Bruce, I Feel Sorry for You, Says Evangelical Man

peanut gallery

Email from the Peanut Gallery

Recently, an Evangelical man by the name of John sent me a short email that said:

Bruce, guess someone really hurt you to make you so bitter. I’m sorry that happened to you. I am confused as to why you blame a Good [sic] you don’t believe in for all your issues?

As to faith, i guess in 100 years we’ll both know who made the right life choices.

John is one person in a large breed of Evangelicals who have supernatural discernment skills, enabling them to psychoanalyze people they have never met. John stumbled upon this site, read a few posts, and then passed judgment on my life: “Bruce, [I] guess someone really hurt you to make you so bitter.” Long-time readers know I have repeatedly answered this false assertion. I am not bitter, though after being told by 6,666,666 Evangelicals that I am, I’m starting to feel bitter. Not really. The Johns of the world are little more than pesky gnats buzzing around my head on a hot, humid Ohio summer day. A quick swat or clap of the hands, and the offending gnat is no more.

Let me repeat once again for the Johns who might be lurking in the shadows: no one hurt me. (Please see I Wish Evangelical Christians Would Quit Treating Me Like an Abused Puppy.) I didn’t leave the ministry and Christianity because someone or a church hurt me in some way. Yes, there is an emotional component to my deconversion, but the ultimate reason for my loss of faith is that I no longer believed the central claims of Christianity. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) Anyone who bothers to read the posts on the WHY page knows this. Unfortunately, the Johns of Christendom can’t be bothered with doing their homework, nor can they be bothered with making a good-faith effort to understand my story. I am not asking John to accept the reasons I left Christianity. All I want him to do is accept my story at face value. Surely, that’s not too much to ask.

John says, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Sorry, WHAT happened to me? Nothing happened to me. Unlike some of the people who frequent this blog, I wasn’t sexually molested by a pastor, evangelist, missionary, or priest. There’s no deep, dark secret in my life that “explains” my loss of faith. At the end of the day, the reasons for my divorce from Jesus stem from the Bible and its teachings. I weighed the teachings of Christianity in the balance and found them wanting.

John, as is common among Evangelical critics, thinks I blame the Christian God for all that has befallen me. I am an atheist, so it would be absurd for me to blame God, any God, for my past and present experiences. John likely misunderstands my writing, which is a common problem when people don’t take the time to understand the purpose of this blog. I will often write from the Evangelical perspective; from the perspective of Bruce Gerencser, Evangelical pastor. Thus, when I write about God not answering my prayer, I write from the viewpoint of a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It is that man who dares to question God and his indifference towards him. Atheist Bruce doesn’t believe God answers prayer. How could he, since God doesn’t exist?

John says, “As to faith, I guess in 100 years we’ll both know who made the right life choices.” John is being disingenuous. He doesn’t question which of us is right; he knows he is. That’s why he wrote to me. He knows that his “faith” is that which the Bible says has been “once delivered to the saints.” I have yet to meet an Evangelical who wasn’t cock-sure that he was right; that his theology and interpretation of the Protestant Christian Bible perfectly align with truth as revealed by his God. Granted, I am certain that the claims of Christianity are false. Not because a deity or guru told me they are. No, I am convinced of this because I thoroughly and exhaustively studied both sides of the God question. I carefully examined Evangelical beliefs such as the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible and the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and concluded that such beliefs are false.

John is certain that eternal bliss awaits him, and eternal damnation awaits me. He’s certain that once I die, I will then know how wrong I was; that as the flames of Hell torment my God-created fireproof body, I will scream and shout, JOHN WAS RIGHT! Except John isn’t right, and unfortunately, when he dies, he won’t find out he was wrong. John will just be d-e-a-d, end of story. Neither of us is going to know how right or wrong he was because we will no longer walk among the living. It will be left to our family, friends, and acquaintances to render final judgment on our lives. John and I will go the way of all men — to the grave. In time, we will be but a distant memory in the minds of our loved ones, a footnote in human history, forgotten by those who promised they wouldn’t.

John says, “in 100 years.” I don’t know about John, but I don’t have 100 years left to live. Thanks to decades of chronic health problems and chronic pain, I doubt that I have a lot of years ahead of me. Most of my life is now in the rearview mirror, speeding by as I crawl to the finish line. I have no illusions about the future. The ugly specter of death is stalking me, and someday, sooner than later, I will meet my end. And when I do, I hope I leave behind the testimony of a well-lived life.

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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14 Comments

  1. Karen the rock whisperer

    Bruce, I feel sorry for you too some days, because life has dealt you really crappy health cards. If your birth had been delayed 100 years, you might have had a much less painful life, at least physically. But, as I tell myself when my own body screams curses at me, what we got is what we got.

    For myself, I want (metaphorically speaking) is to slide into my grave like a great baseball player slides into home milliseconds ahead of the ball, taking joy in all the great things that life has given me. Yeah, that last run might be painful as hell, but worth it. Richard Dawkins is right; those of us who won the lottery of life really are the lucky ones, as our unique combination of DNA came about. Let’s celebrate by living lives that our loved ones will want to celebrate when we’re gone.

    Reply
    1. Brian Vanderlip

      Let’s celebrate by living lives that our loved ones will want to celebrate when we’re gone.

      John recognizes that you have a ‘feeling’ and in a very typically shallow, believer fashion, attacks what he perceives as your feeling. Than threatens you with retribution. Well done, they good and faithful servant, John! Christianity, in particular the John version of belief, is designed to harm the self, and therein must harm others.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Spot on, Karen.

      Reply
  2. ObstacleChick

    Blah blah blah, in typical evangelical fashion, John just had to allude to hell. That’s always what they use as a parting shot.

    Reply
  3. Ami

    Every time I read one of these sanctimonious pieces of drivel that some Christian has sent to you, I feel sorry. Sorry for all the time I wasted trying to please an imaginary friend. All the time my real friends did the same. The time my mom is still wasting trying to impress her god by being ‘good’.

    All the repression. The denial of normal feelings and thoughts. The abstemious lifestyle that so many of them try to live, then all the guilt when they fall short.

    And I feel sorry for people like John who are still stuck in that vicious cycle of self-abuse.

    Reply
  4. Steve James

    Maybe it is just me, but suppose someone had hurt you or you are bitter. Why would that fact invalidate your experience or your leaving the faith?

    Reply
  5. Dave

    I hate the word “Evangelical.”

    I wish that these evangelicals that come on here and say EXACTLY what Bruce says he does not want to hear would walk just a few miles in a pastor’s shoes. It’s not that anyone treats a pastor poorly or harms them that makes their life very difficult. It’s that they are often in the trenches dealing with the worst of the human experience. That was my take away from what Bruce has written here. If you’ve seen what I’ve seen, heard what I’ve heard, you’d hate Jesus too. Another point that struct me about Bruce’s writing is he doesn’t reference anything that was done to HIM, but his concern about what religions have done TO OTHERS and/or what religion keeps people FROM DOING FOR OTHERS. This is clearly not a selfish man people.

    Another thing that bugs me is laughing about hell. If you call yourself a Christian, there’s nothing funny about hell or someone who may be lost. “Well it’s their own fault,” doesn’t cut it. Christians are just as much to blame for lost souls as the lost souls themselves. If someone ends up in hell, that doesn’t vindicate a Christian. This isn’t a game about who’s right or wrong.

    To everyone reading this. Please do ignore the “Johns” of the world.

    Reply
  6. Melissa A Montana

    To John: I am not speaking for everyone, but for myself. Yes, I’m mad as hell. I am still bitter as hell. Want to know why? As a child I was taught to pray. I prayed and cried my eyes out for my dad to stop drinking and abusing me. The same dad who was in church every Sunday, playing the pious Christian. I was 6 years old. Know what? Nothing happened. It didn’t stop until he died. Even then, the rest of the family took over where he left off. I have told this story to Christians, and some have had the nerve to tell me I was sinful, or somehow I displeased god, or I didn’t keep the faith, or “it’s all His will, who are we to question it.” I WAS SIX! Yes, I’m angry, but not at god or Jesus. They don’t exist. I’m angry at idiots like you who blame the victims when “god” doesn’t magically appear and make it all right. I’m angry at idiots like you who refuse to accept the fact that your “god” is either a failure or a sadistic SOB. I’m better off without your religion, so take your fake compassion and stuff it.

    To Bruce: It always amazes me how people must believe atheists are miserable. I think it’s because, since they cannot face life without divine protection, they can’t stand the ones who are fine without it. I was never more miserable than when I was a Christian. Even in a Liberal church, it’s still bad. Keep up the good work. We need more like you, and less “Johns.”

    (To those who may worry about my angry response: I am in therapy. I’m better, but still have a lot of baggage to dump.)

    Reply
    1. Angiep

      Hang in there, Melissa. The insidious damage done by religion to innocent people is the reason I hate it. Good luck with your therapy.

      Reply
    2. Caroline

      Wow, Melissa. So sorry all this happened to you in the name of religion. I can’t stand that so many religious hypocrites are incapable of even trying to understand that the world is a big place and that we all don’t have to believe the same way. Fear is always behind it all.
      Glad you’re getting the help you deserve.

      Reply
    3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thank you for sharing this, Melissa.

      I fully understand the therapy part. The onion of my life has been peeled back layer by layer by my therapist for years. I have come a long way, but oh the early days. 🙂 I was a basket of often contradictory emotions. I believed for most of my life that anger was a “sin,” so it was an eyeopener to learn that anger was a normal human emotion. My therapist told me he would have been worried had I not, based on my past experiences, been angry. The key, of course, was learning what to do with my anger. I am still learning… 🙂

      Be well.

      Bruce

      Reply
  7. maryg

    same junk different day. I feel sorrier for the evangelicals. they are living on shame and fear 24/7. their respite is their rules and rituals, but then it hits them hard at night as they try to sleep. ask me how I know. struggling to break free,but slowly improving thanks to your writings and others. lets keep exposing this mess for what it is.

    Reply
  8. przxqgl

    i’m sorry we have to put up with ignoramuses like john… and i’m glad i’ll be dead so that i won’t have to deal with stupidity like his for all of eternity.

    THAT would be hell. 😉

    Reply
  9. Brian Vanderlip

    Melissa A Montana, I am not worried about you, just amazed by your telling truth! Thank-you…

    Reply

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