Menu Close

Dear Democrats, Does Support Require Loyalty?

democratic party

The Republican Party is pretty much a monoculture, with little, if any diversity, among its members. Thanks to the influence of fascist, criminally-indicted former president Donald Trump, MAGA (Make America Great Again) policies dominate and control the Republican Party. I suspect there are more than a few Republican politicians who personally despise Trump and the MAGA wing of the Party, but they know that without Trump’s and MAGA’s support, they can’t win. These spineless Republicans know that just one social media post from Trump can sink their election/reelection chances. So they say nothing when Trump espouses policies that are not only hateful, racist, and anti-democratic, they pretend the man is not a narcissist and pathological liar. (All politicians lie, but Trump lies multiple times every day, eight days a week.)

There was a time when the Democratic Party was considered a big-tent political group, but some within the Party are now demanding loyalty to President Joe Biden and any and every policy deemed “Democratic.” Granted, the Democrats don’t have people such as Marjorie “Moscow” Taylor-Green, Matt “Child Molester” Gaetz, Tom Cotton, Ted “Cancun” Cruz, Paul “Nazi” Gosar, Lauren “Hand Job” Boebert, and Josh “The Cowardly Lion” Hawley demanding fealty under pains of political execution, there are those within the Democratic Party who marginalize and denigrate those who dare hold positions contrary to those of the Biden Administration. Democrats such as John Fetterman, Jon Tester, Joe Manchin, Bernie Sanders, and The Squad (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Presley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Greg Casar, Summer Lee, and Delia Ramirez) face increasing pressure from mainstream and centrist Democrats to toe the party line. For example, I oppose John Fetterman’s pro-Israel view, but I reject the notion that Fetterman is not a “real” Democrat.

Joe Biden needs the various factions within the Democratic Party to vote for him if he hopes to win the 2024 presidential election. Disparaging and marginalizing pro-Palestinian, anti-war, socialist, or pro-environment Democrats is a sure way to drive these voters to the open arms of the campaigns of Robert Kennedy, Jr., Cornel West, and Jill Stein (or could lead to protest votes for Marianne Williamson). Young voters, in particular, are more likely to be anti-war, pro-environment, and have socialist tendencies. Pretending these people don’t exist will only ensure that Biden goes down to defeat in November. Young voters may not have much real-world experience, but they know hypocrisy when they see it. They “hear” the pathetic challenges from Biden and his feckless cabinet to Israel’s genocidal slaughter of over 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, while, at the same time, seeing the President and Democrats in Congress give Israel $18 billion to continue its immoral war. These young folks make, as they should, a direct connection between U.S.-funded and supplied bombs, bullets, drones, and missiles and daily reports of bloodshed, violence, and death in Gaza. They see the mutilated bodies of Palestinian children and know that the United States is directly responsible for their deaths.

I am a member of the local Democratic Party’s executive committee. I was elected to this position in March. I made it clear to Party leaders that while I am a proud Democrat, I have policy positions that run contrary to that of the Defiance County and State Democratic Party. I made sure they understood that I was an atheist; a humanist; a pacifist; and a socialist. They knew or should have known, anyway, that I am an outspoken writer who uses this blog and letters to the editor of the local newspaper to advance my cause. I will gladly support the Democratic Party at every level, but I will not silence my voice just to give the Party the appearance of MAGA-like unity. I grew up in a home with a mother who spoke her mind on political issues; and who was unafraid to voice her opinion in public forums. I continue to follow in her footsteps — thirty plus years after her suicide — albeit from the other side of the political aisle.

The Democratic Party has my support, but it does not have my loyalty. I refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance because it is a loyalty pledge. I am grateful to be an American. I can’t imagine living in any other place than in the good ole USA. That said, I reject demands of political conformity and fealty. Nations and governments come and go. My objective is to work towards making the United States a better place to live. Most of all, I want my six children and sixteen grandchildren to have promising, prosperous, happy futures. When Democratic (or Republican) policies meet my desires and expectations, they can count on my support. When they don’t, the Democratic Party can expect to hear from me. Demands for Party loyalty will be rejected. If the Party’s tent is not big enough for someone like me, that’s their loss, not mine. I will do all I can to promote and advance Democratic policies and candidates, but what I will not do is abandon my political beliefs just so the Party can present to the public a facade of unity. Political debate and diversity are important for the health of the Democratic Party. The moment I’m told to be quiet or tone down my opinions or rhetoric is when I (and scores of other like-minded people) exit the tent.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Short Stories: A Moment of Kindness Remembered for a Lifetime


It’s early spring in northwest Ohio, the year is 1972.

A fourteen-year-old boy is playing with his Lionel trains in the basement of a rented house on Cherry St. in Findlay, Ohio.  He loves playing with the trains, a love acquired from working at his dad’s hobby store, G&B Trains.

The boy hears footsteps coming down the basement stairs. It’s his dad.

His dad says, I need to talk to you.

This is strange, the boy thought. Dad never talks to me about anything.

Your Mom and I don’t love each other anymore, says the boy’s dad, and we are getting a divorce.

And just like that, whatever shred of family the boy had was destroyed.

It wasn’t long before the divorce was final.

The boy is in ninth grade, and it is graduation time. His parents both want to come to his graduation but the boy says, I am not going to graduation, and that was that.

Tenth grade. High School. All the ninth graders from Central, Donnell, and Glenwood would join the older students at Findlay High School, making the school one of the largest in Ohio.

The boy’s friends would all be there, his school friends, his church friends, and the boys he played baseball and basketball with.

The boy’s dad remarried — a 19-year-old girl. She has a baby. In a few short years, the boy would be dating women the age of his dad’s new wife. She was never more than dad’s new wife to him. The boy had a mother, and he only needed one of those.

Fall turned to winter, and then one early spring day the boy’s dad says, We are moving to Arizona.

What? the boy thought. You can’t do this to me. All my friends are here. You promised, no more moving. Two and a half years, the longest the boy ever lived in one place, and now he has to move.

Upset, angry, bitter, and no one seemed to care.

On a Saturday in March, 1973, the auctioneer’s voice rings out, and everything but essentials are sold to strangers who came to gawk at household goods.  And with auction proceeds in hand, the Gerencsers pile into two cars and move to Tucson, Arizona. Later the finance company would track down the boy’s dad and repossess the cars. When the boy became a man, he then understood why he had to move so suddenly and quickly 1,900 miles from his home.

The boy, despite hating his dad for taking him away from his friends, is excited about the prospect of traveling across the country. So many things to see, so many new experiences to be had.

The first thing the boy does is find a new church to attend. Isn’t it amazing, the boy thought, right in our backyard is the Tucson Baptist Temple, a Baptist Bible Fellowship church! Just like the church in Findlay, this must be God working things out, the boy quietly hopes.

The Tucson Baptist Temple is a large church pastored by Louis Johnson, a preacher from Kentucky. The boy joins the church and starts attending youth group. But, try as he might he can’t make friends. It isn’t like his church home in Findlay where the boy had all kinds of friends, and even a few girlfriends. He feels very much alone.

With the move, the boy has to ride a city bus to his new school, Rincon High School. Right away he notices that some of the kids from the youth group attended Rincon, but they pretend they don’t know him. He feels quite alone.

Rincon has what is called open lunch. Every day the boy would go outside and sit on the grass and eat his lunch. One day, a beautiful, tall Asian girl comes near the boy and sits down to eat her lunch. She is warm and friendly, and treats the boy as if she has known him for years. And for the next ten weeks, on most days, she eats lunch with the boy from Ohio. Outside of the fat boy everyone made fun of who rode the bus, this would be the only friend the boy would make.

And then came summer, and the boy hopped a Greyhound bus and moved back to Ohio. With the help of his church and friends, the boy can go back to his old school, his old church, with his old friends. Life for the next year is grand, just as if he had never left.

Unfortunately, the boy would have to move to his mom’s home at the end of the school year. This move brought great unrest and turmoil to the boy’s life, but that is a story for another day.

The boy is an old man now, and as he watches a musician on a reality show, he sees a girl that brings to his mind a time long ago when a beautiful young woman took the time to befriend a friendless boy from Ohio. It reminds him that moments of kindness are often remembered for a lifetime.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Why Are Most Americans Christian?

american jesus

Ask a Christian for the reason most Americans are Christian and you will likely get some sort of theological explanation, complete with a personal testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. However, is this the reason most Americans are Christians? Is it really all about theology and relationship?

Perhaps there is another explanation.

First, the United States is a Christian nation. Not a Christian nation like theocrats think we are, but Christian nonetheless. Christianity permeates our being as a people. Christian church buildings are everywhere. Our government leaders are overwhelmingly Christian and freely use language that reflects their Christian heritage. Christianity is on full display everywhere we look. We are, indeed, a Christian nation.

Second, there is a cultural form of Christianity that saturates virtually every aspect of our society. Country singers win awards for songs about cheating on a spouse and they thank the Christian God for winning the award. Boxers and MMA fighters beat the shit out of one another and then thank the Christian God for the strength to do what they do. Prayers are uttered at sporting events, players give testimonies to faith in Jesus, and the Christian God is given all the credit for their success. One need not look very hard in America to find Jesus.

Cultural Christianity is all about what people say and not what they do. This is the predominant form of Christianity in America. When asked, do you believe in the Christian God? most Americans will say, Yes! It does not matter how they live or even if they understand Christian doctrine. They believe, and that’s all that matters.

It is this Christian world into which every American child is born. While my wife and I can point to the various conversion encounters we had, we still would have been Christians even without the conversion experiences. Our culture was Christian, our families were Christian, everyone around us was Christian. How could we have been anything BUT Christian?

Practicing Christians have a hard time accepting this. They KNOW the place and time Jesus saved them. They KNOW when they were baptized, confirmed, dedicated, saved, or whatever term their sect uses to connote belief in the Christian God. It’s hard for them to accept that their faith is culturally and socially driven.

Why are most people in Muslim countries Muslim? Why are most people in Buddhist countries Buddhist? Simple. People generally embrace the dominant religion and practice of their culture and tribe; and so it is in America.

It is culture and tribe, and not a conversion experience, that determines a person’s religious affiliation. The conversion experiences are the eggs the Christian chicken lays. Evangelicals, in particular, have built their entire house on the foundation of each person having a personal salvation experience. However, looking at this from a sociological perspective, it can be seen that a culture’s dominant religion affects which religion a person embraces more than any other factor.

Over the course of my life, I have lived in Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Arizona, and California. Every place I lived had its own cultural idiosyncrasies. Let me share a couple of stories with you that illustrate this.

Here in Northwest Ohio, local convenience stores have one or two rows of Dr. Pepper in their coolers. Pepsi and Coke are the dominant brands. When I lived in Elmendorf, Texas, just outside of San Antonio, I would regularly go to the Conoco gas station and buy a bottle of pop. The dominant pop in the cooler was Dr. Pepper. There would be numerous rows of Dr. Pepper and only a couple of rows for Pepsi and Coke. Big Red was another favorite pop and it also had more space in the cooler than Pepsi. Why? Culture.

When I left the church in Elmendorf and moved back to Ohio, I kept in touch with a Hispanic family in the church. They eventually moved to Ohio to be a part of the church I was pastoring. I warned them that they were moving to an area where Anglos dominate the culture. There are no stores here with the foods, vegetables, and fresh tortillas that Hispanics in San Antonio can easily buy at the local HEB grocery store. I did my best to make certain they understood these things.

With great anticipation and excitement, they moved to Ohio. And, two months later, discouraged and depressed, they moved back to San Antonio. Reason? Culture. The differences between the two cultures were too great. Even though they convinced themselves they could adapt, the differences were so vast that it would have required them to stop doing things they had done their entire lives. Such drastic change is hard, if not impossible.

I pastored a Baptist church in Southeast Ohio for eleven years. Appalachian culture dominates the area. I found a huge cultural difference between Northwest and Southeast Ohio. While only 200 miles separate them, the cultures are very different from one another.

One day, a church member brought us a bag of green peppers. He said, Here are some mangos for you from my garden. Mangos? A mango is a fruit that grows on trees. I thought, why is this guy calling green peppers “mangos?” A short time later, we went to the grocery store in nearby Zanesville. As we strolled through the produce section, we noticed the green peppers. The sign above them said “mangos.” Why? Culture.

Culture affects how we live, how we talk, what we eat, and what we do for entertainment. It affects every aspect of our lives. Why should matters of religion be exempt from the influence of culture?

I am an atheist, but I know that my moral and ethical values have been shaped by the culture in which I grew up. I have no problem admitting that some of my moral beliefs come from my Christian upbringing. Growing up in a poor family shaped how I view things such as poverty, welfare, and the place of government in our day-to-day lives. Culture and environment have largely made me who I am today. Even though I am now a godless heathen, I still like some of the trappings of my Christian past. I love listening to Southern gospel music. I enjoy listening to Third Day and other Christian rock groups. I don’t believe one word of the lyrics, but there is something about the music that appeals to me. It is familiar to me, as are many of the other cultural peculiarities by which I am surrounded.

How about you? What cultural peculiarities do you see where you live? How has the Christian culture of America shaped and affected your life?

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: The Bible is NEVER Wrong!

dinosaur reading bible

[This post is about] how many believers try to marry secular science to the Holy Bible.


One is written by a holy and divine God who knows how everything came to be. The other is filled with lies, and misinformation, and does not have the Spirit of Truth guiding it. In fact, the latter of the two have kicked God out of the science lab and excluded him from all of their work.


The only way for science and the Bible can be compatible, is if the former humbles itself and repents of its sins, and accept Christ as its savior. There is no other way for the two to work together. Secular and bad Christian science only corrupts the revelations of the Bible and keeps the truth from people who need it.

When secular science repents and becomes Christian, then lets God and the Spirit of Truth back into the science labs, classrooms, and so on, then the light of Jesus can shine so that all can see the truth.

Secular science does not have the truth because it is not guided by the Spirit of Truth. It is guided by the deceit and lies from evil. There is no way to yoke the biblical truths to secular science until the latter accepts the biblical truth and Jesus as its savior.

The Bible is never wrong.

— TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Promotion of Scientific and Biblical Ignorance, Unequally Yoked, April 22, 2024

Christian Martyrdom: Is Any Religion Worth Dying For?

christian martyrdom

Christians in the Middle East are being persecuted for their faith. ISIS has slaughtered thousands of Christians and Muslims, all because they had the wrong religious belief. Shameless Evangelical preachers and right-wing politicians have used these killings as an opportunity to provoke fear in their followers. These preachers of fear live in a delusional world where being required to bake a cake for a gay couple or giving the same civil rights to LGBTQ people as to heterosexuals is the equivalent of having your head lopped off by ISIS. American Evangelical Christians have a persecution complex, stoked by horror stories about the atheist, secularist, humanistic, socialist horde taking over THEIR country. (Please see The Paranoia and Persecution Complex of the Religious Right.) With great mockery and ridicule, I laugh at American Christians who think they are being persecuted. Those who promote such things deserve the disdain dished out to them by both the religious and non-religious.

That said, the beheading of Christians in the Middle East has American Christians asking if they would be willing to suffer and die for the cause of Christ. Billy Watkins, a Christian and a writer for The Clarion-Ledger had this to say:

I can’t explain why.

Perhaps it doesn’t require an explanation.

But as the calendar quickly moved toward today — Easter Sunday — the more an image flashed in my mind: 20 Egyptian Christians and one other man, forced to their knees on a Mediterranean beach by members of ISIS on Feb. 15 and asked one by one if they believed in Jesus Christ.

Each answered yes, knowing the consequences.

All 21 were beheaded….

…It made me look inside myself, perhaps deeper than I’ve ever looked before.

It made me face the question: If I were in a similar situation, would I have the faith and the courage to look the ISIS cowards in the eye and say, “I believe in Jesus Christ.”

Knowing those would be the last words I ever said. Knowing the torture I was about to experience. Knowing my family and friends would grieve over my death. Knowing this life, which I can only comprehend as a struggling human, would end.

I would like to say yes, I would have the strength.

But do any of us really know until we are put in that situation?

To help me have some comparison for my struggle with this, I reached out to eight friends.

I asked them how they pictured themselves answering that question with a knife to their throats.

Some answered by email, others by Facebook message. Each provided food for thought. And I must commend them for digging deep inside their souls to help provide their answers.

One of the first I received: “This is very hard. I have tears. No, I am crying … I want to scream yes to those butchers. I believe in Jesus Christ!!!! But when I think of never seeing my husband, my family, my grandchildren, my grandchildren to come, I have to pause. More tears … ”

Friend No. 2 wrote, “I believe each Christian would always be ready to say, ‘Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.’ However, after watching two beheadings on YouTube, it gave me pause for thought. How could I possibly endure torture and a painful, slow death for my beliefs? My next thought was, ‘But that’s what Jesus did for me. Would he expect any less of me?’ ”

Friend No. 3: “There is a peace I believe God gives you in that situation. Just as Jesus prayed in the garden, twice, to let this cup pass from his wrath … I might say the same prayer, but in the end I would submit to God’s plan.”

Friend No. 4: “This is, of course, an impossible question to answer. Under the circumstances, I cannot imagine what I would do … it is always easier to sit in your living room and be convinced of your own virtues under the proposed circumstance. I also know I can rationalize decisions and I can waffle between what I want I know to be true … I could see this part of me rationalizing that it’s more important for me to live for any or all of the following …” My friend named his wife, children, extended family and church.

“I have so much to live for that lying to people who want to kill me is easily excused … (But) the scenario you describe is no time for rationalizing. It is a test … I hope I would get it … I want to be counted among those who would forgo this life for the better eternity to come.”

“Last point,” he wrote. “Hearing about the death of these 21 men has mattered to me — and not for the reason the killers wanted. It encourages me to live a life worthy of my calling. They died for Christ. May I at least live for him?”

Friend No. 5 wrote, “In facing a gruesome, wicked, evil death, my faith would still be in God. I hope and trust that such a painful ordeal would be ultimately redeemed and used by God for his purposes. Therefore, such a death is not in vain.”

Friend No. 6 was equally sure of his answer: “Faith is all you have left in that situation. To reject your faith would leave you with nothing — even if you lived. I can say unequivocally I would not reject my belief in Christ. If I did, I would be dead even though I lived. The other thing I know is that I would not die passively. I would fight with all my being. I would not let them dictate the terms of my death.”

Friend No. 7: “When you reach the most terrifyingly vulnerable moment of your life, you’re stripped to nothing but the things no can take away … the core beliefs that have driven every decision you’ve ever made. Ultimately, I would rather die outwardly professing my faith, with my death serving as a testament to those beliefs …

“But then I think of my child, of helping teach him those beliefs … If being a coward and lying to save my life means I’ll have the opportunity to raise a Godly man, so be it … Maybe this isn’t the right answer. But doing the right thing often means forgoing interests of the present so you can protect interests of the future.”

Friend No. 8: “Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote, ‘And how can a man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?’

“This world doesn’t afford many civilians the chance to die well for something that matters … it sounds cavalier, but I would be humbled and honored to be put in a situation where I had to choose between my life and the one thing that means most to me — my faith in Jesus Christ … I have a passion for this world, and ultimately the honestly amazing and blessed life that I’ve been given.

“I believe if he brings us to that place of choice, he gives us the grace to handle it if we remember that he is the ultimate source of everything … it’s not the end, it’s the beginning … let me go how he would take me, and let his will be done.”

This is what I believe: If I were put in that situation, I believe Jesus Christ would bathe me with a peace beyond human comprehension…

Those of us who were once Christians have asked the questions that Billy Watkins asks in his article. If it came to it, would we have been willing to die for Christ? Having grown up in a religious culture where persecution was touted as a sure sign of one’s faith, I had moments when I questioned whether I would stand up for Christ no matter what happened. Preaching on the street brought me into contact with people who wanted to do me bodily harm. One man deliberately aimed his truck at me, hoping to run me over. Over the corner curb he came, hoping to silence the Baptist street preacher. Fortunately, he missed.

christian martyrdom 2

In the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is required reading. Written in 1563 by John Foxe, the book is “a polemical account of the sufferings of Protestants under the Catholic Church, with particular emphasis on England and Scotland.” The first edition of the book was titled “Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, Touching Matters of the Church.”

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is often used to prove that true Christians have always been persecuted for their faith. If the book was made into a movie, many modern-day Evangelicals would refuse to watch it due to its violence and gore.

The preface of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library edition of the book states:

After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification.

These days, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is not widely read outside of Evangelical, Baptist, Fundamentalist, Amish, and Mennonite circles. Part of the reason for this is because John Foxe’s credibility has been called into question. Wikipedia states:

The author’s credibility was challenged as soon as the book first appeared. Detractors accused Foxe of dealing falsely with the evidence, of misusing documents, and of telling partial truths. In every case that he could clarify, Foxe corrected errors in the second edition and third and fourth, final version (for him). In the early nineteenth century, the charges were taken up again by a number of authors, most importantly Samuel Roffey Maitland. Subsequently, Foxe was considered a poor historian, in mainstream reference works. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica accused Foxe of “wilful falsification of evidence”; two years later in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Francis Fortescue Urquhart wrote of the value of the documentary content and eyewitness reports, but claimed that Foxe “sometimes dishonestly mutilates his documents and is quite untrustworthy in his treatment of evidence”.

In contrast, J. F. Mozley maintained that Foxe preserved a high standard of honesty, arguing that Foxe’s method of using his sources “proclaims the honest man, the sincere seeker after truth. “The 2009 Encyclopædia Britannica notes that Foxe’s work is “factually detailed and preserves much firsthand material on the English Reformation unobtainable elsewhere.” It was typical, however, in the late nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth centuries to treat Foxe’s text as “not to be trusted….If not the father of lies, Foxe was thought to be the master of inventions, and so readers of the Encyclopedia [sic] Britannica were advised and warned.”

Foxe based his accounts of martyrs before the early modern period on previous writers, including Eusebius, Bede, Matthew Paris, and many others. He compiled an English martyrology from the period of the Lollards through to the persecution of Protestants by Mary I. Here Foxe had primary sources to draw on: episcopal registers, reports of trials, and the testimony of eyewitnesses. In the work of collection Foxe had Henry Bull as collaborator. The account of the Marian years is based on Robert Crowley’s 1559 extension of a 1549 chronicle history by Thomas Cooper, itself an extension of a work begun by Thomas Lanuet. Cooper (who became a Church of England Bishop) strongly objected to Crowley’s version of his history and soon issued two new “correct” editions. John Bale set Foxe onto martyrological writings and contributed to a substantial part of Foxe’s ideas as well as printed material.

Foxe’s book is in no sense an impartial account of the period. He did not hold to later centuries’ notions of neutrality or objectivity, but made unambiguous side glosses on his text, such as “Mark the apish pageants of these popelings” and “This answer smelleth of forging and crafty packing.” David Loades has suggested that Foxe’s history of the political situation, at least, is ‘remarkably objective’. He makes no attempt to make martyrs out of Wyatt and his followers, or anyone else who was executed for treason, except George Eagles, whom he describes as falsely accused.”

Sidney Lee, in the Dictionary of National Biography, called Foxe “a passionate advocate, ready to accept any primâ facie evidence”. Lee also listed some specific errors and suggested that John Foxe plagiarized. Thomas S. Freeman observes that, like a hypothetical barrister, Foxe had to deal with the evidence of what actually happened, evidence that he was rarely in a position to forge. But he would not present facts damaging to his client, and he had the skills that enabled him to arrange the evidence so as to make it conform to what he wanted it to say. Like the barrister, Foxe presents crucial evidence and tells a side of the story which must be heard, but his text should never be read uncritically, and his partisan objectives should always be kept in mind.”

By the end of the 17th century, however, the work tended to be abbreviated to include only ‘the most sensational episodes of torture and death’ thus giving to Foxe’s work ‘a lurid quality which was certainly far from the author’s intention’…

…Acts and Monuments was cannibalized for material to warn of the dangers of Papistry and, in Foxe’s name, also to undermine resurgent High Church Anglicanism. The author’s credibility and the text’s reliability became suspect, then, for both Catholic and Anglican Church defenders. Samuel Roffey Maitland, Richard Frederick Littledale as well as Robert Parsons and John Milner, mounted campaigns to disprove Foxe’s findings. Maitland’s and others’ critiques helped to awaken increasing antagonism toward intolerance in the public conscience. Combined with professionalized academic dissociation, left no voices to speak in Foxe’s defence, and reduced Foxe’s historical credibility such that “no one with any literary pretensions…ventured to quote Foxe as an authority.” John Milner, defender of the “old religion” (Catholicism), authored several tracts, pamphlets, essays, and Letters to the Editor: “Dear Sir…”; using all public means available to him for declaring that abuse of Englishmen was occurring “frequently”, ipso edem, the defamation and harassment of Catholics in England – a treatment not similarly visited on Sectarian communities or the Quakers.

Milner’s life project to discredit ‘Foxe’ was polemical—that was the point of arguing: to persuade people to see things as the speaker constructed or, at least, to seeing some merit to his case. Before the Houses of Parliament in the years of Milner’s and others activism, were bills for relieving English Catholics of tax penalties (for being Catholic), having to tithe to the Anglican Church, and relief from imposition of the Oath that stood between any Catholic and a government position.

While it is true that Christians throughout the 2,000-year history of the church have been martyred, it is also true that martyrdom stories have been grossly exaggerated, often little more than hagiography. Catholic scholar Candida Moss, former professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, took a careful look at early Christian martyr stories in her book The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom.  (You can read my review of The Myth of Persecution hereHere’s an excerpt from my 2013 review:

…While Moss admits that Christians were persecuted on and off throughout the first 300 years of church history, she thoroughly debunks the claim that Christians were always persecuted. In fact, many of the instances of persecution were actually prosecutions…

…Throughout the book, Moss details how many of the source documents for the stories about Christian martyrs were embellished, and, at times, fabricated out of thin air.  Even some of the saints revered by the Catholic church have histories that call into question their authenticity. I was quite surprised and delighted that Moss, a professor at a Catholic university, did not shy away from the controversies surrounding the mythic stories of the Catholic church.

Moss also details how some of the ancient martyr stories were actually borrowed from other cultures and religious traditions. There were times when I thought Moss was stretching these connections a bit, but I found the chapter, Borrowing of Jewish and Pagan Traditions, to be quite fascinating…

While Billy Watkins ponders whether he would be willing to lay his neck on the line for Jesus, I want to ponder the notion of a God who asks his followers to die for him. While most of us can readily understand dying for the sake of family or trying to help our fellow man, what are we to make of a religion and a God that puts great value on dying for one’s faith? While Christians will likely say that their martyrdom allows them to give a final testimony to God’s love and grace, I do wonder about a God who could save someone from having their head chopped off and does nothing. What would we think of a man who stood by while his wife or children were violently attacked and killed? Dying for one’s family is recognized by all to be a heroic act. But, dying for a religious belief? Wouldn’t lying and living be better than telling the truth and dying? Unlike the Muslim, the Christian martyr receives no special reward for dying. Why die when you can live?

christian martyrdom 3

At the heart of this discussion is the way Christians are conditioned to accept martyrdom. Church members are regaled with stories of Christians dying for their faith. Pastors preach inspiring sermons about the martyrdom stories in the Bible, complete with modern-day illustrations of Christians dying for their faith. Christians are reminded of the greatest martyr of all time, Jesus. If Jesus willingly died for us, shouldn’t we be willing to die for him? says the local Baptist preacher. And all God’s people said, AMEN!

I wonder if these stories would be enthusiastically believed if church members found out many of them are lies or half-truths? Pastors remind their flocks that True Christians® must be willing to die for their faith. These pro-martyrdom pastors subtly suggest that a person who cowers when faced with martyrdom should not expect forgiveness or a home in Heaven when they die. God is the giver and taker of life, and if he wants to have a Christian’s head lopped off, dare anyone object? The Apostle Paul made it clear that God has a right to do whatever he wants with the Christian’s life:

 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:20-21

Well, I object. There is no religious belief worth dying for. I question what kind of God would do such a thing to someone he calls his child? I know I would do everything in my power to keep my partner, children, and grandchildren from being harmed, even if it meant losing my own life. It seems quite perverse to me for a God or a religion to ask or demand someone’s death just so the world can see their faith. Wouldn’t LIVING by faith be a better testimony than DYING for faith?

What I have written here should not be taken as a dismissal of the persecution many Middle Eastern Christians face on a daily basis. I abhor all such killing and fully support efforts to put an end to needless bloodshed. The goal should be for everyone, regardless of belief, to worship freely without the threat of harm or death. The children of Abraham — Christianity, Islam, and Judaism — have histories soaked in the blood of their followers. Perhaps it is time for them to quit trying to subjugate one another. Perhaps it is time to put an end to jihads, crusades, and holy wars. Two thousand years of bloodshed lead me to believe that there must be a better way. Perhaps it is time for peaceful co-existence, leaving it to God to settle matters after death.

As an atheist, I am greatly troubled to see people give their lives for a religious belief. Knowing that the God they are dying for doesn’t exist, I am pained to see them sacrifice everything for nothing. We should weep when we see the young offered up to God as sweet-smelling sacrifices. Is such a God worthy of worship? I think not. Life is worth living, even if it means, in the moment, lying about one’s faith. Christians need to reorder their importance list, moving God down the list behind family. If death comes in protection of one’s loved ones, so be it. But to die for a religious belief, to satisfy the blood lust of the Christian God? Can we even fathom such an abhorrent demand? I know I can’t.

But Bruce, you are not a Christian. How dare you tell Christians what should be important to them! I am not doing so. I am, however, asking them to question their belief in a God who demands his followers be willing to die for him. I am asking them to reconsider what it is that is most important to them. If Christians are still willing to die for their faith/God, fine. But they should not expect me to rejoice over their death or understand their motives.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Update: Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Youth Pastor Estevan Diaz Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault

estevan diaz

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

In December 2021, Estevan Diaz, a youth pastor at Cascade Community Church in Cascade, Idaho, was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.

The Lewiston Tribune reported:

A youth pastor at the Cascade Community Church was arrested last week for felony sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl, according to Valley County court records.

Estevan Diaz, 45, was arrested Dec. 29 and charged with five counts of lewd conduct with a child younger than 16 and two counts of enticing a child through the internet, video image or other communication device.

Diaz was fired from his position at the church, Pastor Andy Wegener said.

“The church is shocked and grieved over what has happened, and we are working with all individuals who have been impacted to get them every resource available for healing,” Wegener said.The victim’s mother reported to the Valley County Sheriffs Office that there were more than 700 inappropriate texts between Diaz and her child, court records said.

Police questioned Diaz and uncovered seven incidents of sexual contact between Diaz and the victim in December, the records said.


Diaz had been a youth pastor at the church at 109 W. Pine St. in Cascade since July 2021.

In November 2022, Diaz pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

KTVB-7 reported:

A former Cascade Community Church youth pastor has been convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for lewd conduct with a child under 16 years old, the Valley County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday. 

45-year-old Estevan Diaz must serve five years minimum in a state prison before he is eligible for parole.

The sheriff’s office said Diaz was arrested in December 2021.

The prosecutor’s office said the victim was a 13-year-old girl, and Diaz was a pastor at the time the crime was committed.

Online court records indicate prosecutors initially charged him with five counts of lewd conduct and two counts of enticing children through the internet. In a plea agreement, prosecutors moved to dismiss the enticement counts and all but one of the lewd conduct counts.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

What Does the Bible Really Say?

bible has all the answers

I came of age in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. I attended an IFB college and pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years. I was taught and believed that the Bible was inspired, inerrant, and infallible — the very Words of God. One cardinal rule I lived by was this: The verses in the Bible only have one meaning; many applications, but only one meaning. This is standard Evangelical dogma. Never asked, however, is whether this claim is true. Is there really only one meaning for every book, passage, or verse in the Bible?

If this claim is true, wouldn’t every Evangelical believe the same thing? Wouldn’t every Evangelical read the Bible and come to the same conclusion? If, as Evangelicals allege, every believer has the Holy Spirit living inside of them as their teacher and guide, it stands to reason that every one of them would agree with one another about what a particular verse says and means. If the verses of the Bible only have one meaning, and the Holy Spirit teaches and guides every believer, why is it impossible to find two Evangelicals who believe this or that verse says the same thing?

Here’s the truth of the matter: the Bible has no inherent meaning. Two thousand years of Christian church history clearly show us that Christians have NEVER agreed on what the Bible says. Thousands of Christian sects are evidence that believers cannot agree on the “one meaning” the Bible allegedly has. Think, for a moment, about all the Christians who have commented on this site over the years — thousands of them. All of them appealed to the Bible to justify their claims, yet their “one meaning” differs from that of other believers. Bruce, you never were saved! Bruce, you were saved, but lost your salvation! Bruce, you are saved, but backslidden! Which is it? If the Bible only has one meaning, this means that at least two of these “one meaning” Bible-based Christians are wrong.

We determine the meaning of Bible verses. The Bible says whatever we say it says. Denominations and churches are, at a fundamental level, groups of people who agree on what this or that Bible verse says. I was a Calvinistic pastor for several years. Most of the people who were members of the churches I pastored were Calvinistic too. What bound us together as a people? Our beliefs about what this or that Bible verse said about things such as total depravity, unconditional election, limited or particular atonement/redemption, irresistible grace, and the perseverance/preservation of the saints. While there were certainly members who were not Calvinists or perhaps had issues with one or more of the five points of Calvinism, it was our commonly held understanding of certain verses of the Bible that held us together. We, collectively, decided what the Bible said, as does every sect, church, or Christian organization.

Just remember this post the next time a church, pastor, or apologist tells you that there is only “one meaning” to a verse or book of the Bible.

Let me conclude with several short video clips from Bible scholar Dan McClellan on the issue of whether the Bible has “inherent meaning.” I love Dan’s content. I wish Youtube and Dan had been around when I was a pastor. I learn new stuff about the Bible and Christianity every time I watch one of Dan’s videos. I know most of all that my pastors and professors either lied to me or were ignorant themselves.

Video Link

Video Link

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

White Rural Rage: A Country Hick’s Perspective

country people
How people often view country folk

There’s been a lot of talk on mainstream news and social media about “white rural rage.” Supposedly, rural communities are hotbeds of racism, misogyny, violence, and rage. Supposedly, rural communities are awful places to live, populated with ill-bred, uneducated, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. Rural people are hopeless and helpless, with wrong ideas about the world.

As I read these caricatures of me and my neighbors, I wonder if the people making them have actually talked to rural people? When I hear Chris Hayes and other talking heads on MSNBC say that my people don’t understand economics; that the economy is booming; that the macroeconomic numbers say that life is grand for rural folks, I want to scream. Again, I ask Hayes and his fellow liberals, “Have you actually talked to people you think are too dumb or too influenced by Trump to really understand what is going on?” I doubt it.

I will soon turn sixty-seven years old. I was born in the rural northwest Ohio community of Bryan. I have spent most of my life living in rural communities throughout northwest and southeast Ohio. I am 100 percent country — proudly so. There was a time when rural Ohio was decidedly blue. Democrats routinely won state and local elections. Those days are long gone, and have been years before the fascist Donald Trump arrived on the scene. So what’s changed?

There was a time when well-paying union jobs were common. Those days are gone. Scores of factories have closed their doors. Factories that once had thousands of employees, now have hundreds. Who is to blame for this? Not the workers. The blame rests solely at the feet of federal and state officials. International trade agreements signed first by Bill Clinton and continued by every president since then, have destroyed rural economies.

There was a time when rural downtowns were booming. Those days are gone, and have been since the late 1980s. Who is to blame? State and local politicians, who sold their souls to big box corporations and restaurant franchisees. Politicians handed out billions of dollars of tax abatements and free infrastructure improvements to these predatory corporations, all the while letting their downtowns and small businesses die.

There was a time when small family farms dotted the rural landscape. Those days are gone. Corporate farming and concentrated animal feeding operations (factory farms) dominate the scene, often polluting the air and fouling waterways. Who is to blame? Capitalistic-driven politicians who think “bigger is better.” Now farmers are forced to get bigger to survive, turning a blind eye to animal welfare and the destruction of soil.

There was a time when rural high school graduates went to college and returned to work in their home communities after graduation. Those days are gone. Now our children leave and don’t return. Why? A lack of well-paying jobs. My oldest son is an upper-level manager at a large local manufacturing concern. He has numerous employees with four-year degrees running machines for him. They left, got an education, and triumphantly returned home, thinking well-paying jobs awaited them. Instead, they make $15-20 an hour while trying to pay off $50,000-$100,000 or more in student loan debt. Their school guidance counselors sold them a bill of goods. Education is the door to prosperity, they were told, only to learn that their counselors, teachers, and parents lied to them.

country people 2
How people often view country folk

Every aspect of rural life has changed. Wages are stagnant or in decline, but prices, across the board continue to increase — especially healthcare. Our only saving grace is that housing, food, and transportation costs are generally lower than in cities or urban areas. But even here, housing prices are increasing, making it harder for people to find affordable apartments and homes. Corporate healthcare companies have scooped up local hospitals and medical practices, driving up prices and making it harder for residents to get care. Poor people, in particular, face long wait times to get appointments with doctors who take Medicaid — if they can even find one. Need a dentist? Good luck with that. Not one dentist locally accepts Medicaid, forcing poor people to go to Toledo or Fort Wayne for care, often waiting months to see a dentist.

Rural people share some of the blame for what has happened to them. Slash and burn Republicans have repeatedly cut taxes, destroying local tax bases, yet rural residents continue to vote them into office. It infuriates me that so many of my neighbors vote against their own self-interest. Why don’t they vote for Democrats? Would you vote for people who routinely disparage you, talk down to you, and call you names? Democrats have lost all touch with rural America, and in doing so, ceded the rural communities, counties, and states to right-wing extremists.

Rural people are largely religious — Christian. Most of them don’t attend church on any given Sunday, but when asked they will affirm their love for God and the Bible. The current culture wars loom large in rural communities, and this helps fuel discontent (though not to the degree that MSNBC would have you believe). Instead of engaging rural folks on these issues, what do Democrats do? They largely ignore them or call them names.

Most of the blame for what has befallen rural Americans rests on the shoulders of local, state, and federal politicians. Laws and policies routinely cause harm, as money for school and infrastructure improvements dries up. If rural people feel forgotten, it is because they have been.

If Democrats ever hope to effect change in rural America, then they must come to where we live and talk to us. Senator Sherrod Brown is running for reelection. Great guy. I will vote for him in November. Yet, at a community meeting in support of Brown’s election on Friday, Sherrod will not be in attendance. Instead, his brother will speak on his behalf. That doesn’t cut it. I want to see the guy who wants my vote. Of course, Brown knows that he will likely only get 30-40 percent of the local vote. Why bother, right? If Democratic politicians don’t “bother,” they are, in effect, giving up, consigning us to more Republican rule. This is the kind of thinking, by the way, that lost Hillary Clinton the 2016 presidential election.

The reasons for the decline of rural America are complex and many. However, telling us that we are racist, misogynistic violent, rage-filled county hicks is not helpful, and it only fuels the disdain rural folks have for liberals, progressives, and city folks. It is doubtful that rural northwest Ohio will turn blue any time soon, but inroads can be made through honest interaction, debate, and discussion. At the very least, opposing sides will understand where the other is coming from.

Let me conclude this post with a letter to the editor written in 2017 by essayist and agrarian Wendell Berry (my favorite author):

To the Editors:

Since the 2016 election, urban liberals and Democrats have newly discovered ​“rural America,” which is to say our country itself beyond the cities and the suburbs and a few scenic vacation spots. To its new discoverers, this is an unknown land inhabited by ​“white blue-collar workers” whom the discoverers fear but know nothing about. And so they are turning to experts, who actually have visited rural America or who previously have heard of it, to lift the mystery from it.

One such expert is Nathaniel Rich, whose essay ​“Joan Didion in the Deep South” offers an explanation surpassingly simple: over ​“the last four decades,” while the enlightened citizens of ​“American cities with international airports” have thought things were getting better, the ​“southern frame of mind” has been ​“expanding across the Mason-Dixon line into the rest of rural America.” As Mr. Rich trusts his readers to agree, the ​“southern frame of mind” is racist, sexist, and nostalgic for the time when ​“the men concentrated on hunting and fishing and the women on ​‘their cooking, their canning, their ​‘prettifying.’…”

This is provincial, uninformed, and irresponsible. Mr. Rich, who disdains all prejudices except those that are proper and just, supplies no experience or observation of his own and no factual and statistical proofs. He rests his judgment solely upon the testimony of Joan Didion in her notes from a tour of ​“the Gulf South for a month in the summer of 1970.” Those notes contain portraits of southerners whom ​“readers today will recognize, with some dismay and even horror” because (as Mr. Rich seems vaguely to mean) southerners have not changed at all since 1970. The Didion testimony alone is entirely sufficient because she ​“saw her era more clearly than anyone else” and therefore ​“she was able to see the future.”

What is remarkable about Mr. Rich’s essay is that he attributes the southernization of rural America, and the consequent election of Mr. Trump, entirely to nostalgia ​“for a more orderly past,” without so much as a glance at the economic history of our actual country. The liberals and Democrats of our enlightened cities, as Mr. Rich rightly says, have paid little or no attention to rural America ​“for more than half a century.” But it has received plenty of attention from the conservatives and Republicans and their client corporations. Rural America is a colony, and its economy is a colonial economy.

The business of America has been largely and without apology the plundering of rural America, from which everything of value — minerals, timber, farm animals, farm crops, and ​“labor” — has been taken at the lowest possible price. As apparently none of the enlightened ones has seen in flying over or bypassing on the interstate highways, its too-large fields are toxic and eroding, its streams and rivers poisoned, its forests mangled, its towns dying or dead along with their locally owned small businesses, its children leaving after high school and not coming back. Too many of the children are not working at anything, too many are transfixed by the various screens, too many are on drugs, too many are dying.

In a New York Times Op-Ed, A. Hope Jahren writes: ​“Farm policy hasn’t come up even once during a presidential debate for the past 16 years.” But the problem goes back much farther than that. It goes back at least to Eisenhower’s secretary of agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, who instructed American farmers to ​“get big or get out.” In effect that set the ​“farm policy” until now, and thus sealed the fate of the decent, small, independent livelihoods of rural America. To that brutally stated economic determinism I know that President Clinton gave his assent, calling it ​“inevitable,” and so apparently did Mrs. Clinton. The rural small owners sentenced to dispensability in the 1950s are the grandparents of the ​“blue-collar workers” of rural America who now feel themselves to be under the same sentence, and with reason.

It is true that racism, sexism, and nostalgia have counted significantly in the history of rural America until this moment. But to attribute the approximate victory of Mr. Trump only to those ​“southern” faults, and to locate them only in rural America, is a driblet of self-righteous ignorance.

Wendell Berry
Port Royal, Kentucky

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Questions: Is a Doctorate of Theology of Any Value in the Secular Marketplace?


Jim asked:

Is a doctorate of theology of any value in the secular marketplace?

There are three types of religious institutions in the United States:

  • Institutions accredited by national accrediting agencies that accredit secular and religious institutions alike
  • Institutions accredited by religious accrediting agencies
  • Unaccredited institutions

If you have a Th.D (doctor of theology) from a nationally accredited institution, your degree may have value in the secular workplace. The same goes for a Ph.D. from a religious institutions. If your credits can transfer to a state institution, your degree will likely have credibility in the workplace.

If you have a Th.D (doctor of theology) from a school accredited by a religious accrediting agency, it is less likely your degree will have value in the secular workplace. It is unlikely that your credits will transfer to a state institution. Some of these accrediting agencies are little more than storefronts or PO boxes. Others are more rigorous, so your mileage may vary.

If you have a Th.D (doctor of theology) from an unaccredited college, your degree will likely be worthless in the secular workplace. Your credits cannot be transferred to a state institution.

Some employers won’t care whether your degree is from an accredited institution. Your education is just a line on your resume. Where accreditation becomes a problem is when you seek employment that requires licensure. For example, you may have a teaching degree from Pensacola Christian College, but the degree is worthless when it comes to being licensed to teach in a public school. Unaccredited Christian college degrees only have value among like-minded people and religious institutions. This is a hard lesson for people with such degrees to learn. They wrongly think employers will treat them as they do prospective employees with degrees from state institutions. Four to six years of college, only to learn their degree is worthless outside of the church, unaccredited colleges, Christian schools, and parachurch organizations.

Sometimes, employers won’t care whether your degree is from an accredited institution. Ignorant of what these schools teach, employers wrongly think all degrees are the same. Other times, having a religious degree hurts your employment prospects. The prospective employer might view you as a Bible thumper or wonder what you studied for four years. You spent four years studying the Bible? How will that apply to you doing this job? I had one resume “expert” tell me that I should remove from my resume all of my church experience, saying employers may view this negatively. I looked at her and said, “That will leave a twenty-five-year hole in my resume! Should I just say I was in prison for twenty-five years?”

Many people, encouraged by their parents, churches, and pastors, enroll at Christian colleges when they are young. They trust that these adults have their best interests at heart — and they do, from a religious perspective. However, you have no idea where your life will take you over the next forty years of your work career. You might decide to leave the ministry and enter the secular workforce. You will quickly learn that your theology or religious education degree has little value in the real world.

Let me conclude this post by talking about pastors who claim they have doctorates. While some Evangelical pastors have earned doctorates, many of them have honorary degrees or degrees “earned” from diploma mills or unaccredited institutions. In the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, almost all doctorates are honorary or from bogus institutions.

Please see IFB Doctorates: Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, Everyone’s a Doctor for further information.

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.

Connect with me on social media:

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

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser