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Bob, the Saved Rapist

barbara gerencser 1978
Mom and Bruce, Rochester, Indiana, 1978

Bob was my mom’s brother-in-law. Married to my dad’s sister, Bob was a rough-and-tumble truck driver and dirt-track race-car driver. Bob’s parents were devout Fundamentalist Baptists. Bob was raised in the church, and at the age of seventeen he walked the sawdust trail at a revival meeting and asked Jesus to save him from his sin. According to Baptist theology, Bob was now an eternally saved child of God.

After high school, Bob left home and abandoned the Baptist faith of his parents. Over the next six decades, Bob lived as if God did not exist. In every way, he lived as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. He was a booze-drinking skirt chaser known for sexually harassing and assaulting women. Female family members knew to steer clear of Bob lest they find themselves a target of his sexual advances. Age didn’t matter to Bob, and more than a few teen family members endured his touches, squeezes, and other demeaning behaviors.

Women got “used to” Bob’s sexual assaults. Viewing him as harmless, they would recount to me, “Oh, that was just Bob being Bob.” It was the 1960s and 1970s, after all, and that’s just how men were, I was told. As I will share in a moment, Bob was anything but harmless.

In early 1969, we lived east of Farmer, Ohio in a farmhouse owned by my dad’s sister and brother-in-law. I was in the sixth grade at Farmer Elementary School. One day, I was home from school sick. I spent the day in bed recuperating. In the early afternoon, Bob pulled into the drive. I figured he was there to see my mom, so I stayed in my room. A short time later, Bob left and I heard my mom calling my name. She was crying, saying that Bob had just raped her. She asked me to go to the neighbor’s house and call someone (I can’t remember who). I did, but no one ever came to our home.

You see, Mom had mental health problems — lots of problems. This meant, of course, in the minds of “healthy” people, she couldn’t be relied on to tell the truth. Bob was well-known in town. Bob would never rape anyone. Yes, he was a “little” too friendly with women, but, hey, that was just “Bob being Bob.” A few months later, we moved to Deshler, Ohio. Mom never talked about Bob after that. I suspect that she buried the rape deep in the recesses of her mind, right next to memories of her father repeatedly sexually assaulting her as a child.

Bob died a few years ago. His funeral was held at the local Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. Bob’s parents helped start this congregation and were pillars of the church for decades. I attended the funeral, wanting to see what kind of send-off the once-saved-always-saved Baptists would give Bob, the Saved Rapist. The pastor giving the sermon spoke of the night sixty years prior that Bob had been gloriously saved, and that he was now in Heaven with his mom and dad. The pastor never mentioned that Bob hadn’t darkened the doors of the church since the 1960s and he, in every way, lived a life of debauchery. The pastor cared more about protecting the memory of Bob’s parents than he did telling the truth. I have seen this behavior countless times over the years: degenerate people preached into Heaven, all because they mentally assented to a set of theological propositions. And therein lies the vulgarity of once-saved-always-saved soteriology. It’s the same theology that says I am still a Christian, and that no matter what I say or do I will go to Heaven when I die. Just pray the right prayer, believe the right things and Heaven is yours!

As the funeral service went along, I found myself becoming increasingly angry. I wanted to rebuke the pastor for his lies. I wanted to scream at the congregation for their willful ignorance of what kind of man Bob really was. Most of all, I wanted to be my mom’s voice. Not a mile away, Mom lay silent in her grave. Oh, to bring her to life again so she could give testimony to what Bob did to her! On that day, I so wished that there was a Hell. If anyone deserved endless torment, it was Bob. Alas, there is no Hell, so the only satisfaction that comes from Bob’s death is that no other woman will ever have to suffer the indignity of being sexually assaulted by him. I wish Mom had been alive to see Bob meet his end. Unfortunately, fifteen years prior, Mom turned a Ruger .357 on herself, pulled the trigger, ripping a hole in her heart. Her beautiful, tragic life instantly came to an end at age fifty-four, due in no small part to men who saw her as an object of sexual desire and gratification and not as a thoughtful, intelligent — and yes, beautiful — human being she really was.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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

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    I am very sorry. You showed great restraint by not jumping up at the funeral and calling out what Bob really was. “Once saved always saved jesus forgives it all” can be a comfort for some and a screen for others.

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      That’s the saddest thing. Many honest and loving Christians live with constant emotional pain of not being good enough and fear of ending up in never-ending torment (such theology can really ease their pain!), while at the same time monsters hide behind the twisted logic of – say this, believe that and you can do whatever you want. How does one help the former one’s and protect the world from the latter one’s…

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    mary g

    so sorry about what your mom endured. I have also seen vile people “preached into heaven” in order to make the family feel better and not face the truth. this is typical of fundies. thanks for sharing such a personal thing on your blog. may this help others to see through the smokescreen of American fundamentalism.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce–I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s tragedy. It left me in tears, in part because her ending could have been mine.

    Forget the “once saved, always saved” horseshit. Do you want to know what’s “forever”? Trauma. When you are raped or sexually assaulted or molested, it never leaves you. That is why too many of us end the way your mother did. We all have that potential, and survival is only in this moment, for this day.

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    It saddens me to know the terrible weight of history you have had to carry, Bruce. I’m sorry that God is a useless tool of denial but there is something to be said in simply stating the truth, the simple truth. Some feel that silence is best for the everemony and support your silence but I tend to feel much better hearing what you say. The horrible power of suppression/repression is strongest at funerals (how many of us can attest to that!) and the Christian Woo just flows like molten gum over all and shuts people down. Only after the dead are in the ground sometimes for years can many victims speak the truth. This is true for you too, I suspect. I wonder if you always told yourself the truth of Bob or if you went through a time when you tried to suppress and make it go away with divine forgiveness… I wish you had shouted the truth at the funeral and told them that ‘Bob being Bob’ harmed so many people, including you and your mother. Religion of the IFB sort prevents the truth being told, supports the wicked abusers and claims Jesus as their example, their leader. It’s a real mind-rape to heft on top of the abuse already endured.
    Thank-you for finding a way to speak it out loud.
    My cousin, now in her sixties, has just found the courage to tell of her own father’s sexual abuse when she was a kid. Her dad, my uncle, was a jolly man with big smile, always a delight to be around. But he carried a dark harm his Christianity never dealt with… His daughter, my cousin Linda bore the brunt of that darkness…. a life sentence for her.

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    My God!

    Long time reader of your blog. I’m still a believer, but I appreciate your perspective and think deeply on your writings. I wouldn’t normally comment, but this story….. I’m so sorry. Man, fuck Bob! Fuck people who see others as only objects! Jesus, God damn, fuck! Fucking hell!

    I know my words mean nothing, it’s just that the cynical reality of christendom can cause such a strong impulse to scream at it!

    We gotta make fun of the Bob’s, of the bullshit theologizing, of the crap inhumanity, of the fucking fuckery of it all!

    Argh! Your poor mom!

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