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I Can’t Believe Bruce Doesn’t Believe in God

1989, Somerset Baptist Academy. A bit of levity. I’m wearing one of the teachers’ coats, earmuffs, armed with a squirt gun and stuffed animal. That fat face sure needs a beard. No wonder I lost my faith!

This is a post I started years ago and never finished until now.

Several years ago, friends of mine, Dave and Newauna,  drove to Fort Wayne, Indiana to attend a concert at Sweetwater Sound, a combination music store/recording studio/private lesson venue/instrument repair shop/performance venue. The brother of a man whom I was close to as a young man is an executive with Sweetwater. His name is Troy. My friends and Troy talked for a bit, shooting the breeze as rural folks do. Eventually, the discussion turned towards Bruce Gerencser, the Evangelical-pastor-turned-atheist. My friends did not relay the entire conversation to me. They did let me know, however, that Troy was perplexed over my loss of faith, saying, “I can’t believe Bruce doesn’t believe in God.” I am sure my friends replied, “we can’t believe it, either!”

I can’t believe it.

Did you know?

How long has he been like this?

Shouldn’t we confront him?

Shouldn’t we pray for him?

I just don’t believe he is not a Christian anymore.

Such are the consternations of my former Christian friends and acquaintances. They are genuinely shocked and bothered by my defection from Christianity.

Surely, Bruce must have had a mental breakdown.

Maybe his medical problems have caused him to lose his mind.

 Bruce read too many books. He needs to get back to just reading the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. The Bible is the cure for what ails him!

Some think this is a temporary state for me. I’ll be back! (Said as only Arnold Schwarzenegger could say it.) It is hard for them to comprehend that Elvis really has left the building. Come November, it will be eleven years since I walked out of the back door of the Ney United Methodist Church, never to return. (Please see Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners.)

I don’t like the fact that I cause others mental anguish. I genuinely want to be liked and respected by others. There is little, however, I can do, to alleviate their distress. People can and do walk away from Jesus — even pastors.

Sometimes, people are troubled over my defection because they must then consider the fact that “if Bruce can leave the faith anyone can.” I am well-grounded in the Bible and the teachings of the Christian church. If I can reject Jesus after knowing what I know, what is to be said for those not as well schooled as I in Christianity?

When it comes to Christianity, the less you know the better. Just believe. Don’t question anything. Just have faith. Don’t doubt.

Here’s what I want to say to the people who know me well. “Please don’t lose any sleep over my deconversion. I am at peace with where I am in life. I have no desire to wreck your faith in God, but, at the same time, I am not going to hide where I am in life. If you can live with my infidelity to God, we can be friends. If my faithlessness causes you pain and heartache, it is probably better for you to stay away from me.” (2019? All of my former friends have left me, save Dave and Newauna. Dave and I have been friends since third grade. He was right by my side when Polly was in the hospital. A true friend, indeed.)

When Christians friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter feed, or read this blog, they need to understand that they are getting the unvarnished Bruce Gerencser. I am not pretending to be anyone other than who I am. Christian Bruce, Pastor Bruce, Preacher Bruce, Rev. Bruce, Conservative Bruce — all have died a slow, agonizing death.

In a sense, I have been reborn. Liberal Bruce. Agnostic Bruce. Atheist Bruce. Old, tired, worn-out Bruce. In my previous life, I thought I had reached the end of the journey. Jesus was the end-all, and I was waiting for the big payday in the sky. Now life is an unscripted journey. It remains to be seen where I’ll end up. And I am fine with that. I no longer have to have all the answers. Some days, I am just happy if I can find where I left the TV remote the night before.

Bruce, aren’t you afraid of Hell? No, I’m not. The only Hell that exists is on this earth — caused by the machinations of wicked men and women, and not devils, demons, or gods.

I see no evidence for a hands-on, personally involved, “He has a wonderful plan for your life” God. I refuse to embrace a deity who thinks a “wonderful” plan includes pain, suffering, loss, and death. I much prefer the “shit happens” approach to life; life that happens whether I am ready for it or not; life that is as much luck as it is planned.

I know I am a great disappointment to many people. I am indeed sorry for disappointing them. That said, I’m sure none of my former Christian friends or acquaintances wants me to embrace a lie. To say “I believe” just to soothe the consciences of those bothered by my loss of faith is something I can’t do.

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

    i recently found out about sweetwater sound. i bought a folding mic stand from them. they sent me inordinate quantities of spam. i’m not surprised that one of their executives is a “christian”.

  2. Avatar
    Melissa A Montana

    “You read too many books” is another way of saying “You should put your head back in your behind.” Yes, belief is much easier when you choose to stay ignorant.

  3. Avatar
    Becky Wiren

    I no longer call myself Christian and reading Bruce’s blog is a big part of that. Not an atheist, not at this time. But one thing I’ve noticed from being around atheists and talking to atheists online: atheists simply can’t believe and have faith. It’s completely over. Many, many atheists were once dedicated Christians and studied the Bible until they studied themselves out of their beliefs. I also know people who looked at the behavior of fellow Christians and didn’t see any evidence of a God of love. And for atheists at that point, it is over and they will never believe in a personal god. And they can’t. They see reality and faith isn’t a part of it.

    I’m just sorry that fundamentalists are unable to empathize with former Christians turned atheists. And if they could, they’d be too scared to empathize, because that would mean they would be going down that evil road, the one leading to atheism and liberalism and open-mindedness towards gays. I, personally, had a cousin block me because while I don’t dis religion openly, I’m obviously an evil liberal. How many more of my Southern family would block me if I was an atheist? Probably ALL of them.

    Anyway Bruce, you’re doing a good thing and that is what matters. Thank you.

    • Avatar
      Karen the rock whisperer

      You are wherever you are on your own spiritual path, and there’s nothing wrong with that, whatever it is. We haven’t met personally, but in your words I see thoughtfulness and kindness, here and on FB. Actions matter to me much more than beliefs.

      I see some atheist commenters on other blogs just rip the heck out of anyone who is the least bit gentle toward religious belief, and I truly have to wonder what they’re trying to prove. One example was a discussion about some university making it formal policy that students who need special accommodation because of religious belief (say, a Muslim student needing to not take a late-afternoon exam during Ramadan, because her low blood sugar will make clear thinking difficult) should work with their professors to figure out what that accommodation should be. I.e., the professors need to take it seriously.

      One commenter on the discussion was adamant that all religion was garbage and people who want to believe should just have to suck it up. They were not quite straight-out rude, but very close, and answered multiple commenters with much the same declaration. Okay, person, you think religious belief is wrong, we got that, we got it five comments ago. Does that mean that everyone whose religion is not accommodated by the usual university schedule should wait to get an education until they’ve lost their faith? Honestly.

      • Avatar
        Becky Wiren

        Karen, I see the same thing, angry atheists who don’t want to accommodate people’s fairy tales. And it’s pretty off-putting. It’s interesting because Christians’ needs are accommodated as it is built into our society. And I know that if you are in large metro areas there are also accommodations for Jewish people. (Shoot, I bet that exists in Salt Lake City for Mormons. I know in the little college town where I was an Adventist there were accommodations for SDAs.)

        Except when I was a conservative Christian, before and after I’ve thought we should just be open to our fellow person in all the diversity people exist. I think I got that from my parents, especially my mom, who was the least racist, kindest person I know. I’m happy if I’m half as good as she was! 😉

    • Avatar
      John Arthur

      Thanks for this Becky. Your heart is very kind. May you and your atheist hubby have a wonderful time during your life’s journey together.

      • Avatar
        Becky Wiren

        Thanks John. I figured out in the last 20 years that being kind to others is really the only way my life works. (Although my family sees my impatient side!) 😉

  4. Avatar

    Bruce, I get it. I read too many books too. Some things you just can’t unsee.

    I am glad you still have your friends Dave and Newauna.

  5. Avatar
    Brunetto Latini

    I feel the same way about most of my former friends as your former friends feel about you. I can’t believe they’ve really become mindless people who disregard Christian morality and support Trump. And I want no part of them anymore.

  6. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Melissa A MontanaSeptember 27, 2019 at 1:46 am
    “You read too many books” is another way of saying “You should put your head back in your behind.” Yes, belief is much easier when you choose to stay ignorant.

    This is just about exactly how I feel too, Melissa. It feels so so good to be in denial and simply smile when given opportunity to assess one’s choices. The problem is often that it is not an intellectual stance taken in Christianity but most often feelings that have become excessively overwhelming. It is this excess that is milked for all its worth in evangelical belief sermons/manipulations. Your evil self is disgusting and unworthy of grace etc. and at the other end of the spectrum is glorious release, hymns of praise! This endless cycle keeps the offering plate being passed along the pews.

  7. Avatar

    Brian, you may be onto something… “most often feelings that have become excessively overwhelming. It is this excess that is milked for all its worth in evangelical belief sermons/manipulations. Your evil self is disgusting and unworthy of grace etc. and at the other end of the spectrum is glorious release, hymns of praise! This endless cycle keeps the offering plate being passed along the pews.” Follow the money? Play with people’s emotions to get donation money?

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