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What’s the Point of the Black Collar Crime Series? — Nobody’s Perfect

christians arent perfect black collar crime series

A man who lives not far from my home left the above comment on my Facebook page (if you have not yet LIKED the Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser page, I would appreciate you doing so.) Based on a bit of social media stalking, I have determined the commenter is retired and is a King James-Only Baptist. That he is a Baptist gave me a bit of context as I determined how best to respond to his comment. Last year, emergent church guru Brian McLaren said:

I feel that the role of Baptists — not Cooperative Baptist Fellowship but other Baptists — in doing harm to our nation and world is so great. I really feel well-meaning, sincere people who are deeply committed to the term ‘Baptist’ are often at the forefront of being careless about the environment. They are often at the forefront of being hateful towards Muslims. They are often at the forefront of promoting — unconsciously very often — white supremacy and continuing harm being done to racial minorities. We don’t even need to mention the harm being done to LGBTQ persons.


I think one of our great challenges in the Christian religion at large is for Christianity to grow up, to be a world religion meaning not just an American religion and certainly not just a southern or rural American religion, but a religion that grapples with all the challenges of our interconnected world.

In my mind, the underlying issue is actually patriarchy. We could talk about white Christian supremacy, but at the core of this is white, Christian, patriarchal supremacy. It’s a way of organizing life around powerful men.

A whole lot of people are wondering, can the Christian religion extract itself from patriarchy, or is belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so inherently patriarchal that Christians actually believe in a patriarchal universe?


Watching the success of Donald Trump win over especially white people, and especially white Christians and especially white evangelical and Baptist Christians, in my opinion this is a pivotal moment.

Baptists, those damn Baptists. Their theology fuels the continued support of the pussy-grabbing, adulterous president of the United States, Donald Trump. Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress — both are Baptists — continue to defend Trump against accusations of rape, sexual assault, and adultery. It was primarily the Baptists who held the line of defense for Independent Fundamentalist (IFB) Baptist pervert Roy Moore. (Keep in mind, many generic Evangelical churches are Baptist in everything but their name.) According to Baptist theology, there’s no sinful act that can kick you out of the family of God once Jesus has saved you and the Father has adopted you into his family. This is why more than a few Evangelicals believe that I am still a Christian. Once saved, always saved; once married to Jesus, no divorce. This is why serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy went to heaven when they died. No matter the sin, if your soul has been washed in the blood of Jesus, you are forever a child of God.

Thus, for the aforementioned commenter, there’s no good reason for publishing the Black Collar Crime Series. Yes, Evangelical pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, and church congregants can and do rape women, sexually assault children, and commit all sorts of sexual crimes, and as long as these saved-by-grace Christians are in the flesh, they can and do sin. But, no matter what they do, God will forgive them. That’s what so w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l about Evangelical soteriology; forgiveness is only a prayer away.

Evangelicals are frequently reminded of 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” No matter what Evangelicals do, the most-awesome-God-ever stands ready and willing to grant forgiveness. Awesome, right? No matter how heinous the crime or behavior, Evangelicals are just a prayer away from a clean slate.

The commenter reminds me that all of us are sinners, and that Christians often continue to sin after they are saved. If this is so, why bother to get saved; why read the Bible, pray, tithe, and attend church on Sundays if the new birth doesn’t turn sinners into new creations (as the Bible says it most certainly does)? Of course, according to the commenter, sinning Evangelicals aren’t really to blame for their sinfulness — Satin is. Those damn satin sheets I just knew that they would lead to the fall of the human race. Humor aside, I’m sure the commenter meant SATAN was to blame for the sexual sins and crimes detailed in the Black Collar Crimes Series. Doesn’t the Bible say of believers, “greater is he (God) that is in us than he (Satan) that is in the world?” Doesn’t the Bible say that Christians are overcomers and have victory in Christ? Doesn’t the Bible say that Evangelicals who sin are of the Devil and Christ does not abide in them? Doesn’t the Bible say that faith without (good) works is dead (and I assume sexually assaulting children and raping women are not good works)?

It seems, then, that the commenter has a problem with the Bible. Perhaps his bankrupt Baptist theology has warped his thinking, leading him to believe that Christians can be perverts and adulterers and still make it to God’s Trump Hotel in the Sky®. I wonder if he has read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

And such were (past tense) some of you, the Apostle Paul says.

Revelation 21:27 and 22: 14,15 says:

And there shall in no wise enter into it [New Jerusalem] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

But, what do I know, right? According to the commenter, Satan has deceived me, bringing me down to the level of Evangelical Christians — his words, not mine. Say it isn’t so! How dare the commenter drag me into the Evangelical gutter. My humanistic morality teaches me that raping women, sexually assaulting church teens, and abusing children are bad/harmful behaviors. I value people and, as such, I would not abuse/assault/harm others. I don’t need salvation, and I sure as hell don’t need forgiveness from a mythical deity. I’m more in the Tony Baretta school of life: Don’t do the crime if you don’t want to do the time. (Too bad Robert Blake didn’t follow his own advice.) To the Evangelical sexual abusers, child molesters, and rapists I say this: if you don’t want to be featured in the Black Collar Crime SeriesDON’T DO THE CRIME! It’s really that simple.

Why, then, is there an ever-widening Evangelical sexual abuse scandal? The short answer is this: Baptist theology; the very theology espoused by the aforementioned commenter. When people believe they are weak, helpless sinners in need of God’s power and forgiveness to make it through the day, what do you expect? Churches are filled with people who believe they can’t help themselves; that the flesh and Satan keep them from doing right. Their lives consist of a constant cycle of sin/forgiveness. You might remember what one Catholic priest said when he was arrested for abusing boys: I asked for forgiveness after every time I abused a boy. Evangelicals do the same when they pray for forgiveness AFTER they have harmed others.

God, I have an idea. How about getting the Holy Spirit — who supposedly lives in every believer, teaching, guiding, and directing them in righteousness and holiness (talk about bad job performance!) — to stop believers from harming others BEFORE they do so! Surely, an all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing, always-present God can act like a pre-crime bureau for Christians, stopping them from committing crimes before they do them. How hard can it be, God?

As for the WHY of the Black Collar Crime series, let me conclude this post with an excerpt from a previous post titled, Why I Write The Black Collar Crime Series :

I realize that these reports are often dark and depressing, but the only way to dispel darkness is to turn on the lights. Clergy who prey on congregants — especially children — must be exposed, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. By leveraging this blog’s traffic and publishing these reports I am serving notice to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges: we are paying attention, and if you fail to provide justice for victims, we will hold you accountable.

Sadly, many clerics have enormous power over people. How else do we explain that repeat abusers of children and sexual predators such at Lester Roloff, Jack Patterson, and Mack Ford — to name a few — never spent a day in jail for their crimes? Mack Ford, in particular, spent decades physically and psychologically destroying teenagers, yet, thanks to his connections in the community, he was never prosecuted for his crimes.(Please see Sexual Abuse in the Name of God: New Bethany Home for GirlsTeen Group Homes: Dear IFB Pastor, It’s Time for You to Atone for Your SinWhat Should We Do When Religious Freedom Leads to Child Abuse?)

Sometimes these seemingly untouchable predators are brought to justice, but not before the public puts pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors, forcing them to act. The sordid story of abuse at Restoration Youth Academy is case in point. Decades of reports about abuse were filed with local law enforcement, yet nothing was done. Yes, they finally acted and the perpetrators are now in prison, but what do we say to the hundreds of children and teenagers who were ritually abused before prosecutors got around to doing their job?

I am sure that this series will bring criticism from Evangelical zealots, reminding me that accused/charged clerics are innocent until proven guilty. While they are correct, all I am doing is sharing that which is widely reported in the news. In the nine years I’ve been writing about clergy misconduct, I can count on two fingers the number of pastors/priests/religious leaders who were falsely accused. Two, out of hundreds and hundreds of cases. The reason for so few false accusations is that no person in his or her right mind would mendaciously accuse a pastor of sexual misconduct.

People often believe that “men of God” would never, ever commit such crimes. One common thread in the crimes committed by Jack Schaap, Bill Wininger, Josh Duggar, David Farren, and a cast of thousands, is that family and fellow Christians were absolutely CERTAIN that these men of God could/would never commit the crimes with which they were charged. Even when presented with overwhelming evidence, their supporters, with heads in the sand, refuse to believe that these servants of Jesus did the perverse things they are accused of. (Please see What One IFB Apologist Thinks of People Who Claim They Were AbusedEvangelicals Use ‘We Are All Sinners’ Argument to Justify Sexual Abuse)

Secondary reasons for this series have to do with exposing the lie that Evangelicalism is immune to scandal. I remember when the Catholic sex scandal came to light. With great glee and satisfaction, Evangelical preachers railed against predator priests and the Catholic Church who covered up their crimes. Now, of course, we know that Evangelicalism is just as rotten, having its own problem with sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups. Evangelicals love to take the high moral ground, giving the perception that their shit doesn’t stink. Well, now we know better. Not only does Evangelicalism have a sexual abuse problem, it also has big problem with pastors who can’t keep their pants zipped up. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)

To the commenter I say, instead of getting all peachy-preachy about the Black Collar Crime Series, how about focusing your outrage on the sex crimes and cover-ups that are being committed by pastors, deacons, evangelists, missionaries, choir directors, worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, janitors, bus drivers, preschool teachers, school principals, high school teachers, and church board members in scores of Evangelical churches, including Independent Fundamentalist Baptist congregations. Instead of being all worked up over the messenger, how about focusing on the message? Ask yourself, what would Jesus do? Don’t know what Jesus would do? Let me leave you with Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42: “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 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.

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  1. Avatar
    Ian for a long time

    I’m glad you put this out for people to see. Maybe one Evangelical will
    see the problems and change their beliefs.

    Better yet, maybe one person reading these stories will see the same predatory behavior in their church and report the person before they can do more harm.

    Why should people who commit crimes be able to hide? Doesn’t this perpetuate the idea that people in power are immune to prosecution? The best way to make a change is to shine a light on the problems.

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    Dear Fred Douglas, May I earnestly ask you to get to know some real victims of sexual abuse? Children whose trust in a spiritual leader was cruelly and vilely betrayed? Saying they should ‘pray for healing’ trivialises their experience to the healing of a cut finger and ‘asking for forgiveness’ to the ‘sin’ of dropping a gum-wrapper in the street. That abuse can wire the young brain differently, and the trauma can affect or ruin a life for many decades…it’s not hard to do a modicum of online research on the subject of survivors of abuse. Neither you personally, nor your religion have any credibility at all whilst you cover up and defend such disgusting criminals.
    May you be guided back to reality from your distant planet zog.

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    Christopher Hitchens had a quote for everything, several usually. Thinking of original sin he said

    “Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects in a cruel experiment whereby we are created sick and commanded to be well (…) and over us to supervise this, it’s installed a celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea, more than exigent, greedy for uncritical praise from dawn till dusk, and swift to punish the original sins with which he so tenderly gifted us in the very first place. However, let no one say there’s no cure: salvation is offered, redemption indeed is promised at the low price of the surrender of your critical faculties.”

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      Hitchens was clear-headed spot-on when he said: ” …salvation is offered, redemption indeed is promised at the low price of the surrender of your critical faculties.” But I think he goes not far enough here because the surrender of the critical faculties sounds almost benign when one considers that one is trusting amighty perfection instead! The real kicker for me is the underlying prerequisite, that one fully admit that they are evil-born and helplessly lost. That is the foundation that giving up one’s critical faculties is based on and that is the administered virus of Christian thinking. We cannot simply be people, bipeds. We need Mr. Right and Perfect. We must be evil to begin with and Fred Douglas is simply convinced that we are, stating the viral truth he ‘knows’, that we are just plan bad and need Jesus. He knows not what he does…

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    I am an atheist, but having been raised Baptist I still am trying to shed the ingrained teaching that pastors are above doing these types of abuses. It is good that you make people aware that these (mostly) “men of god” are not immune from committing crime. And you are so right about the patriarchy inherent in the evangelical system. It is a perfect system in which many abuse those lower in the hierarchy. And “Jesus forgives us all” just isn’t sufficient punishment.

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    Dear Freddy,

    Here’s what ‘God’s Word’ says about those who go on sinning after salvation:

    For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries (Hebrews 10.26-27).

    Looks like those Black Collar criminals you’re so keen to defend are up God’s shit creek already.

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    I think , also, what many Christian people don’t understand is that sexual predators often will specifically target and use the church. This article explains some of the reasons why.

    Many churches today have become more aware of this, and have instituted a program called, “Safe Sanctuaries,” which requires criminal history and child abuse background clearances before someone can even work with the children or youth in the church.

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      Those criminal history checks are very important but let’s not fall into thinking they are infallible: they only pick up crimes that have been reported to the police (and subsequently tried in a court of law, with a “Guilty” verdict at the end.) There was a study that showed that the great majority of people who sexually abuse children have committed HUNDREDS of such offences before they even see inside a police station. (And, of course, some child molesters will NEVER be apprehended by the law.)

      Something that worries me hugely is how naive so many religious believers are: they will give people the benefit of the doubt even in the face of incontrovertible evidence. This, too, is complicity.

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    One criticism lobbed at atheists is that since an atheist doesn’t believe there is divine retribution an atheist can’t be trusted not to kill, rape, embezzle, steal, recycle, keep the grass cut etc.
    Of course the same thing is true of a saved Christian. They believe they are untouchable. But not only does the Christian have nothing to fear from the Almighty, he has nothing to fear from his peers as well. Look at how criminal Christians get a pass just for being in the Jesus club.
    That said, pussy grabber-in chief Trump would lose his exemption fast if he were to come out as pro-choice.
    I don’t typically read black collar crime. It does have a useful purpose which is at odds with the pure and holy image of the church that has been cultured by silencing those that would cast a light on it.

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      Troy, I have a totally different perspective concerning the church. Actually, I think we are more likely to find needy, broken, and hurting people in the congregations than anywhere else. I could put this another way. Many of the folks in the churches are simply “not playing with a full deck.” (Saying this with gentle tenderness. 🙂

      Forget about this pure, holy, we have it all together image. One pastor put it this way in frustration at the time. “People are included in the Christian church that wouldn’t be accepted anywhere else. We have to take them in.”

      Look at the people Jesus attracted. He was known as a friend to sinners, and advocated for the social out casts.

      For the most part, His followers were not those who seemed to have it altogether. It’s a fact that the more educated and financially secure a culture becomes, the less they feel a need for God, wrongly, of course, IMO.

      Today, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between two pastors in a coffee shop struggling with ideas in how they could help and support a homeless young man with obvious mental health problems who had begun attending their congregation. Let’s just say they have their “hands full” with this situation, I think.

      We might as well admit, as Bruce would put it, we have these “crazy uncles” in our basement. The good news is that God doesn’t leave people there, and it’s the job of good church leaders to help people come to a healthy and balanced spirituality. Do many of these pastors fail abysmally?They sure do, big time. And, corrupt leaders should be held accountable.

      But, many others are sincerely attempting to express the love of Christ, and are doing the best that they can.

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    Freddy: Couldn’t find your Facebook page, so I have no idea what you look like or how old you are. I’ll assume from the profile picture that you’re a middle-aged white man.

    I guess it doesn’t matter to you when women and children and being abused, battered, raped and otherwise mistreated. So let’s say there’s someone in your town who’s attacking middle-aged white men. Guys just like you are being raped, tortured, brainwashed and left for dead. The attacker is taking these men’s money, cars, and guns after he rapes them. Your women and children, however, are untouched and stay perfectly safe. And let’s say that one night, while you’ve stayed behind at church after Bibke study, this person rapes YOU.

    So, would you just take it and SHUT UP about it? Would you get up from the floor, bleeding and broken, shrug and say, “I forgive him! Bless him, Lord!”

    And when you found out that it was your PASTOR doing these things, would you go back to church the next week and listen to him preach yet another sermon in righteousness? Purity? Turning from sin?

    Or would you jump up in front of the congregation and yell, “Get him out of here! He’s the rapist!”

    Would you be able to admit, in public, in front of your friends and a bunch of strangers, that a man had raped you?

    No? Didn’t think so. So why do all the women and children being abused have to do what you would never do?

    Clergy are empowered with trust, respect and deference simply because of their position. People need to know when they break the law. Everyone, clergy or not, needs to be held accountable when they do break the law. Sadly, many aren’t.

    Bruce is trying to keep other victims, mostly women and children, from suffering. Too bad you don’t give enough of a shit about other human beings to want that, too.

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    Atheists have no moral compass. Which is why they rape and kill and defraud and lie and cheat. But Christians do have a moral compass, and all their sins will be forgiven. Which is why they rape and kill and defraud and lie and cheat.

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    Oh yeah, I love how these predators pray for forgiveness after the act and the flock is only too willing to welcome them back with open arms thanking God for his healing forgiveness. It’s no wonder that Christians are Trump’s biggest bloc of voters. Christians almost beg to be played for suckers.

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    Yes, it’s almost as if they never read those scriptures above…oh wait, they don’t!
    Remember those bumper stickers that said, “not perfect, just forgiven “? Even when I was a xtian, I knew that wasn’t scriptural!
    But to most xtians, as long as they aren’t gay and socialist, they’re in going to heaven.

  12. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Mr. Douglas, I just read your post, where you are dismissing the pain and fears of the survivors mentioned above. Putting one’s head in the ostrich hole won’t help God’s reputation. Not acting like a bastard on the other hand, will help a lot. This column is valuable for the above reasons. Start curtailing these no- goods. Plus they are traitors to the faith. There–I said it. Traitors to the faith.

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Bruce Gerencser