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The Intolerant Christian God as Found in the Cult Classic Mars Attacks!

mars attacks

There’s a scene in Mars Attacks! — one of my all-time favorite movies — where the Martians meet with the President of the United States. The President, played by Jack Nicholson, says to the Mars ambassador:

Why… are you doing this? Why? Isn’t the universe big enough…for both of us? Ha ha ha ha. What is wrong with you people?

We could work together. Why be enemies? Because we’re different? Is that why?

Think of the things that we could do.

Think how strong we would be. Earth…and Mars… Together.

There is nothing that we could not accomplish. Think about it. Think about it.

Why destroy…when you can create? We can have it all, or we can smash it all.

Why can’t we…work out our differences? Why can’t we…work things out?

Little people…why can’t we all just…get along?

“Why can’t we all just get along?” The ambassador, with tears in his eyes, shakes hands with the President, only to have the hand disconnect and stab the President in the heart, killing him instantly.

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Prior to killing the President, the Martian Ambassador and his entourage met with Congress. The Ambassador gave a rousing Ack! Ack! Ack! speech, concluding with him and his support staff whipping out their ray guns and vaporizing Congress. Where are the Martians when you need them, right?

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Quite intolerant, these Martians. Every time I watch Mars Attacks! I can’t help but think of the Christian God and his intolerance towards any religion but his own. Jesus — who is God — is the Martian Ambassador in this story. Any other religion but the Christian faith is false, an affront to the thrice-holy God of the Bible. Instead of practicing the time-honored art of toleration, God the Father, and his son Jesus, command their followers to murder everyone who worships other deities (or no deities at all).

Christianity has a deep, vibrant, antisemitic, anti-Islamic stream running through its body. Evangelicals, who increasingly support ex-President Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry, justify their hatred by pointing to how Muslim extremists harass, attack, kidnap, and murder Christians and other non-Muslims. I don’t disagree with their assessment of groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and numerous other Muslim extremists. However, in becoming so fixated on Islam, Christians forget their own religion’s violence, their God’s command to slaughter all unbelievers, and the rise of violent (and deadly) white Christian extremism in the United States.

The inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God says in Deuteronomy 13:1-16:

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.

If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,

Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;

Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;

Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.

And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.

But, Bruce . . . Don’t bother. Whatever attempt you plan to make to defend your God won’t work. This passage of Scripture is quite clear. No ambiguity here. The intolerant, genocidal God of Christianity commands his followers (the Israelites, at the time) to slaughter anyone — men, women, children, the unborn — who doesn’t worship him. It’s in the Bible, buddy, and you just need to own it.

So much for the unconditional love of God. So much for God loving and accepting people where and how they are. No, God commands his followers to whip out their ray guns and vaporize anyone who doesn’t bow in fealty and devotion to him.

Time to sing, What a Mighty God We Serve.

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

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Is Life a Test?

It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12)

Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. (Amos 4:12)

From my earliest days in Evangelicalism in the 1960s, until I deconverted in 2008, a common theme I heard from the pulpit and later preached myself as a pastor, is that life is transitory; an almost imperceptible blip on the radar of eternity. Life is the time given to us by God to prepare to meet him in eternity. Everything we do and experience in this life is secondary to meeting God face-to-face. God steps into human existence to test, try, and correct Christians. Why? To prepare them to experience the eternal, everlasting presence of God after death. Everything in this life — the pain, suffering, heartache, and loss — are preparatory, minor inconveniences, that when endured, lead to life everlasting.

Jesus told his disciples in Mark 13:13: And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. James said in James 1:12: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Much like Jesus endured suffering in his thirty-three years of life, his followers are to do the same. And if Christians patiently endure suffering, there awaits eternal reward for them — mansions, streets of pure gold, and McDonald’s on every corner — after death.

This type of thinking permeated most of my life, from my teen years until the age of fifty. I have experienced a lot of trauma and upheaval in my life; things no child should have to experience. Yet, I survived. Why? No matter what came my way, I stoically embraced it as God preparing me for the life to come. All the pain, suffering, heartache, and loss were minor inconveniences when compared to what awaited me in glory. This life was offloaded to the life to come. It mattered not what happened. Heaven awaited me the moment I drew my last breath.

Of course, I have no idea whether what I had been taught and what I later, as a pastor for twenty-five years, taught others was true. There’s no evidence that any of this is true other than the Bible says it is. By faith, I endured hardness as a good soldier, believing that no matter what I experienced and endured in life, there would be a divine payoff in the end. Jesus said in the Gospels, that if Bruce endures to the end, he will be saved. This explains why I stoically, resolutely, dare I say passively accepted whatever came my way in life.

This was my life and way of thinking for almost five decades. And then, after more pain, suffering, and deep reflection, I came to understand that I had been sold a lie; that there was no evidence for the existence of God; no evidence for Heaven; no evidence for an afterlife; that all any of us has is this present life, and death is the period on the end of our lives.

For a long time, I was angry about how “preparing to meet God” thinking had made me passive not only about my own life, but that of my partner, Polly, and our six children. This doesn’t mean I was passive when it came to the work of the ministry, studying the Bible, praying, and evangelizing the lost. I was on fire for Jesus! Why? Because these things “mattered.” They prepared me for what awaited me after death; my commitment, zeal, and passion showed God, the church, and the world what really mattered to me.

Today, I am an atheist and a humanist. I am convinced that this life is the only one I will ever have, and the moment I die — that’s it. End of story, other than the stories told by those who knew me and live on.

Yesterday was my sixty-seventh birthday. I wish there were do-overs in life, but there are not. We get one crack at life. I can’t undo the past. I can’t fix the harm caused by the church; the harm I caused to not only myself, but to others — all water under and over the proverbial bridge. What I can do is live as if this is the only life I have; as if life is short and then I die; as if there is no promise of tomorrow, so I must live for today.

My counselor has expressed concern that I am pushing myself too hard; not pacing myself, conserving my strength for another day. She knows I’m sick, my body racked with unrelenting, pervasive pain. She also knows that I am headed for a permanent seat in a wheelchair (or worse) if nothing can be done about my spine. (I see a neurosurgeon on Tuesday.) While my therapist encourages me to embrace life, she also cautions me to not overdo it. The thing is, I don’t know if I am overdoing it until I do “it.” 🙂

People often say “we only live once.” No, actually, “we only die once.” And this is what drives me to continue to embrace life as it is; to do as much as I can on any given day, not because I am preparing for eternity, but because I intimately know and feel in my bones that I am on the short side of life; that all too soon I will be dead.

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

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Dr. David Tee Continues to Defend Preachers Who Commit Sex Crimes

david thiessen
David Tee/Derrick Thomas Thiessen is the tall man in the back

I know some of you are tired of me mentioning Dr. David Tee (whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen) on this site. I’m sick of mentioning him too. However, I can’t and won’t ignore his defense of clerics who commit sex crimes. I’ve met thousands of Christians over the years. I’ve never known a Christian with such callous disregard for the pain, suffering, and heartache of others. Whether out of some sort of misguided understanding of justice and forgiveness or a need to cover up past misconduct in his own life, Thiessen refuses to accept how offensive (and immoral) his words really are.

What follows is an excerpt from Thiessen’s latest post, @MeChurch 3, and my response to it. Please see @Me Church 2, and @MeChurch to read Thiessen’s other defenses of Evangelical preachers who molest children. All spelling, grammar, punctuation, and irrationality in the original.

How many people have had their lives and careers, not to mention their faith, ruined because Christians and others demand their pound of flesh far above what God demands? In this specific case, we can understand these moves better if Mr. Morris had not repented and lived a life that continually practiced this sin.

Mr. Morris is Evangelical megachurch pastor Robert Morris, who recently resigned after he was exposed for sexually assaulting a twelve-year-old church girl in the 1980s. The abuse continued for several years. Morris admitted assaulting the girl, acknowledging that his church knew about his crime — and yes, he committed a crime — at the time it happened. Morris briefly stepped away from preaching, then returned to the pulpit as if nothing happened. Ain’t God good, right? (Please see What Are We to Make of an Evangelical Preacher Who Defends a Pastor Who Sexually Assaulted a Twelve-Year-Old Girl?)

Morris committed a crime — a felony sex crime. What the Bible says doesn’t matter. Thiessen thinks he has intimate knowledge of God’s thoughts, but he doesn’t. And what God “thinks” on the matter doesn’t matter either. We are a nation of laws, and those laws consider Morris’ actions a crime. The only reason he is not in jail is that he can no longer be prosecuted for what he did almost 40 years ago.

Thiessen can’t possibly know if this was a one-off or whether Morris “repented” — as if repentance wipes his slate clean. Thiessen thinks saying “my bad” to God is a get-out-of-jail-free card.

But he had dealt with it, he took his spiritual punishment and paid the price for his actions. No more should be required of him. God promises to forget our sins when we honestly repent and turn from our wicked ways. 

How does Thiessen know Morris “dealt with it” — “it” being sexually assaulting a church girl for several years? He demands evidence from me for all sorts of things, but when it comes to Morris molesting a young girl, Thiessen takes his word for it. Why is that?

Christians are not better than God and they should do the same thing when the person has truly repented. Keep in mind that we do not know the exact nature of his repentance or experience with God at that time. We are not judging that part of this story as we do not know what God did at that time.

Thiessen says he is not judging Morris, but he most certainly is. He has judged him forgiven. Based on what, exactly? That he said he repented? Child, please.

What we are discussing is the attitude of those Christians and others who think they need to do more than God to make a person pay for the sins they have committed. People outside of those involved do not have the criminal or spiritual authority to demand more than those who have jurisdiction put in place.

People often forget their place and think they can add more to punishment or make the crime more severe than it is for whatever reason they may use to justify their vigilante and kangaroo court justice.

If God has forgiven his sin with that young girl, then no one has the right to hold it over the person’s head forever. Nor do they have the right to add more punishment or destroy the man’s life.

No one is adding more punishment to Morris’ life or trying to destroy him. He did that to himself. What his victim demands is accountability. What people like me demand is that men like Morris are never allowed around children again; that he never pastors a church again. He has forfeited the right to be a pastor.

This brings us to the second possible alternative title of this piece. Is this what it all boils down to? Is a man’s or woman’s life reduced to one sin or crime that will not be forgiven or forgotten by the people?

One sin or crime? Morris committed multiple sins and crimes, and it remains to be seen if other victims come forward. Sadly, Thiessen makes no distinction between filching a grape at the grocery and sexually assaulting a young girl. Both are sins that God can and will forgive if the sinner confesses his sin and repents. Awesome, right? No matter what you do, forgiveness is but a prayer away.

If they have spent 10, 20, or 40 years of excellent service for God or humanity, is that all lost because someone does not like an ancient sin that was dealt with at the time? When did one sin or a previous sinful life overrule what took place after repentance?

Ancient sin? How ancient is Morris’ crime (not a sin or mistake, a CRIME) in the mind of his victim? Thiessen seems clueless to the fact that sexual abuse leaves lifelong scars, often requiring extensive therapy to come to terms with. Note what Thiessen says here: sex crimes committed ten years ago are ancient history. Truth be told, he likely thinks that crimes committed immediately before the act of repentance are “ancient” crimes too.

What good is Christ’s redemption if Christians and others ignore the redemption and faithful life and refuse to restore someone who committed a sin? If anyone takes the attitude ‘God forgives but I won’t’ they are committing a sin just like the person they won’t forgive.

Pay careful attention to what Thiessen is doing. He is blaming the victim. She needs to forgive Morris and move on. He demands sexual abuse victims forgive their abusers, even if they don’t want to. And if they don’t, they are every bit as much of a sinner as their abusers. In other words, in Thiessen’s mind, refusing to forgive is the same in God’s book as sexually abusing children.

OMG, how dare we trample underfoot Jesus’ blood, demanding that sexual predators be held accountable for their crimes. Give me a pair of waders. I plan to keep on stomping on Jesus’ magical blood if it means abuse victims are seen and heard, and their abusers are held accountable for their crimes.

If they want forgiveness then they need to forgive those they refuse to. The Bible says if one wants forgiveness from God they must forgive others who wronged them. We are not speaking out of personal ideology here.

The victim in question does not want forgiveness. Forgiveness is cheap, a bandaid over a gaping wound. What victims generally want is justice and accountability.

God has covered sins and forgiveness throughout the Bible. We must adhere to those words if we want to be an example to others and make an impact for Christ. Jesus said to forgive 7 x 70 and so far we have not seen 1 x 1 for people like Mr. Morris or Mr. Ravi Zacharias.

What we have seen is exacting a pound of flesh for a sin that did not affect anyone who is canceling Mr. Morris. Justice is not up to the victim to decide. God has already determined what is justice and it is best that we learn what it is and implement it properly if we want to truly restore sinning Christians to the church body.

Actually, in a secular society, it is the legal system that determines just punishment, not God, the church, or the Bible. Morris would be in jail now if it weren’t for the expiring statute of limitations.

In our view, a dealt-with sin is no match for a restored, redeemed life that obeys God’s word correctly. Despite what unbelievers want or say, the sin, once dealt with, should be forgotten. Coming back 40+ years later is not a Christian act. It is not biblical teaching and Christians must abide by God’s instructions correctly.

In other words, one aw-shit doesn’t cancel out ten atta-boys. Thiessen desperately wants to think that doing good cancels out sexual misconduct; that if a serial rapist asks Jesus to forgive him, all his victims should forgive him too.

Now I need to go take a shower.

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

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Black Collar Crime: Southern Baptist Student Pastor Luke Cunningham Accused of Sexually Assaulting Church Girl

luke cunningham

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.

Luke Cunningham, a student pastor at Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas, and former student pastor at Turning Point Church in Lubbock from 2010 to 2016, stands accused of sexually assaulting a church girl while working at Turning Point.

Fox-4 reports:

A Granbury youth pastor has been arrested after being accused of sexually assaulting a minor.

The Justice Department confirmed to FOX 4 that 41-year-old Luke Cunningham was arrested on June 19 near Lubbock.

Cunningham was the student minister at Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury.

In a public statement sent to members of the church, Lakeside said that it learned Cunningham was accused of inappropriate conduct with a minor in another church on June 2.

Lakeside Baptist said they immediately suspended Cunningham and conducted an investigation.

The church said within days they found enough evidence to fire Cunningham and reported what was discovered to law enforcement.

Before coming to Granbury, Cunningham served as a student pastor at Turning Point Church in Lubbock from 2010 to 2016.

The church in Lubbock asked anyone who has been a victim or has information about incidents involving Cunningham to contact police.

They say they received no complaints, no allegations, nor any suspicion of wrongdoing.

Details about the abuse have not been released.

Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury says they are taking a closer look at ways to safeguard members.

“We believe that, if the Southern Baptist Convention had a working database for offenders, we would likely have never been exposed to Mr. Cunningham. We plan to do everything possible to encourage national leaders to exercise their spiritual responsibility, identify perpetrators in the churches, and stop this from happening again,” said the church in a statement.

Lakeside Baptist says they plan to institute their own more rigorous process for hiring.

Turning Point released the following statement:

On Monday, June 3, Turning Point was contacted by Senior Pastor Mark Forrest of Lakeside Baptist Church of Granbury, Texas to inform us that a recent staff member at Lakeside, and a former staff member at Turning Point, Luke Cunningham, was being reported to local police and Child Protective Services regarding accusations of inappropriate conduct and alleged sexual abuse with minors. During Lakeside Baptist Church’s own investigation of allegations, they learned of potential victims during Luke’s time of service at Turning Point. They have properly reported those allegations to the Lubbock Police Department. Turning Point has been in contact with the Lubbock Police since Thursday, June 6 and is in full cooperation with their investigation. As requested by LPD, Turning Point has not made any public statements so as not to hinder or disrupt the investigation.

From 2016-2020, Luke Cunningham served as Student Pastor at Turning Point. While Luke served on our staff, we received no complaints, no allegations, nor had any suspicion of wrongdoing. All allegations that are surfacing have been brought to our attention after Luke’s employment, not during or before. Currently, we have no information about these alleged incidents, no names, no descriptions of these events. We are awaiting further details from LPD.

To be clear, Turning Point’s leadership had no awareness of these alleged abuses during Luke’s time of service nor had any knowledge of allegations of previous misconduct in other churches prior to serving at Turning Point. We are devastated by these allegations and feel enormous grief for anyone who is a potential victim. Our hope is to provide any assistance we can offer to any victims of sexual abuse to find the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual peace needed to heal and move forward. We condemn any actions of sexual misconduct and certainly assault of any person, especially those under our care.

If you have been a victim or have any information that would prove help to LPD in their investigation, please contact and report what you know.

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Bobby Hawk Accused of Sexually Abusing Twelve-Year-Old Church Girl

pastor bobby hawk

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.

Bobby Hawk, (founding) pastor of Epic Church KC in Independence, Missouri, stands accused of sexually assaulting a twelve-year-old girl. Other women have come forward, accusing Hawk of similar behavior. Law enforcement is investigating these allegations. As of the writing of this post, no charges have been filed.

The Kansas City Star reports:

The Blue Springs Police Department is investigating former school board president and local pastor Bobby Hawk after allegations of inappropriate behavior from roughly 10 years ago with a then-12-year-old recently surfaced online. “We have opened an investigation and are seeking information regarding these allegations,” Jennifer Brady, the department’s public information officer, told The Star in an email.

….

Hawk resigned from the Blue Springs Board of Education on Wednesday. His abrupt departure came shortly after 23-year-old Isabelle “Izzy” Davis shared a blog post detailing Hawk’s “grooming” behavior, which she alleges began after her family started attending EPIC Church KC in Independence, where Hawk is a founding pastor. In her post, Davis recalled an encounter with Hawk during a youth group sleepover at his house. She said Hawk grasped her hand and placed it underneath his thigh while the two were watching a movie. During a phone interview with The Star, Davis — who grew up in Blue Springs and has since moved away — said she decided to go public with her story when other people who wished to remain anonymous told her about similar experiences with Hawk. Since Davis posted her story, others with ties to the church have posted on social media about Hawk, including allegations that he harassed church staff members. “I would encourage people to keep supporting everyone else who comes out as much as they’ve been supporting me,” Davis said. “Because all his victims deserve to have a platform and find healing through this time.” EPIC’s board of directors placed Hawk, its founding pastor, on leave Thursday “pending further review.” In a statement, the board said Sunday services would be canceled this weekend. “We ask that you take time this Sunday to pray for our church family and for wisdom as our board of directors considers the next steps for all involved,” the board of directors said in its statement. The Blue Springs school board on Wednesday said Hawk’s resignation was accepted unanimously

Epic Church KC released the following statement:

epic church statement

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

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Dear Evangelicals, Positive Claims Require Evidence, and Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

extraordinary claims

Recent posts by Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, reveal a common problem among Evangelical preachers: they don’t understand the burden of proof. They don’t understand that positive claims require evidence; that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

While the Bible can be used to provide historical evidence for certain claims, just because the Bible says something doesn’t mean it’s true. The Bible is primarily a book of claims, not evidence. Bible proof-texting is not evidence for anything. While quoting Bible verses “feels” like evidence to believers, it’s not. If you want unbelievers to accept your claims, empirical evidence is required. Supernatural (extraordinary) claims require extraordinary evidence. Just because the Bible says Jesus was a virgin-born God-man who resurrected from the dead, healed the sick, walked through walls, turned water into wine, used dirt and spittle to heal blindness, and teleported from one room to another, doesn’t mean these things actually happened. These are faith claims. As a faithless unbeliever, I want to see actual evidence for these claims. Of course, no such evidence exists, yet the unbeliever is to blame for not shutting off their skepticism and rational thinking skills so they can accept these claims.

The problem is Evangelical presuppositions; namely that the Bible is inerrant and infallible; that the Bible is the very words of God; that the Bible is big T TRUTH. How do Evangelicals know the Bible is inerrant and infallible? Their peculiar interpretation of the Bible says it is. in other words, the Bible is inerrant and infallible because it says it is inerrant and infallible. This, of course, is circular reasoning.

Generally, there’s not much value in arguing with Evangelical presuppositionalists. Certainty breeds arrogance. Thoughtful discussion is impossible until these folks can consider the possibility that they could be wrong. I may be an atheist, but I have not closed my mind off to evidence for the existence of God and the claims of the Protestant Christian Bible. So far, all Evangelical apologists give me are either reheated Banquet TV dinners or personal attacks on my character. I am into fine dining these days, Evangelicals, so you might want to move beyond your $1.99 microwave TV dinner arguments. Quoting Bible verses, smearing my name, attacking my partner, children, and grandchildren, threatening me with eternal torture in Hell, or using lame arguments such as Pascal’s Wager will not work with me (and I suspect they will not work with most of the readers of this site).

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

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“I Only Speak What the Bible Speaks,” Evangelical Preachers are Fond of Saying

bible literalism

Go to your average Evangelical church on Sundays and you will hear pastors say things such as:

  • I only speak what the Bible speaks
  • I only speak when God speaks
  • Thus saith the Lord . . .
  • I didn’t say it, God did
  • Your problem is with God, not me

Those raised in non-Evangelical traditions are likely saying right now, “What the fuck, Bruce. This is nonsense.” Nonsense, it is, but when you believe a supernatural God saved you from eternal death and lives inside you as your teacher and guide; when you believe the Bible is inerrant and infallible; when you believe God literally speaks to you through the words of the Bible and a still small voice in your head, it’s not hard to confuse your personal beliefs and interpretations with the voice and words of God. Worse yet, Evangelical preachers believe that God supernaturally calls them to preach the inerrant, infallible words of the Protestant Christian Bible. As a result, preachers think the words they utter during their sermons are straight from the mouth of God. THUS SAITH THE LORD!

“Bruce, how could Evangelicals believe these things?” I know, I know, but if I am honest, I held similar beliefs for almost fifty years. I know what religious indoctrination and conditioning can do to your ability to think skeptically and rationally. God hath spoken, how dare I doubt his Word, right? It wasn’t until I learned that the Bible was not inerrant and infallible; and that the central claims of Christianity lacked evidence, that I began to question my sincerely held beliefs.

In Genesis 3, we find a story about Adam, Eve, and a walking, talking snake. (By the way, nowhere in the Old Testament does the Bible say the serpent was Satan.) In verse one, the snake says to Eve: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? God had warned Adam and Eve that if they ate fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die. Not eventually, immediately. Of course, we know God lied. Adam and Eve went on to have children and live for hundreds of years before they died. The snake was right when he said in verses four and five: Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

The serpent rightly challenged God’s claim, saying “yea, hath God said?” According to Evangelical apologists, the serpent was Satan himself, and he was challenging the very Word of God. Talk about reading your peculiar theology back into the text. According to the Bible, Adam was 930 years old when he died. Eve likely lived a long life too, though the Bible does not record her age at death. This means, contrary to what God said in Genesis 2:15-17:

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Adam and Eve did not die on the day they ate the forbidden fruit. God lied, so the serpent was justified in questioning God’s truthfulness. Of course, the Bible was written by men; contains the words of men; and is fallible and errant from table of contents to concordance. It is not surprising, then, that there are mistakes, errors, and contradictions in the text (especially before printing presses and copy editors).

People have every reason to question whether God actually spoke the words recorded in the Bible. Investing time in studying these issues will show that the Bible is a human book written by fallible, frail, contradictory men — most of whom are unknown. And if the Bible is a human book, that means words uttered by preachers from church pulpits are human too. The Bible may have spiritual value for those who need it, but it is in no way a supernatural text written by a supernatural deity. And if you object to what I have written in this post, it is up to you to provide evidence for your supernatural claims. “Bruce, the BIBLE says _________!” And I should care why, exactly? If you want me to believe the Bible is a God-inspired, inerrant, infallible collection of ancient religious texts, you must provide evidence for your bald assertions.

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

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What Are We to Make of an Evangelical Preacher Who Defends a Pastor Who Sexually Assaulted a Twelve-Year-Old Girl?

dr david tee

Recently, it became known that Robert Morris, an Evangelical megachurch pastor, repeatedly sexually assaulted a twelve-year-old girl. Morris was twenty-one when he began abusing the girl. The abuse continued for several years. Morris admitted sexually assaulting the pre-teen girl.

No criminal charges were filed against Morris, or the church — who knew about Morris’ crimes and swept them under the proverbial rug. The girl’s father did the same, thinking the church would properly and sufficiently deal with the matter. After a short hiatus from preaching, Morris returned to preaching.

Dr. David Tee, who has never met an Evangelical sexual predator he didn’t like or couldn’t defend, had this to say about Morris’ crimes:

It seems this sinful ideology and activity has raised its head once again. Since BG [Bruce Gerencser] mentioned he was expecting us to write about this situation, we decided to take another look at it. Originally we weren’t going to but before we get too far into this topic, we will state that the only side we are taking is the side of Justice.

We have no dog in this fight but we are concerned that people are going over the top in their revenge for things that happened far too long ago. What is happening is not justice but more vigilantism and a kangaroo court style of justice that permeates the @MeToo and @MeChurch totalitarian activities.

….

As we have read the articles, no mention of any real evidence has been discussed. We have another man attacked merely on the word of a woman on an event that took place over 40 years ago. memories can be good but memories are not evidence.

And you need real, credible, and verifiable evidence as well as the truth before justice can be done. The Bible talks about this on several occasions where the king demanded the truth not someone’s word. If women want their word to be believed, then produce real, credible, and verifiable evidence.

….

Here is the other problem. if this sin was dealt with, and it does not matter about the age of the victim, then the woman has no legal or spiritual ground to stand on. Since she was a minor her father acted on her behalf and the matter was settled.

She does not have the right to dredge up this old act as it was dealt with 40 years ago. The Pastor accepted the conditions and fulfilled them so there is no case here. It sounds like someone has been talking to the woman to get her to repudiate the earlier agreement and go after deep pockets.

We have been told this pastor is worth millions, thus, a money grab by the woman is not out of the question. if we are going to take the woman’s word at face value, then to avoid hypocrisy and other negative aspects, we must take the Pastor’s word at face value and accept that he has not committed these or other crimes again.

If she does not present real evidence, then neither does he, although his claim is easier to find evidence to support it than hers.

….

Here is another problem with this situation. Defining the term ‘abuse’ and ‘abusing’ is difficult as most definitions are subjective and are heavily influenced by emotion as well as the age of the alleged victim.

What is considered abuse and abusing someone varies and the application of those terms is distorted in hopes of producing the desired result. Honesty has long disappeared from cases where ‘sexual abuse’ and children are involved.

Plus, time has a way olf affecting people’s perceptions of these situations. What was once considered not abuse by either party is often changed over time to reflect a more modern perspective. But justice does not depend on how actions are viewed today for crimes committed in another era or century.

Justice has to determine if the alleged actions were truly abuse or not. Since neither party provides private and intimate details of the encounters but wraps them up in a generalized category labeled abuse, we cannot determine the truth of the matter.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the Pastor admitted to this activity, this would merely be a he said, she said case. Without proper evidence, no one will know the truth. if one wants to apply double jeopardy laws to this case, the woman is demanding that the PAstor pay twice for the same alleged crime.

That is neither right nor justice.

Got all that?

Worse, Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, went on to say:

The age of the woman at the time of the alleged crime does not matter. Nor should it influence how people view this sin. Since the Pastor did not engage in this activity continuously, it is unfair and unjust to label him a pedophile.

The issue that influences this case is the concept of when childhood ends and adulthood begins. Society in general has added another 7 years to ‘childhood’ and called them teen years. While technically correct, there is no biblical support for this extension of childhood.

It is a disservice to our young people by forcing them to remain children delaying their ability to grow up properly and become responsible adults. This faulty extension does not mean a crime was not committed, it just means that justice will be distorted as people are wrongfully influenced.

If we had better views of life and let our children become adults at the right time, justice would be better served.

That’s right, Thiessen said the age of the girl was immaterial. According to Thiessen, just because Morris repeatedly assaulted the girl doesn’t mean he’s a pedophile. He was what, then, a poor misguided man who couldn’t keep himself from putting his hands on the girl’s private parts? In Thiessen’s addled mind, if only this girl had been older — no harm, no foul.

Thiessen seems to think that the matter has been dealt with; that the church and her father acted on her behalf — end of discussion. Thiessen thinks clergy sex crimes should be handled in-house instead of being reported to law enforcement. Let “God” clean up the crimes of preachers, right?

In the end, Thiessen blames the victim, accusing her of being an opportunist:

We have been told this pastor is worth millions, thus, a money grab by the woman is not out of the question.

….

If this situation continued for 4 1/2 years why did she let it go on for so long? The pastor held no power to harm her or her family so why did she participate for this length of time?

If everyone wants justice, then her thoughts and actions must be considered and examined. She can’t willingly participate for 4 1/2 years then 40 years later call it a crime and abuse. Why did she not tell her parents for this length of time?

Explain to me how an alleged follower of Jesus can think this way? Thiessen will say I misquoted him or took his words out of context, I will leave it to you to decide if I have misrepresented him in any way. (Please see Dr. David Tee Says It is Wrong for Me to Write the Black Collar Crime Series and Christians Say the Darnedest Things: “Dr.” David Tee Continues to Whine About the Black Collar Crime Series.)

Thiessen says a lot of crazy shit, but his defense of sexual predators is beyond the pale. I have a few ideas about why this is so, but it is best if I leave them unstated.

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

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Letter to the Editor: My Response to Michelle Tucker, A Local Evangelical Christian

letter to the editor

Last week, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Defiance Cresent News about the wall of separation of church and state, and how Lifewise Academy is a trojan horse used by Evangelicals to demolish this wall. Lifewise, a sectarian Evangelical parachurch organization, holds weekly release time religious instruction classes for most local school districts. Its goal is to establish Fundmentalist beachheads in every American public school.

Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

Public education is foundational to success and progress. While parents are free to homeschool their children — as my partner and I did — or send them to a private school, we must not starve, neglect, or demonize public schools.

Public schools are government institutions, governed by local, state, and federal laws. Children from all walks of life attend public schools. Tolerance and inclusion are expected when our children or grandchildren attend school. My partner and I have sixteen grandchildren attending the Stryker, Tinora, Fairview, and Defiance school districts. We expect our grandchildren to receive well-rounded educations, taught by teachers who understand the importance of secular education and the concept of separation of church and state. Alas, a few teachers and administrators have attempted to proselytize our grandchildren or push their Evangelical beliefs. This, of course, should never happen. Christians are free to be school teachers and school administrators, but their personal beliefs should play no part in instructing students.

Recently, I attended a high school graduation — one sponsored and directed by a local school district. What a proud day for our family as one of our older grandchildren graduated with honors. In the space of three generations, we have gone from me being the first person to go to college, to our grandchildren going off to study at major universities. We owe their success to our public school system and its dedicated teachers.

As a non-Christian, I am accustomed to school districts trampling over the First Amendment and the wall separating church and state. I recently told a lawyer for the Freedom From Religion Foundation when speaking with her about the increasing encroachment of Lifewise Academy in Ohio’s schools, that there were enough church-state violations in rural northwest Ohio for FFRF to set up a full-time litigation office in this area.

The graduation ceremony featured a local clergyman who felt duty-bound to put in a good word for Jesus and his peculiar version of Christianity. Using the J-O-Y acronym, he reminded graduates of the importance of putting Jesus first. Never mind the fact that many of the graduates and attendees are not Christians. To be told that rightly ordering one’s life requires Jesus is beyond offensive. Such talk belongs in church, not secular public school graduations. I told a family member later that I live by the Y-O acrynym: yourself first, others second — no Jesus needed.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Michelle Tucker, an Evangelical Christian who lives in rural Defiance, took umbrage with my letter. Here’s what she had to say:

I am compelled to talk about Bruce Gerencser’s observation of LifeWise programs. Although the leaders of LifeWise are too kind to comment on this, I will.

His words about LifeWise brainwashing the children is ludicrous. Would you rather the children grow up to be intellectuals with no commonsense for living? And would it be better for children to grow up and go to universities and colleges only to come out acting like heathens, following the herd that demonstrates in our streets today, causing all kinds of havoc and destroying the very fabric of our society, not to mention burning down parts of American history?

Foundations are important to not only build buildings, but to build lives. LifeWise is creating a safe place for children to learn the basic necessities of life.

Perhaps Mr. Gerencser failed to mention he was a pastor. I guess he wanted to make up his own rules regarding God. Perhaps he wanted something from God, maybe for someone to be healed and they weren’t healed and now he hates God and decides now He is God. Even in our misinterpretation of God He still loves us.

Exodus 20 says, “I am the Lord God who brought you up and out of Egypt.” Egypt was a place of protection and refuse, and also a place of wickedness and oppression.

1. You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall make no other images before you.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet.

So which of these 10 commandments are you having trouble with? The one about you shall have no other gods before me? Because the other nine and the first commandment are non-negotiable.

You have free speech (for now) and that’s your right and mine. The truth is you can’t change truth, no matter how hard you try. Today people say, “it’s my truth or your truth.” How ridiculous. Truth is truth, by it’s very nature. There is only truth.

People of God we need to stand up for the truth of God’s word. If we don’t, who will?

Michelle Tucker

As readers can readily see, Tucker’s response had nothing to do with the content of my letter. Instead, she decided to attack my character, making unfounded claims about my moral beliefs. I have been writing letters to the editor of the Crescent News for seventeen years. More than a few local Christians have taken a similar approach as Tucker, choosing to demean and debase the man instead of engaging his arguments. I am used to such abuse. As a public figure, I know such ill-bred behavior from Evangelicals comes with the territory.

What follows is my response to Tucker’s letter.

Dear Editor,

This is my response to Michelle Tucker’s letter to the editor. My letter was about the separation of church and state. Tucker never addresses this issue, choosing to attack me personally instead.

Tucker asserts that I said Lifewise was brainwashing children. You will search in vain for my use of this word in my letter, and in the over 5,000 posts I have written for my blog. I have been clear: Lifewise indoctrinates and conditions children. There’s an academic difference between these terms and brainwashing. Evangelical churches and parachurch organizations are known for evangelizing children as young as nursery age. They know the importance of indoctrinating children when they are young. Get them when they are young and you will have them for life. That’s why Lifewise focuses on elementary-age children. Young impressionable minds are more likely to believe things such as young earth creationism, Noah’s flood, the tower of Babel, and other mythical stories.

Parents should be informed as to what Lifewise, a sectarian Evangelical organization, will actually teach their children. Ask them what students will be taught about the origin of the universe, cosmology, biology, archeology, human sexuality, and the exclusivity of Evangelical Christianity.  Ask them what students will be taught about marriage, divorce, and self-esteem. I’ve personally viewed internal Lifewise documents. If you think this is all about “character building,” you might want to investigate further. The goal is to make your children loyal soldiers in God’s army.

Tucker wants people to know that I used to be a preacher. Why? I have no idea. Yes, I was an Evangelical pastor for twenty-five years. I was also a restaurant manager, auto mechanic, grant writer, factory worker, and insurance salesman. How is my resume relevant to a discussion of Lifewise Academy and the separation of church and state?

Tucker wants to portray me in a negative light, as someone who is morally lacking. How she knows this is beyond me. According to Tucker, what keeps her and other Christians from murdering their neighbors or robbing a bank is their faith in God. If that’s the case, I hope they keep on believing. However, for those of us who are unbelievers, we don’t need a deity to keep from committing crimes. I have murdered as many people and robbed as many banks as I want to — none.

As for rebutting Tucker’s scurrilous claims about morality and truth, I will need more words than the newspaper allows.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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

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Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Ryan McElrath Accused of Rape

ryan mcelrath

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.

Ryan McElrath, a youth pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Jackson, Tennessee, stands accused of raping a seventeen-year-old church girl.

Channel 7 reports:

A Jackson youth pastor has been arrested on rape charges.

According to booking information from the Madison County jail, 39-year-old Ryan McElrath was booked into the jail around 5:48 p.m. on Tuesday.

Jackson Police Department’s online Police To Citizen resource shows that McElrath was arrested at a residence on Willow Green Drive, with charges listed as sexual battery by an authority figure, statutory rape, and statutory rape by an authority figure – forcible rape.

In a social media post made by Fellowship Bible Church prior to his arrest — which is no longer accessible — McElrath is described as a “high school pastor.” At the time of this report, the church also has several videos on their website where McElrath can be seen as a featured speaker.

McElrath also hosted a religion-based podcast with episodes ranging from October 2021 – November 2023. The podcast’s description states: “Here, at Fellowship Bible Church in Jackson, TN, we are starting our very first Family Podcast in which we are going to create space for families to have great conversations with their kids and have fun at the same time!”

A June 14, 2024 update stated:

A warrant has revealed additional details in the arrest of youth pastor Ryan McElrath. According to the warrant, on the morning of June 11, a man visited the Jackson Police Department to report a sexual assault against his daughter. The warrant states on May 31, 2024, McElrath engaged in sexual contact with a 17-year-old female victim at Fellowship Bible Church, located at 141 Pleasant Plains Road in Jackson. According to the warrant, McElrath met the victim in the high school area of the church for approximately 30 minutes. McElrath is expected to appear in Jackson City Court on June 26th at 9:30 a.m.

Fellowship Bible released the following statement:

Ryan McElrath is no longer employed at Fellowship due to criminal charges filed June 11. Within hours of the allegations, the matter was investigated, Ryan admitted to the violation, and was terminated. The church immediately supported the victim in reporting the allegations to local law enforcement, and notified parents and students. The church is cooperating fully with local authorities, and is engaging an external agency to audit church policies and procedures as well as provide guidance on continued care for the victim and the church. Our priority continues to be the privacy and well-being of the victim, the victim’s family, our students and their parents.

“As a church community we are absolutely devastated by this. And, as a parent, I share in our God’s outrage and grief when the innocent are harmed. We are acting in cooperation with law enforcement in caring for the victim and the victim’s family.”

Eugene Brandt, Lead Pastor Fellowship

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

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Bruce Gerencser