Why is the Evangelical God Silent?

letter to the editor

What follows is a letter I sent today to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News:

Dear Editor,

There seems to be no end to the sermons printed in the editorial section of the Crescent-News. Intractable warriors for the Evangelical God preach against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, and the evils of socialism, humanism, secularism, and atheism. Letter writers claim to know the mind and will of God on every matter, warning that failure to heed their preaching will result in God pouring out his judgment and wrath on the United States.  They warn that two people of the same sex marrying will bring an end to Western civilization. Yet, it seems that their preaching is falling on deaf ears.

Several months ago, St John’s United Church of Christ came out of the closet and declared themselves to be an open and affirming church. This means gays and same-sex couples are welcome at St. John’s. When I read the news report, I could hardly believe it. I thought, have I been beamed away to an alternate universe, to a county where people are not judged for who they love or how they express intimacy? No, right here in Defiance County, a church that is not ashamed to welcome one and all.

Young adults are increasingly gay friendly and are no longer interested in the bigoted, homophobic religion of their parents. Some of them join the ranks of the nones, those who are atheists, agnostics, or indifferent towards organized religion. On many of the issues that seem to cause Evangelicals great consternation, young adults show that they think love, fairness, justice, and compassion are more important than dogma and literalism.

When I read  the letters from Evangelicals, I see an aging group of people desperately trying to regain power and control over a culture that has little interest in what they are selling. 40 years ago, instead of focusing on personal piety and good works, Evangelicals sold their soul to groups like the Moral Majority and the American Family Association. They traded their place in the community for political power. They abandoned reason and rationality and became the purveyors of ignorance and bigotry. And now they are being weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Come June, despite millions of Evangelical prayers, conferences, rallies, and sermons, it is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will set aside state laws forbidding same-sex marriage. I wonder how Evangelicals will respond? Will they turn to the heavens and ask God why he turned a deaf ear to their prayers? Will they point the finger at their homophobic rhetoric and bigotry? I doubt it.  It will be atheists like me, liberals, socialists, and the Kenyan-born usurper in the White House that will be blamed for their inability to return America to the love, joy, and peace of the 1950’s.

Evangelicals are like the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. They call out to the heavens asking their God to show his power and act on their behalf. Yet, from my seat in the atheist pew, it seems their God is either deaf or on vacation.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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13 Comments

  1. sgl

    well, that should bring out the christian love in the community!! 😉 i can imagine the sputtering going on in living rooms across ohio now.

    i’d say i’m looking forward to seeing any replies, except upon reflection, i realized that any replies will be entirely predictable — a few bible verses quotes, etc.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I was shocked when St John’s pastor said in a news article that they were open and affirming and not one person wrote a letter to the editor. Progress? 🙂 I doubt it. Probably saving their rage for when the godless and liberals write a letter. Tim Reynolds, a Lutheran pastor and a friend of mine, recently wrote a letter and it has raised the ire of the righteous.

      Reply
      1. sgl

        they probably don’t really understand what “open and affirming” means; they probably think it means what they do, ie, it’s still a sin, but they don’t protest at your funeral with signs, “hate the sin, love the sinner” mantra, etc.

        unrelated — stumbled across an interesting saying: “atheism isn’t a religion, it’s a personal relationship with reality” 😉

        Reply
        1. Gene Stephens

          SGL: I love your definition of atheism.

          Reply
  2. Steve

    Prepare for WAR after this one, man!! Lmfao!!

    Reply
  3. Daniel Wilcox

    Bruce, you say, “love, fairness, justice, and compassion”?!

    Since my deconversion 3 years ago, and my then hanging around atheist websites, reading the articles and comments,
    I’ve seen
    precious little of those ethical actions.

    As I mentioned before, instead mostly what has been posted has been bigoted, negative, demeaning, unfair, unjust, and even obscene. Secularists seem given to the same sort of in-crowd attitude as the religious.

    And so many of them are determinists like the Calvinists. Where is the humanism?

    And the God of all compassion more and more seems like an illusion.

    (There have been exceptions such as a few of your articles, Neil Carter’s, Valerie’s, and some thoughtful, considerate communication from moderate secularists, but that’s been in the minority.)

    Maybe some of the deconverted are getting their anger out, are thrashing about (not so different from me).

    And I sure prefer non-religion to the horror I escaped,
    but where is all this “love, fairness, justice, and compassion” that you speak of?

    Not often online.

    Maybe out there in the work-a-day world.

    Reply
    1. Scott

      Daniel,
      Time to check out groups in the real world. The humanist group I’ve been part of for over 20 years does volunteer work with a local food bank, women’s shelter, highway cleanup and other activities. We’ve grown to the point where we have child care available for our primary monthly meetings.

      Humanism is in many ways connecting with your fellow humans out in the real world. While you might still find some people nursing the wounds of religion, most active member’s in groups are doing things to show our humanism.

      You can find links to local humanist groups at the American Humanist Associations website: http://www.americanhumanist.org.

      Scott

      Reply
      1. Daniel Wilcox

        Thanks Scott,

        Actually, I do consider myself a humanist, very much so, though I am a theistic seeker sort of one.
        I spent the last several years looking for a group to be a part of here, but the area where I live is extremely right-wing and I couldn’t find such an organization. Thus my efforts for community online.

        I will check out your link.
        Much appreciated
        Daniel

        Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      It depends where you hang out. Like with religion, atheism has a fundamentalist wing that endlessly argues, attacking any and all who disagree. Some of it is post-Evangelical, post-religion anger. I went through that phase, as most atheists do. A few years back, atheists held what was called the Reason Rally. Some aspects of it were quite angry. Understandable since atheists are treated so poorly in this country and are often the target of harassment and discrimination. (I have experienced both)

      I’ve not seen anger in my interaction with humanists. Most humanists I know are atheists but, like me, are far more concerned about advancing the humanist ideal than they are atheism.

      Atheism is fragmented just like Christianity is. Currently, there are bitter battles going on between several atheist groups over feminism, social justice and how to treat those who might hold a differing opinion. Sadly, these battles have turned quite ugly, so much so that I distanced myself from them several years ago.

      While I still have the capacity to be angry, I rarely display it. I am often accused of being angry, but that’s different from actually being angry. I write in a direct, pointed manner. Sometimes, I throw in a little snark or risque humor, but rarely any anger. Part of the problem is many people find offense over everything. Misstate something in the morning and by nightfall Twitter and Facebook are ablaze with denunciations and calls for censure. It’s the nature of the beast. If I make a mistake, I correct it, end of story. I no longer engage those who have nothing better to do than sit in front of screen and find things to be offended about. There are real battles to fight, so I try to focus on things that matter. (and what matters is quite subjective. Your matter list is probably different from mine)

      As far a scientific determinism, that’s a whole other subject, one that will have to wait to another day.

      There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. Over the years, I have corresponded with hundreds of people who have been hurt by religion. I try to lend what help I can. If I didn’t have this blog, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to help others.

      Bruce

      Reply
      1. Daniel Wilcox

        Thanks for sharing your perspective, Bruce.

        I’ve really enjoyed your blog as well (missed it when it went down for a while).

        Interesting, also, that we came from opposite ends of the Christian spectrum, but have managed to meet in the middle of humanism.

        However, it is unlikely that I will ever become an atheist (for intellectual reasons as well as lots of bad experiences with atheism, though not near as much as with Calvinism and Augustinianism). To quote John Wesley, I would be an atheist before a Calvinist:-)

        Reply
    3. spirilis

      There are no real Atheists. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.[CSagan] They have the exact stake in the argument as any theist, except that they have no hope for the win. I’m a Taoist/Catholic agnostic. I love to hear stories from every faith community. But I love the Atheists the best. By the way “All stories are true” [Tim O’Brien]

      Reply
  4. Gene Stephens

    Evangelicals make such alarmist predictions of what will happen if the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage. Tony Perkins says that Christians will be rounded up in boxcars, James Dobson says it will bring civil war, and so on. I wish they would then tell me why none of those things have already happened in the many states that have already legalized gay marriage.

    Reply
    1. Joyce

      I was dropping in to leave a similar comment. I live in a country where gay marriage has been legal for ages (and was decided in a very short period of time). Nothing in my life changed and my straight marriage hasn’t been threatened in the least (not even by the lesbian couple next door–their daughter was our babysitter). Most of Europe also has marriage equality. Yet if it becomes legal in the US, Western Civilization will crumble? How do they say that an think they have any credibility or integrity?

      Reply

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