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?] and in this podcast is that the egalitarian assumptions in our culture, and to a huge degree in the church, have muted — silenced, nullified — one of the means that God has designed for the protection and the flourishing of women. It has silenced the idea that men as men — by virtue of their created, God-given maleness, apart from any practical competencies that they have or don’t have — men have special responsibilities to care for and protect and honor women. This call is different from the care and protection and honor that women owe men. That’s my thesis. That’s my point.

Now, it seems to me that for decades Christian and non-Christian egalitarians have argued, have assumed, and have modeled that those peculiar roles and responsibilities among men and women in the home, in the church, and in the culture should emerge only from competencies rather than from a deeper reality rooted in who we are differently as male and female.

Let me put it another way. If your nine-year-old son asks you, “Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman?” — or if your daughter asks, “Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?” — it won’t do to answer, “What it means is that when you grow up, you will have maturity and wisdom and courage and sacrifice and humility and patience and kindness and strength and self-control and purity and faith and hope and love, etc.” That doesn’t answer the question. Those traits are absolutely right, but they belong to both men and women.

The question was “What does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman?” And “What does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?” “Is there, Mommy and Daddy, a God-given, profound, beautiful meaning to manhood and womanhood?”

The kids don’t say it like that, but that’s what they want to know eventually: is there a difference beyond mere anatomy? Are there built-in responsibilities that I have simply because I’m a male or a female human being. There is a pervasive egalitarian disinclination to say yes to that question. The egalitarian inclination is to define all our relationships by competencies. And my suggestion or my contention is this is hurting us.


This refusal to answer that question or be burdened by it is hurting us. It confuses everyone, especially the children. This confusion is hurting people.

It has moved way beyond confusion. It’s a firm conviction of most of our egalitarian culture that men as men do not owe women a special kind of care and protection and honor that women do not owe men. I believe they do. I believe fifty years of denying it is one of the seeds bearing very bad fruit, including all those sexual abuses you talked about in your question. There are others seeds in our culture, but this is one of the seeds.


My point in this podcast is that this divine design for men as men to show a special care, protection, and honor to women is essential for good — for the good of families, churches, society, and for women in particular.

Millions of people in our day would rather sacrifice this peculiar biblical mandate given for the good of women. They would rather sacrifice it than betray any hint of compromise with egalitarian assumptions. What I’m arguing is that we have forfeited both a great, God-ordained restraint upon male vice and male power and a great, God-ordained incentive for male valor because we refuse to even think in terms of maleness and femaleness as they are created by God, carrying distinct and unique responsibilities and burdens.

We have put our hope in the myth that the summons to generic human virtue, with no attention to the peculiar virtues required of manhood and womanhood, would be sufficient to create a beautiful society of mutual respect. It isn’t working.

Men need to be taught from the time they are little boys that part of their manhood is to feel a special responsibility for the care and protection and honoring of women just because they are men.

— John Piper, Desiring God, Sex-Abuse Allegations and the Egalitarian Myth, March 16, 2018

Bart Ehrman Interview About His Latest Book: The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World

bart ehrman

Recently, Bart Ehrman appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air program to talk about his latest book,  The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World.

Download Link

Books by Bart Ehrman

The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

How Jesus Became God : the Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior

Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them)

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Lance Wallnau Says Marching Students Just Like Hitler’s Brownshirt Youths


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

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Lance Wallnau blaming liberals for EVERYTHING. Wallnau says that students protesting school gun violence are be used and manipulated by liberal organizations.

Video Link

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Michael Anthony Says God’s Inaction to Blame for School Shootings

michael anthonyTuesday’s shooting at Great Mills High School demonstrates that America’s violence with guns problem is not about the kind of weapon, but the kind of assailant. Tuesday’s events did not involve an assault rifle. Every gun requires an angry or mentally unstable person to pull the trigger, and people would use butter knives to vent their anger if guns were not accessible.

A society that applauds violence on television, computers and gaming (where teens now spend more time on electronic devices than they do sleeping), cannot help but reap what it sows. Is it a coincidence that we are seeing so much violence with guns these days, or is there a correlation between the demonization of God and religion, and the acceptance of violence in nearly every facet of life? Not at all. The correlation should be obvious. Violence with guns is high because morals are low. Morals are low because we got what we asked for: a society where God and religion are demonized, not respected.

In colonial days, young colonists were required to own muskets—but we didn’t see colonists shooting up the local one-room schoolhouses, did we? [No, they just herded 400 Indian men, women, children into a building, locked the door, and burned them alive.] That should not be seen as a coincidence. America does not have a gun violence problem [say this does not make it so]. We have an increasing inability to express our disagreements and frustrations in healthy ways. If we deal with the root problem, the violence subsides.

Violence with guns is a symptom of a deeper and growing trend throughout America: When God is demonized, attacked as the enemy rather than our friend, society grows increasingly evil, not good. The instability, division and anger in our nation will only rise as long as we continue to bully God, insisting he has no place in the classroom, the football field, in civic meetings and a host of other public arenas [God is welcome, but government sponsored sectarian religion is not. Read the U.S. Constitution and reacquaint yourself with the separation of church hand state.] If we want a safe society, it’s time to invoke the author of peace, God Himself [According to Evangelicals, there was a time when God was honored in America. Yet, during that time people still committed violent crimes, mobsters ruled the roost, and the American government killed millions of people in the name of democracy.] As long as we keep him at arm’s length, and continue to demonize and bully Him, we can expect more of the same. [In other words, God isn’t going to do anything about school shootings until everyone is nice to him.]


Michael Anthony, Charisma News, When God Is Demonized, Evil Gains Ground, March 21, 2018


Anthony does not say, as headline suggests, that God’s inaction is to blame for school shooting. What I did was take his nonsensical argument to its logical conclusion.

Black Collar Crime: IFB Preacher Richard Mick has Rape Conviction Overturned

richard mick

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.

Last week, an Ohio appeals court overturned the child rape conviction of IFB preacher Richard Mick. Mick was, at the time of his conviction, the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Sandusky, Ohio.

The Sandusky Register reports:

An Ohio appeals court said a Sandusky pastor previously sentenced to life in prison for child rape must receive a new trial.

Richard Mick, 56, who was sentenced in Erie County Common Pleas Court in 2016, had his conviction overturned Friday by the Sixth District Court of Appeals. A jury originally found Mick guilty of four felony charges of rape and gross sexual imposition.

Mick, formerly a pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church, appealed his conviction after his trial was notably marked by his then-attorney K. Ronald Bailey refusing to participate in the trial.

Bailey, in 2016, argued the trial should have been delayed, and Judge Roger Binette held him in contempt of court after Bailey told Binette he was “not participating” in the trial. Bailey eventually served a 30-day sentence in the Erie County jail for the contempt charge.

Bailey did not respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon.

Mick’s appeal, filed by his new Cleveland-based attorney, Russell Bensing, alleged Bailey’s refusal to participate in the trial violated his right to effective counsel, according to the appeal.

The appeals court agreed with Mick, according to a court opinion written by Judge Thomas Osowik.

“Although Mick could have waived his constitutional right to counsel, the record shows he did not,” Osowik said.

There are not any court dates set following the overturned conviction Friday.

Mick has another pending court case in Erie County Common Pleas Court, where he faces more counts of gross sexual imposition, according to court records. He has a pretrial in that case set for May 16.

An October 5, 2016, Sandusky Register report stated:

The long-delayed trial of a Sandusky pastor accused of sexually abusing children got off to a rocky start Tuesday when his attorney refused to participate altogether, and then defied the presiding judge.

The trial for Richard Mick, 55, of Lighthouse Baptist Church, is slated to resume Wednesday morning before Erie County Common Pleas Judge Roger Binette, but it remains to be seen just how the proceedings will unfold.

Soon after jury selection began on Tuesday, defense attorney K. Ron Bailey refused to participate and said he does not intend to do so for the duration of the trial.

“I’ve been practicing for over 33 years and I’ve never done this before, but, Your Honor, defense counsel cannot and will not be able nor willing to proceed today,” Bailey told Binette.

Despite Bailey’s actions, Erie County Assistant Prosecutor Aaron Lindsey said he will continue prosecuting the case as normal.

“We’re moving forward with the case,” Lindsey told the Register.

The trial could take up to two weeks, but will be decidedly one-sided if Bailey continues on this course. If he does, witnesses may not be cross-examined, evidence may not be presented in Mick’s defense, and defense witnesses may not be called at all.

In the meantime, prosecutors will continue seeking a conviction against the pastor, who’s facing a potential sentence of life imprisonment. Mick is accused of raping an approximately 8-year-old girl — and fondling an approximately 8-year-old boy — over a decade ago.

Bailey’s refusal to participate at trial seems to revolve around a few specific issues.

Last week, he filed two motions with the court — one asking that the trial be delayed, and one asking Binette to recuse himself.

According to court documents, Bailey asked for a delay for essentially three reasons:

•He had to travel out-of-state for his son’s wedding over the weekend.

•Mick had been ill recently.

•He hadn’t been able to fully investigate new accusations that Mick sexually assaulted another child. (Allegations that led to eight new indictments being leveled by a grand jury in August).

Bailey’s request came after more than two years worth of delays in the case. On previous occasions, he asked for the trial to be pushed back for a myriad of reasons, including Mick being ill, parking issues near the courthouse due to Ohio Bike Week, and not having enough time to prepare, according to court documents.

Binette ultimately denied Bailey’s new request for another delay, and ordered the trial move forward as planned on Tuesday.

Binette also denied Bailey’s request to recuse himself, which was, in part, predicated on Binette’s refusal to delay the case yet again.

Bailey also told the Register that the primary reason he wasn’t participating in Mick’s current jury trial is because no ruling had been made regarding an expert witness’s testimony.

“The biggest thing is…the motion…that was filed back in August hasn’t been ruled on yet,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

Binette, however, ruled on that motion Tuesday morning following a heated exchange with Bailey in the courtroom, court records state.

After Bailey declared his intentions not to participate during jury selection, Binette told Bailey and Lindsey to return to their seats and step away from his bench.

“You may step back, you are excused,” Binette told the men.

Lindsey retreated, but Bailey stayed put and cut the judge off.

“I was talking about—” he said.

“You may step back,” Binette said, firmly.

The exchange repeated itself, and Bailey again interrupted.

“I know I may but I won’t…” Bailey responded.

At that point, Binette ordered the jurors out of the room and warned Bailey for contempt of court.

“Counsel, this court said ‘Step back’ (and) you said ‘you may but you weren’t’. Further activity like that will be held in direct contempt of court and the court will sanction appropriately,” Binette said before resuming proceedings.

The jury selection process then continued where it left off — but Bailey refused to chime in each time he was given the opportunity.

“We’re not participating,” he said multiple times. “I previously told you that I won’t participate in this trial and I’m sticking to that.”

Bailey argued that continuing with the trial “would violate Reverend Mick’s rights to guaranteed due process.”


An August 31, 2016 Sandusky Register report stated:

Just weeks ahead of his trial for other alleged child sex crimes, a local pastor was indicted yet again — this time for allegedly touching a five-year-old boy.

Pastor Richard Mick, 55, of the Lighthouse Baptist Church, was indicted this month on eight felony counts of gross sexual imposition.

It marks the fourth time since 2012 Mick has been accused of child sexual abuse.

The alleged victim in this case, like the previous cases, was a member of Mick’s Cleveland Road church, police say.

The boy, now 15, told investigators Mick inappropriately touched him on multiple occasions about a decade ago.

“He said he used to get in trouble at the church and Mr. Mick would talk to him alone in his office,” Sandusky police Detective Ken Nixon said.

It was during those meetings Mick allegedly touched the boy.

“He recently had to talk to some counselors and disclosed this to them. The counselor passed it on to police and Children Services,” Nixon said.

The boy’s story is similar to the accounts of two other children (now teenagers), who each alleged Mick abused them at the church when they were about eight years old.

One of the alleged victims in that case said she was raped by Mick, and the other alleged victim said he was fondled by the pastor.

Mick was indicted for both of those incidents in 2014, and his jury trial is now scheduled for October 6.

The pastor was accused of raping another girl back in 2012, but Erie County prosecutors dropped that case, saying they could not prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, according to court records.

When the Register contacted Mick’s defense attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, for comment, he did not address Mick’s eight new indictments directly. He did, however, point to a lie detector test Mick underwent for the 2014 case.

“He has passed polygraph examinations showing that the allegations are false,” Bailey stated.

Bailey asked for those results to be included in Mick’s upcoming trial, but polygraph exams are generally inadmissible, and a judge denied his motion.

The most recent allegations against Mick surfaced in early July, after the boy’s counselor reached out to local authorities.

The boy was then interviewed on July 22, and the case was presented to an Erie County grand jury, which opted to level eight new indictments against the pastor.


An October 7, 2016 Sandusky Register report stated:

A Sandusky pastor was convicted of child rape and sentenced to life in prison Friday at the conclusion of a tumultuous trial.

A jury found Richard Mick, 55, of Lighthouse Baptist Church, guilty on four felony counts, two of which carried a mandatory life sentence.

Mick raped a young girl on two occasions, and fondled a young boy multiple times. Both were members of his church.

“A pastor is (supposed) to take care of his flock,” Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette told Mick. “You didn’t do that.”

He called Mick a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” before handing down the sentence.

“They thought you were protecting them and you weren’t. You were harming them,” Binette said.

Mick received a life sentence for raping the girl and an additional five years for victimizing the boy.

Two other alleged victims testified at trial this week, detailing other alleged abuse they said they sustained at Mick’s hands.

The pastor is facing eight additional counts of gross sexual imposition for one of those cases, which is still pending. Over the coming months, Mick will likely be shuttled back to Erie County to answer for those alleged crimes.

“This trial has been about courage, the courage of four young adults to come forward and share their inner demons,” said assistant Erie County prosecutor Aaron Lindsey during his closing arguments Friday morning.

The jury ultimately agreed with prosecutors. They returned with guilty verdicts after less than two hours of deliberation.

The defense strategy of Mick’s attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, was highly unusual. He refused to participate in the trial, and essentially argued no case on his client’s behalf. Local officials said they’d never witnessed anything like it.



Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor David Wright Charged with Theft

ashley and david wright

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 Wright, pastor of The Revival Church in La Harpe, Kansas, was arrested and taken into custody on a theft charge from Rule, Texas. Wright’s wife,Ashley, was arrested for hindering the arrest of her husband. Wright also faces a local charge of impersonating an  officer.

KOAM-7 reports:

Allen County Sheriff Bryan Murphy says the La Harpe Police Chief is in custody over a theft charge from Texas. Authorities arrested Police Chief Ashley Wright Tuesday morning along with her husband David, who has a warrant out of Rule, TX where David was a former police chief. Sheriff Murphy says Chief Ashley Wright’s arrest was because she refused to let deputies enter their home to execute the warrant against her husband. David ran from the home but was taken into custody outside.

The couple lives in the old La Harpe Methodist Episcopal Church, where David serves as the pastor. Sheriff Murphy says David also faces a local charge of impersonating an officer for reportedly acting on his wife’s behalf in La Harpe as well as the theft charge from Texas. Texas prosecutors charged David in June 2016 after he was dismissed as the Rule Police Chief. His firing came in October 2015 for improper investigation involving a boy assaulting his daughter in school. According to court documents, David refused to turn in his badge and identification that lead to theft charge. David is being held on no bond until his extradition hearing.


A January 17, 2018 post on the City of La Harpe website gives the “reasons” the Wrights came to La Harpe:

Ashley and David Wright’s belief that God wanted them to start a church led them to invest all their money into an abandoned church in LaHarpe.

“We don’t have a dime but we’re very wealthy in spirit,” David said. “We have nothing. We are nobody. It’s all God. He sent us here to revive the area. We know He’s going to provide.”

The couple met through their jobs in law enforcement. Ashley originally is from Fort Worth, Texas, and David is from Baltimore, Md. Together, they decided to leave their jobs and devote their time in service to God. They both grew up in a Baptist religion. David has no formal theological training but said he is ordained through an apostolic church in Virginia.

Previous to coming to LaHarpe six weeks ago they lived “off the grid” in rural Montana.

Along with Ashley’s three daughters, they suffered through bitter cold temperatures with no utilities and no running water.

Ashley said she survived close calls on harrowing mountain roads with an hour and a half drive to work.

“We had true miracles on that mountain,” Ashley said.

While Ashley worked, David studied the word of God.

“It was just me and God on that mountain, all day and all night to hear His voice,” David said.

After about two years, the couple felt God wanted them to lead a church. They explored options on the East Coast and were on their way to see a church in Pennsylvania when their SUV engine blew a head gasket. While stranded in a small town in Wisconsin they saw an online listing for a church for sale in LaHarpe.

The couple has no ties to the area.

“God is in Kansas,” David said. “I said, OK, that’s where He wants us to go.”

The couple invested their savings and money from the sale of their Montana property, about $20,000, into the church, which they have named “The Revival Church.”

Since the purchase, the couple said they have discovered the church needs significantly more work than they initially assumed.


The couple can’t yet have services in the sanctuary because the area is not heated. They plan to have a special service at 6 tonight with a meal, music and a brief message. Their church is non-denominational and not affiliated with any religious organization, but the Wrights consider it to be an “apostolic church.” They said they are in the process of obtaining tax exempt status with a 501(c)(3) designation.

“I just want everyone to feel the Holy Spirit,” Ashley said.

“We’re here to take the area back for the Kingdom of God,” David said. “It all starts with obedience and God’s love.”

Why Evangelical Christianity has the Power to Harm and Destroy

how beliefs affect us

It concerns me that more than a few atheists dismiss religious beliefs as quaint, silly relics that pose no threat or concern to them. Unfortunately, ignorance and indifference about religious beliefs can and does have catastrophic consequences. One need only to look to the election of Donald Trump to see what happens when religious beliefs are ignored. More than eighty percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for our pussy-grabber-in-chief. Trump, ever the con-man, used Evangelical beliefs about social hot-button issues to his advantage. Trump is no more a Christian than I am, yet he and his handlers knew that exploiting Evangelicals religious beliefs would help them gain the White House. While some Evangelical voters have buyers regret, many of them continue to support Trump, regardless of how many prostitutes and porn stars come out of his closet. All that matters to them is that Trump supports their values and ideals. You see, beliefs matter.

As an atheist, I believe that Evangelical Christianity is built upon numerous lies; namely that the Christian God exists, Jesus is God, Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. These four lies in particular fundamentally and ruinously affect the lives of those who believe them, especially those who spend decades as Evangelical believers. These lies affect how Evangelicals think about the world and their place in it. These lies affect how Evangelicals view others, especially those who don’t believe as they do. And most importantly, these lies affect how Evangelicals vote and engage the political process.

I am well aware that Evangelicals are somewhat diverse in belief and practice. I also realize that a smattering of Evangelicals hold progressive/liberal values. However, in the main, Evangelicals are united when it comes to the four lies mentioned above. These lies, along with others, are what make them Evangelical. If a person professes to be an Evangelical, yet rejects one or more of the aforementioned lies, then it is fair to say that he or she is Evangelical in name only.

Of these four lies, two of them have the potential to cause the greatest harm. I want to conclude this post by briefly examining these two lies.

First, the lie that Jesus resurrected from the dead fundamentally affects how Evangelicals view life and death. Why aren’t most Evangelicals concerned with global climate change? Why do they show little interest in ending war, famine, and violence? In the resurrection of Jesus, Evangelicals see the power of the Almighty on display. Their God has power over life and death. Their God controls everything, and if Jesus is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, and he holds the world in the palm of his hand, why worry about the future? In their minds, God has an unalterable, unassailable plan for everyone. We live and die when God says we do. What happens between life and death is up to God. When you believe your God can do anything, well, anything and everything is possible. No need to worry, the one true God is always on the job.

Jesus, of course, did not rise from the dead. Jesus was human, just like the rest of us. When he died on a Roman cross, he stayed dead, never to rise again. Understanding this fact causes people to behave differently. If Jesus was a mere mortal who lived and died, then there is no hell to shun and heaven to gain. All we have is the here and now. What matters, then, is how we live in the present, knowing that what we do affects future generations, for good or ill. There’s no God coming to our rescue. There’s no God who is going to make our lives brand new. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand how different the thinking is between someone who believes the resurrection lie and someone who doesn’t.

Second, the lie that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God materially affects how Evangelicals live their day-to-day lives. People’s beliefs that the Bible is some sort of divine roadmap or blueprint for life affects the choices and decisions they make. The Sounds of Fundamentalism and Christians Say the Darnedest Things series aptly reflect what happens when people really, really, really believe that the Bible is a direct message to them from God. Why are Evangelicals endlessly up-in-arms over hot-button social issues? The Bible. Why do Evangelicals believe that the United States is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is harmful to their faith? The Bible. Why are Evangelicals anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-LGBT, anti-gun control, anti-same-sex marriage, and anti, anti, anti? The Bible. From invectives against how women dress to calls for Muslims/illegal immigrants to be sent back where they came from, the justification for such violence against people is found in the Bible.

If we want a better tomorrow, secularists and progressive people of faith must attack and destroy the lie that the Bible is in any way some sort of supernatural message sent to humans by a supernatural God. While the Bible certainly has teachings that have cultural and social value, in the main the Bible remains a Bronze Age religious text that has little relevance for today. In fact, the Bible is one of the most dangerous books ever written. When literally believed, it becomes a weapon with the power to kill and destroy. Religious Fundamentalism (and Evangelicalism is inherently Fundamentalist) harms everything it touches. We must not allow the lie about the nature of the Bible to go unchallenged. Ignoring the power the Bible holds over Evangelicals will only further our democracy’s demise. When people who believe the Bible is divine gain the power of the state, we shouldn’t be surprised when the United States becomes a theocracy. If we don’t want the Christian flag flying over the White House, we must muster every available tool in the secularist, rationalist toolbox to expose the lie that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.

I realize my words might seem harsh to some of my Evangelical readers. But, recent battles over gun control, abortion, LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, and immigration have taught me that this is not the time to live and let live. If truth is to prevail, then lies must be exposed. If truth really matters to Americans, then exposing Evangelical Christianity for what it is — a religious political party — is essential. All one needs to do is look at the Ohio legislature, Congress, and the Trump presidency to see what believing lies can do. Sitting idly on the sidelines watching Bart Ehrman debates on YouTube or reading the latest, greatest book on atheism is not the answer. Like it or not, non-Evangelicals must educate themselves about Evangelical beliefs and practices. In doing so, we are better equipped to wage war against the cultural genocide being waged in the name of God. One of the reasons I continue to slog through Evangelical blogs, websites, and social media is because I know it is important to do so; not so much for myself, but for my children and grandchildren. By exposing what it is Evangelicals say and do, I shine a light on their absurdities and lies. Just remember, Evangelicals really do believe the words they write and speak. That alone should scare all of us into action.

Remember, beliefs matter.


Takeshi Kovacs is a character in books written by Richard K/ Morgan — Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies. Altered Carbon was recently turned into a Netflix series starring Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs. I watched the first season of Altered Carbon and found it to a delightful, yet complex futuristic drama. I heartily recommend it for your viewing.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

HB565: Ohio Republicans Take ‘Abortion is Murder’ to its Logical Conclusion


Ohio Republicans introduced a new bill yesterday that takes the phrase ‘abortion is murder’ to its logical conclusion. HB565 outlaws all abortions and makes performing or having one a capital offense. The bill also does away with exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.  One of the bill’s sponsors is Craig Riedel, state representative for District 82. Riedel is my representative and lives in nearby Defiance, Ohio. Riedel, a Catholic, is stridently anti-abortion, so it comes as no surprise that he is one of the sponsors of HB565. Riedel was also instrumental in the recent passage of HB214, a law that criminalizes doctors performing abortions on women whose fetuses have Down Syndrome.

HB565 doesn’t surprise me in the least. The Ohio legislature is controlled by a super-majority of staunch, right-wing, anti-abortion Republicans. These Republicans make Governor John Kasich look like a liberal. The only way to repel their attacks on abortion rights is to run them out of office and replace them with men and women who put people before religion. Make no mistake about it, the assault on abortion is religiously driven, primarily by Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons. Only those with minds sotted with religious delusions would criminalize abortion and make it a capital crime. Only the Craig Riedels of the world put God and theological dogma before women’s health.

I hope my fellow Ohioans are paying attention to the anti-abortion spectacle currently on display in Columbus. Far too many of us wrongly think that the people who wave signs that say, God is pro-life and abortion is murder, are ignorant, harmless country bumpkins. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ohio is primarily a rural state, and people who live in small communities such as Ney, Bryan, Defiance, Hicksville, and countless other places, have been voting into office right-wing Republicans for decades. Senior Ohioans such as myself remember an Ohio that was considered a progressive state, one governed by officeholders who worked for the common good of the Buckeye state. That Ohio no longer exists. In its place is a state government where God and the Bible come first, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues.

It is unlikely that this bill will pass constitutional muster. But, maybe the real issue here is to get HB565 before the U.S. Supreme Court so the court can overturn Roe v. Wade. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of all anti-abortion laws at the state level? Outlaw abortion in the states and then make a full-bore frontal assault on Roe v. Wade. If attempts to criminalize abortion at the federal level are successful, this means the United States returns to the days when abortions were performed in backrooms and alleys. Ultimately, it means more unwanted children will be brought into the world and more women will die of complications from illegal, unsafe abortion procedures. We must not forget that the people who believe that abortion is murder often think that using birth control is a sin too. Imagine, if you dare, a country where women no longer have access to birth control and they once again must live in fear of unwanted pregnancy. Is this really what we want for Ohio and our country? If the answer is “no,” then the only answer is to elected leaders who put their duties and obligations to their constituents ahead of their fealty to God.

I am not suggesting that religious people cannot hold office, but if they are unwilling to separate church from state, then they are not fit for office. Our governmental structures are, by design, secular, and politicians who ignore or refuse to understand this must be replaced by people who do. For far too long, voters have treated the religious beliefs of politicians as being beyond criticism and critique. Since we now know that religious beliefs have political and social consequences, those of us who consider the separation of church and state essential to the future of our secular state must expose and critique the religious beliefs of politicians. The same applies to atheistic, agnostic, and humanistic politicians – we must question their beliefs as well. What we believe matters, as HB565, HB214, and other anti-abortion bills show. If we want a country where secular, humanistic ideals drive the legislative process, then we must elect candidates who value these things. It really is that simple.

Previous Articles About Abortion
Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

Is God Pro-Life?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Is God Pro-Life?

3 day old human embyro

Three Day Old Human Embryo.

A hundred or so local anti-abortion residents held a protest at ProMedica health system’s Defiance, Ohio facility yesterday. These zygote lovers were protesting Promedica’s decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Toledo’s lone abortion facility — Capital Care. Anti-abortion zealots in the Ohio legislature have passed numerous anti-abortion laws and regulations in recent years. One recent bit of legislative wonder requires abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. This requirement has put most of Ohio’s abortion clinics out of business, much to the delight of anti-abortion God worshipers.

Ohio is on the cusp of being the first state to totally ban abortion; either by enacting strict, impossible-to-meet regulations or directly assaulting Roe v. Wade with a ban on abortion. This is what happens when Republicans are given super majorities in state legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion almost forty-five years ago. Yet, here we are, re-litigating an issue decided decades ago. And abortion is not the only right under attack. Republicans control most state legislatures. Believing that Christianity is the one true religion and that the Bible is the moral framework by which all Americans should live, these politicians demand that secular governments bow to God’s theocratic will. Abortion is just one issue, among many. Take any of the church and state issues litigated from the Scope’s Monkey Trial forward. Many of these court cases are being challenged and, in some instances, overturned. Christian zealots will not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House and every state capitol. They will not rest until the wall of separation between church and state is breached and secularism is banished from the realm. One need only to look to the Middle East and Europe to see what happens when theocrats gain the power of the state; people die and freedoms are lost. The only way to turn back this assault is to elect to office people who value the U.S. Constitution and its secular principles and values.

Signs at the ProMedica protest sported messages such as: Killing babies is not healthcare, Abortion is always the wrong choice, and God is pro-life. Most of the protesters were either Evangelical or Catholic — the two dominant sects in this area. While Catholics, at one time, voted for Democrats and pro-union candidates, recent decades have brought a virulent swing to the right. These days, Catholics are every bit as caustic as Evangelicals, especially on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.

I have no doubt that these protestors sincerely believe that God is pro-life, but such a belief is rooted in fanaticism, and not fact. Anti-abortionists selectively appeal to the Bible as justification for their anti-abortion rhetoric, but a careful reading of the Bible suggests that God is not, in any way, pro-life; and that people who claim God is on their side are ignoring vast amounts of Biblical and historical evidence to the contrary. If anything, God is blood-thirsty, violent megalomaniac who has caused untold pain, suffering, and death (if he is indeed real, as Christians insist he is).

According to the Bible, the pro-life God of the Bible drowned millions of people with a flood, including children and pregnant women. How can it be said that God is pro-life if he murdered fetuses by drowning them? Down through the pages of the Bible we find story after story detailing Jehovah’s genocidal rage against anyone and everyone who refused to bow in fealty and worship him. The New Testament is no better. One need only look at the death of Jesus to see the homicidal tendencies of the Christian deity. What kind of father does what God did to his son? Worse yet, this same God created a place called Hell; a place where he tortures all non-Christians for eternity. This God is such a psychopath that he fits the dead with new bodies that will tolerate torture in the fire and brimstone of the Lake of Fire. What a monstrous being!

And then there’s the fact that if God is the giver and taker of life, then he is responsible for the ten to twenty percent of pregnancies that end with spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). If God is pro-life, why then are these pregnancies not carried to term? Surely, God can keep spontaneous abortions from happening. Why does he sit on the sidelines and do nothing? The same argument could be made for children who die due to war, murder, malnutrition, disease, and parental neglect. If God is pro-life, shouldn’t he intervene and save children from death? If God truly cares about the pre-born, surely he still cares for them after they are born. Yet, all the evidence points to the fact that God is indifferent to the plight of his created beings. One could even argue that the evidence suggests that the pro-life God is a figment of Christian imaginations.

No, God is not pro-life, and neither are his followers. Most pro-lifers have a schizophrenic approach to life. The very same people protesting at ProMedica can be found defending U.S. militarism, capital punishment, and all sorts of anti-life government policies. At best, most pro-lifers are pro-fetus, hypocrites of the first-degree. Take protesters who released balloons to honor the babies have been aborted. They showed no regard for what balloon releases do to the environment and wildlife: that released balloons eventually return to the ground, causing wildlife deaths when they are ingested. This fact is a great example of the myopia of anti-abortionists. They are one-issue crusaders who only believe in protesting in support of the pre-born. Once a child is born, all bets are off.

An anti-abortionist who lives near me told the Defiance Crescent-News, “They [ProMedica] became complicit in murder when they signed that transfer agreement.” As long as Christian zealots continue to believe that life begins at conception, and any and all forms of abortion are murder, there’s no possible way to work with them to reduce the need for abortion. Instead, people such as myself are forced to fight their irrational, anti-woman assault on women. Believing that God is on their side and the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible word, Evangelicals and conservative Catholics cannot and will not compromise. Trying to reach such people is a waste of time. All any of us can do is strip them of the power of the state. This is accomplished through electing politicians who believe it’s important to protect a woman’s right to choose; who believe that women have a Constitutional right to control their own bodies. At this juncture in American history, this means running Republicans out of office. Remember, if we don’t realize the importance of the hour, we are going to wake up one day and find ourselves living in what Evangelicals have long desired — a Christian nation. Come that day, abortion rights will be the least of our problems.

Previous Articles About Abortion
Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

road trip

As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio, Southern Michigan, and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon during our travels.

first baptist church montpelier indiana

First Baptist Church, Montpelier, Indiana First Baptist’s website states:

First Baptist Church of Montpelier, Indiana was founded by Franklin Baldwin, brother of the leader of Montpelier’s first settlers, Abel Baldwin in 1838. It was incorporated in 1846.  The present church building, located in downtown Montpelier, was constructed in 1907 and 1908. Through the years, the families have changed but the conviction to be a church that is founded upon the Word of God and centered on Jesus has remained the same.  For over 175 years the families of First Baptist Church, Montpelier have come together to study the Word of God and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

In September of 2004, the families of First Baptist Church grew deeply concerned that so many churches in our nation were departing from the belief in the inerrancy and authority of the Word of God.  They sought to affiliate themselves with a denomination that was committed to upholding the Scriptures in belief and practice.  After much prayer, the families of First Baptist Church voted to unite themselves with the Southern Baptist Convention.  This decision was made after examining the Baptist Faith and Message and the convention’s focus on world mission.  A copy of the Baptist Faith and message can be found on the conventions website at  You can also read more about us on the Missions and Beliefs and Distinctives section of our website.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

helping hands crisis pregnancy center montpelier indiana

Helping Hands Crisis Pregnancy Resource Center, Montpelier, Indiana Helping Hands’ mission statement says:

Helping Hands’ is committed to empowering women, men and their families, through relationships, to make life-affirming decisions, and for us to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The site makes no mention of the fact that it is an anti-abortion front. Such “ministries” are common in this part of the country. On their FAQ page, Helping Hands states:

We provide information on both adoption and abortion. We can connect women with adoption resources and organizations, as well as help them through the process. We do not perform abortions or make referrals for them. We do provide accurate information on what happens during an abortion and the physical and emotional effects.

In other words, they scare the shit out of pregnant women who inquire about having an abortion.

first methodist church montpelier indiana

First Methodist Church, Montpelier, Indiana, Tim Wallace, pastor (no web presence)

I think it is safe to say that the church sign has not been updated since last October.

church of christ montpelier indiana

Church of Christ, Montpelier, Indiana (no web presence)

montpelier bible church montpelier indiana

Montpelier Bible Church, Montpelier, Indiana, Jeremy Stults, pastor (no web presence) Montpelier Bible is a new church plant, established in August 2015. Its Facebook page says the church’s mission is to:

Montpelier Bible Church exists to help know Christ, grow in Christ and go for Christ.

monroe united methodist church monroe indiana

monroe united methodist church monroe indiana 2

Monroe United Methodist Church, Monroe, Indiana, Char Allen, pastor (no web presence) Monroe United Methodist wants passersby to know that God is ready and willing to clean hearts, whatever the heaven that means. Speaking of cleaning, how about sprucing up the disheveled church sign?  I ask the congregation, what does the condition of the sign say about your church?

montpelier church of the nazarene montpelier indiana

Montpelier Cornerstone Community Church of the Nazarene, Montpelier, Indiana (no web presence)

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Al Shannon Says Modern Women Wear the Attire of Harlots

brienne tarth

Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones) dressed modestly. Follow her example harlots!

Here [Proverbs 7] we find a foolish young man seeking sexual experimentation goes to a “worldly-wise woman whose character is known by the manner in which she dresses. This is a boisterous woman who despises to be in subjection to her husband. She is too active to give adequate care to her home and children because she is occupied trying to appear seductive. She has a face hardened by sin, and can no longer blush (Ezra 9:6 f; Jer. 6:15 cf; 8:12). She persuades her victim using flattery to inebriate him.

This young man is described by the writer of Proverbs as a fool who goes blindly and willingly to his own destruction, not knowing just how great a price he must pay for his indiscretions!

The description of this woman makes it clear that she was a harlot. What is a harlot? The word “harlot” here describes a person who is willing to engage in sexual behavior with someone to whom she is not legally married. The more modern day word for a “harlot” is a “whore”.

If one is available for purposes of sexual immorality, how does one advertise this fact? One way, clearly, is to dress in “the attire or dress of a harlot.” What is the attire of a harlot? Proverbs 7 does not give a description of the “attire of a harlot” or of anyone else’s attire, for that matter. So then, what is the attire of a harlot? The attire of a harlot is any manner of dressing which communicates the message of sexual interest so that there is the underlying implication of sexual availability, the freedom from shame and moral or spiritual restraints.

On the other hand, one who wishes to communicate the message of chastity and moral restraint will studiously avoid dressing in a manner which raises doubt about moral character!

There are many modem ways to wear the “attire of a harlot.” Women may wear the attire of a harlot by either overdressing or underdressing. Dressing in a garish manner, wearing too much makeup, wearing slinky gowns, etc., may be as much the attire of an harlot as underdressing in the skimpy shorts, halter tops, modern swimwear, miniskirts, any attire revealing private parts, etc., all characteristic of those who wish to send the signal – “I am available.” Every such woman is either telling the truth or lying by her manner of dress. If she is telling the truth, she is guilty of the sins of lasciviousness and fornication. If she is lying by her manner of dress she is guilty of the sins of lasciviousness and lying. There is just no “Christian” way to wear “the attire of a harlot.”

All of these things shout one message loud and clear; they are the signals of the decay of the morals of a nation. We are becoming a nation of fornicators – and we advertise it. Celebrities seek a public forum to boast of it. And slowly citizens seek opportunities to imitate the lifestyles of the rich and famous!

No thoughtful Christian who wants to do right will be guilty of wearing the “attire of a harlot” because to do so is to be guilty of lasciviousness, which is a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). The penalty for lasciviousness is that those guilty cannot “inherit the kingdom of God.” In other words, those guilty of dressing like a harlot will spend an eternity in Hell.

— Al Shannon, Biblical Proof, Dressing Like a Harlot, March 18, 2018